July, 2006

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It’s nice being French

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Course done.  Tests done.  Sending in the receipts as we speak (oh the joys of a Staff Development Fund).  Soooo…. I’m French now.  I kind of like it.

One more week here to practice my new found language and take in the city-slash-sights.

Let the games begin.  🙂

To all whom eat with me:

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

as Joanne does, please remind me that I don’t like cilantro… or better yet just tell the server to scrap it on my behalf after I order.

I just had a Vermacelli bowl and it was great, but even now (nearly an hour later) all I can taste is cilantro.

I don’t DISlike cilantro; I just don’t like it… and it’s ALL you can taste during and for nine years later.

GRRRRRRRrrrrrrr.. *umph*

Monday, July 24th, 2006

My horoscope, today–paraphrased of course– was “GRUNT!  Don’t be afraid to grunt”.

What I took from that was: don’t be afraid to complain/be heard/roll your eyes.  i.e.  Express yourself however you’d like-slash-need-to regardless of how it is perceived.

Experience, however, tells me that many times GRUNTING is counterproductive.  My eyes have a habbit of rolling (not usually well-received either), and one time when I took on the school secretary I found a battle much larger than I had perceived.  Sure, it’s fun to tell other people to “GRUNT! and be heard…” but only on an entertainment level.  If you are a Libra who finds yourself in Montreal, I say ‘don`t listen’.  (unless you are in a grunting vs. ‘losing it’ situation… then grunt).

Yesterday, was a great case in point.  This may be WTMI (way too much info) but I’ll proceed anyways.  We don’t get TP in rez here, so we’ve been using Kleenex which we do get.  You may see the probable ending here; but we chose to ignore the inevitable.  I was the lucky caller nine who flushed the toilet and got a whole lot of flush… on the floor… down the hall… everywhere.  Oh, I GRUNTIED.  Only because I was all alone and felt like I was about to explode.  Grunting in this instance, I think, is fine.  Downstairs, I calmly asked for a plunger (which like TP they don’t have) but in my calm, he offered to come mop up the mess and replace our towels.  Had I grunted a second time, I think the results would have been quite different.  I would have been an angry grunting monster all alone without any help.

In conclusion, complete with a restaurant parable: Sure people who GRUNT get some free meals in restaurants but in general, they get less refills and a lower priority on the food chain, and honestly less hygenic cutlery–I’m learning choose thy grunts wisely.  I just need to find a way to live this way without disappointing the cosmos.

Career Counselling also included

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Let’s not kid ourselves, I’m basically learning French on a whim.  While I have the odd reason to learn the language, I have no deep conviction to the process, really.  So some might say maybe I’m here because I have too much free time on my hands.  I’d disagree, but I’d also say that I’ve had some great career revelations.

(A)  After going on a tour at the Museum of Contemporary Art yesterday, I decided I’d be a really great tour guide and I’d totally dig it.  Before I die, I’m totally being a TG somewhere part time.  Maybe the zoo, or something.  I’m good at memorizing random sh*% and more importantly: I’m fun.

(B)  While my French Instructor in my level has a few good qualities, basically he’s a major clinical dud.  After yesterday, a MAJOR MAJOR dud.  I like that he’s a stickler for pronunciation, but he’s super moody and insecure.  You know, What Not to Wear… this class has been good for me because it’s kind of like How Not to Teach.  I think it’s good for teachers to be students occasionally to empathize with the flip side of life—-It’s not only that I feel like I should have learned WAY more in three weeks than we have but yesterday, our instructor made a grown woman cry.  It was awful and surreal.  Here we are in a very expensive, adult class and he has the audacity to make this sweet classmate of ours feel totally inadaquate.  She walks out, and now total anarchy has prevailed.  Everyone is miffed.  I kind of feel like he’s messed with the wrong class in a way.  I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

(C)  So many people here have said, “I bet your students love you!”  It’s been very sweet.  I think I’m coming across (here, at least anyways) as very easy going… helpful (when our instructor is having a “moment”) and, again, “fun”.  I think *super modestly of course* that I am a good teacher, and that this is my calling.  I stil wish teachers made more $$$ but there’s always ways to advance.

Oh, to be 24 and have so much figured out.

The keyboards here have ¢ keys… NICE!!

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

I love the United States; don’t get me wrong.  I’m not looking to make trouble.  Please know that I, more than most, really appreciate the odd McDonald’s Cheeseburger or Theme Park Vacation.  But.

Americans are crazy.

Okay, I said it.  I quazi-meant it, too.  I guess that makes me just as bad as them.  Yesterday, “the texan” informs me, while we are watching the Fireworks (les Feux Artifices), that the United States has a day like Canada Day only it’s on July 4th and that they celebrate with fireworks too… not just in the capital but in cities and towns everywhere accross the country.

Wow… that’s really neat. 😉

I’m sure, assuming we’ve met, you are now picturing my face while having this explained.  If not… please do so now.  It’s a mix of “I don’t even know where to begin, in my sarcastic retort”, “is this really being explained to me like this?” and “am I being filmed for the Gags poriton of the Juste pour Rire festival?”

Oh, the American Ego, that is so large it isn’t even aware of its immensity or presence.  Maybe it’s time some fine citizen of some fine country informs George W. «et les autres» that we, outsiders, aren’t so much waiting to be rescued (civilized, informed, shown the light) by the Americans but are waiting, and laughing (at least internally) as we wait, before we do the rescuING of our neighbours in common sense.  Although, it is kind of fun watching them figure out that Beaver Tails aren’t actually the tails of beavers–but, instead, pastries–all on their own… and breathe a sigh of relief.

