Thursday, January 5, 2012

new year reflection

yesterday in my supervisory meeting my CPE supervisor suggested that my reflections had been resident-driven rather than focusing on what was going on for me and that I might want to try concentrating on my own internal experience. I might do that, depending on what happens between now and my next reflection deadline, but I thought I could at least try doing that here. it's rather fitting, too, as I haven't posted since the new year began, and altering my view a little, from outside to in, might be an interesting, if shortterm, change.

while my wife has noted that this is the 1st midwinter break she hasn't dreaded my descent into my usual sunless funk, which may be a greater testament to the change in my medication than to anything in me, nonetheless I've still experienced a lot of internal roiling over my immediate future. the short of it is I'm worried I won't have a chance to return to the work I love doing: teaching, and now ministering.

it's not that there aren't any jobs available, although there are fewer than there used to be. it's that teaching college english, which used to be a pretty good hedge against unemployment, is glutted--really, in my adult lifetime, when hasn't it been glutted?--and especially here on the rim and closer to the hub, where there are both hiring caps and closing schools. because of our continued seminary schooling, and the fact that my father-in-law stubbornly--I almost wrote "selfishly," which should give an indication where my mind starts traveling when the weather gets brass monkey cold--clings to life, we aren't moving from the rim anytime soon, so I need to focus all my efforts at finding employment here.

and I do need to find employment in the near future, not only for monetary reasons but because I go a little crazy when I'm not around other people for long. while I continue to draw unemployment, and that frankly pays better than any of the local minimum wage general labor jobs--and thank you, schools that hired me for years and paid me a lot of money to teach their kids--that will end around the start of the summer. and while at one time I could reliably drown myself in booze and travel and outside adventure for years on end--my experience of most of the mid to late 80s--I can't do that anymore, not only because I'm married now and have a house and dogs and cats and responsibilities, but because I've found that I really, really like working with people.

I liked working retail. I saw new people every day and I think I was pretty good at dealing with them. but I don't want to return to that. there is something to be said for the holiness of serving people that way but I'm not the person to say it. the recession too has served to make clerking less a human-centered activity and more a product-driven, unit-moving enterprise, and that's really always been the case but even from the outside I can see it metastisizing.

I don't want to return to retail. or outside, shortterm labor. or food service. and especially not to social services (shudder). but I fear I will need to, just to make money (note I did not say, "make a living"). what I fear most is that the work I've concentrated on the past 12 years, serving people as a teacher and a minister, is gone for me, all that I've worked at to better myself in those roles and the skills I've found I'm really, really good at is like so much achingly-remembered dream from which I've been woken to do my shift at the factory.

does this sound like so much navelgazing? I also fear that. because the truth is I'm better off than a lot of other people, even a lot of other people who live around me. I have a wife who makes a lot of money doing what she does (even if she hates her job and would like to leave it for something more appealing, like chaplaincy) and living off whom would not have troubled me 25 years ago. and she has said that we can afford this spring for me to finish my classes so that I can graduate in the fall. but she hates her job and while she's decided she can stomach it at least long enough to keep at it until she's finished herself with seminary in another year or 2, I can't fight off the niggling fact I couldn't do that myself. how can I let her do it?

sometimes what I want more than anything else is to return to the easier, cheaper, lonelier life of my thumb stuck out on the side of the road. somedays I drive toward the hub with some errand in mind, my face toward the setting sun, and I think, "I could just keep driving, further and further, until the car runs out of gas and I sleep by the side of the road until someone picks me up and then I go back to bumming and blowjobs for rides and swiping food from mom-and-pops and being a cheap kerouac, a poorer genet." but that's sentimentalizing and besides I'm over 50 now and sex on offer is a dwindling commodity and I can't sleep without a pillow anymore and would rather not bathe than dip in a cold stream and where would I get my medication?

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