Monday, February 11, 2019

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The death before birth

"Understand me.
I'm not like an ordinary world.
I have my madness,
I live in another dimension
and I do not have time for things
that have no soul"
~ Charles Bukowski

Yesterday was an awful day. Following receiving a verbal offer last Friday, I was in limbo waiting for a formal written offer to be sent, detailing everything I needed to know about this new position. I also had potential other offers in the wings, with my contacts being non-commital but wanting information. By day 5 of this wait, I was a mess; fearing the worse and steeling myself to be back at square one the following day.

In addition, Maddy and Teddy had awful days at school. Though generally their time together is short, once a month their school has "mini-days" (which ends up being a shitshow for everyone involved) where they end up spending the entire day together, which usually results on them fighting with one another. By the time I grabbed them from aftercare, their teachers there were visibly done with them, leaving me both apologetic and feeling like a failure.

Last night, while staring at the formal offer that had been sent over, all I could do was cry. I cried for the months of frustration; I cried for the years of pain and hardship; I cried for the fear I feel moving forward. Though Grey tried to comfort me, I ultimately knew the evening was shot.

So instead of being productive and celebrating (the thing most sane people would do), I closed the formal offer on my computer and made a promise not to look at it that evening. Then I began a pattern of destruction.

I closed a bank account that no longer was serving us.

I sent the extension school I was supposed to teach for this summer a short letter of resignation (and then ignored the hurried reply from the program administrator).

I drafted a hot-letter to my mother, who is currently upset given the established boundaries in our relationship (and wants me to apologize for putting up such boundaries).

And I gave myself a 12-hour deadline for a decision. Knowing that if others were serious they would likely respond by the morning. Otherwise, it was time to finalize this process.

As odd as it may sound, the process of destroying brought about a much-needed release, allowing my head to clear by the early hours of the morning. Whereas I went to bed flooded and overwhelmed (and frankly didn't sleep much), I did find the early hours more manageable, allowing me to focus and prepare to begin again.

This morning, I signed the official offer, putting an end to a job-hunting process that began almost a year and a half ago. In addition, Grey showed me a letter from our apartment management company, effectively releasing us from our lease agreement due to the discovery of a water leak. The clock is officially ticking on two major fronts. Though I'm still overwhelmed, things no longer seem completely unmanageable. The death of the old clearing the way for the birth of the new.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Frost in the hills

Given the Polar Vortex last week, it's amusing to hear the locals complain about 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) weather. But an immediate benefit of the temperature dip, outside of the rainbows, is seeing white dusting the local hills. 

A beautiful reminder that there is wonder in the world.

Monday, February 4, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: Beginning the transition

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

This job transition has been years in the making. Starting from the first fellowship application rejects to short postdocs with limited funding to teaching opportunities that required lots of negotiating every 2 months with insanely low pay (my worst was $500 per month for a 10-week course) and no job security or benefits. Many lecturers burn out after 2 years of this life; I managed to hang on for 8 years, fighting to work beside others who have similar goals and insights. The rewards have been there, but the costs for those who don't have a safety net (or a trust fund) have been far greater than most realize, driving a search for something that didn't require me breaking myself and sacrificing my family on a daily basis.

On Friday, I was offered a position. One that I'm incredibly excited about. I'm waiting to see the formal offer before the final decision can be made (hence why I'm still actively finalizing another application process), but the preliminary number I was given sent me into a laughing fit as it's more money than I've ever seen. That number bumps my family out of living close to the poverty line, allowing us to live the lifestyle many in our circle have been enjoying for some years now. And that's just the beginning, with the possibility for advancement and training at allows to grow, applying my skill set in ways that benefit a much broader audience.

With the excitement in this has come looking back on the road to here. And admitting openly, despite what others want to hear, that it's been a rough one.

We have an education crisis in this nation. Teachers and educators are minimized socially and financially, leading to high levels of burn out and turn over. And though we talk about students suffering and worrying about the next generation, the focus has not been on fostering learning and growing our leaders and innovators, but instead on maximizing tax cuts, paying administrators and providing luxuries for student housing in order to justify inflating tuition. The sacrifice has been that those in the classroom and those supporting the classroom aren't given the support they need to do the work so many acknowledge is needed. 

It's dire at the PreK-12 level; it's even worse at the higher education level, where many instructors and lecturers are not unionized and treated as disposable.

