Joey, the
Letter Elf! European Report
By Todd Strong

Happy end of year and all,

So, it seems my mail is a bit late this year. Believe me, if you only knew. I used to think living without a phone was challenging. Try living without a phone and a computer. Throw in a move from one country to another so mail accumulates in Berlin unread or gets returned to sender. The few letters going to my new address in France were held up by a strike. One tends to lose touch and feel isolated.

After a long, frequently frustrating wait, I've finally moved back to France. Not sure yet whether congratulations are in order. The original plan was to move at beginning of September. That was delayed until the beginning of December. Some French bureaucrat apparently decided that with unemployment at over ten percent, no foreigner was going to come and fill the post of a juggling teacher, at least not any time soon. So I spent a few extra months in Berlin waiting for a French work permit to be issued. Being prepared for a likely delay, I held onto the apartment and the school in Berlin let me continue to work there until the very end.

After driving all night with a rental car full of what I considered essential living supplies, I arrived in Paris at 8am Friday morning, December 1 and was met by one of the largest traffic jams in Parisian history. The metro strike forced everyone into their cars. (I like to think the image of a polite driver with German license plates letting other people in front of him was a shock to more than a few irritated French people and may eventually contribute to improved Franco-German relations and even speed up the move to a single European currency.

Arriving at the school I found out that the room promised to me for the first month at the dormitory was no longer available. Since I didn't come in September like I was supposed to, they gave it to someone else. I, ahem, temporarily checked into a hotel. What I thought would be a short term stay until I could find an apartment turned into a permanent, expensive domicile for the month of December.

In between teaching classes, I spoke with all the real estate agents in town and found out that no one was willing to rent me an apartment. A combination of being a foreigner, working only part- time with a contract just until July and no record of having rented an apartment in France made me too much of a risk for the apartment owners.

I told the school that I couldn't continue under these conditions, the idea of living in a hotel room for seven months was unthinkable. Just before the winter vacation, the school called around and found a two bedroom house not far away that I can move into next week. The rent I will pay is the same as for the tiny studios I was looking at. I feel as if my situation has changed from a homeless criminal into a land baron in about a week.

If all this sounds like a giant apology for getting this out late, it is. Anyway, I look forward to getting a phone installed soon and becoming a real person again. Maybe I can finally get hooked into the Net. In a few weeks I hope to receive the rest of my things that are presently stored in Berlin and resume my life. This seems to be a good beginning for '96. I'll be throwing things at French people of all sizes. Whatever you are up to, have a great year!

The following address should be valid until July. I actually have a residence address, but with all the problems I had in getting it, I'm not sure how long it will last. Don't have a phone yet, but the fax number at the school should get things to me. Take care.

Todd Strong Ecole National de Cirque de Rosny Stade Pierre Letessier rue Jules Guesde 93110 Rosny-sous-Bois France FAX: 33 1 48 55 21 29

P.S. I finally settled up with Sport Time. Believe it or not, Finnigan and I are now even.

Two Ply Press / Juggling Information Service / Sample Issue /