Thursday, December 31, 2009

The cat who spoke French, or happy arbitrary birthday, universe!

So everyone and everything is about to turn another year older, and I'm celebrating with a bottle of champagne and a late dinner with Picasso, Madame and Benjamin. Oh, and of course les petits chats, who will most likely try to add a garnish of cat hair to our sauerkraut as they strut their stuff and try to block our view of the tv.  awww!

It's funny to think that this time last year I was in Paris with Ageless, the trip that inspired me to come live here in the first place!

New Year's in Paris, 2009

And now, 365 days later, here I am again, having eaten some sort of weird meat cuts that I think might have been trying to be hot dogs, along with some sauerkraut, potatoes, baked apples and 3 different kinds of cake for dessert! ahhhh! I think I might burst. Plus I drank most of the bottle of champagne so I'm a little swimmy right now, woohoo!

We watched some amazing tv this was a French 'spectacle,' which included more magic skits  in one hour than I've seen in all the years I've been alive, and a bunch of acrobatic numbers that were really pretty amazing. The French are SO WEIRD. I can't get enough!! And then, once it hit midnight, we yelled out the window at the top of our lungs, then shut it really quickly so we wouldn't freeze to death, and then faire-d les bises on each other's cheeks and clinked glasses and danced around the room a bit to the snippets of each decade's hit songs that the tv was blaring as a tribute to...well, each decade's best songs.

Me, Madame and Benjamin, New Year's 2010

Madame, Picasso and me (and CHAMPAGNE woohoo!)

All in all it was nicely tame and relaxing...I was warm and sleepy (yar, I nearly fell asleep at the table at like 10.30...I can't even make it until midnight any more!!) and I managed to keep up with all the French conversation 'round the dinner table all night! (I think I even managed to be funny en français, or maybe it was franglais, but woohoo none the less!)

And now we have some gratuitous photos of les petits chats, who really do only understand French! I tried talking to Sushi in English and she totes ignored me, then I said 'viens ici!' and she turned and looked at me! Of course, she didn't actually COME to me (b/c why would a cat actually do what you asked it to), but still, she understood what I was saying! LOL!!


Sushi on her bed by my window

OK, it is nearly 4 am somehow, and I didn't even go out dancing tonight!

Happy New Year 2010!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Grey hair and static cling, or, "merry christmukkah..."

Well, back in America for a few days to enjoy a white Christmas in good ole Indiana.

There are two Great Danes snoring on the couch, a kitty draped over the green leather chair in front of the fire, another white kitty nom-ing on a big chunk of dog food in the kitchen as she stares at me in pointed reference to the fact that her own food bowl is empty (as of five minutes ago, sheesh!), and somewhere around here a Siamese kitty is hiding, letting out an indignant mew every so often to guilt me into leaving my eating post in the kitchen and coming to snuggle under the warm down blanket on my bed. Christmas music has been playing nonstop for about 48 hours now, I've eaten my weight in chocolate and pumpkin pie, the whole house smells of fresh pine, and I'm sipping my way through a second glass of pinot. It's Christmas Eve, baby!

I took a rare look in the mirror the other day and found a nice little gift from mother nature: a handful of grey hair. Le Sigh. It would have been ok, probably, if I hadn't found them while combing through a mass of wildly static cling-y hair that stood out from my head like I'd just been electrically prodded in the course of an interrupted alien abduction. My morning coffee hadn't even been brewed yet, and my face looked like it was trying to swallow my eyes and go back to sleep. Merry Christmakkuh to me, woohoo!

Let's just pretend that this is merely a sign of me growing into my vast depths of wisdom I've carried with me all these years. It might mean I need to start an advice column or something, although the women who seem to be in charge of these types of columns usually espouse the virtue of rooting oneself in one's own natural beauty while hiding their own behind a bottle of Garnier Blonde 56. But hey, it might be fun to start of my weekly writing sessions with "Dear Reader..." or oooh my favorite, "Gentle Reader..." hahahahaha! Who talks like that, really. I'll gentle your reader right out the window and over the very tall cliff about a mile down the road.

Tomorrow starts early for my family, I really should be getting to bed. BUT I CAN'T. The Boss needs to finish Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and these Christmas lights aren't going to enjoy themselves, y'know. My family doesn't really expect me to function properly until AFTER the baked eggs and coffee anyway.

We haven't had a random kK Tangent in a comes No. 86:
Can I just say how much I LOVE CHIPOTLE.
Also, I don't really understand why everyone only wants to be nice on Christmas instead of trying hard to be a good person all year long.
Oh yeah, and MJ, why the HELL didn't you make a Christmas, or whatever holiday, album before chucking off this mortal coil! WHY. (And no, BBB, the Jackson 5 doesn't count.)
**possible end to kK Tangent 86**

Oooh, sing it Mariah! All I want for Christmas is YOU, TOO! WOOHOO.

Christmas Eve is my absolute favorite day of the year. I like the actual Christmas Day of course, but there is just something...'more' about the eve part of it all. When it's my time to become one with nature, I think every day is going to feel like Christmas Eve. The end bit, when the candles are lit, the Christmas lights are shining through the pine branches laying on the mantle, Bob Seger is singing "Little Drummer Boy," the kitties are purring, the fire is crackling and my wine glass is full...

Speaking that the bottom of my glass I see?


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bien joué: Munchen

In a nod to one of my favorite blogs,, I'm going to start issuing the gold standard "well played" card to a few deserving people/places/things to counterbalance my posts wherein I make fun of everything, and everyone, else. First up, Munich.

Munich city center and Christmas market

Just spent two of the most fabulous days EVER in my new favorite city. Why is the German language so hot! I never liked it before, always made fun of it ("it's like cats spitting!"), but someone sprinkled magic dust on me and opened me up to the joys of Germanity. It might have been the innumerable litres of duple bock yumminess flowing straight from the tap into my wine-hardened veins, or maybe the Christmas spirit in the outdoor markets in the city center, or shit, it might just be all those sausages taking their toll in the sausage-shaped holes in my stomach, but whatever it was, ich liebe dich forever, my city of big strong men and funny accents and really F*ING good beer!


Some of Squash's family lives in Munich, and they more-than-kindly picked us up from the airport, provided a private apartment-hotel room for us near the city center, and took us around to the Christmas markets, non-touristy delicious food joints, and, most importantly, beer halls and dance clubs. Yes, I actually did some **gasp** dancing on Friday night, but fo' reals, how can you not at least tap ye olde foote to some fun American pop music! The techno, house and hip-hop I can do without...seriously, I can't dance to that shit. But I (along with the rest of the red-blooded human beings on the planet) spontaneously combust into dancing flames when Madonna comes over the loudspeaker. Well, that, and somebody handed me a red bull-and-vodka that I retardedly drank without thinking (probably b/c I was already swimming in a good litre--or two--of duple bock).


Chocolatey marshmallowy yumminess at the Christmas market

What happens Saturday night? Oh yeah, we meet a group of boys coming out of the metro stop and discover that we are all headed to Hofbräuhaus for some burrrr. Who are they? Oh yeah, the American bobsled team.


Yar, five members of the US Bobsled/Skeleton team were taking a break and touring snowy Munich without coats...we never heard what actually happened (they made it sound like quite the story, but they probably just friggin' forgot them on the train or something), but whatever it was, somehow we all ended up bicep-curling heavy litres of Hofbräu Dunkel, laughing till the tears flowed at the group of Italians and Germans singing their respective football team spirit songs (the German group won that round by picking up their extremely heavy picnic-style table, lifting it over their heads and drinking beer at the same time...did I mention they were wearing lederhosen to boot??), and shouting over the ridiculously loud brass band playing Sousa-esque German tunes.

At Hofbräuhaus with the bobsled team, lol!

