Friday, December 15, 2017

Limbo

"Being scared is part of growing. You don’t get an inspiring hero’s story without the arc of overcoming some fear or another. You aren’t supposed to be perfect, and you aren’t meant to stay in one place. You’re a beautiful, messy work in progress. You’re a person with feels, and you make mistakes. Sometimes the mistake you make is in thinking that you’ve failed when you’re still in the development phase. Allow yourself to feel your feels without matching a negative narrative to them this week."

~Capricorn Horoscope: 12/13-12/19; The HoodWitch

The crash following the highs from earlier this week has set in. After all the interviews, one would think there would be cause of celebration. Instead, anxiety has been creeping in and it's been hard to keep it at bay. Wednesday seemed to go well for both Grey and me. But I was also informed the committee won't be making any decisions until the new year. Grey got even more depressing news when it became clear that even though everyone surrounding him thinks he's an exceptional candidate, he will likely not get the position due to prejudice behavior by the person he would be working most closely with.

My horoscope this week really isn't helping me feel any more confident.

So, once again, I'm in limbo and staring down the barrel of unemployment. To be honest, all of it sucks because though I'm told we are both doing everything right, the reality is I'm also being given a million stupid excuses for why we're in the situation we're in. The best I can do is to continue applying for jobs, making plans for the next stage. All while trying to refocus my attitude. Because right now it's not in a good place.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The other paths

This morning, I opened my campus email account to find messages from students who weren't offered early acceptance letters. Hastily written and doing all the things they tell you not to do, the requests came in for me to write letters of recommendation as they prepared themselves to contact the admissions office to plead their case.

Honestly, I feel for them. These are motivated kids who have spent years constructing applications for something they've been told will either make or break them. The tone of their emails suggested distress was running through their entire family and that the results were indications of failed life goals. It's a hard lesson to learn at age 18.

The timing of all of this hasn't been lost on me. Today both Grey and I have major interviews for potentially solid positions. This morning was spent ironing shirts, polishing shoes and driving each person to their respective locations. Currently I am sitting in a coffee shop, reviewing not only the job ad but also going back through all the course development I've done over the past 6 years. The truth is both Grey and I have a lot riding on today. These positions could advance not only us career wise but also help us stabilize our family in a manner we haven't been able to.

But if I'm also being honest with myself, not getting these positions wouldn't end our lives. Yes it would be tough. Yes, the disappointment would send shock waves through us. But after infertility, pregnancy loss, family loss and being on the verge of traveling down a less traveled path, I know all too well that it wouldn't be the end.

Last night I got a request for references for the editor position, with a note from the hiring manager my reviews have been outstanding. After sending off my reference list, all of that was been pushed to the back of my head so I can focus. But today, as I have a little down time, the truth that has emerged is this could be a really good opportunity. In addition, Grey has a phone conversation tomorrow with a higher-up at a rapidly growing NGS company. Nothing has been promised, but I also know that the potential there is one where it could not only provide us with an exit plan, but also a very interesting road forward. The final tidbit is admitting that neither of us have been happy in Boston. The promise of opportunity and growth has not happened and all the bullshit we've had to deal with really has soured things.

All of this has been swirling in my brain as I've begun drafting responses to these students. Acknowledging their disappointment while reminding them that it's not the end. Even as I deliver a final blow of informing them I'm also unable to write letters of reference to support their petitions. Because often the roads we break ourselves for aren't the ones that bring us fulfillment and happiness. It's the ones that challenge us but also foster us that do, helping us find adventures and moments we might not have imagined possible.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mastering the art of holding one's breath

Life has gone from having an odd sequence of events to being even odder. None of it I have had time to process. Yesterday I had a final, in person interview for an editor position at a major publishing house. Which was odd and interesting for so many reasons. Tomorrow I have a final interview of an Assistant Director position. On top of this, we learned yesterday that Grey's interview for the permanent position starts tomorrow, spanning the course of 4 days (Wednesday-Friday, finishing next Monday).

My course I've been dreaming about is green-lighted and barreling ahead. I have two meetings today both to figure out logistics and recruit others to the cause, which has turned out to be a relatively easy thing to do when I no longer hunting for money. Meaning I may have to hire my replacement.

