Four Things I Know For Absolute Certain Now That I’ve Lived Through Actual Hell


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botticelli_hel_grtOne year ago today was the worst day of my life. You are all familiar with the story–lost my job, found out my mom had advanced breast cancer. Great day, that. Since then, the earth has continued to spin around the sun, my mom kicked cancer’s ass, I was diagnosed with a different kind of cancer (seriously), had that treated (there was and continues to be some additional ass-kicking), and we’re both still standing.

And so, rather than mourn this date, I’m going to celebrate it. I’m going to celebrate it in the best way I know: with a list-post featuring all of the things adversity has taught me, described in exquisite detail. Settle in…

If karma is a bitch, so are you

karmacatDespite having once named a cat Karma (I am not making this up), I no longer believe in the concept. Not even a little bit. Here’s why:

The thing people seem to fail to realize about karma is that it works both ways. So if something bad happens to someone who has wronged you and you’re all like ‘karma is a bitch’, what does that mean when something bad happens to you? Seriously. Think about that for a moment. Did you do something to deserve all of the bad shit that’s happened in your life? I doubt it. I sure as hell know that I didn’t.

And further, what does clinging to the idea of karma do for you, exactly? Here’s a little personal story which should prove that it does absolutely nothing:

Last spring, a few short weeks after the worst day of my life, I had a little breakdown. So I did what any normal, sane person would do: I spent a week in the woods of New England at a spiritual retreat learning about loving kindness meditation (among other equally crunchy things). As you now know that I’m someone who actually did once name her cat Karma, this really should not surprise you. Anyway–my big takeaway lesson from that experience was this realization:

There’s not a limited amount of joy in the world.

As such, when someone who has wronged you experiences good fortune, that’s ok. Because their happiness has absolutely nothing to do with your own. This also means that when that same person experiences bad fortune, that’s not something to be celebrated. Because their pain has absolutely nothing to do with your own. The suffering of your enemy will, in almost every case, affect your own prosperity not at all. So why rejoice in it?

Sorry, Karma the cat. You were poorly-named. But hey, it could have been worse. You could have been your sister, Cashew. Though I suppose I do still believe in cashews.

Tough love is bullshit


The first thing that will happen as soon as something terrible happens to you is this: people will start giving you advice. I’m convinced that all of this advice is well-meaning. I am also convinced that most of this advice is total and utter crap. And the absolute worst kind of well-meaning advice is tough love advice.

Let me be as clear as I can be right now: toughness and love do not go together. To quote the goddamn bible (and the most overused wedding reading of all time): Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others.

Tough love is none of these things. Tough love is urgent. Do this now, it pleads. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry! Tough love is not kind. In fact, most tough love sentiments involve some form of the phrase ‘I’m not trying to be mean, but’. Tough love most definitely boasts and is prideful; I did this and so can you, it proclaims. And tough love absolutely dishonors others. It dishonors others’ experiences and feelings and it pays no credit to the real experience of pain.

Tough love is bullshit. Period. Full stop.

If you are reading this and you know me personally (or virtually) and are thinking that I’m talking about you, you are probably right. There’s a lot of you. But it’s ok, because I know that you did mean well. Your only fault was viewing life through the lens of your own experience and failing to acknowledge that said lens exists. Most people exist in this state, myself included. So when most people see someone in pain, they think back over what worked in their life, and they offer well-meaning advice along similar lines. I plan to try to avoid doing this in the future, but I’m certain I will struggle with it. It’s ok that you do, too.

There are different kinds of strong

When my work world was taken away from me, I felt that I lost all of my power. How could I continue to be strong, kick-ass hard-working traveler girl if I had no ass to kick, nowhere to travel, nothing to be strong about? Plenty of ways, it seems.

When is getting out of bed an act of strength? When you legitimately want to curl up and cease to exist.

When is choosing to stay un/self employed an act of strength? When you know that to do anything else would crush your soul, sap your energy, and make life generally sucky. So you don’t do anything else.

When is going to Disney World an act of strength? When you do it less than three weeks after finishing a brutal round of chemo, like my mom did this past October.

When is drafting a post like this an act of strength? When you do it on your phone at 4am, from your hospital bed, less than a week after one of the most major surgeries one can have. When you know that hitting publish will piss off a lot of people, but will also inspire a lot more, so you do it anyway.

