26 March 2010

Wait, say what? Week

So, I LOVE my job. (if you can call it that)
I worked a total of 8 hours this week *Tuesday was a strike day and Wednesdays, I have off*
And I got to spend time with students whom I love and who stay crazy.
We'll take today for instance:
I've had a little cough for the past couple of days and had a coughing fit in class. I said (in English) I'm going to die and then translated it into French. At first the five boys in class just looked at me, then as I walked to the back of the class to cough one (who looks like a leprechaun and is as mischievous jumps up from the floor (we were watching Remember the Titans) and runs after me saying "Miss, miss, I can do CPR?" and the others yelling "Sur la bouche!" (on the mouth)
Next story.
Another faculty member comes in (who I may or may not have a crush on and who may or may not reciprocate/initiate) to hand a student a note and flashes a beautiful smile. Same kid who was trying to resuscitate me unnecessarily says in French (as if I'm deaf and not able to speak or understand French) "il la kiffe (he likes her) I try not to blush and get them to stop making me seem like I had no control (which I did)
When I was preparing to go home for the afternoon I ran into the aforementioned faculty member and have a petit conversation with him. The kids (again forgetting or not caring that I speak French) say "Ah, regardes **** il drague" (Look at.....he's trying to mack/pull /hit on whatever) To which he replies
"J'ai pas le droit?" (Don't I have the right)
Shake my head.
One last thing, one of the teachers I'd consider a friend. He tries to speak English asks about my family, friends, life etc.Cool dude, yet acts out of pocket often in a childish you need to go to time out way. Last week he made me give him bisous (kisses on the cheek)after he fixed the copy machine (by fixed I mean pushed a button) and then this week while just answering questions in English this one about ice cream flavours I respond chocolate chip cookie dough to which he says "Oh, chocolat, I can see why" while winking.

At least they keep me smiling :)

24 March 2010

Chosen friends

I miss having Jewish friends. One of my friends was talking on Facebook about how she's having to eat all of her chametz (refers to bread, grains and leavened products that are not consumed on the Jewish holiday of Passover)It's almost Passover and ever since I was a wee little lass, I used to read the Passover story and then a few weeks later (usually)it would be time for Easter. It was a pleasant holiday season. I think I especially connect with Passover not only because of the religious narrative, but the historical narrative of Americans descended from enslaved Africans.
When I was like 11, probably, my mum bought me this great book "This is the Matzah that Papa brought Home" because I really wanted it. It's a great book and a lot of fun. However, I never got to experience a true Passover seder until last year with my good friend Misheala. It was such a beautiful experience and I felt right at home and also thankful she chose to share her family and this special holiday with me and some of her other friends. This year I'll probably just say a prayer and read the story.
I also got to thinking about this because wherever I settle eventually I will need a diverse group of cohorts at the ready. I like being able to participate in different religious and cultural events as it makes a part of my soul feel more alive.
Here's a link to a YouTube video explaining some of the symbols of Passover. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awl1KCo_oZ0&feature=related

14 March 2010

Member of the Tribe

So, seeing as I work a grand total of 12 hours a week(Are you mad?)I have a lot of time for thinking.
One of the thoughts that have been jostling for space in my noggin is the whole twentysomething thing. I'm year 3 of my twenties and feel as silly as ever. Interests in many subjects,little to no direction, a diploma and a smile. Not bad, but not exactly helpful.I've noticed that my friends not in random international locales, or those not shuttling back and forth across the ocean ,are working jobs like REAL adults. Their Facebook statuses, tweets, etc. reflect adult things like regular working hours, boredom at times, but also a sense of adulthood and belonging in an adult definition. Now maybe this is just me projecting on them, but I think it's definitely easier to feel like a real adult when you have a 9 to 5 schedule that's serious than a 12 hour work week that's subject to less hours.
I'm not complaining. I'm enjoying the experience, but I wonder if I'm being left behind in the development game. Like the members of my tribe are doing what they're supposed to, and I'm one of the random members who's like "Nah, I'm tired of roaming what if I stick this seed in the mud?"...or something like that.
Originally I was going to write about all my age comrades getting pets, specifically dogs. Is this what we do? Get dogs? If I was in a stable relationship with a territory (city, state, heck, continent) I might like a puppy companion- a friend and guide through this maze called young adulthood. But it wouldn't be fair to either of us, with me being unsure of where I will call home.
With changing societal norms is getting a dog the new sign of adulthood?
Am I overthinking this? Probably.
haha, I should go to sleep.
After this glass of vin.

