Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

8/3/20, WTF??

Posted on August 3, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How’s it going? If you’re in the US, the Covid 19 numbers have been very scary. (I watch them carefully every day, reporting on all the countries around the world, and the countries and cities where I have loved ones) Hopefully, it has hit its peak in the US, and things will start to improve now. I sure hope so!!! I’ve given up trying to make plans and am just waiting it out. I hope that by now everyone is wearing a mask!!! In France last week, they recommended that everyone wear one outdoors too. The image of Ernie from Sesame Street kind of sums up how I feel sometimes, and a lot of us do. WHAT happened? How did this bomb hit us so fast!!! The image of Ernie made me smile—it certainly says it all!!!

 

In France, everyone has gone somewhere on vacation, to the South of France, Provence, Italy or Spain. People are moving around, so hopefully that won’t raise the Covid numbers again. Europe is really doing well for the most part, except for some surges in Spain. No one wants to get confined again, so hopefully they’re following the rules wherever they are!! Or we’ll all pay the price for it in a few weeks. I hope not!!

 

Summer vacations are a law in France, and a habit that’s hard to break. By law, people get a 5 week vacation, usually in July and August, and most people seem to prefer August. (Whereas in the US, people spread their vacations out all year, which is better for business).So in France the whole country migrates to somewhere, mostly in August.  I have to admit, it makes me wonder this year. It always brings business in France to a total halt in August. Everything is closed (stores, restaurants, offices), businesses don’t function. Some businesses leave one person to answer phones, but most dont even do that. The whole country hangs out a sign “Gone Fishing”. But this year in particular, with the economy hard hit, most businesses were closed for confinement in March, April, and half of May—-and now, they are all on vacation, for another month or two. And since business is slow right now, with no foreign tourists to support many industries, a lot of people left a couple of weeks early, and they plan to take every moment of their annual vacation, so from July 15 till September 1st this year, the country is shut down. That can’t be good for business, and is bound to hurt the economy. France is full of charm, and the quality of life is wonderful, which makes it so appealing to be here, but maybe this year, vacations should have been shorter no longer??!!! The streets of Paris are empty, especially without tourists, and business is at a standstill.

 

One thing I am really impressed by—–EVERYWHERE!!! How creative and enterprising people have been in the pandemic, and in confinement. I’ve seen fantastic art projects, one of my kids has been making 3D puzzles, my youngest daughter just started a tie-dyed shirt business in confinement in California, and the shirts are gorgeous!!! (See my Instagram). Another daughter had never gardened before, and planted a vegetable garden—the vegetables are fantastic and look like works of art, one of my sons planted a really beautiful herb garden, one son in law has a passion and a talent for cooking, he’s been taking lessons in the pandemic, and the photographs of the food he’s making are gorgeous and look delicious. People are discovering new talents, and discovering new pleasures while trying to stay calm, be patient, and soothe their jangled nerves. I’ve been working on five different books, as I often do, I haven’t stopped writing since the pandemic started. It helps me stay busy, and fills the days while I wait to see my kids again, and keeps business as usual for my publishers and readers, and myself. Friends have become more precious, and out of confinement now, seeing them means more than ever. Other friends who have worked hard and missed time with their kids have gotten to know their kids better than ever before, confined with them, and enjoying special times that might never have happened otherwise. Time has stopped. We have had to reboot our lives, and start again. We have had to learn patience, how to fill our time creatively, develop new ways to work, deepen our relationships, question ourselves about what matters most to us. We have had to face disappointments and loss. One of my daughters has had the huge disappointment of postponing her long awaited wedding twice, a smaller family version several times, and will now have to wait for the big originally planned wedding till next year—-all of which has been very trying. It is as though a big hand clamped down on the world’s clock, and said “Stop!!!” And there are even greater concerns, about our own health, the health and safety of our loved ones, and in some cases the loss of loved ones. But even for families and people who have not suffered the loss of relatives or friends, the changes have been enormous, and the concerns many. How to keep our children safe, worries about finances and jobs. Everyone has been affected, no one’s life is unchanged or untouched. It makes us grateful for the good things, the good times, the good people in our lives, and more aware of what is most precious to us. Some friends have been disappointing, others have been amazing. Some marriages have ended, the cracks in them more obvious in the crisis, and in those cases where a dead relationship has dragged on, maybe best for it to finally end and get a fresh start in life. Other relationships have started or grown deeper. People have fallen in love, maybe faster than they would have otherwise, like in wartime, everything is magnified, the good and the bad. Babies have been conceived. Good things have happened, not just bad. It reminds me of the French saying, “Un mal pour un bien”, good things that result from a bad thing.

