So imagine my surprise when I log into my blogger account (after several failed attempts, naturally) and see that I haven't posted anything in almost a year. I mean, it's not like I assumed there were dozens of posts over the past few months that I had forgotten about... but a year, really? I don't like to think about that much time elapsing without me noticing.
I started this blog because I thought it would be a fun way to document my admissions traveling, and it was. The problem, however, with starting a blog based on a temporary position that ends in three months is that I'm now left taking up space on the internet when I'm no longer roadrunning or confessing. Once I moved to Pittsburgh I had very little to write about that couldn't be better served in a facebook status, so my postings became more forced and infrequent until I finally gave up altogether.
When I last posted, I decided to move to Maryland/D.C. to start my masters in school counseling at GWU in January. Keri had decided not to apply for the American studies program, which meant she was staying in Pittsburgh and I was alone in the world. But hey, at least I was leaving a job that made me feel physically ill and morally reprehensible! So what wound up happening? I gleefully left my job, ambivalently left Pittsburgh, and wound up crashing in my childhood bedroom for eight months feeling like a total loser. (At least my parents let me repaint.) I was totally set to go to GWU, but a funny thing happened when I filled out the loan application for the first semester: I had a panic attack. My previous eight months of employment revolved around me coaxing students into a fake school by telling them, "School is expensive, but it's an investment. It's totally worth it!" And I knew going in that GWU was an expensive school. But something about seeing those numbers on the page made it click that I was going to be in debt forever (Maybe hyperbole? Maybe not.) for a degree that would lead me to a $40,000/year job. And that the cost of tuition for that one semester would equal the cost of the entire program at, say, the college right down the street in Baltimore that is extremely well-known in Maryland and has an excellent placement rate for graduates of their school counseling program. You know, the place I completely overlooked before because of whatever caprices were dominating my mood that day. The place whose spring application deadline lapsed a few days before I came to this conclusion. Yup. I am the world's best planner.
Needless the say, the first few months back in Maryland I was feeling frazzled and lost and stupid and lonely and like a huge failure. But no worries, it all has a happy ending. Somewhere around February I finally started feeling like I had my shit together. I was accepted to Loyola for the summer semester, I started substitute teaching in local schools, and I began my plans to stop imposing on my parents and let them have their sewing room back. In August I wound up moving to Baltimore city with my beloved Pittsburgh roommate.
So why am I filling you in on all this? I suppose I've thought that the robots running the blogger server have been curious. Okay, not really. Public schools are back in session now, and I've been subbing a few times a week already. (Within the next month I'll be getting jobs every day.) During my first few days back I've worked in a lot of special ed classrooms, and I realized that (don't worry, I realize this is a "well, duh" revelation) I've been learning so much about the education system and myself as an educator by being a "guest teacher." But here's the thing: what have I been doing with this knowledge? I thought it might be a nice exercise for me to write (type) my experiences explicitly to help me collect my thoughts and piece things together. And really I'm doing the same thing I was doing when I started this blog: visiting different schools, meeting different kids, and trying to have some sort of impact and avoid injury. The only difference is that now I have less down time in between. And fewer historical sites to visit. And much less contact with high schoolers, since I'm pretty sure they're evil when they're not actively trying to get into college. (Hello there, Future Employers! Don't worry, I'm very prone to hyperbole. I would gladly work with students of any age! But please give me kindergarteners. Please.) So that's the goal. This is my way of "unpacking" my experiences (to borrow a phrase from one of my professors) in order to make sense of them. If you'd like to join me on my journey through the schools, you're more than welcome! There will probably be a lot of coloring and maybe some Junie B. Jones.
I do have to end on this completely Hallmark note: I felt like a total failure in Pittsburgh for having the job that I did. I hated it, I didn't believe in it, and (possibly the worst part?) I was terrible at it. I felt like lot of people on my team wrote me off completely because I wasn't good at it, even though I suspect that telemarketing is not necessarily a litmus test for human accomplishment. So even though the first few months back in Maryland were difficult for me, I finally feel like (excuse the Demi Lovato moment) I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I'm good at my job. I'm not perfect by any means, but I'm learning and I'm developing a reputation as a sub who is not completely useless. And even on days when I'm really frustrated by a demon class, I still walk away with a sense of accomplishment, several hilarious anecdotes, and a lot of affection for the kids as individuals. This makes me suspect that I'm on the right path here. And that feeling is everything I ever wanted in a career.