I’m going to write even if I have nothing to report, because I think it would be very exciting to get to thirty chapters in this Guadeloupe story. (Exciting? or self-indulgent? Never you mind.)
And besides, I do have things to report, namely the appearance in my life of two lost friends. The first wasn’t really lost, since I never had it in the first place: on June 17th I received, in an envelope ironically marked “urgent,” my health card for this year. We have health coverage, you see, which means that since I got here in September I have paid hundreds of euros out of my pocket in health fees that nobody seems to have any intention of reimbursing. (Case in point: I called a few weeks ago to follow up on my filed-in-March refund requests – your only option when they haven’t given you the card that you were promised in September – and discovered that I am not even registered in the system.)
So I completely understand their use of the word “urgent,” as they are obviously highly concerned with ensuring my health and welfare. I guess the fault lies largely with me, as I made the callous assumption that I was to be medically covered while I was actually employed, rather than for the last nine days of my contract. There I go again, the idiot, jumping to conclusions. So now I’m going to buy out the pharmacy and go to the doctor’s twice a week, to really get my money’s worth. HA!
The second little friend is actually a reappearance: reading under the mosquito net one evening (after doing crosswords under the mosquito net and before eating under the mosquito net, sleeping under the mosquito net and, presumably, dying under the goddamn mosquito net – seriously, this place is paradise and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise), Sprocket came trotting through the bathroom and into my room. This is strictly illegal and I was about to scold her, when who do you think followed behind? Wait for it...
Chisel! Bigger and even feistier, still fuzzy and now a bit world-weary, definitely our funny little Chisel with the ringed tail. I think Sprocket kept him out of the way of the toms in heat to protect him, which makes her a much better mommy than I gave her credit for. The only sad thing is that Chisel is afraid of me. Of me! Kathryn! I think he might remember all the times I pulled him out from under the dresser/behind the couch/behind the fridge and tossed him outside – gently! of course! – and he thinks I’m out to get him. Little does he know, I was only doing that to keep him and Sprocket on the same side of the door when I leave, since I obviously can’t leave them in the house. (Because of fur and because of peeing on the floor; you saw how uptight I was about the Irish leaving some sand under the table.)
I imagine he also didn’t enjoy when I prodded around his little “zizi” – if you’ll pardon my French – once on my own and once to get Franck’s opinion, to determine his gender. I had been positive he was a girl, you see, but then I noticed some suspicious action down there when I was pulling burrs out of his fur (from wherever Sprocket was stashing him in the bushes.) Plus, his face has broadened a little into a tom face rather than the sweet little girly one from the beginning, so I wanted to check out the situation. It’s hard to tell at this stage, but two votes: male. The result is that Chisel shrinks away and tucks his tail between his legs when I approach. What can you do.
And then funny Franck: Sprocket, as Mom and Bronwyn will surely confirm, is a beautiful cat – really very pretty, all delicate markings and Egyptian eyes. Chisel, on the other hand, is pulling off his looks for now because kittens can’t help but be cute, but he’s one weird-looking little dude. He’s grey-white and fuzzy with these round blue eyes and looks essentially like Dobby the house elf (is it Dobby?) from the Harry Potter movies. Cute for now, but good luck finding a mate, my friend. And Franck thinks he’s way better-looking than Sprocket. (The kitten, not himself.) Unreal! And highly unsettling, because he’s always telling me how pretty I am – now I know that he just has no idea.
Meanwhile, the year is winding down and most of the kids don’t show up at school anymore – I had ten out of thirty-two yesterday afternoon – so I’m just hanging around with them, playing hangman and outdoor games and singing songs. Sometimes we talk about movies we’ve seen, sometimes the girls braid my hair.
An exciting exception was going into Karine’s schools for a day to do my Canada presentation (with all the pretty pictures of things I’ve never seen, but I act like it’s all in my backyard) and sing some songs with them, to give them a native speaker for a day, and it was like the beginning of the year again. I was mobbed in the school yard, I signed autographs for a good twenty students – though that turned out to be a tradition, like yearbook-signing, rather than my being the biggest star in their sky – and I was begged to come back. It was excellent. I guess that’s all.