I realized a couple of weeks ago that it has been more than a year since I last posted. The three people (thank you 🙂 who read my blog probably wonder if I fell off the earth. Not quite, but it felt close a few times! It has been another year of tremendous change, some for the better, some for the, uh… hmm. Anyway, it’s been quite a year.
I started dating again last spring. Well, I tried, anyway. After dating a few guys, I realized that I will know the right man when he comes along, and I was getting too frustrated to keep actively looking. I met one guy who got me back into serious birdwatching (then dumped me via text message…sheesh), but I will take the positive from that experience. Now my blog really should be biology, bicycles, and birding. Something I have done off and on over the years has become a true passion, and I have rediscovered a love of observing birds and their behavior.
As part of birding, I have made some wonderful new friends. Friends that I can rely on to support me when I’m feeling low, and who can and will make me laugh until I have tears streaming down my face. The best, most wonderful, terrifically authentic part about these friends is that they have had life struggles just like I have, and they love me unconditionally (and believe me, I am pretty damn unlovable sometimes). So this post is partly in honor of Becca and Hesther, who have helped me through a tough year…true kindred spirits.
Through Becca, I “met” a fellow biologist, birder, and nature lover in Las Vegas. We have not met in person, but we have so much in common that it’s almost like he’s known me for years. Dave is another kindred spirit, and one for whom I am particularly thankful: his life experiences give him a thorough understanding of my feelings, and I have found that to be extremely rare. He has been incredibly supportive during the last couple of months, when my world felt like it was falling apart again.
Now for the main reason I haven’t posted in so long. After school ended last summer, I worked at the quilt shop again to make ends meet. Despite applying for dozens of teaching positions – both in and out of state – I didn’t find a job. There are very few teaching positions in the state of Wisconsin right now, particularly for someone with a biology certification. Just a couple of weeks before school was going to start again, I saw a posting for a job teaching biology and integrated science (freshman physical science) in a town about half an hour away. I applied immediately, and was pleasantly surprised to get an interview, followed by a job offer. I accepted the offer on Monday and started school the next day…one week before classes were due to begin. It was a mad rush, but I was extremely excited to finally have my own classroom, and my colleagues were awesome!
The first semester was a challenge. I was working sixty or more hours a week, and frequently felt overwhelmed. As I became more comfortable in the classroom, this feeling eased, and I was thoroughly enjoying my work. I fell in love with the school, and absolutely adore my students. Of course there were frustrations, but I looked forward to going to work every day, and had a blast developing new labs for our biology curriculum. Just as the stress of getting used to the school and the kids passed, I had a new source on my radar. One of my colleagues recently completed certification for becoming an administrator, and has been interviewing for positions. The administration at school didn’t want to get caught in the same situation they were in last year with a last minute hire, so they advertised an opening at the school, ostensibly to replace him if necessary. I was technically a one-year hire, but it was understood from the beginning that if my performance was good, I would almost certainly be kept on. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Two months ago, the school interviewed candidates, and offered one with both biology and chemistry certification a position. My colleague did not get an administrative job, so the new hire is taking my position. The last two months have involved dragging myself to school and trying to put my heart into a position I have lost. The administrators tell me I need to get certified in chemistry, too, but there are a couple of problems with that. First of all, it won’t help me keep my job, and will put me even further in debt. Second, and more importantly, I don’t want to teach chemistry. What good is a position going to do me if I am miserable teaching a subject I don’t particularly like?
In just two short weeks, I will be packing up my classroom, saying goodbye to my students and colleagues, and moving on. To what, I don’t know. The job outlook for teachers in Wisconsin is even worse now than it was a year ago. I am actively looking for jobs outside of education, just so I can keep Aaron at his current school until he graduates.
You can imagine what all of this did to my psyche. I was already struggling with my usual winter blues, and this (along with other junk) plunged me back into depression. I didn’t want to do anything anymore, even go birding. I cried easily, and too often. But remember those amazing friends I mentioned? They helped me recognize that I was in bad shape and needed to do something about it before it got any worse. I began treatment for depression nearly fourteen years ago, when genetic predisposition reared its ugly head. Fortunately it has been well controlled, and few people even recognize that I have struggled with it. So back to the doctor I went. She listened sympathetically, made some suggestions, and increased a medication. It did what was needed, and I am now at least coping with the end of the year. Most people don’t realize that depression medications are not magic happy pills. I still feel the normal range of emotions, but the bad times no longer drag me down into the incredible darkness. Around the time I began to feel better, Allie at Hyperbole and a Half posted this, the most accurate portrayal of depression I think I have ever read. I love her for that. Well, that and the fact that her blog is often absolutely hilarious…
I am hopeful that the next few months will bring a great position. Or even a good position. Mediocre? Or maybe cromulent (thanks, Dave). Life goes on, one way or another. I have amazing people in my life, and so much for which I am thankful. Things will get better, right? RIGHT?
And now for something fun: some of the photos I have taken over the last year:
Barn swallow – common, but a favorite
Black necked stilt (uncommon in Wisconsin)
Great Horned Owl owlets
Sunset at one of my favorite places: Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
More photos and hopefully upbeat posts to follow… 🙂