Monday, March 18, 2013


One aspect of the French lifestyle I could really get used to is the frequent vacations. Eight weeks after Christmas Break, it was time for a two week Winter Break, and I chose to spend it in Belgium and Amsterdam. I told myself I was going to post about it during break, since the details of the trips I took to London and Milan a few weeks back I've pretty much forgotten by now... but that didn't happen.

I've been going through my pictures (LOTS of pictures) and they're pretty much just of buildings and beer. That's a pretty accurate depiction of my trip - all I did was drink beer and stare at buildings. Sometimes I went inside the buildings if I was feeling particularly adventurous. It being a solo trip, I have precisely one picture with a person in it (me), so it's not the most exciting 350 picture slideshow (don't worry, I'll spare you). But here I am in Bruges, with all of my friends:

The cheese stands alone..

I decided to get to Brussels by a 9 hour train/bus combination, mostly to avoid the hassle of flying budget airlines that drop you so far from the city that you are required to take lengthy/expensive trips to the center of town. And, because flying in general is a pain and I didn't want ryanair telling me how much beer I could bring back. I got to Brussels at about 9pm on Saturday night with very vague instructions on how to find my hostel, which involved  two metro rides and a choice between a "15 minute walk along the highway" or a bus ride. When I got out of the metro station and found nobody around, I decided to wait for the bus since a 15 minute walk along the highway in the wrong direction is a situation I would definitely find myself in, and it being 1030pm by this point, I was in no mood for a classic Katie-style aimless walk along a highway. The bus never came, and I later found out that bus service stops at 10 for that route, so I found a cab. The cab driver told me it was probably a 1-2km walk, but I was certain I would mess that up so I took it anyway. It was literally a 3 min cab ride and he charged me $10. Live it learn it, I guess. I later read that Brussels cabs are notorious for being dishonest. I always forget that research is best done before leaving for a trip.

I spent the next day wandering around Brussels and eating healthy meals, consisting of chocolate, fries, waffles and beer. The Belgians REALLY know what they're doing. There's not much actual sightseeing to do in Brussels. There are some museums, but they didn't sound that appealing and Rick Steves, Travel God advised skipping over most of them. While I did like Brussels, I would probably call it my least favorite city I visited. It just doesn't compare to the others. Instead of paying for less-than-thrilling sounding museums, I walked around the streets lining the Grand Place and wandered past the EU Parliament building. I spent the afternoon doing this:

With this view... 

... enjoying the proximity of these two important shops...
...and discovering another level to being a kid in a candy store.

One thing I noticed immediately is how friendly the Belgians are. The first few times I accidentally bumped into someone on the street and they said "excuse me!" or "sorry!" I was lost for words. I literally stared a them with my mouth agape. Which I'm sure made a great impression on my mental state. I guess first impressions aren't everybody's thing. It's been awhile since people either a)moved out of the way for oncoming foot traffic - there's been many times I've had to flatten myself against a building to let people pass, or b) actually acknowledge the fact that they ran into me. That is just not the French way, it seems.

Customer service is also something I enjoyed getting used to again. Not that every shopkeeper in France is unfriendly - there are several who are quite nice. But it's not uncommon to walk into a store in France and be met with a "what do YOU want" look. I know it's nothing to take personally, but it's just an interesting thing to get used to after being in the US where people who work at the Olive Garden want me to join their family (DISCLAIMER:  based only on the "when you're here, you're family" commercials. I haven't set foot in an Olive Garden since I was 15 and that was "ethnic dining" to my teenage self). Apparently my random choosing of the above pictured beer, which happened to be the waiter's favorite, warranted a free beer and a free cheese plate from the excited and impressed waiter. They really get excited about their beer - an enthusiasm I can really get behind!

I only spent a day and a half in Brussels, but that was enough. I left on an afternoon train to Ghent, which was probably one of the highlights of the trip. I'll get to that later...

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Amsterdamn it!

Hello everyone. I hope that your March is going splendidly.  Perhaps you are also wondering where spring is. I should be nearing Perigueux right now, but alas, I am sitting in a McDonalds (for the free wifi, that's all, I promise) in Amsterdam, while Belgium and Paris are being "crippled" by snow. I don't want to pass judgment because I am not sure exactly how bad it is there, but I'm going to judge anyway. I feel that if I acknowledge my judgement in advance, it absolves me from guilt or shame and you can't judge me for judging. Got it?

