Friday, April 29, 2005

Enjoying life yet?

Yes I have been quiet. I have been home to the old sod for 10 days. To say it did me good would be an understatement. Not only did I meet up with all the mates, buddies and friends a person could care to have, I also managed to switch off the worry head too. My son came right out of himself as he was reintroduced to enough cousins to start a decent soccer team.
Yes there were those with problems, but none more serious than my own so it was manageable. Yes I got very merry drinking beer and whisky and celebrating my parents 50th anniversary. It was easy to leave but hard to come back. I notice however that my mind set, assuming I get enough sleep, has changed. I am more positive, my outlook is brighter.
I have dissappointments every day but I have things to celebrate too. I am teaching myself the joy and value of life and what a joy it is. The Sun is beaming, that always helps. I am meeting new and interesting people, that always helps too. Some people even missed me while I was gone, so now the Cote d'Azur is becoming home. Wow I never thought I would view it that way. I will probably never be as funny in french as I know I can be in English, I will probably never be as articulate but hey, I could strive for that if I want. My writing is still, well it's there somewhere like a silent companion waiting for me to come home. My work setup is not quite improving per say but it's certainly not getting anyworse. I am a little more positive, more open, and dare I say it, a little more french too. Funny sometimes you sit down to write something funny and you don't. I am sure the rough difficult time I am giving myself is not quite over but the light at the end of the tunnel no longer looks like a speeding train. So here I am and there you are as you read. Thank you for your eyes and your thoughts, and your comments. It's time to get living now. Turn off the computer, do something to make your life better, anything at all. Enjoy it to the full, seize the day by the scruff of the neck and shake some fun out of life.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Apologies, thanks, and that's that then.

Hi all
I got a shed load of comments about my last post. I have to apologise, I didn't mean to insult any friends of mine who have given help, rather I meant that I couldn't ask for any more help and that it was up to me to get on with it, the part about new friends was in reference to one or two people who dropped me here, and in fairness why wouldn't they if all I am doing is moaning. So sorry and please forgive something that was written in the heat of the moment and not really checked before posting.
So now what? Well it's over. I have been kicked up the ass and it was a pleasure. I have been kicked in the teeth but I refuse to stay down. I am standing on my own too feet and God damn it I am going to sort it out. Come hell or high water, and there is no reason why they should come I am changing my life starting right now.
Enough moping around and getting it all arse ways. Time for concrete positive action. Now actually I have no idea how many people who know me from Ireland or anywhere else read this blog so if you are someone who considered yourself my friend I am going to apologise again, why?
Well I am going to name names, and as they say at home, it's a dangerous thing to do because you always leave someone out. So if I leave you out my friend, it's either because I am nervous to name you, or I don't know how you feel about me, or just because I am an idiot at times.
So thank you Ma and Da and happy 50th anniversary this Wednesday 13th. And thank you my son and happy birthday this Wednesday 13th.
Thank you Tom Stokes and Frank Allen and here is the plug I promised for your movie and if you give me permission I will write about it here some later date.
Thank you Marina, thank you Rami, and Kim you know that you are great, thank you. Thank you to my brothers and sister for your support and thanks to all who listened to me moaning. Thanks to everyone who wrote a comment, or just read these pages. Everyone who has written a comment has been extremely helpful. Thanks Noreen, Mary, Bernadette, Jim and Mark, yes Mark you.
Thank you Ken Smith without who I would have gone nuts. Sorry if anything I wrote made me sound ungrateful, thanks for you listening, your advice, your coffee, and your general self. Thank you Hadia and Samia. Thank you Ibtisam, thank you Jose, thank you Pascale, thank you to all who have listened to me in Nice, who have fed me who have tolerated me not tolerating myself.
Thank you thank you a million thank yous

Side note of thanks goes to a Man about whom I learned just tonight that he is no longer with me. Bhí lamh in a bas Fein. Frank Clarke you thought me a lot about cameras, and technical equipment, and you made me laugh. I will miss you greatly. Thank you for being you.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

This is me

Yes I got paid and as usual either I can't count or he can't, he makes out that 6 and 3/4 hours at 20 euros and hours is 129 and I make out it's 135. Fuck it I have it and that's the main thing. On the positive side I have managed to organise a further 3 hours before I leave in Monaco, and this guy tonight may have another student in a hotel and some technical writing for me to do as well. On the positive side I have an interview on Saturday. On the negative side going home when I am might screw that up but I will sort it out if I can. On the neither negative nor positive side but more on the frustration side, I didn't get time to either ring the social assistant today or get my test results.

