Dog Days of Summer- spoiler alert – depressing!

It’s hard to believe but as of next Friday (July 4th) our summer break will be half over.  The busy part of the summer is over – the garden is in and (mostly) growing, the kids have gone to camp (4-H, WonderLab and IU’s informatics and computing; the last two great opportunities on scholarships) and I went to my teacher conference in Washington. June has been a very busy month.

Now July looms in front of us like a big, hot and sticky mess of overweight, damp cotton candy. No plans to speak of, just a long list of wishful thinking but unfunded projects like building a deck and a hen house, putting gravel down on the drive so the propane people can deliver the gas we need to cook and heat the house, and putting up jars of salsa once the garden starts delivering.  And of course the endless job search.

So far I’ve applied for seven jobs.  Of the three that have closed I had an interview for one (but they hired someone else), one I received a canned email saying thanks but no thanks, one I found out through reading the paper that the job had been filled.  That last one stung a bit as it’s my home district – the in which one my kids attend school and for which I’ve been diligently substitute teaching.  I thought I’d get an interview for that job (or at least some communication about it).  The four open jobs are moving into the interview phase as the application period is about to end. Two are middle school science teacher jobs, one is a high school position and the other is a 9-week temporary sub job covering maternity leave for a middle school science teacher.  I’d take any and no longer have any hopes of getting one. It’s been a little discouraging to say the least.

I have the grades (GPA 3.9), the certificates, the glowing letters of recommendation ( “…a self-motivated and intuitive professional who assesses and responds to situations calmly and efficiently. She is confident, flexible and natural as a teacher. ”  “…a professional both inside and outside of the classroom. She is always enthusiastic in her teaching and treats her students with respect and kindness.“) but I’m not getting interviews. I worry that my age (given away in the dates of my various diplomas and degrees) is an issue. Sure there’s the lack of teaching experience but the younger set in my Transition to Teaching cohort have the same amount of teaching experience and they are getting jobs.  The one other older student also hasn’t found a position.

I’m also trying to find a part-time job for July (I expect to continue substitute teaching in August as I’ve been told it’s the way to get your foot in the door even though it’s more babysitting than teaching) to bring in some money.  My last paycheck (of $97) was at the beginning of the month and while all the free camps were great they’ve cost a lot in gas money.  And naturally the utility bills keep coming. I’m working on a few suitcase dog beds to sell and the kids are sorting through their toys to come up with some eBay items (we think we have a Nintendo DS and an American Girl Doll for the auction block).  I’ve listed the bunk bed we used at our relative’s house on craigslist.  It’s a hardscrabble life!

As much as I enjoyed going to the Noyce conference in Washington, especially spending 2 nights in a nice air-conditioned hotel room (which was nearly as big as our house), I fear the contrast between the nice surroundings and gainfully employed professionals and my life has left me just a bit depressed.

I try to maintain an optimistic outlook on this blog. It doesn’t always match my internal outlook and on these horribly hot, muggy days when sweat runs in rivulets down your back and the cistern is dry and the propane is exhausted and it’s 88 degrees in the house with all the window fans running and the job situation seems stalled at best and loan payments and medical bills loom and the kids want (ice cream, bikes, outings with friends, the Lego movie….) stuff I can’t afford it’s hard to be Pollyanna! I’m worn down and I’m finding it harder to keep my chin up.

Posted in 2nd Career, 4H, depresssed, expense, frugal living, garden, hopelessness, Positive Thinking, poverty, recession, teaching | Leave a comment


Thanks everyone for the enthusiastic response. I admit that I don’t feel “done” with this journey or the blog quite yet. But perhaps we are moving on to a new chapter – one with a little less chaos and a little more stability! I sent in another job application today and now we’ll leave the cool library where we’ve been enjoying a respite from the overwhelming heat and go home so I can pack for my little adventure.

