the bullet journal

"obi-wan kenobi? what makes you think so?"
"a tremor in the force. the last time i felt it was in the presence of my old master."
"surely he must be dead by now." 

completed: the task with the highest satisfaction-to-time-consumed ratio of the lot. i am all about a) the idea of the force as a religion and b) the idea of the bullet journal. setting up my (less finicky) version of the latter took half an hour. i haven't figured out the former.

it's basic: black and white, like its cover. it started off on the wrong foot, as i forgot that moleskines fold after the first page, but it'll be good in the end, like darth vader.

rules i've set for myself: 1) ballpoint pens, exclusively. black or blue, exclusively. i am not, and have never been, a highlighter girl; nor am i a gel pen girl, though that's not for lack of trying. also, i think the licensed moleskines use lower-end paper. 2) "watch bsg 4.09" is as much of a task as "do laundry." 3) no doodling! the lines in this book are too dark for that.

(i suppose i could invest in one of these next.)

one request: if you see me over thanksgiving break, ask me about the bullet journal! hopefully, it will still exist at that point in time.


mangez !

  • yogurt cakes are wonderful in their simplicity: eggs + leavener + a few ingredients all measured in a pot of yogurt. for example: two pots of flour, two pots of oil, one pot of sugar. no frosting! no frosting anywhere in france.
  • goat cheese (chèvre) is great with apples and even better in the way my second host mother prepared it. this, too, is simple: slice an apple in half, top each half with goat cheese, bake! sprinkle with thyme.
  • france has a bread law. a bakery can't call itself a boulangerie unless it makes its bread a) on the premises and b) with only four ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast). this has deterred nobody, as i saw boulangeries on every street corner. however, crustiness is not standardized.
  • french sandwiches are revolutionary, perhaps because of the bread. they're big and filled with cheese (always) + whatever else you desire. my favorites are tomato/mozzarella and cucumber/chèvre. obviously, you'll have several more options if you eat meat.
  • honorable mentions: fleur de lait ice cream, buckwheat crêpes, savory tarts!
  • lastly: i never thought i'd actively search for a website called cheese.com, much less actually spend time reading it, much less find its contents fascinating. and yet: here i am.



reims and troyes are old, very old, old enough that i found mention of both in first few chapters of the book i selected for my flight home -- crown and country(david starkey, who has recently been in the news for being a "dyspeptic television personality" of a historian who advocates britain's inherent britishness; this book hits you over the head with that belief).

this is reims part ii, in which i do visit the cathedral notre-dame de reims (along with two others + a basilica), and in which i also eat a single shining macaron from la petite friande. this particular macaron is called "stade de reims," and sports the colors of a) the local soccer team and b) the famous biscuits roses of the city. it is, according to my host sister, the best macaron in the world. i don't disagree! however, i've only eaten two macarons total.

*it was starkey or a biography of john lennon. looking for sheer length, i failed to take into account that historical surveys of royals (and exclusively royals) are hopelessly dry, william the conqueror's bursting bowels notwithstanding. howard zinn, this is not.

read on for history + photos


for your health

or, six things i by-hearted (roughly translated, here) from the health advisories on french television, posters, and billboards -- while i wasn't even paying attention!
  • eat at least five fruits and vegetables per day
  • avoid snacking between meals
  • avoid eating a diet too high in sugar, fat, or salt
  • eat three dairy products per day
  • practice a physical activity regularly
  • water is the one essential drink -- even more so than milk


reims rhymes

a selection of words that nearly fit the bill, when pronounced with the slightest hint of an english accent: chance, dance, enhance, expanse, finance, france, glance, lance, perchance, prance, romance, stance, trance.

as french follows its rules much more closely than english does, i used to think that i had french pronunciation down. that only lasted until i arrived in champagne and was confronted with... rhymes? reams? romes? this is a common question asked by anglophones on the internet, it seems. we like to imagine that the title of this post would rhyme.

the answer: see an explanation of the proper pronunciation and an mp3 here. anyway, what's in a name? that which we call reims --


lesson #2

"bastille day" is battlestar galactica 1.03. (watch it!)

the 14th of july, on the other hand, commemorates both the storming of the bastille (1789) and the fête de la féderation* of 1790 -- a massive party which, uh, commemorated the first anniversary of the storming of the bastille (and the unity of france, end of the estates, et cetera). all that is to say that nobody says "le jour de la bastille"; it's "le quatorze juillet" or "la fête nationale."

so it is bastille day. but like, it isn't.

*bonus! from wikipedia, re: ça ira, ça ira --
the title and theme of the refrain were inspired by benjamin franklin**, in france as a representative as the continental congress, who was very popular among the french people. when asked about the american revolutionary war, he would reportedly reply, in somewhat broken french, "ça ira, ça ira" ("it'll be fine, it'll be fine").
 **ben franklin has a special place in my heart, for multiple reasons.


lesson #1

to avoid either a) breaking your knees or b) getting a concussion while driving bumper cars at a fair*, you have to do it comme des garçons. that is to say, you slam the pedal with your left leg, bend your right leg towards you, flex your butt, and prop yourself up so that you're a decent foot above your seat. voilà! you will emerge from the chaos unscathed. you are no longer a casualty.

