Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lots of Activity

I'ts been pretty busy these last few weeks. How on earth did I manage to do anything when I was working?

Speaking of working, I went to a job interview at a small company in Fontenay sous Bois - very near home. They are not really paying for a technical writer; it looks more tlike they want a part-time office assistant who can print out whatever is needed for bids as they come up and write new material when necessary. I suggested they use me (through an agency) to do the writing and find someone else for the lesser tasks. It was interesting, though, and I enjoyed the atmosphere of the company.

I saw Yamina - always pick up where we left off - as if it was yesterday. Well, yes I did see her a couple of months ago, but before that, it had been years. She told me about her trips to the States as supervisor of groups of French kids on linguistic trips. The organization she goes with seems to be hooked up with a weird group of host families, mostly evangelical Christians who seem bent on converting their guests. I don't know if it is giving these kids a warped vision of the United States or if I've been away so long, I'm the one with the warped vision.

I also went to a lunchtime AARO meetup at a pizzaria at Montparnasse. That was fun. Most of the 25 or so attendees were members and I already knew several from AAWE and other meetings. Just a pleasant social event.

It's amazing how many Americans are in Paris on a temporary basis. I'm used to seeing the ones like me who are married to French people and even the ones who came to work and have stayed on, but I've been meeting more of the kind that are retired and have come here to spend a year or so and others who still maintain residences in the States, but come here for several months a year. I meet them in the Ile de France walks, too. The falling dollar is an obsession for these people. A few years ago, they were really well off and now, they can barely get through the month. Even for me - when I calculated what I might draw from US funds, I wasn't thinking in terms of almost $1.50 per €1.00.

Last week, I went to a Democrats Abroad for Hillary meeting. It was a conference call with meetings in many major cities around the world and one of the head honchos for Clinton's campaign - a fund raiser. I was hoping for some help in deciding. The meeting was for Hillary supporters, but there were a few of us there who are undecided. I got invited to the Democrats Abroad for Obama meeting the next evening, but didn't go. While we were waiting for the call to begin, we were asked if we had any questions and I offered mine: Why should I, an American living abroad, want to vote for Hillary Clinton? It was deemed a good question and I got to ask it during the conference call. Unfortunately, it didn't get answered. I don't know that there is an answer. Considering all the problems in the States, why should we (some 3-7 million Americans abroad) be of any consequence? Why? Because there are so many of us, we could almost be a state! I could give an easy answer and say that we need tax reform - have our income abroad removed from the tax declaration if we are declaring and paying tax on it where it was earned. But there are other things - when the kids were growing up and I didn't have a clue as to how to pass on the "American" part of us, I could have used some help. In Paris, it is not all that difficult - just join AAWE. But there are many who do not have such help, who can't afford even what is there. Medicare extension, too, for people who paid into the US system all their lives and are now abroad. Again, it doesn't concern me, but it does affect others.

I saw Chilla again at both the AARO meetup and the Dems Abroad for Hillary meeting and yet again at the Jay Gottlieb recital at Neuilly the other evening. This time he played a full program of American composers: Copeland, Ives, Bernstein, Gershwin, Glass, Jarrett, and Adams. I find Ives a bit hard to listen to; the Copeland and Bernstein pieces were not the usual things you hear. Iwas totally hypnotized by the Glass and loved the Koln Concert (Jarrett). Jay is totally absorbed in the music as he plays; he's amazing to watch. And of course, Rita came to this recital, too.

On Mondays and Thursdays I go to an art class in Fontenay, just 10 minutes from home. This replaces the art classes I went to in Paris, before. Last week was the first time I went on a Monday and everyone was doing his or her own thing until the end, when Francine, our hostess and instructor, asked us to bring over our work for group comments. There was the portrait of a man - and I immediately recognized him - our neighbor, Bruno. (Actually, he moved away a few months ago, but still, he was our neighbor for 20 years!) Turns out I'm in class with his sister, Isabelle. And she's a damned good portraitist. Just another instance of the small world phenomenon.

So now, I've spent too long at Anne's computer and it'll be too late to call FNAC to get help getting my own computer in order. I think I screwed up some settings and can't find my wi-fi connection. I'll see if I can get it done on Thursday. Tomorrow, I'm going on a walk at the Parc Citroën. Last week, I joined the walk through the Parc de la Courneuve but did not continue to the Basilique St. Denis.

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