Monday, December 13, 2010

this week!

i come to the states for the christmas holiday this week. here are some things for which i'm excited. 
i think they're trying to kill me
i'm excited to see so many people. but for reasons that are obvious, levi gets the top spot. he's so tiny! 

taking a bath
my shower consists of the very common french situation where the shower head is not attached to the wall so you have to hold it  the entire time you shower. great for conserving water, not so great for my right arm not getting exhausted holding the shower head up in the air. i'm sure there's a joke about the french not bathing/smelling bad in there somewhere. 

just kidding.

but seriously.
my "kitchen" is a corner of my studio. i broke my only two mugs and haven't made the trip back out to ikea yet. so for the moment i'm drinking instant coffee out of a bowl. this leads to me craving good, american-style coffee and being severely over-caffeinated. 

i'm really happy here in france, but i'm so excited to come home to the one thing i get truly homesick for: people. i fly in thursday and will be in the states for a little over two weeks and if you're reading this, chances are i want to see you. so let's make that happen! à bientôt, mes chéris! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

no and because i'm dumb.

i love when my students unwittingly insult me with their questions in english. today's gems: do you have any friends? why didn't you go to harvard? 

Friday, December 3, 2010

et quoi d'autre?

some nuggets about teaching:
  • i say "soooo" about 43 times in a class. just like i laugh over french people saying "bon" or "doncuhhhhh" as fillers, my students pointed out how i say sooooo whenever filling a silence or connecting thoughts. but being able to stall naturally in a language goes a long way towards sounding like you know what you're saying when really you're racking your brain for a word. 
  • i say "what else?" about 26 times in a class. even i'm getting tired of hearing myself say that, so i'm thinking about asking them to please expound upon that point just to add some variety. 
  • some of my best classes are when i completely abandon the lesson plan and just let the lesson flow from the conversation. of course, if i were ever to come in not prepared with a lesson plan, they would be dead silent. so i come in prepared, but willing to drop the lesson if a really good conversation is sparked. 
  • i hate chalk. it makes my hands itch. it makes horrible squeaking noises. it makes me sneeze. it shatters into a million pieces when i drop it. i hate chalk. 
  • i will not give students good marks just because they told me i look like angelina jolie. but it definitely doesn't hurt either. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

isn't he lovely?

the best baby ever in the history of time
finally, he's here! the teeny-tiniest newest addition to our family was born on november 29. 
his name is levi. 
he is perfect. 
it was/is heartbreaking to not be there. knowing i wouldn't be there for his birth was one of the things that made me wonder if i could really do this. but i'm so filled with joy at this new person in the world and so relieved that he and his momma are healthy and happy that i can't spend too much time being sad. plus i get to meet him really soon! 
so welcome to the world, little levi. it can be hard and strange, but it is oh so beautiful and just became much more so with your arrival. i love you! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010


never again will i take thanksgiving for granted. i never really thought about how much i loved it, but now it's gone and i want it back. 
trying to describe thanksgiving to french people makes me realize what a bizarre and wonderful holiday it is. that you're gathering with your family and/or friends just to be thankful. and maybe to eat a lot and watch football while you're at it. 
the parts of thanksgiving that seem weirdest to them are that the meal is eaten in the late afternoon, and that you make a pie out of pumpkin. "une tarte de citrouille? dégueulasse!"
part of me just wants to skip it and ignore that it's thanksgiving because there's no way to truly recreated the experience here and i'm sad to be missing it. but i'm being oh so brave and making two valiant attempts at thanksgiving dinners, one tonight and one on sunday. 
so be thankful if you get to be with your family today and i'll try to remember that i'm living in the south of france and even if i didn't have a million other reasons, that is most definitely one for which to be thankful. 


