Monday, December 20, 2010

La petite maison dans la prairie

Monsieur J and I have been playing what I've taken to calling "Little House on the Prairie." Why, you might ask? Because we've been sans hot water for 3 weeks. 21 days folks, 22 tomorrow.

To heck with sugarplums, I've been dreaming of a hot shower. Can you blame me?

But instead we've been reduced to boiling water in the kettle, pouring it into a bucket and "washing" in the shower. I use the term washing loosely, as I haven't felt especially clean lately.

The good news is, this is France. And somehow I still smell better than 90% of the other people on my bus. I tolerate other people's stinkiness on a daily basis, consider this my contribution...or better yet, my revenge.

With the exception of picking up a warm baguette, everything else takes longer in these parts.

Unfortunately this applies to things breaking in the rental apartment, which sets off a long chain of tedious tasks:

1. Call rental agency x however many times it takes them to realize there really is a problem

2. Rental agency realizes you are not making this up

3. Rental agency calls repair service

4. Wait several days for the repair service to call you

5. Schedule an appointment

6. Wait at least a week for said appointment to roll around

7. Arrange your schedule to be home for the appointment

8. Repair service investigates the problem and sends an estimate to rental agency

9. Agency contacts owner to see if he will agree to the repair

10. Continue waiting, as the owner avoids phone calls from the agency

11. Agency finally gets the owner's agreement and alerts repair service

12. Schedule a follow-up appointment with the repair service to actually fix the problem

13. Wait at least another week for said appointment

14. Arrange your schedule to be home for the 2 p.m. repair

15. Revel in your tenacity and take a hot shower.

We're at step 14 and if I'm not basking in a hot shower when I get home from work tomorrow night, then I'll be channeling George Costanza and his infamous line, "serentity now"!

Here's to returning to America for Christmas, cheers!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Salon des arts du feu

A couple of weeks ago, Monsieur J and I spent a weekend at the farm -oh to get out of the city! Dominique suggested we head into Martres Tolosane on Sunday for the 10th annual sculpture, ceramics and glass-blowing craft fair.

We looked, but we didn't touch.

There were bowls, platters, mugs and tea cups, not to mention a hearty dose of creativity and fantaisie.

We even got to watch a demonstration on making ceramic rope coil urns, the ones that people like to put in their jardins around here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why French women don't get fat.

I wish I could say I've read the book, but I haven't.

I wonder if there's a chapter devoted to strikes, la grève?

Thanks to the strikes these past few weeks, I have a better understanding of why French women don't run around on treadmills like hamsters.

Of course they don't. It costs money; it's certainly not dignified; but more importantly, when the angry mobs take to the streets, everyday life becomes a workout.

Take this past week, for example. The bus depot was blocked 4/5 mornings this week -thank goodness I can walk! Starting off your day with a 2.5 mile speed walk to work, now that will wake you up. Carpe diem.

My early morning walks have also helped me develop other skills such as: dog poo night vision, avoiding panicky French motorists who pull onto the sidewalk when they spy a service station with gasoline (a rarity these days) at the last minute, and keeping my distance from rebel high schoolers pushing trashcans to add to their barricades.

I wish I were joking, but I can't make this up.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Are you ever going to blog again?

The answer is yes.

I've been quiet for a while, friends.

Probably because I believed it was too good to be true.

I have a job!

As a translator.

And guess what?

I love it!

I keep pinching myself, but after 3 weeks I think it just may be real.

You see, there's

an office
a desk
a full agenda
a boss
different projects every day
a work email address
a lunch break
gel pens and highlighters galore
a computer

I would take pictures of it all, but then my French colleagues would REALLY think the American's weird. I'm doing my best to break them in gently...

No longer a lady of leisure, I now spend my days translating, re-reading, editing, doing quality controls, contacting clients, bouncing ideas around -it's FANTASTIC.

But since I have a history of landing jobs that don't work out thanks to crazy French bureaucracy, I only thought it appropriate to wait until payday so as not to jinx the whole affair. It's real.

Happy weekend to all!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Muti-function combinative torch mosquito swatter.

This probably qualifies as the most bizarre, creative and entertaining wedding present that Monsieur J and I have received thus far.

