Monday, February 12, 2007

More ruminating about the future...

So I'm a free man... and, as one would expect, I am scared. Scared, as the expression goes, so as to lack all remaining excretory matter. Let me enumerate the various sources of my anxiety.

The last few days have seen me sleeping a superhuman length of time. I'm not even really a "night owl" anymore; but a midnight bedtime still leaves me rolling out of bed at 11 in the morning. Seeing as how that's not healthy in itself, I'm going to put an extra effort into stopping that right away.

I need money. Not like the little bi-weekly $250 paychecks I got in high school to pay for gas and video games. Now I have, at the very least, health and car insurance to cover, and the immediate goal of making enough to move out of Mom and Dad's house in two months time, max. Then there's groceries, clothes, taxes, car repairs, and sustenance for time off for travel.

That means work. I've already got $500 a month in the bag (plus gas bills, ~$100/mo) working at the parish for minimum wage until I finish the important projects. My goal is to find a second job which pays at least $8/hr, where I can work more hours once the parish gig ends or compliment with another job.

That means job hunting. Steps? Oh yes.
  1. Rule out what I absolutely don't want.
    1. Nothing for less than $8/hr
    2. No programming. Other computer-related positions OK.
    3. No advertising. I find the whole industry repugnant. Incl. telemarketing.
    4. Nowhere out of the city.
    5. Nowhere where the employees don't like each other.
  2. Make resumes
    1. One for generic customer service/retail jobs
    2. One for computer-related jobs (Maybe spring for the A+ certification?)
    3. One for teaching position (see below)
  3. Do a whirlwind application tour, starting at the employment office, hitting everyone I can find.
  4. (Possibly) take two jobs; one for immediate employment, and another that starts later, for when I quit the parish job.
As soon as I can establish a minimum $1000/mo income, I'll search for an apartment. Some people have suggested that I house-sit, but I really really want a place that I can live in indefinitely. Somebody recently informed me of some apartments in town that are $550 a month including utilities; barring a better deal elsewhere, I'll spring for those. But the same friends inform me: don't make friends with the neighbors.

Now, for discernment practicalities. For a couple of months at least, I was talking about the monastery as if it was almost a sure thing. However, there are some kinks.
  • I'll admit it: I really like the idea of dating a little bit. I can only imagine the sadness my seminarian conferes might have at the image of me getting swallowed up in the great mass of married life. But now that I've been let loose on the world, that expansive mystery that is women stretches out before me like the banquet scene in Pan's Labyrinth. Now that celibacy has suddenly become optional, the weight of singlehood seems to have mysteriously grown. The thought of bearing it indefinitely whilst exploring the possibility--and not even the certainty--of religious life seems a painful thought at least.
  • Relative to the Diocesan life, the monastery did not seem like so much a sacrifice; indeed, it seemed almost indulgent by comparison. "Give to the Lord your autonomy; in exchange, you will receive everything else." But by that very fact, I perceive something incomplete in my discernment, since the most exciting things about the monastery seem to be its worldly procurements--beautiful liturgy, spiritual community, and a life of virtually boundless academia. It is not that I don't see how these things can be loved, as St. Augustine teaches, in Christ Jesus; it's that I know myself too well to believe that I am already in a state to "prefer nothing to Christ." It's not that I demand such perfection of myself here and now; but I would want my reasons for entering the monastery to be a little more pure than they are.
  • The upshot of this is that my selfish gene has kicked in since leaving the seminary, and the sense in which monastic life is a sacrifice had suddenly become startlingly clear. I understand that these feelings are partially a symptom of my strange situation; maybe when the difficulty of lay life kicks in, the allure of the monastery will come back (whether it will be part of an authentic discernment remains to be seen).
  • Practically speaking, this means that I'm more inclined to exploring the possibilities of ordinary lay life right now than religious life. I still want to travel this summer and visit some monasteries; but I don't think I will be going on any specialized "discerner's retreats" like the one I went to for St. Meinrad.
What does this mean? Well, it partially means that I should plan to dig my heels into lay life for a year or two at least. Coincidentally that's what the bishop also recommended. *grumble*

If I go that route, I should check out the local Catholic high schools right away and find out what my options are. I would probably prefer to go to a school out of town that paid better, but I think that may be a needlessly difficult option. Once I am settled into a salaried job, I can plan my future better from there.

But that is all assuming that what I've just written is the best way. It hasn't even been a week since I've left; I'm still pretty confused. So for now I'll just focus on the short term goals.

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