Saturday, February 21, 2009


Finally. The long-awaited vacation is arrived. I know I need a vacation when I'm completely out of creative ideas to use in my classes. The essence of teaching little kids is to constantly have new, fun, creative games that use the language you're learning. When I started playing the same game with my CE1 day after day, I knew I needed a break.

Surprise enormous hit English lesson of the year? Making Valentine's Day cards! The kids loved it. I printed out teddy bears and hearts and flowers for them to color and glue to the cards, and inside we wrote some words in English. The kids were so excited to do this that they were silent the entire class. The only words they spoke were to ask if I thought they had colored something nicely or if they could go get another teddy bear to add to the card. Amazing.

The best part? I came out the big winner! I got six cards! If I think of it I'll take some pictures and post them.

Tomorrow my parents are supposed to come. I say supposed to because in Michigan they are having very heavy snowfall right now. They are expecting seven inches total at a rate of one to two inches an hour. I'm hoping their plane won't be delayed by too much. They are supposed to take off in four hours, so let's keep our fingers crossed. We'll spend the beginning of the week in Paris, then head out to Amboise, which will be our base for exploring the chateaux of the Loire Valley. The're only here for a week, and then I will be exploring Avignon, Arles, and Nice for the second week of vacation.

Man am I glad to be on vacation! I love my kids but I definitely need a break to recharge my batteries.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Love Shack: Lycée Edition

The professor"s hallway here at the lycée has turned into a love shack. Everyone here is using their rooms to get some... except for me. And probably not the Awkward Yogurt Stealing Prof. So that leaves 50% of the occupants setting up love nests here.

A few weekends ago the Smoking Prof (who smokes all over the hallways all the time and lies to me when I ask about it) was still hanging around the lycée on Friday. He usually leaves on Thursday afternoon. I know this not because we are BFF but because I choke on the cloud of smoke outside his door whenever I walk past it, so I know when he's there. I assumed he had some kind of meeting or extra class on Friday, but no, he was still there late into the evening. And then imagine my surprise when I was snuggled up in my couette watching a movie (my usual weekend evening occupation) and heard his voice and a female voice in the hallway! If I hadn't been in my PJs I would so have gone out there to see who this woman was. Another prof from the lycée? Were they having an illicit weekend affair? Had they lied to their families about needing to "work" and then used his lycée room as if it were a cheap, tawdry motel? And what happened when the little kids called to talk to papa or maman? I was hooked on the soap opera I invented for them, it was much better than having a TV (since I don't have a TV I have to make up my own fun). She stayed all weekend, but unfortunately I wasn't around that much to spy on them so I still have no idea who she is. They haven't had another weekend shack up since then, but I did hear Smoking Prof on the phone with someone making plans for dinner and a movie last week before Valentine's Day. With her? He did leave the lycée this afternoon all spruced up. To see her? I'm a failure as a spy. I wish I had more information. The next time she stays over I will find out who it is even if I have to meet her in my pajamas.

Then tonight, imagine what I thought when Math Prof (who is very friendly and I like a lot because he always takes out the trash) came home accompanied by a female voice! Yes, I hear everything that happens in the hallway, the walls are very thin. I was trying to imagine a non-tawdry scenario for him that didn't involve affairs because I didn't want him to be involved in something like that. Then, lucky me, he and the woman came into the professor's lounge to use the internet for a couple of minutes just now so I got to meet her and talk to her, and although I felt too shy to ask straight out if they are together, the implication seemed to be that they live together outside of Paris, but he stays here during the week for work and then goes home for the weekend. She's up here for a couple of days to visit the town (and him of course). Does that mean they might be moving here? She was just as nice and friendly as him, I think we would be friends if she lived here. I hope they move here!

So two people who live on the hall are taking advantage of having a second bedroom. Is the idea of a small twin bed in a lycée across the hall from 30 sleeping students a big turn on? And if so, why don't I have men falling all over me to spend the night here? Everyone in town knows I live in the lycée! But no, I don't get to take advantage of my love nest, I just get the broken bed and the label of being the slutty one, when really it's these guys who live with me who should get that title. What a sexist double standard!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ever feel like you live in a black hole and that all the messages you send to the outside world are never recieved, they just get sucked into nothingness as if they were never sent in the first place? I feel that way today. I sent out a bunch of important emails yesterday and got only one reply. Have I become invisible?

See, this is what happens when you live off of crappy internet at the lycée too long. First they don't put a phone jack in your room so you can't have your own internet, then they put an alarm on the one place you can get internet that goes off at 10:30 PM, then they block You Tube, then they start occasionally locking the door to said internet so that you can't get in on the weekends, then they block Facebook, and then you cease to exist.

