Friday, September 30, 2005

there are bats in the belfry

I never thought I'd have the chance to say that and mean it literally, but it's true.

I'm living in a rambling old collége, a boarding school, probably 200 years old if not more, with an 18th century Jesuit church attached. My bedroom has 20 foot ceilings and a teeny fireplace. The windows in the hallway look out over the courtyard, which the church forms one side of. I was coming back from the kitchen the other evening and heard these giant crows (or maybe ravens) making a racket as they perched on the steeple; and as I stopped to watch all these bats came flying out of the bell tower.

So now I say hi to them each evening; I was listening to Loreena McKennitt sing Yeats' "The Two Trees" and watching them dart around in the dusk while the cathedral bells were ringing and I thought, Oh yeah. This is why I came here. It's so ridiculously Romantic it kills me.

The French for bat, incidentally, is chauve-souris: a bald mouse.

I'm getting settled in; Verdun is a nice, fairly ordinary town with an understandably morbid streak. There are about five thousand monuments to the dead; but I like it; the river Meuse runs right through it and there's a pretty little park five minutes from my flat. Still wrangling with the bus schedule.

It helps that I'm living with another American, also teaching at the local schools. She's lived in England, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and just finished 2 years in Madagascar with the Peace Corps (she's only 26), so she's got this whole living abroad thing down solid. I pretty much follow her around like a puppy dog and do whatever she does. My French is better than hers, though, which keeps me from feeling like a midwestern hick. And she has two dads, so there's at least one person in France I don't have to watch my pronouns around.

I'm missing my books something awful; I bought Joanne Harris' Jigs and Reels in Heathrow and am stretching it out as much as possible. Last night I did the unthinkable and actually skipped ahead in Life Mask, just to double check that there is, in fact, actual Sapphism occuring and not just scandalous rumors of it. I never skip ahead, and Emma Donoghue is an author I trust implicitly. But I guess I was needing some reassurance or something. The Girl hasn't emailed me back yet, and I haven't found a tabac that sells La dixiéme muse (surprise); I did find Tétu, but like The Advocate, I refuse to buy it until there's a woman on the cover.

But, luckily, I've found this cheapo internet place that's full of 15 year old boys playing computer games, so I can keep up on my blog reading and email.


At 5:57 AM, Anonymous roro said...

Wow - your digs in Verdun sound amazing. Très atmospheric - the description alone made me want to wander around barefoot, wearing billowy shirts.

I just finished Life Mask and I TOTALLY did the same thing - after so many pages of innuendo and rumour, I thought "There better be some actual lesbosity in this book, Emma" and I flipped ahead. Of course, I thought the same thing about Slammerkin, because I didn't really know what it was about. Kept expecting Mary to get it on with the maid or something. Imagine my disappointment.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Winter said...

Oh wow. That's my kind of place: romantic and gothic. Perhaps you should start writing your own novel while you're there.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

Yeah, it's not a fancy place or anything, but it's definitely rocking that Old World charm. And me without any of my poetry anthologies either!
And if you want an Emma Donoghue novel full of lesbiosity, check out Hood. It's not a happy book, exactly, but it's got lots of black humor. Very Irish. Not as rough as Slammerkin either.

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous roro said...

Thanks for the tip! That's one I haven't read. I don't mind a "not happy book" here and there, so long as it doesn't make me want to off myself. I'm still recovering from Affinity.

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

Oh god, is Affinity a huge downer? It's the only Sarah Waters novel I haven't read. Please tell me it doesn't involve the Evil/Dead Lesbian Plotline.

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous roro said...

Well, as a connoisseur of this genre of literature, I'm sure that YOU will handle it far better than I. Like her other books, it's GREAT but yes, a little E/DLP. I had a curiously visceral reaction to it. Like I'd been kicked in the teeth. I won't even have it in my house because it pissed me off so much.


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