rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)
700th LJ ENTRY! And I decided to celebrate by changing my journal layout! I'd had my eye on this new layout for some time, and I really love it. It's such a cleaner, simpler, more grown-up look. I switched over to it last night and spent some time tweaking it to get my sidebar just right. I don't have a personalized header image in this layout, so I didn't have to fiddle with the CSS code (which is always a headache) at all! Hallelujah!

I also thought my 700th post would be a good time to stroll down memory lane and look back at my past layouts. Click on each screencap for a bigger version.


Below the cut )

See also: 600th entry and 500th entry.

In other news, last week, we got a lot of food at work for a contest we won some time ago. There was barbeque, mac and cheese (which was a nice change from the pizza smell that's always in our break room), picked jalapenos, and... pickled onions! I don't know how I'd never tried those before! They were so good, and I ate just about all of them. Today I went out and bought the stuff to make my own. My homemade ones aren't quite as good as the ones we had at work, though.

On the art calendar, I'm looking at Henri D'Albret, King of Navarre, a 16th-century enamel portrait painting by Léonard Limosin.

THREE DAYS UNTIL WE LEAVE FOR LITTLE ROCK!
rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)
Okay, I kinda did a lot of complaining in my last post, so today I decided to make today a Thankful Thursday. I'm calling this one the "cold weather edition," even though it isn't exactly cold here. It's a typical Louisiana winter, cold one day and warm the next.

Things Rebecca is thankful for during the wintertime:

  • Tovah loves sleeping in bed with us, and on cold nights, it's really nice having a warm cat curled up next to you. (Although she's very obviously about preferring Sara's bed over mine.)
  • The water in this apartment gets hot and stays hot! In fact, I almost burned myself right after we moved in. The hot water never lasted this long in Smallpartment, which had the oldest plumbing known to man, so I try not to take this one for granted.
In other, more embarrassing news... I can't believe I'm posting this, but here goes. I've set a goal for myself to write a fanfiction for fandoms in every letter of the alphabet. I made this goal recently, after realizing that I'd written for fandoms starting with A, B, C, and D. It's going to take some time, but I'm sure that I can do it, since I've already written fandoms in more letters than not. Writing fewer NCIS stories has helped. Make no mistake, I still love NCIS, but writing for new and different fandoms feels kinda liberating. My other goal, to write more stories about Jewish characters in different fandoms (made here), is still going, too.

For my own future reference:
Fandoms I've written stories in: A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L, M, N, P, R, S, X, and Z.
Letters I have yet to write: E, F, I, K, O, Q, T, U, V, W, and Y.

I've never written a fanfic for Star Trek, but recently I browsed around in that category, and the first fic I happened to see was Data/Tasha Yar. When I told Adam and Sara this, they said: Adam: "Well, they were a canon couple. I mean, sorta." Sara: "Well, it could've been worse. It could've been Warf/Troi!" Adam: "I kinda like Warf and Troi together."

P.S. Quvenzhane Wallis, the young actress from Beasts of the Southern Wild, got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress today!!! She's nine years old and the youngest actress to ever get this nomination and she's from Louisiana! What a time to be alive!
rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)
Two years ago today, Rebecca published the first chapter of her first fanfiction. I know some people post fanfiction stats at the new year (like my friend [livejournal.com profile] alidiabin did here) but I prefer to do it on my ficaversary. So far, I've still stuck to my pattern of one story for NCIS, then two for different fandoms, but I'll probably abandon that in Year 3. Don't get me wrong, I still ♥ NCIS as much as ever, but I just don't have an endless number of story ideas for it. (I'm still slowly spending this summer posting episode reviews for Season 8. Maybe I'll find more plot-bunnies that way.) My muse really wants to write for more fandoms.

Year 2: 15 stories, 36 chapters/shots, 242 reviews, 6 fandoms. 10 of my stories are for NCIS, and 5 are for other fandoms. Of my NCIS stories, 6 are tagged to specific episodes. The first story I wrote during Year 2 was Hiding Place, and the last was Know How It Feels. The longest story I wrote during Year 2 was Defensive Wounds at 15,260 words; the shortest was A Girl with a Watering Can at 843 words. My most-reviewed multi-chapter story for Year 2 was Defensive Wounds at 88 reviews. My most-reviewed one-shot was Daffodil at 14.

