Friday, December 28, 2007
Don't get me wrong, I love our ridiculous traditions and the once a year chance to get together with the extended family but in all these wrappings I've started to see the birth of Christ through those warm fuzzy spectacles. Songs like “Silent night” where “all is calm and all is bright” don’t really help things either. Yes, Jesus birth was a miracle. But he was born in the humblest of circumstances, in a messy birth in a dirty smelly stable! Can you imagine giving birth in a stable?! Yeeeeuch… There was no tinsel, no fairy lights. It may not have been an ordinary birth. Angels announced it, and then shepherds turned up to gape, some wise men brought their gifts a little later, leaving his parents somewhat awed and bewildered.
But there’s a distinction between what is “christmasy” or magical and what is miraculous.
Got to bring Sufjan in here... another thing I love about those albums is the fact that interpersed amongst the bells and banjo carols is the occasional song that reminds me that the whole world doesn't just become glowing and "christmasy" at Christmas time. That people still hurt, families don't suddenly become unbroken, fighting doesn't always stop, wars don't just end, people don't suddenly escape poverty or become happy at, or just during the christmas period.
Jesus coming was a way of healing the broken-hearted but think about what it took him to do that... He came to live among us, he came to live as one of us, experiencing weakness as we do, he humbled himself, in life, taking on the very nature of a servant, not just his death on the cross. He taught, healed, reached out...
The miracle is that God came as the light of the world, to bring us peace and joy! It's awe-inspiring and well worth celebrating! But in order to bring us that peace and joy, he had to experience the ordinary and weakness and suffering, whether that was being laid as a newborn in a feeding trough or being crucified alongside common criminals. I wouldn't call that magic.
So I've been trying to remember that Christmas celebrates the fact that Jesus came down in human frailty. He was fully God, just and righteous and love, and yet he became fully human; lived life, experienced weakness, hunger, brokenness, hurt and pain. And so He understands our weakness... Amaaaazing!
Christmas was a miracle! Christ is a miracle! But miracles don't necessarily mean "magic". And somehow I don't think there was any "magic" on that first Christmas.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
countless hours of studying
almost as many hours of celloing
several hours of singing carols at the top of my voice
8 hours of cleaning the flat
7 hours of 12 hour cheesy pop, (of which 2 hours were spent watching It's a Wonderful Life, 3 hours were spent boogying on at the headphone disco (quality concept!) and 2 hours spent chatting to randoms and not so randoms at the stall)
6 beanscene visits (most of which were to "chat about the critical review")
5 hours of mince pies and mulled-wine consumption
4 christmas carol services (to date)
3 and a half ceilidhs
and 1 critical review
And after all that and some more that I couldn't fit into 12 verses, I am back in Edinburgh again for a proper break! It's roasting inside (having Sri Lankan parents means the heating is on ALL day!) and baltic outside (frost, unlike anything we ever get in glasgow, woopwoop!) Actually getting a proper break, except from celloing... in exchange for being fed I am playing in 3 church carol services avec les parents. A cellist's work is never done.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
But there is soooooo much to blog about!
1. The wonders of carols! In the last few days I have been to a carolling party (lots of musical people jamming and singing carols together all evening), 2 different carol service rehearsals, sang non-stop on the half an hour walk to church with my old flatmate. You'd think I'd be sick of the music, but no. Yesterday I made the purchase of Sufjan Steven's 5 CD christmas wonder! To be honest I would have bought it for the beeeeeyoootiful version of Joy to the World on CD 4 (one of my fav carols) but getting 5 wonderful CDs was more than an added bonus! Siiiigh...
2. Last week, I discovered that - prancing around in a ball dress + quality time with coursemates (i.e not talking about or even thinking about looming deadlines) + silly dancing and good food = remarkably therapeutic stress-free evening
3. The wonders of TEA!! (in response to this post)
Builder's tea... meh... I've lost my liking for the stuff. In the tea corner of our kitchen however, I currently own, an assortment of loose teas with random names like "arctic fire", green tea, white tea, camomile, honey and vanilla tea, lemon and ginger tea, lady grey. Despite the fact that yesterday Potter managed to bleed over a few tea bags and boxes (now hopefully all disinfected away) they still haven't quite lost their appeal. Tea consumption in the flat is an excitement... i.e "hmmm what do I feel like today?" What kind of choice can be had with the likes of coffee?! What I'm saying Quinn is, for the sake of your stomach, why don't you try branching out? ;)
4. This Wednesday lunchtime (methinks about 1pm) ze band is going to be live on BBC radio Scotland! Woop woop! Shame we have to get up at 6am and train it up to Inverness for like 3 hours just for the pleasure!
Friday, November 30, 2007
- Treat people as equals (even if they struggle with my language)
- A smile is not enough. What they want is my time and friendship not just my friendliness.
- Kindness and genuine friendship go a long long way. I am still strongly affected by the impact of kindness a few french (and non-french) people demonstrated towards me last year when I was a foreigner, relatively powerless and pretty lonely.
En bref - I should be taking my lead from Him
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Aaah I do love the french :)
In other news:
- my camera is dying hence my lack of camerage.
