Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Meanwhile, An Opportunity Knocks

[I]f one wants to get a boat ride, one must be near the river.
Anchee Min, Becoming Madame Mao

A brief note of progress on the job hunting venture. No, I'm not going to read high school essays again. Might be worse. I signed up for substitute teaching.

Even though I have decided I don't want to teach high school again, I did sign up for subbing when the opportunity opened. Last school year, many districts had an overabundant onslaught of applicants for substitutes. When things were quite dire around my house, the sign up had closed. Hence, I ended up reading high school essays for three miserable months.

A woman who sat in front of me on our sweatshop line would often moan and hold her head as she returned to her seat from one of our two breaks. "This place is the graveyard for the liberal arts major," she cried.

Huh! Couldn't argue with that. Substitute teaching may be another section of that graveyard in regard to the pay, but I do enjoy the kids and will be happy adding to the tuition/food/kid's continuous needs coffers while I continue my journey toward something more permanent.

My application is not yet complete as I need to submit my college transcripts. Where the hell you think my college is going find them? I graduated in 1978.

Can't you picture some poor soul in a clackety elevator slamming deep, down into a musty basement. After pulling the chain attached to a dangling light bulb, he clicks on his flashlight and wanders among the boxes lined to the ceiling. Way back in the far corner, he swishes away a spider's web to find the box marked 1978. For my $5 fee, that good scout will find those pages that prove I was truly there.

Now the grades on those transcripts may not show my mind was there, but, no matter. I got the piece of paper with Bachelors marked on it. All I need.

As to the more permanent pursuit? Of course writing is my favorite thing, as well as reading. But we know how that goes. I've narrowed it down a bit however -- editing, or returning to school for an MFA in Creative Writing.

Not sure I can afford the latter with two in college. But if dreams die.....

How are those of you in transition faring?


  1. As a fellow liberal arts BA recipient of the late 70s, I wish you well. I'm turning my sights on the arts as I recreate myself. I know what you mean about having two kids in college and wanting to continue with your education, a career, or ANYTHING worthwhile leading to $$$.

    Best of luck to you!

  2. Best of luck with the substituting. I love the Min quote!

  3. This could have been me some years ago - poised in middle age and not sure which way to go. I chose early retirement and have never regretted it - didn't even miss the money when I ceased teaching full time. I think there comes a time in teaching when one feels one has given all there is to give. Good luck with the job hunting.

  4. "graveyard for the liberal arts major" that made me laugh...
    good luck in your pursuits. I'm in the process of figuring out what to do with the rest of my life. No easy task.

  5. Your description of the musty basement filled with boxes of old transcripts cracked me up!! I hope you get some substitute work.

  6. We are semi-retired. And I actually think we like it! I don't want my husband to go back to an executive position where all we do is work our lives around his schedule. So I've convinced him to do something a little more creative. More board positions, maybe consulting, etc. I'm writing that book I've talked about all my life. Who knows, maybe this is our life now. I hope it is!

    Maybe, just maybe, this downturn was the best thing to happen to some of us.

  7. I hope you are going to be a nice sub... :)

  8. Sounds like you've narrowed down your permanent pursuit option to a very cool one! And best of luck with the subbing. I don't think I could do it, even for a million dollars!

  9. At least you HAVE something in that musty basement! Try hawking a resume with references that begin in 1966 and end in 1974, with only a few extra years added here and there for the next 35 years!

    I applied for a job at a job fair for a hotel chain a few years back, and when a young 'gentleman' looked at my decades old resume of ALL office experience and asked me what kind of job I was applying for, I said that I had been a secretary before I quit to raise my daughter. He said - 'a what?' I patiently explained what a secretary was, and he responded 'oh, today we call that an administrative assistant, and I'm sure your skills no longer apply'. I replied something along the lines of 'well, office work is office work, with the only difference being that today they use a computer instead of burnt wood on a cave wall, a printer instead of word of mouth, and an intercom instead of smoke signals, but that the brain work was still the same.' He was not amused (nor was I). At any rate, I went on to be a vet's assistant, it was the best job I'd ever had, and if I'd got that job with the hotel chain, I would never have gone on to something different.

    I was also reminded, when you said you'd applied for substitute teacher, of when I was secretary for the school counselor at a middle school, and on many occasion I was sent to a classroom where the teacher went home sick or was running late. As I would stand there staring out at all those faces and wondering what the hell I was going to do with them for however long that class was,I would tell myself that I would never want THAT job on a full time basis, but kudos to those who do!

    You'll find something eventually, Julie. Maybe not exactly what you want, but also maybe something that will fall into your lap that you had to idea you were looking for ...

  10. I just love that quote... must copy it down and put it up. Good luck with the sub teaching and I hope something amazing turns up for you writing wise. x

  11. It will pay the bills, yes? And, it's probably more fulfilling than temping in an office.

  12. My wife is a teacher. Her choices: sub, or move back overseas. Since we want to be with family, we are in the down-scale mode. I am away on a "project" in Kansas, and we will likely consider more down-sizing ahead. It does make you consider stranger and stranger alternatives, though. Who knows....preach? What better way to improve your public speaking profile?

  13. It's my time to pursue the writer thing. First item on the agenda: a book proposal.

    Love the quote and the photo

  14. Good luck subbing! You can never know in what direction a path might lead you...

  15. Aloha,

    I feel for you sister. I live in one the most beautiful places in the world and I am unemployed.

    When I lived on the mainland I was a paralegal for a major Conglomerate aka a Corporation... yep downsized. So with no job and no plans for the future I moved to Hawaii.

    Hawaii? Why Hawaii? My boyfriend was offered a very good position, if he would transferred there and he asked me to come along with him.

    Why the heck not I said to myself. I love to travel, adventures and there was nothing keep me here. Change is a good thing and I do mean that.

    Hawaii is Paradise, but...

    The unemployment rate is the highest it has ever been, just my luck. Lol.

    I have been looking for a job on this friggin island since September 2007. Even jobs at McD's or Burger King are considered primo {first-rate} jobs. Lol

    At least the weather is great and the people are kind. The Aloha Spirit is alive and well in Hawaii. By-the-way I Love Hawaii.

    Good Luck to you on your job hunt.

    Mahalo, A Beach Girl


  16. I am on the brink of transition. I'll follow your lead :). Seriously, I can't imagine just what I'll do. I need to work, but wish to travel...

  17. Good luck with subbing. If nothing else it will provide you with some great material to write about - as well as some adult company.

    Going back for you MFA sounds like a great plan. If it's meant to be your path, I know you'll find a way.

    Today is the first day of school here. The very first one in over two decades I've spent at home. My first query letters go into the world today.

  18. Subbing - you're brave! I'm trying to get work too at the moment and can't believe the attitude of some employers - it aint easy, but bills need to be paid. Good luck with whatever you do.

  19. Transition? The only transition happening for me is in my head. I'm going to be stuck in my job until I die. Or longer.....

  20. I had no idea that they require proof from people our age!

  21. Glad you are one step closer to being employed while you still keep in mind your bigger goal. Personally, I hope you find a way to do the MFA. I'm going back to work after 18+ years as SAHM, and would be happy to have a lowly office position at this point. So secretaries are now called administrative assistants? Good to know...Best!

  22. What a great next step. It will firm up--or destroy completely--any notions you have about teaching being that permanent thing.

    I respect subs so hugely; what a tough gig. But wouldn't a long-term subbing stint be excellent?

    All good wishes--


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