Thursday, December 13, 2007

Moi-Même: Quatre par Quatre

I was tagged for this meme by the very lovely La Belette Rouge and my sincere apologies for the delay in posting my responses. I have been a very busy girl and my mind is on overdrive with all my thoughts of Paris plans, Christmas obligations, etc. Anyway, here it is, mes amis!

What four things do you love most about living in France?
As with LBR, I do not live in France, sadly. But, as she did, I will post four things I think I will love about living in France (staying true to my affirmation there).

1. The abundance of beauty no doubt produces much inspiration. And by beauty, I am referring largely to architecture. Everywhere you look there is beautiful architecture and art... a church, a doorway, a courtyard, a storefront, an arch, a fountain, a sculpture. Surrounded by such beauty and history, I feel so inspired and otherworldly.

2. The quality of light. Clearly, Paris is known as the City of Light for a very good reason. And being a girl who loves the sky, I find the quality of light to be so lovely.

3. The culture and language. The French language is so beautiful and I love being in the city and hearing people speak French. I enjoy the challenge of learning the language and interacting with the French. The culture is also so intriguing to me and rather than simply study the culture, I want to live it!

4. Living out my dream. I know this is an obscure response but really, knowing that I am living out my dream will undoubtedly prove fulfilling. Oh, and can I cheat and also say that the proximity of other amazing places in France and Europe is certainly appealing as well!

What are four of the most memorable jobs you have had?

1. Video store clerk. This wouldn't be such a memorable job in itself but on weekend evenings I worked with this guy because the store would get so busy. The video store we worked at had a small selection of porn and to rent any movie in the store, a person had to bring a tag up to the counter and we would retrieve the movie from the room behind the counter. When I would have to go retrieve a porn from the back room, my coworker would often follow me back there and start making all these obscene gestures to get me to laugh. And it was so painful because I couldn't stop laughing, so I'd go back out front to give the porn to the customer and I would often breakdown. It took so much composure to get through that brief interaction afterwards!

2 . Hostess/busser at a pancake house. Again, not so memorable on its own. However, my manager's brother (one of the waiter's who trained me) was harassing me and cornered me one night in the kitchen. Out of nowhere, the dishwasher (a sullen ex-convict) appeared and slammed a metal cart into the waiter, which broke the waiter's finger. I was 16 at the time and
had been pretty sheltered up until this job. I thought the waiter was going to kill me but fortunately, a few days after the incident, his sister (the manager) lost her marijuana pipe in the restaurant someplace. She was fired, along with her brother. Lovely, and oh so classy. And when I think about how little I made and how gross that job was... I am so appreciative for my college education!!

3. Tanning salon. I worked at this tanning salon on campus during my undergraduate days. I've never had more fun at a job. The owner had inherited a few million dollars but she loved interacting with the students and having her own business. She let me essentially run the business and was so generous and appreciative. She was also so much fun and had this infectious personality. She was so happy and kind to people. I doubt I could have had more fun working during college!

4. Graduate Teaching Assistant. I went to grad school on a scholarship that was tied to a teaching assistantship. I taught recitation sections of Argument and Critical Discourse. Essentially, this was a required course for most major fields of study and we taught principles of sound argumentation (forming logically arguments and supporting them with sound reasoning/proof). I really enjoyed working with college students and learning from them as much (if not more than) as they from me.

While teaching as a GTA, A friend of mine extended an opportunity to teach a couple of Public Speaking classes at a nearby community college. It was different from university and one term I decided to come up with a totally different way to teach Public Speaking. The class collectively decided on projects and I just really let the class take its own direction while still focusing on the fundamentals of the course. One day one of my students in this class was talking about the Dollar Store. Admittedly, I had never been into one of these dollar stores and the class was shocked. So, for their persuasive speeches, they each brought in one or two items from the dollar store and wrote persuasive arguments to induce me to shop there. In return, I brought food to class. Towards the end of the term, I cannot tell you how many of these students approached me and were so appreciative of my open minded approach to a class they were dreading. One student even told me that he was planning on dropping out of school the next term before he took that class but my response to one of his speeches and a conversation about his family history (he was Native American) inspired him to stay in school. Truly rewarding and a lot of fun.

Four quirky things about the way I eat (and drink)?

1. I drink my hot Starbucks with a straw. I don't know how I started this but for some reason, I enjoy drinking my vanilla latte with a straw.

