William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

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last post from Sainte-Anne

(started on July 4th...)

So now I’m just trying to make sure that I don’t burn my bridges on my way back from Venice – OK, or Church Point.

An apropos wall excerpt:

Summer session: I guess it's just different. I liked the spring atmosphere much more, but the workshops for this session are much more diverse and interesting (everyone can take the workshop for teachers, not just the teachers, and there is also a creative writing workshop!). I guess it's just different; it's certainly not the same.

Thank God, we did not have to sign a contract. As you can see, I'm on Facebook now. ;-) However, we speak French when we're on campus - or at least we're supposed to; a few of us talk quietly amongst ourselves in English, but I find that kind of disrespectful.

HAHA Danielle just called them out for doing that!! HAHA, that was priceless. Two of them were making plans for Halifax and Danielle said, "Here we speak French, OK? It's immersion now." LOLerskates.

When I found out they had a creative writing workshop here, I was really excited. I couldn’t have done it as a Debutant 1, but since I’d probably test as an Intermediate 1 and the workshop requires Intermediate 2, I could probably now sweet-talk my way in, and now I know the professor. He told me that his students don’t just like the workshop, they love it! And he said to me, “You are a debutant, but you don’t speak like a debutant.” Score.

“Thank you!”

So, it’s like this:

I like the atmosphere of spring but the workshops of summer.
In the spring we are all adults. In the summer there are many more choices.

French isn’t bad.
I am glad.

It’s a lot easier for me now, though I still misunderstand a lot. I have no trouble communicating complex ideas – and many people say they like my sense of logic in French – but I have immense difficulty understanding the ideas of others, and this is an obstacle I absolutely must overcome if I am to get anywhere with this language.

I can hold my own in conversation with Debutants 1 and 2 and Intermediates 1, but if, say, two Intermediates 2 (or higher) get into a lively conversation, I can be a bit of a third wheel.

Despite my need to improve, I am quite certain now that I will not come back here for September. Even Hughie, who broached the program to us when we were visiting Kathleen’s class, admitted that it’s a very difficult thing to do at my age (25 as opposed to the usual age of 17 or 18), and everybody agrees that without a car it’s practically social suicide.

Still, I had to thank Hughie for giving me hope and helping me open up my mind to other possibilities. I no longer feel like I am stuck in the mud. (I had a fun time explaining this in French: “What is it when you have a [I pantomime a hole] in the earth, with water? OK! I am not stopped in the boue!) It is my intention to pursue this new hope, keeping in mind that there may be logistically easier ways of doing so than living here for another eight months. Eight months. Actually, more than that, because I’d probably have to take another summer session to get up to Perfection. Eight months, and I’m already seeing the downsides of doing this twice; the magic has almost gone for me, and it’s just been eight weeks.

But I will come back here for another 5-week session. I will probably wait a while and come back after French courses elsewhere – it would be really funny to take Debutant 1 and then come back in a few years after countless adventures and take Perfection. I realize this is looking about 20 steps ahead, but one has to have some sort of plan.

On to other things: we had the Comic Olympics on Tuesday night, and this turned out to be a great time even though I initially balked at the idea of our participating as Young Canada Works, especially given that the residences we’d be competing against would have 15-20 people and the ability to substitute, whereas we, making up 11, would all pretty much have to participate in all four contests (each contest needs a team of 10, which is all we ended up having), while the other students wouldn’t have to. However, I’m glad I was soundly overruled – we had a great time, and I think we came in second or third in the shoes event (and second in the first heat), although we did not place overall. (Good thing too, or else one of us would have to miss work and go to all four information sessions to accept the medal!)

Work. Ha-ha. I like work when there is lots of work to do – when there isn’t, I have to look busy by fronting shelves or mindlessly taking things that were (and for the most part, still are) overstocked out of the backshop and seeing if they fit someplace on the shelves. Therefore, I am always happy when we get a huge delivery because it gives me something to do for a few hours. I also love collapsing boxes. It’s silly, I know, but I could do that all day.

When the owner’s son (who all but officially runs the store) isn’t around, the girls like to play AVR country on the radio. At first I was leery because I, like many other city folks, say I don’t like country. But after a while I started to get into some of the songs, especially because many of them were drop-dead hilarious (“And I want to check you for ticks”), laughably pathetic (“Me and my old pickup truck, / These days we don’t pick up much”), or just too close to home (“I leave my Christmas lights out all year long…”).

The only problem with the station is this: They only play about 25 songs. You probably think I’m joking, but you haven’t heard “Me & My Pickup Truck” four times in the same workday. I was happy that today we went back to listening to Yarmouth.

Today Leanne and I set up a display for No Name bathroom tissue. Okay, I realize that is a poor way to begin. No anecdote can start with, “we set up a display for No Name bathroom tissue,” and still have a hope in hell of being funny. Anyway, we are setting up the display, and Leanne asks me to grab two more boxes from the basement.

“Are you okay to go down on yourself?”
“Yes, certainly. … To go down by myself!”
There’s another joke there, but this is a family-friendly blog.

The reason she asked me if I would be okay is that the basement of the store hasn’t been cleaned since the Diefenbaker administration. In fact, it is very much itself a Diefenbunker, in that it is so hard to get into and out of that it would almost certainly survive a nuclear attack. The stairs are creaky, the ceiling is comically low, and you have to cross a number of “moats” in the cement using little 2x4 bridges. There are multiple latching doors, and walls that separate each sector, and there are individual light switches and God help you if someone forgets you’re there and turns off the first one on you and bolts the initial upstairs door shut. There are vacuum cleaners from the 1970s (this explains a lot; I guess they broke at some point and that was that), cash registers from the 1980s, computers from the 1990s, and enough cobwebs to make a space needle out of hand-woven spider web and put a halt to launching rockets.

I survived, but I still don’t know how. The experience was like a cross between Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

What else? Every day in the break room I read yesterday’s newspaper, and lately I’ve been taking them home because I’ve gotten backlogged. I like staying a day behind on the news; it fits my geographical situation perfectly! =)

Food’s been a running joke as well; we can’t eat in the cafeteria now (and they even check IDs for this session, which was unheard of during the spring session), and here at my place I have very few tools to eat or prepare food with – among the scant things I have three coffee plates from Tim Hortons that Danielle found for me in Beauséjour. On Friday, my last day, my boss gave me a free lunch (“Remember not to bring your lunch!” she said to me on Thursday – oh, and I got a TIP that day for putting someone’s groceries in their car!). On Thursday, I rescued a few bags of expired Jalapeno Cheddar chips that were being thrown out. I do what I can.

I’m going to be sad to leave here. I have to put away the computer now and squeeze the most out of every last second I have before my mother comes tomorrow night to pick me up. I will be spending the rest of July getting ready to go where the road takes me. I also can’t forget that interview to teach English in Japan, but it’s also not really something I can do right now – or can I? I’ll know better by the end of this weekend. I know enough not to worry; logistical problems almost always have a way of sorting themselves out on their own!

Like: I’d better leave for Beauséjour now if I want to be on time for us to thank Danielle together. À bientôt, mes amis!
Tags: sainte-anne 2007

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