Thursday, May 31, 2007


What is most difficult about learning another language? My answer would be: the hardest part is figuring out the differences from your first language. That sounds stupid, I'm sure because--hey! It's another language. That means everything is different. Before I learned Spanish or French, I think I just assumed that other languages worked just the same as English, but with different words--like Pig Latin, if you know the key, you can speak and understand everything. But I was wrong.

The gender of nouns was particularly hard for me. I doubt that I am unique, because I think it must be pretty difficult for all anglophones. This gender-specific labeling struck me as sexist at first. Why is a tomato a girl in French but a boy in Spanish? Why are ears female while toes are male? Of course, there are some sexist constructions. For example, in Spanish from Spain, there is an informal second person plural pronoun: vosotros/as. The existence of this pronoun is not sexist, but the fact that you use the masculine version if there is even one man in a room of 500 women is. One of my professors in Spain had a difficult time remembering this--he was teaching a small class of 10 women and was always informal with us...

While in Spain, I even heard some half-baked theories about how language helped our society (American society, claro) become a democracy before others. Because there was no difference between formal and informal pronouns, we were enlightened and decided to treat everyone as equals. Language also helps explain the Queens of England, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Margaret Thatcher.

I sort of believed all this until I realized that the generic word for "person"--persona in Spanish and personne in French--was feminine. It struck me one day when a politician described another man: Il est une personne humaine, intelligente, et forte. ("He is a humane, intelligent , strong person"--but all the words are feminine.) So basically, although there are some sexist parts of Romance languages, I don't think that the very act of speaking that language can shape a sexist society (although I am suddenly reminded of some Orwellian themes--Newspeak, anyone?).

Wow, what a deep post! I am quite the thinker.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Jube went looking for a ring today. Neither of us has a wedding ring, and it doesn't bother me at all. Jube, on the other hand, loves not having a wedding ring. He's only looking for one because he has a job interview tomorrow and doesn't want this situation:

Interviewer: "So, why did you come to the US?"

Jube: "My fiancee and I decided to get married."

Interviewer's eyes look at Jube's ring finger--no ring! The interviewer gets suspicious: "Is that so! Married, eh? It doesn't look like you love her that much!

Conclusion: no ring, no job.

Of course, Jube doesn't want to spend very much money on a ring he will barely wear, so we headed to a few accessory shops, but nothing was quite right. There were some nearly-usable rings at Lambda Rising, but they all had interlocking male symbols on them.

It's a good thing we noticed, because that could have been a much more serious snafu...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why Thank You!

Today I was headed for my internship when a girl, passing by, said, "I love your shirt!"

I'm glad that the Chinese-style pajama top I bought from Salvation Army 8 years ago still makes the fashion cut.

Monday, May 28, 2007

More Beach

We went to the beach again today--the weather is so hot here, in the 90s! We swam and sunned, and afterwards had a cookout at Lorene's place. The most "typical" American dish were the ears of corn cooked in their husks on the coals. Jube took a few pictures to send to his family.

I am sad because after such a wonderful weekend I'm headed back to work tomorrow. Of course it's not really a big deal, but I realize that the years of summer vacations are over now. It almost makes me want to be a teacher...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What a Beach.

Today we went to the beach, which was a nice way to spend the hot afternoon. Afterwards we went to Kilmer's house for burgers, and then we went out for ice cream. While we were waiting in line, Kilmer told us a story about seeing a stop sign that had been vandalized to say "Stop Gay Marriage."

"I mean, I think that gay marriage should be legal, and I think that it's really stupid to have vandalized a sign like that, but it was kind of funny," she said.

Behind us, a woman put her hands over her son's ears.

"Just go ahead and advertise how bigoted you are!" Kilmer continued, when the woman behind us interrupted.

"Excuse me, Ma'am, but could you not say things like that? I mean, my son will just start asking questions about what he hears." The woman's face was red.

"Oh, uhh, sure," said Kilmer. At that moment, our ice cream arrived. As we walked away, she turned to us and whispered, "what did I say? I didn't think I used any cuss words!"

We rolled our eyes. "It must have been the words 'gay marriage,'" Jube said.

