Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Holiday Photo Fest

Well...ok...I have been absent when I said I wouldn't. It's just that Cyr has been off work and it's been so nice having him home all day I didn't make time to post. But here I am, and I'm doing fine. Yesterday was my birthday...the big 37. I am now officially in my late thirties. Ouch. Cyr and I went to dinner at my favorite restaurant here in Viex Lille; Le Lion Bossu. Mmmm. I also got some really pretty sparkly gifts! A matching necklace and earrings. I will have to post a photo later of me wearing them.

So for Christmas...although I did miss my family, the day was really great. Here is a photo montage of the day:
Here is our tree, and you can see Duncan at the bottom of the photo doing what he does best which is whatever is off limmits. He seems to think this tree is his personal play toy. About the time he understands the fact that it's not we will be taking it down. Notice how all the ornaments start at about branch number three.
Here are Cyr and I in Aachen, Germany drinking hot mauled wine. We went there the week before Christmas, but I just now got the photos downloaded. I love the little Christmas trees on the table! It's like the Holiday Banzai Tree!

Cyr seems to be enjoying his much more than me!

On Christmas Eve we went to my new mother-in-laws house for some great Champagne, a fantastic meal, and my favorite wine in the whole world. I don't have a picture of the bottle of Champagne, but she had a huge magnum and we (the four of us) drank the whole thing as an aperitif. That was actually over the course of about 2 hours I think. The meal was amazing, it lasted from about 9pm until midnight! I love this family...

This is my favorite "entree" which is appetizer in French. Yes...the word entree means appetizer, not entree. Just one example of how French can mess you up. This is called "Lounge Luculus". It's a specialty of Valenciennes, the town Annie (Cyr's Mom) lives in. It's slices of cow tongue with layers of fois gras (goose liver) in between. Sounds crazy, but it's amazing! She makes gelatin and serves it with fresh fruits too. She even had these really pretty eatable flowers to put on the plates though they had to be tossed because they had turned a little brown. They really know how to do presentation here, that's for sure.
The second course, well third if you count all the little appetizers we had with the Champagne, was a dish with scallops and a cream sauce. It was amazing...I love scallops. If you look close you can see some orange things on the side of the scallop that looks like a foot or something. I had never seen this until we moved here. It's the sex part of the scallop! Apparently we in the US don't like to eat the sex part...I dunno...I kinda like it. You have to respect the scallop a little more as well, check out how big it is in comparison to the body! Impressive I know...
The main course was pheasant with mushrooms. She was going to cook pasta too but we told her to hold off since we were eating so much. It was amazing....
Then we had a cheese course, of course...

The meal was served with my favorite wine I have ever had. Cyr's family purchased a few cases of this wine when he was younger and his mother pulls one out for special occasions. It's a 1985 Tour-de-Roc Burgundy. It's like drinking velvet. Uhhh...

Then we had a typical French Christmas desert that is an ice cream cake like thing that looks like a log. It was dark chocolate on the outside, milk chocolate on the inside and had pears on top of it. I was so damn full by then that I didn't take a picture. She also had little chocolates and fruit snacks that reminded me of gum drops. Before the desert it was midnight so we kissed Merry Christmas and opened up gifts. Cyr and I got a raclette set!!! I can't wait to use it!! We are having his Mother, brother and cousins over in January and plan to use it. I will make sure to post photos so all my American friends and family can see what it is. The best I can describe it is an Easy Bake Oven for adults. You melt your own cheeses and bake little quail eggs and mushrooms right on the table! We will be taking this back to Houston with us so get ready folks...we will be having dinner parties with it!! Annie also gave me a really pretty gold necklace with a heart on it and Cyr's brother gave us a Chinese tea set that is really cool. It's orange and black, will post photos soon as well!

Overall I had a great Christmas even though I missed a call from my Mom and family. I also felt so bad that I didn't call that I did have a little cry, but I was ok. I talked my my Mom and Aunt Helen the next day. I cried a little after we spoke. Not so much because I was sad as because the holidays remind me how much I care about all the people back in Houston. I will probably cry next year when we are not with Annie and Cyril. Oh the joys of being an emotional person!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, or whatever you celebrate or didn't celebrate over the last few weeks. Tonight is New Year's Eve and we are taking it easy and staying in. I'm excited actually. I'm going to try to cook rabbit!! Photos will be taken and posted within the next few days. Love to all...I hope everyone stays safe and has a great end of 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Some people eat when they get stressed out, some drink, some exercise too much. I wish I was the latter, but I tend to just hole up in my house/apartment and read or watch tv. I don't talk to anyone or read emails. So that's where I have been the last week or so.

It's not like I have a particularly stressful life, on the contrary, it's quite nice actually. I do have the students at the junior college to deal with, but that's just a few hours a week in person with a few more for grading and preparing. I think part of it is that France has lost it's new car smell for me.

You know what I am talking about. When you buy something new or get a new job and it's all shiny and bright and fun. France was that way for me when I first arrived. Then I had my French class over the summer, my friend Olga to talk to, my new job. But French class ended, Olga moved back to Canada after breaking up with her boyfriend and my new jobs are not new anymore. One think is for certain, teaching difficult kids is not my passion. I like the adult education stuff and the upper tier college, but this trying to save the world via privileged 18 year olds that think they deserve the world isn't my idea of saving the world. I guess the positive thing is that I am finally earning money. The even more positive thing is that I am loosing weight since I have to walk 30 minutes to and from work and the Arctic temperatures cause my body to burn more calories to keep it warm. That's not so bad really. I know you guys don't want to hear this, but I eat chocolate every day and drink really good beer and am slowly loosing weight. It's not fast, but I think I have lost over 10 lbs. since June.

Now I am trying to force myself to grade papers and prepare for the following semester with the students. The crazy thing is that I might get to leave my semester early because we might get the go to move to Houston sooner than expected. I'm still going to say it will probably be May, but who knows, it could be sooner. But enough drivel...

Christmas is two days away!! Yeah!! Cyr and I will go to his Mom's house about 45 minutes away and celebrate with her and his brother. I'm looking forward to it. The last few times we went to visit I really enjoyed myself. I can understand more of the conversations and it's like his mother has learned more English or something! I am always amazed that she says she learned English in high school but she knows so much. Maybe she is studying on the side because she really seems to have improved, plus I understand more French so we can actually talk. I'm so glad I like my mother-in-law...I actually bought her some cool gifts. She loves roses so I got her some chocolate with roses in it and some rose syrup that you can use to make kirs. She likes to make royal kirs (Champagne plus a syrup) so I thought she might like it. We also got her some new pool balls for her pool table. That was Cyr's idea though, I can't take credit for that. I have all my presents bought, now I just need to wrap them.

I'm going to miss my family. It seems so far away. Usually I would be driving with my Mom (and Cyr as of last year!) to Tyler or Jacksonville, Texas to stay with my mom's sister and my cousins for Christmas. They are so fun!! I love it there, it's always no stress, good food, drinking and laughing. I love to stay up late and talk with my aunt too. After Christmas I would go to visit my Dad and step-mom Sandy. They always cook and seem to be so happy at Christmas. I wish I was there, but I know that next year we will be and I am already looking forward to it. I have no clue what we are doing for New Year's Eve or my birthday (that would be Dec. 30th for all you curious folk). I think I want to go to my favorite restaurant for my birthday. It's called Le Lion Bossue (I don't know how to spell that...but I love that place, we did a dinner there the night before our wedding). I'll keep you posted, and I won't retreat and disappear. Promise.

Hugs to all of you out there, no matter where you are. Happy first Christmas to Mimi D.!!

Oh, and thanks Leesa for the phone call!! You brightened my day and I hope you can come visit Lille soon! Steph - hope you are getting your fill of snow!! See you when you get back...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Irish Folk Dancing in France

Oh yes my friends, you read correctly! Steph invited me to come with her and her man to experience a night of Irish folk dancing! To answer my friend Jen there is more to Irish folk dancing than staggering around drinking a Guinness and trying to sing along...and it's not completely River Dance.