 my birthday was earlier this month. i was, of course, stressed about it. and while it was a little strange to be away from home, i was so well loved and it ended up being a really great day.
to start off, i was woken up by a flower delivery.
one of the top ten ways to be woken up
i did have to work (pauvre moi) but one of my classes had heard that it was my birthday and brought me in a cake with candles, chocolates, and coca-cola and threw me a little surprise party at the end of class and sang me happy birthday (in english!).
some very sweet and thoughtful people sent me cards and packages ahead of time so i got to rip into some presents!
early that evening i went to kerri's where there was another cake and happy birthday singing and time with friends & community.
after that we went out to sushi with some of the assistants.
sven getting a little fiesty with his chopsticks

they gave me some awesome presents including a book, a pretty bell for my bike, and a sunflower that's bigger than i am. 

we almost took out a light trying to get it out of the restaurant.

and thanks to sweet madeline for all the pictures!

then we went out for drinks and met up with some more friends. if you're looking for the best band covering 90s alternative on a tuesday night in aix, i can now tell you it's at splendid.

this is what a spoiled & sugared-up 23-year-old looks like
 and since i'm an old lady now, i promptly went home and went to bed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

because it's worth it.

i'm starting to feel like i'm getting into a routine teaching. figuring out what each professor expects from me and getting to know the students, even though i see each student at most twice a week. slowly but surely i'm figuring all of this out. and they're getting used to my accent (most of their professors have british accents in english) and realizing that i absolutely do not care if you make a mistake as long as you try.

my sister and i were talking the other day about how when you're a student, you don't really think about how what you do or don't do affects your teacher. but now i know how a 55-minute long class period can feel 5 hours long when nobody wants to participate, how frustrating it can be to try to figure out if a blank stare means boredom or lack of comprehension when you can't even get an answer to "do you understand?".
i'm speaking more slowly than i ever thought i could. i'm figuring out 5 different ways to say the same sentence in hopes that one of them will stick. i'm learning patience.

this all can be tiring, but proved to be absolutely worth it when my student who really struggles with english understood the fifth version of a sentence and beamed and shouted "je comprends l'anglais!" (i understand english!) it would have been easier to have just explained in french and i understand that in large groups it's not always possible to take the time to do that. but with small groups i get to take the time and without that, we both would have missed that incredibly encouraging moment.
on my birthday one class brought me in a cake with candles, chocolates, and coca-cola and threw me a little surprise birthday party at the end of class. i was so touched, i almost cried. i definitely never considered in high school that my actions would have been able make a teacher cry, for good or for bad. granted, i'm a pretty emotional person and my situation here exacerbates that, but i think the point still stands.

at this point i know that monday morning from 9-9:55 a.m. is going to be difficult. but i also know there will be enough moments of my kids getting excited about language and trying hard to understand and speak to outweigh the other moments. even when all they want to tell me is that eva longoria and tony parker broke up, if it makes them want to speak english, i'm all ears.

Monday, November 8, 2010

things french kids like:

  • tv shows: desperate housewives & how i met your mother
  • bands: metallica, bob dylan, & cypress hill (huh?) 
  • books: no real theme here, but my favorite response was "i am not a fanatic of reading"
  • activities: being 16-year-old boys and trying to give me their phone numbers

lucky girl

this weekend i got to go to my very first guy fawkes party! to be honest, and much to the chagrin of my british friends, i had heard of it but had no idea what it was actually about. but a really sweet family from iccp had us out to celebrate, so i did my research.

this party consisted of a big bonfire, a bunch of different delicious curries, vin chaud (mulled wine), smores, and singing about kookaburras. needless to say, i'm now a big fan of guy fawkes day.

it was also so nice to be in a family atmosphere. since i'm not living with a family here, most of my time is spent with high schoolers and then other 20-somethings, so a night with kids and parents and people of all ages was a welcome change.

there's a lot going on in my life right now making me feel uprooted and topsy-turvy and unsure, so i feel so blessed to be establishing a community here. my birthday is tomorrow and while it is definitely hard and strange to be away from home on my birthday for the first time, i am feeling well-loved and cared for here.

