September 13, 2011

Oh Athens....

I will try to sum up some of our thoughts currently about Athens. Remember, most days we formulate these thoughts we are overwhelmed, so these thoughts are probably not entirely accurate and they will be interesting to read come the end of our stay here in Athens (2+ years from now). Maybe, hopefully it will feel like home by then.

So Matt and I are in an interesting chapter of "Katie & Matt Take on the World" :) ... We are here (Athens) for Matt to complete his graduate work in College Student Personnel. Ohio University this year is still on quarters (next year the university is making the switch to semesters) so come Thanksgiving, Matt has off from Thanksgiving until the first week of the new year. This is a whopping 5 weeks or so of no commitments for Matt here in Athens. Maybe you can see where this is going....

We would love the opportunity to spend a little over a month traveling to my parents, Matt's parents, friends and so on. But we have been wondering what kind of job will I have/do I want? We have heard plenty of stories from 'trailing spouses' (yes, they have a name for the wife that follows her husband to graduate school) that job opportunities can take anywhere from 3-12 months to surface down yonder here. ugh. So this leads us to our next thought. Maybe I won't even be employed come Thanksgiving. If that is the case, we will run with it... travel home, travel to friends, spend some time in Port Clinton so Matt can possibly work a little at the CIC... the ideas for that 5 weeks seem endless and super exciting to us. But come January when we come back down... I will be in the same ol' situation.... unemployed. And let me tell you, these past three weeks have felt long, I can't imagine how I would be feeling if I still didn't have a job in January. But the economy down here was already depressed prior to the whole nation being depressed, the odds are just not great down here (there is nothing). So I am trying not to take the whole job search to personally. (I will also mention, I have been lucky to already have some options, kinda) But I will admit in some situations related to jobs, I am being a tad picky (sounds crazy, I know). This leads me to my next random and probably non-coherent thought:

Matt and I are also trying to figure out what our commitment to this area is. Over the next two years Matt is in graduate school (obviously school is his commitment), however only 18 months of those 24 is actual school calendar time. So this leaves us with a long winter break this year (2011), a mediocre sized summer break (2012) another shorter winter break (in 2012) and then he will be graduated by summer 2013. What I'm really trying to say is... we have opportunity to not spend time in Athens. But is that what we want? It's what we are debating. We both have been offered back our summer jobs in Port Clinton. They are great paying, they provide wonderful people to work with and it means I would get some family time. Something I love more than anything. This proves to be a challenge for some of the positions I have already heard back from down here in Athens. A few of them are year round full/part time and would demand my holidays, my summer and pretty much all my weekends. This is just something Matt and I are struggling with. Weekends are something we would like to claim as our 'own' and our summer may also be a time we would like to keep open. Now some of these positions are very high commitment and you wouldn't want to just take the job temporarily and leave them hanging. It would be something you would really want to dedicated your time and energy to. (I'm sure I'll post about these opportunities in more detail once things are more clarified on my end.)

So with that being said, we think we have decided that I should get a job that keeps me busy, gives us some extra cash and continues to help me meet people and build skill, but doesn't demand long term commitment to this area. This also means that I may go the retail route or something a little less demanding than a part/full time staffed year round position. I'm sure this sounds silly to a lot of people (Why not take the commitment? Why not have a salary?) but we just don't have the energy or commitment made yet to this area. It's beautiful but currently it's serving its purpose as an educational place for Matt (and maybe for me in a year as well).

Another reason I shy away from a 'salaried' job is that I have a strong desire to start graduate school come next fall. And since we are here... what better time than now for me to get some schooling under my academic belt. We know that Matt and I will be off one academic year which then leads us to questions about whether I should finish out my two year program and have Matt find just any old job in the area (which may leave him unemployed) or should I pause my schooling and move to where he gets a jobs so he doesn't have a gap in his resume from graduate school to the work force. There are also a lot of perks Matt may receive if he lands a job at another university, one being free education for a spouse. Yea... can't really beat that.

You can see our thoughts are just everywhere. We had a nice conversation while at church with Matt's professors' wife on Sunday, she mentioned that she has often been a 'trailing spouse' and she knows very well how these transitions and changes often are one big puzzle that need time and patience to be put together. And that is exactly how Matt and I feel. I don't want to waste my time while I'm here. I don't want to sit around and literally wait for Matt to get done with school, but I also am not sure I want to invest a lot of time and energy into a profession while I'm here when I'm not even sure what winter/summer break holds for us. Our brains seemed to be fried from all the 'puzzle piecing'  yet ultimately know that God has the plan, and we need to be patient as the plan develops. But it just all seems so tricky.

