Ways Lead Onto Ways


My girl, Julie, over at Using My Words, has asked me to host this week’s Hump Day Hmm.  Good thing, too, ’cause otherwise I’d have a big ol’ nuttin’ to post about.  This week, please write about a challenge you have faced and what you have learned (or are learning) from it.  Good topic.  So get writing.  And then email your link to me  or just give me your link in my comments.


(See the cool way I made an image of my email address?  Snoskred told me about it.  You can do it at http://services.nexodyne.com/email/)



With Zachary approaching his first birthday, I started to think it might be time to go back to work.  Since I had spent the last six years in graduate school, going back to work was a bit of a misnomer.  It would be more accurate to say it was high time I got myself paid employment.  I had taught high school for a few years, but I did not want the pressures of teaching with a traveling husband and a young child.  I wanted a job I could leave at the office, not one that would suck the life out of me by requiring me to squire the sailing team all over the Mid-Atlantic every weekend.  (Yes, I had that job once.)

So, I started applying for positions.  But, the funny thing about a Ph.D. is that it tends to make you overqualified for everything and actually qualified for nothing.  I was getting teaching interviews, but I was ambivalent and pulled out of the running.  As for other jobs?  No one was biting.

Then, one day, my husband saw an ad for an assistant speech writing job in academia.  This, I could do.  I could write and I knew academia.  I was really interested in pursuing speech writing for politicians, and this seemed like a great way in.  The trouble was that there were only slightly fewer people applying for this position than trying out for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleading Squad.  I was pretty sure my resume was going to end up buried under a pile of files somewhere.

Except that I knew someone who knew someone.  Natch.

I got the interview.  I got the next interview.  And the next.  I was one of two finalists.  And the other one got the job.

What I got was an excellent contact; the head speech writer had really liked me.  The next week, someone he knew was looking for a contract speech writer, and he passed my resume along.  Three days later, I was scrambling to find childcare, because I had a temporary, 80% job in speech writing.  And they were pretty confident the job would turn full-time.

When my two-month contract was up, there was no permanent job in sight.  However, I loved my supervisor, I loved the writing, and I was more than willing to sign another two-month contract.  And another. 

Because I was temporary, I was sitting in a temporary cubicle.  In an office where only admins sit in cubicles.  So, people started treating me accordingly.  Not my supervisor.  She was fantastic, respectful, and all-around lovely.  When she asked me to do grunt work, I knew it was not that she did not herself want to do it but rather that she was asking me to pitch in.  I gladly pitched in.

There were, however, some other office politics that I did not appreciate so much.  Serious politics.  I’ll not get into the specifics here to protect the (few) innocents out there, but suffice it to say the official policy appeared to be promoting people who stabbed people in the back and discarding all the people who actually knew what they were doing.  I could see that my supervisor was going to have quite an uphill battle getting me that permanent job she had promised me.

I looked to my right.  I looked to my left.  I saw cars coming from both directions and I got out of the road.  I told my supervisor that I preferred not to be considered for the permanent position because I was moving to London in the summer and trying to have another baby.  She thanked me for telling her as soon as possible, but I got the sneaking suspicion she also appreciated that she was off the hook.

I stayed on, writing from home as they dithered about the full-time job.  I kept doing the work because I had never dreamed such a fantastic manager as my supervisor existed and I wanted to help her out.  She was working in a pretty poisonous office environment, and it seemed the least I could do.  But, eventually, I had to haul my seven-months-pregnant booty across the ocean to London, and I had to stop the work.

Leaving was hard.  I picked up enough free-lance work to fill the budgetary gaps, but I felt like an A #1 loser.  My first big job, and I could not make it work. However, since I left that office, there has been some serious turnover.  The kind of turnover that leaves big bare spots on the carpets.  Clearly, I was not the only one running for cover as the hail pummeled down.

I had agonized about making the right choice.  I had worried about the long-term implications.  But, sometimes there is no clear right choice.  Everything has long-term implications.  Sometimes, you leave a job and get unemployed.  Other times, you leave a job, have a Benjamin, and decide to write your life story.

Ways lead onto ways.  But you have to keep walking.


Who else went through something challenging?

Snoskred wrote Custody Battles are a Special Version of Hell

Sephy wrote Paging Mr. Negative: Please don’t make yourself known

Lesley (a.k.a. Flavia) wrote Facing a Challenge: We were supposed to be on a vacation, huh?

Reality Testing wrote Schooled

Amy wrote Something You’d Never Have Known Unless

15 responses to “Ways Lead Onto Ways

  1. I’m sorry Emily! I meant to email this hours ago but we got caught up re-potting plants and making dinner. 😉

    I’ll link to your post right now.. 😉


  2. Ooh, what a fun office! /sarcasm Although what you’re doing now has challenges of its own, no?

    I’m going to try to participate, but I know I won’t get my post finished until tonight if I do. I have a post that has to go up tomorrow, so I may be a few days late. But I can’t wait to read all the other posts!

  3. Hmm, I will have to think on this one. I do regretably know about poisonous office politics. I believe it’s one of the things that stops me from apllying for a paid position. I want work that I can leave at the office, something I was not able to do with my last few jobs. I love your last line “Ways lead onto ways. But you have to keep walking.” Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. There’s got to be a reason so many office environments are toxic and unhealthy. I have a few theories.. but that would be a post in itself!



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  6. I’ve been meaning to comment for several days.
    I had a slight panic attack the other day when I read: “That’s All Folks”
    I’m so glad you’re not leaving us high and dry to retreat to the world of editing. You’ll need a break every once in a while, right? Will you please keep us updated as to how the book is going/ when it will be published/ where we can get our copies? 🙂

    BTW-sorry to not participate in HDH, I have too much turmoil in my life at the moment…too much turmoil and not so much “learning from it”, yet. I opted for wordless wednesday instead. safer.

  7. I joined in! Maybe not super prolific, but filling my blogsitting role.
    I know Julie appreciates you helping out.


  8. I was actually off work for two years (having been pregnant while I was working on my teaching credential) and this fall went back to teaching part-time.
    It’s a great balance. I work for three hours in the morning and then come home and be a mom.
    At this point, any more working and I think I would feel guilty.
    It is a hard decision. Part-time is the way to go!
    Best of luck!

  9. realitytesting

    This is the first Hump Day Hmmm I’ve done! Thank you for the invite…this was great fun…and I’m linking back to you.

    And I am so impressed by how you handled the office politics you confronted. You are ever so much more graceful than I am.

  10. Pingback: Something You’d Never Have Known Unless… « Seafoam and Cocquelicots

  11. sometimes getting out is the best thing to do! good lesson learned!

  12. Sorry I didn’t contribute. But, I have been swamped the last couple of days and haven’t visited. I must say that I was ecstatic when I saw new posts from you. It made me sad to think of you not blogging any more.

  13. Pingback: Maybe she just wasn’t up for the job « Wheels on the bus

  14. i am so bad at the hump day hmmm. hey there’s my challenge! ;-p

  15. Oh man – I’m behind in my blog reading this month (I’m doing a temporary second job, which cuts down on my free time!) so I missed this. I was wondering what happened to the “hmmm” this week!!