Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All Quiet On The Home Front

Monday night we went to bed to the sound of wind whipping around the house.  Earlier in the evening the lights flickered but we didn't lose power.

I woke up this morning to a wet deck, a yard covered in leaves, and the power still on.  The internet was wonky and then out during a brief thunderstorm.  We lost power for less than an hour this afternoon.

I waited for the other shoe to drop, sure that we hadn't seen the worst.  Instead, the sun broke through the clouds while rain pelted every side of the house for about twenty minutes.  I sipped coffee while I went from window to window, glad I'd left the screens in because they were getting a good cleaning.

We got lucky, and we know it.

The places that were hit with heavy rain and strong winds were hit hard.  People and government in those states have a huge clean-up ahead and tough decisions to make if extreme weather is becoming the new normal.

I went to sleep last night praying for everyone I could name in the path of the storm.  As far as I know my family and friends all made it through in good shape.  I promised myself Eggo waffles for breakfast and time on the treadmill if I woke up with the power on.  I savored every bite and enjoyed every step.

We go to bed grateful tonight that we are safe and sound.     

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Which Of These Things...

...is not like the others?

On Tuesday October 16 we had an earthquake.  We were just finishing up dinner and the house started to shake.  Whoa.  Facebook immediately lit up with friends in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Boston reporting seismic activity.  We learned later that it was rated 4.0, the strongest event felt here in 40 years.  The ground quaked from New Jersey to Quebec City, apparently because the old, dense crust on our side of the continent allows the shock waves to travel long distances.  Thankfully there was no major damage or loss of life reported.

Nine days after the earthquake I had an interview, and I use the term loosely.  I was ushered into a room by a man, the principal I gathered, who spoke so quickly that I didn't catch his name.  There was a woman sitting at the table who neither introduced herself or told me her position, though she did smile and tell me she had a cold.  The principal fired questions at me, fidgeting in his chair, while the woman looked on.  I asked a few questions and was told that I would hear the next day one way or the other. Beginning to end I was in the room for less than 20 minutes.  True it was for a long-term sub position...but still!  When he called the next day to tell me they hired someone who already worked within the school system I said that I guessed as much because the interview was rushed.  When these places already know who they want to hire they need to refrain from plastering the state with news of an opening, which really doesn't exist, and advertise in-house so people within the system, who will be tapped for the job, can be the ones to apply.  My son looks at me like "this is crazy" and I explain to him that this is life when you try to get a job these days in public education.

Today Ken made room in the garage for the car, which is now safely out of harm's way.  We have battened down the hatches in preparation for impending hurricane Sandy.  Maine is slated to get heavy rain starting tomorrow and wind gusts of 50-70 miles an hour Monday night.  We have gas for the generator if we do lose power.  Ken is working locally so he will be home tomorrow at a decent hour and not on the road.  We can only do what we can do and keep a good thought for all of those in the path of the storm.

An earthquake, an interview, and a hurricane all within the span of 13 days.  Sounds like a bad joke doesn't it?  Maybe the interview fits in after all ~ no rhyme or reason on the timing and no way to predict the outcome beforehand.  We have to prepare the best we can, wait out the event, and deal with the aftermath.

I am hopeful that this most recent storm will move through quickly and clear skies will soon return. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hit "Send"

I frequently check a website called servingschools.  All schools list all openings, from bus drivers to cooks to teachers to substitutes.  It is where I get the information I need to apply for positions, and every once in a while there is something out of the ordinary posted.  Six days ago just such an opportunity caught my eye, a senior associate position with a nonprofit organization that works with teachers, administrators, and other professionals throughout the state to create teaching and learning models for the 21st century.

Be still my heart.  The thought that such a place might exist has kept alive for 18 years my hopes for education reform.  The idea makes me giddy that this organization provides a forum for conversations, seminars, and support for implementation of changes in our schools.

The reality of submitting an application to this place that I only imagined made me nervous.  Very.

I read and re-read the posting for the position.  Yes, I could do the job.  No, I don't have all the experience they ask for.  Wait, I have the education...and that and that and that....  I shouldn't apply because there will be so many people who will.  What do I have to lose?  Why shouldn't I take a chance?  Where do I begin?

I started working on my resume on Sunday.  The ad calls for someone with varied teaching experiences.  Those I have, but in most recent versions of my resume they have been lumped together in one entry.  Time to separate jobs and list what each added to my experience.  More is more in terms of all I've done.  Less in more in the amount of space it takes to tell my story.  I was determined to keep my resume to two pages.

I worked and reworked those two pages all day yesterday.  If there is any chance that I might qualify I didn't want to leave anything out that might work in my favor.  There is no way to know what might catch the attention of the person who reviews the resumes ~ it can be where I went to school or a place I taught or a name on my reference list. 

Then there is the cover letter, which is a separate entity.  There is no reason to duplicate the information in my resume.  I believe the letter is the chance for someone who has never met me to get a glimpse into what is at the heart of why I want the position.  Many drafts, and many hours, later three sentences construct the middle paragraph:
As a teacher I am an advocate for students.  I returned to graduate school to earn a degree in social work because I wanted a better understanding of how to work within a system to create change, how to bring people into the process to explore what is possible.  People have insights and ideas, and progress is made when people work together.   

