Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hotel Lege

The peitit vacances corresponding with Toussaint begins Wednesday and lasts nearly two weeks. I've been teaching here for six weeks now. In some ways it feels like it's been longer. On the other hand, I'm anxious to slow down time even further in order to get the most possible out of this experience.

Last week we hosted our first visitors, Lynne Gill and Charles Jones. Lynne was my very fist colleague in the discipline of French...she was indispensable to me twenty years ago when I was asked to teach a French 1 course at LHS on the strength of having just spent a year's unpaid leave of absence in France. I was (and remain for the most part) self-taught, but Lynne provided me with innumerable suggestions, always creative and inspired by a genuine love of language and culture. She also kept a ping pong table folded up in her classroom. We would play at lunch time sometimes. Lynne was (and is) an excellent player, her father and her uncle were once nationally ranked players...a fact she withheld from me the first few times we played. Lynne's mentoring and her friendship were precious to me at a very pivotal time in my life and career. Seeing her here was a terrific way to reaffirm all of that. You couldn't ask for a better companion to see France with...she is fearless and funny in her interactions with strangers. When Beth and I went to the movies with her last week (the film was Quand j'etais chanteur with, who else?, Gerard Depardieu) we found ourselves at the ticket booth bumbling a little with money or more precisely with the issue of who was paying. The young woman in the booth was a little confused as well by both our intentions and our accents, I imagine. Lynne noticed this and smiling warmly at her she said (in translation) "Don't worry, we are very mean Americans who've come to watch a French film." The woman looked at us, we were all wearing those goofy American smiles that cause the French to refer to Americans sometimes as les grands enfants, then she laughed and helped us sort it out. It was a signature Lynne moment. Disarming and disingenuously charming.
Charles, made the movie outing possible by volunteering to babysit the kids...this act alone vaulted him into our visitor hall of fame. He also cooked a couple of outstanding meals while here. Note to future like Charles if you can.
Beth's parents will be here on Wednesday... the kids are very excited...more later.


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