Sunday, August 26, 2012

La rentrée

Okay, holiday's over. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't idly looked up flights to Portugal - "I deserve a little summer sun" - but it's time to... procrastinate do something useful. Arrrggggh it's so frustrating! I'm currently procrastinating over the world's worst application form. I get it, standardised application forms make life easier for HR and also cut down the number of people who just spam out their CV to anything vaguely appropriate, but why do you need an application form in which every field has a ridiculous character limit so that I'm constantly running out of room to type basic things like my nationality (yes, "New Zealand" must be one of the longer ones even without adding in "/British", but still) or the name of my degree (again, the name of my degree is long, but it's hardly a fecking essay). Anyway, as you can tell, this is driving me *insane*. Breathe.

Furthermore, I have a little Google Calendar app on Chrome and it has suddenly started counting down the hours to midnight every day. I think it's mocking me because I no longer have anything in my calendar, ever, unlike when I was working when I used it to schedule everything I did. So it just counts down every day like "tick, tock, you're wasting your life". Even worse, sometimes something I'd scheduled way in advance still pops up in the calendar to say "ha ha, so you thought you had enough job security to pencil something in six months in the future? You fool!" I may possibly care too much about what the GCal app thinks of me...

I am trying to do some useful things though. I have been following a course on coding at I know what you're thinking, "you? Gwan? Coding? Hahahaha!" (or you're thinking no such thing, since we've never met and you have no opinion on my coding proclivities). But I was talking to my friend Rick (he of the blog guest appearance) about this, and that was pretty much his reaction, and I was all "fo shizzle ma nizzle, Ri-bizzle!", because that's totally how I talk off-blog. Moving on, yes, Gwan, coding! Finally, perhaps the "basic HTML" written on my CV will be true!* It's actually kind of fun at times, although at other times it's really frustrating, since it (like real code) doesn't actually tell you precisely how to fix your errors, and I have a tendency to instantly forget whether I'm meant to be typing "color:blue" or color:"blue" or color=blue or some other permutation. (And why can't these things stay the same in each coding language?!)

*Just to be clear, this isn't a lie per se - they did make us build our own websites from scratch at uni, but I did a half-arsed job of it and then promptly forgot everything I'd semi-learnt. I think this counts as "basic".

I also have done a few Spanish lessons on I've signed up for quite a few of these language-learning websites in the past, but this is the best one I've come across so far. I like the mix of repetition and introducing new elements, and that it tests you across the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking - although speaking's a bit weak, for obvious reasons) without resorting to boring lists or flashcards. It took me a while to realise you can scroll down for extra grammar tips, I thought at first you just had to sort of infer these things, but if you speak French or another European language, things like the adjective agreeing with the noun will probably be pretty intuitive anyway. I don't know enough to judge whether everything's completely accurate or up-to-date, but it seems quite good to me.

So, maybe since I've written about those things on the blog, I'll keep doing them? Any bets??

But la rentrée ("the return" - back to school/work/being an unemployed bum) isn't all work and no play. It's also an opportunity to catch up with all your mates who have also been away on holiday. I don't know why, since almost all, if not all, my friends here are women, but on Friday I was totally "oh my god, it's such a pleasure to hang out with a bunch of such intelligent, funny, strong women who are all pretty much my age" (nothing against 20 year olds, but I did kind of get tired of being older than nearly everyone when I was an assistant and my first year in Tours).

I started off the evening by cracking open a bottle of champagne and catching up with Liz at my place. That champagne has been looking at me every time I've opened my fridge for the past two months, and I think I've shown heroic restraint by not drinking it till now, but I couldn't stand it any more! I think we managed to cover only about 5% of what we got up to in our holidays (London for the Olympics followed by Serbia for her), but it was great catching up and we turned up to the guinguette (an hour late oops) to meet the other girls with that sort of warm, giggly buzz you only get from champagne.

