I have a part time teaching job at a local university starting in January, but right now I’m unemployed. Or rather, I have a lot of work to do –that’s the way the academic job market goes — lots of writing, tailoring of texts and submitting– but I currently have no income. In fact, applying for jobs generates a number of expenses associated with dossier services and transcripts, not to mention the coming costs of the MLA convention in Seattle. Last month was okay because I still had some savings, but this month, as bills are coming in and I’m not getting any freelance work, I’m feeling more and more dependent on Paul.
This isn’t really such a change. Paul’s almost always earned more than me and generously has paid the vast majority of our common bills. But I’ve always been able to take care of my own credit cards, meds, therapy, lunches, coffee, books and all those necessities of life. Today though I realized I can’t do it again until I start getting paid again. This has left me feeling vulnerable and dependent in a way I’m not used to and don’t like.
It feels weird too. Paul has done everything possible to keep me from feeling bad about it, making sure I have cash to carry around with me, letting me know that there shouldn’t be a problem covering my bills. It’s not like I have any fear of him somehow using financial uncertainty as some sort of power over me. That’s just not the way we roll. But it’s also not what we signed up for either. I’ve always worked, always wanted to to work. I’ve had my own money since I was 16. To not have it at 44 makes me feel like a child — and childhood wasn’t a place I was very happy. I’m looking around the house and feeling like I should be spending more time cleaning since I’m not earning anything (on a side note, my income also paid for monthly cleaners who aren’t coming anymore) as though lack of paid income = housewife, something I know isn’t the case.
Not earning money makes me feel my time is less valuable, that I’m somehow less important than I was when I was working. I know, that sounds twisted but is true. I had no idea so much of how I see and respect myself is caught up in my being able to take care of myself, but it really is.
This isn’t really going anywhere. Except to say if you need some freelance editing from an American literature Ph.D., you can get me on the cheap. :-/