Thursday, March 15, 2012

Disaster strikes

This has not been a good week. Working backwards, this morning I managed to get foundation all over a pale grey dress I quite like. I usually swear by if you wash something immediately, the stain will come out, but despite having it in a tub of soapy water licketysplit, the stain showed no signs of budging by the time I left the house this morning. Yesterday, I got a rejection email from a position I'd applied for. On Sunday, the charger for my laptop gave up altogether – it had been a bit dodgy, needing a bit of gentle wiggling at times to work, but now not only is it not charging, it is also ominously crackling and sparking, so I've had to put it out to pasture. Luckily, I can use the charger off an old laptop, except it doesn't fit properly so it can take minutes of patient fiddling to get it to charge, followed by it falling out again a second later if you don't stay perfectly still. On Saturday, I broke my phone while texting, inadvertently pushing some mysterious combination of buttons that sent it into 'backtrace mode' aka turning it into an expensive paperweight (well, expensive as far as paperweights go, cheap as far as functional phones go). I went online and there are a bunch of kiwis whining about the same issue – apparently it's a "known software fault" that they will fix for you in NZ, but that's no use to me now, is it? On Friday night, I got really drunk and may have made a fool of myself in a fashion I won't specify on the blog but let's say I'm not best pleased about it. And my camera, which as I noted, was playing up in Barcelona, is pretty much completely broken as far as I can tell. I seem to have awoken some sort of mummy's curse for electronics (last year, my ipod and my laptop went down around the same time as well). I suppose that will teach me for all those tomb-raiding expeditions I've been on. I've already bought a new charger (still waiting for it to be delivered) and camera and phone, because in times of crisis (see below) my brain has a bit of an unfortunate tendency to go THIS IS IT! THE END TIMES ARE HERE! and get all spendy. Bad brain.

All of this is leading up to the big one. On Friday, I received a letter telling me that my employment contract is not being renewed. Let me tell you, it was a shock. Last I heard was about the importance of English in the organisation and how everyone needed to make a big effort to get involved with international endeavours etc. and then they don't even have the balls to tell me this to my face. The letter didn't even say one word to the effect of "thank you for your work" or "sorry". We have supposedly had a new director since January, but he has already quit (effective in July I think) and he has never actually spoken to me. The whole place is in disarray and it seems like they are planning to shut down the whole project I currently work on and either get rid of all my colleagues or move them on to other things. It's true I haven't enjoyed my job for some time now, but at least it was something – and while I have been half-heartedly looking for another position, nothing's leapt out at me, so I was pretty much banking on my contract being rolled over (you know, as my old boss told me it would be).

So there's a number of things at play – firstly, I don't know what I'm going to do. There are 6 weeks left on my contract (6 weeks where, if this week's anything to go by, it will be mega-hard to drag myself to work and pretend to show an interest in working on something that might just disappear tomorrow anyway). 6 weeks is not a lot of time to find something new. Tours is not the sort of place where jobs for people who speak fair- to middling-French are hanging from the rafters, but finding a job somewhere else would mean trying to organise a huge move with very little time to do so. It's not like when I came to Tours any more, I own a whole apartment's worth of furniture and am signed up to leases and direct debits and so on all over the place. There's perhaps unemployment, but I've never been unemployed, let alone in France, and I don't know how to go about things. I've looked on the official website, but it seems they don't want to see you until you are actually officially out of work with the paperwork to prove it. But by that stage, how long does it take before you get any money coming in? And could, potentially, the fact that I am signed up as an auto-entrepreneur somehow kick me in the pants despite the fact that I'm not actually in business?

Secondly, there's the emotional factor. I feel a lot better now particularly after talking to my old boss, who has suggested several options and is willing to talk to different people in the organisation and put my name forward for jobs, if I want to stay in Tours. This makes me feel a lot better that someone who actually knows me and I've worked for is willing to go to bat for me. Even though not getting your contract renewed by an arsehole you've never met isn't exactly the same as being fired, it is hard not to take it as a personal judgement. I really don't know at the moment about the jobs she's proposing – they are very different from the line of work I'm in at the moment and it would mean potentially moving into a role where I had to use French a lot more which makes me a bit anxious. It's nice to have options, but I'm wary of feeling pressured into taking a job I'm not sure about and the whole thing turning into a disaster. (If anyone's read my blog for a very long time – hi mum! - you may remember the time when I applied for a job in Chamonix and they offered me a more senior role, which I took but then hated and failed spectacularly at and quit 2 months in.) My boss herself described my written French as "presque bien" ("almost good") but said that I don't speak French as well as I write (true). Well, at least she's a straight-shooter, so I can have some confidence that she has a realistic assessment of my level and what sort of jobs I could be capable of.