 

I think we’re all learning lessons that some of us needed. Maybe there was no other way to learn those lessons except for time to stop, and it has. Like a movie on pause, suddenly everything stops….and eventually, the film will continue, the players will move again, the story will conclude. We can’t fast forward this film. It’s real life, but once life starts rolling again, I think we will each take away lessons that we needed and can use, and memories that will be precious to us. And hats off to those who are making the best of it. We’re all doing the best we can. And at times, it is definitely a “WTF” experience, of how did THIS happen. But we’re living, we’re learning, and I hope and believe that some good things will come of it in the end!!! It is a great deal like a war, with all the extremes that go with it, and the camaraderie of sharing it, and protecting those we love. And we’ll have a LOT to tell our grandchildren one day!!!

 

Have a GREAT week!!! I think that’s possible, even during these challenging times!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

7/20/20, Vanity Fair

Posted on July 20, 2020

Hi Everyone,

I thought this would be fun. It’s little vignettes of my Paris apartment, from the most recent edition (July/August) of Vanity Fair:

DSteel Vanity Fair

 

Have a wonderful week!!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Art, Dogs, homes, Paris, Shopping | 2 Comments

7/13/20, Half Empty, Half Full

Posted on July 13, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is going well for you, that you’re in a safe place, and respecting the rules that have become our norm, in an attempt to stay safe: sheltering in place where advised, social distancing, and masks when told to wear them, and washing our sanitizing our hands constantly. It all makes sense. And the successful results in Europe show clearly that confinement works to bring the numbers down to a safer situation where deconfinement can become possible, and social distancing makes sense, with hand sanitizing, and wearing masks no matter what your political allegiance. It’s all about health and safety now, not getting sick, nor making others sick, and following the rules to that end.

 

Any other year, last week, I would have been telling you about the Haute Couture fashion shows, with all the glitz and glamour, pretty models on the runway wearing gorgeous clothes, against an exciting backdrop. And this week, I’d have been telling you that I was having fun with my kids for our annual vacation in the South of France. And next week, I would have been telling you about the fireworks on the 14th of July, we would have been swimming in the sea, lying in the cabana in the daytime, getting a tan, and enjoying family dinners at night. The good life, in a world we took for granted until recently.

 

Before that, I would have told you about our family Easter brunch, with pastel colored bunnies all over the table. I would have told you how much I love Mother’s Day, and how sweet my children are to me, and how they spoil me. Instead in the pandemic, I am 3 to 6,000 miles from my children, and for the first time in my life, I spent Easter and Mother’s Day alone, and was grateful for a Face Time visit, and they even managed to spoil me long distance on Mother’s Day. They are amazing!!! I missed my daughter’s birthday in LA though in April, and a fun weekend we have every year to celebrate it, and she has had to postpone her wedding twice, a huge sorrow for her. But at least they are all alive, and no one is sick, which is the most important. And I missed the 4th of July too, although way less important to me than weddings, birthdays, and mother’s day.

 

The Big Thrill in my life, and it was a very big thrill was that the day after American Mother’s Day (it was a month later here in France), The De-Confinement began in Paris (after two solid months at home, and I stayed locked down for 3 months, for good measure), stores opened, hairdressers re-appeared, we could leave our homes, and see people, and shortly after, outdoor terraces were opened and you could eat outdoors in a restaurant. And progressively since then, all restaurants are now open indoors and out, offices, all stores, you can walk down the street, or have a friend come to visit, or visit them, with masks and social distancing, and people are good about the rules here. As a result, the number of sick and deaths have not gone up, and remain low. The state of emergency officially ended in France 3 days ago, although we still have to follow the safety rules until September, and perhaps longer. Paris is looking beautiful, and you can travel between European countries now, and between cities. People are going on vacation (I’m not, without my kids. I would be too sad without sharing it with them). And I am so grateful for every moment of health and freedom, after being stuck in my apartment for 3 months. So the glass can very definitely be seen as half full—not fully back to normal yet, because the virus is still lurking everywhere, but we seem to be living with it pretty successfully in Europe.

 

But the hardest part of all this for me is not being with my kids, all of whom are in the States. I miss them fiercely, and am so sad without them, but the situation in the US gets worse every day. I check the numbers every morning and want to cry. The carefree attitude in many parts of the US with no confinement, people not following the rules, no masks, or social distancing, crowding the beaches in Florida and Southern California, and many states not following any rules—–has come crashing down on the US. The most number of sick and dead in the world, the greatest danger, the graphs going up every day. It is dangerous to go there and to be there, and for me personally, the greatest hardship is not being with my kids. Flying back to the US is dangerous, with airports, and being confined in an airplane for many hours, exposed to people who might be coming from anywhere in the world, and could have the virus and not know it. Being in the US is dangerous now, more so than in Europe. So I am still in Europe, where I am safer, but when will I be able to go home, and when will I be able to see my kids and get my arms around them for an enormous hug? Thank God, they are safe, but the country is blazing with the virus. With no end in sight. Europe and Asia have proven that confinement works. Strict confinement, total lockdown for 2 months brings the numbers down to something safe, but most of the US is not confined and doesn’t want to be, so the numbers continue to rise. Many people are following the rules seriously, but so many others aren’t. (Particularly young people, who are a problem in Europe too, and think the rules are dumb and don’t apply to them. But young people get sick too!!) People fight against wearing masks (it’s such a small sacrifice to make for one’s own health and that of others), and social distance is forgotten on beaches and in bars, especially now in warmer weather. Every day, I pray that the numbers in the US will go down, that it will turn around, but for having been cavalier in many places in the US for several months, they are paying a high price now, with so many people sick and dying. And European countries will not allow Americans to enter, because the official numbers are so high.

 

For me, personally and selfishly, it all boils down to when will I see my kids, and when can I go home. The glass looks very empty to me from that perspective. And on the half-full side, life is easy and pleasant in Paris now, I can get my hair done, go shopping (cautiously, with mask and distancing), have lunch with a friend, or walk down the street on a sunny day.  But my kids can’t come to see me, because they are not allowed to enter the country, because of the extremely high numbers in the US—-which is also very hard on the world economy, keeping Americans out of other countries, and foreigners out of the US. We need their business, and they need ours, but the US just isn’t safe right now. At least not yet. And I really hope that changes SOON!!! It depends on each person following the rules to make it safe.

 

I pray about it every day, and maybe you do too. I so much want things to get better in the US, for everyone’s sake, not just for me and my kids. We are going to have to tighten all our rules, deprive ourselves of fun for a while, even wear masks, or do whatever we have to do to make our world safe again. This will end, it won’t last forever, but it will get better a lot faster if we ALL follow the rules, in every country, every city, every town around the world.

 

My prayers are with all of you, that you are safe and healthy. The glass IS half full now in many places, with many freedoms and privileges returned. Even more than half full in some places. San Francisco has done very well in the pandemic, with only fifty deaths, way fewer than other places, but they are still very strictly confined and restricted after 4 months, with no end in sight.  New York has done an amazing job getting the numbers down, and even closed their borders to do so, trying to keep people out from areas that are more severely affected, and demanding that anyone from out of state quarantine for 2 weeks when they arrive. It is severe, but it has helped.

 

Whatever it takes, I hope we get those numbers down all over the US, and make it safe again for everyone, visitors as well as Americans. It reminds me now of the vicious fires that burned all over California, out of control a year or two ago. Eventually, the fires were brought under control. The virus will be too. I’m tired of reading the numbers in the US every morning with a sinking heart and tears in my eyes. I want to see my kids, and I want all of you to be safe, and anxiety-free too. We just have to keep at it, one day at a time, following the rules, until the glass is really full, overflowing with blessings, not half full. I know that day will come. And in the meantime, I am hanging on to hope that it will get better soon.

 

 

Have a GREAT week, a safe, smart, careful, healthy one!!!!

 

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

7/6/20, Let’s Save America!!

Posted on July 6, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

Okay, Guys (or girls), straight talk, from me to you. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were told in France NOT to wear a mask, it was ‘not necessary’ and masks were in short supply, and we were confined to home anyway. At the beginning, no one knew a lot about the virus, research was just beginning, and doctors and scientists have learned a lot since. Now we are told that 3 things are essential to reduce contagion and SAVE LIVES, our own, and everyone we’re in contact with: Wash hands (or gel) as often as possible, WEAR A MASK, and Social distance. All 3 are equally important, it’s not multiple choice with options. WE HAVE TO DO ALL 3. The virus hit harder in Europe first, and now the United States is at the epicenter, while Europe and Asia are deconfining, and the numbers get lower every day. And now the US is blazing, with terrifying numbers. All of Europe was strictly confined, whereas in the US, many States were not confined, only some were, so the virus continued to spread at a rapid rate, Social distance was ignored in many cases, people continued to congregate in large groups (on beaches, in bars, etc.), and don’t ask me how—and I don’t care, but masks were considered optional and became a political issue. Suddenly whether you wore one or not indicated what political party you vote for. WHO cares? Meanwhile the virus is killing people, and 17 states have now been black listed and you have to quarantine for 14 days if you’ve been there. In EVERY country scientists agree now that MASKS ARE VITAL for YOUR safety, and everyone you see or meet. You will save lives if you wear one. The virus does NOT care who you vote for, but your not wearing a mask could cost someone’s life, yours or someone else’s. Please, please PLEASE wear one. We will never get the numbers down, and life safe again unless we follow these 3 vital steps. And yes, even if they look goofy, so what? It’s a lot worse to kill someone, or get sick yourself. Foreign countries won’t let Americans in right now, with the numbers so high in the US. I have not seen my kids in 4 months and miss them terribly, and it’s too dangerous to go home right now. I want to come home and see my kids. Please wear a mask so we can stop the contagion in the States, lower the numbers, save lives, and so I can see my kids.