10 March 2010

Un Petit Update

So, I never did blog about Italy and how amazing it was and how I fell in love with the sights, smells and sounds of it. But I did.
In this never ending winter *cue Kanye* I'm brought back to the colours of the buildings in Verona, of Bologna's reddish tint, of Firenze's beauty despite the tempest and even of Milano's gloomy charm.
I think I'm unhappy because I don't know what's next and that bothers me. I'm a Type B chick for the most part of my life, but let me feel helpless or unsure and I turn Type A in a New York minute,wanting to make lists and plans and stress.
I started thinking about things that would make me happy. I started with applying for jobs. This makes me an actor in my life and not an audience member, and I have to have that. If I'm honest, and I have no reason not to be, I'm afraid that I am inadequate. That my degree,while enjoyable and edifying, will be of little practical use. The only way for me to combat this fear is to apply for anything and everything that might be in line with what I know how to do-write and think. Haha. I'm also fearful of disappointing my parents. Here they sent me to University, have supported me in this crazy love affair with France and now what? I'm 23 years old and about to move back home for the summer. There's so shame in that,but I need and want more. I know whatever I end up doing my parents will say their proud of me, but I want to do something awesome so that I know they'll be proud.At the same time, I haven't a clue where I want to be. Location is my biggest problem.I envy these guys I know who are working on a farm in the middle of Sicily. I envy my friend ,Chris,who is preparing to go back to China because he's afraid of being stuck in London forever.
If I was as brave and ballsy as these guys, you know what I would do?
I would move to Israel for awhile and see what I can get in to. Be that working on a kibbutz, teaching or whatever.
I'm afraid though that if I keep being light and untethered that I will lose out on the beautiful possibilities that can come from stability, dedication and commitment. I vacillate between feeling too young to seriously worry about all this, to realising that I'm getting older and eventually my parents calling me Carmen SanDiego may not be a compliment.

02 March 2010

ID Control

So it finally happened.
My police incident. I always joked about it happening,but when it finally did it was the opposite of funny. I've seen minorities in France get stopped before on the street and asked for papers. Mostly Roma(gypsies)Arabs and Black people. I've always wondered if they did something wrong or what,but never thought much about it. With people's preconceived notions of my nationality(insert random nation:Eritrea, Somalia,whatever)I knew it was a possibility,but didn't think it would annoy me so much.
I had time to kill between my train leaving La Roch sur Yon and Bordeaux and hour and some change so I decided to get a bite to eat. I did and then moseyed along to the train station with time to spare to get a cappuccino from the machine.
As I was about to turn the corner to get to the station I see a police car. Nothing unusual there, but then I got the sense that it was going to stop. Instantly I thought, there's no reason for them to stop and talk to me.
But stop to talk to me they did.
They walked toward me and said "Hello,miss can we see your papers?" (en Francais of course)They said more stuff in French that I forgot as I was shocked the situation was happening. Never in my 23 years in the States have I had an encounter with the police other than them visiting my school when I was little. In France,up until this time ,I've been content to notice the cute ones. I knew they wanted to see papers to verify that I had a right to be in France,but it was incredibly demeaning. One of them asked to go through my little green bag and the other proceeded to ask me what I was doing in La Roch sur Yon(as if anyone would purposefully, of their own volition just post up there) Fortunately, I had my passport and tried to explain (suppressing tears) that I was just going to catch my train and that I had a pause and decided to eat something. He then asked me why I was going to Bordeaux (as if it was any of his bloody business) and I said I was going to see friends. They then asked me why I was in France etc.etc. where I lived all of the questions that made it seem as if I had done something wrong. It was humiliating to have to explain myself to them in the middle of a sidewalk, while people passed and probably though "There goes another..." Initially they didn't understand what I meant by "pause"even though I've heard French people use it, I showed them my ticket pointing to the length of time in between and they finally understood. Finally one of them, asked what my nationality was and I started to whimper, "Je suis Americaine, ca c'est ma passporte/I'm American, that's my passport" That the other officer was holding.After the passport holding officer was off his walkie-talkie speaking to their headquarters he handed it back to me.
"Are you okay?" he said painstakingly in English.
"Did I do something wrong?," I asked through tears and heavy breathing.
"Non," they replied quickly.
I instantly think, "Then why the [hell] would you stop me?"
I asked if I could leave and they said yes, but not before telling me that it was okay and "c'est pas grave"/it's not serious, don't cry...
But it was serious and I did cry.
It seriously annoyed me and embarrassed me.(Not that I have a right to not be annoyed)It was insulting to have to justify why I was in France let alone their city. I know it's a prejudice on my part, but I'm not from a developing country come to France to steal jobs or whatever. I just happened to have melanin and be walking.
I called my dad sobbing, perhaps unnecessarily, and explained the situation to him. He was hurt because it's something he wished his children wouldn't have to go through.(When he was younger, in Texas, in the 70s he was stopped on a 10 speed bike and accused of theft)It's not better,but it's expected in The States,especially the South. It's a sad part of the narrative of our country,but one that is being changed.
France, au contraire, is the land of liberte, egalite, and fraternite.
But I wonder how many blanc Francais are bothered by id controls? I sent a text to one of my friends and was annoyed at her response that it wasn't serious. That it happens all the time and had happened to her before. I'm sure it happens to white French people, but I'm certain it happens more to ethnic minorities. I really can't adequately convey my frustration, annoyance or hurt over this situation.
I can better understand the problem France is having with it's young immigrant and minority populations. If you build a state where certain segments of the population are more likely to have negative experiences with the law, don't be surprised when you combine that with low employment and covert discrimination to find cars burned and frustration abounding.
They say a Republican is a Democrat who has just been robbed, perhaps an anarchist is an innocent person who was stopped on the street, but not in my case. I still think the police play a valuable part (obviously) in maintaining law and order. I would just posit,that stopping people with out probable cause could be something they give up for Lent. Or forever.
Link to an article about this topic: