Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The Christmas frenzy has come and gone at my parents' house. We all exchanged gifts yesterday and for the most part everyone was happy (I think). My mother received an electric fireplace, which we opened first. My stepfather had tried to raise the fire frenzy by putting the "yule log" on television. She was disappointed to begin with, because she had wanted a gas fireplace, but she's warming up to it now.

Jube and I received joint gifts: tons and tons of tools. We now have every kind of screwdriver, Allen key, monkey wrench, or pliers you could want. Now we just have to figure out how to use them... My little brothers received more fun stuff, like iPods, winter jackets, and Lego sets. I did receive some less-useful gifts, but I don't really mind the tools as much as I thought I would. I figured out that we were getting them about two days before Christmas when I saw a saw-shaped gift. Both of my brothers had already received tools. I guess my stepfather was just waiting until I got married to be able to give me such a masculine gift.

After a Christmas dinner of Cornish game hens, we drove out to my father's house. Unfortunately the gift we ordered for him still hasn't arrived, so he hasn't received a gift yet. Someday, someday! Today we ate lunch at Red Lobster with my grandmother, who ate an entire lobster tail. We were all pretty impressed.

Now I'm making plans for my friend's wedding in Indiana. We will be flying to Ohio on Friday and spending the night in Columbus at my friend Brooke's house. Then on Saturday we'll drive out to Indiana for the wedding--and by Sunday we'll be back in Maryland at Dad's house for New Year's Eve! I'll try to post more about the wedding as it comes up. It should be fun!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Vacation

After my last message, I decided to push myself a little bit and actually do something besides relaxing. A few days ago I bought cream cheese and peppermint extract, and yesterday I made peppermint cheesecake brownies. They are very tasty indeed and I have to keep myself from eating too many of them!

Yesterday I also got the chance to practice my Spanish. My mother works with deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and yesterday she went on a home visit to one of their houses. Little Fani's parents don't speak much English, which makes for an interesting problem for her and my mother. At school and with my mother, her speech therapist, Fani speaks English, but at home she is surrounded by Spanish. Since she couldn't hear until age four, when she had an operation and received hearing aids, she is already behind other children in language development. My mother thinks that, added to this delay, she is also experiencing language confusion by learning three languages at once (English, Spanish, and American Sign Language). But when I met her yesterday, she didn't seem to be doing so poorly! She could say "Where is..." and "Donde esta...", and play little listening-comprehension games. It really made me think about how lucky I was. Even if I can't always pronounce French correctly, I can
hear the difference between the words. Little Fani has problems hearing the difference between "kite" and "nine."

I was embarrassed to hear how my Spanish has declined since learning French. I couldn't remember simple words if they weren't similar to French--I even forgot how to say "Christmas" which everyone knows if they listen to Feliz Navidad! But I think that Fani's mother was happy that someone could explain even a very little bit to her.

Today we are headed into town to go to a store called "Chocolatier." They are giving out free homemade chocolates and giving a discount on prices! We might also play a little bit of Scrabble, since today is my mother's last day at work and can stay up a little bit later. Now I think I might go get a brownie...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Home for the Holidays

Having finished all of my papers and finals by last Thursday, Jube and I caught a ride with Willie and were at my parents' house by 6pm the same day. I know I said I would write more often once I finished all of my schoolwork, but accessing the computer is a little bit more difficult here.

Since Thursday, Jube and I have gone Christmas shopping, made Indian food, and been to the town Christmas party where I stuffed myself on homemade chocolate covered toffee. Nothing much has happened. We bought Christmas cards and mailed them to Jube's family in France. I played with the dogs.

Maybe the reason I don't update much during the holidays (I've checked my past posts as well) is that I don't do very much. Sorry.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Anything But That!

For the moment, Jube can't work. Sometimes that is annoying (like when I get another bill from my student loans), but I think he's enjoying his life of leisure. When I leave in the morning, he is usually still in bed, either sleeping or on the laptop. When I come home in the afternoon, he might be making lunch--or he might be playing either the guitar or the Dreamcast. He enjoys watching the morning talk shows, too.

He's a pretty laid-back kind of guy. A few years ago I asked him what was annoying about me, and he was quiet for awhile. Finally he said, "There's only one thing I can think of that really annoys me. It's that when you make lunch, sometimes you don't think about making lunch for me, too*."

I think this is a big cultural difference between America and France. His family always ate together, at a set time, and they all ate the same thing. I appreciated it when I was in France. My family, on the other hand, didn't always eat together. On Sundays we always ate the same thing, but during the week we all did different things, and so would eat at different times. For lunch on Saturday, I usually made myself a sandwich or some pasta, and everyone else made themselves something. When we go back to my family's house for holidays, the same patterns hold, except now I know to make Jube something at the same time as myself.

This morning we woke up late and I poured myself a bowl of cereal. "What am I supposed to do?" he asked me. "Now we won't be able to eat until four o'clock because you won't be hungry!"

"Come on, Jube," I said, "we never eat until late anyway."

He gave me a dirty look and said, "I'm going to have to call Dr. Phil so we can have a talk about this."

*This is either really laid back, or really diplomatic, because I have lots of other annoying habits.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I Heart ODU

ODU students are very proud of their alma mater. They name their most precious possessions after it:


Awww! I'm sure ODU was a really cute puppy!


Get outta here man or ODU's gonna blow you away!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


So what have I been up to lately? Mainly finishing the semester, working, and getting all the documents together for Jube's green card. I'm afraid I haven't done anything interesting or fun, although if you want advice about fiance visas and/or adjustment of status, feel free to email me and I'll help as much as I can.

If I haven't done anything interesting lately, then why am I writing here? Good question! Well, tonight I took a break from paper-writing (that's scheduled for tomorrow--1pm-11:59pm) and went to see Anthem Live! James Blake v. Andre Agassi!

Agassi's Serve
(There's Andre's serve!)

Boy do I love tennis! The affair started when I was a freshman in college. I had free access to the university gym (the HPER Center, which we pronounced "hyper center") where I began to play racquetball pretty frequently. I've never been a very athletic person. I played softball during the summers in elementary school for fun; I've always known how to swim well (thanks, Water Babies!), but I've never been able to do it fast or competitively. My extra-curricular activities in high school were marching band, pep band, theater, and In the Know. I still don't know why I started playing racquetball, but I ended up loving it. It also turned into a way to flirt with Jube, since he also likes racquet sports and would sometimes play with me.

Since I liked racquetball, I figured I'd like tennis too. As one of my required PE classes in college, I took Tennis 1, which was pretty enjoyable.

And Then....

Then, in France, I discovered the joy that is watching the French Open. I love the commentators--their unabashed impartiality and enjoyment of the game--I love the atmosphere on the courts. (No, I've never been, but I can feel it.) I made Beau-Papa laugh by imitating the French fans: "Alleeeeeeeez!" In 2004 I had to watch Roland Garros in the US. I recently discovered a never-sent letter to ESPN complaining about their tennis commentators. They didn't seem to be watching the game!

Enough about me and tennis! I went to Anthem Live!, which is a charity match which raised money for cancer research. It was really fun, with a relaxed atmosphere and lots of fans. It was my first live tennis match, and it was great. Agassi and Blake took their match to two sets and a tiebreak. Blake finally won, but the crowd favorite was (of course!) Andre. Here is a shot of Blake dealing with his tough serve:

Blake Returns

And now I'm off to bed to prepare myself for intense paper-writing tomorrow.

PS: I almost forgot to mention! Jube and I really really wanted to be French and shout "Alleeeeeeeez!" like we heard on France 3... but we were pretty embarrassed. After I heard an old lady shout "Come home with me tonight, Andre!", I realized I had nothing to worry about. So I shouted "alleeeeeeeeeeez!" Jube couldn't be seen as less courageous as his wife, so later on he shouted it too. I think we're ready for Roland Garros now!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thanksgiving!! Oh wait, that was last Thursday...

Yeah, so I've been bad again. After promising myself I would post while on vacation, I didn't. (I didn't write my paper either, which is part of the reason I haven't posted until now.) What I did do was eat a wonderful Thanksgiving meal made by my parents, Jube, and my brother, and then went shopping the next day. What an American week! When we got back to Norfolk, I stayed up all night writing my paper. I'm really back in the saddle again!

On Monday we watched the finale of the Bachelor. I was annoyed because it was two hours (from 9-11), and seriously, if there's an episode that should last two hours, it's not the last one. That's too long to focus on two women. Not only that, I was under the impression it would only last the normal hour. Around 9:45 Jube told me he wanted some ice cream. Since I am a wonderful, nice wife, I told him he could feel free to get some ice cream at the 7-11 around the corner.

