Well, it’s been several months now since the big blow-up at the co-op. I did move out, and in fairly short order at that. Within about 20-25 days, I was gone.
Finding a new place was scary. Since I’ve been without employment since I went on leave from the university in January, I explored a lot of free rent situations. Let me tell you, that is one scary rabbit hole. A lot of these situations are really exploitative. Only one seemed at all promising, and it would have destroyed my spirit. It was with a very Christian woman in Eugene who was in her late 50s and had a fair bit of medical difficulties. In exchange for free rent, I would have been a companion and a light night-time caretaker. The bulk of the work would have been cleaning, helping as needed, and serving to assist her with incontinence accidents…which basically amounted to washing her, her clothes, and her linens. The woman was sweet, and I think I could have made it work for at least six months or so. As I discovered when she took me swimming with her as a trial run, I’m actually not disgusted by stranger’s bodies and their functions. I am–to my eternal surprise–a very competent and compassionate caretaker. Unfortunately, I doubt if I would have been able to have much of a life with her. It took a solid four hours of preparation and aftercare to get her swimming for 25 minutes. Add to that the fact that the woman was the type of Christian who would have thrown me out in ten seconds if she discovered my real religion, and she was something of a hoarder and you get a very oppressive situation.
As I was weighing the merits of destroying my spirit by living with this woman or destroying my pride by traveling across the country to essentially go live with family, my covenmate V. offered to let me move into the house she shares with her husband and another couple. In exchange for room and board, I basically keep their home clean, get some bigger projects tackled, and cook for them.
So far, it’s been pretty great from my end. I’ve had a lot of fun getting familiarized with Olympia, Washington. I’m really loving the Puget Sound, and being able to see water and forest and MOUNTAINS! The Olympic mountains can be seen off in the distance when you’re at the harbor, and Mount Rainier…well, let’s just say I’m a little bit in love with him. There is something completely awe-inspiring to see this enormous mountain just off all by itself. It’s probably a good 50 miles away, but it still dwarfs everything in the landscape.
I’m also really fond of all my new housemates. V. and I, of course, have a lot in common, and the other woman, K., is a blast. I’m honestly still trying to figure out the two men. Frankly, I don’t think I have all that much in common with either of them. There’s just one thing that’s causing me a bit of friction. Everyone here is really hedonistic. It’s really pronounced in the two men, but even K. and V. are disinclined to do more than intellectual work. It’s kind of disheartening, actually. V. in particular has a lot of interests in gardening, homesteading, and wildcrafting…but this summer she’s basically let her garden die. She’s easily the most domestic in the house and basically did a lot of what I do before I came here, but she shifts a lot of her chores and obligations because she doesn’t feel like doing them. Consequently, we’ve missed out on a lot of the summer’s fruits. And money’s really tight all around because so much gets spent on iPhones and cable and manga and games and randomly deciding to go eat out even though I’ve cooked a dinner.
Frankly, all the waste just makes me really, really sad. A waste of time, a waste of money, a waste of energy, a waste of life. And, I’ve got to admit, it’s rubbed off on me, too. I’ve become a lot more hedonistic than I’ve ever been before. And I need to change. Now. It’s not making me happy. I’m getting fatter, unhealthier, more insulated, and less productive. Take this blog for example. There’s no real reason I couldn’t have re-started in mid-July after I’d had a couple weeks to enjoy the fourth and get my bearings in a new city. Instead, I’ve just frittered away my time playing housekeeper.
That’s not to say I’ve only done that. I think I’ve accomplished a good bit of healing since I’ve left the co-op. I’ve been able to gain perspective on my life goals. I realized that I wanted to go to grad school for the prestige. I wanted to be a professor because it was the most prestigious sort of teaching I could think of. I enjoy the scholarship, but I’ve learned that I can do that for myself and find more soul-fulfilling ways to spend my days. The university basically became my universe and everything else had to fit around that. The casualties, of course, were my family, friends, and faith. I didn’t have time to foster anything but the easiest of relationships, so my friendships dwindled and my life grew emptier and emptier. I’ve since learned that what I want out of life is a career where I don’t have to spend my ‘off hours’ furthering my career. I want to be able to use those hours with my family and friends instead of files and drafts. I want to be independent rather than relying on others to pick up my slack because I’m working on an essay.
I have a clear vision of what I want my life to be like. I want to teach high school–English or biology–and I want to start a re-skilling program there. Young adults need more exposure to ways to be self-sufficient. Heck, I was in freaking graduate school before I realized that I could cook my own beans instead of buy a can. Heck, I could barely do my own laundry in high school.
To do this, I need a teaching license. This will involve finishing up my master’s at Oregon and probably doing some additional coursework. I’m still trying to figure out what states need what for teaching licenses. Rumor has it that Indiana will grant you an emergency one if you have a master’s in anything…but Oregon wants you to have graduated from an education training program first. That’s about a $30,000 difference in cost to me, right there.
I’ll almost certainly have to move away from the Pacific Northwest if I want to achieve my longterm goals. Short term, though, I just need to get a paycheck, get my masters, and recoup from this horrible, horrible year.