Tuesday, October 26

I'm still 22, damnit.

This past week has gone by so quickly, yet it feels as though so many things have happened. There's been a frost, a wind storm, an early birthday dinner, an emotional breakdown, and a whack on the head with the trunk of a car. A pretty average week in the life of a twenty-two year old, I'd say. And as my last week as a twenty-two year old, I'd prefer making it as typical as possible.

I find years to be more accurately measured from one birthday to the next or one Autumn to the next (if you're uncomfortable with birthdays. In my case they're almost the same) than by measuring a calendar year beginning in January. Because really, who wants to begin their year with the most miserable weather imaginable? Did I mention that I'm from Michigan? Birthdays and Autumn offer a more natural measurement of time passed.

Twenty-two has without a doubt been my best and most unique year yet, though I suppose every year has been that way. I spent the majority of 22 in a foreign country, and honestly, I'm not sure I'd recognize my 21 year-old self if she walked up and said "I'm you from a year ago, fool" (she liked to imitate Mr. T), and that's exactly what I wanted from this past year-- to grow. (On a side note I did see a hilarious commercial in France featuring Mr. T with a French voice. My brain warpped out for a second, unable to comprehend what it had just seen.)

While turning twenty-two in the most beautiful city on earth was definitely more exciting than turning twenty-three in Dexter, Michigan, I'm no less excited about the year to come than I was about the one that has just passed. If that one could exceed my expectations I have no doubt that every year to follow will have the capability to do the same.

So here's to turning 23 and to what I know will become excellent year!

Tuesday, October 19

Designing a Busy Life

Oy vey! Becoming a part of the real world again has been a wonderful experience so far, though I'm sure it's effects will be short lived.

On Monday I woke up at 6:20, the earliest I have been up in months, to prepare for my 1:15 commute to Birmingham for my first day of retraining with Lindamood-Bell, the company I worked for last summer tutoring students with learning disabilities. Birmingham is an adorable town, tres chic, and as I arrived a bit early I had some time to pick up a coffee at Starbucks and gaze in the dark windows at Antrhopologie with coffee stained drool sliding down my chin.

After a few hours of observing consultations, I began to make my way back to Dexter for lunch when I suddenly heard a rattling sound coming from the front right side of the car. Not willing to take chances on my survival, I pulled into the nearest parking lot which was thankfully that of a Panera Bread Co to call my dad and eat a delicious panini.

Turns out there is a whole slew of problems with my car, and I'd rather not imagine what could have become of me had I continued driving it in such terrible condition, but as a consequences for my luck, I had the pleasure of spending the rest of the afternoon sitting in my dad's office reading about retirement plans and playing solitaire on my phone.

Today was pretty great compared to yesterday, as I spent all day in a web designing class tinkering around with html and CSS codes, loving every minute of it. Weird, but I'm glad I enjoy it. Hopefully after taking the next two classes I will feel comfortable making my own site! Stay tuned...

Mom and Alex come home tomorrow from Italy... maybe. They're flying Air France, and if you've been watching the news at all lately my skepticism won't surprise you.

Ugh, sorry for the boring post. My latest writing project has been my memoir of my year abroad so I've been sacrificing my blog child. As we all know, there's just not enough time in a day!

Saturday, October 16

Pretentious Pasta

Thank you, Melissa Aney, for your fancy alliterations that will hopefully bring the masses to read my blog.

"What do you miss the most about France?" is a question I have received multiple times, and I believe I have now spent enough time in America to answer this question in a bullet-pointed list.

  1. People.
    • One in particular, but there is a handful of people that I miss like crazy.
  2. Culture.
    • A general enough topic to include everything from fashion, to eating habits, to public transportation, though I miss a little of it all. It's not so much the food itself that I miss (though I did just ask Kelsy to bring me back a bag of pasta noodles because I prefer the shapes that they sell in France), but the way people eat. Eating is taken seriously, and mealtime is a sacred part of the day. It sounds stupid, but it just doesn't exist like that here in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
    • On several occassions in France I saw two straight men arguing about the order of a menu-- what wine should accompany which course-- and receive no questioning about their sexuality, in the meantime wearing nice shoes and looking you in the eye when they say "cheers".
  3. Knowing that even on a boring, lame ol' day, there is something innately fascinating about my life.
  4. People watching.
  5. Two euro (or less) bottles of wine.
  6. Picnics on the river.
  7. Espresso.
  8. Despite meager wages, my independence.

