Small Victories

The interview with the Blackboard recruiter went well enough that my resume is being passed on to the hiring manager. This is because I stayed up all night trying to prepare, because there are so many things I’ve forgotten in the last six months. I reviewed everything I could possibly think of that might be asked, and the most helpful was going to Blackboard listservs hosted at universities that use it. If they required a user name and password, I just moved on. Enough were open that I was able to learn a lot in 21 hours and two minutes. It’s actually not that different from WebCT, the LMS (learning management system) I helped set up at University of Houston. WebCT was bought out by Blackboard, so some of the same technologies still exist. This is a more technical position than I’m used to, so I’m hoping that if I don’t get this job, I’ll be considered for another position in the customer service department. I’m not afraid of working on the backend, but I’m also much better on the phone with inexperienced users. As I put in every cover letter, I am great at translating “geek to English.”

In any case, I’m not going to give up on Blackboard. I’m going to give this opportunity everything I’ve got, and keep applying until I annoy them enough to hire me for something. I am too talented at academic technology to let this opportunity (or any others with the company) slip through my fingers. I’ve also applied at lots of universities who have distance education programs, because generally full-time positions come with tuition waivers. I’d really like to end up at Howard, because I could go straight through the last of my undergrad into the MDiv program, which is my ultimate goal, anyway. However, I cannot tell if my resume is being ignored, or if it’s just a case of university bureaucracy. Getting hired at University of Houston was no small feat, but once I got there, I was promoted every year. It was getting my foot in the door that was the hard part.

I’ve also applied to schools that would be out of my league in terms of trying to get in, but with tuition waivers from working there, I could bypass the application process. I’ve sent resumes to both Georgetown and American, and have considered James Madison, UVa, and Tech. The only reason I’ve considered them without actually applying is that I’m still debating on whether I’d want to move out of the DC area. It’s not like it’s far… maybe a couple of hours, but enough to take me out of where I really want to be. For instance, I can’t take the Metro. I’m also a little gunshy about moving to a place I’ve never been. The whole idea of living in DC was that I’ve lived here before. It wasn’t a stretch to come back, getting into my normal routines here & expanding my friendship circle.

I wish I lived a little closer to Alexandria, where most of my friends are, but Silver Spring has been so good to me that I can’t imagine leaving, even just to go across the river.

The shooting that happened yesterday (in the Del Rey neighborhood of Alexandria) rattled me, because it happened where my friends, Thomas, Autumn, and Dan, and my cousin, Nathan, all live. Dan actually heard it happen, and thought it was fireworks.

There was a neighborhood walk last night called “Hate is Not Welcome Here,” which was heartening because it shows that when violence happens, we will not back down. We will show up with our non-violent responses and try to make a difference.

I so admire people who have jobs and children and other enormous responsibilities that still go the extra mile to put themselves out there in terms of political activism. I am slowly easing myself into getting back into the swing of things, but I’m not there yet. DC will be ready when I am. There are marches all the time, if not every day… we have to believe that resistance is not futile.

In a lot of ways, I am ashamed of the way I’ve handled myself since my mother died, because I did not expect to fold into myself as hardcore as I did. I knew that I would be sad for the rest of my life, but I didn’t expect to absolutely lose my snot. I didn’t expect my whole life to crater into nothing as at first, I could not get out of bed, and I am still reticent to leave my house. Applying for jobs is busywork which still allows my mind to wander while I’m doing it. I know that there is no right and wrong way to grieve, and I shouldn’t beat myself up so hard, but I don’t think I’ve ever been good at not beating myself up. I’ve shamed myself for moving out of Houston, I’ve shamed myself for not spending more time with my mother while I was in Houston, and I’ve really shamed myself for counting on the fact that my mother would live so much longer than she did.

My mother and I were not close for a lot of my life, having pushed each other away because we didn’t really understand one another. Therefore, my grief and guilt is centered around the loss of the future I didn’t get, because we made a lot of progress in a very short time, especially when she came to DC alone and we had so much time to ourselves to rekindle our relationship. She didn’t get a hotel room, she stayed with me, and slept in my bed for the first time in probably 35 years. I was still in deep grief over losing Dana, and those few nights with my mom lying next to me were the best sleep I’d gotten in ages.

In retrospect, thinking about these things has rendered me a zombie, walking through life here… but not present. I am slowly trying to change these things about myself, and each victory, no matter how small, is glorious because it was so hard won. For instance, I slept well and made coffee this morning. I am excited to see Pri-Diddy this evening. I am excited about going to Dan’s game night tomorrow. Excitement is not an emotion I’ve felt a whole lot lately, because excitement requires energy.

Most of the time, I feel like my “get up and go just got up and left.”

Yesterday, I treated myself to a haircut and relaxed into the woman’s hands as she washed my hair… possibly the first time I’ve been touched in weeks. It was a simple thing, but so important. Another victory to add to my list.

Another thing I have noticed is that in my writing, I can turn nearly any entry into talking about grief. No matter what topic I start with, it invariably whittles down into “God, I am so sad.” But that is my life right now. Everything does come down to that. There’s no one I wanted to call more after my interview than my mother… so, even though I don’t believe that she’s watching me, I talked to her, anyway. Just because you don’t get a response means your words are less important.

But not getting a response is just one more thing I have to get used to- along with the many other things that are different now.

But hey… I made coffee today.