thought i'd wait until a good landmark to throw up an update, and finally receiving my long-awaited luggage seemed like as good of a milestone as i was gonna get.
thank god. it had been nine days and many unanswered calls and emails from the baggage delivery service and icelandair. maybe someone was on strike -- that happens here. having expressed my displeasure, however, i maintain that everything comes with a silver lining. i had to borrow clothes from my grandfather, a splendidly dressed man, and saw my stock skyrocket in the 60-80 year old french female demographic. the numbers were through the roof, really.
bag's back. rock steady.
i'm three days into my job at the front desk of the municipal campground in castelnaudary. i've been working the afternoon shift, from 1:30 to 8:30. they use military time quite frequently here, though, so i've been having a time trying to keep up and translate in my head. usually going with the ol' 'last digit minus two' trick. pretty sure i seem like i'm about half a step behind everyone i speak to, which is, however, a marketed improvement over the one and a half steps behind i felt at the time of my first blog post. this is good. this is good.
still asking questions though, and making friends. on my first day, my boss showed me the ropes for about an hour and half, then dipped. so i was on my own, and customers would ask me for things that i just did not know existed or did not know how to answer. that's typical with any job, i guess, but further adding to the confusion was my lack of understanding of the words themselves. that'll getcha, everytime. what the fuck is an ‘encaissement?’ encasement? is someone in jail? oh, it’s just transactional income, like the money i receive when i’m working the register? got it. got it.
there's a small cafe attached to the front building where i work that is run by a couple who are great conversation partners when the day hits a lull. the man's kids just got in town as well, and they're 6 and 11 years old, and full of wide-eyed wonder. kids are fucking awesome. the six year old hides under the windows just outside my desk and slowly pokes his head up above them with goofy faces. sometimes i take my fly swatter and swat the window between us to scare him.
my sister and i spent last weekend in toulouse at our uncle’s place. we caught the france-germany game on friday which was quite disappointing, but after seeing how germany dismantled brazil, it’s like, okay, die mannschaft is going to win it all anyway. still a huge fan of the squad. euro 2016, in our grasp. allez les bleus.
after the game, we enjoyed a fantastic ‘grillade’ of a ton of sausage, more wine (a lot of rosé at both my uncle’s and grandfather’s -- it seems to be in these days), and cake and food and just lots of food. before dessert, my uncle bust out a bottle of red from ‘98 to honor the ‘98 team that won the world cup. he got a little emotional.
the next night we watched more soccer at a ‘british pub’ that played exclusively songs by or featuring missy elliott and pharrell. this is not an exaggeration.
also i got a phone. my plan is legit 2 euros per month, unlimited texting, 120 minutes, and some internet. this company is called free and they’re like the ryanair of cell phones. it’s fantastic. except no one texts me because i don’t really have friends yet.
spent a lot of time reading two things this past week, after finishing 'crooked river burning,' which turned out to be a fantastic book. i highly recommend it.
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Arundhati Roy, ‘The God of Small Things’ -- a close friend gave me this book as a birthday present and told me it was her favorite. this caused it to jump to the front of my reading list. shouts to anj.
roy makes every word matter. every word. i read that she sold the manuscript well before it was complete, even though it was her first (and, to date, only) book, and it still won the booker prize for the best english language book published in the uk. this makes sense to me. the complete book, the complete arc, isn’t necessarily the meat of the piece; you don’t need the pay off or the twist for gosm to be worth it. there’s a density, words that built sentences that build filaments that weave and twist and vine to form a multilinear, multi- and inter-generational narrative.
the actual plot, however, is basically a given, handed to you on the back cover. there’s a real beauty in a 300+ pager that has essentially two or three plot points but still manages to be endowed with enough gravity and importance and necessity to captivate a reader.
roy is thoroughly haunting -- she tells, but doesn’t tell. she casually assigns terrifying attributes. there are no good characters. there are jarring and disturbing psychosexual motifs throughout the novel.
she frequently makes up words that take something that could be almost-described and makes them inherent and reflexive.
what does rain sound like?
what does metal smell like?
same with capitalization, where certain things, likely as a result of a young ‘narrator,’ are proper nouns, certain, natural -- ‘the four things that were Possible in Human Nature,’ ‘Men’s Needs,’ even the title, ‘Small Things.’ her authority in wordplay is fantastic. her language is ornate, but not archaic. she describes things with vivid unlike things, something that has developed as an instinct in my own writing. it’s great. this, for example, hooked me from the jump:
‘slanting silver ropes slammed into loose earth, plowing it up like gunfire. the old house on the hill wore its steep, gabled roof pulled over is ears like a low hat. the walls, streaked with moss, had grown soft.’
those sounds are so delicious. and it’s subtle, you know, this short poetic stanza is caught in the middle of a paragraph of description.
got the homeys dhruv and kenny coming into town this weekend for bastille day and the surrounding festivities. finna party like it’s 1789. yeesh.
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