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"Imperatrix’s Escort Service" Has a Nice Ring to It, Don’t You Think?

3 October 2006

When the Consort first brought up starting a family, one of the things I stressed was that this would be a joint undertaking (stop your sniggering, you dirty minded readers!); I wouldn’t be raising any kids alone. (At the time, my concern was more along the lines of civil disobedience that might lead to incarceration.)

Back then, the Consort was a generously supported graduate student and I was a fully employed science writer. A few years and two offspring later, he moved on to a reasonably well-paid post-doc and I dove into freelancing, having done the stay-at-home thing for a year after each girl was born and just being laid-off after a part-time stint with a consulting firm.

By the time Impera was six, the Consort was ready to join the job market. With his high credentials and long list of universities attended, he could have gotten a job for The Man, and we’d be rolling in the dough (can you imagine, Imperatrix en croute?). Instead, for many reasons, including wanting to make a positive difference in the world and having the job flexibility to try different things (him), not being attracted to the consumerist culture (both of us), and not wanting to raise the kids alone (see above) (me) (well, and him, too, he’s a fantabulous dad), academia was the direction he (we) took.

Academic + freelancer = not much money, but lots of time. Time for volunteering in the classroom and in the schools. Time for gardening and chats with your kids. Time for camping and family game nights. Time for cooking together and eating together. Time for month-long travels, both abroad and within the US.

We’ve got ourselves two intelligent, well-rounded young ladies, lucky us. Curiosity requires stimulation, however, and here is where we run into our current dilemma (but it’s a nice dilemma [I think]). Impera and Trixie joined a fencing club last year, and just last weekend they participated in their first competition (a small, local competition, but it whet their appetite). They enjoyed it, and are looking forward to future competitions. They even said that for Christmas they’ll probably be asking for bouting gear from relatives. That’s a wonderful idea, as they’ll need their own equipment to continue competing (the club can’t furnish everything for everyone): two electric foils, a body wire, and a lamé—each. I haven’t priced everything out, but I think we’re talking near $200 per fencer (and that’s only for foil; they’re taking sabre classes now, too, and that’s a whole nother set of gear).

Then yesterday, we got an invitation for Impera to participate in a People to People trip to the UK and Ireland. Doesn’t the program look incredibly cool? We’ll be going to the informational meeting next month. But I’m guessing that a 20-day trip as described on the Web site will be more easily supported if we did work for The Man (like I said, lots of time, not much money, in this household).

D’you think I could sell out for just a little while? …But keep my freelancing independence. And my flexible schedule. Oh, and school volunteer time. Oooh—I don’t want to have to spend lots of money on a new wardrobe, either. Plus, no second car, that would be silly. And no office politics. That’s reasonable, right?

Hmmm. I think we’ll just have to get creative, is all.

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