We take the Metro to this cute little (emphasis on the word little) Irish pub in the Wazemmes area. It's built like a shoebox; long and narrow. At the very back there is a cleared off floor area, like a smaller shoebox. If Shaq were here he might be able to touch each wall when his arms are spread out. The instructor is French (I think) but she studied dance in Ireland and gives these classes for free twice a week. It turns out to be a bit like square dancing!! We hopped around and counted to 3 or 7 all night in French! She often would call out moves in English too because that is how she learned, is a picture of some of the dancing.

You can see the wall on the left, the people on the right have their backs against the one on that side. Guess it's not that bad now that I look at it. We all kept running into the walls and stuff, maybe it was our skill and not the room size now that I think of it. Oh well, I had such a great time! I wish Cyr could have been there, but he was in Brazil. As you can imagine he was really disappointed. ::Please re-read the last sentence with much sarcasm added.::

To thank Steph for the great night I asked her and her boyfriend over for dinner last night. I made some simple mustard chicken with veggies and potatoes, she brought desert. Friends...she really brought it. She called it "Ch'tis Tiramisu" (pronounced Shtee) which I then dubbed "Ch'tiramisu". It was tiramisu made with Speculos as opposed to lady fingers. Oh rocked. Unfortunately I think I might have poisoned her though as her blog today read that she is sick, sick, sick. Even worse...she has a flight tomorrow to Canada. I had that horrible flight home sick this year (some of you might remember) and I hope she gets better very quickly. I'm saying some prayers for you girl!!

So although the Irish dancing was a great success, My memories are dampened knowing that Steph has to head back to North America for a few weeks. I'll miss you Steph!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rolling along...

Well the last week has been spent dreading teaching Zee Class and then finally getting through it yesterday morning. Not so bad, the smart ass kid didn't even make fun of my voice this week. Or tell me about how he doesn't care about his English grade because it's not important to him. Practically a victory.

I had my two crazy classes and then my one eager beaver class at the Grand Ecole, which directly translated means "Big School", as if the others are just little tiny schools that are not as important. Which is actually almost true I guess when you look at hiring practices here in France. I am still shocked at how important your college is here. Even when you are 40 years old they STILL care where you went. Your life is very much laid out for you at 17, scary.

I did have a much nicer weekend than I thought though. Friday I met Steph from Double-Double or Un Petit Cafe fame. She is so much fun! We went for coffee then ended up hanging out until dinner. I had a hamburger, and I ordered it with a French accent and felt completely stupid. "Un ahm-buhr-guhr." I had a Friday night dinner out on the town with a friend, how cool is that!?

Saturday was a fantastic day spent with Duncan. His new favorite toy is an old Champagne cork I had on the counter. He seems to find the fact that it doesn't roll straight extremely entertaining. Here he is reaching for his new favorite play thing with his old favorite staring on with envy.

Sunday I went with a few friends to Gent, Belgium. Gent is a really cute city about 45 minutes drive from Lille that has beautiful architecture and fantastic waffles. Unfortunately I was not thinking and only have one good picture. I didn't even get any photos with friends in it! But here is one of the canals right before we left to go home.

You can even see the moon right above one of the rooftops! Now I'm trying to get motivated to clean house and grade papers. And of course plan for all of next week's classes. But after next week I am free until January from my scary classes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Balance?? I stopped working in February and didn't work again until November. I had 10 months of moving to France, decorating, friend visits, wedding planning and other things that didn't actually take up too much time. Now...I have three jobs (5 classes) and a kitten. How come I can't find a happy medium?

I must admit, I am typically a peeks and valleys kind of gal but this is nuts. This past week I taught everyday but Friday. This may not sound like much, but it has taken over my life! I guess I forgot how much work actually goes into teaching. It wouldn't be so bad if my school with two classes provided a syllabus or lesson plan, but there is NOTHING. This is what the description of my class says I should teach my students:

Business English around the following areas:
- Human Resources
- Corporate Structure
- Marketing

That's it. That's all I have. I have talked with the other 1st year teachers, but I have not really gotten too much. Everyone teaches something different. How in the world these students get out with any sort of similar education I don't know. The good thing is that they are going to implement a structured English program next year. By next year I mean Fall 2009. When I will probably be back in Houston because of Cyr's job.

Oh...did I mention that yet? Looks like we will be headed back to Texas in 2009 rather than 2010. We don't know when yet but I will keep everyone posted. At first I was really upset and dissappointed. I have been here (of and on) since February and I am still not fluent in French. I feel like I have wasted so much time and have not committed. I was waiting for free classes from the government and I have not even gotten my social security number yet. It take so long to get anything done here I will probably be back in Texas by the time we get the approval for the classes. But now I am warming up to the idea. Houston really does have a lot to offer, plus I can speak the language so I don't feel frustrated all the time when I need to try to do something myself.

Plus...the plan is for us to be in Houston for somewhere around 3 years. After that we will probably end up back in Lille for a while. Cyr also promises that we will try to speak more French with each other when we move. Plus there are so many people in Houston who speak French (get ready Jeanne, Marine, Ann and Ari) that I will be able to use the language a lot. Plus I will get to spend more time with my family, which is always good. Not to mention my friends and all the new babies they are having (Jen and Missy hello!). Silver lining. I'm looking for it...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Crazy Week

It's been a while since the last post. Everything is ok, Duncan is settling in very well and now seems to feel very much at home. At first he hid a lot and would come out to play every now and then. Now he demands attention in the morning and then again about 10pm when he really wakes up. Perfect timing for when we are trying to calm down and get ready to sleep.

Last Thursday and Friday he seemed really sluggish and he had some pretty awful poops. I won't go into detail here, you don't come here for gore. Friday we took him to the vet down the street just to get him checked out since he has never had any shots. Turns out the little bugger had worms!! AND ear mites. I have not stopped itching since Friday. First I was convinced that I had caught some sort of parasite from him. I'm sure I'm ok, but oh man. How icky is that. Worms.

Everyone I tell this is not surprised and everything I read online seems to suggest that most kittens get worms. I don't know, I feel like if my cat has worms I should have wheels on my house and be drinking Milwaukee's Best or something along those lines. Because of all the pooping and such the poor guy was really dehydrated and the vet wanted to keep him overnight just in case he had some virus or something. Animal health is not socialized of course (bummer). He got the overnight stay, an IV, two ear meds, what looks like 6 months of worm pills and some vitamin stuff we have to force down his throat twice a day for 5 days. I think all of that cost us 190 euro, so $245 later we have a healthy and overly active cat. Once all his little stomach passengers died off, which the vet assured me was overnight, he was a new cat! He is jumping all around, chasing invisible bugs and learning how to climb onto the couch. Although he did cost a bit upfront, I'm hoping he is going to be a healthy guy in the future. I swear he seems to be growing right before my eyes...oh they grow up so quickly...

School is ok. I was giving the go ahead to split the class up into two groups and have only one group in the room at a time, that has helped a great deal. I also like working with the kids, but it's not a dream job. I would actually really like to get involved on the administration side in recruitment of students or something along those lines. For now it's perfect though. I have three classes on Tuesday and two on Thursday. Perfect for a little extra spending money. I spend way too much time planning lessons though. I know it won't be like that forever though.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A new addition....

Well...we were hoping to have a "family" of course, but we thought it would be while. We just got married less than a month ago. I still have my wedding dress out in the guest room!

Last Saturday Cyr and I went to his mother's house to celebrate her birthday. We went to eat lunch at a Greek restaurant in Belgium and then went back to the house for the afternoon and had a light dinner there as well. She really enjoyed her presents (three large wooden owls and a bracelet) I think.

When we arrived everything seemed normal. Once we said our hellos and did all the kissing cheeks we headed into the kitchen (which seems to be the meeting area in all countries). Both Cyr's brother and his mother were talking about what I thought was an accident that one of the cats had. "Ewe" thought I. When we got to the kitchen Cyr's brother picked up a little black furry thing and said, "c'est la petit merde!"

