(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

recent discoveries.

Recently I took up temporary residence in a studio apartment in downtown Thiviers. The hotel was complete after Sunday, and the maitresse d’hotel offered a small apartment in a building they are renovating. It cannot be leased fully because the stairwell is not finished yet. I accepted with the thought that the fee would minimal.

While the fee of 40 € is less than the hotel (60 € a night), at 280 € per week, it is not exactly cheap. When I shared the cost with my new builder, Jean-Yves, he exclaimed, “Ahhh….EXPENSIVE!!”. We have agreed that somehow, I must be set-up in my house by Monday so I only pay one week for the apartment. Every week takes valuable resources from my renovation project. And adds to my financial anxiety.

Getting me set-up primarily means hot water. This small project has led to wonderful discoveries. We are relocating the hot water heater (chauffe-eau) from inside a smart little room destined to be a sun room … assuming there is no hot water heater on display … and into another smaller room which will be my laundry room and pantry. This little sun room is an odd shape, nearly pie shaped and was camouflaged with horrendous linoleum and a false ceiling, sagging and bruised with water marks. On one side there is a lovely old door, the top half with small paned glass windows and next to the door another window. An old homemade skylight, about 3’ x 2’ is set into the ceiling. Dismantling the hot water heater led to ripping out old, asbestos filled wallboard which exposed … drumroll … lovely stone walls!!! We were so encouraged by this excavation that we continued to the ceiling and exposed … drumroll … lovely petite beams and wood ceiling !!! Finally, carried away with ourselves, we ripped up the god-awful linoleum and rotting subfloor to discover … drumroll … old wood planks that can perhaps be restored to a floor. Joy of joys … I envision the ceiling and floor washed in white, offset by the amazing old, buttery stone wall. Lastly, when the pocketbook permits, installation of a real, more watertight skylight.

I feel like I am on my own excavation journey. This one small room, its discoveries all occurring on our first day of work, has been a boon to my experience.

I confess I am still battling uncertainties. I imagine many of you are baffled by my whining on this topic. Actually, I am not really whining. Instead, I am thinking out loud! HA. Also, attempting to express the gamut of emotions associated with being a corporate dropout going through a reinvention process.

It isn’t all tra-la-la and tiptoeing through the tulips. Rationally, I can express the reasons the American corporatization of society imbeds fear and cynicism into our everyday thinking. One would think that because it can be expressed, all feelings associated with the process would be eliminated. In my case at least, not so. I also think it is okay, normal and to be expected. Of course also worth working to diminish, if possible.

So little things like discovering small projects that require naught but hard work clearing out the dross and some elbow grease and paint to unveil a lovely enjoyable space … well, those little things are HUGE reassurances, especially financially!

And really, the central source of my underlying anxiety is my longer term financial security. But don’t we maintain a low level anxiety regarding finances as a permanent part of our daily lives in the U.S.? The establishment of a NEED for THINGS .. an expectation of acquisition, resulting in indebtedness and to a certain degree, financial enslavement. That is a primary source of the control of the masses. Our government, the media, the business powers that control our economic situation .. all conspire together to create an ongoing state of economic instability in our society as part of their campaign to instill compliance with the status quo. Now I don’t mean active conspiracies where representatives meet behind closed doors for strategy sessions (although nothing would surprise me …). Rather, they rely upon each other for ongoing prosperity and choreograph activities accordingly; it is critical that the population cooperates to maintain the status quo.

So I do battle with inner demons to quell the fearfullness instilled by this reality.

I was introduced to the concepts of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz by a life coach and close personal friend, Kathleen. I am an irreligious person, an atheist in fact. But that doesn’t mean I reject all thoughts of a spiritual nature. We all have our own ‘codes’ by which we live. I have a nifty little set of cards based on The Four Agreements, which allow me to meditate a bit on a precept to consider. Today’s seems particularly helpful to my current situation. Bear with me as I share it with you … maybe you too will take something from it.

“Take your life and Enjoy it!