My strength is drafting, writing, hitting send, pressing publish. My strength is in sharing my stories, so that those who choose to stay quiet know that they are not alone. The best thing about this kind of strength is that barring an end-times scenario where the internet (and paper and ink) cease to exist, no one can ever take it away from me. Which brings me to my final lesson:

The most important thing in life is finding something no one can take away

I’ve lost so much in this past year. I’ve lost a career. I’ve lost the innocence that comes with believing that everything’s always going to be ok. I’ve lost physical parts of my mother. One week ago today, I lost physical parts of myself (many of them). If I didn’t have this–hands on keyboard, sharing of stories, connecting with others across the country and world–I don’t know what I would do. I am beyond grateful for it.

Find your something.

Rear View Mirror, or ‘Timehop is a Bitch’

FullSizeRenderAh, Timehop. You really can be a bitch some days.

Some months.

Some years.

For those of you who do not know what Timehop is: it’s this fantastic app which sends you daily updates of what you were doing on this day last year–and the year before and the year before and the year before, all the way back to the beginning of social media (so, like, 2007). And by ‘it’s this fantastic app’ I mean ‘it’s this soul-crushing app which shows you how happy you were in the past so that you can compare it to how miserable you are now’. Magical, technology is.

Because of Timehop, I know that today is the three-year anniversary of the first day of the job that changed my life. I was really happy that day, and took a lot of pretty photos of my first-ever work travel day.

Because of Timehop, I know what I was doing one year later: happily working with my favorite group of teachers and having lunch at my favorite DC restaurant. I even know what I ate (palak chaat.)

Because of Timehop, I know what I was doing last year: stuck in Chicago for the weekend, I spent the day at the Art Institute with a friend and then bought a lot of cheese to prep for an impending blizzard. I also paused briefly to reflect upon my two-year work anniversary–see image, right.

And coming super-soon: the one year anniversary of me losing that job. Which I will get to re-live. Because of Timehop.

Any sensible person would think: gee, I should probably delete this app before it causes me to jump off of a bridge. I have had that thought. But then today I realized something: looking back gives me perspective.

My mom recently shared a meme with me. It was an image of someone driving a car and said something like: looking ahead is more important than looking backwards. That’s why the windshield is so much larger than the rear view mirror.

And I was like: True. But without a rear view mirror, you’re going to back into things. A lot.

Looking backwards allows me to never return to that person I was. Because that person? She kind of sucked.

You see, like most people, when I was happy, I was an asshole. I was all like: look at me and my amazing life that I made for myself. Worse, I was also all like: and all of you can do this too, if you really focus and work hard enough.

Note the hotlink in that last sentence. I actually wrote blog posts about it. Dumbass.

What I didn’t know was this: I wasn’t awesome. I was lucky. What I didn’t know was this: while yes, I did work really hard, and yes, I did ‘do all the things right’, hard work and right-doing alone do not equal success. You also need luck. And at any minute, my luck could change. And it did.

Now that I’m very much not happy…I’m still an asshole.

What? You didn’t think that I would change so easily, did you? Yeah, no. I’m definitely still an asshole. Absolutely. No question.

But I’m a much more compassionate asshole. And so when others tell me things like ‘you can be awesome like me, if you just do x, y, and z’, I understand where that person is coming from. That person truly believes that they built their life by working hard and focusing and following a prescribed path and doing all of the things right. So I will try to not get angry at that person, ignorantly self-righteous as they are (with an emphasis on the word try.) And I will definitely definitely definitely NEVER give that advice to anyone ever (again.)

Because that person, while hard-working, is also (currently) lucky. Their luck will change, and change back again. I hope mine will, too.

Which is why I’m ok with looking back over the happy parts of my life. It’s good to know they happened. I keep waiting to look back over this shitty period of my life and say ‘I got through that!’ I keep waiting. (And waiting. And waiting.)

Looking back also has given me a new understanding of regret. I always thought that regret was a rather black-and-white concept. Either you regretted a decision or you didn’t. Once again, I was wrong.

Regret, like all other things in life, exists in shades of grey–and purple and blue and green. Like a bruise.

I’ve done some amazing things in the past few years. I’ve made wonderful, hopefully life-long friends. I’ve seen parts of the country and world I never would have visited, and I learned more than I ever hoped. I cannot regret making the decisions which led me down that path.

