Friday, August 22, 2008

Camping Jour 3

We were up again at 8 a.m. sharp! Luckily I was up because the kids camping next door were super loud and also up early. We had a quick breakfast then hit the road for some castles!

The first stop was Azay-le-Rideau! A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

This was the first castle we went inside and toured. It was beautiful! There is a huge open staircase with amazing detail all over the walls and ceilings. You can only tour two of the three floors which are filled with beautiful furniture and artwork.

We ate lunch at a nearby river and watched a huge flock of ducks stalk us for our bread crumbs. There was also a crazy duck man who sat beside us and talked to the ducks. I'm pretty sure he thought they were talking back to him, and he understood them. Who knows. Maybe he did.

Driving around the countryside is mesmerizing. All the forests are completely different than back home. They are all in neatly planted rows! There are also thousands upon thousands of neatly planted vinyards.

Our next stop was Chinon. Unfortunately, it was closed. The town of Chinon was pretty cute, but the trek uphill was not. It also happens that everything was closed on Lundi, which of course is the day we visited! There were still plenty of tourists wandering around the small streets.

I finally got them to pull over the car so I could get a picture of the amazing sunflower fields!

There was live music at the campground entertainment this evening. It was some sort of international/french/folk-ish band. Boring. I did recognize the tune from "The Bear necessities" from the jungle book, but they were obviously singing in french so I didn't understand it.

I was pretty excited that people thought I was Dominque and Nathalie's daughter. That means I'm fitting in and look French! Too bad I mess it up when I speak!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

camping jour 2

We woke up bright and early to go exploring. During breakfast, and subsequently at every meal, we played 'who's french and who's not' while watching people walk past our porch. I lost. Apparently it's easy to tell who isn't French by looking at them. I think it was harder for me since we don't have a specific look at home. At least that is what I claim. The French also don't walk around the campsite in their sweats either, like I'm used to seeing back home. You know? Like when you have to walk across the campsite to the porta-potty you don't wear your regular nice clothes. Well they do here, but they also don't use porta-potties. They have nice indoor bathrooms and showers for those not lucky enough to have their own private bathrooms.

Oh, and my 'parents' are superb petanque players. I figured it would be an easy enough game, I mean, I've played it once or twice down at Boulevard Park at Western Wa University, but it's pretty serious here. I think I won two out of the lots of games we played. Lesson learned. Don't overestimate Silly French games that traditionally only old men play. Got it.

The campground is located in the city of Loches. Right above us is also a huge castle, cathedral, donjon and medieval city. It's pretty fun to explore, but instead we took the day to go find other chateaux. I sat happily watching the countryside while my parents got lost a bunch. It's nice to know i'm not the only person on the planet who desperately needs gps. Nat would read the map, sometimes wrong then Dom would ignore her and go his own way, thus getting us lost and getting to see lots of little French Villages. It was a happy accident. Nestled in between all the sunflowers are cute little towns with lots of old architecture. It was awesome. I was seriously in awe to be able to run my hand along all of these old castles and town walls. History makes me all bubbly inside. I love that I finally was able to see and smell and touch all of the places I had to spend hours studying in art history class. It makes it all worth while, especially since that minor is useless.

The weather wasn't that great today so castle seeing was light. We headed back to the base and relaxed for a while before dinner. I found it interesting to watch the kids more my age (okay a lot younger). They act the exact same as like young campers back home. Flirty. It was kind of fun to watch who "hooked up" with who, and by hook up I mean who was holding hands with who by the end of the week. All the 'cool' boys had their Louis Vuitton man purses and all the 'cool' girls had their ridiculously short skirts despite the fact it was freezing cold. I suppose some behaviors are internationally the same.

The nightly entertainment looks like it won't be that bad. Dancing. Karaoke. A magician? Whatevs. It beats playing card games like war under the lantern light, right?

Camping - jour 1

My 'parents' decided since they were on vacay that we should take a camping trip to the Loire Valley to hunt for Castles! How terrific is that? Plus, I love camping, so let's do it, right?

First off, camping in France isn't really how I think of camping back home in the Pacific Northwest. When we camp we pack up the tents (some of which may or may not be waterproof), tarps because inevitably it will rain, sleeping bags and blankets because it gets damn cold at night, marshmallows and wieners for the fire, lantern and deck of cards. I would assume anybody else's camping list follows suit basically (unless you are an RV camper. Bah.) Camping in the Pacific Northwest is in the hard core forest. It makes me think of Bear Grylls biting off the heads of snakes and eating raw fish straight from the river. Not that I myself camp like this, but it gives a good visual. The french don't camp like that. We reserved a chalet, which is a fancy french name for a cabin. At least at home we don't call them chalets, I can't speak for the east coast. Our chalet came with two bedrooms, comfy beds, wc, bathroom with hot water shower, kitchen, microwave and all the other daily conveniences camping is supposed to be without. I can't say I didn't mind, especially since it rained a few nights we were there. The 'campground' which I refuse to call it by because it was actually like a 4 star resort did however have some sites where people could pitch tents. I looked at those spots and every single one of them was occupied by some family that wasn't french. Quite a few were Belgian or English. Nope. You didn't see the French in tents. The resort also boasted a heated pool, sauna and nightly entertainment outside the restaurant/lounge. Some camp-ground.

So we hit the road early saturday morning for a some 400 km drive. I slept basically the whole way again. I woke up in time for a pit stop lunch at this cute park with a river view. There were some ducks in the water, but Dominque called them water chickens instead. They looked like ducks to me, but he insisted it was different. There was also a beaver looking creature that he called a river rat. It was too far away to actually see what it was. Then back on the road. Another weird thing in France is that the free-ways aren't free. You have to pay to drive on many of the bigger highways. Luckily our exit was the close so our toll wasn't that expensive. But the further you drive, the more you pay. I'm used to the toll bridge at home, but a toll road? Ew. I'm not a fan and I wasn't even driving.

When we checked in I read the book in the office where people could leave comments when they were checking out. It was interesting to see all of the different countries people came from. There was a note from a couple from California. I don't know if I was from Cali that I would come to France to camp. I realize i'm not from far from california, but I've been living here. They were on vacay. Strange.

I realized that when I unpacked I totally forgot my adapter. Naturally. We went to the grocery store to get some stuff for the week and of course the store had every adapter possible except American. They were out. So was every other store in the general area. I had to be really careful with my cameras and selective when taking pictures so my batteries wouldn't die. Luckily the spares were fully charged. That helped. My ipod died the first night. Excellent.

When we were making the grocery list for the above mentioned trip, they dictated and I wrote. They made fun of me the whole trip because I spelled pastis wrong. They made it sound like pastiche. Whatever.

What blew my mind the most, the first day when we went castle hunting was the acres and acres of sunflower fields. I'm used to seeing corn everywhere with all the farmland around, but the sunflowers are amazing. Just fields of pure yellow. All over. I never got bored staring out at the country side.

Oh, and they don't have campfires. Weird.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 58 *I think* Carnac & Quiberon

It is a gorgeous day today so we decided to take a little day trip to Carnac and Quiberon. Carnac is world famous (well, I didn't really know about it before I saw it so it shows how much I payed attention in ancient history - if I ever learned this) for its Megaliths. I linked what looks to be some kind of informational site if you want to learn more about them. They are pretty fascinating. There are thousands of huge rocks standing tall in perfect rows. There are also, scattered around, many burial formations which I think were called dolmens. You could walk down inside some of them and see carvings in the stones. The amazing thing from these is that they have been there since 3500 BC! That's a pretty long time if you ask me. Then again, I'm into the historical stuff. If you're not then you'd probably think (like many) that they are just a bunch of rocks lined up. Whoopie.

We also drove down further, towards the end of the peninsula, to Quiberon. We stopped along the way on the "savage coast" to look down the cliffs at the raging ocean below.

There were miles and miles like this, and it was pretty windy. But I had fun. Quiberon is at the bottom of the peninsula and basically a summer town. It was a fun day trip, though.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

family is tiring!

