Thursday, May 12, 2011

Never in Single Spies, or: Why I'm not writing

I'm living through a rather complicated time right now. I'm trying to stay positive about it, but some days are hard. My husband and I were not laid off this year (we're both teachers), and that's a very good thing. The downside is, we both have the jobs nobody else in the district will touch. Jeff is especially burnt out but even I don't see doing this for longer than another year. What I want to teach is history, and I'm thinking of doing an online program to get my MA in history (I did all of my MA coursework at San Diego State and never finished my thesis) so people will maybe more inclined to hire me for my history credential rather than my English credential. I've actually had a school bait and switch me--I drove 20 hours (20 hours, people!) and paid for a hotel and everything for a job interview for history, and when I got to the interview they informed me that they had filled the history position--but would I like to interview for the English position they also had open? I was not amused.

Anyway, Jeff is trying to switch over to slightly less onerous position which would also allow him to be closer to me next year, something I'd very much appreciate with the whole I-might-go-into-labor-at-any-time thing I anticipate happening in the late fall. So here's problem number one: our district doesn't do things in an orderly fashion. they just sort of pick and choose who they want in which positions. Seniority means nothing to them. For example, a man at my current school who has been with the district for 29 years wanted to move over to the big high school when a position opened up there. They gave it to a guy who's been with the district for 4 years, instead. We've heard some things about Jeff's situation that make us think the district may screw him over and keep him in the VERY CRAPPY position he's in now (for the teachers among you: he has 8 different preps and he's "teacher in charge" which means he's acting principal 4 out of 5 days--for no extra pay). I won't go into it more than that, but if that happens, it's going to make staying here pretty hard. But with the pregnancy, moving to a new district (we're far from any others) would probably be close to impossible--I don't see anyone hiring me knowing they're going to lose me for two months or so.

The other thing about staying here (Mount Shasta, CA) that is becoming increasingly depressing to me is the length of the winters. It is SO BEAUTIFUL here, but the forecast for next week, the week of May 16, calls for more snow. More snow! I don't think I can do it. I can't live in a place where is snows from October to MAY.

The biggest stressor right now, though, has to be the owner of the house we rent. She's had some hard times, and I was feeling pretty sympathetic. Her partner died of a heart attack without warning. She had other family issues that were very hard, and she got laid off. As a result, she decided to sell the house we live in. Since January, we've had realtors walking people through our house an average of once a week. We hired a housekeeper to come in twice a month, but Barbara, the owner, also decided to bring someone in on the days of showings before the realtor would arrive to clean the house. The problem: I guess in the last month or so, she thinks she smells an increasing odor of cat pee.

I don't, but then, my sense of smell isn't great. Jeff (known for having a "supersniffer") doesn't, other than from the cat boxes when they need to be cleaned. But Barbara is convinced that a cat is peeing on the only carpet in the house, in our bedroom. You'd think we'd smell it if it was in our bedroom, but we don't. And even if it's really happening, it would be because strangers are spending hours at a time in our house, often running vacuums, with terrifies the cats and causes them to hide under the bed for hours at a time. Anyway, I don't think they are, and we've got a black light, which I need to buy batteries for, and I'll use it to confirm that this weekend. So at this point Barbara, who is a very nice lady, is totally panicked that the house won't sell. She's hired a guy to be the rental manager for her, and he's been throwing around words like "eviction." We have been nothing but accommodating to her from the beginning of all of this, and I think what's really going on is that she wants us out of the house early so she can foreclose. Our lease goes until July 31, and the manager tried to have us sign a paper saying we'd be out by June 13. Which would leave us exactly 3 days after school gets out to move. I've called a lawyer and left a message. I'm hoping he'll get back to me today.

So it's all stressful, and on top of everything else, I may have a complication with the pregnancy (I don't think it's anything dramatic) which I'll find out more about when I have my physical and my second ultrasound next week. At this point, though, I've had enough of it all, and I'm ready to run away to France and live with my mother. Sigh.

With the fatigue of the pregnancy, and all of these others things, I haven't been writing. I did write on Saturday (3000 words--not bad). But the rest of the time I sit on the couch and watch movies. And Glee. This weekend Jeff's driving four hours to do a gig with some old band mates and I can't decide whether to go with him. I probably will, although I need to find out where we'd be sleeping. No floor for this pregnant woman, thank you very much.


  1. Oh, Sophia! I'm so sorry to hear all this.

    First of all, owners don't have many rights when it comes to evictions. Unless you do something that is in direct violation of your lease, there's not much she can do (I managed apartments once, too. Yep. Lotsa odd jobs.).

    Secondly, I do resumes. For serious. If you'd like me to take a peek at your's or Jeff's, you know where to find me. I especially love teachers' resumes, since I come from a teacherly family.

    Thirdly, 3000 words makes you good for 5 days! (600 times 5. No, I was never a math teacher. But I wanted to be one for a while.)

    Fourthly, there's nothing wrong with watching Glee. The show makes me smile. And makes me like Lady Gaga.

    Hugs to you, Jeff, and your cats.

  2. Sophia,

    I di hope that all works out for you and your husband. Although she is controversial, I enjoy reading penelope Trunk's. Blog. She recently wrote a post about not going to grad school:

    I cannot tell you how many colleagues I know who went in for their masters and found out that there are still no jobs. However, I dobhavedo have a MA in English and back in the mid '90s this did help me get a better paying job. I am not confident that that is still true.

    The interesting/scary thing is that maybe it might be time for a career change. Penelope writes on this a lot.

    Good luck and hang in there.


  3. Oh, and Ron, yes, Jeff's seriously looking at other fields. I am hooked on being a teacher, at least for now. I think I'll have to take several more defeats before I give up.

  4. Thank you both! It's very moving to have such good friends online. I want to give you both hugs and the best I can do is hug my computer, and the kids might look at me funny. So just know that I'm hugging you in my mind. ;)

  5. I have a lot of friends who are teachers and they are all definitely having a hard time right now - stress over layoffs is a big thing, but I also have a friend who is moving from one state to another and is having a heck of a time finding a job for next school year - so good luck with that. Also, crazy landlord? Join the club. Ugh!! Write through your pain!! Glee will be on reruns long after we are dead and gone, so get those words out whenever you can. We're rooting for you!

  6. All of your lovely, supportive comments got sucked into the black hole of Blogger's dysfunction yesterday, folks. I read them, though, those that got through to my email anyway, and I really appreciate your encouragement and sympathy.