Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Have a Graduate!

Gisèle graduated from Pre-K today!  She has attended this school since she was 8 weeks old, and it was a really sweet graduation ceremony.  She loves the school, and I know all of the teachers there will be sad to see her go since they've watched her grow for nearly 5 years now.

She did a great job at the ceremony, pausing when she was supposed to pause, and shaking hands just like a grown-up.  I'm so proud!

She'll attend the center's summer camp (all-day) program until school starts in the fall, and then it's time for Kindergarten!

(all pictures taken with a cell phone)

in the classroom before the ceremony
Near the end of the ceremony

Proud girl!
Her graduating class

Our graduate!

Gisèle with her proud Mama and Daddy

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Arriving in Clermont-Ferrand - 8/31/00


Well, I'm here.  What an experience.  The train ride wasn't bad, though it took a long time before I got up the courage to wake the lady next to me so I could carefully make my way to the bathroom.  Train bathrooms are fun.  [Sarcasm doesn't translate well when writing.]  When I arrived at the gare, two men who worked there carried my bags for me and put them in a taxi.  Good thing, since I didn't have a 10f piece for the one remaining cart.  The taxi driver brought me to a big building he said was (basically) the main one for Dolet.  There are a bunch that are actually Dolet!  The lady here gave me a "look" and said "you all arrive too late" and told me to go outside, up the stairs, and knock on the office door.  Even though she said the office was closed.  So I did and the lady took my last name and then told me to go back to the other building and wait for a key.  argh.  So I went back and waited - for an hour.  During the hour,  I heard an American (midwest, I guessed) talking to another student, and introduced myself.  His name was Luke, and he was from Emporia State.  I don't know how long he'd been here, but he was leaving to tour Europe a bit and then I think he was going back to the States.  He told me to go to Cézeaux tomorrow morning and just settle in - he said I could get my key at 9:00am.  [I stayed in the Dolet dorm for the 1st night while they figured out what to do with me.]  The lady finally gave me a key and looked really confused when I asked if I go to Cézeaux tomorrrow... so she told me to go back to the other office in the morning and talk to them. 

Hearing Luke talk to that French girl earlier, it sounds like I'll want to be in Cézeaux - they both hate Dolet.  Seeing these rooms, I think I'll want Cézeaux if it's any different.  The room itself isn't horrible, but I don't like the set-up.  There was a sign saying "W.C." down the hall, then you enter a door for your room and it's a tiny little foyer with (I think) a sink (maybe a shower?) and two more doors, for two actual rooms.  I want to make French friends, but I'd like the person next to me to be a nice, English-speaking American, if possible.  Without a loud TV!  I'm glad Nicole made me two sandwiches.  I ate one for lunch and I can have one now, too.  But I really want to call Jamie tonight and I'll have to leave the room for that.  In about 45 minutes.  But that means finding a place to buy a telephone card.  And a phone.  I feel like crying.  I knew things weren't going to be easy, but right now they feel absolutely impossible.  Right now, I think I'd prefer being in Cèzeaux and having the bus and other students.  I think what I really want it a familiar face - no, a familiar language.  I want to have someone here who also has no idea where to go or anything.  How in the world am I going to find Jamie?  I meant call Jamie.  Find a phone and a phone card to call Jamie.  Well I've made up my mind to leave and find a telephone, etc.  I desperately need to hear Jamie's voice.  I can ask the lady downstairs.  Good!  I hope the public phones here have their number on them like in the States.  [It was cheaper to have someone from the States call me back at the pay phone number rather than me using up a phone card to call them.]  This nose of mine is making me miserable.  I wish I was in my room in Cézeaux now.  I really want to unpack and put my stuff away on shelves and things so it feels like home.  And I want to be able to buy a rug and hangers and a blow dryer and an alarm clock among other things.  And I need to find an ATM that takes my card!  It's about 25 til.  I'm trying to work up my courage to go.  (This horrible nose!)  I should probably bring my jacket, huh?  I don't even know where I'm going!!!  Here I go, though.