We gathered again at Chez Mami and Papi Gaston with about 20 or so other family members for a big lunch. Once again, in french style, we drank more. I played with my little 'cousin' Lucas who was super cute and the only word he knows is tractor. He didn't mind that I wasn't french since he doesn't understand a whole lot anyways, so that was okay. After lunch, and after most people departed, we headed over to one of the aunts house for more drinks/dinner. She made a few small pizzas and some home made booze concoction. I wrote down the recipe because it was pretty tasty. I played with lucas some more, but my allergies decided to ruin my evening so all I wanted to do was go home. The night couldn't end fast enough for me.

Their house was an "english" style house, which looked like a regular house to me, but not to the french. The inside was decorated very african and it was really cool. Lots of muted browns and african art and outside a little oasis of a garden with lots of palm trees. I love the way the french decorate. It's always very colorful and bright and cheery.

I slept in the car ride home.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Happy Birthday!

We drove to Nantes today to celebrate the combined birthday of my host dad's parents - mami adrienne and papi gaston. It was a huge party with tons of friends and family, which I think is typical for the French. They all have huge families. These events are always a little scary for me since my French isn't that great (still) and it's a bunch of people I don't know. They were all very nice and treated me like part of the family. The dinner was catered and at least 5 courses long! Truly delicious. I tried foie gras for the first time. Yum! There was also the fish course, and the meat and potato course and the dessert course and the cheese course. I was definitely full by the end of the meal. Then of course, drinking and dancing after wards. This is an amazingly fun family.

Everybody wanted to sit down with me and speak some English. I think this had a lot to do with the large amounts of wine everybody was consuming because out of all the English I heard, that was mostly just repeated to me over and over again. I thought it was funny. There was also some joke about roosters and people crowing over the microphone that I didn't understand, but they came to find me and wanted to know what an American Coq sounds like. I demonstrated, shyly and they thought it was hilarious and then wanted me to do this on the microphone. I am super duper shy. That was really hard for me to crow like a rooster over the microphone, but most of the people in the room were drunk anyways, so I guess it didn't matter. I just kept giggling because they said 'american coq' a lot and yes, that makes me giggle. You would too.

There was also a nice, portly, short gentleman named, I think, Emille who asked me to dance. I politely told him I don't know this dance, but he didn't take no for an answer and pulled me onto the dance floor. I'm only 5'4'' and I could almost see over his head. He kept pulling me all close but his big belly thankfully made it hard to get his face close to mine! He kept trying to stare into my eyes and make kissy noises. It took literally all of my inner strength not to bust up in hysterical laughter! The whole family was watching and also busting up laughing at me behind his back. I couldn't take it after like 3 dances so I retired, thanked him, and turned my face when he tried to kiss me so he ended up just kissing my cheek. I ran for the bathroom to hide for a little bit, but no! He followed me in! He tried to trap me in a corner for more kisses so I ran into the stall and locked him out. He gave up easily and I sat there for a few moments trying not to cry from laughing so hard. French men are hilarious.

Other than my avoiding Emille, the night was great. The family is great.

We headed back to Chez Mami margarite to sleep since she also lives close by (that's my host mom's mom).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Puy Du Fou

We went to Puy Du Fou with some friends of my host parents. Puy Du Fou which I might just abbreviate now as PDF since I'm that lazy, is a sweet theme park of sorts. It's way cooler than disney because it doesn't have any lame rides to wait in line for. Instead, it's this huge park themed around the PDF through the ages. They have shows nestled all around that you trot yourself to back to back. There is a show about vikings, musketeers, falconry, gladiators, and other medieval things all while walking through very pretty grounds. At first I thought this might be kind of lame, but I was going with 4 adults, so that means it couldn't be that bad. There were kids all over the place, which isn't really my favorite thing in the world, but the shows weren't totally directed at a young audience. They also used tons of horses and equestrian exercises which I'm always a fan to watch since I did that for so long. I also opted out of the 5 euro, used, headset that translates the shows. So, yeah, I missed a little, but since there are live actors playing out the story I think I kept up okay. If anything most of them had either horses or fireworks or something else to entertain, making the dialogue not important anyways. I'm sorry I don't have pictures up, my computer isn't dealing well with all the memory I have stored on it already, so they may have to wait until I get home. My external hard drive isn't working with the Mac computer in my room, and yes, I'm so cool I only have one converter/adapter thingy so I can't hook it up to my laptop since the laptop won't work w/out ac power. Lovely, eh?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gay 'ol Paris

I was so excited for my trip back to Paris, although a little frightened to make the journey alone. But I'm a big girl and therefore I think I can ride a train alone. I mean, I had my ipod. Plus I was meeting a friend from back home who was stopping in Paris with her family for the week. The plan was to meet her at their hotel, crash with them and see the sights and experience Parisian life when I hadn't just stepped off an airplane and was seriously lacking in sleep.

The best laid plans of mice and men..

I hated Paris.

There. I said it. Paris is a wonderful city. Except when you wear the wrong shoes. Or your pack is heavy. Or the person you are there to meet isn't there! This wouldn't have been so bad, except that the few plans I made were in accordance with her and I had no back-up plan. Did I mention it was Bastille Day?

I went, first, to the address she gave me and of course the concierge spoke zero English and didn't understand my meager French. We finally came to the conclusion that the family I was meeting wasn't there, however on the other side of Montparnasse there is a hotel with the same name just reversed. So I trekked over there and already cursing myself for wearing flip flops. Yes! I wore flip-flops. I realized my mistake the next day and subsequently bought tennis shoes. Anyway, I found the other hotel and they weren't booked there either. The much nicer concierge who also spoke English called 4 or 5 other hotels in the area to help me find them. No luck. I wanted to cry. All the hotels in Montparnasse are 2 or 3 stars which means expensive. He offered me a room at a cheaper price, probably because I looked Like I was about to cry. I declined and tried instead to find an internet cafe so I could see if she sent me an email. This is where the no cell phone thing really made me sad. Just my luck, being the holiday, nothing was open. No internet. My excited adventurer spirit is beginning to be crushed and I kind of just want to go home. On my rounds looking for a computer I walk past the first hotel and mr. no english is out having a smoke break. He asked if I found them and I said no and asked him if he knew an open internet cafe around. He kindly looked up hotels on his own computer. How funny is that? I got the concierge for a hotel to look for other places for me! He found nothing and I think I got that really sad, teary look again because he offered me a room for more than half off (the rooms were flipping 130 euros a night). I took it since it was getting late and my hopes of finding something cheaper wouldn't have been that great. Plus, it was a 3 star hotel so that means i'd have a real shower - to myself. I did end up finding an internet cafe and sure enough my friend had e-mailed me, but it was after I had already left. I sent her the room number and phone number in hopes she would find me when she got to the area.

She did!

That was like the biggest relief ever. Although I was mentally almost prepared to do the city alone. i went to dinner with her family and acted as translator for the menu and server. No big deal. I think this upset my friends sister who, until I showed up, was the French master. Oddly enough I never heard her speak a word of French and she mispronounced everything. I even said up front my French sucks, but I get by. It knocked her idea of French out of the park. After dinner we walked around looking for a club or somewhere fun that night but the place we looked up was no longer there. We went to bed instead. The next day I got a room key for her hotel and packed up and moved camp while they were out on some lame tour. That afternoon we tackled the metro. I swear to god my metro and city map were my best friends. Since I don't come from a city with a subway it was a little confusing and naturally we ended up going the wrong way a few times. We also didn't realize that you can use the same ticket for several trips even if you have to go through the gate. I think I wasted like 5 bucks buying new tickets until we figured it out. I'm passing this onto you. Since I'm retarded. My friend missed her next tour with her family because of our metro folly.

The trip couldn't get any better after that. This made my friends mother so mad, she blamed me and kicked me out of the room! It was midnight! She said it was my fault, called me a slut, and alcoholic and a thief and wouldn't let me stay in the room with my friend. Where was I supposed to go? It was a flipping holiday, super late at night and no cheap hotels in the area. This lady is the worst mother on the planet. I only hope nobody does something like that to her daughter and I really wanted my friend to tell her the next day I had to sleep on the street and was killed or all my shit was stolen. I hold grudges.