Annie found 3 (or 4, not quite sure) kittens at her office in a some machine thing last Wednesday. I think one of them died, but two were adopted and then she still had the little black guy and was looking for a home for him (or her). He was so cuddly! I have never had a cat and didn't really think much of the little guy until Cyr said; "Uh oh, I think Susan might have found a home for the little guy." I actually never thought we would take him home, I just thought he was cute and liked to hold him. Of course I jumped on the boat though and we stopped by a pet store coming home from lunch and bought all the necessities. One thing I can't handle is a house that smells like a cat lives there. So far we have been pretty good. But when the little guy know he goes...I'm a fairly immediate pooper scooper. Thank goodness it only happens once or twice a day. I'm hoping the poop will mellow with his age, but I'm thinking this is actually the opposite of the developmental cycle of cats. But hey...our house doesn't smell! It actually smells better because I'm so paranoid I am lighting candles and such. Before the kitten the candles just sat around, now they are being used.

So then there was the naming thing. Apparently there is a cat/dog naming convention that I was not aware of. Each year has a letter of the alphabet (as opposed to another kind of letter. Why do people say that?) ascribed to it and you are supposed to name your animal a name that begins with that year's letter. This year is "D". We don't really know if it's a boy or a girl, things are really small down there, but we think it's a boy. We went through a few rounds of names, but then we settled on a strong Scottish name from the Highlands...Duncan. Because there can only be one... Check out our newest addition!!
So far he's great. Very friendly and playful!

As for I had The Class and Zee Class both. The Class was first. I went in with the same lesson plan I did last week with Zee Class. Low and went great! The class ended and we had finished the lesson (advertising campaigns) and I really felt they had learned something. I went to a meeting for the language classes during lunch (chicken baguette sandwich) then went on to Zee Class. We had to finish up the lesson from last week, which we did. After much prodding and poking. Then we moved on to some grammar work. Then all hell broke loose. Seriously...35 kids in this class. A few kids are completely fluent, most of them are conversationally able to survive while speaking English, then there are about 8 of them that are really, really behind. I'm going to have to split the class up next week and plan two lessons because the fluent kids are going crazy with me trying to work with the slower ones and the material I am supposed to use for the class is WAY over the heads of many of them. I am so glad I had the first class because I would have left feeling like a total failure. Blah, blah...I'm not in the mood to be all dark and pissy tonight. I get so irritated when I read blogs that do nothing but complain so I am going to reserve my "oh woe is me" post for another day. Things really are not that bad. Other than the fact that I have to go back to Zee Class next Tuesday. :-(

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy B-Day Annie! (and More work)

I meant to post this yesterday but forgot...oops! Yesterday was my new mother-in-law's birthday. We are going over to her house this weekend to celebrate. I'm looking forward to it actually. I had a great time the last visit and am feeling a lot more comfortable speaking in French. She actually speaks good English, but I think I should speak French because we are in France.

As for work; well when it rains it pours. ( cliche...but very appropriate being I live in the north.)

So I was offered the 2nd class and have my schedule all set up. Looks like Tuesday is college day with The Class in the morning and Zee Class in the afternoon. I am excited because I already have both lessons done for next week. Woohoo!

I also was offered an adult education class at a large mail order company here in Lille. There are three classes with only 3-7 people in each class. The pay is not as good as the college one, but it's half the work. We even have a book!! How crazy...the company has a book and a syllabus, but the college does not. Hmmm....maybe if folks learned more English in college they wouldn't need the adult courses after they graduate eh?

I also discovered a super cool store which most of you living in France may already know about. My friend Marie told me about it. A big thank you to Marie in Lille!! It's called Picard. It is a store that sells nothing but frozen foods. You might think "ewe...frozen food?" but it's all (what I would call) slightly fancy (some full on fancy) and super pretty. They have tons of little snacks for aperitifs and little desserts along with fantastic full meals. Including pizzas and pancakes! It's like the freezer section of Sam's Warehouse if they were owned by Neiman Marcus and sold small portions instead of the bulk sizes. Best yet, the prices are not bad at all! We were going to have guests tonight so I bought some little snackies and desserts. Turns out they are not going to make it, but I think I might implement "snack night" and munch down on them anyway. I am going to charge my camera to take pictures so I can post them tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad! (plus the quest for a Carte de Sejour)

First things first...Happy Birthday Dad!! I'm over here in Lille thinking about you! I just got off the phone with my Dad and told him Happy Birthday...but I just love birthdays so much I thought I would say it again. Miss you!

UHHHHH....I JUST LOST A WHOLE POST!! Apparently there is a magic button that erases everything. How irritating. now round two of typing my trip to the Prefecture. I don't know if I can spill out the magnificent prose that was flowing forth from my here is an overview:

I asked Cyr many, many times if we are prepared for our meeting. Almost to a point that begins to annoy him. I remind him I don't speak or read French well so he has to be the responsible one for this thing. I also tell him I have not read the list, because I can't read French. On Saturday, after a visit to the Marie, he is able to tell me that we have everything except my passport: photos. Yeah!!

I repeatedly ask him. He repeatedly says "yes".

We show up for our meeting 10 minutes early. We see a sea of people waiting in the same room looking at the monitor for their number to be called. We get ready to settle in for a long wait.

We are the first ones called at 13:01!! (1:00) No way...

We sit down and the woman starts asking for things. Oh...there is a form we had. It's not filled out. I raise an eyebrow at Cyr but he apologizes and begins to fill it out. She asks for our photocopies. Cyr shoots a glance my way. Eyes dart to the woman.

We have no photo copies. I look at the yellow sheet and at the top, in BOLD LETTERED CAPS UNDERLINED is a word that looks like PHOTOCOPY.

Susan; jaw drops, eyes widen, head tilts to the side, one eyebrow finds it's way much higher than the other. Daggers then begin shooting out of my eyes.

Cyr begins to be very charming in French. Apologizing also because apparently there is a SECOND form in our packet (which we had, we just didn't fill out) that is not complete. He asks if there is a copy machine in the building. Yes there is. He runs to find it. He leaves behind a document. I think I actually began to show my teeth at this point.

I run to catch him. Through the crowd in the waiting room, up stairs, past the entrance, into another crowded room. I tap (ok, maybe it was a bit more than a tap) him on the back and shove hand the other document to him. He smiles sheepishly and finds the machine. We make copies. Meanwhile I am telling him of stories I know of people being sent home for the no copy thing. Having to wait weeks for another appointment.

We run back through the room, past the entrance, down the stairs, through another group past the guards and to our lady. Cyr again becomes this charming French speaking person repeatedly telling her "C'est ma faute, c'est ma faute." Translated "It's my fault, it's my fault." Uh. Yeah. Meanwhile she sees me trying to inflict mass amounts of pain in him with my stare. I think she understands, the amazement and anger in my stare must translate well in French.

This is where things get really crazy.

She accepts all of our paperwork and then tells us all about everything. She answers all of our questions and we are out in under 20 minutes. WITH my temporary CDS.


Once out of the office Cyr immediately does the right thing and invites my scorn. But how mad can I be? We actually got my temporary Carte de Sejour and I can now have health care and a legal working paycheck. I am mostly in shock. I try to bark at him but mostly just can't believe it worked out. Then he bought me lunch with warm mauled wine, three new hats and we have moved on. He is so lucky things worked out...It's like I told him; "the execution was horrible and you get a D- on that, but the result was an A so I guess you pass."

Thank goodness yesterday was a holiday for this lady. I think she got some sleep. And maybe she felt sorry for Cyr when she saw that I could not take my eyes off him with my Death Ray Stare. Maybe she wanted us out of her office because she was worried I would actually succeed in making his head explode. Either way...I'm legal baby...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Week Number 2....

So I had my second class with...well maybe I was too about Zee Class? (Read: someone from the school might find this blog) :-)

So I had Zee Class last night. I went in an hour early to make sure I had everything prepared. I even typed out an agenda to follow as a sort of lesson plan guide. I had more than enough things for the two hour lesson. Side note: I find it odd that one week the class is 2 hours and the next week it is 2 hours and 30 minutes. It changes every week. It also changes rooms and sometimes the time. Why not have a set schedule? Every week the kids have new schedules to follow. They also change things around if the kids don't like something thing. I don't know if I have mentioned this, but it is VERY different from American universities. They are with the same group all day long and take every class together. So my 35 kids are with each other in every class, all day long. It sounds a lot like high school but the classes are very intense and they take way more class time than normal college hours. They are in class 8 hours a day every day.

