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February 2011

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Feb. 21st, 2011

Planning

Thib and I are going away for a long weekend starting on Wednesday and then my mom and Dana get here on the following Monday for the wondrous 'Mother Dana Ken Adventure' so I won't be writing for a few weeks. I've got the holiday all planned out:

23rd-25th: Thib and I are going away on a mini-holiday to Clisson, a small medieval town south of Nantes. We're staying in the middle of nowhere, ready to relax and breathe country air. If the weather's nice, I'm hoping we can go canoeing and horse-back riding then we can visit the castle in the city centre of Clisson.

Sunday is the day we come back to Nantes, and it's just a day for relaxing.

Monday the 28th: My train for the Paris airport leaves scary-early in the morning, at 6 am, which means I have to be at the train station by 5:30. YIKES. However, Thib made me get a ticket that goes from Nantes directly to the CDG airport which means I don't have to take the messy and confusing metro, then the RER, and THEN the shuttle. I feel bad for all the poor tourists who have to navigate through that maze, it's insane. I shall be waiting eagerly in the Arrivals for my mother and Dana, then we head back to Nantes, I'll make them a big welcome dinner, then let them get to bed early.

March 1st: Tour of Nantes. I'll show them the beautiful Jardin des Plantes, le Chateau des Ducs, the Cathedrale, and then we'll just bum around centre ville eating pastries and drinking espresso. We'll probably go out and celebrate their arrival too.

March 2nd: Tour of Nantes 2: Just bumming around again, we'll probably have a pic-nic if the weather permits. Dinner at a typical French restaurant.

March 3rd: Day trip to Le Mont St. Michel. If you don't know what that is, google it, it's incredible.

March 4th: Tour of the best castles in France: Amboise, Chenonceau, Chambord and...Blois- home of the Bloismuda Triangle. When Beth, Thib and I visited that castle the first time, we got stuck in a vortex of highway terror. We couldn't get out of that city, even though we followed all of the signs and took all the right roads, it was crazy!! We drove around that tiny town for an hour before we got on the highway leading out of the city.Let's hope that doesn't happen again...

March 5th: We'll leave for Paris, and spend the day walking around the City of Lights. Maybe do a boat tour.

March 6th: Flea Market shopping early in the morning, explore the Montemarte area in the afternoon; Sacre Coeur and visit the Trocadéro area, which is across the river from the Eiffel. I heard it has a beautiful view at sunset.

March 7th: Walk around and explore: Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, Bastille, Pont Neuf, Louvre, Tuileries Garden

March 8th: Walk around and explore: Arc de Triomphe, Opera House, Champs-Elysées, Rue de Rivoli and get some fabulous chocolat chaud chez Angelina!

March 9th: Walk around and explore: Musée d'Orsay, Musée Rodin, Jardin de Luxembourg, Pont Alexandre III, and visit the infamous Eiffel Tower.

Dana and my mom leave the next day and I head back to Nantes, ending the holiday. I can't wait for this, I need some Mommy time!


Feb. 20th, 2011

HELLO AGAIN!!!

LONG time, no post.
As it turns out, that fatigual (is that a word?) slump I felt like I was in turned out to be iron deficiency anemia. Nothing a good steak and some iron supplements couldn't fix! Now I feel good as new and it's time to resume the blogging.

I haven't been up to much lately, just really thinking about my future and what I want to do with myself next year. I have a few ideas; Phuket, Thailand; Montréal,Canada; or maybe just staying home for a while, but everybody who knows me knows that I can't stay in the same place for too long. I'm constantly craving cultural stimulation and it's hard to find that in the States, especially in farm country (Wisconsin).

The one thing not on the menu for next year is marriage and a baby. It seems like everybody from back home is currently expecting or has already popped out a kid or two or is/getting married, or all of the above. I'm not sure what's going on there, maybe I'm just at that point in my life where the people around me are getting married off and shooting out offspring. In my opinion, 22 is a little young to be doing that, especially when there is so much world to be lived. Who knows though, maybe I'm just a little behind on the Americanized ideal of a happy family but I don't plan on going down that road for a few years. Not to say that I'm not happy for those friends of mine who are married and expecting, because I am and I don't mean to be cynical.

