I have been running and, for the first time in many weeks, I finally feel like I can slow down. In the last month I have been in Nice, Cairo and Paris. I have gone to two conferences, presented my data in front of a few hundred colleagues, initiated a new collaboration and prepared a manuscript for submission (tomorrow, knock on wood) – not to mention everyday experiments. I have hosted my best friend(s) in my adopted city, completed four handmade holiday gifts, prepared for my trip home in a few weeks and valiantly fought some never-ending head cold. Most importantly, I have, 363 days after filing the initial paperwork, finally received my French resident permit. This is a true victory.
This does bring on another slew of domestic errands– French social security and additional health insurance applications. Yes, Americans out there, not all French health care is free. As well as the accumulation of laundry (truly staggering), the rest of those holiday gifts, a few key experiments and a pile of travel-related paperwork, my life is certainly not lacking for items to check off in the ‘to-do’ column. Ever.
What I have missed is this blog. It was fun to discover how fast blogging became part of my (almost) daily routine. It was exciting when friends commented (I love it – do it more!) and enlightening to see how much it changed my daily perspective. Rather than lost in my own head and increasingly frustrated at the foreignness around me, I was actively looking for photos, stories, new and tasty French snacks to share with all of you. I followed the marching band down the street of my new neighborhood rather than slink away from the crowds. Each post was aimed at highlighting the things I have come to enjoy about Paris and it became a positive feedback loop – the more interesting, fun topics for posts I used, the more I needed to look for to keep writing.
So, after my somewhat gloomy anniversary post, which found me homesick and having just said goodbye to my visitors, I need to brighten my days a bit and get back on the blogging wagon. Not only am I letting stories slide by, but also I could use to reignite that feedback loop. As the days are becoming progressively shorter, temperatures are dropping and that cold, cutting winter wind is starting to blow; I will have plenty of time in the upcoming weeks and months to record the stories I have been collecting and the new ones that come along. I have every reason to keep smiling with the memories of the Mediterranean, anticipation for the Pacific and my hot soup with melting goat cheese toasties to keep me warm.
Goat Cheese Toasties (for 2)
These are super simple and the perfect toppers for a dinner salad (a la salade chevre chaud, here in Paris), soup or a great snack. I only make two at a time to preserve some sense of self-control. There is no soup recipe; this time it came from a carton…
4 slices of sandwich bread (small squares of whole wheat)
slightly softened (spreadable) butter
goat cheese (in log form, preferably)
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (around 400°F). Spread a thin layer of butter across each of 4 slices of bread. Slice the goat cheese into thin, even rounds and lay onto the bread. I tend to like to leave my corners uncovered because then I get just tasty buttered toast, but feel free to cut a few rounds in half to more fully cover each slice. Bake for about 10 minutes, until bread is toasted, cheese is bubbling and lightly browned. Be careful to not bite into the cheese right away – it is very hot!