hard though it may be in the moment, when all things are said and done, i am a very lucky girl.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


i've been on vacation for toussaint for the last week and a half. i was also temporarily without internet for that time. but internet is back and so am i.
the first week we got some pretty great weather and ran around outside. then it rained for 3 days straight and we cooked and crafted and i biked around furiously in the rain. 

if you didn't know, cézanne is from aix (as is emile zola, but cézanne gets more attention for whatever reason) so a lot of the touristy things to do in aix are cézanne-centric. 
at the beginning of the week, we went to atelier de cézanne, his workshop and gardens in aix. it continually surprises me/makes me laugh how really old and significant things are just jumbled up with everything else. "look, there's a roman era wall, oh and there's a cupcake shop." instead of tearing down old stuff and building new, the new is just built on top. per usual, i didn't know where we were going and was being led along a typical aix street and was caught off guard when all of the sudden we were there. houses, cars, shops, apartments, cézanne's atelier. just through the gate and you're in his gardens where it smells overwhelmingly of lavender. the set-up was pretty simple, you can wander around outside, there's a room of a giftshop where you get a pamphlet about cézanne's life and then upstairs into his atelier. we had to wait a while to be allowed in, but once i got in i was appreciative that they were careful to make sure that people were able to experience the room without crowding. the information was sparse, it seemed more about enjoying the space (high ceiling and walls of windows with still-life objects scattered around) than learning about cézanne. 

continuing in the cézanne vein, we took a trip out to hike sainte victoire, a mountain outside of aix that cézanne loved to paint.first thought when sainte victoire came into view: that should be a painting. yep. 
it was a lot warmer than we were expecting

we didn't plan ahead to hike all the way to the top, so we just hiked for a few hours and went to refuge de cézanne.

note my authentic and appropriate hiking gear. 

 the next day madeline and i went to musée granet, the main museum of aix. it's not very big but very well done. there's an exhibition of pierre alechinsky right now, with whom neither of us was familiar, but both loved. and perhaps most importantly, discovered that we have the same museum pace. which is a big deal. 

friday was hands down my favorite day of the vacation, and probably my whole time here. we went to cassis for the day, with minor traveling problems, but arrived to such a beautiful village right on the water. the weather was perfect so i could put my feet half my legs in the water. 

we splashed around until they dragged me out of the water and walked out to the calanques. 

give me sunshine, water, and gelato and i'm a happy girl. 

then the downpour started and we holed up for a couple days making crêpes and crafting. which also makes me a happy girl. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


i have been in france for a month and a day today.  
the time has passed with varying speeds. the first 5 days here felt like 5 years and i couldn't imagine how i would make it to december, much less to may. 
but of course now it feels like december is speeding towards me and time is flying past. we're on holiday for toussaints right now so i'm getting a little bit of time to catch my breath. it's nice to have a break, but it's also difficult to not be able to get into a rhythm here.  between all the breaks and strikes, i haven't been able to get into a routine yet. we also have wednesdays off. a mini-weekend in the middle of the week is great for running errands, but not so great for me keeping track of what day of the week it is. 

also, my birthday is in two weeks. i'm trying not to, but i'm definitely getting anxious about it. i'm not worried about the birthday so much (though i am getting incredibly old and this is the beginning of the downward spiral to 30), but more about the fact that i won't be spending it with my family or friends from home. there is no one here whom i've known for more than 6 weeks and something about my birthday makes me want to spend it with people who have known me, who have been around for the past year i'm celebrating. 
but i should really stop worrying and being a brat because the friends i've made here are amazing, and there's something about being in a foreign country together that bonds people together very quickly. 
a friend here has a saying that it will either be a good time or a good story. i love that way of looking at life. it will be a great day regardless of my worrying, or it will be a miserable day upon which i will eventually be able to look back and laugh. i'm in an exciting place in my life and i have so much to look forward to in my 24th year. 

that said, if you wanted to send me some mail, that wouldn't hurt either. 
b.p. 60010
13181 aix-en-provence
cedex 5, france

