Lately in Paris

It’s been requested that I write up a post regarding the late events in Paris and the general atmosphere here since the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. In a lot of ways I don’t really feel qualified to talk about this subject..I didn’t even know the magazine existed until January 7. But, since I am teaching here and have been wandering around a number of the neighborhoods, I CAN easily talk about what things have been like in Paris, and the answer is (contradictorily Parisian): different and the same.

To start with, many of us had no idea what happened on the 7th until the excitement was well over. One of the English profs discovered it as she headed home and couldn’t get to her apartment due to police. Another found out when she turned on the television later that evening. As for me (and I think a lot of the expats here had similar experiences) I had my mom call me from the States to tell me what was going on. (It feels decidedly strange to have someone from abroad tell you what is going on in your city, by the way…you feel very foolish and oblivious.) Over the next few days tensions mounted. I stood up with my class and all of the lycée and the country on Thursday for a minute of silence. I talked to the students who wanted to talk about it and created fun, diverting activities for the classes that didn’t. I think that all of us were playing things by ear. The big shift, which I think remains for a lot of us, was the heightened awareness to sirens—which have been blaring a lot more recently—and the impulse to regularly check our phones for updates from Le Monde. One of my classes was completely derailed by a kid checking his on Friday and our discovering that the brother suspects had been cornered in the North. People were relieved after that, but still jumpy…I’ve never seen the metro so uncrowded at rush hour as I did that week.

In the last week, the attack has still weighed heavily on most of us. Many participated in the enormous march on from Nation on Sunday. We talk about it in class a lot. The teacher’s lounge and cafeteria room are constantly filled with passionate disagreements between professors regarding their predicted outcomes of this attack and what the country should do. It’s raised a lot of interesting and important questions regarding expression, race, and integration for the French and EVERYONE has an opinion. Everyone also apparently wants a copy of the new magazine…the Presses are ALWAYS sold out.

As for me, I still feel lucky to be here. My initial jumpiness—fully realized on Friday when I discovered what was happening at Nation—has started to quiet down, although I move quickly on all of my commutes now and check the news at least every hour. I’ve tried to keep classes as normal and engaging as possible. Some students want to talk about the attack, and we’ve had interesting and passionate debates about integration and freedom of speech—I used this as an opportunity to introduce the to Salman Rushdie, whose response to the attack always evokes interesting responses from the kids. Several students who’ve never spoken up were my most passionate debaters (*note to self…more debates in the future). I try to play devil’s advocate and not weigh too heavily into things…but f there’s any part that saddens me, it’s the reports from those who are (or appear to be) Muslim saying that they’ve experienced recent discrimination from other French. One girl told me that several of the women in her family refuse to go out because were heckled and are afraid of being attacked. And perhaps even more disturbing, most of the other students are oblivious to their classmates’ problems.

Otherwise, I try to keep experiencing this wonderful city, which manages, even in the face of tragedy, to constantly wow me. I’ve been straying from the Marais some, which has been significantly quieter of late, and wandering to new neighborhoods. I cannot wait to tell you about them. If you are interested in reading more about the attack and more brilliant people’s opinions on it, there are loads of great articles online…all you have to do is google for a veritable wealth of opinions.

ANNOUNCEMENTS! (that rock my world)

So I have some news. Big news. I mean really really big news. Lifechangingly big news. I….


Sorry for the all-caps but that is my excitement level. Especially because I didn’t just get a job anywhere, but in PARIS.

Remember how much you love me?

Remember all the love?

I am so thrilled that I’ll have the chance to go back to one of my favorite cities next year. Feeling so very very lucky. I’ll be teaching English, and apparently we have significant time off which will mean LOTS of time to find adventures and type them up for you. I’m so very excited to embark on this experience and share it with you. Not to mention this blog will be so much better. Small town Minnesota has not proved to be the most inspiring travel blogging environment for me.

I love you Minnesota but there are only so many pictures of snow worth sharing...

I love you Minnesota but there are only so many pictures of snow worth sharing…

So that’s the new big thing in my life. Although I do like to keep busy, as you all know well. I’ve posted several more times in the Local Current blog…which has been exciting and fun for me…if not a little bit terrifying. I also got to go up to their offices a few weeks ago for a “training day”. It was amazing. First of all — prettiest workspace ever. I can has job please? (I would share pictures but I thought that taking them during the tour would be weird and creepy…people trying to work, and all.) Anyways the day was absolutely wonderful. I met my editor—who is the best person in the world. I know…I’m crazy lucky to have such a great/loveable editor. I also met a lot of the really amazing staff and directors of the station, including Barb Abney (!) who is totally my favorite dj. Oh, and I met lots of other super cool young music journalists, who make my writing attempts look amateur and who are totally going to run the world someday. I also met Jim DeRogatis…and got to hear people drop all of the “Almost Famous” references. It was beautiful.

Otherwise, not much else to report, other than the fact that I am well aware of the incredible dip in blogging lately. I feel confident, however, that next year will be much better for my online presence. The absence of obligatory 15 page research papers is BOUND to leave more time and energy for internet word vomiting.

In the meantime, what’s up with you? If you’re still around? I feel like it’s been so long that you all will have flown the coop by now. But if you didn’t, leave a comment and tell me about the new things in your life! You all are so cool!



Spring Break: Northampton’s Local Burger

S is one of the best eaters I know, so I was spoiled rotten while visiting her in Amherst. One evening she drove me over to Northampton to visit Local — a popular destination for burgers in the area. Since she was always my buddy when I craved a burger in Paris, it felt extra special.


I ordered an angus burger from a local farm, fries, and a vanilla milkshake. The meal wasn’t extraordinary, but the ambience was great and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I also ate WAY TOO MUCH, but it’s alright. I’ve made up for it since. Sadly I forgot to take pictures of the actual food, but I’m sure you’ll forgive. I think you all have a pretty good idea what the meal looked like.

Spring Break 2013: Amherst BBQ

After my days in New York, I hopped on a bus and rode (for approximately 6 hours) to visit a good friend in Amherst, Massachusetts. As some of you may remember, I met S in Paris, and we’ve been sorely missing each other since our fond farewells last December. As luck would have it, Amherst  has the same break as Carleton, so I got to spend a few days sleeping on her floor and exploring small town, western Massachusetts. We had a blast and spent our days catching up and reminiscing about Paris while knitting, watching old Disney movies, and eating.

Naturally, our first stop was food. I’d been on a bus all day and S, despite her size, has an enormous appetite. So, we piled into the car and headed to one of her favorite joints — Bub’s BBQ. Continue reading