Friday, February 24, 2012

the fiascoes never end...


Quick story before I leave for Switzerland. Yesterday, I was at a store trying to buy contact solution, but I had momentarily forgotten my PIN for my credit card. I had three attempts to correctly guess it, but with no luck. I didn't have any cash, so I went to my ATM just down the street to quickly withdraw some money, hoping the little walk would re-inspire my PIN.

I did successfully remember my PIN when I got to the ATM, but instead of kindly spitting out some euros, it ate my card! Apparently, because I had previously (but very briefly) forgotten my PIN, it thought that I had stolen my own card. Or something like that. So I freaked out for a moment, then gathered myself to go inside and explain what had happened, and beg for my card back. Going on vacation without a credit card was not what I was looking forward to!

So I went into the bank, and explained to the man at the counter that my card had disappeared into the ATM. Sensing my accent, he began speaking to me in very slow sentences of only 3 or 4 words. Now, I have dealt with too many French people speaking in very fast French in the past few months. I can hold my own in an argument and manage to get my way, but this man assumed I was a tourist with very little French. I was not offended, but rather amused. I was responding to him in very clear, professional French and yet he still treated me like a toddler. He demonstrated everything that I had to do (you know, in case I could not understand his already simplified French). It was almost harder to understand actually, than if he had been rambling away in slang.

I was basically told I had to come back the next day and prove my identity to pick up my card. Which I did, thankfully, so that I wouldn't have to leave for vacation without a means of paying for myself! So now I am officially off to catch the first of many trains for the next week!

pax christi.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

more holidays


Throughout the school year, the French get many more breaks and vacation time than American students do. And I get to benefit from that! Tomorrow, I'm departing on a little adventure for the next two weeks. I'll be in Switzerland (Zurich & Lucerne), then Strasbourg & Reims before spending a week in Bretagne! It's a lot to pack into 2 weeks, but I am ready for it!

I will be a bit absent from blogging! But when I get back, expect lots of pictures and stories :)

pax christi.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

mercredi des cendres


Ash Wednesday has finally arrived!

Today is a day for fasting, prayer, and recognition of our littleness. Receiving ashes on our foreheads symbolizes that we believe that our life on Earth is fleeting--but we have eternal life ahead of us once our bodies return to dust. As Pope Benedict said, these ashes are a call to repentance and humility.

This Ash Wednesday was a little bit different than the past few years for me. Instead of spending the whole day distributing ashes and running around as a sacristan at St. John's, I was blessed to be more of a passive participator in the day. I still had a couple of duties that I was certainly happy about (keeping rowdy middle schoolers in line during an ash service and singing at Mass), but it was refreshing to be able to focus more on my own observance of the day. I was not worried about finding a moment of personal prayer in between Masses and services around campus; I essentially had the whole day to pray and prepare for the next 40 days, getting ready for the holy celebration of the Resurrection on Easter!

pax christi.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

mardi gras!


This phrase is 100% translatable into English. Because it is exactly the same. Mardi Gras in France, as in the United States, is the night before Lent starts, the day to get in one last party and food fest before a season of sacrifice quickly descends upon us.

check out the crowd!

We celebrated Mardi Gras with crêpes at the Cathedral :) After a balmy day of nearly 50 degree weather again, the evening ended with Mass, crêpes for dinner and dessert, and some traditional dancing! Crêpes originate from the Brittany region of France, which is just south of Normandy. Though the dish has spread to all of France (and around the world, because they are just so yummy!), the Bretons claim a particular mastery of the crêpe. Having visited this region, I can admit that a crêpe from Bretagne is certainly the best!

just a bit of the crêpe spread

Everyone made a boat-load of crêpes, so we had plenty to go around many times. We ate them with sugar, jam, Nutella, caramel sauce, and a number of other toppings. So yummy!

In keeping with the Breton spirit of the evening, we ended the night with some traditional Breton dances. They were simple line dances and partner dances--very repetitive. I was expecting dances more like a jig (considering Bretagne's Celtic roots), but all the Frenchies were shocked when I broke out my little reel! What we learned was much more simple, but still fun! I never pass up a chance to dance!

Enjoy Mardi Gras! Eat some treats before fasting for Ash Wednesday!

pax christi.