 

These are the masks I wear, as soon as I leave my house, when I’m out in the street, in public, running around, doing errands. I take it off when I eat out. I wear it when I meet friends, or go into a store. My daughters gave me the beautiful lip one, by a fancy British designer, a friend gave me the polka dot red one that looks like Minnie Mouse, both are fabric which are a little harder to breathe in. And the easiest to wear, for me because I have a small face, are children’s paper medical masks (Mickey Mouse and Goofy are on mine, I also have one with pink dinosaurs), the children’s size fits perfectly if you have a small face, and regular surgical masks are cheap and fit normal adult faces, for men too (or black fabric ones if they want to go James Bond/Darth Vader). I wear reading glasses, and they don’t fog up, you can wear your glasses too. The mask must cover your nose, don’t stick your nose out over the mask. I promise, you’ll still look cute, or sexy—you are doing the entire world a favor if you wear a mask. Let’s save America and the world, and each other by following the rules!!! Please wear a mask!!!

 

Have a great week, love, Danielle

 

6/30/20, Daily Life in the time of Covid

Posted on June 30, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week and that things are going well where you are. Getting the virus in control seems to be a bumpy road, with some places faring better than others. And much harder dealing with an entire continent, than dealing with individual countries in the rest of the world.

 

I’ve been keeping busy with editing and re-writes, and new books, and I hope you’ve had time to read “Daddy’s Girls”, the story of a father and his three very different daughters should be good distraction from all we’re dealing with!!

 

And I’ve really been having fun puttering around my house, replacing some things I’ve meant to replace for a long time. (A flood in my kitchen, which drowned two rugs, gave me a good excuse to buy two new ones. I bought one on line from Ikea and I love it, a bright red!! And bought two orange rugs for one of my daughter’s bedroom, and an orange chair!!). And fixing other things I haven’t had time to get to until now. Seeing my publishers, an occasional lunch outdoors on a terrace with a friend. The confinement and the stress that we’re all under has been a test for some friendships. It’s interesting to see who comes through, and who doesn’t, and who our real friends are. And I bought some pretty flowers for the house in interesting colors, brown, yellow, and dark purple.

 

I’m anxious about the virus blazing in the US, which is alarming on the news. And anxious to see the numbers go down, and the borders open again, so people can come and go freely again, and for it to become safe enough to go and visit my children. I hope things improve in the next few weeks. We all need some peace after the harrowing months we’ve had. And life has begun to seem more normal, getting used to wearing masks and social distancing. It will be wonderful when the need for them is over. I am sorry to see the wearing of masks become a political issue—if it is for our health and safety, and a necessary factor in getting the virus in control. It’s a matter of health, protecting ourselves and a courtesy to others—-not politics.

 

I hope that all is well with you and you have a fun week ahead. And whatever you do, stay safe, protect yourself and those you love, and let’s get this virus in control!!! Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

6/22/20, Happy Father’s Day, Mom!!!

Posted on June 22, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that you had a peaceful week, and that life is returning closer to normal in your community. There is a wide divergence between cities and areas around the world, as to how confined they are, or aren’t, how many things are open in their cities (stores, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, nail salons, etc.). Some places never confined at all, and some are still under very tight lock down, and some cities seem almost normal. A friend currently visiting Denmark reported that everything appears to be up and running normally. With some compromises and adjustments, Paris is very functional too, we have indoor and outdoor restaurants, hairdressers, all stores, we can visit friends, walk down the street freely. Masks are strongly recommended, and social distancing, but masks are up to the individual and not always required but are a nice courtesy and safeguard of everyone’s health, and social distancing on streets and in restaurants and in tight indoor spaces makes sense. I love how normal the city/ Paris appears now, and the festive atmosphere in outdoor restaurants, where open air dining terraces are part of the Parisian way of life. Hairdressers re-entered our lives as soon as deconfinement began—–all of which brings us closer to normal, and feels very civilized. And hand sanitizer and washing hands is a must. Paris began deconfining 6 weeks ago, and has made life livable and even fun again. And I know some cities and states in the US didn’t confine at all, and others are still under very strict lockdown, and have a very long drawn out deconfinement program. Every country, and in the US every state and city, seems to view it differently, which is very confusing!!

