Monday, July 4

Year Long Haul

It's been a year since I left Montréal.

In some ways, it's hard to believe it. Time has really flown. This year has easily gone by faster than any other in my life.

At the same time, looking back at how much has happened, it feels like so very much longer. Although I still have no idea what I want to do in the future, I do feel that I've figured out a few things that I don't want. Such as staying in Europe any longer than this trip. However long this trip lasts.

As little organization as I've had with my plans before, I have much less now. As I should have expected, after I'd given up on looking for jobs here I got a call from someone looking to hire me. They were responding to a resumé that I'd left a few months ago. It's to work nights in a hotel, which is the easiest job imaginable. I can do anything that I like, such as watch television or go on the internet. I just have to be awake to let guests in and to call for help in an emergency.

When I say that I'd given up on finding a job here, it wasn't because I didn't think that I could find something. It was mostly because I was tired of France in general. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the country. It's still where I feel most comfortable in Europe. But I realized that no matter how happy I could be here, I would be much more so in Canada. Or in Montréal, to put a finer point on it. That's not to say that I'm coming straight back, though. I still do want to travel around eastern Europe a bit, and take some Spanish classes in Spain as well. This should take at least till the end of the year.

So now I'm completely on the fence as to whether or not to stay, and for how long. Not helping the staying part is that the hotel keeps pushing back the time that I can start, and telling me that I can only work part time till September. This doesn't seem very promising, as I was told I could work full time starting in early July. The main reason that I'm still here is my lease, of which I have to give a month's notice before I leave. Which I still haven't done. I'm not entirely sure why, but it's likely because I'm feeling very passive lately on top of everything else. Too passive to make a decision, I suppose.

Something that might push me towards deciding sooner is that my shower is leaking water onto the old man who lives below me, and he and the super intendent came up shouting at me today. This seemed out of line, as I hadn't done anything wrong. I didn't KNOW it was leaking. After I started shouting back at them, they threatened to call the police. The acting landlord said that they're both totally nuts, and he's been trying to get the super intendent fired for a while. So depending on how I play this, I might be able to get out of here sooner than I thought.

Mostly, though, things are pretty slow. I had my first somewhat social day yesterday. Sundays in Europe are a bit boring, as any sort of shop is closed. So to kill the day I went to pay my respects to Jim Morrison. I'd already been to his grave once before, but at the very least I figured that a cemetery would be open, and that it would give me something to do. Morrison's grave is a huge tourist attraction, and there's at least a dozen people there at any time during the day. Plus three or four security guards. Apparently, his monument has been stolen. Twice. Despite the security. Go figure.

I got to chatting with a couple of goth/punk Scottish girls while I was there. I think it was the combination of the accents and tattoo body suits that I found most interesting. We hung out for the day, wandering around between bars. They were going to Amsterdam the next day though, so I didn't see them again after that night.

Usually I end up either going to libraries, drawing, or seeing movies to pass time. Of the movies that I've seen, two have stood out. Sin City was the best movie based on a comic book that I've ever seen. Due mostly to the director having written the comics in the first place. It's a crime story, very dark, but I won't try to do it justice here. Just go see it. The other that stood out was Garden State. It's been out for a while, but I only got around to seeing it now. It's mostly a drama, but was one of the few movies to make me laugh out loud in a while. And the soundtrack is awesome. Very chill. It includes a track from my favorite band of the moment, Zero 7. Plus it starred Natalie Portman. Incidentally, I found out that we share the same birthday. She's exactly one year younger than me. The only other famous person born on the same day as me that I know of is Johnny Depp. But he's way older. 40 something.

I'll close with yet another rant about the working conditions here in France. Mostly because it's pertinent. Right now there's a mandatory thirty day trial period before starting any job. Which means that you can be fired at any point in that period for no reason at all. Except for that you're like any other employee. After the thirty days, the boss needs a reason to fire to you.

A major problem facing French politicians is the very high unemployment rate, which has been over ten percent for a few years now. Instead of talking about the real reasons for this [overly powerful unions, 35 hour work weeks, low productivity and unreasonably high wages for even menial jobs, etc], the prime minister has decided that he can solve the problem by increasing the trial period to two years. The theory is that this should entice employers to try hiring more people. Any idiot should see that this will lead instead to younger workers being treated like shit for two years, then fired so that they can bring in a new trial worker and repeat.

I'm beginning to understand why the economy here is so stagnant. Whereas the last generation worked so hard making this country a world power again after the war, the current generation wants nothing but to be able to maintain their 'socialist model'. This is a fancy way of saying people demand to work as little as possible (or less) for more pay and benefits than they deserve. And my generation seems even more resistant to change then their parents. They were the driving force behind the rejection of the Constitution, mostly wanting protectionism out of fear of an invasion of cheap Polish labor. I'm not for globalization, but at the same time it isn't going away, and hiding from it for a generation or two isn't going to help anything. The British are embracing it much more, and their economy is doing very well, with an unemployment rate half that of France. I've always considered myself a socialist, mostly for the sake of state sponsored health care and education. Here, the term socialism seems to have been very heavily distorted, being driven by individual greed. Whereas capitalism is the pursuit of as much money as possible, Rrench socialism is a mechanism to work as little as possible.


Blogger Eugenie said...

BTW, as you mentioned Johnny Depp, what has become of that hat? ;)

11:27 p.m.  
Blogger ian said...

it's safely stored with my cousin in ottawa :)

i didn't think that i'd need it in europe. also, thanks again for making that for me. i just realized that i never got you anything for doing it, even though we wandered around town for a few hours looking. but i'll be sure to do something for you when i get back to québec, whenever that is :)

11:07 a.m.  

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