Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Words / Mots

The words I write on this blog are seen by people I've never even met. They're read by friends and family and so sometimes I have to do a bit of editing - oh, not often, because I am trying to live my life in a good and healthy way, but I don't always confess to my fits of depression or potato-chip dinners or extreme levels of procrastination. From time to time I think that I'm describing a life here that's tailored for public consumption, a pre-book view of my life, with only the interesting bits, wryly written about, words carefully selected for maximum impact. And then there's a morning like this one, where I just feel like using this space as an open diary, not caring who might read it, avoiding the [Backspace] key as much as possible. In one of the typing-related posts I recently wrote, I described how Jack Kerouac turned his manuscripts in unedited, saying that editing is like lying. Some editing has to be done, of course, if only in the leaving out of things due to time and space considerations. I don't have the hours required or the desire to write about the boring stuff, and you probably don't want to read it. I got up! I took a shower! I'm eating leftover rice and artichoke hearts with scrambled eggs for breakfast! Not the stuff of best-sellers, I think.

I'd made a semivow to write more on this blog, and that's done as well as my other resolutions to exercise more and lose weight. It's only through writing that I'll get better as a writer. Typing is the easiest way to do this, since I'm an excellent typist but my handwriting totally sucks these days. Do they even teach handwriting in schools any more? They do here in France. Everyone makes their letters and numbers the same way. My non-Frenchness is most evident sometimes in how I write, rather than how I speak.

I'm going to the school this morning to talk with the program director about alternative ways to remain a student and extend my visa for another year. I was rather spendthrift when I first arrived in France, and took some big trips, and allowed my increased income due to large projects to lull me into thinking that I could toss money about and not have to worry. Right now I'm only bringing in the minimum per month, just enough to pay rent and maybe a week of groceries, so the additional expenses of school (which is three times more than I'd originally budgeted for, when you add in the travel costs and eating at restaurants at the lunch breaks [I plan on packing lunches for at least half of next month's classes in Tours]) and my fun-but-not-frugal trips to Paris are definitely impacting my bank balance. I don't have time for - or rather, I don't want to stress myself out by trying to cram into my schedule - looking for new clients or working for them. I'm focused on doing my research project, which conveniently enough is also the outline for my book, and the list of people who make the cheeses I'm interested in. It's taking time, but I'm saving time.

I still feel at home here. I'm enjoying going on walks with people through the On Va Sortir event site, and I'm looking forward to classes next month. I do spend a lot of time in my bedroom, but that's because my computer is here. The living room is too pet-hairy to work in, and I can't seem to figure out how to position my screen to minimize glare and work outside, plus it's been too cold to do so. I don't feel like I'm hiding in here, avoiding France. I remember doing exactly that in Tokyo, when the stresses of living in another country, struggling with the language, got to be too much. Here I don't usually have a problem communicating (or if I do, it's funny, not stressful), but I think I am expending more mental and emotional energy fitting into a different culture, and sometimes that makes me tired. And I start thinking about England Wales Scotland Ireland and looking for dairy farms to live and work on, where at least the language aspect wouldn't be an issue. Well, except for the fact that sometimes a dialect turns English into something that might as well be Greek for all I can understand it; there were times when I'd be working with Ben at the Ticklemore dairy and he'd have to repeat his requests or questions or comments at least three times, very slowly the last time, in his Devonshire accent, before I'd get it.

So I'm thinking about leaving, as well as trying to find ways to stay longer. I'm wanting to see more of the world, and wanting to stay to learn more about France, a country I've only seen the smallest part of so far. I'd like to be able to relax and speak English, but would prefer to work on my French skills. I want something new, but am reluctant to leave my comfortable familiar routine here. In other words, I'm a Gemini. I'm me. I've always been like this and half a century on it doesn't look like that will change. But at least I'm learning how to focus and manage this duality. The fact that I am here in France proves that I can set goals and reach them. I can create my future ... as soon as I figure out what I want it to be, that is.

I go back through these blog posts sometimes to remember things and people and places, and it makes me happy to think of all that I have had and seen and done in my life. I've enjoyed the times when I've been off by myself exploring, and the weeks spent traveling with Mom and John, or the days doing random silly things with Morgan and Leah and Corey. Scrabble games and hot springs and long walks and chef salads with Kate. Movies and operas and good food and wine with Helen or Lark. Random encounters and conversations with people from Portland to Glasgow. Cats and chickens and goats, falling off horses and falling out of planes and falling in love, and landing with a thud in all three cases with varying amounts of pain. Fear, and forgiveness, and fantasies. And in the end, always gratitude.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to you Elizabeth. Thank you for allowing me to travel with you, to see, taste and hear what you are experiencing. You see your blog is so well done that I can imagine all of those things. You are brave and full of life and I am honored to be your friend. Leave France or stay, but keep writing and filling my life with rich experience that I shall never have.