Meanwhile, in France..

The weather has been looking up which means I can venture out into the city again. The flowers in the garden are starting to bloom, and the sun shows its beautiful face at least a few times each week which puts me in an excellent mood. I can re-appreciate this beautiful city again.

Work has been going well. I still have one class of 11/12 year olds that like to test my patience as much as humanly possible but I'm dealing and we are getting along for the most part. One of the boys has managed to learn 'You suck', 'Fuck you', and 'you're a pain' (used on the other students, not me) but he can't manage to learn the Simple Present verb tense. I don't get it. I also heard him talking about my boobs to another student in the hall. Boys..

This week is the last week of work before the holiday starts (2 weeks paid vacay, yeah baby!!) My Mom and Dana will be here at the end of the week and I can't wait to see them! We are going to take Thib's car and cruise around the Loire Valley; do some castle sight-seeing, a day trip to Le Mont St. Michel, and finish off with Paris. It will be

Things between Thib and I are still wonderful, living together hasn't proven to be a hardship on our relationship, it's actually brought us closer. (THANK GOODNESS!!!!) Living with a man, especially a FRENCH man, means I've had to ease up on my rigid cleaning and partly-OCD organizational regimen but all is well and we have both adapted.
I don't know what's going to happen next year with us, but I'm hoping Thib will come to Eau Claire for a while and see my life in my home environment. However, he never had a chance to go out and explore the world like I did, and he lived with a tyrannical beast until we moved in together so I want him to do his own thing, find out who he is, live alone and all that, until he is ready to be together again. I plan on doing my thing and he can do his, and we'll see what happens from there.

In the meantime, I'm just going to keep up my iron intake!

Feb. 4th, 2011

Long time, no post

It feels like I haven't posted in a while and that's mostly because I don't really have anything to say besides 'I'm in a funk'.

Yes, I'm in a funk and it's a funk I need to be shaken out of. What I look forward to every day is going to sleep at night and what I dread is having to wake up in the morning and do stuff. I can barely get out of bed. What's my problem?

Jan. 17th, 2011

WOOFTA!

I just had the strangest dream.

First, I was in the middle of nowhere, in a lake house with Thib. There was a castle in the distance but we couldn't visit it because Thib was too skinny. He was as thin as a piece of paper and couldn't walk.
Then, all of a sudden, my house was floating up in space, getting closer and closer to the sun, and I was freaking out because I couldn't find my Dad. There was an old man in the shower, really old, and I don't know why he was in the shower when the house was about to fry up in the powers of the sun, but whatever. I tried to open the window to yell for my Dad but I remembered that space air will suck the life out of your lungs and make your skin dry up and pull your eyeballs out and that didn't sound very pleasant. Then the old guy came out of the shower and asked me what was wrong. I said 'Look outside' and right outside the living room window was the sun. This sun was made out of lava though, it was orange and black and hot. Only the house just kept bouncing against it. I knew I was about to die, and I figured the rest of my family was dead since they weren't in the house, and I didn't know who this old dude was, so I accepted my fate and went to open the window next to the sun.
And then I woke up.
Strange.




You don't mess wit da sun.

Jan. 13th, 2011

(no subject)

I have been feeling pretty awesome as of late. Trying to keep a positive attitude in a country of generally pessimistic people and depressing weather is pretty hard but working on my list of goals for 2011 has kept me motivated.

Reasons for my feeling awesome:

1. I have bought an umbrella that is sturdy and will not blow away/rip/leak water all over me in these constant rain storms.

2. I'm now babysitting for a nice French family to earn some extra money and keep busy.

3. I'm going to be giving private English lessons to 2 teachers that I work with, again for extra money (hopefully to be used for traveling!) and to keep busy.

4. Thib and I FINALLY HAVE OUR OWN INTERNET!!!!!!!!! However, the phone is not working. Sigh.

5. I went shopping yesterday (one of the best things about France are the huge sales they have Mid-January) and I bought a new shirt, 3 dresses, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shoes, and a huge necklace all for 50E. Yeah!!!! There's nothing like a good day of shopping to raise the spirits! I also got a new Monet Agenda. YAHOO!!!!