If any of you feel so inclined, we could use some help paying the website renewal bill so I can continue the blog :-)


Posted in survivor | 3 Comments

Are We Done?

I have a bumper sticker (designed by myself) on the back of my car that reads “Woman on the Verge!” It’s meant different things at different times over the years, most of them rather pessimistic. However it currently has a more positive meaning as I hope I’m on the verge of finding a job in my new field and gradually returning our lives to something resembling normal.

My teaching license was finally issued on Friday the 13th (although the date of issue is May 17, the day I applied) and as befitting something issued on that day it has an error on it that will need to be fixed. Nevertheless I am now essentially a licensed educator. Or rather licensed to be an educator – what remains is finding a job. I seem to be a little slow out of the starting gate job-wise as several of my Transition to Teaching (T2T) cohort are already employed for the next school year. I put that down, at least in part, to the scarcity of jobs within a one-hour drive radius. After all the work we (and our relatives) have done to settle us in here I’m not willing to uproot the family again anytime soon – at least not until all local options are exhausted.

I have applied for the existing jobs – two high school positions and four middle/junior high positions. I’ve had one interview and apparently was the runner up (but close only counts in horseshoes and grenades as we used to say when I was a kid). Several of the other jobs haven’t closed yet so I’m hoping I can improve my performance in the next interview although I worry that my age is against me. I ended the T2T program feeling ambivalent at best about my new profession, thanks in part to the eye-opening and depressing “Current Issues and Problems in Education” seminar. Horror stories I’d heard from teachers during my time student teaching gave credence to the content of the class. I vacillate between the unlikely hope that things will improve (soon) for teachers and the more realistic thought that I will just have to maintain the gritty determination that has brought me this far.

This week, however, I have a nice little bonus – a sort of graduation gift if you will – the chance to travel (most expenses paid) to Washington D.C. to attend the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Conference. Each university that participates in the program gets to invite one scholarship recipient and I was thrilled to be selected. It’s a two and a half day conference of STEM educators presenting lectures and workshops. An opportunity to learn from science educators currently in the classroom and to network for the future. There are some optional museum tours as well. I will be going to the botanic gardens and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. And for me it’s a rare opportunity to have a little time and space to myself (although no doubt I will ruin it by worrying about the kids the entire time).

My conference trip is only one of several scholarship opportunities we have this summer – my son has a week of free day camp at WonderLab (the local children’s science museum) and my oldest daughter received a scholarship to attend IU’s four-day Informatics and Computing Camp. I’m grateful that they have these opportunities as we are back to extremely frugal living now that the small amount of money I was earning doing substitute teaching has ended (the downside to school being out for the summer!). Bills are piling up so once I’m back from the conference, I will continue to look for some temporary summer work (there is a lot of seasonal work locally as we are a tourist community however most employers require you to commit to working through the fall when the season is at its height). And I’ll be back to crafting (even though it is too hot for anyone to want to buy knitwear). I’ve picked up some vintage suitcases at Goodwill and yard sales and I’m going to try my hand at making those suitcase dog beds. And of course I will continue to apply for teaching jobs!

I must at some level feel hopeful (even though it’s my nature now to try and think realistically rather than hopefully) that I will find that job because I keep daydreaming about having a regular paycheck and insurance coverage. I want to get back to a normal life – to be able to save money and not live hand to mouth, to not live in fear of the next car repair or medical issue, to go to the grocery store and buy whatever I want not just the bare necessities and then only if they are on sale or we have coupons, to be able to say ‘yes’ to the kids’ requests instead of no! It’s been such a burden for so long. So many false starts and set backs. Let us be on the verge of something good.

It’s time to renew the web hosting for my blog for another year – I’m wondering, are we done? Is it time to say goodbye to Boxcarkids now that we are (almost/kind of) out of the box? Or would you like to tag along as we continue to try to find our way?

Posted in 2nd Career, blogging, Family, frugal living, teaching, work | 16 Comments