I really thought they were joking at first when they told us they were the bobsled team...I mean, I literally laughed out loud and tried to cover it up into a cough when I realized they were serious. (What! My, uh, lungs were aching with the cold. Yeah.) But then I realized, why the HELL would anyone make up a story like that, and how would they even keep it going all night with all the questions we would undoubtably be asking. And then I was like, yo, who really cares if they ARE making it up, these dudes are HILARIOUS. Some of them took themselves a little too seriously, but Mr. Daly from Long Island made me laugh so hard I nearly shot beer out of my nose about 800 times.

In the Munich snow with a cuppa joe
(don't ask, you know how weird I am)

I can't believe how much fun it was! How much FOOD I ate...ahhhh. I can't imagine eating that stuff every day, but that's what hot pink juicers are for, heh heh! Speaking of, I'm now fighting off a nasty cold from not enough sleep or veggies. I'm sure it has nothing to do with how much beer I ingested.

Yar, so Well Played, Munchen. Big servings. Big laughter. Big friggin' hangover. Big...sausages?


And PS...I definitely googled the US Bobsled/Skeleton Team and found our five drinking companions on the official website. Woohoo! Guess who's watchin' the Olympics THIS year!

Bread on a bread plate? QUEL HORREUR

C'est too much, is what it is. C'est TOO MUCH.

After yet another dinner party chez Squash thrown by one of her roommates, I have now learned that Parisians put their piece of baguette at a 45 degree angle to the left-hand side of the bread plate, straight onto the friggin table cloth, completely ignoring the perfectly lovely bread plate sitting right in front of them that is apparently only supposed to host after-dinner cheese.

I mean, wtf.

How does that even make sense? It's DIFFICULT to clean off a tablecloth. At least if you put crumbs on a bread plate you can wipe them off pretty easily into the sink or trash or whatever. Have you ever tried wiping off bread crumbs from a cloth on the table? Yeah, they jump all over the place and don't like gathering into a nice little pile, and you end up having to scrape them with a special scraper or pick them up one by one with your fingers, or laboriously take off the table cloth and shake it out, which means you then have to sweep up the fallen crumbs from the floor. Or I guess you could just leave them on the table cloth and hope someone else cleans them up. Like a housecleaner, or maybe some visiting pigeons.

OK, so maybe it's not all French people, but wowsers, the ones who gathered around the table Thursday night were the stuffiest, pompous-iest peeps I have ever met. Squash and I decided not to try too hard to converse with them, so we sat next to each other and LAUGHED OUT LOUD at our own franglais-ed jokes and the shitty attitude of one of the pregnant dinner guest who was very obviously pissed that we were having so much fun while she had to sit there being pregnant and serious and French. humph.

But the food was great, as always (Carole is a friggin MASTER of the kitchen!) and it's always fun to have an opportunity to practice having real conversations in French, even if it's a conversation with people who just pointedly stared and whispered at your American savagery as you ate your bread off a bread plate.


Monday, December 7, 2009


Oh Champagne, how I love you...

Reims (pronounced, in typical exception-to-every-rule français: 'raz') provided an entertaining, if slightly too-long, day for me on Saturday. I hopped on the TGV at 8.30 am, and 40 minutes later arrived in Champagne to visit as many champagneries (lol! I love calling them that) as I could fit into one day. Alas, only TWO were open (b/c why would you keep your 'cave' open on a weekend when people don't work and want to taste champagne?) so I booked both for tours in French.

I had some time to kill before my first cave (kahv), so I walked around...and around...and around. (I knew I was in the right town when I came upon Rue Dom Pérignon!) I found the Christmas market, had a coffee, stumbled upon the old cathedral where all the French kings were crowned, and finally headed in to the warmth of G.M. Martel, where a very nice lady led us all around the underground caves and tunnels.

Caves G.M. Martel

Then I went back to the Christmas market, where I sat next to the ice skating rink and watched the little kiddies roll by in time to some really weird french reggae music as I munched on a bison "hamburger:" it started off in patty form, and then the youngster serving it chopped it up into slices and laid them all carefully into a baguette. I love France!

Part of Reims city center

Cathedral: where French kings were crowned

Then it was off to les caves Pommery, a champagnery so vast it looked like a cheesy Walt Disney-type castle spread. Very Stepford-esque, but still interesting, and hey, anytime I get to drink some bubbly is a good time for me.

Caves Pommery: Where brut champagne was invented (by a woman! woohoo!)

At this point it's finally dark out, but not yet quite time for me to head back to catch the bus back to the train station, so I visit the Notre Dame cathedral in the city center, and was pleasantly awed by the just kept GOING, and it was so GRAND. The hectic-ness of the Christmas market after the zen interior of l'eglise was a bit of a jolt, but I needed to eat (again!!) so I braved the masses and grabbed a sammy from one of the vendors sprinkled throughout the Christmas huts.

At this point I'd been walking and drinking around the city for about 10 hours. It had rained on and off throughout the day--I was pretty wet and supremely chilled, so I decided to get on a warm bus and make my way back to the TGV a bit early. Back in Paris, I limped in to my room, not even stopping to pet kitties as I threw on my jams and ripped off my wet socks. I joined Madame in the living room, where I sipped hot tea and ended my very long day by watching the Miss France pageant. Miss Normandie won. (because I KNOW you care...)


Miss France 2010!


Ain't Nobody That Can Sing Like Me

Ah! All is not lost...I had a lovely day with students on Friday! The music went over much better with those classes. Greenday's "American Idiot" inspired lots of ooh-la-it-is-too-vite! laughter and The Monkees made Believers out of those who thought they couldn't understand American music. I'm pretty sure every boy of every age will always feel a strong connection to Pete Townsend's blue eyes; what IS it about that song that just screams male angst, lol! (Whatever, you know I heart it too!)

I even got to slip in one of my favorites, the "California Stars" collaboration of Wilco and Billy Bragg (hear it here, but for god's sake ignore the 'space theme'...this was the best sound quality I could find on youtube, so just hide the screen and listen to the music instead of watching those completely incongruous images of outerspace!! I was afraid the students would make fun of the slight twang--I mean, wtf kind of music IS that, anyway, right!--but I caught several of the boys tapping their feet in time to the beat, and I was like YESSSSS I gotcha!

Seriously, no matter what kind of day I'm having, shitty, awesome or somewhere in between, that song makes me feel right again. If I was on a desert island I'd pick that song to play on repeat, along with Buffett's Tin Cup Chalice and Bob Seger singing Little Drummer Boy. And then, of course, if I feel like dancing on said desert island, I might have to bring along some ABBA and Beyonce. OK, and maybe some Bare Naked Ladies, b/c they're da shit. And Allison Kraus, but only singing happy songs. Oh wait, and I'll need my favorite band of all time, Devotchka. And I mean just that: I'm bringing Devotchka the musicians with me to the island. And not for cannabalistic purposes, we all have plenty to eat and drink and read and there's even a place to check your email just in case we feel like be social. Just sayin'.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The 86 year-old-man club

Gah, teaching is crazy. Seriously, I have no idea how anyone does it, ever. EVER. I have a class on Thursdays that makes me want to do terrible things, to them and to myself. I was "this" close to calling in 'sick' this afternoon, but no, I had planned what I thought was a fun lesson around some American songs--fill in the lyrics, listen to music, have a good time. Is that what happened? Well, all but the 'have a good time' part.

