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18 mars – questions for france

Why don’t pencils have erasers attached? Is the obsession with writing only in pen the secret work of the White-out lobby? Why do grown adults use scooters as a legitimate form of transportation? Why do children ride on tiny bikes with no pedals? What is with the general lack of technology skills? Why is there a national obsession with slippers? Why are the titles on book spines printed in the opposite direction? What do kids do if they are thirsty at school since there’s no such thing as water fountains? What is going on with the seatless courtyard school toilets? Is there any rhyme or reason to the annual resetting of the train schedules? What are marshmallows and cough drops doing in the candy aisle? Has no one ever suggested standardizing the sizes of your mattresses? And what is with all the square pillows? What is the point of having a door handle in the center of the door? Why are keys so enormous? Do regular rounded paperclips exist in France?  Why is nail polish so outrageously expensive? Why why why does take-away coffee not exist? Is the teacher’s only means of communication with parents really a little red notebook? Why is everything sold in tiny glass jars? Why would a Carrefour Market coupon be invalid at a Carrefour City? How many people will I have given my RIB to by the end of the year? Where are all the ovens?! And why are the refrigerators so tiny?! Is pink toilet paper a fashion choice? Where are all the ziplock bags? How does a country that barely pasteurizes half of its cheese become so obsessed with ultra pasteurized milk? ❂

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Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

16 mars – lightbulbs

i have a story that i want to tell you
about lightbulbs
(the literal kind)

but the movie in my mind
is stuck today

maybe it’s missing a lightbulb
like i am

hopefully by tomorrow
i’ll have a
bright
new
lightbulb

(the literal kind
and the metaphorical kind) ❂

SOL

 

Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

15 mars – my mom is a nerd

My mom is a nerd.

Like, my friends think I’m a bit eccentric for having a personal library of mostly picture books and following my favorite authors and illustrators on social media (my friends are obviously not elementary school teachers), but seriously, I’ve got nothing on my mom. She frequently says that authors are her superheros. She once won a signed Lois Lowry book for being the speaking event attendee who travelled the furthest to be there. She regularly maxes out the library loan limit checking out books for her classroom.

This is the story I usually use to illustrate my mom’s particular fanaticism for all things children’s literature:

“When I was in middle school, my mom took us to this museum in Massachusetts called the Museum of Picture Book Art — no, seriously.”

*Cue laughter from my friends as they can already see this level of nerdiness goes way beyond what they were expecting*

“Anyway, the museum is pretty cool. It was started by Eric Carle, you know, the guy who wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Okay, good, just had to check. So, there’s a part of the museum where kids can make their own art. So, my sister and I were drawing and making collages and there were a few other families there as well. And this older man comes in and starts milling around, looking at what everyone is doing. And when he passes by our table, my mom freezes, mouth agape, and goes, ‘You’re Eric Carle.'”

*Cue more laughter and incredulity that my mom recognized an illustrator that none of us can even picture within seconds of seeing him.*

“BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

“A while later, my mom was walking down a street in DC. I think she was going to the National Book Fair, or a teaching conference or something… Anyway, she passed a small group of people on the sidewalk, and — I’m not making this up — one of them was Eric Carle! And she recognized him! Again! Later, we asked her how she even knew what he looked like and she just said, ‘He’s right there on the back cover!'”

Maybe it’s because she has done so many read alouds in her 25 year career as an elementary school teacher that she’s spent a lot of time staring at the back covers of books. Whatever the case, I’m glad that my mom is such a big book nerd and clearly way more observant than most.

P.S. Hi, Mom! Hope you’re not offended that I’ve called you a nerd like 4 times… but somehow, I think you’ll take it as the highest of compliments 🙂 ❂

SOL

 

Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

14 mars – πku

Just as I did last year, in honor of Pi day, I have written you some Pi-kus, a modified haiku form where the lines follow a 3-1-4 syllable structure.

today i
meant
to make a pie

apple with
lots
of cinnamon

or perhaps
a
lemon meringue

a pumpkin
pie
would’ve been nice

alongside
scoops
of vanilla

but instead,
tired,
with empty fridge

i gave up
and
ate leftovers ❂

SOL

 

Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

13 mars – priorities

One of the best things about teaching in France are the school holidays. For each 6 weeks of school, we have a 2 week vacation– not too shabby! While I like to take advantage of these breaks to relax, I’d be remiss if I lived in Europe without traveling around as much as I can. After all, who knows how long I’ll even be here!

This week I’ve been corresponding with a friend who I haven’t seen in 2 years. She recently graduated and moved to London and I plan to take advantage of being (relatively) close to England to finally visit her! As we coordinate dates, I look at my empty calendar for the month of May. My teaching contract ends April 30. My visa ends May 15. So far, my plan is to  pack up, go to London, and then head back to the United States.

I tell her, “I’ll either come the week ending with May 20, or the week after May 20. I haven’t really decided. I haven’t booked tickets from Marseille to London yet. I haven’t booked my flight from London to DC. So far, all I have booked are theatre tickets at The Globe on May 20.”

Thus go my priorities. ❂

SOL

 

Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

 

11 mars – hiking aux Goudes

2:40 PM Text message from Mom:

Now they are calling for a snow storm on Tuesday!! I may finally get a snow day off from school! Friday was just some flurries!

2:41 PM Reply:

That’s crazy! Meanwhile, it’s 71 here and we’re heading to the beach…

Kelsey and I met at the line 19 bus stop at 3:20 and ten minutes later we were off on our weekend excursion. On the program: A hike through Les Goudes, known as “le bout du monde” to the marseillais: the end of the world. An area along the southern coast of the city of Marseille, Les Goudes are right at the entrance to one of France’s National Parks, Le Parc National des Calanques.

On our very crowded 45 minute bus ride past a stretch of commercial beaches filled with sun bathers, the 15 minute wait for a second bus, and 7 minute drive careening around winding coastal roads, we watched as the buildings and landscape changed shape around us. Where tall apartment buildings were, we now saw modest, fishing dwellings. The long sandy beach was now a stretch of rocky cliffs going as far as the eye could see.

These were the calanques, a landform so specific to this region that it has no English name. Wikipedia says,

A calanque (from the Corsican and Occitan words of pre-Indo-European origin calanca (plural calanche in Corsican, calancas in Occitan) with meaning “inlet”) is a narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed in limestone, dolomite, or other carbonate strata and found along the Mediterranean coast.

This was my second time visiting the calanques, and both times the most frequent phrase out of my mouth was, “Where are we?!” One one side, the turquoise blue of the Mediterranean stretches tranquilly to the horizon. On the other, barren rocky masses rise in oddly formed shapes, truly giving the impression of being another planet entirely.

We walked along the path for almost exactly one hour. It was truly the perfect day for a hike. The weather in Marseille has been getting warmer and warmer for weeks, but this was the first day that truly felt like spring. It wasn’t just the sun that warmed our faces, but even the air was warm. The light sea breeze was a relief.

As the sun began to set, we reached our destination:  a tiny hidden pebble beach complete with a bar. Though we didn’t patronize the bar, we wondered about its employees… How do they get to work every day?! Do they walk the uneven and sometimes treacherous one hour path we just followed every morning? Is there a secret service road that we don’t know about? Do they arrive by boat? Or maybe they simply live here…

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After resting and enjoying the sounds of the waves and seagulls, we headed back with the sun setting in front of us, and the moon rising behind.

I hope that my mom gets a snow day, but 5,300 miles away, I am hoping for more days like today! ❂

SOL

 

Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.