Monthly Slice: April

A slice of April…

Sometimes, writing these little monthly reviews makes me feel like the most boring person on earth. Remember when I used to traipse around Europe and eat cake? These days, it’s mostly just me reading about machine translation and taking photos of my cat. Does the internet really need more photos of cats?

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Little Snippets: Whole 30 + Back to School

Hi there! It’s February and GUESS WHAT? I’m doing my first Whole 30 this month. If you haven’t heard of Whole 30, you can read more about it here. Basically, it’s a month-long dietary cleanse where you eliminate sugar, grains, dairy, soy, and lots of other stuff from your diet. After the 30 days are up, you carefully reintroduce these foods to understand how each one affects your body.

I was planning to eliminate gluten and dairy for a month anyway to see if it would help my painful hand eczema, and when I read Anne’s account of her Whole 30, I decided to try it too.

February seemed like a good month to do a Whole 30 cleanse since there are only 28 days. (Kidding – I started on January 31 and plan to end on March 1.)

I’ll let you know how it went at the end of the month (I’m on day 9, so far so good.) I started a new Instagram account to micro-blog the experience – I post about my #Whole30Struggles, what I’m eating and what I WISH I were eating, haha. You can follow along @wherearemycarbs.

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2016 Changed Everything (But That’s All)

I don’t have to tell you what kind of a year the world had in 2016. Honestly, I feel a little silly writing about my year – so much more important stuff happened that it’s like, who cares what I did in 2016?

Basically, my entire life changed in 2016, but other than that, nothing major to report.

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Coucou! It’s summer!

Coucou! What’s up? I’m back in Lyon, chillin’. I loved Italy but it was nice to come home. I wish I had eaten more pasta.

I’ve had to go into work a few times (“work” at this point consists of watching students take exams. Exciting stuff!) but other than that, this is basically summer vacation. I’m not ready for it. The constant scramble of the school year has been replaced with an abyss of time, and I think that most people will tell you that an abyss of time is not all it’s cracked up to be.

It sounds nice, and you make a lot of lists, but it’s hard to get much done, and that pushes you into an American-style guilt trip on productivity, even though there’s not really anything you’re supposed to be doing. So it’s more of a general guilt trip since you haven’t failed on any specific counts, except maybe vacuuming.

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2016, so far

2016 is a big year of change. I’m feeling excited and anxious about the big move to California, and sad to leave Lyon and see most of my expat friends scatter all over the world as we all move on to the next chapters of our lives.

Recently, Hugo and I got a little taste of California life – one of my oldest, dearest friends got married this May and we flew to California for the occasion. She had a beautiful outdoor country wedding that belongs on Pinterest – vintage family dress, DIY centerpieces and bouquets, maid-of-honor hairdresser (that was me! So much pressure!) Her husband is an awesome dude. He cooked all the food. For 150 people. I repeat, he cooked all the food for his own wedding. And made the cake. (He is a good cook!)

So we spent a lot of time out in the countryside – way out in the countryside. I kept an eye out for rattlesnakes, like the paranoid city girl I am. (Did you know they coil up like that to spring at you?! And that they can spring really far?!) We also hung out with my parents, did some shopping, and toured some nearby town like Pacific Grove and San Juan Bautista. We made a trip up to San Francisco, where we wandered around gaping at the gorgeous Victorian houses. It was a speedy trip but I tried to throw in some fun new places that Hugo hadn’t been before (you know, like Target).

Other fun vacation stuff: my mother taught him the words “curmudgeon” and “kerfuffle.” (You can see where I get my love for funny words.)

And now we’re back in France and I’m planning my travel for this summer! (Trip to Rome, Florence, and Bologna in the works, and Lisbon a bit later. And I’d like to squeeze in some shorter trips if I can swing it. Major European travel FOMO here. Suggestions welcome!)