But those decisions also led to the death of my career. To financial ruin. To months of tears and of nightmares (both figurative and literal). I cannot celebrate those decisions. But I cannot–I should not–forget them.

If Timehop is a bitch–and I contend that it absolutely is–it is only because regret made it so.

And some day I will look back upon this post and I will realize that I was wrong yet again. And I will regret writing it. And also be glad that I did.

On Being Non Employed: The Thing I Miss the Most

Tooth cartoon characterI went to the dentist yesterday and the hygienist I usually see was out sick. So I saw a very nice temp girl. As I was the first appointment of the day and as she’d never worked in that office before and had to learn how to use the equipment while using it in my mouth, said appointment was at once interesting, amusing, and painful.

Even so, I was actually kind of happy that my regular hygienist was out, pain and hilarity and all, because my regular hygienist knows me (I taught her youngest son) and knows that I was not working last time I was in–you know, six months ago–and I didn’t want to talk about it while also having my gums scraped. Because if there’s one thing less fun than having one’s gums scraped, it is talking while having one’s gums scraped. Particularly talking about one’s continued non-employed status.

But then the temp hygienist girl noted my jeans and thermal shirt (which is admittedly the best dressed I’ve been in more than a week) and said: kind of casual today–are you off from work?’ 


Rather: *choked, garbled sigh*. Because, you know, her hands were in my mouth.

I responded: Yahrg bla blug uff mung. Which roughly translates to: I’m out of work right now.

And she said (all free from mouth-hands): oh that must be nice!

And I was like: BLARG! Which roughly translates to: BLARG!

Or: no, it’s not nice.

As I sat there and as she continued to fumble around my mouth and squirt me in the eye with the water pick thing (twice), I thought about how much I missed not living in fear of casual conversations with strangers.

But that’s not the thing I miss the most.

After my appointment, I wanted breakfast. Ordinarily, I’d go to a local diner and get a $4 omelette. But not any more. That’s $4 better spent on something more important. Like electricity. As I drove past the diner, I thought about how much I miss being able to pay for stuff. I thought about this again while looking over my grocery list and crossing off things like ‘peppercorns’ and ‘parchment paper’. Paying for stuff–or, more, paying for stuff without really thinking about it–is definitely something I miss.

But that’s not the thing I miss the most.

I miss having coworkers. I miss getting dressed and wearing things like necklaces and scarves. I miss mascara (I never thought I’d say that!) And I miss all kinds of things which were unique to my job–I miss air travel and rental cars and bars where nobody knows my name. And airline and hotel status (I miss that a lot.)

But these are not the things I miss the most.

The thing I miss the most is: having a purpose. I miss the feeling of driving to work, knowing that I’m going there to do something meaningful. I miss knowing that at the end of the day, someone will have a skill or a piece of knowledge that they didn’t have before, thanks to my assistance. I miss having a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

That temp hygienist? She got out of bed yesterday morning and was like ‘I’m going to get rid of tartar! Maybe I’ll even convince someone to start flossing! Sure, I may squirt someone in the eye with the water pick thing (twice) but my day has purpose! Yay!

Ok. She probably didn’t consciously think that. But that’s what she did.

Me? I returned home, put my pajama pants back on, and continued to fill out online applications and email resumes. And then I flossed my teeth.


Note: I realize that this is the point where you are all going to tell me to do volunteer work. And, yes, that would give me a purpose. But I also miss being able to pay for stuff. So I’m not really in a place where that’s a reasonable thing for me to do, as I spend most of my daytime hours searching for work (and a big chunk of my nighttime hours, too.) I need a purpose and a paycheck. 

A Note on the Note: Up next–a post about what you should and what you should not say to someone who is looking for a job. Spoiler alert–one of them is ‘you should do volunteer work!’ Oh, and another is ‘it must be nice!’ Because my response to that will always be: BLARG! 


Things I Used To Think About Unemployment And Why All of Those Things Are Wrong

1555472_10202368130676350_1869824912_nMuch like a first-time mother who swore she’d never use television as a babysitter and then discovered the glorious slice of peace that Sesame Street can provide, I had so many illusions of what it meant to be a gainfully employed, generally successful person. As such, I had an equal number of illusions of what it meant to be out of work.

All of my assumptions were wrong.

