Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two Roads Diverged In A Wood . . .

. . . but really there are three.

I know I haven't said much about my whole 'reinvention' activities lately. There's a reason for that. I haven't been doing much about it. Well, there is the "Biggest Loser" contest with my sister & her friends. But I am not having much progress on that front.

A) Most of the time I feel like I am doing it solo, since everyone else playing is far away, and BS (aka King Hippo) seems to have dropped out. Can't get him to walk or ride bikes.

2) When I get home from work, I am so stinkin' tired that the LAST thing I want to think about is exercising. One bright spot - I am getting more upper body strength since I do push-ups whenever I find a few minutes and some privacy. That has gotten better. A perkier cup size is always a good thing.

I am making some progress, it is just slower than I would have liked, but that is entirely my own fault.

Enough crying in my soup.

I do a lot of whining about wanting to teach again. So, I need to fill in some gaps for those of you who don't know why I keep sounding like a broken record ad nauseum. I don't even know if everyone in my own family knows the whole story.

Sorry in advance for the length of this post, but I need to get it off my chest (my perkier chest). If you are bored to death, please feel free to go to one of the far superior sites I have linked on the right.

Here it is:
I started teaching at the college at the end of 1995. By the fall of 1996, I was program director. Our director at the time was having tremendous personal problems, and one day, she disappeared. Never showed up again. She was nice enough to call the Dean and tell her that she was never coming back. Thanks. Man, did the 2 of us that were left have to scramble to take over her classes, in addition to our own.

Since, at the time, I met all the qualifications, I was asked to step into the director's position, and I stepped into a big pile of sh**. I had little experience in that sort of thing and we had a pending accreditation report and visit. Our accreditation documents generally fill a couple of 3-ring binders - they are huge.

When I settled into my new office, I couldn't find anything. It was a mess, documentation was missing, computer files were jumbled, dogs & cats - living together, mass hysteria (movie reference). It was chaos, so essentially I had to recreate the whole program from the bottom up. The accreditors put us on probation until everything was put back together (rightly so, although it pissed me off at the time). It was an initiation by fire. But when it came time for them to evaluate what I had done, we received full accreditation with no further progress reports.

THAT, my friends, was, and remains, the biggest accomplishment of my entire professional life and my proudest moment. It is practically unheard of with that group, known for having one of the toughest accreditations in the allied health care field.

So, there I was, with that coup under my belt, and the program running smoothly & successfully, when they decided to revise all the criteria for the profession, including the requirements for my position. They revised me right out of my job. Suddenly I was no longer good enough to do what I had been successfully doing for 6 years. Not only would I have had to stay at my full-time job (which usually entailed teaching an overload in addition to the administrative duties), but I would have had to get a Master's degree and another part-time job. All at the same time. They would not grandfather any one in.

All that mattered to them was that I didn't have enough initials after my name. I could have had a Master's degree in 17th century French poetry and I could have stayed. This affected other individuals at other colleges as well. One director, who had started his program and been running it for 18 years, was so mad he ended up chucking it all and going to live on his sailboat.

So, I had to turn over my program, my child, that which I had sweat blood & tears for, over to someone else to raise. Someone for whom I have very little personal or professional respect. I stayed on for as long as I could stand it before crying "uncle".

The whole thing broke my heart. I can still teach, that's not the problem. I won't go back to my college as long as a certain person is still there, so that means if I want to teach again, it has to be somewhere else. I can't run a program anymore, and I loved doing that too. In order to have that option again, I need another degree. Hence the crossroads at this juncture of my life. The 3 roads each lead me to very different destinations.

ROAD #1: The Road of Complacency - this would involve just doing what I am doing now, cruising along, not really satisfied with my life. It is familiar and usually comfortable. But if I envision myself in the same place in 5 years, it is a depressing picture.

Pros: familiar; safe; predictable; close to my immediate family
Cons: familiar; safe; predictable

The cons won, since they are the same as the pros, and that's not a good sign.

ROAD #2: The Road of Immediate Gratification but High Risk & a Pain-in-the-Ass Move - remember when I mentioned another teaching possibility? It is in Texas, and that would involve moving away, far away, albeit close to people whose company I enjoy tremendously.

Pros: close proximity to really cool cousins; I liked it in Texas; I would be close to a best friend; brisket; Central Market (foodie Nirvana - I want to bring my blankie & move in); TEACHING (something I want to do again so bad so bad so bad); brisket; Tex-Mex food; Central Market; and brisket. No one does brisket like a Texan.
Cons: it is so stinkin' far away, and far away from my immediate family that I love; I have what I consider to be family obligations here; Texas is HOT; having to sell my house in a sucky market; finding a new place to live; behaving like a total fool & getting my heart broken again (I'm not going to explain this, but trust me on this - it would happen)

The cons won.

ROAD #3: The Road of Hitting the Books - I have to get another degree. Not to teach, I can do that with my present degree, but to be able to run a program again.

Pros: will enable me to be a program director again (something I really want to do); I get to have more initials after my name (big f 'ing deal); will buy some time before I have to consider moving
Cons: cost & time involved; having to take the GRE's; the bit of resentment at feeling like I have to do this

The pros won.

I know I could have thought of more pros & cons for each one, but you get the gist.

I am going to take a large bite out of the proverbial bullet. In order to make it palatable, I think I will have to marinate it, slow smoke it, and serve it on a bun (whole wheat of course) with some BBQ sauce on the side and maybe a nice herb garnish. I am going to go for my Master's degree. Damn. But it will enable me, not just to teach, but to be a program director again (I have to keep repeating that thought or I may chicken out).

I went and talked to the graduate school at my alma mater (Old Dominion University) last week and got the information I needed. Or maybe Virginia Tech has one I could do online? Wherever I end up, wish me luck and forgive me when I snarl & snap on occasion.


Rosie Hawthorne said...

After you get all those initials after your name will you still remember the little people who knew you way back when?

Sista G said...

I agree that teaching is a very fulfilling endeavor, and I completely understand your decision. I think you'll be happiest in the long run, after gritting your teeth and being a schoolgirl again!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from up north says....
Don't you have a sailboat you could go live on?
I don't know you well enough after so long to give you advice, so I will:
1. Don't start your journey grumbling; you'll miss the fun stuff along the way.
2. The train ride to the destination is frequently more interesting and challenging than pulling into the station.
3. Your family probably wants what will make you happiest, so don't fret that.
4. Always take a litter bag in your car. It doesn't take up much space, and, when it's full, you can just throw it out the window.
Good luck; you can do it.

Sista G said...

I like you, RAD!!

Kathy said...

Rosie - sure I'll remember you. As long as you remember the little people now that you have your awards & fame & fortune.

Sista - I know this is the best option, but I really wanted to go to Texas. LU2

Rog - sure you know me well enough. Most of me is the same as I was 32 years ago. I don't know that I would like to live on a sailboat, though. No room for all my stuff _ I need a couple houses for that. But thanks for your advice. My attitude will improve with the first class, I'm sure. And the litter bag is a given (although it doesn't go out the window ;-). Don't know why everyone doesn't have one.