Filled

Thank you all for your advice on following up after submitting my application.

I sent a follow up email this morning and immediately got an Out of Office reply. This seemed like a good sign; the principal had been gone for the past week and would return soon. Maybe then I’d hear from her.

Instead I got a response an hour later: The position has already been filled but best of luck to you.

I’m really disappointed to miss out on such a unique position in which I think I’d really excel, but in the end the real devastation lies in my nightmare schedule and the fact that now it is my definitive reality for next year. There is not one bright spot in my entire week. It’s going to be such a long year.

I know I’ll eventually turn around my thinking and start to focus on how I can make this a learning year that benefits me in some way…

But right now I’m just feeling sad. Really, really sad. I didn’t realize that the possibility of this other job was keeping the anger and disappointment about next year at bay, but now that the possibility is gone I am feeling the weight of it, heavy on my heart. My schedule is a disaster. Most of my friends have left. Our entire campus is under construction. This school year will rival, if not surpass, my worst experiences teaching.

I guess I better enjoy my summer.

 

Submitted

I submitted my application yesterday afternoon.

My principal friend recommended I wait until Monday in the hopes that my former principal would pull through with the letter of rec (just as you all did). She also gave me a few notes on my cover letter, so I made those changes.

Surprisingly, my former principal responded to a text I sent Sunday afternoon, saying he’d get me the letter Monday morning. I finally received it at 2pm, and immediately submitted my application.

It feels good to have it done.

I know I probably won’t even get an interview, but I’m proud of myself for finally applying. That is a big step, one I’ve avoided for years.

I looked online to see if/when one should follow up on an application submission. Of course the advice was totally contradictory. One article said to follow up with a phone call 48-72 hours later. Another suggested something less intrusive (like an email) after about a week. One was vehemently opposed to any kind of follow up. The only advice I’m sure I’ll follow is to check my spam folder regularly, in case any kind of response ends up there.

In the meantime, I have plenty to focus on at home. Today I cleaned out the garage, which desperately needed it. Tomorrow I plan on hitting up Cost.co (so excited to go on a week day morning!) and looking for a new bathing suit (ugh!). I plan on KonMari-ing all the junk in my house, which should be interesting. I’m going to take a giant bag and just dump any miscellaneous shit from drawers, counter tops, and random receptacles and dump it all on the floor of the living room. Hopefully, a couple hours later most of it will be in the trash. Also, my mother has requested I go through the last of my boxes at her house and for some reason is adamant I do that this week, so that fun task is on the docket. I might have jury duty (I have to recheck every afternoon for a week), which is an ever present source of anxiety. And of course I need to pack for our two weeks in St. Louis. Yes, there will be plenty to keep me occupied, and hopefully by the time we get back from our trip, I’ll have forgotten I even applied for a job.

I think right now I’m balancing the tension well, delicately maintaining the scales between hoping I get it enough to maintain the conviction necessary to accept the pay cut and take the job, if it’s offered, and not wanting it so much that I’ll be devastated when I have to return to my horrible job this fall. The reality is I’ll be devastated at my old job no matter what this year, I don’t need to disappointed of not getting this job to magnify it.

It’s definitely easier now that the hard work is done, and I don’t need to glorify the position to keep myself motivated enough to push through the torture that is writing and rewriting a cover letter. Now I can let it all fall into the background, and watch to see how long it take the small floating candle of hope to extinguish.

I’m guessing it’s got three to four weeks.

“DIY Couples Retreat”

This past weekend was our DIY Couples Retreat.

I will start by saying it was a really wonderful 24 hours. We had an amazing time, and I haven’t felt this close to my husband in years.

We didn’t do any exercises, but my husband did read the book, and we had some really great talks about some of the topics raised in its pages. He did mark the exercises he thought would best help us, and we glanced at them (and considered formally working through them) but in the end we decided that the conversations we were having were enough for now. The fact that he actually read the book is incredible; I still can’t really believe that he enjoyed it and took the messages to heart.