There are four students in particular in this class that just make my life miserable...two boys and two girls, but I get the worst crap from the two boys. They dress like uber-riche hipsters, and are just simply and quite literally too cool for school. The ennui in their auras stands out so palpably I practically choke on it. I have the disturbing impression that they would commit murder, just to see if it was amusing, secure in the belief that they are invincible and could never be convicted. (The Law & Order episode has already played out in my head, casting and all. They play themselves, b/c L&O has become a reality show by this time in the future.) They make me want to make them cry. Like big, fat tears with real trauma that shakes them out of their hidey hole of determined un-impressioned-ness. I swear, if I was like that as a youngster (and I'm pretty sure I was, but without the murder part), I don't know how I wasn't sent off to get lost in Tibet.

Anyway, it started with me texting the teacher to tell her I had to switch classrooms so she would know where to send her students to meet me. She texts back that she's not even going to be there today (oh, thanks for telling me in advance) b/c she's getting her 18 month old daughter vaccinated for the swine flu. (eh?) Then she asks if she thinks I can handle the entire class, not just half of them like I normally do. I'm like, wha...? First of all, why are you not just canceling class altogether?? And secondly, HELL NO I won't take on 38 students all at once, I have enough trouble with half of them as it is! So she's like, cool, I'll send you some documents over email I want you to go over with them, and then you'll just teach one group of them like always. OK.

Needless to say, when I get to my new classroom, no one else is there b/c they're all at the old room. le. sigh. And then I discover that ALL OF THEM HAVE SHOWN UP. I'm like, um, dudes, I need Group 1 to stay and Group 2 to get perdus! Then they have an argument about which group is supposed to be there, blah blah. Anyway, I have no idea who actually stays and goes, but somehow we manage to settle down and start discussing documents about the goodness of being yourself and not conforming to what your friends think you should be. Whatevs. Drugs r bad, stay in school. Mmmmkay.

Maybe--yar, probably...I'm cool but I'm not THAT cool--these kids are so anxious to be with me b/c it's a break from the drudgery of their real classwork and the teacher that actually makes them drag out the discussion of two images for an entire hour. I simply can. not. DO that! You ID the doc, tell me what the message is, give me your opinion, and VOILA, case closed. It takes like 15 (maybe) minutes!! So I bust out the lyrics worksheet I'd typed up last night and started playing what I thought they would really like, a couple of non-typical American songs you'd hear at ACL and not on pop radio. We never even listened to one song twice...whenever I asked if they liked a song, those two friggin boys were like, "non, it's not good" or "non, I don't like the '80's," or whatever. (Yes, I played "Don't Stop Believin'"...I friggin LOVE that song and so does anyone with a sense of teh awezome!) Horrid Boy 1 did start singing along with "Behind Blue Eyes"...but even The Who couldn't rattle this boy into filling in lyrics or otherwise pretending to give a shit about anything but his own affectation of smugness.

So finally I give up...there's 15 minutes of class left and I'm like, OK guys, so what is it that you want to do next time? I always ask them this, and I always bring in a game or music or whatever it is they've decided on, and still it continues to suck. They batter around a couple of ideas about films, not even bothering to try very hard to speak in English...they think I can't understand them but oooh are they wrong and it's funny to jump in the middle of their conversations in answer to a question they are asking each other assuming I have no idea what they're saying.

Then Horrid Boy 1 tries asking about my favorite movies, and then books...we almost had a connection on Charlie Brown (I was discussing Christmas movies) but unfortunately he actually thought I'd said JACKIE Brown. (I got really confused when he got all excited and was like "Quentin Tarantino??") We even discovered that we both liked sci-fi (which I totally can't see in him, but whatever). Finally, thank the GODS, the bell rings and they all start packing up to leave. But lots of them take their time, including these Horrid Boys, and they linger and try to talk a bit like they don't really want to leave, and I'm like, WTF what is wrong with you, you HATE me, right! But then Horrid Boy 1 is like, "We must be bored for you, yes?" And I'm like, "Yar, you seem to be really bored," and his friend, Horrid Boy 2, corrects him, "you mean 'boring'", and Horrid Boy 1 looks up at me again and repeats it, like he cares what I think of them: "We must be boring for you." I'm like, "What?? NO you're not boring! [and they're really not...we should be having so much fun together...!] I'm the one who feels awful when I look out at you and see your faces" (and here I make a face that no one can mistake for anything but the worst case of ennui), and one of the other lingering students is like "It's b/c we're French!" To which I burst out laughing, but Horrid Boy 1 shrugs in his "that's not the real reason" and "nothing's good enough to bother me" way, says goodbye and finally leaves.

God. I came straight home and poured myself a generous splash of delicious cognac. Yes, I am Co-President, with Ageless, of the 86-Year-Old-Man club, in which we filles drink whiskey, bourbon and cognac like we're 86 year-old men.

It's a weird situation to be in: I'm not the real teacher, but I'm not one of "them;" I'm the exotic (haha) strange American who can speak better than their English teachers (show some RISPEK'), and there's no incentive but their own inner desire to do well and to learn. I'm doing the best I can and it really works well with lots of them, but the times when it falls so flat...gah, so discouraging. Do the Horrid Twins really care about what I think of them? Then why not try to at least pretend to have some fun, or at least try a dialogue of some sort, even if all they have to say is negative...I guess they can't look too nerdy in front of their friends in the class...maybe they went home and bought the songs on iTunes and listened by themselves over and over again until they filled in all the words on the pages...

I don't really care as much as it probably sounds like I do...I just needed to vent about today as I enjoy another teensy splash of fermented apples. At the end of the day they're just such younguns, and I'm an old, nearly-wise woman who has already realized there is more to life than the dramas of high school.

Plus, you know what...they would TOTES get beat up if they came to America looking like that...I'd like to see them get up in front of an American high school class and try to keep order! Karma's a bitch...oh gawd, what does that say about ME back in the day!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bienvenue chez moi, part deux

HA! So, the saga continues...

I have just moved into a new apartment! Basically I would just like to forget that the month of November happened at all (besides our rockin' Thanksgiving!) so I'll just skim over a few deets to keep you updated:

1. Was invited to a dinner party chez Madame Filer by a friend (Picasso) who currently lives in one of her rented bedrooms.
2. Sort of broke my lease to move in to an empty bedroom Madame just happened to have available.
3.  Now live with Madame, her son Ben, Picasso (a Turkish lawyer on a scholarship here to study something smart) and Meginami (or something like that...I couldn't understand much of what she was saying), a Japanese cosmetics student.
4. Most important members of our international household: Kikou and Sushi, two sweet little cats who make my life worth LIVING, man.

Wow, now THAT was a nutshell.

The apartment always smells amazing...Madame is very into homeopathy and aromatherapy and natural foods, so there's never any lack of pleasant odors floating around. There is, however, only one bathroom for the 5 of us (lol!) but luckily I'm a night-showerer and take about 15 minutes to get ready in the morning, so no big. The shower head is one of those that you have to hold up in your hand to rinse off, which is always fun when you'd really like to just stand under a stream of hot water on a cold day without your arm muscles giving out, haha!

Now here's something weird:
1. me
2. Picasso's dad
3. Ben (madame's son)
4. Meginami
...all have the SAME BIRTHDAY.
What. The. F...! How is this POSSIBLE.
Oh, but apparently it is.

Plus, my new apartment is decently close to Pere Lachaise cemetary, and you all know how well-developed my sense of (and appreciation for) the morbid is! Quel chance!

My room is decorated in blue and soft brown, so that I can 'enter and breath,' as Madame explained. She loves water, and when I told her I love the rain and the ocean she just smiled in an "I thought you might" kind of way and then spent the next hour showing me her cabinets-full of essential oils and all-natural medicines. Heaven!

Breakfast materials and semi-regular home-cooked dinners are provided as well. Picasso and I got up at the same time this morning; he made my coffee, toasted my toast and put out the nutella for me before I even managed to yawn out "bonjour," leaving out a place setting for Madame when she woke up. The dude has some good karma coming to him, especially for the no-comment on my I'm-so-grumpy-before-I've-had-my-coffee morning face.

