Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"When It Works In My Favor, I Go Biblical"


This week, I've been waiting for news.

It came this afternoon.

Girlfriends (and Furiousball, who is total Honorary Girlfriend): next year I'm going on sabbatical.

For the whole year.

Those of you who read my last post are, no doubt, able to appreciate how welcome and timely this news is.

The truth is that many of the feelings expressed in that previous post are constant, nothing new; they sum up 19 years of teaching community college students. The job is what it is. However, there is also a wearing down over time that happens, an erosion of energies and enthusiasms,

which is exactly why sabbatical was invented by God on the seventh day, when He was just plum tuckered from making waterfalls and zebras and toenails. On that seventh day, Dude jumped back, kissed Himself (or, as my students write, "hisself"), and realized He was tapped out and needed a sit-down.

So then He waved around His staff and created the weekend.  After a little more thinking, He conceded that sometimes a longer break can be more fruitful.  The concession made, He then created Wikipedia so there would be a place that could describe all of His Multitudinous Works, including the idea of periodic downtime.  The Wikipoodle defines sabbatical as

"a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year). In the strict sense, therefore, sabbatical lasts a year.



The foundational Bible passage for sabbatical concepts is Genesis 2:2-3, in which God rested (literally, "ceased" from his labor) after creating the universe, and it is applied to people (Jew and Gentile, slave and free) and even to beasts of burden in one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11, reaffirmed in Deuteronomy 5:12-15)."

This beast of burden, for one, is ready to lay fallow. 

Or whatever.

So long as it means I'm not grading Cause/Effect essays for awhile or asking the twelve-seventy-thousandth student to capitalize the word "I."

Seven years ago, right around when Paco was born, I had a one-semester sabbatical; I was stunned upon my return to campus at how re-energized and re-invigorated I actually felt.  Mostly, I thought I'd go back to the classroom and be cranky that my clog-dancing free time was over.  To my surprise, though, I felt really ready to be back--genuinely pumped up and eager to try new things. 

I maintain, therefore, that the concept of the sabbatical has merit and isn't just a way for lazy people to live out their fantasies of lying abed for three months, watching The View while self-corn-rowing their hair.

For this upcoming sabbatical, in fact, I have a four-pronged proposal (approved both by the college president and, as of today, by the state of Minnesota).  I'll make some videos to embed into my online classes; I'll attend a whoop-dee-doo conference after which I'll revamp my Short Story class assignments; I'll create a new online literature course (Multicultural Literature!); and I'll, well, I'll play around with some of the posts I've written right here and see if I can get them to relate enough that I can call it a manuscript.

So it's not like my year off will be a Year Off.

But.  Freedom from a daily schedule will have one huge side benefit:  it will allow our family to travel--ideally, to live abroad for as long as we can afford it.  I'm all about yanking the kids from school for a year and either homeschooling on the road or having them attend school in another country.  I'm urging Groom into looking at graduate programs in Art in, say, Florence.  I'm thinking about signing up with a housing swap agency. I'm not above begging friends and strangers alike if they have friends anywhere on the planet who would like to help welcome an American family as it settles in to their culture.

Basically, now that everything's set, everything's up in the air.  That's the excitement and overwhelmage:  anything is possible right now.

So hep me, Fair Readers.  If you had a year, a family with elementary-aged kids, 80% of your usual pay, and a desire to live abroad, what would you do?  How would you choose a place?  How would you find a place to live?  How much importance would you place on it having cheap wine? How would you know if your family is covered medically in that place?  And so on...

Pease, pease, throw me ideas, luvvies, so I can clap at the pretty colors.  'Cause right now I'm lurching around a place that's both a blur and a wheeeeeee!...


29 comments:

secret agent woman said...

Beats me - I don't have a job that allows long periods of time off, so I haven't given that any thought. Costa Rica is cool safe and probably reasonably economical?

flutter said...

Holy crap, that is fabulous!! Try Spain?

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I would want some place where the language wasn't a huge issue--I think that would be easier on the kids. Unless you all want to do an immersion thing to learn another language.

I'd think about what your family likes to do. Is is the beach? museums? skiing? backpacking? And then I'd go where we could spend a lot of time doing that.

Florence sounds fantastic, but expensive. I actually think the Costa Rica idea has merit--I've had friends visit there who just love it.

Good luck with all your choices--this is the opportunity of a lifetime!

Erin said...

That is so cool! I wish I had the chutzpah to even think about such an adventure! Just promise you'll keep blogging from wherever you go so that we can be there with you in spirit.

kmkat said...

