Pierres

Nope, that’s not a guy I met.  At least so far…  It’s French for stone.  Today I went to the mineral show of Paris.  I had gone last year.  I have an affinity for stones and crystals.  Lest you think I am too woo-woo, I will respond, I am just woo-woo enough.  I’ve got a Masters degree in HR and several other detours to other degrees that ended in dead ends (including law school).  And a successful career as an HR executive.  Obviously, one foot is firmly planted in the real world.  And the other has several toes dangling in various interesting artistic, intuitive, and yes, woo-woo ponds.

Really.  Stones are a benign hobby.  Far less worrisome than if I suddenly started collecting AK47s.  And joined the NRA.  Let’s have some perspective here!

But a digression.  Last summer I had a significant event in my life, the details of which are immaterial for this blog.  Suffice it to say, I had an understanding about my life for the next 6, maybe 9, heck, maybe 12 months.   I had to be unfailingly honest, non-evasive.  Not that I wasn’t these things already…. Most of the time.  Now it was an imperative.  Oh yeah.  And I have to say yes.  What I mean is if some opportunity is presented to me, I can’t whiffle waffle, I must just say yes.  Even when things appear contradictory, I must say Yes.  I have some very interesting business opportunities ahead of me, things I am quite excited to do.  But then I received the offer of the apartment sitting gig.  Yes.  Now maybe that doesn’t sound like a difficult choice, but it was in a way.  Great excitement and potential in the business things.  So I said Yes to 3 more months in Paris and am trying to co-author a book in a transatlantic fashion.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

So here I am at the show, wandering.  Looking for another ring, perhaps.  Or a crystal that calls my name.  (No, I don’t heard voices in my head – it’s a analogy (methaphor?) for intuition.)  I saw some rose quartz hearts.  I am a sucker for these.  I buy them whenever I see them and give them as gifts to friends.  So I stopped and ended up in a conversation with the owner of the booth, Kim.  She has a delightful English accent.  Strangely enough, she immediately spoke to me in English.  I thought my French disguise must have been a failure.  I realized shortly that she spoke to everyone in English as her French wasn’t that good.  But after a few sentences, she saw through me and said you sound American!  Nice little conversation. I had wandered away from the table with my little tray of hearts and made it back around to her booth, saying, I was sure you realized I wasn’t walking off with your product.  Her response was what mine would have been – “well, if someone takes something, I figure they were expected to have it so I let it go.”  I kept browsing and ended up with a few items, including an interesting crystal.  She told me she had taken quite a time that morning deciding whether to put that crystal on sale or not.  She finally moved it to the back, thinking no one would notice it.   But I did.  When I asked how much, the price was 35 euros by weight.  She told husband Bob to give it to her friend Marcie for 25.  Then she said, “Do you want to work in the booth? You can have it for free.”  Seems she wanted both a female companion for the day (she was tired of husband Bob’s male energy) and she wanted someone who spoke French better than she did.   I said but I have a tango lesson today! (Let’s keep priorities straight!)  She said what about tomorrow?

Remember that digression?  What could be my answer?  No other choice but yes.  She gave me a worker’s badge and tomorrow I will walk in and join them at the booth.  My new UK stone friends.  Sounds like a ball.

And tango?, you ask.  The tango blog has to wait for another day.  I am exhausted.  Rock show to Tango to Sauveurs Salon (a food show) and home now drinking my Chinon wine.  Drinking the Chinon not the Sancerre because I destroyed the Sancerre cork somehow.  I am taking the bottle back to the shop tomorrow for their assistance.  I finally made it to the wine store!  And besides the wine I also purchased, I have a bottle of white port sitting on the table from the Expo.  Miam Miam.

I’ll just say that the better one becomes at tango, the fewer stops there are and fewer rest breaks.  Sigh.  My choice of appetizers was pistachios.  Getting them out of the shells is almost too much work!

A demain.