Anyway, yar, so suffice it to say that I am VERY happy to be in this new are coming soon, promise!


In fun: BBC booklist

A friend sent me some information about a BBC booklist, and, as you know, I can never resist a chance to check off books on a list, no matter how  ridiculous a compilation or ranking.

Anyway, according to the BBC (apparently), the average person will have only read 6 of the following 100 books:
(I, obviously, put an 'x' next to each one I've knocked off...join in the fun!)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (X)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien ( X)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (X)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling ( X)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)
6 The Bible - (X)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (X)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (X)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (X)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (X)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (X)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (X)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (X)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare () "COMPLETE"??? 
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (X)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ( )
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (X)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ( )
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot ( )
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell ()
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens ()
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ()
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (X)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh ( )
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky ()
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (X)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (X)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ()
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens ()
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (X)
34 Emma - Jane Austen (X)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen ()
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (X)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - (X)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ()
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (X)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (X)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (X )
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving ()
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ( )
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ( )
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ()
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (X)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ()
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (X)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (X)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons ()
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (X)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ( )
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (X)
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens ()
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (X)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (X)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (X)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (X)
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt ()
64 THe Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold ()
65 ???
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac ()
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ()
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (X)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ( )
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (X)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (X )
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (X)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (X) 
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (X)
76 The Inferno - Dante (X)
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ( )
78 Germinal - Emile Zola ( )
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray ( )
80 Possession-A.S. Byatt ( )
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (X)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ( )
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (X)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ( )
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (X)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ( )
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (X)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom ()
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (X)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ( )
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (X)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (X)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ()
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams ()
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (X)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ()
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (X)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (X)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo ()

I got 60, woohoo! (Everything else, pshaw, totes not worth reading lol!) 

Not too sure what number 65 was...well, let's assume it's something I've read and make my conquests 61! 

In fun,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Party in the USA (thanks, Miley!)

(that's right, I listen to Miley Cyrus! Shut up! It's a good song! I dare you to try to hear it once and turn it off...oh yeah, YOU CAN'T.)

HA! Just finished la fete de thanksgiving in Paris!! Thursday night 17 people crowded elbows around the magical-expanding table chez Squash and drank, ate, and franglais-ed the night away. The turkey was fresh from the Brittany countryside (it literally had a head like two days before we put it in the oven) and so was the pumpkin...that's right, we made pumpkin pie from absolute scratch! And you know what? I liked it, but NOT AS MUCH AS I LIKE PUMPKIN OUT OF A CAN!! Am I a horrible person??!

But yar, every single dish was the most delicious yumminess I can ever imagine eating. I sous-chef'd for Squash on pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, humus, and stuffing. Pull The Prick out made my personal favorite: corn casserole. YESSS! The flavors are so fantastic...even veggies taste like VEGGIES and don't need any seasonings to make them palatable! Holy crap, I already told Hoonie I was ordering all my food from France when I get back to America. They deliver, right?

I had a special treat all my own for friends The Pollock (lol I love that I didn't even need to change her name to make it a good blome--and that would be 'blog name' to you plebes) and Oxford Comma came to town for a little visit!! I got to hear some office gossip (MAN some sh*t's been goin' DOWN since I left, lol!!) and get real hugs and laugh about being angry in New York. I was so happy I almost cried! (gawd, how embarrassing! heh heh)

The party was a smashing success...the Americans loved it b/c, well, we know how to throw good parties, and even the Brits and French were impressed b/c, well, WE THROW GOOD PARTIES. It feels good to let loose and relax a little, DOESN'T IT, you polite-and-reserved-delicately-sipping-on-wine-never-playing-rowdy-music peeps! And cheese DOES work as an appetizer, huh! We never got to show off the awesomeness of the cosmo-as-aperatif, but there was plenty of wine flowing. When we got to the wine that tasted like goat cheese smells, though, I was pretty much done. (don't even ask.)

So yeah, score one of my Puritan sure as shit didn't know how to feed yourselves when you got to the New World, but thanks for mooching off the natives and calling it tradition!

heh heh


Thursday, November 26, 2009

I told you "Ah'd be bahck..."

And...we're baaaaaaaack! Yes, that's right, after waiting by the phone for Dr. Apple's call for ten days (he told me 3!) I decided to march my butt in to the store and ask in person. Miraculously, the Genius Man came back from the storage room with Mr. Mac in tow, as it had 'just been finished this morning!" Quel chance.

And then, for just a bit less than the cost of a brand new computer, I waltzed out of the store with my old white pal snugged up under my arm, trying not to bang it on walls or into people as I hurried home.

Sweet! Let the blog posts, how I've missed the sound of my own voice!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My mac, he doesn't work! basically the rough translation of what I will tell Dr. Apple on Friday night at 19h40...

Dude, why do I have the WORST LUCK w/ computers...That's right, mon petit mac is being a petit pain in the grand butt. He has decided to one-up my biggest meltdown and have a tantrum of his own. (I label him male b/c he gives me nothing but problems when he promises me nothing but good! lol).

So I get to spend a Friday night w/ some computer nerds in broken English and worse French, trying to figure out how to fix what will undoubtably be a very expensive issue, since the thing won't even let me turn it on. le sigh.

More blogging to be done, but not at school...


Friday, November 6, 2009

It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN (a la Gob and Franklin)


So, last night was AWESOME. Literally, beyond-words awesome. First of all the tickets were free (merci Queen Franglais!) and second of all, IT WAS AWESOME.

So much drama! I mean, hey, it's the life of Mozart set to rock music. (My favorite bit was Mozart's father, all in black, singing threateningly against a backdrop screen of bright orange, King Kong-high flames.) I was PRAYING that Greaser wouldn't be out sick or otherwise miss the show...I need my l'assasymphonie!!! But hallelujah he walked on stage, all slicked back, a perfect, menacing Salieri. HA! It was everything I'd hoped for...and more! Squash had to hold me in my seat so I wouldn't embarrass us by jumping up and rushing the stage. (She got a good workout, I'm a real fighter. Obviously.)

The dancers and the band/orchestra totally blew my sh** away. Dancing away in their crazy outfits, the group was always exactly on time and synchronized. I've seen worse performances from the NYC Ballet! (no, seriously.) There were bits of actual Mozart compositions played by uber professional classical musicians all dressed up in mozart-y type outfits, walking around on stage and playing their perfect notes. Gah! And then there was the rock band up in the rafters...The pianist looked like The Mad Scientist, and oooh la la, he nearly broke his keyboard during the head-banging bits! Then, at the end and the inevitable Lachrymosa pre-death scene, holy CRAP, a single female opera singer carried the whole chorus part by HERSELF and rocked the house DOWN. I just got chills thinking about it, bwah!

And there's more good news...another music video is in the works! It won't be out for about a month, but oh don't you worry, I will be posting the link as soon as I can get my grubby hands on it. You'll love the song,'s Greaser again, signing about Salieri's jealousy of Mozart (at least I'm pretty sure it is), and the dancing, costumes, and, of course, his voice, are to die for. Holla! So exciting.

Happiness in a can, my peeps, happiness in a can. If any of you come to visit me, I'm taking you to that show, no messing. And no complaining. (don't worry, we'll have plenty of wine afterwards, you can drink your pain away.)



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

the countdown, it doth continue...

Have you forgotten?


That's right, T minus 22 hours and counting 'til...MOZART L'OPERA ROCK.

Thursday night, 8.30 pm. Woohoo!

I'll update you after the show, don't you worry.

And I think you need the link again, just in case you don't feel like going back to look through old posts to find it on your own:


My South Park Reality

Well, it's done now...I have been corrupted by a nine-year-old.

This morning at tutoring, Blanca decided to play me her favorite songs from High School Musical part deux.


