By   November 30, 2007

My entire website is gone. My host decided to delete my account. I have no idea why. Here is the crappy e-mail I received:


We are regret to inform you that your hosting account for domain has been closed.

due repeated email issues and per terms of conditions we closed this account.

during the last 24 hours and untill the moment, we are suffering from flooding of hundreds of thousands of emails which blocked our email system even after closing your account. this messages are bounce back emails of spam that sent from your account before (due spam, unsecure contact form, easy to guess passwords ..etc).

as suspending the account did not stop the flood, we have closed the account and pointed the domain to another DNS.

its recommended to transfer your domain to another registrar too.

M Noman,
[email protected]

I am totally freaking out here. I have all of the files on my hard drive so I can easily upload my site again, but now I have to find a new host asap. I don’t get this at all. I never got any e-mails from them before saying there was a problem. I can’t believe this.

Any host suggestions? Anyone?

Success (sort of) again.

By   November 26, 2007

Is it weird that I actually don’t mind going to the préfecture? Since I had finally received my new arrêté de nomination and procès-verbal (six weeks late, but no biggie, right?!?), I had to head back to the préf and do another changement du statut from visiteur to travailleur temporaire. I was a tiny bit worried they would ask for a new visa, but luckily they didn’t. I had all of the documents listed on the form they gave me last month… except now they are requesting a new medical visit. (I think because I’m changing back to a worker card – I certainly didn’t need it when I got my visiteur card this summer.)

I highly doubt my school has asked for an appointment at the ANAEM. Since I’m the only non-EU citizen assistant there, they tend to forget things aren’t as simple for me… which is weird since last year’s English assistant was American too.

Anyway, the man working there is quite pleasant and he remembers me because of the lost card fiasco this summer, so I like going to the préfecture these days. I received my new récépissé and autorisation provisoire de travail; now I just need to go to Grenoble and do the visite medicale, and I won’t have to deal with stupid paperwork again until March!

Je suis de mauvaise humeur.

By   November 24, 2007

The strike is finally over! Well, almost. I don’t have to take a train again until Friday, so I’m happy. I want to know why the SNCF thinks they can replace a train with one little bus and think there will be enough room for everyone. Luckily I work close to the provenance of the line, or else I wouldn’t have made it home on Friday night. Just about everyone (mostly students) goes back to Annecy on Friday nights, so I knew there would be a problem with the lame autocar. And sure enough, one stop after I managed to get on the bus, we had to leave 20 or so students stranded at the station because there were no seats left. I have no idea how they got home.

Add to that the stress of being 30 minutes late and most likely missing the connection to Lyon, people were complaining and yelling the entire ride back to Annecy. I couldn’t wait to get off that bus and get home. I was so stressed out just listening to the people around me, even though I knew David would be waiting for me in Annecy.

Most days when I get home from work, I just want to change into my pajamas and crawl into bed right away because I’m so tired. With the strike the last two weeks, I’ve been in a really bad mood in addition to being dead-tired. I’m so angry and stressed for no real reason. Well, I guess the reason is dealing with angry French people during a public transportation strike.

It’s times like these that I really miss the US. And my car. France is so small and crowded; I’m forced to be in close contact with random people all the time and I hate it. I miss the privacy and independence and vastness of the US. And Thanksgiving. At least I had some friends over this year unlike last year. We had escalopes of turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie. But having to work the day of Thanksgiving and the day after, as well as trying to teach Thanksgiving to French kids who really don’t care about the holiday, makes me really sad.

Back to searching for an automatic car…

Chez le dentiste

By   November 19, 2007

Good news: Dentist appointments in France last about 10 minutes.

I’ve never had any problems with my teeth in my life (not one single cavity!), but since I haven’t been to the dentist since before I moved to France, I thought I’d better go. The dentist was talking so incredibly fast, so I’m not sure if I understood everything. But he said my teeth looked fine, did a tiny bit of scraping off of tartar, and that was that. No “polishing” with disgusting sandy toothpaste, definitely no painful flossing, no fluoride that makes me drool, no x-rays that make me gag, no berating for not having my wisdom teeth removed. He told me I didn’t need to come back for another year. I love French dentists.