 

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I was very touched when one of my children, my youngest son, called to wish me a Happy Father’s Day, and a friend did the same by email, and it really made me think about all the women and Moms I know who do double duty, and stand in for absentee, deceased, divorced or non-existent or non-attentive fathers. More and more women have opted to have children on their own, without a partner, in recent decades. And others have wound up in that situation due to unexpected circumstances, and some men are just less attentive to their kids than others, and as women, if we have children, we work hard at our jobs, and try to be hands on attentive mothers too, and cover all the bases. Once divorced, with still very young kids, I became a single Mom to my 9 kids, and when my husband then passed away, I was even more so. I tried to teach my oldest daughter how to play baseball and ride a bike (with very little skill or experience at either one!!), went to all of my sons’ sports games (baseball, lacrosse and soccer) and cub scout meetings, went to every ballet class with all 5 daughters, helped with homework, wound up in the emergency room at midnight alone for bumped heads and sprained ankles, was the family chauffeur, listened to my daughters’ boyfriend problems growing up, and tried to give my sons gentle advice on what girls prefer and how they want to be treated. I felt at a tremendous disadvantage with my sons, because I’m a woman and couldn’t give them fatherly advice. Fathers have a way of seeing things more practically, often more simply, with fewer frills and nuances, I think as women we see kids’ issues more in three dimensions and multi layers, men don’t complicate things as much with emotional issues, on the other hand we, as women, can offer great comfort in many situations that men aren’t always as good at. And no one kisses a boo boo better or applies a Ninja Turtle or Minnie Mouse band aid better!!!  I couldn’t help thinking yesterday of the many many MANY women who are both mother and father to their children, and do a damn good job of it. It’s usually an advantage to have two parents. I grew up in the reverse situation, alone with my father all my life, and got NO advice about makeup, hair and high heels, but I know a lot more about cars than most women. And I still wear very little make up, I could never quite get that right, and my father was no help on that subject whatsoever!!!

 

So I’d like to offer my belated Father’s Day wishes to all the women doing 3 jobs: as mother, father, and in their jobs and careers. When we have to be both mother and father, we try harder, and even though we worry about it, and may be unsure, a lot of the time we get it very right!!! So Bravo to all the Moms playing a double role with their kids, I salute them for all their hard work, and the endless, tireless hours that they spend being not only great mothers, but very good fathers too. Hats off, Moms, and Happy Father’s Day, if you’re a double Mom too!!! Have a terrific week, and remember to stay safe, the pandemic isn’t over yet, but we’re getting there!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

6/15/20, Joy

Posted on June 15, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How’s it going? I hope things are getting easier, wherever you are, that the confinement is getting eased, you can get out more and do some things you love, that you’ve had some good moments to share with people you love, and had some good news!!! And that you and everyone you love are healthy, and haven’t been touched by the virus.

 

The confinement and the slowing down of our daily lives—–by eliminating so many things we usually do and take for granted every day and enjoy—–this time of lock-down and even as it begins to ease now in many places, has given us all more time to think than usual. We focus first on what we’ve lost, what we can’t do and wish we could, we focus on our fears for ourselves and others, our livelihoods and our jobs, and the world in general. We hear the noise of fear constantly, loud as a drumbeat: ‘a second wave, it will get worse, more people will get sick, we’ll lose our jobs’—–and beyond the drumbeat of fear, there are the die hard optimists who tell us that the sky is bluer without so many planes, that the flowers smell better without pollution, and the birds chirp louder. Okay, but let’s face it, give me a cheeseburger at one of my favorite restaurants after an afternoon of shopping, a day or evening with ALL my kids around me, a hug and (unmasked) kiss from someone I love, and a # 1 book, a fat bank account and no financial worries, and a solid economy, and life would be pretty damn sweet. It all seemed so simple before the pandemic. It wasn’t simple every day, but looking back, it seemed that way, and there was a lot we all took for granted. Now everything is complicated—keeping our distance, remembering to wear a mask, worrying about our loved ones, washing our hands constantly, bracing for bad news, and trying to resist the loud voice of our fears—-it’s not easy. I’m an Olympic Class worrier, and the pandemic has given me LOTS to worry about, starting with worrying about the safety, well being and health of my loved ones, and even my own. And after that, the list of what I worry about is LONNNNGGGGG. Endless!!!

 

I was thinking yesterday of what is missing right now from our daily lives, for many of us. A simple word. Joy. JOY. That burst of happiness that overtakes you, fills your heart, and makes you happy.  It takes less to make me worry right now—-but it also takes less to make me happy. Being able to go to an outdoor restaurant has been a real delight and a thrill. Walking down the street after being trapped in my apartment for 74 days—-a VERY long time— was great!! A photo of one of my kids….something that makes me laugh. A sunny day of gorgeous weather. A call from a friend, the realization that someone loves me, either one of my children or a close friend—-or the awareness of how much I love them. A thoughtful gesture. Finishing (writing) a book. There have been some very special moments during this hard time that have touched my heart. Being far from my children for the past three and a half months, confined alone, and with social distancing, I am aware of how much the human touch matters to us. I have one close friend I can hug now, and who hugs me. (A designated hugger!) Other than that, there is no physical contact between people right now, we can’t get close enough to touch each other if you respect social distancing. We need people in our lives, exchanges, conversations, touch, love, hugs, laughter, things to smile about. We are not made to live in isolation, or at a distance from other humans.

