Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roller Coaster

So it's almost August, and soon I'm going to be able to start the whole process (about which I still feel a bit in the dark) of changing my name officially.  Since I still had bills up at my old apartment through August, it seemed to me a better idea to wait until I no longer had bills coming there (i.e., turn in keys at the apt, close out my utility bills, etc.) to start having to change my name with every single thing connected with me.

While I love the house and love not having to say good bye to my love, it's been hard in some ways.  I have to get used to how long it takes to drive out here, which is new for me.  We're technically in the capital, but it's so spread out and we're so far away in the corner that it takes forever to get anywhere. Just to get to the beltway, it takes at least 20 minutes, and then you have to actually go where you want to go. It's virtually impossible to get anywhere in less than 45 minutes, which is hard to get used to for me. 

This has been especially hard because as of yet, I am still unemployed.  I've had three interviews and have sent out probably 50 applications so far, but nothing has come through. It's hard to look for jobs because there is almost nothing in our part of town.  Most job listings start at least 10 miles away - but because of the way the city is laid out, that could take you anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour.  It's really hard to know which jobs to apply for, because most things are in the center of town, but that would require me to be in the car anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours a day. 

Money is ridiculously tight for us as long as I'm out of work, and I get pretty stressed about it. I love my husband, and think it's criminal that he gets paid so little when he works so hard.  He's the lead teacher for the middle school this year, and he's already spent 7 hours at the school and countless hours prepping at home this week. He doesn't get any real respect, almost no real support, and his salary has been cut every year despite the fact that he's obviously an excellent teacher and a good leader. So as hard as he works - on average, at least 60 hours a week - his salary really doesn't reflect that.

So I'm praying for leads. I check probably 6 different places, 2 of them pretty much every day.  It's been a lot harder than I thought it would be.  The disappointment isn't so much in the market - I knew it was awful, and I knew it would be an uphill battle convincing anyone to hire me when I've done nothing but teach college students for the past 8 years.  The disappointment is with how depressing and confusing it is for me.

In college, I knew I was being called to teach. It wasn't just a job, it really was a calling. I dedicated myself to it from then on, and have taught something like 1,000 students while in grad school and this past year at That Other State U.  As frustrating as academia could be, and as hard as it was at times, I always had that purpose.  The decision to leave academia, at least for now, is one that leaves me feeling both totally free and uncontrollably free-falling. Yes, I have options. Yes, I am not stuck begging for grants every 6 months. Yes, I might actually have the time *and* energy to give my all to my husband and our life together. And yet, I also have no purpose professionally.  I have no direction yet.  I've applied to so many things, mostly administrative/clerical - primarily because my body is a bit screwed up and I don't think I can handle standing all day.  But I don't have a passion.  I don't know if I'd even enjoy these jobs.

I never realized until now how much I defined myself as a teacher.  It wasn't just my job; it was my definition. And so now, when many of my former colleagues are writing syllabi and working on their dissertation, and my husband is trying to gear up for being at school with his pesky 8th graders starting next week, I'm drifting. 

I know that God has a plan for me. I know that there are many things I could do well.  But this in-between time is quite hard. I know I'm not alone.  I've been reading some blogs from others who have left academia recently.  Two that stand out so far are Leaving Academia and Another Academic Bites the Dust.  Dustbiter's post on the Roller Coaster was completely relatable.

It's just hard.  I'm looking forward to the day when it's less so.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Way too much to say

There is so much I should say on here, so much I want to say, and yet so much I want to treasure just for me. I keep thinking of that verse in Luke that says, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." ~Luke 2:19 There is much that I want to treasure and ponder in my heart.

But here's what I can share.

At the end of May, once my then-fiancee's school ended and we cleaned his classroom for the summer, we packed up our stuff, two cats, and my wedding dress and headed to his family's house in the mid-west.  We were there for a week and a half, then went to my parents' for a week and a half.

June 11, 2011, was the best day and most perfect of my life. I was up until about 2:45 a.m. catching up with a friend who flew in from the desert to be there. Then in the morning, my groom, his cousin (and best man), my maid-of-honor, two of my friends - my best friend from high school and my best friend from grad school who flew in - and I carpooled and went to brunch. It was so much fun, and the only food I got to eat until dinner at 6:30 that night! It was great to just spend time together and relax and make the morning stress-free. We went to my folks' home and picked up the men's tuxedos and I printed out our vows and we headed to the church. I spent about an hour in the kindergarten room with my mom, future mother-in-law, grandmother, and my female friends who came. Then it was the ceremony.

I hope I never forget. Seeing such loving friends, old family, new family all sitting in the church smiling and crying. Laughing when I saw a friend who drove over 600 miles at 7 months pregnant. Staring straight ahead and smiling at my groom who was trying not to cry. Dear friends singing a song that brought me almost to sobs. Another dear friend as our minister. Vows that made everyone laugh and made me choke up to where I had to take a minute to finish. Watching my mom walk up to help light the unity candle without needing a wheelchair or walker. Finally kissing my HUSBAND. My secret surprise that made the entire crowd howl with laughter as we came down the aisle as man and wife. So many pictures with our entire family - his, mine, now forever OURS. The reception - tables with flowers and, most importantly, pictures of our families especially chosen for the occasion. Laughter - oh, so much laughter. Our best man's speech, accidentally saying that he and the groom had "started our life together"... when he meant that they had started their lives away from home at the same time. Mom wearing my veil for most of the reception. :-)

It was the perfect day. My mom was alive, feeling good, and able to take part in every part of the day, laughing and enjoying herself. I got married to the love of my life and my best friend. Our families are forever united through us and Christ. It was a day of true celebration. We celebrated Christ's love for us. Our families' love for the two of us. Our love for each other. It was the perfect day. The day my life as a wife began.

We'll have plenty of challenges - we already have found some of them - but we can face them together and with Christ's help.