Sunday, June 26, 2005

Uh oh.......

My mom is arriving today!! In less than 8 hours, she will be here! Now all we have to do is clean the apartment... urgh. Jube invited some of his friends for dinner last night, and they left pretty late, so we didn't do the dishes and they are still waiting in the kitchen for someone to clean them... I am on the computer and Jube is playing his DreamCast, so it looks like the dishes will have to wait for a little bit...

Friday, June 24, 2005

"It tastes like Spain"

Olive Oil

The other day, Jube and I were watching “Capital,” a show about businesses and money. This one was about olive oil, and how olive oil moguls saved money by (gasp!) mixing the nationalities of their oils!! There was an expert olive oil taster who for all the world looked like an expert wine critic. He would pour some oil into a wine glass and begin by describing the color of the oil—“Golden with a hint of green” or whatever. Then he would smell it—“It smells like grass with a hint of basement.” Finally he tasted it and swished it around in his mouth for awhile. “He looks just like a rabbit!” said Jube. Then he spit it back out into the wine glass and delivered his verdict. “This one has, I would say, about 20% of French oil, from Provence or the Rhone Valley. I would say that the other 80% is oil of inferior quality that comes from Spain or Greece.” The announcer turned to the camera and said, “As you can see, one must take care in selecting one’s olive oil. Paying a higher price will give higher quality.” Jube turned to me and said, “Yes, because we all know that Greek oil is the worst ever—except for Spanish oil!”

(By the way, we buy the cheapest olive oil we can find from Netto, a discount supermarket. It comes from Spain.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

La Fête de la Musique

Hmmm, I still haven’t written about the Fête de la Musique? It must be because I was so tired afterwards I couldn’t make it to the computer the day after. We left the apartment around 8:30, just after a quick thunderstorm that probably chased all of the real amateurs off of the streets (there were still plenty—about one band/DJ every 100 feet). Then we walked all around the city—about 3 times. (I don’t know how far it was, but let’s just say my feet felt ready to fall off by the time we got home.) We started off alone. Jube was band-hopping, searching for that elusive beast: a French heavy metal band playing at the Fête de la Musique. We found two to agree on. One was a funk band with a great guitarist (“His guitar is a Vigier, it must have cost like €1500!”) and the other was a band of 3 preteens who made us laugh. Afterwards we walked from one place to another without staying more than 10 minutes. We bought one Kronenbourg beer from a 24 hour epicerie to share and then headed back to the Place St Anne to see who was there. It turned out to be a cover band—but what was more important was that all of Jube’s Lozerien friends were there as well! We joined up with them when, lo and behold, we saw yet another friend, one who had sublet his apartment to us for the month of July 2003. He is now living in Ireland, but is back for vacations with his new Montpellieraine girlfriend. We left him there to go trekking to se other bands. We ended up at yet another place where we met Igor, another of Jube’s Lozerien friends. By this time it was about 1:00am and everyone was feeling tired, so we split up to go home. On the way back, what did we find? FRENCH METAL! (Jube’s excuse for leaving was a headache, which was forgotten in the realization of his METAL dream.) We stayed for awhile, listening to the “singer” (perhaps I should say screamer? hurler? I’m not sure how to describe that kind of aggressive, heavy metal grunting). After two or three songs, Jube remembered that he had a headache and we walked home.

Since then it has been, to put it simply, HOT. There are heat warnings out for practically all of the French départements, including ours. They recommend that no one go out, which is certainly something I can handle. Supposedly the temperature will drop starting tomorrow. I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Les Poupées Russes

Last night Jube and I went to see Les Poupées russes, the sequel to L'Auberge espagnole. I really enjoyed L'Auberge espagnole (The Spanish Apartment in the US--and as I was checking for a link, I found that it is known as "Euro Pudding" internationally), and I laughed a lot last night (a "poupée russe" is a Russian nesting doll--matrioshki?). I recommend both movies, they are really very well made. I had a little argument with Jube though about the actions of the main character, Xavier. You see, in both movies, he cheats on his girlfriend (not the same one). I think he's kind of a jerk because of it, but Jube doesn't agree with me. Now, you might be thinking, "Isn't that the normal French attitude towards infidelity?" But I don't like to stereotype, and besides, not many French women I know would put up with it any more than I would. And now that I think back on it, I think that Jube just thought I was funny because I was really very upset with a fictional character.

Tonight is the F
ête de la Musique, when all sorts of musicians play on the streets of every city in France. Two years ago I went out to celebrate at Aigues Mortes, a small medieval town nearby, but it wasn't that amazing. Jube wasn't there because he was in Aix en Provence taking his teaching exam, so I went with his parents, which might have been the reason I didn't think it was the coolest. Tonight we will experience the festivities by prowling the tiny streets of Montpellier's centre ville and hopefully have an amazing time.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Very Nice Day

Free Concert

I did not die of heat, my feet did not fall off, and we managed to watch nearly all of the free concert on Saturday night. Can't you see the famous French artists in there? The most well-known are Jennifer, Julie Zenati (although I don't know if I spelled it correctly) and Michael Jones. We were a bit farther away than the picture would suggest. Each artist performed 2 or 3 songs, and at the end they came out for a curtain call. By that time the audience had begun to leave, so we sneaked closer for a pic.

I was planning on posting a picture of the pool to prove the irony of my previous post: it's about 8 feet in diameter and the water is kind of sandy... but it ended up being really nice to swim since it was so hot on Sunday! All I wanted to do was float around, but Jube's brother had other ideas. We played a game where you have to pull your opponent's foot out of the water before they pull yours out. Afterwards I fell asleep on the chaise longue, and when I woke up, I was already sweating again. Before you ask (because I know you want to know), yes, I did watch Video Gag. The best gag of the week was an old man who didn't understand how to use the video camera. He kept saying, "I don't see anything! It's not working!" while filming the upper part of his face. His daughter replied, "You're holding it backwards!" and he turned it upside-down.

