Hello From An Airplane
Hello there! Today I have a collection of random thoughts to share with you.
-I’m writing this newsletter from an airplane. I’m traveling with my daughter Olive (she just finished her first year of film school in Paris at a school called EICAR), and we’re headed to California. Olive will be there for 3 weeks, and I’m just there for a few days; I’ll be back in France on Monday.
Getting ready for this trip felt nerve-wracking; I’m so out of practice. At the airport, some things were the same and some things were different. At Charles de Gaulle, they had all flights coming and going from the same terminal, and the rest of the airport was shut down. Because all the action was concentrated in one place, at times it still felt busy, even though there are so few flights happening.
In France, all non-essential stores are on lock-down, and that includes at the airport. CDG has some very fancy shops, like Louis Vuitton and Hermes and Chanel and Dior, etc.. The lights were on, but the entrance gates were down — though they did offer “click-and-collect” which is a service where you can order something from your phone and then pick it up in-store. Masks were required throughout the airport, and half the seating at the gates was blocked off (every other chair) to encourage social distancing. In my experience, masks are not political in France, so I was not surprised when no one objected or complained.
To board the plane, we needed to show a negative Covid test, get a temperature check, and submit a signed form (created by the U.S. government, and handed out at the gate) confirming we were Covid-free. (Speaking of Covid tests, that was my first one! I’ve never had a reason to get one before. It was the way-up-the-nose kind and it was not my favorite experience. : ) I’ve scheduled a test again today in California so that I can fly back to France.)
There were headphones and blankets and pillows set up on every seat of the flight, but it was mostly empty. I didn’t do a thorough count, but I’m guessing there are about 40 of us on the plane. The seating assignment software had put quite a few of us with just one seat between us, but people quickly spread out to other rows so they could have several seats solo, and stretch out for a nap. The airline handed out a small kit with disinfecting wipes and a spare mask. Masks are required the entire flight. They asked people to put on a new, fresh mask every 4 hours.
-All the travel anxiety is well worth it to me, because I get to see Maude and Ralph!!!! My two oldest kids have been in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic and I haven’t seen them in over a year.
Maude is graduating from Berkeley on Saturday in a virtual ceremony. We’re super proud of her. I scheduled a photographer for her on Friday afternoon to capture some cap-and-gown pics on campus. Ralph is currently living in New York, but is flying out to San Francisco to be with us. So it will be me, and the three oldest kids, Ralph, Maude, and Olive, all together this weekend, ordering takeout from all of our favorite Oakland spots. I can’t wait.
On a more practical note, Ralph starts the film program at Berkeley in August, so hopefully he can make some arrangements while he’s in town. Maude is moving away, Ralph needs an apartment. Ideally we can get them all set up and sorted.
-The very best news: Based on the latest news from the French President, France is going to allow fully-vaccinated Americans to visit starting this summer. Which means we are hopeful the whole family can be together in France this summer.
-I’m only going to be in the U.S. for a few days, but while I’m there, I’d like to get the one-shot J&J vaccine if there are any available. In France, vaccinations for adults under 50 are supposed to start mid-June, so if I can’t get the vaccine while i’m in the U.S., I should be able to get it next month. From my very non-expert estimation, France is about two months behind the the U.S. on the vaccine schedule. It seems like vaccines were made available for all adults in the U.S. in mid-April, but it will be mid-June in France.
Happily, when we visited our local Covid testing & vaccination site (to get a Covid test for the flight) everything was busy and running smoothly. I’m looking forward to seeing the infection numbers drop in France as the vaccinations ramp up.
-Before a trip like this, it’s always fun to make a list of American foods to bring back. So much junk food! Stuff we wouldn’t necessarily keep stocked in the U.S., but that we crave once we can’t have it. PopTarts, Sour Patch Watermelon, Reeses Take Fives, Taco Seasoning packets, etc. I flew with just a carry-on, but I’ll pick up a cheap duffle and fill it with a goodies and check it on for the flight back. Even with a checked bag fee, it’s much cheaper than shipping and customs costs.
This trip it’s especially nice because Olive is staying for 3 weeks, so she can bring back anything I forgot to get, or anything we want more of.
-Can I brag about my sister Rachel for a moment? She married young, raised five kids, and didn’t get a chance to go to college with her peers. So she enrolled as a returning adult student, and is graduating next week, at age 50, Magna Cum Laude! She’s graduating from Cal Poly Ponoma. She was named Outstanding Senior in Interpersonal Communication for 2021. What a rock star!! I’m so proud of her and I’m so impressed with anyone who pursues their degree later in life. I love it when people pursue their dreams.
-Switching gears to current events — like the rest of the world, I’ve been following the current Palestinian-Israel conflict and it’s so hard to get a solid picture of what is happening. Based on much of the news, it seems like Palestinians are getting hit much harder, and that this round of warring was instigated by Israel. But I’m hearing opposite versions of that story as well. And so far, it seems like it’s not definitively clear what is actually happening, except that it’s clear that it’s horrible.