I could understand simple words like carie, gencive, and bactérie, but it took me forever to figure out what type of toothpaste he was recommending. An hour after getting home, I realized he had said dentifrice au bicarbonate – toothpaste with baking soda, a.k.a. the brand Sensodyne (SEN-suh-dine and sahn-soh-deen aren’t that different sounding after all). And a souple toothbrush. I’m still trying to figure out a few other words he said though; something that sounded like chaussement or chaussant… I think it referred to gums?

Usually whenever I have to go to appointments like this, I tell the doctor right away that I’m American and hope they dumb down their language so I can understand them. At least they speak slower, but not this guy. I should have faked the stereotypical American accent (I’m blessed/cursed with a rather good accent in French); but something tells me he wouldn’t have really cared.

This is rather long.

By   November 15, 2007

I realized I haven’t made an actual post in quite a while. I guess that means nothing too interesting has been happening. I’m still commuting more than an hour to work 3 days a week, and it’s made me so incredibly tired. Plus we have no heat in our apartment, so I have to spend the rest of my time under a huge couette in order to not freeze to death. (We supposedly have chauffage dalle – heating in the floor – but it does not work at all and our crappy radiators don’t heat anything.)

I did absolutely nothing during the Toussaint vacation. It went by so quickly, but I have no recollection of actually doing anything worthwhile besides cleaning the apartment. I definitely have no photos of foreign cities that I’m dying to visit. I’m so jealous of the other assistants who actually get paid by the rectorat so they can go on vacation. One of these days I’ll travel again. But considering that I’ve already flown 5 times this year, I’m content to stay home with David & Canaille en ce moment.

Ah yes, the rectorat. I finally received my new arrêté de nomination this week. Normally, assistants receive these work contracts during the summer in their home countries so that they can get a visa in order to come to France. But since I was hired in the last week of September and live in France already, the rectorat took their sweet time sending it to me. Now I need to get the procès-verbal from my school, and take both to the préfecture so I can have a travailleur temporaire residency card and actually get paid for working. It’s been nearly 6 weeks and I have yet to fill out any official paperwork stating that I do indeed have a job.

I currently do co-voiturage on Tuesdays instead of taking the train. I work 9-11, 2-4 & 5-6. We leave Annecy at 6:45 am and return at 7 pm. I absolutely hate Tuesdays. On Thursdays, I work at the middle school, sometimes 2-5pm and sometimes 8-11am. The problem is that it’s 4 km from the gare, so someone always has to drive me to and from there. On Fridays, I work 10-11 and 2-4 (or 3-4 in week B). I have to leave Annecy at 8am and I get back at 7pm, just to work 2 or 3 hours. I know the teachers can’t change the schedule because that’s just when the English classes are, and it’s not like the train schedule can be modified either. But it’s frustrating that the only reason I don’t like my job is the commute; it doesn’t even have anything to do with the teaching part!

Unfortunately, the stupid strikes are affecting me a little. There were no trains today, but I was able to go to work with another teacher who lives in Annecy. And then David had to drive 40 minutes to pick me up afterwards (luckily he had already taken the day off). If he hadn’t done that, I’d probably still be in the mountains, waiting for any train that I could hop on. I don’t even know if there will be trains tomorrow, so maybe I won’t be able to make it to work. Which makes me hate these strikes even more. It’s fine if you want to strike and protest against issues that you disagree with, but when it affects everyone else and their ability to get to work (and therefore get paid), it’s not so great.

I am still searching for an automatic car so I can be more independent and not waste my life in train stations. I managed to transfer enough money from the US (and lose a huge chunk of it thanks to the awesomely bad exchange rate), now I just need to find a car that isn’t so far away. Most of them I’ve found are in Bourgogne or on the other side of Lyon.

One thing I did manage to do recently was sort out stuff at my bank. You see, here in France, people who are under 25 have all sorts of special discounts and deals. But apparently when you get OLD, all of those perks are taken away from you. My bank card was a special “under 25” card, and instead of automatically ordering a new, regular (old people) bank card when the original expired at the end of October, my bank just decided to do nothing. Including not notifying me that I had to make an appointment just to tell them that I do want a new card. I also found out that I cannot open a LEP account (best savings account available) because I am not a French citizen. So I opened what I could – a CSL with a 2 % interest rate every YEAR. Umm, wow. My ING account in the US has a 4 % rate every MONTH.