I wrote fewer -- six less -- but longer stories in Year 2 than in Year 1. (I only wrote one story a month for most of the year, except for a few months when my muse started working double-time.) My average story length jumped up by about 600 words. I also went a little crazy compiling more stats!


Overall statistics )

Reviews per chapter )

Last year's ficaversary is here. On Sara's art calendar, I'm looking at Meule de foin, matin, Eragny, an 1899 oil painting by Camille Pissarro.

P.S. On a more serious note, today is also the anniversary of something else. It was just about a year ago (2011's 4th of July weekend) that Grandma moved out of her old house. I remember how depressed I was over that, and it was hard because Grandma's old house WAS my childhood, but damn, I really wish I could go back in time and tell myself to stop moping and start being grateful that Grandma is still alive! What is it they say about hindsight?
rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
I keep having dreams where Grandma comes back from the dead to cook something for me. Then I wake up hungry. It's kinda depressing. I recently found an old cassette tape I recorded years ago of Grandma talking about her early life and speaking some Cajun French. (I must have done it as a project for one of my French classes.) It's nice to be able to still hear her voice. I really wish I had some recording of Dad or Aunt Carolyn's voices.

I've been wasting spending time lately at the website Awful Library Books. It's a very interesting place where librarians blog about books that are being retired from their libraries. Most of them are hilariously outdated books on fashion tips or computer guides, but my jaw dropped when I came across Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child's Book About Satanic Ritual Abuse. I had to see it to believe it. (Things get even better in part two!) There's also this old baby-name book with some very odd list categories; this one is for you, Sara.

Two exciting things about this week: I finally figured out how to crop to ratio in the Bitmap Paint program (I've been wanting to do this for years) and the website Child Starlets switched most of their content to FREE! These are huge deals for me.

I just got back from the Tu Bish'vat seder at the temple, but I will blog about that later. It lasted for over two hours, so I'm exhausted now. Torah study is tomorrow morning, and hopefully there'll be some more fun stuff tomorrow night.

FOUR ... DAYS ... LEFT until NCIS's 200th episode!
rebecca_in_blue: (dropped jaw)
Hallelujah, I think (and hope) one of my coworkers quit today! She was such a mean, nasty little person that I just about wanted to throw a party when I heard she was gone.

Okay, now onto more grown-up news. Most of you have probably already heard of SOPA and PIPA, two pieces of legislation that, if passed, have the potential to cripple the Internet as we know it. And if you hadn't heard about it before, you almost certainly did yesterday, when Google, Wikipedia, and other websites blacked out in protest. Rebecca decided to hop on the bandwagon, so following Wiki's urging, I sent e-mails to the four Louisiana Congress people known to support SOPA and PIPA. A lot of other LA residents must have done the same, because within a few hours, two of those three publicly withdrew their support. One of my friends on FaceBook posted the news with the message, “Guns down, smoke 'em if you got 'em!”

I saw my first 3D movie this week, Disney's rerelease of Beauty and the Beast. I know, I know, everyone else has already seen a 3D movie. I'm always the last to catch onto these crazes. They're rereleasing a lot of old stuff in 3D, and I think I'd like to see Titanic when it comes out. I'm not crazy about sitting through three and a half hours of movie again (yes, I saw it when it came out – who didn't?), but it's so epic.
rebecca_in_blue: (raised eyebrows)

One year ago today, Rebecca published the first chapter of her first fanfiction. Some statistics for my own future reference: 21 stories, 37 chapters/shots, 8 fandoms, 305 reviews, ~2500 average words per story. 14 of my stories are for NCIS, and 7 are for other fandoms. Out of my NCIS stories, 7 are tagged to specific episodes. The first story I wrote during Year 1 was Hell and High Water, and the last was Measure of a Man. The longest story I wrote during Year 1 was Hell and High Water at 8,683 words; my shortest story was A Day's Work at 605 words. My most-reviewed multi-chapter story for Year 1 was With Blood on Her Hands at 72 reviews. My most-reviewed one-shot was Silver and Gold at 19.

Although FF.net has an option to automatically rank your stories by number of reviews, I also like to rank my multi-chapter stories by number of reviews per chapter. So, I made my own list. But since I only wrote five multi-chapter stories during Year 1, it's pretty short!

