rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
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Mes ancêtres, les cimetières, le fromage de chèvre, Groupama (toujours, toujours là pour moi), Jane Birkin et ses filles, Paris, Roue de la fortune et Adeck, Victoire Thivisol, et bien sûr ma Villers-Cotterets ! Allez les bleus, et vive la France !

Translation/Explanation in English. My ancestors, the cemeteries, the goat cheese, Groupama (always, always there for me), Jane Birkin and her daughters, Paris, Wheel of Fortune and Adeck, Victoire Thivisol, and of course my Villers-Cotterets! Go Blues, and long live France!

Groupama was a French bank, and "always, always there for me" was the very catchy jingle sung in their commercials. (Trust me, it sounds better in French.) Banque Populaire, whom I banked with while in France, also had a good commercial. It opened with Cinderella sweeping a floor, when her two wicked stepsisters came in and began making a mess, saying "You missed a spot," and etc. Cinderella gets mad, throws down her broom, and rips off her ragged old dress, revealing a beautiful ball gown underneath. She storms out of the room, and her stepsisters call, "Cendrillon, tu vas ou comme ca?" (= Cinderella, where are you going dressed like that?) and she replies over her shoulder, "Je vais a Banque Populaire!" (= I'm going to Banque Populaire!).

Jane Birkin was born British but speaks French fluently and has had a long stellar career in France. She has three daughters with three different men: Kate Barry, a photographer; Charlotte Gainsbourg, an actress; and Lou Doillon, a model. They are all French and all fabulous, and considered the First Ladies of French beauty and fashion.

Roue de la Fortune is the French Wheel of Fortune. Its format is almost identical to the American version, but whereas the American version caters to your grandma, the French show is young and hip. Its Pat Sajak is a young guy named Christophe, and its Vanna White is a Swedish underwear model named Victoria. The third host is Adeck, Christophe's Jack Russell terrier. He comes on every show, sometimes wandering into the audience or among the camera crew, but he spends most of his time on his little chair, next to Christophe's chair behind the wheel.
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)
I remember the Friday night in March when we all watched The Return of the King together in the kitchen. I had checked it out from the school library that day, and later I heard Marlene, Heather, and Sarah talking in our hallway, and I stepped out to tell them that I had gotten it and we could watch it that night. Monsieur Richard happened to walk by just then and asked, “What language do you speak when you’re all together?” “Chinese!” Marlene said. “We all speak Chinese.” Later Heather parodied Sam’s line about the ring (“I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”) when Frodo hesitated to throw to into Mount Doom as, “I can’t throw it in for you, but I can throw you in!” I laughed so hard.

This will be my last entry in France. As soon as I’m done with this entry, all I have left to do is pack my last few things and sweep my room. Frodo’s monologue at the end of the movie struck me then and comes back to me now. “The Fellowship of the Ring, though eternally bound by friendship and love, was ended. Thirteen months to the day since Gandalf sent us on our long journey, we found ourselves looking upon a familiar sight. We were home. How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back?” When I watched it, I thought, that’s us. We’re the Fellowship of the Assistants, and soon, we’ll be ended.

It’s hard to describe how much I’m going to miss all of them. For the past seven months, we’ve done almost everything together. We were all in a foreign country, far away from our families and friends, so we really had to become friends with each other. And even though I was far away from home, I was never alone, because one of them was always right there, in the computer room or in the kitchen. Even in my own room, I could always tell when Heather had just gotten up or gone to bed, because I heard her bed creaking through the wall. I always knew when Marlene had walked by outside, because I heard her high heels clicking on the floor. I heard Sarah walking around in her room, singing Chinese songs. (I’ll never forget when Marlene suddenly started singing a song in Chinese; she had no idea what she was saying, she had just learned it from hearing Sarah sing it all the time.) I can only hope they all know that more than anything else – more than the the JM Barrie sites in London, the fabulous château at Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and even the goat cheese – they are the first and biggest reason why I’m glad I came to France.