Monday, February 20, 2012

lent is upon us


evreux is so beautiful right now!

In just two days, on Wednesday, the Lenten season will begin. Ash Wednesday marks the 40-day period before Easter where the Church prepares Herself for this most important feast with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It's the most solemn time in the liturgical calendar, but that austerity helps us to focus on what is most important--Christ.

We usually focus on the sacrifices of Lent. "I'm giving up chocolate", "I'm giving up Facebook", "I'm giving  up broccoli". But we usually forget about the other significant tenets. This Lent, I know what I'll be fasting from, but even more importantly than that, I want to focus on prayer and almsgiving. How can I grow in my personal relationship with God? How can I better help others? These things haven't always been super easy in France. But I need to work on them. And I have 40 days to do so!

We can all use these 40 days ahead of us to grow closer to God. It will make the celebration of Easter, the Resurrection of Our Lord that much sweeter.

pax christi.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

l'art de flâner


As I have mentioned before, Sundays in France represents the day of Mass, time with family, and big meals. Another very popular Sunday activity is walking. The French have about a zillion words for "to walk", because there are just so many ways to describe this activity. Marcher, se promener, se balader, faire une promenade, parcourir, traîner, déambuler, flâner. And I'm sure there are more.

Today was the perfect day for walking, no matter what you call it. It was just one of those grab a friend & your sunglasses and walk from one end of town to the other kinds of days. The sun was shining all day long and the temperature was in the mid-40's, almost 50's! It was just beautiful. I'm not sure if winter is going to visit us again in the next few weeks, but today certainly felt like spring. It was quite nice to be serenaded by birds around town once again! I'm hoping this will be a regular occurrence from now on--it makes me feel even more like Belle!

pax christi.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

more french saints!


Exactly one week after the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (more here), France celebrates the unofficial feast of St. Bernadette, the young, unsuspecting country girl to whom Mary appeared 18 times. Her official feast day in the Roman Calendar is April 16 (the day that she died), but France recognizes today as her feast because of a very special reason. 

relics of st. bernadette at the basilica in lourdes

On February 18, 1858, Mary appeared to St. Bernadette for the third time. Bernadette, who still did not know who this beautiful woman who was appearing to her was, timidly asked for her name. Mary did not reveal her name to Bernadette, but she did ask her to come back for 15 days, and that she would make Bernadette happy not in this world, but in the next. This little exchange was very significant to Bernadette--particularly because of the respect with which Mary spoke to her. As an impoverished, illiterate girl from a disgraced family in the mountains, Bernadette was not used to being spoken to kindly and with such respect. She was moved by this, and that helped to change her fear to admiration and fervor.

The French recognize this important apparition, and it is quite fitting to celebrate the feast of St. Bernadette today. Mary fulfilled her promise; Bernadette suffered greatly on Earth, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But she is a saint in the glory of heaven, she beholds the Father and knows the greatest joy any soul can ever know. Mama Mary took care of her on Earth so that Christ could take care of her for eternity.

pax christi.

Friday, February 17, 2012

a little hope for spring...


flowers! grass! blue skies!

Winter in Evreux has been incredibly mild. We only had truly about 3 weeks of actual winter weather: snow for about a week, bitter chill for a few weeks. But that has been it! It's been a huge change from my typical Midwestern winter, which seems to never end with the snow and the ice and the frost and the chill. Even with this change, however, the slightest warm-up still provokes dreams of spring! The snow is all melted here, the rain is starting to move in, and the thermometer is rising. It's still no where near lovely spring weather, but there is hope in the air. I can smell it!

pax christi.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

food, in the most delicious city


Paris has stolen my heart, and I am thoroughly convinced that I could spend every single second of the rest of my life there. I know that's not going to happen, but that wouldn't disappoint me. I am completely smitten with this city! Yesterday, yet again, I got to have another little adventure in this city.

I've had a legitimate reason for each of my past few trips into Paris, and yesterday was no exception. As part of Social Media Week, I had spotted a little panel called What's Eating Paris, featuring some of the cool American expats who live and write great food blogs in Paris. It was perfectly on a Wednesday (hence, no school, hence therefore a resurrection of Wednesdays in Paris), and so I decided it would be a really great opportunity to be a bit intellectual.

