While I was on the train to Nice last night I realized the folly of scheduling a train so that the journey along the coastline was at night. Rather than seeing the blue, blue sea, all we saw was the black, black night. I really have to remember this the next time booking tickets because one of the thrills of taking the train is the view. When it hits the Mediterranean and you can see the water and the beautiful villas that line the coast, it's a thrill that never stops being thrilling.
Nice is sunny and several degrees warmer than Paris, but still very much spring and cool enough for outerwear. Lunch yesterday was at an outdoor table in the full sun at Il Vicoletto with two of my favorite Niçois colleagues. I basked and took in the warm rays while enjoying grilled vegetables coated in virgin olive oil and Italian meatballs swimming in tomato sauce...yummy. Yes, it's that Mediterranean lifestyle that keeps drawing me back.
I found it very interesting that yesterday's email inbox had messages from both Democrats Abroad and Republicans Overseas. I subscribe to both organizations to see what both sides are doing, even if my leanings are left. I've always believed that those on the right politically, while living OUTSIDE of the U.S., are more left than those living IN the U.S., for the very reason that they are living in countries which are generally much more left than even the far left in the U.S. I've always joked that the U.S. left is the French right!
Does this make sense?
In other words, if you're living in a country that has universal health care -- such as France -- and benefitting from its virtues, then that could influence your political leanings. Or if you're living where the gun control laws are more stringent and the country doesn't have a second amendment to debate, and therefore there is a lot less gun violence, then perhaps you might start to move left, too.
Anyway, I've always thought this to be possible and in reality, a large majority of Expats are Democrats. Those are just the facts. The possible exception may be for the military stationed abroad who could be on the right, given they are military and are not here out of choice, so I dismiss them from this logic. Maybe I'm daft on this thinking, but I don't come across too many Republicans and if I do, then they're moderate and more left than many of their counterparts.
Nonetheless, I received emails yesterday from both Democrats Abroad and Republicans Overseas. What I found interesting is how they were so distinctly different in message and tone -- a real telling of what's important to each side of the political coin. This fascinates me from a socialogical perspective. I pass no judgment on this -- so don't get your knickers in a twist over it -- but here's how it played out:
While Democrats Abroad was touting an event to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Republicans Overseas was concerned with taxes.
The message from Democrats Abroad was an invitation to "a very special event commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the American Church in Paris, next Thursday, April 5th. The event is organized by L. Reed Kennedy and the Diversity Caucus of Democrats Abroad France." L. Reed Kennedy is working with author, Jake Lamar, and others to bring together "our community" for social events and political discussions.
Meanwhile, Republicans Overseas "delivered 2,750 petitions to members of the White House and Congress requesting the implementation of Territorial Taxation for Individuals ("TTFI") and the delay of the 17.5% transition tax on overseas Americans' small businesses." Thanks for that, R.O., since so many of us are operating small businesses overseas. (I jest, but I'm one of them.) I'm glad they are looking out for my pocketbook, since I'm paying no attention whatsoever. Instead, I was busy at the March for Our Lives rally thinking about saving lives and equal rights.
During a consultation recently with a client seeking to move here, I asked "How much money do you need to make you happy?" I've asked this question of myself on many occasions when thinking about the future, especially life after retirement. As an American, we were always taught to think about "the bottom line" and money became a value for evaluating everything in our lives. Even in the simplest terms, like expecting better wait service if you leave a bigger tip.
That changed when I moved to France, where money has so little value. There's no equal expression in French for "the bottom line," because it doesn't exist. Money isn't what life is about and not what the French aspire toward. They are more concerned with security than getting rich. In fact, the rich are not admired, but disdained. It's hard to believe for those of us where wealth and power is what helped get a man like Donald Trump elected to be president, whereas Emmanuel Macron's financial background lost him votes!
Living in France, you actually need a whole lot less money given the big safety net the government offers and the solid infrastructure on which we can depend for very little expense...education, transportation, healthcare, etc. But that doesn't stop us Americans from pursuing our American dreams while living in France -- like all of us overseas Americans with small businesses.
Do I sound confused or just balancing a foot in each world? I suppose that's the point of this debate within myself between the right, the left, the capitalist, the socialist, the Democrats, the Republicans, etc., etc., etc. We Expats are a capitalistic bunch living in a socialist world and seeing for the first time in our lives, the reality of the assets and liabilities of both.
Which do you choose? Or can you balance both?
Note: For those who want to see the official video of the Paris March for Our Lives Rally here in Paris, go here (you'll find me right behind the speaker in a red beret).
Special Note for Parisians: Lucia Berlin: Stories, France Tour
The American Library of Paris and École Jeannine Manuel are proud to present the annual production of Word for Word, which returns to its historic home at 4, Square Rapp, across the street. The former Théâtre Adyar has been renovated and expanded, and is now Le Théâtre de la Tour Eiffel. There will be a single performance this year – one night only.
Featuring “Her First Detox,” “Emergency Room Notebook 1977,” “Unmanageable,” “502”, and “Here It Is Saturday,” these five Bay Area stories from Berlin’s posthumous A Manual for Cleaning Women illuminate Berlin’s insightful, compassionate view of American society. Set to an evocative jazz score (Marcus Shelby, composer), and vivid projections (Naomie Kremer, artist) these witty stories feature a complex woman balancing motherhood, a working life, and addiction. (See luciaberlin.com for more about the late author.)
Advance registration is required, as the show will most likely sell out. The suggested donation is 25€ (15€ for students), although no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Attendees are strongly encouraged to make their donation via Paypal in advance (details provided in the reservation form).
P.S. Henri-le-Cactus is taller than ever and content in the sun, too. If you'd like to meet Henri one of these day, I make my Nice apartment, "Le Matisse," available for short to medium stays while I'm not using it, but only to friends of Parler Nice. Those who have already stayed here have found it as delightful as I do, so if you're interested in getting to know Nice, Le Matisse is your answer. Email [email protected] for more information and schedule your stay. Then, you can say hello to Henri-le-Cactus for me!
P.P.S. For those of you in Southern Californian, I'll be in Los Angeles and open to meeting with clients for two-hour property consultations in person between April 30th and May 4th. Special rate $350. To book your consultation, email me at [email protected]
FOR SALE: 11-13 rue François Miron, 4th Arrondissement
Inside these famous 15th-century half-timbered houses (which were two combined to make one apartment building), the hallways have been modernized and an elevator added. The apartment, a studio of a mere 15 square meters (161.5 square feet) on the second floor (European, therefore two flights up), has exposed beams and half-timbered walls.
Completely transformed only three years ago by Interior Architect Martine di Mattéo, this "bijou" lacks nothing and while furnished contemporary in style, is still oozing with old-world charm. Located on the second floor of this centuries-old building (yes, with an elevator!) just steps from the Hôtel de Ville and the River Seine, it has one big window overlooking the courtyard (quiet and peaceful), beautiful exposed beams and every amenity you would need or want for a few days, weeks, months or a lifetime.
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