Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fun France Facts Friday on Sunday: High School

From the interesting to the trivial to the the mundane to the hilarious, here's an ongoing list of things that I have come to learn or realize during my months spent in Lorraine, France. Come back next Friday for 3 more. (OOPS, this time, Friday came two days late).

Fun France Facts Friday, Volume II: HIGH SCHOOL
For two school years in a row, I've been teaching high school/ middle school in Lorraine (Nancy-Metz Academie), France. There have been many common running themes that I find quite bizarre compared to my American high-school experience. Keep in mind, I only speak for my experience in Lorraine. The rest of France could be different (but I doubt it).

1) Toute en noir:  So we know what the "typical" American girl high school look is: hair perfectly in place (usually bleached), preppy style, perfectly applied makeup, tan skin bronzed from the tanning bed.
But in France, this "so American" look isn't common...not even one tiny bit. Nope, here, the "chic" girl is head to toe en noir. Black knows no boundaries. Black, messy hair. Thick black eyeliner, black leather jacket, black skinny pants, black heels, black Longchamp little purse...AND I must make this distinction: this "toute en noir" is not at all a "goth style." It's not even grungey-rock 'n roll style. It's just, well...French.

2) Popularity Deficit:  I was shocked to find out that popularity doesn't really exist French high schools; I thought that the popularity factor was just a natural element of the adolescent human nature. Weird, right?
Instead, the students more-so just have their group of friends and that's it; they're friends usually from being in the same classes. ...there aren't even different categories of students (the jocks, preps, stoners, goths). So, this can be viewed as a great thing, right? No life-long complexes from not being a popular girl/guy. Well, first I must point out that the kids can be just as cruel. Second, when I realized perhaps WHY there is no popularity, it's not so sweet...which leads me to my next point:

3) School=Work & Only Work:
Okay...continuing from the last point, essentially, I believe, popularity isn't present because there is no "high-school" culture in France. School is a 8-5 job; the students are there to work and only work (even though most are super lazy to even do that).

There are NO school sports, no extracurricular activities, no proms, no musicals, no homecomings, no graduation ceremonies, no high school Senior traditions, no yearbooks, no school pride. However,  I believe the popularity deficit exists for one key reason: no school sports. Lack of team sports= no stars of the school. No Freshman girls drooling over the Senior star quarterback. No cheerleaders performing for pep-rallies. There are not even grand assemblies where certain students are in front of the whole student body. So essentially, the community aspect of American high school is completely void. That's why my students always say, "Oh, la chance!" (ah, the luck!) when I discuss high school in America. If only they knew how much I still hated high school...even with all the fun stuff.
 But, of course, now, after being in France, I highly regret not enjoying my time more during high school..."the American way." Also, upon reflection, I realize that high school was a lot more fun than I thought at the time. Unfortunately, that seems to be the name of the game in life...
Whelp, that makes 3..'til next Friday (or Sunday, in today's case).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fun France Facts Friday

From the interesting to the trivial to the the mundane to the hilarious, here's an ongoing list of things that I have come to learn or realize during my months spent in Lorraine, France. Come back next Friday for more.

1) Napoleon shoes were in fashion this year: When I saw one of Jacques-Louis David's version of this painting (Napoleon Crossing the Alps) @ the Belvedere in Vienna, one thing immediately stood out: THE BOOTS.

2) Chuck Norris is not only well known in France, but Chuck Norris jokes exist in French as well...and my students know these jokes by heart.

3) Baguette Radar: To us Americans who apparently consider donuts as our bread (yes, someone here in France thought that {a very educated person, I might add}), the word baguette can bring to mind something very typically French...which means it must be delicious as the French excel in everything culinary. Well, uhuhhuhhum, the baguette can really, really suck...and sometimes break a tooth. In fact, 95% of the time when I have bought a baguette, I would have rather had that feeding-the-American-stereotype-type-of-bread, aka a donut. Yet, whenever I am invited to eat with French people, the baguettes are always melt in your mouth delicious and the soulmate to the delicious french cheese that I also happen to be eating. So, how does this happen???!?!?! Why can my roommates and I not find the right baguette? We have tried various hours, various places, various cities. We could only come to one conclusion: we aren't French, and, therefore, were not born with BAGUETTE RADAR...dum, dum dum!!!!
Well, there's your 3 for this Friday. TGIF!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Retrospiration: "DTMTBD"

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead or  
Panique chez les Crandell (French title, as I just learned from imdb)

Everyone who loves DTMTBD will you please stand up.
Okay, those still sitting please leave the room. I don't want to see yo' face.
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this movie as a child. Christina Applegate's character (Sue Ellen) definitely planted the "fashion designer dream" in my head  Until the age of 19, my dream of becoming a fashion designer and going into the industry was steadfast, and I would say that this movie in addition to my mother's Neiman Marcus catalogs had the biggest influence over my fashion drive.

You see, Sue Ellen pretty much fulfilled my teenage dream job: 
tricking the industry into thinking she's older and accidentally becoming a designer.

Even more, DTMTBSD was a dark teenage comedy with kids are living alone without supervision. It was like mixing MTV with the Box Car Children, a.k.a childhood utopia.
So, Sue Ellen's look can be summarized by a few things:
1) Big Earrings
2) Big Shoulder Pads
3) High-waisted pants
4) Bright colors
5) Gaudy jewelry...
Sound familiar? Seems the 20 year cyclical fashion theory is correct.
"I'm right on top of that Rose!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Le Dimanche au Musée: Kelly Reemtsen

I can seem to get enough of this theme: the damsels of the living dollhouse. The women of Hitchcock. The Betty-Drapers and the Mrs. Robinsons of the world. I love Kelly's paintings as much as I love Alex Prager's photography or as much as I love the film The Graduate.
All of these things bear the theme of the beauty that cracked.
Visit her site for more.

"She has it":

"I don't need a key to your house":

"I love you pills & candy":

"Short Leash":
"Always Putting out Fires"

"Spic 'n Span":
"I'm not falling for you":

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kodachrome and Tunes Thursday: Neon Tambourine and Gillian Welch

Forlorn females. We've all been there. Some of us are still there. Photographed by
Neon Tambourine (aka Lukasz Wierzbowski). Based out of  Wroclaw, Poland, he is a freelance photographer. All photos are taken from his Flickr. I implore you to go and look at the others, because there are a plethora, and they're all break-taking. Now normally, I only post photography on Kodachrome Thursday, but with a name like "Neon Tambourine," why not include a Gillian Welch song, "Look at Miss Ohio?: I think the lyrics and song go with the feeling, even if Ohio and Wroclaw couldn't be more worlds apart...
"Oh me oh my oh, look at Miss Ohio
She’s a-running around with her rag-top down
She says I wanna do right but not right now"

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