"But then I won't be able to see the end of the Bachelor!" he said.

"What? I thought you hated this show," I said.

"Imagine if I forced you to sit through a really bad movie for like 10 hours. Would you leave 15 minutes before the end?"

I guess he has a point.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Homecoming '06

I don't post as much as I wish I did. Maybe soon I'll set myself a challenge--a post a day or something like that. But I think I'll wait until after finals...

Anyway, this week here at Old Dominion University is Homecoming! There have been lots of fun activities that I haven't attended because of work, class, and downright laziness (I'm real lazy, y'know?). But yesterday I decided to take part in the festivities. I called Willie and Monique, rounded up Jube, and headed to the official pre-game Tailgate Party beside the Constant Center. They fed us like Americans should be fed.

Homecoming 06 Tailgate!

ODU is wayyy bigger than my undergrad, Wittenberg University, but I got used to most of the differences pretty quickly. Sure, there are lots of buildings on campus, but I only have class in two of them. I can ignore all the others. Yeah, yeah, ODU's International Center is a whole building, with at least 20 employees, and Witt only had one full-timer... And of course the student center here is really big, with its own travel agency, Starbucks, and Quizznos... but really, that's surface stuff. What I can't get used to is the Constant Center. It is really huge. Jube is going to see Godsmack there; I bought tickets to see Agassi play a charity match. And the coolest part is that, as a student, I can get in to see the basketball teams play for free! Here's a picture of half of the basketball court in the Constant Center:

Homecoming 06 Game

The funniest part of going to basketball games here are the ODU Cheerleaders and Dance Team. It wouldn't be funny except that Jube and Monique were disappointed that the cheerleaders didn't dance like in the movies (I guess they're thinking about American Pie, et al.). Luckily for them, towards the end of the game both the dance team and the cheerleading squad swept out onto the court to do their very popular dance to "Ice Cream and Cake," leading the student section in their trademarked gestures.

Homecoming 06 Student Section

Here the students aren't dancing, but rather heckling the opposing team like a student section should.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hm hm...

Due to an inundation of requests (two!), I am going to post some pictures here. Now, you may have noticed that I don't post pictures of myself or other people I know, so these pictures might be a little bit bland. But it's the best I can do without compromising my principles!

Here are the first pics:

While it might not seem to have much to do with the wedding, it does. I took the belle-famille to Washington, DC to visit all of the monuments. We stayed there all day long, and boy oh boy were we ever tired by the end of it! As you can see, it was a beautiful day, although it was also very cold. We enjoyed the beautiful fall foliage.

view from the washington monument

washington by night

We also saw the sculpture garden by the National Archives, where there is a reproduction of a Paris metro stop. Le Parisien had me take a picture of him descending the metro stairs with the Archives behind--a surreal picture for his friends.

paris and the national archives

This next one is a picture of our two wedding cakes as seen from above. One of them is a pretty traditional American cake. It had no icing, just a layer of white chocolate. Inside there was white chocolate mousse. The other cake is the traditional French
piece montee (pretend like you can see the accents there). We got it from the baker at the restaurant where we had our reception, and the choux were very tasty indeed! You can also see my bouquet here. La Parisienne caught it... it makes all of us hope that they will be married soon for an excuse to go to Martinique!

wedding cakes!

These final two pictures are from the reception. The food was amazing! The first one is the main course--Angus beef with juniper berry sauce and a "cheddar brioche bread pudding." Then you can see our trio of desserts.

main course


Behind the desserts are some "Halloween crackers." They were lots of fun to open and everyone wore their paper crowns.

I don't mean to throw myself flowers, but Belle-maman told us it was the classiest wedding she'd ever attended. (It's probably because there were only 20 of us there, meaning we could have really good food. Beau-papa, le Parisien, and the other two older male guests even enjoyed Louis XIII Cognac! The bartender was French and they could order whatever they wanted!)

All in all, a great wedding--if I do say so myself.

Saturday, November 11, 2006





Last Friday, I took Jube's family to Washington, DC where I walked all of our legs off. We visited the Mall and all of its monuments as well as three museums. Then we got married on Sunday. It was lots of fun (really, it was!) and on Monday we zipped back to Norfolk so I could go to class. Tuesday and Wednesday I worked, and then I jetted (well, hitched a ride) back to DC to attend a conference. So I'm just writing this really crappy little blog to let everyone know I am totally fine and--now--married. I've received lots of emails from friends I haven't seen for a long time and I haven't been able to answer a single one! Also, since I was in DC at this conference, I haven't been able to talk to any of those who called on the phone! Soon, soon, soon I will write you all emails and call you all. And soon I will write a new, interesting, fun-filled blog.

I promise.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Oh My!

This weekend...

Friday: Jube and I rent a silver minivan and eat an early lunch. He then drives to The Plains, VA, and then to Dulles Airport, where le Parisien and his girlfriend arrive
late in the evening.

Saturday: Jube, le Parisien, and la Parisienne go shopping at the Outlet Mall near The Plains. Afterwards they check out a vineyard close by and visit the quaint downtown area of Middleburg, Virginia.

Sunday: The three Frenchies go to the new Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport in the morning. Le Pacha, Belle-maman and Beau-papa arrive in the afternoon. Afterwards they tour a country inn and meet some friends of my parents. That evening they go to bed early after watching part of a movie.

Monday: The new arrivals wake up at 1:30am, and les Parisiens awake at 4:00am. By the time Jube gets up, they are ready to go! They head out to the Outlet Mall again and then visit some nearby fall festivals.


Friday: I have my last outing as a free woman. I go to Thea's house where I drink some beer and watch The Office (American version). I also eat most of Thea's homemade cheeseball.

Saturday: I write three papers. I eat some leftovers and only leave the apartment to go to 7-11 because I run out of milk.

Sunday: I grind out one more paper and manage to do the research for one more. I also paint my finger- and toenails, use an algae mask, and take a long shower.

Monday: I go to work. Afterwards I eat lunch at the Student Center, where I meet Monique. She is a student at ODU's English Language Center and is from Cameroon. We speak for about an hour in English and then an hour in French, when I realize that I'm running late for class. I hop on my bike and speed over where I sit through two presentations.

That's it so far...

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Jube left yesterday in a rented minivan to pick up le Parisien and his girlfriend at the airport. Today they are going outlet shopping and eating lots of good American food.

I, on the other hand, am still in Norfolk, trying to finish my homework for the next two weeks. I'm going to be getting married, going to a conference in DC, and (supposedly) reading for the next week's worth of classes. I don't know how it will all happen, but I'm trying. Right now I'm lying in bed with my books scattered around me. I have started a paper and am doing research for another. However, in the course of my research, I stumbled upon this blog. My chest aches because I miss Montpellier so much! It reminds me of when Jube would leave and go back to France while I continued studying at Wittenberg. Maybe it's because he left yesterday and brought those memories back, but I don't think so.

I really fell in love when I moved to France. Of course being with Jube had a lot to do with it, but it wasn't everything. I had never known what it was like to be attached to a place until I lived in Montpellier. I loved waking up and riding my bike through town to the train station to go to work. I loved exploring the city, alone and with my friends. I really loved it when my family came to visit and I could share my favorite places with them. I hope that someday I can recapture those feelings. I loved living. Sometimes, walking home from the nearby grocer's, after a long day at work and annoyed because I had to go shopping before I could cook dinner, I would just stop and look around and realize how lucky I was. Simply smelling the Mediterranean heat or hearing the lives of the other inhabitants of the city could make me feel calmer.

Maybe someday I'll feel the same way about another place, but right now I can't. I'm jealous when I read about someone else discovering my city, my Montpellier. And even though I know I have 5 papers to write, and la belle-famille's visit to plan, and menus to translate... I can't stop thinking about the one glorious year
I spent in Montpel'.

Friday, October 20, 2006

As Though I Didn't Know What Would Happen...

Yesterday Jube and I went to the DMV. It was a pretty involved process for us, since we don't have a car right now and the DMV is really far away from downtown Norfolk (I guess they figure you have a car if you're going there... whatever!). We biked into Ghent where we could catch the bus that went out to Military Circle. It was a 30 minute bus ride, but we made it.

When we arrived, I warned Jube that it was something like the Prefecture. "The building doesn't look too big, though," he mentioned, happily. As soon as we walked inside and he caught a gimpse of the dozens of chairs and tellers, he smiled ruefully. "Bureaucracy is the same everywhere, I guess."

