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Measuring in Standard Ambers | 2011 | Hierarchy of Need


The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.  

-Richard Bach


To Red Hook

Despite having found an apartment Amber and I both like (if not love), this move rattles me.

Moving to Jo-anna's three years ago was relatively easy because I had known I had a deadline in Amenia from the moment I took the job there. This deadline was something I looked forward to daily (though I had then assumed I would be starting a new life with my wife by my side). Yes, there was a bit of scrabbling at the last moment, but everything worked out in the end. Frankly, any move away from Amenia was one toward sanity and sense, even though my time with Jo-anna lasted only a bit over a month.

Moving to Fishkill shortly after - rushed by Jo-anna's family losing their house - seemed simple in comparison with my present move. I was barely unpacked. I had my editorial gig by then and felt as though my life was settling into a form I could better handle.

I more than admit that there is a much in this move to Red Hook that is good: we are right in town, I will live with Amber (who I wish were here tonight because I have been dealing with days of stress-induced insomnia and I sleep with her head on my chest), it is a fairly cultural small town given its proximity to Bard College, it is close to my job (on which more presently). Yet I was comfortable in the life I was leading (even though I know that one of the healthiest things one can do with such comfort is to smash it). Aspects of that life felt effortless, even if I fretted over chasing away poverty in a very real way. My subbing and tutoring was so easy that I could do it without thinking, instead devoting my cognitive energies to my writing. Owing largely to having to focus on packing up boxes and make plans for moving and work, this is my most writing I have done in days.

I do want this move, but I feel for days as though I am emotionally muzzled from expressing hesitations aloud. I don't want Amber to feel I am getting cold feet. When I do get around to expressing this to her, she assures me that she understands my feelings - at least those I am able to express - and has been trying to keep strong and steady both for me and her mother (who, despite having rid herself of Amber while she was at college, may be suffering from a bit of early onset Empty Nest Syndrome). Things need to get done and that will not happen if she falls to as many pieces as I feel I am. She, however, does not have as many people as I do to act as a sounding board for her, aside from the women in her circle (who cannot quite relate to what she is experiencing, as many of them are old enough to have given birth to her).

Everything feels like a struggle and I get no mental down time to sort through them all (least of all at work. From 7:30 to 3:30, I am left alone for fewer than three or four minutes at a time, even having to attend meetings during my lunch). I began to cry tonight, when driving Amber back to her house with my car full of another load of boxes. I find my job psychologically awkward, knowing that 90% of the boys end up back in our facility or worse and I am asked at least once daily how long I intend to work there. On the surface, the residents are no worse than the special ed kids I dealt with at my old job, but I feel underutilized. I am a great teacher and I am (according to some at the facility) now babysitting minors adjudicated guilty of felonies - though I try not to know the nature of my charges' crimes so as to be able to help them without personal prejudice. I told Amber that, if I defined myself primarily as a teacher instead of a writer who needs to meet his bills somehow, I do not think I could stay long at this job. I wish I were teaching motivated students at a liberal prep school, but I will cope with this.

Despite all this, were this job were close to my current apartment, I know I would not be so ill at ease now. I could have a month at this job to get acclimated and accrue some monetary security before endeavoring to get a new apartment and move in with Amber.

I concede this could have been so much worse. Not long ago, I worried I was going to have to get a job out of state to keep my head above water financially. While I am certain Amber would have been up for it, we will only be twenty-five minutes from her mother's home and a bit under an hour from where I currently live.

I know all this will ease as I adjust to my job duties and my days stop feeling like interminable interstitial moments between two lives. I will come to adapt to this until it feels this is the only life I have ever led. I know this task before me is hardly the worst I have faced and I am far too experienced to let it bother me for long. Many would doubtless balk at the population with which I am to deal professionally (as I might balk at those residents in a more secure facility). As Melanie puts it when I write much of this to her: "I would even go so far as to say that this ability to wade through the chaos and irrationality of others while still being able to make sense of things is part of what makes you such a good storyteller. You can become part of a place (real or imagined) without letting it take over you, and without getting sucked in beyond the point of analysis and self-reflection. You are, in other words, perpetually intact. Still, you ARE susceptible to being rattled around, which is what's happening now. Let yourself rattle; trust that you will pull through, and call upon that trust when you feel like you can't cope at present."

Soon in Xenology: Moving.

last watched: Sherlock
reading: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
listening: Spinning Jennies

Measuring in Standard Ambers | 2011 | Hierarchy of Need

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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