As I mentioned in my last blog, January was pretty relaxed on the work front, so I had plenty of time for extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, a lot of this was ‘casual but super fun times with friends’ which did not result in any photo evidence to conveniently break up my usual wall of text. You have been warned. The pattern of this blog follows that of my life for the last few weeks: do a lot of not a lot during the week, then A LOT over the weekends. As usual I started writing this weeks ago, and the list of Things I Did has just got longer and longer in the time it’s taken me to finish it. Not one to let hard work go to waste, I’ve left all the enthralling details in, but I promise it does get (somewhat) more pithy towards the end. Now that I’ve dangled that carrot:
The year started on a high with our NYE party, then soon sunk to a pretty low low as Mathilde and I both got hit by gastro a few days later, lovingly shared by a certain (remorseful) party goer. This meant I missed the first day back at work after the holidays. Fortunately the actual gastro part was short lived, though I did feel a little sorry for myself for a few days – asking for just a plate of couscous in the work cafeteria was definitely the salt in the proverbial wound.
Nonetheless I was back on form by the end of the week and it was a big weekend! On the Friday evening the work crew headed out to a night at the museum, where there was a special event for the new Matisse exhibition. Gonzalo, Susann and I had actually been to a piano concert the first night it opened back in December, but this time it was an evening of ~dance inspired by Matisse’s interest in form and motion~. In was inadvertently hilarious, and it didn’t help that us young’uns were rather in the minority. However, once we just accepted what was happening and embraced it it was really fun – everyone got into it and all danced with each other which was great. There was a professional looking videographer roaming around but as yet no video evidence has surfaced – watch this space…
The following day Gonzalo and I were meant to (finally!) go and see Moana, however we discovered that the screening was in French, and in fact there was not a single English version in the entire city! Still a sore point. We’ve refused to see it in French on principle. All was not lost though as that evening David had a birthday bash which was très fun. Inspired by our night out at the ‘Christmas club’, he got everyone to bring a cheap gag gift to exchange which was hilarious – though some were in the spirit more than others. It was great to spend more time with some of his friends who I’d met at Thanksgiving, and one of them and I proved to be quite the duo on the dancefloor. We are definitely overdue to return the hosting duties with another soirée at our flat, but getting all four of us together on any given weekend is in itself no mean feat, let alone thinking of guests. At this stage we are optimistically aiming for March…fingers crossed!
The following weekend was again eventful, starting with a big day out on the Friday. First of all I braved les soldes, the government regulated sale period which only occurs once in January, and once in July. I detest the mall at the best of times, but had to suck it up and go. I also had things that I’d basically been putting off buying for six months waiting for this occasion. While I got there early enough that it wasn’t too hellish with people, there’s still only so much shopping I can cope with, so I’ve had to make what feels like endless return visits over the past couple of weeks to keep chipping away at my neverending list of Things I Need.
After heading home to unashamedly get dolled up in all me new threads, I headed to the contemporary art museum with David to catch the latest round of exhibitions before they ended that weekend. We especially liked the wallpaintings/street art, which we decided deserved to be an interactive experience (only after awkwardly waiting for the school group we kept running into to bugger off once and for all). These are the only photos in the whole post, so drink them in:
From the museum I headed into town to meet some other friends for an evening of dancing. There’s a school that on Friday nights offers lessons at 7:30, 8:30, and 9:30, followed by open practise in the various rooms, all for €10. Unfortunately, the first lesson (salsa) SUCKED. I’m not just saying this because I actually have an idea of what’s what on in salsa, and it was different to what I was used to – everyone agreed that he was an awful communicator and just did not explain what we were meant to be doing at all clearly. So that was a disheartening. Nonetheless, we soldiered on, and the next rock and roll lesson was much better, even though there were about three girls per guy in that class. The teacher was really friendly, explained things well, and we learnt a fairly substantial routine. Lastly, we tried west coast swing, which we didn’t make as much progress in, but it was quite interesting to see how it related to rock and roll. After that we stayed another hour or so to practise our new moves. I would say it was good value for money overall, and we definitely had a fun time, but it was a shame about that first disappointing class.
