Awake

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last…posting. Some couchsurfing, some new friends, some home friends, an adventure or two, some Firefly. Some planning. No more schoolwork than usual. I’m sorry it’s been such a while. Read on for the full story.

So. I left off with my couchsurfers Martin and Ugne here, yes? And I was beginning to get sick. Well I continued to get sick. And Martin and Ugne continued to not be here much during the day, and we continued to not interact that much at night, for various reasons. They were tired, I was getting sick, their English was less than perfect, and they were living a totally different life from me. I did like them, but we didn’t seem to have a ridiculous amount in common.

Sunday night the 25th I saw The Queen. It was very good.

They left Tuesday morning the 27th, and that night I went to a concert. It was themed “Bellows and Bows” and featured three sets of fiddlers and accordionists from three different traditions. The main pair was Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, who I came to see. Phil Cunningham was the accordion player for Silly Wizard, and recorded a song that I played at the beginning of my every radio show the first season. My god, though! Phil Cunningham’s accordion playing is ridiculous! If you’re familiar with the style of piano in New England traditional music, like you hear at a contradance, his left hand was playing something that sounded just like a good contra piano, while his right hand mirrored the fiddle’s melody or did some other fun stuff. Several times in the concert I practically looked around, trying to find the piano.

But the other two sets of musicians were just as enjoyable if not moreso. There was a pair from Sweden, who played lovely scandinavian stuff, including a waltz whose rhythm was more like an “oval” than the “circular” waltzes you hear in Scottish and Irish music. That means that the first beat takes up a lot longer than the other two. It was difficult to tap out. The other group was a Cajun group from Louisiana, three people, fiddle, accordion, and guitar. They were great, made me homesick a little, and made me appreciate Cajun music a lot more than I ever have before.

When all three groups were playing together, Phil and Aly told a story about how they were commissioned to play for this guy in London one time, and when they got there, the guy said to Phil “I can’t wait to hear some of these Cajun songs that you sing.” Phil and Aly conferred in the toilet, and decided what they would do. They would play “How much is that doggie in the window” in a Cajun style, and Phil would sing it, backwards, in a vaguely french accent. 40 thousand pounds. They played the result for us, and it was a hilarious pastiche of the Cajun music we’d just been hearing.

On Wednesday I was still sick, and that night I had two couchsurfers from Penn State. They were really nice, but some of the more awkward people I’ve met. She was teaching English in Marseilles, and he had come over with her, and wasn’t doing much. I talked to them a little bit, but was sick, and went to bed, and they left the next morning before I woke up.

Around this time, maybe a little before, I started facebook messaging a bunch with a friend from home. Very nice. In two maximum-length (10,000 characters; email-length, really) messages, I articulated better than ever before the most in-depth story of my family and relationship history I’ve ever told anyone in one sitting. Some real nice articulation catharsis there.

Around Thursday or so, I built up courage and went and sat with some new people at a meal, turns out I in fact did meet them at international student orientation. Emily is from Greenfield (near me), and goes to King’s/Dalhousie in Halifax. We have at least three mutual acquaintances, two from one place and one from the other. Erin goes to Mt. Holyoke, and knows a good number of my friends there. Gemma is from Melbourne, Australia, here for the year. Alex is from Durham, near Newcastle (in England). They’re very nice. I had meals with them all weekend while my other bunch of friends were mostly away. Now that my other friends are back, I have two groups that I can eat with, which is better than one.

I forgot about going to see FilmSoc’s showing of Borat until it was too late, which got me in a foul mood Sunday night (the 4th). I was pretty much over my cold by the end of the weekend, but I only judged myself basically normal a day or two ago.

I played a lot of my computer game Wesnoth, too.

I’ve realized that my Europe trip is SUPER soon, so I’ve stepped up my planning. There’s only one more weekend before I go. I got my Eurail pass in the mail from home the other day (thanks “Mombets”!), and have been intimidated by the planning of connections and reservations since then. I need to get on all that very soon.

This past Wednesday I had another couchsurfer come, and she stayed for three nights. She was really cool; we got along wonderfully. Her name’s Sara, and she just graduated from Evergreen College in Washington State, in animation. She too is teaching English in southern France. We had a lot in common, and she was a fine conversationalist. We just sat around for the most part for the first two days. On Thursday we went to this place called Piemaker, that has great inexpensive food, and is a great people watching spot. On the way there, I met a girl while walking out of the dorms who recognized me from couchsurfing. Her name’s Maryla and I haven’t interacted with her since, but she seems nice enough. On Friday, Sara and I climbed Salisbury Crags, which I hadn’t done before. It was fun, though my nose was running like a marathon, and the approaching gray rain clouds scared me, as I had my laptop. We got down just before it started raining, and to avoid the wetness went into the Scottish Parliament building, another place I hadn’t been. We didn’t go on a tour, but went into the empty Debating Chamber. I love the modern design of the building. I also realized for the first time that the landscaping pools out in front are shaped like Scotland.

Starting on Wednesday, and almost every night since then, I’ve watched some episodes of Firefly with Jon, and Sara while she was here (she left on Saturday morning for France via Glasgow). Today we watched all the episodes on the last disc (along with Sarah, another friend from that same original group, they’re the two from it who I like the best), and tonight we watched the movie. We zipped through the whole canon! Less than a week. That’s quick, for actually carrying on something of a normal life as well.

Last night (Saturday) I went to see Salsa Celtica. They were more Salsa than Celtic, but I enjoyed it muchly. Lots of dancing. The only unhappy part was the middle-aged woman dancing wildly very close in front of me at one point, and I couldn’t move. But I eventually was able to move a little, and all was good. They played the one song of theirs I know (with loads of people invited on stage) in the middle of the encore, which was perfect.

Now I’m no longer playing Wesnoth, now Sea Dogs (pirate game arrr), and still looking for Silverthorn by Raymond E. Fiest. I may have to resort to buying it new at Blackwells or somewhere. I’m going to be reading my heart out on my train travels. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to bring my third large book. Three weeks, with multi-hour train rides almost every day? Dunno. And I also haven’t decided about my laptop. I’m leaning toward no, but I’m not sure.

I’m getting closer to my friends here, getting closer to travel time, getting closer to exams…it’s all rushing by so fast.

Oh, I figured out how I’m going to manage my academics, not having done a whole lot of work this semester. I have two weeks after I get back from Skye before my exams begin, so I’m going to read an article a day from each class in those two weeks, covering the major reading for each lecture. Then my exams are nice and spaced out so that I have 3 days before each one where I can focus exclusively on that.

I miss my friends and my home, and, though my appreciation of here has increased and doubtless will further, I expect that when I come home my happiness about returning will outweigh my sadness at leaving.

One thought on “Awake

  1. Good to hear what you’ve been up to. Can you share a more up to date travel itinerary as you finalize it? (Or as finalized as you will get). With dates? What adventures you are having. I’m so glad you are getting to see some of the musicians you like. I loved the story about the faux Cajun thing. Keep in touch.
    -Mombets

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