Tag Archives: career

Coming Into My Own

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open road is home

Original Artwork

Lady Vagabond has risen and come into her own
Singing hai-ay-ay-ay, the open road is home!

-S.J. (“Sooj”) Tucker, Lady Vagabond, album: Sirens

I am now an educational interpreter!  There’s a law in Colorado, USA, where I live, that prohibits me from saying that I’m an ‘interpreter’ until I have NIC certification (National Interpreter Certification).  I can lawfully say that I’m an educational interpreter, however, because I’ve passed the educational interpreter test (called the EIPA- Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment).

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know that I was a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for 13 years.  Back when I started this blog, I was extremely frustrated and burned out from my job, mostly because of the defunct system, and I was looking for an escape.  I wondered what else I could do for a living, and I realized that I love to interpret.  From time to time, I interpreted when other interpreters weren’t available, and I really enjoyed it.  I set my sights on interpreting as my new future career.  Recently I found a little souvenir from a past ritual, maybe from 2012 or 2013, a small paper on which I wrote what I wanted to move away from and what to manifest in my life.  On one side I wrote what I wanted to move away from: being a Teacher of the Deaf, and on the other side, I wrote what I wanted to move towards, and I had written “Interpreter: Freedom!”

2012-2013 was my roughest, most stressful school year since I had started teaching (and that’s saying a lot).  I started saving my money starting in 2012, so that I could be (mostly) jobless a while and go to school, and still pay my bills.  In the Fall of 2013, I started community college classes in an Interpreter Preparation Program (IPP).  I graduated in May of this year with an associates degree in interpreting!

This past summer, I struggled with not having any work yet and the emotions that brings.  I had expected at least a little bit of work and many interviews (being the Pollyanna-like positive thinker that I am).  I didn’t pass 2 screenings, and did pass 3 others, so I got signed on with two agencies and was set to start work with video relay service (VRS) work in the Fall.  That gave me hope, and I was constantly ready for that call from an agency- I gave the agencies lots of availability, even overnight and weekends, thinking ‘Pick me, pick me! Give me at least something!’  I had clothes on a hanger in my car and paperwork I’d need if I worked for one of the agencies ready to go.  To this day, I have only been called by one of the agencies once and I had to turn that job down.  Little did I know at the time that I was waiting and ready on pins and needles for nothing.  (Isn’t a lot of life and stress wasted like that?)  Meanwhile, while I waited for the call, text or email that I was checking constantly, I sent out a gazillion emails to community colleges in my area, attaching my resume and a link to my portfolio.  That resulted in getting signed on with two community colleges for the Fall.

Despite all the stress, waiting, and listless emotions, there are two wonderful and magical experiences I had this past summer: the first that stands out is interpreting at a Spring festival.  I interpreted at it last year and this year in an official capacity and have attended as a merchant several years before that.  Last year and this year, I learned all of the music for the concerts that I could get my hands on, practiced every moment I could, and the highlight was interpreting for my favorite musician: S.J. Tucker!  I also interpreted for Orpheus Pagan Chamber Choir, the best moment of which was interpreting the Jabberwocky, which was so much fun!  I used to have that poem printed out and pinned by my teacher desk, to lift my spirits with something odd and fantastical during my day.

interpreting for sooj and Betsy

Open interpreting for Sooj (SJ Tucker) and Betsy Tinney

The second wonderful experience I had this past summer was interpreting for a wedding which had many Deaf people in attendance.  The people involved were so wonderful, happy, relaxed, smiling, and friendly, and I got to interpret with someone I respect.  Those two experiences were indescrible.  Both experiences, as I look back on them, are sparkling with merriment and softening to the heart.

And throughout, my boyfriend that I spoke of two blogs ago has been so deeply loving, and we grow closer all the time. Life is good simply because I’m with him!

