Tag Archives: career change

The unsettling nature of a return to the ordinary.

Perfect autumn day in Haute-Loire

Perfect autumn day in Haute-Loire

Saturday morning was, like every morning since we got back to France, unseasonally warm, though the notion of “seasonal” has lost much of its weight in light of ever-increasing temperatures on the planet we call Earth. We did our weekly shopping and made our way to C’s parents for lunch. Just as we were sitting down to eat, C’s mom pointed outside. “You see that fog?” She indicated a low cloud in the distance. Suddenly it began to snow. It kept on throughout the afternoon and into the night, and it’s snowed a bit today as well. Temperatures dropped from 60-65°F (15-18°C) to 35-40°F (2-5°C) within a number of hours.

And so it is winter.

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Nearly there…

The last few weeks have been maddening.  In an attempt to get as many pennies into the coffers before we leave as possible, I took on as many students as I could, some transcription work for a friend in a doctoral program, and a rush translation job for a tourist board near here.  C and I have also been tying up all the loose ends we have here, as well as scrambling to learn as much Spanish as possible before we go.

As the weather’s gotten nicer, I’ve been stuck indoors, typing away, preparing lessons or teaching.  I haven’t been creating (and I assure you that every word I’m typing right now is like pulling water out of that proverbial stone), I haven’t done yoga, gone jogging or hiking…in fact, I haven’t gone out much at all.  C’s spent 3 out of the last four weeks away for work, and there hasn’t been time for anything…well, there has been some time, but I’m awful at taking advantage of snippets of time during the day.  I need an open horizon before I can chill.  A vacation would be nice.  But while we’ll be taking flight in the very near future, there will be no time for R&R.  But that’s okay.

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In the in-between…just a little bit longer.

I recently watched an interview with Elaine Stritch that the New York Times released (re-released?) after she passed away a couple of weeks ago.  There’s this moment where she says, quite intensely, like she really, really means it:  Live expectantly.

Ms. Stritch didn’t want to know what was coming her way.  She wanted it all to be a big surprise, one day to the next.  I guess that’s the life of an actor.  Living expectantly sounds romantic.  But life doesn’t just happen to us.  Most of us, I have found, are doing the best we can, which means we’re working really hard toward something or other.  So while we might be ready for all the wonderful or terrible things that may come to pass, and while we might live our lives anticipating the unknown with a sense of joy, if that unknown is going to go anywhere near the direction we’re hoping, we’ve got to put in some good old fashioned graft.  We’ve got to plan, follow through, figure out what works and what doesn’t and quite often start all over again.  And that’s not even the worst of it.

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Step One: Creating Space.

I am aware that if I look back on the various posts I’ve written on this blog, I would find the personal pronouns referring to yours truly too numerous to bother counting.  I’ve ventured out of my box a little here, a tad bit there, but for the most part I’ve focused my opining and whining squarely on the space that surrounds me, the things that happen to me, because of me, and by my hand.  It’s a bit boring, isn’t it?  I’m very interested in finding a place in life in which what I’m thinking about — what concerns me — is more interesting than, well, me.

For the moment, however, I’m still figuring out which foot goes where in order to move forward.  One of the biggest obstacles to that in the last year or so has been a lack of space.

I don’t mean physical space.  I’ve got enough of that.  I don’t mean time.  Time has been there – in snippets, which is a big part of the problem.  Imagining life differently than it is takes an extraordinary amount of space. That space is emotional, mental, and creative, and if it is diminished by fatigue, it is destroyed by fear.  Of course fear – my fear, at any rate – comes from self-doubt.  I’m not sure what it is that I’m doubting, because I haven’t even figured out what it is that I’m asking myself.  But I do know that I haven’t had the space to even begin to formulate that question.  So the possibilities, rather than seeming endless as they might, seemed painfully finite.  Suffocating.  Doom and gloom.

And then that changed.

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My life as a writer: Passion, romance, or sloth?

A couple of years ago, after a particularly grueling day at work, I met up with A, one of my dearest friends in London, at (one of) our local(s).  Over a pint of what was likely either Strongbow or Leffe, I disclosed one of my far-away dreams:  to become a writer.  “God – picture it!”  I told him.  “Wake up at 8 or 9 – none of this 6:30 business anymore.  Do some yoga, have a shower, take your laptop to your favorite caf’ where you people-watch until the inspiration takes you…what a life.”

“Yeah, but,” he replied, most likely exhaling from his cigarette, “you’re supposed to become a writer because you’re passionate – not because you’re lazy.”

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