To get everyone up to speed...it is currently April 17th, 2011 (5:17pm Atlantic Time, for the super anal) and I am not in fact in Paris yet. I'm not in Calgary, Alberta either...my home for the past 5 years. Instead I am in the basement of my childhood home in Canaan, Nova Scotia trying to convince myself that this isn't foreshadowing things to come. So as I eat a slice of Big Red's pizza and sip some Golden Wedding and Coke (A David Myler speaciality) let me take a few minutes to reflect on the insanity of the last few months. But first I feel a need to go back to the beginning.
January 2007 - November 2010
In January 2007 I hopped on a plane leaving Nova Scotia for Calgary, Alberta. I had managed to get myself a practicum teaching position in Woodman Jr High School and was going to rejoin Julia while I finished out my teaching degree. She had gotten a job with Pengrowth 6 months earlier, and I was anxious to see her after so long apart. On top of being in a new city, with a new job and no money, we had also never lived together. It was an auspicious beginning that could have either gone the way of "Two And A Half Men" or alternatively...Charlie Sheen's real life.
I will spare the gritty details and simply say that it was a tough, fun and ultimately successful several months.
Soon after graduation I began looking for work. After finding that the CBE (that's Calgary Board of Education) is a hard nut to crack, I quickly switched my focus to other branches of education...PS...Not allowing unsuccessful applicants to reapply for two years is bullshit CBE! I was able to find a job at the Canadian Diabetes Association by finding a posting on a site my friend Kenney recommended to me (charityvillage.com for anyone who is looking for non-profit work). It was something I had very little experience in...working in an office...but I was excited to give it a try.
Julia was still working with Pengrowth at this time and was making great inroads in her career and getting to travel to cool events. Investor meetings in Bermuda, Flames playoff games in the owners box and sponsor access to the Canadian Open were just some of the perks she had to "suffer" through...
Owners Box Seats at The Saddledome!
we both worked at these jobs as we learned to live together in our little basement apartment in Calgary for the rest of 2007.
In January 2008 for a number of different reasons, we then found ourselves both switching jobs and moving at the same time. Julia had decided to apply to a job that she had found, she was perfectly happy in her job at Pengrowth, but saw an opportunity to grow her career through an new job. I on the other hand had gotten frustrated with non-profit pay scales...let's just say that when they say non-profit, they mean it. So, we both applied and found ourselves starting new jobs in January of 2008. Julia was starting her new job at Total (more on this later) and I started at LexisNexis Canada. Coincidentally, we also moved to the upstairs of the house we were living in because the landlady and owner of the house offered it to us as she moved to France (see the coincidence :).
Julia would prove to be an asset (as she always does) at Total and worked her way into the company. She truly enjoyed her work and always impressed (and continues to impress) me with how dedicated she was. She also learned shortly after starting at Total, that there was a program that allowed "mobile" employees to move internationally and work for the company. Needless to say, we were intrigued...
My road was a little less straightforward...I've always been the problem child, why change now. I worked at LexisNexis until October 2009. I was a home based employee for my time there and could never really get into the work...though it was education based, I found myself a little under challenged. Through several random questions by Julia to her friend and coworker Derek (now a good friend of mine as well) she managed to find an opportunity for me with a local productions company, ICOM Productions. It seemed exciting and was a truly unique opportunity to do some cool things. Obviously I got the job...otherwise this would be a really long explanation for nothing...and started my career as an Instructional Designer/Project Manager for E-Learning.
I Should Probably Mention That We Were Married at This Time as Well
I truly enjoyed this job and felt more challenged than I had ever been. The ICOMers were a unique group and I valued my time there. While working there though, Julia and I continued to hear more and more about the Expat program at Total. Soon we had begun to truly think it was something that would happen for us and began to plan around it. In fact, we found ourselves making decisions based on the thought that it would happen. We actually got ourselves so worked up about it that we began to drift away from our friends and stopped doing things in Calgary in anticipation of our departure. It goes without saying that this was ultimately a bad idea, and it lead to us being truly miserable in Calgary for most of 2010. If I can suggest anything to anyone that they may be able to benefit from, it is don't live in the future or you will neglect the present...
Anyway, now in November of 2010 (It may have been December...I can't remember) we finally got word...Maybe had become definitely, and definitely had become early 2011. We were going to be ex patted to France by Total.
November (possibly December) 2010 - March 2011
What comes next is a flurry of confusion, a rush of panic, and a lot of nervous excitement.
We new we were going, and in January we found out when. We would be heading to Paris and Julia would be starting work on April 2nd. In the next 3 months we would have to deal with "minor" details like;
1. Finding a place to live
2. Getting rid of or moving all our things
3. Getting out of our lease
4. Leaving our jobs
5. Dealing with our finances
6. Saying goodbye to our friends
7. Me trying to learning at least some functional French (Un petit peux)
I feel these need some further detail, so check back as I describe the sometimes infuriating details that we never knew we would need to know about these things.