Anyway, based on my previous experience with  "snow" in Europe, I'm going to go ahead and call them wimps. Perigueux got about 3/4 inch of slush/snow in January and public transport and many schools were canceled. Later that week, I went to London where they got 2 inches of slush/snow, which caused Heathrow to essentially shut down and Kristin nearly didn't make it from Switzerland. I watched the news that evening, and the BBC devoted HOURS to snow coverage. For a couple of inches. I know Wisconsin weather is not normal, but I still can't help but wonder why mild snowfalls are catastrophic.

Last night, I was scheduled to take the overnight bus from Amsterdam to Paris, and then catch an early afternoon train from Paris to Perigueux. Past Katie was congratulating herself on saving $30 on a hostel room for the night, while present Katie was wondering why a stupid idea ever sounded appealing. $30 is about 7 beers, which is a days work, after all. That's easy to make up. I headed down to South Amsterdam where the bus "station" (read: parking lot) is located, a couple of hours early. I found a bar/restaurant and got some dinner, then headed back to the parking lot at about 11:30 to wait for my bus, which was scheduled to depart at 11:45. Fortunately, there was a kebob shop right there, so I bought a bottle of water and waited inside. 11:45 came and went, and the man who worked there tried to call the bus company to see where the bus was. But, it's a French company so no such luck. They don't answer phones past 8pm, of course. He told me that Northern France and Belgium were getting some snow, and he thought that the bus was canceled. I waited a few more minutes, and he told me that the last tram back into Amsterdam was in a few minutes, and I should probably just get back to the city and get a hotel. I went into one of the ones near the train station and it was crowded, since apparently all the high speed trains to Brussels and Paris were canceled (lucky them!). $200 later, I was set up in a hotel room. I get that if safety is an issue, cancel the bus. But let a sister know before she goes alone to an abandoned parking lot at night with no accommodations.

I went to the train station today and the trains to Paris were all full with people who had been canceled on yesterday. SO, I'll be spending an extra two nights in Amsterdam, which isn't too bad considering what I did instead:

Hopefully I'll make it back tomorrow, and hopefully SNCF will be kind to me and rebook me without too much of a hassle. But it is France, after all, and hassles are their specialty. It's mean, but it's true.

Hope you're staying warm out there!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Adventures With an....Eccentric Neighbor

I'm just going to say it. My neighbor is crazy. I've had few encounters with her over the past few months, and I've only ever seen her sporting a pink bathrobe and slippers whilst smoking cigarettes. No matter what time of day. My first confusing interaction with her was last December, when she came outside in her "outfit" and blocked my way out of the apartment building, clearly angry with me but refusing to say anything except "don't move!" and "stay there!", while shooting me the most intense death glares I've ever received. And I've taken remotes away from kids and denied them candy the day after Halloween, so I know what I'm talking about here (I did it for good reason, don't worry). When she wouldn't tell me what the problem was I went around her and got to school. Because I had places to be. She went into her apartment and didn't come out for a few days, and when she did, she was syrupy sweet. I never did find out what made her mad. It was weird.

Flash forward to this weekend. Kristin was visiting, and after a day wandering around Perigueux, we came back to find her in a state about a small leak in her basement. She tossed out the idea of turning the water off, but said she wouldn't because the water would be cut off in my apartment as well. An hour passed, and her panic grew. She called the landlord, who is on vacation and told her to wait till Monday. She called over a neighbor, who told her it wasn't too bad and she'd have to wait till Monday to call a plumber. Unsatisfied, she called the fire department, who showed up, lights blazing. Because that's what emergency response teams are for, right? Minor household leaks. They seemed somewhat irritated that it was 9pm on a Saturday and this is what they were doing; when asked if the leak was bad, one of them answered with a curt "no.". Neither of us have the key to the utility closet, so they broke the door down and turned the water off, telling us that we could turn it on and off manually if we needed it. I showered at the gym yesterday and filled up several old wine bottles I had lying around (I knew they'd come in handy) with water for washing dishes and brushing teeth and making coffee, and it wasn't too big of a deal.

Then this afternoon, she called another guy over to mess around with it, and whatever he did turned off the water completely to my apartment. This was a problem, because I was about to take a shower. "Do you NEED to shower?" she asked. I did. So I had to shower at her apartment, which was about as creepy as I was envisioning. No fewer than 10 creepy porcelain dolls line the shelves of the bathroom. It was simultaneously hilarious and frightening. And her shower is really just a trickle so now I look like this:

Hopefully this gets resolved for good tomorrow, but this being France, I'm doubtful. In the meantime, I'll be showering at the gym, I think.