In other news, we have received the verdict. Jube will be a substitute teacher in Zone de Remplacement Alpes-Maritimes 1, which in addition to Nice, includes some tiny little villages in the Alps. Most of the schools are in or around Nice, though, so we will look for apartments there. This is good news for my father (Grand Prix of Monaco, anyone?), and pretty good news for me too, since there is more chance of finding a job in a bigger city than out in the boonies. We're looking at apartment prices now, and will soon make an expedition out there to view them firsthand.

Today was another scorcher, with a high of 35 (95F!!!). We ventured out to buy a fan at one of the discount stores nearby. I put it together, by which time I really needed the fan to get rid of my sweat. We ate kebabs for lunch today, which was probably a bad idea since it was so hot. Jube managed to finish his and half of mine, too. For the rest of the day we relaxed in the sweltering heat, watching television, reading, and responding to the interminable phone calls from his mother who kept calling to ask "just one more question" about his post in Nice. We went for a walk around 5:00 to take advantage of the overcast sky. (Here in Montpellier it is not humid at all, so it's the sun that creates most of the heat.) All in all, a very nice day!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

"Quartier Huppé "

Marche des Arceaux

This morning Jube and I went to the
Marché des Arceaux, where I took the above picture. After I bought some veggies, we took them back to the apartment and took the bikes down to centre ville. Yesterday Jube went to the eyedoctor, so today we went to the eyeglass store. He ordered new glasses and new sunglasses. We'll pick them up again in a week. It was pretty expensive--Jube was very sad. ("They cost more than my guitar!")

Tomorrow we are heading to Jube's parents' house for lunch and probably dinner. We will go swimming in their new pool (how exciting!). I'm looking forward to it. Sundays are very lazy days in France. Only restaurants and bakeries are open, so I can't indulge in any Sunday afternoon shopping sprees. We go to his parents' house, eat, and then watch television. My favorite program is on: Video Gag. It's the French version of America's Funniest Home Videos (and most of them do come from America). I like it because I don't have to concentrate on understanding French. I'm sure I'll be able to fill everyone in on the exciting free concert we will be seeing tonight. I hope that my feet don't fall off!

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Other Woman

The Other Woman

Jube has another woman. I'm really not any competition for her at all. She too is American (Korean-American, I believe), and goes by the name of Washburn X-40 pro. I've included a picture of her. She arrived about 3 weeks ago with my brother. I thought that the novelty would wear off after awhile, but Jube's enthusiasm shows no signs of slowing down. It's a good thing she's only a guitar!

The good news is: they actually finished whatever they were doing outside. The bad news is: they finished it at 8:30 this morning by driving a really noisy truck around over all the new pavement. Jube is just about finished teaching. He showed episodes of The Twilight Zone today in class, and then they played grammar games for awhile. He's off again for a "conseil de classe" (class counsel). This is something that really interests me, because in America we don't have any equivalent. I assumed it was parent-teacher conferences, but I was wrong. What happens is that all of the teachers get together to talk about a certain class. There are representatives from the students and from the parents who are present. They discuss things like whether a student should pass on to the next grade, whether he should receive commendations, whether she has been working with consistency in all of the courses. This wouldn't work in the US because, as high school and middle school students, we don't stay in the same class all day long. In France, they do. You are with the same 25 other kids all day long. Only for a few special courses do you get to change--for example, advanced language classes or music classes. Anyway, after his conseil de classe he will go to the eyedoctor.

Tomorrow there are 4 or 5 famous French singers who will be performing at the Place de la
Comédie--for free!! We invited Jube's younger brother to brave the crowds with us and then spend the night at our house. He's really excited. I just hope that it's not too suffocating! It's been very hot here lately with highs of 30 degrees Celcius (I just looked up the conversion, and it'sonly 86 Fahrenheit, but it still feels very hot!!!). Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

An Apartment with a View

Here is a photo of the wonderful view we have of "les Arceaux." What do you mean, you can't see the aqueduct?? Okay, okay, I'll give you a hint: IT'S RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PICTURE!!! You mean you still can't see it? Just believe me, it's there. Why wouldn't anyone want this apartment?
Well, I survived 7 months of working in a French high school and three visits--my dad, my brother, and a college buddy--and was ready to settle down into a nice routine of doing absolutely nothing when on Monday morning I awoke to the sound of jackhammers outside my window. I'm not sure exactly what the construction workers are doing out there, but they arrive at 8:30 in the morning and don't stop till noon. Then they (and I) get a break until 14:00 when they start again. As far as I can tell, they are digging up rectangular sections of the road, doing something, and then filling them up again. During their off-duty hours, the holes are covered up by metal plates that make a very loud *BOOM* noise when someone drives over them. I hope it's over soon.

The only good thing about it is that I couldn't oversleep on Wednesday, when prospective renters came to look at the apartment. Jube and I hadn't cleaned since my last houseguest left, which meant that we needed all the time between 8:30 and 12 to tidy up. I just finished mopping when the sonnette rang and we ushered in the Fernandez women. They didn't seem too happy with the apartment (whaaaaaaa??), but no big deal, the next two visitors were both ready to sign a lease on the spot. The propriétaire also came by and seemed pleased with the paint job Jube and his parents had completed back in August. Immediately afterwards, we went online to check out apartment prices in Nice, and were very disappointed to find that they are much more expensive than Montpellier. As we Americans say, "C'est la vie!"