6. Another thing making me feel pretty awesome are Lemon Tarts. YUM! I can't get enough! They are all I've wanted to eat this week.




Seriously, how can you resist this?? HOW?????

Jan. 4th, 2011

Off to a great start!

Happy New Year everybody!

I think this might be everybody's favorite time of year. Not only are the holidays a time to pig out and gain 10 pounds but then we get the chance to make excuses like 'my diet starts tomorrow' or 'I'll begin my exercise routine in the morning (my favorite).

The new year is a fresh start. It's the time to make resolutions that most of us won't keep, a time to think how we are going to forget the mistakes of our past and start making better decisions in the future. I fully embrace New Year's Resolutions and, although I rarely keep them, I've made a list of things I would like to work on this year:

1. Like everybody else on the planet, I want to start taking better care of myself. My goal is not to lose weight, but to start treating my body better in order to feel better. More water, fruits and vegetables, homemade breads and granola, and little to no preservatives, processed foods, and alcohol. If anybody needs a DD, that shall be me. Except I still don't know how to drive a stick shift. And we are in Europe so..nevermind.

2. Learn to drive a stick shift.

3. I'd like to treat the environment better. I've always been a recycler but this time I'm switching to ECO-Friendly light bulbs (or candles, they worked centuries ago, why not now?) and I'll be taking my bike everywhere I can. Unless it rains, in which case I will take the tram or walk.

4. Buy an umbrella that doesn't rip in half when heavy winds blow. I'll need that whilst walking in said rain.

5. I did have a goal to exercise every day but... we'll see about that.

6. I'm ready to start my career as the best pastry chef this world has and will ever see!

7. And last but not least, I would like to be more positive. I'm grateful for everything I have in my life. I know I am blessed and I don't want to take that for granted. And while I like to use this blog for venting my frustration, that doesn't change the fact that I am lucky to be here.

Best wishes for a beautiful and happy 2011!

Love, Kenalee




I will one day be the master of all things pastry!

Dec. 30th, 2010

The Holidays

Welcome back everybody!

I hope you all had a great Christmas/holiday season! I certainly did.

Christmas break started on the 17th and all I did for the first 3 days was bake, watch movies, then eat what I baked, thus commencing the weight gain. On the 22nd Thib, Beth, and I decided to go tour some castles (why not?? This is France after all!) We drove east, where castles are as abundant as cheese and wine around here, and took in the sights. We only got to tour the inside of 1 major castle (Chateau Chenonceau) but got to see the outside of the rest and we are going back in Febuary to tour more when my Mom and Dana will be here. The castles were beautiful and it was a great day. We had a little incident with the 'Autoroute' and having to pay ridiculous amounts of money to drive on it but I'm not going to get into that...

Afterward, I had a 3 day Christmas with Thib's family and all we did was eat, drink, and well, eat!
Vive La France!
The first Christmas dinner, on Christmas Eve, lasted well over 3 hours and was spent with Thib's dad, step mom and 2 little brothers (plus 5 other people in Vanessa's family) in Rezé, just outside of Nantes. The appetizers were these chilled cups filled with seafood carpaccio, tomatoes, avocado and onions, all served with Champagne. Thib's dad, Betrand, always buys the good stuff that I can never afford so I try to 'profiter' every time it's served.
Vanessa is an excellent cook and we ate fresh seafood (literally fresh, as in the giant shrimp still had eyeballs, legs, and its head on, of which we had to brutally rip off to get to the good stuff) live oysters, Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops in a cream sauce, served in a shell) all of which are traditional Christmas meal starters, then foie gras, beef tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, sautéd green beans, the best cheese plate I have ever had in my life, and then the traditional Buche de Noel- the Christmas Roll Cake. YUM. Thib and I spent the night then woke up nice and early to open present with the kiddies. It was really fun.

Christmas dinner #2 was spent chez Brigitte, Thib's mom, with his uncle and sister as well. It was much more low-key but still fun. We ate salmon cru, chicken pasta, and Buche de Noel then opened gifts.

