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  • Writer's pictureAine Dougherty

Week Sixteen in France: Stubenteller and apfelstrudel

Brunch at my favorite café.

04/01/2020: Back at it again at Le Nid for a copious brunch and catch-up session with my friend I. We share a giant flaky croissant, a pancake with fruit, bread, butter, jam, fromage blanc with granola, and an assortment of cheeses and meats, and I drink a cappuccino and fresh orange, carrot & ginger juice. What a lovely start to the weekend at my favorite "Instagram-come-to-life" café, as I. called it. One of my New Year's resolutions is to reach out to my friends more (I've always struggled with this), so I leave our brunch feeling content and re-energized. Energized enough to go to the gym, in fact! According to J., today is triceps and back day. Wonderful. I'm honestly starting to really enjoy and appreciate our little workouts, actually, which is an absolute shocker. We head right back out again after getting home – tonight we're going to Germany. The thermal baths at Badenweiler, to be exact. Wow, that was relaxing. We spent most of our time in the outdoor heated pool, which had jets and a stunning view of the moon and the adorable tiny town's chateau on a nearby hill. Another "wow" moment was the stick-to-your-bones meal we had afterwards at a cute traditional weinstube. I started with a thick, bacony potato soup and finished with a dish the restaurant called Stubenteller – Black Forest ham, fried potatoes and bacon, all topped with a fried egg. Let's just say... the dish finished me.

05/01/2020: The Sunday scaries are very real this evening, considering it's the first day back after Christmas vacation tomorrow. I set up a little nook with my computer and notebooks and mostly pretended to work – although I did get some important things done, like booking accommodations and travel for when I go to Lyon with A., my best friend, next month. I'm so excited! For dinner, J. and I cook together: rice, sautéed zucchini and chicken with a medley of spices. I give him a mini Reese's cup for dessert, direct from the USA.

06/01/2020: Back to the grind... I didn't have much to do today, but it feels so good to get back into the routine. I'm trying to follow my most important New Year's resolution and stop procrastinating, so I reopen my long-forgotten to-do list and tried to get a head start. I'd like to say I ate a galette des rois, but I didn't (I don't like almond paste very much). Instead, I eat Tucs for an apéro chez moi with A., the former Fulbrighter back to visit the lycée, and watch another beautiful sunset from my apartment window.

07/01/2020: Classes went well today, I felt a bit more relaxed and helpful. There was never a dull moment (today, at least) – I taught a class about the concept of borders, moderated a debate about counterpowers, answered grammar questions about Lord of the Flies and discussed how much trash Americans produce in a month. A long but interesting day fueled by more vending machine café au lait. And, shudder... ramen in a styrofoam cup for dinner. Tuesdays are my longest days! I was tired! No judgment. I thought I would enjoy it, considering I haven't had it in so long, but it just conjured up terrible memories from college.

Graciously gifted (and delicious!) apfelstrudel.

08/01/2020: J.'s dad's elderly German neighbor (who I've never met) graciously sent home a giant slice of apfelstrudel (apple strudel, exactly what it sounds like) for me, so I eat that with a big cup of English breakfast tea to start off the day. Feeling loved. This evening featured a lovely tutoring session with my adorable student – we work on past and future tenses and he tells me about his recent school trip to Barcelona. When I get back, I eat dinner (microwave shrimp and saffron risotto) with J., who literally cuts up an avocado for me and tells me to "eat my vegetables." It's so annoying because he's so right. I've been stressing myself out a bit these past few days with researching different options for staying in France after my Fulbright, but I know it will all work out. I just have to be flexible.

09/01/2020: Surprise, another grève day! I should be happy about the long weekend, but instead I'm just frustrated because I was going to do a workshop for my Pop-Up Stories project (finally!), but now it's been pushed back to next week. I'm tired of the excuses, I just want to get started and have something to show for it. At least my breakfast (ok, brunch...) is delicious – scrambled eggs with frozen roasted veggies that have now become my new obsession. Then, I use the leftover butternut squash in the fridge to make soup and mix up a chocolate cake using a mix from the store. Can you tell I like to cook when I'm anxious? My prof référent, C., comes over for an apéro with her son and A., the former Fulbrighter. It's a wonderful evening with delicious fizzy red wine, homemade pizza and my chocolate cake (that everyone loved). I've said it before, but there's nothing like an apéro to lift your spirits.

10/01/2020: Quite the lazy start to the day today. The anxiety persists, and I clean the apartment and get lost in French job boards and make myself crazy. My butternut squash soup and crispy croutons, while delicious, does little to help me feel better. Luckily, J. makes me smile and laugh when he gets home from work, and we get Thai takeout together – actually spicy curry fried rice with chicken! We close out the night with McFlurries, and he makes me feel calm and reassured, as usual.

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