My Future Job

I didn't mean to, but I made a huge mistake yesterday: I started thinking about real life while on vacation.

Right now I'm in what feels like a life hiatus, or some kind of sabbatical from reality, or an adolescent dragging of the feet, or anxiety paralysis, or a YOLO complex, or a standard American millennial work crisis.

When I return to the states in six days I have no job, no place to live, and a dog to take care of.

I thought that institute might open doors and present my future openly to me. I applied for one job as a result but have heard zero back, a text to the Executive Director unanswered, and the lack of response having me wonder if I even want to be on that team.

I've thought about spending a semester getting fancy English-teacher certified and applying to work abroad. Issues: don't have the funding for the program and don't have a huge desire to teach abroad (live abroad, yes; yeah abroad, meh).

I've thought about applying to PhD or other additional degree programs. Issues: struggling to articulate the research I want to do, feeling inadequate in general, no desire to study for or take the GRE…

I had a fleeting thought to go to cosmetology school, something I've wanted to do since I was really little. But where would I go? How would I fund it? And do I want to be part of that scene in general…?

There's also the more beautiful thoughts, like Is now a time to focus on crafting and art, after abandoning it for so long? And Do I have any skill or ability I can market and capitalize on independently? And How can I be creative now before getting trapped in another job? And What do I love? What do I WANT?

It's a millennial problem, right? To know I have skills and two degrees and family and friends and professional networks to lean on, but still feel utterly professionally lost. My life until last summer had such an even path, my finances are mediocre at least, I know I have an Extremely Privileged Life. I want to be careful to own the feelings an uncertainty and worry I have while recognizing the ridiculous about of privilege I have in my hands.

So right now… if anyone has

  1. ideas for simple work that I could do, especially temp and/or art based, ideally in a city
  2. An inexpensive place where I and my pooch can live
  3. A really great life plan or a desire to life coach me for free (😜)
  4. A personal story of a similar time/ situation you've had in life and how you got through it

…it would be greatly appreciated.

For now, enjoying a home cooked dinner in our hostel in San Jose, refusing to worry. ❤️

Capacity 

There’s this thing in life and work and the universe where we have limits, we have a “zone of proximal development”, we have an x amount of capacity for our time, emotions, workload, threshold for bullshit. It evolves and changes by the hour, day, year. 

When I was in my first year teaching, my emotional capacity resembled a Miller Lite bottle thrown out a car window on a freeway. Meant-to-be-full, insides spewed everywhere, sprayed in an irretrievable way, shattered container. No room for additional comprehension of fucking any emotion ever. 

Right now, my capacity for anything is more like a sturdy backpack with a loose paper or two inside, maybe a family photo. I feel wide open, I feel capable, I feel constructed to carry things, I feel u have zippers and buttons closing pockets of varying sizes: I know I can handle this much relationship drama, this much time for exercise, this much at work. But right now, y’all, so so open. 

It’s exciting, and driving me completely up the wall. I feel like I’m practicing setting assignments for each pocket: for two weeks I filled one with daily runs; for three weeks it was tinder dates that run until 1:30am; this week I tried out a GRE practice… all the while screaming WHERE DO THINGS FIT HOW WILL I ORGANIZE?!

I’ve been here one month and six days. Today I got my first paycheck (hallelujah). I’ve found healthy things and unhealthy things, I know my neighborhood, I am finished with on boarding at DPS , the inertia is starting to wear off and I now get to decide, DECIDE, where my energies will go. 

This is like completing a puzzle that hasn’t photo (pure cardboard, here), no side pieces, and no box with a model of what this should look like. 

Writing this is helpful. Maybe I do have side pieces (a job, a dog); maybe I do have a moderately blurry pictures (I want to be healthy, I want to keep my morals and values, I want to use my skills and strengths for the good of others). 

This post/ time in life instead, then, is also a call for… not advice, really, but for ideas. With 13 months left in Denver: what to prioritize and when? My gut thinks I need a calendar with a map of goals: running schedule, non-profit volunteer opportunities, GRE practice goals. Did I just answer my own question?

4/10

Today was one of my favorite days in Denver. I woke up at 8, rushed to work, and had meetings with various people in my department and surrounding it. It was so. Fabulous. It’s so gratifying and beautiful to meet with people who share values, who laugh, who you know love the same things and will take care of you when you have rough days, or hung over days, or days when you show up late to something super important. I feel like I have that.

I had a meeting for my 30/60/90 day goals with my direct manager. The fact that this happened at all is already outstanding, but the fact that she hosted it, that she genuinely was excited about it, that it was scheduled in Outlook… this is such a change, something I love, something I’ve been craving and needed.

Came home to have dinner with a friend from California – a super nice completely organic, ethically raised all around restaurant. I laughed a lot. I looked at pictures of quokkas (seriously look this up), and took my first Lyft alone to get there.

Came home, snuggled up to roommate who will now be dubbed RR while she colored coasters (no joke) and compared our “Latin Lover” notes while she drank wine in her beautifully decorated and freshly cleaned bedroom, Blue at our feet. I’m coloring because life is beautiful, and these coasters are beautiful, and I’m going to steal the lamination at school, and they’re all going to be unique just like Blue and Butters. 

So this is my life, and I love it.

Wait! You forgot about my theraputic coloring!

…and now I’m off to explore Denver’s finest aka worst bro country downtown bars. Wish me luck. ūüėČ

2/10: Work, a different kind of

I’m tired, finally, I think. I’ve spent two weeks resting – so much so that it has been challenging to sleep at night. When it hit 4:13am and, wedged between two dogs with roommate¬†gone, I couldn’t sleep in the 10th attempted twist, I would reach to my nightstand and take yet another Tylenol pm.

