Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Heigh ho, heigh ho...or not....

Compared to some people--Husband, for example--I could be considered a bit of a...let's call it "career...butterfly"...flitting from one profession to the next. (Okay...not entirely accurate...but I like the metaphor anyway, so indulge me, here...) What I mean is: Husband has been in the same industry since he graduated from college. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that--he finds it both satisfying and stimulating, and he could perfectly well see himself contentedly continuing in this vein until he retires one day. On the other hand, while I started out with pretty concrete plans--deciding in high school that I wanted to major in speech-language pathology--my own employment path has been characterized by a few more twists and turns along the way. Oh sure, I did practice as an SLP...for a while. After completing my studies, I accepted a position with a nearby school system, and worked there for 5 years. Then I left for a neighboring county. Next I switched schools within that district. Finally, when Husband and I agreed that we were ready to start a family, I felt the moment had also arrived for..."something else, career-wise"...whatever that might be.

Inspiration came from someone (a total stranger, oddly...and fortuitously...enough) suggesting to me that I try getting hired as a sign-language interpreter, since I'd had experience with ASL during both my undergrad and graduate education. So I contacted a local community college to set up an interview...confessing sheepishly that I'd need to bring along my then-16-month-old, since I hadn't arranged any kind of babysitting for him yet. The woman who met with me was warm, friendly, and delightful in every way...and I believe also sympathetic, since she herself was about 7-months pregnant at the time! As I remember it, Derek sat quietly in the corner and colored, while we conducted our "adult business". And although I told the lady very honestly that I was rusty...and extremely nervous...she ended up offering me a job anyway (bless her little pea-pickin' heart).

I was elated...exhilarated...energized by my new opportunity! And so I set off to work on Day One, ready to take on any and all challenges (such as my first assignment: interpreting a college-level Spanish class...for a Deaf student...into ASL--yeah, if that doesn't make your head explode, NOTHING will...) It was September 11, 2001. I dropped off my toddler for his initial foray into the perilous world of in-home daycare. Let's just say...he did not take it well--full-on screaming, sobbing, separation-anxiety tantrum. Yeah, I was a mess when I fled the scene. And that was of course before I heard the initial reports out of New York, as I was listening to the radio on my commute. Obviously it was a first-day-on-the-job that I will never forget.

Flash forward through almost 13 years, all of which I spent enjoying part-time employment at that very same institution of higher learning...that is, until a few weeks ago. When the Spring Semester came to a close, so did my tenure at the college. At first, the fact barely registered. I mean, we have breaks all the time, for holidays and Summer and whatnot, so it felt perfectly normal to not be putting on my grown-up clothes and motoring off to campus. But then, silly little things began creeping into my consciousness and reminding me that my life had changed...like when I realized I could take down the hang-tag from my rearview mirror (the one that lets me park in the privileged "Faculty" section). It had been a fixture in my peripheral vision since I obtained it my very first day at the school. Then I was explaining to a friend about the carwash I prefer, "You know, it's right next to where I work..." Then my voice cut out abruptly as my brain caught up with what I was saying...and suddenly I couldn't breathe for a moment..."I mean 'used to work'," I concluded when I was able to speak again.

Now that it's truly sunk in at last, it's weird to think that I'm unemployed. And that I don't really have any kind of "vision" about what's next or where to go from here. (I know: how very unlike me! That in itself is a tad frightening...) It may turn out to be merely a...hmm..."rest stop" on the...highway of... gainful-employment? Or it could signal a more significant fork in the road, necessitating a choice...or a brand new map...or fresh GPS coordinates...or directions from a cooperative bystander...who knows? While I don't consider myself "lost" just yet, I may be looking for "the next big thing" in the near future. Wheeeee, off we go!

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