Employed Me vs. Non-Employed Me: A Comparison


Past me: If you need a job, you just have to work really hard every day. If you are not finding success, you aren’t trying hard enough.

Present me: Dear past me: you are an asshole. I’m trying harder than I’ve ever tried at anything. I’m trying all of the things. I’m applying for all of the jobs, I’m InMailing all of the hiring managers, I’m Tweeting, I’m resume-tweaking, I’m cover-letter-writing. And I am finding no success. Unemployed does not equal lazy.

Past me: Get educated! The best way to ensure that you become and continue to be successful is to get a good education. With advanced degrees, all things are possible! Yay education!

Present me: Aww. That’s cute. You thought your masters degree would help you? Ha! Stupid girl. You’d think you’d know better, educated as you are. Dumbass.

Past me: When applying for a new job, you should aim high. After all, a job that you are totally qualified for will become boring quickly.

Present me: Any. Job. Will. Do. Would you like fries with that?

Past me: When you are not working, you do not deserve any nice things. You didn’t earn them.

Present me: I just really want a haircut that I didn’t give myself.

Past me: If you are not working, it is because you did something wrong slash generally failed at life.

Present me: Really shitty things happen to really good people. Hard work doesn’t always pay off. And more often than not, it has nothing to do with you, your work ethic, your skills, your experience, your education, or your will to kick ass.


A Very Eloquent Description Of What It Feels Like To Be Unemployed For Seven Months

Infinity time. Digital generated

It is a little after midnight on November 2nd, which means that I’ve officially been unemployed for seven months. I’ve been thinking about this dark anniversary for several days now, hoping to come up with a very clear and concise way to describe the experience of being out of work for more than half a year. As someone with a degree in English and over a decade of writing experience, I really want to use all of the words at my disposal to best express how I feel at this point in my life.

I think I’ve finally nailed it:


On Pride: Do You Get To Have Any While Looking For Work?


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a0a61a5c3dacb80fff198d3a48c6347aI got an email today. About a job for which I applied maybe three weeks ago. It was a sort-of writing job. I would be providing content for a sort-of ed tech company. I sent them my resume, along with a super-personalized cover letter, as requested. I spent more time on that cover letter than anyone should ever spend on a cover letter. But they wanted ‘something quirky’. They wanted ‘something humorous’. So I wrote a humorous, quirky cover letter. Because I can do that. I’m actually really good at that. (And I’d include the text of said quirky cover letter here, but it is rather detailed and I’m not trying to out this company.)

Yeah. So. I got a response today, via email. From a nameless person (it was signed ‘Team X’, where x = the name of the company.) They want me to do two writing assignments for them, to their specifications. And by ‘to their specifications’ I mean: these assignments are super specific. After I write and send them, they can absolutely sell them. And they never have to contact me again, nor can I contact them. Great business plan, that.

This is not the first time I’ve been asked to do this by a nameless email account at a giant corporation I-will-not-name (though I will name one: Pearson. It pained me to even apply there, but I need to eat. However, I must say: burn in hell, Pearson.) And so, as any wise job-hunter should do, I’ve started to research each job in scary detail.

In my research today, I learned that this company pays around $10.17 per hour for content creation (Pearson pays $10/hr, if you have a master’s degree. $11 if you have a doctorate. Score!)

Upon learning about the $10.17/hr, I got really, really angry.

I deal with anger by watching old reruns of Friends.

Tonight’s rerun was The One With the List, which mostly deals with Ross and Rachel drama. But the sub plot focuses on Monica, who (in this episode) is recently unemployed. And in this episode, Monica goes on a job interview with a corporation selling ‘Mockolate’–a chocolate substitute (I have no idea if I’m spelling that correctly and refuse to Google it.)

Mockolate is a terrible product. Apparently there is fizzing involved. But still, Monica spends hours crafting Mockolate-based recipes to take in to her second round interview…where she learns that the company has been shut down by the department of health. As it well should be. (Why has no one shut down Pearson?)

Like all good/bad Friends reruns, this makes me wonder. Should I just write for the shitty company that will not value my work and/or will steal from me? Should I just go ahead and make $10/hour despite the fact that my last job paid…a lot more than that? (A LOT MORE. I can’t even type how much more.) Because right now, I’m making zero dollars. Is anything better than nothing? Should I try to make lemonade from lemons? Chocolate mousse from Mockolate?