No ideas at the moment, but I'll give it some thought. Mainly I just want to say, Wow! and Congratulations! and Wow! again. Awesome, truly awesome. (Yeah, my vocabulary is that of a 13-yo in 1992.)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

That sounds great. What excitement for you! Yes, you could write a book based off of what you've written here and what you experience in the next year. We'll all be waiting!

lime said...

let me go soothe my intense envy because, sugar, there is a corner of my heart that really only beats when i leave the US of A (not to say i lack patriotism, it's just that there is so much more out there, but yeah i know i am preaching to the choir here) and i honestly never thought i'd be raising my kids here and yet....

anyway, it can be done. no doubt. me? i'd be spending time back in trinidad because it is my heart's home. i'd also want to spend time in greece because that's my ethnic motherland. would be kinda neato for you to spend time in finland and norway, no? i know a norwegian blogger with an american wife who i am sure would be of great help in getting you info if you go that way.

as for medical coverage, will you still be covered by your employer during sabbatical?

jess said...

That's phenomenal!!! I'm so excited for you. I don't know where I'd go.. probably someplace warmish. South of France?

Or- I've got it- California!!! I'll start looking for a nice family on my street who wants to live in the great lakes region for a year. Don't worry, we'll be the only caucasians in Cupertino so it will be all multicultural and stuff. When should I expect you all?

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I am so envious. Hmmm - Portugal is supposed to be cheaper. Italian or french countryside. Or perhaps the eastern countries. Or Spain?

I'm no help, but

I wanna go, I wanna go.

Jeni said...

AWESOME! Absolutely. Awesome!!! (I am allowed those extra exclamation points there, aren't I?
Put me in the same category as Lime -as I am truly envious of this opportunity you have before you! For me, I would opt to go to Sweden -but then, you probably figured I'd say that since I'm really into ancestry and such.

The son of a one of my best friends here teaches at one of the schools over in State College, PA and a couple years back, he and his wife exchanged lives, sort of, with a couple from Australia for a year. They lived in each others homes, used the others vehicles, etc. but of course, it also required him to teach there. Still and all, a fantastic opportunity regardless of those strings attached to it.

Who knows though, maybe you can find so college professor with whom you could swap out homes and all that for the duration too?

Just so fantastic!

monica said...

how exciting for y'all! I would say Europe, definitely - what about Ireland? Or Scotland? Funny people and great landscape..and not far from Denmark, so you could come visit and see those places from way back when you were in S√łnderborg ??

furiousBall said...

that rules, since I'm your girlfriend, will you paint my toenails? something that doesn't make my toes look sad

Jazz said...

I have no idea how to go about it, my boss would never ever let me leave. Hell, she said I can't retire until she does...

Anyhoo.

Ideally, where would you like to live? If you could live anywhere? Your wildest dream... Start with that and scale back from there.

phd in yogurtry said...

Oh happy day! And year ahead! What an amazing opportunity. I don't have any idea about the insurance. Guess you can start with your current plan and see what they "cover" overseas. I'm a big leaner toward Europe. So many countries to see in a short distance (relatively speaking). But as Jenn suggested, it's all about you and your interests. It would be cool if you could arrange a house-swap with an international family. But I don't much about that either. So much for getting blogger help, eh?

I would post more but I can barely see through the green haze that has clouded my vision : )

Pearl said...

Just caught up with you and holy crap girl, run! RUN!!!!

And then Google it. Google medical insurance Spain. :-) Go to Europe, write write write, force the children to smell various cheeses, and REPRESENT, BABY, REPRESENT Minnesota.

Pearl

choochoo said...

wouldn't mind a sabattical myself after the week/working weekend I just had. I'm totally jealous.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Hallelujah! I've heard good things about Albania--like Greece but less expensive. I'd totally do a long-term overseas thing--think of it! And if you go anywhere in Europe you can travel between countries more easily than if you lived on another continent. What an opporunity! Hooray for you!

Anonymous said...

having cheap wine is important. that is why I sabbatical in the alley behind the liquor store.

Middle Aged Woman said...

Gotta be Europe just for ease of access to all those countries (otherwise I'd have said New Zealand!). I'm thinking the Toulouse area of France, near the Spanish border. It's warm!

Pam said...

