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Je ne parle pas November 30, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Months ago, in preparation for our trip, I abandoned reading of books for studying guide books and brushing up on my very limited French. I borrowed a French study course from the library, which I renewed again and again. I played a Berlitz CD in my car. I used the DuoLingo app almost daily.

It helped. But of course, as soon as I was in Paris, I was like a deer in the [speaking] headlights, not knowing which way to turn, hiding behind a boulder of English. I made sad, patronizing-worthy attempts. But French people successfully took my money, so all was well.

I think of my French as being like someone who is about 15 months old, who can understand more than she can say, who knows what she wants to say but can’t say it yet. Except 15-month-old Parisians know way more French than I do.

Still, as soon as I left Paris—in fact, as soon as I got on the plane headed for Europe—I abandoned French study. And this weekend, after more than a month of daily reminders, DuoLingo told me that they think maybe I’m just not that into them and that they would leave me alone for now.

I should go back to DuoLingo. I should go to Montreal. I should use my silly app for fun. Right?

But where does the time go? Have you noticed I can’t even get here anymore?

Church November 29, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

It’s been aeons since I was a regular churchgoer. The past few decades have found me inside church walls for weddings, funerals, the occasional holiday service with family, or as a tourist. But this month, my travels have taken me to church—real church—twice, once near Boston and once about a 90-minute drive outside of London. Both services, oddly enough, were Unitarian, which completely suits my sensibilities.

Tim and I took our big October trip to London and Paris, which spilled very slightly into November, which turned out to be fortuitous because our host—my long-lost friend, whom I had not seen in about three decades—is a Unitarian minister. He preaches every other week, and our last day of vacation hit his week on. So off we went for services, to be followed by a stop at Winchester Cathedral.

It was All Saint’s Day, and John gave a lovely sermon about saints and about how the interesting thing to him about saints isn’t necessarily their sainthood, but who they were before the sainty stuff happened: often not very nice people, or simply normal people being good sometimes, bad sometimes. In spite of themselves and their real lives, they pushed themselves into doing something really good.

I’m certainly paraphrasing horribly.

The pianist was astounding. A really great musician. His dog—a golden retriever? or lab?—lay quietly in front of the grand piano throughout the service. When it was time for the offering, the pianist began playing a tune that I immediately knew in my core, but it was played slowly and meditatively and classically, and I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.

Indeed, it was “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity.

I made an astonished “Really?” face at the pastor. He “Really!”ed me back. As far as I could tell, he and I were the only ones there who got the joke.

Dear Helen [et al.]: November 28, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Even before being prodded by you [Helen] tonight, I’ve been thinking about showing up again. Between September 20 and November 15, I was twenty-six nights away from home. Of course, that means I was home or thereabouts thirty nights; still, I was mute. In the two weeks since, I task but do not type. What will I say next? What will Helen say next? And where will she say it?