Monday, 30 December 2013

Year's End

It's the end of 2013 and I'm feeling bored and restless. It's not as if I want to be working flat out all the time. During the lead-up to Christmas I was working day and night marking exam papers and trying to complete all the admin I needed to do as an English teacher. I'm not certain when I start back. The teaching establishment is bankrupt and needed a bailout of several million euros from the government just to pay the staff and keep the doors open. Much of the blame for this can be put squarely at the door of the previous head and her administration. There have been student protests around the cuts to hours, classes, degrees, conditions. The current CEO even started a 'save our school' petition and launched it online. I was rather surprised at this. It created a lot of worry amongst staff. So it's in this environment of uncertainty that I'm trying to look at the approaching year with some balance and optimism.

That's not easy. At the moment I think I will have my maximum number of classes again but I don't know if my contract will be renewed for its final year, I hope so. They need teachers but can't afford them. I've got an idea of what classes I might be teaching this coming semester but nothing's confirmed yet so I'm on holiday, sort of, needing to go back to the uni to drop off marked papers to various academic secretaries next week.

This Christmas, as before, I've spent the festive season at JC's so I'm not alone but I'm not in an environment where I can do what I like. Naturally one must fit in. All the visitors have gone home now. I've made a pavlova and an apple tart, brandy balls and choc-dipped strawberries but the feasting needs to stop. I can read or potter on my laptop or watch a DVD in French but that's it. I'd really rather do something to advance myself but how? Without spending money there are few hobbies I can do. I'll go back to the mairie in January and try to find out why my offer to the mayor to do volonteer work for the city hasn't gone anywhere. I really wanted to contribute and make contacts and feel part of things here but there's been no reply to my written offer of 6 months ago so I'll follow that up.

I've started working on my book again, especially the final chapter. That's something constructive I can do. My French language competence doesn't improve in leaps now but I continue to pick up snippets here and there. Yesterday I helped JC in his garden though in the middle of a European winter things to do are strictly limited. This constant incertitude over how long I can stay in France, in my apartment, is corrosive to efforts at putting down roots.  It's hard to know what direction would yield any results.

Finding employment is always top of my priorities but it's a needle in a haystack situation. I can do so many things competently and I'm frustrated at not being able to use even half of my abilities in my current job. International relations interests me. Europe is interesting but being a kiwi is a major problem.

Despite being a member of the Commonwealth I can't even live and work in Britain and I can 'thank De Gaulle' for forcing Britain to relinquish its ties to NZ in order to be allowed to enter the EEC. I grew up in an era where the emotional (and economic) ties to Britain were still strong. We stood up in the cinema to sing God Save the Queen as a photo of her was displayed each time before the main feature. We ate boiled mutton with parsley sauce, had apple dumplings and watched Z cars and The Saint. And there were scones, rock cakes and Louise biscuits. Alas, my British heritage isn't working for me and neither is my French one.

 As I look back it's been a year of changes as well as some stability. I've changed job/career, I've taken measures to stay in my apartment a bit longer because I feel comfortable there. I enjoy living in my town and having access to other places via the train station. I also enjoy some independence with my little car. JC and I  are still in each other's lives. My shoulders have improved quite a bit thanks to time and physiotherapy. I'm happy planning my daughter's visit next year and am looking forward to also having a high school friend come and visit me. I've spent another year here and that's an achievement but I'm not at ease because I have no idea where I will be this time next year and certainly not the year after that. Living in the moment isn't something I can master more than a few hours or a day at a time.

 It's a no-man's land, biding my time, waiting and hoping when really, I'd rather be acting on something concrete to get my teeth into for the next few years. While writing this post I've just found out my daughter has been mugged in Thailand and lost her wallet. Thank goodness for social networks to help communicate during times like this. They bring people who can help together. And it shows you can't plan for everything. I hope 2014 is better for everyone. It won't be, of course, but I hope it will be for YOU.


sp said...

Time flies!You have been there for 4years now?what a interesting 4years in your life?I do wish that you can meet some one to settle down about start a belly dance school?going out to meey people is your only chance. JC still unmoved?Not sure if helpful or barrier?

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