Some Big Pictures of Us )
 
 
I remember how scared I was when I made my last entry in the United States back in September, before I came to France. I’m not going to say now that it was stupid, because even though there was nothing to be scared of, that was a very real fear. And I’m scared again now. Every time I turn on CNN International, there’s more gloomy news about the US economy, the loss of jobs, the shrinking dollar, the rising oil prices, the global flood crisis. I’m scared that soon I’ll become another overworked, underpaid American, in the country that doesn’t have good healthcare or public transportation or any of the other things they take for granted in France. I’m scared to think about my future. The only thing I can think to do is remind myself that when I came to France, I really had no idea what I was doing, but somehow, I made it work. I can only hope that I can do the same thing now that I’m going back to the United States.
rebecca_in_blue: (Annasophia)
Today Madame Camus gave me a little mug as a going-away present. She calls it a souvenir "of France and of Marie-France" (her first name). This afternoon Heather and I walked to Leclerc so I could buy a new suitcase; my old one broke on the way here. I managed to withstand the temptation of the McDonald's in the Leclerc parking lot by reminding myself that 1) I had a goat cheese pizza waiting for me for dinner, 2) I'll probably go to the McDonald's in Charles de Gaulle Airport on Monday before I leave, and 3) in a few days, I'll be back in the United States and going to McDonald's won't be a big deal anymore.

Today I had the most awkward encounter with a student ever. It's almost too painful to write about, but here goes. The student sees me in the hall and asks what we would be doing next week. I tell him that next week I'll be back in the United States. He feels obligated to tell me goodbye, and it's important to note here that in France, you usually kiss someone when you tell them goodbye. Or when you tell them hello. There are a few teachers at the lycée who have felt obligated to kiss me whenever they see me (and that is one thing I will not miss), simply because it's normal and it's what they do for every teacher here. It's never stopped feeling uncomfortable to me, and the minute I see this student lean toward me one fraction of an inch, I take a big step back and offer my hand for a handshake, explaining that this is the way people say hello and goodbye in the United States. Did I mention this student is about 16 and looks vaguely like Adam?

Sara is sitting next to me right now, translating a list of words into Chinese. I just asked her if she was studying her French, but no, she's studying German. She's so damn diligent, I always feel lazy next to her. I've changed my journal icons again, but I'm not sure how long I'll stick with these; I think my new default icon is pretty boring. Tomorrow I’m concentrating all my efforts on packing and running the last few errands.
rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)
The weather has been bizarre today, which I’m beginning to think is normal in Villers-Cotterêts. At breakfast it was cloudy and rainy; when Sarah and I went to the médiathèque this afternoon, it was warm and sunny, but just as we were getting back to the lycée, we spotted some dark clouds on the horizon. Soon there was a massive storm, complete with rain, hail, strong winds, and the students outside scurrying for cover. I stood at the door and laughed at them as they ran by. It felt good.

May 1 is a holiday in France (as if the French don’t have enough holidays already), something like the French Labor Day, I think. And May 8 is another holiday, because it’s the day World War II ended in Europe. Anyway, May 1 falls on a Thursday this year and the school closes for it, which apparently means that all the boarding students have to leave Wednesday evening, come back Friday morning, and leave again Friday evening. Heather could tell the students were leaving because her room was cold when she woke up; I could tell because I heard their suitcases clunking down the stairs when I woke up. I’m going to try to convince Heather and/or Sarah to walk to McDonald’s with me on our day off.

Nathalie couldn’t take us shopping this afternoon, so I walked to L’Epicerie d’Or and bought a baguette for dinner. I felt awkward walking back to the school with it under my arm. French people can do it so easily – I’ve seen them carrying four or five baguettes and walking their dog at the same time – so I guess it’s something that takes practice. The same goes for bagging your own groceries, which everyone has to do in France.

I’m worried about what Sarah will do when she’s the last assistant left; she doesn’t go back to Beijing until June, and after that she’s coming back here to teach for another year. I’m planning to keep in really good touch with her so she won’t be too lonely. But apparently there’s a student who’s been giving her problems, and the Chinese professor absolutely refuses to do anything about it. (That Chinese professor pisses me off to no end for the way she treats Sarah. Would it be so wrong if I prayed for her to suffer horribly?) Anyway, I’m determined to talk to Madame Camus or Monsieur Courtine about it before I leave, since Sarah doesn’t really know how to complain, get mad, or say no. And apparently I haven’t been a bad enough influence on her for her to learn from me.

I had a sort of random revelation yesterday. For some reason, I was thinking about middle school, and it occurred to me that yes, it was hellish, but in the end, it made me a stronger person.
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)

Sunday afternoon was sunny and almost hot, and Heather and I walked to the theater and saw Nim's Island. All the beautiful white-sand beach scenes made it pretty to look at, but the plot was rather thin. (Heather insisted there was no plot.) I'd like to see it again after I get back to the United States; the theater here showed it dubbed in French, obviously, so I'm sure I missed out on a lot. For some reason in this movie I thought that Abigail Breslin looked a lot like Rachel Hurd-Wood at that age, even though I'd never noticed a resemblance between them before.