Sent with love from friends in Italy, I think we're pretty lucky that French customs agents didn't intercept it. Careful inspection of the packaging yields no information regarding the company and only some rudimentary explanations concerning correct product usage, such as:


1. Grip the handle, press the switch button to initiate power on the nets and light up the red indication lamp. Be sure to keep pressing the switch button while hitting bugs.

2. Never shall we get any shock or danger when we touch (not squeeze) the outer nets, so we can flap mosquito stopping on our skin with this safe swatter directly withou* shocks.

3. Once the mosquito get in touch with the swatter net, it certainly will not be able to escalpe*, it may be either drawn into the innernet or fastened by static force to the outer net, but when any part of its body approach* the inner net, it will eventually get shocks and zapped immediately.

*all misspellings are represented here as seen on the packaging


There are also a few warnings, most notably the one that reads, "this swatter is not a toy for children." Indeed, this is not intended for children, but it's a heck of a lot of fun for adults!

We've been having cool nights here in Toulouse, which means our windows have been open. However, we live in the land-of-no-screens, where this means one thing: bugs.

Mosquitoes that buzz in your ear, flies that hover in the kitchen, gnats that flitter aimlessly around the livingroom, enough is enough!

Before we would rudimentarily hunt the offender, perhaps armed with a newspaper or just a bare hand. Now, Monsieur J and I delight in swatting bugs with our racquets. Successful zapping is hard to miss. There's the loud "crack!" and the sparks, sometimes deep blue ones.

Romantic, right?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shepherd dwellings.

Yesterday, Monsieur J and I set out for a hike in the Pyrénées. I'd picked this one out because of the orris -shepherds' dwellings used as early as the 1300s. Not only did we see the ruins, but cows and sheep galore -evidence that these mountain pastures are still alive and well.

We parked just above the lake at Soulcem and set out for the valley where we immediately saw not just one or two cabins, but several. A sign explained the complexity of the arrangements; the huts weren't used exclusively for shepherds, but for their flocks, milking, cheese production, etc...

We picnicked in the valley before climbing up to a little pond nestled in the mountains.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What do you miss?

What do you miss the most about home?

It's the question I invariably get when people in France learn I'm going home. And it's a good one, even if it's not so much the things I miss, but the people -especially my family.

Of course I miss things like readily available ice, corn on the cob, crabcakes and cold beer. But I really miss the people and the time we share.

baking cupcakes.

celebrating birthdays.

being silly.

enjoying vacation.

building sandcastles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baby sea turtles.

We had a great family beach trip -eleven people in one house!

One of the highlights was seeing three baby sea turtles emerge from the nest and make their way to sea. I'd seen a loggerhead lay her eggs when I was younger and I saw the lifecycle completed watching these little Kemp's Ridley (a rare find in NC) skibble into the Atlantic.

I went up the dune to check the nest around 9:30 that morning with my nieces Kate and Alice. We were about to turn around when I saw something that appeared to be moving in the sand. Under closer inspection, I realized it was a baby sea turtle!

The poor little guy was on his back, so I flipped him over while my mom called the phone number listed on the nest, aka Charlie the turtle man. There were about 8 of us watching as he crawled instictively toward the water -he knew exactly what to do!

By the time Charlie the turtle man arrived, our little friend had already made his way out to sea.

Charlie proceeded to dig up the rest of the nest, in case there were any stragglers. Judging from the tracks surrounding the nest, the other 102 turtles had hatched during the night.

He found two little turtles that were very sandy and slightly overwhelmed -by this point, around 25 people had gathered on the beach to watch their descent. But they made it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Name change fail.

My father in law always says that the worst any country has to offer can be found in its administrative offices. Truer words have never been spoken. After three years of dealing with French bureaucracy, I got a taste of America's today and here's the verdict: it's no better.

My parents had warned me not to go to the Social Security office in the city. Per usual, they were right. I did heed their advice to take a book, so I passed the time reading Water for Elephants, a very appropriate choice given my circus-like surroundings. I did my best to concentrate and only paused once to eavesdrop. I couldn't resist.

The couple sitting next to me were having a very heated discussion about the months of the year, or more specifically which comes first: July or August. He was convinced that July follows August, while she adamantly maintained that "it goes June, July, August -you's stupid!" This went on for quite a while.