Everyone at work is being very supportive, but my usual fashion of working through things is silently and by myself, so it's getting a bit grating to have people constantly asking "what are you going to do? Are you going to stay in Tours? Have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?" That may be ungrateful, but it's stressful. I don't want to be reminded all the time that there's this looming impending doom to deal with, thank you very much.

After going through the experience of my flatmate stealing from me and not paying the rent for either of us and subsequently getting evicted, this feels like France has kicked me in the pants again. I don't know whether I want to tell France to go eff a donkey (we've all seen how you look at donkeys, France, don't try to hide it) or if I can pick myself up again and try something new.

On the plus side, this is going to be a good weekend, I just know it. Saturday is the FĂȘte de Vins de Bourgeuil, where you pay 2 euros for a tasting glass and then go around and taste as much wine as you like (woohoo), then in the evening I have a housewarming/birthday party to go to (whether that's prudent after a whole day of drinking wine remains to be seen), and then Sunday the FORMULA ONE is back, I'm super excited even if I will have to watch crappy delayed highlights coverage online (if I stick around I'm gonna have to buy a TV, because nothing comes between me and my F1). Then next week, I go to England for my sister's birthday and to see my friend Ruth's new baby, and then when I come back my lovely friend Rick who I haven't seen for 2 years since I left Nice is coming for a visit. I'm a bit overwhelmed by everything, so in the meantime I'll be here drinking wine and watching F1 and fiddling while Rome burns...


  1. Gwan, I'm sending you lots of virtual hugs - I don't know if you use Skype but there's a little bear that reaches his arms out like he's hugging someone and then wiggles his ears - consider yourself bear hugged. Not that hugs can do anything about broken cameras, employment contracts that aren't renewed, etc. but just as a way of offering emotional support.

    On a more practical level, if you decide to cast a wider net and look for jobs in Paris, we have a guest room where you would be welcome to stay while interviewing, etc. Just an idea, although I know that Paris isn't your favorite place.

    Hang in there - it's already Thursday and the weekend isn't far behind!

  2. I'm really touched Mary Kay, that's very sweet of you to offer. Actually I was skyping with a friend the other day and she introduced me to the cute little squirrel, so I'll have to look out for the bear hug next time! :)

  3. Oh arse. Life is bloomin hard sometimes. Sorry to hear the news. Really hope you have a fab time at the wine tasting and general festivities though - Si is working on me to agree to get Sky...I'm still maintaining that the Beeb have got it suitably covered. Love R

  4. That is a very rough week and I can't believe they didn't have the balls to tell you in person! If I was you I would be "sick" for the next 6 weeks and sign on for unemployment or continue job hunting. My friend is on unemployment and apparently you can stay in the system for 2 years in France.

  5. Ay yay yay, when it rains it pours!!

  6. Sending good vibes your way! I hope something comes your way soon!

  7. Awww Gwan! I'm so sorry to read this. I'm sending you lots of best wishes and luck. I'm hoping you can get unemployment to take a break and enjoy life! But as you said, who knows how long it can take for it to kick in. I know in the States, it takes about a month..but here..I'm not sure.

    I just know everything will work always does.

    In the meantime, enjoy the wine festival, seeing friends and the spring!


  8. Thank you ladies for the support, I appreciate it :) Plus the sun is shining - 21 degrees! (Looks like it will turn to crap just in time for the weekend though, typical!)

  9. And thank you from me! Gwan's Mum (sorry Gwan!) x

  10. Oh no lots of bad things seem to be happening but I believe in KARMA it will all turn around, it will! In the mean time, there's always wine tasting...


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