I totally felt like I was in that South Park episode about the boys getting addicted to HSM and singing all over the school, b/c, oh yes, I GOT UP AND DANCED. I was possessed by the devil, I tell ya! THE DEVIL.

I only stopped dancing long enough to look at her calendar of HSM characters she wanted to show me (since for all intents and purposes it looked like I was really into the music...) and whenever she got to Zac Efron I had to put my hand over my mouth to stop myself from ruining her dreams and yelling "FRUITICUS!!!!"

OMG my fingers just strayed to my iTunes search bar and started typing in "High Sch--"...Nooooo!


Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm not drunk, I'm just trying to speak French!

HA! Out at a bar one night, Pull The Prick Out pulls THIS witty comment out of her alcohol-muddled head. The poor girl was giving it her all in a conversation en français with the only Frenchman in our party, and we all kept saying, QUOI? COMMENT? What You Say? Damn, Girl Is WASTED.

And at the 'wasted' comment PTPO, heavy-lidded eyes barely focusing on her accuser, loudly proclaimed her alcohol-innocent lack of language inhibitions with what has to be the greatest quote of all time for us 'Muricans in Paris: "I'm Not Drunk, I'm Just Trying To Speak French!"

I laughed so hard the bartender told us all to be quiet.

I'm too loud to even be in a BAR.

Anyway, PTPO's declaration is actually quite speaking French is just simply hilarious--I've never felt stupider, or more muddled, or, let's face it, more funny, than I do when I'm trying to communicate with what I think is a pretty good accent (but one that apparently ISN'T). I'm getting to the point where I can't even really speak English, either! HAHA!

So basically, yeah, I should just shut up now and listen to more Mika...LOVE HIM. Let's put in a link to one of his songs, just for fun:
Or maybe this one:


Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Halloween Success Story

OK! Good weekend these past couple of days! The red dress run was's so great when everyone gets into the spirit of wearing a red dress--some of the guys looked absolutely fantastic! (and by fantastic I mean horrifying!) We ran in the streets of Paris, and EVERYONE was staring at us and taking our picture! The hares marked part of our trail through Cimetiere Pere Lachaise (yes, Jim Morrison, but I prefer to think of Oscar Wilde) in honor of Halloween, but the guards wouldn't let us in with our red dresses on. Phooey. We ARE respectful, despite appearances! After the run we reserved an entire bar (a small one, but still, an entire bar!) just for our little group...we drank and sang and generally made fools of ourselves, but Pull The Prick Out got the bartender's number (and he kept giving us free drinks...heh heh) so at least ONE of us made a good impression, ha!

After several more stops on our post-hash pub crawl, I made my way to Cinema Champo. I can't believe I made it through the movie marathon, lol! In case any of you had money on which scene I was going to zonk out in, I 'watched with my eyes closed' for the first 20 mins of Corpse Bride. Oh come on, that's one of my favorite movies, but it was 5am and I couldn't keep my eyes open!

I missed the first movie b/c I stayed out later than planned with the hashers after the red dress run, which meant also missing out on getting a real seat...not sure if they sold more tickets than seats available like they do on airplanes, hoping people don't show up or whatever, or if people just snuck in w/out paying for a ticket, but when I got to the theater there were several people sitting on the floor, and I got stuck sitting on the (really f*ing hard) stairs at the emergency exit along with two other people, right under the screen!! I had to basically look straight up to watch the movies, so it was difficult to see the subtitles, which is one of the reasons I went--more translation exercises!  I'll get it right next time...oh yes, there will be a next time. Even my shitty seat (or my sticky contacts or my sweaty red dress) couldn't take away from the awesomeness of the night. And they even had pretty decent coffee and croissants on the way out!

I'm going on about 3 hours sleep in the last 48...Friday I had too much on my mind (story for another, later post) and last night, obviously, I was hangin' with TB. But I dragged myself to the hangover hash run this afternoon (it was raining! so perfect for running through more Parisian streets near la Seine!) and now, after a load of laundry, I'm home and about to crash. I haven't pulled an all-nighter in quite some time, but at least it was for fun purposes and not for lame-o studying! (heh heh...just kiddin', kids, stay in school.)


Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm having the babysitter for dinner...

Well, today started off well...I 'tutored' the 4 year old this morning, but she was having none of it. I should have known something was up when her mother left the room, saying: 'now, be nice to Kathryn today...' ah shit.

We began with colors, and she actually repeated everything I said really well. Then we tried shapes, but she was like, NON we are finished. And I was like, quoi? comment? No sirree we are NOT finished. But then it was all downhill...I kept speaking in English, and she was like ARRET! So I of course ignored her and kept saying words and phrases in English in response to her outbursts of French. She kept telling me to stop talking, stop laughing, it's not funny! (which of course made me laugh even harder.) She started running around the room, picking up her dolls and hiding from me, telling me to stop looking at her. So I pretended to enjoy the game and staggered after her, holding up a coloring book and asking if she wanted to color something, goddammit! (no, I didn't actually swear out loud, but dude, inside...pfff!) AND THEN she busted out 'you're not pretty! I'm TOO pretty! You have no friends! You are evil! I will cut off your face and eat it!'

OK, so all but the last was true...she definitely said something about mange-ing something, which would have been funny except the look in her eyes gave me the "woah, back off Mademoiselle Lecter" vibes.

She kept leaving the room and trying to color on the walls...I was swinging her around and instigating sword fights with our pens, and when her mom came back in (probably b/c we were making so many weird noises and opening and closing doors) we tag-team finished the 'lesson' with a more subdued-but-still-glowering little girl trying to stuff her dolls into her pink backpack and go off on a roadtrip. I told her mom next time I was bringing some damn Sesame la television!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween in a sweat-stained red dress with Tim Burton

So tonight I head to cinema Champo at midnight for a Tim Burton marathon, ending around 6 or 7 am with a communal breakfast shared by fellow theater-goers.

Did I mention that earlier in the day I will be partaking in the red dress hash run?

Not sure when the tradition started, but every year at Halloween the members of the hash organize a run during which everyone, including the men, wears a red dress! The easier to go out partying and already be in costume, I guess.

Donc, after running and drinking for several hours in the Parisian streets, I head to Champo where I start with Beetlejuice, move on to Edward Scissorhands, and end with Corpse Bride. WOOHOO!

Bets on the scene in any of the movies during which I'll finally fall asleep?


Taken by a toilet

Wasn't New York City supposed to knock my "GULLIBLE" to just "gullible"???

So I have just learned that I most likely swallowed quite the story when I was told by my concierge that I had to pay him for fixing my toilet. I know, shocker...I always believe everything everyone who seems nice says to me. I wondered why he was so insistent that if anything ever broke again I should call him b/c oh dear, the agency would just be so much more much emPHAsis on the wrong sylABLE. HA! Oh this is too much...I will pretty much never live this one down, not even from myself!

I really have nothing else to say about this...I laughed so hard I'm not even angry. Besides, Karma is out to GET that guy! HA!

HAHA! I just got taken by a TOILET. HAHAHA!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No such thing as a free...toilet?

I swear, it is just about time I take myself to mechanic-stuff and plumbing-type school so I can fix all the *^$#@! objects that always *&^%$#@! break.

So my toilet broke. I call my concierge, the guy who takes care of the apt complex. He comes right away to fix it. Good as new. Totally awesome.

Two days later (as in, just a few minutes ago) I come home and find him still in the building (he usually leaves around 4 or 4.30 and it's definitely later than that right about now!) and he says that it was good I called him b/c if I'd called the agency who owns the building they'd have charged me 30 or 40 euros to fix it, but him, he fixes things for cheaper. This is all in French, mind you, and I'm really tired, so I sort of stare at him in a haze, like, what? Are you saying you want me to give you money? He was like, you know, give me whatever you want, like 20 euros or whatever. So I pull out the absolute last of my money, a 20 euro bill, and give it to him, in total shock. He's a lovely guy, my must have been awkward for him to have to explain to me that I had to pay him, but now he's got some beer money, woohoo!