Last night, like Christmas, I slept in fits Рonly feeling soundly asleep in the final two hours, before waking up at 7 to again move my car and rush back to change and pack a backpack for work.

My second year of undergrad, I interned at Bearquarters for Build-a-Bear Workshop, or BABW if you’re an insider or a 10-year-old. I had a cubicle and a circle of other interns that became instant friends. In the first two weeks my manager set up meetings for me to meet department heads and influencers (not a word) in the company, meetings that made me feel lost, and young.

At DPS, my manager has set up meetings for me with key players in our team and on the perimeter. I have 30 minute to two hour events sprinkled across the next two weeks, at which point my 30 day goals will be set and I should have work to do! Things are organized. I have a cubicle. I spent my day on the 12th and 14th floors of an office, had lunch with a good portion of our team, was gifted a new coffee mug, and showed up sweaty from the 25 minute walk.

Around 4:45, I walked home to take my dog for a (wait for it) 2.5 mile run. It’s all about the slow progress.

After the inertia of the move, of newness, of doing whatever I wanted for at least a week, today felt mostly like work. There are mountain views and nice pens and an adorable chart paper poster welcoming me to Colorado; there are two monitors on my desk because I’ll be staring at spreadsheets for, ya know, ever. I’m excited and also curious, questioning my usefulness, my ease at fitting in the predominantly white woman situation that is US education. During the overview of the team I got this morning, I understood everything, could make easy comparisons to my work in Arkansas. It felt familiar. This transition feels more than feasible.

My manager is absolutely wonderful, my team is perfect, I already feel welcome and loved and invested in. I know I will be able to do this work and do it well; I know I will learn new skills; I know Denver is a city wrought with problems and conflict in the school system just as much as any city is. There is always work to be done. I spent most of the last hour of my day watching a recent documentary about the integration and then re-segregation of DPS, this is work that was assigned to me. This is important, and valuable, and urgent, and pretty much just what I thought it would be.

Not anticlimactic, I don’t think. Just unsurprising. Just another girl with a job that involved a cubicle and some other stuff.

***

With a short news segment about Alton Sterling just finishing as I stepped into the living room, I’m again embarrassed to be posting about my life on my blog. With the massive attack in Baghdad just three days ago,¬†I live completely normal until reminded by facebook statuses what the rest of the world is like. I’m worried that Denver will shelter me even more than being white does – and any friends of color I cringe if you even read this paragraph. I am able to walk around blind; I am able to function like the whole world is clear blue skies. Not the case. I am looking for any and all assistance to stay grounded. Right now I’m reading (Pedagogy of the Oppressed and¬†just started¬†Being White, Being Good), staying current with Facebook, and waiting for the next Denver SURJ meeting which is a long month away. I need to be closer to the work on the ground. I want to, as reading tells me, stop being complicit. I need to run the wrong way on the moving walkway… especially if it involves things other than reading, which I do a lot of, which I value and love, which I know is very different than direct action.

10 Straight Days

A woman I deeply admire invited me to do a 10 Days of Writing accountability experiment. She is sharing on googledocs, and I figure I’d just over-saturate this blog with 10 days of updates. This is especially good timing, because this is the eve of my First Day of Work, the reason I came to Denver. That, and, you know, changing my entire life.

Today I woke up at 7:30 to move my car, and for once didn’t go back to sleep. Instead I went for a 1.5 mile run (In the altitude! Around the city! I¬†went for a run, which I haven’t done in months, which I have been hiding from, which I have been terrified to do, this could be 100 blog posts all by itself. Just know this is A Big Deal.) and showered and put on mascara and semi-kind-of-professional-looking clothes.

After a successful adventure to the library, where every single person I spoke to seemed to be radiating sunshine, I went to My Building for the first time. I can’t claim it, there’s no possible way, do I really belong in that thing? There’s a school in the bottom, the lobby is beautiful, and the security card that was bestowed upon me today turns a magic red light green and allows me to the elevators where I will be working, I think, on the 12th floor. Waiting in the lobby, I saw people in and out, in and out, and suddenly that monotony was broken when I realized,¬†I will end up knowing some of these people.¬†Denver isn’t just about hiking and loving my dog and arranging furniture and learning the street names: I’m here¬†to work. Right. Forgot about that.

At the library, I checked my DPS email for the second time, after a week hiatus. Immediately I felt a snowball whirling loops in my gut – I had about 20 emails of meeting invites with all these names I’ve never seen, in all these rooms I don’t understand the name of, with topics that are names I tried to be excited about. I felt just the faintest twinge of panic. Tomorrow I will meet people. Tomorrow I decide to cover my undercut or show it (it will be covered… at least to start), to cover my tattoos or show them (one will show), to be quiet and humble or energetic and forthcoming (both?) Tomorrow is the first day of my third Professional Job. I am grown. I know things.

In the evening, home from trekking around the outside mall, from splurging at Gap and Forever 21 and 7-11 where I bought the only real food I ate today (a Clif bar), I texted Sho about the Colombian tinder man who I’ve seen twice since last noting it. I sent snaps to the universe and reveled in my IKEA room. Then… (wait for it) …I went running¬†again.¬†Because this is what my life is, now. And I ran the same distance a minute faster than I did this morning. Maybe it was the dark, maybe it was because I’m not scared of the tightness the altitude gives me, maybe because I’m ready to start being who I am again, instead of a shell. I ran twice today, I start work tomorrow, & today a bracelet I re-ordered arrived in the mail. I used to wear it constantly and it disappeared somewhere… today, just in time for my first day, it arrived in my mailbox. Brown leather with a silver plate, it reminds:¬†As I run, as I run, the universe is running with me.