Earth Hour and French for Straw

Today.  I was out for drinks with a French friend.  Getting to our usual café is normally a snap.  One bus.  Straight shot.  But not on a Saturday with the Gilet Jaune.  All the buses around me were Arret Non Desservi.  Not running.  And the most direct metro route didn’t work as the transfer station was closed by the police.  So a rather roundabout way got me there.  A lovely chat as usual with a dear friend.  I like dear friends.  The only sour note was the bill.

I decided to have a glass of wine.  In honor of the spring like day, I chose a rose.  I picked the cheaper choice.  Had a small taste and didn’t care for it much.  So I had a taste of the more expensive one.  Didn’t like that at all so went back to the original.  The bill came with the pricier one.  The waitress had gone.  The waiter got the boss man.  He argued with me.  I argued back.  I wasn’t backing down and it was becoming the principle of the thing.  He finally grabbed the receipt and took it back and returned it less the extra expense.  We were talking a 5 euro difference.  He calmed down by the end.  Ha.

My friend went off to dance and I headed home, taking the metro and then deciding to walk instead of changing trains.  Great idea.  As I came around the corner to the Eiffel Tour, by the time I had my phone out to take pictures it started  glittering.  If you followed my FaceBook page, you would be sick of my ET photos.  I am a sucker for it.  Shrug  As I got closer to it and it stopped glittering (5 minutes, on the hour) I saw w:ords – Earth Hour.    Earth hour.  When everyone is supposed to turn off the lights for an hour at 8:30 Pm local time.  It was 8:10 by the time I realized I had forgot all this.   And yes, I sat down to wait.

There’s a lot of time to wait in Paris.  On buses.  For buses.  For metro. On trains.  And for the Eiffel Tower to go dark.

I timed it well and got a video of it all lit up and suddenly dark.  I’m a nerd for this kind of stuff.

But I decided to come home instead of waiting another hour for it to light up again.

Time changes here tonight.  Well, actually Sunday at 2 am when it will spring forward to 3 am.  And I will be back to 9 hours difference between Paris and the Pacific Daylight Time.  I like daylight savings time.  I prefer darker mornings.

So today I stop for a soda. Really needed the caffeine. Asked for it and went to le toilette. Came back. It was on the counter. Helped myself. And then asked for a straw. In French. She didn’t understand me. Tried several times. Both English and French. She finally got it. Then she said, the reason she didn’t understand is that she didn’t expect me to speak French so well. Therefore, it just didn’t compute in her brain. But she did say that I indeed said it correctly. Ha!


Found.  My mojo.  Did you know it was lost?  I seem to be over my existentialist crisis, and I don’t know why.  I think I blogged that.  Now I am finding that I have my mojo back.  I wasn’t quite sure I had lost it.  But now I notice it.  So it must have been gone.  But where?  And why?

Not that it matters.  It’s back.  And I like having it back.

Just in time for leaving here and going back to the States.  I think.  Maybe my future will be suddenly clear?  Or maybe not.  But either way, the mojo is telling me it’s not important.  My attitude is the thing.  I saw a quote from Paul Coelho today: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”   I believe that.  Story of my life.  Four years ago I promised to explain how I ended up here – how I manifested my life in Paris.  It wasn’t a lucky accident.  But indeed, I blog about daily life here and funny stories.  Some day I will get back to the important story.

In the meantime, I continue to try to be Georgette Carlin.  I love making people laugh. And as I said in an earlier blog, especially in a foreign language!   Now I can understand why Eddie Izzard does his routine in so many foreign languages.  I’m stopping at French, thank you very much.  Even though a dear reader said she was taking on Spanish, so far as to take a 3 week immersion class in Spain this summer.  More effort than I want to make.

I polished my shoes today.  Yesterday I walked through the gardens on the way to the Louis Vuitton Fondation art show.  Paris gardens turn black shoes into grey shoes.  It’s a good thing I still keep my shoe polish here.  The shoes were all shiny and newish for my drink rendez-vous tonight.  Then I walked through the Champs de Mars gardens while looking at the Eiffle Tour.