The nice weather continued yesterday, and I walked to the cemetery in Villers-Cotterêts (a different one where I'd never been before). It never rained, but it got very windy and cloudy in a cool sort of way. I stayed there for a few hours, longer than I had intended. Alexandre Dumas's parents were buried there, and Dumas used to be buried there too, but his body was moved to the Pantheon in 2002.
 
One thing I like about Villers-Cotterêts is that is so much easier to see the seasons change here. When I arrived here back in September, the apple orchard across the street was full of apples; during winter the tree branches were bare and empty; now they're full of tiny pale green leaves and white blossoms. There are several trees near the school that are blooming bright pink flowers, and on the way back from the cemetery I saw the wind blowing the petals off one of them. It was so beautiful that I just stood and stared; it looked like a rainfall of pink light, and when it hit the ground, it made a solid pink carpet on the pale green grass. Just as I got back to the lycée, the clouds rolled in again and it started raining (perfect timing). Sarah and I watched it fall against the windows in the computer room.
 
Today it rained hard, but I went out anyway and tried to get some albuterol from the pharmacy (the inhaler I'm using now is almost empty). They looked at me like I was nuts when I showed them my inhaler, but in the end they gave me one like it for only 5€ -- except I'm not sure if it's what I need or not. I'm going to try to get a prescription from a French doctor before I leave, but since I've left this to the last minute, I'm not sure if I'll be able to.
 
Today Sarah and Mariana both said the same thing (in different languages) when I told them when I was leaving. "Monday? This Monday?" It was depressing, to say the least. Tomorrow I'm going to start packing and taking my room apart in earnest, something I've been dreading doing for over a month.
 
Nathalie, to me, just now: "Rebecca, have you seen Nakeisha? I mean, not Nakeisha, Marlene. I mean, not Marlene, Mariana. Have you seen Mariana?"
 
rebecca_in_blue: (Natalie & Rusty)
Some of the school teachers all ate dinner together at this Tunisien resteraunt in Villers-Cotterêts Friday night. It's not the sort of thing I would usually be interested in, but I'm trying to do as much as I can during my remaining time in France, so Heather, Sarah, and I went together. The dinner started at eight, so we guessed we would be back around midnight, because that's how long dinners like this last in France. I had couscous and two desserts (I shared a banana split with Sarah and these honey pastry things with Heater), which was good but hardly 17€ good, which is how much I had to pay after we all split the bill. I was exhausted and ready to walk back to the lycée when it was finally over, but no, because some of the teachers wanted to have after-dinner drinks, and even though Rebecca doesn't drink, she got lassoed into going by a lot of sneaky people, but she's not going to talk about that now. Anyway, I finally got back to the lycée around one in the morning and collapsed into bed.

This morning I woke up early and went to Paris to see the Pére Lachaise Cemetery. It was unbelievably big, beautiful, and peaceful. The sun was out and it seems like every flower in France is in bloom. I was able to take a lot of pictures for findagrave.com and will get them up as soon as Sarah lends me her USB port.

Abigail Breslin's new movie Nim's Island has actually come to the theater here in Villers-Cotterêts, and I've managed to talk Sarah and Heather into seeing it with me tomorrow! *geekily excited*

Heather and me, in the kitchen Thursday night...
Heather: So, are you gonna miss your students after you leave?
Me: (incredulous) Miss my students? Now, I'm going to miss a lot of people, but my students are not one of them.
Heather: Well, I'm gonna miss mine.
Me: (mockingly) Well, I'm gonna miss mine.
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)

I got back to Villers-Cotterêts early yesterday afternoon, after seeing Sara off on her plane. As good as it feels to be back at the lycée again, that's how depressing it feels to think about how soon I'll have to leave. But when life gives Rebecca problems, she eats goat cheese, and she's going to have some as soon as she finishes this entry.

Anyway, our trip was wonderful and exhausting. Please see this entry by [info]makebeliever for a much better recap than I could ever write. The only thing we didn't do, it occured to me just after she left, was have our pictures taken in a photobooth. I've been meaning to post some pictures since we got back yesterday, but instead I made a YouTube video and went grocery shopping. I had no groceries or clean clothes when I got back, and I still need to do my laundry tomorrow. And think up something to do with my classes next week.

