Today was a very busy day. I still have trouble falling asleep, mostly because I’m lonely at night and miss cuddling Andy. That makes for very fitful nights and very groggy mornings. I bought a bottle of red wine – more on that later! – to perhaps relax myself. Françoise, when I was staying with her, offered me these little “comprimés” (pills) to help relax but I just can’t do that. I’ll do that more cultural way of putting myself to sleep.
Speaking of fitful nights, I had a really unsettling dream. I had read in the NY Times about the systematic rapes in Congo by armed militias and even the state army, meant to destroy the women of the region. Apparently I was visiting the Congo, escorted by a group of armed soldiers who apparently I could trust when I decided that I wanted to be by myself? Yeah, I spent some time in a tree, not knowing if or when I could come down because I knew that if I did, I’d be raped. Not a good dream.
So I finally woke up and made my way to the liberry, called the CDI (Centre de Documents et Information), to check email. Of which I have none from friends or family. :-( I know that I haven’t emailed anything but still :-( Rosa. Then I went to the France Telecom office and waited for Ben to show up so we could ask about internet possibilities. Apparently we need to (1) open a telephone line for €55, and then for €39,90/month we can get internet. So we’re going back tomorrow morning after his morning class and make sure that this internet connection can support two wireless connections to our different computers (he has a Mac and Toshiba is not) and when this can be installed. We’re both pretty much dying from disconnection. Unfortunately, the optional telephone line doesn’t include Mexico, so it’s pretty much useless for us to include that seeing as we both have Skype and don’t need it. Rocío has used Skype so if she needs to she can use our computers. Probably mine.
Then after lunch at the cantine with the English teachers (Blandine, Karine who dyed her hair black and Karine who is very pregnant), I went to School Two to meet with Marie-Pierre to discuss my schedule and the fact that her students have a 30 minute period on Mondays which just will not do. She introduced me to the other teachers – Catherine, Sylvie (totally not spelling that right) and Christophe. They also showed me MY classroom – I can do as I please in it!!! WOW how friggin cool is that?? I have my own CLASSROOM. Granted, it’s totally pre-WWII and the chalkboard isn’t magnetized (still don’t know the word for magnet) and the walls are a very strong salmon, but WOW I have my own classroom! I’m so impressed. The principal also said she’d look into the code and available copies for the photocopier, and ask the Town Hall for another teacher’s manual for the textbook series for me (no charge). WOW. And I thought this would be my difficult school! I have three classes there: two fifth grade and one fourth grade. They’re enthusiastic, that’s sure, but they’re also really talkative. I can already tell that S* is going to be trouble. I still have a difficulty calling on all students in the class. Also, two of the three teachers whose classes I’m taking stayed in the room the entire time. How sweet is that. The kids did well with the classroom commands, which is not at all part of their textbook series (I must follow it, apparently) but because I don’t have the book myself and because I find the classroom directives helpful (act, look, listen, speak, point, raise your hand), we did that. I’m so stoked. Especially because the fifth graders don’t have class on Friday – they’re going to Ile d’Oléron, which is off the coast of La Rochelle. LUCKIES. I haven’t been there. Oh, I was also supposed to have a class today at School Three but they were also on a field trip. I forget where. I wasn’t invited. Anyways.
So yeah, I’m totally doing well. On my way out of School Two, I got a message from Ben saying that Blandine offered to take us grocery shopping today. WOULD I? Of course! I also finally set up my voicemail on my cell so now you’ll hear a bilingual message from yours truly! Wait for the English – it is a French phone, after all. So I BOOKED it back to the high school. The trip from School Two and School One (they’re within sight of each other) takes about thirty minutes to begin with, and since I left School Two at 4:30 and Blandine was coming to collect us at 5:00, I arrived totally soaked in sweat. I think I’m also developing a sore throat from walking in cold dry air and talking sooo much.
Speaking French also strains my voice as my physiology has been trained to an American English voice. So we went to LeClerc (think WalMart with adjoining WalMart Garden, WalMart Home Depot, and WalMart Hunting Clothes stores). I bought water as it’s really cheap and practical and a bunch of stuff for my trousse (pencil case) like whiteout, markers, paper clips, and a ton of colored paper. I did forget the regular white paper. Oh well. On the way home, Blandine suggested we go on a mushroom hike on Sunday. So on Sunday, the three of us are going to take the train from Ussel to Meymac (the next teeny tiny town over) where Blandine will collect us at the station, bring us to her house for lunch, and then we go on a mushroom hunt! Hopefully we’ll be able to find some cèpes, a kind of mushroom common in this area to make some seriously good omelettes. Yummy! That’s my goal, at least.
Ben also suggested that this weekend, either Friday or Saturday night, we meet up with this dude he met via couchsurfing.com and stayed with in Egletons (nearest town with a high school, where Ben will be stationed after the February vacations) for drinks in Ussel. Sounds like a plan.
After shopping, we went to dinner at the cantine. Because it’s dinner, there aren’t as many people in the faculty dining room, but we did meet Karine (yeah it’s a common name), a marketing teacher who had some incredibly impressive and fascinating comments regarding language education in France, the contrasting phenomenon of globalization and isolation, and regional wines and beers. She is from a city called Cahors which I mentioned I’d like to visit for the upcoming vacations, and she said she’d give me her contact info so we could meet up (or more!). She lives in the internat (high school dormitories) two nights a week, so we’ll have to be together more often. Her English is impeccable, by the way.
Tomorrow, Ben and I are going to France Telecom to “ranger” (it means kind of like clean up, put together, arrange, etc) our communication embargo. I have to do some serious lesson planning and material production / material finding. Also, I REALLY need to take some friggin pictures. Of people, like Ben and Rocío, Blandine and the other English teachers, Françoise, maybe Karine if I can find her, the documentalistes (liberrians). Of places, like our apartment, the high school campus, the crazy flying saucer nursery school, the adorable houses and the gorgeous rose gardens they all have, the rolling hills, the boring downtown (one church, eighty-four butcher shops, one laundromat, three kebab stands…you get the idea). Oh and I should maybe clean something. My room is clean, except my desk which has become a dumping ground for EVERY single piece of paper I have. Ridiculous.
I miss my parents and Peter and Nicholas – some of my students’ names are Pierre and Nicolas, the French equivalents, and I always tell them so – and Andy. I REALLY hope this France Telecom biznass works out because that would be just too super. We’ll see.