I'm allergic to something.  And I think it's cigarette smoke.  I have too many things to write - I don't know where to start!  When I left the room, I went downstairs to ask the lady where to go for a telephone card.  She told me where & asked me to buy her a sandwich, too (which I thought was fairly odd).  When I went outside, I saw Luke and got directions I could understand.  I set off, and on the way met a guy (whose name I later learned was Ahmet) who walked me to the sandwich place (Crusti/Crousti Pan) and then to the Tabac for my phone card.  He's from Morocco and goes to school here - some kind of engineering.  (w/ computers, perhaps?)  Got back to Dolet and found out the card didn't work.  He drove me to another Tabac, and I still can't believe I got in the car.  I didn't know his name until right before I got in, and I know I never would have gone if I was in my normal state of mind.  At the time, I was extremely confused and frustrated and desperately in need of hearing Jamie's voice.  Anyway, we found an open Tabac and I bought another phone card, returned, and called Jamie!!!  While I was talking to him, a girl I kinda know from OU arrived and then there were about 5 American girls and me, and I don't think I've ever felt so relieved in my life.  Finally!  People in my situation!  Almost - they knew where the international students' office was and already had their rooms (2 of the them did) and addresses and everything.  Sarah and Christina and Joanna are in Cézeaux with me.  Jennifer is in Dolet.  (And so is Tanner, that we met a bit later.)  I had to cut my conversation with Jamie a bit short so I could find out some things from Sarah before she left.  I wish I could call him now.  (I love you, Jamie!!)  Joanna is in Dolet tonight like me (most people have been here a couple days at least) and she and Jennifer are going to wake me up in the morning.  There's a 9:00 orientation that we all have to be at.  (Or is it a test at 9:00?)  Anyways... I'm not going to shower in the morning.  Just get dressed and go.  We're coming back for our bags later.  I keep wondering if I should just be content with Cézeaux?  I think if Sarah stays, I will, too.  Someone to ride the bus with every day.  And then I can unpack and put everything away and go shopping so it feels more home-like.  After Sarah and a couple other girls left, Jennifer, Joanna, & I walked to the city (Place Jaude?  I can't remember the exact name) and sat at a café.  They both smoke, but I didn't want to be rude since I'd just met them,  And here, you can't really ask someone not to smoke.  Especially at a café.  (sigh)  I feel miserable (physically).  And I'm really missing Jamie.  I'm going to skip my crunches and just write to Jamie and go to bed.  I think that this year would be easier if I didn't have Jamie to miss.  But, as much hurt as it causes, I thank God every day that I have Jamie to miss!  I don't think he realizes just how much I love him.

View from my temporary dorm room window in Dolet (Clermont-Ferrand, France)

View of Clermont-Ferrand, France

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Monday, May 21, 2012

France - 8/30/00


All I've done so far today is shower and write a letter to Jamie.  At least, write more in my first letter to Jamie.  It's going to be awfully long!  I really need to pack, but I can't bring myself to do it this early in the day.  I just laid a skirt and top out to unwrinkle a bit in case I need to wear them tonight.  I'm really excited about dinner on the boat!  I'm ready to try out the "night scene" mode on my camera.  I hope it won't seem too touristy or rude or anything that I'll take a lot of pictures.  I have a persistent cough and sniffles that I'm getting tired of.  The cough, especially.  I have my window open, taking advantage of this beautiful weather, and it sounds like home.  Lots of cars and trucks (or cars that sound like trucks.)  I really hope the cab driver I get in Clermont doesn't try to cheat me.  I keep thinking of the guy Meme and I had in Rome that drove us all around the city before taking us to our hotel.  Bad experience.  I'm getting cold now...  Sweater sets are wonderful.  I'm going to wear my charcoal one tonight, but I don't know if I'll wear my black pants or my black skirt.  Mom's going to laugh when she reads this.  I'm in France and I'm thinking about clothes, of all things!  I hope it's dark enough at dinner tonight that Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower and everything else is all lit up.  And that I'll have plenty of opportunity for pictures!  I unpacked the little elephants-in-love statuette Jamie gave me.  It's very fitting - the female has a brochure that says "world travel," the male has the tickets, and they're kissing.  That'll be me and Jamie in a few months!  Jamie told me on the phone last night (accidentally ruining the surprise) that Matt is going to call, and that he's not going to Kosovo!!!  He'll be in Germany for Christmas!  So I'll see him!  I need to get their number from Mom when I call today.  I wonder who else is in Cézeaux with me from OU?  [Cézeaux was one of the dorm possibilities in the University town I was living in.  Dolet was the dorm located in the city; Cézeaux was located in a suburb.]  I wouldn't mind so much if it's all of us (ha!), but I hope it's not just me, and, say, Linda.  It's not a very nice thing to think, but I just can't bring myself to like her.  She was in my honors "40's" class last year and just gets on my nerves.  My hand is tired... time to listen to Caedmon's Call until lunch.  (It's already 12:20! So I probably don't have much time.)