Speaking of US things… my beloved Thanksgiving! I will never get used to the idea of working on Thanksgiving. I hate going to school and teaching about the holiday instead of staying home and eating food and watching the Lions lose. French kids will never truly understand the holiday or why it’s so important to Americans. I try to teach the history (ok, fake story) and the traditions, but to them, it’s just an excuse for Americans to get even fatter by eating all day and it really makes me sad that they think that. :( Thanksgiving is actually what I miss most, besides 24 hour stores and furnaces.

So because I can’t have a real Thanksgiving here, and because it’s cold and gray every single day now, I’m getting a little depressed. Actually, I’m more annoyed at the lack of heat in buildings. Being cold makes me cranky and tired, and I am always cold now thanks to no heat in our apartment, and no heat in the hallways or bathrooms and even some classrooms at work. Plus I have to go outside a lot more than I did in Michigan, which is how I try to explain why winter in the US is not as bad as winter here even though it’s much colder in North America. I could drive my car everywhere – no walking or waiting outside. Plus there are furnaces and adequate heating unlike the useless radiators found here. (Yes, yes, I know France is trying to not destroy the planet by saving resources… but what’s the point of living if you’re going to be freezing and sick all the time??? It’s no wonder the French consume more medication that anyone in Europe….)

Stay tuned next week for my adventures in visiting a dentist for the first time in France and attempting to make a Thanksgiving dinner without an actual turkey!

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…

By   November 11, 2007
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae

Hug a veteran today.

Burger TV? Seriously?

By   November 3, 2007

There’s going to be a new TV channel in France aimed at American expats. It’s called Burger TV. How unimaginative and stereotypical.

Here’s an actual quote from one of the directors of the channel: “When you are an American living outside your country you miss two things: your television shows and a good burger!”

Excuse me? I’m sorry, but this just makes me feel angry. And insulted.

Will Americans abroad bite for Burger TV?

Americans in Paris get Burger TV

On an interesting linguistic note, that second article (written by a Brit) mentions the Midwest as if it refers to the entire USA. And “homely” US dramas? LOL. I knew the meaning must have been different in British English.

Je cherche une voiture automatique.

By   October 30, 2007

I’m trying to find an automatic car that isn’t too expensive so that I don’t have to take the train to work anymore. Comprehending car ads in French is no easy task. And thanks a lot,, for recently removing the search function that specifies boîte automatique instead of boîte manuelle. ::sigh:: I am not looking forward to going back to work without a car. And there’s no way I’ll be ready to drive a manual car anytime soon, especially not for an hour through the mountains.

Ok, let’s try to decode some ads. First, you have to choose what type of car: Berline, Coupé, Monospace, Break, etc. I have no idea what these mean. Let’s just leave it on Berline. Type in maximum price and location. Don’t care which marque or modèle, and voilà:

R19 ESS AN 92 TBE 122.600km CT OK pneus neige. Hmm. What does R19 mean? I understand ESS means essence (gas) instead of diesel, and the year (AN for année) is 1992. Uh, TBE??? 122,600 km – I still can’t think in kilometers… The CT is OK, that’s good to know, if only I knew what CT meant. Ah, comes with snow tires. And now I have a headache. But it doesn’t matter anyway because it’s a boîte manuelle!

Plan B. Let’s try looking at Top Annonces that came in the mail today. The cars are sorted according to the make, which means nothing to me since I have no idea if a Twingo is better than a Clio or a Renault or a Fiat. Most don’t even list the prices. I realize this will be waste of time as the abbreviations are even worse (more confusing) than online ads, and I cannot find any that specify boîte automatique.

Attempt 3. Ebay is my last hope. Score! I can search for automatique and have mostly boîte auto in my results! Wish me luck!

* * * * * * * * * *
Automobile abbreviations & vocabulary:

AN – année (year)
AV – à vendre (for sale)
bosse – dent
carrosserie – body of car
carte grise – registration
clim – climatisation (air conditioning)
CT OK – contrôle technique OK (vehicle inspection OK)
CV – chevaux (horsepower)
ESS- essence (gasoline)
MEC – mis en circulation (put into service)
moteur HS – moteur hors service (motor doesn’t work)
p – portes (doors)
pr pce – pour pièces (for pieces)
px à déb – prix à débattre (price to debate / or best offer)
TBE – très bon état (very good condition)
vdue en l’état – vendue en l’état (sold as is)
vitre – window of car

And my favorite driving words:
dos d’âne – bump (donkey’s back)
nid-de-poule – pothole (chicken’s nest)