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24 mars – my day in stairs and hills

7:48      Slam the door, run down two flights : 40 stairs 7:49     Down the hill to the metro 7:53     Down three flights to the platform : 82 stairs 8:12     Down the escalator to the bus stop : 26 stairs 8: 29    Up the hill to the school gate 8:32     Up the stairs to the second floor (the third floor by U.S. standards) : 32 stairs 10:15    Down to the teachers lounge for recess : 32 stairs 10:33    Back up to the second floor : 32 stairs 11:30    Back down for lunch : 32 stairs 1:35      And up again for afternoon classes : 32 stairs 3:00    And down again for afternoon recess : 32 stairs 3:15     Class on the first floor this time, last class of the day : 16 stairs 3:45     Back down the stairs, down the hill, into the bus, up to the Metro platform 4:37     Up the long elevator to the street … just kidding I’ll ride …

23 mars – when you gotta go…

Many little family shops or neighborhood bars have quirky bathrooms. You know the ones I mean. Some are covered in cheeky murals, others have funky toilet paper holders, and they all extend or reveal a bit about the character of the establishment. France is notorious for particularly grim public restrooms. They usually consist of a toilet with no seat jammed into a closet so small your knees are practically grazing the wall. And they often leave a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness. But hey, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Desperate times and all that… Which is how I found my self face to face with this toilet. I have to wonder about the sign… What event (or events) lead to its posting ? Why is it in English ? Is that really what the proprietor intended to say ?? Whatever the answers to these questions, it really made me laugh. And the toilet was fairly clean to boot! All in all a worthwhile foray into the sketchy world of French public bathrooms! ❂   …

21 mars – from my table

From my table, I see the old men playing pétanque for hours on end. I watch, impressed, as their heavy metal balls clink effortlessly against their opponents’, decades of practice making the gesture as natural as walking.   From my table, I hear the school bell signaling students and teachers. I listen to its cheery, etherial music as it marks the passing hours. From my table, I feel the tram rumble far beneath me as it runs on the track directly below my street. I think of the thousands of strangers getting off and on the train each time it passes by. From my table, I smell the new candle I bought last week, scented with orange blossom. I inhale the sweet floral perfume and my mouth waters thinking of the delicious navette cookies, traditional in Marseille, scented with the same fragrance. From my table, I taste my afternoon snack of Granny Smith apple slices spread with store-brand nutella. I savor the tart, tangy juice of the apple mixed with the sweet, nutty chocolate. ❂   Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge …

4 mars – Things that I do in France that I don’t do at home

Eat yogurt When you first come to France, you expect the grocery store aisles of cheese and wine, but you don’t expect an equally long aisle dedicated to yogurt. It’s like a way of life in France. I don’t think I have a single colleague who doesn’t finish their lunch with a container of yogurt and/or a fruit. For some, it’s a simple fromage blanc, others prefer a classic fruit on the bottom, and still others go for a dessert flavored yogurt. Despite almost never craving yogurt in the U.S. I took up this custom, and now enjoy yogurt daily at the end of my lunch, and occasionally as a snack or with some granola. Drink tea The French are obsessed with coffee. And not even particularly good coffee: in fact, a high percentage of French people I know frequently drink instant coffee. A French teachers’ lounge would be incomplete without a coffee maker, and there is usually a line during every recess and lunch break. Luckily, for those who don’t drink coffee (myself included) there …

sorry, I can’t NOT write about the election today

I’ll start out by saying that I’ve already cast my vote for Hillary Clinton and I could not be prouder or more excited or closer to the verge of tears. This has been a demoralizing, dark, difficult year or so for our country – faith in facts is at an all time low, ability to compromise or respect one’s opponents potentially even lower. And of course the most heartbreaking stories have been not the dumb fights, the horrible words, but how that rhetoric has affected our children. All year I heard elementary school kids talk about the election, threaten to leave the country because they were already so frustrated with politics. Friends who teach children of immigrants have students who are afraid they will be deported. Newspapers report that bullying and hate has increased nationally. On my first week of teaching in Marseille, a port city with a very high North African Muslim immigrant population, I showed pictures of monuments in DC, telling them about the White House and answering their questions about the United States. Most wanted to know what my …

Americanah Discussion! — present perfect book club

Have you read this remarkable book?! I haven’t finished yet, but I want to know what you think!!! Come join our discussion 😀 Hey guys, So, full disclosure: I’m only about 150 pages into this book…it took me a while to get it from the library and then it’s been just about the busiest month EVER which makes reading hard… But excuses aside, I am seriously loving it so far!! Even from about 10 pages in, I felt […] via Americanah Discussion! — present perfect book club

Bel Canto Discussion

Originally posted on present perfect book club:
Today we have TWO moderators for the price of one!! Julia and Kristina suggested we read Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, and here they are with some thoughts and questions! Julia says: I finished the book yesterday and I loved it, although I think I’m still recovering from the last chapter and the epilogue … but more on that in the discussion, I hope!  Q1. As in February’s book club pick, Station Eleven, the story is told from multiple perspectives. Is there a specific character that stood out to you or that you warmed to in particular (ex. for his/her heroism, growth, etc.)? How do you think the story would be different if it were told through the eyes of a single character? Q2. Some of the most striking passages in the book are the ones that describe music. Music represents different things for different characters – safety, escape, or even God – and Roxane Coss’s singing has a mesmerizing, even magical, effect on both the hostages and the terrorists. I was already a fan of classical music and opera before reading Bel Canto, and I’m curious to know whether you think…