In the end, I’m glad we didn’t go to the formal retreat. The purpose of attending was to gain new skills and feel closer as a couple, and I believe we’ve done that. We promised each other that we’d pull out the book if we found ourselves struggling again, but I think after having read it, it will be easier for both of us to avoid falling into seriously negative patterns. At the very least we have a common language to employ when we want to point out frustrations or make requests of one another.

It really was a great day. For the first time in a really long time I feel truly loved and cherished by my husband, and I know he feels the same.

I can’t really believe it was such a positive experience. I am so pleasantly surprised. I’m feeling very fortunate right now.

What would you do? (Job Application Advice Needed)

I’ve spent the last 48 hours furiously reworking my resume, crafting a cover letter, thanking colleagues for letters of recommendation, and determining how to get a PDF copy of my credential.

Everything is ready to go. I originally planned to submit my online application early Friday morning. Then my former principal responded to my request for a letter of recommendation, saying he’d “try to get me a draft tomorrow (Friday).” I asked for a letter or recommendation two days ago and never received a response, so I assumed he couldn’t do it. Getting his text threw a wrench in my timeline.

My original plan to submit the application Friday morning was based on a couple of things:

– The position went up Tuesday and I figure the sooner I apply the better.

– If my application is viewed Friday, perhaps action could be taken next week (see next point).

– Most school offices close at the end of June (until early August) and I’m out of town from June 27th to July 8th), so next week could be of prime importance.

I already have two letters of recommendation from colleagues, both of them great. My former principal is a very nice guy and I’m sure he’d write me a wondeful letter of recommendation, but he’s also kind of flaky and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he didn’t send me a draft tomorrow. I am certain I won’t get one from him before lunch.

So I’m not sure what to do. Should I wait until his letter of recommendation, even if that almost certainly means postponing submission of my application until Monday? Or should I include him as a reference for them to call, but submit my application without his letter on Friday morning?

I do NOT have a lot of experience applying for jobs, so I was hoping some of you would advice me on how to proceed. I’m definitely burnt out on the whole process and eager to submit the application and commence Phase 2 (driving myself crazy wondering if they’ll respond) so I worry I’m being silly about my perceived need to send it early Friday. I’m getting varying answers to the question of whether two letters of recommendation is paltry in comparison to three (some say two is fine, others say I should have three–the posting itself does not specify), but that is a concern as well. I also hate the idea of waiting of my former principal, who I know takes a while to get things done.

One final note: a friend, who is also a principal at a middle school, has copies of my final resume and cover letter to read over, but I’m not sure when I might hear back from her. She read an earlier draft of my resume and gave me some suggestions (which I took) and also counseled me on what to include in my cover letter, but she hasn’t read the final drafts with her suggestions incorporated. She is a good friend and I know she will eventually read my stuff and get back to me, but she is also very busy and I wouldn’t know when to expect a response. She probably won’t get back to me until later Friday afternoon, and I doubt she’ll have specific edits for me to include. Both my parents and my husband have read my final drafts and made edits. I feel strongly about both documents and don’t expect to make significant changes based on my friend’s feedback, but I felt I should include the possibility of her final critique before soliciting your advice.

So what would you do? Send the application ASAP? Or wait for a third letter of recommendation and a possible final critique?

Thanks in advance for any advice you are willing to give!

Possibility

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!

WOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I still have to go in tomorrow, but it’s just cleaning up my room, emptying (overflowing) recycle bins and sitting through one last staff meeting. Then I’m officially free.

My schedule remains a cluster fuck of epic proportions. I really don’t see how they expect me to do what they’re asking of me next year.

I do feel a certain amount of gratitude that it’s gotten this bad, because I think I needed the situation to reach critical shit-show before really getting serious about looking for another job. I needed a swift kick in the ass to spur me into action, and this bullshit schedule is definitely that.

