Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's 5 a.m. and I'm awake

Haven't been able to get back to sleep since about 4 so I finally decided to just get up. Drank some lukewarm coffee milk and looked online on how to repair my aging printer. Or at least convince the dang thing there is no paper jam despite the messages it keeps sending me. The silly thing pulled this on me when I was trying to print out my report about my internship two weeks ago and hasn't worked since. Still no look on the HP site, but I'm holding out hope.

Now it's on to some blog updating. And if I have time I'll get those pork sausage meatballs in the crock pot. I might just be turning into my mother (who gets up at 4:44 exactly, people!). I think I might be starting to understand why she coveted her morning time when we chillin's were still snug in bed...

Spent two days of my three-day weekend at the in-laws since their business is open all the time in the spring. Gave us a chance to spend a bit more time with busy Remi and me to catch up on the weed-infested garden. While Juju napped (thank heavens she still does) I weeded and was pretty much up to my eyeballs in stinging nettles and thistles. It's starting to resemble a garden again and we can actually see the real plants. I've still got lots of cleaning to do and hope to replant some more perennials that will be low-maintenance.

And took advantage of the great weather to snap some shots of Juliette (biker girl) around the greenhouse in bloom. I was astounded when I looked at the pics to see how much she resembles her papa when he was a toddler. See for yourself.

Or here:

But she is, after all, her own little person.

I'm hoping she's got a little something of me!

So I've just wrestled with the cat who was scratching at the living room door trying to wake up the rest of the house. I won the battle and he's now purring in my lap and keeping his claws nicely sheathed in. 6:08. I guess that's my cue to get moving. Good morning, everybody.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

No, this is not a near-death experience, thank goodness. It's that I'm less than a month away from finishing this degree program that has been consuming my life the past 11 months. You couldn't pay me to go through it again, even though there have been some very fun moments, like Friday when we all had a picnic lunch in a nearby park to take advantage of the finally spring-like weather.

I'm glad I did this thing. It had been eating at me for years, literally, to reconnect with my science degrees. To give myself some other possibilities in France besides teaching English. It's been tough though: late nights studying, not seeing Juliette as much as I used to, Remi sitting on the couch watching telly (and feeling single, as he said) while I studied, and generally just feeling tired all the time.

I still have two national exams to take, one in the scientific subjects, the other in economics and French (yeah, what's with that?), then the famous presentation of my internship in front of a jury of two people I've never met before. Yeah, just that. But I'm trying to remind myself I've been working steadily all year. And I must thank my years of teaching English for making me less stressed at public speaking. I've just got to hold on a bit longer...

And what's next? Yes, I'll be looking for work in my new/old field but will resume my old job teaching in the meantime. That was the advantage of doing this sabbatical year to do the training. My job was reserved for me. It will be strange to be teaching again, after a year of being in the student's seat. Perhaps I will feel more compassion for my students now! I know what it's like to be sitting there not understanding something and feeling frustrated.

And I'm gonna take a well-deserved break and go back to the US for a few weeks. I want a bit of home so badly I can really taste it. I need this, and my US family needs to see us, too. I don't think I'll ever get used to not seeing them as much as I really want to.

But a bit more work lies betweeen me and that lovely reward. So I'll buckle down and daydream a bit, too.

Friday, May 11, 2012

To vote or not to vote

If you live in France you couldn't have helped but noticing we had an election recently. My dad was visiting the weekend of the primary, I guess we'd call it. That's when all of the candidates from all of the parties (and France has a lot of them: the right, the middle, the socialiststs, the communists, the green party, the far right, the workers' rights party, I could go on) are on the table and the French choose two of them for the run-off. Dad was amazed to learn that just two weeks after that the two chosen candidates faced off again in the voting booths. So quick compared to the American process which tends to drag out, he said.

And so the fateful day arrived when the French went out to vote for their next president. Election days are always Sundays here to give a maximum number of people a chance to vote. It's not an obligation here, as it is in Belgium. I asked Remi and his mom if they were going to vote that morning when we were at the greenhouse. Remi said something about having a headache and his mom gave a non-committal answer. I told them they couldn't complain about the results if they didn't even vote.

When Remi's dad came home I asked him if he intended to vote. Again, no enthusiastic response, so I said, hey, you live in a democracry, exert your right. Besides, I added, I can't vote, so vote for me. After a bit more hemming and hawing and some grumphing from Remi's mom, all three of them drove off to the town hall to cast their votes. Later Remi's dad said it was a good idea to vote and that I helped them sort of decide to get on with it.

It got me thinking though that maybe I should vote. I said above that I can't vote. Technically that's not true. I've been married four years to a French citizen and I could ask for the nationality (while keeping my American nationality, you better believe it!). I never felt motivated to do it except for the off-chance of applying for a government job where you must have citizenship. But maybe I've changed now. If I'm gonna keep living here for a long period of time, I might as well have the right to express my opinions on how I'm governed and what's going on in the education system my daughter participates in, for example. We'll see...

Anyway, for those who don't know, the Socialist candidate François Hollande won. I'm not gonna get all political on you. I hope he can create jobs and ensure a good education for the French kids, including my own little one. I hope he can also reduce our debt, but he doesn't seem very concerned about that. Again, we'll see. What I did notice about the French in this election is a bit of intolerance. I'd heard reports that some factions wanted to call for strikes if the incumbent president Sarkozy had won. The cities or villages must legally put up a campaign poster of each candidate in certain areas of town. And I can't tell you how many Sarkozy signs I saw that had been defaced or torn down before the election. I don't think that's very fair play. In a country that's about liberté, égalité and fratérnité, that's just childish. Democracy is also about respecting other people's opinions.

Hollande is on the left with the slogan: "The change is now." Sarkozy is on the right with "A strong France", and in grafitti, "finally" as in "finally gone", I suppose.

So, until I make up mind about getting the nationality here, vive la démocratie! And, by the way, I will be voting by mail for the US elections.