 

But in a quiet moment yesterday, I wasn’t thinking about how blue the sky is without planes, or how much better the flowers smell.(That’s nice, but eh?….really??), I was thinking that what we all need and must not forget, is to try to put Joy into our lives, right now, even before the pandemic ends—especially before it ends!!!—-we need to do something fun that makes us smile, to reach out to the people who make us happy, to seize the joyful moments large and small, to laugh, to do something that really brings you joy, even something silly, and to seize and cherish those moments when they happen.

 

I think Joy is vital to us, like hope and love, and food and air. Let’s try to remember to put more joy into our lives and the lives of others right now. We all need it. Just pure simple joy, a great meal, a belly laugh (my youngest son sent me a hysterically funny photo of himself this week, I laughed for 5 minutes and smiled for an hour after I saw it)….we need a good laugh right about now, a happy moment when we stop worrying about what’s coming next and what isn’t. I think I had forgotten about joy in the pandemic. We are so focused on safety, which is important too. But let’s try to focus on Joy, on feeling good, on treasuring the small moments that light up our hearts, and our souls…..and after that, I’ll remember to notice that the sky is bluer. Joy. I wish you a joyful week, a great belly laugh, a bunch of smiles, some really happy moments, and a couple of great surprises!!!

 

with lots and lots of love, Danielle

 

6/1/20, Peace and Justice

Posted on June 1, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. There was good news in France, the numbers continue to go down. There are no more ‘Red’ spots on our map, the entire country is ‘green’ on the map, with only a very few small ‘orange’ spots—–the distinction being where the virus is under control or even non-existent, and the red spots being where it is still blazing, so it no longer is in France. As a result, we got some more privileges in our steady ‘deconfinement’ and easing of the rules, some more liberties for summer vacations. You can now go further than 100 miles from your home, and the most warmly received news in Paris: the re-opening of outdoor restaurants, which are always a big feature in Paris. And now every restaurant that can will have outdoor dining with social distancing. Slowly, slowly we return to normal. I’m grateful for any freedoms we have. It remains super important that we wear masks and maintain social distance. It seems a small price to pay for our health, to protect others and being able to pursue a relatively normal life in the crisis.

 

These are unquestionably troubled times. It seems as though every time I sit down to tell you something silly, or talk about spring weather, or find some degree of normalcy in very abnormal times, some other major event happens which upsets us all, takes our focus and/or tragedy strikes. I would rather not dwell on unhappy times when I write to you, but at times there is no way to avoid it. As the Pandemic began to take hold, it was no longer appropriate to chatter about fashion shows and parties. And now, here we are again. Even far away in France, all of Europe has eyes on the riots in the US, and the tragic reason for them, and as an American, it makes my heart ache to see the country torn up again. Will it never end? We barely struggle through one enormous challenge—and are faced with another. We need a break, and happier times! And we need what the Declaration of Independence promises: liberty and justice for all.  And peace in our land.

 

Looking at the riots on the news, I am reminded of the “Yellow Jackets” in France a year and a half ago—-their cause was initially an honorable one: higher salaries, lower taxes, an earlier retirement age, and better pay for medical personnel. The demonstrations that were meant to be peaceful erupted into violence, blazing fires, destruction of property, theft and vandalism almost immediately—-entire streets of cars on fire, EVERY store on the Champs Elysees (80 of them) destroyed. Beautiful historical monuments decimated. Every single Saturday for 9 months, store fronts were smashed, restaurants were set on fire, violence, tear gas, destruction. The entire country was paralyzed every weekend, and everyone suffered. What I was saddest to see were the small businesses people had built for a lifetime, wantonly destroyed, and those small business owners would never be able to rebuild and lost their businesses and livelihoods forever. A high price to pay for a good cause. And very upsetting, when arrests were made, it was often discovered that those causing the violence had come from other countries and cities just for the day, young hoodlums, arrived just for the day just for the entertainment value of the violence and destruction, and to loot the stores. And almost comically, the destruction happened every Saturday from early morning until dinner time. Then everyone would go back to wherever they came from, and show up again to destroy the city the following Saturday. Billions of dollars of destruction, countless injuries and a number of deaths were caused, the destruction of beautiful monuments, people’s livelihoods lost forever, and a blow to the economy the country hasn’t recovered from yet. And for what? The good cause that was intended degenerated into uncontrollable violence. On a December Saturday, every single car on my street was set on fire. Clouds of tear gas hung over the entire city. Police tanks lined upon city streets. It looked like a war. The damage was caused by people called “Breakers”, who came to break everything in sight. They arrived with sledge hammers in hand to do the job.

