Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bon Voyage

Little did I know when I created this blog that the title would lend itself so well to travel-related puns. As many of you remember, it became "Viva Los Becky" when I was staying in Los Angeles for my internship at Les Figues last summer; naturally, it must become "Vive La Becky!" for my travels in France this summer. It's only fitting.

I'm leaving bright and early tomorrow morning. I have a 5-hour flight to Montreal, a brief layover, and then an 8-hour flight to Paris, where I'll arrive at about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 2nd. That's a lot of plane time, so I bought myself a travel pillow. I've never owned a travel pillow before, but I've decided that I deserve a travel pillow. Maybe I'll actually sleep on the plane for once.

I'm all packed up (except for my computer). I'm just lugging one big suitcase and my backpack, which is mostly empty so whatever I buy in France can go there when I return. Hopefully beaucoup de livres (many books). I'm a little afraid I may have overdone it on clothes, but this is France we're talking about. And for two months! I don't feel too guilty about not traveling light.

I return to Vegas on July 28th, but I can assure you that there will be several blog posts along the way.

Au revoir, mes amis! Vous me manquez déjà. (I think that's how you say "I miss you all already.")

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Countries Shouldn't Matter on the Internet

As part of my ongoing attempt to better speak the French language, I recently decided to download some French books to my Kindle. The Kindle store does have a fairly wide selection of French language works--97,979 books, to be precise. Of course, only 30,259 of those are categorized as "Literature & Fiction," and genre works fare even worse; "Fantasy, Horror, & Science Fiction" altogether total 3,835 books. Naturally, I started with the "Literature & Fiction" section. Much to my dismay, the books offered by Amazon were all either quite old--hardly anything newer than Camus--or they were French translations of popular English works. Catherine, the French student with whom I'm working on my translation project, had recommended several French books to me, but none of them were available for Kindle. Some were available in print, but for a much higher price than I would normally pay for a book.

I wasn't discouraged yet, though. I'm a clever person, so I tried to circumvent the problem by heading over to Surely I'd be able to find all the French e-books I could ever want on French Amazon. And I was right. French Amazon has a significantly larger selection of French books for Kindle. I found one of the works my friend had recommended, and clicked the button to purchase it--only to receive a message that French Kindle books are not compatible with American Kindle devices. 

Why do companies do this? Surely it has something to do with licensing, but it doesn't make any sense. Before the Internet existed, I can understand how contracts for import and export of various products may have been limited by national borders. But now that we have so many digital products, it seems absurd that an American bookworm can't purchase a French bestseller. It's not only books; I've encountered the same problem with digital music. Back when I was still using iTunes (my heart now belongs to Spotify), I remember being frustrated by the fact that iTunes UK had a greater selection of Franz Ferdinand songs than iTunes U.S., and that I was unable to purchase iTunes UK songs with my account. Perhaps that's not the case any more, but as of a few years ago it was true. 

Online streaming is also affected in this way. I know that when I head to France this summer, my Netflix account may not work due to the lack of an American IP address. I certainly don't plan to while away my precious few weeks in France watching movies, but it's irritating that I can't use a service I paid for simply because I flew across the Atlantic. I know I can use a proxy site to trick Netflix into thinking I'm in the U.S., but why should I have to? If it's a digital product, it should be available to anyone with Internet access, anywhere in the world. 

Am I missing something? Does anyone know why companies are so reluctant to change this? It must damage their profits somehow, but you would think that global access to their products would only increase their profits. If I had to take a guess, it's just another example of old people being terrible at dealing with a swiftly changing society. I dislike having to deal with old people's irrational decisions and mistakes. 

Go retire, old people. Give us your high-paying jobs. 


Millennials everywhere

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

That's What I Want

There was a beautiful surprise in my bank account today: the funding for my summer travels from BMI and the Office of International Programs. The best things in life are free...

France is coming up so soon! I'm trying to take care of all the smaller details now that I'm on summer vacation. How do I get my phone to work over there? How do I get the keys to my apartment? How do I download and read French books when my Kindle's broken? (Answer: iPad.) I'm so excited to see Catherine from high school and meet Catherine from France, the student with whom I'm working on my translation project.

