Tucked in towards the end of a recent (Dec. 4th ) Economist article on France’s Nuclear Energy ambitions is this little sentence:
In 2005 Ms Lauvergeon suffered a blow when the government abruptly cancelled her plan for a share offering.
Christi retorts, “She didn’t suffer; I suffered!!!”
Not even half a year before that “cancellation,” Christi had left her communications and lobbying job in Washington, D.C. as well as her recently-begun executive MBA program at Georgetown and moved our family to Paris in pursuit of her lifelong dream of working in France. When the “government abruptly cancelled her plan for a share offering,” Christi’s project was shut down, and she was transferred to a different department to work under a boss best described as an egomaniacal nut-case. Her French dreams were cruelly shattered, and we began to set out in pursuit of a new plan, which eventually led us to Kenya (God works in mysterious ways – see here for translation).
In a small humorous twist of irony, I’m the only one who actually made it into Ms Lauvergeon’s home, even though Christi worked for her. (Lauvergeon, CEO of Areva is easily one of the most famous and powerful women in France – a household name there. Forbes named her the 8th most powerful woman in the world in 2006 – see Time’s take.) When we moved to France, I had signed an affidavit with the government saying that I would not pursue any paid employment, so I took care of our girls. It just so happened that Lauvergeon’s British nanny used to bring the kids to the playgroup at our church and invited some of us to a private Halloween party at Lauvergeon’s house. 😉
It also turns out that in the same play group was the American nanny of one of France’s most famous singer, Patrick Bruel – winner of France’s top selling album the year before we got there and three other times. Since Bruel’s little Oscar was the same age as our Leila (1), and we lived just a couple of blocks away, we were invited over to his house for a few play dates. I was clueless; we’d been hanging out in playgroups for months, and I had no idea who this kid or his dad was – even after they told me his name (unbelievable in hindsight). However, after the nanny explained the security procedures and made me promise to be especially discreet about coming over, I figured I’d better check things out on Google. There I found out that were still smarting from the betrayal of a friend who had secretly taken pictures at their private wedding and sold them to a Parisian tabloid for $30,000! I only met Bruel’s wife once, and I don’t know how she pried out of me what I used to do before becoming an at-home dad, but I remember her being impressed that I could read a little Hebrew. That’s how I found out they were Jewish – something all the rest of France already knew.
Someday I might tell you the funny story behind how I was interviewed the national news on the main TV stations in France (not once, but twice – just for being a dad). I think I was most amused by how proud all the local shopkeepers seemed to be that one of their regular customers “was on TV.” (Said in my best Mike Wizowski – Monster’s Inc. voice.) All of them had seen me.
Reader response: how to get from a buried quote in an Economist article on France’s Nuclear Energy ambitions to my brushes with fame as an at-home dad in Paris ;-).