Every day I receive e-mails from Postcard readers, mostly warm and intelligent, written by people with a range of Paris experience. Some know far more about the city than I; others have asked me what the word "arrondissement" means. I do my best to make the blog interesting to everyone.
I get poems, cherished memories of peoples' past transforming visits to the City of Light, homesick blues from ex-pats, queries about how I got my incredible gig, great ideas from Paris aficionados about where to eat and what to see, and occasional, much welcome advice from French people who read the L.A. Times website here. Such a richness of responses to these little postcards.
Some readers have asked general questions about culture and politics in Paris; others want to know very specific things, such as how to get tickets for the French Open. I respond when I know the answer or can get it fairly easily. The point of these postcards has been to give quick sketches of my experiences as an American in Paris. For more deeply researched material, readers should turn to my weekly Her World columns and periodic cover stories, such as the one that ran on Nov. 7 about the Ardennes in Belgium.
Others have noticed that my Web offerings have mostly to do with the area where I live, the pricey, chic 7th arrondissement. I feel very lucky to have wrangled an apartment here. One smart reader asked me, instead, to explore the "real" Paris tourists seldom see, beyond the center of the city, suggesting that the blog reflects only the perspective of an "upper class white woman."
That's partly true; we are all products of our backgrounds -- though I am squarely middle-class, given my upbringing, the disastrous exchange rate and the cost of this apartment in the 7th. I wonder if readers understand that I'm not being bankrolled by the paper to live out this Paris adventure but manage on the same salary here as I did in L.A., which means I'm eating into my savings.
Moreover, I don't think race is a defining factor in the stylish 7th, where you are treated well in shops and cafes if you have money and look good, regardless of your skin color. Of course, that's not the case elsewhere in Paris. That Paris interests me too, and I will write about it. Meanwhile, I'm living out a dream, though when I decided to move here I never thought it would be as wonderful as it has been.
Then, there are the acerbic e-mails I get from readers. More on those next time.