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I have always been so envious of folks who have jobs that they love, and by that I mean that I always sort of hated them.

You see, as much as I enjoyed medical transcription and getting to be the fancy pants know-it-all about medications and how to spell them and bizarre medical conditions and how to spell them and always being in the know about what current plague was going around and what medications to take for it, I could never really say that I loved it.

Now, make no mistake, I LOVE LOVE LOVED a LOT about the job…

  • I loved that I could do it in my pajamas
  • I loved that I could do it while I nursed a baby
  • I loved that I could do it and still run socks to a kid who forgot socks for PE
  • I loved that I was mostly the boss of me
  • I loved that I didn’t have to deal with that whole people thing

But, somewhere around year 10, when I was still making the same scroungy 8 cents per line that I was when I started, I began to long for something different, even though I wasn’t actually prepared to do anything about it…but I still daydreamed about one day.

In 2010, I decided to go back to school and finish the Associates Degree I had started 25 years earlier, which I did.  I even donned cap and ridiculously bright and shiny blue gown and attended graduation in the gym on the Hillsboro campus of Hill College like a fancy pants…and then went to WHATABURGER for a celebratory post graduation dinner!

Like I said…fancy pants.

Unfortunately, the first semester I was back in school,  the whole bottom dropped out of the Texas education system (of course) and that, coupled with the fact that my next move would involve internships and student teaching, made my decision to stop after getting my Associates an easy one…but I still daydreamed about one day…

One day when I wasn’t working every waking second…holidays…evenings…weekends…when my family ate Christmas treats without me…

One day when I could get out of that office…

One day when I could know that my paycheck would pay the bills…

One day when I could do something…ANYTHING…else.

So, as the year 2013 began, so also began my quest for a new job outside the walls of the casa and I began to apply for every job that our local school district would post.  Some days it seemed I would spend more time applying for OTHER jobs than doing my ACTUAL job, but I was on a mission!

I went on interview after interview, each time leaving feeling quite positive I had it…and each time being a little devastated when I didn’t.  A few times I wondered if anyone was ever going to hire a 49-year-old, almost totally grey, overweight grandma-looking person who had spent the greater part of the previous 20 years working at home doing something people don’t even know what it is…and one time, after a particularly good interview for a position that I felt was absolutely perfect for me, I cried and cried and took it very personally when they told me they’d gone with another applicant.

After that, I decided perhaps it would be a good idea to stop trying to drive the train and let God have it and I continued to apply to every single job posting, but stopped allowing doubt and anxiety to be factors. When interviews went well but I still didn’t get the job, I chalked it up as further practice…and knew that the job for me would come.

And, in June, it came and I joined the ranks of paraprofessionals in our local school district…and I was excited and scared to death…because not only did I have no idea what exactly it was I’d be doing…

I would have to do it in real clothes…

and shoes…

in an office…

outside the walls…

with people.

Thank the good Loward, I knew immediately that I was in love with the job…the people…and my office full of ALL THE THINGS from address labels to paper clips to yard sticks.  I embraced every aspect of what the job entailed and set out to make the position my own. Early in the year, after seeing my boss’s Paraprofessional of the Year award on her wall, I said to another coworker friend, “I’m going to get me one of those.”

And guess what?

Last Friday I found out that I will have one of those for MY WALL.

FUN, right?!?!

And then someone said something about someone coming by to take my picture…

panic.

Here it was casual Friday, which for me amounted to Dress Like a Server at Olive Garden Day (white shirt, khakis, black shoes and WHITE SOCKS OMG I THOUGHT MY PANTS WOULD HIDE THEM), hair long overdue for a cut and pulled up in a barette, with stray hairs flying around like crazy town, so needless to say I wasn’t very excited about that prospect.

Toward the end of the day, with people in attendance to witness, one of our staff popped in the office and said “We are going to need you to come down to the conference room.”

“No one better be taking my picture. No pictures!” I exclaimed dramatically, like a paraprofessional of the year who has been hounded by the paparazzi.

“Um,” she said, stone faced, “we just need you to fix the projector.”

 

And that, folks, is how the paraprofessional of the year will keep her feet on the ground.

download

 

Five Years

This morning I went back and read my “About” page, which I apparently updated some time in 2009, and it was a little bit like digging up a time capsule.

Apparently, even then I was looking to quit the transcription business.

Exhibit A:  My doleful first paragraph

I’m a home-based medical transcriptionist and have been for 16 years.  I am also desperately looking for a way out.  At this point, donning a blue vest and welcoming people to Walmart sounds fun.

