Monday, April 26, 2010

What a wonderful weekend

This past weekend was amazing.  The weather was beautiful and I definitely took advantage of it.  I'm just sad it had to end...I really didn't want to head back to work this morning.

After a miserable Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I got home extremely relieved that the weekend had arrived.  We planned to celebrate Lionel's birthday this weekend (he turned 34 last week!  He's ancient!), so Friday night we stayed in to relax and get some sleep before the party on Saturday.

We spent Saturday afternoon running around buying food, drinks and a barbecue and then we had about 10 friends over Saturday night for a barbecue in our fabulous garden on our wonderful new barbecue.  We ate tons of great food (including the fantastic hamburgers that I made), we drank a ton and had lots of fun and conversation.  It was so nice to be able to have people over and to be able to have a barbecue!

Sunday was mostly spent cleaning and recovering, but we did barbecue again, so that was nice.  All in all it was a pretty good weekend and I really needed to have some fun (and a few drinks) after my miserable week!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Elever dans une grange???

In general I try to avoid complaining too much about my job on here, and I definitely try to avoid specifics for fear of losing my job or never being able to find another one.  However...I just have to say that the last week or two my students have been driving me crazy and I just have to say something!

In the past two weeks I have had my lesson plans insulted, I have been prejudiced against because I am American, I have been treated like I'm stupid, I have had a million cancellations (I know I've already complained about this..), I have dealt with some of the most impolite people I have ever met (after, of course, the bitch who I mentioned here and here) and I have been horribly disrespected.  And it just makes me want to punch someone!  But instead, I have to sit there, smile, act like I don't care and like nothing is bothering me, and just take it.  This is one of the things that really makes me angry about my job! 

So, in the ridiculousness of my life I took the insults and complaints about my lesson plans like a big girl and made myself feel a little better by giving the students really boring grammar exercises and vocabulary work to do when they didn't want to discuss the interesting articles I had brought Oddly this is the same technique I used to use on my lycéens when I was an assistant...if they didn't listen or they misbehaved one week, the next week I would bring in the most boring economics article I could find.

When the man was prejudiced against me because I am American and complained about having me as his professor, I ignored it, though I was pretty angry about it.  I just don't understand why having a British professor is better...so they can say things like bloody all the time?

When my student treated me like I was stupid I just smiled through it (which probably made him think I was even more stupid) and thanked the gods of English teachers that I only had one week left with him.

But what I REALLY can't handle right now is the disrespect and their overall rude behavior.  Were these people raised in barns!?!?!  They probably were...I'm becoming more and more convinced that most French people were raised in barns based on their lack of consideration, respect for others and basic manners all together.
So what happened this time?  Well, I was finally getting over the cancellations at looking at it as a blessing giving me a few minutes of peace in the middle of my overall crazy schedule.  But those were the cancellations of which I was informed in advance.  However, in the past two days I should have taught 6 lessons to 6 different groups (after the other 3 cancellations I had been told of weeks in advance).  How many of those 6 lessons did I teach?  2.  And to how many of those 6 groups?  1.  And how many of those 6 lessons did I go to? All fucking 6 of them!!!!  And that's when I started to realize just how rude and disrespectful my stupid students really are.

So basically, in the end, I wasted 5.5 hours yesterday and 5 hours today for NOTHING!  Yesterday I should have taught 2 lessons.  When I arrived at the first one the receptionist told me that my student was sick and hadn't bothered to cancel.  So I left and spent 2 hours at Starbucks before heading to La Défense for the next lesson.  Walking to the next lesson I already had a bad feeling (let's just say I have had a LOT of problems with these 3 men since I started with them 6 weeks ago), and sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed 45 minutes after my arrival when the receptionist still hadn't succeeded in reaching any of them and I was finally allowed to leave (according to my company I have to wait 45 minutes to see if a student shows up before I can just leave).  This is not the first time this has happened to me with these men and lets just say they are extremely disrespectful...they take their lunch breaks during our scheduled lesson time, they just don't come, they never tell me in advance that they need to cancel they lesson, they just never show up and let me wait for them in their company, and they have never once, in 6 weeks of this happening, apologized for their behavior.  After my trip to La Défense I was folle de rage as I stormed to the metro to drag myself home having successful wasted my entire afternoon for nothing since I didn't even get to teach one lesson.  It only became worse when I found out that at least one of these men was on vacation this week and didn't even bother to mention it!!!

