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Friday, February 27, 2009

Lucky Girl

So, all of us over here at the coll├ęge on The Sleeve, decided that spending 6 whole weeks talking about, to and around a bunch of pre-adolescents was just about all we could take and that it was time for a holiday. By chance and semi-arbitrary, indifferent ticket-buying, I spent my entire holiday in the UK. Despite an initial hiccup in my transport—cancelled flight, kind stranger offering the services of his company to share an all expenses paid cab ride to catch a boat (Go Shell! What a nice company they are!) to Portsmouth—I arrived safely in London.

A few days were spent with my new best friends, lovely assistants of Landerneau, ( ma old turf. Okay, for only 9 months…) in the City that One Can Not Tire Of. Highlights included: the amazing hostel we stayed in (clean! 24 hour reception!), dining with a fellow alumna from my alma mater, and getting interviewed about Noel Gallagher by the BBC on the street for a children’s program.

Then it was off to Haworth to creep around the Bronte Parsonage and gape at every discarded boot, letter and fragment of ribbon amassed there of the famous Bronte sisters. I could fill reams detailing how blissful it was to gaze, enraptured, at the sofa where Emily died, etc,etc, but I’ll spare you.

Then after a Saturday morning spent re-enacting Wuthering Heights on the Yorkshire moors, I took a train-bus-train to the wild North, to visit with the Lewisaurus. (Okay, so obviously that’s not the real adjective for someone hailing from the largest Island of the West Hebrides, but that’s all I could think of when my inquiry was met with some Gaelic word I know I could never spell correctly. Lewisor? Leeewwwee..uh..eeesss…??) As she winters in Glasgow (alright, and studies there as well) she kindly allowed me to stay with her there for an entire week.

En gros, this little winter holiday has reminded me just how blessed I am. I saw it in the quick-set style friendships that made London a little bit more zesty, the kindness of the strangers in Yorkshire, and most of all, in the thoughtfulness of the dear Lewisaurus up in Glasgow. She gave up her room the week I was there, and I noticed that on her wall she had a map of Brittany, framed with photos from our year together as assistants. What can I say? I felt most blessed while looking at those photos of us together. I’m not entirely sure why, but, it does wonders for the heart to finally reach a foreign city, from another foreign city, and encounter photos of oneself, lovingly displayed.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fest Diez

I finally (finally!) went to the local pool on Thursday and the whole experience reminded me again of Polly Platt’s wisdom in asserting that a fundamental French sentiment, intrinsic to how all of France operates, can be surmised just by going to the pool; that being that French people would much rather have something be beautiful than simple or efficient. More particularly, I always go to the pool with visions in my head of the laps I will complete and the strokes I will use and invariably I spend the whole time choking on water as I collide into oblivious be-Speedoed men cutting across lanes and dodge little groups of chatty women. From what I’ve seen all French pools come with those nice, straight lane markers along the floor, to keep one on track, but I have yet to see anyone actually notice or adhere to them. They seem to be just a waste of tile. My adopted compatriots would much rather swim in circles, or across the short width of the pool or not at all, preferring to tread, clustered together, right in front of the wall that someone might want to touch and complete her (or his!) lap. To paraphrase Polly Platt, Le place de l’etoile in Paris, around the Arc de Triomphe-that horrendous, accident-causing nightmare-is not an accident, but very much on purpose. Ben ouais…why make it simple when it can be pretty…?

My Sunday afternoon plans were almost completely ruined today when the bus I was to take—the only bus for hours—drove right by me as I was heading to the station, paused for 30 seconds, and then just kept going! And more than five minutes before the time on the schedule! However, I am ever astounded by the kindness of strangers as Manchester (the assistante in Landivisiau…) made a phone call and arranged for a woman to come pick me up and drive me to Landi so as to not miss the Fest Diez that occurred there today. I had never been to a Fest Diez (like fest noz, only during the day) so I was relieved to not miss it. At one point early on, Manchester and I were dancing next to eachother, minding our own business, when we noticed that the photographer present at the event seemed to be hovering around us two quite a bit. Strange. And then when the song ended he strode up to us and asked ‘which one of us was the American and which the English?’ He got the spelling of our names and where we were from as well.

As I just keep saying, I’ve never been so famous than as I am in Finistere.
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