It's under this cut. )


For some reason, I made a rule at the beginning that for every two NCIS fics I wrote, I had to write one for a different fandom. I've stuck to it so far, but I'm not sure how long it'll last. There are a few that I'm embarrassed to look back on and wonder, "How did I ever write something so awful?" but for the most part, I'm proud of what I've put out there. It's been an interesting thing to do. I've met several nice folks (e.g. [livejournal.com profile] kew121) and a few strange ones. I'm currently hacking away at my first ficathon, and I sure hope it doesn't suck too much. Update: My Year 2 stats are posted here!

Okay, enough nerdiness. Sara, Athena, and I went out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant today. I don't eat Chinese food often (almost never) and had too much fried stuff that I'm really regretting now. Ugh. The stereotype that all Jewish people love Chinese food is one that Rebecca won't fulfill. And the one that all Jews are rich.

rebecca_in_blue: (raised eyebrows)

If you're wondering why I've been so absent from the blog word recently, our computer crashed last Friday. No one was really surprised, because it had been on its last legs for a while (in its defense, it was +6 years old) but it still sucked that it croaked so suddenly. Although it might have been repairable, we really didn't think it was worth the trouble, and I'd been dying for Windows 7 ever since my mom got her new computer. So here I am, posting from... our new laptop!

I just got it set up this morning, so we're still getting the hang of it, but it's freaking awesome! It's so fast, and WordPad and Bitmap Paint have gotten damn swanky. I uploaded some pictures from my camera and set them as my background image, to change every three minutes. (Yes, Rebecca is in geek heaven!) I had most of my files saved on a flash drive, so the only major loss was my iTunes library. I have to start over from scratch, and right now I'm importing several CDs. (I'm hoping I can go over to CJ & Co's sometime this week and copy some songs onto a flash drive? Guys, if you're reading this?)


I'd had a little money saved up for a rainy day, so it didn't put me in the red, but I sure wish this hadn't come right after my first car crash.

Tomorrow is a new episode of NCIS, and the preview showed Gibbs asking EJ if she was sleeping with Tony (zomg!) ... but Rebecca will likely miss it (boo!) ... because my Jewish grandmother asked me to attend a meeting of the women's organization at our temple (yay!).

rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)

While on her lunch hour today, Rebecca enjoyed the world's most delicious lunch: a cherry Coke, a Snickers bar, and slice of hot, delicious pizza from a gas station! The last two days were absolutely frigid, but today the sun finally came out, and it was even warm enough for me and Sable to eat outside on the grass. (He had a few bites of pizza crust.) If there's any better lunch than that in the world, I don't want to know.

On the drive back from my lunch back, I heard Willow Smith's infuriatingly catchy "Whip My Hair" on the radio, and when I absent-mindedly started singing it at work, one of my co-workers almost died laughing! Hmph.

It was so cold yesterday that a fountain in our neighborhood was frozen solid. The water had frozen in mid-spurt, and it was so beautiful that I wanted to take a picture. So I braved the cold, and I'd walked the whole frigid block before I realized the batteries in my camera were dead! I was so frustrated and freezing that I went back home, climbed into bed, and didn't again emerge until it was time to go to temple. Upon walking in, I almost got run over by one of my sassy Jewish grandfathers asking in horror, "Rebecca, you didn't ride your bike today, did you?" I was tempted to remind him that Rebecca's crazy, not stupid. Yeah, like I'd go bike-riding in 20-degree weather, Jacob. But I guess it was sweet that he cared.

I may have gotten the job that I interviewed for on Thursday. I just don't know if I want it or not. Decisions, decisions. I'm almost hoping that they don't offer me the job, so I'll be able to avoid making one.

P.S. I'm currently on Facebook in another window, and two friends felt the need to tell me that NCIS is on TV right now. Haha, I guess everybody knows what my obsession is. The shrink/flashback episode (A Man Walks Into a Bar) is this Tuesday. The wait is killing me!

rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)

When I logged into LiveJournal yesterday, I found 24 new items in my inbox. And that's a lot for me, since my inbox is usually empty. I didn't know what was up (and thought for a fleeting moment that my young actress community had gotten featured) until I went to the homepage and saw...

As a child, did you feel like you were you expected to pursue a certain type of career? How did this make you feel? Did you wind up choosing a different profession or path?

