Wednesday, March 23, 2005

March 22, 2005

March 22, 2005

I need to go back and translate Helena’s blog entry. Actually, fuck it. Learn French. I am going to have to start posting some things in French anyway once I leave France. I am going to give a couple of the other assistants my blog address.

So, Jo has taken me to task for not writing more in my blog recently. I’ve been quite busy, actually. And now I am really far behind in everything—so it is going to be even more disordered. Oh well.

I just got back from Venice this morning—at 1:00 am. I have discovered that leaving Valence is easy, but getting back is a problem. Yesterday I woke up at 4:30 am. I had already reserved a train to leave Venise at 11am, but the night before I was supposed to leave I found out that there was going to be a train strike between the hours of 9 and 5. Thus, every train that was set to leave between those hours was cancelled. This was a problem because I had bought my tickets in France separately and I was (obviously) no where near a French train station so I couldn’t change them. So I needed to be in Turin before 5pm to catch my French train. Anyway, I woke up at 4:30, threw my things in my bag, and arrived at the train station about 5am. I asked it I could buy a ticket directly to Turin or if I would have to change trains in Milan (which I had had to do on the way out. And if so, I might not have made it to Turin before 5pm because I would have to arrive in Milan before 9am and… well, I was concerned). As it was, I was able to go directly to Turin on a train that left at 7:52am. I spent the next few hours doing some last minute wandering of Venice with my growing-heavier-by-the-minute shoulder bag.

I arrived in Turin around 1pm. I did not want to spend the next four hours waiting in a train station so I decided to walk around some (and maybe find the shroud of Turin—which, coincidently, if only on display during religious holidays. The rest of the time you can only see a replica). So, anyway, I spent four hours wandering around Turin with my heavy shoulder bag. How exhausting. Then, the train to France was 35 minutes late (interestingly enough, trains can leave whenever—at 12:52 or 6:38 or 9:27—but they are always late in increments of five minutes). I got into Chambery and took the next train to Lyon. At Lyon I had a two-hour wait for the next train to Valence. It was now around 10pm and I was exhausted. I called Dad and spoke with him some—note particularly coherently, I might add. While I was on the phone with him, some French teenager came up to me and asked me for money. He reeked of alcohol and his eyes looked like he had been using some serious drugs. After I got off the phone with Dad, I decided to take my last Euro and buy some tea from a vending machine. I then took my tea into the waiting room and was promptly accosted by an honest-to-goodness lunatic who tried to take my tea away from me. As I was clutching my tea with both hands, a guy in the background was assuring me: N’inquitez pas, il n’est pas dangerous (Don’t worry, he’s not dangerous) and I was like yeah, easy for you to say—he’s not after your tea.

On the train to Valence I was afraid to fall asleep because I figured that if I did it would be like the sleep of the dead. Remaining awake was particularly difficult as I was on a Corail Lunea, the French night train. The seats recline really far and there is a place for you to put your legs and there are no lights.

I finally arrived in Valence around 1am, completely exhausted. I walked back to Camille Vernet, even this small journey not without incident. As I had almost reached the school, I heard a noise behind me. I turned around and saw a guy with his hands dangerously near his crotch region. I figured I was about the be flashed (again), so I turned back and doubled my pace. When I made it to the gate of Camille Vernet I looked back and he was gone. I let myself in, walked across the school, dragged myself up the three flights of stairs to my room, and collapsed…

Venice was totally cool.

Oh! And here are my street musician stats:
In a 72 hour period I heard Franks Sinatra’s I did it my way five times and How high the moon and La Volare three times each. I have a version of the Gypsy Kings doing La Volare on my computer. I call it La Voltaire because there is a line (it is in Spanish, obviously) where it sounds like the singer is saying “Beep beep, bee da bee da doop. And Neitzche has died in the soup.” (I have confirmation on this. I played it for Jo and she can hear it too.)

Well, I have discovered that I need to do a little more studying on religious holidays. I figured I had the basics of Christianity down, but every now and again (especially in Catholic countries) I realize just how ignorant I am. Take Palm Sunday, for example. What exactly is it? It occurred when I was in Venice and there was a Catholic Parade (or, as they prefer to call it, a procession) that was just fascinating. It had everything—alter boys choking on incense, creepy looking catholic preists, senile looking catholic priests, nuns, and lots of people carrying giant palm fronds (I did feel very sorry for the palm tree that gave up its ability to perform photosynthesis just so I could enjoy the parade and take lots of pictures). Anyway, the whole thing started me thinking “just what exactly is Palm Sunday?” Here is the thought process that produced:

I know that Easter Sunday is when Jesus rose from the dead and Jo just informed me that Good Friday was when he was crucified (I had previously thought that there was a three day difference between the two events but now I know better). I don’t think it was the day that Jesus rode into Bethlehem because I didn’t see a wheeled horse and I know from going to several church museums that there is always a wooden wheeled horse with a wooded Jesus on it that gets dragged through the streets on the anniversary of when Jesus went into Bethlehem. I don’t think it was the last supper because I figure that is probably around Carnival and Fat Tuesday time—I mean, it all deals with food so it must fit together. Unfortunately this leaves me with nothing else, so I have decided that Palm Sunday is when Jesus went to the Caribbean.

So, now that I have blasphemed myself past the point of no return (which, actually, I think I managed to do several years before now), I think I will retire. My sleep time from my afternoon nap has run out and I need to re-charge.

Okay, I’m back. I’m not asleep yet. I was just looking at the pictures I took at the very beginning of my French adventure. On my very first day in France I went out to Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and just walked around. When I look at the pictures I took, I am reminded of how uncertain everything was back then—hell, I didn’t even know where I was going to be living! I barely spoke the language and I knew next to nothing about Valence. I am continuously amazed at how far I have come since then. My objectives in coming to France were quite different from those of the other assistants. I think I risked more, but in return I have probably gained more. I really think that it is only my parents and close friends who really understand the extent of the challenge this journey was. (God that was a really crappy sentence… please excuse my writing: I’m tired).

I have the world’s loudest alarm clock. The alarm itself it not the problem—it is the ticking. I usually have to stuff it in my closet under some clothes just to sort of muffle the ticking. Right now it is in my nightstand, which I think only serves to amplify it. I feel like Captain Hook…


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