I have been checking EdJoin for a couple weeks now, but nothing full time has popped up. Then today there was a new listing, for a Spanish/AVID teacher at a high school about 20 minutes from here. It’s 60% (three classes) Spanish and 40% (two classes) AVID (a program that helps B/C students who are willing to work hard succeed in more rigorous college prep classes). We had the AVID program at our school for years (until the state stopped funding it and we couldn’t afford to teach it “officially” anymore) and I was always interested in teaching the classes, but the two teachers never relinquished those periods, so I never had the opportunity. While the idea of having two preps is a little terrifying, I can’t deny that this position is pretty enticing.

So I spent the last two hours creating my profile on EdJoin. I’ve gone over my resume, decided on my references, fished out my old transcripts (it’s been so long since I had consider my past GPAs!), and looked up when my credentials expire. I’m hoping to apply by the end of this week (depends on when I can get my letters of recommendation). The post just went up today, and I’m out of town for two weeks in late June/early July, so the sooner the better.

I’m both excited and terrified, but mostly I’m proud to finally be taking this first step. Suddenly, life feels full of possibility.

Beginnings

This week I begin my summer break. On Thursday I will officially be done with the 2014-15 school year. I swear it can’t come soon enough.

Last week was pretty rough. On Monday, after the insanity that was my daughter’s birthday party, I finally had a moment to breathe. My body recognized that the situation was no longer dire and promptly dropped all defenses against the cold that was evidently waiting in the wings. By Monday night my throat seared with pain; I can’t remember my throat ever hurting that bad. During the kids’ bedtime routines I was hot, lightheaded, shivering and riddled with body aches. At 9pm I walked out of my daughter’s room, told my husband (who had been on a conference call) that he would have to clean the house himself, and passed out.

I had to go to work on Tuesday because I’m out of days and didn’t want to get docked pay. We had a staff meeting, which only lengthened the torture. Then it was my daughter’s family celebration at our house (Tuesday was her actual birthday), which thankfully didn’t last too long. Tuesday night I was asleep by 9:30pm.

I slowly started feeling better by the end of the week. I haven’t been that sick in a really long time. I’m not surprised it happened. I’m prone to being taken out by some virus after a couple weeks of steady stress. The whole ordeal was entirely predictable.

Friday at work was a total shit show. Being stuck between two administrators who are leaving this year and truly DON’T GIVE A FUCK, and one who can’t possibly be on top of everything at two schools (and isn’t really being offered the opportunity at ours) is a shitty place to be. The 6th grade foreign language situation is a shit show and my dual-campus schedule is a cluster fuck. I’m supposed to meet with the new principal of the other middle school this Wednesday, even though as it stands now, I can’t actually work at both schools because on one day there is a 35 minute overlap in my schedule. How much you want to bet the issue still isn’t resolved by the time we meet?

So much at work is still up in the air. I’m working hard at accepting the uncertainty, but I’m extremely stressed out. Next year is going to be unpleasant on so many levels–I so wish I’d looked for a new job when there were more openings. I check edJoin every day, but there are no full time Spanish positions in the area. I’ll most likely have to live through this shit in my district next year and hope like hell I can find a new job for 2017-18. Oh how I hope I can find a new job.

But it’s not all bad. Summer is about to begin. And it’s not the only thing that’s starting. Yesterday I started training for my half-marathon. For the next month and a half I’ll be running four times a week instead of exercising for three. I haven’t been off the elliptical for that long since we got it! I’m excited, and a little anxious, to start upping my mileage. I’m also very thankful that both kids will be in daycare/camp for part of the week days so it will be easier to schedule runs.

I’m also embarking on a bit of a personal writing project. It will take place offline and I doubt I’ll be sharing much of it here, but I’m eager to see where it will take me.

And so this week, many things begin. All of them positive. I’m so ready to get out from under the weight that is work right now, and enjoy some much needed time in the sun.

Done

We survived the party. As always seems to be the case, I spent the whole time running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I hardly got to exchange two words with each guest, but I’ve been told people had a great time.

