So, today is the first day of work. And, as John Green would say, puff levels are high. “But wait,” I imagine you saying, “weren’t you at peace with being on unemployment? Planning to treat it as paid paternity leave? Taking classes and trying to serve on committees and generally taking it easy because you’re having a damn baby?” Yeah, about that…
(OK, this is how far I got before work, but I’m still writing from the perspective of this morning as best I can.)
I kept applying for jobs. I told myself it was to make sure my unemployment paperwork was in order, but since I didn’t fill out the paperwork and it’s easily falsifiable, I knew that was a cover. I’m just really uncomfortable with being unemployed. I felt like a failure, even though I don’t think my job going away was my fault. This gets compounded by the job application process, where I would thoughtfully apply to jobs I was eminently qualified for, only to not even be granted a call. There’s a lot of my identity wrapped up in being a librarian, and not working destabilizes that. I’ve been proud of my work, and the fact that I had a job. A couple of years ago, I was the only one of my siblings unable to attend an event honoring our grandmother. I was feeling weird about it, when Evora pointed out that the reason I couldn’t go was that I was the only one of us with a “real job”. I’m not proud of that pride, but it’s there and it matters.
Less than two weeks ago, I thought I’d finally reached some level of acceptance. I had a good therapy session, I’d been avoiding applications, I finally applied to a committee; I only had one interview scheduled, and then I was done. I woke up the next morning, when the interview was, in the throes of a panic attack. I knew I couldn’t go through with it. I called and emailed in and said that I couldn’t make the interview for medical reasons and apologized. Then I got an email saying that I’d misremembered the date, and the interview was the next day. So when Friday rolled around, I went to the interview. And it was good. Not the best interview I’ve been on in this cycle, but good, with an Obie on the committee and everything. They were interviewing for a full-time and a half-time position at the same time, so I just laid my cards on the table and told the committee that I was in the middle of the adoption process, and that a part-time job would probably be the best for both me and the institution, although I’d happily accept a full-time job.
I rode the high from that interview through the weekend. The position seemed too good to be true: flexibility and opportunity at an elite urban public school. And then they said that I was a finalist and they wanted to check my references, and that high started to turn. I don’t think I’m the only person for whom happiness is related to panic: they both have this manic way of taking over my thoughts and my autonomic nervous system. As the spoilers at the top of this entry said, I got the job, although it was only made even semi-official on Thursday. That’s right, Thursday, AKA the first of September. As of today, I don’t know how many hours a week I’ll work, when they’ll be, how they’ll be tracked, what I’ll be paid, or many other important things that I probably should have figured out before I said yes (I did check on benefits, and I do get them).
So here I am, facing down the barrel of a new work environment, and it’s everything I could have asked for. When looking at the lacks in my life (especially around romantic partnership), the thing I feel most deeply is uncared for by God, which strikes me as a supremely naive way of looking at the world, but rings true in a way that I can’t shake. While I’ve been incredibly lucky during the adoption process so far, I haven’t felt the converse: cared and provided for. I’ve started a gratitude journal to try to exercise the counting my blessings muscle. And this does feel like a total blessing. A play partner I was telling about this all said “It’s like God just plopped this in your lap and said ‘Here you go!'”And I got this through honesty, which felt like a blessing in and of itself; every other interview I was in, I felt like I was there as a bit of a con. If they’d offered me a job, I would have told them about my impending fatherhood, and they probably would have rescinded the offer. Getting to just lay my cards on the table (well, most of them, at least) felt good in that context.
This blessing doesn’t come without anxiety, though (does anything in my life come without anxiety?). I’m scared about fitting in to a new environment, of working in an elite school, of not working with the populations and needs that I’ve developed skills with, of background checks, of messing up dress codes, of getting lost in a huge building, of getting lost in a huge faculty. I hope I don’t spray my anxiety all over everyone today [I did, and how…]. Long term, I’m also scared about getting time off to go to Maine when the baby’s born, of derailing attachment by going back to work even for a few days a week, of being able to get the baby on my health insurance in the six months before the adoption is finalized. It will come when it will come, and the baby will be who ze will be. I’ll be who I will be, too.