We waited in line at the information desk, where the woman approved Jube's documents and declined mine--I didn't have two acceptable proofs of identity. I'll go back next time with my passport, I guess. It took 15 more minutes for us to be called up to the desk, where the teller spent a lot of time trying to decide whether Jube's license could be exchanged or not. It turns out that it CAN be exchanged, but Jube (like me) needed another form of identity. Of course they wouldn't accept his carte nationale d'identite or his driver's licence.

We took it in good form, however. We're used to dealing with stuff like that--and it wasn't nearly as bad as the immigration section of the Prefecture!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


So, I've gotten a complaint that I don't update my blog. Well, goodness me! Can't you figure that Jube and I are enjoying our time together and don't want to be interrupted? Luckily I have him slaving away over the hot stove right now, so I can sneak off for five minutes to write in my carnet.

As you may remember, I left you with Jube's arrival imminent. I finished work at 1pm on Friday, and I thought about getting my rental car a little bit early so I could spend the night with my parents, but I decided the time was better spent doing homework and cleaning the house in anticipation of Jube's homecoming. As I cleaned, I heard the wind outside pick up. I had heard some rumors that we were expecting a noreaster
, but since I'd already experienced Tropical Storm Ernesto, I wasn't really worried. It turned out, though, that when I called the rental car company to come pick me up, that portions of different streets around Norfolk were flooded. What's more, my street was flooded for about 100 feet right in front of my apartment building, as I discovered when I went outside to wait for my car. When they arrived, they told me we had to go pick up ANOTHER car... it took us about an hour to get there, since we kept having to backtrack and take alternate routes because of the patchy flooding. I was finally on my way at 11:30am (I had wanted to get going by 9:30). I followed the storm until Richmond, when I turned off of the highway and managed to escape the rain for a bit.

By the time I reached my parents' house, it was already time to drive to the airport! We zipped out there, only to wait for about an hour while Jube braved the long Immigration lines. After he emerged (with his guitar and all his bags, thank goodness!), we went to the mall to get him acclimated to America. We also bought Indian food as a welcome gift.

On Monday we drove out to the French Embassy, where we easily publier-ed les bans and got information about registering our marriage afterwards. Then on Tuesday we went to the courthouse and got our marriage license. We filled out the information (Jube hardly remembered his parents' middle names), and the secretary gave us some Hershey's kisses "as a keepsake." Jube immediately popped his into his mouth when the County Clerk appeared.

"Raise your right hands," she said.

We raised our right hands, and she launched into her speech: "Do you swear that you the information you have given us is correct, that you intend to marry each other and that you are legally free to marry?"

With his mouth full of chocolate, Jube said "I do."

Later, he told me, "I had no idea she was going to make us talk!! I wouldn't have eaten it otherwise!"

Ahh well. Now we have under 2 weeks till la belle-famille arrives, and under 3 till we are married (and I've got only 2 weeks to do allllll sorts of homework, too! Augh!).

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I haven't been able to sleep very well for the past few days. You ask why? Well, it's all for one reason: Jube is arriving on Saturday! Hooray! We have a long weekend in front of us. Luckily it's my fall break, so I have Monday and Tuesday to do all sorts of fun bureaucratic things with him. We are going to go to the French Embassy in Washington, DC, to publier les bans--publish the banns--on Monday. We want this wedding to be legal in France, too!

Then on Tuesday we'll go to the public registrar in Virginia to get the marriage license. Fortunately (for us) Virginia is one of the most lenient states when it comes to marriage certificates. We don't have to have blood tests or anything, just some IDs.

Afterwards, we'll drive back to Norfolk so Jube can get to know his new home a little better!

So, those are our plans. Now that I'm actually getting married, I've been noticing lots of things about weddings that are really annoying. First of all, how did the wedding get to be the most important chapter in someone's life? I saw a wedding planner on TV advising couples that "the wedding dress should represent about 10% of the wedding budget. So, if you're going to spend $10,000 on your wedding, your dress should be about $1,000." When did people decide to spend $10,000 on their wedding? That's more than I'm paying for my graduate degree!

Once she found out that I'm getting married, one of the girls I work with told me that she has a little wedding scrapbook where she pastes pictures of dresses and flowers and bridesmaids' gowns that she thinks are pretty. Then she qualified her statement: "Not that I'm getting married anytime soon! I'm nowhere near engaged!" And yet, she already has her "wedding colors" picked out...

One of my college roommates would periodically tell me things about her wedding. "I chose the song that I'll dance with my dad." "I think that it would be cool if I could wear red and carry a white rose." Hmm... I don't think she had a boyfriend...

People seem very surprised to find that I'm not very stressed about the wedding--probably because they don't realize that we're only having family at an inn in The Plains, VA (check the sidebar for which one...)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A New Day

Well, in my now-absent post crowing about our visa, I mentioned that I would give more details. We've gone through a lot of stress to get this baby, so Jube and I feel very relieved right now. We first began the process back in March, when we decided that I really wanted to go back to grad school.

When I came back to the US to attend the graduate recruiting days here at ODU, I mailed everything off to the Vermont processing center. About 2 weeks later, we received a favorable decision from the Department of Homeland Security, and 2 weeks after that we got a letter saying that our case had been forwarded to the Embassy in Paris. Everything was on schedule for an arrival in the US in August or September.

We waited for another month or so, with no word from the Embassy. I had started my summer job in Nice, and Jube had started his vacation, when we received a letter from Homeland Security saying that they had either reversed their decision or reopened our casefile. It didn't explain why or specify whether we still had any chance for the visa. I was pretty upset! I cried and cried, and Jube had to console me (I still feel bad about this; I mean, the visa was for HIM, not for me, and I'm sure he felt just as sad and confused as I did). My mother did lots of research for us, calling immigration lawyers and trying to get in touch with the Department of Homeland Security. We finally discovered (through our own initiative, with no help from the government) that a new law* was signed last year, coming into effect January 1, 2006. DHL had 2 or 3 months to change the forms to comply with this law. Well, they didn't manage to have the forms (which I downloaded electronically) corrected by the time Jube and I applied. Through no fault of our own, we hadn't answered the two (and a half) new burning questions required by the new law. The advice from the immigration lawyers was contradictory and confusing, but one woman gave us a really useful tip: to FAX the Embassy with our questions. Every time we faxed them, we received a phone call or a quicker resolution of our problem. Of course, I can't be sure that this was because of the FAXes, but it felt like it. The Embassy told us we were one of twelve couples in France who were having the visa process delayed because of the new law.

Anyway, Jube finally received the appointment for the visa interview last week. He went to the doctor, who checked him out and found him lacking in one vaccine, quickly administered. The next day he headed to the Embassy, where he was asked a few questions about my family, his family, and Norfolk, and they said he'd receive the visa in the mail in a few days. He has it now, so he can come to the US at any time! Now the question is, one way ticket or round trip? The round trip tickets are apparently much cheaper, but would that be strange for entering the country as an immigrant?

In any case, I am thrilled that he will be able to make it by our planned wedding date (November 5) and I'm trying to be busy finishing up homework before he gets here. I just can't wait to have some company in my little apartment!

*I basically agree with this law, since it is focused on the problem of mail-order brides (anyone remember that CSI episode where the Russian girl was killed by her husband because she wanted to exercise her rights and divorce him? Yeah, this law is against that!).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Social? Tu parles!

Oh MAN! Little did I know that going out on Friday would be an all-night enterprise!

I left my house around 7 with my friend Willie. We went to Kilmer's house, where she had prepared lasagna and salad for us, along with homemade blueberry wine. We had a great dinner and then talked for awhile, lounging around her condo (her roommates were gone, so it was all for us!). After awhile she suggested we go to a local bar, Harry's. (Kilmer has an eye for local dives. The first time we went out with her, for karaoke, she found the seediest bar ever, called the Dockside. It will forever be known as the Darkside--and we need to pay it a visit, soon!) Harry's was full of marines and sailors. Willie did the best he could to protect Kilmer and me from their assault techniques, and was unfortunately followed into the bathroom where a so-called marine asked him to introduce us. Another sailor, Reggie Love (I'm permitting myself the use of the actual name he gave us because I think it was already a pseudonym), bought us a pitcher of beer and told us that the other marine was in the Taliban. Oh, Harry's! What a place!

After Harry's closed, we went to ihop, since Willie was feeling like a midnight (or 2:30am) snack. I think everyone who closed out a bar decided to go too, and we had about a 10 minute wait for our table. After chowing down on French toast and pancakes, we decided to call it a night and went outside to drive home. Unfortunately, Kilmer had parked Willie's car in the Home Depot parking lot, which was patrolled by a "predatory" towing company. We walked across the street to withdraw money and were approached by a "private taxi." Kilmer promptly told him where to shove it, and he left when she threatened to call the police. I had the taxi dispatch number programmed in my phone from my trip to the social security office, and they sent one over right away.

