Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Moving on

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote: for various reasons, I am no longer teaching English, I have increased my hours and am now working almost full time at Breakfast in America and, most importantly, I have moved into a much more congenial apartment near Chateau Rouge. I have a big, comfortable bed, a warm, spacious room and as much hot water as I like – enough, even to fill the luxuriously big bath in the bathroom. In comparison with my tiny studio at Gare de l’Est this apartment feels rather like a boutique hotel. The apartment was only the third one I viewed so no one could say that the search was particularly difficult. However, the two previous apartments I saw were so completely unacceptable, it was a huge relief to find this one.

The first apartment I viewed was in a quiet block just next to Telegraph on line 11. Upon knocking I was greeted by a volley of barks from within and a lot of scuffling noises whilst the owner presumably moved the dogs into the back room. As it transpired she had six. Six small yappy creatures that all slept in the same room and shared a bed with the owner - a toothless lady in her 50s who showed us around in her pyjamas. Despite the unfortunate dog smell which had permeated the rest of the apartment, in general, it wasn’t bad at all. The living room was light and spacious with rather grand, out of place, marble furnishings. The kitchen and bedroom were also adequate. It seemed that the owner preserved the rest of the apartment quite perfectly and rarely used the living room or kitchen. Her room on the other hand was awash with dog toys, stained bed sheets and clutter. Aside from the smell and the six dogs I simply wouldn’t have felt relaxed living with someone so much older than me who allocates the use of her balcony solely as a loo for her dogs so I moved on to the next viewing.

This apartment was much less agreeable. It was small and poky and I would be sharing with an Indian man who would have to walk through my ‘bedroom’ to in order to access his. It really couldn’t be accurately described as a bedroom in any case – it was just off the kitchen and really only offered enough space for the bed and the walkway between the kitchen and the owner’s bedroom. This man was very particular about my working hours since he claimed to work from home a lot. Once it transpired that I worked mainly evenings he explained that the apartment wouldn’t be suitable for me. I could have told him that from the second I walked in the door in fact.

My current apartment is in a traditional Parisian building and my room has large French windows with a view of, well, the wall of the building opposite actually, but it is light nevertheless and the apartment is quiet and warm. The kitchen has an electric hob and a mini oven but this took nearly an hour to cook a pizza the other night so I’m going to invest in a new one so I can, once again, indulge in mid-week roast dinners, boeuf bourguignon and macaroni cheese.

The apartment has made a huge difference to my quality of life. I sleep better, I feel more relaxed, I’m more enthusiastic about learning French and I eat better. Coupled with this the weather in Paris lately has been wonderful - clear blue skies, a slight warmth to the sun and trees and plants starting to bud in anticipation of Spring. I’ve found myself meandering through the streets feeling really rather positive about living here – something I haven’t felt for a long time.

After work on Saturday I went to Corcoran’s to meet some friends. It was the first time I had been there since long before Christmas and I was surprised at how little things had changed. Nicky was still lumbering about behind the back bar shouting at several new starters whom I didn’t recognise, Nabeel was still prowling across the floor with his earpiece, in constant contact with the door staff, and several other staff members who I remembered where still working frantically with sweat dripping off their faces. In hindsight I’m surprised that I put up with the management there but this, of course, is easy to say now that I am settled, have a steady job, friendly colleagues and a regular income. In July, starting out in a new city with no job, only a couple of friends and an unfamiliar environment I was prepared to put up with a lot more to make a go of things. Luckily, it seems to have paid off.