Submitted By [info]

rebecca_in_blue

<input ... >
View 811 Answers
 
 
...one of my suggestion questions got featured for Writer's Block! I am so geekily excited by this. I got about eighteen new friend requests (most of them from people in Russia, for some odd reason) but no new members at my young actress community. *sigh*

We did inventory last Saturday at work; I'm glad that's over, but now we're officially in the Back-to-School season. The store was so packed today that when Boss Man asked Josh to stay late, he literally turned and ran. It sucked for me, but I couldn't say anything because I probably would've done the exact same thing. (Probably? Okay, definitely.) And it's not even August yet! The only light at the end of the tunnel is the Season 8 premiere of NCIS.

A few days ago, Sable dug up this old piece of rawhide he had buried against the back fence. I was there when he buried it, otherwise I wouldn't have known what it was, because it was no longer identifiable as rawhide. It had turned solid black and had the foulest, nastiest stench you could possibly imagine. I've smelt my share of stinkiness (I pick up dog shit regularly and have eaten a variety of smelly French cheeses) but nothing even compared to this. And Sable acted like it was manna from Heaven! He would've brought it inside, but I couldn't take the looming odor of death, so I threw it away. I had to wrench the disgusting thing out of his mouth, which made me very nervous because he doesn't have many teeth left. He was so pissed at me after I threw it away. Crazy dog.
rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)
The first hurricane of the 2010 season, Alex, has appeared in the Gulf. Bad news for the people of Mexico (where it's currently expected to make landfall) and even worse news for us if it makes the oil spill spread further and faster. Which it probably will. So in the meantime, I'm enjoying all the fresh, cool wind and rain that it's sending our way. It rained for most of today and yesterday, but not so hard that I couldn't go bike riding in it. It felt so nice. I like to think that somewhere in Jamaica and Mexico, Nakesha and Mariana are enjoying some cooler weather, too.

Re: the oil spill, by the way, our street has been flooded by storm surges before, because it's a former drainage canal that connects to a lake that's part of a river that flows into the Gulf. So my worst-case scenario is a river of oil rising right outside my bedroom window!

Sable's skin is bad enough as is, but it always gets worse during the summer, so yesterday I finally gave him an overdue, much-needed bath. He was awful. He's never liked baths, but usually he just suffers through them silently, with Gibbs-like stoicism. ("Stoic? You think my house is stoic?" Oh dear, how does everything I talk about end up back at NCIS?) This time he whined like I was killing him! I've never bathed a squirming baby, but now I think I have some idea what it's like.

In other, geekier news, I've begun writing fanfiction (to quote Craig Ferguson again, "Don't dare laugh at that! How dare you laugh at that!"), which is very strange and not something I've ever really done before. While I am glad to finally have those creative juices flowing again in some way, the bad news is that inspiration only comes late at night when I should be in bed. The past two nights, I stayed up until about two in the morning, and both times I had to be up at eight. Although the second time was more Sable's fault for wrestling with the comforter.

I'm off for the 4th of July this weekend! I'm still debating how I should spend the day, and whether I should make some dessert for the occassion.
rebecca_in_blue: (dropped jaw)

Our keyboard had gotten so grime-encrusted over the years -- there were sunflower seed shells under the keys -- that when I bought a new mouse today (our old one had been sticking), I was tempted to buy a new keyboard, too. But they don't come cheap, so I bought a keyboard-cleaning pad instead. And I'm glad I did, because cleaning off the keyboard was surprisingly fun! You press the pad onto the keys, and when you pull it away, all the dust and gunk comes off with it. (The pad is supposed to be reusable, but our keyboard was so dusty and gunky that we might've used it all up.) It made the tops of the keys so clean that Sara and I wanted to clean the sides too, so we popped off all the keys, wiped them down, and popped them back on. Sara was geekily excited when she realized you could pop off the keys. I'm not the only nerd in this apartment, just the nerdier one. Maybe we'll clean the microwave next. Never mind.

There's nothing I love more than random encounters with adorable animals. Adam has been telling me about this little black kitten that's been hanging around the house, but I didn't see her (I think it's a her) until I was out bike riding today. She ran right up to me like she'd been expecting me, and let me her and purred and purred. She's solid black and very tiny, so I named her Petite Noirette. She's also totally domesticated -- not all feral like Mary Andromeda's kittens -- which makes me wonder where she came from. I told Adam he should bring her in the house, because she's so tiny and outside she'll probably get killed by something (also saw a family of raccoons while I was out bike riding) or, more likely and possibly worse, run over by Mom. I was tempted to bring her home with me, but our big fierce dog eats little kittens for breakfast!

