Monday, October 26, 2009

La vie quotidienne - mardi et mercredi

The advantages of working four days a week, instead of three like my lucky so-and-so flatmates, is that at least my days are short. (And yes, we are ALL lucky with 12 hours a week teaching plus lesson prep time, but remember that we are earning povvo wages and having to pay for everything - rent, food, utilities, transport etc. etc. on our own dime.) So anyway...


I get to have a lie-in or whatevs, because I don't start work until 1 pm. Lie-ins are facilitated by the awesomeness that is the metal shutters in my room - they are electronic, and once they're down, by crikey, you could be in the Black Hole of Calcutta. I ADORE it! On the downside, this means when I wake up I'm usually none the wiser as to whether it's 2 am or 2 pm, so I've taken to leaving them open a crack at the bottom, which means that they aren't fully concertina-ed together and little bits of light peep through the whole way up - still dark at night, but enough to make waking up slightly easier in the morning. Anyway, if I manage to get on to the English-American library again, maybe I can fill my Tuesday mornings volunteering there. I tried dropping by this afternoon for the second time, because there are allegedly people working there on Monday afternoons, despite the library being closed, but no joy. Will have to email so they don't think I have no follow-through. (Update: email sent.)

So, 1-2 and 3-4 on Tuesdays I have more classes with the aforementioned Monsieur A. 2-3 I have class with Mme K. who is Irish and very nice but offended my patriotic sensibilities last week by telling the class not to buy NZ-origin produce because of the airmiles issue and said that my claims that studies showed that Europe-grown fruit and vege often used more energy overall than imported stuff from NZ was propaganda. So there you go, stand by for the economy to go (further) down the toilet. I tried. Her class is in the 'literature' stream, which requires a wee digression on the nature of the French school system:

For those not in the know, students at lycees (high school) are separated out not only by the type of lycee (basically, more vocational or more general/scholarly - mine is the latter) but also by the subjects they concentrate on. Effectively, it's like they pick their university majors already in high school. I know that my high school education was heavily skewed in one direction, but that's because I individually picked those courses - they pick a stream e.g. literary, scientific, business - and then their programme of study is mapped out for them accordingly, and they all stick with the same classmates. Even though 'literary' (litteraire) sounds like they'd spend all their time reading literature, a lot of the literary kids (to my surprise and disappointment) profess not to read at all, so a better word would be something like 'humanities' - they concentrate on learning languages (some more than others), history, philosophy etc. as well as literature.

After 4, I'm free again and more than likely ready to head back home.


Wednesdays are my 'sole' day off (obviously the weekend doesn't count, cos even wage-slaves get that...) and, unfortunately, also my designated laundry day. We were all mucho excited last week to get a brand spanking-new washing machine, one that doesn't perform so poorly that the clothes have to have an entire bucketful of water hand-wrung out of them after the end of the cycle. But anyway, there are still three girls and one (albeit capacious) drying rack between us, so we each have our designated laundry day, spaced out through the week. It obviously makes sense for this to be on my day off, but naturally it cramps my style going out-wise. So Wednesdays are at least partly dedicated to laundry and other such chores. Whether it be a peculiar feature of the lino chez nous, or whether it's owing to the curious abundance of antique wooden furniture (we seriously have so many chairs we don't know what to do - 4 wooden chairs and an armchair in my room alone, I would say perfect excuse for a party were it not for the "elderly noise-hating extremely religious neighbour" who supposedly lives next door to us. Said neighbour has never been seen, and his apartment is shrouded in such silence that I suspect Mme C. made him up in order to (if you'll excuse the semi-pun) put the fear of God into us, but I digress...) As I was saying before the sentence trailed into oblivion, for reasons unknown, our apartment is, like, crazy dusty. Once a week is the absolute minimum for vacuuming - in that space of time, actual dustballs form and roam about my room in search of sustenance. Or something. So, much to the anticipated disbelief of my father, we all wage a constant war on dust here. So that's my go-go Wednesdays.


I read my insurance policy and found out that, with what they call the 'el cheapo policy' (not really, but...) breakages are specifically excluded from cover. So, no free camera repair/replacement for me. Sigh. I found the names of a couple of repair shops on the net, managed to find one today but not the other - closed on Mondays. Fricking typical. Must preserve the sanctity of the 35-hour working week, mais non? After that, I had some socca - my students have been nagging me on the subject - this is a Nicois speciality - a sort of chickpea pancake. It actually wasn't too bad, I like chickpeas, albeit a bit greasy and coulda done with something else (an Instant Kiwi perhaps?) Then I sat around next to a fountain in old town, then in a park, enjoying the sunshine, then walked for a while and went home, where I cleaned the toilet and bathroom and vacuumed and mopped the whole apartment, then cooked myself a real honest-to-goodness dinner of crumbed chicken breast, mashed potatoes and spinach. So domesticated! Was wondering where the flatties had got to - turns out I had been an hour ahead since Sunday, as I didn't realise the clocks went back until this evening. They had actually been on a day trip to St Paul, a small village somewhere or other, which I'm sorry I missed out on. Big bonus is that we can go anywhere on the normal bus routes for free with our bus passes, and anywhere else in the whole departement by bus for a euro. Must profiter-en (as the French would say) during the holidays - particularly as I'm getting broker by the minute and can't afford to go anywhere else. And that is all the stuff wot happened today. No idea what stuff will happen tomorrow, hopefully something more exciting.

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