On the Sunday we were meant to go hiking with a group from work, but it got cancelled due to most of the group pulling out, undoubtedly due to the arctic temperatures we endured for several weeks straight. Not wanting to stay cooped up inside, David and I went biking/strolling around the park and along the river, on what turned to be a really nice day. I have probably mentioned before that winters tend to be cold, but fine, compared to in Wellington where it’s rarely that cold but rains ALL the time. I prefer the former. While it has been particularly cold this winter, with about two straight weeks of negative temperatures, it’s by and large been sunny and still which means you can just put on the appropriate layers of clothing and get on with your life largely unhindered. It’s finally starting to get warmer though which I’m not complaining about!
The following Friday was yet another double-cultural-whammy day. In the afternoon David and I went to see the film Primaire, which a kind friend in a high place had given me free tickets to. It wasn’t a life changing film, but an enjoyable enough watch, especially as it made us thankful that we work with adults and not primary school children. Then that evening Mathilde and I went to see a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Théâtre Nationale Populaire which is less than five minutes from our house, anchoring the main square of Gratte Ciel, the local shopping precinct. We’d been saying that we should go and see something there given it was just next door, and picked Rom and Jul as it seemed the most accessible (being a French, modern theatre venue, we expected things to be weird). Much to our dismay, it was already sold out all the way back in November, but much to our delight our spot on the waiting list eventually turned into Friday night tickets. And it was good! Not too weird at all, easy enough for me to follow, and a staging/set/costumes that I found aesthetically pleasing. Success!
The last weekend in January was no exception to the new rule either, with one more accidental socialising marathon up its sleeve. On the Friday afternoon I had a good catchup with my friend Rose, who I hadn’t seen since December. While we were out for dinner Gonzalo organised a spontaneous apéro (‘drinks’), which unsurprisingly turned into an all-night partay. The following day David and I went out for a ‘treat yo self’ post-payday fancy lunch, something we had really been intending to do since September. Coincidentally, we ended up at an Asian fusion restaurant on Chinese New Year, which was quite apt. While the food was just ok (apart from the dessert which was DELISH), the service was impeccable and it was really nice to so something so sophisticated.
Perhaps in contrast to that sophistication was my final outing of the month: a local rugby game with my friend Mealiny. The occasion was Lyon’s team LOU playing Racing 92, a Parisian team starring the one and only Dan Carter. It was LOU’s first game in the new home stadium they have inherited, and tickets were only €15 to encourage people to get along. Dan wasn’t the only familiar name playing, with Joe Rokocoko also in his team, and the personal highlight for me…HOSEA GEAR playing for Lyon! This was such a throwback to when I actually used to watch Hurricanes games with the fam about 15 years ago. It was a great game; very even and lots of tries scored on both sides to keep it interesting. The final score was LOU 37 – 25 Racing, so we were very happy about that. The only shame was that the stand where we were sitting was pretty subdued, whereas the one opposite was going off with chants all game. If we go to another game we’d definitely try and sit there. Nonetheless, it was a fun night out and cool to do something different. It was also not only the first sports game I’ve been to overseas but the first that wasn’t at Westpac Stadium I realised, so I guess it was high time that happened.
I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions, much less broadcasting them, but I have found myself inadvertently succeeding at a few this year which I feel inclined to mention.
Back in October I made a ‘resolution’ to eat less meat. Nothing drastic like ‘omg guys I’m a vegetarian now’, but making a conscious effort to think more about what I’m eating. I used to eat meat at least once a day just by default really. This also comes from the fact that when I was little I was a super fussy eater, so even though I’ve expanded my horizons I still have it in my head that I don’t like enough other foods to replace meat with. Evidently, this is wrong. Once I made that decision it has actually been surprisingly easy to stick to, and most of the time I haven’t even been conscious of the fact that meat is ‘missing’ from my life. I still eat chicken and fish about once a week, but usually that’s it. I’ve only had red meat twice since I started this regime, when we had beef for out flat xmas, and lamb when I did a roast for Waitangi day (more on that next blog). I’ve also been training myself to eat more of foods that I don’t really like (mushrooms, lentils and chickpeas for example) and have coped ok so far. I even chose a soy option over chicken and survived. I’m really proud of myself! Like I said, it’s not a strict diet or anything like that but it’s more just a challenge to myself and I’ve been determined with it. I even got my flatmates to make me a portion of tartiflette with no bacon in it, which was pretty sad, but it was the principle of the matter and I stuck to my guns. To me this kind of resolution that comes up naturally is more…important? genuine? Than making on on January 1st just because that’s a thing that people do.