So, overall, the summer was a little rough, and mixed with wonderful experiences.  I tried to enjoy it and relax, but I also felt like I was mooching off of my boyfriend who I live with, and watched my savings dwindle more and more.  I prepared myself to ask my parents or my boyfriend for money, thought what I could sell, what else I could do to earn money, and tried to get other jobs, and scraped by, waiting for August when my jobs would start.  My savings that I had lived off of for 2 years diminished to only $20 this past July!  Thankfully I had rent money coming in, which barely kept me afloat until my jobs started, and I made it to August with only some debt to my boyfriend, which I’ll have paid off shortly.  It was a perfect timing kind of thing, and I thank whatever powers-that-be that look out for me, if they do at all, that things worked out the way they did!  I thank my lucky life and parents and boyfriend.  I’m also thankful for my smart brain (and that my brain had the chance to develop into a smart one), which helped me earn some money through tutoring during the summer as well.  I am truly so blessed.

All of August, I was stressed with starting new jobs, facing multiple fears related to doing my job well and not wanting to mess up people’s lives through mis-interpretations, and swimming in the new ocean tide called interpreting.  I tried out my fins and found out they work and work well!  I knew where to go, what to do, but it was all a little bit new.  I’m thankful for my many years with a toe in the Deaf community and to the patient and sweet Deaf people I’ve known, to help me to interpret and navigate now.  I’ve also noticed that what I’m doing now has connections in the past, one thing flowing to another, experiences and people I know are tying in to what I’m doing now.  Thinking of it makes me feel tingly, that maybe we ‘aren’t alone in the universe’ after all.

Now, it’s September, and I work at two community colleges and video relay service (VRS).  In case that term is foreign to you, I’m adding a footnote at the end to describe VRS.  I have been earning money again and am able to contribute to my little bubble of people that I live with.  I hesitate to call them family, but they are kind of my family now, more and more: my boyfriend and his daughter, who recently entered adulthood and lives half of the week in his home.  In my people bubble there are occasional chats with a roommate and his little son; he and his son are a bit on the fringes of the bubble.

And in addition to the people-bubble (or is it my family? not really yet, but….), there’s the thought of ‘is this my boyfriend’s home? Is it my home as well?’ Technically yes, it’s his.  However, he tells me I should think of it as my home as well- well yes, I live here.  But mine? His home? Our home?  My boyfriend’s home, that I live in.  What should I call it?  That’s the stage of our relationship now: what is merging for us, and what is apart?  I’m smiling at myself- navigating that whole new world in my thoughts: ours, his, ours, mine or his, or ours.

Only recently, I’m finally feeling more relaxed, getting used to all of what I’m doing, and like Sooj’s song, I’m coming into my own.  For much of August, and maybe much of this summer, I didn’t feel like myself.  I felt lost in the ether, not sure who I was, where I was, or what I was doing.  I was nervous about interpreting, nervous about myself, not satisfied with who I am.  I was scared to let go of being scared just in case I would mess up because of false confidence.  Now, with a little bit of successful experience, I am relaxing into interpreting.  There are still moments of ‘oh oops, misunderstanding of meaning,’ or ‘oops, wrong sign, this is the sign,’ and that may continue for a little while or forever.  But I’m more relaxed and happy with my stage in the process, and especially starting this past week, happy with life.

I have also joined Orpheus Pagan Chamber Choir, which I interpreted for at the Spring festival I spoke of last year and this year, and am singing alto.  That, too, has been a challenge, though a more happy one, that I’m starting to relax into and being more happy with.  I love to sing!  Before joining the choir I mostly sang with Sooj’s recorded voice while driving, and sang chants and pagan songs with friends while camping.  Now I’m adding chamber choir music to what I sing, and am enjoying the mental challenge of finding the right pitch and reading music while enjoying the vibrations singing creates in my head.  I’m also thrilled with the feeling of being part of a kind of hive mind as the choir sings together.

So, there’s my update after many months’ hiatus of writing!  Surprise, you get a new blog!  Perhaps I’ll expand on some themes I touched on just a bit in this blog in future blogs.

FOOTNOTE:

Video Relay Service (VRS):  Nowadays, Deaf people and people who use sign language to communicate use something called a Video Phone (VP) to make phone calls (in the US and other developed countries).  A VP is much like skyping or talking through the web via video, though this is through a phone line connected via a kind of webcam to a television screen, or they can use a cell phone or computer as well.  VPs require high speed internet to work.  The VP owner has a phone number that people can dial just like a normal phone number.  When someone who doesn’t have a VP calls a VP phone number, the call gets routed to a VRS, and that person hears a sign language interpreter speak to them.  The call is then connected to the Deaf person’s VP in addition to the interpreter.  The interpreter has a headset and looks at a computer screen, and sees the Deaf person signing.  The interpreter voices to the hearing person what the Deaf person says, and then, as the hearing person speaks, the interpreter signs what is said to the Deaf person.  VP owners can call other VP owners without an interpreter and have a ‘face to face’ conversation in sign.

