I still can't believe it's November already. Again. Here in Paris we did the clock roll-back two weekends ago, and the day after it was dark at 5:30 in the afternoon. Ugh. Now I will spend the next 4 months in the dark; the winter days are very short here in Paris (although we make up for it in summer with super-long days with sunset around 10:30pm!)
Lots on my plate at the moment:
- finding a year-round tenant for our rental apartment (we may have a winner, I'll know later today)
- searching for a new apartment for me and Georges and the Garçon - yes, we're on the hunt for something roomier and also cheaper
- dipping my toes into the French unemployment system - my first interview at the Pôle Emploi is tomorrow afternoon
- using NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as inspiration to complete the edits on my memoir manuscript
The writing project has been working out well so far. One of my colleagues from the tour company is also a writer and we've teamed up to keep each other accountable. I have a big bulletin board set up with Post-It notes on it, one for each chapter. With 16 chapters in the book (unless I decide to change that as part of the editing process), I tasked myself to polish and perfect one chapter every two days. So far, I'm right on track and very pleased with how the first three finished chapters have come out. It's also helping me reignite my enthusiasm for this book; I've been working on it procrastinating about it for so many years now that I had taken to calling it "That Damn Book". But I just couldn't let it go because I still think it's a really good story and it's expanded a lot from anything you may have read here in the blog about my first 18 months in Paris. So after a bit of a self-ass-kicking a couple of weeks ago, I set myself the goal of finishing the edits by the end of November. At that time, I will hand it off to a friend who will do the detailed proofreading and will let me know if there are any lingering problems with any of it. Then I will call it "done" - and will go back to actively shopping for a publisher or agent. If all else fails, I'll self-publish it on Amazon, but something tells me to hang in there, that a publisher IS out there who will see the value in my story, and that the book will do well once it has been discovered. When a famous writer for a famous magazine interviews me for a story he's doing (which happened last week) and when his reaction to hearing how I came to Paris in my 40s and fell in love is "That's just like a MOVIE!" -- well, I feel like I've really got something. I just have to be tenacious and patient.
The chômage - unemployment benefits - is a new experience I never expected to have in France. They have a whole online system with a ton of questions about your work history, education, and the kind of job you are searching for. Tomorrow is the initial in-person interview, which ought to be interesting/challenging and I just hope my French is up to it, because I'm on my own with this. They will suggest available jobs I could apply for. They will ask what I'm doing on my own to find work. They will decide if I'm eligible for benefits (I should be) and they'll set up a link to my bank account to deposit the money once a month for up to 6 months. I'm sure I'll need to check in regularly to show them how many resumés I've sent out. So, we'll see how that goes.
We decided to stop renting our cute little apartment in Montmartre for vacation rental, and this was partially because some laws changed in France this past year which make it very unattractive for people like us, who only own one little investment apartment, to rent seasonally. The government is trying to force more owners to make properties available for long-term rental "for the greater good", which of course is NOT why people buy investment properties. We have decided to rent the place out furnished, which means we can offer a simple 1-year lease; in France if you want to rent out a place unfurnished you must, by law, offer a 3-year lease. We may have found someone to rent it out, without having gone through an agency, and I'll know more later today. If that doesn't work, we have been talking to a couple of local agencies and we'll end up picking one and letting them manage the property for us, for about a 5% commission. In the end, it's all for the best because having someone living there full-time means I no longer have the job of managing tourists and cleaning the apartment every few days, and our electric bill will drop because I won't be washing all those extra sheets and towels 2-3x a week. [UPDATE: Yep, we found a nice couple to rent the apartment! Woo-hoo!]
Lastly, yes, we're planning to move. Again. We always knew this apartment would only fill our needs for a few years. We took it because it's in the neighborhood of the middle school/high school we wanted the Garçon to attend, but it was always a bit too small for our needs, and because it's technically in the 9th arrondissement, the rent is higher for 60m2 than it would be elsewhere. (Plus, we have a cheapskate landlord who passes off every imaginable expense to us, and we are constantly getting hit with extra charges; it's legal, but annoying and frankly I resent having to pay the cost to maintain the water heater every damn year. And he doesn't even supply recycling bins in the building!)
So, with what free time I have left, I've been checking online web sites looking for suitable apartments that meet our needs: 2 real bedrooms (right now the Garçon's "bedroom" is half of our living/dining room divided by curtains, and at 13 he now wants more privacy and rightly so). Either more square meters or a lower rent, or both. A cave or storage space in the building so we can stop paying for storage space elsewhere. And a location that is still a reasonable commute for both Georges to his job and for the Garçon to go to school and to his mom's, his friends, and his tennis and piano lessons. Luckily now that he's 13 he can get around more independently on public transportation, which gives us more options as to where we can search for a new place. I also want more light (this apartment seems dark), to be on a higher floor (first floor living is too noisy and you smell the cigarette smoke from passers-by when the windows are open) with an elevator, and even better closet space than we have now (for the size of our current apartment, our closet space isn't terrible.)
I want to do some posts on our recent tour at Versailles because it really was amazing, and I have enough photos for at least 2 and possibly 3 posts. But I just haven't had the time, so please bear with me and know that I AM working diligently on That Damn Book again!
And hey, if any of you are doing NaNoWriMo and you want to check in, go to my Facebook page here, where I'm posting updates on my own progress and where you can add yours!