Friday, March 31, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
And that's all for tonight. I will write a real, nice, long, GOOD blog entry when I am not as tired.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
I got a free tee-shirt!
On Saturday I'm meeting my newlywed friend to ramble around Washington, DC (or maybe just the Washington area's malls).
I miss Jube terribly, but hanging out with my family is great.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Now, completely honestly, I had no desire to "tackle the issue" of the CPE because it doesn't really affect me. I don't go to university (many of which have been blockaded for at least a week), I don't use public transport anymore (Jube had to hitchhike to work because the buses were blocked last Thursday), and lately I have been more worried about my own right to work than the right of a French university graduate to get a job for life. That admission of apathy out of the way, I am now worried. The protestors have given an ultimatum to the government: repeal the law or face the wrath that is a grève générale starting Tuesday night. A grève générale, or a "general strike," involves shutting down everything that can possibly shut down: no trains, no school, no driving in the city center, no flights (at least, no AirFrance flights)... you get the picture.
On Wednesday I am going back to the US for five days. Thank God I didn't buy my tickets from AirFrance! Unfortunately I can't forget that about two months ago, the air traffic controllers went on strike. Passengers were trapped in airports for days. I can only hope that if they do strike, they will wait until after 8:10am on Wednesday morning...
Saturday, March 18, 2006
As I walked away, I heard a woman screaming "Je vais la tuer! I'm going to kill her!" The police ran past me towards the cave. Yippee. I'm going back in 3 months.
Luckily Friday was much better. I worked a long, but normal day (9am-5:30pm) and then picked Jube up after his conseil de classe. We ate Mexican food and went to see Capote. As I was looking up the times for the movie, I didn't know what they had changed the name to for the French public. I headed to the French Google and typed in "capote," and received the strangest responses--I had forgotten that in French, capote is slang for condom! Oops! But, although I was a little bit nervous, I finally found the new name (Truman Capote, wow, what a difference!) by typing in "capote film."
Sunday, March 12, 2006
"It's spring break time in the US. Maybe they're a group of high school students waiting to go into the Museum."
"Maybe there's a star who's giving a concert tonight and they want her autograph."
As we passed, we heard groups of young girls singing the latest pop hits--notably "Aimer jusqu'a l'impossible."
"I know what it is!" said Jube. "It's the auditions for Star Academy!"
Our idea was confirmed by a woman who told us that the kids had been waiting "since this morning."
I thought that the kids must be happier than I had been just a half an hour earlier at the Prefecture, but as we continued along the road, we saw a girl sobbing, tears rolling down her face. "He could have at least listened to me sing!" she cried, heartbroken.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Thursday morning I woke up and drove to the Prefecture--again. I waited in line--again. But this time I waited for two hours before the same worker announced that she wasn't giving out any more tickets. I decided to try my chances at the front desk, even though I knew I wouldn't receive a ticket--but then, I thought that I didn't need a ticket, because the last time they had renewed it with the crunch of a stamp. However, the woman behind the desk (the same one who had told us all to go home) told me that I would have to come back on Monday with all of my papers and they would make me a new receipt. ("But last time you just stamped it," I said. "I don't do that anymore," she answered.) After two and a half hours on my feet, surrounded by screaming babies, line cutters, and innumerable foreign languages, I had accomplished nothing, and I no longer had the right to work. I made it to the car before I started bawling.
When I say I bawled, I want you to know that I didn't cry. I cry a lot. The first question my mother asked me when I wore contact lenses for the first time was whether they hurt when I cried. I once cried in front of the family because Jube read me a local newspaper article about a little dog who had been poisoned by some mean hoodlum. I even cried when I first came to Nice and realized that it's not the same city as Montpellier. I say this because the tears that came out of my body on Thursday were not the same as my normal drizzle. I sobbed and screamed and had to use lots of tissues before I could leave the parking lot at the Prefecture.
Now that I read my depiction of the Prefecture, my breakdown doesn't seem very merited. You have to understand--the section for the "foreigners" is all the way at the back, like a cave, filled with red metal chairs and a long, long, never-ending line that starts at a desk set in the back of the cave with a door behind it. Postulants from the line go up to the desk, and the Women (I don't know why the workers are primarily women, but they are) receive each immigrant like he is a 3-year old child who has some unreasonable request that is basically impossible to fulfill, but maybe, just maybe, if he has all of the required papers, She can give him a ticket and he can go sit in a red metal chair and wait for another hour before another Woman looks at his papers again and gives him another paper in exchange--and suddenly, he can work. While you're in line, you have to stand as close as possible to the person in front of you, or someone will try to cut (I've seen it happen). Everyone smells bad after about a half an hour because of the close conditions, and because the cave is kept at a very high temperature. Since no one knows how long the process will take, most immigrant women come with their children, who scream and cry and run around the cave. Sometimes the Women disappear behind their door for fifteen minutes at a time. The line moves around while we talk to each other, wondering if the Woman will come back, or if she's preparing to tell us all to leave.