I could have attempted to settle the dispute with my planner, but since I purchased it in France I can only imagine the chaos that juin, juillet, août might have caused when added to this equation. I shudder just to think...

There were also technical difficulties with the number system, so the clerks would call out "C202" in their wimpy little voices and then the security guard would bellow, "C202, C202, where's my C202?" The whole thing was like being at an auction sans items up for bid.

If no one responded, he would check outside to see if any of the smokers' held the ticket in question. And if he still hadn't found that ticket holder he would then proceed to knock impatiently on the bathroom door, shouting "C202 -you in there, C202? Hold on a sec' we got C202 here in the restroom!"

I wish I were making this up, but I'm not that creative.

Since my French marriage documents confused the heck out of everyone, even the supervisor and led to questions like, "why ain't this in English?" [Ummm, because they speak French in France.] I guess I'll have to try this dog and pony show again at Christmas, perhaps in Henrico County instead.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Adventures in Toulouse is paused for...

Adventures in America!

I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it is to be home, to see friends and family and revel in all things American. Crunching on corn on the cob, hugging instead of kissing, enjoying the miracle that is air conditioning -does a body good!

Though I don't plan on blogging while I'm home, I will be taking pictures to share with all of you at some point. But now it's time to pack the car in preparation for the family beach trip. We may not all be arriving in the wood paneled Oldsmobile station wagon like we used to, but then again maybe that's for the best...

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A splash of color.

In our neighborhood, heavy trash pickup is on Friday. This means that one man's junk can turn into another man's treasure on Thursday evening. Typically, what people deem garbage around here is exactly that, trash. But sometimes you get lucky.

So far I've scavenged a drying rack, an assortment of hanging baskets for the balcony and an end table. My mother in law told me that rummaging through the garbage like this is très américain. But I could tell she meant it as a compliment!

At any rate, the base of the table we found was in decent shape. The top had visible water damage, but Monsieur J was able to pry it off and replace it. What to do? Mosaic.

Armed with an assortment of plates from the flea market, some glue, cement and varnish, what was once a poor pathetic end table destined for the trash is now enjoying a new life in our living room. Pas mal!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

This just in.

You don't have to be Julia Child to be tempted by the idea of culinary school or maybe just a cooking class in France. The country is synonymous with gastronomie, wouldn't it be cool to take a cooking class on your next trip?

Unfortunately, the rates for these classes aren't always reasonable and of course space is limited. What's a girl to do? In Toulouse I've lucked out; l'Office offers fairly priced classes in proximity to the city center. I especially love the express midi option, where you cook for 45 minutes and enjoy your creation with classmates.

The 15 euro fee includes the lesson, main meal, dessert, coffee or tea and a 2 euro supplement will get you a glass of wine. For the price, you'd have a hard time paying for a restaurant meal of similar quality -and can you really put a price on savoir faire?

But when Americans come to France, they go to Paris and it's a well known fact that everything is more expensive in Paris. What if you could sign up to take a cooking class for FREE?

The city of Paris, in conjunction with the Fédération Française de Cuisine Amateur, have organized a series of free cooking classes on a rotating basis around the city's markets.

The schedule of classes for the remainder of 2010 is as follows:

– Marché Mouton-Duvernet – Paris 14ème : Friday September 17
– Marché Ordener – Paris 18ème : Saturday September 18
– Marché Monge – Paris 5ème : Sunday September 26
– Marché Anvers – Paris 9ème : Friday October 1
– Marché Maison Blanche – Paris 13ème : Sunday October 3
– Marché Point du Jour – Paris 16ème : Thursday October 7
– Marché Villette – Paris 19ème : Saturday October 16

All you have to do is pick a market and register for the class online on the FFCA website. Since there aren't any classes going on at the moment (read: it's vacation) there are currently no prompts to register for classes. However, this should change as September approaches.

All classes start at 10 a.m. and a different neighborhood chef is designated to teach each one. The chef will help you select the best produce from the market and prepare the meal. At the end of the class, everyone gets a chance to taste the fruits of their labor. What's not to like?

Planning a trip to Paris this fall? Looking to branch out and try something new? Not willing to break the bank to learn how to cook? This could be a fun option. Even if your French is médiocre, you can probably get by.

