Friday, October 06, 2006

Back on the Continent

It feels strange to be back, a mixture of coming home and yet being a foreigner all over again. Like I am re-learning, or re-remembering, the ways in which it's different here, after a month of being back in my "culture of origin."

There are the little things of course, like the sound the sirens make, or reaching to the side of the toilet to flush (here it's usually a button on the top), or expecting people to smile back when you make eye contact (well, duh! too much time in California, I guess). And pink toilet paper is still a concept that startles me whenever I see it again.

But those are minor things, habits that just get re-formed. There are bigger, more daunting issues. Language, for instance. After a month of speaking like a fairly well-educated adult, I am back to sounding mildly retarded. You know in dreams when you open your mouth but no words come out? Well, that's what I feel like in French, only it's my personality and intelligence and sense of humour that are locked up, strangled really. (They'll never know what a genius I am! -- hahahaha). Sometimes I do make people laugh in French, but it's usually unintentional, and it's ALWAYS at my expense.

Another issue is music. As I'm fond of saying lately, "Music is what brought me to France and music is what will make me leave". I kid you not -- I almost had a panic attack in the supermarket yesterday because of the music they were playing. I never felt I needed an iPod or its equivalent in the States, but now I think I may have to walk around in my own bubble like everyone else. The fact is, most music played on the radio and in public places in France (like supermarkets) is simply unlistenable. It is worse than elevator music, because at least elevator music is (usually) based on good original tunes, however mangled they become.

Please understand that I have nothing against pop music per se (see recent post on tacky sunsets), but French pop music (again, most of it) really sinks to the bottom of the is BAD. I don't even want to analyze why, I just want to avoid it at all costs. And if that sounds overly opinionated, so be it. Blame it on the jetlag. And pass the iPod. Posted by Picasa


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