三宅純 Stolen from Strangers

Jun Miyake is a Japanese composer and trumpeter. He must be a francophile, because several of his songs are in French – and so is his website! Actually, the only exposure I have to him is from his album Stolen from Strangers, which is all creepy and atmospheric with surprisingly strong pop sensibility. Check him out.



Le passé, le présent, et le futur

With my fate to be determined in one month, I thought I would reflect on my past and try to deviner le futur a little bit, or at least daydream a little.

In September 2011, I began what was to be a one semester study abroad in Orléans, France. At my university, we had limited choices – it was either a really expensive program in the south, the middle-of-nowhere in Quebec, or this little town in the Loire Valley famous for Jeanne d’Arc. Naturally, I chose Orléans without hesitation for several reason:

a) its proximity to Paris and other places due to its location in the center of France

b) apparently the accent is the “purest” in all of France

However, problems quickly arose as they always do. There was no availability at the consulate . I remember everything about the day when I tried to make an appointment (except what day it was apparently). I clicked, refreshed, clicked, refreshed, ad infinitum. Nothing. That sinking feeling hit me, and I thought “how am I going to tell my dad?” It was my own fault after all for not making the appointment further in advance. I asked a friend, “okay, I might not be able to go to France; recommend me something to listen to to bring my spirits up”. So I listened to Beck’s Sea Change, which helped a little to quell the stone that had dropped into my stomach. I called my French professor who is a magician (are you watching closely?). She called, lied about who she was (the most believable lies always have a grain of truth though!), and magicked my friend and I “appointments” with “Jean”. Yes, we were told to go without appointments and ask for “Jean”. No last name.

We left at 1am for our 9:10am appointment, arriving at 6am and expecting to be jumped by a shady Frenchman named Jean in the parking lot. As it turns out, the French consulate in Atlanta has the most lax security I’ve ever seen. They let us in sans rendez-vous, and when we passed through the metal detector were told to continue without checking our bags when it beeped.

At the consulate, our hopes were squashed as we saw the consulate worker make someone cry and suck the hope out of another who, upon being told that he would need a new passport, sat back down with vacant eyes.

So yeah, we were scared. When he called for the next person, I went up, gave my information, was asked penetrating questions, had to be given a napkin to dry my sweaty palms, and may have gotten this “Jean” in trouble. Enfin, I sat down. I made it! My friend, however, casually strolled up, said “same as him” and was done in minutes whereas mine lasted fifteen!

After we left, I received a call from the consulate asking us to come back and would not tell us why when we asked. I think I could have fainted! It turns out they had not given me back enough money when I paid, hahaha!

On our way back, we had a sobering moment when I realized that Atlanta is EST and we were actually one hour late for our “appointment” and somehow we were able to be accepted. But we never found out who Jean was!

As it came to be, in October I had a moment with a friend, Imjeong, who told me “You are going to come back to France. I can tell”; and later that month an experience that changed my life and made me decide to stay for another semester (which I have written about in this blog, when I went on an impromptu trip to Normandy). If not for this moment with my friend and the trip, I would have gone back in December and probably would not have realized that what I want to do is to travel through teaching English abroad.


So that’s le passé, now what about le futur?

Well, right now I am living only to hear the news in one month. I have a semblance of a job doing consulting work for a software company, but it’s not what I want to do. I put the académies of Lyon and Orléans-Tour as my preferences, the former a city that I never visited and the latter as a nostalgic choice that I could not not put. While I was there, I visited la région Centre, Paris, Normandy, Bordeaux, and Nice/Monaco. I want to be somewhere I have not been but is close to places I love, like Lyon and its proximity to Nice. I would love to be placed in that académie, for another reason: my dad has the chance to be a part of a work visit to Geneva, which is just a stone’s throw away from Lyon and anywhere in that académie.

I’ve also thought about my back-up plans, if I am not accepted into the TAPIF program. I have already been in contact with programs that send English-speakers to Korea, China, and Japan. I have been fascinated with Korea and Korean culture (and food! the most important incentive in the world!) for quite some time now, but I would equally love to go to the Canton region of China if possible. Regardless of if I get the assistant teaching job in France, I will go to these places. 

This year, France! Next year, Asia!

L’horreur, l’horreur…!

I love horror movies, because of all the film genres you can never get a bad horror movie. Either it’s great and scares you, or it’s bad to the point of comedy. You can’t lose!

I’ve been looking up French horror movies on Netflix, but have so far only seen two. I’ll start by talking about Les yeux sans visage, an old black and white movie that isn’t scary to a modern audience but is very well-shot with beautiful cinematography and an intriguing story.

It’s not on Netflix though.

To my instant queue however, I recently added Mutants, Sheitan, Ils, and Vertige. I’ve heard good things, so I’m excited.

Earlier this week I watched La horde on Netflix, a zombie movie about a couple of cops who infiltrate a drug dealer’s hideout to avenge their friend’s death. Unfortunately, a zombie apocalypse arrives at the same time! It sounds comical, but it’s a really good zombie film with an interesting ending!

I don’t want to ramble on about great horror movies I’ve seen (because everyone knows the great ones), but if anyone has seen the Spanish film [REC] and then the American remake Quarantine, then you know what a terrible remake the latter is. I hesitantly put on Quarantine 2: The Terminal last night, expecting a bad movie, but it turned out to be a highly interesting sequel, much better than the first. It has the typical plot holes and facepalm moments of any horror movie, but they are fewer and further between than usual. It’s a really interesting setting (come on, a behind-the-scenes look at an airplane terminal! how cool is that!) and interesting characters who make for the most part good decisions.

[REC]3: Genesis is on Netflix, so I’ll be looking forward to watching that, though I haven’t seen the second one.

If you know any good horror movie suggestions, let me know! Even if they aren’t on Netflix, I’m certain I can find them somewhere.

La maladie imaginaire (ou pas)

The last time I was really sick – and I mean really sick – was in France where I had a turgid love affair with delicious kebab frites. I don’t get sick very often, but last week was the worst I’d felt since October of 2011 when I had un gastro for half a week. This time though it was my throat. My tonsils were swollen, red, and dotted with white. I had a headache that kept me bed-ridden and unable to think, eat, or sleep.

When I was sick in France, I discovered a startling cultural difference. My host mother asked me if I wanted my temperature taken. I knew that I had a fever, but I humored her – come to find out, they don’t take temperature in France like we do in the United States! Apparently there is a place better than under the tongue or the arm pit to take your temperature. I will leave it to your imagination!

So as my sickness slipped away over the weekend, it moved all to my throat where a very surprising symptom appeared: the hiccups. In French, le hoquet. I am very prone to hiccups, I get them all the time, when I eat, drink, look the wrong way, any time! These, however, lasted all night… and when I woke up I had them, and they would go away from thirty minutes every now and then to come back with no warning. It sounded comical, but trust me – it was agony, torture not knowing how to make them go away, or how to keep them from coming back. I tried EVERYTHING: gargling water, holding my breath, chugging a bottle of water, chugging a bottle of water while holding my breath; and when I thought I had found a cure, they would come back!

By 11pm, I was to the point of crying when they had been gone for hours, only to reappear.

Finally, Tuesday morning they were gone for good. My chest hurt from hiccuping all day prior, and it left me with a few words of caution: don’t underestimate the hiccups! I read that in the worst case scenario, they could be caused by a tumor! So next time you see someone with hiccups, take pity on them! Ask them if they want to take their temperature and tell them not through the mouth. It just might scare their hiccups away!

P.S. I never learned my lesson from kebab frites, and I urge everyone to try le Meilleur Kebab de Bordeaux one day!