Monthly Archives: November 2011

gainful employment?

So here’s how I came to be (somewhat and not very well) employed in France:

A couple of months ago, just around the start of school, my friend Louise came over to my house and we were chatting. She’s an ESL teacher who has a long track record of teaching adults, however she took the past few years off work while her kids were young. This year she decided to go back to work and she got a job in Paris teaching English at UNESCO, which is a great job.  Just after the start of the academic year, Louise got a call from the school where my kids go (C.A.B.), asking her if she would be willing to teach a weekly ESL workshop on Wednesdays, which is offered as a supplementary course for kids to learn English (and because many children don’t have school on Wednesdays in France). Here is the vague summary of the conversation, after which I became (somewhat and not very well) employed:

Louise: So C.A.B. called and asked me if I wanted to teach the Wednesday morning ESL workshop but I’m not sure if I can pull it off because of my new UNESCO job in Paris. I think it might be too much.

Steph: You’re probably right. With everything else you have going on, it’s probably too much.

Louise: Yeah. I think so too. Plus, since it’s on Wednesdays, I’d have to hire a babysitter for Harry & John because they don’t have school on Wednesdays.

Steph: Yeah, that’s totally not worth it.

Louise: You’re lucky that Owen & Eamon have a half day of school on Wednesdays so you wouldn’t have to worry about a babysitter.

Steph: That’s true.

Louise: You should take the job.

Steph: Ummmm………..But it wasn’t offered to me and I don’t think I’m even qualified…..

Louise: Of course you’re qualified! You speak English!

Steph: But I’m not an ESL teacher and I’m not legally allowed to work until February……….

Louise: Who cares? This is France!

Steph: Ummmmmm………………………

So that is the story of how I became an ESL teacher to a group of eight French kids between the ages of 4-6.

I teach for only 1.5 hours per week, however it’s possible to prepare for about 20 hours per week for this 1.5 hour class – no joke. So basically, I’m making about 1€ per hour. In case you’re wondering, that’s not a livable wage. Not even in France.

At this point I am confident that there is one universally understood word in my class. Sadly (for me) it’s the word, “No.”

Since I know that what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger, I should be Hercules by the time I return. Be prepared friends.

Here is a picture of Alfred Hitchock in the town of Dinard, France (the location of an international film festival). I’m putting it in this post to give you something interesting to look at. Is it a coincidence that I chose this image? I don’t think so. Each week in English class I barely make it through without covering my eyes…………………’s sort of like a horror film.


short story for the longer stories to come

Here’s my predicament (as told in a run on sentence):  You know when a friend emails you and you have so much to say, but you don’t have that much time to write the meaningful note that you would like, so rather than write back a short little note to acknowledge that you received his/her note and are thinking of him/her, you don’t write back because you want to wait unit you have more time to write something better than, “I’m alive.  Thanks for asking,” and then days, weeks and months go by and you haven’t bothered to write back……….

Here’s my note to say I’m sorry to all of the people who I’ve been meaning to write to and I’ve been thinking about you all – in the downtime between wiping the French dog shit off my shoes (did you know that dog owners in France don’t really pick up their dog shit?  True fact.).  And I sincerely apologize to this blog because I’ve been very neglectful.

Here’s the short rundown of what’s happened since I last told you my story on the blog:

  • I got a job (kind of) and am now an illegal worker in France
  • It has been made clear that I am one of the few people in this country who knows how to carve a pumpkin
  • I flew to Ireland and attended a Literary Pub Crawl with my mother and her 3 college friends and drank too much beer, way too fast (sort of like college)
  • I stayed in a house in Brittany that was built in 1368
  • It has become evident that I don’t know a thing about tea
  • My mother visited us in France for 2 weeks where we simultaneously scared her, amazed her, and exhausted her (in between the time she was wiping the French dog shit off her shoe)
  • I’ve come to peace with the fact that I will likely never know anything substantial about French wines and still buy wines based on my own vetted criteria which is as follows (if I can answer “yes” to both questions, I buy it):
    • Does it cost under 5€?
    • Does it have some sort of gold or silver seal on the bottle?
I have also been asked by a friend (shout out to you, Susannah) to give her some French phrases to yell at her kids to boost their understanding of the language (in advance of their visit to France). Since I haven’t had time to compile the entire list, I’ll throw in one of my favorites:

What the hell are you doing?   =     Mais qu’est-ce que tu fous?

I’m working on the rest of the list and will post for all of you to see.

I promise that within the coming days I will give you the details of all of our adventures, but for now, I’ll leave you with this:


Mont St. Michel is even more amazing than I imagined it would be.