But back to the changing things around part...The kids in one of the classes didn't want a Friday 2-4 class because on Friday they feel they should be able to go on vacation for the weekend and they want to be able to get out of town early. The kids bring this to the attention half way through the semester mind you. So what happens? The administration changed the class to Wednesdays. You have got to be kidding me. I really just have too many thoughts about why I disagree with this action. A few would be: they knew from the start the time of this class, not to mention all the time that has gone into scheduling a professor and a room not to mention that if they do end up getting real jobs, can they just tell their boss they don't want to work Friday? Is this mirroring real life? Plus...I thought the weekend was your vacation? Did they start implementing Friday as a day off here too? Well, I guess if that 35 hour work week thing sticks then maybe the previous questions are all answered "Uh...maybe. Yes."

Back to the class. So I was waiting for the class. And waiting. It was time for class and no kids. It was 5 past and not one student. I know I was in the right place at the right time because I actually checked two different times in the office to make sure I had the correct room, time and day. Did they all decide to skip? I walk into the hall and see my kids in the room next to mine. They slowly begin to file in about 10-15 minutes late. The computer teacher kept them. Oh. How thoughtful of him. Of course why would English class be important right? I know I should have been upset, but part of me thought "oh well, now I don't have to fall back on the stupid vocabulary thing if we finish early."

It was a bit of a rowdy crew at first. I put together a marketing lesson and had a few fun things prepared. I cut the lights and showed a Top 10 Commercials from one of the Super Bowls. They all stopped as if they were hypnotized. Crazy...they calmed down and I was able to talk to them between clips. They then created campaigns and presented them. There was a lot of talking, but they actually delivered. Some very well even! I feel much better about the class now. I know they are bright, they just need a little herding in the right direction.

I also got a call from the teacher that is taking The Class over. (That was the 2nd class I was subbing in that was a bit easier to control.) She said the kids didn't like having such a late class and were going to go to the Dean to see if they could reschedule the class. (See paragraph 3.) She asked if I could teach that class if it moved. Heck yeah!! Well how about that, the power of the student worked in my favor. Huh. With the extra class I can now start putting a little money back in my US bank account (which has not seen any action since January). I have not gotten the official word, but I might pick up the second class next week. I'll keep you posted!

Tomorrow Cyr and I have our appointment with the Prefecture to present my paperwork for my Carte de Sejour. Crossing my fingers it goes well and she accepts everything we have. It seems to me that many times the government folks here decided what happens depending on what mood they are in and how they feel about you. I know people that have presented exactly the same paperwork I have for a certain thing, but their papers were rejected and they were asked to supply additional things. I guess I caught the person on a good day. Hope our nice government worker is having a good day tomorrow. I want to be able to travel back home without too much trouble. Cross your fingers!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Class Number 2: "The Class"

Ok, so I was not overly excited about taking the Wednesday class last night. It is not actually scheduled to be my class. There is a Canadian girl who is supposed to take it but is having visa challenges so she is not able to start yet. I said I would pick it up this week and then she is supposed to have it back next week. The good thing was that I knew it was only two hours and I had the huge packet my director gave me so I knew they would have things to work on. This class however ended up being MUCH different than my original class. Which from now on I will refer to as "The Zoo"...

Scene 1: Enter young man with facial hair.
Susan: Hello there, welcome to English. You are a little early (it was 20 till) but have a seat and can you show me where you are on the attendance sheet?
Young Man: Sure, no pro-blum! Air ewe going to be are teasher for zee rest of zee yeer?
Susan: Remains frozen...he is speaking English!! Eyes wide but trying not to look like deer in headlights. Respond accordingly.
Scene 2: Enter a group of 4 young men. All greet me in English, all begin talking in English.
Susan: (Not out loud) OH DAMN!! This is not even my real class and so far they understand me!!
Scene 3: 30 kids are in the room (5 are absent), all of which seem to be understanding English and speaking back. Two people speak English with British accents. No way...why isn't THIS my class? This is what I was told I would actually have. Now I'm prepared for The Zoo and I actually have "The Class".

The same thing happened when I taught 2nd grade in Houston. I was the new teacher in the 2nd grade block and was given all the kids the other teachers didn't want. But by Christmas I loved them and we had a fairly cohesive class. By the end of the year we all cried when we had to leave. I am nothing if not a sales person...and teaching to me is selling an idea (or group of ideas). Now I need to sell English with the challenge being I have a varied audience. No problem. Wish I could up my commission. Maybe add some kind of spif or hazard pay for The Zoo?

Anyway, The Class was great, I really enjoyed them. There was of course some talking and cutting up, and another Facebook surfer during class, but we were able to get through it. At the end of class they actually told me they learned something and that they hoped I would be their teacher next week. Me too too...

So. I am already putting together some exciting things for The Zoo (which will be held on Monday because of a bank holiday Tuesday I am told). In truth I think I am more excited by the idea of The Zoo because it posses a larger challenge for me. I am planning to split them into three groups to work. The kids all seem bright, just at very different levels. Last night I actually had The Class all work on mostly the same things but at different times so I could work with small groups and it went well. Who knows, it might turn out that I get both classes because of the visa issues with the Canadian girl.

So thanks for all the good karma folks! It worked!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Job

Ok, I know I should probably say something about the elections right? I did get up at 3:30am to watch CNN and see how things turned out. Not so much because I am so political as that I was coughing and felt bad about waking Cyr up. I actually love election coverage the day of. Watching the states come in, seeing the excitement from both parties.

Is it strange that all of a sudden I feel like I can be "proud" to be an American again? I am so tired of feeling like I have to apologize for Bush every time someone finds out I am from Texas. This is not a political blog and I do not want it to be, but the people have chosen and it's time to once again be proud of our country and our leader. Unfortunately I went last night with a group of people (me being the only American) to see the Oliver Stone film "W". How I wish I could get those two hours of my life back. From now on every time I hear "The Yellow Rose of Texas" I am going to think of W. trying to bong Jack Daniels or stuff a burger in his face. I am not making a statement other than to say; "Not all Texans are like W. He isn't even FROM Texas and he didn't go to Texas colleges."

Well that was longer than anticipated....

So my first day at work...was completely not what I expected. I was told that they all had a firm grasp on English and that I was to teach high level Business English to them. The first two students walk in, I say "Hello, welcome! I know we are part way through the semester, is this your first English class of the year?"

Response: ::Eyes dart from side to side. A slight smile and cock of the head reminds me of when I used to make funny noises to my dog to see him looked confused. It's the same look. It's because they don't understand a friggin word I have said. Ahh...nothing like exaggeration while selling a job eh?

So as my 35 young 18 year old students file in for my 2.5 hour class I begin to see that most are not very good with English. About 5 of them can hold a conversation. I try to start off by telling about myself and the course objective. I move on to a simple lesson and ask why there is so much talking.

Response: ::"I have to translate for my friend" respond a few people.

Ahh...I see.

So needless to say it was a fairly long class. At one point I asked the kids to use paper to put their names on so I could see who they were. One kid told me "That is a waste of paper." I told him he should go hang out in the office and see how much paper this school wastes making copies if this bothered him. Maybe next week I will suggest he start a coalition to use less paper.

Funny thing is that it really wasn't that bad. We had some good conversations, I got a few groups to get up and argue (or try) points of business and one person even told me he learned a few new words. 10 years ago I would have been upset because my plan crashed, but I recovered. It was like a sales meeting where you find out the person you are selling to doesn't need the product you thought they did but instead needs something about 90 degrees different. I can identify with and see how frustrated they are and am planning to break them up into groups next week. 35 kids is a big crew to teach English to, especially with such a broad array of levels in the room. Should be a nice challenge I guess.

Today I am picking up a class from the Canadian teacher who has a conflict with the class time. I teach the same material but only for 2 hours so it should be better than yesterday. At least I know what to expect today! I have asked to sit in on a colleague's class, but I doubt he will let me. This would be someone who was not willing to share lesson plans after all...

