“I miss you in a ‘winter is here now, and it’s necessary and it’s pretty in its own right, but gosh I hope it’s brief’ kind of way.”

It was gray all day today. Gray, gray, gray.  When I get off the train in Beaune at 8:45 there is mist in the air but I don’t get out my umbrella because it’s awkward and I don’t want to have to rearrange everything to get to it at the very bottom of my Mary Poppins bag.  I walk in the mist and I think that it seems more like six at night than nine in the morning.

At school I unwrap my navy leopard-print scarf and economize its length to cover more of my neck — twice around this time instead of once.  I put my peanut butter sandwich in the fridge because there’s a yogurt in the bag and I make my photocopies and I go to class.

The kids don’t want to color the Thanksgiving Hand Turkey in red, orange, brown, and yellow.  They do it in rouge, orange, marron, and jaune.  A “Sanksgiving chicken” they call it.  Do they not roast turkeys in France?

The older kids stare at me when I ask, “Are you ready?”  Some of them respond in the affirmative, “oui,” and I tap my foot and ask, “what does that mean,” and find out that some of them think it means, “is everything going okay?”

I’ve repeated this phrase from day one.  Lost in translation.

The bell rings for recreation but I don’t go outside for even a minute’s worth of fresh air and conversation with the other shivering teachers. I slump in front of the computer and read the European version of the Wall Street Journal.  I can’t find the page of American news.

Last class of the day.  We play the same game as last time because they don’t remember the difference between “there is” and “there are.”  There is one.  There are five.  There is one.  There are seven.  There is one.  There are twenty-three.  How many?  How many?  What does “how many” mean?

Last class of the day. We color Thanksgiving Hand Turkeys.  “Tous les enfants americains le font,” I say.  All the American kids do this.

TUE les enfants?!?! Laurine shouts, giving me a sarcastic sideways glance. “Kill the kids.”  Oh, the subtleties of French pronunciation.

Non. Tous,” I repeat, this time making sure to pronounce the “ou” with my best accent.

Laurine giggles as she puts the finishing touches on her multicolored chicken.  “You try to speak French like we are trying to speak English,” she says, in French.

Oui, c’est ca.” I say and sigh.

It was gray, gray, gray all day today.


Filed under Laugh it off, Teaching

11 responses to ““I miss you in a ‘winter is here now, and it’s necessary and it’s pretty in its own right, but gosh I hope it’s brief’ kind of way.”

  1. Michou

    Let’s giggle like a turkey !

    There is more in there are than in there is,
    But, if there is “you” in between “there are” therefore, “there you are” you may be only one
    there it is

    easy !

    • Haha! Michou! It’s “gobble” like a turkey!!! And after re-reading your “there are” vs. “there is” explanation I understand what you mean and YES! there is an annoying exception — “there you are,” but it’s not really an exception since it’s just conjugating the verb “to be” rather than saying “il y a.” YOU MAKE ME LAUGH! MERCI MON PETIT MICHOOOOOOOOU.

  2. Kate Smiley

    That title sounds vaguely familiar ; ) Perhaps you should have told that cheeky Laurine that you were very very close to killing some French kids…I’m sure that the students will catch on eventually, and then…voila, there you is.


  3. maryanita

    My love,
    Holidays will always be bitter sweet. Take the best from the moment and be happy. Life truly is what you make it, in other words, how you deal with what happens.

    I love you and miss you. Your words touch my heart . Be happy!

  4. Donna Gouveia

    Happy Thanksgiving Emily-
    Any pumpkin pie to go with the turkey and fixings?

    What wine do the French pair with turkey?

    Love seeing all through your words. Donna

    • I will have to let you know what wine goes with our turkey tomorrow night…to be announced! And, yes, there will be pumpkin pie, but only because there are Americans here to make it! Love you!

  5. As for your question about turkeys: you’ll find entire birds during the month of December (for the Christmas dinners). I made due with just buying a piece of turkey breast.

    Mais t’inquiète pas, ma chère. On est ici pour te soutenir! 🙂

  6. Kate just shared your blog and I love it already! It made me smile and I loved the winter quote.. I will have to steal that hehe. Looking forward to reading more!

    • Hey Fatimah! I’m so glad you left a comment. It’s really encouraging to know other people enjoy reading the blog! And do you know what? That quote is a Kate Smiley original…so I am sure that is part of the reason you loved it! Thank you!

  7. Pingback: Inadequate words for an extraordinary school year | EmilyintheGlass

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