We paid to get Willie's car back, and on the way out Kilmer gave everyone the finger. "Willie," she said, "Just give that guy the bird, okay?"

"Sure," he said wearily, flashing the doit d'honneur at the owner of the company. Right then Kilmer stopped at a stop sign, and Willie begged her to get away before he came after us. Of course, we were the big loser, because we lost about $115 combined on our little trip to the towing company. I finally got home at about 4:30am.

This wouldn't have been too bad, except that my dad was coming to visit me on Saturday! He told me he would arrive about 12 or 1pm, so I dragged myself out of bed at 10am to clean and shower. When he hadn't shown up by 1:30, I called him. "Oh, I'll be leaving within the hour," he told me. Either he was cleverly pretending he had never told me he'd arrive by 1pm, or I'd misunderstood the night before and he'd told me he'd leave by 1pm. It's probably the latter . . .

He finally got to my apartment at 6pm. We headed out right away to the No Frills Bar and Grill where we had some great sandwiches, and then went to the movie theater to see Little Miss Sunshine, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After we had gone to bed, Dad's phone rang at 11:30pm. It woke me up, and I heard him talking in the other room.

"I think you have the wrong number. [pause] Oh, Joey! Well, Joey, are you okay? [pause] Where are you? [pause] Well, all right. Have a good night, Joey." My father is a teacher and a chess coach (for a few elementary schools), and one of his former students decided to get drunk and call him up! Although we felt kind of bad, it was hilarious.

On Sunday morning we went to ihop for breakfast, and then picked up some important items from the hardware store to put together my bed (the frame and headboard have been separate ever since I moved in). We also picked up a new bike from my friend's house and then Dad headed home, leaving me tired, lonely, and with a ton of homework to finish.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I've gone out with my friends for the past few weeks. I went to karaoke one night, to an Irish pub the next, and finally to the "graduate hangout" on Tuesday evening. (I think they call it a graduate hangout because it's on campus and right next to campus security . . . since the undergrads stay away anyway, they're being market savvy.) Then I met with a group to talk about a project last night, and I'm going to another friend's house tonight. I told Jube about all of this over the phone, and he said, "You've been pretty social these days!"

Well I guess I have! I've been especially social if you compare it to our normal routine, which consisted of eating dinner with each other and then watching television, with perhaps one weekend a month spent with Other People. Maybe it's being back on a university campus--there are just more people around who all want to go out, so why not band together? Maybe it's because I don't know anyone in Norfolk, so I have to be proactive about meeting people. Or maybe it's because Jube isn't here. Eating dinner and watching TV becomes kind of sad and lonely when you don't have anyone to cuddle with (or shout at to turn down the guitar).

The reason doesn't really matter, but I'm glad I have things to do outside of homework. I think that would have driven me crazy by now!

Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Ago

5 years ago I was a sophomore at Wittenberg University. I woke up 10 minutes before I had to be at my campus job, so I got dressed and hurried to the library, just across the lawn from my dorm. When I arrived, there was a television set up in the library lobby. I didn't really understand what was happening, even when my boss told me, "They hit the Twin Towers--but they haven't fallen down yet! That's American engineering!" About twenty minutes later, they set up a big screen projection in the audiovisual center, and all of the library workers went to watch the news, where we saw what had happened to the pentagon. Then the towers fell.

I still don't think I understood what had happened. I went back to my dorm and tried to call Jube, who was living in Montpellier, but I couldn't get through. All of the international lines were busy.

The day after, all of my professors wanted to talk about it in class. I just wanted to get on with learning Spanish and reading American literature. A quick panel was set up for that Thursday with some political science professors, and it was packed--but didn't explain anything.

I think I finally understood how much the attack affected me--who knew no one there, who only saw a few images on the television, who had been to New York for one weekend--a year later, in France. Belle-maman called me downstairs to watch the television, where they were showing the preview of a documentary filmed by a Frenchman about the attacks. I suddenly began crying and ran upstairs to Jube's room. His family followed, apologizing, telling me "We thought you would want to see it."

When I see all of the made-for-TV movies, the WTC commemorative coins, and the special editions of shows like Extra being filmed at Ground Zero, I don't know how to feel. The immediacy has worn off, but I still don't think that our grief should be exploited for television ratings. So last night I turned the television off after the US Open, which took place in New York and was the best tribute I could think of: continuing our lives with the pursuit of excellence.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


When I lived in France, I used to say, "Oh, the television is so much better in America!" I watched my friends' copies of Sex in the City, caught every episode of CSI I could, and hardly ever watched a French series. When I got back to the US, I was excited about watching The Office, after managing to catch a few episodes from a friend's iPod, and seeing all my favorite crime shows in VO (the original language--that would be English).

Well. For all of those American expats still living under the delusion that "American TV is better," I'm here to set you straight. I'm not saying that French television series are better than American series. I didn't watch very many of them, and I didn't exactly like them (except for a few episodes of Les enfants de la tele, which I adored for the outtakes, Star Academy--of course!--Fort Boyard and all of the American reality series with French participants, like The Bachelor). But, I loved watching all of the American network series I'd missed, like CSI, Without a Trace, and Law and Order. All of that, for free!

You might be saying to yourself, "But those are free in the US, too! We have network television!" Hmmm . . . unless you live in the middle of a city and pull out the bunny ears, you don't really get many channels. I know this because I only have three right now (four, counting the infomercial channel), and I live pretty much in the middle of Norfolk. After 2 years in France, and counting on 5 very clear channels that didn't show exclusively soaps in the afternoons, American TV is a big, big shock.

What's more, there are tons and TONS of commercials! When I watch CSI, I'm not used to the 10 or so commercials. In France, there is only one commercial in the middle of the show, and afterwards I got another episode right away, with no break (and that's on TF1!). If I watched Without a Trace, which showed on France 2, there were no commercials at all. Besides that, I learned all kinds of French vocabulary I never would have otherwise, words like "coroner" and "q-tip."

As for the afternoons, in the US, all I can see are soap operas--until they start showing talk shows before the local news. In France, they also showed soap operas, but I could also catch some nature documentaries or interesting cultural programs on France 5. I suppose that PBS also broadcasts shows like that, but I can't tune it in on my television set. Now, I'm not saying that French TV is the best in the world--or even better than American cable (although then you'd have to compare French cable, of course, and I don't have any experience with that). But in the US, our network channels can't compare to the good quality of French reception and the low commercial time.

The worst, though, is that I can't get into my American shows as much, because they sound like they have the wrong voices!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I haven't written much about my job this summer in Nice, because I don't think it is appropriate. I did, however, spend my first night in a hospital, ever. The kids attending the summer program were . . . well, let's say they liked to have your attention. All the time.

So when you get sick and throw up, you think you have appendicitis, and you drag your counselor to the hospital. In the US, if you have appendicitis, they rush you into the operating room and cut that baby right out! In France, as I learned, you are taken under continuous observation for 12 hours. Since we arrived at 3:30pm, that meant we got to spend the night! Oh, yeah. I slept in the room with my charge, since she couldn't speak French very well. I wasn't thrilled about it, but I'm sure it was better than leaving her alone, since we were woken at 1am to get a sonogram and again at 6am for a blood sample... and again at 8am when a whole troupe of doctors and interns walked in to practice their English and diagnosis skills. We slept on the emergency ward, which meant we got to hear a patient moaning all night long. My poor girl was really scared (and I was kind of freaked out, too!) until I heard the nurses arguing with him. He kept asking for methadone, and they kept saying no . . . "and if Monsieur doesn't quiet down, we'll tie him down!" After that we slept well, knowing that the recovering drug addict would be a bit calmer with the nurses watching over him. That night in the hospital cost 900 Euros.

I went to the hospital one other time in July. This time it was more serious, although we didn't spend the night. Another girl had an athsma attack, so we called the ambulance. I rode with her in it, and when we arrived everything had passed. We did have to wait in emergency room admissions, though, and saw a couple of people who had been in a car accident walk by us, bleeding from the head. We spent about three hours at the hospital this time, enough to see a doctor who asked if there was carpet in the dorms where we slept. And--it was totally free, since we only used the ambulance resources!

