mardi 27 janvier 2009
Something that seems to be bounding around the blogoverse lately is tagging or meme's. Basically you post something on your blog, then tag other bloggers you know, who are then supposed to answer the same questions and tag other people. Kind-of like a big chain letter.

I have been tagged a few times in the past, but at the times I was feeling rather blah and uninspired so I didn't get around to posting right away (I think it was also around the time I was pulling my hair out, stressing over the Patent Bar exam), then too much time had passed, and I felt silly doing it a month or so later. Also, I wasn't sure if people would want to read such a thing, just about me.

But anyway, when Dedene, from Soyez la Bienvenue Chez Moi (who I just want to kidnap and lock up in my kitchen) tagged me, I figured I should get off my self-doubt and post:

10 Things I Betcha Didn't Know About Me

1) I was on the Pom Pon Squad in High School and a Cheerleader in college. (sidenote: French do not understand the difference between a Pom Pon and a Cheerleader. However, do not tell a Pom Pon or Cheerleader that they are the same thing unless you want to be hit over the head with a Pom Pon.
Just a friendly warning)

2) I have lived on three continents- bet you can't guess the third.

3) I was in a very famous photograph seen in many different countries.

4) I lived in a Communist country.

5) I absolutely detest jazz music.

6) I wanted to be a US Navy officer.

7) I was in the first class with women at a formerly all-male military school.

8) I got married at 26. Which was 2 years later than I thought I would be getting married when I was daydreaming in High School. Certainly never thought it would be in France though.

9) I have a Master's in Microelectronics.

10) My favorite hobby is cross-stitching. So I guess I should tag some people now huh? Okay, first is Poppy Fields, who is funny and interesting and who I met today in Aix for bagels.

Second is Brandi from French Kiss-Provence Style whom I met last weekend, along with her cute French husband and their adorable kid.

Sidenote: Is it me, or all French husbands (as well as FrenchBoy from Mme K) cute? Or is it just that if they weren't so darn cute (among other things), we wouldn't have crossed the ocean in the first place? It's a mystery.
I won't tag her because she has already been tagged.

Third is Astrid from Life with a Seaview with her new job.

Fourth is Froulamouse in Spain, with her great photos.

And finally Notre Vie Juteuse, displaced Californians experiencing all the joys of France.

To everyone else, I'm sorry if I didn't tag you.

Next post, back to our regularly scheduled program about cheese, how much I hate La Poste, and how cute my husband is.
lundi 26 janvier 2009
Where I used to go to college, the period between the return from Christmas holidays and early springtime was called "The Dark Ages".
Dark all the time, nothing to look forward to (like Christmas), nothing to stress over (like final exams), no football games, nothin' but the everyday drudgery.
Which is pretty much how I'm feelin' now.

Get up at 6 am every morning, even weekends (yeah, I'm cool like that. once Ye ol' internal alarm clock gets set there is no turning it off) in the dark. Leave at around 6:30 am in the dark. Drive to Aix in the dark. Park at the parking lot (you guessed it, in the dark).
Catch the shuttle in the dark to the centre ville.
Walk to my office, turn on my computer, make my tea, start work.
(still dark outside).

Work until 1 pm. Maybe go out for lunch, but it is rather cold and sometimes rainy, so sometimes I stay in (big mistake).

Leave a little after 6 pm, it's already dark out.
Actually, my work day ends at 5, but I have so much to learn/study that I might as well stay. Plus, if I get on the highway at 6 pm C'est l'enfer. I prefer to wait another half an hour and be able to (usually) drive directly home.
So I leave around 6:15, walk in the dark to the bus. Usually just miss it.
I could try to plan my arrival at the bus stop for a time just before the bus arrives. That would work if they ever arrived at a predictable time. Instead, you can pretty much guarantee that at any time you arrive, you will have just missed the bus and will have to wait for the next one, usually 10-15 minutes later, but a guaranteed 20 minutes if it's raining and you forgot your umbrella.

Get to my car. In the dark.
Drive back to Marseille. In the dark.
Find an illegal parking spot (the only kind left after 6:30).
Next morning: Repeat.

A fellow bus passenger told me to watch out for a new radar that has been installed on the Aix-Marseille route.
The only problem is that I haven't driven the highway in daylight since then (mid-November) so I don't know exactly where it is, whether it is in the direction Aix-Marseille, or Marseille-Aix, or both, or before the bridge or after the bridge, or right under the bridge.
I'll let you know in May where exactly the radar is.
mercredi 21 janvier 2009

One thing that really amazes me about living abroad is how much the rest of the world is interested in the United States- national disasters, politics, sports, entertainment, etc.
The MSN France website yesterday had the American flag as the background.
When Hurricane Katrina was raging, it was on the news in France constantly. Yet Americans would say to me "Don't know if you have heard about the big Hurricane we are having..."
Yes! Can't get away from it in the French news! Americans for the most part don't seem to realize how much what they do affects and interests the rest of the world, for better or for worse.
Even if the French are complaining their little French heads off about America's politics, etc. they still can't seem to NOT talk about it, NOT watch it on the news, NOT be interested.
When I got home from work yesterday I watched the Inauguration Speech on the internet. I thought it was a very good speech and it moved me.
I haven't seen much of Obama's speeches, but I thought he did very well. The actual Oath of Office could have been better though- didn't they practice it beforehand? Was he just nervous?
Anyway, good luck Mr. President. The rest of the world is counting on you, perhaps more than you realize.
jeudi 15 janvier 2009
Making muffins is something I am inordinately proud of.
While we were in the US Alain discovered muffins. Or, as it is translated in French "un muffin".
While shopping at Barnes&Noble, I bought a Muffin book with recipes and a silicone muffin mold for 6 muffins. This is good because it is impossible to find muffin paper cups here.
I brought back two boxes of muffin mix, banana nut and wild blueberry.
Each time I have measured out half of the mix, and made 6 muffins.
This is about the level of my cooking skills folks-
take muffin mix. Stir in 1/8 cup of vegetable oil, one egg, and 1/4 cup milk. Spoon into muffin pan. Bake for about 20 minutes. Voila!
Heaven knows what will happen when I run out of muffin mix.
I might actually have to start making them from scratch.
Someone has turned into quite a muffin-head.
This is something that I can't figure out why the French don't seem to stock in their grocery stores. Strange animal parts- yes. Horse meat- yes. Tripe- yes.
Something that actually tastes good like muffin mix or Oreo cookies- no. Heaven forbid!
jeudi 8 janvier 2009
Ah Marseille.
All the prettiness of the fresh-fallen snow yesterday...
now is squashed dog poop and cigarette butts in slush.

Stayed home from work again today. Woke up at 6 am and tried to check the road conditions as best as I could.
Road outside our apartment- completely clear.
Buses in Aix- not running until at least noon.
Highways: closed.
I guess I'll stay home.
Called my office and everyone else not living within walking distance stayed home as well.
Spent a productive day watching TV and eating oreos.
Didn't feel like braving Les Soldes again, though I do need to exchange some shoes I bought. Guess I'll go on Saturday morning.
Also did a load of laundry and a much needed vacuum/mop.
Bought a Galette des Rois (in frangipane- I don't like the other kind) at the nearest boulangerie for tonight.
Those things are darn expensive- 9€ for about 4 parts.
A little late on the whole "Epiphany" thing but oh well. That's life.
Oh yeah, also went back to the eye doctor on Tuesday night. My eyes are not progressing as well as hoped. Continue with eye drops and go back in a month.
mercredi 7 janvier 2009
Major freak-out in the Bouches du Rhone aujourd'hui.

Snow was predicted for last night/today. I didn't really pay attention, because Hey, I'm from the US, where you don't really believe what the weatherman says, right?

Woke up this morning, checked the Metéo just in case. Snow. Hmm. Look outside. Rather a wet rainsnow falling, not sticking. I'll give it a whirl.

Left for work at 6:30. No problem getting to Aix. Once in Aix however, the snow was sticking and there was a bit. Pulled into the parking lot, no cars were there. Asked the parking lot attendant whether the buses were running. Yes, there is no strike today. Uh huh. But what about the snow?

Waited for the bus until another woman told me that the buses were not running today. Hmm. I can walk, no problem it is only 10 minutes downhill, but I didn't want to be stuck in Aix. I dithered for a moment, saw that the snow was coming down, and decided to head home. It took me twice as long to get back to Marseille, mainly because Provencaux drivers are stupid. Let's face it, they do not know how to drive in snow.

Finally got back to Marseille at around 9. Called my office, said I wasn't coming in today. No surprise, none of us who live outside of walking distance went in.

Decided that I would get some important chores done today. Called the US Consulate, and left a message saying that I needed to have a paper notarized. They only do it on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I was hoping that they could do it today.

Walked to the Metro station and slipped on the sidewalk, was more embarassing than painful. The Marseillais are having a ball with the snow. I actually saw two girls on skiis. Oh, and the teenagers throwing snowballs. If one of them hit me, I would have hobbled after them and beat them with my umbrella like an old lady.

Went down to the Prefecture to pick up my Carte de Sejour for this year. (Only 4 months late! This must be a new record! Last year it was 9 months late!) I think that this is the fastest that I have ever been in and out of the Prefecture des Etrangers.

There were about 3 people ahead of me in line. I showed my passport, my old carte de sejour, the recipisée, paid the 70€ for the privledge of having my carte for a whole 9 months before it expires, and asked her when I could get the 10-year card. "After five years." What?!
I was told after three years!
I went and asked at the information desk, and was told that after being married for three years, when we do the demand for the next one, they will automatically evaluate my dossier and after doing some checking (with the taxes, mairie, police, speeding tickets, etc) give me the 10-year card. I am not so-sure of this "automatically" part, since that requires some brainwork on the part of French bureaucrats, so I might just have to write in big letters on the cover sheet of my file "I HAVE BEEN MARRIED 3+ YEARS AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE THE 10 YEAR CARD. PS: IF YOU MAKE ME COME BACK HERE EVERY 3 MONTHS FOR THE NEXT 2 YEARS I WILL BLOW A GASKET. THANK YOU."
Anyway, got a return call from the Consulate saying I could come get my paper signed at 3 pm. I had several hours to kill, so decided I would go do Les Soldes. I am normally not a Black-Wednesday shopper. I don't want to fight the crowds. I prefer to wait a week or so before checking out the stores. However, I was in the Centre Ville and had time to kill.
I went into NafNaf. I don't know why I go in there- the clothes are so not my style. My style being defined as "I don't like wearing clothes that make me look pregnant if I am not pregnant." My phone rang again. It was the lady from the Consulate, saying that they had to cancel my appointment because they would be shutting down the Consulate soon. After some heavy begging on my part, she agreed to let me do it today if I came right away. I hurried over, went through the security checks, and got my paper notarized for 30$.

Went back and looked at the sales and bought a skirt, jacket, and shoes on sale for decidedly non-sale prices. Went to a few more stores, but some were closed due to the snow- I guess the workers couldn't get in. Was tired and hungry so came home, ate my reserve stash of Mac&Cheese, then fell asleep on the couch.
Alain walked an hour home from his work, the buses and metro were no longer running. He took the pictures here.
dimanche 4 janvier 2009
Last weekend we went up to my parent's "cabin" in the mountains of Colorado. They bought this place a few years ago. Georgetown is an old mining town, and their house is about 130 years old. It is a good location for skiing, but there are no ski areas right there.
We go up there to do three things: sleep, eat, and watch TV. Exciting huh? Like we can't do that anywhere else.

Something about the place is snooze-inducing.
Get up late, take a before-noon nap, eat, take an after-noon nap, then head to bed around 9.
The first day, Saturday, was freezing cold.

Here is a picture of us by the "Hotel de Paris". It is an old hotel, founded by a Frenchman named Louis Dupuis, who came to the US and didn't have enough money to come out west. He joined the Army, and was sent to some post out west, then deserted, came to Georgetown, and changed his name. It is now a museum.

The rest of the town is small shops (mostly touristy shops) and small restaurants. We stopped by a wine seller. The proprietor was impressed to have a real Frenchman, even if said Frenchman doesn't know anything about wine, in his shop and made him taste the different Colorado wines. Not bad, but being from France we aren't used to paying 15€+ for a bottle of wine. We bought three, a Cabernet France, a Merlot, and a Chardonnay. We then watched the movie "Sideways", which Alain and I had not seen.
We left on Monday and it was back to our usual routine: sleep, eat, and watch TV, but with a bit of shopping thrown in for good measure.

samedi 3 janvier 2009
Here we are, back in Marseille again.
Quite exhausted.
Thanks to everyone for your good wishes re: my patent exam and bonne année.
will write more when I am not jet lagged.
However, I leave you with this puzzling fact of life to ponder:
Why is it, that when you are going on vacation, that every single thing that can go wrong with your trip does in fact go wrong (airplane technical problems, bad weather, missed connections, lost luggage)
but when you are returning from your vacation, it goes like clockwork?
Seriously, on our way to the US these past two times, we arrived a day later than planned, unexpected overnights, etc. But coming back to the daily grind, nada.
Our flights were on-time (left within 10 minutes of each planned departure time), no technical problems, and no lost luggage.
It's a mystery.

Now for our ritual pizza and a movie, (see if we can stay up until at least 9 pm), then tomorrow probably laundry, unpacking, and light cleaning.
Would have been so much nicer to come back to a finished, organized apartment instead of La Bordel, but maybe one day...
Bonne Année mes amis.

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