Instead, I went to the desk and had to drop 300 bucks for a room for the rest of my stay. Stupid biotch.

The next day I did the metro alone, since I'm just growing up so fast. I went to the Champs-Elysee (freaking sweet it's my name..kind of) walked along there, through the gardens du tuleries and then to the louvre. I spent a little over 3 hours in the museum, did the whole french painters wing, la jocund (mona lisa) and davids slaves. I saw some other stuff along the way, but after 3 hours I needed a nap. On the walk there I met a fun pair of security guards (things were blocked off for some big-wig political gathering) who entertained me and then wanted to get coffee later when the shift was over. I told them maybe. After my friend finished a tour with her family we went and saw l'arc de triumphe up close and walked around that area of the city.

I couldn't have been happier for my train home the next morning. Maybe someday I'll go back to Paris when I have a plan for myself. But since I wasn't in a good mood, the trip just didn't do it for me.

Here are the album links:

Yeah, yeah. I took a lot of pictures. At least that was good. It made me happy.

Fair Warning..

Before I left for Paris I saw this little gem in my inbox:

US Embassy Paris - Worldwide Caution

Well doesn't that make me just want to run to Paris all by myself.

"This Worldwide Caution updates information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and interests throughout the world. In some countries, the rise in oil and food prices has caused political and economic instability and social unrest. American citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This supersedes the Worldwide Caution dated January 17, 2008.
The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings and bombings.
Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas and locales where Americans gather in large numbers, including during holidays. A July 9, 2008 terrorist attack on Turkish police guarding the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul killed three police officers and wounded other police personnel. On March 15, a bomb was detonated at an Italian restaurant in Islamabad, killing two and injuring twelve, including five Americans. Also on March 15, two bombs exploded at the CS Pattani Hotel in southern Thailand killing two and injuring thirteen. In January, a bomb in a disco pub in the Philippines killed one and injured eight.
Americans are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems. Recent examples include multiple anti-personnel mine detonations on passenger buses in June 2008 in Sri Lanka, multiple terrorist attacks on trains in India in 2006, the July 2005 London Underground bombings, and the March 2004 train attacks in Madrid. Extremists may also select aviation and maritime services as possible targets, such as the August 2006 plot against aircraft in London, or the December 2006 bomb at Madrid's Barajas International Airport. In June 2007, a vehicle was driven into the main terminal at Glasgow International Airport and burst into flames, but the bomb failed to detonate."

Alright. So I guess it was a good idea I didn't wear my American flag unitard around town on the 4th of July.

Got to love the government.

bon voyage

I think this is officially day 60. I'm not sure. I think I am going to bag the counting of the days. I was an art major therefore math automatically gives me a headache. Today my host brother Simon headed back to my home land for a month. Bon Voyage, little brother. Tell my country hello for me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fete de la musique

Here is another video I did with my lil camera. This one is at a random music festival not too far from the house. The band was all jazzy and I love the little girl in the front row dancing along. I won't lie, I kind of hoped the kids with the ball would have caused some sort of catastrophe.

We ended up seeing one of Dominiques old neighbors at the festival which was weird because he hit on me - in front of his wife! It was a little awkward, but hilarious.

Traditional Dance

I took this from one of the random music festivals we went to. It's of one of the traditional dances from this area.

Le Weekend before Paris!!

Saturday we went to the grocery store so Nathalie could shop for a big dinner she was hosting. When we returned, Simon and I packed and drove to Nantes to meet up with cousin Clemont. I was all packed and ready for the train on Monday to Paris! The cousins, brother and I went to our Aunt and Uncle's creperie that I've posted about before and had another delicious dinner and dessert! I really like crepes, well, the dessert ones. Not the nasty dirty sponge Brittany crepes. Ew. those are gross. I don't recommend those to anybody. We also drank a ton of apple cider that is also specific to this region. After dinner Jerome brought out a selection of 'digestifs' to drink after dessert. (think congac, etc.) One of Clemont's friends and I thought it would be a fun idea to have a shot taking contest. In hindsight: BAD IDEA! I'm pretty sure 20 minutes after my 5th or 6th shot I threw up - then wanted to sleep ON the table because I was suddenly very sleepy. On one good note, I can drink as much as a 6' tall guy (or he drinks like a 5'4'' girl) and he threw up probably 10 minutes after me, but instead of making it gracefully to the bathroom like yours truely - he threw up all over the side of his moving car! ha! I do remember, however, one other lady who stopped to talk to Sandra and Jerome and she noticed I spoke English and wanted to have a conversation. I have NO idea what I talked about, I just remember hugging her and telling her it's okay because i'm American. She laughed and made a joke about drinking too much wine.

I'm not drinking any orange flavored Liquor for a LONG time. No contreau, no wannabe contreau with the same alcohol percentage. ::shudder::

Sandra and Jerome took me home so that I would have a real bed to sleep in and not on the floor of some dank apartment, or in a car. (which I tried to do when the boys drove me to their house. Apparently it took them a good 5 minutes to pull me out of the back seat because that seemed like the next best place to sleep than on the table).

The next day we went to Chez Mami to celebrate the combined birthday of two cousins, one turning 18, the other 20. It was a huge feast in the usual family fashion and I had a lot of fun. I'm feeling more comfortable with the big groups even though I still really don't understand when they speak really fast. They played the usual silly games, and I even participated in a few with the translating help of the relative next to me (I think it was a cousin, and he was hot, is that weird?) I also joined a small group in playing a game called "Jungle - something" it was a game of reflex and when you put down a certain card matching an others you had to grab a stick from the center of the table. The directions were a little fuzzy at first since I learnt them in all French (their idea was i'm here to learn french, dammit, no english allowed). I wasn't the best player, but I caught on and even came in like 3d place which means I did better than people who actually speak french and Understood the rules! Yessss!

We went to a nearby town to watch some fireworks for the holiday (monday was Bastille day) which was fun since I missed the 4th at home. The fireworks here were way cooler anyways. Instead of being super far away like the space needle or over some other body of water they were right in the field we sat in, so literally right above us. They also choreographed the whole show to Mozart. It was super classy and fun. But it was cold outside, too, so the idea of going back to a warm bed was all that was on my mind. Especially since I had to get up early to catch my train.

I felt really bad about scheduling a 9 am train. I misunderstood Nathalie when she said we'd be in Nantes and to book my ticket there because the house was super close to the train station. It wasn't, so Dominique and I had to get up and leave at like 8 am. Ouch. That's what I get for thinking I understand French. It all worked out though.

Day 38 & 39

Oh wow, another day of nothing important. Darn. When everybody got home from work we went and had an aparatif a 'The Welcome' where Mathilde works. Then we all went to Dîner at a chinoise restaurant. It was pretty good, except I couldn't really read the menu, which I'm used to - however I don't like a lot of Chinese food so this was especially hard. I ended up ordering some chicken. I forget what sauce was on it but they made fun of me because apparently it is some sort of aphrodesiac. Nothing like your "family" to make fun of you for eating sex food. I probably just blushed a lot. thankfully the lights were dim.
After dinner, there was music playing in the street so we went and checked it out. There was a little two man band playing music so we watched for a few songs. It was fun. People were just randomly dancing in the street and having a ball. I wanted to join but was wearing heels and I think I'd just kill myself dancing on the cobblestone with my choice of footwear. It was still fun to watch! I didn't have my camera to take pictures. Sad.

Thursday I didnt do anything because my allergies were killer. I just took lots of allergy medicine and slept. Such is life.

Rain Rain Go Away - Days 36 & 37

There are a lot of jokes in Britagne about the weather, which I'm accustomed to since I came from basically the same climate. It rained all day Monday so I stayed in and played It's a pretty fun little website and it goes to a good cause. Nothing like getting smart and making a difference at the same time, eh? We had a quiche for dinner. Vive la France!

