dimanche 26 septembre 2010
My work organized an "oursinade" on Saturday. "oursins" are sea urchins, and oursinade is where you eat them.

One of my coworkers lives on the coast (in a very expensive touristy area) and invited us all to the beach. He fished for the sea urchins all morning, and we all brought different things- wine, bread, salads, desserts.

Alain and I arrived at the parking lot around 11:30, got a little lost trying to find exactly which obscure corner of the calanques it was (hard to tell from an aerial photo) and found everyone else around 12. It was okay though, because about half of the group had not yet arrived. Several people were sunbathing, but there was no way I was a) stripping down to my bathing suit in front of the people I work with every day or b) going in the september-cold water.

Little by little, everyone else arrived, with their spouses and kids. Around 1:30 the urchins were ready to be prepared for eating- mainly sliced in half and rinsed out. Poor things. Apparently only the females are eaten, which one would think would be hard to distinguish for those spiny creatures, but I guess it is the color- males are black and females are more brown/purple/green.

Anyway, I wasn't sure whether I would eat them, but actually, after a couple glasses of alcohol, you can eat just about anything. Case in point, whiskey before haggis.

You take the eggs which are orangish and in a star shape, and spread them on bread.

Didn't really taste like much (or maybe that's the rosé speaking) but it seemed like a waste to me to kill the mamas and eat their eggs for something that doesn't have much taste and certainly not a lot to eat.

I made a ton of muffins, but I guess they weren't very good. Brought at least half home. Something about the flour being not quite right and not an after-sea-urchin dessert.

We stayed until about 5, when everyone packed up and headed home.

It was fun and it might become an annual tradition.
vendredi 17 septembre 2010
Certainly not me.

(What are you dreaming? I only turned in my file 2 months ago.)


Yep, that's right. He is officially French now.

What is required for a French person to prove they are French?
A French birth certificate? Nope, not sufficient.
A French passport? Nope, not sufficient.
A French ID card? Nope, not sufficient.

He now has his

Justificatif de Nationalité Française.

In order to get this Justificatif, he had to go to the Tribunal d'Instance of Marseille, get a list of the documents to supply, then gather:
His mother's birth certificate
His father's birth certificate
His parent's acte de marriage
His parent's livret de famille
His birth certificate
Our acte de marriage
Our livret de famille
His passport
His ID card
My ID card (carte de sejour)
Last two pay stubs
Proof of residence (the ever-important electricity bill or taxes)

He (well, mostly I) gathered all this together, then he went and dropped off the paperwork a few weeks ago. One of the many things that is a pain about dealing with French bureacracy is that they want everything to be issued less than 3 months ago, which means that we have to write to the various city halls every five months or so for yet ANOTHER copy of the act de marriage/acte de naissance.

What a pain. Anyway, I don't know what they did but he went today and picked up his justificatif. It is from the Ministère de la justice, Tribunal d'Instance Marseille

Mr. Alain
est français en application des dispositions de l'article 23 du code de la nationalité française (Loi. n° 73-42 du 9 janvier 1973). En effet, la filiation de l'intéressé, né en France, est établie à l'égard de parents eux-mêmes nés en France.

L'intéressé n'a pas perdu sa nationalité par l'effet de son mariage célébré le 26 mai 2006 à Lançon-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône) avec Megan, Kathleen de nationalité étrangère; en effet, il n'a été trouvé aucune trace d'une déclaration prise en application des dispositions de l'article 23-5 du code civil.

Gee, glad he didn't lose his nationality by marrying a FOREIGNER.

We went through this hassle just in case my file for nationality via residence in France is refused and I have to request nationality via marriage (thank you city hall for the wrong information that made me waste my time and money. Still lovin' ya.)

As the French have an inordinate love of 'paperasse', I figure it can't hurt to collect any and all official documents, as you never know what hoops they are going to pull out for you to jump through.

It is a relief to have official confirmation that he is French because sometimes I have doubts as to whether he is really French or not.

Megan: Alain, what does this French word mean?
Alain: I don't know.

Megan: Alain, how do you say this "...." in French ?
Alain: I don't know.
Megan: Are you really French?

But then sometimes he says something alongs the lines of "When I raise my harms over my 'ead I 'ave pain in my shoulders" or complains that I put the baguette upside down, and I know he couldn't possibly be anything else, not even Swiss or French Canadian.

So, Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you

The American in Provence French Nationality Test

(with a chance to earn your very own Justificatif de Nationalité Française)

1. Take a baguette. Place it, without thinking, on the table. Did you place it:
A) Right side up, of course
B) Who cares?
C) Bottom side up.
A) + 5 points
B) 0 points
C) -5 points - what were you thinking?! How you could you treat the national emblem in such a careless manner?! Have you no respect?

2. Using a timer, time how long you can wax on about the current state of French politics.
A) 30+ minutes
B) 15+ minutes
C) Less than 15 minutes
A) +25 points - You can stop now, you are clearly French
B) +10 points
C) 0 points - Watch 5 hours of French talk programs per week.