2. I can eat a box of croutons in one sitting. When I was in high school, I used to take croutons and put them in a bowl and drown them with caesar dressing and eat that as a snack. My poor mother would go to make a salad and there would be maybe five little croutons left!

3. I like to eat my yogurt with a demitasse spoon (those really tiny spoons). I know, this isn't really quirky but I am struggling to think of my quirky eating/drinking behavior. I know I have quirks in this regard but for some reason, I'm having a hard time coming up with them right now!

4. I have to chew gum while I workout. Again, I'm stretching here but yeah, I really feel amiss when I do not have fruity (Trident Splash Strawberry & Lime or Raspberry & Apple) gum to accompany my workout.

What are your four favorite foods?
It is always so hard for me to pinpoint my all-time favorite anything but these are four foods that currently make me drool:

1. Butternut squash risotto with spinach. There is this great little spot that serves an amazing risotto. I've been twice in the last couple of months and cannot stop fantasizing about this risotto. It is so creamy (with parmasean and maybe crème fraiche?) and the spinach and butternut squash are divine in it. It has so much flavor and its creaminess... sooooo good!

2. Steak. I am definitely a red meat kind of girl. I like my steak medium and mushrooms and a wine sauce compliment it nicely. Although, a steak on its own is incredible, too, if cooked right.

3. Thai food. I've really liked Thai food for many years now. I love the peanut sauce with chicken satay, a good pad thai, and panang curry! Any (and all) of those with a thai iced tea!

4. Smoked cheddar cheese with a paprika rind. I like cheese but am not a huge cheese connoisseur. However, my last boyfriend introduced me to this cheese and I find myself craving it from time to time. It has such a great smoky cheddar flavor and the paprika rind is so good.

Four recipes you cook all the time.
Okay, people...I'm a single woman here! Cooking for myself is not usually appealing. But here is what I've been eating as of late in my successful efforts to lose some weight and eat healthier. Believe me, not a very sexy food list but surprisingly good and good for me.

1. Lemon pepper chicken breast with creamed spinach.

2. Lemon pepper tuna with artichoke hearts.

3. Cereal. Yes, like Randal, I make a mean (er, happy?) bowl of cereal.

4. Salmon filet with apsaragus.

Sorry for some of the lame answers. I think my brain is a bit overworked as of late!

*Image of La fontaine des quatre parties du Monde is from here.


La Belette Rouge said...

Thank you so much for playing me-me meme with me.

I am in total agreement on your list of why we “will” love living in Paris. We have the same answer for #4.

What an interesting resume you have. The pancake place sounds a total nightmare. So funny, I worked at a video store and we would get old men who would come in with grocery like lists of porn they wanted to return. Being 16, I was totally grossed out and would hold the videos as if I was touching toxic materials. It was a wonder I didn’t get fired.

I love the Dollar Store exercise. Brilliant. Sounds like such a fun class. How rewarding it is to have that kind of impact on a young life. After teaching a few classes at the college level, I really wish I had gotten the PhD so I could have gotten a tenured position.

And in regards to the foods category, does your straw melt at all when you sip your latte? And to croutons---that is the only thing I cannot agree with you on. I hate croutons. I have to remember to order salads without croutons---as I don’t even like to pick them off of my salad.
You have intrigued me with the Smoked cheddar cheese with a paprika rind. I have never had it before. It sounds interesting.
Fun post!!

Anonymous said...

Salut B!

I'm quite envious reading about your GTA position. Lovely story.

I agree with you and LBR totally about France and specifically Paris. There is so many beautiful things that you don't have to "look" for them.

Betty C. said...

Hi b! Maybe you've dropped by my blog but I'm not sure I've made it to yours. It looks great. I have been hanging out with Randal, Marjory and Colleen lately and am enjoying their input on my life in France. As a former American Francophile who is now a dual national French resident, it is interesting to read your thoughts. It brings back memories too.

I've been living here for 17 years and am just starting to digest what that has meant in terms of my own personality and feelings about France.

Hope to read more from you...

b said...

LBR... Thanks for the tag and again, my apologies for the delay in responding and some of the lame responses.

Believe me, my resume is all over the place. That's so funny that you also worked at a video store and encountered the porn renters. I was pretty young too and very grossed out by it but at the same time, given my co-worker's humor, I thought it was so funny. Yeah, I'm surprised I didn't get fired either.

The Dollar Store exercise was a lot of fun and so impromptu. I really did enjoy interacting with students that age. My teaching experience really convinced me that I wanted to go on for a PhD and teach at university level but the politics just put me off it completely.