"Oh man!" said Kilmer, "I thought it must have been the word 'bigot,' because then she'd have to explain to her kid exactly what his mommy is!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Strawberry Sunburn

Today Jube and I went to the Pungo Strawberry Festival. It was really fun. The weather is really hot now, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky today, so I tried to be good and covered up with sunscreen. It worked on my face, but I didn't get it right on my collarbones, so I have little red sunburn streaks. At least it's better than the half-body sunburn I got once in Spain...

The Strawberry Festival reminded me a little bit of the county fair in my home town. There were funnelcakes and carnival rides galore along with some livestock and tractor showings. There were also some definite "Hampton Roads" additions: a military show, where we saw attack dogs and were able to handle assault weapons; a "Support National Confederate History Month" booth; and barbecue sandwiches with cole slaw right inside the bun. And of course, there were lots and lots of strawberries.

The highlight of the day for me was the two huge souvenir glasses of strawberry lemonade I drank. I didn't need dinner after the amount of sugar I consumed! The other highlight was just lazing in the shade (with my big glass of strawberry lemonade) and chatting with Lorene and Jube. It was really relaxing, especially after our busy morning!

You see, on Friday we went to the Disabled Army Veterans' Thrift Store to buy Jube some ties. While we were there, we saw a great desk for only $20--but DAV doesn't deliver and we don't have a pickup truck. My friend Rosa does, but she could only make it by Saturday morning at the earliest. So today we woke up early, drove out to DAV, and snatched our desk out from under the nose of someone who was eyeing it! Rosa helped us drive it home, and then we had to take it apart, take it up to the third floor, and put it back together again. By the time we left for the Strawberry Festival I was already sweating.

Of course the best showers are after being hot all day long because you feel like you've lost weight (bye bye sweat and dust!). I learned that in France during the heatwave summer of 2003, which was coincidentally when Jube passed the oral section of the English teaching test. Kudos! I say--I could barely think and all I had to do was go to the beach!

Friday, May 25, 2007


ah les belles couleurs de provence...

It's almost this hot here in Norfolk--but not nearly as picturesque!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pronunciation Fun!

Jube and I watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind today. It is anime and we watched it in the original Japanese with subtitles. It is a pretty interesting story that includes giant insects called "ohmu" that destroy human towns when they get angry. At the end of the movie, there is a huge wave of ohmu that get pissed. When I saw the masses, I turned to Jube and said, "Wow, there sure are a lot of ohmu!" But I pronounced "ohmu" "ohmo." And I was saying it in French, so really it looked like I was saying, "Waoh, il y a beaucoup d'homos!"--or, "Wow, there sure are a lot of homos!"

We laughed for awhile about that.

It reminds me of watching Sabrina with Jube in France. As you may remember, the older brother's name is Linus. In French, it sounds similar to l'anus (anus). We made lots of jokes about being in love with l'anus, spending quality time with l'anus... It made for an enjoyable evening.

Which finally reminds me of the first time Jube described his favorite drink--the regional drink of the south, Pastis--in English. I would say that it tastes something like licorice, but Jube decided to say it tastes like "anis." Which he pronounced "anus":

"Yeah, it's great! It tastes just like anus!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

softly softly

Last Sunday, Jube and I went to the Norfolk Greek Festival. It basically consisted of overpriced Greek food, vendors selling "Greek" merchandise, and a Greek band playing loud music. At least the baklava was good... mmmmmmmmmm, just look at the honey oozing out!

We went with Kilmer, who was just waking up at 2pm (after our winemaking session of the night before). Our wine is fermenting, bubbling away in its gallon milk carton container. Every day when Jube goes into the kitchen he sniffs the air and says, "Wow! It really takes me back to the first summer I worked in a vinyard!"

I just think it smells kind of yucky, so at least one of us is getting something out of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Since I started posting "One a Day in May," I think that I've done a good job of seeming like an interesting person--fun things happen to me, I have funny conversations, I have deep thoughts and a happy home life. I guess that today is the dealbreaker, the day that will show you that I'm really a very boring person.

I got up and went to work where I spent four hours dealing with mail merges.

Came home and surfed the net for awhile, played my DS.

After lunch went and played tennis for about an hour.

Then sat on a bench outside watching a muskrat swim around.

Got some bills in the mail.

Decided to write this scintillating post!

So you, my dear readers, are the winners! The only productive thing I did today was write this missive! Lucky, lucky you!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lucky Day

Jube and I took advantage of the beautiful spring weather to walk to the organic grocery store near our house. We were having a spirited discussion when...


