A year ago, I had to make the tough decision to end my teaching career of thirty-one years. I had a run of about three months where the sick days were costing me $330 apiece and my monthly paycheck kept sinking lower and lower. It was a choice between continuing to work hard, catch every virus that germy school kids carried into my classroom every day, and end up owing the school money at the end of the month. Teacher paychecks are earned during the nine months of teaching time, but spread over the twelve actual months (actually we work for ten and a half months because holiday breaks are always filled with paperwork, homework, and preparation, but you don’t actually get paid for that… eleven and a half months if you teach summer school for $20 an hour), and retiring on a fixed income that would turn out to be more each month than I was taking home each month while working.
After a year of headaches and breathing trouble… visits to the heart doctor… dealing with family bouts of social anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder… along with the resulting depression and physical pain… I am beginning to believe I made a good decision. I never could’ve weathered another year of teaching. I would’ve physically given out. But I have had ample time to write, to talk with and spend time with my children, and heal. I am still not well enough to get a part time job to supplement my income… but the chance to achieve good health again is closer now than it would’ve been if I hadn’t retired. Goofing off and playing with my toys has been good for me.
During the school day, with my kids in school, I can sit and write stark naked. (I know that sounds kinda perverted, but with psoriasis chewing my skin up in all the covered parts, that is far more comfortable than wearing clothes. Sitting in a hot bath is even better.) I have taken up Facebooking and WordPressing and playing Facebook games like Magecraft (I am now level 35 and gaining). I can’t keep playing and wasting time for too much longer, but I have never been more creative than I have in the last year. I wrote and finished four novels.
So, why am I telling you this instead of creating some humorous post about city driving or why bankers are better pirates than Blackbeard ever was? (Hmm… I think I better write those topics down). Because I can. I have recently undergone several setbacks with family and health, and that takes some meditation and healthy thinking to recover from (especially when you don’t have enough money to get help from the doctor). And besides, you all read my posts and offer words of comfort and pity… and I have a perverse need to write things that elicit comment and other proof that readers are actually reading what I write. Most of my fiction-writing life has been addressed to the unseen ghosts of future readers… and I’m always a little bit afraid of ghosts.