These are all sincere questions. Please answer me, interwebs. Thanks.

The Thing You Should Never Do When Looking for Work (And How I Did It Three Times)

graphic_z2b_barkley_titleToday I am once again reminded of what not to do when looking for work. And, as my title illustrates, I’ve done that thing three times now.

The first time I did the thing I was only a couple of weeks into my job search. I got an email from a friend of a friend, and that friend of a friend was starting a new company. He had work for me. It was exactly the kind of work I had been doing previously, it was local-ish, and it seemed like a great fit. Yay!

Through no fault of my own, that work fell through. (The company never actually took off.)

The second time I did the thing was somewhat recently. I was actually hired–that’s HIRED–by a company. A real, established company. To do exactly the kind of work I had been doing previously. I went to my first meeting–taking a two hour bus ride each way–and met with the other new hires and those who had hired me. I was told that I had the best resume of anyone they had ever interviewed (yay me). And then I was told that they actually can’t use me because they’ve decided to only work with people who are super-local (read: they don’t want to spend money on travel. I get it. Bottom line and all). And until there’s work near where I live (which there will never be, because of how my state works) they can’t use me.

I actually cried that time.

Which brings us to today. A few days ago, I had an introductory interview for a position which would be notably different than what I was doing before, but still related. Said introductory interview went really well, and all of a sudden I found myself considering a totally new field. And I was excited about it.

A few minutes ago, I learned that they are going with someone from inside the company (of course they are. That’s legitimately their best move.)

So what is the thing that I did in each and every one of these situations? I had hope. And hope does stupid things to a person.

Hope makes you feel like maybe it’s all going to be ok eventually. (It’s not.)

Hope makes you feel like maybe you can take a day or two off from desperate job searching. (You can’t.)

Hope makes you buy a falafel for lunch. (Falafel is for people with jobs. Never forget this.)

And so, as I move forward–or, in my case, continue to sit in this cursed desk chair–I shall abandon all hope. Because this? This is hell. And that’s what you’re supposed to do here.

The Problem with Past Tense: The Annoying Now-ness of Right Now


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past-present-future-sign1-300x281The problem with most career change advice is that it is typically given by someone who is looking back upon their own experience. You know, the experience they had in the past. Back when they got fired or quit their job or started their own business. But ‘now everything is great’, and they are super glad that ‘that horrible thing happened to them’ because ‘they’d never have the life they have now if not for that struggle’. *Insert contented smile and possible inspirational quote-meme.*

And while that’s all well and good, and while I really, truly want to believe that ‘everything is going to work out for the best in the long run’, right now I’m living in the short run. And right now really, really sucks.

Right now I spend all of my days in front of my computer, screaming at the internet to let me do any work, any work at all–and deleting form email rejection letters.

Right now I can’t make any plans more than a week in advance because I’m waiting to hear back from three to five companies with which I have interviewed but from whom I have heard nothing. For weeks and weeks. N.o.t.h.i.n.g. For weeeeeeeeks.

Right now I don’t really believe I will ever hear from any of them again.

Right now I cut my own hair. Because I’m broke but also because it just really doesn’t matter what I look like.

Right now I often get up from my computer, walk into my bedroom, and pull the covers over my head and repeatedly check my pulse. Like in the middle of the day. I think this is called ‘having a panic attack’.

Right now I come home and silently cry after seeing a ‘delivery drivers wanted’ sign at my local pizza shop or a help wanted sign at the grocery deli counter. (And then I wonder if they’d even hire me. I guess I’d lie about my master’s degree?)

Right now I am so overwhelmed by all of the things I should be doing–applying for ‘real jobs’, looking for writing work, finishing my abandoned book, networking, searching and connecting on LinkedIn, reading ‘how to make a living as a writer’ blog posts (there are so many)– that I quite often choose to do nothing at all and instead scroll mindlessly through Facebook.

Right now I often go (far) more than 24 hours without eating. Not because I’m so broke that I’m starving, but because I feel as thought I don’t deserve to eat. I think this is called ‘being depressed’.

Right now I drink. A lot.

Right now I don’t get nearly enough exercise. And either too much or too little sleep, depending upon the day.

Right now I am angry.

Right now I am scared. So very, very, very scared.

So to those of you who are in this right now, those of you who are not yet looking back and quite frankly can’t even look forward, know that you are not alone. I’m right there with you.

