I look around my office on this frigid Michigan morning and see visual reminders of lovely Lebanon--the maps, paintings, and posters that cover my walls, the little tea set, the handbill from a lecture I gave at AUB. And two days back from France it's Lebanon at the heart of my memories of Paris too. At the Writing Research Across Borders (WRAB) Conference, our Beirut-Dearborn research team gave a symposium on the collaborative work our students have done--interviewing each other via skype and writing one another's literacy narratives--and we had a good time reconnecting in person: making plans for an article and our next teaching link-up next Fall, but also going out for paella in Paris and just spending time laughing. There's nothing like forgetting everything else for just a moment (or for just a week) and being thankful that people on the other side of the world came into my life.
It took forty years to get to Paris. I'm jealous of the easy and cheap metro and the comfortable "Winter" weather there. Sunday Mass at St. Sulpice with its enormous pipe organ, followed by a quiet espresso outside of church at a little cafe, was a highlight. So were the catacombs (Nicole wasn't a fan...so I guess thanks to my family for letting me watch inappropriate horror films as a little kid, thereby numbing me to how creepy a vast underground necropolis is!), the coffee, and the macaroons. French food? The baked goods are amazing but the "plates"...pretty good, but not as good as Thai, Indian, Middle-Eastern, and the like. I tried snails, that was a first, and a really frothy French omelette was also interesting. Paella (Spanish food in Paris--why not?) with the Beirut crew was the tastiest non-sweet food. Nicole and I walked and metroed like crazy and saw much of the city but we saved the Louvre for next time so that we have a good reason for there to be a next time.