Alice? More like the Mad Hatter.

I’ve just returned from an interview at Kennewick City School District.  It was short and sweet and I’ve come away with a job as a substitute para-educator.  No twisted knickers please, I had to look that one up myself…it means Fill-In Heartbeat.  Extra Body.  Chaperone.

I am, Dear Reader, a hurricane of thought right now, and am truthfully having a helluva time sifting through it all.  It’s well-documented that, aside from tutoring, I am sans employment.  I’m also at an employment intersection where I can continue on straight or veer hard right into the barrio.  A super smart lady once told me:  “Jennifer, it’ll work, or it’ll work.”  I keep repeating that to myself as I face the polarity in my head.

1.  There’s a certain amount of self-loathing that goes along with being jobless.  What am I WORTH to anyone sitting around my apartment all day, blogging and working on my fitness?  To an outsider, that might sound like a little bit of heaven, but I’ve got news kids:  If I was going to be a kept women, there would have to be OODLES more jewels and private beachfront involved.  Trust.  I am contributing a big, fat goose egg to the world right now, and that looms large.  Towering, even.

2.  Stagnant Credits Column = Plummeting self-esteem.  Ima be real whichall for a second….I very much gauge my own success by salary and the increasing importance of the positions I’ve held.  My advancement since college has been textbook, an upsweeping curve of remuneration, responsibility and expertise.  I was proud of my last job.  Proud of its scope and its stress level.  I earned my salary there, and was salaried well.  Historically, it was very difficult to keep a position there for any period over a year.  Factor in my womanhood, and that period decreased to around 6 months.  I was really kind of awesome at it.

Taking this position means a lopping-off-at-the-knees of all of the above.  It’s requirements were a GED and a heartbeat.  (Although they DID request a college transcript)  I haven’t checked the mall lately, but I’m fairly certain that I could make as much folding a week’s worth of boatnecks at The Gap.  This job means quite a few leaps back toward BEGINNER and away from BIG GIRL.  It’s a blow to my ego, for sure.

3.  The Unknown = Unsettling Pit In My Stomach.  I like a sure thing.  A plan.  Contingencies.  I like knowing what to expect and to be prepared for it.  Stress goes notoriously hard on me, and I’ve learned, over and over, that an Adapted Jen’s Intestinal Tract functions much closer to normal than a Where-The-Fuck-Did-THAT-Just-Come-From Jen’s Intestinal Tract.  Operations is all I’ve known for the past 10 years.  See problem?  Solve problem.  It’s my jam.  Why do I want to go and mess with something I’m pretty damn good at in order to search for something I haven’t yet fully identified?

4.  Fulfilled = Zen Jen.  I hated it more than I loved it.  And I can’t say I ever really loved it.  It fed my ego, absolutely.  Being GOOD at something was like an E pill for my inner self.  A mellow roll for my soul.  It felt GOOD to make more than the Old Man.  Felt good to be more educated and better employed than most people in my private life.  I was silently superior.  I would never lord it over someone, but I was definitely privately glad to NOT be them.

Yuck, right?  Who wants to be THAT girl?  Always after thinking and feeling those things, I’d hate myself a little.  When a high point in your day is being able to tow someone’s car, it’s time to evict the Soul Sucker and move on.  I don’t know what happy is and I don’t know where to look for fulfillment.  But I’m certain THAT wasn’t IT.  Something is needling at me, and it’s being pretty insistent, a gentle and repetitive tug somewhere back there in the Deep Me.  I know there’s something there.  I know that it’s amazing and I know where NOT to look.  On some days, that’s more than enough. On others, that Unknown creeps right in and takes over.

5.  The Right Time = Now.  When the Old Man made the executive decision to move us here, I was comforted by three things.  The first was the fact I’d get to take an extended vacation at home and on the beach.  The second was the fact that I’d put a cap on it at 2 years FIRM and that was a duration I could endure.  The third was knowing that the Old Man would be making enough money so that I could take some time to find a job that lit my fire.  Well, I’m a year in, and this education thing is growing on me.  It’s time to figure it out.  This job may be low low low in the expertise column, but it will give me time in a classroom, with students.  It’s an opportunity for me to observe and absorb.  I can think of better places than here, but I can’t figure a better time than now.

So, of course, I’m taking it.  I’m going to ‘orientation’ (*sigh*) tomorrow and I’m told I can start working as soon as Thursday.  My hopes aren’t high–they can’t be when an interview is only 3.5 minutes long–but they are there.  This could be a dead end…or the door to the room where I finally come upon a sleeping Meant To Be.

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10 thoughts on “Alice? More like the Mad Hatter.

  1. Thank you for writing about this… all of this. I hear you, on so many levels. It takes tremendous courage to step out into these sorts of things. “What you risk shows what you love.” You’re going after what seems to be What’s Right right now. Kudos to you!

  2. Don’t discount this opportunity. I got my first taste of education way back in the late ’80s after being laid off and desperate. Ended up as an aid in a computer lab and the rest is history. Doesn’t seem like you need luck – you’ve already taken a great step forward. I will enjoy reading about your first adventures in education; I sense you’ll have some exceptional commentary about the state of our schools 🙂

  3. I think this is a great way of dipping your toes in the education pool. When Jane starts school in a year and a half, I’m going to have to step aside from my current job, unless they agree to me going part-time, and I’ve been there for 10 years. My ego already hurts. Good luck at your new job – and fingers crossed that it’s a game-changer – in a good way – for you.

  4. “I very much gauge my own success by salary and the increasing importance of the positions I’ve held. My advancement since college has been textbook, an upsweeping curve of remuneration, responsibility and expertise. I was proud of my last job. Proud of its scope and its stress level. I earned my salary there, and was salaried well.”
    That’s me to a T. I actually asked a few friends last year how they defined success – and they all had great answers that they were able to spit out immediately. I was too embarrassed to say the above… instead settled on: I’m trying to figure that out. The problem with the above is it can never be enough – not that it’s bad to always strive for something more but it’s fucking exhausting. At some point it will be impossible to achieve “more” and then what do you do?

    Good luck with the teaching. My wife took that up last year and it has been a real grind for her. She loves her students though and that’s what gets her through the days.

  5. Totally right there with you. At 40, I’ve gotten really good at knowing when I’m on the WRONG track. I’m even pretty good at getting myself back on the RIGHT track. The trouble comes when I jump the rails at the first sign of struggle, doubt, and challenge. Every day is another opportunity to get my shit together. Here we go again. All aboard!

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