We started the afternoon with a trip to a new little burger joint, called Blend. They were super attractive because of their sweet potato fries! For the first time ever in Paris, I enjoyed a delicious veggie burger (yum.), and sweet potato fries. My fave.

We had a few hours to kill before the panel started, so we wandered our way in the beautiful Parisian weather to the Opera Garnier and the Palais Royal. I had never been to either, so it was prime opportunity. The Opera particularly was just gorgeous. More impressive than Versailles, I would say!

palais royal--reminds me of madrid

Construction was started on the Palais Garnier, the beautiful Parisian opera house, in 1861 by Napoleon III. The Emperor, in reconstructing Paris, asked Georges Hausmann to supervise the city's reconstruction. He was responsible for the gorgeous boulevards that Paris has become know for. He also cleared the land that would become the Opera. The architect Charles Garnier won a competition to design the lavish opera and ballet house, which opened its doors in 1875.

the manuscript for Cinderella!!!

ceiling painted by Chagall

I was so happy to have seen that. It was beautiful, and really important. Now the dream is to dance a ballet on that stage! I would just about die.

We trucked it to the panel after the Opera, and it was just wonderful. Not only did I get to hear some good American debating, see some great bloggers discussing life in Paris, and meet some new folks, but I got to do it all as an American living here myself. I wasn't there as a student, but as a regular joe living a sweet life in France. Literally. It was a great panel, with tons of great ideas and remarks about social media, food culture in Paris, and even intercultural musings. I was pleased.

Before grabbing a quick bite to eat before the train to Evreux, we stopped and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle. We literally just sat down on a bench and watched for 20 minutes. There is nothing quite as magical as seeing this Parisian icon light up and twinkle. It can brighten the worst of moods, bring joy to the most despairing, offer a touch of hope to just about anyone. I can't count how many times I've seen it light up but it truly never gets old.

Paris, je t'aime.

pax christi.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy valentine's day!


Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year, and I was so happy to spend the whole day at school talking about this holiday! There are so many mixed perceptions of Valentine's Day, and plenty of people who would rather have nothing to do with the day, but I think it's a wonderful reminder to show appreciation for our loved ones--even without a significant other!

It was a fun day at school, even though we didn't get to make valentine's as I had planned. Unlike in American elementary schools, Valentine's Day isn't celebrated or recognized very much at all in French schools. The kids don't exchange valentines or candy, there are no parties, teachers don't decorate their classrooms. But I was determined to focus on this American classic, and all week at that :)

With my kids, we played a little game with matching broken hearts, talked about why we celebrate Valentine's day, learned a poem, and shared who/what we love. I asked the kids who they loved (family, friends, parents, chocolate--that is what I shared with them to get them started). It was too funny hearing all their responses. I wrote down some of the funniest throughout the day: hamburgers, animals, girls, tv, English, school, teachers, Maura (warmed my heart), candy, friands, apple cake, snowmen, video games, dancing, rollerblading, jump ropes, cake, lollipops, dogs, cats, great-aunt. The boys were mostly responsible for the inanimate objects, but some of the girls admitted to loving things as well as people. My 2 favorite responses of the day (lasagne and mushrooms), both came from girls.

I've had a couple little Valentine's Day treats, including one of my classes being cancelled in the afternoon (always nice to have a few more hours off...), and wine & chocolate cake with the girls tonight. It has been a lovely Valentine's Day! And now back to Paris for tomorrow...

pax christi.

Sunday, February 12, 2012



It is not much of a secret that Totus Tuus, the summer catechetical camp that I've taught in Chicago the past three summers, is just about my favorite thing in the whole entire world. I love talking about this mission that I am a part of, and that is so dear to my heart. I have made some of my best friends through Totus Tuus, and have come to grow in my faith more than I could ever imagine. Totus Tuus is part of who I am!

Of course, when I was just meeting my friends from the Cathedral at the beginning of the year, I told them all about Totus Tuus and what I've done. One of my friends told me that there was something similar in this diocese--a Catholic summer camp for elementary and middle school students, with focuses on prayer, games, and fun--called Katorin. There are certainly differences from Totus Tuus (like the fact that this is a sleep-away camp in the summer), but in general, it was the French equivalent of my beloved camp!

