Friday, April 22, 2011

House hunting for the emotionally detached

I've heard it said that if people were only allowed to ever have one car, they would be very careful about what they bought and how they maintained it, and that's one good way to look at marriage.  Hmmmmm.

I'm looking for a condo to buy, so I can cut my monthly housing payment in half while building equity, taking on an enormous debt, and not broiling every winter watching my rent rise in heat waves from out of my open window. 

The loan guy at my credit union said, "Don't buy something if you don't really fall in love with it because you'll be stuck with it for years." 

This gave me pause.  Are houses like people?  Because if they are, chances are good that I won't fall in love with any house I look at. 

I'm somewhat practical.  I care if everything will fit and if I can adapt around the space.  Thus has it always been.  It's true that a mortgage gives weight to the space.  You are agreeing to pay for it for a time nearly equal to how long you've already been alive (but intending to at least double your payments to get the sucker paid off faster), and that's quite different from signing a yearly lease even if you intend to stay for years.  That questionable stain in the bathroom is harder to accept if you know you'll be looking at it for 15 years.

If I wait until I fall in love, I may be waiting forever, too long since my lease is up in July.  If I settle, I could end up allergic to the house or having all sorts of wonky problems I can't anticipate, and I'll still have to deal with them years later (in theory).

On the plus side, if I don't fall in love, I can't have my heart broken when someone else buys the dumb thing out from under me while I wait to hear back from the school I've applied to teach at . . . 

Lord, please give me peace and wisdom and only attainable housing crushes in the correct state.  Amen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Staying vs. Leaving (dreams ddd 3 of 3)

I still think I want to teach composition full time at a small, Christian liberal arts college.  Is this a good dream to keep?  Is it unwise for me to hang onto it?  Should I turn aside to something else or somewhere else (like where I am)?  Contentment vs. laziness?  Quitting one way vs. quitting another?  I'm torn.

Leaving (Searching)

I live in a metro area.  I have some contacts around the area, but full time, permanent positions are hard to come by and impossible to get without more experience than I can get by teaching a class a semester on top of my regular, full time job. 

My alma mater is in the middle of nowhere and has very strict doctrinal requirements.  It is a much smaller pond, overall, which makes it a better target.  My mom would be thrilled to have me back within easy driving distance (until she learned that I wouldn't really visit much more frequently), and I must admit that with the economy still shaky, it would be better to be closer to "home" in case the awful happened, and I had to retreat.

Staying (Stopping)

I like it here.  I am actively listening and waiting, but I am content.  Unfortunately, I feel like staying would be settling, going for the safe option, not necessarily the best option, chasing safety and not  . . . whatever it is I'm supposed to be chasing (righteousness, obedience, ?).  Quitting, and you know how I am about quitting . . .  


I believe that no matter what decision I make, God will still love me.  This is not a test; there is not a wrong answer.  I can faithfully follow God wherever I go, wherever I end up, wherever I am.  (Are we there yet?  No.)

In fact, I wish I were there in the future, past all this, decisions all made, not profoundly unsettled and faced with all kinds of tough choices.

What advice and/or wisdom can you impart to me?

Why I'm dragging my feet (dreams ddd 2 of 3)

It's been 5 months since the job was posted, and I still haven't applied.  It's not that I'm waiting for the will of God to be revealed to me in 30 foot letters of fire because that would be dumb.  (Just Do Something turned out to be an excellent little book giving language and explanations to process through our wrong-headed misunderstandings about God's will in the modern U.S. church.)  So what is making me be stupid?

1. I don't want to let my dream be killed.  I am apparently okay with it lingering in a coma, as long as I don't have to deal with the deathblow and separation.  I am being a coward, preventing myself from failing by not trying.  Maybe I'm waiting for the position to be filled, thus taking it out of my hands/control to do anything about.  [Or I was until I talked to the head of the department, and he said that they had a favored candidate who proceeded to not pass muster, thus opening the position again and foxing my procrastinatory attempts at decision avoidance.]