So lesson #435: Apartment maintenance in France = NOT free like it is in America. Score one for my homies! When does my teaching contract end, again? lol!

OK, off to a Turkish restaurant to stuff myself with...whatever Turkish people eat. My hash friend Late For Dinner is moving back to Turkey after a year of being in Paris, so we're having a goodbye party for her tonight. I plan on drinking beaucoup...maybe by the end of the night my broken toilet story will actually be funny!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The countdown has begun...

7 days til Mozart L'Opera Rock! No seriously, Squash and I are going on Thursday next...SUCKAS!! You only WISH you were here to go w/ us...holy crap this is going to be the best.

(so yar, just in case anyone was confused and thought I was making fun of french music videos, let me assure you I WAS. And not. It's one and the same...I friggin LOVE French music videos b/c they're so weird and fabulous. I have this 'bizarre' threshold and so many French things fit snuggly right on up in there. Huzzah! Why am I not a French person yet!)

Just in case you need to see it again, and let me just tell you now, YOU DO, here is the link:

That's right, we're groupies. Isn't that guy's voice so GOOD?! That's the thing here--as cheesy and uber-emo as everything is, everyone is really good at what they do, dancing, singing, being pretty, etc. Just sayin.

7 days!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Goodness, My Guinness!

I went out to an actual bar for my first football match last week! The Sultan and I found a bar near the Pantheon, where we grabbed a Bulmer's and a Guinness (respectively) and settled in with a bunch of Brits supporting (of course) Liverpool. I was the only one at the table with a Guinness and a penchant for cheering on Team Lyon, so I tried to keep as quiet as possible as I "woohoo'ed" the second, and winning, goal from les français! I can't pretend to have a loyalty to any one team, of course...I haven't been a fan long enough to know anything about any of the teams, but it is REALLY fun to watch good soccer. Added bonus when a French team wins!

In other awesome-and-totally-gratuitous news, I bought my first item of French clothing today. The Sultan, Squash and I went falafel-ing at the greatest falafel stand in the entire world (L'As du Falafel, for you plebes), and walked in and out of shops, enjoying the fresh air. After about 12 different Kookaï's, I finally realized I couldn't stop thinking about this one sweater...basically a blanket with long sleeves. (NO IT IS NOT A SNUGGIE.) It is thick, THICK cotton (which is awesome b/c I can wash it myself without paying for drycleaning) and it is PERFECT for this chilly fall weather. Squash approved my purchase, saying I looked like I belonged in a leather armchair next to a fireplace in my home library reading a book with a cat and a glass of wine (which I wanted to change to tumbler of whiskey) as I unwind from a long day of professor-ing somewhere in Connecticut.

It's now midnight and I'm wrapped in said sweater, my jams warming themselves on top of my radiator so I'm extra cozy when I get ready for bed. (I also, in point of fact, am enjoying a glass of wine...and since I'm technically sort of 'un prof,' all I'm missing is the cat and Connecticut. We'll just pretend my radiator is a fireplace and my one-room cabin is a library in my otherwise huge house.) Pink Martini is playing on and I'm trying unsuccessfully to convince myself to get up and brush my teeth.

Maybe just one more glass of wine...


How 'bout a hot plate of gizzards? Anyone? Bueller?

Back in the day I used to eat EVERYTHING. No, I mean EVERYTHING--my good ole Midwest family would watch in amused horror as I wolfed down caribou or random green brains of sea-creatures or, worse, some vegan meal that looked nothing like actual food. I worked hard for that "Mikey" moniker.

**Random kK Tangent 400,002**
Confusion: Mikey in the Life Cereal commercial would 'eat anything,' so of COURSE he liked the stupid cereal. Why was that such a surprise to those other two boys? Why did that commercial ever make sense to me, even up until a couple of years ago?
**possible end to kK Tangent 400,002**

Anyway, I'll admit, the last few years I've mellowed out, subsisting mainly on cheese pizza, basic salads and cereal. When presented with smelly cheese over New Year's with Ageless, I just couldn't bear to even be in the same room with it, much less put a morsel in my no-longer-Mikey mouth.

The wheel turns again: While in Paris I've eaten Steak Tartare poêlé (which actually is a patty of meat that has been fried on the top and bottom, but the middle is still pretty raw...ok, it's REALLY raw), and a salad gourmande, a salade topped with fois gras, smoked duck and GIZZARDS. Friggin delicious. DELICIOUS. It was so rich I probably wouldn't be able to eat it more than once a year, but yar, YUM.

So far the pizza is still total crap...I'm thinking of taking a trip to Aix just to grab a few to go. Other than that, my favorite meal is fresh juice (I bought a juicer! It's like magic in a glass!) with a croissant from a bakery near Squash's apartment (it is the BEST croissant I've ever had...not super convenient for me to grab one and bring it back to my apartment for breakfast, but luckily Squash has a fabulous sitting room where she can serve me one on a fancy little tray).

Time for more food...
Over and out,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Will the real "kathrin kumball" please stand up

That's right. The internet peeps definitely thought the correct spelling of my name was "Kathrin Kumball."

Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

And honestly, I can't decide if it's better than the usual "Kimberly...(no need to bother with the last name on this one, it's fairly obvious Kimberly encompasses both 'nom' et 'prenom.' Also, probably, now that I think about it, even 'sobriquet.')."


Seriously? Did today just start already?

**N.B.: obviously this post was started on 25.10.2009 Monday morning at what should have been 8.30 am...**

Gah. So there's something about not actually sleeping in on that first day of DSL...I feel cheated, of course, but also a bit off...nobody's supposed to FORGET about DSL!  Now I just feel stupid, and also like I've been awake for an extra hour, which is not exactly how this fall-back thing should work. I want to feel like I got to SLEEP for an extra hour, muthafu***! I wuz robbed! God, if I hadn't LITERALLY JUST YESTERDAY installed internet in my apt, I would have gone to my tutoring session an hour early!! That would have been super fun.

Saw my first college american football game in ages last night at a canadian pub overlooking la Seine, although I must admit I was obviously more glued to the tv than the river (river? what river? was that a safety by Penn? why the f*ck aren't they showing THAT game instead of Tenn v Bama!!). Ha, I sound like I'm actually a die-hard fan of Am. Football....mostly I'm quoting Pull The Prick Out (no, I was not clever enough to give her that name...only hashers think up stuff like that!), who IS a sports fiend. It was good fun (even though I mostly kept sneaking glances at the TV showing the Aus v NZ rugby match...).

Now I'm drinking coffee at way-too-early in the morning getting ready to eat my soggy chocolate-quinoa cereal...damn, I was so annoyed I missed DSL I had to BLOG about it before I ATE. This is major news, peeps, major. At least I have some awesome French music videos to keep me company. I mean seriously, thank GOD for the bizarre fabulousness of French music!!


Tutor (also read, in best jim carey voice: leh-hooo-zeh-hehr!)

Since the teaching gig is only 12 hours a week, I gots to earn me some extra cash, and luckily I've gotten a few tutoring requests: The Spanish Family--daughter is about 9, son is about 6 (holy crap that little dude is just too friggin adorable!!!) and they're so well-behaved, both of them! They just smile a lot and very studiously show me their lessons they need help with, and they try really, really hard to follow my corrections in pronunciation. I'm like, you're too young to be so well-organized! Stop speaking three languages and making my lazy American, one-and-a-half-language self all embarrassed, like!