 

What is happening in the States now is far more serious, and the cause a tragic one. And yet, despite the enormous seriousness of the cause, and the good intentions and aching hearts of the demonstrators——-there is an element of people who come on the scene, regardless of the cause, to break and burn and pillage and loot—-which entirely disregards the seriousness of the situation, and in their frustration disrespects it. People who come to exploit the situation, often once again from other cities—-and there is no way that breaking, destroying and looting and stealing sunglasses, leather jackets, expensive purses and microwaves and name brand running shoes is ever going to help the noble cause. The violence born of anger, anguish, compassion and frustration, which rapidly degenerates into theft and looting disrespects the very seriousness of the cause, and the tragic circumstances which lights the fuse to the stick of dynamite, and a mob mentality takes over.

 

I hope our country will find peace again, that our ills are cured (far worse than any virus), that justice prevails, that violence and injustice can be stopped, that peaceful voices with a powerful message will be heard, without violence. The sound of the mob drowns out the voices that speak up for justice, and peace and safety for all. I hope that the strong voices of peace and justice will be heard, and that violence will no longer be the first weapon people grab, the first reaction to heartbreak. I hope that the violence will end soon and that the changes that need to happen will happen swiftly and smoothly. I pray for peace in our troubled world. When hearts are broken and raw, violence is not the right answer. I hope we find the answers we need soon.

 

With love to you for a peaceful week, and I hope that the sorrow in our country heals soon.

 

 

love, Danielle

 

5/18/20, Dazed and Confused

Posted on May 18, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How are you? Hanging in, I hope, whether confined, or liberated, under serious lockdown, or finally easing out of it, depending on your country, city or state. I hope you’re finding ways to keep busy and keep your spirits up. These are challenging times. We will get through it, but there are definitely better and worse days.

 

And particularly now, as some places start to de-confine, the difference in rules, even between neighboring counties, is REALLY confusing, often contradictory and in conflict. My closest knowledge is about San Francisco, and France. San Francisco, which confined the earliest of many states and cities in the US has done the best, and gets a gold star, with incredibly low numbers of sick people and deaths (fewer than 100 deaths). And they seem to be planning to de-confine slowly, starting on June 1st on some subjects, if all goes well.

 

I chose the title on the blog today, because I think we are all dazed by the whole situation, worldwide, and how quickly it happened. 3 months ago our life was entirely normal, with vague distant rumors of some unknown flu ravaging China (which couldn’t affect us, right? Now they say it was already in the US in November and we didn’t know it, and thought it was just regular flu season) Less than 3 months ago, I was dancing at my son’s wedding and having fun. And there were vague rumors too a few weeks later, that people in Italy had the flu. And then ZAP!!!Fast forward a few weeks, and Holy Sh—!!!! What the hell happened? Two months later, we’re locked up, and it’s a pandemic. I never even knew that word 3 months ago. And I think we’re all confused by the constantly contradictory information we hear, some of it real, some of it well meant but inaccurate, and some of it just rumors that people spread, scare you to death, and turn out not to be true. The truth is scary enough, and I absolutely detest the people who spread rumors with delight, just to upset us. “Have you heard THAT…..”and then they tell you some horror, and you/I can’t sleep all night. What’s the point of that??? It’s irresponsible and vicious.

 

But even if you try to stay informed through allegedly reliable sources, newspapers, online, doctors, etc, what you hear is confusing. There are rules, laws and suggestions, not to be confused!!! In France, the chain of command is simple. You get the word from the President, with solemn pronouncements on TV, telling us we’re locked up for X number more weeks. For slightly less solemn announcements, the Prime Minister delivers that message. Until now, the rules have been the same for the entire country. Simple. You may not like the message, but you know what it is.  Now, in France, we have red zones and green zones, the green zones don’t have Covid, the red do. About 2/3 of France is green, without Covid 19.The US has 6 times the population of France, the country is huge, and the ‘rules’ are made city by city, county by county, state by state, by mayors, governors, and in some cases, the President. And many of the rules conflict and are contradictory, about the disease itself, and about what you’re allowed to do. From what I know, more than half the states are not under lockdown, some cities aren’t, others are locked down tight. Some cities are beginning to loosen up, others (like LA this week) are tightening up and slamming shut. Who is right? What’s the rule? In some places masks are required, in other places they aren’t, in some places they don’t wear them at all. What is safest for us, not to get sick? Wear a mask or not? Where and when and with whom? The directives between some of the US and France on that are completely opposite. Who’s right?