At the guinguette, we met up with Laura, Philippa, Marcia and Caroline, none of whom I'd seen from between a couple of weeks to a couple of months, so there was much to discuss and many laughs. We made up a very multinational group - two Americans, an Australian, a Scot, an Englisher and me, the Kiwi. After the guinguette shut down around midnight, we said goodbye to Liz and Laura (who presumably had to get to a rendezvous at the Goblin Market), and it was off to the Pale for an alarming amount of shots (we were actually playing some sort of Snap!-based drinking game, like a bunch of 16 year olds, ye gods). 2 am closing rolled around, at which point we somehow ended up going to an "after" at the home of some French friends of Marcia's. I have no idea where they came from, suddenly we and an Irish man who also materialised from somewhere and let me steal his cider (which probably means I was all "YOU HAVE CIDER! GIVE ME CIDER! COME TO PARTY! BRING CIDER!") were just all heading off with a bottle of wine Marcia managed to cajole out of the bar staff - not sure if that's legal, but I doubt the French authorities are reading this. And then we stayed up at this house party, drinking, talking and - I kid you not - listening and singing along to Pink Floyd until 7 am. It was actually light and Marcia (who somehow managed to sleep amidst all the Floyd) was up and making pancakes by the time I left.

That was probably super boring to read - nothing like a lengthy description of a night out you didn't participate in - but I had the best time! It really was like being a teenager again, with the added bonus that there was no need to sneak up the stairs pretending to be sober at the end of it. Plus I stopped drinking after the first bottle back at the after (they then served up a bottle of muscat or something equally horrible, so I was saved from drinking more in spite of myself) so I didn't even have a hangover yesterday. Hurrah!


  1. I received a comment by email from Ella, who's having problems posting. Boo, let me know if any of you are too! I'm reposting it here because a) we all want to know what she has to say and b) it makes me look more popular ha ha! Voilà:

    "You had a bottle of champagne in your fridge for two months?! Wow! You're strong! That would have been gone in three days chez moi!"

    I know, I was proud of myself! But while drinking it, we were discussing how we should be having champagne All The Time, because we live in France and why not? I think we even made an August Resolution to drink more champers, so watch this space :D

  2. I have no idea what you are talking about regarding "coding" but as I am feeling rather blue, and desperate to travel somewhere, and moping about and moaning, you have reminded me what I really need is a rollicking night out with a mate, to jolt me out of my self pity... and also how fortunate I am to have a job! (again apologies for th'exclamation marks, but I can't seem to write without them)

    Glad you had a good time.. off to catch up with a mate.

    Love Denise

    1. Ha, I barely have an idea myself! Writing the code for websites :)

      Sorry to hear you're feeling a bit down, but happy I could help a bit! It's a downside of the travel bug sometimes, but it's not too long before you're off again. Hope you had a rollicking time with your mate!

  3. Nights like those are the best! I need a night where I act like a rowdy teenager who has nothing more important to do than giggle and stay up drinking until 7am again :)
    And that Google Calendar app sounds like the devil.

    1. Thanks for your comment! It was a lot of fun. And thanks for understanding that the problem is totally with the evil GCal app, not at all with me ha ha

  4. Dear Miss Sandiego, This is the French authorities writing to inform you that we will be at your doorstep at 5:00 am tomorrow morning to arrest you for 1) consorting with women who cajole alcoholic beverages from the bar staff, 2) singing Pink Floyd and not Led Zeppelin songs until dawn and 3) enhancing your coding abilities on your resume! As punishment, you'll be forced to spend the next month drinking muscat and blogging in HTML code (exclusively!). And, please, don't make the mistake of thinking that the French authorities don't read blogs written by expats. It's how we learn about all sorts of deviant behavior! Signed, the French police

    On a more serious note, I can't believe that you restrained yourself from drinking the bottle of champagne for two months. But wait a long were you on vacation?!? Oh! I also wanted to tell you that when we visited some friends in Annapolis they served us wine from Tours because they liked the bottle that we had given them in May so much. Warning - there may soon be a shortage of wine in your region of France.

    1. Eek! You've got the wrong girl, it's that naughty Flannel Sanfrancisco you're looking for! I should have known you'd be monitoring the blogs, it's well known that we're all damn dirty criminals. If I promise to sing Led Zep all this evening, will you pleeeease not punish me with the muscat?

      Well, I was away for a couple of weeks, but still, an achievement. As long as they don't drink it all, I'm glad to hear you're spreading the word, one never seems to hear much about Loire wines outside the Loire, let alone France. I hope it was good!

    2. "Flannel Sanfrancisco" - you make me laugh! A full-bellied laugh that's good for the soul. Thanks! But much more importantly, I hope that you sang Led Zep all evening and into the wee hours of the morning!

    3. :-) love that gwannel...

    4. Ha ha thanks guys! I have indeed been rocking out to Led Zep :)


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