- After 2 weeks of reading ridiculous amounts and getting more and more confused, I have finally decided on a direction for my 4000 word "critical review" in psychology... phew!
Life just keeps on going and the Christmas season is calling! woop woop!
Monday, November 19, 2007
We did however enter into the spirit of adventure, rushing down the tallest cinema in the world to catch the last underground and then rushing back up again, rooting under chairs to the soundtrack of the cancan in search of pragmatist's gloves, until we realised that she hadn't actually brought them with her in the first place. So we legged it back down again and made it in time (just) to catch the last underground... Ah we do know how to spice up the mundane antics of normal life! And who needs to put the heating on in the flat when a little exercise is all one needs to keep warm!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
- "I ask him to satisfy my longings and fill my hollow places with his unfailing lavish love, this frees me from craving the approval of others or requiring them to fill my 'cup'. Then if someone does demonstrate love to me that's overflow! I am free to appreciate and enjoy it, but I didn't emotionally require it." Beth Moore
words of clarity on a frenchopsychologised/psychofrenchified/francopsycho day
I don't know what reading that makes you think of but I found myself drawn to the concept of how being filled with God's utterly satisfying love doesn't just stop there with us and Him. We are left free to appreciate and enjoy other people and the rest of his creation in all its fullness. It is for freedom that Christ set us free.
This period on the university calender should be labelled with a health warning "This is the time of the year when you will start feeling innudated and may well succomb to stress". What with all the essays, exams, lab reports, presentations, generally keeping mein head above the workload. I don't seem to overly stress about these things. When I stress it's more likely to be about my motives behind what I do, whether other people are taking a precedence over my love for God, about what's happening in my mind because I feel as though I can't control it half the time to name a few... But it was for freedom that Christ set us free! Why should I stress about these things? He leads me by still waters, He restores my soul, He fills my cup.
He acted, I accept what He has done and continues to do, I overflow.
Maaaan I wish the formula would be tha simple when trying to put it into reality! And it's not Him that is lacking, it's my unwillingness to accept that's the problem. What is it that can possibly hold me back from handing over the controls of my life to God, towhom nothing is impossible, who knows what's best and truly cares?! Think I might take the advice of Beth Moore there.
I'm just grateful that we have Jesus constantly interceding (overuling our stupidity) and that He fully understands :)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
We don't process everything we see. And that's not surprising really since we wouldn't get anywhere or do anything if we were constantly processing everything that's round about us. However that can sometimes result in confusion and/or misinterpretation. I did a presentation on how this kind of misintepretation manifests itself in language illusions on Friday. Let me demonstrate.
How many did each kind of animal did Moses put on the ark?
Did you get it? Did you say two? Or did you see the anomaly? If so, nice work because most people don't and this is known as the Moses Illusion and it's an example of "shallow processing" (what linguists call foveation). So why am I waffling about this other than to fulfil my geeky inclinations? Well today I was thinking about how much of a conscious foveator I am. How I so often only critically evaluate what I find relatively easy to understand because I am scared of the stuff I find more difficult to understand. How I so often see what I want to see and not what I'd prefer not to see. And that applies to everything, from bits of the bible I can't get my head around and would prefer to avoid, to things going on in another part of the world or even part of my city I prefer to remain blissfully unware of. But I specifically want to talk about the way in which I read the bible.
In order to avoid misinterpretation surely we need the full picture. So many mistakes have been made in the past, and we are still unclear on things because we are unware of the full context of a statement within the bible and in the era it was written in. Shouldn't we need to at least be aware of all these things so that we might understand the bible more fully?
But where does the balance lie between, one the one hand, questioning things, finding reason and understanding behind what we believe and on the other hand, knowing that God is God, that His wisdom is far above and beyond us and that we won't have all the answers in this lifetime? It's one of those "to what extent" questions that seem to crop all the time. I think it's easy to lean either too much to one side or the other. I definitely lean in the foveating direction i.e "I don't have all the answers so why bother too much about it?" but it isn't enough. Especially when I get interrogatively questioned about my faith.
I've leaned the other way in the past too; trying to process too much at once and as a result getting tied up and confused with trivial issues. To the point where it has gotten in the way of my ability to see and do and think straight in other areas of life. I think experiences like that may have scared me off deeply questioning things... but then maybe I've been questioning in the wrong way before.
I've been reading this passage over and over again the last few days, and something is starting to click in my head. We have God's Spirit in us, He gives us understanding, He gives us knowledge and the Spirit is key to that. But what kind of knowledge is that? I do know He enables to know Jesus and that He enables to understand God's plan for salvation so we can accept it and communicate it to others. I do know that He helps us grapple with the kind of knowledge that results in us having everything we need for life and godliness and that knowledge for the sake of knowledge is futile. But is that knowledge and understanding of the more difficult concepts, having a grip on prophecies that scholars have studied for years? Or is it just a grasp on concepts such as grace (not that those are especially simple)? Does the Spirit help us gain academic knowledge; the kind of apologetics that go way over my head or knowledge as in knowing God as a father, lord and friend? Should we as Christians know the bible inside out from cover to cover, or is it ok to skim the bits that we "may never understand" like certain prophecies or parts of Revelation?
