I ran into my former supervisor from the university at the farmers’ market yesterday. Returning to her
sweatshop department is not at the top of my list of preferred work options. However, it is many years since I worked there, and things might have improved, for all I know. We had one of those conversations where you say where everyone you know is now. This is usual for musicians and itinerant college teachers. I don’t know whether insurance agents and nurses have this kind of conversation: “Oh, yeah, Kelly’s over at Central now. Beau’s at St. Mark’s. He took Marsha’s spot when she went to hospice. I think Tom went to Nashville, but his wife is at Memorial. Yeah, it’s rough, but that’s how it is in this business.”
She asked me whether I was interested in part-time work. I was noncommittal. The thing is, I make two to four times as much plying The Dark Art as I do teaching. This means that I could spend half my time searching for clients and half on billable work, and still be ahead, compared with teaching. It’s also very hard to limit part-time teaching to the hours for which you’re actually paid. You may have ten hours in the classroom and really work thirty. And you have no security — you have to be rehired every term, and even then, your class may not make and you’ll be out of work again. This makes it hard to see part-time teaching as desirable, though fulltime teaching may still be a good choice for me.
It was good to see her. I like her, even if I didn’t necessarily like working for her. I told her that I didn’t know if contract work was the best choice for me, and she said she knew what I meant; she is always hunting the next grant. We stood in silent contemplation for a few minutes, looking solemnly over the bok choy and radishes as we thought about the essential uncertainty of our positions.
Life is essentially uncertain, though. You never know what may happen. The key is to see this as an adventure.
I closed the kitchen show at last, filled my kitchen with fine fruits and vegetables and whole grains, made chicken soup, put sliced banana bread (low fat, low sugar, high fiber) in the freezer for future breakfasts, cleaned house enough to make it tolerable, did a little work in the garden, made a bit more jewelry, knitted, and read.
It was a pleasant day.
It was not a relaxed day, I have to admit. I don’t feel unemployed, but I also don’t feel all that employed. A really relaxing day off is hard to accomplish if you still sort of feel like a jobhunter. That Man sent me an email not long ago saying that a small business person has to be prepared to work 24/7. I always tried to get him to take time off, actually, back when he was a small business person. I think people are more productive if they take time off. But not, I suppose, if you spend that time fretting over work.
And today is the day to take #2 son to Governor’s School. This is a program for rising high school seniors. They get to spend six weeks on a college campus, doing college-level work. #2 daughter did this, and it was a wonderful experience for her. You do miss your kid, though. It will probably be easier, since we are by now old hands at sending our kids off.
It involves a day full of driving, and there are very scary roads between here and there, as I recall. I think I have been successful in persuading my husband to do all the driving. Really, it’s a kindness. He’s a terrible passenger. Fidgety, you know, and always wanting to tell the driver what to do. I intend to take my book and my knitting and ignore the scary roads as much as possible.
I don’t think I’ve been too bad with the anticipatory anxiety this time, actually (I got that phrase from my Overcoming Agoraphobia book). Unless I’ve just been masking it by worrying about work instead.
I’d better rouse the other participants in today’s undertaking.