From Grenoble

David and Joey and I just got back from a four hour dinner in town. They assure me that though the French do take considerably longer in restaurants than we tend to, that four hours was a little much considering what we got. Weŕe leaving for Geneva in the morning so there isn’t much time to write this, but at least this time I’m not writing on a sticky keyboard while the French version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” plays in the background.

So! What should I tell you about? I don’t know what to say or where to start. I’m on my trip. I’m almost at the end of my first week. Tonight I’m staying with my abovementioned friends David and Joey, who are living here in Grenoble for the year and who have graciously allowed me to stay the night as well as shown much enthusiasm for a group trip to Switzerland tomorrow. As I mentioned before, these two are like these monster marathon runners and hikers and such and I was slightly afraid that that they would meet me at the station and that they would want to ski to Switzerland. Such, fortunately, has not been the case, and we are taking the train like normal and civilized people.

And now I’d like to take a moment to praise the fine French public transportation of which I have availed myself so assiduously in the past week. Maybe French folks don’t care about it so much, but I think itś just dandy. I was amazed in Paris that the Metro links right up with the train station, just as if the folks who designed the whole thing meant it to be efficient and helpful. People keep asking me what I like about France and I all ‘The trains!” Real great. I do, I do like them and they have allowed me to finish knititng my hat, which now needs to be redone because I managed to knit a gigantic hole in it somehow. But more on that later.

So this morning I left from Tours. I was alone there for three days. I think Tours was a pretty good place to be alone, as I could walk everywhere I needed to go from the hostel and there was a big square nearby and the Loire River beside which I spent, no kidding, at least two or three hours a day, eating my dinner or reading or writing in my journal or laughing at French goths or wondering why so many big French guys had such small purse dogs. But when I say I was alone in Tours I mean I was alone in Tours. One of the things about hostels is that theyŕe supposed to be good for meeting people. When Marah and I went to Italy we hooked up with some Australian girls pretty much the minute we got to the hostel in Florence. Not so here. First of all, I was in a room by myself, which is fine, but there was no way to meet anyone else…because there sort of wasn’t anyone else. This hostel also functions as a dorm for college students in the area and it was just really weird.

Tuesday I went on a cheateaux tour (eh) and I had a big adventuresome day yesterday that nearly killed me (all for the love of aquariums, which I will have to write about later because itś like super late and I just want to sleep so bad right now!). But I’ve spent a lot of time in the last three days just wandering around and wondering what to do with myself and actually feeling shy and being really sad that I’m not French and therefore can’t get away with kissing people on both cheeks when I see them.

So you can imagine I’m really happy to be here with Dave and Joey and that I was really happy to be with my mom. We had such a nice weekend. When I finally got into the (very nice) hotel in Paris the first thing my mom did was show me the new haircut she got at a gay salon called, really, Space Hair, and it only got better from there. As we were walking around on Saturday we came upon a Bread Festival which included bread-making competitons and very serious looking bakers in hats making croissants to, like, throngs of thrilled onlookers. And there were samples, too. The French: very serious about their bread. I just realized this is my last day in France, right here! Because tomorrow Switzerland, and then Italy, and then home, oh my!

But I was telling you about Paris. We went to the wonderful Middle Ages Museum, which I would highly recommend to anyone who is afraid of the Louvre but happens to like tapestries. For dinner that night we went out with an old French couple of my momś acquaintance, which was totally cool because they lived in the neighborhood in which we were staying for like thirty years or something and after dinner they took us on a walk and pointed out where the public baths used to be and this is where the breadlines during the war were and so on and so forth. Awesome, obviously. Also, I got to walk down the street on the arm of a tiny French man, and if you know anything better than that I don’t even want to know about it.

My French is doing pretty well, I think. In fact itś oddly isolating being with Dave and Joey in some ways because we’ve been speaking English with each other, obviously, but that kind of cuts me off from this constant “Whoa, I’m in France, dude! feeling I’m a little ashamed at admitting that I have and that I’ve even been enjoying. Like, hey! Little kids in the park! Speaking French! Hereś a garbage can…a French garbage can! When Mom and I went to Fontainebleau on Sunday we passed a bunch of cows and in my head they went, instead of “Moo”: “Meuuuuuuuuuh.” French cows, you see, speaking in French accents.

It’s hard to believe I’m here, still. Itś hard to believe that this trip I’ve been talking and thinking about so much is going on, right this minute. I’ve been, as regular readers will attest, a leetle obsessed with this whole thing, and part of that was my need to have this trip mean something, like it means independence or it means adventuresomeness or it means I’m not really going to be thirty next year (see, I have the hostel card to prove it!). I don’t care about that right now. As far as I concerned, thatś all ridiculous: I’m just here, hanging out with my friends or my mom or by myself and thatś all thatś happening. Itś a relief.

And finally, to come to the most important point: my Make Out Plans have not, as yet, come to fruition. None of the flight attendants on the flight here were named Inga, due to some horrible oversight on the part of SAS. I have had a couple of old ladies make eyes at me when I took my knitting out in the train station and make eyes at me, but thatś about it. I’m sure if they could see my nice new winter hat with the giant holes in it they would avert said eyes immediately though. So so far the French have been immune to my charms but I guess thereś always the Italians, right?

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