On December 4th, we had our last English assistants training day. Afterwards, we all went out to O'Kallaghan's, an Irish pub (don't cast aspersions on us for not going to a "traditional" French café; O'Kallaghan's is one of the few places in Rouen that doesn't care if you bring 25 of your closest friends all at once to take over half of the bar) to have a few drinks. I got my favorite drink there, a Black Velvet, which is Guinness, cider, and blackcurrant syrup, because it's the only way I can drink Guinness (I know, I know, I'm ashamed). More assistants kept coming and bringing friends, so we got to talk to lots of people. Alex, an assistant from last year, even did some break-dancing for us! Then we all got hungry and decided to go to an Indian restaurant Kinzie knows about. So 15 of us trooped down the road and took over the restaurant, which was incredibly good but a tad overpriced. But I will do anything for naan and chicken korma so I was pleased. Then after dinner none of us wanted to just go home alone, so Kinzie invited everyone over for drinks and we stayed at her apartment, drinking cider and Bénédictine and wine, until 1:30 or so. It was really nice to trade cute and not-so-cute stories about our kids and learn about other people's experiences.
Saturday morning, we did absolutely nothing, but we'd made plans to go skating with Megan and Kinzie and Amber in the afternoon, so we managed to drag our butts out of bed in time to do that. As it turned out, even renting skates was free, which made my day. Except I got skates that were too big, so my ankles turned in instantly and remained so all afternoon.
And it was raining slightly, so the entire rink was covered with water, making the possibility of a fall even less appealing. Or making life more interesting, depending on your point of view. The rink was quite crowded, with little kids absolutely everywhere creating little erratically-moving tripping hazards.
I was very proud of myself for only bumping into one, who didn't fall because I selflessly and heroically fell down instead, then limped around with my damp leg for the rest of the afternoon. Here's the crew:
Finally, Kinzie and Amber decided to practice their twirls! Such grace, such beauty.
Then it started to rain in earnest so we headed back to our respective homes, after agreeing to meet for a rock opera that break-dancing Alex was crewing for that evening. It was at the university and it was AWESOME, albeit really really weird. Shirtless vocalist/guitarist with musicians in tuxes and masks, singing in English with French supertitles about breaking free from society's rules and not being sheeps (English plurals are hard). But the music was great, the keyboards especially, and there was a theremin! Which is my favorite instrument ever just because of the sci-fi factor. Here's the show's link if you'd like to experience the insanity for yourself: http://www.echoes-rachel.fr.nf/
Then after that, Kinzie, Amber, Logan and I went to the Boîte à Bières because it's my favorite bar in all of Rouen. Very low-key - people are there to talk, not to try to take people home, so you don't have to dress up and it's pretty quiet and there is a 12-page menu of beers and you can get sausage for a snack! So we stayed there until closing time, just enjoying the beer and the company and talking about everything under the sun. Then we wandered around and discovered a little tiny street with an arch over it that I had never seen before, so we had to explore that, and then we kept trying to say goodbye and failing miserably, and we didn't actually get home until after 3. I have such good friends.
Sunday was pretty relaxed because of the sleep deprivation and the POURING RAIN that started 5 minutes before we were going to leave for the market... So no market for us. The rain did stop later, though, and we went out to the Christmas market near the cathedral and bought some roasted chestnuts and mulled wine and enjoyed the festive spirit and pretty lights.
Then I had a pretty uneventful week at school, except for Friday, when I got to bake Christmas cookies with half of my favorite class! I gave them the recipe in English and told them to speak English the whole time and they did remarkably well. At first they were shocked when I finished mixing the dough with my hands, but after 15 minutes they'd all gotten into rolling and cutting and decorating. They were helpful and funny and they asked great questions and I want to take them all home with me... I'm so glad I get to see them every week!
Friday night was the first night of Hanukkah, so my part-Jewish roommate Megan and my fascinated-by-all-things-Jewish roommate Lauryn and I had a Hanukkah party! Megan made amazing latkes (and had to grate all the potatoes with our laughably small grater, for which she deserves an award), Lauryn brought delicious cinnamon star cookies, Logan and I made kugel, and Kinzie made matzah ball soup. Then we realized that we didn't have a dreidel, so Kinzie made one out of matzah meal!
But we didn't have much matzah, so the dreidel went into the pot as a matzah ball. Then I realized that we only had 3 bowls, so we got creative:
Then we improvised some yarmulkes for the boys:
Everything came out beautifully, despite the improvisations, and we mumbled the blessing and stuffed ourselves silly and drank most of the alcohol in the house and sat around talking until the wee hours.
Kinzie also whittled us a dreidel out of a cork, because that woman has mad skillz.
Finally we had to kick everyone out at about 2, because Logan and I had to wake up at 5 to catch our 6 am train to Paris, and thence to Frankfurt! To be continued...