Oh holy crap. As I sat down to write this post about something totally different, I suddenly realized that I completely MISSED my own 9th Bold Soul Blogiversary! It was February 25th. So that means I am now officially in my 10th year of blogging. I have no good excuse for having missed this, especially as for a month PRIOR to that, I was completely aware that the anniversary date was coming and was planning what I wanted to say about it. Then, somewhere around the 20th of the month, I apparently suffered temporary blog-nesia and forgot all about it. I know this probably disappoints no one but myself as no one else would be sitting there in front of their computers going, "But she's been blogging for NINE DAMN YEARS already, and why hasn't she mentioned it?"
So, yeah. NINE DAMN YEARS. And now in my TENTH year. That feels... like a commitment. It's significant. It matters to me. Which is why I'm banging my head on the table for having spaced out and missed the chance to celebrate it. But it's been a crazy few weeks. I just haven't been able to write about it all.
Just when I start to wonder if I am running out of interesting and blog-worthy (or even blog-appropriate, as much of my private life will never make it onto these public pages) material after all this time 9-going-on-10 years (because the more I say it, the real-er it gets) or if my life in Paris has become too routine to be worth talking about any more; just when I try to imagine what might happen if I one day decided to stop blogging altogether, as some long-term bloggers have done, the Universe comes along, whacks me upside the head a few times, and I come to my senses.
Plus the Universe also has a habit of dropping new material in my lap without much warning or ceremony. Like this week, for instance.
I'm going on a job interview today, one that will no doubt change my entire life. Not because the job itself is so amazing or life-changing: it will be a good job, a decent one, but it's not a major "career" choice for me -- it's just a job. But the life change is about stepping into a new role, a new phase, in my personal, work and family life.
The last time I had a full-time job in someone else's business was in 1998 -- 16 years ago! -- when I stepped away from the corporate world to be self-employed as a life coach and web designer. Between then and now, I have had the odd part-time job, but otherwise have supported myself, working from home, by coaching, consulting and writing. When I met and married Georges, that's what I was doing, and all my clients were back in the States, or other countries like Canada, Switzerland, England, New Zealand. I have never held a job, or had business clients of my own, in France. At one point, Georges wanted me to focus on my own writing, to see what I could make of it, so I even stopped taking on new clients and started working on that memoir.
You know, that memoir, the one that took me over four years to finish (and which probably still needs work) and which I am still trying to get published? The one that hasn't made me a single centime yet? I love my writing (blogging included) but there comes a point where practical considerations take priority, and so as much as I'd love to continue having my days "free" to manage as I wish, it is just time for me to step into a new chapter of my life in France: paid employee.
The interview today is a second interview; I did a phone interview on Monday. I can't tell you what the business is, not ever wanting to fall into that trap of blogging about one's employer and later being sacked over it, à la Dooce.com and PetiteAnglaise.com and others. I'll just say that it's in the tourism sector and it's an office-type job where I would be taking reservations and doing other back-office work. Also, it's mostly in English which has been a definite issue for me in my job search, as my French is fine for everyday casual conversation and the odd phone call to make a doctor's appointment, but to operate in French every day on a professional level? Yeah, I'm not up to that task. Which has been very limiting in terms of what sort of work I could look for. Finding THIS particular job, working for a business where it's everyone's job to be up-beat, friendly, helpful and positive, and to do it mostly in English, in Paris? Is a god-send. I am 99.9% sure I am getting this job, mainly because, assuming it goes well today and the in-person interviewer and I don't hate each other on sight, they have already told me I would actually need to start the job training on MONDAY MORNING.
Yes, in a country where nobody moves quickly for anything, except to fetch a corkscrew to open that next bottle of wine, I have somehow landed in a new job situation where I will have gone from first interview to on-the-job-training in ONE WEEK. That is perhaps the strangest part of this whole thing -- how FAST it's happening. That never even happened to me in America, come to think of it. Well, except that one December I worked at the Gap as Christmas help, maybe. That 20% discount sure came in handy that year, when everyone I knew got Gap jeans and sweaters as gifts.
I think it's the speed of the change, and what it will very suddenly mean to our lives here at Chez Bold Soul, that has me panicking. The job itself: I think I'm actually rather perfect for it and the rest is just about training and getting up to speed as quickly as possible. I just plan to take it all in stride. I've had so many different types of jobs in my 35+ years in the work force that I know how to adapt quickly to any situation, and my people skills are such that I can handle any so-called "difficult" person, whether boss, coworker or customer. I'm not even worried about a big culture gap at the office as it's actually an Anglophone company doing business in France, and it will probably feel more familiar to me than if I were working in a true French company. As this isn't about building a career, but about finding work that pays OK, allows me to do my job and enjoy (most) of it and then go home to my real life at the end of the day, this job fits the bill better than just about anything else I've come across. I have no reason to think I won't get it.
Which of course, is why I am panicking. Now, my days go at a relaxed pace, and I have to say I like it. One of the reasons I left the corporate 9-5 was that I wanted to be able to take things a little slower, and make my own schedule. I did that as a single woman for a lot of years, and even since becoming a wife and step-mom, the fact that I did not have to rush around in the mornings to get myself ready and out the door to a job, while also helping Georges and the kids get fed and out of the house, the fact that I had the luxury of doing the housework when I wanted, rather than when I could squeeze it in, that liberté has actually made my transition into my new French married step-mom life so much smoother. And Georges and the kids have known me as behaving in a certain way as a result.