While on our trip, I finally started reading that big old novel Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. Sara brought it with her to read on the trip, but I stole it from her. I think the plot moves at a snail's pace, or maybe even slower than that, but I'm still enjoying it. Du Maurier's writing style is something you can get lost in; the world she writes about is so foreign, but the way she conveys the narrator's feelings is so personal. Anyway, it's certainly made me like my name more; when I was a little girl, I hated my name because I never knew any other Rebeccas. Then around the time I got to high school, I started liking it for the exact same reason. (95% of the girls in my high school were named Kate, Katie, Ashley, or Amanda. I am not kidding.)

And now onto what everyone really wants to see ... pictures! There are only a few right now, but I'll try to post more later. 

rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)

Well, in bad news, Marlene left for Germany early yesterday morning. I cried. And I'm sure I mispronounced Auf Wiedersehen. I'm leaving just over two weeks after I get back from my trip with Sara. I still don't even want to think about that. I'll probably cry the entire plane ride back. I made some more of Marlene's stuffing for dinner tonight. That stuff is so good, almost as good as goat cheese pizza. Marlene might be reading this blog if she's bored enough, since I gave her the address before she left.

In good news, Sara arrived on Monday morning, and we're leaving for Paris and then for London tomorrow, so this will be my last update for a while. Sara's visit hasn't gone entirely smoothly, but there shouldn't be anymore problems from here on out. Her attempts to speak French amuse me to no end.

And in random news, today I finally bought a new hat like I've been meaning to (I saw the pictures of me at the party we had on Friday and decided not to take any more without covering up my hair). It's light blue and I really like it. Oh, and I saw a poster for Abigail Breslin's new movie Nim's Island -- or as it's called here, L'île de Nim -- when I was in Paris on Monday. I really hope it comes to the theater in Villers-Cotterêts. I could try to see it while I'm in Paris with Sara, but I can't imagine she would agree to see it with me. That's all I have to say for now, so I'll go pack.

 

rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)
Funny Chinese Sarah Moment: While we were cooking in the kitchen on Friday, I ate a little honey off my finger, and from Sarah's reaction, you'd think I'd just poured Avery Island Tabasco down my throat or something. Her: "Wow! Rebecca! You can eat honey like that?" Me: "Well, it's just honey, Sarah." Yes, apparently the girl who drinks vinegar out of the bottle can't eat honey off her finger. (Eating honey is normal, right? It just occured to me that it might be something that's just easy for me, like eating whole raw lemons.)

I got an opportunity to try Marlene's stuffing recipe a lot sooner that I'd anticipated. She's going back to Germany on Tuesday, so Mariana decided that Friday night we would throw a little surprise farewell party for her. Mariana said that we didn't need to cook, because she was making spaghetti for everyone and all we had to do was show up. Then on Thursday night, Mariana says that the oven in her apartment has suddenly quit working, so everybody needs to bring something. Anything! Now! So Friday morning I walked to Leclerc Express and bought the stuffing ingredients, and Sara and I spent several hours in the kitchen that afternoon, me cooking several batches of the stuffing, her cooking these chocolate Chinese dumpling things. We still managed to keep the whole a secret from Marlene, and everyone liked my stuffing, and there was a lot of ice cream and wine, so it was a very good evening.

I hate thinking about the future, but I have to do it sooner or later, so this week I sent my resume to a few places, hoping that it'll make finding a job easier once I get back in the States. I also went to a dentist here in Villers-Cotterêts Friday afternoon, and those of you who know me should be hella impressed by that. I usually don't go anywhere near a dentist unless someone is forcibly dragging me there or brow-beating me mercilessly about it or both. My dentist spoke English and said I only have one small cavity. I made another appointment to get it filled, which is more expensive than I thought it would be, but I really want to take care of it here in France, where I have the time and the money.

On Friday morning, while hunting down a mattress for Sara, I went into the girls dormitory, which I'd never done before. It reminded me a lot of the dorms at LSMSA. It's funny, because I still remember the day I got my rejection letter from them -- I cried for hours, I felt like my world was crashing down around me, but looking back now, it matters so little. I should try to remember that in a couple years, the decisions I'm making now will probably feel like that, too.
rebecca_in_blue: (Natalie & Rusty)
Nathalie told me and Sarah at breakfast this morning that she would be taking us shopping today between five and five-thirtry. But instead she left at 4:55, and since I wasn't in my room that time and she refused to wait for me, I didn't get to go. So I had to walk to the grocery store in the rain, and I'll have to do it again tomorrow because I can't possibly buy everything I need in one trip unless I'm in a car. I'm so pissed off at Nathalie that I won't even go into it.

