I meant to come home in January. But then this happened.
Yes, my sister and I bought another house. Isn't it cute?
As I've mentioned before, my biggest dilemma in France is that I don't have the right to work. I'm a resident yes, but I cannot work. The only way that I've found to solve this is to get hitched and…um…well…I've already done my time. I can receive the right to work (and pay taxes in France) in another year but truthfully, my chances of getting hired here are dismal to none. The French system of employment is pretty linear. Employers want a CV (resume) that shows your field of study and that you've worked in that field. And that's where they want you to stay. Not a lot of coloring outside of the lines here. And to top it off, they simply don't seem to hire older workers. There is a very high unemployment rate for those over 50 and it doesn't look to be changing soon. So, a middle-aged woman who speaks French like a child with a mid-western accent to boot, who has a television journalism degree but hasn't been on camera for 30 years, but who has done just about everything else and can handle just about every situation thrown at her, is not a good prospect. Tant pis pour eux! Too bad for them.
But this situation obviously poses some big ol' problems. I have to earn my money in the states, which in turn poses a problem since I'm not there. Most of the time. So this time home, as the last time, my sissie and I bought a house to redo and rent. In fact, since this is our second, we ended up forming a business and not only do I now know how to tile a bathroom, cut copper pipe, rip a board and install a ceiling, I also have to learn to be an accountant (what the hell is double-entry bookkeeping anyway?) and a business manager. Holy Heat Duct Batman, doesn't life just keep getting more interesting?
The sale was delayed and delayed and in the end we had 30 days to turn over the house before I had to leave. The day we signed the papers, we were at the house in our well-used work clothes (winter models this time) and back at it again. Twelve to fifteen hours a day we worked. On the days she had to work at the fire station, I joined her there in the evenings where she has cable, and we watched DIY television, which is how I learned to cut copper pipe, by the way! My work clothes left my body in a heap each night and were pulled back up again very early each morning. And we had a ball. Seriously.
I learned that 3 days without a toilet on-site is not a problem whatsoever.
This should say "pee bucket" but it was -15 degrees and the marker didn't want to work.
She learned that her new favorite tool is a grout mixer that attaches to the drill.
I learned that mine is a tile saw.
We learned that you can, in fact, tile over old mastic…no matter what anyone says. Is this not the most magnificent, though elementary, tile job you've ever seen?
We learned that the best way to order plumbing parts is to just take a picture of the damned thing before you go to the hardware store.
"I'll have one of these please!"
And this project brought home what we already knew. Your team is the most important thing!
So these are some of the before and afters.
I think we were destined to do this sort of work together. After all, we have matching roto zips!
On our last day, after we hung our sign and gotten ready for our party (of course we had a party there. Every house needs to be baptised!), we cracked a beer in the frozen garage and congratulated ourselves. And we both got all sad. Not because it was time for me to go but because this work is way too much fun and so rewarding. We not only were so much better at it this time, but we realized that the first house and our ability to work together was not a fluke. We're good at it!
And we gotta get ourselves another one. Quick.
Happy Spring my friends,