That's a lot of questions and this probably makes for muddy reading. But if you do get through this I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on the matter. I'm kinda unsure...
Apologies for lack of bullet points in this post
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
So it's been 5 months almost to the day since I left France. 5 months. Man alive, that's a long time! The first 3 months I spent in the burgh felt far removed from my sun-lit dossy french lifestyle. However since coming back to Glasgow I find myself frequently hearkening back to those days. This is partly due to the constant presence of chocolate, cheese and wine in our flat. But the main reason is definitely due to my ohsofrequent croisements with french people in and around the university.
They are becoming so frequent that I think I may have become some kind of french magnet. I hope I don't smell of blue cheese and I'm sure I don't give off any Ilovespeakingfrench aura. At least not the kind of aura that can be seen from a distance.
Yet since freshers week, I have consistently and continuously bumped into french people. My magnetic field seems to be at it's most powerful between the hours of 1 and 3am on a Saturday when I have been known to stand outside the QM union and give out tea and coffee with some other equally daft Christians punters. There is one regular who brings his copains to chat to "la fille qui parle super bien francais" (For a Scot that is, though that doesn't stop me grinning from ear to ear each time he says it). But this weekend was almost absurd. There were the regulars, then a girl I recognised from one of my classes, one lanky dude who had only arrived in the country the week before, there were 6 Grenoblois students enjoying a reunion. They had the same favourite pub as me.
Perhaps it is just that a high percentage of frenchies smoke and so are more likely to be loitering outside the QM that in it? Someone told me there are 50000 french people in Glasgow, though I find that somewhat hard to believe.
All I know is, my desire to speak french and franglais on a regular occasion is being well and truly satisfied, I'm starting to make friends with the randoms and I'm starting to realise that God may be engineering all this.
Tis a little bizarre but I like it :)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
But then how many stereotypical christians did I actually know?
I started thinking about the other christians I know and building a little map of them in my head. Intellectuals and touchy feely types, socialists and tories, scientists and artists, old and young, the irrepressible jokers and the sincerely serious, the quiet and the outgoing, the academic and the less academic, trendies and self-confessed geeks, techy geniuses and computerphobes, dreamers and pragmatists... I could go on and on...
I don't think I'd ever before noticed the diversity of personalities Jesus has attracted.
We always seem to emphasise the diversity of the church in terms of things like nationality or family background and I don't want to undermine that because it is an amazing truth. But the crazy of mix of God's family isn't just reflected in "every tribe, tongue and nation" but every mind-set, level of intellect, talent, nature et ainsi de suite...
Then again, should it be that surprising? Essentially He did made grace available to us all.
Friday, September 28, 2007
- I could tell you about the exciting bits of homework I have to do for next week.
- Watch 3 french films made in the 1920s
- Translate 2 texts from english to french and french to english
- Read 3 research papers on psycholinguistics and be able to summarise them in tutorial
- Catchup on lectures notes (caused by lecture clashes)
- Read 4 chapters of a french novel l'usage du monde by Nicolas Bouvier
Ah the joys of studying for an odd combination of a degree.
- I could also tell you about my lovely new flatmates and the banter and copious amounts of chocolate that have been consumed in this last month, though I think I might leave that till I have some incriminating photos...
- I could tell you about the trouble I have with saying no to things. I want to be a part of everything, and not saying no to doing things was something that kept me busy in France but here I just get swamped to the point of silliness if I don't!
- I think for now I'll stick to talking about the weather... Rain, dristle, changeableness, the fact that one day it's really warm and the next it's baltic! What's that all about?!
- I miss french cheese... :(
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
- That to do a joint honours in a subject one has to be exceedingly organised (timetables are handed out and one has to fiddle and sort out clashes and make sense of them on one's own.
- That sorting out timetable clashes is more stressful than studying
So when do I get to start learning real stuff!?
Monday, September 17, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
As for the summer. Well that finished with a bit of a bang... The day after I finished at good ol H of H, I was jetted off for 3 days of glorious surreality in Lewis with the Potential Strangers... thankyou BBC! Here are some of my photographic highlights...
Sound-checking in the studio...
This pic (that Dol Eoin's 7 year old sister drew for the occasion) reminds me of this lovely welsh band that I fell in love with, not only for there ace music and genius lyrics (those that I could understand anyway) and the fact that the 4 of them sing in harmony at various points of each song but the fact that are genuinely nice boys :)
It's not an exaggeration... Harris though a little cold and windy, at least when we were there, really is stunningly beautiful.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Over the last few weeks I have watched
- Billy Elliot - several times. Best facial expressions of any film I've ever seen.
- I bought the sister High School Musical and Bugsy Malone - now that was a mistake.
- That gem of a musical West Side Story twice.
- Along came Polly - why?!
- fractions of Princess Mononoke. Think I might need to watch all of it before I understand it.
- A bbc production of Woman in White with my dear mother
- Amelie - for the first time in about a year believe it or not!
Been to see
- The Bourne Ultimatum - now that was good :)
- Hairspray. Twice I'm not ashamed to say. Second time was even better!
