Sunday, February 17, 2013

Money is still everything

Well, I haven't posted much or made much in the way of video lately because of continuing financial woes, the same that have dogged me for the past decade. Forgive me if I digress a bit from talk of Paris in order to explain why I haven't been able to produce much these past few months.

There have been some changes, some good, some bad. In December, I changed jobs. Previously I had been working at a minimum-wage, part-time job teaching English for some nine years—many times longer than the average for that particular occupation. It's a job that usually pays only a few hundred euro during a typical month, thanks to a never-ending supply of young British university students with little or no work experience who naively accept the job, not realizing that it's impossible to live in Paris on the tiny income that the job provides. They wise up after a few months and move on, and others take their place. I had been doing it for an incredibly long time because there are simply no other jobs of any kind for someone my age in France, unless he has well-placed friends, which I do not. Teaching is interesting, but there is no way to make a durable living at it. I had survived thanks to the occasional month with sufficient hours to pay the bills, plus many, many handouts from family and friends.

The new job is in computers, a profession I've practiced for decades (I first started studying computers when I was twelve). The job itself is enjoyable—I know a great deal about computers and so I'm competent to do the work—but it pays even less per hour than the teaching job. I make about the same salary now as I did when I started in computers at the age of 19. However, the job is full-time rather than part-time, and that provides enough income (barely) to pay the rent and utilities and buy a few groceries.

I've been in court several times for being late on the rent, as my landlord has attempted to evict me. Laws protecting tenants are very strong in France, though, and each time the court has allowed me to pay the overdue rent in installments. I fell behind because my school regularly failed to give me enough hours of teaching to earn the money to pay the rent. On the second appearance in court, the court decided that I'd be given time to pay again … but that any failure to make a payment would allow for eviction proceedings to begin immediately.

Well, my school continued to provide almost no hours at times, and from June 27 to August 16 of 2012, I received no hours at all. My total salary for August was €75. Naturally I couldn't pay the rent (or anything else). And at the end of November, I received an eviction order. Three days later, I signed the contract for the new job, which provides enough income to pay the rent.

So I'm in a bit of a quandry, since I can now pay the rent, but my landlord wants to evict me. I can pay the rent, but nothing more, so paying all the back rent in one lump sum is out of the question, and moving—which would cost thousands of euro that I don't have—is also not an option. (Besides, nobody would give me a lease with my payment record now.) Fighting the eviction in court requires a lawyer (this is a different court and I can't represent myself as I have in the past), which also costs more money than I have. But I'm above the poverty line now with my new job, so I'm not eligible for legal assistance (and there's a ninety-day waiting list, anyway). And the management company has overstated my rent debt by 50%, because it cashed but never credited the installments I had been making in accordance with the previous court decision.

This is further complicated by health problems that would have scared me out of my wits in my youth, when I had future prospects. I have not addressed them now, however, because I'm not sure I see a compelling utility in continuing an incarnation if it amounts to living under a bridge or on the sidewalk for 30 years.

So things are not going well. It's illegal in France to evict someone during the winter, but the winter grace period expires on March 15. I cannot concentrate or sleep with such problems preoccupying me, and my attempts to work on editing some new videos (I still have enough rushes for several) have been unsuccessful. I end up feeling sleepy instead, but I can't seem to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time.

Anyway, if miracles occur and my situation is favorably resolved, I will try to return to working on Paris videos and this blog. Otherwise this blog will stagnate, my Web site will disappear (I can't host it without a place to live), and my e-mail will stop working (it's hosted on the same machine), so I guess I'll be done.

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