27 January 2010


It appears that January is sluggishly plodding to an end. Although I don’t suppose February will provide warmth and contentedness, I at least rejoice in the end of January. It’s difficult to keep your chin up in January, which is why for the past four years I’ve skipped town, mostly opting for warmer climes like Mexico and Ghana.

I had no escape this winter, however, and apparently it shows. Under no illusion that I am easy to live with, I constantly expect Victoria to exile me to my room, expel me from the apartment altogether, or at least ridicule me for my negative aura. Her course of action, however, is worse: I’m now being fined for my pessimism.

By the best means known to humankind (a bet), we are crusading for self-improvement. I bet she can’t stop her nail-biting habit, and if she does by the end of the week, I will make her a delicious dinner. She bets I can’t be consistently positive, and each time I say something negative I contribute fifty cents to buying our favorite bottle of Bordeaux. Whatever money I don’t raise, she pays. So here we are in Pontivy, planning for success.

As part of this effort, I’ve catalogued and focused on positive parts of my current existence. At the top of the list are, of course, Victoria and Susi, without whom I would undoubtedly be lost, angrier, and more negative. Along the same serious lines, we have made contact with some very open and generous teachers, in whom I find every reason to revisit Pontivy in the future. As the list continues, it includes some arguably mundane aspects of daily life that I have latched onto, such as the friendly black and white cat that often intercepts me on my way to school. The elevated view from our kitchen window. Reading French easily. Coffee.

Once the snow days passed, certain events rendered optimism easier. I’ve finally been reimbursed for all my trouble with the phone company, to the tune of 275 euros (over 400 dollars). I’m planning a grand trip for the two-week February break, including an expedition to Belgium and Amsterdam with Victoria. One of the very nice teachers took me to the food coop, where I finally found whole wheat flour. And a new idea has given direction to my summer plans: which field hires bilingual, homeless, kid-oriented seasonal workers? Language camps! I found some wonderful options in Michigan, Minnesota, and Québec. Really, despite all the bureaucratic debacles, disheartening American politics, and unsatisfying assistant work, things are looking up! Here is one satisfied Frenchie:

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