You are alive, so take your life and enjoy it. You were born with the right to be happy, to love, and to share your love. Just to be – to take a risk and enjoy your life – is all that matters.”

Oh. And here are a few pictures for you restless masses. (notice I put them on the end in an attempt to make you Adult A.D.D. types read my post. ha.)

the future chambre du soleil ...stone wall, skylight and petite beams

the now living room, destined to be the kitchen and dining area ... leads out onto a tiny attached hothouse room/atrium (next photo, not so good) and then the first garden ... *sighs at the beaty and wonder, lol*

the petite atrium


Randal Graves said...

Sheesh, even the damn tourist office is in a cool looking building. Speaking of cool, the fact that you found some workable surfaces underneath all that ugly ass linoleum!

You're right, we do seem to expect to have a lot of stuff aux Etats-Unis, even if it means living beyond our means. Believe me, it's killing me that I haven't bought a new CD in a couple of months. ;-)

But don't worry any longer. It IS all run by a secret cabal of evil men.

La Framéricaine said...

I, for one, fully appreciate your low-grade anxiety and concerns. I have frequently said, upon being asked about my departure for France, that I have no interest in hurling myself into gentile French poverty any sooner than I have to. I don't mind, slipping into it slowly but I will not hurtle.

Thus, I continue to be Halfway To France, rather than all the way, so that when I arrive I have a nest egg upon which to draw for projects such as those in which you are now engaged.

Hot water is highly overrated, I will say. Especially at $280 euros, or whatever, a week.

One of the good things about having been brought up in Oklahoma and having traveled regularly to Mexico is that people have much more "house beautiful" going on in much greater rustic conditions in those places and one gets used to eating, sleeping, cooking, and improvising shit, shower, and shave activities in very primitive conditions.

I think that your feelings about financial security and the abject waste of good capital improvement funds on over-priced hovels is well-placed. Just get you a little bed à la Van Gogh's "Bedrooom" and start camping out in our own house.

Whatever you decide to do, Bravo!

By the way, have you given some thought to busmen's holidays for manual laborers? They come and work for you half days M-Th, pay for their own food, cook their own food, you provide the bed and the work. Th, Fr, Sat off because France is closed on Sunday and Monday! They'll be beatin' a path to you door, Beautiful!

Bonne continuation!!!

Our Juicy Life said...

I'm so excited that you found the stone and beams....how thrilling. Brico depot rocks!

I think we all stress about our finances...the more you have the more you spend, seems that people who had loads spend so much and still stress or arent' that happy. I like the simple life...and I think your home will be so perfect for you. You get to basically start from scratch, you can decide how much you want, what things you want, how much to spend..it's nice.

I totally agree that 280 euros is expensive, we are paying 900 euros for the house we are renting in the Aveyron, 3 bedrooms a pool, etc....so great that you'll get into your house in a week. Better to push that then spend your money on the apartment.

I'm still very excited for you and can't wait to hear more.

Utah Savage said...

I'm so proud of you, as if you were indeed my courageous, creative, smarter sister. I love the pictures and description of your labors and discoveries.

Things are pretty much the shits here and getting shittier as BushCo tries to sell off the USA as fast as they can. Their mission seems to be dismantling the economy as fast as possible.

Anonymous said...

Look at you getting all Frenchie!

Stephanie said...

congrats on all the progress. Don't worry about the decision to stay in the apartment. No regrets!

Je ne regrette rien said...

RG-even my builder (a ... ahem 'homme blanc') says it is all an evil scheme by the white man ... bwahahaha!

LF-I don't really understand the concept of busmen holidays, but I am intrigued and require more explanation! do me a favor and email me.

My fin'l challenge is while I don't require so much anymore, I have big obligations that must be dealt with. sigh. The only little cloud hovering about my experience here...

OJL-your clock is ticking --- hurry up you two!

U.S.-everytime you 'write' me, you are so encouraging and complimentary. I wish you knew how much it is appreciated! Oh-and everyone here would like an American revolution... grrr.

FOT- don't you know it. My Franglais is rockin! lol

Steph- true true, must stick to my nom-de-plume!

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