Paris/COVID: The trip that almost wasn’t (2)


Waiting for my window visit…

Upstate NY, 10 days in. It’s taken this long to get my bearings, start to unwind and feel like I might be on vacation. The dark circles under my eyes are fading a little and I’m getting some perspective. In my mono-maniac haste to get myself here and tell the story,   I left out important stuff.

Last week a tropical storm moved up the coast causing power outages and closings. Long distance driving was complicated. I’ve now been able to see my mom twice, the first time we were almost too emotional to talk, but now we’re having real conversations, catching up, planning more visits. I took my computer and through the screen, showed her a new music video I’ve been working on, based on family history, very close to our hearts. More about that in a future post, but meanwhile:

The rate of infection continues to decrease here. Mask wearing is the new normal, social distancing and hand sanitizing a way of life. Parents are waiting anxiously to know Gov. Cuomo’s decision about school openings. Many businesses are shuttered, others are cautiously open. My son’s outdoor camp is operating at 50% capacity for added safety and implementing strict health precautions. So far, there have been no COVID cases and he’s enjoying camaraderie with staff, new responsibilities, worship from younger campers, and even being tired when he comes home. Can’t think of a better way for him to spend these weeks. My daughter is coming to stay with us soon, not sure how. Masks? 3-6 feet at all times? Hmmm….

The big news is that COVID testing is mandatory 72 hrs before boarding flights back to France (and elsewhere). The NYC French consulate has concluded an agreement with a lab in New Jersey and several doctors in the area:


Additional information on Air France website:

This is pretty challenging for people like us who aren’t in the Manhattan area. The Friday or Saturday before our Tuesday departure later this month, we’ll have to drive to the NJ lab to be tested if we want to be sure of a fast turn around before our flight. The results are valid for 72 hours after we receive them by email, $100 a pop. We could make an appointment with an approved doctor in the city or White Plains, but that adds a step, plus traffic, and is just as far to drive. You’d think AF would send an email? But no. Thank you Betsy M for informing us!

Recent transatlantic travelers have confirmed that airports and flights are almost empty.  Surgical masks are mandatory, marriage certificates a must for bi-national couples, testing being done at CDG on arrival… Good news, airlines upgraded their air filtration systems after the SARS epidemic so the in-cabin environment is safer, as long as no one spits in your face.


I want to thank everyone who helped me make this happen:

First and foremost, my stoic French husband, who overcame justified misgivings and threw the full power of his physical presence, financial acumen, and sharp mind into the journey. Not only did he make and pay for all the travel arrangements and accommodations, including extra health insurance, but when I was still very jet lagged, he volunteered to drive the three of us from JFK to our small town NY base up the thruway, and later that first week to visit my mom, a 160-mile round trip. Meanwhile, he moved furniture and made repairs in our AirBnB for our comfort, since the managerial staff have their kids with them 24/7 due to the virus and are not on the ball.

He fills the car with gas and checks the oil, co-organizes grocery jaunts and other shopping, drives our son to the bus stop for camp, helps fill water jugs at the spring, does laundry, makes margaritas on special occasions and provides quality beverages for happy hour, among other attentions. Reading my other posts, you might get the idea that I’m a lone warrior facing the world. The truth is that when I first met my husband, I was so bowled over that I more or less lost the use of the pronoun “I” in favor of “we” or more often “he”. Regaining the use of first person narratives is a major event for me, has come about through writing, and is to be celebrated. Sometimes, though, credit must be given where credit is due. And… although he’s not the type to gush compliments or descriptions of his feelings, he’s actually relaxing, listening to music, enjoying fresh Hudson Valley produce, spring water, my cooking, naps, and drives on gorgeous green country roads.

My US/French info network: AAWE (Association of American Women in Europe) a gold mine!

USAGSO Paris (American Girl Scouts Paris, wall of moms, wall of generous friends)

BSA Troop 112 (American Boy Scouts in Paris, wall of caring dads and moms)

The American Cathedral Friday Mission Lunch teams

My writing community, especially dear friend Sylvia Sabes, travel writer

Paris peeps, US family and all who keep us in their thoughts, you who are reading this post and giving feedback….

Thank you!

My heart goes out to everyone struggling, especially the people of Lebanon.

To be continued.

xxxxxx Aliss



Paris/COVID: Beyond Burnout


Thank you all who read and responded to my previous post about disconnection and burnout. Have you ever noticed that when you make a public statement, you get echoes of agreement and the universe also switches into fact-checking mode? I heard from a lot of people experiencing similar feelings and a lot of people defying the odds in every area:

-Close friends and relatives on both sides of the Atlantic, evidently not social distancing from their partners, have chosen to have babies, one due in October, one in January.  Disproving toddler/teen parental burnout predictions, one couple already have a 2½  year old, the other have 4 (!) preteen and teen boys, 2 each from previous relationships. Our local swan couple above are raising new triplets.

-A family member in Florida, a retired doctor, still living independently, is celebrating a century of life this month.

-The Paris city government is setting up Paris Plages along the Seine and our canal, with temporary sand beaches, boardwalks, water sports, ziplines and fresh water swimming.  The grand opening will feature a movie theater overlooking the water, where lucky ticket winners can watch movies from boats.

-Committed climate warrior, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, is more determined than ever to rid Paris of car pollution, closing streets to traffic, narrowing avenues to make room for more bike lanes.

-We elected her for her green platform, but we must now radically change our transportation habits ASAP, faster than anyone foresaw. Double-long buses block intersections, the Metro is often crowded, not everyone wearing masks. Remaining traffic clogs available asphalt, honking rabidly. Cabbies and emergency vehicle drivers can no longer access certain parts of the city. What about families with handicapped kids or elderly parents? You can’t balance them on your handlebars… We all have to think twice before moving around and plan much extra time, money and/or rain gear. Kudos for our perseverance.

