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  • Writer's pictureAine Dougherty

Week Seventeen in France: Guava tartelette and Spanish canapés

Seeing the sights in Basel during Museumnacht.
Masturbato– I mean, master baker, Rayan, and his homemade apple tarte,

11/01/2020: My heart is full after this Saturday. J. and I went to his insanely cool friend, S.'s house for lunch. We ate fajitas and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and I shocked myself with how comfortable I felt speaking in French with everyone. I've come a long way since I first arrived three months ago. S. told me I can't go back to the States and leave her and J., and I agree. After a stressful shopping day navigating sales season in town, I headed out to my friend group's Secret Santa gift exchange, finally! We talked, laughed, listened to music, drank Lambrusco (very into fizzy reds right now), ate homemade apple pie, and gave and received gifts ranging from thoughtful to hilarious. My friend I. knows me very well – she gave me Finnish chocolate, liquor-filled chocolates, a selection of mini Bonne Maman jams, a candle and her killer recipe for spinach lasagna that we all devoured on Friendsgiving. The night ended in temporary butt tattoos for everyone. I've said it once and I'll say it again – I'm insanely lucky to have met this crew.

12/01/2020: I woke up to find that someone has brought me chocolate croissants and coffee! I ate in bed while watching French game shows all morning, until I headed downstairs to eat Sunday lunch with the family. We dug into mustardy porc au diable, crispy potatoes and Brussels sprouts with bacon, and we finished with a box of fancy chocolates. I'm a bit jealous that I missed out on this big, familial Sunday lunch tradition when I was a kid, but I'm so lucky that I get to experience it now. J. and I then met up with my flatmate S. and his girlfriend for a relaxing Sunday evening filled with cherry beer and tarte flambées, which turned out to be the key to de-stressing before a long week.

13/01/2020: After teaching a few very interesting classes about Afro-futurist art in the U.S., I absolutely needed a Snickers from the vending machine. You're not you when you're hungry, you know? For dinner, I cooked up a steak quesadilla with roasted veggies and tons of cheese for an absolutely delicious meal. Plus, I meal prepped tomorrow's lunch. I didn't think my iron supplement would start working just hours after I first took it, but I honestly felt very energetic and motivated for a long Monday. Let's keep this going!

14/01/2020: I woke up early today for my first Pop-Up Stories workshop with a class of premières, which, after months of anticipation, went swimmingly. I explained the timeline and the goal (live storytelling in front of the class), and did a little introduction about personal narrative using a story from the Moth. Then, brainstorming! Some of the students had an easier time with this than others, but hopefully everyone will be inspired as we continue the writing process. I also scheduled my second workshop for this Thursday, which is so exciting – we're going to start writing and peer editing. Things are finally moving along! I decided to treat myself by trying a new café in between classes, which turned out to be an amazing decision. My chai latte and one-of-a-kind, mouth-puckering, millennial pink guava tartelette from Kohi Café fueled my quiet pride and steeled my motivation for the rest of this busy Tuesday. So did my next class, which went shockingly well – we played 20 Questions featuring teen activists. At one point, I swung around after finishing writing on the board to see almost every single student's hand up to participate.

15/01/2020: After class and tutoring today, J. and I ran out to a vérnissage at La Filature, a cultural center in Mulhouse hosting an art festival highlighting cultures of the South. We strolled casually around the opening of a stunning photo exhibit called "I was here, I saw here" featuring six talented artists from different countries in Africa. One photographer, a rapper named King Massassy, showed a series of colorful images set against a yellow and red background and aiming to break stereotypes about daily life in Mali. I tried to spend time in front of every photograph, letting all of the little details sink in. I left inspired and full – we snacked on Spanish canapés, from smoky roasted peppers to spicy chorizo to flaky empanadas. And crémant, of course. Because we're classy.

16/01/2020: I met up with one of my classes for the second Pop-Up Stories workshop this morning – during which, as usual, we didn't get anywhere close to finishing everything, but I think those who were engaged made some promising progress, and I'm excited to continue working. I couldn't stay away from Le Nid for too long, so I stopped by for lunch. I savored a generous slice of tarte aux legumes and sipped on fresh-pressed apple, carrot and pear juice before heading back to school for a few more hours of class.

17/01/2020: What is normally a fairly chill Friday turned into a stressful day of rushing around from class (I got to help a group of older students with a very interesting press review – we talked about blackface, Instagram influencers and boomers) to the Office of Tourism to Super U. Eventually, I shared some delicious artichoke pizza and cherry beers with a few friends before heading to Basel for the Nuit des Musées! It's a simple concept: all the museums in the Swiss city are free and open until 2 a.m., with different programming all night long. The Cartoon Museum and the Anatomy Museum were both packed with interesting things to look at around every corner. We finally got home at 1 a.m., and it was a long, long day... but I'm happy we went and got to see some great art and oddities.

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