The bouncy house arrived late but we had scheduled it to come early, so that was okay. The sun was shining until the minute the party started, when the wind and fog rolled in. Some woman went around collecting the little envelopes from my scavenger hunt (WHY?!) but I was able to re-hide most of them before the kids realized.

My husband has told me many times that it was a success. My daughter enjoyed herself. I suppose we can call it a win.

All told my daughter did a great job. She remained fixated on presents, but with gentle (and sometimes stern) reminders she stopped asking after them. She was constantly wanting the party could be over so she could just go home and focus on the presents, and in the end she left with my husband before some of her friends because the waiting was just too much. That happened after the end time written on the invitation so technically she made it.

She was excited about everything she received. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a bunch of plastic junk (Barbies, Littlest Pet Shops, etc). It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I’m still glad it’s over.

Now we just have to clean up the house for grandparents to come this Tuesday, which is her actual birthday. Grades are due Friday, but I’m not too behind on those. Waking up this morning, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted.

There is still much to do, but the party is over and that was causing me a fair amount of stress; hosting large amounts of people is not my forte. Now that it’s done, I can focus on the week and a half left of school, and what I hope to accomplish before St. Louis.

It finally feels like summer is around the corner.

{A big thank you to everyone who reached out on my last post. I was really struggling last week. I quickly regretted putting that out there, as I hate for a post to be nothing more than a stress vent, but what’s done is done and I can’t take it back. I hope someday I learn that publishing posts like that only adds to the stress in the world, and that a strategic email to a good friend is probably a better place for thoughts like those. I do think I’ll learn that someday, but the lesson will require more mistakes like Friday’s. I endeavor to be patient with myself along the way.}

Home Stretch

We’re so close I can taste it.

I can also taste bile at the back of my mouth. I hate this time of year.

Things are super stressful. There is so much to do, and I’m exhausted. My daughter is struggling mightily with the transition from her regular Kindergarten routine to attending camp. Picking her up is an absolute nightmare in which she’s insolent and blatantly refuses to do anything I ask (like put her shoes on so we can go the fuck home) and I eventually lose my shit and drag her out by the arm at 6pm, under the judging eyes of parents and camp counselors alike. It’s awesome.

There is food to order for her birthday party. Presents to wrap. A scavenger hunt to write clues for. A jumpy house to confirm. Money to throw in a million different directions. And a daughter who, instead of being excited and grateful for her big celebration is melting down because her best friend’s party is the day before hers and she’ll be getting her presents a full 24 hours before my daughter gets any. Never mind that her friend is only having three girls over to her house and my daughter’s party has swollen to massive proportions. Never mind that my daughter will be getting tons of presents THE NEXT DAY. My daughter actually asked me if she could not go to her best friend’s party because just knowing her friend was getting presents when she wasn’t was more than she could handle. This is EXACTLY why I didn’t want her to be getting presents at all. It just not seem like a healthy fixation of being given things.

My house is a mess. My husband is taking both kids to daycare and camp every morning and is totally stressed out. I’m leaving later for work than I want to make sure they’re all ready to leave on time every morning. I’m falling behind on grading papers at work. At night my husband and I don’t really talk; he reads comics on the couch, neglecting the dishes and other mess in the kitchen, and I stumble out of my daughter’s room at 9:30pm after bedtime, finish up the laundry and other necessary chores and fall into bed.

Have I mentioned that I hate this time of year? Why does my daughter’s birthday have to fall in the final weeks of my school year? WHY?!

It has been confirmed, at work, that I’ll be teaching on both campuses next year. Evidently they CAN make me do it, and that is my schedule, as far as admin is concerned. Whether or not I can teach Spanish to the 6th graders instead of World Languages on the computer is still up in the air; one administrator says one thing, and another says something else. Neither seems very sure of themselves. I guess I need to make a meeting with the people at the new school and figure out what room I’ll be using, what resources are available to me, and what I can spend to buy the supplies I need. I’ll be teaching 1st period at the other middle school and 3rd through 6th at my own. The other middle school starts later than mine, which is good for the morning routine at home with my family (I can still bring my daughter to school, which wouldn’t have been possible next year otherwise) but bad for transferring between the campuses (there is only about 20 minutes for me to pack up and make the 10 minute drive). So yeah, that is happening. I still don’t really believe it.