Okay. Well, today Marlene gave me a copy of the stuffing recipe she used back at Thanksgiving. I'd asked her for a copy of it then, but I forgot about it and I thought she had too, until she translated it from German today and gave it to me. In case I lose the copy she gave me, and I probably will, I'm posting it here for future reference. I really want to learn how to make this. 

Marlene's Stuffing
Ingredients:
1 onion
1 apple
1 third a loaf of bread
Cream, butter, salt, pepper
Directions:
Cut the apple, onion, and bread slices into cubes.Heat a half-cup of butter in a frying pan, and put the onions in the pan first. Mix the apple and bread pieces together with salt and pepper, then put them in the pan too. To make sauce, add cream.

Marlene didn't go shopping with Nathalie today either, but that's because she's going back to Germany next Tuesday. (She's leaving early because she's going back to her university.) I have barely a month left before I go back to the United States. It's so scary that I don't even want to think about it. I mean, at least Marlene is going back to her university, her old job, and her own apartment in Hamburg; I wish I had that kind of security to go back to. But I just don't know what I want to do when I get back (neither does Heather), and one reason I came to France was to putt off making that decision. Meanwhile Sarah is staying here in Villers-Cotterêts to teach Chinese for another year, and she's been trying to convince me to stay too, which is just making things harder. This morning I was late getting up for breakfast (again -- there's something wrong with my alarm) and I told Sarah that at least when I'm gone she won't have to wait for me in the mornings anymore.
rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)

On Thursday afternoon I had a really horrible class. So horrible that when the bell finally rang and the students filed out the door, I said, "Get out, get out! I never want to see your faces again!" (Of course they couldn't understand me. I wouldn't have said it if they could have). On Thursday night, Heather cooked a traditional Korean dinner for all of us, which was very nice.

Sometime in the a.m. of yesterday morning, I woke up with a terrible cramp in my right leg (the kind of cramp that goes by a ridiculous name that I refuse to use because it has nothing to do with horses or men named Charlie). My leg is still sore.

Yesterday afternoon I took the train to Crépy-en-Valois to visit the cemetary, which was really nice. It was built into the side of a hill, so it had multiple levels; I started at the bottom of the hill, where the most recent graves were, and worked my way up to the oldest graves at the top, so it was like I was walking back in time. I managed to take a few pictures for findagrave.com before the weather got so bad that I had to leave. At one point the wind blew my umbrella handle against my face so hard that my lip started bleeding. I really am so sick of the weather here. I'm from Louisiana, so I don't mind rain, but I do mind cold rain. And I can't wait for good weather to go to a cemetary (or anywhere else), because if I waited for good weather, I would probably never set foot outside the school.

Anyway, I stayed up until about two a.m. this morning watching Paper Moon. It wasn't on my list of notable films with child actress performances to see in 2008, but it should have been. I absolutely loved it. Sometimes a talented child actress is the only thing worth watching in a terrible movie (Anna Paquin in The Piano is a good example), but this was not the case here. The movie and the whole cast were excellent, and Tatum O'Neal really deserved the Oscar she received for her performance, even though she won for Best Supporting Actress when she was the lead actress in the movie.

I had to type this post in a hurry, because I'm about to go downstairs and watch The Sound of Music with the other assistants. A link to my YouTube channel is below for those of you who requested it:
http://www.youtube.com/user/lastsafeplace

rebecca_in_blue: (dropped jaw)

Funny Chinese Sarah Moment. Heather, reading the box of a crib mobile that Nathalie bought for her daughter, who's having a baby in October: "It says made in PRC. I wonder what--" Sarah, automatically: "People's Republic of China."

Un-Funny Chinese Sarah Moment. On Monday night, Marlene asked Sarah what she thought about the "Free Tibet" protests. Cue Sarah exclaiming, "I think our government is right!" and launching into a long, confusing speech about how what China is doing is for the Tibetans' own good and how the Dalai Lama might talk about peace but he's actually very two-faced and violent. Marlene and I just looked at each other and didn't know what to say. (I still don't.)

Today was good in several parts. Grandma's last package of magazines finally arrived, so I have chocolate bars to eat and magazines to read. Heather, Sarah, and I went to the médiathèque, and I found Calvin and Hobbes books in French! I checked out two, It's a Magical World (French title is Le Monde est magique!) and Revenge of the Baby-Sat (French title is Fini de rire). It was hard not to check out all of them. Calvin and Hobbes in French!