Then today I headed over to Issy-les-Moulineaux for my first 3 lessons.  I arrived feeling good, if not a little tired.  I went to the forth floor and the receptionist regretfully informs me that my student is absent she forgot to tell me.  But don't worry, the next group might be able to come early.  Ok, that's fine, whatever.  Except then only 1 person from my second group (of 3 people) came.  So I did my lesson with her.  Then I did the same lesson with 1 other person from her group at their normal time.  Unfortunately, the man from the group couldn't come to the lesson today...of course.  Then, at the end of the second lesson, the woman for my third lesson at the company came by to tell me she was sorry but she couldn't do the lesson today.  So I left early and headed to La Défense to spend 3 hours waiting for my last lesson of the day because I didn't have time to really go home.  When I got to La Défense I headed straight to Starbucks to read for my 3 hour break.  When the three hours were over I headed to my last lesson only to wait 30 minutes in the company before the man came down to tell me that unfortunately he couldn't do the lesson today.  Great...you couldn't have told me that 30 minutes ago instead of making me wait just to find out we weren't even having a lesson!?!?!  And so, I could have been home at 1:30, but instead I got home at 6:30 because of this man!

Why can't these people cancel in advance?  Or, if it is a last minute thing, they all have my email address and my phone number...they could send an email, make a quick call, or even send a quick text to let me know not to come.  To me, this is just completely rude and shows an unbelieveable amount of disrespect towards me.  It makes me never want to see these people again...and unfortunately I have to, once a week, for a lot more weeks.  I just can't imagine having a scheduled meeting and then not showing up or not at least calling to cancel when something comes up that prevents me from being there!  And so I ask again...where were these people raised!?!?!

For the other English teachers out there...what do you think?  Do you often have this problem???

Monday, April 19, 2010

One day a week

The other night I was extremely exhausted, lying in bed and desperately wanting to fall asleep, but for some reason, despite the fatigue, my brain just would not turn off and let me slip into a blissful, stressless sleep.  This was, of course, because I've been so stressed out about my job and the insane hours I've been working recently.  So, instead of letting me rest my weary body, my brain insisted on thinking of everything adding to my current misery (therefore stressing me out more and preventing me from sleeping for even longer).

So, what, you may ask, did my brain decide to think about while I was lying there in the dark next to my snoring husband and praying for sleep?  Well, it decided it would be extremely fun to calculate the number of hours I spend per week on public transportation.  And what was the grand total?  24!!!!!

Yes, this is correct, my brain did very precise calculations when my body would have much preferred to be dreaming.  I spend 24 long, unpaid hours on public transportation per week.  Now mind you, 10 of these hours are going to or from work.  But the other 14 are going from company to company for my job, and they are completely unpaid (unless you consider the fact that my company reimburses 100% of my Navigo instead of only 50% to be payment enough for that much of my time).  This thought alone is enough to add to my recent depression.

But no, my brain wouldn't rest there.  Its next realization was that 24 hours is one day.  Yes, this may seem obvious to most, but 24 hours a week doesn't sound nearly as bad as 1 day out of 7.  When my brain realized that my body reacted immediately with an increased amount of stress and depression, further hindering my ability to drift off to sleep.

But this was still not enough for my brain, which then of course had to take the calculation further.  Not enough that I am losing one day a week to the dreaded RATP.  No, the calculations continued:  one day a week...52 days a year (more the double the amount of vacation I eventually will get)...but even worse, this effectively means that if I continue this job for 7 years and my schedule continues to be this ridiculous and spread out that I will actually lose 1 year of my life every 7 years to the RATP!!!  And this is the point where I realized I would never fall asleep and that depression was almost inevitable.  I can't even imagine losing a year of my life every seven years to public transportation.  The thought alone makes me feel sick.  I am really starting to wonder if I can really spend the rest of my life living in this city...

And so, I ask, how much of your life is lost to transportation???