Tuesday was about the same with the weather not letting up. I wanted to go running on the track down the street but the rain talked me out of it. I kinda like having a few lazy days now and then!

Day 35 - Sunday in Brest

This morning I woke up French style- to the ACCORDION! How french is that? It's pretty French, alright, except I wanted to sleep in a little bit more, but I'll take it. During breakfast Renee and I talked more about America (obama! obama!) I was surprised that the first thing he didn't bring up about Seattle was Grey's, but instead Boeing. That's a first. We also discussed how much he hates Ikea because they apparently use Chinese child labor or something and I lied and said I don't shop there. In reality I plan on furnishing my future apartment in sweet Ikea furniture. He was also very familiar with our fault lines and earthquakes. He reminded me that we are due for a big one, aren't we?

James Blunt is also really popular in France. And I mean REALLY popular. All the adults began singing along when he came on the radio. Ew. This was happening while Renee drove us all around the city of Brest to give me the grand (car) tour. It was a neat looking city and I wish I had more time to look at it, ya know, maybe actually get out of the car? I also missed a couple of good photo ops because I'm slow and the car was driving too fast. One was of an old lady in the crosswalk whos umbrella just blew inside out and another of a young girl on her cell phone right in front of a wedding dress shop display. I'm angry I missed them. Oh well.

The family's cat is about to pop with little chatons and I really really really want to smuggle one home in my suitcase. Actually, I'd spring for a little carrier and bring it on the plane with me. I'm not sure how that works in customs. It would be a shame to do all that and then have customs say no way jose.

On the drive home, of course I fell asleep again. We stopped in a little town called Quimper (pronounced more like cam-pay) and toured the inside of a huge cathedral! It was awesome! It's really cool to be able to see the things you studied in school (art history minor) in real life and not just in your class books!Yeah. Pretty sweet. I slept the rest of the way home.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend gathering

Two small cousins who live in Nice are up for a visit and came to dinner with Mami and Papi Rousset. The younger of the two is a little friendlier than the older and isn't afraid to practice her English a little. I think the older girl is just shy. I feel bad, but I forget their names. I think the younger is Savanne (I have no idea how to spell it). I like visiting with Mami and papi since they treat me as part of the family, although Mami talks super fast so it's hard to keep up with her and Papi has a hard accent that I rarely understand but he laughs a lot and it is contagious.

The next day all of the cousins from the other half of the family came over. I think it was a little goodbye dinner for Simon leaving for a month to the U.S. I'm not sure. We had a pizza dinner and headed off for some entertainment. The bar that Mathilde works at was closed, so we headed a few more blocks down the street to the Black Minou for dancing. It was ladies night, wee, so no cover. It's different here because in French Clubs you get a drink with your admission price. Well, not if you get in for free. It's still nicer than like back in Seattle where you pay cover and have to buy your drinks, too. All the girls love dancing so it was fun to shake my groove thing and have a good time. Another good thing to the club is that there is no smoking inside (anywhere in France, actually) thankfully. They do offer a smoking room though so all the smokers can huddle in this closed off room full of nasty smoke. I guess it's nice if you're a smoker and don't want to go out into the cold (ha, in the summer). It's also weird because if you so choose, you can buy a full bottle of alcohol instead of just a drink. I'm sure if you paid enough you could do the same back home, but I've never seen it. It's way easier than going back for drink after drink, and probably cheaper in the long run. I have yet to buy my own drink, though, so I probably won't find out. Another negative thing about clubs in France is that you only have to be like 15 or something ridiculous to get in. This is a little annoying to have a bunch of 16 year olds running around, too. I'm a fan of 21 and up crowd.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I had to take a little hiatus from updating the blog since we've (and me alone) have been doing a lot of traveling lately and I've been without internet (I don't know how I survived!). But I'm back now, and I keep my journal handy with me wherever I go to write down what happened so I won't forget.

Day 34 is where I left off I believe, and we woke up early. Today was a road trip to the city of Brest up North a few hours drive. I make a horrible road trip partner because all I do is fall asleep in the car. It doesn't matter if I ride in the car for days or 20 minutes. I'll fall asleep. That has to be my parents fault. Before I fell asleep for the whole car trip, however, I did notice something strange on the highway. Since there are really very few trucks or large vehicles here all the camping cars, horse trailers, and everything else that needs to be towed is done so by car. That's right, just regular car. It looks pretty bizarre.

All the radio stations also play a lot of crap American music. That's not that cool.

The French also drive more efficiently on the freeway. Very few times have I seen traffic here, yet. I'm sure there is its share in the city and because I live out in the country it's different, but I think i've only seen a back-up once - due to an accident. But, for the most part, the French all drive in the right lane - like you're supposed to, unless to pass. There are no slow drivers on the right like back home. Hassle free. The french drivers also leave their blinker on when they get into the right lane, which I found a little weird, and annoying after a while.

We didn't make it in time to see the begining of the tour de France in Brest. Lame. But I did see an Ikea.

We stayed with friends of my host parents and they were very intested to talk to me about America. Naturally, the first topic of conversation was Obama and if I am voting for the black president. Then we discused how much Rene (the host) hates buying into America (i.e. Coca cola). I watched their cat outside get into the compost bin and eat a piece of cantaloupe, then throw up on the porch. That was kind of gross.

My host parents drove me to Meneham which is on the coast and has tons of huge rocks scattered around the land. There were also little stone houses tucked in with tall the rocks and the gale force winds. We came back to watch a big town spectacle in which our hosts were a part of (and I think orchestrated). One of their daughter's names was Elise which was totally weird. I've grown up being basically the only Elyse in town. I think their might have been 2 other girls with my name (spelled differently) in my high school of roughly 4,000. The spectacle ended pretty late so we went back home to bed. I swear the French all have the same mattress, which is fine - it reminds me of memory foam so it's comfy, but this bed was a twin and I don't think I've slept in one of those since I was like 9. The room they gave me was
painted pink. That was a plus. And, I got to sleep in. Yay!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Thursday..

Since my poor little book went missing I've completely lost count of what day it is that I've been here. Hell, I have hard enough time remembering the date and day of the week. Since I don't go to a structured job or school or anything I find myself constantly having to check my blackberry to see what day it is. That's basically all it is for over here since it doesn't work as a cell phone. And to take pictures. Oh, and play brick breaker on long car trips.

But today is a Thursday!

I used the teaching help e-mail address that Geovisions provided me so that I could come up with some new ideas for fun teaching games- basically anything. I am finding it really hard to teach adults without it being weird. I don't think they find it weird, but I feel awkward. I don't want to sound like I'm talking down to them like I'm teaching two children.

Anyways, some of the ideas they gave me were great! One of them was to bust out the kids cookbook that my parents shipped to me in a care package. The book we used is I think for Kindergarten level and it's an ABC's cook book, so there is a recipe for every letter and the instructions are very simple (actually, perfect for me since I'm a terrible cook). Nathalie looked through the recipes and found Banana Bread. They had never seen this before and wanted to try it post-haste. What I had in mind though for this exercise wasn't what happened. I ended up making the recipe! She collected all the ingredients for me and chopped the nuts. Somehow she turned the game around on me and made me do it while she watched. Talk about pressure. We also had trouble at first translating baking soda and baking powder. I did a little google-cooking-translation and found the names of the two ingredients and when they saw the name of baking soda I'm pretty sure they thought I was trying to poison them. Weird cultural difference - they don't use baking soda in any cooking whatsoever! Dominique finally found a box of baking soda under the bathroom sink! Apparently here they use it to Clean! And brush their teeth (but they don't use it for that in this house but they told me some people use it for that). So no wonder I got strange looks when I asked them basically for toilet cleaner to put in their dessert. I also had to convert it all to metric again. Bah.

The bread turned out good thankfully! They are getting the wrong idea about my cooking skills since the two things I've baked actually came out - good. Gulp.


