Kieran in Lyon

4 March 2023 13:00 

Road trip to Lyon to move number one son there.

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It was a beautiful morning, a sailor’s warning of red clouds.

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Once clear of town, the views were long vistas, almost prarie contours to the land, and at the early hour everything is blue, grey, dirty white.

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All the trucks stayed far right lane except to pass.

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Kieran’s cat Richard was travelling with us in the cab. Who names their cat Richard?

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Wider streets than in Montpellier, which I appreciated driving the van. Multi use lanes: vehicle and velo traffic.

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When visiting other cities, I make it a point to go to an English language bookstore. This time it was Damn Fine Books, which was quite small, smaller than our store here in Montpellier. There was just one room of books, and even then there the shelves did not take up a lot of space. But the selection was exceptional: I bought Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Rebecca Solnit’s Orwell’s Roses. ‘Interesting choices’, said the woman working behind the counter as she rang up the books.

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There was a moment of panic when returning the van, I found the rental office was closed. However, there was a small sign stating they would be back in twenty minutes. I was on a busy street with no parking, but I was also in France, where the side walk is an acceptable, if short term solution. When checking the back of the van, the back door shut and I locked myself in the back of the van. Pro-tip: there are levers in the inside of the door that allow you to open the door, so you don’t turn yourself into an accidental hostage.

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During the trip, Annie checked to the cat feeder. What does that mean? We were in Lyon, but the cat feeder was in Montpellier. Next, you need to understand that anything that can be made into an IOT1Internet of things. device, Annie has already done so, or plans to: of course we have the Google brain-talk thing that on request gives you the weather report, acts as a kitchen timer, converts units, and no doubt records all our conversation. In addition IOT’ed are all light controls, shutter controls, and most recently the gate door and driveway doors. What’s next?

The cat feeder is wired: we can program times at which food is dispensed, there is a speaker and camera, so we can connect to the camera and have a limited, floor level view of the kitchen. And we can mess with the cats by calling their names.

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Lyon is one of three cities that has arrondisemonts, the other two being Paris and Marseille. Kieran lives in the eighth arrondissemont, across the street from the Cimetière de la Guillotière Nouveau. The apartment is all on the fourth floor (fifth floor US), no elevator, an older building extra high ceilings.

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Dinner was at the very lyonnaise Le Comptoir d’Ainay, and the next days was contrasted with Pho for lunch. Food porn pictures included in gallery. Afterwards we did some shopping at the Japanese Les Halles

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Being an Army brat, I should have known better.

Our move to France in 2011 hit Kieran real hard. For a certain period in childhood, predictability and stability are essential, and best for him would have been a few more years of how things had been in Bay Area: friends on the peninsula and in Santa Cruz, sailing on the Bay, nerdry at the Maker Fair, all of it. That didn’t happen.

A smart, sociable fifteen year old, good looking and active, he was abruptly uprooted to another country, not speaking the language, not knowing anyone. That first year was especially rough: we weren’t in Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, or Lyon (all quite nice), but gritty, edgey Marseille. Totally sucked for him.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but at that time, that first year, we thought we’d return to the United States in 2012. The displacement would only be temporary. But then it became 2013, then 2014….

A lot happened, but he toughed it out, made it through: a liberal arts degree from L’université Paul-Valéry in Montpellier followed by intensive programming classes at Diginamic. At the same time, Annie got him his Irish citizenship2We’re a hybrid family. Kieran’s … Continue reading, opening even more doors for him: bilingual, in high tech, can work anywhere in the European Union. Now we were moving him to Lyon to start work as a web developer at a ten person company. He’s sharing a large apartment with three young women.

Got a shitload of respect for that guy and what he went through. The sole consolation (I hope) is that it’s all been a sort of inoculation: you won’t be spared hard times and bad shit in your life, but having been through hard times and bad shit, you know you can make it through the most recent and future hard times and bad shit.

Glad for you buddy, miss having you around, don’t be a stranger.

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Train ride back with Annie and Catherine was easy: from the Gare de part Dieu to St. Roch.

 

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