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


this morning was my first class by myself where no students showed up. and yes, i know this was because of the strike. 
but the pitiful picture was this: me all nervous, sitting alone at the desk in the front of the classroom with my little name written on the chalkboard behind me and my lesson plan laid out. 
and no one shows.
i couldn't help feeling a little bit like i had been stood up. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

exceptional stereotypes

between the strike and two professors being out of town, last week i only had 6 of the 12 classes i will normally have. “normally” assuming the strike actually ends at some point.

the classes i had last week were my first time with those students and were mostly just an introduction and observing the professor.  for my introductions the students asked me questions about myself, which included where i come from, how i like france, and how old i am. i was hoping to avoid the age question since some of the students in my bts classes are near my age, and one is actually older than me. but given the fact i still get asked if i’m majeure (over 18), i understand their curiosity. i tell myself it's just that french teenagers look so mature. 

a few of the professors asked the students to say what their idea of a stereotypical american is. this proved very informative. turns out that in addition to probably carrying infectious pulmonary diseases and warranting a separate scale of attractiveness, americans are FAT.

all of them.

americans are fat because they are always eating mcdonald’s.

americans have to retire later in life because if they stopped working when they were younger, they would get even fatter.

a typical american is a teenager eating a cheeseburger.

the professors invariably countered with “well, here you have an american right in front of you. and anna is not fat.” (i’ve resigned myself to being named anna for my 7 months here. just like you would go by pablo in spanish class or greta in german class, while in france, i am anna.)their response to a real live non-fat american right in front of them tended towards “oh well yeah but she’s an exception” variety.

and that’s part of the odd and difficult thing about being a cultural representative and teaching about america; in a lot of ways, i am an exception. i’m just one person and i can really only speak to my personal experiences. and not all of those are typically american experiences, if such a thing even exists.

so no, i’m not obese, but america does have a problem with obesity. and yes, students didn’t makeout in the hallways of my small private high school like they do in this lycée but that doesn’t mean all americans are prude.

more than trying to tell them that some of their conceptions of america are wrong, i’m trying to say that they’re overly simplified. that for any country, and especially a country as large and varied as america, blanket statements don’t work.

however, nuances are not usually funny and a lot of the time we might just want the absolutes we've been told to be true.

it’s just kind of a bummer the french get to be the skinny romantics while americans are fat prudes. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

la grève

today is supposed to be my first day in classes but today is also a grève générale (general strike) here in france. quelle surprise, non?

i’m trying not to take any political stance; i know some of you are socialists while others of you believe socialism is a willingness to pay for other people’s crack. so i’m not making any judgments here and i’m sure my own opinions will change and develop as i’m still learning, trying to understand and experience first-hand as much as possible. 

it can be hard to get people to talk to me about the strikes, as it seems that they’re aware of the common foreign perceptions of their strikes, and also hesitant to get too political. so my understanding of it is very rough, probably incomplete, and potentially incorrect, but this is france through my eyes, so welcome to my world of ignorance and confusion. 

the lycée is surrounded by a fence with a large gate at the entrance and students gathered this morning and locked the gate and barricaded it with trash cans. the protesters allowed students who wanted to go into the school to pass and they were let in through a small side gate. conversely, while i was outside watching, i had a couple of teachers who mistook me for a hesitant student tell me “allez-y, mademoiselle”, to go ahead and join the demonstration (sidenote: as assistants, we don’t have the right to strike). after a few hours the police arrived and moved the trashcans inside the gates, to prevent them from being burned, which apparently has happened before. the students let the trashcans be moved and sat down in front of the gates, with no altercation between the police and the students.
one of the secretaries told me that not all of the students demonstrating outside the school were from this lycée, but that students from other schools gathered here and she thought the majority of our students were in class. striking is, however, completely within their legal rights as long as they don’t damage property or become violent. by 1 p.m. all the protesters were gone.

now what was this strike actually about? all the information i have is coming from education unions’ pamphlets about the strike and teachers and school employees giving their opinions, so grain of salt as they obviously have a bias and i’m blind to a lot of the nuances that are probably present.

