Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fin Avril

Last year at this time Jube and I were nervously waiting to receive word about his fiance visa. We were unaware of how long it would take to get everything set. His parents called every day for a week asking for the date of the wedding because they were sure that plane ticket prices would soar for every delayed minute... My mother kept cool (at least on the phone with me!) and drove to Norfolk to find us an apartment... We were not yet worried about his immigration, but focused more on our jobs. I remember quite clearly my mixed feelings on the bank holidays on May 1st and May 8th: I was happy I didn't have to work, but Mondays were my "big days" and I would be losing a lot of revenue.

This year I am not worried about money or immigration. I have a concrete plan for my summer and Jube just received his "green" card (it's actually white...). Instead, I am temporarily stressed out about my finals. I'm sure that after next Friday I will be relaxed, ready for my part-time job. [I recently realized how wonderful working 20 hours a week is. I think it's the perfect amount. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to get as much money as I might working full-time, but it's always nice to dream!]

We also attended a French speaking get-together yesterday. There were three French citizens, one Franco-American, one Englishman, and some 'mericans. I was happy that I hadn't lost much French, and it was great for my ego that two people asked if my parents were French. (100% American, if you're wondering.) As always, I don't know how amazing my grammar is, but my southern French accent manages to fool them. In fact, when I was first learning French, I couldn't exactly have a conversation. Jube's friends found phrases like tant pis hilarious when I said them, because I had such a heavy Meridional accent. This used to bother me--I mean, I was trying really hard to speak French, and all that happened was that people laughed at me! But then I realized that it would be pretty freakin' hilarious if a Frenchie would say things like "Hi y'all! Ah'm Pierre!"

It was interesting to meet French expats in the US. Some of them were going through the same culture shock I experienced and that I still read about on other blogs. I'm really glad that Jube isn't having trouble acclimating to the US. I can hardly remember how out of place I used to feel during my first few months in France.

Anyway, I guess I'll get back to grinding out papers. Only 14 more pages to go...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Consume Consume Consume!

This weekend was a busy one, and now it's exam week... so I'll try to update as quickly and as thoroughly as possible!

Last Saturday Jube, Kilmer & I drove out to Chesapeake to look at a used car we found on Craig's List. It was just as good a deal as we'd thought, so we decided to buy it! Yes, we have been living in the US without a car for six months, and it is SUBHUMAN. (Actually it's not subhuman, we've been doing fine and saving lots of money on gas, but now Jube has to get a job and a car is required...)

We drove out to find a notary, but unfortunately it was after noon and all of the banks were closed. I pulled out my checkbook to give the first owner a deposit only to find that I had no checks left--just some duplicates and deposit slips that had fooled me into thinking there was something underneath. I guess it's a good thing that we hadn't found a notary after all. We made arrangements to meet on Monday for the car instead.

Then we drove back to Norfolk where Jube took advantage of our having transportation to cast his vote for President of the Republic. I can't tell you who he voted for because it is a SECRET BALLOT!, but I will tell you that the-person-who-shall-not-be-named didn't make it into the runoff election. And it wasn't Le Pen.

On Sunday I went to Taste of India, a celebration of Indian culture, with some Indian neighbors. They even lent me some clothes so I could go in "Indian dress." I ate great food, saw a Bhangra competition, and even made some new friends. Here I am in character:

The next day we got our car! Yay! Here is a picture of it for everyone to drool over:

Monday was awesome!!! Not only did we get our car, Jube received word that his temporary green card had been printed--and on his way to 7-11 to buy celebratory ice cream, he noticed this really cool entertainment center by the dumpster. And it had a rug on it. We dragged them up to our apartment, where they make a great addition to our decor. Yes, Robin, I've been converted to Dumpster Diving!

And now I feel really guilty that I haven't started any of my final papers yet, so I've got to go. 1st year of grad school is almost over!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Did you know ...

...that the Nintendo DS has a little microphone on it? And some games require you to blow into the microphone to get the characters to jump around? It's true! Jube was playing one of those games the other day while I read the platforms of the French presidential candidates to him.