- Shrek 3, Harry Potter 5 - disappointments
- A random french-canadian film at the Edinburgh international film festival - Dans les villes - the blurb promised light-heartedness, the film delivered the opposite. Though I must admit the enlightening chat with director/producer afterwards improved it.
Oh and I saw one festival show quite possibly better than any of the films I've seen of late... I blame the changeyourmoodinablink atmosphere and amhaaazing soundtrack!
ticktockticktock just over a week to Glasvegas and return to a TV-less flat... wooo! :)
saying that, it never stopped us from watching copious amounts of Dawsons Creek
Monday, August 06, 2007
I'm not going to give up on Him, Christ Jesus our Hope.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The 2 frenchmen each having found an RAF man in completely separate situations have been told to go find their officer in the baths... they've been told they'll recognise him easily due to his beeeeg moustache by humming the code song, which is "Tea for two". I think that's all you need to know
Thursday, July 26, 2007
and that whole seeing the crazy extended family from the four corners of the earth together for the first time in several years (actually twas the first time in 17 years that my dad and his 5 siblings were in the same country at once!) Birthdays were celebrated, a memorial service held, lots and lots of music has been played, and heated discussions had on everything from, what culture is, to how a video should be converted to dvd...
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I do like those little surprises though. Working at H of H is full of them... What with those surprise customers that require many runs up and down the stairs, lack of tea spillages on my part (that is an event I assure you) and the moment when the Quinnster says no to the biscuit (ok perhaps that one's more of a hypothetical surprise). And then every now and again, we receive a call which requires bellowing down the phone and though these can quite often be expected when one works in a place which services those who have hearing difficulties, they are a surpise nonetheless.
And then there are the events unconnected to the workplace... unexpected phonecalls on the bus, a frenchman preaching at Findlay on Sunday morning, the rain stopping...
what can I say... I like surprises :)
Friday, June 08, 2007
I guess this applies to my whole year... first semester especially was tough and maan did I need God. I didn't have much else to rely on... but being back in this beautiful country where I have my family and sooo many friends, where I have no real language barriers and don't get confused in group banter or struggle to understand sermons, I'm fighting against complacency.
So I'm going back to an old lesson, and I'm going to actively remember
Monday, June 04, 2007
About an hour before I left on Wednesday I suddenly realised I couldn't shut my suitcase. After some panicked packing and repacking I arrived at the station wearing 4 tops, a pair of shorts and jeans, with 2 jumpers round my waist, 1 summer jacket, 1 winter jacket and a scarf. I did have a fleecy flowery full-length dressing gown to add to the menagerie but fortunately had that taken off my hands by the lovely christian lady who gave me a lift and saw me off at the station. The journey was uneventful, there were a couple of babies to entertain, an excited phonecall, one over-limit baggage charge (since apparently french scales are kinder than british ones), a touch of reverse culture shock (I could not help but eavesdrop every conversation I heard and read every sign I saw in english) and in spite of everything there was buckets of God-given peace. I was welcomed home by one excited family, a wonderful curry and a snap taken underneath the UK arrivals sign!
And then the next day after the mandatory shopping trip with the mother (which is bound to be the case if I wear clothes till they fall apart or until she bullies me into buying something new). I headed through to Glasgow for 2 and a half days of wonderful madness... labradors and picnics and flowers and tea and birthdays and nice meals and a million hugs and great chat and dancing and museum trips and swords and chippies and bowls and deckchairs.
Things I'd never noticed before/forgotten about Glasgow
- Very very friendly people. I got raced up the escalators by a good-humoured random middle-aged weegie after I hurriedly cut in front of him.
- Accents... min I cannot stop imitating the Northern Irish accent. It has been approximately 5 months since I last heard it!
- The seats in the underground are surprisingly comfy!
- It is a common occurence to walk past someone reeking of drink
- Lots of people are about on the streets at night
- When it rains it doesn't necessarily mean a thunderstorm
- That most buskers in the westend are really good!
- That one does not have to walk far to find some free live music
- That one does not have to walk far before bumping into someone one knows or recognises
- My friends are positively banterously wonderful :)
God is ridiculously good to me
Monday, May 28, 2007
Oh and I have something to keep me occupied on the plane on Wednesday afternoon...
Les chaussettes de l'Archiduchesse sont-elles sèches, archi-sèches? - Are the socks of the Archduchess dry, really dry?
Un chasseur sachant chasser sait chasser sans son chien de chasse. - A hunter who knows how to hunt knows how to hunt without his hunting dog.
De knappe kapper kapt heel knap - (something to do with a barber cutting pretty hair but his employee cutting it better)
maar de knecht van de knappe kapper kapt nog
knapper ken de knappe kapper kappen ken
Fischer's fritz fischt frusche fische (something to do with a fisherman called Fritz who fishes fresh fish)
frusche fische fischt fischer's fritz
sex laxar i en laxask - (6 salmon in a box)
If you see me muttering to myself on the plane, it is all for a good cause!
Monday, May 21, 2007
"Praise the Lord O my soul, all my inmost being, praise his holy name." - yeah that would be good... get a move on soul!
