Happy New Year — from Oakland, Ca.

On December 29, 2022, I flew from Charles de Gaulle airport to San Francisco airport-a trip of 11.5 hours. When adding in getting to CDG, checking in and then waiting, arriving in SF, and getting myself from there to my home in Oakland, and, for fun, throwing in crossing nine time zones, it is a very long day. Sleep on airplanes is hit or miss. So give or take a few hours of snoozing, someone traveling from Paris to Oakland is usually awake for twenty-four hours. Wisdom on how to deal with jet lag suggests to try and adapt to your destination time zone as quickly as possible. I stayed awake until 8 pm PT which was 5 am the next day in Paris. Exactly 24 hours.

I’m not a fan of cold winters. Not in Paris, not anywhere. I had hoped that by being in Oakland for the winter, I might escape COLD. I was greeted by a huge storm over New Year’s weekend. Raining cats and dogs and very cold weather. It was warmer in Paris. Then on Wednesday, California went into a state of emergency as expectations grew of a ‘bomb cyclone’ hitting the Bay Area and other areas up and down California. There was flooding in the streets as storm drains that hadn’t had much use in these severe drought years were not able to cope with the amount of water falling torrentially from the sky. Winds reached 40-50 miles an hour blowing trees around. Unused to this kind of weather, people kept driving and were not preparing their homes for possible emergencies. I’m not sure of the total number of deaths but there were at least four drownings, and a two-year-old died when a huge tree limb fell on a mobile home. 

I was completely unprepared. Of four flashlights I have around the house, only one worked and it was feeble. I had no backup batteries. I could charge my mobile phone but I’d brought the wrong cord to charge my backup phone battery. I had been in Oakland for five days when I was walking around the outside of my house trying to gather everything as close to the house walls as possible, bringing anything that could fly into windows if picked up by a cyclone gust inside, and filling bottles of water. All for just in case. 

As it turned out, I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t lose electricity except for 30 seconds. Wi-Fi stayed on for the most part. The next morning I saw that the trash bins had been blown around and the top of my mailbox had somehow blown off. That seemed to be the extent of the damage. Now, two days later, the water is disappearing from the streets. I have a renewed energy to ‘adopt a storm drain’ as there is one right in front of the house that certainly needs cleaning and care. However, we are in for at least ten more days of rain.

You may well ask “Aren’t you happy? This may put a huge dent in the drought.” Maybe a small dent, maybe larger. Those in the know say days of light rain that can actually seep into the soil are so much better than these wild copious downpours. And, they remind us, until the snow melt starts in the Spring, no one knows how much better off the reservoirs will be. The happiest people, at the moment, are those that have planned skiing trips for this week and the next.

There is an old adage: We make plans, God laughs! Just another reminder that it isn’t the plans or lack of them that brings us peace or contentment but how we deal with the hand life deals us at any given moment. So I’ve been cooped up in the house which has made me homesick for Paris. On the other hand, I think jet lag has passed much quicker as I haven’t had to deal with “things to do and people to see.”

To Mask or not to mask….

A huge surprise is that 80% of the people I see are wearing masks. California is taking the rise of Covid very seriously. Medical buildings have never stopped requiring the wearing of masks. Now, it is mandatory in all government buildings. I went to the Library on Tuesday and didn’t bring a mask as I’m not in the habit. I was handed a mask as I walked in the door. In grocery stores, the majority of people are wearing masks and about 40% are ‘masking’ on the street. I have a strong feeling of relief, of safety. It’s pretty obvious to everyone that one can still get Covid even with all the shots including boosters. Just when you think you understand how it’s spreading, it changes. Some are getting it severely, and some just have a minor cold. I’m in the minority. I haven’t gotten Covid yet. I stocked up on home tests as my doctor says they are reliable. I wasn’t so sure anymore.

In Paris, in France, Covid doesn’t make the news much anymore. It’s easy to do research and see that it is on the rise there too. Macron has retirement age and pensions on his plate and I don’t think he is willing to take on Covid. It has become a way of life, and each person is to take care of themselves. During the last week that I was there, I noticed that more people were wearing masks in the metro. That means that 10% of the riders in one car might be masked—me included. I wasn’t taking any chances, not when I had a plane to catch on the 29th of December. I left CDG so early in the morning, there weren’t that many people around and it was easy to keep at least a two-foot distance in that covered walkway between showing your ticket and actually stepping onto the plane. I have been told that is where the majority of people catch Covid. My Kaiser doctor tells me that more people have the flu right now than have Covid. She also said there are a hundred varieties of flu going around. Our flu shot ‘protects’ is from the latest variant—maybe.

Welcome to 2023!!! I have watched the news for twenty minutes, long enough to know that the US of A is in for a very interesting and bumpy ride for the next two years. So, stay dry, stay warm, stay healthy, and I’ll see you next week.

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A bientôt,

Sara

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Author: Sara Somers

I am retired from my first profession, am from Oakland, California, living in Paris, France since 2013. I love books, movies, and watching everyday life in Paris out my window. Please enjoy my musings as I grow into the author others say I am. I am always open to thoughts and ideas from others about this blog. I like to write about Paris, about France, about the US as seen from France. About France that the US may or may not know.

2 thoughts on “Happy New Year — from Oakland, Ca.”

  1. Hey Sally, happy new year, welcome to California, and to our unusual weather! The current masking is because of COVID, yes, but also the flu and the respiratory virus, all of which are striking us down. In most places in Sonoma County, masking isn’t mandatory but many of us are doing it. Glad you’re here for a while! Xoxo

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