Pandemic: What comes next and how to get through the present

Photo by Luo Lei on Unsplash

I’m not an economist, sociologist, epidemiologist, or climate scientist. I am someone trying to get the bigger picture to understand what is happening. I am also a linguist, and so I am able to read and listen to what people are saying in other countries, and that helps fill in some of the colors.

Take this article, for example, printed in Die Zeit on February 11, 2021: “Normal? Wohl kaum” by Bernd Ulrich (“Normal? Hardly”). In it he laments German politicians’ lack of vision for a way out of…


Why the US should walk like an Egyptian into the future

Photo by parinay clickers on Unsplash

I didn’t hear the final result until at least 25 minutes later. But I felt it.

Tired of endless repeats on CNN and feeling uncontrollably sleepy, I went to bed, never thinking the next update would be IT. I slept. I woke, but my body felt like I’d been sideswiped by an 18-wheeler. All the tension, all the stress, the terror that it could all go wrong, were draining away and left me wiped out.

A friend later asked if anyone else had heard bells pealing in Paris. Not…


Coping with Covid the French way — France does lockdown again

Photo by JOHN TOWNER. on Unsplash

It’s wonderful to sit at home, write a couple of articles, and save the nation. No, sadly not my articles — the “sitting at home” bit. France is back in lockdown.

It was entirely predictable, ever since the government pushed people shortly after the first one ended to go away on vacation — a sacred pillar of European society, therefore necessary to prevent social unrest but also to save the beleaguered tourism sector. …


Life is not over at 60. Shoot yourself in the foot but don’t lame me

Photo by Markus Speske on Unsplash

“It was an older person.”

Oh, so that makes it all better. How often do younger people self-soothe with that reassurance? It was an older person, so that explains it. It wouldn’t happen to us.

With just five words, millions are dismissed. Doesn’t matter if older people die. Doesn’t matter if older people lose their jobs. They’ve had their chance. The world is run by the young. And fit. Older, or immunocompromised people don’t need dedicated lines or hours at the grocery or separate compartments…


Waiting for the muse to help you write? This is what she says.

Photo by author

I live in Paris, which ought to be enough on its own to qualify me to be a writer. It’s where people come to write. Why, I don’t know. For the stimulation? To have something new to write about? Pretty hard these days as Paris has been done to death. Also cafés have only just reopened.

And while we’re on cafés, you have to be 1) someone who likes coffee because the tea generally sucks, and 2) someone who doesn’t mind noise. Or being jostled. Or traffic…


Life within my one square kilometer during the time of the coronavirus

All photos by author

Is Paris slowly waking up? Or is the warmer air encouraging people to open their windows and release the sounds of life within? The airwaves are full of talk about “le déconfinement” — how we will be let out of lockdown, when it will happen, for whom it will happen. Is it this prospect that’s bringing people back to life?

Or are they beginning to shake off the shell shock, adapting to the new normal?

You know those sepia photographs of people in the old days? The Spanish flu, World War 1? Haha. That was in the old days, and…


Keeping alive the wonder of everyday life in the era of electronic communication

Image by Primiano Panunzio from Pixabay

Some of my earliest memories are running across the front yard, down to the mailbox, to find a package just for me. My mother had joined the Book of the Month Club for all the Dr. Seuss books, and I think I enjoyed getting my own mail more than I actually liked the books.

Later it would be some little toy or other from sending off cereal box tops. …


Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

What is home and what would you give up to go back?

It came up again this week: “Would you ever consider moving back to the States?”

Yeah, I consider it all the time, then dismiss it as impossible. For years it was because my job and life were here, in Europe. My particular skill set doesn’t lend itself to employment in an English-speaking country. It would be tough on my husband for too many reasons to name. My friends are here now, the ones from home scattered.

But now that I’m within spitting distance of retirement, I think how easy life would be where there’s room to move and breathe, where…


The indignity of hair loss from chemo treatment

Image by Mysticsartdesign from Pixabay

“It’s not your fault. It’s a combination of factors, some of which are environmental. Shit happens.” Doing the rounds of specialists at the cancer hospital, I couldn’t stop asking what had caused it. And they, used to the questions, said in a variety of ways there’s no point wondering because you’ll never know. What we have to do is treat it.

Trouble is, for those unlucky enough to be told their treatment will include chemotherapy, the treatment leads to its own stigma.

So while they’re telling you it’s not your fault, they’re…


Paris in August

Image by edmondlafoto from Pixabay

Cars missing in the street

Quiet descends.

Absent shadows replaced by strangers

Seeing my home with eyes not conditioned by years treading the same grooves.

Routine altered, I too see with different eyes,

Follow new routes to find my daily bread.

Paris in August. Shop shutters down,

Papers up: “Back in September.

What are you still doing here?”

Rae B

American Parisian, tea lover, observing change

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store