Sunday, June 7, 2009

Au revoir, Paris!?

Big news here: I'm leaving Paris in two months.

After spending a few years playing that fool's game known as searching for an academic job in the humanities, I've done it. I've got a lectureship in the south of England (in the US, this would be called an assistant professorship). I've dealt with job rejection for so long that I'd actually forgotten that getting that job was a possible outcome. I'm still slightly in shock!

This actually happened two weeks ago but right after I had my dad visiting, then my sister visiting, and then a visit from a very nasty stomach virus. Plus, there's been work to be done immediately, designing syllabi to get my courses listed for the autumn semester and making preliminary enquiries about moving. I've been swamped.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. Professionally, it's fabulous. I've finally found what I have been looking for. I'll be taking a huge step up the career ladder. I'll be putting my degrees and talents to work. I'll be moving closer to many friends who I miss dearly. I'll be moving back to an English-speaking country, and in some ways that feels like going back to an even playing field.

But... but what? After ten months of struggle, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of Paris and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I've done it mostly by myself. So where's my prize? It's as if I've been allowed to look but not touch: I've been so consumed with bureacracy, trying to publish and research independently, applying for jobs all over the place, and worrying about money that I haven't been living it up. Now I'm ready to, and it's time to go. It's a bit like climbing a mountain, getting almost to the top, and then being told that you have to descend before you can see the amazing view.

In other words: I'm sad to leave Paris.

There is a small catch, though. We don't know yet if MCM will be joining me or not. He's freelance at the moment and will probably come - although, for his professional prospects, the new city is terrible. But there is a small chance that he is going to get his dream job in Paris. It's all very hush-hush and I'm almost afraid to think about it, as it brings up so much vulnerability and emotion; we just can't take much more drama.

If MCM stays in Paris then we would try to see each other most weekends (there are direct flights), and I would spend much of my (very generous) summer break writing in Paris. It would be tough but it would be temporary, and I'd rather we both have wonderful jobs than he be lonely and miserable in a new city. After all, I know just what that's like. And we've spent time apart before: I calculated that one year when we were both doing a lot of research and family travel, we spent nearly five months apart. We can do it.

There's also the fact that Paris will always be here and I'll always feel, I think, that I have staked my claim: that now, I've got some kind of knowledge of this city that no one can take away from me. (That sounds dangerously like I might break into song...)

So, final point: the fate of the blog. I'd like to continue, but as you can see I'm not able to post as much as I'd like to. We'll see. If I end up spending weekends in Paris there will be many more tales to tell and things to taste, and I'll keep sharing it here.


  1. I'm sure you'll have many interesting observations as an American living in England. Why not start a blog called The Accidental Brit?

  2. Now, how the heck did I miss this post? sure is an interesting novel, isn't it? Ten months is about how long I lived in Paris, too, but I was still happy enough to leave it. Spring was lovely, but I still have memories of a long, gray winter.

    Of course, I didn't have a MCM to warm me up at home.

    So, congratulations, good luck, and I hope to read some posts about culture clash while shuttling from one language/history/humor/culinary tradition to another!


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