Oh yeah, I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the day I made my first YouTube video. At that time I had 45 of them, which my calculator tells me is an average of one video every 8.1 days.

rebecca_in_blue: (dropped jaw)
Funny Chinese Sarah Moment. This afternoon, during our Easter brunch: Marina: "Sarah, how do you celebrate Easter in China?" Sarah: "No."

On Friday night Marlene and Heather invited me to go to the famous Château de Versailles with them the next day. I said yes, so yesterday was a very fun, very exhausting, almost twelve-hour day. We left the lycée at 9:45 am and got back around 9:30 pm. About six hours of it was traveling; we took the train to Paris, and from there took the metro and another train to Versailles. It was a very long and confusing journey, but I did get to jump over a metro turnstile, something I've always wanted to do (Marlene and Heather opted to crawl underneath it).

About an hour and a half of it was waiting in line outside the château. I don't think I've ever waited in such a long line in my life, and the weather was absolutely crazy. First it was sunny and semi-warm, ten minutes later it was cloudy and windy, ten minutes later it was hailing, ten minutes later the sun was out again. (I am not kidding.) Heather was the only one who thought to bring an umbrella, and it wasn't easy for all three of us to huddle under it. About two hours was touring the château, which was fabulous. The Royal Chapel was my favorite room. The painting on the ceiling was amazing, and I'm surprised I don't have a terrible crick in my neck now from staring up at it for so long.

About an hour was wandering around Paris before we caught the last train back to Villers-Cotterêts. We ate at the McDonald's across the street from the Gare du Nord in Paris, and since none of us had eaten since breakfast -- about ten hours before, and all I'd had was a green apple and the last four of my Oreos -- that bacon cheeseburger was probably the best part of the day, even better than Marie Antoinette's bedchamber. By the time we finally got back to the lycée, I'd been walking for so long that it felt like if I never stood up again for the rest of my life, my legs and feet would still be sore.

This morning we all slept in, got up around noon, and had a nice Easter brunch of pancakes, apple sauce, and candy. Joyeuses Pâques à tout le monde!
rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)
Funny Chinese Sarah Moment. When Nathalie took us shopping last Wednesday, Sarah bought one thing, a bottle of vinegar, which she drinks by itself out of a glass. She opened the bottle the minute we got back to the lycée and took a swing right there in the parking lot, while Nathalie watched in horror, literally screaming, "Sarah, don't drink that! Sarah, that's vinegar! Stop! Oh, no! No! She's drinking it out of the bottle! Oh, I can't watch! It gives me a stomach ache just to watch!" (She then asked me if we drank vinegar out of the bottle in America, too.)

I've been meaning to post since Wednesday, but I've been busy lately. And I mean busy with unimportant crap, so I really don't have much to say, anyway. The lycée is giving us a three-day weekend for Easter, which is nice, and this morning, Madame Camus, one of the English teachers I work with, totally surprised me by giving me a little chocolate bunny as an Easter present. It is so cute that I'm not sure if I'll be able to eat it! And American Sara and I are finally starting to make plans for her trip here (hooray!).


The sun came out today, and I immediately dropped what I was doing and went for a walk. I initially headed for the train station to go to Crépy-en-Valois, the next town over, but then I realized I had forgotten my debit card and my carte 12-25, so I instead headed for the Villers-Cotterêts cemetery. I enjoyed about 45 minutes of sunlight and blue skies before the clouds rolled in again.

I think I have found a solution to the goat cheese and baguette problem. Today when I walked to Leclerc Express for my baguette, I also picked up a few kiwis, figuring that eating something cool and juicy with the goat cheese would take the edge off. It seemed to work, although my tongue is a bit sore from all the citric acid and Marlene said she was surprised to see me eating something healthy. Haha.

The other night I had a dream that a Piano-era Anna Paquin and a Chocolat-era Victoire Thivisol were making a movie together. I woke up disappointed that I couldn't see it.
rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)
I hope that at least some of you don’t already know the answer to this question. (If you do, then please don't give it away!) If you don’t know, then please make a guess before you click on the answer and tell me what you guessed afterwards, because I curious to see how many people will actually guess right. And no cheating!

In France, it is not a rabbit that brings Easter candy. What animal/person/thing traditionally brings Easter candy in France?
A) A lamb
B) A church bell
C) An egg
D) A religious figure (such as an angel, an apostle, or even Jesus himself)


Click here for the answer! )

(FYI: Marlene says that in Germany, it is a rabbit that brings the Easter candy.)
rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)
The town library has the first two Lord of the Rings movies but not the third one, which drove Marlene crazy. Fortunately the lycée library has the third one, so I checked it out yesterday and we stayed up until past midnight watching it. Marlene has a Ron-Weasley-like fear of spiders and had to cover her eyes every time the giant spider came on.

