Here goes year number 7

This morning I was thinking about the “what ifs” of my French life—what if I hadn’t decided to come back for a second year? What if I hadn’t met Ju and thus had had to return home after three years in Poitiers? That got me to thinking about what bits of my French daily life I would probably still be romanticizing. Since I live here, I don’t really romanticize it much anymore. But there are things I would definitely miss if I went back home.

So, to mark the beginning of Year 7 in France, I searched through my photo albums to find the ones that represent my French life for me these past six years. (After the jump.)

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Phantom limb

It’s fun (maybe more like surreal) sometimes to think about the different trajectories my life might have taken had I made different choices. The only reason I came to France after college was because I didn’t study abroad in college. If I had studied abroad, would I have been dying to come back? Or would I have been happy staying in the U.S.? And then, I really only thought I was coming to France for a year. Dating my French ex first put the idea in my head of staying. What if JS and I had never dated? What if I hadn’t fallen in love with France? Would I be working in publishing in New York like I had planned? Or would it all have sooner or later somehow have led me to teaching languages? I’m listening to a song I listened to a lot at the end of my assistant year and it’s put me back in that mindset when all of the sudden France was possibly a longer-term thing than seven months, and my life since and now has all more or less been a result of that change.

Bar le Duc was very pretty in April, and I was spending a lot of time going to Nancy and back and crashing at Chelsey’s and the not-yet-ex’s. Chelsey and I drank a lot of creme peche with Zandra and woke up in the morning hungover and made mishmashes of veggies with scrambled eggs to our hearts’ content. They were really good times. I think I might still be trying to find my way back up to that high.

Ouch

From a L’Express.fr (which I found through the maze of other ex-assistants’ blogs) ranking of the 96 departements in France:

La Meuse (ie Bar le Duc) comes out 94 of 96.

Departement : Meuse
Classement général: 94/96
Le classement pour les jeunes: 96/96
Le classement pour les familles: 94/96
Le classement pour les seniors : 90/96

Total Cadre de vie: 482 (49/96)
Proximité du littoral:0 (71/96)
Proximité de la montagne:1 (46/96)
Les sites dangereux:10 (37/96)
Part d’espaces naturels: 96% (7/96)

Total Commerce: 201 (81/96)
Ikea, Fnac, Virgin et Cultura dans le département : 0 (77/96)
Total Culture: 234 (87/96)
L’offre culturelle institutionnelle:5 (69/96)
Indice cinéma:348 (96/96) (yeah I did see some crappy movies last year)

Total Dynamisme économique: 396 (87/96)
Croissance de l’emploi:1% (93/96)

Total Enseignement supérieur: 333 (86/96)
Etudiants:1 219 (86/96)
La part d’étudiants:1% (84/96)

Total Immobilier: 10 (3/96)
Prix d’une maison: 102 089 (4/96)
Prix d’un appartement: 1 046 (6/96)
Indice Offre internet: 155 (78/96)
L’accés à une offre internet concurrentielle: 26% (79/96)
L’accés à une offre internet multiple: 27% (76/96)
La réussite au bac: 83% (38/96)

Total météo : 259 (94/96)
Le soleil: 1 638 (73/96)
La température moyenne: 10 (92/96)
Jours de pluie par an (days of rain per year): 141 (94/96) (uh yeah it rained way too much)

Total Puissance: 757 (93/96)
Les emplois: 67 785 (86/96)
Les emplois hautement qualifiés: 1 675 (90/96)
La population: 192 500 (84/96)
Les étudiants: 1 219 (86/96)
Les étudiants de grandes écoles:0 (77/96)
L’espérance de vie: 78 (89/96)
Le chémage (unemployment): 8% (76/96)

So, houses are cheap and we have a lot of green space (I don’t know why I say we, I haven’t lived there for a year). But everything else seems to suck. Someone had told me at some point that it was one of the poorest departements in France.

La Marne, where Reims is, on the other hand, seems pretty squarely average.

I got my

recepisse (or however you spell it) today. It was one of those weird French interactions where the fonctionnaire became nicer and nicer the longer I was sitting there, with absolutely no connection to anything I said. Has anyone else noticed this? Like when you arrive at a French person’s house (when you’ve been invited) and it takes them maybe ten minutes to warm up?