La Vie Parisienne

Been a busy couple of days.  Added the Musee D’Orsay’s Carte Blanche to my memberships (got the Amis de Louvre on Tuesday).  I like this “friends of program” the most.  It allows me to enter at 9:00 before the regular opening of 9:30.  I know I have written about this before – I wax poetic about it.  So wonderful to come into the main gallery and see absolutely NO ONE.  It is my personal museum for those 30 minutes.  Don’t be surprised if I write about this again…

I didn’t make the clerk happy, however.  She asked if my address was the same.  Thinking I had changed it to the US, I just said yes.  I don’t have a mailbox here at this apartment.  I’m thinking, just keep sending the paper info to California.  No worries.  Until I realized that this museum, even if it is the best in the entire world, is behind the times on processing.  The Louvre printed out my renewed card at the desk and handed it to me – with the photo from 4 years ago.  The d’Orsay – they will mail a printed card to me in 4 weeks and I have to tape a photo to it.  So, suddenly, YIKES.  The California address won’t do.  We made it the friend I am housesitting for.  In Care of….   The clerk wasn’t happy because now she had to make changes to the form.  I have a good vocabulary for …  pardonez moi, excusez moi, desolee and navrie.  SORRY.

I peeked my head into the museum itself – deciding to wait for a free morning to do it justice.  But I noticed it didn’t seem too busy.  And this was on a Tuesday at noon.  That’s important because the Louvre is closed on Tuesday.  Meaning normally all the tourists are at the d’Orsay.  And a friend told me that there are many more tourists than usual in Paris.  Not sure I agree with him.  I was here when the major attack happened at the nightclub.  Overnight the city lost all its’ tourists.  The numbers have been gradually increasing.  But I must admit that so far this visit I have not really stopped at the major tourist places.

After the museum, I stopped at the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse.  It was as I expected.  Full of power and energy.  I sat and meditated and thought and journaled for an hour.  Then a service started.  Certainly recharged my batteries.

When I left, I walked past the shop windows of Bon Marche.  That phrase in French means cheap.  It is, however, a very chic and expensive store.  And the windows were decorated for Christmas.  The theme this year was Sapin de Noel.  Christman Trees.  Every few minutes, the fairly boring green pine or fir trees would come to life, turning to show their back side.  One was drummers, with legs of pine limbs.  Another was the Sapin Can Can.  These trees had their skirts up so their pine limb legs were showing and were kicking up in time to music.  There was a third window with a very odd orange tree that looked Caribbean.  I have no clue.  I just smiled and moved on.  Now I must make my way to Hausmann blvd to see the windows of Printemps and Galleries Lafayette.

This was a walking day.  Over 7 miles.  My apartment is near Place Monge.  My last apartment was 2 blocks from Porte Maillot.  I am now near the center of Paris and everything is in walking distance.  In fact, to some places it takes MORE time to take the metro or bus.  I like it – but it is different.  Later in the evening I was planning on a movie at the Columbia center.  That’s Columbia as in NY Universiaty.  They have a campus here and have a variety of programs.  The Why Do We Move to the Music was hosted by them.  I never really got a good answer, but when the lecturer played James Brown and Stevie Wonder, I moved.

A German movie was on the ticket.  But this was a long day and Ms Sassy Pants here who thinks she knows Paris like the back of her hand actually got on the metro going the wrong direction and took 3 stops to realize it.  I bailed on the movie and found an early dinner in a nearby bistro of French Onion Soup (it was delicious) and Camembert Roti Au Miel – baked camembert with Honey.  Yum.

Thursday was another reunion with an old French friend.  And a reunion with an expat friend.  Thus many hours were spent happily in bistros, sipping tea or chocolate viennois.  Hot chocolate!  Followed by a session of Lost in Frenchlation.  Someone had a great idea to add English subtitles to French films.  Previous readers will recall that I often go to French films for the hard of hearing because they have subtitles in French.  But in English?  Oh la la.

It wasn’t the best film…  an interesting documentary about Le Grand Bal.  A weeklong event in France where people camp out, dance from 8pm to 5 am, then sleep a bit, have breakfast, spend the day in dance lessons and begin again.

Mostly folk dances.  Some waltz.  Interesting but it would have been improved with generous editing.

I had my first tango lesson yesterday and have another scheduled tomorrow.  So that will all end up in one blog.

Many things to get on the calendar as I get more settled in.  Marche de Noels.  Mineral and gem shows.  Expos on French food (good for finger food sample dinner), concerts, art shows, and the like.