As usual I let my writing sit overnight.  I made a few final tweaks this morning before I transformed the Word document into a PDF, something new I learned compliments of my youngest son.  I attached the file to an email and hit "send." 

That's a lot of time and energy invested into something that may not amount to anything, except that I now have a completely revised resume that will be appropriate for application to the next interesting position that may come available.

I was so intent on what I was doing that I didn't think twice about answering the phone at 9:15 a.m. with a cheery "Good morning."  The woman was looking for me to ask me to schedule an interview for a long-term substitute position that I had guessed was already filled.  Thursday at 10:30 a.m. it is.

So it's time for a haircut and a settling back down to earth.  That's how it feels to face another interview for a teaching position.  I will go and put my best foot forward because I don't know what's next.  I can only dream....     

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Autumn's Chill

I started something last Sunday with my fire building.  Monday afternoon and again today Ken built a fire in the chiminea. 

The air has cooled.  The heat warms us.

We stop what we're doing.  Pull up a chair.  Sit a spell.

The days are long.  From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep I am aware of where I am, what I am doing, what I want for my life, what I can't accomplish regardless of my efforts, and how fortunate I am. 

I have made the commitment to go for a walk or get on the treadmill every day, and I have walked every day for the last six days.  Physical movement helps when I can't make any other sort of movement happen.  My body can move when everything else stalls.  My knees beg to bend, my arms long to swing.  Thank goodness my body remembers what it needs even when my mind is tired.

A friend emailed Wednesday morning with the news of the death of a guy I dated the summer after high school.  We were friends and that summer we wondered if there might be more to our relationship.  There was.  We really liked each other.  He didn't want me to go away to college.  I told him I had to leave to find out who I could be.  We met and talked at Christmas, and he wanted me to stay.  We still really liked each other but we couldn't be together apart.  He went back to the life he'd always had, and I moved on.  Thank goodness I knew I had to keep moving.

Even now I keep moving until the fire invites me to stop for just a bit.  There will be time to move when the embers die down.     

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Playing With Fire


I built a fire in the chiminea this afternoon.  It has been set up on the deck for months but we hadn't used it yet this season.  Bad weather and mosquitoes have not made the deck an inviting place this summer.

This afternoon started clear and reasonably calm.  I was feeling ambitious.  I wanted to feel competent at something I haven't done in awhile, and it has been years since I've built a fire.  It took several attempts because even kindling and wood kept under cover was damp.  I knew I was on the right track because there was smoke even though leaves, twigs, and bark wouldn't stay lit.  I kept at it, adding smaller and smaller pieces that might take fire.  It took about a half hour....

Then success.  I carefully added larger pieces of wood as the fire took hold.  What a feeling of accomplishment.  I enjoyed the warmth of that fire for quite awhile today.

I need more of that. 

The thing about being rejected for so many jobs in the last five years is that I'm not sure what I'm good at any more, outside the house.

I know I'm good at house stuff.  I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen since T has been home, and it feels good to be cooking for more than Ken and me on a regular basis.  Closets are decluttered and organized.  I have updated the scrapbooks and photo albums.  Projects get done, always with more to do. 

Building the fire was symbolic.  I don't expect that I will need to build a fire to survive.  I do, however, need to know that I can take care of myself.  I am at a point in my life where I want to be recognized for what I know and what I can do.  It feels odd that I need to convince myself and others that I am capable, that I have things to say that deserve to be heard, but that's how I feel.  This is beyond me knowing that I am a valuable being, because I believe that....

I feel compelled to do more, to fill in the places that feel empty.          

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

None Of That Mattered

The rejection letter came in today's mail.  It is possibly the shortest turn-around time in my interviewing history, which is long and varied, between the interview and the "no." 

Dear Interview Committee:  If you already know who you plan to hire, please inform the unknowing interviewee in advance that you will be wasting her time and energy when she gets dressed up, arranges her day to avoid traffic delays to arrive early, thinks seriously before she answers your questions, and processes what you've said before she constructs meaningful questions for your benefit.  Maybe you enjoy the game, but I'm here to tell you that she doesn't.

I think I'll feel better after I go shred some papers.  


I did the best I could in Friday's interview.  Now I wait to hear how they think I did. 

The women who met with me appeared to like each other and their jobs.  They laughed easily and gently asked a half dozen or so questions that took less than a half hour to answer.  I had as many questions for them about the daily schedule and how the position has worked in the past.

The position is not for a regular classroom teacher.  The person they decide to hire will work with students who need someone to help them learn how to moderate behavior so they can be successful in the classroom.  My first internal response was "me?"  Then as I thought about it and answered questions I realized that I have a lot of "tools" in my toolbag to work with students around the choices they make.  I am comfortable working with groups of students as well as students one-to-one.

I wonder what in my application made them want to talk to me.  How many people applied?  How many people did they interview?  When the Human Resource Manager called to set up the interview she asked if I was still interested in the position.  The interview was then set for almost two weeks later.  What happened in between that phone call and the conversation I had at the school Friday morning?

This weekend I rethought many of the answers I gave.  Too much information?  Not the answers they were looking for?  Did I appear nervous or overconfident?  Had they already decided one way or the other before I got there?  What did they think during the interview?

Anything is possible before an interview takes place.  Then it happens and the decision is out of my hands.  Now I wait.