Nothing huge or exciting happening lately, just kind of steadily truckin’ along through what remains of my normal “French” life. I'm enjoying spending as much time as possible with the friends I've made here, they're pretty cool. (The picture is a few of us at our own little carnaval-esque costume party. It's a shame you can't see more of me as a pirate, I totally channeled Captain Jack.) But it felt time again for some bullets… which I always enjoy, almost as much as tables. Thought I’d share a few interesting things (or at least I think they might be interesting):
- Recently a staff member at my school left so I got to experience the traditional “Pot de Depart.” After he invited me I worried about not having something to contribute, naively assuming that the “pot” part might hint at “pot luck.” But no, silly American, at this French farewell party the person leaving is the one responsible for ALL of the food. And this guy definitely brought his A-game. Started with little veggies, dips, nuts, dried fruits and things, followed by those savory hors d’oeuvres where the French excel. I enjoyed those little cheesy pastries and my first taste of pâté en croûte. And THEN there was cake and desserts, so much food I didn’t need dinner that night. Surely they can’t expect that from me when I leave because I think they’ll be disappointed…
- On the way back from Beaune we got to experience what was previously thought to be oxymoronic: French work ethic and emergency response. We happened to sit in a car that had a spill of red wine (what else would it be?) that made our whole compartment smell delicious. After seeing the mess, the conductor delayed the train and after a few minutes four grown men came on with huge yellow haz-matty looking jackets, armed with spray bottles and fistfuls of bathroom paper towels they tossed on the ground in clumps. One of them took charge while all of them complained and they left the floor, though perhaps dry, still badly stained. Everything about that just seemed so… French. I wonder what the yellow haz-mat emergency men do when there aren’t puddles of wine to clean up?
- While teaching Valentine’s Day (and by “teaching” I mean making them draw valentines because I had nothing else planned) the students reminded me that the French have their own version of “He loves me/He loves me not.” Except while pulling the petals off their marguerites, they qualify it a little more, of which I approve. I also think it’s culturally telling that they switch the subject from “he” to “I.” I mean, a girl likes to have options and the French deliver: Je t’aime (I love you), un peu (a little), beaucoup (a lot), passionément (passionately), à la folie (I’m crazy about you), and pas du tout (not at all).
- I have four different currencies in my wallet right now. Kind of jet-set, right? Will have to sort them out soon, though. At first glance a British penny looks the same as five centimes and, except for being shinier, that Swiss 20 cent piece looks like kind of like a nickel. In general, I find European currency to be very heavy on the change. I miss the lightness of American bills and the near frivolity with which we can treat our little pieces of metal. You can just toss them into your pocket or purse willy-nilly because here, that little coin could be worth two Euros and not just a few cents.
- It’s still snowing… in March. And apparently this is normal. I just want to wear some skirts! But on the literal and figurative brightside the sun is making more appearances and I did finally build my first honest-to-goodness snowman. Life-sized, with a face and arms and everything! However, he did unfortunately live a rather sad and short and life…
Plans are in the works for Spring Break, Wooooo! I’m having almost as much fun planning it (since I decided to use tables) as I’m hoping to actually have on it.