Where did I put that polish?

I have a phone chat scheduled in 30 minutes but I must devote at least 10 m to tango practice.  I might end up doing 20.  It was a really good lesson Friday.

Maybe some of my Mojo hiding in my lack of tango-self confidence?

Not only are C&G becoming good friends, they are blog obsessed.  Reading back posts and commenting on things I have totally forgotten…

Oh. I think I know how the mojo came back.  Maybe. I am reading Codependent No More, basically for my work. Good for coaches to understand this stuff. The author starts with lists to check through to determine if you might be codependent.  It was so broad I was almost concluding that everyone must be.  But then we got into the details.  Nope.  I don’t think I am codependent.  But what I realized is that I use many – MANY – of the things she suggests in my coaching practice already.   I think each page was a small boost to my confidence until it became a HUGE boost.  and one small then huge boost ends up affecting the whole attitude.


Expats and Other Travelers

When I am in the States, I am often asked, “Why?”  Why did I go to Paris? It’s often followed by “My, you are brave.”  What I like about expats is that they never ask this question.  We are all here because.  Just because.  Some for family, some for work, but underlying it all is a love for travel and adventure and the Paris/French culture.

Every year I met new friends.  Many at the meetups for expats.  There is one that attracts a steady following of Paris regulars and people vacationing in Europe for a long stay.  Helen from DC has been a friend.  When she’s here, we dine together.  Through her I ended up having dinner with two other interesting women who were briefly in Paris.  When I was in Brighton 4 years ago, a chance conversation with a guide at the Royal Pavilion led to a close friendship with a Brit who dubbed me her American Abroad friend.  The friendship started on Facebook.

Facebook, for all the frustrations and fake news and scams (read Snopes, people), has been an excellent way to keep in touch and let long distance friendships grow.  Another gal I met at a conference and had maybe a 30 minute chat has become a great Facebook friend.  I follow her travels all over the world.  I am quite envious of her latest tour to India.   I never wanted to go to India, but I would sign up for that tour in a heartbeat.  In fact, when I get back to the States and have a better idea of my calendar, I might just do that.

Back to my Brit friend let’s call A.  She came to stay with me for two nights a few weeks ago.  Because she is an historian and a palace buff (she does work in one), she wanted to see Versailles.  This was the first time I took a guided visit there.  Worth it.  It cost 20 euros over the admission price, but we got special group cut in line privileges and our guide was full of information.  The group: Get Your Guide.  I should do a Trip Advisor review for them.  With A here, we walked over 7 miles every day.  We were both woofed.

The Eurostar was a cluster.  Perhaps you heard, the French workers were demanding more resources in advance of Brexit, claiming it would cause more work for them.  Not sure about that, but it was worth a try.  So they decided to work to the rule.  Interesting way to basically strike.  Instead of 6 x-ray and security machines working, they only opened 1.  And there was nothing anyone could do about it.  Except wait.  Eurostar sent out texts and advised people to not travel from Paris to London.  Except if you are here and you live there, there’s not much choice.  When I met A on her arrival, the line for Eurostar check in was down the escalator (I never had a line down the escalator) and then down across the train station main floor.  News reports were saying the wait was 4 to 5 hours.

So we went at 11:30 for a 4:00 train.  The line was quite manageable.  No line to the escalator.  She actually was able to get on the 3:00 train and even made an earlier train in London to Brighton.

Why this tale in the midst of expat friendships?  While standing in line, we started to chat with three people from Seattle.  The gal C was heading back to London to get her return plane to Seattle.  The two guys, C and G, were staying in Paris for another two weeks.  Really.  Chance conversation.  A and C waited for their trains, chatting.  C and G and I also chatted, exchanged emails and phone and became FB friends.   C & G and I have gone to a movie at Lost in Frenchlation (they put English subtitles on new French films for special showings), had a fabulous dinner at my favorite souffle restaurant, and rearranged plans for lunch today because of the dang gilet jaune (see above rant).  And we have two more meals planned before they return to Seattle.