In other news, it has been in the mid 50s and sunny. Spring has SPRUNG! (I hope)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Pancake Day (err... Mardi Gras)

Hi friends. I'm back on the infrequent blogging schedule. I'm still here, plugging along. I've gotten to take trips to London and Milan in the past month, but I'll get to those later. I am inspired right now to blog about the charming French people I have met, since I've had a series of good interactions with them in the past two days that compel me to want to brag about the nice people who live here. This is also significant for me and the people I complain to because this is a bit of a change in viewpoint for me, so I feel it's only fair to share the good along with the frustrating.

I will begin my story with yesterday morning. I was walking to my Monday school, which is a 45 min uphill trek, when a woman pulled over and asked me if I wanted a ride the rest of the way and nodded to the backseat, saying that her son recognized me from school. I saw the outline of a boy waving from the backseat, I couldn't tell who it was through the tinted windows. I said thanks, but I'm fine with walking. A couple of minutes later, one of the teachers from the school pulled over and told me to get in the car. It had started to rain so I thanked her and ran over. We then had the following conversation (well, I'm pretty sure this was the conversation, translated to English. I can never be too sure what I'm actually saying):

Teacher: Where do you live?
Me: Near the train station.
Teacher: What?! You're crazy. Why would you walk all that way?
Me: I don't mind, I like walking.
Teacher: You're crazy. I've never met an American who likes walking that long and uphill! I'll pick you up from now on.
Me: Oh, it's ok. Thank you, but I like walking.
Teacher: That's crazy. At least let me pick you up until the rainy season is over.
Me: Ok, that would be great. Thank you.
Teacher: How do you like Perigueux? Have you tried foie gras yet?
Me: I like it. No, I haven't tried foie gras yet (brace for the reaction)
Teacher: What?! You haven't tried it? I'll invite you over for dinner before you leave, you're not going back to the US without trying foie gras.

This conversation was particularly exciting for me because a) it proved once again that telling a native of the Dordogne that you haven't tried foie gras, their staple food, is an abomination of sorts. I'll start lying from now on. And b) this teacher was one that I didn't have the most positive interactions with for awhile at the beginning. She wasn't the initially the friendliest person I've ever met, and I've always felt a bit intimidated by her. I've heard that the French are wonderful people but sometimes a bit hard to get to know, and once they spend some time around you, they are the nicest people who would do anything to help you. This interaction is evidence of that. I now realize I shouldn't have taken what I perceived to be negative interactions quite so personally. Not that I always did, but getting a cold and unfriendly response from someone can be a little hard to take sometimes. I mean, I'm from Wisconsin. I'm used to that Midwest Nice!

I've noticed this also in the boulangerie next to my house that I go to on a nearly daily basis. The woman who works there didn't return my smiles or more than a half hearted greeting for months. Now when I walk in she gives me a big smile, asks me how my day is going, and gives me the biggest baguette she has left. It's amazing.

Third positive interaction: today, I called my landlord to tell him that the gas tank I use for cooking was empty and that I had no idea what to do about that. I was expecting what I believed to be a French response - something along the lines of "sure, I'll be there tomorrow or Thursday or something". No no. He was there within 30 minutes. And he lives 20 minutes away. When I thanked him for the quick arrival, he said "Someone who can't cook - that's an emergency! Bon appetit!" (I at least know I translated that correctly).

Speaking of my landlord, the apartment is owned by a couple who just celebrated their 80th birthdays. They live in Senegal during the winter, so I was surprised and relieved he's in the area right now. Signing my lease was the funniest and most endearing (and also, longest) lease-signing process I've ever experienced. It took an hour and a half, because his wife insisted on reading me the lease front to back three times. The third time he put his head in his hands and said "oh no.. not again! She gets it!" His wife told me never to marry a frenchman because "ils ne sont jamais contents!" - they're never happy - to which her husband responded "who would be happy when you talk so much? We've been married 60 years and you're still always talking!" I told them this seems to be a worldwide argument among couples. They laughed and then walked to their car holding hands. It was pretty cute.

That's all I have for now! Hope you're all having a great Mardi Gras/Pancake Day. Are you familiar with Pancake Day? It's being celebrated by the expats from the other countries today. I told my British friend I'd never heard of it and he thought maybe that's because every day is pancake day in America. Amen! Have a pancake today and thank my British friends for the inspiration. I sure did.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trips! Trips! Trips!

