When my doctors told me I would have to have major abdominal surgery, they warned me that the recovery would be very slow. Any of you who have had abdominal surgery know first-hand that this is true. I asked the doctors for an estimate of how long it might take, assuming of course no complications would take place, and they said about a month after leaving the hospital I would probably start to feel a whole lot better, though probably not 100% back to my usual self. I think I've been in France too long because I seem to have adopted the snail's pace on the healing track. My surgery was December 18th. Today is January 9th. That's 23 days, a week short of a month. And I'm still spending 98% of my time lying down. I thought that by now, I'd have built up enough stamina to at least be able to walk across the street to the Franprix market and pick up a few groceries, or walk to the end of the street to the pharmacy. I didn't expect I'd be hopping buses or the metro all over town, or that I'd be up to having dinner out... Read more →
Things you don't realize will happen in the immediate aftermath of major abdominal surgery: Whenever you lie down, you will be trapped like a beetle on its back. You can't roll to one side or the other (too painful) to push yourself up, and obviously sitting straight up is an impossibility. Hospital beds make it easier because you can elevate yourself part of the way up, and there are side railings to grab onto. But at home, with a normal bed? Yeah, not so simple. You need help just to get up. If Georges weren't around all day (and all night) long to help me get up out of bed or off the couch when I'm lying down, the latter part of this clip is what I would look like (minus the 27 layers of winter clothing): Our new code word, when I need help, is simply: "Ralphie". That pretty much says it all. At least I CAN put my arms down. Read more →
In my 8 years living in France and writing about it, about the cultural differences, how much I hate the dog poo on the sidewalks, the many fun things to do, falling in love and integrating into a French family, the food and the wine, the frustrations with the bureaucracy and even becoming a French citizen, there is one sentence I never, ever expected to have to write on this blog. I have kidney cancer. I'll pause for a moment to let you catch your breath. I've known this since just before Thanksgiving, and I'm still catching mine. ... OK then. Let's all exhale together. What seemed at first to be a whopper of a kidney stone attack nearly three weeks ago has turned out to be something much bigger and more serious. There's a tumor on my right kidney (there is also a nice big stone in there for good measure). And it's the tumor which started the internal bleeding which caused all the pain and put me in the hospital for a week. The great news is, my left kidney is in perfect shape and should serve me well for the rest of my life, and I feel... Read more →
Having now moved in Paris FOUR times (and that's not counting when I moved here in the first place), I have become something of an expert in how to orchestrate a household move. But I never knew how one might move, say, a large PIANO into a Parisian apartment, given that the staircases are usually narrow and the elevators, if they do exist, probably only have space for 2 or 3 human beings. And that's without luggage or shopping carts. A few days ago, I looked out our living room window because some idiot down below kept repeatedly beeping his car horn. There's a small supermarket across the way, and it is normal for delivery trucks to block the street over there, so I figured that's what the fuss was all about. Well, there WAS a delivery taking place, but not the type I anticipated: Because of the weight of the piano, this delivery truck with its built-in crane also had stabilizing "feet" (not pictured), so once the crane was in motion, there was NO moving this truck until the job was finished. The horn-beeper's car was just below my window, sandwiched in between the sidewalk, this truck and vehicles... Read more →
I still can't believe it's November already. Again. Here in Paris we did the clock roll-back two weekends ago, and the day after it was dark at 5:30 in the afternoon. Ugh. Now I will spend the next 4 months in the dark; the winter days are very short here in Paris (although we make up for it in summer with super-long days with sunset around 10:30pm!) Lots on my plate at the moment: finding a year-round tenant for our rental apartment (we may have a winner, I'll know later today) searching for a new apartment for me and Georges and the Garçon - yes, we're on the hunt for something roomier and also cheaper dipping my toes into the French unemployment system - my first interview at the Pôle Emploi is tomorrow afternoon using NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as inspiration to complete the edits on my memoir manuscript The writing project has been working out well so far. One of my colleagues from the tour company is also a writer and we've teamed up to keep each other accountable. I have a big bulletin board set up with Post-It notes on it, one for each chapter. With 16... Read more →
That sound you hear is the tapping of my keyboard. It's Day 3 of my après tourism job life, and right now I am "installed" (as the French say) at a table in the Starbucks next to the Gare Saint Lazare. Starbucks may not have the most ambiance for cafe-writing, but I'm meeting a friend here for a coffee, they have free WiFi and great air conditioning - and on this October day, we are definitely having Indian summer weather. On Day 1, I allowed myself to be a lazy sod. Did a load of laundry. Read a little. Watched a lot of videos. Slept a lot. On Day 2, I did some other housework and then went to an eye doctor appointment followed by a trip to the eyeglasses store to choose my new "look". I'll have the new glasses in a week, and I can't wait because I am now suffering through glasses with scratches and lenses that no longer meet my needs. (Insert requisite "aging sucks" sigh here.) But now, enough lazing around. Time to get to work. "Work", for the moment, will consist of catching up on things at home, keeping my eyes out for a... Read more →
This week in France was the rentrée. Technically that means the "return" or "re-entry", the time when people come back to work after their vacation and when the kids go back to school. Because so many French (especially Parisians) take most of August off for vacation, when everyone comes back nearly all at once, it's like Paris goes from being a sleepy summer town to a crazy metropolis, almost over night. Once again, the lovely half-empty buses and metro cars of summer are packed like sardine cans at rush hour. It's always a busy time for us because we still have a school-age child at home. His first full day of school was yesterday, so now we're back to our normal school-year routine on the weeks when he's staying with us. In a few days, my little peanut will turn 13, too -- although he hasn't hit his full-on growth spurt yet, he's no longer the Little Guy. Now we have a teenager on our hands. For me, I was already back at work two weeks ago; for Georges, he went back to work last week but because many of his colleagues were still en vacances, it was pretty quiet... Read more →
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