Sunday, May 31, 2009

I just get home, and then I leave again...

"I just get home, and then I leave again,
It's long ago and far away..."

("Departure Bay," Elvis Costello and Diana Krall)

Tomorrow I turn the calendar to June -- and panic strikes. Where did the school year go? What happened to all of those home projects I had promised I would get done this year, to the vows to see friends more often, to my New Year's Resolutions, to my eldest daughter's last year of high school?

Time has happened. And, as usual, I'm facing June with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because it's a fun time of year in France -- lots of social events, concerts, generally nice weather, late light. All the ingredients are there to make it a kicking time.

But at the end of this whirl of gaiety is a plane ticket for the USA, July 7th to August 20th. Of course that's wonderful news. I'll be seeing my family, and, most importantly, I'll be seeing my youngest daughter for the first time in over 10 months, which will be a great joy.

Yet, so much remains to be done. My oldest daughter is taking her Baccalaureate exam, her driving exam, and looking for an apartment in Rodez for her studies next year. Correction: I will be looking for the apartment.

At this time of year, I start to feel like I'm being squeezed through an hourglass.

The song lyrics above used to remind me of going "home" to Olympia, but this year, they could just as well apply to coming "home" to Aveyron. It seems like I just got back, and it's time to leave again.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 63

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tooting my own horn

Angela in Europe recently bestowed the above blogging award to me. I might quarrel a bit with the deformation of the word "awesome," but I'll take any award I can get at this time of flagging participation in the blogosphere!

In fact, I could perhaps even pontificate about the word itself, which my USA daughter probably now utters in every other sentence, peppered with at least two "like"s. But be that as it may.

These are the rules, which I obviously will not follow to the letter, or even to the sentence:

List 7 Things That Make You Awe-Summm!
Pass It On To 7 Bloggers Who Are Awe-Summm!
Be Sure To Tag Your Awe-Summm Bloggers To Let Them Know!
Then Link Back To The Queen That Tagged You

There's certainly no shortage of exclamation points in those directions! Let's go!

Angela interpreted the first point as referring to blogging only, but since I have been a pretty lame blogger of late, I'm taking it to be just about ME (or HER, in her case.) I'm feeling good so I should be able to find 7 things that make me awe...some, although I would have trouble doing as much about my blog!

1. I have two absolutely fabulous daughters, and I can safely say that their teenage years have been a joy.

2. I adjusted well to life in France -- in the pre-Internet age when I didn't have many fellow expats to vent and gripe to.

3. I turned away from any number of extremely lucrative career paths in order to follow my professional vocation, and I'm still following it.

4. I do some professional writing practically every weekday evening. I don't talk much about it here, but it's quite a feat of organization.

5. I know quite a bit about a lot of different types of music, although my tastes are too eclectic to be an expert in any one genre.

6. I get angry in French only.

7. I stay in touch with a lot of people from my past, and did even before the digital age.

I'm not going to tag anybody, but if you don't know what to blog about this week, try writing some positive things about yourself. My experience in France has been that not that many other people are going to say these things to you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 62

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Tweeting

I am getting so used to writing in spurts that getting up a real blog post seems like a major operation. Devolution or evolution? We'll see.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Spring, finally, in many senses

(All photos courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

After wailing and moaning about our awful spring weather, both on this blog and any other available online platforms, I am happy to announce to you that spring appears to have finally arrived in Aveyron. So I'm done complaining now. Thanks for listening.

Of course, it's officially been spring here, like everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere, long it's depressing, so let's not go back there. But in a meteorological sense, this is the week when I stopped wearing a coat to work, when we started to sleep with the windows open, and when the yard became a nice place to spend time, rather than a pit of weed-infested despair.

I've noticed, however, that in a botanical sense, spring always seems to come late to our village and somehow even later to our house. Lilacs and iris have been blooming like crazy all over our neighbors' yards, but ours have just come out.

And trees definitely take their time around here too. The photo below was taken in our village last year on May 1st, and you can see that the leaves are not quite out on a lot of the trees. As I write, some of the trees in our yard are just filling out, too.

In a psychological sense, I think perhaps I don't get my spring burst of energy until the days start to get significantly longer. It isn't getting dark now until past 9:00pm, and suddenly I need less sleep and am able to stay up later. That in itself makes life cheerier.

And in a professional sense, I am finished with grading papers and my classload is quite a bit lighter.

Finally, in a family sense, it's only two months now until I see her, but I do have to help get her through the strenuous Baccalaureate exam. But that will have to be a subject for another post. Let's keep this one upbeat! Especially since things have clouded over since I started writing it...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My typical morning -- and is there anything French about it?

The best place to find ideas for posts these days seems to be other people's blogs, so when Marjorie of Interior Designs and My Inner French Girl posted about her typical day, I took the bait.

In fact, I think I can go one step beyond and milk three posts from this concept. Of course, her post got me thinking about my typical day, but also whether there was very much French about it. So let's see about that, starting with the morning:

6:00: Alarm rings; I hop out of bed, get the coffee running and do a few quick household tasks.

6:10: Computer time. I check my emails, then log into MSN to chat with my daughter in the USA.

6:40: I wake my other daughter up (this action is often repeated at least twice, but I won't bore you with the details) and get her breakfast table prepared.

6:45-7:25: A chaotic combination of continuing MSN exchanges with USA daughter, getting ready for work, and checking out the day's organizational plan with the other family members. I continue to drag my coffee cup around with me until the last possible minute.

7:25: Leave the house with my daughter, whom I drop off at her lycée on the way to work

7:45: Post some snail mail and/or deliver a few administrative papers for my husband

7:55: Arrive at work and head to my office

8:00: Start my working morning, which could include anywhere from one to four hours of class, or no class at all -- in the latter case, it's just office work and class preparation and correction.

10:15-10:30: If I have a full morning of class, this is break time, which may consist of drinking coffee with a colleague, but also might be spent answering emails, making phone calls, or photocopying for work

10:45: If I don't have a full morning of class, this is coffee break time -- which has inexplicably gotten later and later -- in my school's staff room. I always keep some crème liquide in the work fridge so I can "have it my way." I also try to avoid snarfing down the almost daily spread of cakes and pastries.

After the coffee break: Back to work until lunchtime -- but that will have to wait until next week's post.

Looking over this morning routine, it seems to me quite similar to my former morning routine as a high school teacher in the USA, except for then I got up more like 5am and got to work by 7am. There's definitely no café au lait or croissants in my French morning, unless some of the latter show up in the staff room -- in fact, I just added that photo to keep you reading!

I've kept my "drink several coffees, drag them around the house, occasionally lose the mug" habit from my American life. And leaving myself a little computer time in the morning doesn't seem French at all -- none of my colleagues seem to look at the period before work as a time to get anything done, except, well, getting ready for work.

The fact that I drive my daughter about 10 miles to go to school is, however, while not exactly "typically French," at least a result of the French school transportation system.

School buses are subsidized but not free, and the many stops they make combined with the long French school day (8am-5pm/6pm for my daughter) contributed to our decision to provide our own transportation to school. I wouldn't do it if I didn't work in the same town as my daughter's high school, and it has proven to be a nice time to communicate...and listen to music together!

Tune in next week for my typical afternoon!