Ready to come home for the holidays -- 12/20/01
Note: This entry is labelled as being my December 20th entry; it was emailed to my Notify list and later posted to my website.

My two weeks is drawing to a close -- at last! -- which is not to say that I dislike being in France, merely that I dislike being away from Nancy and the kids for so long.

This is a fascinating place and the people are very friendly and I sometimes even understand a bit of what people are saying (although I am very embarrassed by my poor French and tend to avoid saying anything much beyond bonjour and merci).

Television -- there are around twenty channels on the set in my room -- several French stations -- the usual CNN news channel -- BBC news channel -- a financial news channel -- a Monaco channel -- some channel that seems to be nothing but 24 hours of infomercials -- an Italian channel -- a German channel -- a Spanish channel -- Euro-MTV (I guess that would be the rap/hip-hop/Euro-pop channel?) -- three Arabic channels (one of them was showing "Gone with the Wind" yesterday morning in English with Arabic subtitles!) -- Eurosports channel (which seems to show vast amounts of Grand Prix racing, soccer and ski biathlons. So I watch French news and try to figure out what they are saying and mentally translating the weather forecasts temperatures.

I have Radio Nostalgie on the car radio -- yeah, a French oldies station, which plays a lot of familiar music along with a lot of French songs -- and from time to time a song that sounds familiar and I realize that I am listening to a French version of a song I remember in English (Noir c'est noir instead of black is black) -- and find that I sometimes understand something of what is being said during the disk jockey chatter and news and commericals. I was in a coffee shop here that was tuned in to Radio Nostalgi and they played "The Peppermint Twist"... I remember going to see the movie "The Peppermint Twist" prior to doing some New Years Eve carousing... and doubt that my younger self could ever have imagined that forty years later I would be sitting in a coffee shop in Nice sipping a double espresso while listening to that song... (Of course nobody who is eighteen can possibly imagine ever being fifty-eight! *grin*)

French drivers are amazing -- well, at least the drivers in this part of France -- It almost seems as if some traffic rules are merely suggestions -- It is not unusual to see someone making a sudden left turn at an intersection... from a middle lane... crossing left lane traffic... only a few car lengths from the intersection. People pull out of parking places as if assuming that on-coming traffic will let them. The most amazing thing is the way motorcylists drive. They are everywhere riding everthing from lightweight mopeds to mid-weight motorcycles (I've not seen any huge Harley-Davidsons here) and they weave in and out of traffic as if they were weaving in and out of parked cars in a parking lot. La Promenade des Anglais varies from three to five lanes in each direction and it has very heavy traffic... and motorcyclists cut from lane to lane and between lanes, weaving in and out, slipping between two lanes of traffic, cutting across a gap between two vehicles, and then down between the next two lanes... absolutely amazing...

But now I am about to start the last day of this week's class... tomorrow morning I'll be leaving for the airport... my flight out is around noon... changing planes in London and flying to Boston... and AmTrak to Rhode Island...

Ah... time to relax.... class is over... I did not have a chance to send this while my laptop was connected to the outside world in the classroom so I guess it will have to wait until after I am back home. Sully is fighting a cold and plans to go to sleep early because he has to be up and out to the airport very early in the morning. I was thinking of settling down myself and eating at the hotel and going to sleep early... I am very tired, not had enough sleep for two weeks now... going to sleep usually between ten and eleven but then waking up two or three times and eventually giving up on sleep far too early in the morning.... the latest that I have been able to sleep is a bit past five a.m. and that was on my first night here after an overnight flight, etc. The past two nights I've fallen asleep around nine-thirty while sitting on my bed attempting to catch CNN news, waking up around midnight to get undressed and going back to sleep, waking again from time to time... getting up around four this morning... which is better than yesterday when I gave up on sleep around two-thirty...

But I've decided that this being my last night here that I should go out again for dinner and wander around a bit before coming back to the hotel for the night. So, it's six p.m. here... I think I'll wander out for a couple of hours, find some food... come back to the hotel and start my packing and going to sleep early and hope I can get a reasonable amount of sleep 'cause of all those time zones I'll be crossing on Friday.

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