Salut à tous!
I’m sorry I didn’t get around to writing last week, there were lots of tests coming up so life got a little crazy. Plus, I secretly didn’t feel like writing because I’ve been missing the States a little bit this month. Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because I love all of the pre-Halloween festivities, like pumpkin carving and haunted mazes. It’s not really celebrated here, though, so I’m a little bummed that I’m missing everything. But, I was pretty ecstatic to receive a package from my Momma-Bear containing tons of Halloween decorations and festive surprises, so it all works out! Man, I just love my family more than words can describe.
So, where to start? Well, in my first semester of college I developed a sort of obsession for preparation and planning. While I love being spontaneous and crazy with things that really only have short-term consequences, I feel this strong desire to map out every detail of anything in my life that “matters”. I think this is my attempt to satisfy that need for a little bit of control over my circumstances and experiences. If the steps we take in life are like setting up dominos, I like to count them beforehand, measure out every space in between, and create a nice, symmetrical image with them. Let’s be honest, I’d even clean them each with Lysol and a polish them with a towel in my attempt to make them perfect and pretty. Because of this, every 6 months or so I will indulge in my underlying fixation of plotting out every major step coming up in my life over the next few years, which is exactly what happened about three weeks ago. I have spent the last few weeks researching graduate schools and programs, searching for new obscure jobs to apply to, and contemplating the long-term pros and cons of each option. Every time I do this, at the end of all my scheming and scheduling, I come to the same startling realization: I have absolutely no clue what on earth to do with my life! I sense that I might have found some sort of general direction, but it’s kind of like that feeling you get when you can tell that you are about to come down with a cold but you don’t actually have any symptoms yet. So, I am now entering the “Don’t worry, be happy…?” phase of my obsession cycle where I pretend like I can tell myself “Stop planning and just live your life!” and have that actually mean that I’ll do it.
The puzzling contradiction to this personality trait is a really weird quirk that I have. Even though I practically live to prepare myself for life, or at least have the tendency to do that, I also really hate doing anything remotely productive before I absolutely have to. With the weird, twisted anti-logic by which I tend to guide my life, I somehow find it inefficient to fill the gas tank before the needle has actually hit empty, or do laundry before I have used every last pair of underwear. I get this strange satisfaction out of having used everything up before replenishing it. Sometimes I just need the lack of other options to motivate me to do these things. It even gets to the ridiculous point of not letting myself go to the bathroom until I have completed whatever task it is that I have been procrastinating! And let me tell you, I never clean my room or start a load of laundry faster than when the three bottles of water I drank that morning finally hit me.
I also hate grocery shopping before I am completely out of food. One benefit of this, however, is that you concoct some pretty exciting creations when you have next to nothing to work with. Let me just attest to you that necessity truly is the mother of invention! I have been inventing new recipes with whatever we have in the fridge, and there have been some pretty good ones! I’m particularly proud of both my crusted eggplant with homemade tomato sauce dish and my cinnamon couscous stuffed peppers. The second one sounds like it would be gross, but it has tomatoes, eggplant, peas, onion, garlic, chopped peppers, and ground beef, and it is delicious. It is definitely better than when I left home for the first time and I tried making rice with canned tuna and soy sauce… In reality, tuna, soy sauce, and rice wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. You can see my logic, since it’s basically sushi with a different construction. It was really just the execution of the dish that was poorly performed.
I suppose that none of this really has to do with France, though, which is probably the whole point of reading this blog, huh? Well, I have an interesting observation to share. I think that Americans might have a different perception of personal space than the French do. Or perhaps this only applies to myself and my landlady, I don’t know. It’s just that every once in a while, my landlady will come into my room while I’m away at school and change things. They’re always small, like opening or shutting the blinds and/or window, and I think that she’s trying to be nice, but it drives me absolutely crazy. Never before have I been so aggravated to enter my room and find that someone has made my bed and half-attempted to tidy my clothes. And it is completely irrational to be annoyed by someone doing something nice for me, but when I see that this has happened I just feel this rush of irritation! Maybe I am interpreting it as a violation of privacy or something. When I hang my clothes in my room to dry after washing them, though, and then the next day come home from class to find them all stacked in a pile on my bed for some inexplicable reason, my first thought is always, “Why?! My room is not any tidier with them heaped on top of my bed!” Please don’t think I’m a horrible person because of this, ok? Even though I probably am. But I bet you’d be irritated, too, if you had to drape your skivvies over your dresser drawers to dry after taking them out of the wash, and then later came in to find them stacked on your desk or tossed into the wrong dresser drawer!
If any of you are still with me by this point, just grant me one last paragraph and then I’ll free you from the clutches of my literary grasp. I need to give a shout out to the wonderful Mr. and Mrs. Kimble, the parents of my awesome roommate, Alex! They came to visit last week and were kind enough to let me crash some of their adventures here in France. The French excursion was complete with day trips, burger and kebab joints, and several sporadic pop quizzes over 70s rock bands (each of which I failed spectacularly, BT-dubs). They also teased me and gave me just as much crap as my own family does, which was honestly a little slice of heaven. It was so incredibly fun having them here, and we miss them now that they’re gone!
And this concludes the extended episode of Jackie’s life in France. Please tune in next week to find out whether or not she’ll remember to write a new blog post!