Home. Sacramento

Yes. I know. I owe you some more blogs. When I get back and rest up. You’re first on the list, dear reader.”

OK, yes.  That is how I ended the Blog on April 29, the day before I flew back to the US.  And yes, I know it is now June 9.  Probably 10th by the time I actually finish and post this.  Much has occurred.

The flight was uneventful. Neither bumped up to first class nor engine trouble etc.  Border patrol and customs were snaps.  I have the Global Traveler so I can get through quickly using the computer kiosks.  (I have to renew this every 5 years and the time is upon me.  A cool thing with my United Visa card – if I use that card to renew the $100 fee, United reimburses me!  Yup.  The full $100!)   The layover in SF was over 3 hours but I was able to use the United Lounge – free food, friendly people to watch your bags, comfy chairs, all good.  And in Sac the bags came out relatively early.  Home via Uber.  My usual unpacking – opening everything on the kitchen floor and starting the washing immediately.  And unpacking the boxes from France.  My tea cups did not fare well.  Two had cracks.  My fault.  Shrug.   And I packed these boxes several weeks ago so some of the contents were a surprise.

Next to stock the larder.  That meant a car ride to Safeway.  And for the first time – well, I guess in January too – the car battery was healthy due to the drip charger I used.  Worth every penny to avoid a call to AAA.  I stayed up looking for things until 10:30 pm. At that point I had been up 26 hours.  And of course, I woke up at 4 am.  Started looking for things again and got a quick nap in before leaving.

What was I looking for?  General stuff – rediscovering my house and its contents.  And most specifically, my car keys.  I had a spare set which were where they were supposed to be.  But my regular set were invisible to me.  Finally, I had to give up because I was leaving town.

My business partner had tried to open a banking account for us but needed my signature.  So day one I was off to Nevada to do finances.  The second day there and my second day back in the US, I felt nauseous all day and my pulse was racing all day.  I researched before determining if I should go to ER and found that both can be symptoms of jet lag.  I hung tight.  And the next day I felt pretty good and on day 3 I was back to normal.  Even sleeping was back to normal.  So if I have a choice, I will take a day of nausea and racing pulse over 6 or more days of bad sleep.  I am hoping my body will remember this for future time zone jaunts.  Also, going away from my house directly on my return was a good idea.  Accidental.  But good.  Because there was nothing I could do but relax for a few days.  I couldn’t go driving about on errands.  Didn’t have things to put away.  People to call.  It was spa-like.

Then I came home rested and relaxed to make my transition.

People ask me, do you wish you were back in Paris?  How is the change going?  What do you miss?  And frankly, at this point when I go back to Paris or come back to Sac, it’s a fairly immediate transition.  I was there.  Now I am here.  And my daily HERE life becomes my focus.  Sure, I notice changes.  I see things in my house that I totally forgot about.  But I don’t pine – either for Paris or for Sac.  I guess it’s really living in the NOW.

But I do observe.

I was driving down Highway 50 the other day and suddenly thought about the taxi drivers, and the gilet jaunes, and other manifestation groups in Paris and imagined Californians standing on the freeway blocking traffic… and I started to laugh.

No need to use the 24 hour clock and have to think for a moment if I translated the time correctly when making a reservation.

Last week I dropped a book on the floor by the bed and I flinched.  Then I remembered no one lives below me – that’s my living room!  The joys of not living in an apartment.

I rediscovered Target and Macys and Raleys and Safeway and oh so many other shops.  So many options.  And I can easily return items!  I missed that in Paris.  Although, they are getting better about returns.  Before they gave you the stink eye.

Rediscovering my house…  it’s like an old friend I haven’t seen for a while.  I found I needed to nest.  The first call was to Marcos my sometime gardener to clean out the leaves and debris from my yard- without mudding up my pond.  I was delighted to finally catch a glimpse of a fish!  Don’t get too excited.  I do not have fancy koi.  I have the requisite mosquito fish, provided for free and delivered by the Sac County Mosquito Abatement Center.   The back yard once again became the calm, peaceful refuge to sit and relax.  Until the temps climb into the 100s like it will this week.

Dear Reader.  I am home.  But I have more to share about my transition with occasional ponderings about living abroad.  Tonight, however, it’s time to sleep.

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.

Horreurs! 

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 moi@44zip.com 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.

REUNION

Not everyone keeps in touch after high school.   I have one solid friend from Sophomore year, my first year in LA.  And one solid from university and one I occasionally keep in touch with.  But before that…. No one

Except this year there was a milestone reunion and there was Facebook.

