Things I've learned in 2016

In less than five hours, 2016 will be behind us. And I won't lie, I'll be relieved that this year, with its extreme ups and downs, will finally be over. But before that (and before I have to go get ready as I'm going out tonight!), I thought I'd do a little random list of things I've discovered, realised, observed or otherwise learned in the last 366 days:

Game of Thrones is awesome. For years, actually, years, a lot of people have encouraged me to watch GOT, and my main motivation for watching it was the presence of actors such as Sean Bean, but it was only until July (at 11PM the night before my naturalization interview, to be precise, because I was nervous and couldn't sleep) that I got HBO and began what became the biggest binge-watch of all time, and also a new obsession of mine. I couldn't believe that all along there has been a TV series so brilliant and I was possibly the only person who didn't watch it from the start.
And the most surprising thing was that I got somewhat, I say soooomewhat used to all the violence*. The thing is, with such brilliant actor play and plots, you can get over the graphic content.
I finished six seasons in less than two weeks, and had this very same "not enough, I need more" feeling that I get after I watch a Wagner opera (even the Ring!), so season 7 of GOT is definitely something I'm looking forward to in 2017.

Best beauty find of 2016: Korean sheet masks. Once I discovered them, I realised I should have been using sheet masks a long time ago. They are now part of my daily routine (I have one on right now, as I'm typing this, in fact!), and I've observed a huge change in the texture, quality and appearance of my skin.
There's also the accidentally fun side of sheet masks, which, you know me, I adore: terrifying everyone from your relatives, to your landlord, to your friends and followers on social media. And admit it, there's nothing like the true dignity one carries themselves with when taking a #sheetmaskselfie.

Other best beauty find of 2016: The Clarins Everlasting Foundation. When I started teaching at the Alliance Française, where there are more staircases than Hogwarts (I'm barely exaggerating) and no elevators, I quickly realised that the light make-up I wore to look polished and chic made me look like the wax doll, in Les Malheurs de Sophie, that was forgotten in the sun for too long.
After testing many different long-lasting foundations, I finally found The One, thanks to the gorgeous Reenie, who works for Clarins at the Chevy Chase Bloomingdales.
It is very lightweight, lasts from 7am to 11pm (and I'm sure it would last even longer), is non-transfer (very important when you're in a French setting and greet almost everyone with la bise, but also when you're desperate for a nap and don't want to stain your clothes or pillows with beige streaks!), does not dry out my skin or make it break out, and does not require any powder to hold. A little of it goes a very long way, and depending on your beauty budget, may be a little bit pricey, but 100% worth the cost.

On that matter, let me tell you about the best investments I made in 2016:

My new flat. I had been living rent-free at my aunt's stylish and very comfortable house for over a year, but I knew all along it would only be temporary; I could only take as much time as I needed to look for and find the perfect flat. After a search that felt hopeless at some points, I found it this fall and signed a lease right after Thanksgiving.
Living alone is, in my opinion, the ultimate luxury, and one completely worth the price. I am lucky to live in a beautiful area where I feel completely safe and could leave my door unlocked at night without worry**.
And there's also the wonderful feeling of being self-sufficient and independent after having had many setbacks in your early twenties, the feeling you get when you look around you at the beautiful little nest that is all yours and your very own, and the cat cuddled next to you on your couch, purring with delight, and you realise you've made it, and you're on the right track to bigger victories in your professional or personal life.

- My iPhone 6s. It was a bit of a splurge since I bought an unlocked one without a contract (I wanted to be able to use it abroad!), but it was time for my old iPhone to take its well-deserved retirement under the tropics...
Just kidding. I gave it to my #MiniDiva of a cousin, and she's now calling to ask me at least three times a day whether I'm going to buy the iPhone 7 so that she could have my iPhone 6.

- My Nespresso Machine. You know the saying, "home is where you plug your Nespresso machine"? Probably not, because I just made it up :D
Those who have been reading this blog for a long time know that I always was more of a loose-leaf tea, Turkish coffee and Diet Coke person, but I also secretly appreciate good coffee. Espresso, that is, not the watered-down substandard sock-tasting crap that is commonly known as American Coffee (as if we didn't have enough with Republicans giving us a bad name!). I rented a room at one point, a couple of years ago, in a house owned by French-Dutch people who had a very inspiring lifestyle, one focused on simplicity and quality, and Marc, the husband, very proudly showed me (and taught me how to use) his impressive Italian espresso maker. After that, I was hooked on espresso, and wanted to find something a little easier to use, but that made great-tasting quality coffee. As my lifestyle became more active, I realised I couldn't keep on drinking industrial quantities of diet soda or energy drinks. So I treated myself to a red Nespresso machine with a cappuccino maker, and I've been surviving on drinking great espresso ever since!

(Investments I'm planning to make in 2017 include an iPadpro with pencil, an Equinox gym membership because let's face it, I'm not too motivated by the YMCA, and a Purple mattress. I would also love to treat myself to my first pair of Louboutins for my 25th birthday, but let's not get carried away... Or let's, actually. At least it will motivate me to finish my book!)

Cleaning out and purging all your belongings has a purifying effect. I realised I had been, for years, holding onto things that brought me no joy, and that had bare leftovers of sentimental values. This summer, I couldn't do it anymore. I got rid of countless things, donated many bags of clothing, and made room in my life for better things, literally and figuratively. And the better things came, again, literally and figuratively.

Sometimes things don't work out for a reason. Often when we suddenly lose what we are holding onto, be it a significant other, a friend, material possessions or even a living arrangement or a job, it is because something better is about to make its way into our lives. This has proven itself true countless times in 2016, and has helped me cope with many losses and disappointments. For that, I am grateful. 

How it feels to be an American. 
I'm still the same person. But becoming an American this August was something. I felt proud. I felt liberated. I felt free. Voting this November for the very first time in my life, for a woman I admire a lot, was extraordinary. This is a beautiful country, I'm proud to be one of its citizens, and I'm so grateful for everything it has given me since I came to live in it ten years ago.
And yes, there may be things that may make America look bad in the eyes of the world, such as American coffee (see my point above) and Trump. But they would never surpass the good things about this country.

Lastly, (since my relatives are arriving in a few minutes to pick me up!), the best things that have happened in 2016: becoming a professor at the Alliance Française, moving into my great flat, meeting new friends, strengthening my relationship with my family members, becoming a US citizen, and adopting my beloved cat Julia!

So I sign off for now, with a BIG thank you for the most awesome readers in the world, and an even bigger HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Lots and lots of love,


*I mean, it's a necessary plot device, right?Okay, let's be clear, there are episodes that I completely skipped through, like The Ghosts of Harrenhal for example (not so much for The Rains of Castamere has more shock value than actual goriness), and I spend a lot of time hiding my eyes. After some time, I would know instinctively when to expect the kind of violence I couldn't handle.

** Not that I would actually do it, and admit it on a blog read by my aunt and my grandmother, who would freak out until the end of times if she ever knew!

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