"forget not all his benefits, who forgives your sins" - That's right... I have been forgiven! What does that song say "ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven" and it's by grace not by works... I've done nothing to deserve forgiveness, I believe and He does all the work, and it's more than just forgiveness, I have a fresh start every time, I'm being made new each day, like Him over time and He sacrificed so much to make this possible! Woow!
"who heals all your diseases" I've never been seriously physically ill but I've definitely been healed of some past emotional hurts in recent years.
"who redeems your life from the pit" hmmm... I don't think my life has never been "the pit" but I have definitely come close to rock bottom at times this year and He rescued me. Like when I was feeling lonely and frustrated through feeling kinda purposeless and lacking "meaningful" friendships in France, He brought the meaningful conversations and friendships when I needed them the most, He spoke when I needed to hear Him :)
"who crowns you with love and compassion" - yeeeaah... I'm starting to see the evidence of that now :)
"who satisfies your desires with good things" - when I felt purposeless and desired purpose, He gave me opportunities, He gave me people to love and He made me useful!
"so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" - just thinking about all this stuff, remembering His goodness to me and that I am loved by a God who crowns me with such love and compassion is so refreshing and redonnes mine energy and refills me with spirit... ran out of words around here... and that was just the first four verses!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Day 1 - a nice medium long trek and then one night ocamp in the alpilles (after the alps they really do seem tiny)
Day 2 - A rather much longer trek from town to town near to Miramas where we stayed the other 3 nights (done on v little sleep and in very dry 30degree heat= not so helpful) NB The nearest town is almost always further away than you imagine.
Follow that, the next day, with a loooong (by my standards anyway) bike ride, all 3 or us on matching red bikes complete with neon green helmet (isn't it beautiful!), handy handlebar bags which we crammed full with all sorts of goodies such as biscuits (yes Quinn I hear you :P) and strawberries mmmmm and yellow plastic-tasting water bottles which we got to keep...
Then riding and wading waist high in the sea in the Camaragues (Day 4)
Finished off by a tourist stop accompanied by self-downloaded audioguide (a million times better than those museum ones) in Arles
Recommended activity for any trip - get those card games out, anywhere, when or how :)
Add on the no space to breathe and think english, ever... and this made Dish a very very tired girl indeed... Thank goodness for bandes dessinées... I think I might have exploded otherwise. :)
A highly recommended experience... looovely memories made :)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Le feu - a church-funded, fulltimeworker-supported, building-equipped christian organisation for student ages and up which I stumbled across just a couple of months back, just when I really needed it, despite living just a short walk away. After spending 8 months in a foreign country, being able to hang out with, eat, pray and study the bible in french and my native language with folk in a similar situation as me is such a gift, even if it has only been for the last couple of months.
Savouring french eccentricities like little kids carrying baguettes as long as themselves, bereted old men playing ptonk, music rehearsals where more time is spent in discussion than in playing, listen to very interesting political rants from some v intelligent french people about how Sarkozy is the new Blair/Hitler/just generally a fascist and seeing giant fish heads in the supermarket
The international banter here, especially with the other assistants... cooking for each other, slagging off each other's accents, the odd bit o dancing...
Baebar, this lovely chap beside me ------------->
Have had a bit of a lovehate relationship with him over the past year, but I have made some great friends because of him and he's helped me integrate into french society... it will be sad to say goodbye.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The first time I ever went to France at the age of 14 I walked through these... No-man's land by the Somme: the expansive empty tranquil fields divided by several trenches that used to be the battlegrounds in the first world war. No one wanted to go out into them because the likelihood of your coming back was so minimal...
I feel as though I'm in no-man's land right now though my situation doesn't quite look like that. It looks more like a busy month of what will be more countless goodbyes, celloings, bits and pieces of travelling than much else... part of me just wants to skip the goodbyes, to skip this long drawn out end to what has been an experience of a year and get on with the next part... or at least be in either one camp or the other... not in between the two... hrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumph (an elephant sigh)
But I know God has a purpose for me being here, and even though I'm finding it hard to do what I love best i.e invest in people, because either they're leaving or I am, I've to make the most of it, and live, because that's what he's called me to do, for better or for worse...
Whether I like it or not this is no man's land season... so no reason to be de-motivated by it. Rather, quite the opposite: ...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:18
God please make me joyful.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
"Good bye. It was very funny the moments with you in the club.
Sums up the year of teaching pretty well really...
only 4 hours to go...
Monday, April 16, 2007
- Firstly there is the surprise element... The surprise victim was Canadian party organiser Court. Unfortunately it is rather difficult to keep a serial party organiser from organising a party when you're trying to organise one for him. I think he smelled a rat or two when I very tactfully asked him to meet me outside a shop at 6pm (about 4 hours earlier than our usual rendevous) and wouldn't tell him why... When I did actually meet him, he then went on to tell me exactly what he suspected we were doing this evening, and hit the nail on the head. He had every detail right, right down to the exact location. Impressive considering...