See.  Life in Paris is rich in unexpected friendship.  And tomorrow I am having dinner with K, an expat friend from NYC who moved here two years ago.  We met at a talk at the American Library in Paris.  She sat next to me in the audience and was both fascinated and repelled by the henna covering both my hands.  I had just returned from my groundbreaking Morocco by Myself trip.  A conversation ensued.  Dinner after that.  And now we are friends, including both a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

Maybe we travelers are just more open?  In the states we have our friends already?  No need to expand?  The language barrier?  Well, perhaps not a barrier as I do now speak passable French, but the American openness to just start a chat when you hear English?

Dunno.  Just know I like it.

Cleaning. Wine. Bus. Gilet Jaune.

The cleaning lady who accompanies the apartment came today.  She’s a talker.  I was warned. Yet given the mess with the gilets jaunes, I am staying in while she cleans.  Best thing is she confirmed that the ants are not a new problem.  I was so worried that my forgotten pastry enticed them in and I was responsible for the invasion.  No.  Josey says the building is rife with bugs.  So, I am now relieved all I have seen is ants.

It’s a beautiful Saturday.  And I feel quite stuck.  So many metro stations are closed – Invalides, Concord, L’Etoile…  Where you would make a change to another line.  The cleaning lady was 20 minutes late because the transfer stations were closed from 8 am on.  From what I can find on the internet, the gilet jaune are starting at Gare de l’Est and marching down to the Seine, across it, then to Champs de Mars and the Eiffel and Trocadero.  The Eiffel and Champs de Mars are about 2 blocks to my west.  I would have considered taking my kindle and sitting in the park today reading, it’s so nice.  But no.  Too close to the action and the possibility of tear gas.  I do believe in free speak and in demonstrating.  But I am all about peaceful demonstration.  OK, some point out to me that the gilet jaune themselves are peaceful.  Probably true.  But they somehow are allowing the “hooligans” to join into their demonstrations and set things on fire and break glass windows.  I have read that the chief of police refuses to give permits to any marches down the Champs Elysesees.   Now the gilet jaune are posting – we must regain the Champs Elysesees.  What? It’s enemy territory to be recaptured?  Enough already.  It has all the earmarks of a mob.  Even today I don’t believe there is a defined leadership.  How can the government meet demands when there are no formal demands?  Trust me, I do think back to our early beginnings and the Boston Tea Party…  I don’t have this resolved.  More thought necessary.

But the bottom line – I guess it’s become a blog and reading in the apartment day.  I do need to go to the grocery but that will wait until midafternoon.  Saturday morning is the day for Faire Les Courses – Shopping!  The French shop every Saturday.  Shop early.    This early evening I do have drinks scheduled with a French friend.  I am hoping the bus will be running by then, but if not, there are working metros I can take.

Last night I went to a wine bar at the invitation of an American expat.  Quite clever.  Perhaps there is the same setup in the US?   You are welcomed (in English – I complained about that to the host who from then on insisted I speak French) and given a card, like a blank credit card.  Then you are shown many rectangular boxes with wine bottles you can see through a glass.  There are small touch screens above each bottle.  It shows the small, medium and large glass.  You press one, put the wine glass under a nozzle and voila.  Your wine glass is filled.  It also shows the cost for the bottle and for each size of taste. When you are done, you hand the card to the Monsieur who is now speaking French.  He tells you that you owe 10 euros.  You pay.  And possibly stagger out.

I did not stagger.  I did, however, taste about 6 wines.  I will go back.  This evening was a meetup event; however, the wine bar is open for the pubic all the time.  It was convivial.  There were only 5 of us, a rather nice size for a quiet and interesting chat.

Going home was an Uber event.  The bus I would normally take was not going to arrive at my stop for 40 minutes.  Far too long to wait.  The metro?  Sometimes I am just not up to it.  I would have had to transfer lines.  Uber was simple.  I don’t use it often but feel it’s money well spent when I do.