 

Hairdressers were forbidden in the beginning in France, now they’re allowed. All hairdressing salons are open. But in San Francisco, they are strictly forbidden. BUT in San Francisco anyone who does cosmetic procedures on your face is allowed: like Botox and all those shots and procedures that are so popular now. So it’s okay to mess with your face, at VERY close range with the person doing it—-but don’t touch your hair. (Personally, I’d rather get my hair done!!!). That makes NO sense to me at all. Gardening was forbidden in SF (Am I really going to get Covid 19 from my gardener, when they work out doors, usually far from people, and work alone?). Gardening is okay in France, and the ban on gardening has just been lifted in SF. (To me that seemed an unnecessary economic cruelty to gardeners who couldn’t work and make a living, weren’t dangerous, and were harming no one). One doctor in France told me to always wear a mask when you leave the house now. Another doctor in France told me don’t bother, not necessary. And I believe they are required in San Francisco now—-or ‘suggested’. There’s a difference. I think the root of a lot of the confusing directives is that they really don’t know. ‘Take your shoes off when you get home’ or, ‘Take off all your clothes and disinfect them and shower the minute you get home.’  (in the East of the US), don’t bother (in France), ‘the ventilation system will kill you and the air conditioning’ (said in the US), I haven’t heard anything about it in France. And why will seeing the hairdresser almost surely kill you in San Francisco, when it won’t hurt me in Paris? Who’s right? Hair salons are open now in France, but my hairdresser came to the house, he was wearing a doctor’s surgical gown over his clothes, something to cover his own hair, he wore a mask, a plastic visor over his face, eye guards, and rubber surgical gloves, and he insisted that I wear a mask and gloves too (he looked like an astronaut ready for a walk on the moon). So they’re not casual about it, although he may be more careful than most. In French stores at the moment, sales people are wearing masks and gloves, but clients don’t have to wear a mask. Why not? If they are, I should be too. I wore a mask on a walk yesterday, but almost no one else did (I saw 3 masks in all), and I looked like I was going to rob a convenience store. I don’t mind the rules, and I’m willing to follow them, but I wish they made more sense and were more consistent, and that you had the feeling that the people making the rules really know what’s best for us. And then there are whole countries doing things differently. Sweden has no confinement, Switzerland and Austria have reopened. France is starting to. I wish I knew what is really right and safest, so we can protect ourselves intelligently, wherever we are. Our world is confusing right now. And I don’t object to rules, and will follow them, but I wish they were more consistent and made more sense. (Several people I know in the US spend 2 hours washing their groceries when they come home from the store, they remove wrappings, take everything out of cartons, it’s a big production. But no one does that in France).

 

Some people say our world has changed forever (I sure hope not), others say it is temporary. No one knows the time duration. Maybe it will disappear as suddenly as it arrived, or maybe it will linger. I think it’s the uncertainty, of what will happen, what we should do, and how long it will last that is so anxiety producing. Some people love video conferencing, others say that their video meetings are lifeless and dead and much less productive. I find it MUCH harder to write, and to concentrate, in the constantly stressful atmosphere. But I hope and believe that our world will return to normal again. Some countries are almost there. It just feels like a very long time, but in the scheme of life, this has not been so long, only 3 months. And maybe 3 months from now, things will be immeasurably better, or even nearly normal again. It will certainly have been a very strange time. And in some ways it forces us to reconsider what matters to us, what is really important, and who we care about most.

 

Things are loosening up, or will soon in some places, the death tolls and numbers of sick are coming down in most places, after months of confinement, the curve is flattening….what lies in store beyond that, we just don’t know yet. We just have to keep plodding on, and hope that the rules and directives and laws and suggestions are the right ones to keep us safe. And that people follow them.

 

So if you’re dazed and confused, me too. We all are. And hopefully, we will come out of this unscathed. With no major losses. The light is there at the end of the tunnel, if I squint I can just barely see it up ahead. I’m not complaining, Paris is de-confining, and I went for walks in the fresh air this week, I saw a friend, and will see a few more next week,  confinement in isolation for so long was really tough. The sun is shining, I’ll go out later for a walk….and when I do, do I wear a mask??  Hang in, and have a great week!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

5/13/20, Deconfinement

Posted on May 13, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How is it going? Are you in a State that is confined, or one that’s open, or sort of between the two??? Sheltering in Place is definitely challenging, and it is a real sacrifice to be deprived of other humans, the freedom to do what you want and go outside.

 

This is a Big Week in France. On Monday, the government eased up, and things are slowly loosening up. As of Monday this week, stores were allowed to open, florists, dry cleaners, businesses, and we are now allowed to go out with masks, social distancing and lots of hand washing or hand sanitizer.  We can have friends over or visit them, a maximum of 10 people.  I had been in confinement for 74 days, almost 11 weeks, nearly 3 months. It has been long and hard.

 

So Wednesday was my big day, we can go out now, so I walked down the street near where I live. I’ve waited for this day!!! I have longed for the ability to go out!!!

 

I hope you’re taking care of you, and following all the rules!!!

 

I have been working very hard on 3 new books. I hope you love them when they come out!!!

 

Take good care, see you soon, love, Danielle