So today I woke up about 8:40 and lounged in bed for a while considering silence: Because it is a Tuesday and it was quiet out.  The construction has finally turned a corner away from the banging of conduit and jack hammering and general loud clatter.  I am relieved for myself.  But even more for those poor people (who aren’t really financially poor because they live in a Haussmann style apartment) who share a wall with the site and have had to live with not simply the noise but also the vibration.  They must be overjoyed.

Now I understand why some prisons use loudspeakers to broadcast heavy metal rock.  Constant noise is debilitating.

And if you are a bit deaf, like me, then I feel even more for those with perfect hearing.

And that leads me to a probable rant.  Be warned.

My grandmother on my mom’s side of the family was very deaf.  The other grandmother also.  The grandfathers died too young to know what their hearing would have been at an advanced age.  My father had a hearing aid as did my mother.  My brother got one years ago and he was younger than me at the time he got it.  My sister seems to have not received the hearing loss gene.

Four years ago I worked for a rather paranoid firm – the executives often seemed to whisper in the executive meetings.  And I had the darnedest time hearing.  Off to Kaiser for a hearing test.  Mild loss they said.   Yes or no to an aide.  Given that I had section 125 money, tax free medical account, I bought one for the left ear.  Does it help? Yes and no.   I must say I am much more sympathetic to my grandmother and mother.  And I am a bit ashamed of the times I felt like yelling at them to turn their hearing aids up.  Because it doesn’t help to turn it up when it is at the max.

Being hard of hearing is a real disability.  I have had people say something to me, then, when I either don’t respond because I heard nothing or I ask for them to repeat it, they sometimes get irritated.  As I did too, frankly.  But really, if you have a paraplegic friend, do you get irritated that they can’t get up and walk to the kitchen themselves?  No.  I hope not.

Sometimes I catch all the words except one.  So I repeat the sentence back to the person using a “what” for the lost word.  “The afternoon picnic is going to be “what” because of the weather?”  All the person has to do is say “cancelled” or “perfect” or “well-attended.”  Instead, they repeat the entire sentence back in an irritated way and often louder.  So you can imagine if I still don’t catch that one word!  Even more irritated and shouting.  I wish they would listen to what I ask and just give me the one word I missed.

Or they talk to me when my back is turned to test my hearing.  “Oh you really can’t hear – I just said…..”  Well surprise.  I know I can’t hear all that well, that’s why I got a hearing aid.  And did you know that part of hearing is reading lips?  Strangely enough, before I switched to contact lenses years ago and before I had hearing issues, if I was in my office and had taken off my glasses, when someone came to my door and started talking, I had to ask them to wait til I put on my glasses.  I know I didn’t have hearing issues – I could hear all those conversations down the hall that I wasn’t supposed to hear!

If you are talking to a hearing impaired individual (see, using that term lends more significance than the term hard of hearing or deaf!), keep in mind that hearing varies with individuals.  I can hear certain frequencies just fine, thank you very much.  So that explains why I can hear certain people and not others,  I am not being selective with those I say I can’t hear well.  Try to lower the pitch of your voice.  Sometimes just that works and there is no need for increased volume.  I had to learn that with my mother and grandmother.  And if a hearing impaired individual tells you they heard all but one word, don’t shout the entire sentence back at them.  Fill in the missing word and go on with the conversation.

There’s not much more I can do but wear the hearing aid and go back and get it adjusted from time to time.  Fortunately for me, I do fine on the phone.  I have a relative who struggles with the phone so much so that everyone started emailing instead of having phone conversations.  Fortunately, either the phone was fixed or the hearing aid was for now phone calls work again.

The only time the hearing problems might be the fault of the impaired is when they just give up.  How many times can you ask for a word to be repeated or ask for the  pitch to lower?  At some point, the impaired person just has to give up and smile sweetly and ignore everything.  Now I get why my grandmother did that.  She was tired of asking me to take the time to speak in a way she could understand.

Oops.  It did turn into a rant.  And not much about Paris at that.  But I am off to figure out my four day trip to La Rochelle and Bordeaux.  That should take the rest of the day.


Ohhh.  That makes it sound very NASA-ish.  Coming back to the States is not quite an alien experience but I do miss Paris.

It’s only been two weeks plus one day.  It feels longer… and not….  Just crazy.  Got back on Wednesday afternoon.  Several disruptions I would have been happy to avoid but that’s life:  Garage door opener – broken springs (2) fixed on Thursday for $600+, slow leak in rear tires – two tires later at $300, dishwasher broken $700+, back slider is really hard to move – handyman next Saturday for a lot of money plus time to get new sinks as the porcelain is wearing out – handyman and more money.  He’s happy I am back!