I went back to the Prefecture today, with Jube, hoping that we could figure out exactly why my request was refused. Basically, there are now new laws concerning immigrants, one of which concerns the stamping of the receipts. This is now verboten, and so everyone whose papers take a long time--that means everyone--needs to come back and have a new receipt printed off for them. For that, we need a ticket. To get a ticket, we need to arrive (at the latest) at 8:00am, an hour before the Prefecture opens. And that's why I cried.
The most touching moment at the Prefecture: An old Moroccan man interrupts me while I'm reading a book. "Mademoiselle, would you mind filling in this paper for me?" I don't understand why he's asking me, exactly, but I explain that the paper is really easy--he just needs to write his name, date of birth, and nationality and then sign it. "But Mademoiselle," he says to me with a little smile, "I don't know how to write." I fill in the short form and show him where to sign. He thanks me profusely and heads off to another part of the Prefecture. The young man behind me catches my eye, and we smile together--a brief smile before we are sucked back into the stress of waiting.
The most bizarre moment at the Prefecture: While I'm sitting on a red metal chair and gazing blankly in front of me, a young man pushes past me and approaches Jube. I can't hear what they're saying to each other, but I notice that the seat of the young man's blue jeans are full of fashionable holes. I look up at Jube's face in time to hear him say, "Oui, j'ai compris"--"Yes, I understand." The young man scowls and then stalks to the back of the line. "What was that?" I ask Jube. "He told me that if I didn't let his girlfriend go in front of us, he would give me a knuckle sandwich!" he responded incredulously.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
After awhile, Jube asked me, "Is it a good movie?"
I hadn't really noticed what was on TV, but I glanced up from the glowing computer. "Oh, that's called 2 Week's Notice." I also gave him my opinion of the movie and a summary, but sheesh, I won't tell you, because 2 Week's Notice doesn't really need any help from me...
Then Jube looked at me admiringly. "I'm so glad I have an American girlfriend. It's like having a film encyclopedia!"
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Jube's grading routine: While I'm at the computer, he monopolizes the rest of the apartment. He connects his mp3 player to the home cinema and listens to 20-minute-long progressive rock songs. He mutes the television and switches channels. Every five minutes or so he interrupts my surfing to ask me a grammar or vocabulary question. Then, just to break up the monotony a bit, he decides to get up to do something and lose his pen, his mp3 player, the copy of the test he was grading, or the remote control. Afterwards he asks me where I put the pen, the mp3 player, etc etc. How should I know where it is?
AND THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT!
"Oh Gem, what did you do with the remote control now?" he'll ask, after I tell him I haven't touched it for about 3 hours. Of course that really gets me riled up! And then he'll come over and kiss me to make sure I know he's kidding. He just did that, and then couldn't find his pen, so we had another mini-argument about it--and then he remembered that he had it in his mouth last time we kissed-and-made-up... and there it was right in my lap!
Now I'll digress on the word "hobby" for you. As you may know, in French, the sound "h" does not exist. (That's why the word "hors d'oeuvres" is pronounced ordERVES.) Also, the stress always falls on the last syllable (see above example). So lots of French kids pronounce "hobbies" as though they were saying "obese." Be aware.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I think going back to work after a vacation is way harder than going to work the week before vacation. I have been out of the working rhythm all week long, and a little bit sick, too!
On Tuesday night, Jube and I went into town to check out the final night of Carnaval. The King is burned (don't worry, it's a float) and there is a fireworks display. Now, I consider myself a pretty experienced fireworks-watcher, since I've seen "Red, White, and Boom" in Columbus, Ohio; the fireworks on the Mall in Washington, DC; and most spectacularly, the amazing fireworks of Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain. The fireworks for the end of Nice's Carnaval couldn't compare with the amazing displays in Valencia, but they were much better than, say, the fireworks for the 4th of July in Delaware, Ohio. Let me tell you how it went down:
I arrived home a bit late from work because a lot of roads were closed (since there was the Carnaval!). As soon as I walked in the door, we headed out again. We walked along the beach and listened to the music. Then we tried to find a place to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, the Promenade des Anglais was chock full of people, right up to the barrier above the beach. Luckily we found a way DOWN to the beach, and then we pushed our way right up to the best vantage point. First, they burned the King of the Carnaval out on the water. I have some pictures of it, but it looks really bad, so I'm not posting them. Here are my (pretty crappy but better than the pics of the burning King) pictures of the fireworks.
I like the reflections in the water.