2. I've heard some things that indicate that a thoughtful person who values truth-seeking over niceness might have a rough time there now. 
I'm much more outspoken and less willing to just let stupidity lie to preserve peace (defined here as the absence of open debate that might involve opposition/hostility).  I have less tolerance for blind dogmatism than I used to (and I never had much to begin with).  I am afraid I might not like working there, afraid I've built this dream up onto a pedestal, and the reality will not be like the dream at all, but then I'll be married to it and trapped by it and my commitment to it because that's how I am.  [This seems a reasonable concern until you combine it with 3.]

3. I'm feeling comfortable with where I am, literally and figuratively.  I have a more-or-less permanent job that pays the bills and where my managers and co-workers value me.  I'm part of an artistic community that I enjoy.  I'm active in the alumni association.  I'm part of a Christian community I can tolerate.  I have friends here.  I may still be able to teach (part time) with the connections I have.  I am safe-ish and on better financial footing than I have been since my injury.  Why would I want to risk moving far away to the middle of nowehere to a possibly repressive environment where I would be trying to do something full time that I've never done before and might discover I dislike or am incapable of doing?

4. I don't do well when I pursue things I'm not passionate about.  It's not like I always got everything I applied for passionately, but I can't think of one time that I did get something I applied for when I wasn't really committed to and passionate about it.  I don't "phone in" performances well.  I have this tendency to sabotage myself in cases like this by procrastinating until I have to do a slapdash job at the last minute, and it shows.  Or I'll say things in extremely non-diplomatic ways to repel people.  I push them away and thus control my own failure.  I'm so good at it that I do it unconsciously unless I am extremely vigilant and alert.  I am not very vigilant and alert right now.  But I don't want to get rejected for that reason this time.  I want to turn in an honest application and stand or fall honestly.

This could all be a moot point.  I could be considered unacceptable for the job, and that would be the end of the matter.  [Or not, since I'm hearing rumblings that they might rethink the doctrinal statement in the next few years, which would reopen all of this if I fail to make it through this time.  As usual, I just want it to be over.]

If I do pass muster, though, I'm going to have some tough choices to make all within about a three week period of lease renewals and housing searches.  I need to think about the choices ahead of time, so I can avoid rushed decisions I will be more likely to regret.

What are your thoughts on these reasons?  Feel free to tell me I'm being ridiculous.  :)  I numbered them, so it would be easier to comment on specific concerns.  :)

To be continued . . .

Dreams denied, deferred, deterred . . . (part 1 of 3)

So I've been avoiding the task of thinking things through on paper since February. It's about time to face the issue. Since high school, I've known I wanted to teach college writing. When I was a graduating college senior, the head of the department told me he'd love to have me teach there, and I found that I really wanted to teach there, too. Then I learned that at our school, you can be a student without agreeing with the whole doctrinal statement, but you can't be a professor without agreeing with everything.

One employee told me to just sign the paper and lie when the time came. I was tempted, but I really couldn't do so in good conscience.

I got my MFA, a job opened up, I applied, and I never really heard back. Much later I heard through the grapevine that the position didn't actually get approved, so they didn't hire anybody. What I wanted to know was whether they were actually considering me, or if they thought I was too much of a heretic. I wanted to know because if they won't consider me because of doctrinal concerns, I can just let life kill that dream I dreamed and go on. Somehow.

Since they didn't get back to me one way or the other, I still don't know if I'm wasting my time and energy dreaming.

Another position was posted for this coming academic year.  I should have applied right away.  My CV is much better, and I have some (very little) experience. I also have a couple years of bad applications behind me and am much better able to fill things out cleanly and well (but not more concisely because this is, after all, me, and brief means something different to someone who had a 450 page thesis).

All my job hunting has made me more prepared to show the alignment between what I'm looking for and what they're looking for (it's close with this job). I have a better chance this time if the position is approved (and if they don't consider me too heretical).

So why have I still not turned in an application?

To be continued . . .