Sunday, September 18, 2011


(If you're interested, I just posted about my latest book find. Keep reading if you're interested.)

This school year has been nothing short of TUMULTUOUS. There's some quality of self immolation for anyone who chooses to teach. Sometimes, it's torture. Sometimes, it's horrible. Most often, it's comfortable and (dare I say?) enjoyable.

I made no secret in college that I was only going to teach for a few years and then move on to other pursuits, ventures, and what have you. I'd already decided that I wanted to be involved in education in some capacity, but I wasn't convinced when I graduated with a license to teach adolescents (oxymoron??? ha...lame joke) that I wanted to commit my entire professional life to the confines of a high school. Just because you start out as a teacher, it doesn't mean that you have to always teach. But, you know, it's growing on me. I'm alarmingly close to reaching my 10-year-and-out limit. We'll see how the next 2 years go after I fulfill this contract.

But what I really want to talk about here is just the sheer tumult in my life right now. It seems as if nothing is truly comfortably fixed, which drives me absolutely NUTS.

*My classroom situation is in a complete state of flux. I have a student teacher working with me for the first time, which is somewhat incomprehensible. Am I really old enough or experienced enough to have a newbie working out the kinks alongside of me?
*My teaching schedule is going to be radically altered next year when I am assimilated into the New Tech way of teaching at the junior level.
*My babysitter situation is not where I want it to be and seems to be impossible to find what we need. This is definitely keeping me up-a-night. What can we do? Do we just stick it out? Where else can we place her for 2 days a week? We are doing our best to avoid placing her in a daycare setting, but what if we have to? How do I reconcile myself to that situation?
*Our house has had some really positive showings, which is quite a bit alarming and exciting. Alarming--we have no where to go, not even an apartment lined up should our house sell. Exciting--we're going to take a hit on our house, but maybe not as much as we had been warned against. Alarming--we have been seriously looking for a new house since January and have no house in our sights. Exciting--it's still kind of fun looking for an upgrade.

How HARD can it be to find a house that has a couple of basic requirements in the price range that we're restricted to? In this county, it seems that it is in fact downright impossible. Something is just going to have to give, and unfortunately, it can't be the price. Maybe we can't have a basement. Maybe we can't have 4 bedrooms. I don't know. But something is going to have to be amended if we are ever going to find our we're-staying-in-this-one-until-retirement house.

This all comes along with a phone call from our financial adviser who was answering a question that Ben posed to her. But the answer that she gave me just epitomizes the frustrations and TUMULT that everything has been lately. According to her, we need to contribute an additional $800/month to our retirement savings if we want to retire at 55 (standard for teachers). That along with what we're already contributing would equal 23% of our net salary. How does this work? It's not like we're just now starting to save. Technically, we could afford it, but at what cost? No vacations. Not nearly enough or anything saved for Abby's education. Nothing or very little put away in savings. Is the economic forecast really that bad that we need to commit this much to being able to maintain the way we live now, which is decidedly not flashy?

And, the only salary increase I earned after 4 years and $12,000+ dollars to finish my Masters was about $30/paycheck because my school's teachers were forced to agree to a 2.5% pay decrease and no incremental promotions (i.e. I'm stuck at 5 years experience for an indefinite amount of time even though this is my 7th year teaching). Comparatively, Ben, who is on the B.S. salary schedule (2 increments below mine) and has the same years of service earns about $3000 more than I do in gross pay. Our health insurance has gone up 14% in 2 years and our pay is going...

I'm whining here, I know, but why does it have to be so hard? Why? We both have stable, full-time jobs; why can't we find a decent long-term house and be able to save for our collective futures without sacrificing everything now?

Let me clarify that I don't expect everything to be given for me. I appreciate the fight and the struggle and how the benefits that are reaped are sweet. But, I wouldn't mind a little sense that we're doing things right, that we're okay.

In one of the best episodes of The West Wing, Toby, Josh and Donna end up stranded in Indiana. Toby is hanging out in a hotel bar waiting for a train to get back to Washington, and he gets into a conversation with a guy who was returning home from taking his daughter to Notre Dame for a college visit. The guy is baring his soul to Toby, talking about how he doesn't need someone to just hand it all to him, but just a little help would be nice, something to help him know that all of his efforts are meaningful and that things will work out. I get this guy's perspective now. I get him. Just a little confirmation would be great...

This has been a constant prayer as of late.

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