And sure. I do hope that some day I get to look back and give this same crappy advice to someone else. Oh yes, I will say. I remember being there. It was awful. But now I’m super glad that horrible thing happened to me because if not for that, I’d never be where I am today! And then I’ll share an inspirational quote-meme and/or a photo of me smiling, contentedly.

When I finally write that post, please come find me. Congratulate me. And then punch me in the face.


Things People Say To You When You Are Looking for Fulfilling Work (And Why Those Things Are Wrong)


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Fish-bowl-Medium-600x400As a blogger, I live my entire life online. And I am brutally honest about said life. Between this blog and my primary blog, I have done so since 2009–that’s almost seven years of extreme life transparency. And while that is a stupid scary thing to do, I do it because I hope that in sharing my stories, I will inspire or encourage others. I do not plan to stop.

Of course, given my choice to live in a self-made internet fishbowl, I should expect to encounter occasional criticism. I mean, duh, right? Yet I’m still consistently floored when criticism arrives, knocking on my door with a pot luck casserole in hand all ‘Hellooooo! Just thought I’d stop by with with this shepherds pie and side of crippling self-doubt!

Fact: when you tell the world that you are making a decision–any decision–80% of the world will cheer you on. The other 20% will tell you why that is a terrible, stupid, bad, bad decision and how it will lead to your personal and financial destruction.

And you will only listen to the 20%.

So when I made the decision to stop screaming into the wind (and by ‘wind’ I mean ‘LinkedIn’) trying to find ed tech or professional development work and instead focus on cultivating a freelance writing career, some people had some words for me.

Things People Have Said To Me In The Past Week

You need to get a job (any job at this point ) and pursue your passions in your spare time.

Don’t expect that you’ll ever make any money doing what you dream of doing, or that you’ll find a magical job that’ll solve your problems. That’s not the way life works for most of us because life isn’t fair.

I’m not saying you have to stay forever at any job you take now but you may have to take a job that is well below your skills just to bring some money into the household.

Don’t expect that you can do a job you truly love and get paid. The myth that everyone has a special talent or that we all can find our special career is just too appealing to our generation.

I think a lot of your friends are enablers. They encourage you to follow your dreams and look for a fulfilling job but very few people in life get to do that.


So to summarize: take any work you can get and be happy about it because life fucking sucks and work sucks and it always will. Anyone who tells you differently is lying.


Please note: these are just things which were written down (and thus copy-paste-able) on either my own personal Facebook page or as comments here on this site. But they are quite similar to things which have also been said to me out-loud. And, I imagine, they also represent things that many, many others have thought about me and my current situation–the only difference is that the people quoted above had the balls to say it to me (I appreciate balls).

Did any of this bother me? Of course it did! It bothered me a lot. I cried tears. I moped. I ate ice cream directly from the carton. But then I thought about all of it. I really, really thought about it. And I asked myself:

Why is this bothering me so much?

The answer, unsurprisingly, is: because I believe believed it to be true.

I can assure you, as a person who lives in a self-made internet fishbowl, there’s nothing worse than having your own doubts, fears, and insecurities made verbally manifest by friends and/or strangers. But that’s what living in a self-made internet fishbowl is all about, so I accept it. And, after much moping and ice-cream-eating, I now choose to welcome it as a chance for reflection.

So I reflected.

Do I really believe that there’s nothing good out there for me? That there’s nothing good out there for anyone? That I will never be able to make ends meet by doing something I actually like? Do I prescribe to the maxim ‘No work is fun. That’s why they call it work’?

No. I really don’t. And here’s why:

I have had jobs that I loved. And those jobs paid me money.

In fact, as an adult, I have had a total of two careers. And both of them (for the majority of the time) made me happy and fulfilled.

While I did eventually become frustrated with my public school teaching job for a variety of reasons, for years I loved it. People would ask me what I did for a living, I would tell them that I taught middle school, and they would say ‘oh dear, I’m so sorry!’ And I would say ‘oh no, I love it!’ And then they would look at me funny.

And I did love it. I loved being able to be creative in my lesson planning. I loved spending time with my colleagues. I loved the kids–the energy, the silliness, the laughter. For a good long while, I loved teaching. And they paid me to do it. They paid me not-poorly.

