Thursday, August 23, 2007


Last May, Jube and I were surprised at how empty campus felt when most of the students left for the summer. After a few days we didn't even notice it, and we'd totally forgotten about it until yesterday, when the new students moved in. (You can't call them "freshmen" anymore, but most of us still do.) The parking lot across from us, empty all summer, is full again. Our apartment management put big signs near the entrances to our parking lot, saying, "NOT for Dorm Students!!" (You can't call them "dorms" either--"residence hall" is much preferred--but no one parked in our lot!)

While riding my bike to work on campus, I found it much more difficult to navigate with students clogging the sidewalks and crosswalks. Classes start on Monday. The year has cycled back around and we're ready to begin again.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Conclusive Evidence

We never ordered you. We went through at least three strongly worded e-mails canceling you. We cashed the check that we received in the mail for finally getting you out of our mailbox. But somehow... you keep coming back!

Definitive proof that Maxim is the Devil's Work arrived in our letter carrier's pouch today...

In other news, le Pacha called us today to tell us he is feeling sick, and even threw up! Because of this, he wasn't able to go to the free concerts on the beach in Palavas les Flots. Belle-maman, who called on his behalf and wanted to tell me that he had a little upset stomach, managed to get past her own squeamishness and tell me le Pacha a gerbe! Then she laughed and laughed, providing definitive proof that she reads my blog.

Finally, as if we needed more proof that Jube has a bad memory, we received a Netflix movie in the mail yesterday that neither of us had heard of. The Host is a Korean horror flick in the tradition of Shaun of the Dead (in that it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, although it was not meant to be as funny). A nasty mutant monster that looks like a three-way cross between a squid, a newt, and an ugly fish begins terrorizing Seoul and kidnaps a 13-year-old girl. Her messed-up family goes after her, hindered by misinformation spread by the US government (who also, by the way, created the pollution that gave birth to the monster). He denied that he had ever heard of the movie and hadn't put it on our queue--and as proof that I was the one who had chosen it, he said, "You're the one who always wants to watch Japanese movies." But then he recanted when he found out it was Korean.

Next on the list? A Year in the Life of Metallica: Part 1. Seriously.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Have you noticed a pattern? Whenever I start a new job, I stop posting for awhile. I've been super busy at my new boulot, and I've taken it out on my blog, I know, I know! I was planning on having another BB guest post, but he has decided to postpone his trip because of my busy-ness at work. And Jube starts his new job next week, so we're off to a new year!

So what's new besides work? Nothing much. I've been doing a lot of reading... Since Digging to America I've read The Telling, The Road, and Le Petit Prince. Fun.

Oh! And followup to my battles with the magazine company... We finally received a refund for our Maxim mixup! I was very happy to get a check in the mail.

I'm sure interesting things have been happening to me, but I can't think of any at the moment. Umm...

We saw Rush Hour III last weekend. I love Jackie Chan, but Jube was a little bit annoyed at the "anti-French propaganda." It was not the best movie in the world, but I found it entertaining. We went on opening night, to a sold-out theater, and everyone laughed and enjoyed themselves.

Then on Sunday we saw Sicko. Wow, what a movie to make you nostalgic for France! I was just thinking about calling the Student Health Center to renew my prescription, and seeing Sicko made me long for the days when I could go to the pharmacy and get it for free (6 Euro up front which was reimbursed to my account later).

Okay, that is enough for tonight. Hopefully I'll have a real post for you soon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


A few years ago (5? 7?) during a road trip from Ohio to Virginia, my mom picked out Saint Maybe on tape to entertain all of us. Since I was younger at the time, Anne Tyler's work didn't really strike me as the most amazing prose I'd ever heard. However, since we couldn't finish the end of the book during our trip, I picked up the book to finish it. The ending--wistful, unresolved, gentle--hit me as perfect. I didn't read any Tyler again for a few years, not until my mother bought me The Accidental Tourist for a plane ride to France. In Nice, the English Library had a good selection of her books, and I read them all.

The other day I was browsing the leisure section of the ODU library and came across Digging to America, her latest book. I picked it up because it was by Anne Tyler, and I was amazed to find that it mirrored a lot of my current interests. It centers around two families--an Iranian-American family and a "typical" American family--that are adopting girls from Korea. It focuses on what it means to be American, what it means to be foreign, and ultimately how we are all strangers to each other.