Young actress video clips to get excited about!
1) A special clip of Jodelle Ferland in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Don't get me wrong, I am not a Twilight fan, but Jodelle is a great young actress who's long been overlooked, and this is a high-profile and possibly star-making role for her.
2) The trailer for Somewhere. Okay, so this film looks very meh (or maybe that's just the fault of the ultra-boring trailer: about two lines of dialogue, no hint of a plot, and trying to scream, "Look, this film's so indie!" in our faces) but who doesn't love Elle Fanning?
3) The trailer for Ramona and Beezus. The Ramona books have been around for so long, and I'm so excited they're finally getting made into a movie! It's true that Selena Gomez looks nothing like how Beezus was described in the books, but I think Joey King makes a very good Ramona. She even looks vaguely like the old cover illustrations of Ramona that I remember from childhood. I told Sara I was looking forward to this, and she made fun of me.

rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)
I managed to get to the cemetery on Memorial Day, and the Avenue of Flags was a sight to behold. (Lucky for everyone that the thunderstorm didn't come till later that evening.) Picture as many American flags as you've ever seen in one place, then imagine even more. It was hot and bright -- and I'd lost my sunglasses; just broke down yesterday and bought a new pair * -- but I walked around and took some horribly out-of-focus pictures that did absolutely no justice to the scene.

Then I headed to my mom's house for some barbeque. I still had my digital camera that I'd taken to the cemetery with me, so I decided to use their computer to upload some photos to Find a Grave and discovered that their tower has an SD reader built into it. It was the coolest thing! Hm, it just occurred to me that maybe I could use their computer to format my SD cards, since my camera has apparently lost that function. Damn, then I'd be in hog heaven. Geek heaven?

I was off for Memorial Day, which was sweet, but the downside is that I'll have worked only four days both this week and last week ('cause I called in sick last Friday). My next paycheck is going to be teeny-tiny. But at least I'll be working more hours next week, after Tracey goes on her maternity leave.

For all the distant rainclouds and rumblings of thunder lately, we've had very little actual rain. Today it was sunny when I left the apartment and sunny when I got to work, with a rainstorm inbetween (which, according to my manager, hadn't touched our strip mall at all). Talk about your scattered showers.

* Things I will never like: Riding my bike without sunglasses. It has to be very cloudy or dark for me to bike without my sunglasses on. I don't know why, but I hate the idea that other people can tell where I'm looking. My sunglasses make me feel protected, shielded. I'd rather bike in shorts than bike without them. Well, maybe.

rebecca_in_blue: (happy)

I was off on Tuesday, but rather than sleep in, I woke up early to attend a local history program at the geneology library. With most events at that library, I'm the youngest person in the room by a huge margin. But on Tuesday morning there was actually one other person my age, a girl I used to be friends with in middle and elementary schools but hadn't seen in a long time. So that was a little weird. The presentation was very interesting. I learned a good deal about the history of my city, and the power point presentations and people taking notes made me feel like I was back in school, in a good way. The librarian who gave the lecture isn't from the United States, and I went crazy trying to place her accent -- sometimes it sounded French, sometimes it didn't -- until she happened to mention that she was from Belgium.

One of my co-workers has a lot of pirated DVDs, and sometimes he brings them to work and plays them on the TV in the break room. The weird thing is that I can only catch them during my breaks, and so far I've seen about ten minutes each of Gran Torino, Benjamin Button, and Taken. Gran Torino looked really bad. I imagine that if some really old mean bulldog could talk, it would have Clint Eastwood's voice. Benjamin Button made me want to see more (I got to see the scenes with Elle Fanning).

Things I Will Never Like: The dogs that live next-door to my grandma's house. My dad used to call them the "concentration camp guard dogs," which is exactly what they are. And I'm a dog person, so you know they have to really be monsters for me to hate them. Owning dogs that are very big, very vicious, and keeping them behind one puny chain-link fence in a residential neighborhood should be against the law. It's only a matter of time before the beasts break through that fence and kill us all.

I have set a goal for myself for tomorrow.

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: (excited grin)

Some Random Thoughts…

Last February, I found a copy of my seventh grade reading book (Remember back when Reading and English were still different subjects?) in the for-sale aisle at the library. It remains my best find at that library to date. I absolutely love finding old textbooks, especially literature ones. I think it’s because rereading them confirms just how good my memory really is. Someday I’m going to try to find my sixth and eighth grade reading books on eBay or Amazon.