Hello again. I hope this Sunday finds you well and that you are not to depressed about last night's Packer loss. I was just alerted this week to the presence of a Packer bar in Paris, which is pretty shocking considering the average Parisian's disdain for American culture. I'm stereotyping, I know. But really, if they're going to participate in any aspect of our culture I am surprised it would be American football. I guess there are probably enough ex-pats in Paris to keep that place going.

Anyway, this weekend has been devoted to sweatpants and bottle(s) of 1 euro wine (and it's not disgusting! I felt like Magellan when I found it. What a discovery!) and trip planning. It has taken over my life. Which is not too impressive a feat because let's remember, I live in Perigueux. It starts this upcoming weekend with a trip to London. I'll be meeting Kristin, who will be participating in a job fair for the upcoming school year. The fair takes place at a hotel overlooking the Tower Bridge, and we will also be staying there. Here is a picture from the hotel website of one of the views:

She'll be at the fair during the day and I'll explore, then at night we'll be able to hang out. I'm pretty excited about this - I have only been to London once - about 10 years go, and I don't remember much. I do remember that it was right after the US invaded Iraq. I'll never forget that because people brought it up nearly every time they realized we were American. They weren't impressed.

The second weekend in February I'll be going with a bunch of girls from the program to Milan for the weekend. We found round trip plane tickets on one of the budget airlines for 40 euro - which is the same price as the train tickets to get from Perigueux to Bordeaux to catch the plane- about an hour train ride. Ridiculous! But we'll take it. Since there are six of us, we opted to rent an apartment - living the hostel free dream! Wooo.

I also have another break from school coming up during the first two weeks of March and am planning to explore Portugal and Spain. Unfortunately it won't be warm enough for the beaches yet, but I'm sure it will be a lot sunnier than it is here! And I'll be able to sample wines from other regions - an important civic duty. Good thing I've already learned my lesson about Port wine - you actually aren't supposed to drink half the bottle like you can with other wines (by "you" I mean "I") due to the 20% alcohol content. That was a fun night. Oh well, most alcohol - related lessons we must learn the hard way, right? Mid April will bring Ms Barb and Mr Marty (it's ok if I call you guys that, right?) to Germany and I'm excited to meet them there. Hopefully I'll hit up Amsterdam and Belgium on either the way to Germany or on the way back to France. I'm not going home without trying Belgian fries. I've heard so much about them.

I'll return from that trip in time to meet my parents, who arrive April 30 for a two week trip. We're going to rent a car and do some traveling around France. And THEN Megan and I are going to fly home, making a few day stop in Iceland on the way. I still can't believe we're doing this. It all started on Friday night when we were looking online for potential flights home in May - she'll be going back to DC and I back to WI. We were alarmed by the $3000+ one way tickets back to the states and wondering if they'll go down eventually. Then Megan pointed out that there was a $550 flight back to DC from Paris via Iceland. And we thought, "wouldn't a few day layover in Iceland be cool?". A google image search of Iceland confirmed that yes, it would be cool. I realized that easyjet, our budget airline of choice, runs a 60euro flight from London to Reykjavic, and then the flight back to DC from there would only be $260! Dollars, not Euros! So we jumped on it. I found a $100 flight from DC to Madison, so we're pretty excited that not only are we getting home for about 1/6 the cost we were anticipating, but we get to explore Iceland, too. It really does look amazing. For example:
and :

Exciting things to look forward to! Traveling was the #1 reason I came here (maybe not the best #1 reason, but it's true), so looking forward to these events will hopefully get me through the work part of this situation, which I still haven't figured out how to approach without stress. I am in the process of making Rainman - like countdowns to each of these events, but I'll stop there. Rick Steves and I have some work to do. We've had quite a weekend together already, let me tell you. Have a good week!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm back! Again.

Look what I rediscovered in 2013? I wish I could tell you that I stopped blogging because I got too busy, but that is just not the case. What happened was that I got internet at home. (??!!) I since have been using my spare time to research websites on which I can watch my favorite and dearly missed TV shows for free (crap, I hope Big Brother isn't reading), planning my next trip, and keeping up with news stuff now that I can. Oh, and facebook. I'm sad to admit how much of a time suck that is. Though I haven't been blogging, I have been posting pictures and commentary on my shinanegans on said time suck. It's much more of an appropriate form of media for a person of my generation. I'm much better at giving updates in 140 characters or less than I am of writing multiple sentences and trying to make them flow together in a (somewhat) sensical way. Oh, the shame. So if you have facebook, which I'm pretty sure everybody but one person does (you know who you are. Just give in already.), you're probably up to speed.