Metro vs Bus.  Bus wins every time.  Where I live now there are about 6 bus lines I can take.  The variety is wonderful.  I am seeing far more of Paris than on any other stay.  Yes, some lines are bumpy.  And some drivers are too fast.  And sometimes they see you running for the bus and leave anyway.  Yesterday mid-day I waved and waved and she left.  But then she stopped about 20 feet down and let me on.  Was that a power move?  I don’t know.  I said both Bonjour Madame and Merci bien.

A Chateau Visit

Three years ago, a French friend CJ promised me a road trip to Champs de Bataille, a French chateau with wonderful gardens about 2 hours from Paris.  Her husband would drive.

Never happened.  Now, it was a very generous offer, so I didn’t complain about it never happening.  Fast forward to this year.  I have two day trips planned, one with a French friend, one with an expat; both of whom have cars.  When my other friend, CJ, heard this, she accused me – teasingly – of cheating on her.  Spending time with other friends.  To which I had to remind her that she never took me on the day trip she had promised.

She came through.  Last week the three of us, CJ, hubby AP and moi, headed off for Chateau Breteuil.  Do check out the website.  It’s a beautiful place, still in the family.  The marquis has moved out of the house to live in one of the two smaller buildings that flank the entrance.  In fact, we saw him coming out the door with his cane, hobbling over to his golf cart.  His name: Henri-François Léon Théophile Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, the tenth marquis de Breteuil, born in 1943.  Yikes.  My brother was born in the same year.  He doesn’t appear as aged as the marquis.  Maybe it’s that noble living?  Or maybe too much wine?  Yet my brother does have an affinity for wine.  He lives on a farm in Sonoma county surrounded by vineyards.  Stopping here.  My bro reads this blog.  No need to start something familial.

Know the fairy tale Cinderella?  Or the story of Puss N Boots?  Both written by Charles Perrault.   From the chateau’s website: “It is no accident that Perrault’s Tales are featured here; beside being an author, Charles Perrault (1628-1703) was in charge of transferring funds to the Royal Treasury, which was managed by Louis de Breteuil (1609-1685), Controller General of Finances under King Louis XIV. The two men’s close collaboration is celebrated in the Château de Breteuil.”  The chateau has done an excellent job of depicting seven of the fairy tales with sound and light shows.  Kids would love this.  The gardens are gorgeous and available for rental for parties or marriage.  That’s the way to keep the chateau in the family.  It’s been in the family for 400 years now, why stop?

And on the tour of the chateau itself, mannequins are used – quality wax dummies.  Not quite Grevin or Tussauds but quite good.  In one room, lying on a beautiful bed, is Marcel Proust, with a notebook in front of him, ostensibly writing À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time).  Proust was a friend of Henri de Breteuil. The Marquis was the inspiration for the writer’s Hannibal de Bréauté (same initials, H.B) in Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way).  Apparently, the inspiration was not appreciated by the Marquis.  And Proust was none too subtle with the initials.  Quite obvious.  And there were many photographs of the Marie-Joséphine-Anatole-Louise-Élisabeth de Riquet, comtesse de Caraman-Chimay, comtesse Greffulhe.  Do you recall a post about an expo at the Galliera de Mode?  The clothing of the Comtesse Greffulhe.  A very accomplished woman who held salons for science, music, theatre, et al.  And had the most exquisite taste in clothing.  Born in 1860 and living until 1952, she was dressed by all the most important clothing designers.  And I swear she had the same impossibly tiny waist until the day she died – maybe wearing her Chanel.  She too was in Proust’s work.  The entire aristocratic set dropped him like a hot potato.  Don’t share secrets!  Don’t blab about your rich friends.

And that, dear reader, is partly why you are seeing initials in place of names.  I don’t think I will offend any friends by using their names, but that seems a bit intrusive.  So I have adopted Proust’s style.  Only problem, I have several friends with the same initials.  Oh well.  Tant pis.

The cleaning lady as gone.  It is after 1200.  I may venture out for grocery shopping.  And maybe even take a jaunt to the Real McCoy.  It’s one of the oldest “American” shops in Paris, where you can find all those things from home.  Like pumpkin pie mix.  Why go there today?  Because for some strange reason, I suddenly have a craving for red licorice.  I could have bought one of those huge tubs at Costco last December, but no craving then.