When I transitioned into my new role–teaching and coaching teachers in districts across the country–I could not have been happier. I found something that I not only loved to do, but I something that I was good at. And something which gave me the lifestyle I wanted; a life of near-constant travel. It was wonderful. And they paid me to do it. They paid me well.

So to those of you who are convinced that all work is a miserable experience, I say: I’m really sorry that that’s what life has taught you. Me? I don’t want to learn that lesson. I’m not signing up for that course.

Retrospect is a Bitch: The Rise and Fall of My Career-Change Empire

Two-faced-Janus-702x336It’s been two and a half years since my last post. I’m not sorry. I was really, really busy.

I was busy building the life I described in my last post. I was busy pouring my whole self into my passion; I was busy researching and studying and flying and driving and teaching. And then I was busy watching it all. fall. apart.

I’m not busy anymore.

But back to my last post. Ah yes. My last post. That’s sort-of why I’m here. See, I thought I’d start writing about career stuff again (or, rather, lack-of-career stuff). And then I was like ‘oh right, I had that blog years ago’. And then I came back on here and read my last post. And I was like: oh fuck. That’s ironic.

I wrote that post–THIS POST— on March 1st, 2013. You really should pause to read it. I’ll wait right here.

*taps foot*

*twiddles thumbs*

*opens a new tab and scrolls slowly through Facebook*

Two years, one month and one day after writing that post–on April 2nd, 2015–I lost that job.

I’ve gone through many phases in the past almost-six months of non-employment. I plan to share all of them here. But after reading that last post, I thought this would be a great place to start in sharing my new story. Because after all, what’s the point of publishing all of your innermost thoughts online if not to revisit them years later when they are especially painful? Am I right?

Breaking it Down: My Last Post, Retrospectively Annotated

2013: “I have a secure job.  Well–I have a job that’s about as secure as any job is in the United States in 2013.  I’m a tenured public school teacher with a livable (if not grand) salary, benefits, and a pension plan.”

2015: Yeah I did. I had all of that. I’m glad to know that at the time, at least I knew what I was giving up. And in retrospect, it was a fucking GREAT salary.


2013: “I own a home less than half a mile from the school in which I work.”

2015: Yeah I did. In fact, I still own that home, and the school is still right there. Though I don’t work there anymore, and soon I may lose my house because I can’t afford my (tiny) mortgage. And I traded that in for a job which required daily commutes from New Mexico to Massachusetts (for example; it was rarely the same two states). Around eighty percent of the time, I’m still not sorry for making that decision (I love New Mexico, Massachusetts, and everywhere in between) . But the other twenty percent is a bitch.


2013: “It is a great school, filled with amazing teachers who care about children.  And the children are pretty awesome, too.”

2015: #StillTrue.


2013: “And I’m quitting that job to work as a consultant.  I will not have benefits, I will not have job security, I will not have a retirement plan.”

2015: No. I don’t have any of those things. And after going into the world of independent contracting, I have holy-shit-debt. In case you are wondering what holy-shit-debt is, it is defined as:

Holy-Shit Debt: noun. (HO-lee/shIT/det) 1. When you work for yourself and thus require credit, but have the money to pay off said credit because all of your work expenses are reimbursable so credit companies give you INSANE credit limits because you appear to be credit-worthy except that you don’t ever pay your balance off in full because you are self employed and thus don’t know when your next check is coming and also interest exists. And then you get quote-un-quote fired and YOU. ARE. FUCKED. You are so fucked that you start using the word fuck in posts you are publishing publicly because there’s really nothing worse that can happen to you.


2013: “But I’m still leaving.  I’m still taking this risk.  I’m doing it for many practical reasons, but I’m doing it for one huge (impractical?) reason–because I refuse to make decisions out of fear.  And not taking this opportunity would be to cower in my complacency.”

2015: Complacency has its place. In complacency, there’s often the ability to, like…pay for things. You know, things like food and shelter. And box wine.


2013: “I believe that if I’m willing to take this risk, I’ll be willing to take another when/if the need arises.” 

2015: This is the only tiny, glimmering light in all of this. This one sentence right here.

Because the need has arisen.

I have to take another risk. I have no other choice. So I will. So I am.


This post effectively resurrects this blog. In the coming days, weeks, months, and (gods I hope not) years, I will be documenting my search for yet another life. Because just because you are almost-36 does not mean you know what you want to be when you grow up.