Okay... well... sort of decision made. I'm going to try and finish working here at the end of January or the middle of February (when I have a weeks holiday). But I don't know what exactly my plan is. I want to stay in Paris, but only for a few more months. I'll be back in the UK in June for a wedding. Time is really flying by, and to be honest I'm too depressed and de-motivated to make the most of my time here. I think this month will be good because I have visitors two weekends, but this weekend has been spent in bed ill, and the other weekend I'm working.
I honestly don't know how Peggy (my boss/the mom) can think that I don't work hard enough to earn my keep. She was talking the other day about how I'll be working more weekends from now on. Basically if I don't have plans & I'm not out of the house then I'm working. But she still acts like I don't work 35 hours a week. Which I do. Honestly. She's actually deluded. She revealed that she's going to Lyon on the 4th of Feb at 5am and not coming back until Sunday, because she's driving. I kinda want to point out that she should go on a fucking train and only be gone one day. Rather than leaving me with the 3 kids from 6am on Friday until god knows when on Sunday. She's ALWAYS late. She's always in a rush but in a useless faffy way. I just KNOW she'll not get back when she says she will. Then I'll still get the "oh well you worked more this time, but you've not done any babysitting for a couple of weeks so you owe me the time". WOMAN. YOU CANNOT ACCRUE TIME LIKE THAT. At the end of the day the agreement was that I would work "up to 35 hours a week including babysitting". This has changed to at least 35 hours and then babysitting on top of that. But because her husband is living at the other end of France, she's not going out in the evening much. In fact she's barely out of the house at all. She spends hours a day sat around the house watching tv, films, on her ipad & talking on the phone. Then when the kids get home & I say no OF COURSE they'll go to her to ask her for a second opinion. This is one of the reasons she feels that I don't work hard enough, because she has to speak to her kids when I'm supposed to be looking after them. This is also the reason she thinks it's okay to send the kids to me when I'm not supposed to be working. For example: at any point when I'm at home.
I got back to Paris on the 29th. Since then I have been in bed at least 12 hours a day. I've only left the house to pick up the kids. That's it. For over a week. I'm suitably insane. Mostly because in the afternoon there's usually a kid at home and she sits upstairs on her computer & sits the kids in front of the TV downstairs. They come to me for everything. She had a nap the other day when William (youngest - 4yo) was here & he drove me bloody mad. I have simply been too ill to go out and get away.
I long for the days when I live alone in an apartment. Even in a shared house was better than this! I was less hungry in my final year than I am in this house. I am SICK of it. I heard her on her phone talking to someone about me. About how much milk and apple juice I used. SORRY ABOUT THAT. Honestly I am very frustrated.
Writing this is mostly just so I can get all this stuff out of my head. It all just swills around in my brain driving me a bit mental. I'm increasingly worried that at some point she'll be rude about something and I'll just SNAP and quit and be absolutely fucked. People say "just quit", but it's not that simple. I'm in the middle of nowhere (not central Paris) and I have more stuff than I could carry. I don't have the option to just leave. If I quit suddenly then have no idea what I would do with my stuff, and I honestly believe that's mostly what's keeping me from exploding. I imagine it's why a lot of other aupairs also put up with so much shit.
The trouble with finding another aupair family would be that if they're looking for an aupair now, it'd mean that they either got rid of their last one or their last one left. So they'd probably be just as bad. There are a few local families who are looking for aupairs, but I'm not sure I'd cope with bumping in to Peggy & the kids. I like Fourqueux & the people I've met here, but I can't quit in a civil way without moving far away. There's no nice way to quit this kind of job. It's a very personal thing. If you quit then you're saying "I don't like you". Even though I feel that, I'm not prepared to say it. Yet.
Sooooo... Yesterday I helped Peggy set up the Christmas decorations. On a Sunday. Because I could NOT get a moment's peace. Also, don't be fooled, Emma didn't help, she tried to do one but couldn't, threw a strop then wandered off.