I need to explain something that apparently people just don't get and I am stunned that no one gets it. Let me be the first to say that I am at fault. I made mistakes in life. However I am human too. I didn't plan to have my heart wrenched out and stood on, and no matter how difficult my marriage was I am not someone to give up and walk away from a difficult situation and I genuinely believed I could improve the situation and make things better. So there I am practically alone, with no one as a friend who can listen, or support or advise. Fuck it since Last July I had never been alone so much as I have this last 6 months. Yes I felt sorry for myself and for my son. I felt like a failure, like I had wasted 7 years of my life trying to make something work that couldn't. I was angry and still am at my ex and her family and like it or not I have to put up with her ignorance, coldness, carelessness and downright rudeness till my son is 18 and then and only then can I tell her what I feel. If I do it before hand I am afraid I will not get to see my son. I didn't know what divorce was; it only became legal in 1999 I think, in Ireland so I hadn't grown up with a culture that was familiar with it. I never imagined that someone who would ask for a church wedding would then 2 years later throw it in the dustbin. Yes I was naive.
So imagine it this way, here is a guy who was so emotionally fucked up he couldn't think straight and so he didn't bother to read the fine print in his contracts. All of which I got after his marriage broke up. I also spent 5 months running around like a complete idiot trying to find somewhere to live, refusing one place which was good and cheap but because his French wasn't great he misunderstood who was on the phone, and with his confidence bashed he didn't have the courage to ask the person to repeat themselves. Oh well I thought, it will happen. It did. I found a couple who offered to go guarantor and when push came to shove they backed out. I couldn't understand the details either of what I was being told when I went to places like the CAFF, Agent Immobilier, or anywhere else where people didn't speak English, I just got the general idea, as I was already stressed, nervous, and alone and I really needed a friend to help. There was no one. I asked my ex and she politely told me to get lost.
Okay, I took it on the chin, actually I didn't, I collapsed in disbelief. I had to continue teaching a lot every day when my heart was breaking, and I was terrified about what was going to happen to my son. My future outlook had been shattered. Well I had already ploughed all the money I had into a wreck of a house in Falicon. While my wife worked and I had to be home to put my son to school and meet him again and there being just 3 buses per day in that time, I couldn't get a job anywhere because I couldn't get anywhere so the savings went.
Moving on I realised late in January that For the months of February and March I would be screwed basically, and I managed to get work with two other schools, However due to classes being cancelled and people not showing up, and other people not able to pay what they say they can, I often miscalculated how much I was earning each month. (My fault I know).
For instance the 6 euros I was left short today would fill my bike for a week.
I am deeply ashamed (my fault) to work in McDonalds and while already struggling with self-confidence and esteem that would be the worse thing I could do. McDo represents everything I detest and I haven't set foot inside it in nigh on 20 years.
I sent CV's off every time I saw a job that I thought I could do, but hang on I can't write well in French so now I need to push and learn more French. Easy really, I have a broken heart, I am stressed, no one to help and I am supposed to go find a job and learn French like it is a spring day and all is good with the world. The only thing I ever wanted to do in life was make films and tell stories and I haven't done any of it since I left Ireland and I am getting left behind and so my final dream is going up in smoke. I find myself in a strange land, (my choice,) I find myself alone (not my choice) I find it intensely difficult to regulate the bad, negative side of things, and keep my head up because most days I just want to cry, and most days I just want to get on with and make money. I can't see how to balance anything and I don't know what I am doing. This is a very different guy from the one who left Ireland nearly two years ago. Creative, energetic, fit, dynamic, I am now a shadow of my former self. My strength and resolve are there but my energy and state of mind are not. I had to stop my pension; my savings account and I have run up debts in and around 5000 euros. I am not proud of myself, I am ashamed of my situation, so I refute that it is by choice that I am in the situation I am in. I don't refute that it is my fault. Of course it is. But I have never been the one to hide under a rock in case in rains and I often expect the worst thinking that if it happens, then at least I won't be disappointed. I cannot and could not foresee being abandoned and being abused by so many. If I could foresee that, I wouldn't get up in the morning, and I wouldn't be alive now either. This is my strength. My belief and trust in people as I find them and the basis that everyone is good and honest until proved other wise. Apparently not here, but that outlook hadn't really caused me a problem before in my life. I continue to help old ladies across the street, I continue to wave at cars with no lights, I continue to help mothers with babies, because I believe I should, it is an integral part of me. I am grateful to all who have helped me but there is no more help coming. I do need those around me to be supportive, not critical, any more criticism and I will take a shotgun and go shoot something. But then I think of my son and think, control it, deal with it, put up with it and get on with it. What else can I do?
I have no idea how many jobs and agencies I sent my CV to this week. I have acquaintances passing my CV onto people they know. I have friends asking me to fix computers and if I can I do it for nothing in that they are friends and I hope they will tell others.
I have an interview Saturday, it doesn't come from Bad planning or feeling sorry for myself. I have CV's to give to Agencies in Nice; it doesn't come from sitting on my ass doing nothing.
I am truly sorry that I am a proud intelligent, frightened and brokenhearted man. I am truly sorry that I am not yet my full great and bigger self. I am truly sorry I am so bad with cash and I am truly sorry to the world that I am at fault. I have no right to ask anything of anyone, but as people don't ask me and I always offer when I can, sometimes I do ask. So I am asking for faith and encouragement and a kick up the ass from time to time. I am asking for patience. I do not know the me who is forgetful and distracted and sits for a while absentmindedly reflecting on what has happened and then having no idea if it has been hours or minutes that have passed. I do not know the me who cannot sleep and then cannot get up and then can't arrive on time, as I was always punctual in my former life. Yes I am sure I have been an idiot and an asshole but not a bad hearted or bad minded one just an undisciplined guy looking for love and understanding. Now I am learning to stuff that away and to look for the things that are material. I don't honestly really know how to do that but I am learning. I am learning a new discipline, and a new faith. Because heck if no one else believes in me anymore I still do. I am not giving up this fight, not even over my dead body. I will make a life in this god damn place, I will pay off all my debts, I will repay all my friends, if I have any left when this is over, and if I don't I will repay them anyway and find new real friends who will let me support them. I am me, Colm Maguire 37 years old, living in the Cote d'Azur and not really having any clue what's going on but doing my damnednest to cope with it anyway. I am strong, I am beginning to think I am invincible but fuck it I am only human. Yes it's all my fault but anyone who might read this all I will ask you is what the hell would you do in my place?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Just wondering what you would like