But wait!  The most important thing about the outing to the chateau was the fact that CJ’s husband does not speak English.  I had to speak French all day!  Nonstop!  And what made me so happy was that I recounted several humorous stories and he laughed.  And he laughed at the right places!  Not because my French was so bad.  So there to those of you who doubted me.


Time to ponder tango again.   This gal I am taking lessons from is fabulous.  Did I tell you that I told my other teacher Patrick that I was taking lessons from a woman?  Every man who has taught me has said I must take some lessons from a woman to learn the embellishments.  I found her like I found all my teachers – on the internet.  I can’t even recall what drew me to her.  But I sent an email to the website.  On the same day I received an email back saying the website people had forwarded the email directly to her, Vero.  And she said yes, she gives lessons and suggested two times the next week.  I took both times.  Go Big – as they say.  I’ve mentioned her several times.  But did I tell you Patrick’s reaction?  He asked her name.  I said, Vero something… she’s Russian.  His eyes got big and he said, Veronika Toumanova?  I looked her up in my contacts – oui.  C’est elle.  Patrick said she’s famous! She’s one of the best dancers in Paris.

Who knew?  Thank you, Universe.  And she is the best teacher yet.  I ponder that – would I have been better off if she had been my first instructor?  Or did I need to know what I know now in order for her instruction to make sense?  It’s meaningless pondering.  I get what she is teaching.  That’s the thing that matters.  And she has given me very specific items for practicing at least 10 minutes daily.  I am actually doing that.  I hate to practice so this is a big thing for me.

If you ever hear of a woman standing at a Parisien bus stop, hopping back and forth from foot to foot, wobbling, waving her arms to help balance and then, when she is balanced, she raises one foot to the other knee and slides it back in what is supposed to be a sensual manner and probably just looks ridiculous?  Ya.  That’s me.

I have to practice my sensual, smoldering, beautiful and intriguing look.  I think this is going to take a long, long time.

I went to a milonga here in Paris.  Alone.  I had to summon up all the courage I had.  Think about it.  Going to a dance in a foreign country, where you are not that proficient in the language (in spite of my previous bragging), while you are an admitted introvert and shy and the thought of going to a milonga alone in your own country, home town and language is daunting…  I went.

And I ended up a wallflower.  Except I was sitting on a bench in front of a window.  The folks clearly knew each other well.  It looked like most came in couples..  Even though this was called Le Bals des Timides… The ball of the shy or timid people.   Maybe they were too timid to talk to an outsider?  Or their vision was limited to those they already knew?  I watched for an hour and then left.  It was late and I was as stressed as I wanted to be and an hour from home.

Vero tells me to try again.  The tango dancer in the US says to try again.  Vero and Patrick both said go to a Practica first.  That’s like group practice.  You can go without a partner.  I might.  I have taken 3 lessons from her and scheduled 8 more.  There’s a trip to Amsterdam, two out of town drives with friends who have cars and perhaps an overnight to Clermont-Ferrand.  All before April 30.  And seeing a ton of expos here in Paris.  And packing.

Lots to balance.  Dang.  Balance.  Balance and tango.  Aside from the fun of dancing, tango is going to be excellent for my balance.  Of which, I don’t have much right now.  And good mental exercise also.  How to get the body to put all this stuff together.  At this age.

I’m going to go take a nap.  Before the wine bar tonight.

Paris, French, La Poste

Readers.  Impossible to keep you happy.  Good thing I write mostly for myself.  Some of you will comment to me that blogs are either too long or too short.  Or there are suddenly too many in a row.  Or why aren’t you writing? Or even after publishing several on the same day, why didn’t I publish more?

As my fancy strikes me.  That’s what gets written when.

Today.  La Poste.  In preparation for leaving, my brain goes into packing and customs mode.  Remember, I will have two suitcases, limited to 50 pounds each plus a carryon and backpack.  Stop rolling your eyes thinking I bring everything including the kitchen sink.  I do not.  However, this isn’t a two week vacation.  Or even four week vacation.  I am here over two or three seasons.  And I don’t want to wear the same thing every dang day.  And you need things for hot weather, warm weather, rain, and even snow, and nice weather and chilly weather and even very cold freezing weather.  Add to that mix the things I buy when I am here.  The odd piece of clothing.  The various souvenirs.  The butter.  And the customs limit is $800.  It’s a puzzle – weight and cost.