So cheery, right?!?!  Tell me more, depressed trancriptionist (people must have been yelling at their screens).

So, I did!

First, a rundown of the cast of characters (updates in bold)

  1. The 7th Grade Math Teacher, my firstborn, 24…now a 29-year-old doggymom, wife and homeowner who still teaches 7th grade math.
  2. Still my Favorite Longhorn, for one more year, 22...now a 26-year-old New York advertiser.
  3. The College Junior, Rachel, 21...now a 25-year-old married grad student living with her husband and two dogs.
  4. My youngest daughter, Kelly, 18, whose main purpose in life these days seems to be to remind everyone she isn’t like her sisters.…now a 23-year-old executive assistant in Big D.
  5. Dane, 11, aka the IT guy, continues to be the best surprise ever…now a French-speaking freshman in high school whose hair has it’s own email address. 

Yes, that’s a lot of kids.  I had #1, #2 and #4, he came with #3, and we had #5.  If I had a farm, I’d sure have me some cheap labor…

When I just had two kids, I once told my very good best friend, who was about to have her third kid, the “only reason people should have that many kids is if they have a farm and need cheap labor.”  Then I had my third kid and learned to keep my mouth closed.

Without further ado, what better way to let you get to know me than a meme:

What are your top five…

1. … pet peeves?
a. “Me” people, i.e. people who are all about themselves…how’s this effect me, what are you going to do for me, what about ME sorts.
b. Poor table manners
c. Driving and talking on the phone
d. Knuckle cracking
e. Channel flippers
now I AM A CHANNEL FLIPPER…but only because I don’t know what channel anything comes on now that we have Uverse!

2. … wishes and dreams?
a. To one day be financially stable.
b. Pretty little curly-haired grandbabies to spoil…one day
c. All the kids to finish college and have wonderfully successful lives.
d. I wish I could bulldoze this house and rebuild in exactly the same spot.
e. I wish the war in Iraq was
 over.

All still the same!

3. … significant life lessons?
a. You have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else.
b. It’s only Money.
c. Money will not make you happy, but it might help.
d. Do not do tequila shots on an empty stomach after you’ve driven 16 hours.
e. It is far more important to be your children’s PARENT than their best friend.

ALL STILL THE SAME!!!

4. … most cherished possessions?
a. My mom’s dishes
b. The kids’ baby pictures
c. My wedding ring
d. This old christmas decoration from when I was little. It is a church and it used to light up and it had these stained glass windows.
e. My computer. Without it I couldn’t work OR play.

same!

5. … favorite junk food?
a. Taco Bueno Cheesecake Chimichangas ~ I hope Satan’s happy
b. Funyuns.
c. Drumsticks.
d. Jack in the Box Tacos
e. Frito pie

Wow. I must have really been in love with those chimichangas for that moment.  Thankfully, that didn’t last…but Jack Tacos and frito pie..now those will always hold a spot in that top 5.

It is now five years later and I am five years older and five times happier.  I am thrilled to report that last summer I finally found the exit door and at 49 years old, started a new job outside the walls, doing something completely different.

This is something I highly encourage.

If you are unhappy, find a way to get happy.

In your job.

In your life.

because life is too precious to waste being miserable in it.

 

Hiatus Ends

I have been thinking a lot recently about writing…and how much I miss it. This blog has been home to my stories during a time in my life that was filled with fun and carelessness and fear and regret and sadness. In many of the stories, there was as much unsaid as said…because some of the story wasn’t mine to tell.

A lot has happened…big, life-changing things…here at the Casa, and I’m not sure if their stories should happen here or perhaps a fresh, new place with a fresh, new name…or perhaps Mom’s Kitchen will get its own spot, since that is one of the big, life-changing things that has happened to me since we last had a visit…

At any rate, words are going to come.

disconnect

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a phone.  I was the ONLY ONE who didn’t have a phone. 

By the time we got a phone, I was 13, and all in the world I wanted was a princess phone with a loooooong cord.  What I got, though, was the free avocado green desk model my mom picked…since back in the day that was pretty much what picking your phone plan consisted of.

By the time I got a cell phone, and I think I was the next to the last person to get one of those, too, I could tell from the get-go that I was going to have a love-hate relationship with it. 

I loved that my kids could always reach me…but I hated that it always seemed to be when I was driving down the highway and the phone was in my purse…in the floorboard…in the backseat. 