Pay close attention to what everyone else is doing, especially the chef. Look for cognates: carrottes, concombre, tomate -as one of my favorite professors used to say in her thick Parisian accent, "French eeez eazy!" Most importantly, don't forget to smile. You never know who might take pity on you and offer to speak a little English...

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Lately, the blogosphere has been abuzz with kouign amann, the famous breton butter cake. I can understand the excitement. It's sweet, salty, caramalized goodness in layers that are almost impossible to recreate at home. Brittany produces hardly any cheese to speak of, but they are master butter makers, which gives you all the more reason to indulge. Let's face it, Cookie Monster and common sense deem this dessert a "sometimes" food.

Kouignettes, are essentially little baby kouign amann that make perfect individual servings -they almost look like roses. I love the concept behind these little treats, but don't be fooled by all of the different flavors on display. Stick to plain or caramel, no need for extras like rasperries, chocolate or pistachios.

After admiring paintings by Sérusier and Gauguin at the museum in Pont Aven (don't miss it!), we walked around the quaint village and couldn't help but duck into some of the more tempting pastry shops. La maison Larnicol was the perfect stop for kouignettes. We also couldn't resist Pont Aven's chocolate shop for millefeuille and lots of drooling over the cases of petits gâteaux.

How we managed to resist all of this, I have yet to fully understand. And in case you were wondering, that's a lime tart with vanilla bean on the right. Why didn't I taste you?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Goodbye Toulouse, Hello Brittany.

The temperature was 100+ when I left Toulouse last week. We're talking HOT, so hot that most of what I packed in my suitcase (skirts and t-shirts) wasn't even weather appropriate for my destination: Brittany. In ten days we covered Moëlan-sur-Mer, Rennes and Saint-Malo with many day trips in between.

Though just a quick trip from Toulouse by plane, I might as well have been in another country. And don't tell the French this, but parts of Brittany feel a little bit like England. I gladly traded red tile and stucco for gray slate and granite, faded pastels for vibrant blues and greens, occitan for breton, cacti and succulents for thriving hydrangeas.

Cool mornings, intermittent sun and drizzly afternoons, fresh seafood, regular naps, reading, lots of walking, bike riding, boats, museum visits, lighthouses, apéritifs on the patio and just general relaxation. Oddly enough my bathing suit remained in the suitcase. Watching other people swim in the 62 degree water was enough for me!

Over the next few weeks, I'll continue to post about Brittany. There are buttery pastries to describe, a memorable Bastille Day celebration to recount and lots of pictures to share. Enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Where is Darwin?

I think I might be evolving. Though I have yet to grow a beak or sprout gills, something has changed. You see, strange things happen to me on a regular basis here in France, much of it borders on the absurd. Nothing in America could have prepared me for this. But that's just the way it is.

When I find myself in these types of situations, I can never seem to think of the right thing to say en français. I wouldn't want to upset anyone and I've found that it's easier to just carry on about my business. The brilliant retort I could've used always comes to mind long after the episode is over.

But this week was different. Not only did I come up with something to say, it a. worked and b. came out of my mouth all by itself. Had I stopped to reflect, I never would have said what I did. I can only conclude that I must be adapting to my surroundings.

You see, I found myself at Carrefour to pick up a few things: chickpeas, radishes, lemon, shampoo -nothing too exciting or expensive. Since I knew that I wasn't doing a major grocery run I left the house with my reusable Ukrops bag and a 10 euro bill. I couldn't think of anything else I'd need.

After waiting my turn in the check-out line, the cashier scanned my items and announced the total: €7.88. Like any normal human in the midst of a monetary transaction, I extended the 10 euro bill to pay for my purchases. This is where the story takes a turn towards bizarre-o-land.

The cashier froze, looked at me like I was holding a smelly sneaker and told me, "but I don't have any change." Now you see, normal American me would have been shocked and bug-eyed. You can't really expect me to believe that a store the size of Target operates without any change, can you? Certainly there is €2.12 lurking around here somewhere, even if it's not in your cash register.

However, my newly evolved getting-used-to-France self, hardly reacted at all. Some part of me must have known that snapping, fussing or even just pointing out the sheer ridiculousness of the situation wouldn't get me anywhere. Instead, a voice I didn't even recognize took over. I may have flipped my hair in disinterest as I casually informed her, ce n'est pas mon problème.