Talking to a friend today I thought it would be a good idea to post up here a simple question that I am hoping many of you who read this blog and have linked to it might be so good as to answer for me.
What would you like to buy from France? I am going to give you three general choices. a) food as in chocolate, olive oil, roasted peppers, b) antique furniture or c) clothing and perfume.
Please do take the time to email and respond it might solve some of my cash flow if you do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Learning to love the shit

Wisdom tells me that perhaps before I post this blog I shouldn’t even write it. But heck it’s 320am in the morning and I can’t sleep. Already I know I will have to proof read but although I can’t sleep I am really tired.

There is just too much in my head. So here it is. I will say this once and spell it out clearly for the world and its mother to hear and then I will talk about it no more publicly, at least not on the internet. I work as an English teacher in a foreign country that is part of Europe but does not recognise any diploma or degree from outside of it’s own borders.

I cannot get a permanent contract as a teacher; it’s a way for the schools to avoid paying the many taxes imposed by the French government. Before Christmas I earned 1200 euro a month for November, October and September, and although December and January were not great, I didn’t realise due to bad reading ability in French, that February and March would be just as bad if not worse.

I had struggled for five months to find a place to live. Due to not having a CDI, which is a Contrat Durée Indéterminée, in other words a permanent contract, no one wanted to lease to me. Apparently it’s really hard to throw people out of accommodation here in France even when they don’t pay. Six agents, and six independent owners, and one couple who really made life difficult for me by letting me down as guarantors for my rent, after they themselves suggesting it would be a good idea, I finally found a young agent willing to cut a deal and give me a three month rolling contract. Great. I managed to leave my ex’s home, and set up on December 1st 2004 in a new place, with a new found freedom. The fact that I was in the one place I could be thrown out of didn't bother me as I didn't realise what was coming.

It cost me over 2000 euros to get my foot in the door and poof, all my reserves of cash were gone. Then came the problem with reading. I hadn't understood my contracts, and most of my classes dissappeared. I worked about 12 hours in February and in March I have officially worked 22, plus the 10 that were worked illegally as in under the table, and as often happens when you go under the table, you get a kick. There are some hours from Monaco too but not much.

In January having realised what was coming I went to different organisations asking for temporary assistance, shit I have paid my European taxes for years now and it’s about time I got something back.