This after the extra bag charges for Delta.  The allowance is one free, next one $100 and third more like $200.  But that’s cheaper than shipping.  The final number at the airport was 22.9 kg, 22.0 kg and 22.3 kg.  Whew.  Max is 23 kg.  And btw, always ask them to weigh in kg because that gives you a little bit more than the 50 lb limit.  And my Delta AMEX card which gives me free bags domestically doesn’t help for international.  The United Visa gives me the second bag on international flights free.  About the best thing I can say about United…

Most amazing: NO JET LAG.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Sure – I might have woken up about 2 or 3am, but that’s normal on a normal night.  And what is normal for jet lag is to wake up at 3am and be WIDE awake since that is noon in Paris.  So jet lag means you can’t go back to sleep.  Your body is ready for action!  Time for lunch or a walk or something other than sleeping.

But not this time.  Went right back to sleep every night immediately.  Why?  If I really knew the secret, I’d patent it.  But I think it was because I had so much to do – arrange for all those repairs, and doc appointments and routine car maintenance.  AND travel down to Visalia to see my sister who is recovering from a stroke.  So one day here and the next on the train south.  Stayed there 4 nights and back here and then back down there 3 days later.  I think that is going to be the routine for a few weeks.  (She is doing VERY well – speech great and progressing from a wheelchair to walker to using a cane!)

What’s best about the return?  The clothes dryer!  And a washer that is easy on the clothes versus the one in Paris.  And of course the dryer is nonexistent in Paris.  I was very disappointed about the dishwasher – I was so looking forward to not having to wash and dry dishes by hand.  But no.  On the other hand, I have been patiently waiting for that dishwasher to break – it was here when I bought my house in 2003.  And it wasn’t new at that time.  The new one is not a high end fancy bells and whistles machine but it is so quiet that I only knew it was working at first because the timer on the front was changing minutes…

Total Wine is a great store for wine.  I went to stock up on my French wines.  I don’t really drink a lot and usually not alone and usually with meals.  I got a Chinon, a Brouilly, and a rose from Provence.  And after watching the news, I opened the Chinon.  It was necessary.

Because of my travel schedule, I wasn’t eating well during my first week back.  Finally had time to buy food and prepare a meal.  So I have changed after two 9 month stints in Paris.  I was quite surprised.  I made a chicken breast with wine sauce and champignons…. Oh.  Mushrooms.  And as I looked at the plate, I thought to myself, It looks tasty.  And I could slice it up nicely and arrange it on my plate and put the sauce just so…  OMG!   I never thought anything like that for a meal I made for myself.  It was scary!  I shared the story with a friend who said I was a foodie.  Oh God Forbid!  Me? A Foodie?  I won’t go that far, but I will say, oui, I have a different attitude to food.

Coming back also includes medical appointments.  Spent the day at Kaiser for a variety of things, including getting a hearing aid fixed.  Yes.  I have a hearing aid.  I got it when I worked for a company that was totally paranoid.  The senior team of which I was a member would have meetings where everyone whispered.  I would be saying, What? What?  So I had my hearing tested – they said, you’re border line.  I said I need to hear the whispers.  But I didn’t wear it often in Paris.  Sometimes crowd noise would be too loud – so I’d take it out and then I just didn’t seem to need it.  Come back here and it’s like I am at the bottom of a well.  What’s up with that?  But it had stopped working – a Kaiser gal fixed a broken wire and I am now good to go.  But why do I need it in the US more than in France?  I think Americans mumble.

A French friend facetimed me my first week back.  I thought it was someone else and just answered without thinking.  Then I realized it was Francois.  Yikes.  Early morning here and I am not sure I had even combed my hair.  FT can be dangerous!  So I held the phone as far away as I could so my early morning hair and face would be as small as possible.  And then he started speaking FRENCH.  QUOI?  My brain stalled.  It was the feeling you got when the teacher announced a pop quiz.  Huh?  I hadn’t prepped for that!  Yikes.  Fortunately, it came back.  But we did speak more in English.

However, this evening, I went to an open house for a new law firm a dear friend is starting.   And there I met a French woman.  And yes, I just started speaking French with her and it was wonderful!  Maybe soon I will stand up and believe I speak French!  (I also added TV5 to my Xfinity lineup so I can watch the French shows.)

And for the three of you who said you have read every blog, please email me your physical address so I can send you your prize!  I hadn’t forgotten!  Cheaper to mail from here than Paris.

Notice I have stayed away from politics… except for the need for wine?  I’ll just say I am so proud of those National Park Service employees who have started altNPS Facebook and Twitter accounts and refuse to be silenced on climate change and science in general.  This is nuts.

I have been called a global resident.  I love that.  And an English friend posted on FB that she wants me back to being an American Abroad soon!  I agree with her.  We will see how the health of everyone progresses.