I originally started blogging in order to create a helpful and informative TAPIF blog as well as to record my travels during my “Year in France”. However, as time has passed on, the style and purpose of my blog has shifted. I have 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.
For a hot split second I shut down the blog and put it on private– along with all of my social media accounts, including Instagram and Twitter. I had had a slight freakout about my online presence and the fact that many of the students at my school have unquestionably stalked my online accounts. I felt panicked at the fact that there was a giant magnifying glass on me, my daily life, and everything I have ever done in my twenties. But then within twelve hours I began receiving access requests and emails and inquiries about AstoldbyDana’s sudden disappearance; I didn’t receive the assistance I needed from Amazon or AirBnb on Twitter because my account had been switched to private, and of course, my Instagram activity and interaction immediately declined. I took a few hermit days to figure out what I wanted to do– to contemplate my ‘right’ to an internet presence on my own terms with the undeniable reality of having to censor myself more than an average blogger with a semi-public persona, first because I do want to present the best version of myself and keep some aspects of my life private, but also because students do search for me on the internet and have found my blog (and a Youtube video I made in 2012…) Needless to say, it freaked me out and resulted in a brief pause in my blogging activity.
With that being said, I am super behind. I still haven’t blogged about my Icelandic road trip from last summer, nor have I gone into depth about Nepal or my student trip to the UK, and I leave on a 15-day trip to Malaysia in just two days. I also obviously have lots of thoughts on politics and world news and life updates. Tomorrow (Monday, is my last teaching day of the year, and then I’ll be back just in time to get to see my students’ Baccalauréat exam results, which starts tomorrow!) With that being said, I bring you a life recap for the months of April and May 2018.
Paris, Lille, and Valenciennes, France: In regards to travel within France, the month of April started out with a weekend in Paris, with my mother and her ten high school students. Unfortunately due to my work schedule I didn’t arrive until Friday evening, but we had a great time on Saturday at the Eiffel Tower and the Parfumerie, as well as the Bateaux Mouches. I am counting down the days until I go home for Christmas!
Views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, The I Love You Wall in Montmartre, and the Green Bay Packer Bar near the Sorbonne!
I also spent an afternoon at my colleague’s house in Valenciennes, where we enjoyed an all-day lunch in the sunshine. It was glorious!
Stratford-upon-Avon, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, and London, UK: In the middle of April, I was one of six chaperones whom escorted 78 kids to northern England on a 5-day excursion to Manchester, Chester, and Liverpool, as well as Stratford-upon-Avon (where William Shakespeare was born!) I had never been to those parts of the UK before and I must say, I really enjoyed Chester. Although I don’t think I could ever live there, it was such a quaint yet vibrant city and I hope to dedicate a separate post about this trip in the near future! A few weeks later I returned to England on my own via the Eurostar to see Hamilton and spend the weekend with my friends in London.
Shots of Liverpool, UK: Including the Cavern, where the Beatles were discovered!
Bruges, Belgium: Besides seeing Hamilton, the other highlight of May was having my friend Megan and her boyfriend Phil visit me in Lille! They were doing their own vacation to Paris, Lille, and London, and it was so much fun to show them around the north! On our last full day we took the OuiBus to Bruges (which is the best, cheapest, and most convenient way to get from Lille to Bruges, by the way). Even better, we met up with our friends Amber and Fred and spent the afternoon at my favorite pub, 2Be bar!
Prom + Graduation + Theatre + Improv: May is actually an exciting month at my school– the theatre students put on their productions Théâtre du Nord, and we as staff can reserve spots for free. The school’s Improv team also holds a competition against a team of teachers, which is always hilarious and entertaining to watch. In addition, the Terminale students (seniors) have their prom, to which the teachers are invited at the beginning and at which alcohol is served (oh, France and its cultural differences.) It’s nice to see the students in a different light- they are all such talented and interesting young people. Finally, the school’s graduation ceremony is held at the end of May, which is always a delight to watch students receive their diplomas.
Roger and Greg’s Wedding: My former colleague Roger tied the knot with his now husband, Greg, in the middle of May! My old colleagues and I were invited to the Vin d’Honneur, which is a very French thing– basically it means you are welcome at the Civil Ceremony (which takes place at City Hall– and must take place before any church / religious ceremony– my colleague and his husband didn’t have one), and then you are invited to the hors d’oeuvres part of the meal. The ceremony was at 2 PM, the Vin d’honneur started at 4 PM, and I was home by 8 PM. It was a great way to end my spring break.
Brunch: My friend Rashida and I checked out a new hot vegan-based brunch spot in Lille located literally just across the street from my flat: Slow Green Cantine in Lille! I highly recommend!
13 Reasons Why: I blew through the second season of one of Netflix’s most-anticipated programs in about ten days. I’d actually like to blog separately about this series, but without giving anything away I’ll touch on the following points: I thought they did a great job continuing the story and incorporating Hannah into season 2. I liked season 2 more than season 1, with the exception of the creepy photos / blow up dolls / pranks bit. That was a bit much and I felt like the story could have been told without those aspects. The final episode left me utterly devastated and distraught- I have never cried so much over a fictional show and fictional characters. I thought this ending was perhaps even more triggering than Hannah’s suicide in season 1. I thought that these conversations about sexual assault and what victims of sexual assault look like and how they act are so. incredibly. important. and I give Selena Gomez so much props. I wish these kinds of conversations had existed ten or even six years ago when I needed them the most.
The Handmaid’s Tale: Holy moly, I am so glad this only comes out one episode at a time. I am so addicted to this show and their characters- it is such an incredible and important message in regards to how it relates to everything happening in our political climate right now. I think they’ve done an outstanding continuation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopia (and I’ve so enjoyed teaching it to my students!)
Books: Reading for pleasure has taken the backroad whilst the school year finishes up, but I have a long list of summer reads to check off as soon as I get home from Malaysia!
Animal Farm by George Orwell- Must I explain Orwellian-style dystopias? His Russian Revolution allegory is a classic tale taught to my 1ère students this year. I had fun comparing Trump to Napoleon using articles and literary analysis.
Here I Stand: Stories that Speak for Freedom by Amnesty International UK: Long story short, I love this book. It’s full of short stories depicting a variety of Human Rights issues in the 21st century. It’s geared towards young pre-teens and teens, and my colleague/friend Rebecca and I have developed a unit using the stories from this book to talk about refugees, racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, global warming, and more. The books contains not only stories but also poetry, comics, and graphic drawings. It’s a new way for them to interpret literature and also learn about real-world issues.
Lovely by Billie Eilish feat. Khalid- From 13 Reasons Why
The Night We Met by Lord Huron
Ballad of a Dying Man by Father John Misty
Watch Me by Grey Revered
Nothing’s Ever Said by The Wilderness of Manitoba
I’ll be honest- I’ve been having a hard time the past couple of months, but I’ve been trying to embrace and cherish all of the joy. I’ve joined the gym again for the summer. I’ve been taking steps to improve aspects of my life I’m not satisfied with– but things have been tough. I’m hoping a relaxing summer with exercise and healthy eating will put me back on track.
June has been busy- with the end of term plus Pride plus a weekend in Paris and now the rest of the month in Malaysia! I am looking forward to that.