By next Tuesday so much of this stress will be resolved, the biggest hurdle being my daughter’s birthday party. (This is definitely the last time we throw a big one for her, next year she can have something small, or nothing at all.) But others will linger. I need to remember that it’s not all unicorn farts and fairy queefs once the school year ends.

My school year if over in a week and a half. I know I can do it. I also know I’ll be miserable until it gets done. And then I have this hellacious schedule to get ready for next year. God, I wish I had looked for another job (and yes, I’m still looking, but so far no full-time Spanish positions have been posted in the area).

But we also have St. Louis to look forward to, and just the general slowing down of summer. I need it so bad, but I can already feel myself getting tense as I realize it’s not going to be enough to undo the knots that have tightened in my neck and shoulders. The breaks are never enough to get me back to where I want to be; my life if just not sustainable right now and I need to make more big changes so that I’m not always racing for the next break. I just don’t know if I can make the necessary changes. I don’t even know what they are.

Sorry for this stress dump, but I needed to put it somewhere, otherwise I might go crazy from circles it all keeps running in my head.

One and a half more weeks and then I can breath. Then it will get better. I can do anything for one and half weeks.

Clarification

When you choose to put yourself out there in a space like this, you are bound to encounter misinterpretation and misunderstanding. You are also likely to experience disagreement and dissent. You may even earn yourself some unsolicited advice. I am not surprised when these things happen. Most of the time I attempt to learn from the experience, and usually I try again.

I come here to write for a lot of reasons. Sometimes I’m in the midst of figuring things out, and I use writing here as a way to process. Other times I come here to vent–to lighten my load and perhaps gain some perspective. And still other times a vague compulsion propels the words into this space. No matter how or why I write here, my words can miss the mark.

When I wrote Friday morning’s post I was working through some stuff I didn’t quite have a handle on yet. I was hoping that if I got a small part of it down, the rest of it would settle into place so I could reflect and hopefully write more later. The problem is, a post like that doesn’t paint a full picture, mostly because I’m not sure what the full picture is yet (or the picture is constantly changing). Posts like that provide a vague outline and let readers fill in the gaps.

Here is the thing. I don’t want to live in the suburbs. That is not some dream of mine that being married to my husband is denying me. I grew up in one of the biggest, densest cities in the world and I LOVED the independence and freedom it provided me. I am not opposed to raising my kids in the city, it’s just harder sometimes to do it than I expected it would be.

And the school stuff… well I have a lot of thoughts about that and they are complicated and varied and sometimes at complete odds with each other. I thought long and hard about whether or not to bring my daughter down to my school district, and in the end I chose not to. I don’t regret that choice. We live in the city and I want our kids to go to school near where we live. I want their friends to live in the city, not 30 minutes away on the peninsula. I want the city to feel like home. I want the city to be their home. I have lived in San Francisco for 13 years and worked on the peninsula that entire time. I absolutely believe that commuting so far away has made it difficult, if not impossible, for me to embrace San Francisco as my true home (which is most certainly part of the reason I feel torn about some of the difficulties in raising kids here). I absolutely don’t want that for my children.

I also value diversity. Immensely. I think going to school with people from different cultures and backgrounds can offer an education that is more valuable than anything a rigorous curriculum could provide. I also believe strongly in the benefits of being truly bilingual, and a Spanish language immersion education is not something my children could get in the “better” school districts nearby. There are myriad reasons why we chose to send our daughter to the nearby school, and right now I don’t regret that choice.

