Friday, April 16, 2010

Updates from France

Let's take a break from cancer for and talk about France.

Long time readers will remember my friend D, who worked at one of my schools and became my friend, until I realized that she is one of those girls who dumps her friends once she gets a boyfriend, and is actually pretty self centered and majorly lacking a backbone. I left France not knowing if I was going to keep in touch with her, despite her big show at the end about our sincere friendship and how much she would miss me. Since she spent most of the year seeing her (now ex) boyfriend instead of me, and the last time we went out together was a disaster, I didn't really take her at her word. But when she had heard that I had relapsed she emailed me in a panic with all kinds of professions of friendship and caring, and I remembered the times when we were good friends, like when we spent 10 days at her family's apartment in Canet a couple of summers ago. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? She recently joined Facebook too, which makes keeping in touch easier. She's finally done with her latest loser boyfriend, the famous Arno, and had recently met a guy on Meetic, the French online dating website.

My most recent message to her, at the beginning of April, had been kind of emotional. It was a message that most people would have responded to thoughtfully and quickly. She usually responds to me within 24 hours, but not this time. I was kind of waiting for her response, and made up all kinds of excuses for her late response. Well, she finally responded to me yesterday. It was mostly about herself. Things aren't going to work out with the Meetic guy, and as far as everything I wrote to her, it sounds like she didn't understand what I was saying AT ALL and gave advice that wasn't really relevant. Thank you D, for taking 10 days to respond to a message that needed a quick response. Thank you for not understanding, and thank you for brushing it off with irrelevant platitudes. I haven't responded yet, and I'm not sure that I will.

The next weird France related Facebook thing happened today. D is Facebook friends with F, my teaching nemesis, so F and I are friends too. F is one of those old-school French teachers that you hear horror stories about. She screams at the students, calls them stupid, embarrasses them for making mistakes, and runs the classroom like a military base. The usual targets of her worst rages were the students who have trouble learning. Naturally my games and encouragement and nurturing of the students' creativity drove her nuts. She was very jealous of my friendship with D, and probably also jealous of how much the kids liked me. One memorable evening I was pretty sure she was trying to trap me into saying something she could use against me at school. She used to tell D exactly what she disliked about me, usually about the way I ran the classroom and how the kids weren't learning anything. One time she even told D that she wanted to get certified to teach English to get me out of her classroom. That memorable conversation occurred between them on the phone while D and I were hanging out. I was right there. D didn't say one single word in my defense.

But I also think F was jealous of the incredible experience I was having in France. She confessed to me once that she had wanted to be a translator and used to speak English quite well, but when she got pregnant she took the concours to become a teacher. The story of the pregnancy, which I know from D, is that the father of the child abandoned her when he found out she was pregnant, so she was in a sort of desperate situation. She was only 20, and clearly had dreams of a different life. I have a lot of empathy for her situation, stuck doing something she dislikes out of necessity, but I really can't excuse her behavior towards the kids.

Anyway, F decided to chat with me on facebook this morning! We exchanged pleasantries, and then she was no longer online, but then she was, but then she wasn't... you know how internet problems go. Later she sent me a message giving me her email address "for another time." What?? I'm a little confused by all of this, mostly by the fact that F wants to communicate with me at all, but also by how exactly she wants to communicate. Am I supposed to send her an email? Should I respond to the message? Does she want to chat with me on msn messenger? Does she want to be my friend now or just see how I'm doing? I feel bad for being so skeptical, and part of me really wants to think that this was totally innocent and without any ulterior motive, but I just feel like I can't trust her. I don't want to totally blow her off either, so I'm not really sure what to do. Probably just write a simple response to her Facebook message. I bet she wants me to find her a hotel in New York or something.

As for other colleagues and various people from my town, they couldn't be more lovely. One of my colleagues actually sent me books in English! Others have gotten their students to write me absolutely charming letters and cards to send to me. The women from my pottery class have banded together to ship some of my creations to me here in the US, which is not inexpensive. I exchange frequent emails with many of them. I have been so touched by their kindness and their eagerness to stay in touch with me and support me during my transplant. I'm so lucky that I had the opportunity to meet and get to know such lovely people.


getyourselfconnected said...

That is quite the day on FB!

Reminds me of that Doors song "People are Strange". I will have a funny Wii story up in a bit you might think is hilarious. All my best.

Monique said...

I'm glad you're getting mostly good correspondence from France :)

I hardly stay in touch with anyone I knew over there. I feel like I lived in a bubble and everyone I knew there was only there for their own enjoyment in Europe, not to make lasting connections or anything. Oh well.

And the evil military-ish teacher sounds a lot like one of my CM1 profs. She was crazy and always frazzled. And ironically, her class was never orderly. They took to me pretty well :)

Zhu said...

This is exactly why I'm not on FB: too much drama and talk :-D

I find it hard to stay in touch with my friends back then. Just the other day, one of my best friend through high school left a message on my blog, totally out of the blue, saying that not only she was pregnant but the baby was due... in a few days.

Er... thanks for letting me know. She has always claimed that emails were boring and that you couldn't stay in touch with me on the other side of the Atlantic. Used to hurt, doesn't anymore. I know I'm "missing" stuffs but hey, I have my life too...

OK, sorry for the rant, friendship isn't easy!

getyourselfconnected said...

People I care about will command the ends of the earth for me.

Leesa said...

Hi Mir...

I'm going to be quite "frank" with you because I technically "could" be your mom... heheheh! (Remember Reuven in Budapest)!
I'm saying this not because I could be your mom, but because I'm soooo much older and wiser, right? heheh!
Nah... I just learned along the way, the hard way- by experience, that it's better to keep the ones who you know love you for who you are ... and let the others fall by the wayside..
Don't waste your good time with people who have a history of being jerks- I'm talking about F here... I don't want to say anything about D.. but this F person.. She bugs.. I remember when you told me about her... Don't waste your time!
Have a nice weekend!

au soleil levant said...

GYC - People are definitely strange, that is completely true. I don't know about that Wii story though, I'm pretty skeptical!

Monique - it's hard to make French friends, and I wasn't best buds with the Americans in my town either. The French coworkers I'm still in touch with are mostly about 10 years older than me, if not more! I'm sure all of your classes loved you :)

Zhu - it's really hard to keep in touch with friends you don't see frequently, especially when there's an ocean in between! You can't be in two places at once, no matter how much you want to be. I think I will always feel divided between the two countries.

Leesa - Oh Reuven from Budapest, how blind you are! Unless you had me when you were like 7, you clearly couldn't be my mother! But I think you're right about F, she probably doesn't have anything good up her sleeve. And as far as D goes, I'm letting her write the next message. If she thinks I'm important to her life, she'll continue the friendship, and if not, I don't have time to waste on her.

Mary Harvest Kitchen said...

The most confusing part of this story is why are you friends with F on fb in the first place? Sounds like you were never actually friends. Esp. considering your high fb friendship standards as discussed recently. ;-)
Anyhow, I agree with the person who said being friends isn't easy. At most I'd shoot F a note on facebook saying it was cool to see she was online and hoping the year/kids are going/doing well--polite but not encouraging further communications.

au soleil levant said...

F was the one who friended me, and I thought it would be extremely rude to refuse her, so we are friends. I would never have friended her on my own initiative! Excellent idea for how to deal with the F messaging situation, thanks.

getyourselfconnected said...

Congratulations on solving the DNA puzzle! You were one of only two correct answers, usually nobody solves them at all. Nice work, maybe you are a mad molecular biologist at heart.

au soleil levant said...

Thanks! I do really like science, and in a previous life got a 5 on my AP Bio exam. Not to brag or anything :)