(of course, you only need to do this when there are actual garçons around and they're out for blood on the bumper cars, which tends to happen towards midnight*. things happen late in france. i thought it was a jet lag thing, but no! i've been here for a week now. i haven't gone to bed before two; i haven't woken up before ten.)

*this fair was the famed (?) fête foraine. it's much better, but smaller, than the college station fair. maybe that alone doesn't sound like it's saying a lot, but the food stands here serve waffles and crêpes and all manner of candy. i tried nougat. it was fine! it didn't give me a nosebleed.


scale of dragon, tooth of wolf

pictured below: a few stray coeurs de boeuf. literally, something along the lines of "cow's hearts." fear not: i hadn't just witnessed a bovine rehash of the one scene in philip pullman's the golden compass that nearly made me throw up when i was in fifth grade.
into the rib cage iorek reached, and he plucked out iofur's heart, red and steaming, and ate it there in front of iofur's subjects.
these have nothing to do with polar bears.
it was a saturday morning in epernay, and coeurs de boeuf are tomatoes. saturday mornings here, as everywhere, bring the farmers' market! seen: a fish lying in a pool of its own blood, an upside-down rabbit that still had lights in its eyes, and plenty of cheese. 

we spent that afternoon picnicking in nearby, beautiful reuil. i'm amazed that driving fifteen minutes, here, takes you to an entirely different city. driving fifteen minutes, back home, takes me to school. that night, there were more motorcycles on the avenue du champagne than the total number of motorcycles i've seen in my life. ouais! ouais! mes oreilles! 

happy discoveries: french-dubbed doctor who, which is not called docteur qui (most of the shows here are dubbed and not subbed -- is that normal or do the french just really, really not want english in their lives?); the sun doesn't set until nearly eleven p.m.; pizza crêpes; the charming village of ay; really good canteloupes!

[under the cut: vegetables. florals -- not just for spring! a photo of myself in which i look like ewan mcgregor. not related at all: guys on motorcycles around around nine-thirty in the evening (note the presence of the sun). +  more!]


à la recherche du pain perdu

fill out your very own proust questionnaire! alternatively, simply read proust's answers & wonder if he was serious about his favorite fictional hero being hamlet. 

[under the cut: process photos.]



after a ten-hour plane ride, i arrived in paris hungry, thirsty, and soundly disappointed by my week with marilyn. (ex machina is no longer available on air france, and we should all mourn that fact. écoutez! whiplash, however, is available and is just as good if not better according to everyone except my father.)

after a thirty-minute train ride (train of great speed, indeed) i arrived in epernay thrilled about everything! here, the weather is perfect (for now), the trees are gorgeous, the food is excellent! all the shops are within walking distance! (the walk to the boulangerie for breakfast yesterday lasted under two minutes!) the sales are incredible! (i've seen a 70% SOLDE sign in almost every shop.) the people are so nice!

tidbits: mystery novels are romans policiers, the lending library has an entire floor devoted to CDs, the cheese is fresh (and neither pre-sliced nor pre-grated), mcdonald's is hipper and sells salads, butter comes in a massive 500g stick and people aren't terrified of it, drivers are nice and don't try to run you over when you cross the street, french fries are just fries (obviously), french toast is "lost bread" and not quite so tooth-achingly sweet (less obviously), regular television channels show u19 soccer matches, crystal light is not powder but syrup, i bought a denim jacket (in what universe? this one, evidently) --

-- did i mention that everything is within walking distance?
portrait of the author
[click onward for croissants and rogue apostrophes, among others]


the pursuit of happiness

FALL OUT BOY AMERICANA: here, here, and here. also, the entire oft-forgotten pax am days ep.

let us now consider the bookshelf of the author, who is trying to pack books for a ten-hour plane ride. out of 100 books on this shelf:

  • twenty were written by women; seven of those women had the first name jane
  • two were written by writers of color. writer, rather, as they're both ishiguro.
  • twenty-five were written by authors still alive today; half (!) of those are history books. i only own eighteen total history books.

dead white men, the fourth of july, america! here is a quiz that will tell you which founding father you most resemble in personality, and it's not the one you'd think might follow that sentence. (forty-six books are by american authors.)

i'd like to say that this is more a reflection of my buying & taking-books-from-my-dad habits than my reading habits, as i'm more inclined to frequent the library than to spend money. (except when i rack up fines, oops!) that said, recent purchases include: 1) thomas mann's buddenbrooks, which will advance nothing, but which i will read anyway because it was specifically recommended to me because of my deep love for pride and prejudice, and 2) murakami's sputnik sweetheart, which i bought because it got me right to the 'free shipping' benchmark on bn.com.

p.s. @uswnt !!!