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home on the range

5.30 a.m. I’m in a strange bed in a newly painted bedroom with empty bookshelves and framed pictures stacked against the wall – but it feels like my room so I guess it is. I have a cold or flu and so will spend the day here. I think I belong.

This was the strangest and one of the hardest homecomings ever. The journey was uneventful, always a good thing – thank God for the bus that goes from the Gare de Lyon, five minutes from our flat, straight to CDG – so much easier than schlepping on the bus to the metro, if only I’d known about it before. Waiting there at 6.50 a.m., I met a woman with two small sons who told me her wallet was stolen in the metro. “I was distracted for a few moments,” she said. “It was two little girls, barely older than my boys. All our money and my cards.” A cautionary tale.

I watched Vice on the plane, an excellent movie about the life and diseased heart of Dick Cheney – I’d avoided it because I just didn’t want to watch those loathsome men in action, but it was recommended by Madame Blin. And indeed, it’s an important film that details just how, step by step, the Republicans in the 80’s led us to where we are now. For example, they were having trouble repealing the estate tax, that taxed estates of over 2 million dollars. But through focus groups, they found that if they called it the “death tax,” people were fine with getting rid of it. That easy. It shows in excruciating detail how they sold the Iraq war, with painful footage of Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair jumping on board. How very much Cheney benefitted financially from that war, which decimated a region and millions of lives.

Cheney himself is an appalling man and his ambitious wife Lynne, aka Lady MacBeth, the same. But it’s an extremely well-made movie; I urge you to see it if you have not yet. Made by Adam MacKay who also did The Big Short, another excellent, entertaining, almost unbearable exposé of human vileness and greed.

As an antidote, I watched Spiderman, a cartoon version starring the first black Spiderman – very entertaining. But the flight was long and uncomfortable, no way around it.

Thus, home. Nicole had been living here and the house was sparkling. She had dealt with the various floods in the basement; the plumber told her in 30 years of his work, he’d never seen a case like this – some flap in the sump pump had broken. He has replaced it but the flat is dank and there’s water damage; I couldn’t bear to go see yet. But besides that, there’s everything else – the garden is a disaster, there’s still tons to do after the renovation, after winter, after the flooding, new tenant moving in in May needs the apartment fixed, current tenant on the top floor needs various things. The rooms upstairs are different, I don’t know where things are, most stuff is still in boxes. It took me about ten minutes before I was overwhelmed. I can’t live here, I said. I have to move. It’s too much work.

This house is too much for me.

At least, it is now, when I’m sick and jet-lagged. Check in in a few days. If I’ve recovered, maybe I’ll feel better. Or maybe not.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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