the students’ demonstration was one piece of today’s general strike, which included “employees in the public and private sectors, youth, retirees, and those deprived of work”, striking and demonstrating here in aix and on a larger local scale in marseille.  the strikes are generally against sarkozy’s policies that aim to lower the national deficit. to me, the most focused-upon issue appears to be retirement and pension reforms, which involve, among other things, pushing back the age of retirement to 62.  the chatel education reforms are also being protested. i honestly am still unclear on the full extent of these reforms, but they involve budget and job cuts and a reduction of instruction in certain subjects.  the pamphlet by the snes (one of the largest education unions in france) also cites exclusion and inequality by the government, which i was told refers to the recent expulsion of illegal romanian gypsies from france, and gender inequality.

striking is most definitely a part of the french way of life and of the caricature of a French person. they smoke, eat baguettes and cheese, wear berets, and will strike if only because it’s a tuesday. and while there is some seed of truth in all of those (except for the berets—I’ve yet to see a real live french person wearing a beret), it’s also a very one-dimensional portrayal. they know that this is a part of their foreign identity; i’ve had more than one person remark to me today that i’m getting “a real french experience”, and ask me if i didn’t wish i was back in america where it was calm. 

the strikes are definitely disruptive to productivity, and there probably are some people involved who don’t really feel passionate about the issues at hand. despite that, i‘m impressed by the lack of political apathy. there is a real belief that if enough of them stand together in protest, change will have to occur. students who aren’t even old enough to vote are taking action against policies with which they don’t agree. retirees who will never be affected by the current pension reforms are in the streets demonstrating. so whether or not i agree with their political stance or believe striking is the best way to produce change, i can’t help but admire that they are optimistically taking action with empathy for the problems of others. it highlights for me the problem of political apathy in america, especially among the youth.

that said, you have your good and your bad everywhere. for instance, publicly urinating on sidewalks is not tolerated in america, while for frenchmen it unfortunately seems to be the status quo.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

looking up

a lot has happened since last thursday’s somewhat pathetic post, the most important of which is that i’ve met a lot of people and am feeling much happier and more at ease here. 

the majority of people whom i’ve met are also assistants (american, british, italian, egyptian, german, chilean, etc.--one of the things i’m enjoying most so far in this experience is the multi-lingualism, but i’ll go into that another time. if i let myself get started on words, this will turn into me rambling on forever about cultural-anthropological linguistics, which probably about 5 other people in the world would find interesting.) but in addition to assistants i’ve met students, neighbors, the random frenchman at the bookstore. being thrust out of my community reverts me back to a kindergarten-like stage of friend making, where it’s a necessity rather than a luxury. this leads to meeting and investing time in people when i might not have bothered under normal circumstances.

a lot of the weekend was spent trying to keep all the acronyms straight (caf, ofii, rib…) and get all the necessary paperwork and appointments in order for them. i also spent a good amount of time wandering around the town trying to get oriented. i'm horrible with direction, but i'm still trying.
sunday night i went to a church off the cours mirabeau i had heard about. even far from home, being there felt so familiar and it was comforting to think that at exactly the same time my family was doing the same thing in virginia.

i had to go into marseille 3 times this week, for the medical visit, orientation, and my personal favorite--dinner with the consul. all of the american assistants in aix-marseille were invited to her home where our passports were checked at the door and we went up a couple sets of stairs, each of which leads to a garden or terrace and an increasingly breathtaking view.
the dinner included pastis (of course), a brief talk, chicken nuggets and pizza as appetizers (i guess they figure we’re homesick for american food?), lots of delicious food and wine, and my having to be dragged off the terrace when it was time to leave. i can’t imagine ever going indoors living there.

wednesday was our orientation, which i had been looking forward to, but was a huge letdown. my annoyance may have been aggravated by the fact that i was upset and anxious the night before and literally hadn’t slept at all, but regardless it was an inordinately long day for very little new information. those of us teaching in lycées have our journée de formation in marseille on monday that is supposed to actually be interesting and helpful though. 