We both stopped short. I was gagging because I felt bird waste on my forehead between my eyes, and Jube was groaning because of the bird caca on his head.

"Look at me! Just look at my face!" I screamed.

"It must just have gone pee, I don't see anything," he told me, inspecting my face. "Check my hair."

It was clean. "You know," I said, "I don't think it was bird pee at all. I think that the birds must have been taking a bath in the gutter and splashed us with water."

"Yeah," Jube agreed, "water. Birds take baths."

We walked away, muttering, "water... water...? water!"

Sunday, May 20, 2007


"Allocentric" is a word I met the other day while reading a textbook meaning "other-centered." Apparently human development (from immature to mature) leads us from egocentric to allocentric.

One of my earliest memories of realizing that there are other people out there comes from middle school. I was in the library, choosing a new book to read (I was a real bookworm!), and the librarian recommended a nonfiction book--I don't remember what, a biography or something. I rejected it, thinking, "who would want to read nonfiction for fun??"

The librarian told me that some students preferred nonfiction to read.

I was absolutely shocked! I have always preferred novels to nonfiction--I even preferred Sweet Valley High to "Seventeen"--and it had honestly never occured to me that people would purposely choose nonfiction for leisure reading. I thought adults forced themselves to read the newspaper because it was some kind of obligation and that biographies were for Social Studies book reports.

I still prefer fiction, and I'll never voluntarily read nonfiction when I could be reading something else. But I get it--other people might like nonfiction. It still makes me think of how little I understand my human peers...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Is That Legal?

I'm writing this post from Kilmer's house. We're making wine! Jube was worried that it was illegal, but we reassured him that it was fine. We added sugar to the grape juice, and he was shocked!

"We don't add sugar to the grapes in France! That's really illegal!" he said.

"What??" Kilmer made a face. "The French have no idea how to make wine, I guess. I mean, you stomp around on the grapes in your bare feet--nasty!"

"Ha, ha, ha. We actually make the best wine in the world!" sniffed Jube.

"Pffffft! Like I'm gonna believe that!"

Friday, May 18, 2007

Literary Morning

I hate waking up when it is still dark outside. Although it's been getting lighter and lighter every day, the sky was overcast this morning and threatening rain. I sighed and fixed myself breakfast, amusing myself by thinking of all the ways I could talk about this kind of weather in French.

Il fait noir... Il fait pas beau!... Il menace...

It made me think about something I said in Spain that made my Spanish friends snort with laughter. I'm not exactly sure why, but I have a theory. On a day with weather like today, we all left a cafe to go back to class. We were all complaining about the weather, and I contributed "Que dia mas feo!" I copied the sytax straight from my host mother, so I knew the construction was correct. Still, my friends laughed and laughed. I figure now that it was because it sounded like something a 70-year-old woman (like my host mother) would say, but I can't be certain.

On my walk to work, I thought about how the weather made the day feel like an autumn evening. The only people outside with me were fellow unfortunates who had to go to early class or work. We nodded to each other in quiet, melancholy complicity.

The weather made me think about the first poem I memorized, "Song" by Christina Rossetti. I felt like I was walking "through that misty twilight/ that doth not rise nor set."

It has been a long long time since I thought about poetry! "Song" made me think about that other Rossetti poem, the one with the line "there is no friend like a sister," and I couldn't think of the title. At the crosswalk I found myself opposite the ODU student theater, and the "Coming Attractions" on the electronic display rolled by:

Musical Theater Presents:

The Apple
(Act I)
Goblin Market

How bizarre! I suddenly realized that "Goblin Market" was the title of the Rossetti poem I was thinking about. It was indeed a surreal morning walk to work.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


While watching CSI today, one detective identified footprints--"seems to be stiletto heels belonging to a female."

Does it bother anyone else that they were belonging to a "female?" Maybe it's just that I lived in France for too long, where femelle refers only to animals. Maybe it's the feminist in me. But it bothered me for a second.

And then I watched the rest of the show.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I'm sick! On Monday I woke up with a scratchy throat, which hurt a lot until Tuesday. Then my throat cleared up and my sinuses clogged. Today I've spent most of the day in bed, trying to prepare myself for work tomorrow. Jube is always great when I'm sick, and I feel guilty every time. When he gets sick, I am short-tempered with his moaning and sniffling. He is much more patient than I am, and much more considerate.