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Last Part of my Succes :-)

Ok...I have taken a few days away from the computer but I am back!! I thought I would post a few pictures of the reception so you could all see what it was like. I was really worried because I thought it would be too small, but our friends really stepped up. My table of friends and family all made sure to dance and have fun, Cyr's tables all made an effort as well. The food was fantastic and the music was great. We had a combination of classic American hits, French classics plus even a little country!!

Above is a picture of me and my family and friends going into the Chateau where we had the vin d'honnour. We were so lucky with the weather!! We took pictures with the photographer during the vin d'honnour and I regret that we didn't spend much time with out guests. I would have liked to talk to them a little more. It seemed like the night passed so quickly!!

There was dancing...

By the time we ended the vin d'honnour my feet were killing me. So I had to bring in a little Texas...

Cyr and I danced our first dance to Anne Murray, "May I have this dance". Nothing like a waltz in a big ivory colored dress while wearing a tiara. Ahhh...

I don't have those pictures yet, but here are Cyr and I in the background after a dance. The handsome fella in the forefront of the picture is Cyr's brother. A real "Beau-Frere" eh?! He's only 18 phone numbers!

I still think I got the best one though!

Here is our fire-hazard-dessert-buffet. It was awesome!! There were about 6 or 8 of those things all over the table!!

Then the toast... I am sure you are completely weddinged out! I think I am done here. I might send out a link to folks once we get the professional ones back. I will for sure send it to family (don't worry Dad and will get more!!).

Tomorrow is my first day of teaching. Woohoo! I have a fairly solid plan though I'm sure something will go wrong and make it exciting. At least now I will have something to blog about other than wedding plans and photos. :-)

Really quick though...thanks to all the folks that came over. Lori, Lori, Tracy, Melinda and Ann; I will never forget you all for being here to support me. Ari and Betrand; you guys are great, I can't wait to see you again! All of Cyr's friends; Kate, Alex, Marc and all the rest. Thank you!! You are now my friends too! Aunt Helen, Sally, Kathy and Joyce; you are all family. Really great family. I know it was not easy to come over, thank you so much. Mom...what can I say...there are not words that can tell you how much I appreciate you always being there for me when things are hard, or listening to me when times are good. I could not have a better Mom, I hope I can return all the kind things you have done for me. I love you.

Ok, enough mushy stuff. Let's move on to real life eh? The one without tiaras, fluffy ivory dresses or great champagne. Well, maybe with great Champagne...and maybe I can wear that tiara sometimes too. And maybe I can dye that dress...I love that dress... ;-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wedding Success (Part 2)!!

I have an amazing friend...her name is Ann. Ann is still in France, in Paris for the rest of the week, and she took the time to download and send me pictures from the wedding!! These are great and you can get a glimpse of what we both looked like. It was a great is a picture she took of me in the cab on the way to the church.

Here is my Mom and I walking down the aisle. My Dad and Sandy were not not able to come because he is not feeling well. I thought of him though and I know he would have been here if he could have.

Here is Cyr and I with my Mom beside me and his mother beside him. I'll have better family pictures later. I think I will probably post them all to a site so you can all go take a look at them when you like.

Here is Ann and I!!
I am wearing a wrap that was given to me by one of my best friends Jen. She was not able to make the wedding but was there in spirit I know. She and her new daughter Mimi (just born in September) were thought of often.

Here we are just married!! I loved my flowers. Just simple roses and greenery, but not red roses. I'm not a big fan of red roses...

Tomorrow I will post some reception pictures for you to check out. We had a great time and I was really happy with the food as well. Now I have to start thinking of real life again I guess. I have a meeting at my new school tomorrow with some of the faculty to discuss the rest of the semester. I'll also get to see my classroom and get my attendance sheets. I want to take it home so Cyr can help me pronounce the names, don't want to butcher them too badly!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wedding Success (Part 1)!!

WOOHOO!!! It's over!!

Well folks...the weekend was a great success. Even the weather cooperated! It was a beautiful sunny day and crisp, clear evening. I could not have imagined it going any better. Well, maybe a little, the only snaffu was that the bus that was supposed to pick the guests up from the church was 15 minutes late, and then it had a problem getting out of the neighborhood because the streets are so narrow. I was worried it was going to get stuck, but after what seemed like a very long time, many horn honks and frustrated French people later, they were off to Belgium!! Where, by the way, the Champagne was excellent, the food amazing and the Chateau a perfect romantic setting for our little party. (Pictures to come later as our photographer left on a two week vacation yesterday...damn it...)

I only have the pictures from my camera, and as I was the bride, I don't actually have any of myself to post yet, but those will come soon!! So here is a photo parade of the beginning of my week last week. It started in Paris, where I met my friends Lori B., Tracy and Melinda. After heaving our luggage up 5 flights of stairs we went out an enjoyed the town.

My family came in the next day (Monday) and we went on a fantastic tour that included dinner at the Eiffel Tower, a river cruise on the Seine and a show at the Moulin Rouge with Champagne.

Above you can see my friends and family that came in to help us celebrate. From left to right we have Cousin Sally, Mom, Aunt Helen, Joyce and Kathy. The Eiffel Tower is gorgeous right now with the blue lights and the stars representing the European Union. During dinner the lights went off and twinkled brightly as if to sign out "Welcome Everyone! Congratulations Susan and Cyriaque!" It was really the highlight of my trip to Paris. Although the after affects of the Champagne the next day were pretty rough. I have realized that it's not a good idea to drink Champagne in the dark. You don't count your glasses and then before you know it, it's too late...I tried to hang in the next day but I was feeling about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

I also had a great treat in getting to meet Leesa the Cupcake Princess!! If you don't know Leesa, go check out her blog. She is an American who has been in Paris for quite a while and has really been a source of moral support for me in my effort to try to fit in this strange land they call France. Here is Leesa and I right before breakfast.

We had a girls night out the Friday before the wedding in Lille as well. But this time I paid attention, I was not about to have a bad day on my Big Day. Her is the crew from Houston that came to see me (missing is Ann, not sure where she sneaked off to, she will show up in later pictures though!)

There is Lori, Lori, Tracy and Melinda. They all brought awful things they make me wear...someone better put an APB out on Big Bird...I think he is missing...

That is me with Alina, she is married to Cyr's best friend and lives in Romania. She is the bride we went to see in Munich a few weeks ago. After this we all went out salsa dancing and had a great time. More photos to come!!

PS - Thank you so much for all the kind emails and posts!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Egypt will have to wait...

...for a little while at least.

Oh the joys of trying to be legal in France! So...I won't bore you all with the details of trying to gain a long stay marriage visa thingy in France. It takes quite a large amount of paperwork for a French person to marry a person who is not French in France. One would hope that by completing this task you would then be able to stay in this wonderful country. Oh contraire mon frere! I knew most of this going into this thing so it was no surprise that after you are married in the Marie (town hall) you have to then take your Livre de Famille (proof of marriage) to your home country to get your long stay visa stamped. Once you have done this then you need to return to France and schedule a meeting with the prefecture.

Our meeting is scheduled for November 12th. During this meeting I am supposed to get a temporary something that will allow me to work, but it's not my actual carte de sejour (work permit if you will). That will arrive in about 3 months after that. During the time I am waiting for my CDS to arrive I am not allowed to leave France except for one visit to any other schengen country . I'm not sure why they allow you one visit, and if you drive or take a train they don't check at the boarders any longer so there is no one to stamp the passport. Anyway, all this adds up to no Egypt in November. I was a little upset about this at first, but I know that we will go eventually, just not now. I think I am mostly upset because we used as a wedding site and many people have donated to our honeymoon. We still get to use this for our trip next year, it's not like we loose anything, I just really wanted to be able to post a followup web site to everyone who gave. Guess that can wait until next year when I can legally leave and return. Thank goodness TravelersJoy has no expiration date! (I highly recomend this site to anyone getting married, very easy to use and a great deal when compared to similar sites.)

