Monday, October 3, 2011

October and temperatures in the high 20s (C° -- in F° it's almost 90)!

It's going to be another hot, sunny day, today! It's wonderful. I almost regret having taken my camera in for repair. Not only is it hot, but when it gets this beautiful in summer, there's usually a high pollution level that creates a smog filter, but now, it's just perfect blue sky. The days are getting shorter and when the sun goes down, there is a slight chill, but this is one of the most beautiful "arrière saison" we've had in years. And I always feel that September is better than mid-summer. There's not the chill of a real American indian summer, but I remember how beautiful it was in October in Philly when Jon and Tobi got married.
Yesterday was "Bloom Where You're Planted", an annual event in Paris at the American Church during which English-speaking newcomers to Paris can attend a series of speeches and smaller conferences on settling in here and during the lunch break they can visit and shop around for interesting associations, schools, and other services catering to the English-speaking community. I was manning the AARO table, very near the entrance (way out, too), near the AAWE table. For me, many of the other associations and exhibitors are old friends, so the setting-up hour is nice -- going around, chatting with friends. Then there's the onslaught of newcomers. Find out if they are American (there are far fewer each year), if they are here as residents (more than 6 months) to determine whether AARO might be of interest to them. Then, pitch AARO. We had lots of people stop by our table and I think I reduced the weight of what I had to schlep in my back pack by half.
But attending such events makes me wonder what I'm doing there. I never sought out the American community when I came here. I never lived in an area where there were lots of Americans and when I occasionally ran across one, I was very happy to chat and sometimes have even made firm friends of American neighbors, but I wasn't looking for Americans. When I had kids and rejoined AAWE, it was to find English-speaking opportunities for the children, but at that time, living in Nogent, far from everyone else (it seemed) living in St. Germain, I never did more than participate in the annual Christmas bazaar. And of course, you make friends, friends that you see once a year working at the bazaar. No, I was firmly rooted in my neighborhood, with the friends I made when Claire was in Ecole Maternelle (nursery school), mostly. I never managed to speak English at home, and my life was here, in French. Even if I never managed to bring up my kids as mother-tongue English speakers, they all speak fluently, with different degrees of accents. They all cherish their American passports and faithfully file their US tax declarations, even though there is no tax to pay.
Things changed a bit when someone complimented me on my English once on a flight to the States. He didn't realize I was American. That's when I decided that when I went back to work, I wanted to be in an English-speaking environment. Things really changed four years ago, when I stopped working. I rejoined the library and decided to become more active in the associations I belonged to. This gets me into Paris. The Ile de France walks, I found out about through WICE, and that is filled with French and English-speaking people that I love seeing on a day out walking. The library also has a varied population, but is anchored in English. My French has gone down the drain, I think, but no one questions my American-ness any more.
And that brings me to how heart-breaking it is to say to Claire to think again about asking me to go through the procedure to pass on US citizenship to Aurelia. How I hate to think that I am seriously considering giving it up, myself. That the kids should consider giving it up. I feel as though I am being treated like a criminal. That I have to prove, every year to a greater degree, that I am not guilty; that I am not evading taxes; that I am not hiding millions of dollars .... I was brought up to believe that someone was innocent until proven guilty. That the burden of proof is on the accuser. We Americans overseas, over 6 million of us, are negligible because we don't make up more than 2% of any given constituency. Yesterday, a woman whose father had fought for her US citizenship when she was born in Rome, said she was feeling the same as me. Just take a look at this report Jackie Bugnion wrote, which is posted on the ACA site.
Last minute, since I forgot to "publish" the other day, I managed to go to the ball park yesterday, Sunday, and see PUC 2 win their game against La Rochelle. It was a good game and so nice to see familiar faces from the team. If you want to hear English, go to PUC 1 games; for Spanish, go to PUC 2. It doesn't matter that most of the players are French. The Phillies are in the post season and for the first time I decided to subscribe to video. Unfortunately, the game I saw (this morning), the Phillies lost. :-(
And today was the AARO lunch. Jackie and Ed came so we could meet one last time before they head back to the States. Met some new people, too. But these lunches are getting too big and noisy.
That's all.

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