Thursday, January 13, 2005

The quest for employment

Yesterday, I received exciting news. The agency that I had hoped would sponsor my fellowship agreed to explore my proposal. The head honcho gave the green light to develop this proposal, as I requested, with the input of some individuals in the agency. I think that means they will ultimately be willing to sponsor me, since the only thing I'm going to do from here on out is cater my broad objectives specifically to the process as it exists in that agency. Of course, my vision of this may be drastically different from the agency's vision. Essentially, I'm asking them to allow me to advocate for their incarcerated juvenile clients in matters tangential to their actual case. For instance, concerns about the institution itself, appropriate educational placement, mental health treatment, and/or community re-entry programs. I was thrilled that they said yes! But now, the uphill battle is actually SECURING the funding. That process does not happen until late spring / early summer and is competitive.

In the meantime, I received another callback interview with another organization. The bonus is that it's in the right geographic area. Another bonus is that it's direct client work with kids. The downside is that it's not criminal work. So this is just one more example of the "happy, then sad" rollercoaster I'm experiencing with all this job stuff. I have three callback interviews to be conducted: two at public defender agencies, and one at this children's advocacy agency. So what do I do? Do I base my decision on geography? The client population (juvenile vs. adult)? Criminal vs. civil? My absolute dream job would be the aforementioned fellowship, with a transition into the agency at the termination of my fellowship. Now that I've started the process, I'd look like an ass if I backed out to take another job, and there's a really good chance that I'd apply to this agency in the future. If I were offered a job elsewhere before July, what should I do with the fellowship thing? Should I turn down any job offers and hope for the best? How in God's name could I turn down an ACTUAL job offer for the HOPE of a dream job, when I just asked my mother for the first time since I was 19 for some help to pay my heating bill?

Let's discuss for a moment the 'right geographical area' issue. I had a dream the other night that I let myself into Mr. Maybe's house one night and fell asleep in his bed. He came home later that night, drunk frmo a night out with his roommates, saw me in his bed, and slept in another room. When I woke up in his bed the next morning, I freaked out. What was I doing? Why was I there? Why did I think this was a good idea? I knew he'd be pissed at me, I knew he didn't want me there. So why did I do it? I was gathering my clothing and belongings, trying to sneak out of his room and out of his house without a confrontation - to just get away from having to hear what I didn't want to hear. But as I turned around, I saw him entering the room. "You need to give me your key," he said firmly. Just as firmly I replied, "I think that's a good idea." So he examined each of the keys on my keychain as I chatted with his roommates and caught up on what I've missed since I'd been gone. I finally snatched my keychain out of Mr. Maybe's hand and said, "it's this key," and then his roommate reminded me that there was another one as well. I turned my back on Mr. Maybe, forgetting he was even there, and just kept socializing, albeit with a twinge of awkwardness. Then I left and went to a mall, where I saw an old friend, even though it was a mall to which I'd never been before, and the dream took off in another (rated G) direction that involved a scruffy janitor and a golden retriever.

What does that mean? He wants me to turn in the key to his house. To let go of whatever it is I'm still harboring. What the hell am I still harboring? Why is it that a guy I dated for less than a month still appears in such an emotional context in my dreams on a regular basis? I know part of it is that I'm afraid that if and when I go back, it won't be nearly as fun the second time around. I fear that I depend too much on my memory of him when I think about how great it would be to live there again. The only solution would be to go to a new city. So I really should scrap this fellowship idea, shouldn't I? (It just happens to be with his agency, although it's unlikely that we'd ever run into each other for work things - our jobs shouldn't really cross). Is it really possible that I'm tricking myself into thinking that my desire to go back has nothing to do with him? How do I know that's true if the man can't fucking leave me alone in my dreams?

I suppose what I need to do right now is just relax. I don't have so much as ONE offer, so I shouldn't concern myself with the 'what offer will I take or turn down?' question. In two prior critical decisions - what law school I'd attend, and my agonizing second summer job search - things just seemed to work themselves out. Of course, that's in retrospect. At the time, I was just as anxious as I am now - but I think decisions in my life have a way of weeding themselves out. I bet by the end of all this, my choice will be clear. Maybe I've never ended up 'where I was supposed to be all along' but maybe I've just been able to find a good purpose in everything I've done. So maybe, really, there is no 'right' place for me to be. So how 'bout I just chill the fuck out?

Easier said than done. It seems as though I've managed to break out in some sort of freakish red, bumpy, scar/hive/dry skin/rash thing on, of all places, my face. It is an undetermined condition of undetermined origin. God says, "You want something to worry about? I'll give you something to worry about," and then smites me with some sort of ... thing ... and my Inner Vanity is shrieking, trying to cut a deal with said Higher Power, like, "Ok, so I swear I'll NEVER throw away recyclables again if you just make this THING go away." I went to the doctor and I now have a treatment that should make my face look worse before it makes it look better. "Come back if it's not gone in 10 days," she said. TEN DAYS?!?!?!

My day ended on a wonderful note, with a 30 minute conversation with a client. I enjoy speaking with this client. She doesn't pay her rent, heat, or electricity bills on time, if at all. This has led to a tangled series of problems. But it was so good to talk to her, dig a little deeper about what was going on, and come away with a few chuckles (i.e., the rats playing baseball in her walls). She was distressed at how bad the welfare people made her feel every time she went into the office. I felt so pleased, when I got off the phone, that I wasn't one of the people in her life that made her feel that way. I can write a letter to her landlord, reminding him of his duties to keep up the property and demanding that he do so. It doesn't particularly bother me that she owes him money. It doesn't bother me that she hasn't managed to pay her bills despite numerous assistance programs - I can still make sure that every single one of those programs is doing what they're supposed to do and providing the benefits for which she is qualified. It was great to walk out of the office at the end of the day feeling like I can make use of all this nonesensical legal knowledge while interacting with people for whom I love working.

With my medical issues, and my increasing inability to rely on my own sense of direction, I'm anxious and tired. Tonight I turned down BBQ (I know! it's unpossible!) because I had my heart set on taking a short detour to the liquor store on my way home, picking up some Bailey's, and retiring on the couch in my pink silk pjs to watch the O.C. I need some quiet space right now. Particularly since my face resembles the surface of Mars.

California, here we come...

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