You know I will keep you posted.

GRIN

Yup.  I walk out on the streets of Paris and grin.  I sit on the bus – or even stand on the crowded bus (guarding my backpack) and grin.   And today there was morning sunshine!  It went away quickly but it was a nice memory.

I love Paris.  I am happy in Paris.  Even when other things weigh on my brain… and they do… I am still happy in Paris.  It’s a phenomenon I do not clearly understand.  No other city or place has affected me like this.  Oh. Wait.  Perhaps Yosemite.  And how different can two places be?  But my heart is full of joy in both settings.  Guess I will have to mull that over…

I do have one lesson that I am working on.  It’s Patience.  And, now that I think about it, Paris is a good place to learn patience.  Dealing with the French bureaucracy demands patience.  I don’t think I have that much in reserve.

But right now, there are several things going on in my life for which I must cultivate patience.  I think I will find time to go to the Church of the Miraculous Medallion and sit for a bit.  I’ve mentioned this place before.  It’s where the Virgin Mary appeared to a young woman in a vision and asked her to have medallions made that say something like Mother Mary Pray for Me.   OK.  You know I am not Catholic.  I am, however, a bit of a medieval scholar so I know a great deal about Catholicism.  But that’s not why I will go there.  It’s a place of great spiritual energy.  I walked in the first time and felt BAM.  Powerful.  Soothing.  Comforting.  It immediately became my go to place for quiet thought and meditation.

So perhaps tomorrow.  After I go to the Musee d’Orsay to buy my Carte Blanche.  Like the friends of the d’Orsay?  Gets you in free.  I just renewed my Amis de Louvre card yesterday.  So much better to be able to drop in for an hour and just visit a small section.  My brain turns off after 2 hours of a museum.  No matter how interesting it might be.  Do you frequent readers recall when I visited a great exhibit about deGaulle and Churchill?  I was intensely interested.  And at 2 hours, the brain shut down.  No matter how much I encouraged it to reengage and enjoy, nope.  Not having anything to do with any exhibits after 2 hours anymore.

And after the Musee and the meditation…. TANGO.  En francais.  Avec Daniel.

That will be it’s own blog.

Bon nuit.

Routine

Getting back into the French routine.  But it’s different this year.  I wonder why?  I’m in a new apartment and new area.  I have more conveniences in the apartment (yes, a dishwasher helps!)

As does an elevator.  If you are a long time reader, you know how I  managed with Monoprix delivery of the big goods.  Here, with the elevator, it’s much simpler to grab one or two things on the way home.  Or take the backpack and fill it up and not have to lug it up three flights of stairs.  That was the last place.  Here I am on the French 5th floor, the US 6th floor.  It would be a climb.  Even though I am in better shape, I still don’t want to climb 5 flights of stairs with groceries.

Last year I gave up diet coke.  Then one day when I was falling asleep mid-day, a French friend said why can’t you just have one?  Pourquoi pas?  So then I started having a diet coke but only at a meal when I was out at a restaurant.  I don’t drink coffee so how else to get caffeine?  And normally, I prefer a cold drink in the mornings.  This year in this apartment, I am finding that I am seriously drinking tea.  Darjeeling in the morning with its caffeine and SleepyTime from Trader Joe’s (yes, I brought a stash over) at night without caffeine.   Maybe it’s because the apartment is chilly?

But at lunch yesterday I also ordered tea not coke.  Hmmm.  Probably a good thing all around.

I have discovered the closest Tati store.  The equivalent of the Dollar Tree?  No, more upscale (not saying much) but much smaller than Walmart.  It’s less than a mile away.  I got some box-y things there for storage.  Containers are a good thing – keep your eye from seeing this pile of miscellaneous stuff that resembles clutter… because it is… clutter.  So the apartment is getting into shape.  I am making it my own.

The list of reunions is being checked off.  Three friends last week.  Another today, three more the remainder of the week.  It is a different reunion.  Like I passed some kind of milestone.  When I worked in the hospital at Truckee, it took 18 months of seeing people daily before employees started to smile at me in the hallways.  They were not partial to strangers.  I also have an American friend who is very dear to me.  Fortunately, she has work in the States that brings her back to California twice a year so we have kept up.  She’s the kind of friend, however, that you can go months without seeing and then when you meet again, it’s like you never were apart.  I have that relationship with some friends from high school and college, but to find someone that sympatico at this advanced age is a treat.