Haha. No, my straw does not melt when I drink my hot coffee! :) So, no croutons for you? Oh, I love, love, love them! Is it any wonder that I have had to lose some weight?! And yes, the cheese is very good. I forget the brand but next time I buy it, I'll let you know if you'd like. It is very good.

Thanks again for the tag!

b said...

Colleen... I really did love teaching at the University/Community College level. As I said above to LBR, I just knew that the politics and pressure to be continually published, etc. was not for me. I do miss it though and have the occasional fantasy about teaching at that level.

Yes, there are so many beautiful aspects of Paris and not just manmade beauty (architecture, sculptures, etc) but the quality of light, the dreamlike quality of being there!!

Betty C... Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have visited your blog before and look forward to returning to read more. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to look back on your life and how France has become a part of you. Your story is very inspiring to me and I will surely be drawing upon your experiences and wisdom as a source of inspiration in my own pursuit of Paris/France. Thanks again for the kind comment!

Randal Graves said...

Ah, j'aime les croûtons ! I still do that now, when we're having a salad or adding them to a homemade stuffing, just chowing down on the box until there's barely any left.

Quite eclectic list of jobs you've had. Think of it as life experience. ;-)

And what Colleen said. You don't have to try, just keep your eyes open and you'll see. At least that's what I've been told!

Anonymous said...

Okay we have 4 things in common foodwise:
1/ eating yoghurt with a tiny spoon
2/ eating croutons
3/ STEAK!!!
4/ Starbucks (but I don't drink mine with a straw :-)

I loved your restaurant story! Didn't you know that most of kitchen workers are ex-convicts? Hahaha

Richard said...

I am not beef crazy. I prefer pork. But if I do have steak, I prefer mine rare (or raw if it is prepared as a nice steak tartar).

I think everyone has had more interesting jobs than me. On the other hand, I have had very few jobs, since I never felt the urge to work when I was younger (mowing the odd lawn or shovelling occasional driveway gave me more sufficient pocket).

I think your answers were great. I am not sure it is easy to answer 4 quirky ways about the way you eat.

Are you sure that salmon isn't lemon pepper salmon with asparagus?

b said...

Randal... our love of croutons sounds much more appealing in French!! I know. I just start eating them and can see the bottom of the box in no time! Oh, I've had very interesting jobs and definitely not just those listed. But absolutely, they are life experiences!

Zen Chef... the straw thing throws most people off! Oh, I could so go for a fat steak right now. I had stuffed quail this weekend and that was incredible. But when I crave red meat, watch out!!

Haha. Well, considering the disgusting nature of washing dishes, I can see how few people want that job and ex-cons get a chance. This guy was my hero, though. He never spoke a word to anyone but I knew that he wanted let that little punk touch me. Occasionally, I could get him to say hi to me after that but figured I better just let it be. I don't have to tell you how relieved I was to be rid of that job! :)

Richard... the older I get, I like my steak more rare but closer to medium, which sounds much more done than you prefer. My jobs have been mildly amusing with some far more interesting than others but in their own special way (co-workers, etc.) and yes, it is difficult to come up with quirky things about the way I eat. I am a single woman so I don't have someone to point them out to me! :)

Haha. Lemon pepper salmon is good too! I've clearly been on a lemon pepper kick. It adds great flavor but no substantial extra fat, sugar, salt, etc.

b said...

Zen Chef... oops. In my comment above I meant to say "he wouldn't let that little punk touch me," not "he wanted." BIG difference, huh?

Sofia said...

Job- working for the mob and not knowing it at the time.
Eat and Drink- humming while eating.
Cooking- not much cooking just canned Tuna, mayo, relish, salt and pepper and squeeze of lemon, stir and place on cracker. mmmmm.
Favorite food- cheese, cheese, cheese. Oh yeah, cheese.

cw said...

liked all the quirky things. Did not know about the pancake house job(do you still remember that dudes name so i can punch his lights out?) anyhow, always lovely to read your blog. We enjoy it.

b said...

Sofia... Thank you for stopping by my blog! Wow... working for the mob and not knowing it?! Very interesting. That blows away any of my jobs! :)

CW... Aw, you're such a good brother to me. I had that job in high school (I think I was 17?) and only for a few months, if I recall correctly. I think I was so weirded out by it and didn't want to freak mom and dad out? I don't know... in retrospect, it is laughable! :) Thanks for coming by my blog. I appreciate the encouragement you both continually provide!