I keep seeking out commentary or analysis that helps me make sense of what is happening, but I’m coming up short. (If you’ve read anything great, please feel free to share a link.)
I’m deeply worried for Palestinian families and Israeli families who are in danger of being bombed, and are doing what they can to keep safe. I’m worried for Jews who are in the U.S. who are seeing a big increase in anti-semitic violence right now. I’m wishing for safe, stable nations for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Alissa Moen @Alissa_Moen@YNB One option worth considering is making a donation to non-profit groups providing medical care to wounded Palestinians. They're suffering much worse casualties & are already stretched for resources. https://t.co/PGrkW7rPrh
-I’m rolling my eyes at the ouster of Liz Cheney for telling the truth, by the GOP who loves to decry “cancel culture”. I’m not a Cheney fan, but acknowledging the fact that Biden won the election is not a legitimate reason to kick her out of leadership.
I believe having multiple parties is important for democracy and debate and problem solving, but I don’t currently see how the Republican party is salvageable. It is the party of Trump. If you are a conservative who believes the election was legitimate, and that Biden is actually the president, then there is no room for you in the Republican party. When I hear stories of conservatives planning to organize a new party, that makes sense to me.
-My friend Meg Conley wrote about her experience going on a raid with OUR for Slate. Her essay does not paint OUR in a positive light. (OUR stands for Operation Underground Railroad, and is a group who makes vigilante raids, which they claim free trafficked children.)
I’ve been vocal about OUR and begged people not to support them, and Meg’s personal experience backs up those same thoughts. But holy cow the response when I’ve written about OUR is intense. So many people feel a bizarre loyalty to this organization and to the founder Tim Ballard. I say bizarre, because shifting support away from OUR does not mean shifting support away from preventing/stopping trafficking. There are so many other organizations doing better, more effective, and more legitimate work for this cause, and people could easily support them instead.
I know very well the hate Meg is receiving right now and I want to send her love.
-If you’ve been following the renovation of the Tall House, you’ll be glad to know the upper three floors are ready to move into. Except… we are still waiting on some essential plumbing. Plumbing has definitely been the hardest challenge of this renovation. About half of the ground floor is also ready, and we plan to finish the rest while we are living there.
I’m really looking forward to the next stage — figuring out things like wallpaper, and furniture, and art for the walls. I’m currently looking for a local seamstress to help me make a small canopy for Flora June’s bed, and I want to visit ALL the brocantes (antique stores) and vide greniers (community tag sales) this summer, to seek out good stuff for the house.
That’s the end of my list of thoughts. Your turn. What’s on your mind today?
On Design Mom recently:
A Complete Guide to Properly Freezing Fruits and Veggies — all sorts of tips and tricks; you’ll be making the best smoothies ever.
A Home Tour in St. Louis, featuring two bedrooms and one bathroom, and a mother that tells the truth, “Keeping my kids entertained isn’t one of my favorite parenting jobs.”
Here are some links I saved for you:
-Conservatives are known for being anti-immigration, but that’s not always accurate. Some conservative, rural states have resettled refugees at the highest per capita rates. In Idaho, employers applaud President Biden lifting a Trump-era cap on refugee numbers.
-Researchers say they’ve uncovered a massive Facebook bot farm from the 2020 election. The “network includes 13,775 unique Facebook accounts that each posted roughly 15 times per month, for an output of more than 50,000 posts a week.”
-This was a good reminder to me — nothing is ideologically pure:
-A good friend of Matt Gaetz wrote a confession letter saying he paid women for sex on behalf of Matt Gaetz. There are over 40 women in those Venmo and Cash App transactions. This is just 12 of those women.
-Do you happen to remember StumbleUpon? It was a pre-social-media website that helped people find cool content on the internet. I just read they’ve relaunched as Stumbled. Let me know if you check it out and like it (I haven’t tried the new site yet, but I used to love using StumbleUpon.
-The FDA authorized the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for kids age 12 to 15 years old. Such great news!
-Every day I get asked where to find the coveralls I wear during renovation work. They are Dickies! Look for the 100% cotton version — they wash up so well.
-A new essay from Rebecca Woolf: I Married Young. I Was Widowed Young. I Never Want A Long-Term Partner Again. “There becomes an almost knee-jerk desire to let the people we love into our hearts and homes. Love feels like that. Like in order to realize the full effects of its potency it has to bleed all over you. To coat the entirety of one’s everything. To become the glue that merges lives.”
I hope you have a good week. I’ll meet you back here for the next newsletter. I miss you already.
Hi, I’m Gabrielle Blair and this is my newsletter. It’s completely free to access and read, but if you feel so moved to support my work, please consider a paid newsletter subscription: just $5/month or save money with the $50/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Founding Member at $75. Not a fan of newsletters? You can support the work directly via Paypal or Venmo (@Gabrielle-Blair). Thank you! Seriously, thank you. Support from readers keeps this newsletter ad and sponsor-free.