I left Minnesota after my freshman year.  Some of those kids had been in first grade with me (we lived in the country – there was no kindergarten or preschool.) so when I got the invitation to go back to that reunion, I decided Pourquoi pas?   I reconnected with one of my closest junior high friends on FB, then we texted and finally chatted on the phone several times.  She convinced me.  I made arrangements to stay with a faux cousin.  Bought the plane tickets.  And then school friend realized that her flight to Europe was leaving on the Saturday of the reunion, not the Sunday after.  Bummer.    But I had left enough time so we could spend the Thursday together from Brunch til dinner.  Great fun.  With some people, you just reconnect and the years disappear.  Then Saturday was the event,  At times I can be introverted and shy and other times extroverted and genial.  I kicked the genial into high gear.

But it was strange.  Without Anita there I kept wondering why I was going…. And throughout the night I continued to think that.  I saw my next door neighbor.  His older brother was the first boy I kissed -at 5!  And Donny from across the street.   He had always had an invisible friend when we played. It was so cool I wanted one too.  But I kept losing her.  She’d be there – we’d be all four together.  And then we would run down to the woods.  Three of us.   His friend, him and me.  And when we got there, there were only three of us.  I had no idea where mine went.  I think she was twiddling her thumbs in the tree house.  I finally gave up.

Imagine.   He didn’t recall at all.

Anita said all these kids were anxious to see me.  Fortunately I didn’t believe that.  Three were excited.  Maybe another 5 chatted briefly,   My memories stopped at grade 9.  They were all about 10 through 12 and mostly 12. So I was oddly disconnected.  No real surprise but I hadn’t thought that through,

We left on these highs of keep in touch!!!  Yadaydayda…. I figure we really won’t.  Maybe Anita.  But the others… in the light of day on Sunday, I saw the experience as just that…. An interesting experience.

On the other hand,  I was so happy to have reconnected with my faux cousin. My siblings and she and her sister were older than me so I always felt a tag-along kid.  To connect as adults was terrific.  We had seen each other many times as they came to visit my mother or we went out there.  But always with others around and always for a short few days.

Truly sympaticio as my mother would say.  She saw more of the Twin Cities than she had for years.  Me too.

Do you remember the house you grew up in?  I do.  My dad built it.  I had visited on an earlier trip to Minnesota for business.  We drove by this time and saw a lot of construction going on.  So of course we stopped.  It was being remodeled to become an AirBNB house.  And actually, many of the cool things my dad designed were still there and left intact.  We looked down the very very very steep hill I had to climb to get down to the lake.  Now it looks like a gentle sloop.  Age will change the angle of the climb dramatically.

My faux cousin lived in the house bought and added on to by her grandfather in 1911.  Her mom had been born there.  She came home from the hospital to this house.  I can’t imagine living in one place that long.  Although I am working on 15 years in Sacramento.

The Minnespolis Institute of Art had an outrageous exhibit – one that was more theatre than art.   https://new.artsmia.org/power-and-beauty/  if you want to find out more.

And overall I was so impressed with Minnesota’s welcoming feeling.  Very diverse.  Big population of Somalis.  Very Macy’s had the mannequins wearing hajibs.

Very different from my protected childhood amidst the Swedes and Norwegians.  But good!

Days at Home (chez moi)

I find that I end up staying home some days.  And somehow I end up not feeling accomplished at all.  Even though I clean or wash or pay bills or research and organize trips.  It is the fact that I look out the window and am reminded I am in Paris, not Sacramento.  I still have some of that tourist mentality – you know, you MUST be out taking advantage of every single minute being in France.  Or wherever you are on vacation!  Vacation days are in limited supply so treasure them.  Get the most out of them.  Even if you go home a tired wreck of a human.

You’d think I would be over that…  I mean, I am not on vacation – I LIVE here.  But I worked for many years and it’s a habit that is hard to break.  So I have this inner conflict going on.  I want to be out and about.  Yet there are things to do!  And trips to plan.  And returns to France to plan.  I can’t request a visa more than 90 days out – so when exactly do I want to return?  And where will I go for the Schengen break?  And for how long?  And so should I change my appointment in San Francisco from the 19th to the 17th?  Will two days matter?

And then my FitBit sends a vibration to my wrist to say Get Up And Move!

And suddenly I remember that this is what I used to do.  Sat at a desk, at a computer, for years of human resources work (when not in continuous and often unproductive meetings).  So that’s one of the ingrained habits that makes me feel comfortable sitting at the computer and not being on the streets of Paris (don’t take that wrong!).

And when I do have these computer days, I must admit I do accomplish a great deal of useful things (what’s that you say?  cat videos aren’t useful??) (Ok, how about puppies?).

Back to the calendar.