Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Martinique is REAL!

More news from the front. I've gotten a series of e-mails from the French government this week. One informing me of the colleagues who will be doing the same job as me in different communes of Martinique, and a few others which included contact lists of past assistants and the assistants who are teaching Spanish, and not English. There are going to be people from all over the world. Lots from Spain, Ireland and England. I also got an e-mail in which I received my contract for 7 months and in which I received the names of the schools were I'll be teaching and the teachers who I will be assisting. I sent them both e-mails immediately. My french is slightly rusty and I'm reaching for words sometimes, but it usually comes back after a little bit.

I'll be dividing my time between two schools. I'll find out when I get there what my schedule for the schools will be. I'm teaching at 2 Lycées Professionels (Professional High Schools) so basically they are specialized educations for certain faculties. The schools are called the LP Dillon and the LP Bateliere. They are located in the busiest part of the island: Fort-de-France (the capital of Martinique) and Schoelcher which is a suburb of FDF. See map to make sense of the city names. Pointe du Bout is the tourist capital. So at the very least, I'll be in a place where there are things going on. It might even be a little bit beautiful.

I'm getting really excited and now having an actual physical locale on the island, it's becoming more real. I'm hoping to purchase plane tickets before August and then it's locked in. September 27th I'm expected to report to the island and the adventure begins. We're to go through 3 days of training and bureaucracy while spending our nights at a campsite in Ste. Luce (very southern part of the island near Diamant). Should be a good time to meet people.

I'm still fluctuating between opposites, fear and excitement. The best word is probably anxious. In French, anxious means scared as well as excited and it is derived from the latin anxius which means uneasiness of mind. My mind is uneasy; it's either chomping at the bit and ready to board the plane, or hesitant and unsure of moving forward. But I'll get there. Some great lyrics in parting:

I'm ready
Ready for what's next
Ready to duck
Ready to dive
Ready to say
I'm glad to be alive
I'm ready
Ready for the push

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Northern Virginia, land of Hondas and insane drivers. I'm fearing for my life on on-ramps and in lane changes up here. Honestly, you'll save 30 seconds at the MOST by cutting me off to be in front. Every one is just so anxious to get where they're going. Enjoy the ride! why else do you have an expensive car that is supposed to make driving an experience and not a burden. Sheesh.

When I'm home I always catch up on things that I never do that I should do when I'm in Williamsburg. But Fairfax becomes the place where I wash my shoes and vaccuum my car and sew up loose seams or lost buttons. Being home and having a house to do them in inspires me to take care of the smaller fixes that pop up from day to day. It's also the time when I do my dentist visits, and other maintenance-type errands.

I hate the dentist. I have a great dentist too. I've been seeing the guy since I was 5. He's seen me from kindergarten through college; through two sets of braces, caps, crowns, palatal expanders, wisdom teeth removal, cavities, and more orthodontic surgery procedures that I'd care to think about. My parents and I have trusted this great guy with my mouth for almost 20 years. It's not him I hate, it's what he's done to me. Every time I go I get nervous. I'm almost a quarter of a century old and I'm still afraid of the metal pick they take out to scrape your teeth at the beginning of a routine cleaning. That pick always seems to find something in my mouth that makes the dentist furrow his brow, say "hmmm", and subsequently causes me great pain.

The fact that I fell down the stairs in a walker when I was 3 probably has something to do with it. But man, when they talk about a million-dollar smile, I think I'm one of the ones where they mean it literally and not figuratively.

When I took my most recent trip to the dentist, there was a tiny blonde girl who walked into the office with trepidation and a look of fear on her face. She was gripping her mothers hand and walking VERY slowly towards her assigned chair. She was escorted to the chair in the back and I knew instantly she was in for it. Poor thing, she knew it too. Little kids know when something bad's about to happen, i.e. a shot, gross medicine, the tongue depresser which makes you gag at the doctor's. Then she got the mask. My dentist calls it "the clown mask". It's the mask that gives you the laughing gas that makes you loopy while they dismantle your jaw. They put it on her, and she was searching for her mother. Then came the drill. There is nothing worse than that sound in the entire world in my mind. I felt like it was me in the chair. I knew exactly what was going through the girl's head. She was really good though, didn't scream, barely even whimpered. I was impressed.

I escaped without any cavities and with a slight repirmand because I'm not flossing like I should be. But I always feel like I narrowly escape torture when I leave because for about 15 years of my life, that's all I received every time I went. I hope those days are somewhat in the past now.

I also visited my grandma today in her new room at her nursing home. She is on the "special care" floor now. You have to have a code to get on the elevator to leave it. The code is 1-007. I think it's a good joke. My grandma has alzheimer's disease. As it has progressed, she has regressed. The more the disease takes over, the younger she acts. I would put her at about kindergarten age right now. She loves to have stories read to her, she plays with a plastic baby doll that we got her, and she has a very short attention span. She has her moments of clarity when you bring up something from her past, but it's gone almost as soon as it comes. Visiting her is always eye-opening. Makes me think that there may be a point where modern medicine will enable us to live too long.

Home is fantastic. I love having a bigger bed. It's only a full-size, but it feels like a California King compared to the bed I sleep in at my apartment. There are things that I prefer how I do them when I'm on my own. Makes me realize how hard it would be to live at home again. But being around the family is great. I had so much fun this weekend. but I know that I can't go back to Northern Virginia. There are too many people in too small a space now. I'll have to branch out. It will make for an interesting job search when I get back from the tropics.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The National Cemetary

Another doozy from Harry today:

"I just found out 'bout 3 years ago they took 'way some of Genr'l Lee's backyard to make the national cem'tary and bury some o' 'dem YANKS in it. If I'da known 'bout dat I'da been laying down in front o' dem dozers!"

When I told him that both my father and mother were born in the South and that my grandad was in the army, they all earned instant validation. I was, however, excluded from this validation because I'm a "rebellious young'n" and I don't have an accent. Also, he regards Northern Virginia as somewhat hedonistic and a departure from the true roots of everything south of the Mason-Dixon line.

When asked where the group that is coming in today is from, I replied that I didn't know. He then proceeded to make some very derogatory comments and sweeeping generalizations about people from different parts of the eastern seabord. And to tell me that he'd appreciate knowing where they come before they arrive. Presumeably so he knows which stereotype to project upon them and so he can plan how to mistreat them.

This is starting to not be funny anymore.

In other news, I LOVE Craig's List. They have saved my lazy not-buying-tickets-in-time hiney TWICE already this summer. Craig, you're a winner in my book. a BIG winner.

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