So I've neglected the blog a bit.. I'm so sorry! Two things happened. The first, which started it, is that my journal in which I write most everything first, before it becomes electronic, somehow fell off the bed and landed just enough underneath that I didn't see it and subsequently forgot about it. I probably kicked it off in the middle of the night since I'm weird and sleep with a ton of useless crap on the bed at night. The second being that I've been pretty active and out-and-about as well and away from my lap-top. I'll try to do better, but for now, a plethora of posts!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 33 - I finally feel at home, Happy 4th

Today was obviously 4th of July, although here it's not such a big deal, at all. A couple of my new friends wished me happy independence day, but I'm pretty sure they were making fun of me. It's kind of nice to not celebrate this year, though. I was never much one for big fireworks and blowing up things, although the big show in the city is fun to watch. I'm also not a big fan of holiday marketing, and people pasting American Flags everywhere. It got increasingly worse after 9/11 and it made it worse. I suppose I would have thought differently if I had thought of sticking the flag on everything from mugs, to bumper stickers and t-shirts to make money on a society that has no idea what patriotism really is, and therefore thinks that by buying these things makes them such. Wow, don't I sound French.

I finally feel settled in and not so much a guest anymore, but a part of this temporary family. I still get to communicate with my friends and family back home, albeit briefly with the time difference, and our English lessons are going well, I think.

Hopefully everybody had a safe holiday back home!

Days 31 & 32

Things were so uneventful that I'll just mash them together. It has begun raining, both days. And when I say rain, I really mean it. I hail from Seattle which has a reputation of being at least cloudy 226 days a year, although we do not get the highest amount of rain. Needless to say we have a lot of different words for rain: drizzle, downpour, mist, sprinkle, shower, torrential, monsoon, thunderstorm and flood. Here it just pours. I don't mind it though because it reminds me of home and listening to the rain on the window at night is soothing.

Monday I went shopping with Nathalie and Mathilde. That was fun. I bought a cute sweater/shirt thingy.

I talked to my Momma on the phone for a while to coordinate a time to talk on Friday, the 4th.

Simon also found out he graduated tech school/community college! Congrats 'lil bro!

Day 30! Tuesday and My-Oh-My one Month!

The only big news today, other than it being that I've been here one whole month already, is that my iPod sucks butt. It has randomly decided that it will stop playing half of the songs in it. Sweet. I might take it to the iPod store in Paris when I go, however, I wouldn't know where to begin in explaining the problem and don't want to make things worse. I wonder if this has anything to do with me accidentally unplugging it when it said "do not disconnect"? I also got my train tickets in the mail. The SNCF is really efficient, huh?

Oh, and apparently in this country, in July, all of the stores start to sell everything at half off. I'm not sure if it is because they are getting ready for Fall inventory, or what, but that's a sweet deal. Now things are priced like in dollars instead of Euros.

Day 29 - another Monday

It was hot again today, so I sat out in the sunshine and worked on my tan. I figured I should send out my postcards I had sitting on my desk for a month so that they would make it home before me. Simon came with. The walk with company was nice. I also booked my train ticket to Paris for July 14th where I will meet up with a girl I worked with from back home. That was fairly exciting, since I figured it out in French and didn't end up booking a trip to God knows where. I did ask Simon for help towards the end, just in case. Other than that, I didn't do much. Stayed pretty lazy. I'm basically on my own during the day since everybody is at work, and well, this isn't that big of a town.

We watched some TV later that night and a popular show called intervilles was on. I didn't know what to think. I did a little research. This show was created in the 60's and," was devised as a friendly competition which would pitch French towns against each other in a series of challenging, often bizarre physical games on the ground, in the water and in the air which would decide the French ‘top town’. In an era when complicated outside broadcasts were only just becoming manageable from a technical standpoint, Intervilles represented something fresh and original."
Well, this show is definitely original, although I have seen something like it back home on the Spike network where the Japanese play a bunch of ridiculous games in ridiculous costumes and some dudes dub over it in English and say stupid things, usually sexual. This is totally the French version, although I don't think the hosts say anything dirty (although they could and I wouldn't know it). Besides the town residents competing in stupid costumes, there are a lot of cows, rather bulls, also chasing them around and basically just knocking them around. Contestants also have to play games where they must answer questions while doing something ridiculous. At the end, the team with the most points gets to be stationed higher up than their opponent on this astro-craig-like mountain where the two strongest of teammates worm their way up with a pole. In the episode we watched ( I forget the towns competing) it didn't matter that the leading team was higher up because the other team had a stronger player and he won the competition regardless of starting further behind. The big news with this game is that the next town over, Vannes, is going to be in Interville this summer sometime. Hopefully we will get to go watch. This definitely rivals the olympics.
See for yourself:


This is like the coolest thing ever. I mean, crazy games, cheerleaders, wacky costumes, a hip dj, zany hosts, oh and cows. What's not to love?

Sunday - day 28

Today was really exciting.

Just kidding. I:
-Played on facebook, trying to upload photos unsuccessfully. Facebook hates me.
-Went running on the track by my house. Saw a couple of kids who looked about 13 or 14 sitting on their bikes, smoking. That was a little disturbing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Samedi - Jour 27 - Bon Anniversaire Anne Martine!

Today we all had to wake up bright and early, okay, well at like 10:30 in the morning so we could leave at 11:30 for the big family gathering to celebrate a couple of Birthdays. My host family is big to put it mildly. There were at least 50 people there, and I'm pretty sure they were in one way or another related. It was a little overwhelming with so many people and so many conversations going on at once. It made it hard for me to pick up on conversations. And I didn't even drink!

This family event was a blast to watch because they all engage in super fun looking games which I hardly understood. The only one I got was a parody of a popular tv gameshow that is on everyday. It was still really neat to watch, and thankfully not participate in.

Lunch was, I swear, a 5 course meal. Can you imagine making a 5 course meal for 50 people? Neither can I. We had a shrimp cocktail/beet cup-thingy first. The beets at the bottom weren't that good, but the rice and carrots and cucumbers were. So were the shrimp. I think next we had some bread and wine. Then carrots, meat (I have no idea what it was) and beans. I really wanted to go for seconds for that but missed out. The beans were really good. Then the salad, then the cheese course, where I think I ate my weight in cheese. Good stuff! Let's see, then there was the dessert course with some kind of strawberry stuff with whipped cream in a little shot glass. During that course you heard nothing but the scraping of spoons in little glasses with everybody trying to get out the last little bit of strawberries. It was amusing. After that there was more wine - I just drank coca and water because it was Rose wine and I don't like it. Then there was another pastry course with a huge assortment of little eclairs or other delicious tid-bits. Then I wanted a nap.

They played more silly games, and I played darts with some cousins, host daddy and Mami (grandma). I came in third place. Not bad this time, I actually hit a few bulls-eyes.

After that we made home-made little personal pizzas for dinner, even though I was still full from "lunch". It was pretty fun and I loaded mine up with chèvre (goat cheese) and was super stoked to eat it, until I came back and found out somebody totally took it! Lame! I had to make another one which was good, too, but I think I got made fun of for not watching my pizza good enough the first time.
Yes, there is an egg on that pizza. Gross, huh?

We stayed until about 1:30 in the morning, which made it very hard for me to be super social because I was tired.

It was a fun day.

Day 25 /26

On thursday we watched the semi-finals of the euro 2008 and spain won. That's who I'm going to cheer for.

We had McDonalds today. That is my second time, but I'm not a fan anymore because they don't accept Visa.. or at least American Visa. I should write McDonalds an unhappy letter about this. If somebody can spill hot coffee on themselves and sue them, I can surely write an angry letter because they didn't take my money. I owe Simon 6 euros.

Friday there wasn't as much sunshine as usual. So I practiced my French, a bunch. Those verbs are killer, I tell you. I was also a little disappointed in the creativity of the book I'm studying. The example sentances suck.

" She doesn't know how to ride a bike, but she knows how to drive her Ferrari."

Then this girl should not be a Ferrari Owner. That's for sure.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The rain in spain falls mainly on the plain.