3. The phrase “oh la la” is
A) good for any situation (surprise, consternation, happiness, sadness, disappointment, etc.)
B) something only old people say
C) who says that nowadays?
A) +10 points
B) 5 points
C) 0 points - Say it 100 times a night before bedtime, varying tone and mood

4. How many French football (i.e. soccer) players can you name?
A) 10 or more
B) 5 or more
C) one- Zinedine Zidane
A) +10 points
B) + 5 points
C) 0 general French nationality points but +5 Marseillais points

5. When you go to get an official paperwork in France you take:
A) your ID card
B) your ID card + passport
C) your ID card, passport, latest EDF bill, change for the photocopy machine, extra ID photos, and your middle school diploma, just in case they ask for it.
A) + 5 points - If they ask for something else you didn't bring, you will just try to argue your way out of it
B) + 10 points - Well, this is French administration after all, you had better bring it.
C) 0 points - You are clearly a foreigner and have spent too much time dealing with French bureaucracy. As punishment, spend one week in the Marseille Foreigners Prefecture.

6. Halloween is:
A) A great holiday
B) What? Oh yeah, the day before Toussaint
C) An attempt by American capitalists to enforce their culture on the rest of the world.
A) -5 points - There is no way you can be French. You might as well stop taking this quiz now.
B) +5 points.
C) +10 points - Just the right mix of indifference and cultural superiority. Perfect.

7. You are given ten different cheeses of varying shapes and sizes and are told to cut them up into servings. You cut them:
A) perfectly by the book, depending on whether it is round, square, cube, wedge. Heck, you have been doing this since you were 4.
B) all the same- straight slices.
C) who cares?
A) +10 points
B) +2 points
C) -5 points - Cheese is very very important. Almost as important as politics and soccer. You must care about this in order to be French.

8. How many bises do you give someone?
A) 2
B) depends on the region, time of day, how well you know the person, whether you are saying hello or goodbye, and how many glasses of wine you have had.
C) you just keep going until they pull away and give you a weird look.
A) +5 - generally acceptable
B) +10 - being able to judge the correct number of bises is the penultimate skill that must be mastered for living inconspicuously amongst them
C) 0 points - Go home foreigner.

9. Being able to write correctly in French without any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes is: A) difficult
B) difficult but easier after a glass or two of wine
C) the highest achievement known to mankind and definitely worthy of a Legion d’Honneur
A) +5
B) +10
C) +20 - However, take care not to write better than an actual French person, because then they will get very offended that you, a foreigner, actually wrote better than they did.

10. August is:
A) the eighth month of the year
B) good for listening to cicadas and drinking rosé wine
C) vacation!
A) 0 points - You obviously have not tried to actually go anywhere or do anything or get anything done during the month of August in France
B) +5 points
C) +10 points.

60+ points
Congratulations! You are officially French or at least deserve to be. Download the certificate below, print it out, fill in name, date, place, and sign it. Then take it with you when you go to deal with French administration, it will make things go more smoothly, I swear.
For 10€ I will officially certify it. (After receiving photocopies of your ID card, birth certificate, marriage license, passport, 1 ID photo, electricity bill, parent’s birth certificates and middle school diploma of course. Also, please pay the 10€ fee by means of a Timbre Fiscale. These stamps may only be found at secluded, out of the way bars.)

30+ points
Spend at least two more years drinking wine, eating cheese, watching soccer, waiting in line at the Prefecture, and listening to French talk shows.

Less than 30 points.
Go back to your country. If you actually are French, you are a disgrace to La Republique Française. Your ID card, passport, and birth certificate will be confiscated and another country name will be chosen at random, to which you will be exiled.
lundi 13 septembre 2010

Guess I should write something before I lose all of my readers completely. Trouble is, I don't have much to write about.

I think I have exhausted the Ear Wax topic (at least for now, things might change when I get my special ear plugs).
Alain has started his karate classes again, twice a week from 6:30 to 8:30.
I have started up my running again, which is more or less a slow lope around the nearby track for about an hour on Sunday mornings.
We bought a bike machine (velo d'appart) because Alain was going crazy not being able to exercise (he has tendonitis in both shoulders- he did too much upper body stuff this past year).
My brother and his wife are coming the first week of October, which means that between now and Oct. 2nd we need to get this place livable.
Other than that, long work days, unbelievably high taxes (12.5% of net income, yay!), and studying for my exams in March.
Keep meaning to fiddle with my blog format, I know it isn't too readable as-is. I would like to lighten up the background so that the text is easier. Also, I keep meaning to add links to my favorite blogs, but am having trouble with the HTML. Bear with me.

Over and out.
samedi 4 septembre 2010
Time for everyone's favorite topix (I know it's mine) : Ear Wax.
After the first episodes I have been rather diligent about cleaning my ears.

No, this time it is something different. More specifically, it's Wax in my Ears.

After just about going bonkers at work due to the street musicians (and by bonkers I mean crying in the bathroom and my boss looking at me with a concerned look and going to a psychologist for anti-anxiety medication)
I contacted some companies that make custom-made earplugs with special filters for high-noise environments. After making the order in July, I was finally contacted on Monday by a traveling ear imprint specialist. She was in the area and wanted to stop by and take my mesurements.
Um, okay, sure.
She came to my work during lunchtime and we went into the meeting room. She took out all her equipement and showed me how it works.

She started by putting a small piece of cotton, like the end of a q-tip, in my ear canal to prevent the wax from touching the ear drum.
Then she pulled out a pistol that mixes the wax with something else, and inserted the wax in each ear. I felt kinda stupid, sitting there with bright blue wax plugs in my ears, and was hoping no coworkers would come in. After a few minutes, she pulled out the plugs, a perfect shape of my inner ears. Too bad for you all I wasn't able to get a picture of them.

Personally, I think I have great looking ears.

Then it was done. She will send the imprints to the company in Germany that makes the custom silicone plugs, and I should get my earplugs in about three weeks.

Here's hoping they work. Because really, I can't handle a nervous breakdown right now.

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