Beau-papa and Belle-maman bought a new car last week, a Renault Scenic. Beau-papa called Jube to complain about getting his carte grise (the car title):

"We got a taste of what Gem went through at the prefecture today!"

Jube indignantly denied it: "No, you have no idea what she's had to do to get her residency card."

Then they argued for a little while about which bureaucratic process was worse, and I think Jube won--as well he should have! I doubt that Beau-papa cried when he was finished.

As it happened, Jube and I went to the Norfolk City Hall ourselves yesterday. You see, when we bought our car, I had to work and couldn't sign the paper requesting a title. Jube's name was the only one on there. Since he has a provisional green card (to be replaced in 2 years), we might be interviewed together to prove that we don't have a fake marriage. We already have a joint bank account and a joint lease, but having a joint car title is important too. So we spent the $12 to get a new title and registration.

We were only at City Hall for about 40 minutes, which made us both very happy. It has been nearly the least hassle of any of our bureaucratic dealings so far--the only thing easier was applying for our marriage license. I figure it's because there are a lot fewer people getting married than buying cars, paying taxes, getting driver's licenses or getting new license plates.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh les Vachettes!

When the weather is nice and hot in the South of France (le Midi, plutot), little villages will host "Les Vachettes." I really enjoyed my first taste. At the time, I was living in Spain, and I had no appreciation for the Spanish corrida (bullfight). It was too violent for me. One of my visits to France happened to coincide with Gallargue le Montueux's fete du village, and there was a vachette during the weekend. Jube, le Pacha and I walked out to the small village arena where I was amazed to discover such an interesting sport.

Each of the bulls has a little tag tied to one of his horns, and the raseteurs have to pull it off. They have to coax the bull to charge, grab the tag, and leap over the side of the barrier. It is extremely physical and exhilarating to watch. Local farmers use the competition to show off their livestock, and none of the bulls are killed. Local businesses add prizes to make winning more exciting--for example, the announcer will call out, "20 Euros to Jean-Phillipe if he can get the tag in the next 5 minutes!" I think the audience can do the same, but I'm not certain. In Gallargues, the vachettes were free to watch, but sometimes you have to pay.

One of the attractions is, of course, les raseteurs themselves. They are always dressed in white and are extremely athletic since they have to jump over the barriers quite often. Sometimes, after a jump, they can get very close to the audience. I guess they're kind of like the rodeo riders of France, and have deep Southern accents to prove it.

This kind of fun is something I miss about summer in Montpellier, the way I miss the Delaware County Fair in autumn. I suppose I'm just a rural hick at heart.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Come On In!

This brochure was included with Jube's green card. It explains that there are lots of important things you need to do as a new immigrant to the US, but it doesn't go into detail about how to do those important things. Instead it gives lots of Internet addresses and toll-free numbers to call. I didn't know before receiving this pamphlet that Permanent Residents have to regiter for Selective Service. Luckily Jube is too old for it, so we escaped that onerous duty.

It wasn't until I reached the last page (the back cover) of the brochure that I realized that there was, in fact, an actual "Guide for New Immigrants" that you can request by calling a(nother) toll-free number or print one out "at an 'Internet Cafe.'"

We haven't ordered one yet. It amused me to receive the tiny informational pamphlet along with the green card. I mean, Jube's been here for 6 months now, so any guide comes a little late. It reminds me of the medical visit I had to undergo in France to make sure I didn't have tuberculosis--it took place a month after I had arrived, started working, and spreading my American maladies far and wide.

Bureaucracy! Inescapable and inscrutable, it has become my companion just as Jube has.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New Relatives

My mom's mom came to visit us on Saturday. She is really into genealogy and had discovered a "new" relative who had been buried near my mom's house. We all drove out to the graveyard together to find the grave.

The graveyard was peaceful, and we could hear grumbling thunder in the background. Jube hiked around and found some other potential relatives, while I got teary-eyed about the number of "Baby" headstones in the family plot.

It was a quiet afternoon spent with three living generations and who knows how many departed.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekend Away

So last week my boss asked me what I was doing for my mom for Mother's Day. I'd had some vague ideas like cards or sweet phone calls, but then I thought back on all of the hints she'd been giving me for the last few weeks...