Classes are out, exams are graded, and there’s still a bit more work to be done but it’s quasi-vacation in that I don’t have to go to work every day or plan lessons or grade exams. Which is weird, because this semester (the whole school year, really) was so busy and intense. I kept trying to enjoy my last days of teaching, but I was constantly stressed from being in the hamster wheel. But I had some lovely students this year, and I certainly learned a lot. (I hope that having been a teacher will make me a better student. When I was in undergrad I was very passive and afraid to participate or ask questions, and I would have learned so much more if I had been more active in class. And from my perspective as a teacher, class is so much more interesting when students ask questions.)

Before the wedding, I squeezed in a trip to Paris to see another close friend, aka my partner in crime. We strolled the Marais and Place des Vosges, walked the Coulée Verte, and climbed the fence of the Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railroad that circles the city (but that’s another story). I also got to see a dress rehearsal of Der Rosenkavalier at the Opera Bastille, which was so cool! I loved getting to see behind the scenes, and I remembered how much I love Strauss.

(Speaking of music, I must take the time to tell you about Arts Alliance soon – they’re an awesome organization that makes London opera, dance, music, theater, and art available all around the world. They are killing it on their YouTube channel.)

I don’t write about Paris much since everyone else already has, but I may round up some of my Paris favorites at some point since I do love exploring the city. Anything you want to know? I’ll be back in Paris before the summer’s out, so if there’s anything cool you think I should check out (or eat) while I’m there, let me know!

Going to Paris really kicked off a new season for me – I was mostly chained to work for the first four months of the year and I didn’t travel at all. There is always more work to be done, whether it’s prepping lessons or writing exams or grading them, so taking a weekend trip would be more stressful than anything. Thank goodness for the supportive group of lectrices at work!

I didn’t even leave Lyon during the week-long vacation in February – Hugo’s sister was expecting her second baby and I wanted to be here when he (as it turned out) arrived. It was so worth it to be here for that important day. Hugo and I got to tell her two-year-old that he was a big brother, since the baby came during the night. I’m really going to miss getting to see those little guys and their cousins grow up while we’re in California. It’s one of the hardest things about leaving, because unlike everything else, they will change so fast, and we’ll never get that time back. Will they even remember us? (I’m an only child, so no nieces and nephews on my side.)

I don’t believe that fear of change is a reason to avoid it. I’m not afraid of something new and unknown, but I’m a little heartbroken that I have to let go of so much in order to move forward in my life. I wish I could have it both ways, but as they say in French, you can’t have the butter and the money for the butter (which makes more sense than “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” because you don’t exactly part with the cake when you eat it, whereas you must part with your money to buy butter. Unless you are a butter thief, I suppose. Butter thief, teach me your ways!)

I’m terribly sad to be uprooted from the life I’ve built in Lyon, but I am looking forward to building new roots in a new chapter of life. I’ll let you know how it goes.

All I know is that 2016 has been hurtling along at an alarming pace, and I don’t anticipate that it will slow down any time soon. All aboard the TGV of life!

 

 

 

 

La rentrée, 2015

It’s September, which is la rentrée around here – back to work, back to school time. I’m torn between being excited about a new season and a new school year (geek alert) and feeling bummed about the end of vacation. (Actually, it’s more like a “I didn’t get nearly enough stuff done this summer” kind of panic.)

I had a great time in Spain and the north of France but I’m happy to be home in Lyon in our apartment. I love to travel but coming home is such a nice feeling. I sometimes say that if I were single I would give up my apartment for the summer and travel (for some reason I usually envision myself taking the train all around Italy) but I don’t know if I would enjoy that for weeks on end in reality. Maybe if my accommodations were a little more luxe!

So I’m home, simultaneously trying to do my translations and class prep, figure out health insurance (anyone have advice on mutuelles?), corral my bazillions of Spain photos into a blog post, and keep house. (It’s a good thing I have a job to go back to, because I am a terrible housewife. I couldn’t get the oven lit today and I got so frustrated I kicked it. #fail)

This year I’m teaching double the hours I taught last year, but I also have a lot I want to blog about. Spain, Bourgogne, and Lyon are all on the list. I’d also like to create a few posts about FAQ topics like working in France and visiting Paris, because every time I respond to individual questions I write a novel! (I struggle with brevity. You may have noticed.)

