Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sprint

Today was Day 4 of Week 3 at my new position. Despite being thrown into the deep end of the pool with bricks strapped to my ankles, I've managed to keep my nose above water. Most days I find myself in bed around 8 pm, getting up around 5:30 am to do it all over again.

I'm loving every second of it.

On top of this madness, Grey and I managed to find ourselves a new home: a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom single family home that is minutes from work and walking distance from an elementary school. Two Sundays ago we decided to begin the house-hunting process, stopping at a listing that was down the street and dilapidated. A short conversation from the neighbors (who are pissed with the homeowners as they have been picking up the costs for basic maintenance) confirmed our decision to look elsewhere . . . to which they responded by pointing us to a house just down the street.

Despite having 2 other couples who requested applications, Grey and I were able to negotiate to allow pets (property manager noted that Jaxson and Daisy have a better rental record than most humans he deals with) and monthly rent that we can manage. All wrapped up without any drama.

So, on top of facing some big deadlines, we are officially moving the middle of this month. And though I'm excited that Grey has the real option of bike commuting again (Maddy and Teddy as well), I've also been saddened to be saying goodbye to another set of amazing teachers, coaches, care providers, and friends. Unlike previous moves, Teddy and Maddy are sad too.

T-minus 15 days before the moving crew shows up. With me needing to navigate all things required with relocating while preparing for a bomb of an upcoming deadline in a company that is known for pushing the limits.

Hopefully, my nose stays somewhat above water.

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.


 
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