Now, with smart phones, I love that when I am picking my son up from the movies that I can google what time the movie is going to be over…in the parking lot of the movies…but I hate that when he gets in the car, instead of telling me all about the movie, the first thing he does is update his facebook status.

I love that on my phone I can take pictures and videos of his band performance and upload them directly to facebook and youtube and email them to my aunt edie. 

I hate, though, that sometimes I get so busy fussing with the settings and clicking this and zooming in and zooming out that I don’t really SEE the performance.

I’m there…but not really present in the moment.

I love that I can check in at the doctor’s office and Chili’s and FUMC so my friends can say OH LOOK Chris is at the doctor or OH WOW Chris is at Chilis with Karen! . . . but I hate that sometimes when we’re at those places, we’re sometimes so busy checking in that we are completely checked out. 

 

We are out with friends, but we aren’t visiting with the friends we are with. 

 

I love that I can be in the kitchen and google ‘what to make for dinner’ when I am just out of ideas, but I hate it that if the wireless is down at our house and the internets are broken, it is THE END OF THE WORLD. 

Life is so busy now.  While we are at one place, we are calling ahead to the next place.  We are constantly in motion and constantly connected and never really seem to have any down time.

But here is the thing.  God wants us to. 

Psalm 46:10 says so.  Very simply.  “Be still and know I am God.”

Numbers 9:8 says “Moses said unto them, Stand Still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.”

In this technology filled life, it has become my prayer for me and my family that we remember that even though being connected is pretty FAN.TASTIC, being disconnected sometimes is pretty great too. 

You know, I don’t really remember exactly how i felt last New Year’s day, but I doubt it was like this. If I’m being honest, this whole holiday season has felt so forced.

I made the turkey and the casseroles at Thanksgiving…and it just felt off.

When December came, I put out my snowmen and decorated the tree…alone…while listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album. I made 10,000 truffles and then I dipped them in white chocolate and drizzled them with dark chocolate OR dipped them in dark cholate, then drizzled them with white chocolate. I made batch after batch of fire crackers. I put out my nativities, and added a new one I found at Big Lots for $10. I did all those things and it still just felt off.

As we entered the holiday season of 2010, things were good.  I was still in a warm, fuzzy place after going on my walk to Emmaus, which for lack of better words, is a church retreat sort of thing, my daughter and her new husband made their first trip home for the holidays from California, and Rob’s treatment was scheduled to end soon.  As I sat at our Christmas Eve services at church last year, with all of my family there with me, my heart was happy and full and peaceful.

Nothing felt off.

In May, I graduated with my Associates Degree after deciding to go back to school in 2009.  It was so fun!

The heat got turned up pretty quick after that and we entered a summer to rival the summer of 1980 as far as numbers of days over 150 100 degrees and everyone was tired.

In August, I got the bright idea to stop being afraid and finally go to the doctor and get caught up on all the maintenance stuff that most normal people do on a yearly basis.  About mid August that began and it stretched on and on because one test led to another test to another test to an echocardiogram to a colonoscopy to a followup mammogram.  August went to September, September to October, and there I was, still on the prayer list.

More than a few times I wondered if I’d made the wrong decision to turn over this new grownup leaf.  After all, there hadn’t been anything wrong with me to begin with.  I felt FINE.  I was HEALTHY.  I wasn’t SICK.

With August also came Fall semester and Geology, Geography, and this math class that I had to have before transferring to my next program.  All of these classes were supposed to be practically one step above basket weaving.

They were not.

Last semester was the hardest semester of my entire college career…and I was trying to do it while trying hard not to concentrate too much on the next medical test and its possible outcomes…and failing miserably at it.

It seemed if I wasn’t trying to get through the next medical procedure, I was trying to get through the next paper, or next exam, or next teaching module.

Then, Rob relapsed and we found out he would have to go back on his chemotherapy.  Then it became if i can get through HIS next labs and HIS next doctor appointment.

And if that wasn’t all enough, some time after I decided to take control of my physical health, I also decided to take control of my dental health, which I’d been neglecting for years after the only dentist I’d really ever had as an adult passed away unexpectedly…so then it became if I can get through the next dental appointment and the next dental procedure.

If I could just get through that maybe I can breathe…whatever that may be.

The last appointment, and the one I had actually given the least amount of concern over, was in October with the OB/GYN to follow up on if i was or if i was not in menopause…and of course, nothing was routine.  I knew this to be the case when the ultrasonographer asked in rather hushed tones if I had been “tender down here.”