and then tuesday i actually start teaching... 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

americans: ugly and probably have tuberculosis

monday i had my appointment at the ofii office in marseille. to be allowed to stay in france for an extended period of time and receive a carte de sejour, you have to go to ofii for a medical visit. the sole purpose of this visit is to x-ray your lungs and make sure you don’t have tb. this only applies to people from outside the european union. so our friend who is canadian and lives in canada, but also has a belgian passport, didn’t have to go to the visit. because eu passports are imbued with tb antibodies or something. i don’t know.

a whole group of assistants are told to show up at 1:30 and made to wait in an area on the steps and listen for a frenchified version of their names to be called over the intercom. luckily, my name (“anna steel”) was called early on. so i left behind the not-so-lucky ones like my friend madeline who came in with me and was still waiting to be called in when i was walking out of the visit an hour and a half later. 

everything was going pretty normally until the actual x-ray of my lungs. i’m taken into a small room to change and told i can keep on my tank top, but that i have to take off my bra and cardigan for the x-ray. so i’m standing awkwardly in this big, cold room in front of the technician. he takes the x-ray and i’m about to leave when he says to me “si je puis dire, vous êtes très belle pour une américaine”  which translates to “if i may say so, you’re very beautiful for an american.” 

i was completely taken aback and not sure what to be more upset by:
  • the inappropriateness of a medical professional remarking on my looks at all, and especially during a procedure while i'm in an uncomfortable and somewhat vulnerable position
  • the fact that he tacked on “for an american” at the end. 

in my shock i didn't say any of this, just mumbled/stuttered something and scurried back into the changing room.

to follow that up, then i go in for the doctor to check the x-ray. i tell him that no, i’m actually not a student, i’m teaching here, and he asks me how old i am. i tell him and he just squints at me and says i don’t look old enough to be teaching anyone.

on the bright side, i do have very healthy lungs and definitely do not have consumption. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

les vacances

i got my school schedule for the year today and it pretty much boils down to this:
i work 3 weeks, then have 2 weeks off (all saint's holiday)
i work 6 weeks, then have 2 and a half weeks off (christmas holiday)
i work 7 weeks, then have 2 weeks off (winter holiday--not to be confused with christmas holiday...they're very different and warrant their own time off)
i work 5 weeks, then 2 weeks off (spring holiday, which brings me to the end of my work contract, so i'm actually done at this point). 

i don't love french bureaucracy, but man, do i love french vacations. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

some things that have happened to me that probably only my mom cares about.