I’m also apprehensively thinking forward to next year. I have no idea what is to come or which country I’ll be in. PACSing, green carding, and graduate school are all on the table. I wish I could keep being a lectrice a little longer, but I suppose it’s good to be forced to move forward, instead of cowering in a comfortable, familiar place. If you’ve blogged about life after teaching English, please feel free to put a link in the comments!

In conclusion, something appropriate for new beginnings…

La Vie En C Rose
“Think of yesterday without regret and tomorrow without fear.”

…and an adorable photo of Tigrou rocking out in the car.

TIgrou, La Vie En C Rose
Tigrou listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Happy rentrée! I hope your September is off to a great start.

When life gets in the way

Oh my poor sad abandoned blog! I’m sorry I left you. Did you miss me?

I knew this would happen at la rentrée (back to school time). But I can explain.

The last time we saw each other, I was writing about drinking wine in Vouvray, but I was in Paris, having a wonderful (albeit grey) month of August. I took a million pictures, I went somewhere new every day, and I totally fell back in love with the city of lights. (Sometimes, people also call Lyon the city of lights, which is confusing. No actually, just people from Lyon do that.)

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Unravelling untravelling

You’d think that since I live abroad, I’d be a big traveler. I did move all the way to France from the US, didn’t I? And while I wouldn’t call myself nomadic, I seem to pick up and move every few months or so. I must be a great adventurer, right?!

London iron horse and me.jpg
Well, I did meet a horse in London with nostrils bigger than my head.

Not so much. Moving to France was certainly an unexpected adventure, and I definitely don’t live a predictable or traditional life, but I’m not a European jet-setter. (That would be cool, though!)

Since moving to France, I’ve crossed European borders, like, twice:  a weekend in London (loved it!) and a couple outings in Switzerland (and the only reason I know I’m in Switzerland and not France is that everything is cleaner and more expensive.) I think I did more traveling in the summer of 2009 than I have since I moved!

It rained while I was in London. Are you shocked?
It rained while I was in London. Are you shocked?
Okay, I take back what I said about la Suisse. Switzerland is great.
Okay, I take back what I said about la Suisse. Switzerland is great.

Sad, huh? Well, I’ve been busy! Job hunting, teaching, moving, surviving getting screwed over by three different jobs, battling bureaucracy, eating croissants – I mean, I have lots going on. And to be honest with you, even though travel is awesome, it’s not the only thing. The internet these days is like, “Travel while you’re young! Leave your job! Live on the road! Have wild adventures! Jump out of airplanes!” the implication being that you will grow old bitter and filled with regret if you don’t. And I do think that it’s important to leave home and learn about new cultures, and it’s often easier to start a wild adventure the younger you are, and that if you want to travel, you should. But I don’t think it’s wrong to want other things too, and to prioritize them over travel if that’s your choice. (and PS I have zero desire to jump out of a plane.)

So that’s why I’ve been focused on establishing a life in France, repairing my savings account, and spending time with people I love (and eating croissants) instead of jetting off to Italy and Croatia.

But I’ve been feeling restless lately, and my carte jeune (youth card) discount for France’s SNCF trains is going to expire soon forever (the horror). And it’s summer, which is both the season I want to go off on adventures because the weather is beautiful and the days are longer and I want to drink margaritas, and at the same time the season I don’t want to travel because it’s high season and I’m thrifty and it’s too hot in the south of Spain. Conundrum.

So I’m compromising with some thrifty adventures: some time in the south of France (not the Côte d’Azur, although I’m a fan, but the Languedoc-Roussillon region, to Sète and Montpellier), a solo trip to Barcelona (first time!), and finishing up the summer with a month in Paris (Paris doesn’t sound thrifty, but it is when you do it my way.) And in case you were wondering, I’ll be back in England sooner than later. Can’t wait for English cider and scones and hearing people say “alumINium.”

IMG_3882
Can’t wait for more of this…
IMG_3899
…and this. YUM.

 

Anyone else craving a scone now?