I accompanied Mathilde and Simone to the city of Nantes to visit [our] aunt, uncle and cousins. They own a cute little crêperie that faces a cute little park. They made us lunch, and being a crêperie, duh we ate crepes! Well, actually I had an omelet because I'm not a fan of the type of crêpes they specialize in. I tried one earlier with dinner and they tasted like a soggy sponge - or what I believe a soggy sponge would taste like if I put it in my mouth. I've been really, and I mean really* open with eating the food here, but I wasn't about to eat that again. No thanks. The Omelet sounded safe, and was delicious. I did have a regular crêpe with dessert. That was delicious.

My host cousins, Maxime and Victor, are adorable. They didn't even realize I wasn't French until about halfway through lunch because nobody could get a word in edgewise. They chatter like the dickens. I constantly had to remind them to speak slowly since I don't understand it when they talk a million miles an hour. I think they are like 9 or something, I'm not sure. I also can't really tell them apart, so I'm not sure if I sat by Maxime or Victor (I think it was Maxime). Anyways, he drew a picture while we waited for our food. He drew some grass, then a tree, then an oil refinery. Go figure. He also drew what the refinery looks like underground complete with some poor souls bones who somehow got stuck in there. He was extremely detailed in the drawing of the skull, pelvis, etc. His picture made me think, though, that these kids are so young, but still aware of current events - like oil and the skyrocketing prices with that. They also begged me to speak in English, which is always weird in any language to have people want you to "say something" I rattled off with the rain in spain falls mainly on the plains.. but couldn't remember the rest. That was enough though. They ate it up.

After fighting with his brother over the picture I gave him my blackberry to play brickbreaker in an effort to get them to calm down. He loved it and was actually pretty good. Video games are totally an interactive language of their own. We walked to the park across the street and played on the playground for a while. I really want to stay in France and become an au pair or something. While the boys climbed and swung and jumped and did general boy things I listened to the game they were playing. One of the boys was the president, but not Sarkozy, no he was Chirac. That also made me laugh. Even the media here has a strong effect on children, although I don't know how many chidren back home would pick a president to play instead of a superhero or other fictional character.

We went back to their house and played some more. The five of us "adults" engaged in a game of darts, in which after being in the lead the whole game, came in 4th place. Eff that game. It's not that i'm horrible, although I did miss the board a few times, I just couldn't hit the damned number 3. If you don't get the exact number you have to keep going back to your last score. Stupid American dart board. It was still fun. They were playing some sweet music, it was sunny and warm and fun.

I had a lot of fun.

I also fell asleep in the car on the ride home like a 2 year old. [However, I don't feel bad because Simone fell asleep on the way to Nantes.] We also visited another Aunt, on their dad's side on the way home, which was fun. They were remodeling their house. I couldn't understand a word their grandpa was saying, his french dialect was way to hard to understand so I resorted to nodding, smiling and looking like a complete idiot.

When we got home, Simone invited me to another fête. So we grabbed the essentials - booze and went back to somebody's house by the beach. This party was fun since there were actually some females there, although it is extremely intimidating for me to show up to a party with mostly girls - you know how girls are. I did my best in trying to understand them and they did their best in trying out some English. I think it went well. One girl seemed like she was giving me the stink eye all night, and she smoked like a chimney. It turns out later she was pretty nice (or pretending to be), didn't speak English, liked my earrings, and later on wanted to do tequila shots with me.

It was a fun day.

*really open indicated I haven't douced anything in Mustard yet, and liked it!

Day twenty three

I don't think I really did anything except be lazy, since I conveniently didn't write anything down. Obviously I didn't do anything cool if I've already forgotten. Although, we do so much that I could just be forgetting. If I miraculously remember I'll post it later.
Here is a picture instead of the beach at Sarzeau or some town with a name like that. I didn't upload my new set of pictures until lasts night because my cool computer only has one usb port and the ipod was plugged in. Hey. It's all about priorities. I like these beaches because they sparkle, literally. There is something mixed with the sand, like fools gold or something that makes it all glittery, and you know me, I could stare at something sparkly for hours. No big deal.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day Double Deuce

My-oh-my I've almost been ici (here) un mois (a month) ! Today was pretty mellow as well. Pendent la semaine (during the week) je suis (I am) by myself parce que (because) mes parents sont (my parents are) at work. Since I had been up all weekend pretty late I couldn't fall asleep very well last night and didn't get to bed until late. I woke up to Simon's blaring alarm across the hall at 11:30. J'ai lu mon livre "Obits," j'ai regardé un film "American Beauty," et je m'ai bronzé (I read my book Obits, I watched American Beauty, and I tanned).

I love being on Holiday - so to speak.

Day vingt-et-un (that's 21)

Jour vingt-et-un fell on dimanche. Je besoin d'utiliser plus de Française, so I'm going to be incorporating plus into my blog. I totally forgot to talk about going to the beach yesterday! That is silly of me since that was the first thing we did that day. Antoine came and picked Simon et moi up at the house and we drove to Sarzeau where his parents have a summer house. The beach was awesome. The weather here has steadily been in the upper 25 degree range (sorry, I'm getting used to the Metric System.. upper 70's Farenheit) so the beach was great. So far the beaches I've seen (here, and Carnac) have been nice and sandy and there is some neat looking sparkly rocks that look like fools gold mixed in with the sand. We picked a nice spot, I was introduced to all of Simon's friends and we layed out. Stupide moi. I forgot a towel. That was cool, until we went swimming. The only time I've been in the Atlantic was in Key West, Florida. I'd have to say this was pretty similar except when I waded out to about chest level it turned freezing cold. It was still a thrill to swim in the ocean since I come from the Pacific Ocean side where the water stays about 42 degrees year round so swimming risks chances of hypothermia. Another difference is that there were jelly fish everywhere. Ick. That kind of made me paranoid, parce que knowing my luck I'd be the first one stung. I didn't really want to be peed on either. (a cure for jelly fish stings) I also didn't bring bikini bottoms because I didn't know we were going to swim, so I swam in my jean shorts, and as everybody knows they take forever and a day to dry. On top of no towel. I definitely felt like the stupide américaine. Simon donnes moi his towel et I felt stupid the rest of the day. I also felt pretty stupid in my bikini since of course I didn't work out all year and every girl in France (at least on this beach), my age was super skinny. Oh, and I forgot to shave my legs on top of that. That wasn't too bad since I noticed all the girls were la même.

I'm definitely glad I was placed with a family that lives by the ocean. Since growing up around water my whole life je pense it would be really strange and more of a culture shock to live somewhere landlocked.

Didn't do a whole lot the rest of the day since I was tired.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 20

Oh my, I've been here 20 days already! It doesn't seem like that at all! I've survived my third day of drinking in a row, hangover free! Gotta love being on Holiday. I have found out that even the French have lightweights and I out drank some of them.

I woke up at 2 pm. Talk about sleeping in.

Sorry, I've been having so much fun that I've been behind in posting!

day 19 - conversions

I somehow mentioned baking brownies in my past and was then obliged to bake some for the family and Simon's birthday dinner. I was super nervous since they don't have ready made mix here and I had to make them from scratch! I don't make anything, let alone from scratch and I had to present them to 10 dinner guests. Luckily none of them had ever had a brownie before and albeit being a tad undercooked I got rave reviews, or they were just being nice. I dunno. Other than that, the dinner was really fun. We had a B-B-Q and all of the Family's friends are really nice and try and engage me in conversation.

It was decided that I need a French Birthday and July 19th has been dubbed this day. That's tight. Two birthdays in one year!

There was a music festival going on in town, but instead of going there with the parents I decided to stay with the kids my age and go to the bar instead, then the local nightclub. The nightclub was probably the highlight of my evening, and not just because I was drunk and less self conscious about my terrible french, but because it was exactly like being back home. All of the music was basically American songs and there was dancing and booze and fun. I miss home.. a little.

I also met my first American-Hater. It took longer than I thought it would, I won't lie. Everybody so far has been super excited to talk to me, like American is some rare thing. Instead this girl just gave me the stink eye all night then left us at the club so we had to walk home. Oh well, she was fat. Way to not stoop to her level, huh?