Although I didn't go to the doctor very often in France, and never to the hospital, I miss the health care. Ahhh well! At least I get cheap dental cleaning from the school of dental hygiene here at ODU!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day Weekend

I made it safely to my parents' house in Northern Virginia, after taking 6 hours to drive the normal 3 in the pouring rain. But I arrived safely and, while watching Are We There Yet?, manage to eat fondue with my mother and stepfather. Then my mother launched into Planning-the-Wedding mode, and we went to all kinds of stores, looking for invitations, shoes, wraps, jackets, and other things. The best part of Planning the Wedding has been the restaurant where we will eat. We talked to the chef last night and got to eat there, too. Nice!

Oh wait. We haven't heard about the visa yet! This Planning the Wedding session has all been on blind faith! Isn't that fun? I hope that we'll find out soon. Jube is packing and will be moving back to Montpellier this week, and I'll be buckling down on the books. Who knew that they would be so boring? As an English major, I mainly got to read really fun books, and when I wrote my thesis they were all books I chose to read! Now, reading things like "Internationalisation and Globalisation: Study Abroad in the Post-Modern Era," I realize how lucky I was (although that article wasn't too bad). But I have high hopes for the future--when I get to choose what I research! And when Jube gets his visa! I'll let you know whenever I do . . .

Friday, September 01, 2006


Before I moved to Norfolk, Jube did lots of research on the city. He still does a lot, and when we talk on the phone, he asks me to "check if those tennis courts by our apartment are free to the public." Actually, he asks me that about once a week... Before I left France, he also asked me about hurricanes. He had heard there were a lot around Norfolk. Now, although I have lived in Ohio for most of my life, I was born in Washington, DC and have visited the area at least twice a year, every year (until I moved to France). To me, "Virginia" meant Northern Virginia, and I told him that hurricanes weren't very strong when they reached Virginia. Sure, there might be a little bit of rain, maybe a power outage or something, but that's it. So when Ernesto changed course and rammed into North Carolina, I thought, "Wow, sucks to live in the Outer Banks!" Then I saw the weather map and realized, "Hey, Norfolk is right next to North Carolina!" Today, ODU is closed. That's pretty cool, because I don't have to work, but it's also very annoying, because I was going to drive up to my parents' house today. So I have to make sure that I won't die because of flash floods on my way up... Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

International Nights

Wow, I've been writing a lot of posts recently! It's been awhile since I had the free time and the motivation, I suppose.

Well, this isn't really motivation... it's insomnia. I turned off my lights two hours ago, and just couldn't get to sleep. I could vaguely hear my next-door neighbor, Raj, watching a movie, but it wasn't enough to keep me from sleeping. Anyway, I got up and started using the computer, but in the living room the movie is much louder. I figured it was some loud annoying adventure movie, since I could hear lots of bass and what I thought were explosions. After about half an hour, though, I realized that he was watching a Bollywood flick. Of course this doesn't rule out any explosions, but I was surprised to hear high-pitched warbling coming from the wall as well as big bassy booms.

Good Night, Everyone.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


As I was walking on campus the other day, I walked past the seal of Old Dominion University set into the path. I carefully avoided walking on it, and immediately caught myself remembering Wittenberg. There, you are taught never to step on the seal. That will make you fail your next test. The only time you are supposed to walk on it is on or after graduation day. I stepped on the seal once my freshman year, ironically while cramming for a biology test. I didn't fail, but I didn't do well either (what do you expect when you start studying on your way to class?). After that, I was a good Wittenberger. Jube, on the other hand, gleefully stomped on the seal whenever we walked by. "I'm not really a Wittenberg student," he would tell me, "and I don't believe in all that superstitious crap anyway."

At Wittenberg, we also have the Kissing Bridge near Graduation Hollow. If you kiss there once, that means you're pretty serious. If you kiss twice, you're going to get married. During nighttime walks you could see lots of couples kissing on the bridge, and at times you had to practically wait in line if you wanted to have a chance. Jube didn't believe in that, either, but look where we are now...

I don't know what traditions Old Dominion has, especially since it's a pretty young university. I did hear some students last night at midnight laughing and talking in a foreign language in the parking lot near my house. Most of the tenants here at my apartment complex are international students, which suits me well. Of the international students, I would say over half of them are Indian, and that's who I saw last night when I looked out of my window. A group of about 15 students, including two girls in saris, circled around one of their friends--the one without any luck, I guess. They threw two dozen eggs at him, and he sat like a pro and took every single one of them, even inviting head shots. When he was finished, he wiped off the goo from his head and smiled for the camcorder that one of the girls had used to film the entire fracas. I had to laugh--I'm back at school again.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Plus ca change...

Hi again everyone! I'll have been in Norfolk for a week at about 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. I've been doing lots of stuff, like finding a graduate assistantship, moving into my house, getting my student ID, and (joy of all joys) getting a replacement social security card.

You see, before I moved to France two years ago, I put my social security card in a safe place so I wouldn't lose it abroad. Unfortunately, I have now forgotten where that safe place was, so I didn't have my card. This wouldn't really be a big deal, except that the guy who takes care of the tax forms in my department is a freak and demands more than the government wants (sound familiar, anyone?). He wouldn't accept my passport, drivers license, and birth certificate, and had no sympathy for my carless state. I had to get a taxi to drive me 20 minutes to the Social Security Office in Norfolk. Both of my taxi drivers took the scenic route, so I got to see lots of pretty houses along the way, and some things that made me smile: the Social Security Office is on Robin Hood Road, and we passed Sherwood Forest Elementary school on the way out there.

When I walked into the office, I had a pleasant feeling towards American bureaucracy, despite my present troubles with the Office of Homeland Security regarding Jube's visa. The kind old police officer at the information desk directed me to the correct room to get a replacement social security card, after having signed a paper and checking my ID. My mood was a bit dampened when I entered the room only to find an almost exact replica of the Prefecture in Nice: rows of seats filled with people, and enough crying babies to rival the foreign affairs office. Now, I know that the Social Security Office has more babies than other bureaucratic places in the US, because they all need to have a number assigned to them, but it's definitely annoying to sit next to a one-year-old who keeps touching your book.

I even got to hear a fight between a young woman and a mother. The young woman had called one of her friends on her cell phone, nearly deafening those around her, screaming about a fight she had had the night before, "and I don't know what the fuck she wanted, but she fucking hit me right in the head. Shit! That bitch don't know what kinda shit she got herself into!" The mother asked her to please use less curse words, but either the young woman didn't hear or didn't care. Finally the security guard had to intervene, and the young woman left before her number was called.

Once that was finished, I went back to finish filling out the papers for my job, where the secretary kept me for about half an hour longer than she had to. Oh well, at least I'm used to waiting now.

Also, when I was in France, I kept thinking about how flirtatious the men were. For example, when I went parasailing, I didn't have my swimsuit. The employee said, "No problem, you can borrow mine," with a big grin at his baggies. Well, I have discovered that in the American South, it's pretty similar. Today I had a man compliment my skirt while I was at an ATM; the employee taking my picture for my student ID said, "It'll be great, you're pretty!"; and at the Social Security Office, as I moved past people to find an empty seat, one of the men said, "I know you ain't that fat!" Luckily, after two years in France, it doesn't faze me at all.

So those are my impressions of the US so far. It's different than I remember it, but maybe that's just because I've absorbed other customs in France. I felt really uncomfortable, for example, when the bagger bagged my groceries for me and then helped me take them outside. On the other hand, everyone is super nice, like my teller at the credit union who found out about my wedding and told me about her 13-year-old daughter while I was opening my new accounts. I felt strange that she was sharing so much personal information, and I had to tell myself that it's just like that in America!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What? A New Post?

I know, I know, how can I imagine that anyone is still reading this? Since I last posted, a lot has happened. I spent a month working at a summer program in Nice, which I will avoid writing about except to say that I went to the hospital twice, spent the night there once--and wasn't sick a day. Kids are crazy. I also began to realize that bureaucracy is bureaucracy everywhere you look. If I thought I had problems working in France, then Jube is having a crisis trying to work in the US! Our visa troubles aren't finished yet, and I don't want to bore anyone with the details. So you're not getting any.

I arrived in Washington, D.C. last Thursday night at 8:30. I cried at the airport, I cried in line... I tried not to cry on the plane, but I was so emotional that V for Vendetta really jerked those tears. How embarrassing! The pilot announced that the weather was 36 degrees (C) as we touched down--I thought France was hot, but the south can't compare with the tropical heat of a Washington Metro Area summer. On Friday we drove down to Norfolk, Virginia, home of Old Dominion University and my new apartment, which I discovered. It has air conditioning. Then my mom took off for her vacation, leaving me at home to watch the dogs. And I got sick. Is it the air conditioning? Was it the close quarters on the plane? Or did I just catch the bug going around here? Whatever the reason, I ran a low fever for 3 days and still have a deep wet chest cough as my companion while I call all kinds of different places to try to find a job.