There are also the two informational interviews both Grey and I have. Grey's is most important as it could be bring about an exit plan we've been hoping for.

Add in being insanely sick for over 2 weeks with a mystery bug (flu tests have come back negative) that has made insomnia a reality for all of us and that I'm currently buried in job applications, filling out paperwork and trying to keep balls in the air in case none of the above pans out and yeah.

In the middle of all this craziness, I've been trying to be mindful about the road ahead. Something that is far from being a strength. Most moments, I'm able to distract myself from the reality of all this craziness combined with uncertainty by putting my head down and plowing through the to-do lists. But there are moments where it's become me reminding myself that somehow Grey and I will make all of this okay, realizing that I'm mentally holding my breath, wondering when I'll be given the opportunity to inhale again.

The thing is, some of the most interesting and thoughtful people I've known and worked with a masters at holding their breath during uncertain times. There's an art to putting your all into something, putting yourself out that but then letting go on faith that you've truly done all you could to impact the outcome. Part of it is they don't wait with baited breath for an opportunity to emerge from their hard work, but the other part is they have a solid sense of self that armors them from any failure or rejection that may come. What surprises many is that this usually comes from having lived through so much rejection combined with having some wins.

But I'm also learning a lot of it also is projecting what you want. Learning to believe that things will come out the way you need them to, even if the road wasn't the one that was desired or planned for.

Tomorrow is a big day for the Cristy/Grey household. Both of us are stressed and exhausted, fueled by pain killers and caffeine. But oddly enough, we're also not focusing on what we can not control, but what we can. Making sure we are putting ourselves out there in a manner that is true to who we are and what we want from the world.

May it pay off.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

And then it got odd


Where to even begin with this one? 

I could start with the fact that I went into yesterday day dreading the 4 separate meetings I had lined up; that I was utterly convinced it would be another day filled with fighting and disappointments.

And how none of that happened.

What happened was instead of E and me spending my first meeting trying to convince the director to run the course I was proposing next fall or spring, giving me time to develop it, he informed E and me we should run it, having the students help us with the building and development. That he's long been looking for something that marries genomics with engineering, giving the students real experience of what getting a research program off the ground looks like. Both E and I sat in stunned silence, looking at one another because this NEVER HAPPENS. The added cherry is that there's an internal grant for developing science education programs like mine that she and the director want me to apply for. Suddenly I have a course and a potential funding mechanism for gathering data for future grants. Pinch me.

Second meeting was a job interview. That I was 20 minutes late for because the person screening candidates failed to pass on the phone conference information. I figured I was doomed, with it now just being a formality. But what should have been a 20 minute interview with the managing editors for the publishing house the position is in turned into a 60 minute conversation. They informed me at the end that they would be setting up an final interview for next week (something I need to formally confirm today). Yeah . . . .

My third meeting was for a former student who is looking for a mentor. I wasn't jazzed about the proposal, but when I learned that her faculty mentor for the science club project her team was working on is basically flaking, I decided I could spend a few hours a week giving feedback and offering guidance and support. This stuff is second nature to me and can be a lot of fun. 

The final meeting involved me meeting with all the faculty and the teaching assistant who have been involved in the graduate-level course I've been co-teaching. Since it involved my co-instructor/course head who apologized for my performance, I figured it would be one where I would be sitting back, taking the brunt of humiliation about the course being a failure. What happened instead was the Nobel laureate who ran the first half of the course posed a very simple, but important question: are we training the next generation of scientists or are we training super technicians? As my course head sat in stunned silence, I jumped in and told the laureate I thought the course was designed to train scientists, but where the complaints were coming from was a mindset of super technicians who didn't understand that though the emerging methodology was amazing (and that's what industry is hiring for), it's the questions that advance the field. Somewhere in the middle of this, when my course head tried to end the discussion arguing there was nothing that could be done, he confessed that he had apologized to the students about disappointing them. The reaction from this Nobel laureate was utterly priceless: shock, horror wrapped up with some anger over enabling behavior he believes is hindering these students from growing. The meeting ended with some 12 year old Macallan scotch, with me having a moment where I realized how strange and surreal it was that I was sitting at that table. Just wow.

