Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Written 13 October 2009 at 9:51 p.m. Montpellier Time

I had the best morning most men could ask for. Yesterday, I subscribed to a program through NFL.com that allows me to view any game live and in high definition. I just can't live without football on Sundays. This morning, I awoke at 5 a.m. as usual to make breakfast and prepare for a small test coming up in my first class of the day. I have grown to love early mornings, but this was no ordinary morning, at least it wasn't today. I had awoken early enough to catch the final quarter of the Monday night game. I can't think of a better way to start out the day than live football, coffee, and a large bowl of fresh fruit. I was in heaven. It was a great preview of the type of access I will have each and every Sunday. Football is back!!

I strolled into my afternoon class today as usual, tired and ready to get as far away from my aesthetically challenged university as quickly as possible. Standing outside of the classroom, I talked with friends, telling them my stories of my voyage home. Patiently listening to each and every detail from my trip, my fellow pupils had news for me. During my absence, they had elected me as one of two representatives for our group.  I immediately looked for the balloons and the streamers, the band to burst out of the phonetics classroom and serenade my triumph with the Marseillaise or university fight song (if one exists). I would be disappointed, no balloons, no band, no celebration. Instead, the conversation drifted to the obligations and responsibilities of the office I was about to swear an oath to. In broken french and a little english, we patched together the duties I would be expected to fulfill. Similar to a labor union representative (on an extremely, extremely small scale), I take grievances and complaints from my constituents and report them to program directors. I am the middle man, the guy who runs between those that run the system and those that are run by the system. I still don't have a good picture of what I am expected to do but, whatever it is, I hope to satisfy those I serve. The campaign was hard fought, a lot of mud-slinging and muck-raking. I drew from my domestic situation and bribery to secure my election. We have a large asian majority in our group. I live with two asian students. Running up to the campaign, I studied my roommates' moods, memorized what made them happy and what disgruntled them. I took what I learned to the classroom, trying to place myself in cordial friendship with the majority. When the ice wouldn't break, I resorted to a warm baguette or croissant in the morning and a thirst-quenching boisson froid in the afternoons when the wears and tears of a long, hot day at school begin to show. Obviously, as my victory shows, I must have crafted quite the relationship with my asian friends. In the case of uncertainty, I thought I could use my size as an intimidation factor. On average, my asian friends barely measure up to my chest. I thought a scowl and flex on election day would secure any dissenters from my camp. I didn't even have to go that far, the impact I made was so compelling I didn't even need to be present to get voted into office. In truth, there was no campaign, no machinations or strategies to get elected. I had forgotten about the elections until I found out I had been chosen. I find the other story much more entertaining though, I might have to stick with it. 

Upon my return, I found my removed introspection had rededicated myself to experiencing everything I can in France. I am starting from the bottom, the seemingly meaningless activities that are special because I do them here. I have had several similar experiences so far. I find them so compelling and new at the time, then realize I can do the same thing in a similar fashion, yet much less satisfactory way in Kentucky. The cafe seems to be the best example of this experience. I start small this weekend, at a place I have been several times but failed to experience fully. I promised myself that I would swim in the Mediterranean this weekend. From there, a hiking trip to the Cevennes, hopefully, reaching the summit of the mountain, is next on the agenda. I want to test myself, see what I can do both physically and mentally. I will start with a swim and a french novel and continue to progress from there. 

Rep. Patrick H. Mcdonald

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your hard-fought election! I couldn't be more proud, but hope you'll step down from office if your arduous duties start to hurt your school work or damage your health. :)