Might be time to think about moving.... again....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I spent Saturday in Paris collecting various American food items and meeting up with my friend Amanda from university. The teacher of the CLIS class had asked me if I would be interested in doing an American breakfast with them after they finished their food unit, and I happily agreed. We decided on a menu of pancakes, bagels, and scrambled eggs accompanied by fresh milk (no UHT in my America), peanut butter, and the closest you can get to cream cheese, Caprice des anges. I was in charge of pancake and bagel procurement. Since I didn't want to ask the school (the small town, rather, since they are the ones responsible for paying for the elementary schools) to buy flour, sugar, baking soda, etc I decided to just buy pancake mix (my mother was horrified since she doesn't believe in using mixes). So I stopped at the Epicerie Anglaise/Irlandaise/Américaine to get some Aunt Jemima pancake mix, and then started the Great Paris Bagel Hunt of 2009. I looked up a bunch of different bagel places on Google, two of which I found to be closed, but was successful at Bagel Tom in the third and bought a dozen bagels for €10. I should have gotten more though because I keep looking at them sitting in the freezer and wanting to eat one. Oh well, I'll wait until Thursday.

I kept running into random churches on my way to meet up with Amanda, and I finally stopped in at Saint Merri, a beautiful church right behind the Pompidou. It's hidden between and behind buildings and on a very small street in that area with all the bars and restaurants.

When I finally met up with Amanda we ended up wandering around the Marais and eventually stopped at a very cute place called Page 35 by the Place des Vosges. It was service continue so we both got a formule breton for €12.90, which was a yummy galette, a yummy desert crepe, and a glass of either juice, wine, or cider. It was the best nutella crêpe I've ever had! I tend to think that crêpes are overpriced for a thin pancake filled with not enough stuff to fill you up, so I was pretty happy with the price here for two of them plus a drink, and of course the fact that it was all really tasty. If you are in the Marais definitely check this place out, they have an enormous menu and some very well priced formules. Did I mention that it was yummy?

This week should be relatively pain free: my older classes are taking tests on Monday/Tuesday while the little guys do a review and get told about American schools. Thursday/Friday we'll be making Valentine cards. A little late, but it fits nicely into the last classes before it's finally vacation!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Is it vacation yet?

MAJOR CRISIS ALERT: Facebook has been blocked on the lycée computers!!!!! I think this is the stage where I start screaming and throwing crazy fits at the nice secretaries in the intendance to make them take it off the blacklist. How many French teenagers are even on Facebook? And how do they realistically expect me to communicate with my friends without Facebook? Not to mention spying on people, obessively looking at other people's photo albums, obessing over what to put on my profile....

Maybe it will be magically un-blacklisted tomorrow?

Apparently McDo and I are going to become very, very good friends. It could become my Sunday ritual, since there's nothing else to do on Sunday except for laundry.

I am beyond ready for vacation. The kids know it's coming and are très enervé. Franglais question: should enervé be put in the plural in this usage, since I have a plural subject? My gut instinct is no, because it's Franglais, and in English we don't have ridiculous accord issues with our nouns. Oooh, today when I explained to my genius CM2 classes that there are no genders in English they were all like "wow, English is so easy! French must be so hard for you!" I love this class. They are smart and adorable and say things like this that make me happy.

Other news: I may have another French friend in the works. But more on that another time, because I am epuisée and going to bed. I need to build up my strength for the monster class tomorrow because if the pattern of the kids being off the wall holds, they will be totally unmanageable tomorrow. I'll just prepare for the worst and maybe if I'm very lucky they will be slightly less than unmanageable.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Not Much Doing

Today I spent (or rather am spending, since I am still here) over five hours at McDo on the internet. I got locked out of the professors' lounge this weekend. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And the worst part? They didn't have any ketchup for my fries! You know you're in France when McDo's has plenty of mayo but no ketchup.

While camped out at McDonald's I've mostly been planning my upcoming travels. February vacation starts in two weeks (Zone B got screwed over with late vacation this year). My parents are coming for the first week and we'll be in Paris and the chateaux de la Loire. The second week I'll be heading down south to scope out Avignon, Arles, and Nice (anyone still looking for travel plans the first week of March is welcome to join!). I also did some hotel research for leg one of my Eastern Europe Excursion with Leesa for the April vacation. We'll be going to Salzburg, Vienna, and Budapest. We'll try to explore our Hungarian roots... but not in Hungarian, since we don't speak it.

