Monday, June 12, 2006

Catching up...

Things have been pretty busy here as of late, but good. The weekend before last was filled with sunshine and fairly warm weather. I've finally broken out my hats in hope of skin cancer- and wrinkle-prevention. On Saturday we went to an animal park, I guess you'd say. Zoos usually depress me but here the animals had plenty of room and didn't seem all that miserable. My favorites were the otters, as usual. We were there for feeding time and it freaked out some of the other people to see that they were carnivores. I guess when it's seafood it doesn't really seem like meat...I'm not sure. Anyway, they sure didn't eat much in the way of seafood. Their caretaker threw them all some kind of animal heart that they first cleaned off in their little faux river and then ran away to gnaw on in private. Then he spent some time hiding their other snacks around the island, including dead baby chicks. Once finished with the hearts, the otters searched for the other food -- finding the chicks, they'd run down to the river carrying them in their mouth. It looked rather like a stuffed animal, only a little gruesome once they started chewing off the head.

There was also a separate, drive-by safari type park. We were in a Twingo which felt about as safe as a damp cardboard box, but then again, I guess that's part of the thrill. There were signs everywhere that said to keep our windows up (really, not a problem there) and to always keep rolling, do not stop, and whatever we do, not to get out of the car (again, not a problem for us). The keep rolling/don't stop rule was tested, however, in the bear & bison section of the park. Upon arrival, we noticed two bears in the midst of mating...definitely something you don't see everyday, especially when the male bear is only standing on one leg. You go, Mr. Bruin. Anyway, the other bears seemed somewhat antsy, and a bear to the right of the car loped off into the woods, thus causing a bear to the upper left of us to start angling towards the other bear. It was clear that he was going to cross the road at the same intersection of time and space as the Twingo. We decided that Rules #2 and #3 could be broken if following them resulted in actually hitting the animal with your vehicle. So, anyway, we got a very up-close and personal look at the bear as it easily passed within two feet of us.

During the week, we had the children's program which went fairly well. The kids were a little bit stage shy but overall cute. The parents of one group asked me to continue working with them in June, which is nice. I'm looking forward to that. I finished up one of my adult classes and I've had my last class with the teenagers. So, work is calming down bit by bit. I'm not sure how many hours I'll get next year...we'll see. Who knows what the future may bring.

And, in other big news for me, I finally went to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist and was very apprehensive about the whole process. Either I'm a terrible wimp (entirely possible, I admit) or I just have sensitive gums, but I always feel tortured in the dentist's chair. I swear, if some quack doctor selling charms against root canals rang my doorbell, I'd buy 12 and wear them all over my body. When I asked my boss to recommend a good dentist, she at first recommended her own dentist that she's gone to since she was a teenager. She said that he was very efficient, which intrigued me and I asked her to clarify. She said that he wasn't always very gentle but that he was definitely efficient. That sentence terrified me so much I started to feel light-headed. What a nightmare. Anyway, once she said that he was totally against giving white fillings, I knew this man was not for me. She recommended a woman dentist that had a reputation as gentle and also open to the idea of aesthetics, so I made an appointment.

My experience there highlights the trade-off between the U.S. and France that I keep prattling on about. I can't say it's any better or worse because the criteria are different. My old dentist looked like he belonged on the Love Boat. He had a Greg Brady perm, a fake tan, and always wore a gold chain around his neck, but aside from the 70s groove thing he had going on, I considered him to be a good dentist. Expensive, but good. He had the newest technology and every time there was a new hygienist I had to demonstrate my flossing and brushing techniques. I'd get a free toothbrush. They'd write stuff down in my files on post-it notes so he'd ask me about my trips to France in the little chit-chat part dentists do.

On Thursday, I discovered that my dentist's office was in an apartment building. She was quiet and, well, efficient while being gentle at the same time (thank God). I showed up on time, she took me back into the room, took care of everything herself, and sent me on my merry way 10 minutes later. She didn't chit chat very much, although she did compliment me on my French and said I had nice teeth. I asked if there was anything I should be doing since it was so strange not to get the 'remember to floss twice a day' lecture, and she said to continue what I've been doing. I like that. It's comforting. And another bonus is that she seemed super clean -- she had the automatic sink and soap dispenser, and the trash was hidden in a cupboard that she opened and closed with her knees. The biggest drawback was that she didn't use the newfangled sand blaster tooth polisher, but her equipment still seemed up-to-date and modern. So I can do this. I can go to French dentists.


bcinfrance said...

It seems like you're pretty interested in getting work as an English teacher. Or is that just what you're doing because that's all that the French seem to think you can do?

Anyway, feel free to write to me for any advice or suggestions. I've been at it for 16 years now.


Pardon My French said...

Thanks, Betty! I really appreciate your offer of help and will probably be e-mailing you with specific questions! Before moving here I was an ESL teacher in the public schools and my preferred group was the elementary kids. ESL and EFL are very different, though, and I've had to adjust to different challenges and the idea of being extracurricular instead of part of a school. And there's always the issue of job security versus salary... Now I'm thinking about which direction I would like to go in. I honestly would prefer to work in the public schools full-time (not as an assistant), but there are so many hoops and barriers to that. I'll be dropping you a line in the future!

Doc said...

Ah, the lovely Twingo...I once had a friend (from Moscow even) who explained the French and their cars thusly: They don't drive them, they wear them.
Sadly, I'm too American and like my clothes, need my cars in XX-Large size.
Still, seeing bears THAT close must have been exhilarating.