My daily commute has become twice as long since changing jobs earlier this year, thus, exponentially increasing the chances of unwelcomed encounters, such as seeing the nether regions of a drunkard naked from the waste down and passed out on a metro bench first thing after getting off the metro in the morning. Today, the ride got a little too raw and up close for my comfort. Being crammed in the métro is nothing new during rush hour. But, with the warmer temperatures from this Indian summer we’ve been having, being packed like sardines among folks who have not quite caught onto the practice of using deodorant, especially on warmer days like today, is an excruciating assault on the senses. Having my personal space violated many times over in a box full of warm, sticky, smelly bodies was torture enough, but at the stop after I had gotten on, a horde of folks boarded the train, one of them being an awkwardly rotund teen, sweat dripping from his nose and upper lip and whose backside was covered in what looked like dandruff, further pronounced by his black t-shirt. I just hoped with all of my might that the train would not brake suddenly, because my face would end up splat in that pile of dry, white head excrement. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the trained stalled a couple of times, making the ride even longer than necessary.
Since moving to France, I’ve developed quite an ardent appreciation for French desserts, both for the exquisitely refined pieces of art by pastry chefs such as Claire Heitzler of Lasserre as well as for the more mundane and quotidian desserts like chocolate mousse. Not too long ago, I discovered riz au lait, or rice pudding. Several of my old co-workers who occassionally grabbed lunch at the hospital café would often have it for dessert. I’m not sure which brand it was that they ate, but it came packed in a jar very much like this. When I saw that very jar sold in the dairy aisle at the market, it reminded me of my old co-workers and how much I miss seeing them (that is, those who didn’t my work life miserable) everyday. So, compelled by nostalgia and curiosity, I grabbed a couple of jars. I couldn’t wait to dig in and taste the creamy goodness.
Consecutive days of blue skies and sunshine coupled with warmer temperatures undoubtedly signal the return of spring, and the dark cloud that seemed to be following me everywhere is finally starting to dissipate. For the past several months, I had succumbed to what my friend has coined a professional depression, which extinguished my curiousity, motivation, and creativity. Living in France was starting to wear on me as well. It’s not easy being so far away from family and friends, especially since it’s been an uphill challenge trying to establish an equally strong social circle here. Consequently, I started to withdraw from pretty much all activities that brought me any sort of pleasure, including cooking.
I hope that y’all had a happy and festive holiday full of warmth and delicious food! The holidays crept up on me so quickly this year that I hardly had any time to get into the holiday spirit. The mister and I have been so consumed by renovating our home that planning our réveillon de Noël, or Christmas eve dinner, completely escaped us this year. Instead of putting together an elaborate dinner, we opted to spend a low-key evening at my in-laws. Though it was a quiet evening, our réveillon included traditional holiday goodies, such as foie gras and lobster. Though not so acceptable to eat in the US, I still look forward to indulging in the rich, creaminess of foie gras each and every holiday season. Here in France, a holiday meal just would not be complete without it.
I’m so sorry to have left y’all hanging for so long! In the midst of our kitchen renovations (our apartment is still a disaster zone, by the way, because my husband decided to embark on another renovation project in my absence-the whole apartment this time!), it was pretty difficult to prepare anything worth salivating over. And, immediately after finishing our kitchen, I took a much needed two week trip back to California to visit my friends and family after not seeing them for over 2 years!! I can’t even begin to tell y’all how thrilled I was to be back on US soil again where everything is familiar to me and to finally get to celebrate Thanksgiving again with everyone back home. Obviously, the French don’t celebrate this hedonistic food fest and my husband isn’t the biggest fan of turkey, so it’s been a good three years since I’ve had a real Thanksgiving meal! Though, after going home this time, I feel a bit inspired to start my own Thanksgiving tradition for when I can’t make it back to the US so I can have a little piece of home here in France.
Last week marked the official la rentrée, the start of the academic school year and when all of the Frenchies return to work from their long summer vacations. Everyone is tanner, refreshed and ready to work again. Although the office was pretty calm and pleasant during the month of August and all projects were put on hold until September, I was more than thrilled to see all of my coworkers again. Being essentially the only person at the office became too monotonous and quiet after just a couple of days. Without anyone at work, I was like a mute for a couple of weeks. And, if I’m not speaking French at work, the only other language I’m speaking these days is Vietnamese. So, I was starting to fear that what little French I had acquired was beginning to escape me, since I had gone for weeks without any sort of meaningful exchanges in French. I think I can breathe easily for now though, as my French words seem to still be intact!
Texas Independence day was last week, so as a state employee, I had the holiday off. Woohoo, I love these non-Monday or non-Friday holidays! This was a much needed respite for me to get away from the daily doldrums of work, since I feel like I’ve been slowly but surely taking on the persona of a typical, disgruntled government employee these days, finding little satisfaction in what I do all day and being continuously annoyed by co-workers with mental afflictions and personality malfunctions. I generally leave work at work, but these days, my dissatisfaction has been seeping into my personal life and negatively affecting my general disposition.
My lovely friend and neighbor, Christine, invited several of her lady friends over for a potluck brunch yesterday afternoon at the Love Shack. I feel very fortunate to have become a part of Christine’s social circle, as she has an amazing knack for connecting disparate people from all walks of life. I’ve met so many interesting people and developed some great friendships through her.