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.


At 12:33 PM, Anonymous EVIL said...

Chicago will be in flames once more by the time we are done with it. Although I'm sure France doesn't have much worth drinking (as I heard they aren't into that), you should find something so you can build up your tolerence to where it should be.

Hate to have another night of you praying to the bushes outside my window.

Either way, I'll keep the home fires burning and prepare the goat.

At 6:12 PM, Blogger MJP said...

Keep the goat ready? Say, that reminds me of Apocalypse Now! Sweet! I'll be like good ol' Marty Sheen, all bronzed and beautiful!

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Samantha said...

Matt! I'm so jealous when I look at your blog! Enjoy every single minute of it! Though I know exactly how you feel (loneliness, etc) and went through the same thing in the Deutschland. You've got yourself a case of smoldering culture shock. I've gotta talk to you soon...lots of changes going on! Take care, and beat up a mime for me.


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