Katorin is a portmanteau word (meaning it is a combination of two distinct words--thanks franco-linguistics!), made up of "catholique" (Catholic in French, and slightly morphed with a K), and St. Taurin, who was the first bishop of Evreux. The motto of Katorin is "Jeux, Prière, Amitié", which means "Games, Prayer, Friendship", all tenets of Totus Tuus as well.

My friend, upon learning about my enthusiasm and experience with Totus Tuus, invited me to help with Katorin throughout the year. Unlike Totus Tuus, there are monthly get-togethers for the kids who attend Katorin throughout the year where we play some games, have a snack, do a craft, and go to Mass together. I was more than happy to share some of Totus Tuus with the Katorin team, and I have been able to translate such Totus Tuus classics as Amoeba Tag into French to play with these kids! It is so fun to be able to basically do Totus Tuus in France!

Katorin has been one of the most rewarding parts about living in France, for several reasons. Not only is is comforting to have something so similar to Totus Tuus here, but I've also made some really great friends through Katorin. It's my little community here, and I've been welcomed in so generously. I look forward to our meetings and animations so much, and they bring me so much joy. Another of the many reasons I am here...

pax christi.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

notre dame de lourdes


Happy Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes! Today is a very special Marian feast day, especially in France. On this day, in 1858, Mary appeared to an illiterate, poor French country girl from the mountains, named Bernadette. At first, Bernadette was frightened and did not know who this woman was who had appeared to her. Mary did not reveal her identity until later, she was simply a beautiful woman.

Over the next few months, this beautiful woman appeared to Bernadette 16 times with several messages and requests. One such request was to dig in the mud of the floor of the grotto, revealing a spring of blessed waters that flows today still, and has been attributed to countless healings and other miracles.

On March 25, 1858, Mary finally revealed her identity to Bernadette, saying that she was the Immaculate Conception. Our Tradition says that Mary was conceived without sin, meaning that she was completely pure and sinless for her entire life--from conception to her Assumption into heaven. Little Bernadette received the message that would become a Dogma of our faith. God likes using unsuspecting messengers to share His Glory.

I was quite blessed to have had the opportunity to pilgrimage to Lourdes twice over this past summer, before I even moved to France. It is a breath-takingly beautiful little town, tucked in the Pyrénées Mountains in southeast France, not very far from Spain. There is so much peace surrounding this town, and Mary's presence is tangible. It is hard to even describe how beautiful this place is. It is truly moving.

Lourdes is the largest pilgrimage site in France (with Lisieux following, right in my backyard!), and is possible one of the most well-known Marian apparition sites in the world. Over 5 million pilgrims are welcomed to Lourdes every year, including many sick and disabled, making a pilgrimage to the healing waters.

Notre Dame de Lourdes, priez pour nous.

pax christi.

Friday, February 10, 2012

friday in paris!


Second trip to Paris in a week. So blessed. I headed into the city after school this morning, and got in around noon. I spent the early afternoon taking an exam, then it was time to celebrate! And what a blessed afternoon it turned into!

I walked to the Madeleine, a beautiful, huge church in the middle of Paris, just off the Seine. It's known for its Roman architecture, and impressive columns. I was planning on praying for a bit before meeting up with a friend, but I stumbled upon some kind of choir rehearsal. It was an all-boys choir from England and they sounded incredible. The acoustics of the Madeleine are stunning, and even the rehearsal sounded beautiful. After listening to them for a while, I found my friend and, just before we were going to leave the Madeleine, I asked one of the boys when their concert was--and he told me it was starting right then! So we stayed for the first part of the concert, and I am so glad we did!

With one blessing already on our little adventure, we set out to grab a quick bite to eat (goat cheese & spinach quiche for me--yum!), then make our way to a wine tasting! We saw some of these cool metal-work door/window covers in front of a gallery by SciencesPo.

Winding our way back from the wine bar, we noticed a church that we had never been to. The doors were open, welcoming us in to explore--and what a church did we find! Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a beautiful, old church with a long history in Paris. It gives its name to this neighborhood in Paris, and it is known for being the seat of much of the influential yet unsettling social and literary movements of the 1960's. The church itself, however, has been wonderfully preserved--even the painted walls and ceilings that have disappeared from most Gothic churches is still in great condition. It was another blessing to stumble upon this beauty, and we were even in time for Mass!