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Jumping Jumping!

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jumping

Yes, that’s me, in my dream car, not my actual car. The license plate is from a photo of Emma Peel’s (played by Diana Rigg) car from the Avengers TV show in the 60’s. She had a white, then two blue cars of the same kind, a Lotus Elan.                                  Original artwork.

The bullet has been bitten.  I have now pretty much resigned from my job as Teacher of the Deaf.  An email, very carefully and kindly worded, has been sent to my superiors.  The official resignation form has been filled out, and will be turned in to Human Resources next week (next week, because I am car-less at present- it’s in the shop and should be drive-able soon).

I have been ‘camped at the precipice’ for nearly a month.  I’ve been making this decision, then hesitating, then making the decision again, then hesitating, for quite a while.  I had found out that if I’m not in an interpreter program going for a degree in interpreting, that only a few courses at the local community college would be open to me.  I just got off the phone with an administrator in the interpreting program, who is going to meet with me to discuss my transcripts (which I have already) next week.  At this point, I could perhaps audit classes, or transfer previous classes I’ve taken and delve into the program, and it sounds like it will be the latter choice.  I’ve passed two exams in order to bypass two classes: ASL 1 and 2, and another exam which officially got me in to the interpreting program.  I also already have my student number!  It feels really _odd_ to be a student again, and also quite nice!

So, I’ve had a number of balls already rolling, I just needed the big one to budge, just to show me that I can indeed pursue this.  It has budged and is starting to roll!  Watch out world!

For me, it’s best if my brain matches my gut and my heart, and if it doesn’t, it’s very difficult for me to justify making a huge change like this.  My brain also needs to be on board! I needed to know that working towards my goal would be feasible.  I also needed to know that I would have enough money to live on and take classes, and I have figured out that, yes, I can do this.

I’ve analyzed my finances, which was good to do, no matter what.  I’ve figured out ways to save more money, and am following a pretty tight budget right now.  I aim to save considerably more by the end of my current paychecks in August.  I have figured out that I can live on my savings AND pay for a complete interpreter program’s worth of credits, if I need to, and have money to spare.  (Not much money to spare!)  So if anyone’s worried about me, don’t be!

And the last thing I needed to satisfy my nitpicky brain was to know that, if I resigned, I would still get paid throughout the summer (I get my paychecks spread out over a year instead of only the school year), and I will not get blacklisted in my district if I wanted to apply for a teacher job in the future.  This is according to the union rep I spoke to last month.

So, now that my worry-wart brain is satisfied with all of the angles of possible scenarios, I can also give even more credence to the spiritual messages that I’ve sought out, or that have sought me out.  And there have been many!

The first message came around New Years, when Elfy Momma (my friend who I write with once a week) and MM – Massage Man (my now ex-boyfriend, though he was my boyfriend at the time) and I met to read cards for each other.  One of them – I think it was MM- did a reading for me for my three decisions at that time: 1) continuing to work at what was my current position, 2) working at an elementary school and 3) interpreting.  The first one got a message that it would have job stability.  The second one said I would have to be creative at the job but other wise it would be the same old thing.  The third one said I would have less money and I would feel free.  And that reading has turned out to be very true for all three scenarios, although I no longer have choice number one.

The next spiritual message happened when I was at a ritual with my small spiritual group.  We got together to send one of our members off to California and to do energy work for her.  As we talked before we started, it became clear that ALL of us were going through a major change in our lives, not just the woman who is moving.  One of the women there, Phunky Goddess (a friend of mine who makes awesome funky clothes and who loves Phish), led us in the meditation.  It was her first time leading us.