Inevitably I mail a box or two home.  I have a UPS mailbox so shipping to it is easy.  They sign for it, they store it.  This year La Poste is located only two blocks away (not 5) so everything is simplified.  And the ladies there are nice.  They see me enter with my box (15 lbs), come take my shipping forms, stamp stamp et voila.  I’m done.  Mailed the second one yesterday.  Hoping that is it.  There are 33 days ahead of me so there is time for another box if necessary.

DONE WITH PARIS……  I was called on that phrase from an earlier blog by two friends.  First, I fully subscribe to Audrey Hepburn’s quote – “Paris is always a good idea.”  Bien sur!    And I also agree with Bogie (or was it Ingrid?)  “We’ll always have Paris.”   Of course, that’s in the singular.  I’ll always have Paris.  I simply meant I was done with this part of my life.  The need to live here, breathe the Parisien air (pollution et al), avoid the dog merde on the sidewalk, learn to live as a Parisenne, not a touriste.  I will return. But my focus has changed for now.  I’m going to keep up my French – skyping with French friends and more conversation classes at the Alliance Francaise in California.  But in this moment, I am done with this particular Parisienne experiment.

Speaking of the Poste (up above two paragraphs in case you forgot), I had a French speaking triumph.  A friend is rebuilding an Alfa Romeo.  He gets parts from around the world.   He was stumped to find a particular part until a German friend referred him to a small company in France.  My friend asked me to order it if possible because their website was in French and didn’t seem to allow for delivery to a foreign country.  My triumph?  I talked to the gal over the phone, in French, about the car parts and delivery to the US in the most expeditious manner possible – which turned out to the La Poste.  They agreed to take it that same day and it arrived in the US only 9 days later.  I was quite pleased with myself.  First, talking on the phone is always a bitch.  No facial clues.  Harder to hear sometimes.  And the subject was not in my wheelhouse.  (Did I ever think I would use the word wheelhouse?  Never in my lifetime.  Oh well)

I received several suggestions for my talk topics from blog entries.  I really appreciate that. If any of the rest of you can think of anything particularly surprising or amusing, please let me know.  Thanks in advance.

I tangoed this morning.  Well, actually, I did leg and foot exercises, with upper body things throw in as well, all with the intended goal of improving my actual dancing of the tango.  This will be a separate blog soon.

And now to rest my feet.  There’s a new wine bar to discover this evening.


I decided, as usual, it would be nice to go out clean.  So shower time.

Huh?  Little black spots in the tub?  Ants?  Some seemed dead.  Not moving.  Did they fall in and starve?  But I took a shower yesterday and there were no ants.  Can they starve in less than 24 hours?  And why the bath tub?  No where else in the bathroom.

Any advice you would like to give me would be appreciated.

Now. Off to wander and eat.

Special Request of You, Dear Reader

I just posted my blog about returning.  And realized that an important request was lost in the middle of it.  So a separate blog to emphasize my request.

You dear reader, you can help me out!  Do you recall any particular story or stories from my blogs over the last four years that amuse you, define my time in Paris, shed light on the cultural differences, or just stand out?  Let me know please. You can email me directly at or through Word Press by making a comment.  Either way, I’ll get your message.  I’d really appreciate this.  It would be the basis for any speeches I prepare.

Have I inundated you with blogs today?  Probably.  It’s been the first time I have had time to sit at the computer in quite a while.  To prepare you, there are more blogs wanting and waiting to be written.  I have a list.  Yikes.  Ten topics.  Now, this doesn’t necessarily translate into ten blogs.  But there are probably 4 or 5 in there.  But now, after having emphasized my request, I am off to lunch with a French friend, followed by a bit of shopping (for lingerie soap) and then drinks and maybe dinner with another French friend, the law professor.  I haven’t seen him for a while so I am looking forward to this evening.