Thursday, October 14

Fall in Michigan: Photo of the Day

It's been two years since I've seen Fall in Michigan, and it is glorious! The picture doesn't do justice to how beautiful the trees have become. Is it always like this in Michigan in October?

Tuesday, October 12

Living Life on a Treadmill

No amount of ridiculous multitasking can make me feel fulfilled. I knew that when I got back into the American goove I would feel bored, and so I have tried to combat this boredom with taking on ridiculous amounts of work, which has made my innate knack for being too hard on myself kick into full gear when I begin everything and finish nothing. Ok, that's not completely true; I finish plenty of things, but the teenage bully inside of my head likes to tell me that I suck and calls me a dummy. So rude.

Alors...here I am, feeling the quintescential twentysomething sentiment: I have the world at my fingertips and I want to do it all. Right now. I have overloaded myself with things to do and I feel as though I'm running fast on a treadmill, going nowhere.

Doing it all is just a distraction from the fact that I am not loving my current situation. I don't like feeling unproductive, and so I have taken on another J-O-B, my old job, in fact, working with children with learning disabilities, a job that I really enjoyed in the past. It will be nice to get out of the house for work!

Something that I have surprisingly learned is that I love having adult responsibilities like paying rent and utilities and having to do everything for myself. Though, that's not something I would have realized had I not moved home for a while. Thank you, Universe, for sending me a lesson.

Monday, October 4

This should have been my first post.

Sitting in the dining room of an old stone house in Bretagne—the sun had just began to shine for the afternoon, all of the other house guests were taking a nap—I had become inspired in the tranquility of the moment to reflect on the twelve months that I spent in France, a topic that could fill pages that I have attempted to consolidate into a short article.
I’d begin by saying that living abroad was an experience like none other, and say, as many others have, that it is without a fraction of a doubt the best thing that you can ever do with your youthful freedom before becoming tied down by various adult responsibilities; but I won’t do that, because there exists so much more to these months that deserves le mot juste, and I feel patient enough right now to find those perfect words.
I’ll throw out some adjectives. My time in France was eclectic, wonderful, educational, painful, lonely, empowering, depressing, expensive, frightening, boring, life-changing, stressful, and at times horrible. I mean, honestly, you could look up any adjective in the English language and it would apply. But that’s what being in a foreign place did for me; it put me in a place where even when I felt excruciating emotional pain, I could somehow feel proud of feeling that pain in such a beautiful place. Being troubled in Paris is a lot more poetic than being troubled in Hicksville, U.S.A.  Look at it this way: you get to look at great shoes and cool architecture while feeling sad. A Nutella crêpe doesn’t hurt, either.
I made a decision long before venturing on my French journey that in my life I want to live with the highest highs and the lowest lows. I want to know what it’s like to feel disabling pain so that I can better appreciate what a gift every day is. (On a side note, it is amazing how easy it is to forget pain once it has passed, which is why I believe we are to experience it many, many, many times in life).  Experiencing these highs and lows does not necessarily mean living in extremes. It means taking risks; going outside of your comfort zone to test your limits, like moving to France or eating liver paté for the first time.
I would find any other way of living extremely boring, which is why despite how much I try to keep myself occupied as a repatriated American, I still somehow feel unfulfilled. It was by taking a risk and living in France that I have learned that I can fluently speak a foreign language if I try hard enough, that I’m a control freak, that I hate receiving advice and criticism from others, that I someday want to become a teacher, that I actually like seafood and children (two things I had always condemned), that I am extremely proud to be an American citizen, that there is no perfect place on earth, to be happy in the moment, to be flexible, and to get along with people from an extraordinary range of backgrounds… etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… Life is hard. That’s what makes it so wonderful.
There is nothing more interesting than constantly being around people who are not like you… though at the same time you realize that all humans, no matter where they come from, have certain inalienable human qualities, and therefore you will always have something in common with the most unlikely of individuals. Though we may eat or drink differently, and we may differ in what we consider “good taste”, all people need to eat, sleep, and love. Sometimes it’s amazing how similar we actually are.
And here I am saying the things that sound so cliché, but I suppose it’s because they are so true. If you’re feeling bored or stuck it’s probably because you need an adventure. Though I have only lived for 23 years, I have done nothing that I am more proud of than living for one year in a foreign country, and nothing more confusing than moving back to the one I’m from.

Here’s to a new chapter in which I will undoubtedly learn some new lessons… hopefully not the ones I already have. I believe George W. Bush said it well when he said “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame… shame on…the fool can’t be fooled again.”