Her dear husband, who is French, seems to have adopted me.  He invited me to join them for the Christmas concert at the American Church in Paris.  And when I mentioned the lighting issues (see previous blogs), he insisted I join them on their trip to Ikea next week.  Again, if you have been keeping up with me for the past years, you will know that I have the shuttle to Ikea down pat.  But going in a car?  I am not going to pass up that opportunity!

The weather is France in winter.  Cold.  Damp.  Drizzle.  But it’s Paris so there is sunshine in my heart!

Le Tango!

Hola!

When I was 14, I took dance lessons at the YWCA in St. Paul, Minnesota.   The standards – the waltz, cha cha and even tango.  I wasn’t very good.  But I know I liked the tango.  Skip forward to the 1990s when I went to two theatrical dance shows in SF featuring the Argentine Tango.  Wow.  I was impressed.  And I would watch on TV or on YouTube occasionally.  But from afar.

Now skip forward to September this year.

I met a gentleman.  That in its self seems a feat these days.  He dances the tango.

Trust me.  I thought long and hard about this.  The idea of dancing the tango – not quite a dream but a pleasant thought in the back of my mind all these years – suddenly seemed possible.  However, it was important to me that I wasn’t doing this for “a man!”   And I came to the conclusion that trying a lesson or two would be a fun idea and challenging and different at my advanced age.  So, without telling him, I signed up for two introductory lessons.

Whoa.

I loved it!  I started with private lessons with Paul.  And I grinned.  And I grinned.  And I grinned.  The lessons were held in the standard dance studio with mirrors on three walls.  Even when I was tripping over my own feet or stepping on his, I grinned.  Yes.  This was FUN!  So I signed up for 13 more.  And then more after that.

[Someday there will be a blog about being a “follower” on the dance floor…  following is not an innate trait in me as friends well know.  This has been an experience…]

And I even bought dancing shoes!  I always thought “dancing shoes” were simply those shoes that were really comfy for dancing in.  Um. Nope.  There is a specific type of shoe for dancing – it has suede soles.  So that your foot can both slide and grip on the dance floor.  It’s been years since I wore heels so I started slowly.  The first pair were 1 inch heels.  Cheap, the straps kept breaking.  Next shoe, 1.5 inch heels.  They worked well but I became daring.  While trying on shoes, I also tried on a pair of French shoes with 2.5 inch heels.  At first I couldn’t breathe – the air was so rarified at the greater height!  But these shoes were chic!  Mai oui – c’est francais!  And when I signed up for the second group of 10 lessons, I went back and purchased them.  Oh so cool.  And packed them with me of course.

My last lesson in Sacramento was the Wednesday before flying over here.  And I floated!  We danced at least three dances without my making a mistake once.  Paul said – You danced!!!  I felt I was flying. It was marvelous.  Now, do realize, I am not carried away with my skill level.  I am still a beginner.  But there is progress.  So much progress!

So now here I am in Paris, searching for private tango lessons.  I sent out emails to four studios and just heard back from two.  There will be at least two lessons this week.  I think I will try all four to select the best teacher.  I was incredibly fortunate with the random assignment of a teacher in Sacramento.  He is marvelous and knows how to teach to my feeble brain and unwilling feet.

And the gentleman?  He took me dancing at milongas (the term for an argentine tango dance session) twice.  The first time, I made many mistakes but we connected and it was fun.  The second time, it was as if I had never danced before.  I had two left feet.  And that was being generous. Perhaps, when I return to the States, we will dance again.  Until then my partners will be French.

Jet Lag

Hrmph.

This trip, I thought, was different.  I took melatonin on the plane and my Advil PM.  And I slept.  Probably 4 hours.  That’s a record.  The plane landed at 11 am on Tuesday and I stayed up until 10pm with no nap.  OK, a short nod off of 5 minutes while reading.  Not enough to count.  Each night since I have woken up a few times but immediately fell asleep.  Hurrah, I thought.  I have conquered jet lag.

