Big Changes, Part Two

I'm back home in NC after a nearly two-week Thanksgiving trip (being unemployed has its benefits).

Shout out to Lance and Sarah & fam: thanks for the hospitality and company! Y'all are awesome.

So I've got a lot to do. And I have a lot to say: about the San Diego zoo, Philip Pullman, pipe organs, public transportation, and probably a lot of other things. But I've got bigger news to announce, so those will have to wait.

I'm moving to California. Oxnard, California, to be precise. Pretty much immediately.

("Immediately" = the end of this calendar year. Which is approaching awfully fast!)

Here's the executive summary of my plan. Ye who want the longer version can read on. I'm moving in with my 90-year-old grandfather to provide household assistance, companionship, and security. With the basic financial security and time flexibility that come with that arrangement, I intend to build up a freelance copy editing practice as a possible first step in a career in publishing. The move will of course take me far away from many treasured friends, but it will bring me much closer to my extended family and my family's extensive social network, which I am confident will enable me to find a nurturing church home and a solid network of new friends.

I've been considering this move for about a month, since my parents first mentioned the possibility. All the pieces really came together, though, through multiple conversations held over the space of these last couple weeks.

My grandfather, Ben, presently lives alone in the house he's owned for over 60 years, in which he reared (with Grandma, of course) six children.

GrandDad is 90, but he doesn't look it. He is the picture of physical and mental health for someone of his years. He's better than I am about remembering to take his medication. (Oh, yeah, I've got to go take my pills...) He chooses to keep his bedroom on the second floor of the house, rather than moving into one of the several available rooms on the ground floor in order to avoid the stairs. He tends his large garden and grows more fruit than he knows what to do with. A retired electrical engineer, he enjoys tinkering with small machines. He still can, but doesn't particularly like to, cook and drive. In short, he has a healthy, independent, and full life.

But he is 90. And he's had a couple of health scares (a mild stroke, an arrhythmia that required resuscitation and the instillation of a pacemaker) that make his children uneasy about his living alone. And, although he can, he doesn't particularly like to cook or drive. And when you live by yourself and have outlived a lot of your friends and don't like to drive, it can get a bit lonely.

His children like the idea of his having live-in help. He likes the idea of that helper being one of his twelve grandchildren. Since my grandmother died nine years ago, he has repeatedly made the offer to whichever of us grandchildren was at a transitional point in our lives to come and live with him. But up until now, our various careers and personal lives have been taking us in different directions than Oxnard, California.

Now here I am at a career crossroads, having jumped out a graduate program with no net. My two primary fields of interest for a post-academic career have been in publishing (periodicals, books, maybe even new media if anyone can figure out a way to make money at it) or librarianship. But most of the opportunities that I've encountered in publishing would demand first convincing a potential employer that academia hasn't ruined my capacity to communicate clearly and then jumping feet first into the fast-paced world of deadline journalism, which makes me tired just thinking about it. And all the good library or archive jobs call for an MLS/MLIS degree. Which I'm perfectly willing to get, but going back to school right away is just not an option.

Enter the idea of freelance copy editing. It's something I'm good at. It's interesting work. There is, from what I've been told, a steady supply of manuscripts in need of copy editing. Freelancing is a good way to develop a reputation and a relationship with publishers if one has her eyes on a possible full time, in-house editing position down the road. And you can do it anywhere you have an internet connection. Say, the study in my grandfather's house in Oxnard.

I have only begun my research on who to contact and how to get started in this business, and am eternally grateful to my friends who have already offered advice and introductions along this path. I don't actually expect to be contacting editors until early February, once I've had a chance to get settled in at Oxnard and get my resume polished up a bit.

Meanwhile, if anyone knows a single woman in the Durham/Chapel Hill area who is looking for a great deal on a great apartment with a great roommate starting in January (or possibly late December), please send her my way. I need to sublet my place.

P.S. Another nice piece of the timing on all of this: my aunt who lives closer to her father than any of his other children -- and who therefore holds his power of attorney and serves as family point-person on making sure GrandDad is okay -- has a very full year ahead of her: each of her two daughters is pregnant with her first child (GrandDad's first great-grandchildren), both due in May, and her son is getting married in September. My moving there will let me be close for these big events in my family's life (I've missed all the cousin weddings over the last three years, being on the wrong coast) and allow my aunt the freedom to focus more on her children without worrying so much about her father. Plus I will have the advantage of having her close at hand, so that I have someone to turn to for help or advice if I need to.

This really is a very good deal all around. I'm deeply grateful that my grandfather has the resources to offer me a place to live as I navigate my first big career change, and that I will have the honor of helping him maintain his independence and of learning more about his long and fascinating life, and that I will be able to reconnect with my family and family network after almost a decade on the other side of the country.


Sarah said...

Oh, Rachel!

I'm glad for you, but . . .
Well, sorry for me!

It sounds like a fantastic plan.

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