I finally got my Titre de Sejour today. Hopefully this means my Carte de Sejour will be given to me eventually. I’ve also been submitting Fools and Specters, my only complete novel to date, to literary agents, although it terrifies me. I can handle rejection, it just seems so much more personal with fiction than with my journalism work. Hopefully something will turn up, even though when I read my plot synopsis it looks like something that would make a good (as in bad) Sci-Fi Pictures Original. Maybe I should just send it to them directly.
Last weekend was pretty eventful. Friday night there was a big assistant gathering in the high school where a few assistants live. I can’t believe I’m still meeting Valence assistants, although I guess I was grouped with only the primary school assistants during orientation and there are a lot more Spanish, German, and Italian assistants in the high schools. I spent most of the party playing Ping-Pong and Foosball, both of which I am rather awful at. I’m “maladroit,” as they say here, although I had a few decent hits at Ping-Pong. I will blame the vin chaud. Saturday I went to the market for fruits and vegetables and also got some surprisingly strong Tomme de Savoie cheese. It looked so tame, like Gouda. Crafty cheese.
Saturday night I met up with Lisa, an English au pair, and we rode in a tiny car with three French guys down to La Tour d’Aigues in Provence for a party. Helen, an English girl who lives in Valence, was throwing the party with her boyfriend as a surprise for one of her friends. Luckily I’d met this friend before, so I didn’t feel awkward. This makes the second surprise party I’ve been to in France that’s been for someone I’d only met once before. Anyway, it was fun. I guess in France the thing to do is DJ your own dance party in a house, so there were lots of techno beats and even some random didgeridoo. And there was trance music, which is apparently very popular around here, although it still makes me feel like I could start walking into walls. Most important, I learned that in trance dancing you must put up your hood, if you are wearing one, and wave your arms manically while kicking your legs in the air. Now I will never embarrass myself! Oh, and did I mention Père Noël (Santa Claus) made an appearance at the party? I should have asked for a Nabaztag! I missed my chance. Anyway, it was a fun time and I got to meet new people. I noticed that we passed a sign for Digne on the way, and that Toulon was down the highway. Being the French literature nerd that I am, I totally wanted to shout out “The bishop of Digne!! The prison in Toulon!! We’re on the path of Jean Valjean!” But I respected the sensibilities of the other four passengers and did not.
This evening, I went with Pauline, a girl who lives in the foyer and is a radio journalist, to interview parents, teachers, and students who are having a “sleep in” protest at a high school. Well, I didn’t do any interviewing, just accompanied. Anyway, most of the high schools are blocked off by the strikes right now because the government is making some major changes to the education system that are not going over well. I can’t imagine a strike like this happening in the States, but they happen all the time in France.
I got my first gift for Christmas from my Uncle Phil: a certificate to make a loan on Kiva! If you haven’t heard of Kiva, you should check it out. Basically, its a way to make loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world. For example, I made my loan to Phal Samoeun in Cambodia to help with her beauty salon. I like that Kiva makes small amounts count, so that people like me who can’t give high dollar amounts can still directly support an individual. I also like that it doesn’t just throw money like a fire blanket to help people, but actually targets a need. Anyway, if you are freaking out about last-minute gifts, it would be a good choice.
I’m now going to finish preparing my last lessons before Christmas Vacation!