So I'm safe, I'm in the US, I'm still sick... and hopefully soon I'll have a more interesting post for you.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

guest entry

carnet de correspondance

Hi blog readers, this is a guest entry from Jube.
Just a quick note to let you know that Gem has been away from her computer because of her summer job in Nice, and now she is back in the USA, but she can't blog either. Although her adventures in France are over, I am sure she will post more when she can.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Nice Vacation by BB

This is my last day in France and I finally sat down to write an entry. For my vacation this year, I decided to visit Gem and Jube in Nice. I could not have asked for better hosts. For my first trip to Europe, they have spent a lot of time, money, and patience on making me enjoy my visit.

One of the things I noticed was the number of English t-shirts. The best one I saw said "I want your skull". The second best was probably "Guns and drugs will get you 5 years, guaranteed". This t-shirt was worn by a waiter at the cafe where I had my first taste of Desperados, a beer with tequila. I also have plans on making a "BB de Menton" t-shirt (It's funnier if you actually know me and it's even funnier if you've seen the movie Brice de Nice).

I enjoyed going to my first topless beach. Your first time is always special. I think I only made one girl nervous by talking about her within earshot, since she probably understood English.

I had a lot of good food. The mussels I had were great. Un-bearded ones are the best. I even had two at once a few times. My first time with mussels came late in life, but I think I made up for it by eating as many as I could in one night.

Last Saturday, Jube and I went to Thor, a viking bar. After the World Cup game, a band called Karma started playing. They were pretty good. http://rocknkarma.free.fr/. Make sure to check out their Dates page. Despite not being played on the radio a lot, hard rock and metal (read: good music) are well represented in Nice. Half way through playing A.T.W.A., a bunch of guys came in and started grinding on everyone, but mainly with each other. They were pretty obnoxious and were blocking everyone's view. Jube leaned over and said, "They must be from Paris".

Today, Jube and I went to Cannes and hung out on the beach. Later, while at home and talking over a pizza royale from Pizze Leo, we saw Toad the cat, a huge lizard, and a lightning bug. I have not seen any lightning bugs during my time here, so I'll take this a goodbye from the wild life of Nice.

This has been a perfect vacation, I loved seeing France and Italy, and I hope to see Jube and Gem again soon!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Some Interesting Stuff

Looking back on my entries, I see that I haven't written... well... ANYTHING of what we've been doing. The short version is: we went to San Remo, watched a lot of World Cup games, swam in the pool, watched Some Kind of Monster, and stayed out until 2am celebrating the Fête de la Musique. The longer version might be written by BB later; I'm just going to talk about some highlights here.

First, we went out to have pizza and enjoy the ambiance of the France-South Korea World Cup match. It was great when France scored about 10 minutes into the match. Everyone in the bars around us jumped up, screaming. We could barely give our orders to the waiter. After we finished our meal, we walked along the Cours Saleya looking for dessert, when we heard two small voices screaming. We looked over at them, and they seemed to be the only South Koreans in the area. All of their barmates looked at them a bit quizzically, but not at all aggressively. We found some crepes to eat and listened to the French fans groaning about the tie with South Korea. As we walked along the Promenade des Anglais, we heard someone shouting Allez les bleus! I thought it was kind of odd to be shouting for the team after they had effectively lost. We all looked around, and finally found the supporter neck deep in the Mediterranean, with two friends holding his clothes and laughing. When security showed up, complete with a big German shepherd, the laughing bet-loser climbed out of the water and flashed all of the spectators a quick view of his thong.

Then, on Wednesday, for the Fête de la Musique, we headed out to centre ville. It was packed with people dancing, singing, eating, and (above all) drinking. We went to an all-you-can-eat mussel restaurant where Jube and BB packed away 3 1/2 bowls of mussels (I had another 1/2) and then walked around trying to find a rock band. We listened to two or three (one of whom played Master of Puppets, which Jube and BB both sang), passed a few of Jube's students, and then saw something we had never before seen. A young boy sprinted across the road into the Jardin Albert I followed by two policemen. He circled around towards us again when a police car tore into a U-turn and blocked his escape. Finally he was led out of the garden with his hands behind his back to join a group of youngsters already being held in custody by the policemen. We don't know what they did, but they were definitely caught. In fact, the whole centre ville was full of police officers. We saw them simply patrolling, listening to the music, but also jogging in formation towards an unknown emergency. Luckily we weren't caught rocking out! Well, that's because we didn't really rock out, although Jube did dance with me twice and BB sang most of the songs he knew.

Finally, on Thursday night, we invited Jube's colleagues to come over for a barbecue at our house. We are the only members of the group with a yard, and although I sometimes wish we had a larger apartment or lived closer to town, it's nice to see our apartment through other people's eyes; I realize that our little garden is just what they want. I made big juicy hamburgers, deviled eggs, and fresh spinach salad. Jube grilled it all up and had also bought shish kebabs, but my hamburgers were so American almost no one could eat more afterwards. Some even turned down dessert! We invited four friends, and two of them really made the effort to speak English with BB, which was really nice. He basically followed along with the conversations until we started talking about politics, which I didn't bother to translate. I don't think he knows who Sarkozy or Royal or Hollande are, and since we only talked about Chirac in relation with them... well... I didn't translate.

Today I start my job in town. I'm a little bit sad, because BB doesn't leave until Tuesday and Jube doesn't really start vacation till then (he's been grading the Bac since last week). I'm going to be living with a group of high school students and arranging all of their evening programs for them. It really ought to be interesting, and it's certainly well paid and a good experience... but I can't help thinking about how little time I have left with Jube and (more generally) in France. I'm leaving on August 3rd to start grad school in Virginia, and I'll have to wait at least another month before Jube comes to join me.

That worries me too. I haven't talked about it on my blog because I've been very stressed out about it, but we applied for a visa for him, and we haven't received any news about it since mid-May. We haven't received much mail for the past two weeks, either, though... we're hoping that it's just another example of slow post office service. I'm feeling more stressed since yesterday Jube received word that he has been granted a leave of absence from his job for a year... more pressure. I'll be sure to update you when I know more.

And now I'm going to leave you. I'll try to write more while I'm at work, and I'll force BB to write a nice entry about France before he goes.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Quickie for My Dad

Last weekend an automatic radar caught a British man speeding. He was driving at 250 km/h (166 mph) on his way to Le Mans.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Abbreviated Vacation! Summary

Since my last post, a lot of vacation has been happening. BB, Jube and I met Sam for lunch on Wednesday. It was my first blogger meet up (and hers, too), so we didn't know exactly what to do, but we had a good time trading stories and talking about our summer jobs.

After she left (running to the train station), we hopped in the car and went to Eze. We did NOT tour the Fragonard perfume factory, which disappointed me. Afterwards we went to Monaco, where BB sent off some postcards.

On Thursday, I went to the doctor for a job physical, and then BB and I went to the beach while Jube proctored the Baccalaureat exam. That evening we ate at l'Arum and then went into town to have a beer while watching the end of the Sweden-Paraguay game.

On Friday, we went to Italy--Ventimille. We bought some gelato and some alcohol.

As you can see, I've had a busy week, which is why I'm not writing more. I'm tiiiiired! Maybe I'll write some more soon... (or convince BB to do my job for me!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

BB de Nice

Well, BB arrived as expected on Saturday, and we've been hanging out around town ever since. He basically beat jet-lag right away, although he almost fell asleep on his feet while we were waiting for a taxi on Saturday evening.

Why did we take a taxi? Because it was Beau-papa's birthday party on Saturday, and Jube took the car out to Montpellier where the belle-famille partied at a Syrian restaurant. I was very disappointed that I couldn't go, but I'm sure we will have other chances to party together... I hope sooner rather than later!

The weather has been wonderful here, sunny and not too hot (unlike the rest of France, from what I've heard!), although today was hotter than it has been yet. So what is on the program for the rest of BB's visit? Well, Jube and I had already decided to go to Cannes, Eze, Monaco, St Tropez... the normal Riviera stuff. But, it's already Tuesday and we haven't left the city. I think we're having a good time, though--no complaints yet! Tomorrow we are going to meet Sam around lunchtime, and then we might go somewhere OUT of the city. I'll try to keep updated--and hopefully the next post will be more interesting!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Perdre la tête

Last Saturday I went to the English language library in Nice. The woman working at the desk offered me an invitation to the opening of a photography exposition, so of course I took it. The event took place this evening, so when I had finished my last lesson of the day, I took off for the gallery where I met Jube.