Nonetheless, I did sort of make a resolution around the new year was when I was with Sarah and Fred in Paris. Following a chain of conversation, they resolved that 2017 would be the year that they would make it to Lyon, and in return I committed to facing my aversion to riding a bike on the road before we next met. I have nothing against cycling, in fact I really love it; it’s riding on the road a) on the right b) where I don’t know the road rules c) with no helmet d) surrounded by FRENCH DRIVERS who do their best to run me down as a pedestrian at the best of times…Nonetheless, Lyon has a bike share system which I know is so much more convenient than the bus in certain situations. To cut a long story short, I finally found myself in the right time, right place with really no excuse not to give it a go (riding home with David after the Matisse exhibition). Of course, it was fine, because it was nearly midnight with basically no cars on the road. After a couple more chaperoned outings, including one at peak hour which involved a nasty manoeuvre between a bus and a fence, I bit the bullet and bought a year-long subscription, which is only €15. I have since ridden not once but twice all by myself! I am still not game enough to use them everyday, even to get to work (even though I KNOW it’s much more efficient than the unreliable bus), but they’re definitely a good option especially to ride home late at night. So that’s another ‘go me’ development.
Lastly, I had mentioned in a previous post how I had signed up for the gym at work but never quite made it due to the palaver of having to get a medical certificate, as well as the limited hours that did not work well with my timetable. Well, I finally forced myself to the doctor, and made the most of my relaxed work schedule to finally get my A into G and go. And it’s been going really well! The staff are really nice; personable, funny and encouraging; people seem to find it weird that I was surprised by this but gyms don’t exactly have the reputation as the most welcoming places on earth…as with the other resolutions, deciding to do it or actually just going for the first time was the biggest obstacle to overcome, and I’ve been good at sticking to my schedule since then. I think I have mentioned before that I ended up working too many hours last semester, so my work timetable is a lot lighter this semester to balance things out. This is good news in itself (no more 8am starts) but mainly because it means I can actually routinely go to the gym!
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though as this sudden surge in sporty exploits combined with a couple of other factors (namely, a few new pairs of shoes) has resulted in achilles tendinitis. If you don’t know what this is, in my case at least it’s basically the achilles reacting to having to cope with sudden change in the load it has to bear, which it does with EXCRUCIATING PAIN. Pain aside, the worst thing about this was that I had literally been to the gym twice, for two super relaxed ‘ten minutes on each machine to see how they work’ sessions, and already I was invalided. I was so annoyed that after the months it had taken me to finally go, my momentum was already shattered before it could even get started. After feeling sorry for myself and giving it a total rest for a couple of days, I did make it back to the gym with a compromise of two arms days in a row (a horrific experience). I’ve also dropped out of the extra dance class I had only been to twice, which was yet another contributing factor, in a bid to help it recover properly. It’s now been two weeks, and though it gets a little sore after my regular dance class it’s nothing lasting, and I haven’t had the debilitating stabbing pain again, so I think I might be out of the immediate woods. Fingers crossed that’s the last of it.
Perhaps most importantly, January marked the end of the first semester at work, and I think overall I can call it a success. While it wasn’t always smooth sailing by any means I was consistently impressed by the quality of work that my third and fourth year classes submitted. We had some ongoing projects which they really embraced; even if they didn’t necessarily seem that enthusiastic in class they handed in work or gave presentations that really blew me away, and I have found the written work particularly enjoyable to mark. Some of them have taken their TOEIC test and got really good scores too, and told me that they appreciated or enjoyed what we did in class, so this has definitely made it all worth it! Now I just have the small task of deciding what to do with them this semester to deal with. I’ll get back to you on that one…
Et voilà, that’s January wrapped up. February’s instalment will be much more exciting, as it’s already off to a decent start, but more importantly my parents arrive TODAY and we’re off to Scandinavia next week, which should generate a lot of quality #content.
See you in March!