this post has been a few days coming (sorry, michelle) but i’m still working on getting internet set up in the apartment. so my internet access has been limited to using the free wifi in quick (a sort of french mcdonald’s) where yesterday I was attacked by a pigeon. so yeah.
anyway, i flew out on sunday afternoon and the trip here was fairly uneventful. the french girl seated next me on the flight from dc to paris discovered my achilles’ heel of getting me to do whatever you want (mistaking me for also being french) so i ended switching seats with her friend so they could sit together, which landed me in the middle seat of the middle row where it is impossible to sleep without permanently damaging your neck and/or drooling on your neighbor. but it did give me a chance to watch a couple of movies, which i rarely do unless confined by two sleeping bodies, so that was good.
i had a short layover in paris so I got to have a patisserie at paul (which made me miss you, emily barrios). i actually had a window seat on the flight down to marseille so I got out my pillow and eye mask and slept for about 60 minutes of the 63-minute flight. i woke up for the descent into marseille, which was breathtaking. i’ve been lucky to have been able to travel a fair amount, but i’m still always taken with modern travel, how i can leave charlottesville, virginia and 15 hours later be descending on the south of france.
i take a bus from marseille into aix and then a taxi to the school. unfortunately, the teacher with whom i had been communicating hadn’t told anyone else when i was arriving, so my apartment wasn’t ready and i had to wait a few hours while it was cleared out and cleaned. the professors were very friendly and accommodating while I was waiting and took the chilean language assistant and me to lunch in the cafeteria. but i was at 24 hours of being awake with 1 hour of sleep and was quickly slipping into the shivering, nauseated stage of exhaustion.
luckily, not too much later i was able to get into my studio. it’s a fairly small room on the first floor of the logement, in which some school employees and the two other language assistants live as well. i have a single bed, bedside table, desk, table with a giant tv that doesn’t seem to even work, mini-fridge, and a toaster oven/hot plate combo. so far the only thing i’ve ventured to actually cook is pasta, aside from that i’ve been living on baguette, cheese, yogurt, coca light, hummus and carrots. which is, honestly, not much different from my normal diet. i also have a closet and a small bathroom.
the room is, frankly, pretty stark, but i’m doing what i can to warm it up. laurel and sam gave me pictures to bring with me and I brought my painting of bethany’s which do so much to make me feel more at home.
send me photos, drawings, pictures you colored, whatever, and i promise they will have a place on my wall you will have a place in my heart. my address is: b.p. 60010, 13181 aix-en-provence, cedex 5, france.
this week i’ve been trying to set myself up here, groceries (one bus trip at a time) bank account, cell phone, mounds of paper work, etc. but it hasn’t taken as long as i was expecting, which has led to me being bored, which has led to me being more homesick than i’ve been before. i haven't started teaching yet and we haven't had orientation with all the other assistants yet so it's a lot of time alone. i know that this will pass and soon enough i’ll have friends here and too much to do, so i’m trying to power through. but right now it just kind of sucks.
luckily, my best friend elizabeth is doing her student teaching in cambridge, so I get to see her over my break in 22 (22!) days.
sorry this is so long; one of the results of having a lot of time to myself is that I’m writing A TON so you’re actually getting the edited version here. if you can imagine. okay, i’m done now.

except for one more plea to write me. pretty please?

(assistante d’anglais) 
b.p. 60010
13181 aix-en-provence
cedex 5, france.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

all around and away we go.

n.b. i'm tired, emotional, and nostalgic. i'm about to make a big trip and i just cleared out my childhood bedroom which means this will probably get overly sentimental. so feel free to skim or skip if feelings make you awkward.

it's finally here; i leave tomorrow. i'm nervous, i'm excited, i'm scared, i'm curious, i'm all of those feelings that put living on some heightened level.

i'm going into this somewhat blind. i have a flight, i have a visa, i have an apartment (of some kind) which will (hopefully) be ready when i arrive, and beyond that i have a lot of mystery.

dealing with french bureaucracy has been an exercise in patience and waiting. getting specific information from the french over e-mail, during the summer holidays was more or less impossible. but it's refreshing to see how the french respect their time off as time off. no checking their e-mail, much less responding promptly.
so as much as i wanted to be able to plan and anticipate and imagine,  it was good for me to have to deal with not knowing, be grateful and excited for each little piece of information, and trust that everything is going to fall in place just as it should be.

i can't even say how lucky i am to have the people in my life that i do. from well wishes, to helping me pack, to an american-themed going away party fully outfitted with flags, liberty bells, and fireworks, i have felt so much love from my friends and my family these past few weeks.
it creates the bittersweet situation where this exciting step is made hard by having to leave so much behind, and this scary step is made easy by having such support and faith behind me.

that wasn't too gushy. right?

Friday, September 17, 2010

on the road

what is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. but we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.--jack kerouac

cliche though it may be, i decided now was finally the right time to read on the road. i had been saving it; i'm a believer in the power of the right book at the right time. i'm glad that i waited, reading it at this point adds another level of poignancy. and also makes me feel a little bit like i might throw up. but in the good way. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

blog? blog.

the idea of blogging feels strange and awkward to me but i'm going to try it out and we'll see how it goes. so please bear with me and maybe it will become more natural. maybe.  
i have just 13 days until i leave for my teaching assistantship in aix-en-provence.
so i'm experiencing the excitement/nervousness/nostalgia/anxiety that comes before any big trip. all the major details are in place, so i'm packing, getting the last-minute details into place, and, of course, google imaging my new home.