Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Disappointments & Joys

The Japanese never emailed me, and it is certainly past the end of September in the land of the Rising Sun. I can only conclude that this means my application to teach English there was not sufficiently enticing for them to ask me to an interview.

Barring sudden employment, as my professional fallback strategy I had planned to enroll this coming January at the local branch of the University of Georgia for a Masters in Teaching (MAT) program (which is apparently the only means by which a person with my liberal arts education, no matter how extensive, can gain a teaching certificate in my home state--I had looked for other ways of obtaining certification and come up empty handed). So, a week and a half ago, I went online and began assembling the documentation I would need for my THIRD Masters degree application (Gack!). I tried to submit the paperwork online, but there was a glitch somewhere, and so I was forced to print out and hand write in the required information (very old-fashioned!). Given that the computer system had already proven unreliable, and knowing the importance of the personal touch even in this digital age, I decided to deliver the hard copy to the program's director of admissions myself – I already had a list of questions I wanted to ask him about specifics that didn't seem to be covered on the website.

At our brief meeting last Tuesday,  I gave the young man the application and several supporting documents, and he mentioned that I needed to take the GACE test in either English or history prior to enrollment in the program--online, this requirement wasn't clearly specified as needed before admission, and in fact seemed only possible once one had enrolled, but he said I must go ahead and take it. Registering for the GACE test was a multi-step process--apparently the Georgia Department of Education does not allow everyone to take it; without official permission, obtained by filling out a bureaucratic form on a state website, one cannot actually register to sit for the test. Which is a phenomenally stupid requirement. Anyone who wants to pay for and take an achievement test, no matter how specialized, ought to be able to do so without restriction. Who would be harmed by this? Be that as it may, after I obtained the official go-ahead to sit for the test, I went on the testing company website to register for it, and not until I was halfway through a 50 page PDF file giving a description of the registration and testing procedure (no wristwatches allowed, etc.) that I found that the test was not offered all year round (as one would expect), but was only administered during discrete windows at random times during the year. And the next window did not open until mid-November, almost 2 weeks after the application to the MAT program was due. I emailed the director of admissions, and asked him if it was possible to be provisionally accepted and take the test prior to matriculation. No, it was not. As I had already paid the nonrefundable $50 admission fee, plus $12 (?!) to the University of South Carolina to have a paper copy of my transcript from my first Masters program shipped to him, I was very glad when he agreed to change the prospective admission date on my application from January to summer of this coming year. But I felt like I had been kicked when I was down--here was even my backup plan derailed!

Since last Thursday, I've applied to three more jobs. One is with a local banking investment firm, and two are English teaching positions. The hiring manager at the investment firm seemed very enthusiastic about my candidacy, but I've been met with enthusiasm before, and the establishments in question ended up hiring someone else internally. I will be very surprised if I hear anymore from them.

I was pretty depressed--in fact, I'd become so stressed out that I was starting to have memory issues, losing common items around my house and forgetting basic information. I talked to my aunt on the phone and kind of vented my miseries – I've kept pretty good cheer in the 21 months I've been looking for work, but I felt like my emotional fabric was frayed down to my last nerve. Later, on Saturday night, I went to an event at the consignment store where I have a booth, and met a female Army veteran who shares my name and who is fluent in Russian And yet now in retail because she can't find work using her linguistic skills. It was kind of a relief – knowing that I was not the only one with some small accomplishment in international relations and communications who was stuck spinning her wheels. And church was phenomenally encouraging Sunday morning and evening; I am not alone, and this is not the end of ends.

It also occurred to me what a blessing it has been to be able to hang out with my almost 93-year old maternal grandmother during this time of underemployment. I've been able to take her to doctors' visits, help her with grocery store runs, pick scads of blueberries and scuppernongs out of her Edenic backyard, enjoy her delicious cooking, assist her with housecleaning, and perform other little tasks and revel in her delightful company, all of which I would have missed out on had I been so-called "gainfully employed". This is just a huge gift from God. And I do have random friends who call me and tell me they are praying for me. I think I am being prayed for more than many missionaries, a circumstance that is simultaneously heartening and horrifying!

So, in other words, my situation is not an enviable one in some respects, but in others it is highly desirable. My only issues are:  How am are  going to pay my credit card bill? And how am I going to pay the bills ( still staggering after insurance) for my recent medical checkups that declared  me "ridiculously healthy" as Grandmommy would say (and as her own cardiologist determined she is just this morning)?

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