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Down in the Dumps

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I've just been so down in the dumps that I haven't really had anything interesting to talk about, nor have I really wanted to post.  All I've wanted to do was complain...about my life, about my job, about Paris, about France, even about my friends and my husband.  Let's just say the past few weeks have been pretty dark, even with all the sun we've had.

Unfortunately that has not changed and I'm still pretty down.  But I'm trying to find the motivation to do something to improve my situation, rather than just complain about it.

So, since I'm extremely unhappy with my job right now, I have decided to start looking for a new one (easier said than done here in France).  For the moment I'm not looking too seriously and I'm only going to send my resume to ads that REALLY interest me because I really want to go to the US for the month of August and if I can stick with my current job until then, at least I will have paid vacation to do it.  Otherwise I won't be able to go seeing as tickets to the US are EXTREMELY expensive (if anyone sees a flight to the Ohio area at a reasonable - less than 1000 euros - price, please let me know!).

So, I have found one very interesting position so far, and I sent my resume on Tuesday.  It starts in September which is perfect because I can continue my job, leave on paid vacation, then come back and start a new job.  Only problem is, it's still teaching English (which I REALLY don't want to do), but at least it is a fixed salary, paid vacation, a set schedule, all in one place and less hours than I do now...for only 50 euros less than I make on average in a month now!  I figure I can do that for a year or two while I try to figure out what will really make me happy and where in the world I have to be to do it.  I'm seriously beginning to doubt that I will be able to start any sort of real career living here in France.

Other than that, I am keeping my eye out for interesting ads outside of teaching (I know this will be a struggle, but I absolutely have to change or I'm gonna back my bags for the US and jump on the next flight home) and I will really begin to seriously search this summer.  I'm hoping that a better job will solve the problem as I think it is the main reason why I'm so depressed with life right now (though I am not sure and there are definitely other things that are making me unhappy).  Wish me luck and let me know if you hear of anything!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Camel in Paris

The other night I was walking in front of the Centre Pompidou with some friends when we were shocked to see a camel in the center of Paris.



The camel was actually at a Moroccan restaurant near the Centre Pompidou and there were certainly using it to attract more clients.  However, we just thought it was cool to see a camel in the middle of Paris.


Unfortunately the pics aren't very good because I had to use my cell phone...but you get the idea.  I felt bad for him, tied up in front of a restaurant and forced to be photographed with tons of random tourists...

Russian Easter, American Easter

I hope everyone had a great Easter.  I know I did.  This year I celebrated Easter both Russian style and American style.  On Sunday my Russian friend invited me over to her apartment in the center of Paris to celebrate Easter with lots of good Russian food she picked up from the Russian store.  We ate a wonderful meal of Russian meat dumplings, Russian sauerkraut, pickled tomatoes, pickled mushrooms, dried fish, dried calamari, Russian cheese, Russian pickles, Russian honey cake, Russian Easter cake, Russian wafers and Russian chocolates.  There was of course plenty of vodka available, but I stuck to wine.

Russian Easter cake


Eggs...hard boiled and dyed, and in chocolate!

When she went to Franprix over the weekend, she even received a free gift for Easter...a beautiful chocolate egg that was quite delicious.  I wish I had known they were giving away chocolate eggs at Franprix, I would have certainly walked to the extra ten minutes to get one!

Free Franprix chocolate egg.  When I first saw it I thought she had gone to a real chocolatier to buy it.  But nope, it's from Franprix (note the Franprix logo on the white chocolate heart)

Then today I had an American Easter with my husband.  I had originally planned to make the meal on Sunday, but when my friend invited me over for Russian food I decided to wait until today.  We enjoyed a roasted chicken, homemade stuffing (first time I've ever made it!) and green bean casserole.  Later I'm going to find the energy to make chocolate chip cookies.  I stole the stuffing recipe from my friend Jasmin who stole it from Betty Crocker.  It was much easier than I expected, and tasted just like Stove Top!

American style food (half eaten because I couldn't wait to dig in)


Complete with American wine that I found at Leclerc for only 3€!!!

All in all it was a pretty good long weekend, even if the weather wasn't always as nice as it is today!  Now if only I didn't have to prepare lessons for tomorrow...