This also means that I am not allowed to make a trip home for Thanksgiving which makes me a little sad. I have a friend who is about a month ahead of me in this process, that really helps. She also told me that the government will grant each person one emergency trip home if needed. So if something happens and I need to leave I can, but only to my home country. Now I'm getting a little frustrated because I want to plan our trip and book things and I can't because I don't friggin know when I will get this stuff. I am hoping I will know more after November 12th, but that's just a hope...after that meeting I will most likely just start planning for March I guess. Oh well, c'est la vie.

I actually wrote this post prior to leaving for Paris and scheduled it to post on Tuesday. I feel so techie...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hair Products

When I got my hair cut last week I bought some fancy conditioner that one of the women said I should use. I have rather dry hair, and from what I could make out of the French the woman was speaking to me, if I use this stuff I am going to have some old school Charlie's Angels hair working for me.
I was suckered, so now I sit with this stuff and am not sure how to use it. I thought she was telling me to sleep in it, but I don't think that is right. I think she was just saying to put it on my hair before I shampooed it. Tonight I thought I would put the directions into the Google Language Tools thing to see how to use it. Apparently I will be needing some heavy tools and flower. Here is what the translator spit out at me:

Apply to hair not wet in small quantity sure the lengths and tips, a hammer, using a brush and let set a minimum of 15 minutes, preferably in paper or aluminum-free cello. Eliminating the product followed by a light shampoo refer to your type of hair, or cream flowers if the hair are very dry.
A hammer? Come hair isn't THAT dry. And do I "cream" the flowers myself? How does one do that exactly? I'm thinking a mayonnaise type thing...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Off To Paris!! train takes out from Lille in about 8 hours and I am headed to Paris to pick up my friends at CDG. I am so excited to see them! Then my family (Mom, Aunt, Cousin, and two friends that are like family) comes in Monday. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and trying to show them just a little of why I love France so much.

I often worry that if I try to show people around I will forget something big, or waste a day by getting lost and not seeing the real sites. But the thing about Paris is that even just getting lost is an adventure. You see beautiful things everywhere, not just the well known spots. I also really want them to see Lille. I know the north doesn't get that good of a wrap here, but I really like it. I'm also a bit nervous because the weather has been really great here for quite a while and this can't hold out much longer! I was actually hoping it would rain all last week so that maybe the week I had visitors it would be nice. Seems like every time someone comes to see me we have freakishly bad weather. Maybe it's a ploy...every time visitors come to Lille it rains, that way no one will actually know how great it is here. Man...Mama Nature...that's mean lady.

I won't be blogging until about Thursday, but I have scheduled a few things to pop up over the next day or two. Very techie of me eh? I got the idea from Susan and thought I would try it out. Of course I have had weeks to get ready and I am scurrying around right now looking for battery chargers and hair things.

Wish me luck on being a good tour guide and I hope to meet up with Leesa and Ksam too! I have yet to ever try a rhumrhum, and I think it's time I do...

Friday, October 17, 2008


That would be a job!! Though sometimes it seems to take forever for things to happen in life, sometime things just fall into place and in the blink of an eye you have a whole new part of your life taking shape. Since Thursday at 10am my life took a nice little turn.

I received an email from Mari about a university that was looking for someone to teach 1st year Business English. The class is to familiarize students with things like human resources, company structure and other business type of language. I didn't think I had much of a shot, but I called the woman and left a message. She called me back and said that they had actually found someone already for the role but that she had a schedule conflict with one of the classes. By the time the conversation was over she asked for my resume and thought maybe I could take one of the classes. They were going to move the class so the other person could teach it, but if I could do Tuesdays then it would work out great.

I sent off my resume and received and email right back asking me to come visit with them today. Oh how I love having an actual reason to shower and put on clothes that match...In my usual American fashion I arrived 30 minutes early for the interview. I was to meet my contact at a specific Metro station and it was sunny so I just kind of wandered around a bit. Then I realized I didn't have her phone number in case she didn't turn up or I was at the wrong station. Let's all give a great big "YOU ROCK, THANK YOU SO MUCH!" to Mari in Lille!! I called her and she pulled up the original email and gave me number just in case.

Turned out I didn't need it, she showed up right on time. But if I would have needed it...I had it! We went to the school, I met the dean and they offered me the job right there. It's just one class, but hey, it's a start! I am really looking forward to it. Now every Tuesday I have a place to be at 2pm! I'm meeting my contact again tomorrow at the book store to buy a book for the class. To be honest I don't really think it was my amazing teaching prowess that impressed her so much as the fact that I am a native English speaker and I am breathing. Meaning I think they were pretty desperate. But hey...I'll take that!

I am also super excited about this coming week. I meet friends on Sunday then family on Monday in Paris. I am also hoping to get the chance to meet up with some fellow blogers Leesa and Ksam (of former Sam de Bretagne fame) while in town. I'm feelin a rhumrhum coming on...

Oh...I also got my hair cut and it looks pretty good. There are a lot more layers than I am used to but I think I like it. At first I was a little scared I had a fancy-mullet (if there is such a thing) because it is shorter around my face, but I think I like it. One of my friends said it didn't look that much different, I hope that doesn't mean that I already had a fancy-mullet...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A few good things...

I went to order the flowers yesterday for the wedding. I'm not putting them in the church or anything, I just need a bouquet and some boutonnieres for the people in the wedding and the mothers. I waited until 2:00pm (14h for those French folks) to walk down because I figured they would be closed for lunch. As guessed; they did have a lunch break, but apparently florists are extra hungry folk and they need more than the normal 2 hour lunch break. They take 3 hours and 20 minutes for lunch. So alas I would have to return at 3:20pm (15h20) if I wanted flowers.

I was really glad I returned because I just love the florist! He is a slight man with kind smile that is a bit lopsided, olive skin, dark hair and brown eyes who had no problem with my child-like French. I told him what I liked and didn't like, "S'il vous plait, pas des roses rouge" (please, no red roses). He immediately began briskly walking around the small shop and grabbing things, making a bouquet right then and there to show me what it would look like. I love the colors (will post pictures after the fact) and the fact that they will be made by kind hands also makes me feel good. A little good karma on the day would do me fine. Ahh...the sweet smell of success! I pick them up the day before the wedding. I thought I would pick them up the day of, but he said they would still be fresh for Saturday. I'm sure they will, he seems to know what he is doing. I also have no idea what it is going to cost, probably a car payment...oh least I have flowers! Plus we have even more money to spend because another person is having to cancel the visit. She is sick though, I can't blame her, the flight is hard enough when you feel good. Guess we can put her meal money to the flowers. Ha...

I'm having my British friend (who will be on vacation and won't make the wedding) over this evening for dinner. She has cooked a few times for me and I'm trying to return the favor. I'm planning chicken breasts stuffed with dried figs and blue cheese. Just some simple sides and some sorbet for desert I think. Not getting very fancy, but it will do along with some wine of course. Not too much though, I have a coffee thing tomorrow morning I am planning on going to. I realize I am really going to have to find some sort of work after I get my CDS (November 12 here I come) and so I'm going to bump up my networking attempts. I don't really care what I do here, just a job...

I also got to see Cyr this morning via web cam. Ha...I love those things. He had to make a trip to the Middle East and will be back Sunday. The same day I leave to pick up my friends in Paris...he promises to meet me at the alter though.

Actually we will be back Wednesday so I will get time with him for a few days prior. Plus we have to have dance lesson number 2! Cyr...the waltzing Frenchman...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3rd Race at the Honeymoon-Is-Over Downs

Ok, this is a bit crude...but I cracked up when I watched it! Now Cyr and I are not running in this race of course. Being from Texas I like to compare our relationship to team roping rather than racing. ;-)

Anyway, I am feeling much better about life today. I am truly excited about the people that are coming in and am thrilled that I am going to have time to spend with each one of them. Enjoy this little video, I am off to buy my bouquet and the boutonnieres!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wedding Plans

Well there is less than two weeks until the big church wedding!