Speaking of travelling, I highly recommend that you all check out Zhu's blog Correr Es Mi Destino. She's on a multi-month travel through Central and South America, currently in the Patagonia. Her pictures and travel tales are fantastic and very drool worthy. I dream of going to these places some day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


As of today I am officially illegal. My récépissé has expired and I don't have the second one or a CDS yet. Is that a problem? The bigger problem is that I was supposed to give the lady a photocopy of my réciépissé a week or two ago and just never did. Should I pretend to be shocked that she never got it by mail the next time I go to see her? I may go for that route. Or maybe my CDS will have magically turned up in the past two weeks and it won't even be an issue?

I think the yogurt stealer is at it again. A little while ago I found my jar of tomato sauce open in the cupboard. Had to toss it, since that stuff needs to be refrigerated once opened. Then today when I took my mayo out of the fridge the top wasn't firmly screwed on so the jar fell on the floor and broke. I may have made a legitimate mistake and left the one top unscrewed, or mistakenly put the pasta sauce back in the cupboard after opening the jar, but I don't do things like that. I have no proof that this is a legitimate food crime, only very strong circumstantial evidence. My next step will be to put tape over the jar lids. Hopefully if there is a food robber he will get the hint and stop.

Why do the professors seem to think it is okay to smoke in the professors' lounge? Even the proviseur did it! What part of "interdit" don't they get?!? And who can I even complain to about this? The rectorat? Like the head of the Académie is going to come here and lay down the law about smoking in the lycée. I hate smoking.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lecteur posts and slutty pyromaniacs

I spent all weekend working on lecteur-ship possibilities for next year - finding the email addresses, finding schools, and writing my CV and a model lettre de motivation. The lettre started off really really rough. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, despite the fact that I looked at about 80 different advice webpages and models of LdM. I eventually got more into the swing of things, but I still feel so unsure about what I've written and if it's any good (not to mention the grammatical mistakes!). Most of the problem is that I'm applying to all of the universities in the Paris region (among others, of course, but Paris is my first choice), and in the long shot chance that they will have lecteur postes that aren't filled by exchange programs, I really have to make myself stand out from the crowd to be on the interview list for that spot. What can I bring to a lecteur post that is new and interesting and different from the 5000 other anglophones trying to get that same job? I think the fact that I have been the English teacher in charge of evaluations and making lessons for two years now gives me that experience check mark, but I am missing an advanced degree, or any degree in a field relative to the teaching of English. Hopefully I'll get some good advice from the Frenchies who have agreed to look at it for me.

Anyway, that was my weekend. Luckily I have no social life to speak of so I could closet myself in the professors' lounge on the computer all weekend.

Although we did get some excitement at the lycée this week. About ten days ago the agent comptable came knocking on my door. Of course this was a Wednesday morning, so I wasn't working, had slept late and just gotten out of the shower, dripping wet and in my towel. Not the slightest bit embarassing, I assure you. Apparently my smoke detector was sending signals to the main control board that something was up in my room. I wasn't doing anything in there except trying to get dressed, so we sort of shrugged off the situation as weird and he let me dress and dry off in peace. Then this past Saturday around noon when I was about to head out to the marché the fire alarm of the whole lycée goes off. Sure enough, it's my smoke detector causing all trouble. Again, I had done nothing, but of course the agent comptable had to tear himself away from lunch with his family to come make sure I wasn't burning down the lycée. So I'm clearly on the shit list for the fire detector problems, and despite my protests of having done nothing, I'm sure they think something is up. Then guess what happens Saturday night around 10 PM? Yep, fire alarm goes off while I was still working on my lettres de motivation in the prof lounge. I thought to myself "that had better not be my alarm," then ran up two floors to see if the light outside my door is on, signalling that the problem comes from there... and sure enough, it's my room setting off the fire detector. I wasn't even in there! I didn't do anything! Luckily the concierge's wife was very nice and understanding about the smoke detector that seems pretty definitively broken. Of course the smoke detectors don't go off when another prof who lives there smokes like a fiend in his room and all over the hallway; the French probably make their smoke detectors specifically to not pick up cigarette smoke. So now the smoke detector in my room is turned off until repairs can be done and hopefully I won't be burning down the lycée again any time soon.

What makes this even better is that on Monday night last week my bed broke. I sat down on it and it collapsed under me! One of the legs, which I had always noticed was loose, had come unglued. I managed to prop it up for the night and then of course asked for a new bed the next day. The secretary found it hilarious that I had broken my bed. I can only imagine what they think I've been doing in there! Unfortunately it isn't due to reasons nearly as amusing and exciting as I'm sure they are all thinking right now. We all know there is no hanky panky happening in my nun's cell, just beds with loose legs. With the bed plus the smoke detector problems, they must think I am doing all kinds of crazy things! Except for the fact that I was hanging out in the lycée in my PJs on a Saturday night, so now they all know that I have no social life to speak of. I can only imagine what sort of stories they are concocting about the slutty pyromaniac...