Christmas dinner #3 was huge. I think there were about 20 people there, all on Betrand's side of the family, and that dinner lasted about 4 hours. We started off with Champagne (the good stuff I can never afford, therefore I drink a lot of it)and appetizers (smoked bacon with prunes, salmon tarts, foie gras on pain d'épices, the works) then sat down at the enormous table to have the real meal. Like every French Christmas meal, we started off with seafood. Oysters, salmon cru (raw, smoked salmon) and snails. No, not escargot which is cooked in garlic, but actual sea snails raw, in the shell. Not my favorite.
The next course were Coquilles St. Jacques, followed by a roast chicken with potatoes, nut purée, and carrots. Afterwards, we had the Buche de Noel and coffee. There were many other appetizers served in between but I can't remember ALL the food I ate since I ate twice my body weight and gained at least 10 pounds. It was well worth it.



Langoustines and Sea Snails




The best cheese plate EVER!

Dec. 6th, 2010

Not for Sensitive Eyes

I'm irritated as shit right now. I don't know if it's PMS or this shitty weather 24/7 or the French in general or what but I am fucking annoyed.

I'm sick of having no friends, no sunshine or sunshine only from 9-5 when it actually decides to show its face (DAMN YOU WINTER), no social life, no efficient customer service, no stores open after 7pm, dog shit all over the sidewalks and snotty kids who don't know how to sit in their seats and shut the fuck up. Dammit, right now I'm just sick of being here.

Details:

Honestly, I'm really lonely. I think that is the root of my problem. One of the only girls I hung out with here quit the program and is going home which is an idea I've pondered but decided against due to my main squeeze and not wanting to do the long-distance thing again. Also, we've moved in together so now I'm obligated to stay and pay my half of the rent. I really miss my friends. And I don't have any here in Nantes and it's driving me crazy.

It's wintertime time. That means 2 types of weather: incessant rain and clouds or partial sunshine but ONLY during working hours. The sun is gone by 5pm and that is really depressing. Plus, the rain and wind is effing annoying when you have to walk to work.

No social life. Refer back 2 paragraphs. I don't have any friends. I tried to make some by throwing a party last weekend but I had to cancel it because nobody could come. I guess there was another party that same night that was apparently more fun than mine would have been. I'm only half-kidding in my juvenile manner of saying that. Sigh. I'm not trying to be so ridiculously sensitive by pointing this out, it's just a fact.

I'm still using extremely inconvenient Wi-fi hubs because, apparently, it takes 2 months to change the address in somebodies Internet Package Account and get the internet transferred over. 2 months. Right. And that was after about a million phone calls and being on hold for forever.

This is France and in France, everything is closed around 7 or 8 pm including grocery stores and gas stations. Also, everything is closed on Sundays, holidays, and during the random strikes of which 2 occured last week.

Also in France, nobody cleans up after their dogs. Picture a girl going on a journey beyond her driveway. She's walking, as most people do when they want to use the sidewalk. Suddenly, she loses her footing, sending her feet in front of-and over- her head, falling backwards and slamming her face into the cement, a sloppy brown mess shooting forward from her displaced foot. That's right, she slipped on dog shit. This really pisses me off!!! There are more than 600,000 people living in this city. That makes roughly about 304,287 dogs. I don't even want to imagine how many shits they shoot out in one day that just get left there, waiting to get stepped on. Nobody ever cleans them up. Oh wait, I saw ONE lady with a poop bag once but I just thought it was a hallucination/miracle. When it rains (like it does pretty much every day) the poop soaks up the water and turns all spongey-looking and yellow colored, it's disgusting.
Now, I don't care where your dog drops its chocolate marshmallows. In fact, I'll give anyone who can actually get someone to eat dog shit by passing it off as chocolate marshmallows five dollars. My only concern is what happens after the shit hits the ground.
It's not like it's difficult to carry a plastic bag with you and pick up your dog's roadside deposit with it. In fact, everyone should carry some plastic bags around with them. Then, the next time you see someone not clean up after their mongrel, you pick it up and throw it at their stupid face.