With crêpes in hand to end the evening, I walked back to the train station under all of the lights of Paris at night. It's such a beautiful city, and it just becomes even more magical at night! I'm in love with the city of love :)

pax christi.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

rapping frenchies


Today, one of my students rapped in class for us all. He completely surprised me--I thought he would be nervous or timid, but he gladly got up and started his little rap! It was in French, and it was a song that he copied from the internet. When I asked him about it, he explained that, at lunch, one of the kids brings his cell phone (these kids are 8, but that's a whole other issue...) to play a beat, and they rap together. I thought it was pretty cool, and the song they are currently rapping (the one he sang in class), has a pretty decent message. Clean, French rap.

"Au fond j'crois qu'la terre est ronde, pour une seule bonne raison...après avoir fait l'tour du monde, tout c'qu'on veut c'est être à la maison"

Translation: At the end of the day, I believe that the earth is round, for one good reason...after traveling the world, all we want is to be at home.

I like this message. It's very true :)

pax christi.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

tea time


A blooming tradition in Evreux has become Wednesday tea time. Sure, sure, it may be a British import, but the French do it just right! Tea time consists of the girls meeting up at the cute little restaurant down the street from my apartment in the middle of the afternoon for a simple recipe of tea, pastries, and chatting! It's lovely: the perfect cure for the middle of the week blues or fatigue. Gotta love a sugary little pick-me-up!

pax christi.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

une vraie française


Galavanting around Paris this past weekend was absolutely lovely. I wasn't in a rush to do anything, which is such a great feeling. Knowing that I can enjoy this city, one of my absolute favorites in the whole world, without running around on a schedule, being a tourist, taking in as much as possible in as little time as possible, is such a great feeling. I still have not gotten over how blessed I am to be able to do this!

Possibly one of the most exciting parts of the day was that I got to feel like a true French woman. You see, throughout the day, three people stopped to ask me for directions, and two tourists asked me to take their picture. To me, these simple requests meant that I looked like I knew what I was doing, like I belonged there. I took it as a really great compliment that, to these strangers, I looked like a Parisian! And one that they could trust for directions, for that matter! Each of these encounters quickened my step and widened my smile :)

pax christi.

Monday, February 6, 2012

saturday in paris


My day on Saturday was just lovely. I spent it in Paris. And Paris never disappoints, truly. This beautiful city of love will be breath-taking no matter what condition the weather is in.

I spent the morning at a meeting with a professor from America about a Masters program that I am interested in. That was the main reason for my little excursion into the big city, but it only lasted for a few hours. Following that, I met up with a friend for lunch. Our mission was Chipotle. One of these meccas of burritos is opening in Paris, and was supposed to open its doors on January 16th, after several earlier delays. So we found the restaurant, all while dreaming and discussing the wonders of guacamole, only to find locked doors and un-revealed windows.

Though we were disappointed at not being able to devour a French-ified Chipotle burrito, we were quickly appeased with the Parisian equivalent of the burrito: a falafel sandwich. It was almost just as satisfying :)
After lunch, we explored the Centre Pompidou a bit, which is the modern art museum in Paris. It's a very cool building, with most of the infrastructure exposed on the exterior. 

Maintaining an artist theme for the afternoon, I decided a visit to the Musée de Rodin was finally in store. This is one of the museums in Paris that I have been itching to go to, but just had never yet found the right time. Saturday was the ticket. It was beautiful outside, and I had a couple of hours free before meeting up with more friends. So I made my way across the city to the Musée, taking a little break to discover a Basilica I didn't know existed!

Basilica of St. Clothilde

Following this exciting new discovery (definitely a new spot to pray in Paris!), I walked down the street to the Musée de Rodin. This museum, dedicated to the works of Auguste Rodin, was actually his former home that has been re-purposed. And it's a beautiful museum. The interior was closed for construction, but most of Rodin's most famous sculptures are in the garden anyway. I got in for free (perk of being a teacher!) and spent quite some time just walking around, admiring these famous works.