I notice that the last time I blogged was after my last school break. I just returned from another, and this time I got to go home for Christmas. I'm glad I went, not only to fulfill the prophecy of the last blog during which I predicted I'd use the dryer as much as possible and stare at people I miss, but because I'm sure Perigueux was quite the deserted place over break. Most of my friends here either went home or were busy entertaining visitors. So, I got to spend two weeks doing my favorite things - happy hour, yoga, enjoying drip coffee (more than 5 oz of coffee was exciting), seeing great people, hanging out with former CMP families/teachers, and yes, drying my clothes. I even met two babies, which was exciting. I told them not to grow till I get back, but I don't think they'll listen. Typical.

So far, I feel pretty good about being back. It's only been three days, but that's good news nonethless. The school aspect of the job has been a bit frustrating, due to the sheer number of kids, teachers, and schools I work with and the lack of direction and feedback I've received, so that has caused some stress. But there are less than four months left, so that's not bad. Since being here, I've become obsessed with the passage of time. I'll always think something like "14 weeks left of teaching, that's not bad.. 14 weeks ago was the beginning of October...". I'm like a kid who measures time in episodes of I Love Lucy. Really, that's a thing. I know children who have used that time telling strategy. These daily calculations make me feel a little like Rainman.

I have learned, though, that sometimes things are hard, and you just have to deal. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but as a person who has not really deviated much from my routines over the past 10 years and hung out with the many of the same (wonderful, of course) people for most of my life, it was more shocking than I expected to be removed from all of that. I'm not used to lots of ups and downs and this experience has been full of them. But, people much wiser than I have informed me that experiencing ups and downs and learning to navigate them is part of being an adult. What?! And I tried to avoid growing up for so long. Sigh. So that's what I've been up to; learning about myself. Ugh. Oprah would be proud of me and that makes me sick. So I'm still here, trying to figure out these funny French and how to teach them. But I can do it, because it's 2013 now and I am going to be more of a Gryffindor and less of a Hufflepuff this year. Yeah, I just said that. If you know what that means, good for you. If you don't, read Harry Potter. Also, why haven't you gotten around to that yet? And you thought I was done mentioning Harry Potter...

In other news, I have joined a gym. That has also helped my mental health considerably. The gym is pretty nice - it is like the gym I belonged to in Madison, where you have a key that allows access even when it is not staffed (read: during hours in which working in France must be illegal - Sundays and the two hour lunch), and has spinning and body pump classes that someday I'll try. The gym also has all kinds of rules, which I find funny considering there seems to be no rules in other aspects of French life. The operation/parking of motor vehicles comes to mind. People can seemingly park or drive wherever they want - sidewalks, doorways, whatever. But you MUST purchase a full size beach/bath towel and sit on it at all times while at the gym. The first three times I went to the gym I did not realize the extent of the towel etiquette, and got a talkin to each time. The first time, I didn't know you needed a towel. No problem, the guy gave me one. The second time I didn't realize you actually have to RENT those towels. Oops. The third time, I didn't know that you have to sit on the towels, they cannot be on the handlebars. They also have you wipe off the machines like we do in the states with the sanitizer, and I've seen the staff following people like me who sweat a lot with a mop, so I think this must be part of their aversion to sweat. I've heard that's a very french thing. I sweat a lot, I can't help it. Then I walk home looking like a sweaty, red-faced mess, past all the perfectly outfitted French people sipping expresso on sidewalk cafes. Sometimes they look disgusted, but I really want to point out that that's a pretty judgemental look coming from a man wearing a pink silk scarf and an outfit so tight I swore it was a wetsuit. And are those tap shoes? They look like it.

Well, time to plan my lessons for tomorrow. Thanks for sticking out this long post. A friend of mine recently suggested shorter blogs more frequently. I never thought of that. I'll work on it. Happy 2013!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm still here!