I thought that the run up to Christmas with young kids would be all awesome and magical, but it's not! It's just really annoying. And I've not had a day off because of it! The 'reason' I wasn't paid extra during the holiday of hell
was supposedly that I was working much less than 35 hours a week in general, and therefore it all evened out. I'm close to calling SHENANIGANS. I'm worried I'm going to lose my temper and quit! It's scary. I want to tell her what I think is best for her and her kids, but I don't think she'd listen. I think she should at least get a part-time job and a full time (strict!) nanny. When she's had proper time away from the kids then she's really good with them, but now even though she doesn't have to look after them all the time, she never gets away and never gets any mental space. Can't even begin to think about how I would explain that to her. I just think it would be better for everyone. Apart from me, but who the hell am I anyway?
How can it only be wednesday? Last night I was despairing and full of woe. Today I am just sad and tired. I am absolutely isolated. Although I like time alone, I am not alone here. I have no one to talk to. The children are... the children. Peggy is my employer & although I complain about her a lot, I do like her. The trouble is we are stuck in this awkward relationship, or employee/employer & making friends when you start there is not easy. Eric is find to chat with but he's here to spend time with his family.
There was a phrase on an aupair website that is sticking in my mind: "aupairs are often seen as the Cinderellas of the care profession". At home this isn't a problem, but here, the phrase just pops in my head all the time. When the kids are up, I'm up. They are all on & off the phone all day but I asked to use the phone and they didn't say no but the answer was definitely no. Also the showers I take are too long. I would be grateful of an hour out of the house alone, but not in town because I might cry again.
It is barely 10am. I have played 5 diffrent games. Not 5 games, but 5 diffreent games. A weird version of dominoes, "pirate", Mr Men/Little miss game, beta-waf (a game about the height of dogs... WUT) and "le chocon-dit". Kill me now. All I want is a cup of tea unninterupted, or a quiet stroll in the freezing cold ALONE. I suggested I might go for a wander this morning but this was poo-poed because Peggy has to help Eric do... something.
Meanwhile I think I have managed to avoid mentioning two things. Number 1, there is snow. Not here, but if we drive round the corner you can see snow. SNOW. Number 2, turns out there's no sereage system in this house. There is a pipe out of the house that goes out of the house, about a meter away from the back door, about 10 inches underground. That pipe ends there. All the sewerage just goes out in to the back garden. For reals. Yesterday some men with a JCB came to the house and dug a biog hole behind the house,and guess what, then dug in to the poo pipe. The apparently had to so that they could put more pipes on to the poo pipe. Meanwhile there is just a poo hole out back. Anyway Peggy was asked by the workmen to flush the toilet upstairs a couple of times and joy of joys a load of poo came out of the pipe in to the pile. The workmen said in French "ooh that's a fresh one! haha!" Now every time anyone goes to the toilet, it comes out of that broken pipe in to the hole by the back door. I cannot put in to words how I feel about this. Other than that it' snot fucking funny any more. The electricity cutting out every time you switch on a heater without checking what else is on. There never being any hot water when I want to wash, and the toilet situation is the shit cherry on the shit sundae. At least it's sunny now. Minus1 degrees today. Lush. There is not enough tea in the world to cheer me up now. I'd go for some chocolate but I'm worried about getting an upset stomach.
Aren't you a lucky lot, eh?
As a break from my usual transmission, here is a picture of the family cat. He peeks through my window. The pervert.
More powercuts. For longer. More pate. More shit rhymes.More cold miserable weather.
For the first time since I came to France, I cried. I went to my room, closed the door, buried my face in to my pillow, and cried thinking "I want to go home". Which home I meant, I'm not sure. At least in Fourqueux I have internet, phones, I can go for a walk, or get in to the city. I am in this house all day, unless we all go somewhere. If I opt to stay at home when Peggy goes somewhere then the kids stay, then they constantly ask me to play with them or when their mother is returning. If I don't play with them immidiately, then they run to their mother and tell her that I won't play with them. She will then come in the room and say "is there any reason why you're not playing with the kids? were they naughty?" The reason is that I don't want to, and I don't have to. They play better when I don't join in. Plus there is really no reason why I would have to play with them constantly. They need to be able to play unsupervised. Also I'm going mad and I've barely slept since I got here. WAH.
Day three in the ruins. It's another rotten, cold, wet, miserable day. It's almost 10am and we still have all the lights on. Due to the terrible weather it looks like we'll be spending another day in the house, though I can nnever be sure. Peggy could come down at any minute and announce that we were going somewhere. I asked yesterday if we had anything planned and she got cross! Whatever. I'm regressing to teenager-like gruminess. Only this time I have boobs and books.
