Friday, June 9, 2017

Today I step into uncertainty

Today is my last day at my current job. Back in March I got a lay off notice. I was completely blindsided. I've often complained about this job (teaching social studies in a continuation high school) and I've wanted to move on to something else, but I also have been doing this for seven years. I never anticipated getting laid off. There are parts of this job that I really love. There are parts that have been incredibly difficult. This year we got a new principal, though, and it made a big difference--a lot of the problems I had in previous years were due to extremely poor management. Back in January I helped write the WASC report for the school, and my colleagues and I were full of great new ideas for new offerings and ways to expand, because the school is doing really, really well. Too well, apparently. We have drawn too many students away from another school in the district, one that is the pet of the superintendent, and he decided to cripple my school. I won't go into the details, but he sat down across from me and essentially told me this exact thing, so you'll have to bear with me. I know it sounds melodramatic. A LOT of things that happen in this district seem to belong on tv dramas, not in reality.

I wanted this blow to turn into something good. "You've been talking about moving on to something new for years, Sophia," I told myself. "This will be the push that makes it happen. Onward and upward!" My husband (also a teacher) and I applied in several places, some out of state. We were offered jobs at a high school in Tucson. My job was going to be to teach American history and "Criminal Minds," which looks at criminals in literature and history, with elements of forensic psychology. How cool is that? But the pay for teachers in Tucson is very low, and we have two sons who are not yet school age. Between the cost of child care and the 11.4% they take out for retirement, we would have been left with $2300 a month (from both our checks) for rent and everything else. We couldn't do it. I was devastated.

Since then I've applied to more places. I've tried to make jobs come together through various local possibilities. So far, nothing has coalesced.

So today, as I clean up my classroom for the last time, I face going into the summer not knowing where I'll be in the fall. I may be filing for unemployment. One of these options I've been trying to make happen may finally come together (or maybe even more than one). Jeff and I may get jobs somewhere else and have to move. I even applied for an administrative job with the county office of education, though I think that one's a long shot.

That uncertainty is exhausting. All the work I've done coming to nothing is also very discouraging. At this point I don't feel like I can make anything happen, and it's better to just give up and float on the wind like Forrest Gump's feather. But I'm scared of what will happen if I let go--if I end up on unemployment, that lasts six months. And then what? How will we pay for groceries after that runs out?

"More time to write!" you say. Well, no, not really. When I'm at home my boys take up all my time and energy. We're keeping them in daycare for a while this summer, so yes, during that time I am definitely going to push to finish the WiP. But if nothing comes together for me, we're going to have to stop paying for daycare. I'll be a stay at home mom. I know some people love that. I do not. I already have some issues with the yellow wallpaper, and that's working part time. The idea of being a full time stay at home mom has me doing the Scream thing. And let me tell you, the number of people who have clapped me on the back and said, "Hey, you'll get to stay home with your kids!" like it's this great thing I've always wanted... oh my god, people. Check your damn assumptions.

There's also all the cheerful people who bounce up to me, "So, what're your plans?" like clearly I must have something fantastic and exciting lined up. Yeah, I did. It fell through. Nothing else has come together. No, I don't know what I'm going to be doing.

And inevitably, "Well, have you tried this? Have you applied here? How about there?"

Yes, yes, and yes, for the love of all that's holy. I also applied there, there, there, and there, and I spoke to so-and-so about this and that, and these other people, too, and there still isn't anything. You know, between the international teaching jobs I applied for this winter and all the jobs I've applied for since the lay off, I have applied for over 100 jobs. Seriously. One fucking hundred. It should not be this hard.

"Oh. Well. Good luck." And I swear they side-eye me like they think I'm just being negative.

So anyway, at this point something is either going to fall in my lap or I'm going to be unemployed and looking at working at the local hardware store when those checks dry up. I hope the former. Send me good thoughts.