In France I felt American, and it is strange to be just a part of the crowd here in the US. Not surprisingly my best friend here, Lorene, just got back from spending 6 years in Germany, and we've been able to talk about Europe without feeling snobby. Because that's how it feels to us: like everyone is judging you for bragging about your experiences abroad (that are not Navy-related, of course!). Another of my friends, Willy, is from Ohio like me. He's never been out of the country, and sometimes it feels like he is blaming us for taking the opportunities we've had, like we're talking about living abroad in order to make others feel less fortunate.

I'm not sure how Jube feels. I don't think that he is blamed for being foreign, but there is still an aspect of bragging. Just because he's French he must be more cosmopolitan than we down-home cultureless Americans. When I first met him, he told me about how excited he had been to catch the French news on TV one night (France 2). After a few minutes he was disappointed to see that half of the broadcast was about the death of Charles Trenet. Still, it must have been strange to realize that the bulk of the French news wasn't even a talking point on the nightly American newscast.

Maybe we have to go abroad to see how our culture defines us. Maybe all you need is a critical eye, facing inward. In any case, Digging to America made me think about all of that, while making me care about its characters and making me wish we had moved to Baltimore...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mystery Science Theater 2007

I don't usually yell at the TV. If something is funny, I'll make a joke about it with Jube; maybe I'll make fun of the way the commercials sound, or we'll laugh about the stupid answers on "Family Feud." Today, though, I couldn't help shouting back at the television. We were watching the Republican Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa. Why did we watch it? Well, at first I changed the channel, but there wasn't anything else on (no cable for us). Then I figured that since Virginia primaries are open, I could vote for the lesser of 15 evils when the time comes around. So I watched it. I soon discovered quite a few things:

-One candidate actually proposed bombing Mecca as a hypothetical reaction to Islamic terrorist action in the US. Jube said, "Not even Le Pen would say that--even if he dreams about it!"

-Rudy Giuliani can't get over being mayor of New York. We get it--you were mayor! You were even mayor during 9/11! WE KNOW. You don't have to mention it every time you answer a question.

-Fundamentalism is alive and well: when asked his greatest mistake, one candidate answered, "I waited 30 years before accepting Jesus Christ as my personal savior." That's great, but I would have been more interested in a political mistake.

I felt a little bit sick to my stomach and had a headache from yelling at the screen. The French election was more fun for me to follow--all of a sudden, I'm realizing how this will personally affect me. I'm back in the US, baby.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Centre Ville

Last weekend Jube had to work all day on Saturday, so Sunday I had decided we would get out of the house together. When the day finally arrived, however, I found myself in a little bit of a depressed mood and couldn't think of anything fun to do. I had taken a shower so I didn't want to go to the beach and get sandy; I didn't want to go hiking because then I would get sweaty! After a few minutes (or hours?) of moaning I finally decreed that we would check out "those cool houses we see from Brambleton when we go downtown" and afterwards head to the mall.

It turned out to be a great choice, because we were able to explore Norfolk a little bit more and revise our opinions of the town's aesthetics. The nice houses turned out to be in Norfolk's Ghent Historical District, one of the oldest and nicest parts of the city, just across a canal from downtown.

Many of the houses here have towers, and combined with the old trees, this gave the neighborhood a unique look. We even took a picture of this house for sale to send to Jube's parents telling them that we were going to buy it!

After walking around Ghent we weren't ready to go to the mall, so we went to the Freemason District to look at the townhouses there. The city has kept the original cobblestones on part of Freemason Street and some intersecting streets. The neighborhood is near the harbor and has some really interesting sections, so it was fun to check out. Jube even said that he (finally!) felt like he was in a foreign country!

Here is a picture of a Chinese restaurant. It actually belongs to the city and is in the center of a municipal park. The building was a gift from the government of Taiwan. In the background you can see the stern of the USS Wisconsin.

Then we walked to the mall and took a turn around. When we left, there was quite a lot of thunder and it started to rain heavily. Luckily we made it to the car before it began, and we were treated to an evening show of lightning. All in all it was a great day.