There are two final cherries for this day. The first being that there is a recently advertised position I'm pretty excited about at my current institution. But given all how my contract was ended, I haven't wanted to apply as I'm worried I'm seen as toxic. Both E and the science director told me I should contact the program director to ask for a meeting. The warning being that this high-powered individual who is well-known within the science education community likely wouldn't get back to me for awhile and to let them know if it was longer than a week for response.

I heard back within an hour of sending the email and have a meeting for Friday.

Oh, and Grey has a interview regarding a permanent position at his company while also getting an email from some higher-ups at an extremely well-known and advancing sequencing company about wanting to chat about him potentially working for them. &*(#@!

So . . . yesterday was odd. So odd that when I got home, I did all the bad things you're not suppose to do as a parent (allowing the kids access to the TV remote, pizza for dinner, extended playtime prior to bed instead of quiet reading) while also opening a beer (and handing one to Grey too after he walked through the door). I'm so use to rejection, bad news and fighting tooth-and-nail for any progress that yesterday just felt WAY too easy. Granted, nothing formal has been offered. There's work to be done. All of this could fall apart tomorrow.

Still, there actually may be a way forward and I may not be half as screwed as I believed myself to be. And I'm looking for that one word in the English language to summarize all the emotions and reactions to that possibility.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Counting down

The goal of this week, after talking the talk about needing to embrace the positive, has been working on actually doing it. At first glance, this should be an easy enough endeavor. Classes are over, which allows me to work on tackling other things that have been neglected for so long, workers are here today replacing our heating system (with a promise that I'll have heat by this evening . . .) and tomorrow is busy with secondary interviews and potential future projects.

But old habits die hard, especially when the gatekeepers have a role in enforcing those habits. My dreams of late have been manifestations of all the wrong that my brain predicts will happen, making it hard to fight back. 

To counter this, I've been taking an approach of one positive item daily, enlisting the Beats in helping me in this endeavor. The result has been this advent calendar, with a simple activity of making an ornament to paste on it, counting down the days till Christmas.


There's been other rituals I've slowly been adding: a scheduled walk with a cup of Earl Grey, scheduling time to visit friends or do other winter-themed activities. Making a point to celebrate the small victories.

The hardest, though, has been putting into practice the visualizations of the future we want. Of forcing myself once again to believe that things will not only work out, but will be better than if I had stayed put doing nothing.

So I'm counting down, making plans and forcing myself to prepare. Because at the end of the day, steeling doesn't make the pain of loss and failure any less; the joy that comes from envisioning a road forward does.

Monday, December 4, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Alpas

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




Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wall

Friday was a weird day. Following a morning where the course professor took another public dig at me, I had an afternoon that basically displayed his incompetence to the administration. The short of it is we had a student miss her final presentation. While I followed up with admin to make sure nothing bad had happened, I got pushback and was told to leave it alone. Turns out this student was in crisis and is now getting help. But I'm paying for my decision to push as doing so could paint the person who told me to leave it alone in a negative light.

In addition, I *believe* I had a strong interview for a position I'm pretty excited about. I'll find out next week. And I learned Friday that a friend was offered a permanent position. So there was reason to celebrate.

All of this combined with being sick has resulted in me being beyond exhausted. The desire to sleep has been so high that doing basic tasks like cooking and cleaning have been extremely difficult. Never mind continuing to job hunt and prepare for another interview.

I struggle when I hit the wall. Whereas others have an ability to go with it, dropping everything else so that they can recover and heal, I find myself overcome with guilt. I blame myself for our current predicament, both with job instability and with missing that the Beats were so unhappy with their previous school (because we have a LOT of evidence that they are thriving now).

But I'm also struggling with anger over having hit a wall and feeling like help won't come. If I'm being honest, this was the root of the issue with me blowing up at my FIL. It's a hard period and the idea of emotionally managing him and the fallout from a visit is just too much. Something that my in laws are unlikely to see, even when explained.

Sadly, I don't know a way around this. This afternoon needs to be spent moving our stuff out of the basement so the heating system can be replaced this week. The uncle asked us to avoid purchasing storage as our landlord apparently cannot afford to pay for it (but she can afford her summer home). In addition, we need to decide whether it's possible to live here while the heat is being replaced. This on top of everything else.

Hence my exhaustion gets to wait. Even though I know that with a bit of recovery, I could manage everyone else a lot better.
 
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