-Otherwise, cafés and restaurants are spilling across sidewalks, with tables, improvised partitions, bright parasols and awnings.

-People in my building took up a generous collection to help the widow of our neighbor who died of COVID in April.

-The traditional Bastille Day parade took place yesterday Place de la Concorde, ending with a moving tribute to healthcare heroes. A big salary and bonus package for health professionals has been signed. Eiffel Tower fireworks were televised last night, crowds discouraged, but many gathered anyway. President Macron has announced masks will be mandatory in all closed pubic spaces starting August 1st.

-My US cousin, a dedicated young nurse who was very ill with COVID, has recovered and is buying a house for herself and her adopted rescue pup.

-Another young friend, nurse and single mom, had to isolate from her little son while caring for COVID patients and then got furloughed. Reunited with her little boy, she’s created a patio and vegetable garden behind her apartment building.

-A young Broadway sound designer, out of work until at least January, took 60 hours of training to volunteer on a crisis hotline and adopted a rescue dog.

Shoutout to:

-Peaceful protesters wearing masks.

-US SCOTUS judges who retain a degree of independence from the party in power.

-Staff at the assisted living facility where my mother lives, who have taken such good care of the residents that there hasn’t been a single case of COVID there. They work long hours, outside their job descriptions, organizing Zooms, FaceTimes, window visits, room to room happy hours with music, socially distanced walks outside… unable to hire additional staff because no one wants to work there during a pandemic.

-To everyone on the front line: grocery store employees, sanitation workers, teachers, delivery employees, farmers, progressive lawmakers, and all those everywhere who keep going and keep us going, day after day.

Bravo, thank you for the inspiration.

To be continued.

xxxxx Aliss



Paris Unlocked?

May 2017

(A May evening before the pandemic)

One week since deconfinement started. At first the prospect seemed like light at the end of the tunnel, but the closer it came, the more I wondered.

Where we are: Paris is in a “red zone” where the virus is still very active. Middle schools and high schools are closed, non-essential group gatherings are discouraged, remote working encouraged. Restaurants, cafés, movie theaters and parks still off limits, all cultural events cancelled… But, we are allowed outside without a “permission slip” as many times a day as we wish, can move around freely if we stay within a 100 kilometer radius of our home. Public transportation is running at 75% capacity,  masks mandatory, social distancing requested. 

Pollution is down due to fewer commuters. We can still see the stars. Our street has filled up with parked cars and some drivers, not everyone is wearing masks or keeping their distance in stores and on the sidewalk. Hordes of people have returned to the banks of the canal.  75% of those polled believe we will be reconfined.

So, yes, more freedom of movement, but greater risk of contamination outside, continuing uncertainty, and negotiations with our teen, whose peers seem to think that closed high schools are an invitation to zip around Paris and party.

Our family is staying semi-confined until Paris is a “green zone” with less risk. Working from home, home schooling, not socializing, only going outside when absolutely necessary and then with masks. 

Some confinement highlights…

I loved my rhythm: Working in the morning, working out every afternoon, first time in years! Highly recommend Dance Cross Fit with Becky, Cardio Sculpt with Judy, Dance it Out with Stephannie and more:

-Teaching myself how to work Final Cut Pro software. Two new videos up on Youtube about visualization:

How to use our imagination as a time machine to build the future. For more inspiration see this article about Astronaut Scott Kelly’s year in outer space:


Newest Final Cut project, a video for my most-streamed song, “Brooklyn” (cover image only on YouTube for the moment)


This required sorting through hundreds of family photos, with I never would have done without confinement..

To be continued…


It’s happening! (updated 17/07/17)

DSC03632 (1)

Live Water Swimming, Bassin de la Villette, Paris Plages, Grand Opening Monday July 17th, 3pm 🙂

Paris has been working towards this for many years, well before the Summer Olympics bid, part of a long term environmental clean up and biodiversity project. What better way to raise awareness than to open a swimming area here? It’s a biofeedback loop for Parisians: water quality is monitored constantly and the pools will be closed whenever the water is unsafe. All around the enclosure displays show how this works, what sources of public and private pollution are being supervised, plant and animal species living in this water, how and why the waterway was constructed, how it has evolved… Maybe this will discourage deadbeats from throwing their refuse into the canal? Come swim and view the displays with your family, it’s a rich learning experience and a way to create a better future 🙂

More pix: DSC03625DSC03628DSC03626


Smooth sailing! xxxxx Aliss

Today the water was laughing


Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19, near the soon-to-open “Live Water” swimming area, canal so clear, I stopped in my tracks to admire fish of all sizes swimming among the plant life.

Two electric-blue dragonflies flitted in front of me, hovered and disappeared, too fast to photograph. (The fish, too, are camera-shy). When Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris many moons ago, he announced he’d swim in the Seine in the year 2000. It took longer than he thought, but decades of effort by local communities and the Paris city government, bio-diversity campaigns and sewage treatment, are paying off. What seemed like science fiction is actually happening.

For more information about wild flora and fauna in Paris,  “sustainable walk” apps, action steps:

Beautiful posters to download:

Reasons for optimism! Love xxxxx Aliss

Stayin’ Alive


This July Paris is opening it’s first “Live Water” swimming area on the canal in my neighborhood, the result of decades of work by city governments and local activists who’ve brought the river water that feeds the canal back to life. Particularly relevant as summer returns and I’m coming back to life myself after terror episodes and two exhausting presidential elections…also  inspiring and galvanizing, as Trump withdraws the US from the Paris Climate Accords. Many of us are dedicated to keeping the planet alive and imagining a better future. He can’t stop us! xxxxx Aliss