I hate the God-damned humidity here. The walk home wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't so flipping humid. I don't like feeling sweaty for no reason. Ew. This makes me miss the Pacific Northwest and the non-humid weather. Although whenever I talk to my family it seems to be nasty there.

Day 18 - My alarm is useless

I slept right through it. Not that this is a big deal. Nobody is home during the day since Dominique and Nathalie both leave for work super early in the morning.

I still hate the shower. Still haven't managed to master not spilling tons of water everywhere. And I think the voltage in France is going to make my hairdryer explode. This might cause some problems when I actually really want to do my hair.

There is going to be a party tonight! Woo.

Jour 17 - Somebody with Rap CD's!

Not a whole lot happened today. I try to read the morning paper everyday, not because I can see the stories Dominique contributes, but to actually try and comprehend the language. Today I was in the paper! Woo hoo! We went on a trip to the brick makers and I was in the picture he took. Neat, huh.

After I got home Simon could tell I was bored so we went for a walk in Vannes and had a drink. I had a beer, and actually liked it! (I hate beer, for anybody who doesn't know me)

On the way home, while looking at his cd's, I found some labeled rap! I was so excited. We drove home in gangsta style.

I taught some more this evening. It went well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 16 - Bon Anniversair Simon!

Random picture of the day. I was in the car waiting for Dominique to check on something so I took a picture of the church roof. Neat, huh?

Today is Simon's (my host frère (brother)) Birfday!! He's 21, which means nothing here. I told him if he ever decided to visit Seattle that I'd buy him a beer, and I'd even make it classy, not a PBR or Coors light. He's doing exams this week, though, so he has to study. Boo. I can relate. My birthday always ran the same time as winter quarter finals.

I accompanied Dominique on one of his articles to College Notre Dame, and of course it didn't click that College doesn't equal University, and I didn't realize it until I already opened my big mouth and asked where the college students were. Why all the little kids? Duh. Stupid girl. Dominique introduced me to everybody as the American, as usual, and I got "oh, cool" and a big thumbs up. When we left one guy said "bye bye." Ugh.
[Some poor kid had the job of cleaning the erasers, and people looked at me funny because I was taking a picture of the wall with the F-bomb chalked on it. This is like middle school. no big deal]
Go figure.

I received my first mail today! Woo! A package and a post card. I participate in Postcrossing and it was really hard to describe this process to the family. They didn't quite understand why I'd want random postcards from people I didn't know and kept insisting that Robin (the person who'd sent the post card) was some foreign lover or something. Then they made Robin Hood jokes, so I went upstairs befuddled. My other piece of mail was a visa gift card from the company in charge of this operation. Ironically, the gift card can only be used in the United States. Sweet, I can use it in two and a half months when I get home. The bank got a kick out of that when I tried to get money off of it. Now I have to try and not lose it. Wish me luck!That's the bank. In blue.

At dinner this evening I agreed to cook a meal. Oops. They have this American "better homes" cookbook, you know the one up in the back of the cupboard nobody cooks out of? Nathalie had to dust it off before she showed me. Simon was looking through it and since it's in English they assumed I can cook. Weird correlation, huh? I said I'd try and looked up how to translate "to set fire to" in French.

I bought some post it notes today to begin labeling the house. Nathalie loved it. The kitchen is covered in pink post its. Her favorite was broom which she pronounces "brum" every time. She then decided that she would also label everything in french, for me. I wanted to tell her it's useless in the kitchen since that is the least used room of the house for me, but oh well.

My french might progressively be getting worse. I can't get the accent or pronunciation right yet.. still. It's frustrating. On top of conjugating my verbs wrong and placing my adjectives in the wrong order I pronounce it wrong so nobody understands me anyways. Bah.
Dominique asked if I wanted to see a castle and ponies on our drive home from the bank. Uh, hello? YEAH! What two things could possibly be better?? Ponies and castles?? I'm in! Look, I was so stoked the picture is blurry with excitement. I could even do without the castle (which I didn't bother to photograph) ponies are so cool! Awww..

Not as cool as ponies - the next stop was the local quarry. By next year apparently this is going to be filled with a water reserve. Yeah, definitely not as cool as ponies. I took a picture anyways. Now, if it were filled with ponies..

Day 15 - La famille

So, funny story. I thought that after my shower (which I still have not mastered, because well, just look!)That's the shower! A bathtub with a hose! Wtf? I still haven't figured out how to successfully master it without a.) spilling pardon litres of water onto the floor, b.) freeze to death or c.) not get all the shampoo out of my hair. I'll probably have it down around September. I need walls in my shower, call me old fashioned. A shower head wouldn't be bad either. Goodness, I've run off topic! Back to the picture at the top! I'm such an idiot. I'm not sure if I missed the memo and French power outlets are way more powerful than American ones or not, but it did something akin to supercharging my curling iron. That, mixed with leftover hairspray on the barrel was a deadly combination. I'm curling my hair, cute, la la la.. then I smell something icky.. and my hair was smoking! I yanked the curling iron out, which was pretty easy since it singed, no straight up burned, half of that chunk of hair off! It's a good thing my hair is layered so it blended in! The rest of the day I kept smelling burnt hair. Ew. How embarrassing, huh? C'est la vie.

Good thing everybody was downstairs. I opened my window all the way.

I wasn't in the best mood after that, especially since my allergies decided it was a good day to be a bother. I love randomly breaking out in hives as much as the next person (for those who don't know me the dr. diagnosed me as allergic to myself. Go figure.).. I really don't like taking my allergy meds since they make me extremely drowsy, give me a headache and a stomach ache all at once. They really make me the life of the party, so I avoid them. Sometimes, though, they are better than hives, so I lounged most of day. Screw looking cute. Nobody in France does their hair anyways.

When Nathalie came home we traveled to La Baule where her older sister lives. All of her brothers and sisters got together to go through old pictures of one of the cousins for his birthday. The French make a party out of EVERYTHING. It's pretty tight since booze is always involved. Naturally nobody spoke English and forgot after 5 minutes to speak slowly so I could understand, so I just sat quietly at the table, drinking some delicious mango booze (strong!) and doodling on a scrap piece of paper. Nathalie's younger sister and her husband invited me to their house to spend a few days ( I think..) and I didn't understand the rest of what they rambled on about. I did catch that her husband is a pastry chef or something, he owns a crêperie. I also caught that they are moving to north of Paris soon because they like to change pace every once and a while and switch life up. I think that they asked about what it would be like to own a restaurant in Seattle, and I just laughed because they expected me to answer in French. As usual, they busted out the encyclopedia/atlas to see where on Earth Seattle was located, and once more all I had to say were the magic words: Grey's Anatomy. "Ahh, yes, Seattle!" God bless the American Sitcom. Dinner was delicious, quiche then some tasty desserts.

At like 11:30, oh wait I mean 23:30 (stupid 24 hour clock) we finally left, and I had be designated artist for the cover of the book of pictures they were making for the birthday cousin. They saw my doodles. I heard somebody say something about having American writing on the cover, but I'm pretty sure since it's in French that it no longer constitutes being American.. Silly French.

Busy Day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oh yeah...

Remember how when I first got here their cat, Noisette, couldn't give a damn about me? Well, i've moved up in rank. She now ignores the family. I'm the new BFF in town. Hollah!

day 14 - not dead or kidnapped yet!

Contrary to popular bet I have made it two weeks without being sold into slavery or some other tragic fate.

Bonne fête papa! The whole family had diner together to celebrate Daddy's Day; I called home to wish mon père bonne fête papa, however it was mid-morning and he was out to brunch with mon grand père. Figures. I caught up with all of the gossip from home though avec ma mère. I've got to give a shout out to skype and the cheap minutes although I'm pretty sure my $9.99 microphone picks up more background noise than of me. Still better than phone cards.