Not exactly polite, but boy oh boy was it effective. This one little gem of a sentence got me everything I needed. Without hesitating, she opened a few rolls of coins and handed me my change. Really?

Of course I told Monsieur J about the newly assertive pseudo-French me that evening. He was both proud and incensed and can't wait for me to show him which cashier it was so he can try paying for a pack of gum with a fifty euro bill.

And another piece of the puzzle falls into place...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pic Cagire.

Last weekend, Monsieur J and I set out for the Pyrénées. After an hour and a half, we arrived at the parking lot for the hike we'd planned to go on: pic Cagire. The information we'd found on the internet warned that the hike was steep, but well worth it for the beautiful views.

I can now confirm that this is an accurate description, though we added a detour.

Unfortunately, we got a little confused by the signage and turned left. This path seemed to wind around the mountain rather than climb up it, ooops. We were a little disappointed but still had lovely views to enjoy and lots of wildlife to take in.

It wasn't until about 2 hours later that we ran into a race. We asked the organizers how to get to the top of the peak and they recommended we turn right and follow the "runners." They weren't actually running, but were muscly creatures moving at quite a clip as they had to pace themselves for the 48 kilometer trek covering three peaks that they had signed up for.

We followed them until we arrived at a refuge, a set of two cabins intended for shepherds and hikers. The runners may have continued on past this checkpoint, but we stopped for sandwiches, cherries and a much needed break.

We asked the man recording the runners' times at the checkpoint how to get from the refuge back to the parking lot. He was curious to know how we'd gotten this far. When we explained the path we'd taken he stared at us in disbelief and bellowing of laughter said, "you turned left out of the parking lot? Do you realize that you added an extra 9 kilometers to your hike?"

He kindly explained that if we continued to follow the runners up to the peak and then down the mountain we would eventually reach the parking lot. Whew. What he failed to mention is that you need to be part mountain goat to reach the top.

The difference in elevation between the parking lot and the summit is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3280 feet; there was still snow on the ground. Translation: this probably wasn't the best idea for our first hike of the season, but I don't regret it.

My legs may have been sore several days afterwards but it's pretty hard to beat a beautiful hike in the mountains.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Getting ambitious on the balcony.

The balcony is like the rest of our apartment, which is to say it's petit.

You see, Monsieur J and I share a whopping 350 square feet of living space. Somehow it doesn't bother us. The good news is that barring a move to Hong Kong, Moscow, Paris or New York, we probably won't have to live anywhere smaller ever again. There's always a bright side!

What started as a small collection of plants on the balcony has morphed into some serious urban gardening over here on rue des fontaines. In addition to a thriving collection of cacti and succulents, we have a banana tree, an olive tree, a yucca, a lime tree, a grape vine, rosemary, basil and an overflowing pot of mint.

I'm here to confirm that we are officially reaching max capacity.

However, you may also remember a mention of tomato plants...

I think I told myself that cherry tomatoes would be smaller than regular tomatoes. Yes, this is true for the fruit, but not so much for the plants. They have gone from 6 inches to over 3 feet in three weeks. Fuzzy stems and yellow flowers are sprouting every which way, making it a real challenge to even access the other plants enough to water them. It's turning into a real jungle!

I'm hoping our harvest of delicious little cherry tomatoes will make this slightly crazy endeavor worth the effort. In the meantime, I love opening the door every morning to check and see what may have changed overnight. You'd be surprised at what can happen in the span of a few hours.

Today the banana tree presented a tightly coiled new leaf marked by a single drop of dew. A cactus that weathered an entire winter outside has recently revived itself and is now in bloom. Haricot vert is forever gravitating towards the sun; he just can't get enough.

Has anyone ever seen a plant like this before? We bought it at the market two years ago and I've never seen anything remotely similar since. We just call him green bean!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Potage aux fanes de radis.

Has anyone here ever heard of radish leaf soup? I put the title in French because it just sounds so much more appetizing to whisper, potage aux fanes de radis. Mmmm. Monsieur J's mom has been telling us how good this soup is for a while now. I finally motivated to make it yesterday.

I think that final dose of Préfecture rejection is what pushed me to seek solace in soup. I typically reconcile myself with France's ridiculous bureaucracy via my stomach; it's the best way I've found to negotiate the rocky path to forgiveness. A warm baguette can heal most wounds.