Then there's the 4 year old French girl, also super adorable, but it's pretty much just an hour of 'babysitting'...I point to letters of the alphabet and go over them slowly and clearly in English, she ignores me and draws incomprehensible objects on little pieces of paper with various crayons. Then she tries to get ME to say the alphabet in FRENCH. I just keep repeating things like "YELLOW" until she finally looks at me funny and goes "wewwo" and I'm like PERFECT--NOW DO IT AGAIN YOU LITTLE HO.

Saint-Denis is, thank god, quite a bit year in university (or master's degree, or something...I still can't figure out how this school system works, even when people try to speak slowly and explain it like I'm leotarded), and he's just landed a two-month stint at some job where he needs to speak a lot of English, so he just wants to practice by having a conversation over un cafe (omg he orders DECAF esspresso...I just looked at him and was like, dude, are you even French?) en anglais. He gets so frustrated when he makes little mistakes (saying 'persons' instead of 'people') but really, he does just fine...he's a sweet, serious little perfectionist...his new boss is going to love him (especially seeing as how said boss doesn't even speak English!). So what if he can't understand a word Chandler says in an un-dubbed episode of "Friends"; I'm sure he can hold his own when it comes to discussing agricultural practices of the EU. It's actually fun to talk to him, and by now we're more friends than tutor/client, so I just told him to buy me a beer next time and we'll do both English AND French so I can practice too. Seriously, I gotta start speaking more French...listening to music and TV (omg sometimes I even leave the TV on all night just in case it helps train my brain to dream in French or something. I know, I'm crazy.) only does so much...

**kK Tangent 806**
...but wait! I just remembered something TOTALLY awesome! I was in the internet store finalizing my order on Friday, and there was a Brazilian girl being helped by the same lady who was on hold with the phone company for me...anyway, long story short, there was a language barrier and the internet lady looked over at me and was like, um, will you help me? So I got to translate for two complete strangers, telling the Brazilian lady what the internet lady needed from her to get her new blackberry working! It was pretty basic, granted, but still...I was like *puffpuffpuff* ego-getting-bigger. And then, of course, I went to a cafe and ordered une carafe d'eau, and the waiter was like, QUOI?? COMMENT?? oh, UNE CARAFE D'EAU? (yes, goddammit! that's what I just friggin said!) and then: "why yes, I will bring you water right away." in english. le sigh.
**possible end to kK Tangent 806**

Well, it's either time for a shower or another glass of wine...let's make a wild guess as to which one wins out tonight.


Robin Williams would be proud...?

So, teaching. heh heh.

No seriously, that's all I have to say, heh heh. I don't even know if that's a funny 'heh heh' or what, but it's the only way to describe how I feel when I'm all alone, up in front of the class behind my little teacher desk, sometimes turning to WRITE THINGS ON THE BOARD...God, I have no idea how I ended up here! This was definitely never in my 'possibilities' list. A teacher? Granted, just the "assistant," etc., but it feels so real...I have my own classroom, the students come down to see me and sit in little rows at their desks, and my little chair and desk is all slightly elevated in the front of the room...and I WRITE THINGS ON THE BOARD. Have I mentioned I write things on the board? Most of them don't give a shit and don't actually copy anything down, but I do it anyway b/c it helps clarify what the hell I'm saying--pronouncing something and seeing it written are two very different things...I say a phrase, they stare blankly, I make fun of them, then I write it on the board and they're like 'OOOOHH oui oui'...and then they translate it into french for their fellow students who still don't get it.

Most of the kids are pretty cool...they're just totally bored with school and don't want to be there in the first place. They asked me how I felt about high school and I said I was miserable. They asked me why and I said "just's how you're SUPPOSED to be as a teenager!" And then they say, "so it's not like High School Musical?" and I groan and make extremely exaggerated motions of vomiting and say 'NON! Only losers like high school! Whatchoo tryin' to say, you like singing and dancing in class? You wanna sing a song for me right now? That's right, get up and sing me a song! American Music Only, capiche?! You back there staring off into space...that's right, YOU. You bored? In MY CLASS?! Maybe you like to do a little dance, eh? Well then get your butt outta that seat and let the class see what ya got!' Which they don't really understand but they laugh their little French laughs at the theatrics behind the message.

Yes, I'm desperate...I don't want them to hate English classes and b/c I'm so unprepared for teaching I just make loud noises and hope they don't notice I'm not actually saying anything important.

These first few weeks I'm mostly introducing myself, teaching a specific lesson here and there, yada yada yada. Sometimes I get caught off guard with how good (or how awful) the students' english is, and if I just simply can't squeeze any more discussion out of a single cartoon image or text paragraph, I'll just throw down the paper, say "enough of this crap! What are you doing for vacation? Wanna see some pictures of me drinking?" Then I do my goofy dance and make weird noises, and call out the two boys chatting in French to each other and completely ignoring what's going on in the lesson and totally make fun of them in front of everyone...The kids laugh a bit, then start laughing harder, like they didn't expect anything to be funny about English, and what the hell is this crazy American doing up there anyway.

I was meeting one of my classes for the first time the other day...the teacher was still in the room and made them ask me pre-prepared questions so she could take notes on what I said and make an English lesson out of it. One of the students raises his smarmy little hand and goes, "My frien' say you like to drink beaucoup," and after furtively glancing at the remarkably reserved and uptight teacher scribbling notes on the board I realized, HELLO I'M IN FRANCE nobody cares if you drink, and so I doubled over laughing, which made everyone else laugh b/c seriously, who laughs that hard in France, and was like, 'yar, you guys make pretty good wine over here.' And then I laughed really hard at my own sarcasm, b/c I thought it was effing hysterical, and the students kept giggling and looking over at each other trying to figure out if anyone had figured me out, which of course, no one has and no one ever will, but still, it's funny to watch them try.

Now it's obviously not all fun and games...I've had a fairly relaxed, surfer-dude-attitude first month, but from now on I can't fly so much by the seat of my pants, I actually have to engage them with activities instead of flailing in the waters of my inexperience and randomly pulling out pictures of my Parisian New Year's with Ageless or my ACL purple margaritas with Hoonie and Simms. They've all now heard the funny stories of me being a jackass, and now I need to figure out how to have some fun but still teach them something useful. My brain is having a hard time engaging, though...when I think about trying to organize a potential lesson I get all foggy and vaguely wave my mental hand in the air as if to say, 'tomorrow is another day, I'll figure out something later.' It is apparent that I must take early retirement. Like next year.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reason to laugh #624-it takes the French 3 hours to buy soup and toothpaste

**N.B.: I sent this out as a mass email a while back, and decided it would serve just as well as a blog entry. I'm sure you'll agree.**

So first off—I had a very cynical, bitter New York friend who lived in Paris for a year and hated it. He never tried learning French, didn’t like wine b/c it wasn’t as manly as beer, made friends of mostly the ex-pat persuasion…well you can probably see where this is going. Anyway, when I got to Paris he was excited to share with me his “reason # [whatever] to hate the French” list with me. I was having none of it and changed it to “reason # [whatever] to laugh [insert annoying French habit here].” Yes, it took me over an hour of standing in line to buy 6 grocery items (and that was in the fast lane…) with less than 10 people in front of me, but hey, it’s funny! Most of these reasons aren’t actually super amusant, but if you don’t laugh you just go insane, is what I always say.