The weather is gorgeous!  The kind of weather that makes me really happy just to be alive.  And in France!  If Jamie was here, we could walk to the pond together, holding hands, and the male swan would nip at our feet.  Nicole came up before lunch to tell me she was going to do laundry, if I had anything to wash.  Good thing, since I'd forgotten.  I'm going to call Mom at 2:00 to get Matt & Nat's number.  Until then, for the next half hour, I'll listen to music and play cards.  And I can wear jeans tonight!


Mom called a few minutes before I was going to call her, and I got Matt and Nat's number.  Need to call them today!


I have a terrible cold.  That's something I forgot to put in my letter to Jamie!  Stuffy/runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and a headache.

Dinner tonight was good.  And the dessert was wonderful!  The boat was nothing like I'd expected.  I thought we'd be on top of a boat, in open air, moving through the Seine, but we were inside an anchored boat.  No photos.  I can't bring myself to ask the Charrons yet about Jamie and me staying with them.  I feel like it would be asking a lot, and it would be rude to use them as a hotel.  I've still got a few months. (This horrible nose of mine!  Sniffle.)  Most of my stuff is packed.  After a quick shower in the morning, I'll finish.  I wish I was already in Cézeaux.  I mean Dolet!  Dolet.  Not Cézeaux. I want to be settled in my room so I can unpack and not worry about all my things.  I talked to both Matt & Nat today and it was wonderful!  I might spend a week or so at the end of June with them if classes get out early.  (As Alan says they do!)  And they might visit in a couple weeks, and they might buy me a ticket to come see them!  My nose is horrible.  I'm going to get ready for bed.  I love you, Jamie!

Swans at the pond near the Charrons' house

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 4 in France - 8/29/00


Already today, I've mailed my first batch of postcards, bought stamps, paper, envelopes, and pens, had my picture taken for my 12-25 card, and had the photo affixed to the card.  I ran errands with Nicole today - the butcher (where they know her name), the bank, and picking up photos.  We walked, of course.  Delphine is here now.  We're going to eat lunch and then go see the movie.  Later tonight I get to call Jamie!  I hope I don't cry.  Someone's coming - Delphine.  Lunch time.


I got 1800 francs from the ATM.  I think it's about $257.00 american.  I also changed some money.  I've already spent quite a bit!  I bought stamps, postcards, paper, envelopes, pens, my train ticket and 12-25 card, and today, a movie ticket.  Delphine's friend, (also called Delphine), is coming with us, which is a little awkward for me, but I think that after this year there won't be much that feels awkward!  I need to buy an alarm clock.  I don't think I can wait until Mom sends me one.  I wish I hadn't told her to!  Today, after the movie, I'm going to give myself a manicure and re-organize all of my things.  I need to do laundry tomorrow!  While I'm thinking about it, I'm going to find my dictionary and look up some words.


Delphine told me yesterday that Cassandra told her I speak French better than Meme.  Where in the world did she get that idea??  I'm counting down the hours until 7:00!  Jamie!!  I'm worried I'm going to cry, though.  I'm positive I will if he does.  The smoke here hasn't been any worse than the US so far (though people smoke in the mall and everywhere else), but the smell of unwashed bodies can be pretty bad.  I had thought Jean & Nicole had their own shower downstairs (perhaps they do and I'm mistaken?), but yesterday Jean came upstairs in his bathrobe to tell me he was going to shower since it was hot.

Delphine is a bit easier to talk to since she's closer to my age, but when she was with me and her friend Delphine today, I remembered just how far apart 14 and 20 are.  She talks to me like I'm younger than I am.  I guess it's like the same way I treated Yulia [the Russian exchange student who lived with us my senior year in high school] at first - not like she was stupid, but like she was younger than her actual age.  Even though it was just her second language that was behind.  I have so many thoughts to write down, but I don't know where to start.  And my hand cramps before I can get to even a few of them.