Until tonight, the fourth night in France.  After lying in bed thinking for an hour, I gave in.  Now typing blogs and snacking on a banana and sipping milk, I hope to transfer some thoughts to paper and empty my mind so I can try to sleep again.

By the way, a friend who is a seasoned traveler told me about No Jet Lag.  A homeopathic solution for jet lag.  She raves about it.  You can search and buy it on Amazon.  I’ll order some in a few months for the trip home.

This apartment is chilly.  There are two electric wall heaters, one in each room.  If I sit close to a heater, I feel a bit warmer, but not much.  A friend in Oakland likes to heat her apartment using her stove.  I am going to give that a try.  If I can figure out how to turn it on, that is.  I already messed with the digital clock and changed the time to an hour ahead accidentally.  Somewhere in a stack of brochures are the instructions for the stove.  Or maybe I can look online – the kitchen is totally Ikea.  Well.  Kitchen.  Hmmm.  The 10 foot section of the living room wall that has the cabinets on it.  This is a true Parisian apartment.  Tiny.  The space well managed.  Have you ever been in an Ikea and seen their displays of apartments – 300 sq ft? 400?  Even 200?  And you wonder why?  Whoever lives in apartments that size?  Easy answer: Europeans.  And now, me.

I must say, this stove heating seems to work.  Actually, I am happy to have a stove.  The place where I lived on my previous 3 long stays did not have a stove.  Nor a dishwasher.  Nor an elevator.  This place is a bit smaller but great on the conveniences.   It’s dark, however.  I am figuring out how to buy a small floor lamp to cheer it up.*  OK so one light is out in the double fixture over the kitchen table and the landlady is going to fix that –  but I doubt it will provide enough light to satisfy me.

And friends who know me well will be surprised to hear I want more light.  Normally, I am happy and perhaps a bit mole-like about low level lighting.

*OK sticklers – I know “how” to buy a floor lamp.  I know where the cheap stores are and I have a credit card.   I meant buy one and get the landlady to pay me back.  I don’t want to offend her by implying there is a major drawback to the current state of the apartment.

Time to give sleep a chance.

Six months

A clarification.  I said in the La Rentree post that I would be here only for 3 months, not my usual 9.   The Universe  decided to listen to my general overall intention to live in Paris for long stays.  I was ready for a Nov 15 to February 15 stay when a friend who lives in Paris asked me to house-sit his apartment while he goes on a 3 month cruise – from SFO west…east… to Japan, India, up the coast of Africa and ending in England.  For a couple hundred euro to offset the heating costs.  Who could say no to that? Which meant sudden scramble as a visa was now necessary.  That started a host of problems – first there were no pages left for a visa in my passport.  So early renewal with expedited processing and a request for the 52 page big passport.  I had to wait for that before applying for a French visa because the online app required the passport number.

And the visa application process changed radically.  The French embassy now contracts with a company that collects and processes all the information on all types of visas.  So no more convivial visits to the SF consulate.  This collection company sends the application and your passport off to Washington DC.  I got it back in time.  But for whatever unknown reason they changed the start date from Nov 20 to Nov 15.  Somewhat messes up my plans in May, but I can work around it.

And then I was contacted by a college roommate looking for a travel partner – we will be going to Norway at the end of April for 2 weeks.  I’ll come back to Paris for a few days and then head home.

La Rentree

That’s the return.  The time in September in France when everyone returns from the August vacation.  Seriously.  I’ve written about August before.  If you are in the heart of the tourist areas, you may not notice.  But on the streets of my small shopping area in Neuilly, almost every store was closed for a week, two, three or even four in August.  Ferme.  Desole.  Ferme.

And now I have my own official Rentree – but it’s not til November.  I booked my return.  I’ve been waiting.  Not sure why.  I knew I wanted to leave after the midterm elections on Tuesday, November 6.   Suddenly, three nights ago I realized that this was about 75 days away.  And it was getting into the “book now or lose good prices or any seats” period.  So a quick visit to United and Delta and found that the week after midterms had higher miles fares than I wanted but two weeks later I could score a 37,000 mile trip one way on Delta.  I booked it.  And two days later, I remembered that I usually fly out of SFO on United on my way there and return via Delta and Salt Lake City.  And that I had forgotten that when I do fly SMF SLC CDG, I usually take the earlier flight to SLC and have lunch in the Sky Club for free (finger food but it works).  Instead I had booked the flights with only a one hour connection.  I will be revisiting that with Delta soon.  And that’s what happens when you can’t wait to get back and panic.

