I started blogging in order to create a helpful and informative blog as well as to record my travels during my “Year in France”. However, as time has passed on, the style of my blog has shifted. I also realized that I simply like having a dedicated space where records of my life have been documented over the past few years. One of my favorite parts of this blog is going back and reading my old stories, glancing through old photos, and seeing how I’ve evolved. Although this blog holds (many) of the bigger events in my life, I’d like to start recording the little, daily things that make me, well, me: books I’m reading, restaurants I’m trying, TV shows I’m watching, and things I’m doing.
How are we already a month into 2018!? My January was very humble. Coming back from London on the 2nd, I spent more time staying in than I did going out in January– both in an attempt to save money, hibernate in my new pad, as well as to succumb to my (inevitable) winter blues. Lille (literally!) had less than THREE hours of sunlight during the first half of January. I vow to never again take our sacred yellow ball of heat for granted– lack of sun means decreased energy, increased sleepiness, and just an overall more negative demeanor. I am not a fan. However, I did catch up on some much needed reading, writing, sleeping, Netflix-ing, and nesting, so I have no complaints there.
New Year’s Resolutions
In my previous blog post I attempted Dry January, which I am happy to report I successfully completed! I did not indulge in alcohol from January 1st until February 4th (due to an abrupt illness on my part at the end of last week.) Overall, I am surprised that I did not cave into temptations; I am equally taken aback at how little I missed alcohol. The most difficult nights were the few times I had friends over or went to parties where there was alcohol being consumed. My only complaint (or perhaps criticism) is that as I cut out alcohol, I dove right into the sweets in order to supplement. Therefore, I am now contemplating a “refined sweets” ban for a month starting Mid-February, to see if it will help clear up the occasional spots I get on my face as well as eliminate the few kilos I’ve managed to put on over the past year or so.
In January, I also officially decided to leave my screens out of my bedroom and to use my alarm clock. I admit– I sleep better and I know it’s doing wonders for me to read more before bed rather than come to bed with a screen. My phone has not slept next to me since 2017. (Whoop! I call that a win!) And I will admit, wholeheartedly, that my sleep has gotten better. I am only waking up once per night and am able to fall back asleep a bit easier, as opposed to multiple times per night. Let’s cross fingers that I can keep this up!
Lille, France: I spent the majority of the month in my city of residence. I have a lot of exciting travel plans coming up this year, so I am happy to nest and beat the winter blues on the comforts of my own sofa.
How great is this view? I did splurge on a new piece of art (above the desk), and finally hang my bar + hooks above the kitchen sink! Hello, Moscow Mules!
London, UK: I spent the first two days of January nestled at my friend Jasmine’s apartment (and, come to think of it, my friend Jo’s!) in London.
January doesn’t really have a lot of “OMG YAAAAS” moments that particularly jump out at me. I relaxed in my flat. I saw my friends. I taught lessons, corrected papers, went to work. I read book and watched series and laughed and cried. I exercised– yoga, running, judo, biking. I slept in; I cleaned my flat.
Frankly– Aziz Ansari. Okay, well the Larry Nassar case had me preoccupied for the first half of the month, but Aziz Ansari sparked a lot of discussion amongst my female friends. Because, let’s face it– I’ve been ‘Grace.’ Many, many of my female friends have been ‘Grace.’ And looking at the situation Grace found herself in with Aziz made me realize that I am not alone in realizing how socially conditioned I am to please others (read: heterosexual cis men) at my own expense and in the risk of my own conforts and safety. I grew up being taught to believe the notion, “Well it’s not rape so…” and although I’ve realized on my own that that is wrong, I’m so relieved that the rest of the world is catching up. My female friends– my sex-positive, self-identifying-feminist female friends have had a wide variety of opinions of the story, from “Well what did she expect,” to, “This has happened to me,” to, “This is exactly why I always have a ‘survival plan’ in place whenever I meet a date for a ****ing coffee.” (Because why the **** should I need a ‘survival plan’ just for coffee? Yes, that may have been something I dealt with in January.) The report that resonated the most with me was Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal episode.
What I’ve Watched (Movies / Series):
The Greatest Showman
Oh my gosh. Everyone needs to see this movie. I have now seen it twice (both times with my friend Mathilde.) Neither of us realized it was a musical before the opening credits began rolling, and now we are both obsessed and consistently have the soundtrack on repeat. Really, if you are looking for a sexual awakening (#HughJackman #ZacEfron) or just an opportunity to come out of the cinema with a smile permanently etched across your face and tears of joy streaming down your cheeks, this film is it. It’s just a great, uplifting movie. It brought me up when I was down.
The Darkest Hour
I am one of those shameful Americans who doesn’t know much about World War II before the USA entered in 1941, so Dunkirk was more of a history lesson than anything else. With that being said, however, I thought that Gary Oldman absolutely killed it as Winston Churchill. Even better, I had been given the opportunity to tour London’s Treasury just days before seeing the film, thanks to an old Valenciennes friend whom I saw in London.
Views atop the Treasury
Pitch Perfect 3
I’m a huge sucker for Pitch Perfect– the only downside was seeing it in French (the V.O. version was only out for like three days!) I admit that I believe it is time for the Bellas to put their a capella careers to rest, but I love me some Be-Caw! and Fat Amy.
This is Us
For fans who are up-to-date with the latest episodes in Season 2– do I even need to go there? I can’t even. This show is incredible. I literally watch every episode twice because of how moved I am by the acting and the storylines (and perhaps because I have no life?)
I finally caved and watched the pilot. I enjoyed it, and hope to have time to check out a bit more!
What I’ve Read
The Cows by Dawn O’Porter
My amazing friend Jasmine (pictured above), who works for Harper and Collins in London (and whom scored me a copy of Amy Schumer’s Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo), was able to snag me a copy of their newest release, The Cows. The review on Amazon puts it best:
COW [n.] /kaÊ / A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd. Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype. Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror. When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all. Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd. The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.
Long story short, I loved it! It was a great way to kick off 2018!
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
To add to the hit series, I decided to give the book a try. Long story short, I devoured it in just under a week, and have now lent it to a fellow student. My review (and criticisms) to the book corresponds to the series. However, I was actually not a fan of how Hannah handles her encounter (or thought process) with Bryce in the book.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
As many have claimed before, this was one of the best published books of 2017, at least according to the New York Times Bestseller’s List. The Hate U Give tells the story of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, who witnesses the shooting and murder of her friend Kahlil. Kahlil was shot by a white cop, and the entire story is basically centered around the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I really enjoyed this story, and cannot wait for the movie to come out later this year.
What I’ve Been Listening To:
How have I only just discovered this podcast? If you’re not afraid of sex and liberal-leaning podcasts, this is for you. New episodes come out on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and it’s an entertaining way to get ready in the morning.
The Greatest Showman Soundtrack
Because let’s be honest, every song on this album is incredible.
Things I’ve looking forward to in February:
-I leave for Nepal in just two weeks! I can’t believe it! I am so excited– the entire trip still feels a bit surreal. I’m still not really sure what to think or expect.
-In February, I plan to host a group of Valenciennes colleagues for brunch as well as February book club, to discuss The Hate U Give.
-In other news, this is literally one of the longest terms I’ve ever had– we still have two more weeks before the next holidays, and the lack of sun doesn’t help. (I know, I know, my fellow American teacher friends are cringing right now.)
What have you got going on in February?