More phone fun

We’re back in the USA, getting settled, and figuring out how to live here again. So far it’s been smooth enough. I pretty much remember how to find my way around in the car, although I keep looking for street signs and stoplights in the wrong places. And I’ve enjoyed drinking big American coffees and enjoying salsa that has an actual kick. Although our first baguette, from our favorite bakery here, did not measure up to what we’d grown accustomed to in Paris. No surprise there.

One of the biggest challenges when we went to France was dealing with the business of everyday life in a foreign language. Like dealing with unfamiliar appliances, a landlord that didn’t speak much English, going to the doctor, and figuring out phone service.

Oh yeah, phones–I thought getting phone service set up in France was hard. Well, let me say, if I’d had to go through there what I just went through here… I’d have been stuck with smoke signals.

It all started out so easily this morning: stop in at the Verizon store. Speak English with the nice guy working there. Explain our situation: we need to get two phones added to our account for our girls. We already owned the phones–they had been using them in France–now we just need to get new Verizon SIM cards and get them added to our account.

First phone? No problem. Ah, this is so much easier than waiting in line forever at the Orange store in Paris and muddling through the process in minimal French!

Then the next phone. Hmm. It’s taking longer. The SIM card is in, the phone recognizes it. But there’s a problem. The phone has been flagged on the lost/stolen list! What?

Merideth had bought the phone from one of those place that repairs cell phones and sells refurbished ones. She bought it last fall in Seattle (while the rest of us were in France) after it became clear that one of the girls’ phones was pretty well worthless. We’d gotten it working with some difficulty (yeah, here’s another link to that bizarre experience), but ultimately it got working just fine.

The Verizon guy tried his best, talking to multiple people up the food chain, but nothing could be done; I needed to go to the place we bought it from and solve the issue there. Thankfully, it was only a few blocks away. And finally, after three separate trips there, another trip to a Verizon store and about an hour on the phone with Verizon customer service, we got it handled. Oh, and it also meant we did have to trade the phone in to the store for a new one.

As far as we can tell, the phone must have been reported lost or stolen after we bought it and got it set up in France. Crazy. And getting it all handled definitely took more time than I would have ever guessed–but at least it’s working. And at least I didn’t have to deal with this in French!


Chasing the sun

Recently I was griping about the rain in Paris. Being from Seattle, I get my fill of rain. The blanket of grey that all too often rolls out over the Parisian sky in winter feels far too familiar. And it’s April now—it’s spring, right?

Why didn’t we decide to spend a year in Barcelona? I ask myself again. Or Italy?

So, in fairness, I better give thanks for the sunlight we’ve had recently, even if we’ve had some spring rains as well. But overall the temperatures are warming up, the days are getting longer and we’re seeing blue skies more and more. Which all means writing not only in cafés, but in parks, like this lovely one in our neighborhood:


After an hour there yesterday, I stopped by another park, this time in the center of town. As I typed away on my bench, I heard voices nearby and turned to see the police patting down a young guy at the next bench. They were calm, but intent. I kept typing. When I looked over again, they were still patting him down and it looked like they were questioning him about his belongings. I tried not to stare, but noticed others were paying attention as well. I kept typing. Further discussion followed between the police and the young guy that I couldn’t hear, and likely wouldn’t have been able to understand very well anyway. At last the police bid him “bonne journée” and went on their way.

Later, a friend mentioned I should try to work the incident into my book; coincidentally, I was working on a scene at the time in which one of my characters finds another one passed out in a park. No police or pat downs, but close enough.

I typed for a while longer, the guy eventually went on his way, and I went on mine. I decided to take the bus home; it follows a more direct route than the métro, but even so can take longer, especially in traffic. But—there’s more sun.

Writing with Rapunzel

What to do with that unused drawbridge tower? How about turn it into a workspace, install a writer in there, throw some “1% for Arts” $$$ at it and see what comes of it.


Hey–that’s not Paris! That’s right, it’s the Fremont Bridge in Seattle. I took this photo on a lovely day in May last year when I spent an afternoon writing along the Ship Canal.

That’s  exactly what my hometown of Seattle is doing with the Fremont Bridge writer in residence program this coming summer. Getting to write in the tower across the bridge deck from neon Rapunzel…how cool is that! The catch? You need to be a published writer and live in or within 100 miles of Seattle. I haven’t been published and I’m currently a few thousands miles away, otherwise I’d be all over this. Want the details? Say no more and click here.

The Fremont Bridge has four control towers, but in this day and age, only the southeast one is used to actually operate the bridge, while the northwest tower now features Rapunzel and the northeast one has been outfitted as a writer’s studio with 360 degree views. (Not sure what’s going on in the mysterious final tower. Maybe the writer who gets this residency will find out.)

This kind of program has been run at least once before. In 2009, Kristen Ramirez was the artist-in-residence and created a temporary sound installation that you can read about here. I’ve heard of being a volunteer lighthouse keeper, but this is the first I’ve ever heard of ordinary mortals getting to work out of a bridge control tower. I wonder if they’ll ever let the lucky writer get to raise and lower the bridge… I mean, what could possibly go wrong…?

(I found about this whole deal here.)