Well, I’ve been living in interesting times. Less than a month ago, Morgen and I were wondering whether we were going to have a dull Christmas, since our budget was, shall we say, not conducive to travel (or bringing family members here to Paris). We were, however, looking forward to the week between Christmas and New Year’s as a time to start getting caught up with the many things we’d fallen behind on so that we could begin 2008 with relatively clean slates.
On December 20, my mother called to tell me that my father had died that morning. He had been in the hospital for four months. Without getting into all the details, he’d had major surgery to treat a life-threatening condition in August and initially appeared to be on the road to recovery. In the months that followed he had periods of ups and downs, but then, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to anyone, he abruptly began to deteriorate and died from what amounted to multiple systems failure less than three weeks before his 86th birthday. Morgen and I flew to Pennsylvania for the funeral, which was held on Christmas Eve, and spent a week with my mother before returning to Paris. I’ve had some unusual holidays, but this will surely be remembered as the most cheerless ever.
I’ve been reflecting on our time in Paris—six months now, as of yesterday—and my predominant feeling is that of being mystified as to where all that time went. I don’t just mean that in the usual “time flies” sense. It feels as though I’ve been in a daze most of the time. We were, and are, delighted to be here; we enjoy the views, the vibe, the food, and everything else. But we (or at least I) have been remarkably distracted to the extent that it’s often been hard to appreciate or even be aware of where we are. During the second half of year, apart from the constant worries about my father’s health, I had a relentless succession of Really Big Deadlines (mainly Take Control books and Macworld articles); we had to work through the complex processes of getting our cartes de séjour (long-term French residence cards) and applying to join the French healthcare system; I took driving lessons so that I could get a French driver’s license (a notoriously long and difficult process, even for people who grew up here); we both got sick a few times with cold-like symptoms that hung on far too long; and we endured the usual array of strikes, breakdowns in our building (elevators, water, heat), and administrative challenges with various French bureaucracies.
As a result, a lot of things got put on the proverbial back burner. For example, posts on all our blogs have been few and far between, and it’s been months since we’ve had any new articles on Interesting Thing of the Day. I’m still behind on several important projects for various publishers. And we’ve had precious little time for sightseeing or other leisure activities.
I’m hoping that January will indeed be a fresh start, that I can stay (or get) on top of my various obligations, and that 2008 will be a year with fewer distractions and more fun. My goals for the year include not only writing the usual array of books and articles, but some entirely new and interesting projects, several trips, and a generally lower level of stress and higher levels of sanity and solvency.
Tomorrow morning I’ll take the road test for my driver’s license, and if I pass, that’ll be one more big thing I can cross off my list. (If not, well, I get four more tries…) Then, as long as life isn’t too interesting, I’ll try to go back and fill in some of the many blanks on this blog about how we got where we are now and what lies ahead.