Friday, October 16, 2015

The final installment? (Fingers crossed...)

I imagine a "real writer" (you know, someone who totally invents stories--rather than "embellishing what actually happened" like I do--and then sells them for a living) must operate under some kind of Master Plan when crafting a novel. They probably lay out the structure before they begin, and then follow the natural progression of their ideas as they put them on paper. (Ha! She chuckles as she TYPES those words on a computer screen. Does anyone actually scribble their thoughts anymore? Oh wait...I do...but only when it's my To Do List!) But in the Book of Life, the plotline can be convoluted, with unforeseen twists, narrative back-tracking, and...oh, just general confusion.

That basically describes the process I've been going through for the past year or so, of Figuring Out What to Do (Next), Professionally. When Team WestEnders moved to North Carolina, I immediately explored options for academic interpreting, but found that none of the area's schools seemed to require services at that time. So I began checking the electronic job first once a week, but as time dragged on and I became more bored and restless, I stepped it up to every 3 days. I was fairly picky about what I applied to--the position had to meet some strict criteria that I decided would fit my situation. Still, I submitted (what felt like) bunches of resumes, mostly to no avail.

There were a few interviews, none of which came to fruition, but all of which I appreciated as Valuable Learning Opportunities. (Since I hadn't looked for work in, oh, 15 years!) Particularly the special circumstance that is the "screening call". I had NEVER participated in one of those...and as someone who generally loathes the phone as a rule, this was especially...disconcerting. I found it sooooo awkward to respond to tough questions without being able to see the other person. It was startling to me to get such a stark reminder of how much I rely on visual cues to feel comfortable talking with someone. (Is this a universal "thing"? Or am I just weird...never mind, don't answer that.....moving on...)

Anyway, this went on for a while, until last June, when I was hired by a very small local educational company that focuses on teaching English to non-native speakers. initial thrill and relief were short-lived, as I realized it was not, in fact, quite the right..."fit"...for me. Siiiiigh. Back to the old drawing board after only 6 weeks. (Except I have absolutely zero artistic skills whatsoever, so...maybe "scratch pad" would be a more appropriate metaphor? Or whatever...) At least I left with a much clearer vision of what I DID want...and began the search all over again.

Then it just so happened that one of the community colleges in the area contacted me, saying that they needed interpreters for the Fall Semester. Hmmm....this posed an intriguing dilemma. While I loved my interpreting gig back in Maryland, I had pretty much given up on finding something similar here. So in my mind, I had moved on to the objective "try something new". And yet... if I didn't give it a shot, I had a feeling I'd be left with unhealthy regrets, rather than satisfying closure. Therefore I signed on (ha! sorry...) to do classes 2 days a week, just to see what was what. Having done so, I can report that--taking nothing else into consideration at all--I'm doomed by the commute. None of the campuses is closer than 40 minutes, and the primary one that I report to is a solid hour away. NOT the most efficient use of my day, when I'm neither being paid for that block of time spent on the road...nor accomplishing any of the other tasks for which I'm responsible.

For this reason (among others that I don't need to get into) I had already decided that I would call this a temporary experiment, and--you guessed it--re-commence looking for the Next Big Thing. Now, backing up just a May, I had applied to a non-profit, whose main office is located in Bethesda, Maryland. (My old stomping grounds!) Their Southeast Regional Office, conveniently situated 10 minutes from my house, on Franklin Street in good old Chapel Hill, was seeking an Administrative Assistant. I was initially contacted for one of those dreaded telephone interviews pretty quickly...then heard nothing at all. This was a bummer, because the organization is centered around research into Early Childhood Development, for the purpose of supporting children's success and growth...a topic which is kind of right in my wheelhouse, given both my educational background and my experience working in school settings during my career.

Then on one of my twice-weekly forays through the virtual world of employment vacancies, I noticed that the company had advertised again, for the same position. I sent my packet to them once more. (Because, hey, persistence and follow-through are positive traits, right?) Aaannnd...nada. (Nothing like being discouraged a second build character...or some such nonsense...) But hold on just a minute...2 months or so after that, they emailed me to set up an in-person meeting...yay! So I went in and chatted with 2 very nice ladies in the office. And you know, it was one of those scenarios where it seemed to me like it went very smoothly--they asked the kinds of questions where you had to think-on-your-feet and problem-solve out loud, and I felt reasonably articulate and intelligent. But then afterwards...if you're me, that inevitably start second-guessing yourself. Did I come across as confident (good)? Or cocky (gulp)? Was I assertive (plus)? Or too forceful (cringe)?

And I had plenty of time to stew about it, because...AGAIN with the radio silence.  At last, several weeks later, another email showed up, saying that they were now ready to speak with my references. Oh boy! This might signal that we're nearing the end, one way or another! (But jeez...I'm not sure anyone's actually contacted "my people" before now...I sure hope they say nice things about me!) Anywhoo...long story...well, "long" (this is ME, after all, you should be used to it by now, yeah?) another week or so went by before they...drum roll...although you must know what I'm about to say, given the silly, unnecessary buildup of false anticipation...where was I? Oh, yeah...they offered it to me. (And I accepted, obviously!)

So, there just remained the teensy tiny little logistical issue to finagle meeting both of my obligations--interpreting classes wrap us in December. Fortunately, with the hours being part-time anyway, they were understanding and flexible enough to allow me to divide my days for now, until I can join the office for my regular schedule in 7 or 8 weeks. Phew!

There you have it: a relatively short period of craziness with M/W full days at the nearby office, and T/Th driving far away to interpret for a few hours. Fridays will remain open for such wonders as Costco (groan) or field trips (hurrah!). And hopefully, with an inordinately long set-up period, and some creative editing along the way, the story now has reached its happy ending! Stay week should tell the tale...

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