I really enjoyed the exposition, which was made up of black and white photographs around the theme "perdre la tête," or "losing your mind (head)." There were photos of people whose heads were hidden by objects, people making crazy faces, photos commemorating the bicentennial of the beheading of Louis XVI, and some that looked as though the head had been removed from the negative.

The librarian who gave me the ticket had described the event this way: "There will be a lot of ni
çois and there will probably be a speech by some politicians, and afterwards there might even be a little buffet!"

As soon as we arrived, I sniffed out the buffet, but of course we had to wait for the speeches first. We checked out the photos in the meantime, and when we were called for the speech, we met one of Jube's colleagues, the librarian at his high school. What a character! He looked like the drawings of the devil, with a pointy beard and mustache, and one of the first things he said was, "Isn't this a nice gallery? It's even better because there's a buffet!" I certainly wasn't going to say it, but I agreed wholeheartedly.

After the speeches, including one by the photographer (which was, of course, more interesting than the speech from the Minister of Culture), the hoity toity art crowd threw themselves at the buffet. Made up mostly of older women and chic middle-aged couples, they stationed themselves in front of the buffet tables and snarfled down the petits fours. Lucifer had managed to sneak to the front of the room during the speech, so he had already eaten a few hors d'oeuvres. Jube and I hovered on the outside of the crowd, unsure of how to push our way to the table and missing out on the treats! Lucifer felt sorry for me, so he snuck back up to the table and handed me some food. He also got me a small cup of champagne--"Real champagne!" he bragged.

I had a fun time, and realized that cultural events, and the people that attend them, aren't always as classy as you think they are--although Lucifer managed to pull off Class with a capital C. (Well, if anyone could, it would be him, n'est-ce pas?)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


This is my last week of work. Suddenly, all of my students are cancelling! If only I'd decided to finish one week earlier... Yesterday, Jube and I woke up around 7am to the sounds of more rain dripping on the skylight. It was closed, but we both realized that our laundry was drying outside! Usually it's hard for me to get out of bed in the morning, but I rushed outside to drag all of our clean clothes inside. I drove Jube to his bus stop in the rain, and I headed to work until 2pm.

Now, if you're not living in France, then you might not be aware of the controversy surrounding Monday, June 5th, 2006. It is Pentecost Monday, and traditionally it is a holiday in France. Recently (as in, two years ago), the French government decided to change it from a holiday to a work day (jour feri
é to jour travaillé). That means that I had to work, and so did Jube, although primary school teachers had a teacher workday. But, when he arrived at his lycée, the doors were locked. No one had come to work--and worse, no one had told him! So he took the bus back home, but since the buses were running on holiday schedules, he didn't arrive back until 1pm. Poor Jube.

When I got home, we settled down on the couch for a relaxing afternoon at the French Open. I love watching tennis in France, and I think I act the Frenchest that I ever will when I watch Roland Garros here in France. My obsession with Roland Garros started in 2002, when I spent the end of May at Jube's family's house. He still had come courses at the university, and I spoke almost no French at all, so my days with his family had to be filled with something I did understand--and I knew the rules of tennis. I started to love the announcers, who unabashedly took sides, even when the players weren't French. I picked up the specialized French tennis vocabulary, including numerous "oh l
à là"s and "oh que c'est beau"s as well as the more useful filet for "net," sur la ligne for "on the line," and de hors for "outside." I also bonded with Beau-père while watching Agassi. I discovered the particular ambiance of the French Open, with whistles and claps and innumerable alleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez! The players argued with the spectators, the line judges might come and check the marks in the clay, and the head judge had to ask the crowd to quiet down over and over: "S'il vous plaît, les joueurs sont prêts."

So right now, during my break from work, I'm watching the French Open, and enjoying almost every second of it.

A quick note about our laundry: I did another load yesterday, because my friend BB is coming to visit on Saturday and I want to have our apartment presentable. I went out this morning in the early sunlight to see if the clothes were dry, and I turned the sleeve of one of my shirts inside out. I heard a kind of snapping noise, and I realized that a spider had made a web covering the inside of my sleeves. I continued turning it inside out, to break the web and clean out my freshly laundered shirt, and when I finally turned it back the right way, a big fat spider fell out and scuttled away. I'm glad that it didn't happen to one of Jube's shirts, since he hates spiders. As for me, I was just glad I hadn't seen it while it was still inside the sleeve!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I knew that I shouldn't have written that last post! Yesterday, just as I arrived for my first lesson at 11:30am, I noticed the sky darkening. "Hmm, well, we're due for some rain," I thought, "it hasn't even sprinkled yet this month." No big deal, just a spring shower, and I have an umbrella in my purse all the time.

Two hours later, while lingering over my lunch to avoid sprinting to my car with an umbrella that came free with the magazine I bought during my March layover in London, I realized that I had left the skylight open. After our magnificent weekend, I had begun leaving it open to air out the house while we were at work.

Then the rain turned to hail--and on the higher ground, turned to snow! Of course I had chosen to leave my jacket at home, because who needs one when the weather is so wonderful?

When I got home, I checked the floor under the skylight. It was stained with something rust-colored. I apprehensively looked upstairs to our loft, directly under the skylight--and also where we sleep. Jube noticed my hesitant glance. "Our mattress is soaking wet."

We slept on the futon last night.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I Understand If You're Jealous...

This morning, at 11am, I went swimming in our pool. I decided to go in the morning because the sun was shining, and I figured there would be less children than after lunch. There was one woman tanning by the side of the pool, and no one in the water. I had the whole clear blue pool for myself. I had even put in ear plugs to avoid the nasty swimmer's ear, and I spent about an hour enjoying the water and the fresh air. (I am such a good person, to exercise early on a Sunday morning like that!) Yes, today is May 28, and I spent all morning in the pool. For an Ohio girl, that's pretty darn cool!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

a little taste of vacation

Since Jube and I both have Thursday off, we headed out to our favorite réunionnais restaurant, L'Arum. We ate really good food, and had unexpectedly strong rum-based drinks for the apéritif (un ti' lapéro de la Réunion, anybody?). We stuffed ourselves until our stomachs protruded a bit, and when we quieted down for digestion, we could overhear the conversation at the table to my left.

"No, silly, it only works if x is variable here!" said the woman.

"But I don't get it, if we have to subtract 12%, how do you come up with 5 kilos as y?" said the man.

Laughing, the woman replied, "Well, you take 10 kilos, and then..."

Jube and I looked at each other and tried to disguise our amusement by talking in English.

When we left the restaurant, we started the walk to the car. On the way, we passed lots of teenagers out for the night. We crossed the street and saw a man calling up to a friend's apartment. "Shhhhhhhh! Fred! SHHHHHHHHH!" I thought it was kind of weird that he was trying to get Fred's attention by shushing him out on the street, but when I lived in Spain I discovered that to get a Spaniard's attention on the street, you have to hiss--"psssst!" So maybe this was the French version, I thought.

I was proved wrong, though. As we passed by, the man turned to us and asked Jube, "Excusez-moi, but do you know how to whistle?"

I struggled to keep a straight face as Jube showed off his whistling skills, which really are not the right kind for getting someone's attention--just for whistling songs. The man smiled and thanked us, anyway. When we reached the car, we heard a piercing wolf whistle. He must have finally found the right person.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Today, when I got home for my 4-hour work break, Jube had already arrived. Since he didn't expect me, he looked surprised and happy--and suddenly worried. "Oh no!" he said, "I already started the pasta and I'm sure it's already finished and there's not enough time to put more in for you!"

Not a big problem, eh? He told me about his morning--he had left his keys in the bus and only realized when he boarded the next bus. Luckily he found them again. Then, before he caught the bus back to the apartment, he had some time to waste. He headed to the fnac, where he walked around and looked at all his high-tech dreams. "And I bought you a gift!" he told me. It's a CD that I've wanted for awhile.

"How nice!" I said. "How did you know which one I wanted?" (I didn't think he would have remembered the name of the disc, since it wasn't one of my favorite bands or heavy metal.)

"Well, I couldn't remember. I had to whistle the song to the salesman."

"No, really? And he recognized it?"

"He couldn't remember what it was, although it reminded him of something. And then another customer heard me and told us what it was. And that's how I found it," he said, laughing.

