I’m currently ensconced in the wilds of Illinois, where Wednesday I’ll be heading off to my second interview with a local library system. I’m alternating between being nervous and depressed about this interview, not because I don’t want the job – I do, but rather because job hunting is exhausting and at times, incredibly depressing. But I think the depression is not so much about the looking for the job but rather how much my life will change once said job is obtained. It is not so much about what I’ll be doing as it will be where I’ll be doing it and how much coin will be slipped across my hand for my performance. Justin and I ran the figures on what I needed to stay solvent, independently, to fend off the U.S. student loan sharks1 and save a buck or two for retirement. 2 And then there is the probability if we want to have kids, buy a second home, or even a new car. It feels like everything I want takes money and I will never catch up.3
And if I’m not stressing about money, I stress a lot about time. I never seem to have it and when I do, I never seem to manage it properly. Which is odd since I managed it quite well juggling everything I did while in school. All the silly projects I had set up for the summer, I have not even touched. It feels when I have two seconds to myself, I’m prepping/heading off to go somewhere else or do something else. I always wonder how people can accomplish so much when they have the exact amount of time that I do. Time is not flexible
This is the first summer since I was a bonafied kid that I’ve had “off” – no work or school to contend with. But my time has been packed and while I can easily account for it all – job applications, job interviews, volunteer work, trips to professional conferences and such, it still doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything this summer. Well, I haven’t accomplished I had set out to do: learning new programming languages, research projects, writing projects, knitting projects. Job applications are a two day process and when I have an interview or two a week lined up, even by phone, those interviews require prep work, which means more time set aside when I could have it allotted for something else. I’m not resentful I have to do these things, I’m more resentful that I’ve let so much spare time slip through my fingers.
This will also be the first fall in nearly a decade in which I will not be heading off to some institution of higher learning. Books will not be bought, notebooks will not be scribbled in and notes will not be taken. I will not be graded on my achievements, not in the usual way of a letter grade, but there is something sad about not having grades made instantly available at the end of the term. Now all is the piling of rejection notices and “We’ve not quite made a decision yet” emails. Summer, when I was a kid and had no real responsibilities to contend with, meant cookouts, overnight pajama parties with friends, long bike rides to hidden areas where I would pack a lunch and read for the day. Trips to the exotic lands of Canada or to a cabin up in the Thumb area4 with family. There were many, many days of going to the beach and getting brown like a raisin.
The seasons always have a certain smell to them, each one is completely distinctive from the others. Summer always smelled of fresh cut grass, meat roasting on the grill, and the smell of coconut from the tanning lotions. My skin and hair always smelled of the lake we lived by, and while I did not go swimming every day during the summer, I did so enough that the smell lingered for weeks. I always felt that my best moments, my adventures and my memories, are all romanticized from those days. Even in the summers when I was working or in class, there was still a sense of excitment about them even if they were not close duplicates to my childhood. Then it was more about the sense of getting time off to do some of these things, the freedom and de-stressing form work/school whereas this summer, it’s about the additional stress and in some cases, the derailing of freedom. We’ve made many plans this summer, only to have them curtailed by sudden changes in my schedule, whether that meant I was leaving for job interviews or by Justin’s schedule, with him being on call or there was a strike or two happening within his company.
We’ve tightened our belts, financially, since I have no income coming in. We’re not struggling, no, we’re fine but mini-breaks, cabin overnights or day long picnics all must be accounted for somehow. We’ve been trying to set something up before I get whisked away by a library system and I’m working fulltime, but until the strikes end, when we can call our time our own again, those plans will not be happening. Last summer we planned on driving up around the eastern coast of Michigan, going up as far north as Mackinac before heading diagonally home on I-75. We wanted to sleep in cabins, splash around in the beach, and go walking in the woods. Hunt through sleepy little towns, lounge about in hammocks, reading all day and eat fruit so fresh, our faces are bathed in their juices. We never went because we could never sort out my work/school schedule for the summer and then fall came, and everything went to hell.
In the wilds of Illinois, I would give anything right now for that weekend to happen. Just one more last summer hurrah before adulthood, and reality, sets in.
1. My car will finally be paid off soon, so student loan debt will be all that I have. Before you get all jealous, that debt is nearly $100K.
2. Solvent in that I should be supporting myself, in case Justin leaves me for an (even) older woman or young hussy, or dies by Pug strangulation or something. Since I’m seven years older than him, I should have money in the bank for retirement and since I do not, I have to be aggressive with the savings.
3.. You know, The Jones
4. Michigan is shaped like a mitten, so the “Thumb” is the thumb shaped area that is directly north of Detroit.