"You know your brother moved out, so now we have a guest room for any time you want to visit."


"I really wish I could see your new car. It seems like such a good deal!"


"I love spending time with you, but I don't have any time off until June!"

So I figured, why not give her a little surprise and visit her this weekend? I called my dad to make sure that he wasn't planning on visiting, and...

"Well, you know that we're having a brunch with Grandmommy on Sunday, so it would be great if you could come!"

That did it. I called my stepfather and he set everything up, and we almost gave my mother a heart attack when she walked into the restaurant to find Jube and me sitting there waiting for her.

She's a great mom, and we've had a fun couple of days. Now I'm off to say goodnight--I'll post again tomorrow!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Oops! I Did It Again!

I forgot to post the "day of"! But we had an excuse: we left Norfolk yesterday to surprise my mom at her house for Mother's Day. She was pretty surprised, too! She reads my blog so I didn't want to mention our plans.

Now we're in Northern Virginia, and we're going to do some shopping. I'll post more than a mini when I get back (we're all pretending that this was posted on Friday, right? Right).

Oh and yesterday Jube and I took my brother the Rooster to see Hot Fuzz. It was quite enjoyable, but also part of the reason I forgot to post--I haven't been out to a "late" movie in a few years and was really tired when I got home!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

[insert highfalootin' accent here]

Today we are cleaning our apartment, and Jube's job is to vacuum. Before he started, he asked me for some perfume to freshen up the air.

"Which perfume of yours is the cheapest?" he asked, looking at my small collection.

"I dunno," I answered, "I guess the Givenchy."

Giving me a skeptical look, he pointed at some body mist from Yves Rocher. "Isn't that cheaper?"

"Oh yeah, I guess it is!"

"Wow, you sounded really snobby there for a second! 'I sup-pose it would be the Given-chy--I don't allow any cheap perfume on my skin!'"

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

French Women Part IV

Gem's Guide to French Women Continued...

4. Flirting! Here is the big stereotype: French women are all out to steal your man. Naah, they're all out to flirt with him! Flirting is just communication. In fact, Jube and I disagree about the meaning of "flirting." Sometimes I will tell him someone was flirting with me, and he won't understand why. It's all relative.

Advice: Remember that, as fraise says, "
the vast majority of couples are faithful, and reactions to adultery are comparable" to the US. And as I would say to any of my American friends, if your boyfriend is really going to leave you for someone who is trying to "steal" him, then he's not worth it.

What would any guide be without personal anecdotes of failure? I have not always been able to follow my own advice.

This is my darkest moment. When I first came to France, I spoke nearly zero French. Maybe not absolute zero, because I knew merci and bonjour and au revoir and bon appetit, but that's it. It would kill me when a girl would talk to Jube without including me in the conversation! Once an English major came up and asked his advice about what courses to take in the US. This irked me because she could obviously speak enough English to take courses in America, but neither she nor Jube could put themselves out to speak English with me. Did I try to keep things in perspective and remember how embarrassed I used to be to speak Spanish to a native speaker? Naahh. Who needs perspective? This story isn't really flirting, but I was annoyed.

And That Concludes the Gripping Story of French Women.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

French Women Part III

Gem's Guide to French Women Continued...

3. Older French women are very similar to their younger counterparts. If you're younger, you probably won't be spending much time with them--or so you think! In reality, French mothers are Latin mothers, big on family time and invested in their children (even if the "child" is 20, 30, or 40).

Advice: Again, patience is a virtue! Compliment their food, admire their houses, and they will love you. Oh yeah--and laugh at their jokes.

What would any guide be without personal anecdotes of failure? I have not always been able to follow my own advice.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you already know that Belle-maman is a really great mother-in-law. I don't know if I got lucky or if I just managed to follow all of my own advice. The only time I failed involved her teaching me table manners. She told me not to cut my lettuce with a knife, and I got upset. Who was she to be teaching me etiquette? I responded curtly, she became defensive, and I realized that she was just acting like a mother. She would have told Jube or le Pacha the same thing she told me.

Don't Tune Out Yet! Tomorrow the Final Installment of this Incredible Saga!

Monday, May 07, 2007

French Women Part II

Gem's Guide to French Women Continued...