Something I love about poems – and to a lesser extent, books – is that you can have completely different reactions to them depending on the time of your life when you read them. (Of course this isn’t true in all cases. An English professor once told me that I would appreciate The Great Gatsby if I reread when I was older. Whatever.) I read Oranges, by Gary Soto, for school when I was 12, didn’t like it, and forgot about it. I remembered it a few days ago during breakfast. The school serves breakfast at 7:30, when it’s still dark outside, and an orange usually comes with it. One morning the poem’s final lines suddenly came back to me.

I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

I think it would be really awesome to have a sound effects machine. This occurred to me the other day when I was reciting The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. (I’m trying to memorize long poems; right now I’m working on Paul Revere (Longfellow), The Brooke (Tennyson, or “Tennis, anyone?” as Dad called him), and The Love Song of JAP (Eliot). I know I’ll never fully memorize that last one, but I’m giving it a try anyway. This is turning out to be a very long parenthetical break.) Anyway, it occurred to me how cool it would be to do a reading of Paul Revere with sound effects in the background – soldiers marching, wind blowing, horse hoofbeats, dogs barking, roosters crowing, gunshots, etc.

Today I taught my students the words advantage and disadvantage, pro and con. To help them remember I told them the joke, “If con is the opposite of pro, does that mean Congress is the opposite of progress?” They actually got it.

rebecca_in_blue: (raised eyebrows)

Four random snippets of my life in France...

#1) I am fascinated by French children; I've been studying the language longer than some of them have been alive, but they still speak it better than me. Conversation with the little girl who was too short to reach the straw dispenser at McDonald's...
Me [handing her a straw]: Do you want a straw? Here.
Her: Yes, but I need four.
Me: What?
Her: I need four.
Me
[handing her three more]: Oh, four. Here.
Her: Do you know where the napkins are?
Me: What?
Her: The napkins.
Me [looking in one napkin dispenser]: Oh, the napkins. Well, that's empty.
Her [as I start to look in another napkin dispenser]: No, that one's empty too.
Me: Oh. Uh, I don't know where the napkins are.
Her [wandering away]: Daddy, where are the napkins?

#2) Just when you think your French is improving, this happens. Conversation with the woman at the front desk of the town tourism office, during my hunt for my reci-passé...
Me: Excuse me, where is the Mairie, please?
Her: The what?
Me: Uh... the Mairie?
Her: Oh, the Mairie. Just leave our office, turn left, and it's next to the church.
Me: But... that's not the town hall next to the church?
Her: The Mairie is the town hall.
Me: Oh! They're the same thing?
Her: Yes...
Me: Oh, okay.

#3) Further proof that Nathalie is Hagrid: Hagrid's official job is keeper of the keys and grounds at Hogwarts; Nathalie is the gatekeeper at the lycée. Both of them live on their school grounds, both have big dogs (Fang and Mowgli), and students come to visit them for no apparent reason. Conversation with Heather at lunch...
Heather: Do you know exactly what Nathalie's job is here?
Me: I think maybe...
Heather & Me [in perfect unison]: ...she's like Hagrid.

#4) One day when Heather, Marlene, and I were in the kitchen, we watched part of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in German on TV. I translated line for line from memory alone...
Me: Oh, and now Harry's saying, "It's not Hogwarts without you, Hagrid."
Heather: Wow... you must really love this movie.
Me: No actually, I don't even like the first two movies that much. I just have a really good memory.
Heather: Yeah, sure you do.
Me: No, I really do!
Marlene: Rebecca, I think you could learn German just from watching these movies.

rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
Well, for all my worrying, getting the reci-passé actually turned out to be quite easy. On Wednesday I got a convocation from the muncipal police saying that my reci-passé had arrived from Soissons, so this evening I went by and picked it up. I made a reservation at a hostel earlier this week, so now I’m on track to go to London. Right now I’m working on my list of JM Barrie sites to visit in another window.

I left my Christmas shopping until the last minute, so the last two days have been absolutely crazy. I spent much of today and yesterday shopping, and it took forever, but I did manage to find something for everyone. I usually wrap Christmas gifts in newspaper because I feel wrapping paper is wasteful, but this year I did things a little differently. I saved the box and the wrapping paper that Grandma’s gifts arrived in, and I stayed up late last night wrapping all the gifts I bought in Grandma’s pre-used paper. Today I finally got to the post office just before it closed and mailed everything home in Grandma’s pre-used box. I couldn’t decide whether to mail it to Mom or Grandma’s house, but I finally settled on Mom’s house, even though there are several presents in it for Grandma et al. (I doubt if it will arrive in time for Christmas.) I’m so happy to have all my shopping done with that I celebrated by eating an entire buche de Noël by myself. I really wish we had these buches de Noël in the United States. The one I had was cake, but Nathalie told me there are ice cream ones that are even better.

