Don’t be jealous, but I landed Cinderella’s day job.

May 18, 2011

All's rosy over here.

I’m a shitty blogger, can’t even keep up with a once a month commitment. And I only write when there’s something bright to report. So my posts sound like the ever chipper American. Boring, flat, not even timely. My excuse following:

I share a one room apartment with Alain who’s using this same tiny space as his headquarters and I just can’t get into a contemplative writing place here. The closest thing to writing I can muster are reports on relatively happy happenings.

When things get tough, writing shuts down. I go mad in this cramped space and feed a persona that I’m positive my neighbors openly discuss at the bakery or bar. In other words, yelling has been my means of expression lately. Poor Lilly (our dog) starts shaking now anytime I talk about anything I’m passionate about. She can’t separate passionate tone from angry tone and she’s clearly fearful whatever tone will lead to distressed, desperate, outraged tone.

Don’t worry. Keeping in step with this blog’s theme I have good news to report. After a winter of dead ends and serious set backs, I finally landed my dream job at a mountainside lodge perched high above our village.

I’m their cleaning lady.

Not sure if I’m talking you or myself into this, but either way writing about it must be good therapy. First likable quality of the gig is the lodge has an eco-friendly bent. Okay it’s not a place for purists (I often have to stifle personal judgments), but as hotels go, this one’s trying to be mindful.

It’s serious luxury in an elegantly restored mountain farmhouse with solar power and a chemical-free swimming pool overlooking a glorious view of the snow-capped mountain Le Canigou. It’s magnifique actually. Just being on the site is inspiring; point in case, I’ve taken up this blog again.

A view of the lodge from behind. Le Canigou's peak is hidden under the clouds.

Until recently a rough dirt road leading upward in what felt like a perpendicular angle was the only way in. Now that road is most often blocked with heavy equipment charged with paving the weary route. (Yes, keep on stifling personal judgments). Anyway, because of this road block I was recently forced to take the “alternative access” road down the “back way”.

Supposedly it’s a beautiful route. But I was too busy gripping my hand to the wheel trying to stay out of road pits the size of my car while not go over the steep edge to notice. Since that memorable experience I’ve started climbing to work on foot. It takes me an hour to get there in the morning, and just about as long to get back down in the evening. The steepness makes for a slow-going descent.

I’ve heard of worse commutes than this so I don’t begrudge the situation. In fact it suits me more appropriately than anything else I can think of. Being forced to hike mountain trails to and from work counts as an attribute in my opinion. Really.

You can't see it in the picture, but up there on that ridge is a little blue wind generator. This river is my starting point. The turbine my destination.

Second cool aspect: I get to be a phytochemist. The operations manager is supplying me with whatever ingredients I request for my natural cleaning recipes. If you were wondering, distilled vinegar, essential oils and water clean hotel bathrooms and kitchens just as good as at home. Savon Noir, which isn’t exactly the same but can be compared to Murphy’s Oil Soap, does a perfect job on plush leather sofas, mile-long wooden dinner tables and wooden farm-house floors.

I remember an old TV commercial for Murphy’s Oil Soap that showed a woman meticulously cleaning wooden floors and furniture while describing all the benefits of the natural soap. At the end, the camera pulled away for a panoramic view and you could see it was the wooden pews and aisles of a church sanctuary the woman, a nun, had been cleaning. The ending line was something like, “After all, if it’s good enough to clean this house, it’s good enough to clean yours.”

Can Rigall from the pool deck. Herb and vegetable gardens are the terraces below.

Which brings me to the best part of my job. I essentially have no responsibility so I’m free to let go of everything and find the spirituality of the task at hand. I like to think of myself like that nun cleaning her church. Realistically, I’m probably more like The Karate Kid, (the first one) with an exasperated wax on wax off under my breath.

But between those distrustful moments when I wonder what the hell I’m doing in France cleaning toilets, I feel like my angst is slowly dripping away as I put one foot in front of the other over and over following the same trail up the mountain each day. Sometimes the repetitive motion of my mop leads to freedom of mind. Could just be the calming lavender oil in my cleaning product, but whatever it is I’m relieved to be out of the apartment. Pretty sure Lilly is too.

I recently described my job to an Englishman at an aperatif party and he said, with no sign of humor at all, that he’d never heard of a job without responsibilities. I tried to explain, I mean responsibility, like with a capital R, you know the big and serious kind, not responsibilities, like, I mean duties and stuff…

The more I heard my American voice coming out the more foreign, inelegant and awkward I felt. Reminding me how tiresome is every single thing I do over here. How so much of my mental energy gets drained every time I open my mouth, even with speakers of the same language. So really, doesn’t matter to me if I reach bliss in my mindfulness practice. Just getting to mop a floor alone without having to explain myself is a really, really welcomed bonus.

The last thing I’ll mention is that when the housework is done I get to work outside in the organic garden. I’m getting paid to do what only last month I was doing for free on nearby farms. When I fill the wheel-barrow up with weeds and wipe my hair out of my face leaving dirt smudges on my cheeks I feel like the farm kid I once was in North Florida. Except here the backdrop is a French stone farmhouse with a snow-covered mountain in the distance. You can often hear cowbells ringing as the Blondes d’Aquitanes make their way to other grazing grounds.

Lilly loves finding les blondes d'aquitanes cows on the trail. She's the very excited flash in the forefront.

Yeah, it’s a dream job for me.

Lodge details and photos: http://www.basecampexplorer.com/our_destinations/france/our_camp_in_the_pyrenees/116611

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3 Responses to “Don’t be jealous, but I landed Cinderella’s day job.”

  1. lustintotravel said

    The photo’s did not post, or at least I can’t see them. (maybe they are virtual photos)

  2. lustintotravel said

    No, my browser was corrupted. Sorry

  3. lustintotravel said

    Glad to get the update. Really glad to hear about your mindful practice on the way, at work, and on the way home…nirvana.

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