That is all about to change. Buckle up, because it may be a bumpy ride.
I know millions of women are already doing this, and have been doing this, every single day for decades and decades. Every day, you juggle your families, your households, your jobs and your personal or community projects, while also trying to find a few precious minutes to take a shower and put on some damn mascara before you leave the house. I get it. I am nothing special here.
Except that, at almost 53 years of age, I am about to become one of you for the first time. I am joining the work-life balance circus. I am about to become the circus juggler of ALL circus jugglers: a working wife and mother. I will have to figure out how to fit it all in: laundry, housecleaning and food shopping for anywhere between 2 and 6 people, depending on the day, week or special circumstances (i.e. the three kids coming and going, often without much notice in the case of the older two). I haven't had a cleaning lady in two years (God, I still miss and bless that woman, she became a friend as well as someone who made my life significantly easier in the "early years") and for a small apartment like ours it's not worth the cost of hiring one, even if I was willing to put my new income towards that, which I'm not. I have a seasonal rental apartment to manage, too, and now will no longer have my days free to check out guests in the morning, clean, and check in new ones in the afternoon. It doesn't mean I can't manage it, but it will affect how I accept reservations, and will mean I may be going there to clean up AFTER a long day's work. And perhaps most importantly, we have to figure out some after-school activities for the Garçon, who at 12 1/2 is perfectly capable to stay at the apartment for a few hours until either me or Georges gets home, but we don't want him sitting in front of the computer all that time every single afternoon; he needs a bit of supervision and structure. We will work it out, but it will take some doing.
So what I'm panicking about is the TRANSITION itself.
There are still some unknowns, which won't be answered until later today. The job they offer me may be full time, or it may be part time. Full time is what I would prefer because it will mean more money; part time would probably reduce my panic level by at least 50%. But given a choice, I'll pick the full-time option. Also, the schedule offered to me may, by necessity, include having to work at least one weekend day. I am going to request Monday-Friday, but may not have a choice in the matter. If I have to, I'm ok to work on Saturdays as this is the day the Garçon has all his weekly activities like tennis and others things, and the day he "changes houses" for the week; so if I'm across town working, it will not have a huge impact on the boy or Georges, as they will be occupied as normal. Although I'm not crazy about the idea of working every Saturday for the forseeable future, part of me thinks it might be better, as it would give me one day a week free to do other things.
Like laundry. Cleaning. Food shopping. Apartment rental management. Working out (did I mention I have a Curves membership, and now the only time I will be able to work out is in the evenings, and the job and the Curves locations are on polar opposite sides of town?) Oh, and WRITING.
I have a hard enough time getting into a writing groove; why do you think it took me like four years to write that damn memoir? The one that probably still isn't 100% publication-ready? So I do wonder about the impact of juggling a job, plus all these other things, on my future as a writer. I don't want to quit writing and don't intend to. But what will happen with it?
There is one interesting possibility of course: that having to juggle more might actually make me BETTER at writing regularly, that I'll actually accomplish MORE than before, and maybe the writing will even be better. When I used to have a full-time corporate job, looking back on it now, I sometimes think I was much better then at managing my time, mainly because I HAD to. I had responsibilities and deadlines at work, and not meeting them was never an option in terms of my own work ethic. Of course, I didn't also have a husband and children to care for, but I still had a house to look after. It was when I became self-employed that my time-management skills seemed to take a big hit. I'm not always as good at sticking to self-imposed deadlines, as I am about working to other people's deadlines and needs.
So, maybe the HAVING to juggle more, will make me a better juggler in my new French Life Circus?
There are pros and cons to every job, every work-life balance challenge. There is also a strong possibility that, once I get the hang of it, not only will I be a better juggler, but I might enjoy my daily life even more. I am, by nature, a social being, and the one big downside to having been working alone at home all these years has been the lack of daily social interactions. Which is probably why I turned into a bit of a Facebook addict the past couple of years: a virtual social life is better than none at all. But being able to go out every day, on a schedule, among actual people; being able to talk to people (even cranky tourists) on the phone and in person; having that sense of purpose, of people depending on me to do a job and do it well? I think it will actually be really good for me in a lot of ways. Even if I do feel pressured to pack a lot more into the little free time I will now have.
Hell, I may even lose some weight, because I won't be hanging around the house, snacking as a means of procrastinating about writing or doing another load of laundry. I'll call it the "Get Off Your French-American Ass and Get A Damn Job Already" weight loss plan. Think it will catch on?
It will remain to be seen, what happens next, and how I manage to keep all those balls in the air without Georges wanting to ship me back to America on the first fishing boat. I have already warned Georges to expect to come home to a different version of me than he has ever seen, starting on Monday. In the meantime, I need to go and pick out an interview outfit, and read up on some material to do a little "presentation" as part of the interview today. Wish me luck - not only in getting the job, but in keeping my sanity in the coming month during the transition.
Welcome to my new Circus Life. I'll be the one in the center ring.