Yesterday Mom’s Christmas box arrived. I loved everything, but I have to admit that there was a clear favorite. Sparkly rainbow gloves and socks! I have already gotten compliments on them, and this weekend I’m going to look for a more colorful scarf to wear with the rainbow gloves and the purple-striped hat Aunt Connie sent me. I’m going to scream of multi-colored geekiness so loudly that you’ll hear it in Louisiana!

My room is an absolute mess. Every surface except my bed is covered with clothes, groceries still in their shopping bags, trash, or bits of wrapping paper and tape. I had meant to clean it this evening, but I’ve been so busy these past two days that I was just too tired. I also didn’t make the pecan pie muffins and bacon & eggs that I had wanted to make for Nathalie, but I’ll do that sometime this weekend.
rebecca_in_blue: (red riding hood)

Marlene and Heather went to Paris last weekend, and Nakeisha went to visit some Jamaican friends, so Sarah and I were pretty much by ourselves. On Friday evening I went into town to do a little shopping just as the sun was setting. All the lights in town were coming on, and all the French people were out shopping or heading home with a long baguette sticking out of their grocery bags. A few Christmas decorations were up in the centre-ville, and lots of stores had shiny window displays, including the bakery, which had a little Christmas village set up in one window and tinsel-trimmed rows of pastries and chocolates in the other (you know which window I liked best). Nathalie says that there will be a lot more Christmas decorations in the centre-ville soon.

Saturday was sunny, so I decided to finally go for a ride on the bike Nathalie gave us. It was a little difficult at first, because this one is a racing bike and mine is a cruiser bike, and I hadn’t ridden a bike since August. The seat was as hard as a rock (my butt is still sore, I am not kidding) and the handlebars were tiny, which made steering difficult, but I rode all the way to McDonald’s and back and only stopped to use my inhaler once. It’s a 35-minute walk to McDonald’s, but it only took about 15 minutes on the bike, and it was a lot warmer, since I got my blood pumping. On Saturday night Sarah and I simultaneously logged into Google Mail (her in Chinese, me in English) and chatted with our siblings (her with her brother, me with my sister). Then we realized what we were doing and laughed.

I spent Sunday cleaning. It was my turn to clean the kitchen and my and Heather’s bathroom. Then I cleaned my room – and it sure needed it, I think that was the messiest it’s been since I got here – and took my clothes to laundromat, where I read two more chapters of L’Idée géniale de Kristy while they washed.

Work went very well today. My classes spoke English well! often! without me having to prompt them! And as bonus good news — hell, as the best news of all — I have finally, officially figured out how to post YouTube videos in France!

My ears are both 6.5 centimeters tall from top to bottom.

rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)

I woke up and left the school extremely early on Wednesday morning, only to reach the train station just as my train was pulling away without me. So I had to wait an hour for the next train to Paris, and exchange my ticket to Brussels for another one at a later time. After changing trains in Paris and Brussels, I finally reached Ieper that afternoon. I had printed out a map of the town and managed to find my hotel, even though 1) the people in Ieper apparently don't like to bother with a lot of street signs, and 2) their streets, sidewalks, and parking lots all look pretty much the same. I really hated crossing the street there.

After I checked into my hotel, I went out to see the town. It was much warmer there than in Villers-Cotterets, which was very nice. My hotel was located near the Lakenhallen, a huge Gothic building that used to be used for wool storage (Lakenhallen means "Cloth Hall"). It was built in the 13th century, then destroyed during World War I, then rebuilt, and now housed the town hall offices and a World War I museum. It was very big, and for some reason I found it rather creepy. Just behind it was St. Martin's Church. It was also destroyed and rebuilt during World War I, but some ruins of the original 15th century church were still standing.

I also saw the Menin Gate Memorial, an archway over the town bridge that was engraved with the names of over 54,000 World War I soldiers whose bodies were never found or buried. Most of the soldiers were from England or Scotland, but there were also many from India, Australia, and South Africa (I think becuse all of those countries were British colonies at the time). The archway was several stories high and covered with names, inside and out, so many names that it was hard to believe. Inside the arch visitors had left poppies and notes.

