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.