I think I may have to scrap one of my favorite meals, which is a package of goat cheese microwaved and spread over a big baguette. (I usually eat this for dinner every Friday. I had it last night while we were watching Return of the King, and Marlene said, “Oh yeah, it’s Friday.”) But the last two times I’ve eaten it, I’ve felt strangely ill afterwards – very hot, thirsty, and out-of-breath. Last night it was so bad that for a minute I thought I was going to pass out. But I don’t know if I have the willpower to resist goat cheese, no matter what ill effects it might have on me. (Or should that be "affects"? Eh, who knows?)

The other day there was a debate on CNN between spokespeople from the Clinton and Obama campaigns, who spent most of their time saying, “Can I finish?” and, “I didn’t interrupt you.” In the past two weeks or so, I’ve seen the dollar hit a record-low against the euro separate three separate times (it’s now at €1.54, I think). Ugh! If the economy doesn’t get better soon, it’s tempting to just stay in France.
rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)
The weather forecast on CNN International says that a cold front is moving across Europe, and believe me, Rebecca is feeling it. I don't think it's been this cold here since December, if ever. And I know it has never been this cold in Louisiana, at least not in my lifetime.

Snow was predicted for yesterday, which gave me fantasies of snowball fights the entire town blanketed in white. But there was no snow yesterday, just a lot of wind. It was still cold today, although it wasn't quite as bad since the sun came out. Maybe the sunshine is one reason why I caught so off-guard during lunch. Halfway through another gross cafeteria meal (it was a pile of beans and a piece of sausage so oily that oil literally spurted out when I pierced it with my fork), I happened to look out the window. What I saw made me nudge Sarah and point. "Sarah, what is that? Out there, do you see it? That white stuff falling from the sky, what is that?"

That's right, the first time Rebecca saw snow, she didn't even recognize it. But neither did Sarah, since she's used to the big snowflakes of Beijing, not these light, tiny ones that disappeared as soon as they hit the ground. I stood at the window and watched it for as long as I could, but it only lasted a few minutes. At least my first reaction to snow was a bit better than Scout Finch's.

After lunch Sarah and I went to the library, which we do every Wednesday. First we walked to Nakeisha's room to borrow the key to her gate, because it's much quicker getting to the library by her gate (we borrow it from her every Wednesday, and in return we check her out a movie from the library). But Nakeisha wasn't in her room, so we walked back to the main building and left through the front gate. We were almost to the library when Sarah realized that she had forgotten her card and I had forgotten the disc of the DVD I checked out last week (I had only brought the case, which was empty). So we walked all the way back to the school, picked up the things we had forgotten, and left for the library again. I spent the whole time saying, "Jesus, it's cold," to which Sarah always replied, "You do not know what is cold. You come to Beijing, you will know." That maybe true, but I told Sarah she doesn't know hot until she comes to Louisiana in June to August.

An American French teacher visited the school yesterday; he's from a prep school in Connecticut that does a student exchange with the lycée every year. He worked as an assistant a few years ago, and when I mentioned to him that I haven't noticed much improvement in my French, he said that he didn't only realized how much better his French had gotten after he came back to the United States.

P.S. Would somebody please ask Grandma if she ever got a package from me with some candies and photos in it?
rebecca_in_blue: (Alicia & Sandy)
A post of odds and ends...

Last night I had a dream about The Merchant of Venice (it involved Shylock and Jessica, their relationship has always fascinated me). I did some reading up on it today and found out there's a theater in Paris that's performing it this Friday. I don't know if I'll be able to get tickets, but since I don't have any classes Friday afternoon, I'm going to try to go see it. I absolutely love The Merchant of Venice; I think it is Shakespeare's best work and also (unfortunately) one of his most under-appreciated.

I have recently learned how to cook a steak haché, and I'm hella proud of myself for it.