The best thing about my hotel room was the television. I got a lot of channels, and there was that broadcast American shows in English with Dutch subtitles. That night I watched The Simspsons, According to Jim, My Wife and Kids, and Extreme Makeover Home Edition. None of those are shows that I regularly watch in America, but it was really wonderful to finally watch something in English besides CNN International.

On Thursday I paid my respects to George Llewelyn Davies (JM Barrie's eldest adopted son, who, like so many soldiers, was killed in action here). George was not actually buried in Ieper but in Voormezele, a tiny neighboring town, so my plan had been to rent a bike and ride there. But problems started right away. I couldn't find the place to rent bikes, and I couldn't read the map – again, people in Ieper don't like street signs – or ask directions because I don't speak Dutch. After wandering around lost for over an hour, I finally decided to screw the bike and simply walk to the cemetary. Even more difficult. I couldn't even find my way out of Ieper, much less walk all the way to Voormezele. I was frustrated almost to tears, and very tired from all the walking I had done, so I when I passed by the train station, I went inside to sit down and be depressed. Inside I saw a sign for a taxi service. Voilà. My cab driver was very nice and spoke English. Once we were in Voormezele, finding the cemetary and George's grave was easy.

When I got back to Ieper, I visited the World War museum in the Lakenhallen, which was really interesting. There was a stone slab at the entrace engraved with names of cities that had been completely destroyed in war – Berlin, Beirut, Hiroshima, Jerusalem, Leningrad, My Lai, Nagasaki, Warsaw, and this one, Ieper. I found the whole museum haunting and beautiful, even though it was crawling with loud obnoxious students from England and Belgium.

On Thursday I did some shopping before I left. I bought a little Belgian chocolate that I will mail home later (if I don't change my mind and decide to keep it for myself!), probably once I have used up all the film on my current disposable camera. I had waffles and ice-cream for lunch, then caught the train to head back to Villers-Cotterets. On the way to Brussels I had a nice conversation with little French girl who said my pants were pretty (I was wearing the pair I bought last week with the glittery designs).

I think I understand what it must be like for Nakeisha to be in France and not speak any French. It was very hard to be in Belgium and not know a word of Dutch.

rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)
I was online yesterday when I saw a news headline that made my jaw drop: "Which Harry Potter character did JK Rowling reveal as gay?" Of course I immediately clicked on the article (my first guess, by the way, was Sirius; there are huge rumors among fans that he was gay and in love with James or Remus) and my jaw dropped again as I read it. It wasn't Sirius – it was Dumbledore! Apparently Jo Rowling was at a press conference with her fans, and one of them asked about Dumbledore's love life, and Rowling came right out and said that he was gay. I was so shocked that I sent a text message of the news to Sara, Adam, and Athena. (Athena texted back, "You mean the actor who plays him?") Today I checked my e-mail and discovered that both Sara and Adam had read the article before I did and sent me links to it. I wish I coud talk to them about it. What's ironic is that when we discovered in the seventh book that Dumbledore and Grindelwald used to be friends, I made jokes about how they met when they were young men working as ranch hands on Brokeback Mountain.

Anyway, after I got over that shock, Heather, Nakeisha, and I went to McDonald's yesterday. It was a long walk, especially in the cloudy, cold weather, but we were desperate for some familiar food. And since we knew we wouldn't be able to come back for another week at least, we decided to make the most of this visit. We stayed in McDonald's for over an hour, spent about ten Euros each, and stuffed our faces. They played American music inside the resteraunt, and we heard "Wake Me Up When September Ends," "How to Save a Life," and a fairly recent song called "Hey There Delilah." This last one came on while I was eating my chicken nuggets, and I suddenly remembered one hot day when I worked at the bookstore and drove to the McDonald's across the street to eat the same meal of chicken nuggets, French fries, and Coke, and I heard the same song on the truck radio. It made me more than a little homesick to remember the heat, the sun, and driving my truck, and being in a country where I spoke the language, then to look out the window and see that I was in France, where it was cold and people usually spoke too fast for me to understand.

A thousand miles seems pretty far,
But they've got planes and trains and cars.
I'd walk to you if I had no other way.
Our friends would all make fun of us,
and we'll just laugh along because we know
That none of them have felt this way.

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March 2013

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