Josie Corning, 65, lives in Dripping Springs, Texas; flying there
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Hello, can I ask what you bought?
I really like the music that the person in the CD store here is playing. I was a flower child in the 1960s, and right now it’s Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. So I went in and asked him to recommend an iconic Israeli album.
What did he recommend?
Arik Einstein’s “Poozy.”
I love music. I grew up in Texas, the music capital of the United States.
What was it like in Texas in the 1960s?
I was in my twenties during the Vietnam War and as a student in Austin, I came across students protesting the war. Everything they said sounded logical, so I joined them. I marched for women’s rights and against Vietnam.
What were you studying?
Journalism. But after that I worked in public relations for 30-odd years.
You didn’t like journalism?
I loved it, but I had to do something more to make a living. I had a son and was alone and there wasn’t enough money in it.
Yes. I, at least, couldn’t make a go of it. So I tried this and that. I tried advertising and discovered that it is a field that lacks soul. In the end I founded my own PR company and worked in the economic and political realms.
How does PR in the economic field square with 1960s’ idealism?
In my definition, PR is something very direct that focuses on facts. And I also represented organizations that didn’t have a voice – dealing with women’s health, hungry children. Banks I worked with paid more and that covered clients who didn’t have money. It was very rewarding.
What do you do now?
I moved to my town 10 years ago and live alone and take care of everything myself. I have a few acres – people in Texas never say how many – and I became very close to nature and animals. Officially I’m retired. But
I do volunteer work in three areas. The first is water conservation. I believe in rain as a resource we don’t exploit enough. In my house, for example, I am not hooked up to the water system, I collect rainwater. It’s legal in the United States.
Have you ever been stuck without water?
Twice. I live in Texas, a hot state. I called the water company, and it’s unbelievable, they come with trucks and pumped 2,000 gallons of water into the system, just like that. How much do you think it cost?
I don’t have the slightest idea – $1,000?
The bill was $96, and of that only $9 was for the water itself. Too cheap, if you ask me. That’s what I tell the water companies. Raise the price, otherwise people won’t make any effort to conserve. That drives me up the wall.
You said three things.
I’m also active in animal rights, and the third area is peace in general. I don’t like wars, I’m against them.
Is that what brought you to Israel?
I have to be a bit evasive in my answer here. Let’s say that I admire Jewish tradition and see it as part of my tradition. A Christian who doesn’t understand that, doesn’t really know anything. There’s more to my story, but I don’t want to get mixed up with the authorities.
I’ll give you a hint: Christians in the Holy Land are Palestinians. And I don’t want to go into it beyond that.
I don’t completely understand, but we can change the subject. What’s it like living alone?
I’ve had many men in my life, many. I was lucky – I met a few wonderful ones. There’s a beautiful book called “The Snow Leopard,” by Peter Matthiessen. He writes about someone who spends months hunting that animal, a snow leopard, which is a rare animal that’s very hard to see and hunt, until in the end he comes to understand that if he finds it that’s great, and if he doesn’t, that’s also great. But there’s a process that has to be gone through before you understand that. So I won’t waste my life hunting something. I will live my life and enjoy it. But who knows what’s waiting for me around the corner?
Arnaud Roux, 32, lives in Cluj-Napoca, Romania; arriving from Bucharest
Hello, can I ask you where you’re from?
I am French and I live in Romania.
What’s it like there?
It’s very nice, but that isn’t the reason I live there. I work for a company that deals with the logistics related to the industrial and medicinal gas field. That’s also why I’m here; I came to visit Israeli clients with the manager of the company. I’m a sales agent and I travel to see clients twice a year.
On the second visit I meet with the same person and try to develop the relationship with him.
How do you do that?
You have to listen to the person and ask questions. You can’t just push if you want to sell something. I always try to understand the needs of the other side – in life, too, not just in work. It’s important for me to listen.
So you travel a lot as part of your job. Must be fun.
I love to travel and I enjoy meeting clients and other people, but when you’re working you don’t really discover the countries. It’s better to travel with my wife.
Where is she from?
She is French, too, but she is studying medicine in Romania, and we had a baby in March. So I asked to go on working in Romania to be with her for six months, until she finishes her studies in July. Then we’ll go back to France, to Aix-en-Provence. That’s in the south, near Marseille and the sea – a small, pleasant place. It’s the company’s headquarters.
Is that where you grew up?
I grew up in Limoges, which is also a small city, but in the center of France. I like small cities. I will work another three months for this company in Provence and then I will return to Limoges, where I’ve just found a job. Limoges is not all that expensive, relatively, and we can buy a house there, which is important, and there’s a good pace to life there. It’ll be easier with the baby, too, because my parents live there.
It doesn’t sound like you’re sorry to leave Provence.
People in the south of France aren’t really nice, and it’s not easy to find real friends – it’s hard to explain. There’s sun, sea and food, and the landscape is beautiful. They have everything, but they’re still not happy. Limoges isn’t an attractive tourist city, but people are friendlier and there’s a good atmosphere, like in the northern part of the country. Naturally the people in the south think otherwise.
What will you do there?
My new job is with a company that makes three-dimensional prints of ceramics. It’s very special. I’m happy to find a new challenge. That’s important, too.
So you choose according to what’s good for your career?
I don’t generally think about that, until now I just took the opportunities I got. At the moment I am choosing what is best for my family. That’s the first priority – family was always important with us. But I don’t know where I’ll be in another five years.
How is life with a baby?
It’s a totally new life and very crazy and interesting. It’s impossible to describe the feeling with a new baby, the love grows every day. It’s just that the nights are hard.
How long have you been married?
We’ve known each other for years, but we’ve only been a couple for two years. The first time I met her, she was 14 and I was 20 – she’s the little sister of a friend of mine.
Didn’t he get uptight when you started to date her?
He said I should keep away from her, but he and his family were actually very happy. I knew her parents, and they liked me. I knew that her family was a point in my favor. I was lucky.
Luck is important.
La vie est une fte – life is a party. You have to live life, to smile, dance, drink, laugh and meet people. In South America they say something similar: La vida es una fiesta. They say there that they don’t like to work, that they work in order to live, not that they live in order to work. I liked that.