This week will involve a lot of work. In addition to reaching out to everyone who has helped me in recent months, offering advice and contacts, and thanking them for their help, I also will be contacting a local extension program and informing them I won't be running the course they offered me for the summer. $4000 paid after the course is completed (7-week evening course that meets 4 hours twice a week) combined with 30 pages for application materials is not sustainable and though I love being in the classroom, the truth is the administrations across this country need to decide that the scramble to find anyone qualified to teach these courses requires changing the education model. That their instructors drawing unemployment benefits and/or receiving food stamps while teaching so the university can meet its mission statement needs to be a thing of the past.

And my hope is that this also is the start of a new chapter, allowing me the security and support I need to be a better teacher. Both in this position and beyond.

Thursday, January 31, 2019


My bones are tired and my brain is mush. After four straight days of intense interviews (enjoyable, but intense), all I want to do is climb back into bed to sleep. Which isn't going to happen as I've been told that my references are being checked for one of these positions (requiring me to alert and update the people on my list) and because I still have an assignment due.

Whoever said "sleep is for the weak" was delusional.

In between the work I need to complete has also been me emerging back into normal life, updating myself on the news and happenings. It's been a bit intense given I was aware of the polar vortex, but "Frost Quakes" brings the cold to a whole new level.

It's odd to realize how disconnected I've been over the last week. The news fast has been good, but I'm reminded of my time in the trenches where I felt like I was outside looking in, missing components of life that so many others were focused on.

Thinking of everything east of the Sierra Nevadas. My there be warmer weather soon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Today is day 3 of a four-day interview cycle for three separate positions. One interview on Monday has resulted in me proceeding to the next step, with a writing assignment that needs to be completed and today I've finished meeting with everyone on the team for a position I did an on-site interview for. Tomorrow is a full day for a different on-site interview.

All the while, I've been reading up on technology, prepping my presentation and learning about all the different people I will be talking with.

To say I'm exhausted is an understatement.

This morning, following school drop off, I was reflecting on all of these interviews combined with me thinking about other daily matters (like dealing with dual car registration). And though I hate the initial drama that gets dropped in my lap, what I'm finding I enjoy (and am told I'm good at) is finding solutions, fitting together different pieces of a puzzle to make a final product.

Though stressful, the unexpected bill yesterday was something I was quickly able to resolve. During my conversations over the last three days, I had a lot of examples of how I have addressed various situations, working with others to find a solution and meet goals. And as I've been preparing for tomorrow, I've been looking at my past work in a new light, seeing where pieces fit that previously were orphaned and making a case for the next steps.

Working on my talk today, I composed a couple of sentences talking about the benefits of non-linear training and career paths; how uncertainty and even failure have helped shape who I am today. But another element has been taking components and pieces of my training and life experience, seeing the diverse edges and finding ways for fitting it all together. In some ways, I'm feeling like I'm just beginning to see the outcome of this puzzle but in others, I'm becoming more aware that the final product of this process isn't what matters, but the process itself. 

I have one more day of interviews scheduled and tomorrow is the day I've been preparing for over the last two weeks, working on putting together pieces to make a case for why I am the candidate they want for the position.

We'll see what happens.

Monday, January 28, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: Sparking joy

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Last Friday, Grey received a bill from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding motor vehicle excise for Lenny. Thinking this was an error on Massachusetts end, I reached out today to correct the problem, naively assuming that it was just a matter of updating the information in their system.

Massachusetts is odd, given most of the tax structure happens at the town level. What this means is that resolving any issues means contacting an official in the town, having them communicate to the state (and county) any and all updates. This makes moving within the state interesting as none of this is advertised (all of it assumed) and requires a ton of paperwork to be completed in order to update each entity.

What I learned today, despite my marathon at the California DMV last spring (and transferring the title to California) is that Lenny was STILL registered in Massachusetts. Meaning they are now taxing us, even though the car is no longer titled and/or housed there.

No one told us that we needed to cancel the vehicle registration. Even more fun, there is contradictory information on the websites about how to do this.

So in between interviews today, I managed to beat the system and cancel Lenny's registration. Tomorrow involves double-checking where the tax abatement forms (and all the supporting documents) need to be sent, given this information is not clearly spelled out (and all of it is assessed). All the while working, once again, with a lawyer to deal with any potential threat of collections.

The silver lining in all of this is Grey and I still have the MA plates for Lenny; a bitter reminder of our time there (all rust on Lenny has been completely removed). Though we've been instructed to dispose of the plates, I'm leaning towards to include them in the packet going out tomorrow. A moment of release that can spark some joy in an otherwise frustrating situation.
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