- we had a few problems getting everyone together at the same place at the same time. Especially when 3 people are doing the main inviting, and all of them tell folk to invite whoever they want. The set barbecue place was at the Bastille (for those of you who do not know Grenoble that is on top of a big hill in the middle of Grenoble). Now there are a lot of possible BBQ spots on top of a hill thus it was decided that meeting on the bottom before getting the cable car up would be a better idea otherwise we would just get lost and waste credit trying to find one another again. Now trying to get people turn up on time was always going to be a problem. People don't eat in France on average till at least 8. In fact restaurants aren't even open until 7 in the evening. But we were wanting to start while it was still daylight. And then there's the face that in France when you tell people to meet you at a certain place you have to add another half an hour on in your head. The Germans were the only people to arrive at the arranged rendevous on time... :)
- Then there was the getting hold of a BBQ and getting it in a tiny cable car up to the top of a mountain. Unfortunately disposable BBQs don't seem to be too common here, so after a lot of ringing around we thought we'd got hold of 2, and then lost them half an hour before expected rendevous. Our fortune turned when we stepped out of the tram in front of Monoprix (the Marks and Sparks of France) and decided to go in "just to check" since we had 5 minute till rendevous time.
- Now the weather in Grenoble has gotten ridiculously warm of late. Yesterday in the afternoon the temperature was over 30 degrees celsius. A little too much for a Scot like me (even one with Sri Lankan genes). We were expected good weather for the BBQ but climbing up the mountains as the sun began to set, winds began to pick up in both directions, which meterology expert Hannah informed us was normal due to hot air from the valley coming in contact with cold air from above (or something along those lines :P) I had to hold my couscous down with my fork to stop it flying off my plate.
- Oh and just so you know, there are no lights in the mountains.
All in all a quality experience, a good meal, 10 nationalities represented, awesome view... doesn't take much to make me smile :)
Surprisingly all that organising (followed by silly dancing till silly hours) seemed to have little effect on my level of awakeness at church the next morning, managed to maintain wakeful cheeriness in fact until that awful post-lunch period. Unfortunately I spent several hours lunching with three generations of an Italian french family and thus was very very very well fed! Weighed down by the contents of my stomach I struggled to maintain adequate communication levels in conversation on this hot Sunday afternoon, acutely aware of the rapid deterioration of my french linguistic skills, and trying as hard as I could to concentrate on adult conversation whilst being highly in demand as chosen playmate for the only member of the third generation (age 3).
If there's a lesson in any of this ramble it's this... When you organise a BBQ in Grenoble, tell everyone to come an hour earlier than when you actually want them to come (everyone that is except Germans), don't have it in a mountain and if you make it a surprise for someone, don't pick the habitual party-organiser. There is a time to be silly and a time to be sensible (re:bedtime).
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Ironically yesterday was also Good Friday... The day we remember the cross... the price Jesus paid for us. It brings it home really... it was for this that He died, it was for this He rose again. I can be certain of Appamma's future, of my future because of what He endured.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (Jesus, not long before the cross, John 14:1-4)
We can trust Him, we can trust His words because He did come back. He did rise again on the third day just as He has promised! And so I can and will trust Him in His promise of eternal life with him. It is because of His death that I know I am forgiven, it is because of His resurrection that I have hope. And life starts now!
Well in the last month I've had several highs and lows, 3 lots of visitors, 3 Glasgowers (none of whom got to see les Belledonnes due to mist!) and the family... that makes 2 bastille trips, several café and restaurant stops, various mountain trips, a ridiculous amount of tea received, far too much musicing (I'm learning to say no), stolen bags, police station visits, concerts, many communal meals, the odd spillage...
Throw in there the usual record-long phone convos, some jamming at church, cooing over toddlers in the street, discovering a Christian community I didn't know existed and finally having some proper deep chat in french has made for an interesting and educational month of March.
And this week...
- A fruitless trek to find an open functioning swimming pool (ok so waterslide may have been on the specification list but it honestly wasn't me that made it!) with 2 near giants in which we found a random tower unmarked, unlabelled and ungoogable apparently and this ----------->
...apparently one of the 7 wonders of the Dauphiné region! hmm
- Saying the second of what will be many sad au revoirs to a lovely allemande in Lyon (à mon avis quite possibly the loveliest city in the country!)
- Being a visitor myself, to a little town of Tournus, NOT Toulouse, but Tournus, a little town in the region of Burgundy.
- Spending time there with fellow Glasgower and assistante Rebecca, sitting in sunshine, drinking tea and laughing at her being toilet-papered by her terminale students on muck-up day! :)
The days are swimming by, the temperature steadily rising... Il reste une semaine des hols, deux de school, un mois de randonmness et puis... c'est tout, fini, le fin, the end! Crazy!
I will blog/flickr related photos soon... just when I remember to bring my cable to the internet café!
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I wonder if we really do choose to forget or remember or not... I don't find that to always be the case.
Hermann Ebbinghaus, a psychologist (or scientist if you prefer ;) ) discovered this ... the forgetting curve.
He discovered, or rather (as most psychologists seems to do), put into a theory, that forgetting; memory decline, is exponential in nature, as illustrated in the graph. A person learns a piece of material, and as time goes on, slowly their retention of the information declines. Obviously there is some variation in this, some people coughBreakeycoughPottercough have unusual memories allowing them to view material and retain more information for longer periods of time and others can sometimes view something and seem to instantly forget it yet this curve seems to generally be the case quand-même. According to the studies and curve we never completely forget everything we learned, but we don't retain very much of it.
