On an unusually pleasant first day of summer I think back to some of the warmest locations I have been. Today is nice; the windows of my home are open and a cool breeze is blowing… but there are many hot summer days ahead.
The galleries have been cleared. Final critiques completed. Sketchbooks and portfolios taken home. Grades have been earned. The bulletin boards are blank and the storage cabinets are filled again with supplies not used up this year. My desk and all the counter-tops are bare after being buried under papers and supplies the last 10 months. The rooms are quiet. The only thing left to clean are the recycled-clay buckets.
The best aspect of my job is that there is always an end, and later, there is always a new beginning.
Today was one of the first days in a very long while that I spoke to my father and he sounded genuinely happy. It was a rare, clear, fully positive conversation and today,
there is great reason to celebrate.
My younger sister delivered her first child yesterday. (The most important point of all of this, just in case it is missed, is that I am now, officially, an auntie!) She worked through a long, difficult delivery with her husband by her side. As I worried about her and her daughter, I felt helpless. This was the first time since I have known her that I couldn’t show her what to do, tell her what happened when I did it, make jokes about how I messed it up or relate anything personal to her experience.
It was all new and I could not help her in any way.
As part of many proud moments that occurred yesterday, she did not need me at all. Her husband was by her side, every step of the way from her water breaking to the delivery approximately 36 hours later. In her recovery room I watched a brand new dad sooth and swaddle and change diapers. I was proud to see him do so well. He praised my sister’s hard work, endurance and tenacity. I was again proud she chose her life partner so well. I felt so lucky to witness a new family on their first day together. I was proud to visit them with my husband who is such a good, patient person who does amazing work. I was pleased to see messages from friends who are fathers who were checking in to make sure my sister was ok and that I was ok. It was nice to know that these kind, attentive men—with or without children—will be celebrating today. Some will spend time with their children, some will make time for their fathers and some will be fortunate enough to do both.
A few steps down the road and much has changed:
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
The interview I referenced on 5/15 went well. The interview went so well I was offered the position a few days later. I was told I was their first choice and that HR would be in touch very soon. It went so well that I was invited to the “other district’s” end-of-year culminating activity and was introduced to some of the teachers. I felt I had slipped into a place where I was wanted and appreciated and despite some major obstacles I knew I would be able to make a difference where so much assistance is needed.
My references expressed excitement for me and questioned when I would resign so we could search for a replacement. I considered the same questions because my first obstacle seemed to be getting a contract. I set a late deadline and the person who offered the job said, “No problem! This is just a hiccup, everything takes a while. It can easily be taken care of before then.” I continued end-of-year preparations for my classes. I met with a few friends and family. I turned up the volume on my cellphone and noticed that we had a new mail carrier delivering the mail each day for a week. One weekend I ate lunch at a small restaurant and found a mass-produced, could-apply-to-anyone, yet important, reminder as I opened a fortune cookie:
I waited. Days passed slowly with no contract or new information. On the day of my previously set deadline, I declined the job offer. I was told, “But we need you! What are we going to do without you?” which was nice to hear but bizarre as the only welcoming gesture after a job offer. I was disappointed (aka, opportunities were lost & an ego was bruised) but I immediately saw some major benefits of my current work that I had overlooked because it had become mundane and repetitive.
- The same day I declined the job offer I had to go to our HR offices to deliver some art work and everyone I passed greeted me and asked if I needed help. By the time we found the correct drop-off location I had a group of people following me from floor to floor to make sure the person they passed me on to was able to help. I finally made it to the 5th floor with four strangers in tow.
- The very next day I was surprised by breakfast and a note from a co-worker stating he was glad that I have decided to stay.
- A student called me “Mom” and instead of getting embarrassed or denying it the 14-year old student shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s OK, It’s sort of like my home here.“
- That afternoon I attended a retirement party for a colleague where almost everyone in the large, packed room spoke of “our family” at work and how we gather together to share the good and bad times.
My goal for the immediate future is to be more efficient and create a more balanced life.
I hope to spend less time focused on my job and make time for more meaningful ‘work’ outside of work.
Signs seen in Washington, DC: