Saturday, February 26, 2005

Oh, NOW I get it...

Hello, all....

So I've been puzzled since I got back from my utterly kickass London trip about why I'm all low-energy and mopey and inclined to stay inside my apartment. I mean, I clawed and scraped my way out of Chicago, and I nailed shut the open hole of regret that had been pestering me since I didn't go to France in 2001 like I originally planned. I'm living in a beautiful 13th century village in FRANCE, and I have no problems on the scale of the tsunami-hell that enveloped so much of coastal Asia lately. So why be all poopy and down in the dumps?

I mean, honestly, I was living zombie-life from Tuesday to Friday. What's up with that?

So NOW I get it... I've been *lonely*. It's so simple! I went from hanging around with my cousin (who I'm utterly comfortable with) in a land that speaks English (ditto) to being back to my routine in France, which has a good deal of isolation to offer.

To sum up:

England: with cousin, not self-conscious about language, verbal facility at a nice high level
France: with nobody, self-conscious about language, verbal facility cursed like Star Wars movies after Rick McCallum

So in reality I don't do too badly when confronted with French People. It's just that I get so nervous about those encounters. But when I don't shy away, it usually goes very well. Wednesday last, for example, I was invited to a stranger's house to meet their daughter (don't worry, Meredith!) who had just come back from Canada. The people I was supposed to go with weren't at their house at the appointed time, so I thought I had screwed up (of course, I was seven minutes late). So, screwing up my courage, I knocked on the door of the house that the New French lived in.

Well, even though my familiar French weren't there either, I got nicely welcomed and had to make my way socially in what I thought was an awkward position. Here I was, knocking unannounced on the front door of a family I had never met and having to make conversation without the folks I was supposed to be there with. Ugly, huh?

As it turned out, everything went fine. The daughter in question was probably 17 or 18 and we talked for a bit about English in schools, schools in general, and her amazing trips to places like Thailand and Quebec. Admittedly, I thought Thailand was more impressive than Quebec, and I got to see her pictures, which proved me right.

I helped her on her English homework, talked to her parents a bit, and then ate dinner with my (until then absentee) French friends. It turned out to be about six and a half hours of French, French, French and I think I did a fine job of it.

So here are the points of the lecture, then I will give you a bonus set of pictures.
1) England was great because I relaxed and had fun
2) France is hard sometimes because I'm always aware of my shortcomings
3) When I give France a chance, it usually turns out pretty well
4) I am like Ford Prefect

I am like Ford Prefect in the sense that I would very much like a party, with dancing and drinks and people I can relate to (see Life, the Universe, and Everything for more details). So I guess what I'm trying to say is: if I go and live life to the fullest for a couple more months, can I have a gigantic party with all my friends and lots of American beer when I return? Because, honestly, that would really rock. (Sam and Erin, I'm talking about that surprisingly fun night in Chicago writ large) Also, I should be back in time for Star Wars, and let me tell you I am prepared to scream like a little girl when "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." appears. Y'all have been warned.

That's it. I just wanted to share. So here are some more London photographs:
The British Museum has a fantastic new dome roof
Ellen MacArthur's victory lap over the Thames
The moon flanking Parliament
The actual Rosetta Stone
Stonehenge along with spooky-strong sunlight
St. Paul's Cathedral, Part I
St. Paul's Cathedral, Part II

Also, I want the Domo-kun hat from this store like you wouldn't believe. My birthday's on its way, keep in mind.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Quick Dose of London Pictures, Morrissey Songs

Okay, I'm back in the village of Very Small out here in rural France, and I wanted to toss out a few pictures of my London trip. I am sad that my camera batteries died on Sunday because I had several more things to take pictures of, but overall I am still totally digging this trip.

Also, I'm tossing out a quick list of Morrissey songs because they kept floating through my head during the trip - getting off the tube at Earl's Court, for example, kept Piccadilly Palare in my head for hours at a time - something for y'all to dig up and listen to if you like.



From Bona Drag
  • Piccadilly Palare, for Picadilly Circus and Earl's Court

  • Hairdresser on Fire, for Sloane Square

From You Are the Quarry
  • Come Back to Camden, for Camden Town

  • Irish Blood, English Heart, for Oliver Cromwell

Sunday, February 20, 2005

i am not lame.

hey folks! matt's illustrious cousin here and i am under strict orders not to be lame, thus the title of this entry. i'm thinking positive here. bear with me.
so here we are in london, capital of the great empire which is/was/were great britain, also known as england also known as the united kingdom (geez i wish they'd make up their mind). we had no queen sightings. though in honor of matt's beret and mime count that is currently running in france, we have spotted one official beret and one official mime. both not french. do they count? sure. why not?
though i haven't read what matt has added of our adventures, i am sure he has not told you blog-readers that today we took the boat into greenwich and visited the prime meridian. there were pictures taken of cousin e cousin, meridian e meridian. we also saturated our brains with much learned knowledge before bearing the brutal chilliness of a whopping 38 degrees fahrenheit back to the boat.
however, the pure highlight today was our chance meeting of ellen macarthur, champion of the solo journey around the world in her oh-so-schnazzy B+Q boat. she told us we were the coolest tourists to walk on the greenwich pier ever. no she didn't. she didn't even see us. but we were 1 foot away from the mayor of greenwich who apparently likes to wear women's clothing and jewelry and found a way to do that professionally without the sleaze...
so yes. london has been great. i am ever so pleased matt fought his way out of french country and joined up with the anglos this week. we have had a smashing time.
sadly the journey ends tomorrow, with him returning to chateau gontier tomorrow via tube via bus via plane via train (?) and i via tube via plane via bus via bus. but i do have an anxious kitty waiting for me, and a job that is begging me to pay off the bills i have piled up this week. but it's all for the sake of london and so that makes everything okay!
so off i go, passing the pay-internet at the hostel back over to matthewjohn. peace out yo, and for godssake, god bless the queen, especially since we can't get her to come to matt's world fair this summer. (you all, however, will surely make it. there will be t-shirts, fried twinkies and old people i hear).

Friday, February 18, 2005

I Henge, You Henge

We all Henge for Stonehenge!

Today included a completely unexpected trip to Stonehenge, which turned me from Hardened Traveller to Weepy-Eyed Fan Boy. Also crawled up onto a 5,500 year-old burial mound and a bit inside its excavated parts, met a nice gent from the BBC, and managed to completely wipe myself out by 5 PM.

Cousin Anna and I have hatched an extremely complicated plan to go read at a coffeeshop for an hour or two. It is extremely dangerous and we are courageous, but this we do - for England.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Report on London Bridge

Today I walked across London Bridge. It was not falling down, burning down,
or anything down. Except for OPP. LB was down wit OPP.

My Fair Lady, according to scattered intelligence, is as far away as
Illinois. This has created confusion among the troops.

I will update this entry later, but I want to list out some of the things for
The Globe Theater
The National Theater
- saw the play His Dark Materials, Part II
Tower of London
Tower Bridge
I live in Earl's Court

Keep watching this space, or you will find yourself floating back home
(apologies to Han Solo).

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Chips, Possibly Fish

So I'm going to London to visit my cousin Anna. And also I guess I'm going to visit London, too. But you wouldn't know it by looking at me, what with my "I'm with stupid Anna" t-shirt and my big 10-gallon hat with flashing lights that spell out "HOWDY COUSIN".

The hat, by the way, is red.

I intend to order chips and fish and ask where the Eiffel Tower is and point out Big Ben and yawn whilst I mention the Sears Tower (or better yet, the LaSalle Bank Building, which excitingly caught on fire shortly after I stopped working there).

I will also try to spend as little money as humanly possible, as it is sooooo expensive. But I'm going to Harrod's, man! You can buy DOGS there, and CARS. We shall see what I come back with.

And I will try out Douglas Adams's advice on making tea*. I'll see if I can understand what the shouting's been about.

* This is much better than Captain Picard's way of making tea, which is a little pansyish, you've got to admit...

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Did You Know

that if you apply a layer of shaving cream to your bathroom mirror it'll leave some sort of residue that prevents the mirror from fogging over for several weeks' worth of showers?

Hot Tip courtesy my mom, though she could have gotten it from Queer Eye which means everybody thinks I'm stupid for posting it in the year 2005. I say bring it on. I'll beat ya.

Keeping the Fire Away From My Face From Now On

Because it's Saturday night and I told this guy I would head out on the town though I don't want to because I am anxious and timid and just want real friends that I don't have to pretend I'm having fun with, I have been playing with matches for the last 50 minutes.

I'm having fun with combination burns and delayed secondary-flare effects and stuff when I decide to grip a match with my teeth so it's poking out of my mouth like a hick toothpick and light that bitch with the flame from another match. And people, it was fucking TERRIFYING. How do you smokers do that? I never thought about that before - there's FIRE and it's on its way to your NOSE, then your brainpan probably after. FEAR!

Furthermore: In the USA I have friends who are reliably weird, and this makes me feel free to do whatever. I have one friend who, if you tell him to try to flag down a taxi by waving his bare dick at it, he will say "it's me" and do it because he is a crazy bastard. I have one friend who really enjoyed shooting at everybody's feet during high school archery and we still like him anyway. I have one friend who graffitied my house once with the words INADEQUATE PANTS and actually stole a five foot tall replica of Ralph Nader's head. I have one friend who is a girl now even though she wasn't a girl before and the biggest problem with it is pronouns. I have one friend who helped me out of a rough spot one night by THROWING a baby past my line of sight and into a closed door and then following himself (also airborne), landing ON said baby and then doling out righteous physical punishment to the thing. I should note that this was a DOLL baby, a model baby if you will, but it did have a bullseye painted on its ass in red.

When you've got these sorts of people around, you tend not to worry about how weird you are because hey, weird is already covered.

But when they're gone? Well, I, for one, don't really know exactly how to deal with people that are perfectly nice and normal. I keep waiting for somebody to throw a baby here in France, but it hasn't happened yet.

Friday, February 11, 2005


I haven't posted for a long time and it's because I spent all that time FREAKING OUT. I freaked myself out of my skin and back and let me tell you it wasn't worthwhile at all.

I'd tell you all about it but it's boring - short version is that being timid gets compounded by being in a weird environment, and eventually all your friends are fictional.

So why not just haul off and blog like nobody's watching? Yeah, we'll just see about that.