**kK Tangent 2,000,206** 
I’m pretty sure Dr. Bob Kelso is doing his own French voice over. I could be wrong…it’s almost 2 am and I’ve just spent about 4 hours trying to converse en francais at a surprise dinner party at Squash's house. Yes, I have NO internet connection but I DO have several free channels of awesomely awful French tv. Every so often I get lucky and catch a dubbed version of True Lies or Rambo 800,001, but most of the time I get stuck with reruns of Bones or NCIS (heh heh stuck, dude, those shows are AWESOME) and now, as you can see, I’m stumbled upon a Scrubs marathon. Apparently the French can’t think up good crap shows on their own so they dub over ours and pass them off as their main selections. You should see what the fuck they actually DO produce and pass for on-air-ing…my favorite was the one about a girl in a dance troupe who was having an affair with her dance instructor and…*drumroll* someone was trying to KILL HER. I didn’t actually stick around to see if they did her in or not…I was distracted by the fanfrickintastic French MUSIC videos on the next channel over. OMG YOU MUST check out L’Assassaphonie from Mozart L’Opera Rock. It’s gotta be on YouTube somewhere. Maybe I’ll find the link myself and send it to you, if you’re really good little boys and girls. Anyway, back to my original tangent—Bob’s French voice sounds an awful lot like his English voice. I’m just sayin’.
**possible end of kK Tangent 2,000,206**

So I’ve moved into my teeny-ass apartment…when I say teeny, I mean I have to put the bed back in couch position in order to move around the room. And yes, there’s only one room, although I guess the bathroom could count as a separate room since it has a door (which I can’t close when I’m sitting on the toilet…I know, TMI, but I’m just sayin’…) but we’re just stickin’ with the one-room cabin image here. In the mornings I like to squeeze out onto my petit balcon and sip on my hot instant coffee and sneak in bites of my croissant buerre (if you don’t specify ‘buerre’ you get some crap waxy substance masquerading as croissant) as the fat ass pigeons swoop over to the roof of my building and schloop their heads over to stare at me in a very disturbing “Birds” rendition as they wait for me to share my breakfast. Fuck you, fat ass pigeons.

Anyway, so location: I can walk 10 minutes to the Eiffel Tower, 15 to Musee D’Orsay. I hear more English than I do French around here, but luckily I have the aforementioned tv with lots of French-speaking crazies chatting or dubbing or singing, whatever. And my friend Stephanie has two French roommates, and I get to try practicing with them. I’m paying in rent more than I actually make (bye bye, savings in pitiful dollars…) but I’ve posted for English lessons so hopefully I get a few 15 Euro-an-hour-paying clients soon. Plus we supposedly get reimbursed for part of our monthly metro pass, and I am hoping and praying the French government agrees I made such a pittance in 2007 (200-friggin-7?? Why do they need to know my salary in 2007!) that they’ll help me pay some of my rent. Who the fuck knows, but it doesn’t hurt to ask I guess. So much paper work it makes my eyes cross.

Did I mention it’s on the 5th floor…sans elevator? Yup, my calves are going to be auditioning for calf-modeling by the end of this school year, you just wait and see.

OK, school: I’ve only had one week of observation and training so far, and haven’t actually taught my own class yet. That starts next week. I’m already shakin’ in my boots. Actually, I think some of it will be really awesome…a couple of classes are really well behaved AND like to try their hand at speaking English, so WHEW. Other classes are like der…no words at all, English or French. Hmmm, that should be interesting…I mean, they didn’t even laugh at my goofy dance! Whatevs. I’ll break ‘em. I don’t really know how all this is going to go…I’ve never seen myself doing the teaching thing (you all know how much I heart me some kiddies…) but since it’s what got me to france I’m gonna give it a chance.

Never mind, Kelso’s voice is done by a frenchie. Damn, I was really impressed for like two seconds.

Heart you all…I’ll write more soon. Tomorrow I’m going to a store to try and order internet installation…If I can get a good price and agree to their service terms, THEN they will start the paperwork for the technician to come FIFTEEN DAYS LATER. MuthaFU---

OK I decided to do the work for you:
ENJOY!!! I know I do... heh heh

Introduction: Paris

So here I am, yet another American in Paris.

And here I am, yet another newbie blogger who thinks she has sooooo many important things to say that people will take time out of their days just to check and see if I've posted anything new.

heh heh

But yar, anyway, since my handwriting totally sucks and even the act of writing cramps up my hand so f* it, I'm starting a blog.

So I don't know who started the whole 'giving everyone nicknames' thing, but I totally love it and I'm going to continue tradition. Or maybe it's actually a law and people could sue me if I used their real names. Really? My friends sue me? Well now, they really wouldn't be much of a friend now, eh? And other people I gossip about here I won't care enough about to even tell them about this little diary. My nicknames will be mostly pretty obvious to those who actually know me, but some of you have such good ones I can't give them up and try to come up with something else. Whatevs, no be suings me.
(heh heh, no worries McMolo, I won't do lol-speak all the time!)

As far as further introduction goes, and introductions are usually way too boring so I'll keep this basic and short: I started my French obsession in 8th grade, when I met a tall, greasy, thin hottie homme from France, the exchange student at the local college where I was taking classes and playing in an orchestra. I still have no idea how we met, or how I got set up with one of his friends, an American student studying French at said college, for private lessons. But however it happened, it was fabulous: the girl taught me my basics and then some, most of which (even the more advanced turns of phrases and grammatical rules) I still remember to this day when I scramble to understand the rapid-fire flow of words coming from real-life French people.

High school and most of college passed in a bit of a blur...yes of course I learned lots of good French in all my classes but it's just not the same as actually trying out your skills with native speakers in the native land. So I hopped a plane to Aix-en-Provence, where I stayed for a semester and despite all my efforts to the contrary (hey, I was shy and only hung around fellow Americans from school, plus I didn't have TV, which I'm convinced is the KEY to learning a foreign language. LOL), managed to learn how to do a bit of speaking and lots of listening.

Years pass...
Enter Ageless, life in ruins and ready to run from the mess and head to gai Paris for New Year's 2009. Would I come and keep her company? Um, does the pope have wings? No, but I still hesitated not even point-two seconds before I shouted YES, not even really letting Ageless finish her sentence. Maybe she was going to say 'would you come over and water my plants while I'm gone' but she was stuck with me from then on. Pass two of the best weeks in the history of passing weeks in one of the greatest cities of the world, and then I was left wondering why the hell I wasn't actually living here. Went back to New York, to my own miserable hell-hole (mostly involving certain people at work), and began wondering idly (if obsessedly) about how I would move to Paris, IF I actually could...

One English Assistant application later (with help--ok they did it all--from fellow winos Killer, The PEK, and Funky Buddha), I waited anxiously for the results: would I be accepted, and if so, would I even go...maybe I could just stick it out at work, ignore the two devils making my life hell, and move up the publishing ladder...

The acceptance came, and I quietly sat in front of my computer, reading and re-reading the congratulatory email, going from completely frozen calm to hot and then cold and then I started tingling from the inside out...omg this is possible...omg I could leave behind this unhappiness for gai Paris...omg it doesn't pay very much, I'd have to find a second job...omg it's so expensive to move...omg am I crazy...omg I want to go...

You get the idea.

I knew all along I was going to go, but that didn't stop me from having serious doubts periodically throughout the process of "deciding." I went through the whole gamut: was I crazy? (well, duh.) Was this just another dash-out away from my real life I was so unhappy with? (erm, yes. I tend to up and leave about every two years.) Would it be worth it? ( is that even a question!) What the hell was I DOING with my life!!! (sorry, still can't answer that one...)

But then the plane ticket was purchased, my stuff was packed, I actually had my visa pasted into my passport, I had tried to un-tearfully say goodbye to the people I love best, then I was being driven to the airport, then I was boarding the plane, then I was walking through god, I was in Paris! Here I am, it feels "right," like all I've done up until this point in my life has been to lead me here. And I know how that sounds, (super fucking cheesy, is how it sounds) and I'm always so paranoid about jinxing things but I'm not afraid of that anymore...It's ok to say when things are good. And it's ok to say when things are's just ok.

Well, to make a short story long...heh heh.