This afternoon we went to a big dance "spectacle" where Mathilde performed. All the dances were pretty good and the dancers ranged from very tiny kids to adults. I have some awesome shots with my little camera since I turned the flash off in an effort to not be rude, and we had sweet seats with the bars right in the way. I noticed how the audience acts differently here than back home. I was actually really shocked since the French have been nothing but polite and hospitable. They make a lot of noise while the performance is going on. They let their small children yell and run around wild, which was annoying since we had the first seats on the balcony and all these kids would stand right in the way. The parents just let it happen. It was pretty obnoxious with babies crying and small children in the way. But the dancers were great.There is one of the little brats I was talking about. right in the way.

After the recital we walked home and watched some television. French TV usually just goes in one ear and out the other since I can't understand much of it yet, but this afternoon we watched a program identical to America's Funniest Home Videos. It's comforting to know that people do stupid shit in any country, and I was even glad it was in French so I didn't have listen to the Bob Saget-like crap jokes. It was interesting because the stupid stuff the French did wasn't quite as stupid as good 'ol Americans. I mean, don't get me wrong, there were loads of stupid things - falling, tripping, crashing, accidental violence, etc. but it was just a notch below us back home. It was still a good chuckle.

Then we ate pizza. I had to consult the dictionary for the menu. The French eat some wacky pizza with things like tuna or eggs on it. Bleck. I ordered red sauce, cheese, whole olives (conveniently with pits, too) and ham. Sounded safe. It was pretty good.

The family exchanged gifts (for papa and belated Mathilde's birthday). When they get excited they tend to talk really really fast so I kind of stared out the window. Mathilde is taking a trip to Australia next year so they had me do my best Australian accent. that was a bust. G'day mate. yeah! Then I read some French words in a book Dominique got about going green at home (they are a very eco-friendly family already) and I'm pretty sure I don't ever want to do that again. I was horrible and they laughed at me (great moral support, huh?) haha. I cannot for some reason nail that French Accent. I'll have to work on that.

One last note, I added some pictures finally to the other posts since I decided to be not lazy tonight and actually put them on the computer. Take a looksie.

Day 12 - i'm tired.

Today I got up early to accompany Nathalie to the French equivalent of the mall. I've already forgotten the name of the place. She went to get her hair done and I walked around and pretended to shop. All of the stores were pretty expensive, on top of the lousy exchange rate. I avoided all of the sales people so I wouldn't have to look stupid and it worked in all but one store where one of the girls caught me and asked if I wanted to try it on. I politely gave her a blank stare then stammered I didn't speak French. So, she asked me in English. Vive la France. When Nathalie was through we did go into a more moderately priced store and I purchased a cute shirt and even cuter scarf ( I told Nathalie it was so I could at least look french).

When we got home we lunched then I went with Dominique on some stories. First we visited a Dog Competition, or so we though. Apparently the dog show/competition was tomorrow, but there were still a few people there so he could get a story and picture. Next we headed to a private primary school function sort of akin to a kids carnival in which a few classes of children gave performances. I'll have to say, even though I didn't understand it they were pretty cute. This was one of those things were the children look absolutely ridiculous and they will hate their parents later in life for photographing this event.These kids are going to hate it when the photo albums get busted out for the girlfriends. Yeah, that's hot chocolate on their heads. And yes, it took me until the encore to figure that out.

The last stop was an ancient (no, really) brick making. There was some sort of festival celebrating the property and the proprietors who are all like 5th generation brick makers (if I understood him right, which I probably didn't). It was still fun to see the kiln where the bricks cooked and an assortment of pottery that has been made over the hundreds of years. I'm pretty sure he made fun of me and the fact that his bricks were as old as my country. Vive la France.
That's the kiln thing. From inside it looked like a pretty mean spider hang out.
We went home for a little while, then picked up Simon their son. After le dîner we went to a inter mural basketball tournament that practically every person in the town my age attended, as well as their parents. (so basically the whole town was there, so it seemed). Back home an event like this would cater maybe bottled water and hot dogs. Not here. We had a concession stand with crepes and white wine with strawberries in it. Everybody was drinking and playing basketball, having a gay 'ol time. After two of these I was ready for bed. I'm pretty sure that wine/strawberry combination was stronger than any mystery drink I've had at UW frat party (and that stuff is deadly, obviously, how else do they get girls?). I was ready for bed at midnight, but they told me the festivities would probably continue until 3 am. The French really know how to party and get down, and stay up late. We went home, thankfully because Simon was tired, too, and not just because I'm a lame American.Yay! Go Green.. or orange.. who cares? Everybody's drunk!

It was a very busy day, to say the least.

Day onze - That's 11 in french..

Thursdays are when all of the supermarket ads come out (Like Wednesdays, at home) so I sat through breakfast and read the 2 different store ads. They are definitely not like home. If I was to read an Albertson's or Safeway ad there would be four or so newspaper sized pages full of little pictures of what is on sale for the week. It's not like that here. The French SuperU and InterMarche (yeah, the only two in this area) are more like magazines and each page has like 4 big pictures of things. I'm probably the only person on the planet who cares about that, probably because i've worked in the Grocery industry for too long, too. Whatever. I thought it was neat.

I also think I am going through a sugar withdrawal. I haven't had a single sweet thing since I've been here except for one Mars bar with Mathilde the other day. It's pretty weird and I've been craving sweets all day. I'm pretty sure my parents are going to mail me some candies. Gotta love the parents.

The biggest fun of the day? THE FRENCH LOVE COUNTRY WESTERN LINE DANCING. No kidding! Dominique did an article for it and I tagged along because I didn't believe him. There was a whole club for line dancing - the hats, boots and Brad Paisley blaring on the boom box! I would of thought I was back in Kentucky in a barn on some hick farm except they were all yabbering in French. I was stunned, I wish I would have remembered my camera.

The other thing I found noteworthy is how impressed the French are with anybody who speaks English. An English couple walked by and stopped to watch this special dancing when one of the dancers ran in and pulled me out because I could speak English and therefore communicate with them. The poor couple took this pleasantly, seeing as one of the overzealous girls introduced her to the whole board of the club and made them come in and watch from inside. They pretty much held this poor couple hostage. I got a good giggle.

Oh, I forgot. I also had a pretty good English lesson yesterday! When we watched the football match I taught them all of the words for everything soccer related in English. I also began the task of teaching past, present, and future tenses of verbs...

Days 9 & 10 - Humidity and I are not friends.

I hate the humidity, still. I have a feeling this will be a mutual relationship for the duration of my stay.

I didn't do a damn thing all day - both days!

It was fabulous.

It's still humid as Hell.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 8 - I made it a week!

Hur-ray! I've survived my first week in France.

I've been absolutely lazy alllll day! And it's fantastic. The weather is awesome, and I think it's almost 80 degrees, but who knows because I suck at the Metric system. I slept in, then relaxed on the patio all day in the sun, I have a half assed tan to prove it. I'll have to fix this proper tomorrow and actually not roll my pants up, but instead wear shorts.

We watched the football match (soccer) this evening, France vs. Bulgaria. I'm getting into this sports thing, and i'm even starting to learn the players. The French take football and their team very seriously. I might have to sleep in the garage with Noisette if I disagree.

Day 7 - Dimanche.. the day of rest?

They all called me Paris 'ilton (they don't pronounce h's) because of my stunner shades.

the plan today was to hit the beach (not to be confused with bitch, which is what it sounds like with their accents). It wasn't very sunny and kind of windy, but I agreed. I ended waking up before everybody since they didn't get to bed until 5 am.

I finished my book.

They all drink Coke ("coca") for hangovers. Strange.

We had Chinois food for lunch. Spring rolls and lettuce. It was bon.

A pretty tight carousel. The closest I've come to a pony in France so far.

The beach = awesome. it's just like California! least when it's warm. We also had "the worlds best ice cream" (according to Lise) and it was actually very good. I even sort of ordered it by myself. My french still sucks.
Ok, so of course when I decide to take a picture it clouds up. It was really nice and sunny. Promise.

Made dinner and hit the hay early.