Things are falling into place and I am fairly sure it will all go off alright. The only things I still have left to do are the flowers, pick the menu, sort some music out and confirm the number of guests. The last one is something that has been bothering me for a few weeks to be honest. I know it shouldn't, I know I am asking too much of my family and friends to come all the way to France for a wedding. The thing that actually bothers me is that there were a large amount of people saying they would be here and of course the number is (literally) now less than half of what I expected from my side. Yes, I know the economy is not well right now. Maybe I'm just a selfish brat. But I had people telling me all summer how they would see me at the wedding. Oh well, I know my Mom will be here, an Aunt, a cousin and handful of friends.

No matter how many times I read and retype this post I just sound like a whiny bitch. I am very excited about the day and the people that are coming. The truth is that most of my best friends and family can't make it for real reasons. One just had a baby less than a month ago, another has two kids she needs to take care of, my Dad is sick and can't make it, and some people just plain don't have the money. It's ok, I understand. Truth is that it's going to be just about the perfect size. With all of Cyr's family and friends coming I think there will be about 45 people total for the dinner and reception with a few more at the ceremony.

I'm also really excited about the people that are coming. I have some friends arriving this weekend in Paris and I'm going to meet them and have a great time. My family (Mom, Aunt, cousin and family friend who is like family) comes in on Monday and we are also going to spend a few days in Paris too. I think I am actually more excited about this than anything else! They have even booked a tour with a chance to see a show at the Moulin Rouge! Ha! I can't wait! Next week is going to be one of the best weeks ever, I can feel it. I have two more friends coming in next week the Thursday before the wedding and will get to spend time with them too. Then there will be the wedding, where the most important person of all will be; Cyr. Now that I think about it, I guess it is the perfect size. Just enough folks to really be able to share something special, not just have a huge show. I guess I can say that it may sound super dorky, but the wedding will actually be "intimate" which is usually code for "small" but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It's a special day for a small special group of people.

Plans are next year to have a big "not-so-intimate" party in the states so that we can celebrate with all the people that can't make it this time. And you can bet your ass I am going to wear my dress again. ;-)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Night at the Opera

Sorry I have been so slow to post this week, but I STILL can't breath and therefore can not get the oxygen I need to my brain in order to put together logical thoughts. But hey, thought I would try anyway...

This week Cyr had to go on his (as of right now) second to last trip of the year. I bought Opera tickets not knowing his schedule and just hoped it would fit in. Well, he was lucky, it didn't. A group of us bought tickets together, I was able to sell mine and off we all went for an evening of opera. I must say, I was really surprised at the cost of the opera. They had tickets starting at 11 euro. We ended up at about 40 euro each and those were great seats. Floor level, back of the pack. The building was much smaller than I pictured. I kept looking at the balcony level thinking I would see good old Abe up there watching his last show. It was quite cozy actually. It even had dark red velvet chairs. I have loved the Opera building here in Lille from the first time I saw it. It's gorgeous. Since my computer crashed I can't get my pics onto this new hard drive, so I can't post pictures. Darn it...

We saw The Marriage of Figaro. I had never seen it before, so being the curious person I was I looked it up online to get the story prior to the show. Which, by the way, I'm glad I did. The opera is sang in Italian and had the subtitles in French. It was like watching a tennis game you don't really know the rules of.
I still had (and have) my nose issue. I did have Afrin though and took a hit right before the show so I wouldn't be the mouth-breather-girl-in-the-back-row. I was so glad I did. But of course the minute the lights go out I have to cough. I went armed though. As the first chords rose up from the orchestra I held cough drops in one hand and tissues in another.

Act I: This consisted of me doing my best not to cough or blow my nose. My throat all of a sudden became very itchy and filled with mucus when I knew I could not clear it. I would wait for people to clap and cough. My timing was impeccable if I do say so. Once I got a Drill (cough drop) down I was much better. There was a scary moment when I felt a little tickle in my nose. A familiar buzzing sort of itch that I immediately recognized as a sneeze. I knew it was coming and I was prepared. I knew I could do the quiet sneeze, but what if a sqeek escaped? You know what I mean, you try to stiffle the sneeze and end up sounding like a nail being pulled out of a tin roof. Again I was lucky, no sqeek, just a jumping of shoulders and quick jerk of the head.

Intermision: One Leffe Blond for only 3 euro! No way! In the US they totaly stiff you on drinks at events. The $9 Miller Light kills me. 3 euro for a 33 cl Leffe was actually better than some of the bars I have been to. Rock on Lille...

Act II: By this time it has been about an hour and a half since the show started. Of course there were people in the auditorium prior to the start. I'm sure they helped to warm up the place. I was actually starting to sweat a bit. About 15 minutes into Act II I feel a bubble in my stomach. Uh-oh. That would be a beer burp. You can't burp at the opera! That's like peeing in the aisles of the ballet for goodness sake! Well maybe not that bad, but still bad. I am the ruler of my bodily functions dear readers. With my hardly noticeable throat reflex and controlled exhale, I think only the nice woman next to me noticed. I did have the slight hiccup like bounce, so I think she knew. That actually happened twice. Then I was so hot I had a hard time focusing on the opera. Yeah, yeah...person hides behind a chair, no one notices, people dress up like anyone else hot? No? Really?

Clapping...I hear clapping...Oh yeah! I can now find oxygen! Must put on jacket so no one notices sweat stains (if they are in fact present). No, you must clap some more. Man, the French really like to clap. My arms actually got tired. We clapped for everyone, and finally when the best friend of the second cousin of the guy who is in charge of the third light to the left took his bow, we filed out.

Now don't get me wrong, I actually do like the opera. Except for Madame Butterfly. I have seen that one 3 times and each time I don't like it. Unless you count the time I saw it at Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston and we drank wine on the grassy hill. I liked that time. I like Figaro too. The music even without the lyrics is amazing. That Mozart was a heck of a composer I say. I just had a hard time focusing when I was not feeling well and was sweating. I never thought I was high maintenance, but maybe in the case of opera I am. I need to have the elements working in my favor. Unlike ballet or really any kind of dance. I could be puking and sweating and I would still enjoy a dance production. Or a musical. I could sit through Les Miserables or Cabaret in 104 heat with the flu. Now that I think about it...maybe I don't like the opera as much as I thought I did. Oh gosh, I am so uncultured, and disappointed in myself really. I probably should not admit that the opera is not my favorite art eh? I should pretend to like it a whole bunch, like most of the people that were there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Great Sunday Food

Although I still have a completely clogged up nose, the weekend was pretty good. Sunday we went to Cyr's Mom's house and had lunch with her and his brother C. Lunch is always good at the belle-mere's, she's a great cook.

I think I mentioned once before how time here seems to move faster than in the US, it's really strange. Somehow we left our place with 15 minutes to spare, stopped by the bakery to pick up a desert and then were almost an hour late for lunch. How does that happen?! Very strange...

Our tardiness was not a big deal though, we arrived just before the rain started. I really like meals at the beau-famille (in-laws) because we always have a bunch of little appetizers. We started with a glass of Champagne with little toasts that had chevre and bacon on it that were grilled in the oven. Along with that there were some banana peppers stuffed with some sort of cream cheese like filling and of course saucisson. Not just any saucisson either, my favorite; St. Agaune. It's soooooo good. It seems to have a lower fat content and the meat is tender and a bit salty and somhow even juicy. Can dried sausage be juicy? Probably only if it's really fattening.

She also had what looks like a layer cake but is in fact (I found out after I was eating) cow tongue with layers of foie gras. It's a specialty of the city where they live. Don't cringe, I know it sounds awful, but it's actually wonderful. She also made some gelatin to go with it and cut up a few figs. All two million calories were fantastic. Lunch was a lamb stew with carrots, potatoes, beets and peas with a great bottle of red wine. I think I could talk with his Mom more this visit. My French is getting a little bit better each time I think. Her English is really good though, so she can always save me when I don't know what's going on. I'm also a bit limited on topics I can talk about because I don't have a wide variety of words to choose from. I wanted to ask her about work and a few things but didn't know the words. Maybe next time.

We hung out most of the day and then came home and tried to get things done for the wedding. Everyone clap your hands in appreciation of Cyr's first dance lesson!! I think I fell in love all over again...he's a natural waltzer people.

