Miscellaneous Moments, Part XII

  • While walking back from Méchain, I stopped outside the front of a closed-down building, unable to resist the temptation of two cardboard boxes filled with books and labeled “Servez-vous” (Help yourselves). After combing through all the books, I left with one—okay, who am I kidding—two books: a battered, much-loved copy of Meïpe ou la délivrance by André Malraux (that’s so old, the price is in francs), and a copy of the play Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw. The next day, the boxes vanished, and now a week later, I still haven’t been able to find the building or the boxes. If it weren’t for the two new books in my room, I’d be convinced that I made the entire thing up in my tired-from-climbing-up-the-mountain, lunch-deprived state.
  • Ml was very rudely gossiping about a teacher in the staffroom, and when she asked N what he thought, he just kind of blankly replied, “Je ne sens rien” (I feel nothing/I have no opinion), which shut her down immediately. Meanwhile, I sat there in front of my computer and tried desperately not to snicker.
  • While FaceTiming my mom, she started casually writing down everything I want to eat when I get back. The list, with the exception of peanut butter, consists entirely of Asian foods, and she mocked me when I told her that tofu doesn’t exist here: “You chose to live there.” Thanks, mother.
  • After Al and I shared total confusion about my work at Méchain, i.e. giving out grades and being left with half a class for 30 minutes without direction, she explained the grading rubric to me in about 10 minutes. Thanks, Méchain, you couldn’t have told me this yourself instead of dumping me with terminales and the extremely unhelpful instruction of “tell them how to improve,” making a Claudel teacher explain my job at another school to me?
  • There’s nothing more bizarre and more satisfying than having a conversation with a teacher in two different languages—M-L was using French and I was defaulting to English, but we understood each other without a hitch.
  • Please stop forcing heteronormativity on me. I may have died of laughter when a BTS student (they’re usually around 18-24) asked my age and then the teacher said he might ask me out for a drink, but only because I’d never accept going anywhere with a guy unless I know them.
  • Jt told one of her classes, “Sarena is very good at PowerPoints. She never says exactly what is on the slide,” and I was like, aw, that’s the nicest teaching praise I’ve gotten.
  • You know this job leaves you with way too much free time on your hands when you try learning German on your phone and wander outside for half an hour to watch the sun set. Likewise, I absolutely did not stand on a sidewalk for ten minutes, talking to a cat because I was trying to get a good picture of it and its shy calico companion.
  • I nearly snorted with laughter because La called Ml an idiot, and you know it’s bad when someone who doesn’t even work with her doesn’t like her.
  • This wee French baby started arguing with his dad that he could cross the street without looking because there were no cars, and it’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever witnessed.
  • You know you’re a nerd when M-L asks you for help translating and you happily finish a 223-word French to English translation in about 30 minutes.
  • Saying goodbyes is my least favorite part of endings. Maybe it’s for the best that N was on a school trip during my last day at Méchain—I stashed his and M’s letter and present in his pigeonhole and ran, thereby avoiding any potential possibility of tears.
  • I tried so, so hard not to laugh when the tour guide in Dublin said, “Boy, did we get behind Catholicism.”
  • That moment when you don’t have your glasses on and you think “Witness history” says “Whiteness history” and you go, “History is already white, who needs more of that?”
  • In Dublin, we got some lovely hostel roommates, though I felt really bad because one of them was Scottish and sometimes I couldn’t understand her accent.
  • Few sunrises are more stunning than one seen from an airplane window.

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