Obviously this has been the largest thing on my mind, but I can't forget how much Matt already has on his mind with the overwhelmingness of graduate school. He seems to be in really good spirits most days. But has admitted to the anxiety of classes. And I don't blame him, I cracked a couple of his text books and it just seemed like a time warp to a period of high stress and demands. But I also crave that. I look forward to my possible graduate schooling next year, but I totally understand the stress Matt feels from all his syllabuses. He seems to be really enjoying his assistantship and we have been pleasantly surprised with his minimal to no weekend responsibilities. Must have been God planned, because there are other assistantships Matt was interviewing for and did not get, that demand a lot more time. And I just like having my husband to myself often :)

So we are surviving, even through the anxiety (with belly aches and all). And know that we will be taken care of... always. I have had a few interviews since coming to Athens, a couple of the opportunities are the ones that ask of a large commitment of not only me, but also Matt and my time away from him. Another one, that I had just today at a Learning Center/Day Care seems like it might be a great fit. However, sadly, any profession that involves care giving doesn't seem to pay well. So I think this job would be great for keeping me busy, giving me a purpose to wake up and go somewhere, give me some great potential relationships with fellow staff and give us minimal additional funds. But anyway... I won't even hear from them until late this week or early next week. So I'm going to be patient. Oh patience... :)

A couple additional thoughts about Athens that you may find entertaining.

*Matt and I thoroughly enjoy finding people in a crowd and naming who they look like from our past. This has been so much fun mainly because everyone we meet is new. We just don't see familiar faces. Sometimes we even forget the look-a-likes name so we hop on Facebook and stalk trying to show one another who we mean. Just kinda fun.

*We often feel like we look as young as some of the underclassmen freshman. And 25 (or almost 25) doesn't seem that old, but we also realize that we are almost 8 or 9 years older than freshman. So we obviously (or hope so anyway) look older than them.

*Now this completely contradicts the previous statement, but sometimes underclassmen look like middle schoolers to us. Like pre-puberty and all.

*But then there are the girls that look like they might as well be on the cover of some smutty magazine, because they don't have enough clothes on to prevent total body sunburn. We see those girls too.

*The 'rage' in clothing apparel, seems to be capri length black spandex, with a t-shirt or sweatshirt, tennies and a elastic headband. Of course while texting or listening on their iphones. yes, iphones, the phones Matt and I don't have. boo.

*Large plastic rimmed-glassless glasses seem to be another hit. Why? you ask... good question.

*Matt and I also have another hobby. We drive around the off campus housing on Friday and Saturday nights and just gawk at the partying. Matt has some extra intrigue being his assistantship is in alcohol assessment and education, but I am purely curious. Beer bongs the length of three story houses and girls dressed in outfits that could be worn to a 'skanky' wedding :) Sorry to say. I get that partying is what kids want to do here. I just wish there weren't so many incidents that harm people related to drinking and partying.

*Matt has turned me into a 'water snob'. ugh. I hate to admit it because I was so happy and content with tap water, particularly Cleveland tap water. But then I moved to Port Clinton and the city water had so much chlorine flavor, then I lived in Bluffton... and that water should just be illegal to all drinking. So once I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and the Doctor mentioned purified fluorine free water, Matt was able to convince me to give it a try. Well, it worked. I loved our big 3 gallon jugs full of purified water from Port Clinton Walmart. I didn't think this would be an issue when moving to Athens. But we filled our jug up at Athens Walmart and you honestly wouldn't know it was 'cleaned'. I was so bummed. Only because my taste buds have become quite use to the 'no' flavor of water. So we may try Kroger's water filter and hopefully we have better results. But the water down here just tastes scuzzy. Sorry to all that think of me differently now. I'm a water snob. :(

So this was a long post... that could have been so much longer with all the thoughts and paths we feel life could take right now. And to be honest, the big picture is just plain old scary. We thought all the decision making had been made once Matt got into grad school. But really we feel we are even more lost now than before. And when I think about 2 years... it feels so daunting (being honest here). And yet in the big scheme of things, it's not long at all. But when your in it, navigating and trying to discover what 'this' time in your life means, it is all just overwhelming. We are reminded that this is something we both really wanted for Matt and for us... our future. We don't regret taking this path, but we sure can't wait to get to the final product of a hard two years+assistantship. A degree! :) So we will be patient and steadfast.

I guess I just can't wait for all those exciting life moments that come once we are 'settled'. Particularly...owning a house, oh... and having a baby! :) haha. Just desires of the heart, but just not the time.

So when we aren't saying how 'interesting' everything is about Athens, we are instead saying... Oh Athens...

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