In our meditation, she had us all meet together, then each take our own path with a basket.  We were to gather things in our basket that we would share with each other later.  As I started down my path, I was skipping and happy, and hearing the music of “April Fool’s Day” by S. J. Tucker.  A frog jumped into my basket.  I knew the frog was meant for me, but wasn’t sure what it meant just yet.  I gathered some things for my friends who were meditating with me in the circle as well (to remain private).  Then Phunky Goddess had us go to a clearing where there was drumming and dancing, and we danced together or hung out enjoying the drums, after which we shared each other’s items.  At the end, she had us go back down the path to where we started.

As we each came out of our meditation, we told each other what our items were. As I shared about the frog, they said that, of course, I need to jump!  It’s just now that I’m writing this, that I’m realizing that the song was perfect, too.  ‘April Fool’s Day’ is about a ritual S.J. Tucker goes to, that celebrates The Fool.  How fitting that the song in my meditation matches what I’m doing- jumping into the abyss like The Fool card!

After this, my friend that I write with, Elfy Momma, did this little finger pulling thing (some kind of psychic thing she does to get answers) and said I should get my EIPA  (Educational Interpreter performance test) results back in July.

About a month ago, I had MM do an astrology reading for me about which scenario was best:  continuing with the plan my job had for me – to switch to the oral Deaf Ed program in a hearing elementary school (oral: hard of hearing kids who speak and lip-read, and do not sign);  or interpreting.  His reading said that in September, I will experience someone at work trying to undermine me – working against me – and I would feel like I couldn’t tell anyone about it.  He also said that I should be doing a Sagittarius type of job:  to be a tour guide of sorts for others.  He said interpreting is kind of like that, and is a “Sag” type of job.  He also said that I would likely need to share assets (8th house), like to take out a loan or have a roommate.  He also felt that I would get my results from the EIPA test in July (if I remember correctly).

The next message came when I tuned my mind to what my monkeys were doing, while I was driving to MM’s house last week.  We were going to hang out a bit (we still do about once a week, even though we broke up).  After hanging out with him, I was going to drive to my parents’ the next day.  I was planning to tell them about my decision and was very nervous about doing this. (I ended up chickening out, but have dropped bits of information about what I’m doing here and there!)

We interrupt this rambling blog to explain about ‘my monkeys.’  Be warned, I’m about to let you know just how weird I am!  Over the years, starting in about 2002 or so, I have come to believe that I have monkey spirits that hang around me.  They are like spirit guides or totems, in a way.  Other people have confirmed that they are there; it hasn’t just been me ‘imagining’ things.  They have become a way for me to tune in to the psychic channel of my brain, and whenever I’ve asked them a question they have never been wrong.  I’ve tuned in to what they’re doing from time to time.  More about them in another blog for another day.

As I tuned my mind this time (while driving to MM’s house) to what my monkeys were doing, what one or two were doing was unusual.  They were holding up my head.  My sense was that they were ‘keeping my head up’ and giving me confidence.  I thought what my monkeys were doing was cool and it confirmed that the spiritual-messaging part of my mind that they occupy is fully in support of my resigning and becoming an interpreter.

The most recent spiritual message came in a dream I had last week.  Last Fall, a Special Ed teacher at “my” school (the one I worked at the last six years), resigned after about a month of school.  She had met her love over the summer and was moving to be with him.  She also knew she wanted to get away from our stressful job.

In the dream,  she had parked sideways on my front lawn.  She yelled out the window to “Come join me!”  I ran out as she took off down the road.  I chased her a bit, but she was too fast and her car was shrinking so I wouldn’t have fit in her car, anyway.  I ran back to get into my own car, when I woke up.  I think that clearly states I should do what she did:  follow my gut and my bliss. The dream clinched it for me.  (As if there haven’t been enough spiritual messages saying I should be doing this, right?)

Juuuuuuumpiiiing!!

Pitching My Tent at the Precipice

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camping on the precipice

Original artwork

I have come back into “manifest reality” of the day to day worklife after being in fairyland.  That fairyland was a May Day festival in the mountains.  During the festival, I truly felt like I had finally blossomed.  I had been to the festival 3 times before, and each time had been wonderful, but this time I felt truly released and grounded at the same time.  I felt truly myself and blissful.  During the maypole dance, I skipped and frolicked, because I felt freed.  The last thing I did there, before saying goodbye and leaving, was to attend a small cozy ritual that focused on bringing about positive changes in our lives.  The circle wasn’t closed; it remained open to continue the change in our lives after we left the festival.

