where the writers are
The Dole

There are several words for in different cultures for unemployment benefits.  I have heard it called "The Dole" in England.  For some reason I have always liked the sound of it.  "The Dole".  Although I think the dole refers to welfare benefits and not unemployment, maybe it's the same word for both I dunno. Also love the word "Trannie".  Keeping in mind that the words transvestite and cross-dresser  have different meanings.  For me I prefer "Trannie".  Hey I could be a "Trannie on the Dole!"  perhaps few would find as much humor in that as moi par chance.  Just because I like the sound of the words Trannie and Dole.  Plus having the dole is going to be helpful in doing this final revision of my novel "Almost Paris".

Anyhoo, this topic comes to mind because after living in France for six years I have arrived at a set of circumstances that allow me to qualify for the French unemployment benefits which is called "Assedic", here, named after the big government deparment that allocates the funds.  It is not given automatically only under certain conditions and it is for 6 months in my case.  So, I would receive a once a month payment for six months starting in September if I apply August 1st.  For some reason receiving these benefits I feel very hopeful and reinvigorated.   I plan to take this as an opportunity, not a failure of some sort.  Like a reprieve.  I hope to re-invent myself out of it. 

My game plan is this:  August 1st apply for French Assedic and followup in the next two weeks with paperwork.  I would like to take an intensive French course for two weeks if possible in the afternoons this July.  To go to the next level of my French as it has been stuck at intermediate for a while now and I am ready to integrate here better.  My husband although French our habbit is to speak together in English.  Than my husband, his 18 year old daughter, five year old son and myself are going on a two week vacation at a kinda dumpy apartment in the south of France near Spain.  Although I have a background learning Spanish.  Don't ask long story.  Also grew up on an Indian Reservation in Wisconsin before moving to the Southwest and have been exposed to Native American Languages, another story.

By the fall  I hope to have this small income from Assedic to buy coffee and give my kid extras.  Get his fall wardrobe ready.  Start reseaching jobs.   And have an entire month of August to devote to him.  He is five and is adorable with a capitol adorable.  Than in September when he returns to school as kids start school at three in France so it will be his third year of school and his final year in what they call maternelle or nursery school.  He is so much farther along because of these past wonderful two years in school. He knows the rhythms and routines of school and can read and do simple math (well more than simple).  It is a huge difference than my experience, home with my mother or going around with my grandmother to her housekeeping jobs when I was three or four and kindergarden at five,  for half a day.  Although I could read early.  It was a totally different experience.  

In September when Mr. adorable returns to school I can devote three months to job interviews and finish revising my novel.  With the plan of having the novel in my professional editors hands by the end of November.  I sometimes wish there was a NaNoWriMo for revisions.   Meanwhile having had worked on it throughout the summer mostly in the early morning as I would theorectically like to write then before my kiddo and husband wake up.  So hopefully doing a full six months of revisions overall.  And if I am super lucky I will have found a job as a reseach technician in a hospital doing the paperwork for a medication studies which the computer programs and emails and the international language are all in English. Which I took a three month certificate class last fall and my kid got sick and I couldn't start work as I had hoped. 

Strangely I was on unemployment one time in my life in the USA.  After a bachelors in Art school and working as a secretary for two years I took a job at Sears over Christmas and got laid off after the Christmas season.  This allowed me to be eligible for unemployment at the time.  At first I slept till noon and would go a diner called the Cactus Flower and have breakfast at lunchtime and went to a dollar movie in the afternoon for a few months while looking for jobs.  Then I got the idea that maybe I would like to be a nurse from my ex-husband whose sister is a nurse.  So I took Biology 101 over the summer and a friend of an old roommate's friends' sister got me my first job as a weekend psych tech in a hospital down the street from my house.  Hence my switch over from basically art student who sold kitchy religious rings I had made, child care, restaurant, secretary and retail to begin working in a hospital.  I ended up working at that hospital for 15 years.  My last year as a planning intern at an office attached to the hospital during my Masters In Community and Regional Planning.

I recently had a new realization about nursing that made me feel softer about it and less hard on myself about having seemingly haphazardly have choosen it without exploring other options at the time.  That there is a emotional comfort taking care of people.  And as a nurse I had a sense of inner peace that I have achieved few other places.  Althought the work really gets to you after a while.  So many sad situations.  And caregivers overall can be very cut off emotionally and hospitals a lot of behavior is overlooked as so much of regular office behavior doesn't really apply.  Plus it is very physically demanding.  My new understanding is that I had found a solace in caregiving.   I just realized this.

So, this opportunity to have Assedic-dole-unemployment, I look at it as a new foundation.  I always wonder what it would be like to be someone who had an independent income.  I'd like to think that I would use my time wisely but perhaps it just leads to dissipitation and lazy habbits?  I laugh at a personal joke I make, I don't need a room of my own, rather a montly income and a coffee shop would do?  Reading DH Lawrence biography I noticed he did a lot of his writing in rooms full of various family members sitting in a chair against a wall with a notebook on his knees.   I have always kind of had to hustle for monthly income in my life as most of us do;  and although have had times when I have not had to work all the time, these times were few and far between.  Painting for me and later writing has seemed to be something I find time for here and there not a lifestyle.  I would be a dream come true to be able to live a writers life of writing in the morning, exercise and volunteer work in the afternoon and family etc. in the evening and weekends.  

So, I am actually thrilled to be receiving the dole.  It will give me the chance to try out a writers life for a few months this fall.  Not thrilled to have to put money I owe on hold during this time.   Also, grateful to have the peace of mind with this small income and able to concentrate and stuff.  So, although it sounds weird, it has really made me feel better about being in France.  And more able to feel able to do the next steps of integrating here. I have been told it takes about 7 years to fully adapt to a new country and to be honest I have found that to be about true.  So, if all goes well these next six months I hope to just enjoy this time and be as productive as possible.  "Coffee Shops and Poetry make the world go round".  So let's hope I can get the dole.  It looks good from what I can tell from the website.