I never did post what I thought of Atonement, so I'll do so now (no spoilers) ... As much as I love child actresses, sometimes they just don't live up to the hype. Abigail Breslin is a good example. Yes, she was excellent in Little Miss Sunshine, but was she Oscar-level excellent? No. (Sorry, Abigail.) But this was not the case with 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan, whose role got her nominated for Best Supporting Actress (the same category Abigail was nominated in, as well as child actresses Anna Paquin, Tatum O'Neal, and Mary Badham). Keira Knightley and James McAvoy might be all over the posters, but I think Saoirse's character was the deepest and the most important. She exuded innocence, as well as a confidence and self-assurance that reminded me of Rachel Hurd-Wood in Peter Pan. She also come off as the most refreshing and unassuming actor in a film that sometimes got too full of itself. The five-minute steadycam shot of Dunkirk Beach seemed to exist more to get the audience to say, "Wow, what a great shot!" than for any other reason. And one more thing that got on my nerves was that the characters often spoke really, really fast. The first prize goes to Keira Knightley for her line Yourealizethat'sprobablythemostvaluablethingweown! A close second is the exchange between Saoirse and Juno Temple: Isupposeyou'regoingtobeArabella - Wellnotnecessarily - InthatcasedoyoumindifIplayher?

Here's the real reason not to vote for McCain. You think Laura Bush is bad? Well, she is, but Sarah and I have recently decided that John McCain's wife Cindy McCain (he's 71, she's 53) happens to look just like the devil. I will now pimp some icons.


All made by me.

One day at lunch I was sitting next to one of the teachers (he taught science, I think) and he asked me where he was from. I ended up telling him a little bit about the French history of Louisiana, and his reaction was great when I told him that my grandmother's first language is Cajun French. "You mean, she's never studied French? And she's never been to France? But she speaks French?"

The other day I poured Sarah a drink in the cafeteria, and when she said "Thank you," I replied with the Chinese word for "You're welcome." She taught me this word a few months ago, and I guess she thought I had forgotten it, because she was so surprised that she exclaimed "Wow!" and almost dropped her fork. The look on her face was absolutely priceless.

And for no reason...
I like pickled onion, I like piccalilli
Picked cabbage is all right
With a bit of cold meat on a Sunday night
I can go tomato, but what I do prefer
Is a little bit of cucum, I come, you come
A little bit of cucumber

I will never get tired of that song.
rebecca_in_blue: (dropped jaw)
So today I made a trip into Paris and saw Atonement. My train from Villers-Cotterêts was astronomically late, and I missed the 2:05 showing that I had planned to see, but in the end I didn't mind because I killed time waiting for the 4:30 showing wandering around Paris, which was nice. I'm planning to go back, probably on Friday, and visit the Paris Holocaust Memorial Museum. I'm not as scared of the city as I used to be, even though today was slightly marred by…

Scary Moment #1. After walking for over an hour, I go into a little park and sit down on a bench. Then this man sits down next to me and asks (in French) if he can talk to me. I'm a little wary, so I pretend not to speak French (which is practically true anyway), because I thought that would make him leave me alone. It doesn't. First, in very broken English, he asks me where I'm from, then he manages to explain to me that he's a photographer, he takes pictures of models for magazines, and he likes my face because I'm not wearing any makeup, and I could earn €200 an hour if I modeled for him, and would I like to make an appointment with him for tomorrow? (I am not kidding.) So I drop the I-only-speak-English act and tell him in my best French, "I do not know you, and I demand that you leave me alone." I got out of the park as quick as I could and walked around a very crowded tourist area for a good while in case he tried to follow me or something.

Scary Moment #2. I'm standing on the street looking at a metro map when a woman approaches me, holding her hand out for money and talking urgently in a language I can't identify. I could tell she wasn't going to go away, and I couldn't go away from her because I needed to look at this map. I had some spare coins in my pocket, so I put one in her hand (it was a 1€ coin, I think), but she still doesn't go away. She starts SHOUTING me – and again, I have no idea what language she's speaking – and pointing to the coat pocket I had taken the coin out of. I get scared and run away, coming back to read my map only after I make sure the coast is clear. And the moral of this story, children, is not to give money to crazy women on the streets of Paris.

But don't get the wrong impression, because overall it was a nice day. I actually managed to find a McDonald's! It was in a tall, narrow building, and its facade was decorated with carvings of a king, a stork, and an angel. It looked so cool. I also saw a sign about a protest for the return of the franc (the currency France used before the €), which I found hilarious. I'm not even French and I can tell you the franc is never coming back. And I enjoyed Antonement, although I was disappointed to no end when I found out the little theater didn't serve concessions (I had a craving for some nice movie popcorn). I'll talk about the film when I've had some more time to think about it, but right now I'm too tired out from my day.
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)
Sarah lent me her USB port (or whatever the damn thing is called) that allows photos to be uploaded to the computer from my digital camera. And I'm very glad, because today I took a lot of fun pictures!

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