A new life

The thing about not blogging for a long time is that it becomes harder and harder to come back to your blog after a while, because there are so many things you want to say and you have no idea which one to say first. So as the saying goes, I’m just going to spit everything out on the carpet and let you sort it out. Ready?

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The Marseilles high school I now teach in is situated in an old building with no corridors, where every classroom opens directly on the playground. It is right next to the bus station, which is pleasant enough, because I already have an hour-long bus ride to get there. It also means we have to keep the windows closed in class because the noise soon becomes unbearable, which, in turns, means a few minutes of negociation with the students approximately every day. For reasons I can’t quite figure out, many students prefer to keep their coats in class and leave all the windows open, energy savings be damned. Go figure.

I’m not a novice teacher, but so far this job is the most intense I’ve had. Most of the students are really nice people, but they are not exactly the most organised I’ve had, either. When you try to break up an argument between two students in the middle of the class about one of them alledgedly tossing the other one’s pen on the ground on purpose, only to turn around and see that another student is doubled up in pain in a corner because he’s got up without your authorisation and managed to smash a sensitive part of his anatomy on a table corner in the process, you discover a whole new set of directions life can take you in. I’m glad I’ve ended up there. Exhausted, but lucky.

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There has been a Halloween party in my appartment building. I’ve finally decided I’m not that fond of Halloween. There’s an element of false conviviality that bothers me. We got a note pasted on the front door, saying ‘Remember to buy sweets for Halloween!’ without so much as a please or smiley face. If we chose to give out sweets, we’d have to buy individually wrapped ones so that parents won’t have to worry we’re evil child poisoners; we’d see the thildren for all of thirty seconds; and then if we were lucky, they’d forget about us instead of forming an opinion of us on the basis of whether we’ve been generous or stingy. I’ll pass, thanks. I’d love to have a celebration where we get to do something for the children in the neighbourhood, like a giant collective birthday party or something, but giving out industrial crap while parents will worry I might just be a danger to their children is not my idea of fun. There must be some much more interesting celebrations to import from abroad.

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And then there were the attacks.

My students were terrified. I don’t know if they still are. Being right next to a major train and bus station logically means that we’re next to the sort of place that could be targetted. I’m not scared, personally, and even if I felt a little uncomfortable when I learned that Daesh was demanding of their French followers that they withdraw their children from schools and murder the teachers, it didn’t last. First, the fact is that there have been as many aborted attacks as successful ones, and even the ones that were carried out were far less lethal than they could have been given the circumstances. Second, it’s no use being scared, I’m going to work anyway. I’m not leaving my students alone with maniacs.

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Winter is coming for good. There has been frost in the grass and everything. I had not waited to gather the olives from my dad’s garden, as I thought that it wouldn’t freeze until January anyway (apparently, olives are betst gathered after the first frost), but I might have after all. Today we gathered olives in my mum’s garden, to take to the mill and make oil. We don’t have that much practice gathering olives, so we spent a lot of time figuring out how to climb up into the tree, the best way to shake the branches to make the olives fall, and how not to step on the cat in the process (he was incredibly excited with the whole operation, and ended up playing with the fallen olives and mewing happily). I wonder what the oil will taste like…

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It occured to me lately that one implication of the theory of parallel universes branching everytime a situation can have several possible outcomes is that in the end, we can’t die.

Our consciousness is one. If we hit a situation where we might very well die by accident and just as well survive, our consciousness will be erased in one universe and survive in the other. The universe where we die stops existing for us, but we still live on in the other ones. Consequently, by definition, we only exist in the universes where nothing fatal happened to us. Consequently, we will go on, forever, or at least until whatever limit nature has set past which human life cannot continue. By this theory, we should all live past one hundred and twenty or so. Other people may die around us. We, however, will live on in whichever universes we got the luckiest.

I’m just playing with thoughts, of course. I don’t actually believe this. At least I think I don’t, or I wouldn’t have much of a survival instinct left. Now I’ve thought of it, however, I still have to decide whether that’s incredibly optimistic or heart-breakingly tragic.

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What I do know is this: getting up at six every morning and getting on the bus at half past six is not fun at all, but at half past six in the morning, for a few weeks, Venus, Mars and Jupiter waited there together with the moon, almost perfectly aligned in the East, to give the early risers some courage. And that was beautiful.

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