Having had 4 kids and probably 16 looks at my uterus over the years, I know pretty much what we’re looking for when we are looking and right away I could tell that what we were seeing wasn’t a normal, empty uterus.  In fact, there appeared to be a baby head in there.  or a fibroid-y thing and one more thing I just had to get through before i could breathe.Then, in November, my company sold to the worst transcription mogul company there is, so on top of all THAT, I began looking for a new job…and if I could just get through that…

Then, on top of all THAT,  the little company I worked for was sold to the worst transcription mogul company there is, so I began looking for a new job…and if I could just get through that…

The endometrial biopsy was neither normal nor definitive, so next up is an MRI…and if I can get through that…

So, I guess it isn’t a big surprise that I’ve felt a little off…

I don’t think I’ve taken a breath since August.

so, about school

Even though I am now an alumnus of my fine local community college, when it came ’round to registration time, I was still schlepping around to every building and standing in every line on campus on one of our 115-degree days.

i was hot.  sizzling like bacon really.

and the color of a lobster.

hot.

Due to no one’s fault but mine, somehow or another I read something wrong and missed FOUR classes that I have to have before I transfer to finish my second 25 years 2 years of college.   How I missed that I needed a Geology, a Geography and TWO Fundamental Math classes is beyond me, but I did.  To be honest, I wasn’t that concerned.  I’ll take the Geos online and do that fun fun math class where you learn to teach the children MATH FUN MATH MANIPULABLE GROUP WORK etc.

For that math class, the one where we would do group work with blocks and chips and colored wedges, I stopped biting my nails.  For the first time in my adult life I have healthy, STRONG nails that I couldn’t wait to use to pick up chips and wedges without cringing.

And on the first day of class she told us we wouldn’t be doing any of that.  NOOOO. This semester we’re going to do it a new way…

which apparently means the way where she doesn’t really teach us anything about teaching math and instead has us do these homework problems about two sand timers and how to steam vegetables with them…

rather than teach, what she is doing is just meandering about the book pages, randomly going back and forth, mentioning what could be on a test and what we might see again…and oh yes, Polya’s problem solving.  Know that.

I’m really disappointed…and not because i won’t be getting to use my fingernails to pick up flat things off of a flat surface, but because this semester is sucking the life out of me, and I love school.  I miss it when I’m not in it.

Sort of.

As it turns out, i also am hating the geology and geography.  all of it.  maybe i am tired.  maybe all the medical stuff just used up all my mojo.  maybe i am terrified that for the first time in my loooooooong academic career I won’t do well.  I certainly haven’t started off very well.  in fact, i think i turned in a paper yesterday that is going to be the worst paper I’ve ever written…in 600 words or less.

And this horrible semester is making me think I will be just fine with an associates degree and teaching sunday school.

i have given myself an out if i choose to take it…in the hopes that knowing that it is there, if I choose to take it, will make me feel less like I’m drowning and more like i’m having such a good time floundering around, splashing wildly in the water…with the floaty things right there if I need them.

improv

Yesterday was my Favorite Copywriter’s birthday.  She turned 24.  Before she was my favorite copywriter, she was my Favorite Longhorn.  She is such an amazing person…kind…compassionate…SO FUNNY.  When she went to college, she set a little life plan in action that I found to be pretty impressive since I’ve never really had one.

The other day she sent me a picture with the file name “Copywriter’s Headshot.”  It was gorgeous, of course, but I sort of totally missed the big clue.   A few days later we were talking and she mentioned that she’d just gotten back from “doing a show.”

click. snap. the puzzle pieces started going together.

I knew she’d been working with an improv group, but I didn’t really grasp the extent of it, but as it turns out, she’s about to be a full-fledged, picture-and-bio-located-under-the-“performers”-tab performer with Austin’s The New Movement Theater!

Isn’t that FUN?

I am

A little envious.

Impressed.

Proud.

Awestruck.

I have said many times that if you look at my children, you will see me in them, just in different stages of my life.

The Teacher is me when I was younger…very disciplined, unbending, obey the rules, all of them…

The Youngest Daughter, is the our Alter Ego…very undisciplined, free spirited, fun loving, careless…

The Boy is very much like me now…snarky, a little dark sometimes, always has a keyboard on his fingertips…

but the Copywriter is like all of me, at different places…it’s like she is exactly the right mix of all those things…disciplined but enjoys life, hard worker, but knows how to spend the day watching Project Runway…I’m glad she is like that.  I am glad that she has found balance.

Fact of the matter is, I live a little bit vicariously through all of the kids…watching them turn into these interesting adults has really been a gift…and truly my best work.

 

 

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