New beginnings

Just read a quote from Lao Tzu:

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.

Appropriate.  I just reserved my flight back to Sacramento.  My housesitting ends on April 28.  I found a hotel for a reasonable price in a good area that is easily accessible to what I want to see and do before flying back on April 30.  It makes no sense to stay longer even if my visa could allow that.  First, before May 15, I’d have to do the usual leave the Schengen area which involves transportation and hotel expenses.  And then I’d have to find a new apartment.

All the while thinking that I am feeling a bit done with Paris.


How can one be done with Paris?  I still love it.  But my goals have been met.  You’ve read my blogs wherein I say I own Paris.  I do.  And I speak halfway decent French.

Back to my existentialist crisis.  For four years I had purpose – it was Paris.  It was French.  And it was good.  No, great. Fabulous.  Goals met.  Now what?  I could indeed stay here and start the path to citizenship.  Although if so, I blew it by not doing the yearlong visa several years ago.  You must live here 5 years to start the process.  Do I want to be a French citizen?  In many ways, yes.  I do.  But then, I think of the complications – the French bureaucracy which would drive me insane.  The stories I hear from others.  The complications of FACTA… or something with initials something like that.  The tax act that makes life miserable for many expats.  The French banks that as a result don’t want anything to do with you if you are an American.  Let alone the French banks that put very low maximums on how much you can take out of your personal checking account per month no matter how much money you have in there.  Huh?  The French laws that determine who inherits your money.  (No, not as simple as having a will. Of course not, it’s France.)

Other than Eastern Europe, Norway is the sole country on my list left to visit in Europe.  I almost went this year but it got far too complicated.  So maybe I will pick a new continent to explore.  Exploration gets a bit more complex as a single and older woman traveling alone.  Hey.  I went to Morocco by myself!  Not on a tour!  But still, one has to be aware.  I haven’t had any hesitations traveling in Europe.  Now if I select South America as the next destination, maybe some concerns.  Yet even as I write that, I figure that after one country in SA, I’ll be fine. Still to be explored and determined.  And just the act of writing “explored” made me feel good.  I love to plan.  Even more, I love to change plans.

<<Oh. I just recalled my one visit to Mexico when I was a college student with two other gals and a guy.  We decided to save money and camp out south of Tijuana.  We were awakened in the middle of the night to 4 guys, probably between 17 and 23 who were rocking the van we were sleeping in and banging on sides of the van.  Lost money, wallets, and very fortunately, nothing else.  I did wrestle with one guy over the car keys and actually got a minor cut on my hand.  Yes.  His knife.  They let the air out of the tires and left us alone; we eventually drove back to a beach camp where we got air and paid to sleep safely.  Hmmm.  Maybe that colors my memory some.>>

But nothing has been as satisfying as living and thriving in Paris using my language skills effectively.  At this age, I am not taking up Spanish or Portuguese.

So other options… my consulting business.  My partner is eager to start finding more clients and gigs.  Maybe I will start to write some speeches for Rotaries and the like:  My years In Paris.  Maybe the blogs become a book?  That seems just too much hard work.  I know my personality, I am always facing forward.  To go back and sift through and edit blogs sounds wearying.

We interrupt this blog for a special request: But, you dear reader, you can help me out!  Do you recall any particular story or stories from my blogs over the last four years that amuse you, define my time in Paris, shed light on the cultural differences, or just stand out?  Let me know please. You can email me directly at or through Word Press by making a comment.  Either way, I’ll get your message.  I’d really appreciate this.  It would be the basis for any speeches I prepare.  Now back to the regularly scheduled blog.

So is this a painful ending?  My first reaction was yes.  But as I compose this blog, I think it’s at the most bittersweet, not painful.  Now, the packing will be painful.  As all long term readers know – packing 9 months of my life is not my favorite task.

I have some 33 days left.  They will be full.  a trip to the Netherlands that includes a Todd Rundgren concert in Amsterdam!  Multiple expos to visit.  Day trips.  And, of course, Tango lessons will continue.