I love the waltz. It's a dance that always makes me think that maybe I was a princess given away at birth to protect me from the evil doers of my land. To be raised by a nice family to maybe one day be brought back to rule in my castle and have the stable of horses I so deserve. I also don't really look like my parents which has always aided this fantasy. But I do act like them. Guess you can't get away from the DNA too much. Plus I wouldn't give them up for anything, not even a castle. But if they threw in a stable of horses...well it would be tempting...naw. Not really.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Difficult French

Currently I am trying to type but I have a very strong urge to blow my nose. Which by the way, won't blow when I blow it. I just end up forcing air to the top of my throat, then my ears threaten to pop. Of course there is that odd running thing every now and then so you have to keep a tissue near so you don't drip on yourself and offend the people around you.

Cyr took me to the pharmacy and I got some kind of spray and some pills to take. These are serious pills too! Four times a day then one at night for four days. Maybe tomorrow I won't be the irritating mouth breathing person you can actually hear.


Ewe...that's me.

I also discovered something interesting about the French language. It's virtually impossible to speak French as a non-native speaker (ok, complete beginner) when you have a stopped up nose. It's like my mouth can't form the words because the pressure is off or something. I have suddenly forgotten how to form the words. Example: We went to lunch and I wanted a hot mint tea. You would have thought I was trying to order a 5 course meal. I could not get it out, I had to say it I think three times before the waiter got it. Cyr was so patient, he just smiled and let me talk loud and spray spittle on the waiter. I think the waiter thought it was amusing. He had that raised eyebrow (both of them) look and a smile. Like I was a three-year-old trying to do a magic trick. For a person who really doesn't like three-year-olds.

Cyr didn't try to order for me because he knew I was already irritated at the lady who sat us and offered "Shall I bring you a menu in English?" said in French very quietly to Cyr. My poorly tied scarf must have given me away as being non-French. Cyr declined, saying; "No thank you, she understands." (in French of course) Then the lady says; "I'll bring you one anyway."


Granted, maybe I'm a bit touchy because someone filled both of my nostrils with cement glue last night, but I was offended. Seriously lady, guess you people don't get the "no means no" thing here eh? When she came back with the menus I gave her the one eye brow raised look and Cyr reaches out and takes the English menu. sweet is that?! Low and behold I was even able to find my agneau (lamb) without a problem.

Of course she was not our waiter, that was the guy mentioned above. Darn it...I would have felt much better getting a little spittle on her and forcing her to hear my stuffy nosed French. Oh well, maybe next time. Even if I feel fine. :-)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Computer Germs

Oh man!! So my computer was acting a bit funny, not letting me get to some sites, redirecting me when I did searches to sales or porn sites. This bug is super smart. It also blocks access to any anti-virus pages, so you can't get to NOD32, Norton, Symantec or anything out there that can help. Then my little guy went into a coma. Just a frozen screen with no movement. I would have to force her off by holding the power button and then the screen would go black and a noise similar to static would be heard as she painfully powered down.

Lucky for me (right now) my computer completely freaked out two days before I was to move to France. I went to Micro Center and bought new memory and a new hard drive because I thought it was fried then. When I got to France and ran some add-ware program it went back to normal so my memory and hard drive have been sitting in the closet up until now. Plus, computer items are WAY more expensive here, so I now have a better set up for much less than I would have had to spend here.

A second lucky thing; Cyr is a brain and can actually replace these items, get my computer up and running and is going to somehow get the files off my old hard drive. The only pain in the butt is that all my docs and things I am going to need for the wedding including budget, guest list, addresses and old pictures are now sitting on my sick hard drive here on the table. I can feel the files looking at me, wanting to be part of my day, almost pleading to be placed back in their natural habitat on my little Dell here. I hope my hero Cyr can save them!!

So watch out people! I have no idea how I got this. But it's bad news...I'm not opening any attachments until my anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-whatever else is out there is fixed.

Good news - we booked our photographer for the wedding!! His name is Luc and he is great. I can't find his link right now...but I will update this post later and include it so you can check him out. I think he is fantastic, he really takes very unique pictures. Plus we actually saved money with him because the one we were going to use was referred to us by the Chateau (reception site)and they really mark up the prices. Woohoo! No mark up for us, we will just pay the already a bit high regular price thank you!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chuck Norris to the rescue I must have gotten into something, because my computer is acting all kinds of crazy. It won't let me search on certain things or rather when I click to be connected to a link from Google I get redirected to a porn site. Uh! It's a grose one too! Every time I accidentally see it I feel the need to go take a shower. Ewe...

So since my wonderful Cyr is now home he is going to attempt to fix it for me. I even installed a new Antivirus and after I ran a scan it said I had nothing wrong. Cyr said he think's he knows what is causing the problem. Some IP thingy directing me to blah, blah...then I lost track of what he was saying because I think I saw a bird outside. Anyway, should be all fixed up tomorrow.

So today I leave you with a little entertainment I recieved in an email. I have not thought much of good old Chuck Norris since I don't have "Walker Texas Ranger" playing on the WB (or wherever it plays now) when I surf by. When I first read this I didn't laugh at first, then it grew on me the more I read. Like a litterary fungus...

Why Chuck Norris should be feared;

-The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.

-There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

-The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

-Chuck Norris originally appeared in the "Street Fighter II" video game, but was removed by Beta Testers because every button caused him to do a roundhouse kick. When asked bout this "glitch," Norris replied, "That's no glitch."

-There are no weapons of mass destruction. Just Chuck Norris.

-Chuck Norris CAN believe it's not butter.

-If tapped, a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick could power the country of Australia for 44 minutes.

-Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

-Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.

-If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.

-Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

-The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris's fist.

-What was going through the minds of Chuck Norris's victims before they died? His shoe.

-Chuck Norris has an unbeatable poker face, concealed beneath an even more unbeatable poker beard.

-Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

-Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

-In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Chuck Norris could use to kill you, including the room itself.

-Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

-Chuck Norris Isn't funny, stop laughing.

-Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there.

-Chuck Norris doesn't own a stove, toaster oven or a microwave... Because revenge is a dish that's best served cold.

-Since 1940, the year Chuck Norris was born, roundhouse kick related deaths have increased 13,000 percent.

-Chuck Norris can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.

-Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chinese Translations and Menu Offerings

Cyr is in China this week and sent me a few photos of the signs he has in his hotel room. One of my favorites is this sign by the bathtub:

In case it's hard to says;
Our honorific guests:
For your safey and preventy the wed and slippery floor. Please put the bath curtain into the bathrub when you are washing for avoiding the water spatter out of the bathrub.
At the same. We prepare the nail-clipper for you in the house-keeping.
Thanks for your cooperating.

I also like this one he took of the laundry bag.

It says;
To serve you whole heartdly makes you feel convenient and happy during travel.

Nothing like being served "heartdly". Being the agreeable eater he is he also told me he tried a dish that looked very much like snails that had forked tails. Well, turned out it was duck tongue. Seriously, how many duck tongues would it take to make one meal?! There was also donkey served I believe in the same meal. Such a lucky fella to have all these fun things thrown after him!

He sent me some pictures of menus but they are hard to read so I will just tell you what some of my favorites were;

Steamed Mouse-Shaped Fish (Maybe a children's favorite? Also known as the "Mickey Fish"?)
Crispy Freid Loach (Please don't let that be a typo with the "L")
Sauteed Chicken Feet (no thanks, I like my feet fried)
Jew's Ear with Chrysanthemum (I just can't say anything about this one...)
Flavored Crispy Elbow (after the previous entry I am not sure I want to know what kind of elbow.)
Sauteed Crispy Stomach with Pickled Peppers
(Peter Piper's favorite I'm sure, but again...the stomach of what?)
Spicy Ox Spinal Cord (Whew, I just hate the dull flavored spinal cord)
Chicken Stomach with Chili Pot (if this is like Amsterdam "Pot" I might need it to eat the "Chicken Stomach")
Sauteed Duck Lips in Maggie Sauce (So that's why I have never seen a duck's lips! They are all in China being served for dinner! With Maggie apparently...)

I don't think he actually tried any of the above. But in case you are offered, I hear the duck tongue is nothing to spit at. Ha...actually he said it was pretty chewy...