To cut a long story short, the social assistant didn’t really assist, the CAF, those who allocate funds, didn’t allocate but 35 euro to my plight, and the RMI, which I called Really Mired In it, told me politely to piss off. The long and the short is like this, I earned 630 euros this month, of which I will be paid only 500, and only 216 of it is official. 480 of which is my rent, that leaves 10 to pay off my 200 overdraft, my phone bill, my petrol, my printing for classes, my stamps for job applications and various letters complaining to the above organisations, oh yeah and food and water. Apart from the debts I ran up on my credit card from Ireland which is maxed out, the five grand I already owe to family and friends, and the fact I am going home next week, for my sons birthday and my parents 50th wedding anniversary, and I can’t get anything for anyone, well apart from that life is enjoyable. Besides, if I stayed here, the schools are all on holidays and that would be just crazy.

Now don’t get me wrong please. This is not a pity me piece. This is I can’t sleep and I need to get it off my chest. Because for one thing although I can no longer smell the shit, as I am so deep in it, I realise that for all the fears, life is damn good. I am firstly living in a good-looking environment.

There are people around who I care about immensely and I think they care about me a bit. Neither am I sitting on the few laurels I have left. Three new CV’s have been done up this week. More than a few job searches were done and more than a few speculative applications were made. The fact that these things take time and I don’t have it, really doesn’t help. I have not yet gone to the charities that hand out food as I am too proud and perhaps too silly and as I already told you all, I am not brave enough either.

So having gone up rather late to the two Arab sisters to try and boost my morale, (it took a while as all they did was bitch about how difficult it is and get me more depressed), I was touched by the wisdom that is H. H has I have already said in a previous post, is woman lacking in confidence and her financial situation is worse than mine. I haven’t gone days without eating yet. H is a qualified civil engineer but apparently Algerian engineering is different to French engineering and she has gone back to school at night and can’t get a day job to feed herself.

Last week she went to a Catholic organisation that fed both the girls for the week. This week perhaps with some shame of going back again, they tried another place, another religion, and another street. H walked in with a friend from one of islands in the Indian Ocean. The conversation from the two volunteers in front of them went along the lines of How dirty Arabs are and how dirty Tunisians in particular are. How Tunisia itself is full of Mosquitoes and how rubbish and filth line the streets. One woman in particular didn’t see why they should help these filthy Arab people only to see them bring their dirt to the streets of France, Mais non, suremont pas.
Noticing the two young ladies who came in they then engaged them in a conversation about hair, as H’s hair is beautiful and after months of being badgered by a friend and I, she has finally relented and wears it loose over her shoulders. Then of course the lady who didn’t like dirt and mosquitoes asked H where she was from. H said Algeria, and she pointed out that she had been to Tunisia several times and it is not how the lady had described it. In fact the lady who didn’t like Tunisia had never been there. The odd thing this time, is that the lady didn’t even flinch and complimented her on her skin. This is unlike the old woman who H helped across the road one day. The old lady was blind. H took her to the supermarket and helped her do her shopping, and brought her home. At her door the blind old lady mentioned that H had a nice accent, there was a little something in it, non? “I am Algerian”, said H and the blind old lady was visibly perturbed. See I am in the shit but I don’t have to go through what H gets here every day cause I am not Algerian, I am Irish. Still it doesn’t make it any easier and I don’t know how I am going to cope. And fuck it to hell I want the whole world to know.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Learning the diff

Now I know most of the readers of this here blog will have no idea whatsoever about what I mean when I mention the diff. The Diff, in Dublin means the difference, people will be heard to ask "Do you not know the diff ye thick shite ye." Now there are many sites that deal with Dublinisms and Irishims, many of which I detest because they are racist in base, and not humourous. Yes, there is a huge diff between the two. (Or as some in Dublin might say, What's the diff ? It's still bleedin funny ye know"). Yes I know and there is a diff and if you don't bleedin know it don't bleedin ask, cause I might bleedin tell ye, ye know?
Anyway after having a laugh at the french over the last couple of days I felt compelled to show that I can laugh at me own too, (anyone checking the grammar here, please note I'm writing in Dublin English and therefore the use of me instead of my is perfectly viable, acceptable, allowed, correct, and dublinesque).
So a friend who rarely emails me, sent me a link today where I read the following

2 oul ones having a chat just outside McGrath's pub in Drumcondra - obviously been living in the area all their lives when one remarked to the other "...sure all them blacks and chinese and russians - they all look the same to me..."

Now if you don't find it funny then I guess I just have too much of the black stuff in me. Anyone who doesn't understand this posting please email me or leave a comment and I will explain in full.

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