I'm writing a story for that project right now, but it's coming along slowly. I've been spending a decent amount of time writing, but I'm not producing as much as I would like in that amount of time. It may be because writing got put on the back-burner while I was finishing everything up at the end of the semester, so I'm still getting back into the swing of it. We shall see.

My stomach has been giving me trouble all semester, and it got worse again the other week. I'm pretty sure it's just gastritis that refuses to heal. But it needs to heal, because I need to eat all the food in France. This is very important. I went back to the Student Health Center, and this time they gave me a liquid medicine called carafate, which coats your stomach and stops the food from bothering it as much. When you were little and you got sick, did the doctor ever prescribe you amoxicillin that was pink and bubble-gum flavored? I always loved it when the doctor made me take that. Turns out that carafate is also pink and bubble-gum flavored! I haven't been this psyched to take medicine in years. I hope it works.

Today I climbed 11 routes at the gym in less than two hours (7 in the first hour) because I basically have superpowers. I hope there's a climbing gym or wall in Toulouse, actually; two months without climbing is going to feel terrible when I get back. WordReference informs me that the French phrase for rock climbing is "faire de l'escalade." And climbing wall is "mur d'escalade." J'ai besoin d'un mur d'escalade.

Everything sounds better in French.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Warning: the following picture is not for the faint of heart. If you dislike blood and/or have a fear of dentistry, you may want to skip this post.

I got one of my wisdom teeth pulled this morning! I only had three to begin with, for I am highly evolved, much like the X-Men. I'm going to the UNLV Dental School, and they could only pull the slightly-emerged one today, as they need a certified oral surgeon available to supervise the removal of the other two. I was awake the whole time with just local anesthesia, and thankfully it went much more quickly than I expected. They think the tooth is purple because I took tetracycline as a teenager to treat acne, and tetracycline can stain teeth that haven't yet grown in.

They wouldn't let me keep my tooth. I considered swiping it while they were writing me a prescription, but I didn't have the guts.

Speaking of the prescription, this is my first time on prescription painkillers, and I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed. I don't feel loopy at all--just a little tired. Ultimately this is a good thing, as I have to give my students their final exam in a few hours. I suppose it wouldn't do if I stumbled in and shouted, "A's for everybody!"

I wish it would help with the pain a bit more, though. The medicine certainly takes the edge off, but my jaw still aches pretty badly. Sleeping tonight may not go well. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Epitome of Cool

That's what I'm trying to be during this, the final stretch of the semester. Too much of everything, not enough time for anything, but that's okay--I'm the real deal, the true champion. I am Peggy F***ing Olson.

Sunday's episode of Mad Men was downright glorious.

Leta visited me over the weekend! We mostly just hugged each other and high-fived and had escalating arguments about who loves the other one more. That's what best friends are for, right?

Today I went to the dentist for the first time since 2011. The good news: I've done a great job caring for my teeth! The bad news: excellent dental hygiene doesn't prevent wisdom teeth from being obnoxious. I have to get my bottom right one removed sooner rather than later, apparently. And of course, I don't have dental insurance! However, the UNLV Dental School will yank it out for a very reasonable price--assuming I'm okay with only local anesthesia. I'll be awake the whole time. Sounds like I'll have the source material for a gripping horror story in the not-too-distant future.

I'm working on my critical essay at the moment; it's technically the last academic paper I'll ever have to write, unless I decide to get a PhD someday. (I'm certainly not in the mood for a PhD anytime soon.) The critical essay component of the program is not tied to any class, which means I can write about whatever I damn well please. My subject: patriarchy and heteronormativity in The Marvelous Land of Oz. That's right. You think Glinda the good witch is a feminist? I think otherwise. You think the fact that Princess Ozma and the the boy Tip are one and the same supports gender fluidity? Think again.

I got to reference Pretty Pretty Princess in an academic paper. Grad school is the best.

And on that note, I should stop procrastinating and actually finish the essay. Wish me luck.