This however is dramatically changed when the learned material is repeatedly reviewed. Sadly not being the Glasgow uni library right now means I cannot access the Web of Knowledge which I relied on so heavily in first and second year of psychology, and thus cannot illustrate the significant effect it has with with another beautiful graph. But I'm sure you would probably agree, it seems like common sense to me...
Now I have been experiencing uncharacteristic bouts of anxiety of late. Anxiety about the future more than anything else, both near and far-off... and I blame this on the forgetting curve.
Because I know God has been faithful to me throughout my life! When I look back, I see so evidently how He has taken care of me... The Lord's my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. Even when I've least expected it, that has been the case! Oh I was nervous before I came to France all right, and yet He has taken care of my every need and exceeded them in countless ways! So why can't I trust Him with the unknown this time?!
Because I forget who He is and what He has done for me... Check out the number of times the word "Remember" features in the book Deuteronomy! Clearly the Israelites needed to remember these things, and yet the history told in the bible tells us the Israelites forgot them all the time. I'd like to think I'm different... but life and silly anxiety and the Bible and even the science of psychology all seem to suggest that I'm really not... not really at all...
So I'm blogging this as a general reminder, not least to myself, to look at the past, at our own lives, at each others lives, at the bible, and to remember who God is and what He has done... what we have seen with our own eyes...
Thursday, March 01, 2007
- Meeting randoms, french and english speaking (even if most of them are medics! :P )
- Staying with randoms, french and english speaking. You may find yourself in some interesting places...
- Eating out in random quartiers... from the posh Jewish area to Parisian bohemian to what ressembled mini India.
- Finding pockets of free decent live music... in bars, churches and flea markets
- Give a couple of gorgeous french children piggybacks round the Notre Dame
- Waiting for the Metro
Staring contests on the metro
- Taking cheesy tourist photos by famous landmarks (and inviting pfffts and snorts of disapproval from your french friends)
- Taking silly photos by famous landmarks (and laugh at your french friends who are keeping themselves at a distance and pretending not to be with you)
- Taking photos of silly things such as enormously fat pigeons and thematic traffic lights
Activities which I've found to be not so entertaining in Paris (or anywhere else in France for that matter except Grenoble)
- Trying to find the Tourist office
Monday, February 26, 2007
But first of all, just to give you some background and for the benefit those of you who may have yet to experience the delights of an audioguided tour... let me walk you through one.
You enter your historical sit/museum/art gallery of choice, past the beeping ticket barriers and are presented with an object somewhat similar in form and style to a mobile phone from the mid 1990s or "bricks" as they were affectionately known. Some galleries ask you what language you desire, some assume you want french, some assume you want english... this often presents quite some dilemna for the year abroader in France.
Do you... a. Pick french and listen avidly to every word trying to soak in all the new vocabulary and thus improving my listening skills (why else are we in France after all)? (Plus french people speak quicker so you get round the site in less time)
b. Pick english which requires less brain effort so you are actually able to look around rather than simply squinting in concentration, and really take in the visual as well as the audio.
c. Pick another language entirely, German for example, because you've been desperate to learn a third language ever since you got here, and hope that you might be able to get my ears accustomed to the phonetics of the language, and perhaps even understand/guess the meaning of at least one of two things.
I realise this might not be everyone's dilemna... all I can say is I pity those of you who truly are multilingual...
You move to the first exhibit, and see a metal plate beside it with a number beside it. There appears to be no logic to these numbers, the first one could say anything from 6.1 to 123... but you punch it into your audioguide keypad and listen avidly to the ensuing monologue in your language of choice. (I chose a. once, was given a. once without being asked, and chose b. the other 4 times) You do the same for the next couple of exhibits... but by the third your concentration begins to fade, you walk around looking blankly at exhibits, only half listening to the audioguide. By the time you've punched in the 5th number, you're wondering why on earth you need to know silly facts like the year in which the 17th Pope of Avignon died. By the 7th you're thinking option c. would have been a more educational and enjoyable experience. By the 9th you can't be bothered listening at all. You exchange a meaningful glance with your tour buddy, punch in a number and run past all the numbered exhibits whilst holding the guide to your ear and nodding and frowning in concentration. You finally arrive at the exit where you accidently try to leave without handing your guide in. The devices then start beeping loudly in burglar-alarm point the finger style, till you shamefacedly hand them in at the entrance; often a good 5 minute walk away.
Now I have nothing against the concept of these informative devices. I mean, surely the museum experience should in theory be heightened by that wonderful combination of visual with audio? But tourist authorities of the south-east of France... surely you could have...
- made descriptions concise and relevant in order to hold our attention.
- been selective about the information you wish to communicate... taking into the account the intellectual level of the likely listener (not high)
- used perhaps more of that hierarchical structure you unsuccesfully attempted to put to use on occasion e.g Press 1. for a few lines on why there is a sword in that casket, 1.1 If you wish to know more information about the person who used it, 1.1.1 if you want minute detail on the way in which these types of swords were fabricated, including all materials used and methods involved 184.108.40.206 for the family history, complete with birth and death dates of the person who used the sword.