Yay!Sounds great.Close your eyes, and stick a pin in your country's map.See where you land. Better still,the world map and hope you don't land on somewhere like Yemen.I wouldn't be swapping my house for a cave anywhere in the high mountains of Pakistan either.I don't think it's sugar your neighbours would have stacked in the cupboards.Maybe you could peek through a squinty eye a little bit.Last time a co-worker did this game blindfolded, to find where to spend her holidays in Australia,her pin landed at the waterworks in interstate Victoria, which after much consideration(not!) she declined.Come to Oz - the language is the same. We're a long way from anything else,but our waterworks are first class! You could go to Spain and find out if the rain really does fall mainly on the plain.I think they're laying off people at aforementioned waterworks 'cause it's not falling anywhere here in Australia,believe me!!

lime said...

oh, and just to let you know...today's slice of lime is dedicated to you. ;)

Michelle Wells Grant said...

Holy crap, me thinks your world is about to crack wide open and you are going to love it! I'm not a broad who can talk about abroad but wherever you land will be the place meant for you. The prospects are so, SO, SO exciting! I just can't wait to hear how this unfolds. As for the dumb students, I don't know how teachers get through the day sometimes ... I'm sure it's utterly horrific. But ultimately, I really only heard one word in your post: manuscript? MANUSCRIPT? Let it be true! This is what we've been asking for!

Becky Cazares said...

Yippee! See, there IS a place where the truly GOOD teachers go to rejuvenate! It's called Sabbatical heaven.

Anywhere you choose will be the "right" place. I'd opt for southeast France but have no idea how expensive that would be (although there definitely is cheap wine) nor if health insurance is to be had. I lived two years in Grenoble in a previous life, but I'd opt for a smaller town, if possible. Near the Alps would not only put you nearer your Minnesota-comfort zone, but nearer the heart of Europe and access to literally everywhere.

Don't let language be an issue - give it three months and you'll be fine. What lucky, lucky kids and Groom. And 80% of your pay is a chunk. My retirement is just 65% of my previous pay but I truly haven't noticed any significant drop.

Fabulous, fabulous news! Oh, wait, you'll still be blogging, right? Whew! You know we faithful readers can't live without that!

Anonymous said...

My dad went on sabbatical when I was in 1st grade (Oakland) and 8th grade (Hawaii) and really that's all I remember about elementary school. I was bummed when they went to China and NZ when I was out of the house. We ate lots of rice, noodles and tunas and only had bikes in Hawaii. It can be done and done cheap and is a great experience for all. If Groom enrolls in a program, housing may be more available. Have fun dreaming and planning
Cheers,
Julie B

heartinsanfrancisco said...

How exciting! Do you need a nanny who can spell and has a pretty good grasp on grammar? I'm so delighted for you!!

You might want to consider a country that doesn't have Minnesota-like winters, just for the novelty of it. I would be hard-pressed to choose from among Provence, Tuscany, Japan, Nepal, Tahiti, Greece... I know, not helping.

My daughter went waterfall rapelling in Costa Rica recently and absolutely loved the place.

Bob said...

I'd pick somewhere in Europe - 'cause everywhere else in Europe is either a train or cheap plane ride away. Next would be Greece - you've got the Mediterranean countries, the middle East and northern Africa all within easy reach.

Yo is Me said...

oh my mary gah almighty. i've missed a lot without internet.

i am SO happy for you. really, this made my heart giggle and swell for you. such a great adventure. i don't have any suggestions as i'm still getting over the shock and excitement for you :)

whatever you do, it will be effing awesome.

have you thought about alaska? hahaha! alaska. that's funny.

i would suggest italy. i know a blogger in poland, she's an expat. france? hearing toddlers speak french is adorable. i would go just to hear that. they sound so smart. YOUR KID SPEAKS FRENCH??!! HUT HE'S NOT EVEN THREE!!

yeah, shocker. french kids speak french.

Yo is Me said...

BUT he's not even three. not hut.

tut tut, looks like rain :)

chelle said...

*squeal!* Sabbatical!!!!!!!!!!!
That is like the ultimate.
We have had fantasies about the sabbatical. Except with my husband he would work in another lab so the coverage for health care would be through that university. Can you do that? Like teach "English" in a foreign land and reap the benefits of healthcare?

The interent has to be an awesome place to look around for places to stay.

I like the idea of a hosue swap, b/c you would be renting out anyway right? That kind of freaks me out. Someone living in my house, lounging on my couch in their underwear, sleeping in my bed ... oddness but for SABBATICAL ...

OOoo go somewhere warm! Please promise to still blog from abroad.