The point here is simple: NOBODY WANTS TO STEP ON/SMELL ANYTHING THAT CAME OUT OF A DOG'S ASS!! Stop polluting the Earth and pick up your mess. Or I will shoot you.

Dec. 2nd, 2010

Guérande

Yesterday I went on a day trip to Guérande, which is a small town in the West of France and is famous for its sea salt marshes. Guérande is the largest producer of seal salt in France, and that salt is pretty darn tasty!

I went with the members of the Communius Project, which is an international project aimed to decrease the carbon footprint of it's members and increase the production of eco-friendly housing in the world. There were members from Romania, Italy, Greece, Poland, Sweden, and Spain. We started off the day with a buffet-style lunch which included specialties from all of the participating countries. I had the best Feta cheese I've ever tasted (thank you Mrs. Greece!) along with different sausages, cheeses, candies, drinks, and cakes. Afterward, we piled into 2 different cars and drove to Guérande. We went to the Sea Salt museum which was pretty interesting, given the topic. I learned that the way they harvest the sea salt hasn't changed for hundreds of years and they still use the same tools and methods as their ancestors. That's pretty cool. The museum tour ended with this quote, 'To some, salt is just salt. But to others, it contains a piece of humanity' Deep.

Then we piled back into the cars and drove to La Baule to get some coffee and warm up (Guérande wasn't big enough to do that), which is right on the ocean.
It was a pretty city and it's always nice to see the ocean, especially with the sunset we saw yesterday. We went to this really neat café that was decorated with mod-60's style paintings of Jack Nicholson and his creepy smile, and I had a wonderful extra-large espresso with Choquettes, which are small pastries.

It was a good day.



Sea Salt Marshes



Choquette
Tags:

Nov. 30th, 2010

Unstoppable Hippos

Still no internet at home so I have to either use wifi or the school's computers. I got yelled at last time by some old lady teacher wanting to use the computer I was using even though there were 5 other computers available in the room next door. I ever so graciously gave up my computer for her own selfish use after hearing her nag me 5 minutes straight about how computer's are for schoolwork, not fun (I was probably on Facebook at the time, but it was during class hours! All the teachers were in class!) and then she yelled at me that I didn't sign out right. Well gee, maybe you should GET YOUR OWN COMPUTER! Then you can sign out right as often as you want after doing all the schoolwork that you want. This is why I need an internet connection at home! No hags!

It finally snowed in Nantes!!! It did melt right away but I enjoyed a good hour of constant flurries after my date with Thib on Sunday. We went out to eat at a restaurant called 'Hippopotamus' with Thib's dad, step-mom, and 2 little brothers. I ordered the Beef Carpaccio with Chèvre Chaud and Salad and it was GOOD! Carpaccio is thin slices of raw beef sprinkled with olive oil and herbs. Chèvre Chaud is toasted goats cheese= YUM!! It was fun but, as usual, Thib brought up the subject of having kids which always gets his step-mom riled up and then we spent half of the dinner getting lectured about how we are too young, financially unstable, and unfit to have kids right now. Ummm really? I KNOW! It was THIB who always brings the subject up, and I am well aware that I'm no where near ready to have children. Maybe in 5 years but definitaly not now. I think he does it on purpose to make her mad. They don't exactly have a loving relationship...
After the conversationally awkward dinner, Thib and I saw the movie 'Unstoppable' which was the dumbest movie I have seen in a long time. I even managed to take a nap throughout the middle of it and not miss anything important. The movie is about this asshole-moron train conductor who decided idiotically to leave his train cabin and move something off the tracks while the train was in motion. Of course, the train throttle magically shifts itself to high gear as soon as the guy leaves the cabin and off it goes, a runaway train, down the tracks ready to cause mayhem and catastrophy. Then these two other guys manage to stop the train and the movie is over. DUMB.

As for my classes, things are going pretty well. I have lost all motivation to teach anything this week so we are watching the move 'Eagle Eye' and answering discussion questions. Oh, the simplicity of being an Assistant...

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