Archive for January, 2012
It has finally happened. I am, hopelessly, a socks person. Which is terrifying for someone who spent so many years feeling not simply indifferent toward socks, but openly antagonistic to the way they suffocate your feet and make them sweat and smell. But let’s face it: the architects who designed my apartment in the 1970s apparently knew nothing about insulation, and my floors is nippy. And if that weren’t bad enough, I have also gotten into the habit of strutting around my digs in not just socks, but socks and flip-flops! Because for some reason the apartment’s warped parquet floors seem to collect little puddles of water right where I happen to step, and if there’s one thing I’ll never tolerate, it’s soggy socks! Gross!
There is a silver lining to this socks-imposing frigidity: it finally feels like winter. And I love the cold! Last weekend saw nothing but below-freezing temperatures and blue skies. The sun was shining for the first time since my return to Lannion, the air was crisp, and I was smitten. Below I’ve devised a list of the ways in which I enjoyed the cold over the weekend (thanks again to Mom for sending me the charger to my camera so I could [excessively] photo-document these moments).
I enjoyed walking around for several hours on Saturday afternoon, bundled up in pea coat, scarf, and glittens (gloves + mittens), ambling along cobbled streets and park paths and stopping sporadically to take pictures.
I enjoyed the way my hot breath dissipated into the fractured light of the town’s two churches – the way the stained-glass windows lifted Edifice off of Ground by splashing the stone surfaces with whimsical bursts of color, while the sound of my footsteps amplified the ethereal silence.
As the sun fell and shadows grew longer, I enjoyed stripping myself of the aforementioned layers for hot coffee with a friend in a busy café.
I enjoyed the smell of wood and fire and mint and chocolate on Saturday night at the home of Karen’s contact professor, Marie-Annick, who invited us into her toasty house for galettes des rois with her husband and 5- and 2-year-old sons.
I enjoyed the way the morning frost stuck to the grass and leaves, how it coated rooftops and windshields in a thin layer of glaze, how stacks of white smoke gave depth to the matte sky.
I enjoyed the way the kitchen windows steamed up as I baked bread and pizzas.
I enjoyed the scratch of pages turning as I read a book under a warm blanket and sipped on hot, cinnamon apple tea.
And believe it or not, I even enjoyed waking up in the morning and, before stumbling into the kitchen to make a fresh pot of coffee, digging through my laundry for a fun pair of socks.
It’s hard to believe I began my daunting trek back to France only a week ago. The passage of time – or rather, my perception of it – is peculiar in the Bubble that is Lannion. It didn’t take long for me to get back into the swing of things, to readapt to the vie quotidienne as it were, so it feels like I’ve already been here for ages.
In short, this week was all about reunions. Karen and I coincidentally crossed paths at the train station in Paris, and since we were both zombies from traveling, the chance meeting elicited a dud of a reaction. It was a strange, slow-motion kind of Oh hey, it’s you, this is kind of funny moment that didn’t really convey our mutual excitement. Fiona and I enjoyed a less spontaneous catch-up session over vin chaud and chocolate-covered Speculoos cookies at this kitschy bar in town called Le Scopitone on Wednesday. And on Thursday night, Heledd and I reinstated our routine of cooking dinner together (I use the term “together” here loosely; not that H. isn’t a great sous-chef, but let’s be real: Tyler’s the one who cooks around here). Of course, I was also reunited with my students this week, and I was particularly glad to see my little ones. As they walked into the classroom on Friday morning, many of my CE2s asked me (accusingly) why I hadn’t been there on Tuesday; their teacher winked at me as she told me that they were all pretty worried when I didn’t show up. So cute.
My week of reintroduction into French social life culminated last night as I attended a dinner party thrown by Slim, a Tunisian fellow who has somehow managed to befriend the last three or so generations of language assistants in Lannion. We were quite a cosmopolitan group sitting around the dinner table, twelve of us representing nine countries: Slim the Tunisian, as well as 3 Spaniards, 2 Frenchies, a German, an Austrian, a Venezuelan, a Welshy, an Italian, and me, the lone American. Part 1 of the soirée included a delicious couscous dinner and drinks before we ended up moving the whole gang to my apartment for Part 2, which included games like Times Up (the love child of Taboo and charades…kind of) and Jungle Speed (a high-energy/high-stress/potentially violent card game involving shapes and colors and a little wooden totem). It was a casual and fun Saturday evening with both familiar and new faces. It was also an excellent reminder of the kind of rich cultural exchange a program like this can cultivate. Here’s to hoping that 2012 is full of these kinds of multicultural, melting pot experiences!
The upcoming week looks promising as I sit here with a hot cuppa tea, listening to the strong gusts of wind outside my window. Tomorrow, I’m accompanying some of my primary school students on a field trip to the hospital, where a bunch of decorations they made before Christmas are hanging in the halls. Tuesday, I have to go to Rennes for a medical visit through the Office of Immigration (cross your fingers I don’t have TB, y’all! that’s what they’re testing me for), and I’m spending Tuesday night in Guingamp to catch up with some of the assistants there, since I’m back to having Wednesdays off! No pictures to post for now; unfortunately, I left the charger to my new digital camera at home, but Mom sent that to me a few days ago, so expect some good ones soon!
Three cheers for updating this thing already!
Until next time, bisous from the Stench.