Saturday, June 20, 2015

Don't worry...

...I found a music festival. Just me doing the most "me" thing I could possibly do, anywhere in the world.

Yesterday I went to Rio Loco, a world music festival on the banks of the Garonne right here in Toulouse. I was going to go on my own anyway, but then Muriel asked if I wanted to go with her and Sebastian, so I had some company. Each day of the festival is organized by continent, and yesterday was Africa day. We saw bands from Morocco, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Togo. It was fun, but by the end of the evening I was pretty tired, increasing my suspicion that I'm getting too old for music festivals. I still like to stay up late, but I don't really like staying out late anymore. I'll happily read until 2 a.m., but if I'm at a bar past midnight, I typically get cranky and impatient. Ah, well. Can't be young forever.

I'm dealing with homesickness, which is odd; I've never experienced homesickness when traveling before. It's not that I didn't miss anyone when I was traveling before, obviously, but I'm usually so distracted with experiencing new things that it's not a huge problem. I suspect it's worse now because I'm traveling alone. Normally I have somebody to share experiences with, but that's not the case here. I really hate that I can't access data on my phone here without wifi--when I'm feeling lonely I often just share my observations with Twitter. I keep making these little quips about France, arranging them in my mind into 140 characters or fewer--and then I remember that I can't post them. It's frustrating.

What's worse is that I feel guilty about feeling homesick. I shouldn't feel homesick. I shouldn't feel anything but glowing gratitude that I'm spending two months in France. But then, I feel guilty about everything, and I'm only just now beginning to realize how absurd that is. Maybe someday I'll recognize my own feelings as valid. 

I don't want to suggest that I'm not having a good time. Toulouse is beautiful. I've been walking around, reading outside. As I mentioned before, I'm reading RĂ©parer les vivants by Maylis de Kerangal. Normally when I read in French, I know I'm understanding the plot, but I also know that I'm missing many of the subtleties and small details. To try to avoid that problem, and to improve my French, I've been translating the sections that I've read--literally writing them down and trying to make them readable in English. This is a tall order; Maylis de Kerangal writes in these long, flowing sentences, commas strewn throughout, separating phrase after phrase. Her writing is rather poetic, so sometimes it's tough to make it make sense in English without destroying the sounds and images that she's creating. Last school year, in Doug's Forms of Fiction class, we read a book called Correction by the German author Thomas Bernhardt. Bernhardt also wrote sentences that were several pages long, separated only by commas, and I got the impression that he did this in order to increase the speed of his writing, to make it sound manic. I do not get the same impression with RĂ©parer les vivants--I think the commas are supposed to make the writing sound like waves, or heartbeats (or both--the plot prominently features both thus far). At any rate, I'm enjoying translating very much. It's like writing, except I don't have to do the hard part of inventing a narrative. Makes me even more excited for my translation project with Cathy!

Alright, time to shower. An English professor from UNLV is popping into Toulouse today, so we're getting tea. Three cheers for European reunions.

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