My other surprise came this morning: my Friday student told me she wasn't coming in, and I realized that tomorrow is a day off (Ascension). How lucky I am--my weekend starts tonight at 8 o'clock when my class ends.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Last Wednesday morning, just after our alarms went off at 7 o'clock, our phone rang. It was Beau-père, calling to tell us that Pépé had died late on Tuesday night. The funeral was scheduled for Friday morning, so Jube took a day off of work and took the train out on Thursday. I cancelled one of my classes so I could be in Montpellier on Friday afternoon. The weekend was rushed, and since I arrived after the funeral mass and burial, everyone was ready to make jokes. Le Parisien and his girlfriend had driven down the night before, and all of Jube's cousins were there, including a Marseillais who called himself "Brice de Nice" because of his new, long, blond haircut.

While in the region, we went to N
îmes (not the city, but the Peugeot and Géant Supermarket on the limits, because le Parisien had had the carpets from his new car stolen). We also visited Mémée, who seemed rather sad, but showed it by being extremely argumentative and easily hurt by Belle-mère's gentle teasing. That night Jube and I went to see The Da Vinci Code. Yes, yes, we gave in to peer pressure. Jube read the book during our trip to Norway, so he was totally prepped for the movie. While I was watching, I kind of wished that I'd been able to see it without reading the book; there were no surprises and no suspense. Of course, I don't know if that's the fault of the movie or because I had already read the book.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Weekend Dining

Our weekend went very well, after a shaky start. I finish relatively late on Fridays, but my last student had to leave 45 minutes early, so I missed a lot of rush hour and got home in time to help Jube clean the apartment. Then, as I began to make our samosa, I realized that he had only bought 10 feuilles de brick, or thin springroll covers. I jumped in the car and drove to the nearest Asian food store, getting out 5 minutes before they closed. Then I ran to another supermarket and bought bread and orange juice before racing back home, hoping that our guests hadn't yet arrived. Very luckily, they hadn't, since Jube had forgotten to put away the mop and bucket, which were still occupying the middle of the floor. I hurriedly filled the feuilles de brick while Jube made the chicken. As soon as I finished the last samosa, we heard a car honk outside. Jube went to check that it was our company arriving, and ushered them into our backyard. The weather was very nice and warm, so we were even able to eat outside (the first time this year!).

We talked about lots of different things, many having to do with high school gossip, since over half of us work at the same high school. We also found out about les Couilleres, a very strange and absurd club that revolves around pairs (or trios, or groups) of spoons. Jube took out my American table- and teaspoons, and the Couilleres were amazed and took plenty of pictures. Everyone was dutifully impressed by our samosa, balti chicken, and fruit salad.

On Saturday, the weather was gray and rainy. We went to the supermarket to buy food for the rest of the week, and to the English/American library for new books. When we got home, le Pacha had called us 6 times. The first message was very calm and collected: "Jube, please call me when you get home. I hope everything is well with you." The second message was a bit more harried: "Be sure to call me as soon as you get home!" The third message was completely off the wall: "I need you to call! Where are you? I need to talk to you, Jube!" The last 3 messages were just quick calls to make sure we weren't home; our message service lets us know which numbers call us, and when. When we hung up the telephone to call le Pacha, the phone rang. "Hi Gem. How are you? Fine? Good. Is Jube there?" I passed him the phone. Le Pacha couldn't save his game on the PS2, and hoped (was certain, in fact) that Jube could help him. Unfortunately we don't know anything about memory cards or PlayStations, so he was disappointed.

Today we woke up late and were invited at the last minute to picnic on the beach with the same group who had eaten at our house on Friday. We went with another batch of samosa and ate fougasse, quiche, and olives on the pebbles of the beach. We left early because Jube had (still has) a lot of papers to grade. I have to get up early tomorrow, so I'm happy for the relaxing afternoon at home, too.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Work and Leisure

On Tuesday, I was in a great mood. Why? Because my boss and I worked out the last 5 weeks of my schedule! I only have 5 more weeks of working as an ESL teacher! Only 4 after today! Hooray! I will be able to finish some "missions," and some others will be finished by other professors.

I even got up the nerve to ask to get rid of one of my students. He's very, very strange. IF he comes, he invariably arrives 15 minutes late. At least half of the time he doesn't show up at all, with no warning. When I started teaching him, this was actually a plus: I'm paid for the time that the students are late, or the lessons they cancel less than 24 hours in advance (or, in his case, that he didn't bother to cancel at all). There were some other aspects of his behavior that weren't so advantageous, however. He would sit, looking uncomfortable, for the entire hour and a half of our lessons, without taking any notes. Sometimes he would excuse himself and go to the toilet for no reason. Also, we couldn't tell him that I am American. He is violently opposed to American international policy--which isn't really that weird. What is weird is that he is also violently opposed to all Americans. I told him I was Irish and focused on grammar in class. Hopefully I won't have to teach him any more after next week! Hooray!

Tonight we are inviting Jube's young colleagues over for dinner. The last time we ate with them, you may remember that they were surprised that I liked the cheese they served after dinner. Afterwards they quizzed Jube on if I cooked French or American food at home. "Non, mais vraiment, est-ce qu'elle fait des choses bizarres à manger?" (No, really, does she make weird stuff to eat?) Instead of trying to convince them that American food is good by making something "typically American," we decided to make Indian food for them. I'm sure it will impress them, even if Jube is making most of it. We're prepping for the time when I'll be so rich that he can stay at home with the kids, have a part-time job at a guitar store, and make dinner every night.

Now I just need to get through the last 4 weeks at work...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ah, mince!

Last weekend, Jube and I visited his family in Gallargues. We had a relaxing time, visiting Montpellier and celebrating my birthday with a low-key family dinner. Le Pacha played me his new copy of Le Roi Soleil. He went to see the musical about Louis XIV about a month ago and fell in love with all of the actors. Beau-papa was really impressed too, although he downplayed his enthusiasm a bit when he described it to me and Jube. We talked about how I like to watch detective series on television, like "Law and Order" (Police Judiciaire) and CSI (Les Experts). Jube told the family that my cousin is studying to be one of les experts, which is true. I'm not sure of the exact name of the degree, or when she'll be finished, but it has something to do with forensics.

Le Pacha looked at us incredulously. "But your cousin can't be un expert! She's too fat!" he said.

At the time, it was really hilarious, but I really got to thinking about it when one of my students told me she prefers American series to French ones because "French TV series have lots of old actors, and in American ones everyone is always good-looking."

That's basically true, except for the fat men who manage to be wonderful (and hilarious) fathers alongside their beautiful, skinny wives. And when I REALLY thought about it, I realized that the only program that shows the whole gamme of human bodies, from skinny to morbidly obese, is also the most vulgar show in the world: "Jerry Springer." That's not to say that women in French shows aren't gorgeous and sexy (and sometimes show off their bare breasts, too!), but there are almost no middle-aged or old people in American shows who look their age--unless they are annoying people out for laughs. There are often older characters in French series who don't have flat stomachs or no wrinkles (although they are nearly always elegant).

And that's why I entitled my post "Ah mince!" It's a way of swearing without saying "merde," but it literally means "oh, thin!"

(I'm reading The Beauty Myth right now, can you tell? Thanks, Mom, for bringing it all the way to Norway for me!)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Immigration Stuff

When I arrived at work today, the secretary who has to unlock the door for me was on her cell phone with a friend.

"Et hop! Chacun chez soi, non mais!" (I say, everyone just stay in their own country. Come on!) She listened as she led me to the small meeting room. She gave me a little smile and then walked back to her desk, saying, "Ben, je pr
éfère un polonnais à un arabe, je le dis maintenant. Au moins ils sont européens, eux!" (Well, I'd prefer a Pole to an Arab; I'll say it now! At least they're European!)

As I set up my materiels and prepared for the class, I wondered if she had any idea that I am an immigrant, too. It probably never crossed her mind that I might be offended by her remarks--anyway, I'm European, right?

This afternoon I had one of my favorite classes. The students are full of humor and enjoy practicing their English. Their homework was to present an English-language article to the class. One of them talked about the "Day Without Immigrants" that recently occurred in the US. Another presented on the French Interior Minister M. Sarkozy's new bill about immigration, as reported by the BBC.

All of this has really made me think about my own status as an immigrant. I go to the Prefecture regularly (every 3 months). I don't have the right to vote here in France. I have an accent when I speak. I don't know why, but it's this last one that bugs me. Why should it bother me to have an accent? Maybe because it's the only obvious sign of my difference.

Now that we're going through the process with Jube, I'm already scared about what will happen in the US. Will it be more hassle? More strict? Will he adapt well to life in the US? I'm not sure what I'm trying to say, and I know that it's nothing deep. All I know is that I feel much closer to the immigrants entering and living in the US now than I ever did before.