Sunday, June 1, 2008

31-USA Day!!

That means I have thirty-one days until I land on American soil.

School Three is my least favorite school. The atmosphere is pleasant and very French "We'll do it when we get around to it," the teachers are very kind, and the directeur Mr. Barbe is a very gregarious fellow. The students mostly come from the Cité, which is the projects, and there is a strong Muslim population there. Other students live at the Gendarmerie Mobile, the police barracks. I like the school well enough but it just does not compare in terms of friendliness, openness, and an atmosphere in which I feel comfortable to Schools One or Two.

I work with only Virginie at School Three. Virginie teaches a combined 3rd/4th grade classroom. She is 27, and therefore the teacher closest in age to me. She has invited me to the school play, the hiking trip, the field trip to the Lascaux Caves (argh! I was busy that day!), to her home soon south of Ussel to go hiking, and most recently to the school's dinner dance fundraiser. I originally declined. I no longer have roommates to drag around, and Françoise is very busy. Well, I rethought it. I declined because I knew I would be uncomfortably alone. School Three's teachers are nice enough but they're very cliquey and while they acknowledge me, they don't include me. (There is an exception. Wait for it.) Virginie has reached out to me because she is the only one who has anything to with me officially. Also because she's also a fairly quiet person like me. So I agreed to go to the fundraiser with Virginie and her boyfriend.

So Virginie and her boyfriend Joselin (I know I'm spelling that wrong) picked me up and we got to the Salle Polyvalente (town conference hall thingy) around 8:30. There were tables lined up and a DJ playing music for the kids to "dance" around to. This was the progression of the evening:

8:30 - 10:00 Apéritif, which means overpriced drinkies at the bar with chips, greeting people where I got to bise (kiss-kiss greeting) a lot of people, watching the kids rock out to their bad selves, watch the DJ's fog machine destroy any ambiance, get to know Joselin a little and comiserate about not being familiar at all with these people or the situation, and get very hungry.

10:00 - 1:30 Meal, dancing, and random conversations. Everyone got served some overalcoholised punch. Joselin and I were left alone while Virginie helped out with the serving. She gave us strict instructions to speak only in English as he was going on vacation to Ireland. I recommended he visit the Ring of Kerry, and we discussed education, his job, my job, French politics, French cuisine, etc. Dinner was a salade composée, boeuf bourgignon, cheese, and fruit tarte. Very good food. During the entire meal, the DJ kept playing overly loud music, turning the lights on and off, and the fog machine was on full blast. It was virtually impossible to hold a conversation. A lot of my students were there, including a few of my awesome fifth graders from School Two! I desperately wanted to dance but I was so so so self-conscious. I learned to dance in American high schools, so my style has a lot of hip gyrating and moves that, from what I observed on this French dance floor, would only reinforce how NOT French I am. I finally got my butt out there, and Juanes' "La Camisa Negra" came on so I felt so much better. I of course scooted off the minute I heard the opening notes of "YMCA" and apologized to my table for my culture's contribution.

I also got the crazy idea that my legacy should be teaching all of my students the "Cotton Eye Joe" dance. What do you think?

I mentioned an exception. Valérie is a second grade teacher at School Three, the wife of Christophe the fifth grade teacher at School Two, and the mother of P*, one of the good kids in the ridiculous fourth grade class at School Two. Valérie is gorgeous. She's perpetually smiley (a rarity for French women!), blonde, and funny. Christophe is a lucky lucky man. (I think Christophe is a wonderful man as well, even if he is a little generous with the wine at times.) In an upcoming event that I am keeping under wraps because I am involved in a hysterical capacity, Valérie is portraying "the French Paris Hilton," an obnoxiously beautiful supermodel. When she talks to you, she touches you. I love Valérie and want to be her friend.

A high school in New York is super enthusiastic about me. I am super excited about them as well. A phone call Friday afternoon made me smile from ear to ear. If this works out, I will be the happiest girl in the world!

Today I have downloaded more music, printed out flashcards, planned lessons including many much student-centered activities, made hard-boiled eggs and Lemon Angel Pie. Now who to give it to...Madame Laugier, the proviseur/high school principal? Laurence and Serge next door?

I have a hotel reserved in Paris. I have a first-class one-way ticket to Paris. I have a plane ticket to Newark. I cannot believe I have to leave...I love this job and I love my life here, but I know it's not real. I miss you all so much! I'm coming home!

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