There was a powercut. This wouldn't be so bad but there's a bloke coming over to clean the chimney tomorrow, so the fire has been out since 4pm. For almost half an hour I was despairing. Hugely. Also I'm going to have to ban the phrase "Kate... can we play a game?" because it's driving me crazy. The kids even play better together than when I join in. Also I brought quite a bit of work to get on with and am not getting a moment to myself to get on with it. Still no idea what my duties are here. Feel like it's a bit late to ask now.
Well it's not a shack, it more like ruins. It's a massive place. They're making it in to 4 houses, so that might give you some indication of size. It is very cold and wet. I sleep downstairs. If you turn on more than a couple of things at once then the electricity stops. All the heaters have to be turned off to be able to put on the stove. Seriously ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is when the hell am I working?! I'm being told nothing about what is going on (because nothing's organised) and seem to be "on duty" all the time. For example, I was working yesterday (Saturday) and I'm deffo working today, but I have already been paid for this week and there was no extra cash for the extra work and lack of days off. Struggling to bring it up. Might try to wait until both Peggy & Eric are there because Eric is very laid back.
Yesterday was interesting. When we finally arrived at the house it was very cold and dirty. I had to clean the room I'm staying in, make my bed and then do the same in the kid's room. I'm not even supposed to work weekends. Even if I got "time off" here, we're miles from a town (20mins in the car), and I don't know my way anywhere. Also the weather is bloody awful.
I digress; last night. We arrive. There's no food in the house, then at 8pm Peggy remembers what day it is and realises that nowhere will be open tomorrow (Sunday) because we're in the middle of fucking nowhere. So we have no food for today or tomorrow. Nobody's laughing at my emergency pot noodles now, eh? (apart from you have to turn the heaters & hot water off to boil water for it but whatever). Another life saver was my hot water bottle. Oh my goodness that was a good call. I very nearly didn't bring it, but without it I would have been far too cold to sleep last night.
So the kids went to bed after 9pm, then I heated up some water in a pan for my hot water bottle, and climbed straight in to bed. After the 6am rise on Saturday, I was ready for a lie in on Sunday. Unfortunately, Emma woke up at 6:20am, immediately got up, stomped around a lot and dropped things on the floor a lot. It's relevant to point out now that the kids bedroom is directly above where I sleep, and there is only a single layer of floorboard upstairs. Eric chuckled and said "heh, yeah, I need to get that sorted." If makes every movement and noise upstairs BOOM downstairs. Also: DANGER. So that was another early morning for me. Later we went to the supermarche and chose a few bits that I'd need (having underestimated the level of cold discomfort): slippers, more gloves, postcards, chocolate. I should mention now that the French are obsessed with slippers. Every house I go to it's like "hey didn't you remember to bring your slippers?" WHAT NO?! WHAT?!?
In the past 24hours 3 things have broken. 4 if you include my spirit. My new jogging bottoms ripped when I climbed in to the boot of the car at 7:30am. My backpack broke when it was sat in the back of the car full of books etc. Then as I climbed out of the car after 5 hours in a fucking boot, I felt a toe poke through my sock. ANOTHER pair of socks ruined. BAH. My spirits might only survive if I only know what the hell was going on and what was planned. Also extra money for the extra hours would be nice. I wish I didn't hate talking about money so much, it's not helpful in this kind of situation.
Mon, Nov. 1st, 2010, 11:53 am
Just going to copy out the diary I have kept while I have been away on "holiday". I'll only post a day at a time. I'll apologise in advance for the immense level of grumbling.
Today is the first day of the first school holidays. We have been in the car since 7:30am. Where we're going, there's no internet, which it why I'm keeping a diary. It took us 5 hours to get to Leon. We saw a lorry from Sheffield and we all cheered. I tried to sleep mostly. Leon looks pretty awesome, but I have had no sleep and I am crammed in the boot of a car. We've just visited Peggy's mum and dropped off William for the week! YAY! Peggy's mum seems nice but she talks really fast and used complicated French without realising. We had lunch at the Grandma's house. When we got there some snacks had been laid out... Froi gras... For reals... Crazy posh shit going down here. William broke a lamp within about 10 minutes of us arriving at this posh flat. Good luck for the rest of the week grandma. Now we're back in the car and heading to... ermmm.. the shack. 2 hours until we should get there. Wherever that is.
