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Sometimes I look at my life and I realize how much my year in France influenced me. Not even just with regard to the big stuff–obviously working with Madame improved my voice enormously, of course I’m fluent in French now and I’m pretty much unafraid of most new adventures–but things in day-to-day living.


1. I have yet to even plug in my apartment’s air conditioning unit. It hasn’t been consistently warm out yet, but I’ve gotten through a few 80+ degree days sans climatisation. (Plus my apartment is set up so that when I do finally plug in the air conditioner, I’m going to have to find somewhere else to plug in the internet…which is almost more trouble than air conditioning is worth!)

2. On a similar note, every time I get into my car, I forget that air conditioning is an option. I usually sit there sweating for a few minutes before the lightbulb goes off in my head and I turn on the air. NB: to be fair, we’ve also had the strangest weather this spring–one day hot and humid, the next, cold and unpleasant. The Chicago weather is but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms!

(P.S. Come see H.M.S. Pinafore at Light Opera Works!)

3. I go to the grocery store almost every day. Before my year abroad, I used to go to Jewel and come back with bags and bags full of groceries–and inevitably things would go bad, or at the very least go uneaten. But the fridge I bought for my dorm room had neither freezer nor an adequate cooling mechanism, so it was imperative that I buy in small batches and eat things right away–as the French do, really. People head to market every day in Paris (and in Périgueux, I remember) to get food for the day’s meals. Ditto the bakery, because woe betide the person who tries to save a baguette for demain!

4. I can’t remember the last time I bought peanut butter. This one is pretty shocking to me, because I used to be WAY into peanut butter. It’s not that I haven’t eaten it–my dad acquired a huge case of natural peanut butter and left me a couple of jars when he was here for my birthday–it just hasn’t occurred to me to buy it, and especially not the sugary kind that I used to favor. I can’t stomach it anymore.

5. I made speculoos cookies the other day. Okay, so that’s not necessarily a FRENCH thing, but it was something I didn’t realize I missed until I started thinking about what I missed. But these speculoos cookies turned out more like ginger snaps or some other kind of spice cookies than the speculoos I knew and loved last year.



Voilà. That said, they were delicious, and everybody at rehearsal thought so too. Recipe here.

And with that, I’m off to go grocery shopping, because having bought only a few items yesterday, I have run out of food. Again.