Paris Newsletter: Month Eight

Dear Paris,

April was a long month, and not just because it has been stretched another 12 days with this newsletter. From elections to vacations to Easter, days seemed to fly by at lightning speed. Weather-wise, April decided it had quite enough being the "transition month" between winter and spring and suddenly became July. It was scary in a Global Warming way to dress for 80 degree weather everyday, but the sunsets, man. Those were worth it in spades.

Politically, things have been shaken up a bit. Despite an impressive campaign, Segolene Royal lost in the second round to Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarko has a reputation as a scary dictator-like control freak and I was having dinner at the Bastille the other night when I had my first LIVE view of tear gas as hundreds of CRS officers fought back against about 30 anti-Sarko rioters.

Maddy and I were in the movies that afternoon and when we came out, there were tons of police vans everywhere. I went up to one of the cops to find out what the hell was going on:

Me: Hi sir, is everything ok?
CRS: Fine, thanks, how are you?
Me: No, I mean... (gesturing to the cop population) there are a lot of policemen...
CRS: We're just a family. Sometimes families like to eat together (it should be said that these guys were all eating dinner in their vans).
Me: (getting pissed) Right, well, if we take the Metro, are we going to die?
CRS: Go ahead, take the Metro.

I later find out that these CRS guys are like robots, trained to only fight the public rioters. This explains this man's lack of soul. A few hours later Maddy and I watched as a smallish group of drunk guys threw bottles in the name of anarchy and got tear gassed and chased by said robots. Can you imagine if your son or father was a CRS? I am mystified by this brand of cop that doesn't want to reassure you that things are safe and instead treats you as a threat.

I probably spent more time on bridges and the edge of the Seine in April than I did in the Metro. That's A LOT. Some nights, we'd just take a bottle of wine down to the Ile de la Cite and hang out, calling friends and all meeting up for a spontaneous evening together. These hang outs got me through a tough month of GM'07 and proved yet again that where once there was loneliness, now there are FRIENDS. It just takes time.

I read a funny book called "A Year in the Merde" this month; it's about an English guy's experience living in Paris. At times I couldn't laugh louder or harder at the way he so accurately described this culture, this society which is so STRANGE for Anglo-Saxons. But it was all said with love, with appreciation for a country that can allow a 35-hour workweek and still roll with the top countries in the world. There are a lot of things that need to be reformed in France; it's hard for some people to admit, but it's true. But there are also traditions and a certain joie de vivre that I have only found here. And even though I've decided to stay another year, I know that when I do leave, I'm really going to miss it.


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