Yes. A month! A whole flippin' month! I don't know where last week went, I meant to update every week and it's not like I've been overwhelmingly busy... I digress... A MONTH! I've been here for a month, and I met up with Jonathan Holmes on Monday and it was lovely to see him (he's spent all summer working in France which is cool) and we were talking about the passage of time (because we're old and that's what you do). I was trying to explain about how long it felt like I had been here. Half of me feels like I've been here forever, but the other half is reminding me that it feels like no time at all. I'm here, I'm working, I'm busy, I've made friends, it's all great. I'm fairly settled and that's where the feeling of having been here forever is from. This is how things are and this is how things have been for a while. You absolutely get used to it. But there is the flip side, when I get a bus and on to the RER A and I remember that I'm in Paris and I really should stop trying to save all my money and really get out a bit more! I love going out and wandering but I get such an appetite and food in the centre of Paris is expensive, and there's mostly no food in the house for me.
Anyway, having not posted last weekend (I remembered why) it means that I have not mentioned on here that I went to Paris Burlesque Festival. A couple of the fab girls that I know from the UK Burly scene (Darkteaser & Khandie Khisses) were in Paris to perform and I tagged along (ie I got in free) and partied as hard as I could (not very hard). There were a lot of veeeery lovely
boobies people! It was great but due to roadworks it took me well over 2 hours to get to the venue, and within an hour of being there I had missed my last train home. It was gone 3am when I decided I'd had enough and need to at least try to get home. Darkteaser, Starla Haze, Philly Cara Mel and I left the venue and hobbled down the street to find the taxi rank. We all stood at the taxi rank for an hour. Maybe 4 taxis stopped in that hour, each asking where we were going & then either driving off or saying "no I'm going to Gare du Nord" then driving off. What a joke. Paris transport at night: you suck. We eventually managed to get a taxi to Starla's (in the 3rd) and I laid awake for a couple of hours before remembering that I had been asked to get back to Fourqueux by 11am to work. I crawled to the metro & got on the RER A. Then on the bus. Then walked home from the bus. By the time I got home I was BUZZING. I was also half an hour late. I feel bad for ruining the mom & dad's cinema date, but I was only told the day before, and it was my first proper night out in Paris. My feet hurt for the rest of the week.
Also I finished 1984. I love it. At the back of the book there is an appendix thing to explain newspeak and I really want to give that a try. However I probably wont because I've really gotta try and get on with my TEFL course. It's got to the horrid part where I need to be able to talk confidently about grammar. I can use grammar, but I cannot say "this is this" or anything. It's all just a jumble in my mind.
OH, and I totally wont be updating for a couple of weeks, because next weekend is the beginning of the school holidays and we're all going away to a shitty cabin on a mountainside in the arse end of nowhere. I would be excited, but (a) I'll be working, (b)there's no internet, (c) THERE'S NO INTERNET, (d) I'm MISSING FUCKING HALLOWEEN, (e) I only have one book left to read, (f) I will not be able to hang with Malia, (g) no tutoring session with Clarice, (h) I'm not getting paid extra for all this extra bullshit. I'm not even sure when I'm getting back. I might not be back in time to celebrate/enjoy Day of the Dead. And anyone here who speaks English is American and explaining Bonfire night makes me sound like a pyromaniac.
Also I thought I'd mention here (because it's a long post and very few people will have read through to the end), that I feel like a bit of a mentalist. On one hand I have met awesome people, and being here is AWESOME. Paris is amazing and it's wonderful just to have been here a whole month. And for all that I am SO HAPPY. But on the other hand, I really miss some people. Hanging out in Sheffield with the best people, and hanging out in Bourne with my oldest friends. Thinking about them makes me sad, but the longer I avoid it then the worse I feel when I eventually do. Also I have no idea what to write in letters or on postcards. Also children are gross and annoying, so the job isn't the easiest or most fun thing ever. In summary, I am VERY HAPPY but also VERY SAD. At the same time. Which is why I feel MENTAL.