Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fringe Benefits

"He may live without books - what is knowledge but grieving?

He may live without hope - what is hope but deceiving?

He may live without love - what is passion but pining?

But where is the man who can live without dining?"

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Just before it was time for my husband to leave for work, and when it was already clear I wasn’t working, as I had received no call and was wearing my casual clothes, I was sitting on the couch in the living room, snuggling with my daughter.

“I wish you could stay home with me today,” I said to her.

“I wish I could stay home too,” she replied. “I’d snuggle with you all day.”

“Nobody should be wishing for that,” my husband asserted. Then he added something like, “You should be wishing for work.”

My daughter and I didn’t really want to stay home and snuggle together, but it’s just a sweet thing to say to one another. I’m sure my husband knew that too. But my lack of a full-time job and inconsistent work schedule has caused tension between us for months. Like many couples, money (or lack thereof) has fueled most of the arguments we’ve had over the years.

When I decided to leave my teaching assistant last winter, I became depressed. I’d miss the school; its familiarity, the teachers and staff that I’d worked with since 2003, and most of all, the students. By the time I resigned, I’d just finished the factors leading to the American Revolution (that I wouldn’t get to teach) in Social Studies and had planned a spelling bee (that I’d never get to implement) in Word Study. The students in this class had impacted me like no other group, and I was sad to leave them. When I told the kids, they seemed nearly as sad to lose me, and they went through a lot of trouble to say goodbye, with poetry, singing, cards, food, and gifts. From the time I pondered the decision to leave until weeks after I did, I was in a state of melancholy.

Once I started subbing, I don’t know if my attitude improved much because my schedule was erratic. Until mid-May, I only worked one to three days a week, and unless I worked at least three days, I wasn’t even bringing home the paychecks I had as an assistant. My husband didn’t understand how I didn’t appreciate that I had off, since he was stuck working (and supporting the family), while I didn’t understand how he wasn’t more sympathetic to my situation.

After enduring one of the lowest periods in our marriage, we found our way out of it in the last couple of months. But the fact that I haven’t procured a full-time job (or even a book deal) is still a point of contention. One perk I look forward to - since he works in the same city we live in, I can meet him for lunch once in a while. There’s something about eating together and talking that connects people.

I know that even though I didn’t like the way my husband originally put it, he’s right. I have to appreciate the time I have off. At a children’s writers’ conference I attended last year, the author, Laura Halse Anderson, encouraged writers to spend time nourishing the soul. So I will make sure to use my free time for yoga, bike riding, reading, and writing, as well as chores and errands. And the occasional lunch with my husband.


  1. Well that answers that. You do practice yoga!

    If you don't mind my asking, do you practice it the way most people in the west seem to? Mainly the asana, as a form of light exercise?

    That's what my significant other does. And it seems to work quite well.

    I never got into it, it overlaps too much with other things I'm much more comfortable with, so that that most of the poses are too easy and the very hard ones strike me as unnatural- requiring training specifically to complete that pose. Which goes against my training philosophy in the first place. : p

  2. Alesa, I do it because I heard it was good for posture. Then I found it lengthened my muscles and improved balance. I began doing things I never thought I'd be able to do again, like handstands and headstands. It's also peaceful. First, breathing and sitting still drove me crazy. But I got into it.

    When I did yoga once or twice a week and martial arts once a week, I was in the best shape since I was a child. I got to the point I could hold my weight on my elbows with my palms on the floor.

  3. That's exactly it! Martial arts and yoga are an excellent combination...

    I keep telling people that they need balanced workouts. I doesn't have to be a specific thing, it's just that for well balanced body you need power, flexibility, endurance, and agility... Grace is an added bonus, but non essential.

    I gave pseudo capoeira lessons to pay my modest tuition bills (they're cheap in france) when I was in uni. I saw some cases of people completely changing their bodies over the span of two years. One person in particular... Ramble ramble...
    Wow, I was getting carried away there. : j

  4. Alesa, marital arts is one of the few aerobic activities I'll put up with. The other two are walking and biking. Just don't ask me to run!