2. Most young (and by young, I mean 23-30) French women I know have boyfriends. This isn't exactly surprising since there is no concept of casual dating in France. What may be a bit more unusual is the length of the relationships. Jube has friends who have been dating since high school and are now entering their 30s, still together, but unmarried.

Advice: Be patient! For Americans in France, this can be problematic, since French women already have a large group of friends and are not ready to take the time to add you to it. Remember: this is not a "French" thing! Without realizing it you probably did the same thing in college by not thinking of inviting the international student out with you. That's okay! Be persistent!

What would any guide be without personal anecdotes of failure? I have not always been able to follow my own advice.

My French female friends were limited to those I got to know through Jube, and I wouldn't have gone out to the movies with them. I had a good time when we got together but it was hard to initiate contact. Now back in the US, I can see that this was my biggest problem, and I've been trying to get to know other people the way I wish I had back then. So this year, I have friends from outside of my program; friends from other countries; and friends I met at work. I still have a ways to go...

Stay Tuned for Tomorrow's Installment...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

French Women Part I

I've been inspired by some recent posts (here, here and here) to write about my impressions of French women. I will say that my experiences are my own, colored by geography (mostly Southern France) and my connections (ehem, Jube). So, without further introduction, welcome to:

Gem's Guide to French Women

1. The characteristic that most young French women share is short bangs. Very very short bangs. Jube and I surmise that they were really inspired by Amelie. Unfortunately the style isn't really that flattering on everyone.
(Have you seen any of these short-banged French women? In fact, there are a lot without short bangs. But still, the most common characteristic I could think of was this. Does that mean that French women are... women? Individuals, perhaps?)

Advice: If you are living in France, you may be tempted to have a short-bang cut just like them. Try to resist unless you have a medium-sized forehead.

What would any guide be without personal anecdotes of failure? I have not always been able to follow my own advice.

My last haircut in France was accompanied by the request to cut my bangs short. Luckily it ended up alright because of my puny forehead.

Flashier Stuff to Come! Stay Tuned and Keep Reading!

Edited: One French woman who did not have short bangs will also not be president. Sarkozy was elected today. As le Pacha would chant: Sarko, president!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

a vote

Today Jube cast his ballot in the second round of the French presidential election. Results are in tomorrow at 8pm French time, 2pm Virginia time.

I had a more interesting post in the works, but I haven't had time to work it out yet. In the meantime, please remember that 11:59pm still counts as the "day of." I've turned in lots of papers that way, too, and they were perfectly acceptable.

Oh yeah, and we went to my friend's house tonight for Cinco de Mayo, where we ate Korean food and tried the Nintendo Wii. It was great and we all looked really silly (which is half of the fun of the Wii, I think!).

Friday, May 04, 2007

Finally.... Over....

Last night I went out with some friends to celebrate the end of classes. Unfortunately I couldn't really "celebrate" a whole lot because I had to work today at 8:00am! This semester I didn't work on Fridays, so it was a terribly harsh sound this morning when my alarm clock went off. But I soldiered on by wearing my cutest Kookai skirt that made everyone talk about how fashionable I was. (No, I didn't exactly hear them saying that, but I'm sure that's what they were whispering about.)

And I worked haaaaaaard! Since I'd missed some days this week because of exams, I had a lot to catch up on, and then we had a little event that I helped set up. Luckily Jube came to "volunteer" (is it still volunteering when your significant other forces you to help?) and we snagged enough leftover food to eat for a long time. Then he went off to Willy's house to jam and I relaxed.

When I say he went to a friend's to "jam," you all know that I meant he went to play the guitar, right? Well, in French, you just say jouer, or to "play." When I first talked about him getting together to make some music with friends back in the US, I kept saying, "Oh, they're playing together." I didn't realize for awhile how silly it sounded. So yeah, Jube is over at Willy's house playing. I hope he has a great time, 'cause I'm having some wonderful relaxing moments here by myself. Yes, WONDERFUL!

P.S. I'm sure you all thought I forgot to blog today, but I didn't! See? Now I've met my FINAL final deadline.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

2007: le Débat

So anyway, since I somehow started the month with posts for each day, I'm going to set myself a challenge: write one post for every day in the month of May! I have a tendency to lose track of blogging time (as in, I thought I wrote one yesterday but really that was 2 weeks ago), especially when I have lots of schoolwork. But in May I won't have any classes, just work. I figure it's as good a time as any to try this out.