Levi's jeans here are about $71.00.  Wow.  After MI2 today, we had about 25 minutes until Nicole was coming to pick us up, so Delphine, Delphine, and I went into the "centre commerciale" next to the movie theatre.  (Both are mostly underground.)  The mall was big, and I only recognized a few stores.  Printemps, Haagen-Datz, and the Disney Store. I'm going to buy something Chanel before I leave France, just to have it.  I'm ready for Jamie to join me.  It feels right to think of him coming soon, but then I think about how long it actually it .

I was just thinking that I hope Jamie reads this so he can know what my year was like, but I'm going to fill at least one of these books.  [I filled four.]  It's going to be a long diary!   I want to take a short nap, but I don't have an alarm clock to wake me up.  And I'm afraid that if I sleep through 7:00, he'll think I wasn't excited to call him, when the truth would be I just didn't have an alarm.  I am going to lay down.  I hope I'm awake before 7:00!  I'm sure I will be.  It's not quite 5:00 yet.  I hope I do sleep; it'll make time go by quicker.


I slept a bit and then had lots of trouble calling Jamie.  The number I have for the Charrons has a "4" in it that shouldn't be there, so it took us a while to finally get a hold of each other.  I wish I could call him again right now.  I love him so much!  [etc., for another paragraph.]

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 3 in France - 8/28/00


Bonjour, Jamie!  We just finished another wonderful lunch.  I really like the French way of having fruit for dessert - today it was raspberries (les framboises) w/ sugar.  (sucre)  In about two hours, Nicole and I are going to change money (no ATM yet, so I'm getting $195.00 in francs.), and buy paper, envelopes, and stamps.  I forgot about the six-ish cards I brought with me to send to Jamie.  After I buy my train ticket tomorrow I'm going to call down to Clermont to see if someone from the university can pick me up at the gare.  I'm listening to Disney right now - Higitus Figitus!  Presta digi toadium!  [from the Sword in the Stone.]  I really like the postcards I bought yesterday of "Les Mômes par Michel Thomas."  I'd like to buy a book of them before I leave.  The batteries in my CD player are holding up remarkably well (supercalifragilisticexpialidociusly well) - only 1/4 of the indicator is missing.  I'm in a good mood right now because I'm not thinking of how much I miss Jamie.  Nicole said if the weather stays nice, she, Delphine, and I are going to the Eiffel Tower!  And only five more postcards (out of the sixteen) to write.  I wish I could send more than one thing at a time to Jamie, but I really should try to space them out.  I think I'll finish some more postcards now.

[Later in the day]

I'm tired.

Delphine is easier to talk to than Jean & Nicole.  I think it's because she feels as awkward with her English as I do with my French.  Today I found an ATM that accepted my card, changed money, saw the Eiffel Tower up close (though we didn't ascend), bought a 12-25 [youth rail discount] card and my ticket to Clermont, and ate a wonderful dinner of crêpes with Jean and Nicole in the city of Versailles.  Delphine told me today that I speak French very well!  I took two pictures of a beautiful church dome in Versailles tonight; I hope they turn out well!  Nicole told me today that we're having dinner with François Xavier and his wife on one of the big boats on the Seine in Paris Wednesday night!  Tomorrow I'm getting pictures taken for my 12-25 card and other things, buying paper, envelopes, & stamps and mailing my postcards, going to see Mission Impossible 2 (in French, of course) with Delphine, and calling the University to see if someone will be able to pick me up from the station.  And guess what else?  Calling Jamie!!  And now, I'm going to skip exercises and things and simply sleep.  I love you, Jamie!!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Missing Jamie - Present-Day!

At night, I've been typing up my hand-written journals from my time in France back in 2000-2001.  Each entry talks at least once about how much I miss Jamie, since he was still back in Oklahoma at that time.  It was strange, then, this morning, when I thought about doing a quick post about how much I miss Jamie.  And I was talking about present-day, not past. 

He left on Saturday for a business trip (conference in Atlanta) and will be coming back tonight.  It's been a long few days without him, and if I was journaling right now, the entries would probably look pretty similar to those that I hand-wrote in 2000-2001, minus the fun of European travel and food.  :)

Can't wait to have you home tonight, sweetie!

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