Now I’m back, and I’ve got some decisions to make.  Here are my choices: go with what my current job is offering me, which is to work with a population that I don’t really have a passion for working with; keep on searching for a job as a teacher working with a population I am passionate about working with, or chuck teaching altogether and either become an interpreter or work towards becoming an interpreter. If I go with the first one or second one (both really, for financial security), I am pleasing one set of loved ones I have.  To them, my choice should be to remain a teacher only, because of financial security; if nothing had been offered here, they wanted me to look elsewhere for a teaching job- that is, to move far away if I had to.  I know their hearts will be broken (or they will at least feel scared and worried for me) if I go with choice number three.  Another loved one would like me to pick becoming an interpreter.  The reason is because I would be much less stressed, and therefore have more time to offer and focus on that particular loved one.

It’s dangerous to let others pull you in one way or another when it comes to life decisions. It must be your own choice.  Since my last post, I have still not resigned, though I have made some strides in preparation for change.  I completed a written and performance test to become an Educational Interpreter (have passed the written, and don’t know yet on the performance), and had two interviews, both of which did not lead to new jobs as a teacher.  I have applied to a third- which would be with a population I’m passionate about working with but is in a district that has a reputation for gangs and violence within their schools.  I haven’t heard back from that one and maybe it’s just as well.

A situation at work escalated to the point of a decision being made for me- thankfully, not to dissolve my position, but to have me switch schools with another teacher.  In the midst of all this, I went from the precipice where I nearly jumped into the jobless scary place of becoming an interpreter (but finishing out the year as a teacher, because that’s me), to creeping backwards into the safe place of job security.  And still, the disrespectful way superiors have been treating me- pointing fingers of blame rather than offering their hands in support- is urging me back towards the precipice.

I am still in the midst of decision.  Do I jump, or do I stay put, looking for a way out, or do I accept the place I’ve been given?  This is my 13th year of teaching.  Though I partly believe myself to be a natural at teaching, excellent at motivating students and getting them excited about learning, and great at developing relationships with students, another part of me is greatly disappointed in my teaching ability.

It’s very difficult and stressful to be a teacher, and it almost never feels like you are ‘good enough’ or ‘excellent enough.’  There is always something to work on, to improve on.  There are always people observing and picking you apart.  These observations are only snapshots and therefore snap judgements are made.  ‘There was no scaffolding,’ they say, but they were only in the class for 15 minutes, and didn’t know or think to ask about whether there had been scaffolding the entire month leading up to that lesson during which they peeked in.  Those aren’t the only stressors (and by the way my latest evaluation was not so bad and I appreciate that particular supervisor (I have many) appearing to be on my side.  Other stressors include legal documentation with Special Education being scrutinized, telling parents (or anyone) the truth of the way things are is looked down upon, and every little mistake is made into a huge embarrassing can of worms.  It’s like being in the movie Office Space:  the main character has too many bosses, and they’re all reminding him about one little mistake he made, and sometimes I feel like the guy with the stapler who has been relegated to the basement.  He’s been laid off but doesn’t know it; “It’ll sort itself out,” his supervisors say.

My boyfriend has seen that I am a completely different person during my summers off.  I am much more carefree, more loving, more affectionate, and more happy.  I am more confident, since there is no one but myself around to tear me down.

My gut is telling me that if I work on becoming an interpreter, that is where my bliss lies.  But is it wise?  I have been given wings to fly, they are unfurling, and I have a bit of a safety net with saved money, on which I believe I can live on for a year including paying for schooling if need be.  The scary part lies after all of that.  Do I jump, and fly, or jump and fall to the safety net and bounce a while, after which, do I take off flying or do I fall into the abyss?  Am I being over dramatic about that abyss, and am I being over dramatic about my current situation?  It’s certainly better than many people have to face.  I think for now I’ll keep adding to that safety net, and investigate things further- which may be a cop out!  But if I’m going to jump, I had better know what I’m doing.  I’m going to pitch my tent at the precipice and hug a tree.