I had already scored with my apartment.  This time I decided to live in Paris itself.  The past three years I have been in Neuilly sur Seine, a block and a half (literally) from the Paris city limit.  I have grown weary of that place.  Although now the construction has all been finished and it might be quiet again.  No matter.  The heart of Paris is the goal.

Was the goal until I saw the prices.  My rent had stayed at 1360 euros a month.  The dollar value of that went up and down according to the exchange rate – from a low of $1500 to a high of $1800.  Now all the AirBNBs were over 2200$.  OK there were some tiny studios that were dumps for less.  Non, merci.

Then I recalled a friend who goes over twice a year and has been staying at the same place.  I had visited her there.  Smaller living room.  But new kitchen (with an oven!) and remodeled bath.  Cute.  5th floor WITH an elevator.  So I contacted her to see about staying there if she wasn’t coming over… new grandchild takes precedence over Paris.  And now I am renting her place for just over what I was paying.  I have no idea why the landlady was so generous and gave me such a deal, but I am delighted.

Now I have to discover a whole new area.  Where is the Monoprix?  Where is the pharmacy?  When is the marche (market).  The metro line is not as convenient as Ligne 1.  And where and what buses?  I can’t wait!

The time frame is only 3 months this visit.  No visa – however, I can still change my mind and get a visa up to Oct 15.  I may go make an appointment just in case I change my mind.  No renter for my condo when I am gone.  That makes it quite expense to maintain my mortgage here and pay rent there.

I am content to know there are only 80 some days til I get back.

My normal question before getting on the plane is how quickly will my French come back.  Little worry this time.  In July I stopped at the Alliance Francaise here in Sacramento.  Steeling myself, telling myself to go in a talk French like a big girl, I went to the director’s office.  I asked about classes – and told her of my background of sporadic classes since college and living there, etc.  My story. In French.  And she said you should join one of our conversation classes.  OK.  Show me.  What?  No.  That’s level C.  Languages in Europe are described as beginning A 1 & 2,  Intermediate B 1&2 and advanced C.  I have always been B1… maybe sneaking up to B2.

Not now.  Not according to la directrice.   And after 6 classes, now confirmed by the prof who guides our conversations about news of the day.   We had a chat after the last class and she said I was the second best in the class – and if I would only read in French more, I could challenge him.  She said that when the subject was one that interested me, she saw me speaking fluently, not pausing, just spewing forth French.  OK she didn’t’ say exactly that but she did say courament which is fluent.  WOW.  So there are many subjects in which I fully know my level of competency.  But speaking French is not one.  One focuses on the words you don’t know or can’t recall.  The conjugation of a verb you forgot.  And the mispronunciation.

So this was cool.  I do think she overestimated a bit – I still don’t grasp a movie or documentary without relying on the subtitles – they just speak too quickly.

But still.  It will be a good rentree.

The Crash

A blog or two ago, I said this was the year of Car Repair.  How about the Half Year of Car Repair.  Now it is the Half Year of Car Replacement.

Rollover.  Totaled.

Me upside down hanging by the seat belt.  Actually, that’s not the right description.  I now love seat belts.  But first, let me tell you what happened.

I am off to the hearing aid place for a hearing aid tune up.  Driving my beloved 2008 Toyota RAV4 smoky blue.  At the light, I wait patiently.  It’s a long light for this side street coming into the very busy three lanes (plus a turn lane) each direction major north south artery.  So I wait and wait.  And finally it goes green.  I didn’t gun it.  I wasn’t late.  I pulled out slowly.  La de dah.   And half way across the south bound lanes, I sense movement.  Glance to my left and see all the cars stopped but one.  A grey car heading straight at me.  With the rapidly developing thought that she is going to hit me, I instinctively accelerated and also turned to my left, hoping to swing the car around her.