That doesn’t mean it’s always the easiest choice. I went to schools, and have taught in schools, that look different from the school my daughter attends. Different can be hard, especially when it’s the kind of different that isn’t celebrated. Sometimes I have doubts. Sometimes I feel trepidation. But that doesn’t mean I regret the choice we made. I also know that if we needed to change our minds, there are always other options.

I truly hope we don’t have to take advantage of those options, because I already see my daughter learning important lessons at her school, lessons she would not be getting at the “better” school in my district. I also know that just because another school might offer a more rigorous education, doesn’t mean my daughter would have a positive experience attending it. My mom has covered a couple hours in the Kindergarten classrooms my daughter would have attended in my district and she said there are already intense cliques forming and that the Kindergarten teachers report that this is the most intensely negative social situation they’ve encountered in their classes in a long time. My daughter would really struggle with cliquey girls like that, and I’m glad she’s not being exposed to it. (And at a school that small, she would be stuck with that group of girls until 8th grade).

I wrote this post to clarify all this as much for myself as for anyone else. It can be easy to focus on the ways I fantasize it could be easier if only circumstances were different, but it’s important that I remember why we made the choices we did. Friday’s post was much more about my frustration with a lack of empathy and understanding from my husband, who struggles to see things from my perspective, not an admission that I’m being forced to live somewhere I don’t want to live, and am miserable for it.

My daughter is a bright girl who speaks fluent Spanish and is learning a lot at school, whose best friends are white, African American and Hispanic, and who doesn’t think twice that one of the yard duties at her school wears a burka. She takes the bus as much as rides in a car, and walks past people from dozens of different cultures on the way to the playground. Most importantly she is happy, and that is in no small part because of where she lives and where she goes to school. That is not something I take for granted.

Reconciling the Hard

I have over 200 blogs in my reader and yesterday there were three posts. All day. This morning there were five. I guess the summer doldrums are already here.

My husband and I had a fight last night. One of our old ones. It wasn’t even a very thoughtful rehashing of the topic. I struggle with the idea of living forever in the city. It’s harder than I thought it would be. It seems increasingly impossible that I will ever develop any real sense of community here. My husband would be miserable in a monochromatic suburban wasteland. I am honestly starting to wonder if it’s better to be surrounded by diversity but ultimately alone, barely participating in it, or to just give up and feel at home with a bunch of people who look and talk like me (and have about the same amounts in their bank accounts). The progressive, liberal part of me (and it’s a BIG part) wants to slap the woman who would rather run away from the hard to a place where she feels like she truly belongs. The part of me that is actually living the experience of being one of the only white, English speaking people on her block, and sending her daughter to a school where she is one of the only white kids in her grade, wants to scream that it’s hard, and there is a reason so few other people are doing it.

It’s not hard for my husband because he loves living here. Being in the city provides him with all sorts of opportunities that he appreciates, even if he’s not able to take advantage of all (or even most) of them right now. He doesn’t crave community, in fact he’s happy to avoid it. And he is more removed from the challenges of raising kids in an urban area, because I handle a lot of the day-to-day logistics. While he attends most special events at my daughter’s Title 1 school, he’s never there for drop off or pick up or during the regular school day. He doesn’t see how rough the older kids are with each other on the playground. He does see that the line for the general education (as opposed to Spanish immersion) Kindergarten class usually only has 5-7 kids standing in it, even though there are 20 kids in that class. He doesn’t read all the articles about how schools with high percentages of lower income students (our daughter’s school is 92% free or reduced lunch), NEVER perform as well as schools attended primarily by upper socio-economic families.

I haven’t written much about my thoughts and feelings regarding my daughter’s school, mostly because COMPLICATED, but I think about it A LOT. Every day I drop my daughter off at one school and drive 30 minutes away to teach at an arguably “better” school. Obviously, we decided that it was best for our daughter to send her to the school in the city, and I still believe in the reasons we did so, but they are more abstract and harder to quantify. When there is so much written about the failings of inner city schools, it’s easy to wonder if we made the right choice.

I really hope I write more on this here, because I have a lot to work through and process. In the meantime, I need to get to work.