I wanted something simple, soothing and inexpensive. Being reminded of the fact that you won't be working for at least another month doesn't exactly inspire extravagance. With radishes coming in at 75 cents a bunch, radish leaf soup fit the bill.

Full disclosure: I was never a huge fan of the radish when I lived in the States. They always looked so sad and forlorn sitting virtually untouched on the salad bar. In France I go crazy for radishes, from the little skinny red ones to the big scary looking black ones. It also helps that the French tend to eat their radishes with plenty of bread and salted butter. Who wouldn't like that?

I didn't know you could eat the leaves, but you can. And for two apartment dwellers with no way to compost, I finally felt like I was doing my part by not throwing these leafy greens in the trash.

The soup is simple: 1 shallot, 4 small potatoes, 1 bunch well-rinsed radish leaves, juice of 1 lemon, water, salt and pepper to taste.

We topped the soup with fresh mint from the balcony and crème fraîche. Spring in a bowl.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Their mistake, my life.

Monsieur J and I came back from a lovely weekend in Royan on Saturday afternoon. But the weekend really proved to be a good one when he returned from the mailbox with a very important letter: a convocation from the Préfecture to pick up my new carte de séjour. It's finally ready!

Monday morning I scurried down to the Préfecture bright and early. I waited outside with the masses until the doors opened at 9:00. Nothing could have prepared me for the pushing and shoving that ensued. The hoardes had managed to break the ticket machine within 3 minutes.

This should have been an omen. I should have done an about face and returned home, tempting my chances another day. Instead I waited in the amoeba like blob of a non-line for almost 3 hours. Periodically the woman behind the glass window would emerge to distribute tickets by hand, risking life and limb while everyone fought to be "first". Incivility is an understatement.

The only ray of sunshine was that there was another American who I'd met back in August before my paperwork woes had been discovered. We had a good time commiserating and watching the international circus unfold before our very eyes. She confided that she no longer puts on makeup when she comes here because she inevitably ends up in tears. What is it with this place?

When it was my turn, I approached the counter nervously, my heart racing. I made sure to use my nicest Bonjour, Madame and hoped for the best. I delicately slid the letter I'd received, my passport, the expired carte de séjour and the still valid récépissé de demande de carte de séjour under the window. Within a few minutes she returned my passport, retained the letter and all other expired paperwork and had me sign to receive the new carte de séjour, the treasured green card equivalent.

Incredulous that this was finally happening after 10 months of seemingly endless waiting, I simply slipped the card in my pocket with the intention of exiting this hell hole as soon as humanly possible. However, an idea popped into my head: maybe you should check the card before you leave?

Check it I did, and to my dismay it was the wrong card, a mere duplicate of the same one I had before bearing no indication that I had married a French citizen. I think this is when I started visibly shaking. The other American, sensing my distress came over and started rubbing my back. True solidarity.

I returned to the counter and explained my dilemna to the employee. She took it upon herself to look up my file on her computer and actually admitted that her colleague had made a mistake, which is highly unusual. The French are almost always convinced that they're right, even when they're wrong; to do otherwise would be to admit defeat.

She explained that a new card would have to be made. Logically my next question was, "how long do you expect that to take"? One month. REALLY!?! Their administrative mistake, my time. Go figure.

Monsieur J came home for lunch to console me and devise a plan of attack. It's time to get to the bottom of this, even if it means lighting a fire under somebody's fanny.

His parents were livid and have since been an immense help in our letter writing campaign. His sister listened while I recounted my disastrous morning via skype. My family continues to be supportive as always. We are immensely thankful for family and friends.

Yesterday afternoon I channeled the spirit of a lawyer as I sat down to write a well-argued letter in my most perfect French to, get this, the ministre de l’immigration, de l’intégration, de l’identité nationale et du développement solidaire. Is that really all one title? For one person?

With the help of some of my favorite native speakers my work of art was ready to mail by mid-day; it will be interesting to see what, if anything, this yields.

In spite of the absurdity of it all, I enjoyed getting to use expressions like disfonctionnement, manque de professionalisme and conséquences désastreuses. And while it did pain me ever so slightly to edit out the phrase incompétence flagrante, it was probably for the best.