First subject: the debate between Sarkozy and Royal that took place yesterday. I had it on in the background while I was writing my paper yesterday and I only really paid attention to the beginning, the parts about immigration, and the parts about education. One specifically stood out to me because I thought it was a bit sexist. (For those of you who aren't aware of it, Sarkozy is a man and Royal is a woman; Sarkozy is more conservative, with the UMP party, and Royal is a socialist.) I've thought about it some more, and now I don't think it was intended to be sexist, but it upset me at the time.

What happened was that Sarkozy mentioned a reform he wanted to create that would allow handicapped students to attend "normal" schools. Royal became upset at this point because she, as Minister of Education (awhile ago), had actually passed measures that let teacher's aides help handicapped children in the regular classroom, thus allowing them to attend regular classes--and the UMP had removed funding from this project, thus putting the issue on the table again. She interrupted Sarkozy and "raised the tone" (as the French say) of the conversation, even calling his proposal "immoral" because his party had already struck hers down.

(Here's where it gets questionable.) Sarkozy told her to "calm down" (Calmez-vous, Madame!), and I knew it was going to get worse. I absolutely hate it when people tell me to calm down when I'm making an argument, and I could kind of tell it was the same with her. She did not calm down and told him that one shouldn't calm down if one thinks that something is immoral. Then he went for the throat: "Madame, il faut etre calme pour etre president" (Madame, to be president, one must be calm).

Wooooooo! Now that bugged me a little bit! Let's imply that she's hysterical and incapable of managing her emotions! (Yeah, that's what I thought was sexist.)

She really got into it, defending herself, saying that she wasn't upset but rather angry, and we have the right to get angry. I personally thought she did a pretty good job of keeping her cool, although other commentaries I've seen have not agreed.

Why did I change my mind and think it wasn't meant as sexist? Well, people have been saying that Sarkozy would lose his cool, so I think he was just trying to be ironic--"one must be calm to be president" might have been a charge leveled at him, and so he was trying to turn it around. Unfortunately it came off as sexist to me. As I've said though, no one else I've read has seen it that way (voir: this blogger I like).

Now, before you go thinking that I looove Royal because she is a woman and, well, women with feminist leanings just love all women no matter what they do... Let me tell you. I have no preference for either candidate. In fact, up until a few weeks ago, I was favoring Sarkozy. But he really rubbed me the wrong way during this debate. And of course, I don't live in France anymore, so more taxes or less immigrant rights doesn't mean the same thing it would have last year.

Yeah, that's a pretty crummy thing to say, but it's true, sadly. But I'll still watch arret sur images today to see what I missed.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Maybe He Was Right...

I guess it has to happen sometimes. I finished my last two paragraphs but I haven't started my last (lastlastlast!!!!) paper yet. Due at noon tomorrow. Will probably be written tonight in front of the TV.

In other (non-school-related) news, it was my birthday yesterday! My dad woke me up in the morning to wish me a great day, and Lorene called me at work after scaring Jube with her German birthday wishes. My boss gave me a really nice card and invited us out to dinner with her and her husband next week. Then last night Jube took me out to the restaurant where we stuffed ourselves.

I dressed up in a Promod dress I'd bought a couple of years ago and wore the Fragonard perfume he bought me during our first trip to Eze. He wore shorts and his "Crabby Dick's" t-shirt, which I thought was a great choice since we were going to a rival restaurant, Joe's Crab Shack. (Yeah, I was probably way overdressed, but I don't get to dress up too much and it was fun!) We had shrimp, crab dip, dessert, all on the pier in downtown Norfolk. Funnily enough there were two tables of French men nearby.

Then we came home where I fell asleep almost immediately and I woke up this morning with a sore throat, having caught a little bug. That must be why I haven't started my paper yet, right?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Something to think about...

Background: I have a 15-page paper due tomorrow. It is finished except for about two paragraphs.

Gem: Why, why, WHY can't I finish this paper? It's only two paragraphs! Just the conclusion! What's so hard about it?

Jube: Easy. It's because you don't want to start the next paper.

Gem: Yeah, right. Merci pour la psychologie.

Jube: No, seriously. Trust me. I do it all the time.

I knew he was a procrastinator, but I didn't realize it came with perks!