Rodin was born in Paris in 1840, and he lived there most of his life. He is known for having a rather tumultuous personal life, but his artwork is breathtaking. 

the gates of hell

the thinker

If it was a warmer day, I could have sat down on a bench in the garden and just admired it all. But the chill in the air kept me moving, and so after an afternoon of artwork, I met up with some friends for a drink before taking the last train back to Evreux. Paris is always just what I need.

pax christi.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

finally snow!!!


I woke up to this beautiful winter wonderland today! Overnight, Evreux (and most of Western France, and like basically all of Europe) was blanketed with a lovely layer of crisp, powdery snow! Finally, the bitter cold has paid off; I can totally support the biting chill in the air when I'm dancing through unplowed streets and unshoveled sidewalks under white-washed trees. It's really beautiful here, and all the more charming since the town is not at all prepared for snow management...especially on a still Sunday morning.

pax christi.

Friday, February 3, 2012

the grocery store


It's no Target or Jewel, even. There really is no comparing French grocery stores with American ones, but the innate experience is certainly transferable! There is something strangely soothing and familiar about being in a grocery store, even without a list. Even in America, a trip to the grocery store always signifies normalcy. I feel like a normal person when I can walk around Target, pushing a cart, looking at normal people stuff. Life is crazy--especially during the summer at Totus Tuus--and so sometimes, that's all it takes to slow down a bit, and put life into perspective.

Even though my life has slowed down significantly since moving to Evreux (I'm not complaining!), the grocery store still holds a particular charm in its appeal. This week was very chilly, making it hard to want to leave the house or basically do anything. But a trip to the grocery store was needed, so I bundled up, grabbed my reusable bags, and braved the cold to reacquaint myself with the outside world. I did indeed have a grocery list, but I spent a little extra time just walking up and down the aisles, feeling like a real person. The funny thing is, I am a real person! I do need to buy groceries! And I'm not too busy to not be able to make it to the grocery store! Or Target, if France had them...

sunlight through the stained glass, cathedral :)

On another note, the weather in Evreux--and really all of Europe--has become downright glacial. Although the snow hasn't reached Evreux (and I'm not sure if it ever will...), the temperature is certainly low enough! But we have had beautiful blue skies and sun the past few days, which have been beautiful to look at, covered in blankets, through my windows...

pax christi.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

the presentation and chandeleur


Blessed Feast of the Presentation! Today, 40 days after Christmas, is the recognized feast of Jesus's Presentation in the temple. This was a Jewish custom, that newborn, firstborn sons were to be brought to the temple to be offered to the Lord. 40 days after His birth, that is exactly what Joseph and Mary did with Jesus. We also recognize the purification of Mary, another Jewish custom. Traditionally, today is also called Candlemas, as all the candles in the Church are blessed for the year. Since Vatican II in the 1960's, the purification of Mary and the blessing of candles have taken a lesser role to the prophecy of Simeon, the holy man who welcomed the Holy Family into the temple.

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, 
according to your word,

for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.
Luke 2:29-32

France, of course, has its own traditions tied to this feast. Unfortunately, while there are very religious roots to the celebration, much of that has been lost in modern society and popular culture. The French traditionally eat crêpes on this feast, but it is very particular. You are not supposed to eat the crêpes until after 8pm, and then each member of the family or party is supposed to flip a crêpe in the pan, all while holding a gold coin in hand.

In honor of this feast, and the French tradition, I invited friends over for crêpes! As usual, we pretended to be French, but it was night of speaking not only French, but also some English, some German, and even some Polish thrown in there. It was also the first time I've ever personally made crêpes, batter and all, and they turned out great! I was so happy; it was delicious. I successfully flipped a crêpe with a gold coin in hand--I'll have good luck this year! We had a fun, cultural night :) Now I can't wait to host some crêpe parties in the States!

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

pax christi.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

fête-ing valentine's day in france


The French like preparing for holidays in advance, and there always seems to be some kind of schedule to it. Every decoration possible, in every store and on every street, seems to pop up overnight, as if it was all planned--which it probably is...

One of the cute little stores downtown, that has nice gifts and things, just put up their Valentine's display. It has your typical array of picture frames, mugs with hearts on them, and other gifts for a significant other. And then, in the middle of all of these cutesy things, there's this.

A knife stand, made of a poor little red man being stabbed all over his body. Lovely, France. That's really romantic.

pax christi.