I am now two thirds of the way through this program: six weeks completed, three weeks to go. I stupidly agreed to spend the last period serving as Managing Editor for a one hundred and sixty page book on Solar Weather, so I can’t guarantee that I will be entirely sane by the time of completion, but I feel that I have gained a lot by my participation. I have accumulated a wealth of experience, a network of contacts, basic understandings of aerospace engineering, business management and international law and, most importantly, I have regained (for the first time in a very long time) a true sense of direction in life. But I have to admit: I am homesick.
I miss my family; I miss my friends; I miss being able to casually walk into shops and restaurants knowing that my grasp upon the language is sufficient that I will be able to effectively communicate the specifics of my desires, and I miss summer days upon which the temperature isn’t necessarily above 30 degrees Celsius. In short, I miss Canada.
So in the interests of curbing my own sense of longing (whilst simultaneously giving myself an excuse to put-off working on the Romantic Ballad about dark matter which I also stupidly agreed to write), here is a list of things that I plan to do upon my eventual return:
- Take a three-hour long bubble bath by candlelight. I have spent the last month-and-a-half living in CROUS (the system of residences that France has established for low-income students); I’m lucky that I have a personal shower—a bath is right out of the question. Combined with the extreme heat and the lack of resources necessary to regularly launder my clothing, I have felt filthy for weeks. And when working fourteen hour days, taking three hours just to bathe seems like luxury to the point of decadence. I want it.
- Drink a litre of chocolate milk. They don’t always refrigerate their milk here (it took me weeks to realize what those bottles in the super-market actually were), and chocolate milk seems a foreign concept. I therefore express my desire to drink an unhealthy quantity of it.
- Get my eyebrows waxed. Good god, I look like some kind of a Cro-Magnon. I’d get it done here, but I don’t know how trans-positive their spas are, and again, I can’t trust my linguistic ability not to result in my eyebrows getting ripped out entirely.
- Get a haircut. Much the same problem as with the eyebrows.
- Wear nice clothing. It is barbarically hot here and, as noted above, most of my garments could use laundering. So basically I’m looking forward to more formal wear and fewer sweaty tanktops.
- Exercise regularly. Fourteen hour days do not breed a regular exercise schedule.
- Drink no alcohol. Virtually every occasion here is marked by the consumption of copious quantities of either wine or beer. I have no idea how people here handle this kind of drinking without having to stagger around constantly.
- Never eat at the Holiday Inn again. The Holiday Inn has been contracted to provide our meals. If you like eating starch burgers with a side of starch, then this will make you happy. If you prefer edible food, then this will make you sad.
- Eat chicken fingers. Call me uncultured if you like, but I have been (as my American friend would say) ‘jonesing’ for some chicken fingers for weeks, with no means of slaking my terrible hunger.
- Spend time with my friends. I miss all of them terribly, but I especially miss the chance to communicate face-to-face with other transgender people. I feel terribly isolated.
- Read fiction. Or really, read anything. I have had no time for any of this.
- Write fiction. See above.
- Write some Journal Articles. I can get at least two out of my Master’s Thesis. It’s time for me to do so.
- Laze around an air conditioned house watching Stargate SG-1 on Netflix. No Netflix in France. Also, no time in the SSP.
- Work out the mechanics for how I’m going to transition into studying literature. Really looking forward to this.