BAM

Actually, that move was what saved me.  She ended up hitting the back door, not my door.  And because I was turning, her car ended up lifting mine up.  It fell on to the passenger side and then rolled once more to land on the top of the car.  And then spun around – how many times, I don’t know.  I do know that my car was pointed south.  When I had been going East.    It’s a physics thing.  The energy dissipated in the rolling and spinning.  My neighbor had the same accident 5 months ago.  That car hit her door straight on.  The energy of the impact broke her pelvis.

Me, I was upside down.  Not feeling like I was hanging.   That seat belt held me so tightly that there was no hanging – I was just midair.  When the car came to a stop, it was surreal.  I realized two days later that the surrealness was caused by the side air bags.  They deployed.  Not the steering wheel.  Duh.  It was a side impact, not the front.  And the side airbags are white.  So the car interior was very light, but I couldn’t see out.  After a few moments of – am I ok?  No bleeding.  Arms and legs moved. –  I heard people talking outside the car.  I yelled – open the door!  Someone opened the passenger door.  Well, thanks, but OPEN THE DRIVERS SIDE.  A guy did and squirmed across me to hit the seat belt release.  I had my hands up on the roof which was on the ground and just rolled over to my side, like coming out of a modified handstand.  (ok I remember that from many years ago – I have not done a real handstand recently).

I stood up.  No problems.  Thought process – is the gas tank going to explode?  I grabbed my grocery bags and started filling them with everything I had in my car – and when I got it all, I stood there wondering what to do next.   About that time the fire and police arrived.  A fireman strode over.   OK… where is the victim?  Is anyone in the car?  OK that would be me.  He’s bit taken aback.  Are you ok?  He surreptitiously takes my wrist to take my pulse.  And I say, I used to teach first aid.  I don’t think I am shocky.   Nope.  But I was on an adrenaline high.  She the one who hit me ended up crossing from the south bound lane to the north bound lane, scrapping two cars on the way.  She went to the hospital.  Karma.  Got the police report later – she was 78.

So the questioning by the policeman began.  Told my story.  Heard others tell their stories.  Sat next to a guy who told the cop clearly that she ran the red light.  The cop… maybe it was yellow.  NO.  I was behind her.  It was RED.   Score for me.

I got the police report later from the insurance.  The testimony was odd…  most people had it correct in terms of what happened but they had the colors of the cars reversed.  The blue car hit the silver SUV.  Other way round.  Particularly strange because the blue SUV was there in front of them upside down on the payment.  Didn’t’ matter.  At the end of the police report was the summary:  guilt of infraction for HER.

Physically, I had massive bruising on my legs – steering wheel.  One place on my collar bone from the seat belt.  Some back.  But I discovered during massage that my body was massively shook up and scared.  PTSD reaction in the Costco parking lot when I heard a big car noise.  I jumped. OK. That’s not surprising.  But then my entire body shuddered.  And others.  Started crying in the car one day while driving to take a test drive.  So not me.  So I have taken physician and chiro advice and am getting massages.

But besides living through the incident and the physical aftermath, suddenly I have to find a new car.  And the insurance pushes you to do this quickly.  I had the value estimate from them on Friday (accident was Wednesday).

After much activity that was totally draining, I decided on another RAV4.  I loved that other car and I do believe it saved my life.

Behind again

Welcome back to the Infinite Paris blog.

If you recall, I returned from Paris last January to work on the elections in the US.  I try to avoid politics but I felt I had to come back and do something.  So I worked with Sister District Project, a group that matches blue districts around the US with red districts that had a chance to be flipped from red to blue.  That’s all I will say.  If you are interested, go to their website.

One of the reasons I am not saying more is because about 2 weeks before the election I just hit the wall.  I couldn’t stomach the lies…  I couldn’t wait to get back to my primary occupation for the past 3 years – being an American Abroad.

Today I am one again!  Landed at CDG at 11 am and am all settled in my new apartment.  It’s 9 pm and I should be going to bed.  However, I wanted to get back at the blogging.  And what did I discover?  Yup.  Two blogs that never got posted.  The last blog was about the Reunion.  There are two more.  After this quick intro, I will post those two.  And then we will be ready for the fourth long term stay in Paris!