Yesterday I got my lungs scanned, you know, where they make you take off your shirt and everything (last year they let me keep it on). But it wasn’t really that weird. The tech was on the other side of the room looking at a screen. So, yay, now I have another extraneous set of lung x-rays. But it was nicely just in time for my appointment at the sous-prefecture today.

I’m going to Bar le Duc again this afternoon. Oh yeah and I bought some boots.

So for the translation I suggested 8 cents/word to the school and they said no problem and now they have to get approval from the university, or something. But I might get to do more than one, which would be a fantastic source of income if I enjoy doing it.

Cold

It got cold here. Like maybe 32 degrees. Not horrible, but certainly beyond the little blazer I took with me to Lorraine this week. I’m thinking of going to look at coats or sweaters and boots and maybe buying one or two of those three items. Was that confusing? But I also want to think about buying some things to spruce up the apartment so I should hold back some. I got this little wicker basket/drawer thing and it is surprisingly awesome. I mean I had my suspicions that it would be awesome (so I bought it) but it has exceeded my expectations. My rug hasn’t come in yet, or they haven’t called me about it, I’m getting impatient.

My week was nice, though. Wednesday night M and I went out with R (Swiss assistant from last year) in Nancy and had wine fondu, which I’d never had before and was yummy. Then M and I spent the night at her little brother’s and came back some time Thursday, where we ate dinner with her parents and then pretty much just vegged. JS showed up Friday and we made tacos, quizzed each other on capitals and random song tests, and got drunk. The Old El Paso taco kits that are easily buyable here are not as bad as I feared–the taco seasoning is decent. But the salsa is almost ketchup-y. Also the guacamole I grabbed was terrible. So I said I’d bring back some real stuff after Christmas. We’ll see if I remember. Also some of M’s friends came over during all of this but I don’t think I ever learned their names. They were quite nice though. More of M’s friends showed up on Saturday and I DID learn their names, and they were also nice. Anyway then JS and I watched the rugby with his dad and step-mother. I don’t know that I’ve ever paid much attention to a rugby game before and it made me cringe. It’s like they just jump on each other in huge piles and see where the ball comes out. The only other notable part of the trip was the obligatory visit to La Boheme.

Tomorrow it’s back to the grind. Well it’s not really a grind yet is it–two days of teaching. At some point I will have a normal workload, I promise.

hokay

As yet no internet chez moi (not a surprise, it usually takes a week) but I have time to waste so I’m posting anyway. Things are fine here. I got here last Thursday and the plane and everything went according to plan. There was lots of stuff to do the minute I arrived but I was on my second wind so it was okay. The prof I work with had stuff left over from past lecteurs, so I immediately had a microwave and a toaster oven. I switched my bank account over to Reims from Bar le Duc which was pretty easy and then got insured. Saturday the prof + her husband took me to Cora to buyu tons of stuff and to FT to order internet/tv/telephone. I’m pretty excited about it. I added unlimited international calls, yay. That should all start working this weekend, but I set up the livebox and keep hoping that the correct lights will start blinking and the internet will kick in early.

Anyway so I went to Nancy Saturday night where M and JS met me (with flowers, that I left in Bar le Duc =() where we hung out with people at Cedric and Rebekka’s and then JS and I drove back to Bar le Duc. It was really weird to be back. I guess I thought this stuff ceased to exist over the summer. Nothing’s changed although Cedric says they cut the budget for assistants at the lycee so there are no assistants this year. Anyway JS drove me back Monday so he could drop off his CV at places on Tuesday and I finally watched Pulp Fiction, but in French. Then he left Tuesday and I started teaching (only the first-years so far). The kids seem really nice. I teach them again tomorrow and then I have a week off. Not sure what to do with myself. I went to the sous-prefecture for my cds appointment today and they’re not too backed up, I got one for the end of October, Halloween actually. Also there’s not too much paperwork for it, yay, and everything I need I already have.

So I have a little video I took of the studio but this computer doesn’t seem to have the bandwidth to upload it, or something, I don’t really know what that word means. So it’s stuck in upload-dom. Oo wait there it goes! all right here it is:

Video of the apartment

Edit: This may take a loooong time to load.

Hope it works. Apparently the university is an “espace wifi” so we’ll see if I can get on the internet there tomorrow before class. I swear I don’t ALWAYS think about internet. That’s all for now.