Hello, friends. To the four of you who follow this thing, I apologize for my long absence. I was traveling during the Toussaint holidays, and spent the last week in a mood that can be best described as stormy. It turns out that one of the many characteristics I share with small children is difficulty with transitions, and not only has the transition to living in France been hitting me hard this week, but also the basic transition of going back to school after a break, something I always struggle with. I’m fairly certain that most of you would rather not listen to a pouty person, because if you did, you would just read Oprah’s blog (if she partakes in such commoner activities), or offer candy to your children and then decide “never mind”. I apologize if you are a fan of Oprah, I know she has done wonderful things, but I can’t fight the urge to make fun of her. I just don’t think anyone should cry in public that much. 

I feel much better now, and back in the swing of things, though I will say that if you ever find yourself feeling bored, so bored that you find yourself watching one of the 12 Kardashian shows that sadly exist or cable news (shudder), you should email me and tell me about your life. I would love to hear about it. Now that the election is over, not only am I not pressing “refresh” on the 538 blog obsessively anymore, but somebody has to pick up the slack now that the Obamas and Joe Biden no longer email me everyday.  Just please don’t ask me for $5 or send me pictures of you in animal print leotards like Joe Biden did. Say what you will about that, it was at least not embarrassing as those pictures of Paul Ryan lifting weights. I mean, he released those to the entire public. Joe’s were at least a private gift for me. And he didn’t sport a backwards hat like he was auditioning to be part of a Kris Kross tribute band.

Anyway, I did have a great time traveling over break. Megan and I went to Prague and Vienna for the first week. Prague was amazing; we ate and drank very well. And cheaply. I couldn’t help thinking of my buddy Rachel Gage while I was there (shout out to Baby Rach!), because the majority of the diet seems to revolve around meat and potatoes and beer, which I think comprises her dream meal. The architecture in Prague is all very beautiful and unique. We took a free three-hour walking tour all over the city, which was great. Their history is fascinating; being a country that didn’t gain their freedom till about the time I was discovering the Boxcar Children, and it was interesting to hear stories of a place that has been occupied by both Nazi’s and Communists in recent years. There is also a huge and very interesting Jewish Quarter, filled with beautiful synagogues and museums. During WW2, Hitler had decided that when his work was done, he would build a museum to remember the exterminated race in Prague, and had many of the Jewish artifacts and possessions the Nazis confiscated from homes and synagogues around Europe during the war sent to Prague. There was a large collection of drawings done by children who were taken from their families to live in the ghettos and wait for the concentration camp outside Prague to be completed. When it was, they were shipped out and hardly any survived. Those were particularly heartbreaking. Here are some pictures of the city: 

Vienna was also beautiful. All the buildings were elegant and white, and they were setting up for the Christmas Market that is starting this weekend. It is apparently one of the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe, which would have been cool see. I wasn’t sure what to expect of Vienna, I’d heard mixed things, but I was pleasantly surprised. Lots of good food, interesting history, and lavish palaces filled with stories of inbred crazy people. You know, standard fare. Here is a picture of me in front of the Hapsburg palace summer home just outside the city. We also visited their main palace, both were huge. 

And here is a random Vienna street/typical architecture:

We flew back to Paris from Vienna, and then a few days later I flew to Geneva to spend a few days with Kristin at her boarding school in the tiny mountain town of Leysin, and hour and a half outside of Genva. The campus was beautiful, it had a great view of the mountains. I arrived at midnight and thus had no idea where I was. When I woke up the next morning and looked out the window, and saw this: 

it was quite surprising. While I was there, I got to indulge in some of my favorite past times; like working out (there was a gym!), thai food, actual wi-fi, and using a clothes dryer. I was so excited about the dryer that I even brought my sheets. Air drying sheets just isn’t the same. We went to Lousanne, the home of the official Olympic museum, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Too bad, because I would have loved to pay homage to my fish’s namesake, Kristi Yamaguchi. It was a nice weekend, and thanks to the availability of European  budget airlines, not too expensive. I did visit the olympic flame, however, something I imagine I'll have a much closer view of when I finally make the olympic team: 

In other exciting news, there are five weeks of school between me and a trip home for winter break. I’m looking forward to seeing people and using the dryer. In that order. I’ll probably stare at it in wonder and amazement in my free time. What a marvelous appliance. Maybe I’ll stare at you, too. If you’re lucky.

I can’t really top the image from that last sentence, so I’m going to stop there. Have a great week and a happy Thanksgiving. I will be going back to Sarlat to reunite with the Dordonge elementary teachers for a grand ol’ American feast. I’m excited. And, I think I’ll be able to wake up at a reasonable time and get some great 4am CST Black Friday deals. Maybe I’ll buy a dryer…..