The view from my office

View from my office

View from my office

Firstly, why did I ever think that cycling into work in a blizzard may even remotely be a good idea?

Secondly, night is falling now. And the roads will be even more slippery than this morning.

Thirdly, only a week left to go. In a week, this will no longer be the view from my office, because I will no longer be working here.

Just to add to the stress of wrapping-up a zillion projects before I leave, I have to take BIG job decisions. And frankly, I don’t like big decisions. They feel daunting, and definitive, and I would rather stick sharp things under my nails than decide.

Ok, so the reason decision time has come is because even though I have signed up for a terribly-paid but interesting fixed-term post somewhere, I am now being offered a slightly-better-paid but less interesting permanent position somewhere else. And that’s really just the executive summary of the problem, because there are many more ramifications such as being able to work part-time, how much time off  I can get to fit around the kids, development perspectives, the fact that if I go in one less-interesting direction, I will be closing the door on future, more interesting ones, and the all important issue of how good the canteen is.

So, hey, I know I am lucky to even have the luxury of choosing between two (well, actually it’s three, but the third one was a no-brainer) jobs, but guess what: I am scared. There’s been a lot of change in my life over the last five years, and I feel like hiding under the duvet pretending all this latest job changing lark isn’t really happening.

I know that I will eventually get over it, but right now, my eyes are watering, and I can feel a headache coming on.

At home, Mr Xmas, who has picked up the kids, showered my youngest and cooked dinner will be there, all deep-voiced and calm.

Think I’ll just catch the tram and bus home tonight…

Buena Vista Social Club – Dos Gardenias

Lanzarote

Before I found out I was going to become a pauper last Autumn, Mr Xmas and I had booked a week off in Lanzarote over the New Year.

So after spending a really noisy, hectic, lovely week in Paris with my family for Christmas, I headed for a really quiet (read child-free) week with Mr Xmas in Lanzarote. Lanzarote is a smallish Spanish island off the coast of Southern Morocco, on the same latitude as Florida : It is renowned for its year-round mild climate and freakish volcanic landscapes.

We did a lot of hiking.

Hiking

Classy picnics.

Picnic

High-brow entertainment.

Uno

The only downside being that our studio flat was right next to the hotel’s bar, where staff rehearsed an Abba musical every. Single. Night around the time we cooked dinner.

Abba

Because we’re French, we picked the starter of our New Year’s Eve dinner off the rocks on a beach…

Winkles

Winkles

And speaking of New Year’s Eve, it was probably one of the simplest, yet best in my life.

New year

In a word, I spent a blissful week away from all the pain of the past and uncertainties of the present.

And have since come back with a bump to Winter and errr… Is it just life? My workload is through the roof as I’m on the final stretch of my current job, there have been interviews for new jobs, broken cars, grumpy children, grumpy and sick children, cutting down on all expenses. Yet, none of it has been as bad it it could have been, because you know what ? I am not alone.

Mr Xmas is here. In fact, Mr Xmas has all but moved in with us, and much to my surprise, it feels ok.

Well, better than ok: I actually look forward to seeing him every night, to burying my nose in his smell and debriefing the day.

That is not to say that there aren’t still moments when I doubt, freak-out and question everything (hey, it wouldn’t be me otherwise), but they are getting fewer and further between.

Something odd, tranquil and powerful is seeping through the cracks of my tired heart.

Grand corps malade – 15h du matin

This song is light and silly, a reminder that Spring is around the corner. Makes me smile at the rain and fog.

… I’ll leave you with a few real pics of our holiday

Geometry by Lady E

Geometry by Lady E

The winkles' beach !

The winkles’ beach !

Timanfaya national park

Timanfaya natural park

Volcano top

Hiking in Lanzarote by Lady E

Hiking in Lanzarote by Lady E

Atlantic

Atlantic

Cartooning for peace

Cartoon by Plantu

Cartoon by Plantu

As my country reels in the aftermath of two terrorist attacks, mainly directed against a satirical magazine famous for its irreverencious cartoons, I sit in the quiet, cooling house, unable to sleep.

For the last 8 years, NGO Cartooning For Peace, set-up by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and French cartoonist Plantu has been working tirelessly against intolerance. You can support them here.

Who knows?

No job under the tree this year

No job under the tree this year

I hang up after a few more polite thank-yous, and just sit at my desk, stunned.

The thing is, that I had become really excited about the prospect of my very own, much coveted, Christmas present: A permanent, well-paid position, with a good strategic slant and room for development, all wrapped with a shiny bow, and my name on it…  After three interviews and enthusiastic feedback, I had rather foolishly allowed myself to believe in Santa.

Triple pants!

It’s no consolation that I apparently missed the job by a thread, I feel like rolling on the floor and kicking: Not fair!

So it’s back to square one, to my upcoming six months contract on a laughable wage, having to scrimp on Christmas presents, and constantly worry about the future.

Ooh, and just to make it clear: I’ll punch anyone who dares utter something along the lines of “onwards and upwards”, or “something else will come along”. Ha!

Alright, alright, perhaps, I am reluctantly aware that my situation is not a dent on err… , say South Sudan, but still, being a grown-up sucks sometimes.

And the confidence bubble that had for a while lifted the fog, and put my relationship with Mr Xmas back on sunnier tracks has kind of popped. I am back to doubt, not knowing what I want, or where to go.

Right, methinks it’s time for an old classic by The La’s because really, who the f***k knows what the future holds?

Anyway, come on, give me your ideas of songs that can bring a smile to your face when you’re feeling down?

The La’s – Who knows?

Geek Central

Last week-end, Mr Xmas threw a flat-warming party for his physicist and IT friends. It involved a lot of black casual-wear, a few ironic t-shirts, crisps, beer, and because this is still France, foie-gras on toast. Voilà.

GC1

Actually, it was good fun…

Ooh, and my cleavage entertained a few riveting conversations about code.

GC2

Fog

P1010271

Tonight, everything is quiet. Outside the city drips, inside the dishwasher chugs, and the fridge whines -no, seriously, my fridge does whine – in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s trying to say something…

Life has been a whirl lately.

Last week, I celebrated my birthday, sitting outside in a t-shirt with my colleagues. It felt like the weather had decided to forego Winter altogether, and go directly to Spring.

An hour later, I resigned. Nothing to do with the weather (or my colleagues), but the paperwork for my next job came through: A dubious birthday present, committing me to another fixed-term contract, assorted with a charming 60% pay-cut.

This interesting situation is about to propel me into the very-financially-challenged sub-section of the French population, which albeit I’m sure will be a sociologically-worthy experiment, I’m not particularly looking forward to.

Over the weekend, I flew to the UK to see a dear friend sob her way through her wedding vows. And for the first time ever, the thought of mariage made me feel like a deer caught in headlights, paralysed, terrified, trapped. Bearing in mind that I’m the girl who keeps pictures of wedding gowns and fairtrade rings on a secret Pinterest board, this was somewhat unsettling.

The mood remained decidedly grown-up as I caught up with three more friends, all confronted with the kind of grief that forces you to cherish life – one is lost after the sudden death of her father last Spring, one was about to leave her alcoholic husband when her father died a couple of weeks ago, and the last one is seeing a close friend lose her battle against cancer at the grand age of 42.

Back home, Winter has arrived: clouds are low and the wind has a new bite. Mister Xmas and I are still trudging along, one day at a time: It would seem I’m the one fleeing commitment… And this feels completely disorientating.

As I wait for the fog to lift, and for some sense of direction to return, this song has me under its spell:

Lana Del Rey – West Coast