September 11, 2011

Church Songs, Seafood, and 911

The weekend at last. This week has been incredibly long and packed with so many things. I've learned so much and already feel like my week on L'île de Ré was a lifetime ago. But things didn't slow down at all this weekend. Anne-Soizic came back Friday evening to stay for the weekend and– oh! I forgot to mention that Marie-Armelle's mother has been staying with us for a couple of days. She's nice, small, and very old-fashioned.

I went shopping with Anne-Soizic in the big city Saturday afternoon. Big city meaning Cambrai. It's a lot bigger than Snoqualmie with lots more shops and beautiful building, but literally all the teens here think that Cambrai is too small. They all wonder why I like it so much. It was extremely hot while we shopped around looking for a new school bag for me. I can't stand my big backpack anymore. However, there was nothing that appealed to me. But something interesting did happen in one of the back alleys... We were crossing through when suddenly some random guy came up and started talking to us. I thought Anne-Soizic knew him, but when he asked us if we wanted to go have some cake at his house she paled and rapidly told him no thanks. She didn't know him. Marie-Armelle looked really worried when we told her what happened. Moral of the story: Creepy people are everywhere in the world and always say no if you're in a foreign country and a stranger mentions cake.

After shopping we went to mass. Oh, mass. I had to sing in the choir. So, so, so awkward and uncomfortable. Not only did I not know the songs, but it was extremely hot and I was bright red the whole time. Now I understand why it took forever that one night singing church songs with the other kids. It was practice for the real thing. I watched other peoples' mouths and tried to make the same sounds like a child learning how to talk. We sang so much. I tried to just repeat "Jesus" and "Hallelujah" the whole time. It seemed to work. :) Our neighbor, Sophie, came with us and she, like me, didn't know the songs. It was fun pretending to sing along seriously with everyone else. But the best part of the "soirée" was after mass when the church held a barbeque get-together sort of thing outside. It was less hot and I got to meet a lot of cool teens. They all said that my French is super. :D A lot of them have taken seven, eight years of English but still have difficulties. I think it's easier for an American to learn French than a French person to learn English. I made some new friends and had a lot of fun talking with them. They all go to Saint Luc, but are in Terminale (12th grade) or Première (11th grade) séries S (science). We stood up the entire time so my legs were killing me by the end. We ate hot dogs and moms walked around with desserts. I had made little cakes with Marie-Armelle that afternoon... but I didn't eat them. The moon was full and there was a random cat that kept trying to sneak into peoples' cars. I wanted to take it home. I met a girl named Justine and her brother Tibault. Justine actually knew me beforehand because Marie Damelincourt had told her about me. I think it was a really good mistake that the Damelincourt sisters thought that I would be living with them. They told all their friends about me so a lot of people have approached me to talk with the American :) I promised Justine and Tibault to help them with their English sometime after school. After the barbeque, Sophie and I had some good laughs on the walk home about... some French words. I won't go into detail ;)

On Sunday, we had a birthday party for Marie-Armelle. It was really nice. Two of her friends came over and we got out the nice silverware. Really nice silverware. Her friends brought a ton of flowers so the house is very pretty and decorated right now. During the day we mostly... ate. A lot. There were eight people so Marie-Armelle bought a HUGE seafood platter that took forever to eat. It was so good and reminded me of home– where seafood is everywhere. There were oysters on the half shell, crabs, shrimps, little clam-like things, and scary looking shrimp/lobster/monster things with eyes, claws, and everything. Anne-Soizic freaked out when she saw crab guts :) And again we had champagne. For the record, champagne is not an everyday thing. It just so happens that I've been having it a lot here. This time there wasn't as much fire in my throat, but it wasn't my favorite thing in the world. After seafood we had a huge platter of cheese with salad. Then we had not one, but two amazing cakes and there were cool candles, not just the boring stick ones. There were sparklers and things that crackled and exploded. They sang "Happy Birthday" in English! With the French accent, of course :) Marie-Armelle opened her presents and adored what I gave her: smoked salmon in a hand-painted box with a pretty Native American deisgn + a painting of Seattle that I got at Pike Place market. Xavier gave her a blootooth :) She got a lot of kitchen supplies and Soizic lied that Morgon and Edern bought her the pair of salad spatulas before they left. I was with her when she got them. Marie-Armelle is getting anxious. She really wants to talk to Edern, but he hasn't given them much news and has only sent nine photos... :P I've taken over a thousand. There you go. The difference between a boy and a girl.

Later we said our good-byes and ate the rest of the seafood for dinner. Oy. So many oysters. We talked a little about 911 at the table. Today is the horrible 10th anniversary. The event had shocked the whole world, but I was a bit surprised to see that French people knew so much about it. I wondered about America and what people there were all thinking about as they did their daily things... Maybe about all the people that died on this day? The children who lost fathers and mothers this day? The evil that still exists in this world? I wondered about this and thought it rather strange to be celebrating a birthday and eating cake in France... when today is the anniversary of an event that shook up the world and killed parents and people with dreams.

I'm a bit nervous for school tomorrow. It's my first Monday there. I'm starting Italian and have three hours of music... in which I don't have an instrument. I might just have to sing like I did in the church ;) We'll have to wait and see. Oh and one more piece of good news. I figured out how to use the accents on my French phone and I memorized my number! That's all for now. A bientôt :)


  1. Well sweetie, I haven't seen all the 1000 photos:),I'm glad you don't like champagne so much but it was my favorite:) sounds like you are having party after party since you got there:) So happy you are doing so well. Let me know if you still want me to sent you the blue bag and other stuff.
    Love you so much!

  2. BTW, Happy moon festival! Celebration of harvest full moon:) Does Marie-Armelle like to cook? Love your blog:)

  3. You are a great writer! I'm glad everything turned out ok.