Sunday, November 12, 2006

I suppose it could be a little disheartening to friends who haven’t had a chance to get caught up on our lives, having been so long departed from the blog world, only to have me return with a moderately interesting “comedy of errors” post, predicated on my stressed-out overreaction to a phone bill. (I asked Jes if everyone thought I was crazy and she said yes. Well, we all have our pressure valves.) I then followed that with a meme. I’m sure you’re more interested in what’s been going on generally and how we have both been adjusting to married life. The short answer is that we’ve been happy, but busy.

We bought the Suzuki Forenza in late August. I have already put over ten thousand miles on the car, driving three hours round trip a day to my rural teaching job. I’ve been buying books on tape at the Flying J Truck Stop, where liberal titles go for $3.33. I am spending over three hundred dollars a month on gas (I just did a budget yesterday in Microsoft Money by downloading my transaction data from the bank). We’ve looked for houses halfway between here and there, as Jes still is working here and we like here, but they are mostly out of our price range.

The houses in H, where I teach, that are within our price range should all be condemned. Because H is something of a resort community people attempt to price houses for overly enthusiastic vacationers. Consistently I would value the properties that we’ve seen – figuring on the amount of work that would need to be done to bring them up to code and to livable status - at between twenty and thirty thousand dollars less than the asking price. I think the local wisdom is that you add twenty thousand to whatever you think the property is worth in order to cover the cost of the listing and purchasing agents. Actually, I’ve been told as much. It’s a dying community with a lot of hope, fantasizing and fearful that it could be the next Branson. It seems like almost everyone but the truly in, want out.

I am enjoying the job, but the amount of property that is for sale is worrisome; as is the condition of said property. Outside of the city limits there is no building code. Most of the rural houses we’ve looked at do not have septic systems, but they do have lead paint. Before St. Louis I grew up in rural Wisconsin, where it is illegal to sell a home without a septic system sized to the number of bedrooms/bathrooms on the property. When I lived in Kirksville I saw economic depression, but H has it beat and I don’t see any solutions in the offing. Poverty is structurally endemic.

So that is the stress. Do we move there? I have other job offers. Do we take them? I actually have other job offers there from two neighboring universities. I’m really not sure what the best thing to do is. The only thing that is clear to me is that I love teaching, but the work load plus the commute is eclipsing the rest of my life – not a good thing for a newly wed. For the time being I am used to the commute. There are only six weeks left in the semester. We’ll have time to think with the breaks upcoming. I am willing to stay long term, but a number of things will have to fall into place for that to happen.

If you’re of a spiritual/shamanic bent I have a good story for you. After the wedding Jes kept the bouquets around the house in various vases, she kept them longer than you would keep an ordinary bunch of flowers as they had bridal significance. One of the elements of the bouquets were these dry and twisty willow branches that offset the living vibrancy of the roses. When people see the pictures they often ask, “What are those?” meaning the dry twig elements.

In the long left vases the flowers dried and wilted, as you might expect, but the presumably dead willow branches began to leaf and root. We will thus be able to plant and eventually tree the willows from our bridal flowers as they are currently as green and thriving as any spring sprouting. If you’re looking for an omen from this green man and his Bacchanal bride, methinks the willow doth provide.


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