Maybe, they’re making progress.

Wow, I’m starting to sound like a Québecois.  I wonder how I’ll sound mid-August.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

(1) I finished a book yesterday.  I never read, little known finish books.  I forgot how cool it is finishing a book–it was really good, too.  I was reading in Parc Jean-Drapeau right under the shadow of the big Biosphere from Expo ’67.  Super nice night.

(2) One guy in my French Class is 82.  Or maybe it`s 72.  I can’t remember.  He’s taking the class to be a better Scrabble Player.   Too funny for me.

Side effects of Montreal may include but are not limited to:

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

So, basically it`s been a week here.  Still, I`m in love with the city, the culture, and the whole experience.  I`d even say I`m starting to fit in.  I walk briskly in the metro stations, I wear the hip clothes, I basically know my way around annnd– je parle francais une petite peu (quand je peut).  I`d say some people totally stand out as, touristes americains, but that I don`t fit in that category, and I`m proud of that.  That said, people here don`t always have a great sentiment towards Calgary or towards Alberta which has been interesting.

I also think I`m getting smarter.  🙂  Lol.  Not because of the class, or because of any bona fide reason other than I have no TV or personal computer, here.   I`m going out and seeing the city, swimming, reading, listening to music, etc. etc.  It`s kind of nice being forced to slow down and enjoy these kinds of things, rather than constantly settling for Gray`s Anatomy or 86 hours on MSN.  Hard to explain, but it`s like a month-long sabbath or modified monestary experience.  Okay, maybe the monestary comment is taking things to far, but it`s been a long time since I`ve felt this removed from basic technology.

Some things that I thought I`d have done by now, I haven`t.  I guess that shows I`m growing, too.  I HAVE seen the fireworks festival, eaten at Schwartz`, been up Mont Royal, seen the Jazz/Comedy/African Festivals, but I HAVEN`T done any shopping really (even with Caban closing and a super sale), been to La Ronde, been to the Biodome, or if you can even believe it eaten ANY poutine.  😉  I`d like to get to Ottawa, but I don`t know if that`ll come to fruition.  It was the first place I`ve ever flown to.  It`d be nice to revisit, and is just over an hour away.  It`s one of those places though, that once I got there, I`d probably be like “Oh, right.  This is Ottawa.  Nice.  Time to go back.”  We`ll see.

I`m seeing that humans are great at adapting.  I`m getting used to the humid heat.  I`m also getting used to the French everywhere.  I tend to tune out unless I`m really focusing.  I think sometimes I forget that people can hear/understand me because I can`t understand them.  I forget it doesn`t work both ways.  Again, hard to explain.  As bilingual as this city is, it`s kind of strange to be on an elevator or on the metro and hear people talking in English.  I`d even say I`m getting used to the Air Conditioner/Muggy smell here.

I guess next I`ll have to see how I manage in Kiev or Monaco or Beijing.  I can imagine the blending process is a bit tougher there.


Friday, July 14th, 2006

The new girl leans over, “It`s like this isn`t even real!”

I quietly whisper “What?” attempting to avoid the «please don`t interupt the class» glare.  I understood her, she`s Canadian too, I just didn`t get the reference.

“It`s like everyone here is a hyperbolic charactature of themselves… the stereotypical old man (who always asks for things repeated)… the texan (who loves doing presentations/laughing)… the med student (always taking notes)… yadda yada”  I look around and it`s very true.  She`s hit the nail on the head.  I had felt the class was funny before, but looking around it`s like a perfectly cast reality show: Survivor Français.  As always, I can`t stop thinking about how funny things are now, with this new perspective, and get a bit giggly.

New topic.  I`ve found an amazing swimming pool.  I ♥ it.  Outdoor.  Huge (50m with a separate area for public).  I go last night, for the second time, and there`s a huge crowd at the metro station there.   “What`s going on?” I ask in my best French?  “Some band” a lady answers but can`t remember the name.  I go to the pool and start swimming… it`s freakin`Nickleback (a band from Hanna which is only a few hours from my hometown).  How strange to fly 5 hrs. to hear Nickleback while you swim.  I phone my sister.  Turns out the main attraction was Bon Jovi.  Nickleback was just opening.  I hear a bit of them while I phone DVB to inform him of the upcoming “must-do” parties/festivals.  Sounds like he`s coming so that rocks!!

Topic Three… Holy Humid.  If Alberta had the morning we are having right now it would be in all of the papers and every watercooler would start with “Holy ****! I`m burning up”  It`s 30 or so, but like in a steamroom.  Even in the metro stations clothes stick to you here.  I was expecting it, but it`s always a bit of an adjustment.

Finally, Topic Four… my French might be getting better, but my English is getting worse.  I`m thinking so gramatically these days.  It`s like I`m ESL.  Hopefully, that subsides.  I`m in LEVEL 2 FRENCH (Thank-you Mme Zorn)… it`s intense but I rock so I should be fine.

MAN OH MAN OH MAN I LOVE THIS CITY.  From Shwartz`to Poutine this city has a very cool vibe.  I`m so glad I did this, and it`s only the beginning.  Montreal: c’est fantastique!!!