The platforms are interesting to read... the leftist candidates talk about raising minimum wage, reducing the number of weekly hours worked, and legalizing all immigrants (literally those "without papers," les sans-papiers). The more conservative candidates advocate raising the weekly work hours, keeping Turkey out of the EU, and kicking out all illegal immigrants (immigration zero--I'm sure you can understand that one!). Those in the middle prefer a melange, focusing on solidifying the current 35-hour work week and new immigration restrictions (in Sarkozy's words, immigration choisie--the government chooses who to let in, similar to the US).

I was reading Jube the platforms because he had just received an invitation to vote in Norfolk. He is still debating on whether to vote or not, for a couple of reasons: 1) the voting location is relatively far from our house, and we still don't have a car; 2) he can't really decide who to vote for.

As I read some of the platforms, we would laugh trying to imagine how they could implement their ideas. One that I loved was Le Pen's plank that would give women a minimum wage for the rest of their lives if they have children. "Wonderful!" I said, "As soon as I have French citizenship we'll move back and have three kids."

"No, wait," Jube said.

Sure enough, under "immigration," there it was: "Will cancel all rights to French citizenship based on marriage." We started laughing.

"Damn!" said Jube, "Le Pen made me lose my last life!" He had inadvertently laughed into the microphone and jumped right into a little pit. Now he's definitely not voting Le Pen.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I just realized that it's been about a week since I last posted. Unfortunately there is nothing going on around here that might possibly be interesting! I figured I might post one of my memories from before the beginning of time (i.e. before I began my blog).

In May, 2005, I had just finished my 7 months of French assistantship and was ready for some vacation! Jube was nearing the end of his stage (as a student teacher), and we knew we would be moving to the Nice academy in a few months. I really wanted to go to Roland Garros, which was being held the last week of May and the first week of June. Le Parisien's girlfriend at the time was a posh commerciale at Todd's, and she could have gotten us tickets. However, my brother and his girlfriend had already bought their tickets to visit us on exactly the same dates! I decided to put my dream on hold for another year. [They broke up a week later.]

My brother, JW, and his girlfriend arrived late on the day they were supposed to get there, causing us some logistical problems. See, we only had one car, and Jube had to work in Clapiers (a town near Montpellier). He raced to the airport during his lunch break, gave JW a twenty-Euro bill, and wrote our address on a piece of paper. The two jetlagged first-time out-of-the-country travelers managed to find a taxi. Unfortunately the taxi had some problems finding our apartment. Granted, it was on a very small street, but seriously! He left JW at the end of the street (a street of about 10 meters) because he couldn't find our number (number 2!!). Sweet little brother tried to give him a tip, but their taxi driver must have felt bad and didn't take the naive American's money. They finally made it to our apartment, safe and sound.

I think they had a good time--we even took a trip to Barcelona!--but one incident will always stick out to me about their visit. Jube and I used bikes to get around Montpellier, and we decided to rent a couple of bikes for the Lovebirds. We decided to bike to the Zoo one day. Jube told us it wasn't far, but we shouldn't have trusted him: as a child he was in the mountain biking club of Mende, and his parents still take Sunday bike rides from La Grande Motte to Palavas. It wasn't impossible to get to the Zoo, but we were out of breath when we arrived--and the poor little Miss (JW's girlfriend) had fallen twice, once in front of a bus when she tried to dismount!

By the time we reached the Zoo, la Miss was ready to relax--but first she had to find a bathroom. Luckily there was a public toilet right next to the Zoo entrance. To our surprise, she reappeared nearly as soon as she had entered. "There are no toilets there," she told us, seriously. Upon further investigation, we discovered that there actually were toilets--des toilettes turques*. La pauvre! I think she must have used them, but I'm not sure... she might have held it during the whole visit.

We made it home safely, with no traffic accidents, but I think she was happy to see our bathroom!

*Basically a hole in the ground with some hand supports (if you're lucky). I know I shouldn't be mean--once, a couple of years earlier in Saint Jean du Gard, I had refused to use some of those very same toilets... but it was because I had a UTI!