Tuesday, July 24, 2007

the one you've all been waiting for

As I was setting up the new blog template a few weeks ago, I was skimming through the archives, looking for examples of posts I'd written in my first year here, because I noticed that I was getting a lot of hits from search engines from people interested in specific details of living in France, so I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to put them on the main page. Reading back through my posts from that time, I thought, "Now, this is a blog I would read!" The posts I write now? Not so much.

I don't know what happened. It was either because after living here for two or three years, the newness sort of wore off or because I forgot to be on the lookout for interesting things that happen that I could share with you. Or I just got lazy. That's the most likely. I didn't used to be so afraid to share my thoughts here. That was the whole point of having an "anonymous" blog, so why wasn't I taking advantage of it? Granted, I do have a lot of friends and family who read all this, but I probably wouldn't be interested in posting something here that I couldn't tell them anyway.

I'm not really sure why I didn't want to write about what our big upcoming plans are. I suppose I was afraid of laying out all my cards. Also, there's the feeling that if I write about what I want to happen in the future, if it doesn't come to pass, then everyone knows of my failure. But I realized that this isn't true for two reasons - this is supposed to be a journal, right? Albeit, one that I let the whole world thousands hundreds tens of people read. But isn't that what a journal is for? To document what I want and what I'm feeling right now, so I can come back later and see what's changed? The other reason is, I don't really feel like "failure" is applicable in this case. Needs change, wants change, and if this plan we're hatching doesn't work out, then I'm sure whatever does happen will turn out to be for the best.

Therefore, I'm ready to lay it all out on the line. Are you ready? *deep breath*

I don't think it's a secret that not working for the past three years has been very difficult for me. I very foolishly believed that I would arrive in France and be gainfully employed within six months. (Yes, I know, I can hear you all laughing from here.) Once I realized that teaching English wasn't for me, I set out to find work that I actually have experience in, but after a year of being sent on interviews by Assedic (the French unemployment office) with no luck, I was at an absolute loss for what to do. My French was slowly improving, Stéph and I are speaking French more and more at home, but sitting at home and wringing my hands has taken a real toll on me. Luckily, we've been ok living on Stéph's salary, but not in the manner that either of us are accustomed to. We both enjoy going out and indulging in our reading habits and going on vacation, but we haven't been able to do this as much as we'd like. Plus, I need to get out of the house! I need to be social, both for improving my French and for my mental health.

I think you may remember that we seriously considered moving back to the States last year, but we both agreed that it would be too great of a risk for us. And I don't want to give the impression that I'm unhappy living in France - I'm certainly not. I very much enjoy the lifestyle, I love my in-laws, and I've made wonderful friends here, not to mention that I love Stéph's friends as well. It's not the country that needs changing, but maybe our way of thinking. And maybe the location.

At the beginning of this year, Stéph and I had a real heart to heart. We really needed to start thinking outside the box (I hate this phrase but in this case, it fits) about changing our situation so that both of us could be satisfied. We decided that moving to a larger city would probably give me a better opportunity of finding work, not to mention a wider range of things to do for getting out of the house (because seriously? In our town? We have two bars and a few brasseries and That Is All). But where to go? So we let the question settle for a little while until we finally came up with the answer: Paris.

Paris is the closest large town to us (and I should clarify - we were always talking about moving to a major city, or else we could have just moved back to Troyes), so we would only be a couple of hours away from our family. Plus, there are a lot of international businesses there, and hopefully I can find some work in one of them. So, it was decided. but Stéph has to request a region change, and we'd missed the deadline by the time we had decided, so we'll need to wait another year before we can move. For now, the plan is for Stéph to make the request this year, and we'll know next June where he's been assigned. Talk about a gamble - but it's one that we're willing to take.

Two things I should clarify, however. First - yes, I already have a job. I am thrilled to be working, even if it is from home. I realize that this is the dream job of a whole lot of people. But I still need to get out of the damn house. If nothing else, this job will tide me over, and may even save us if I don't find a job. We've decided that the move is still a good one for us, even if I continue to work from home.

The other thing is - we're moving closer to Paris, not to Paris. We're just not city people, Stéph and I. Not to mention that we simply couldn't afford it! Anything close enough that we can comfortably consider "commuting range" will work for us, and I actually love the idea of commuting into Paris and having a quiet home to return to. As we won't know where Stéph will be assigned until this time next year, there's no point in shopping for a new home just yet. That'll certainly make things interesting.

So there it is, the big secret. The funny thing is, we both know that a lot of people would love to get out of Paris, and here we go trying to move in! In any case, we feel like we're doing the right thing for us, and a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders. Now we'll just have to wait a year and see if it actually comes to pass.

PS: I don't know why my expandable posts don't work anymore. Sorry for the massively long post.

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