- at least have picked a less montonous BBC-esque voice.
Here ends the rant
On the plus side, the audioguides in art galleries we went to seem to be actually interesting, concise and informative.
You can always just switch if off when you can't be bothered listening anymore.
NB: If your purpose in visiting a tourist site is just so you can cross it off the haveseenlist, just pick option c. You'll probably learn more.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
My skiing highlights
- I had red skis! I think that's pretty cool don't you?! :P
- la vitesse! This was however was a cause for a recurring problem, I couldn't quite work out how to regulate it. I would just accelerate and accelerate and had to throw myself to the ground because I couldn't stop.
- Finally at the end of our second and last morning, learning how to stop!
- Becoming an expert at picking myself up again after falling
And I suddenly realised that Grenoble has become, without my realising, a home. Home number 3 perhaps, but a home nonetheless! We found ourselves walking along the road one day, chatting in french, remarking on the number of étrangères, especially anglophones at the station de ski... before remembering that we are étrangères... because we lived in Grenoble and were speaking french, we'd forgotten that we were.
The French really know how to enjoy the simple pleasures, i.e eating! 2 hours spent over 3/4 course meals always finished off with a café (tea pour moi) is most definitely the way forward! And they even manage to do it during the working week! Most banks, shops and offic es are closed from 12 till 2 so people can go home eat with their families and head back into the work again! Once you get used to the strange opening hours, adjust your eating patterns to it, and stop turning up at banks and finding them to be most annoyingly closed, you can't help but love it!
Essentially it seems people are no different no matter where they're from.
Oh and did I mention that mountains are beautiful?!
I saw this on Friday with french subtitles and wanted to blog about it, to encourage you all to see it because it was such an interesting, moving and well-made film based in the same era as this film which I also love but which is of an utterly different genre, but was distressed to find that google yields no results of the film showing in Britain... yet (though I might be wrong, let me know)! What I was particuarly struck by was the development of the very vivid, very real characters. I was made to like, dislike, empathise, understand, grow to like without even realising... So I'm encouraging you in advance... when "The Life of Others" is released in some manner or form in the UK, go and see it!
Monday, February 05, 2007
a. I feel the quality of my presentation in blogposts has diminished as a result of not using them
b. They are just sooo delectible
c. They prevent me from rambling too much
d. If I do succomb, they make my rambles accessible to people with ordinary concentration spans
So here is my last week (and a bit) in bullet points
- 2 concerts down 2 to go
- rehearsals eveeeery night! (one skived)
- one spectactular opera
- many amaaaazing singers
- lots of fatigue (sore back and sore eyes = not good)
- one giant boite of nutella = happy french people and lots of pleasure
- a fair portion of banter (we cellos know how to do banter even when we are naaaackered!)
- 2 exceedingly hyperactive classes (had to send 5 kids out of one because I couldn't hear anything I was saying)
- 4 exceedingly wonderful enthusiastic classes with a good sense of humour
- 1 exceedingly bright student with one of those perfect utopian middle class families who are all fluent english speakers, open minded, cook chestnut cakes and never eat at MacDonalds, who I just started teaching privately (a happy easy money earner)
- 1 youth group weekend away = snow and huge open fires and energetic franglais speakers and giant raclettes and peace :)
- lots of getting challenged
- 1 Sunday lunch consumed with a swiss family
Phone calls to Scotland
- Several varying from 10 minutes whilst stuffing food in my mouth to 4 hours
- Random communal meals consumed - 2
- Flatmates spoken to - 2 on 2 occasions
- Supermarket trips - 1
- Post office trips - 2
- Internet - time consuming (literally)
- Running around like a headless chicken = a frequent occurence
- Drinking tea - a not too infrequent pleasure
- Laughing - another not too infrequent pleasure
Total hours spent on
- Teaching - 9 hours
- Orchestra - 28 hours (!)
Lessons to be learnt here
- Don't play in a french orchestra for an opera that lasts for 3 hours.
- Bullet Points are Beautiful!
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
I look at languages that change with time, mountains that erode, snow that melts, weather systems that are unreliable... I look at my life; how I can never be sure of the future, near or far, how fragile I am, how fragile we all are, being human and all...
And I look at my God, my rock, at His unfailing love and compassion... and I remember that He never changes, even when everything else around me does.
And to think we are able to have peace with this God...!!!
The only response I can think of comes in the form of one of my favourite belter hymns. It may have been written over 2 centuries ago yet it still rings true and relevant today! :)
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote (1797-1874)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
An hour and a half on a bus took us to a station de ski in fact
Yes, that's right... "station de ski"
This is what happens when it hasn't snowed for a week and a half and the snow from early January is starting to melt, and into these adverse conditions (snow of the kind that draws blood when you fall on it, beating hot sun) 3 relatively skint, multinational, complete beginners are set on a station de ski for the day...
We were the only people over the age of about 10 sleighing there that day. When I mention age I talk of the physical and measurable kind... not of the mental kind :)