So instead of 'woe is me'ing all over, I'm going to examine what I've learned so far in 2013: The Worst Year Ever.
1. Bad things happen to good people
At the end of February, my boss at my job was fired. We knew that he and the top brass had been clashing for a while, but usually in libraryland (for better of for worse), it's really hard to get rid of people. I showed up for work one Friday, and an hour later our stunned children's librarian told me that he had been called in and dismissed for 'insubordination.' Not only was this emotionally devastating as I considered him a mentor and friend, but he was also beloved by the community because he's a really good guy. People organized protests outside the library, signed petitions and I felt pulled between my convictions that what was done to him was unfair and my need to lay low and appease the people who sign my paycheck.
2. You can plan and plan and plan all you want, but life throws you curveballs
My mother is a banker and has always been frugal and absentemious. She saves and she exercises and she eats right. She is the very definition of sensible. She doesn't drink or smoke and my most frequent criticism of her is that she needs to just lighten up every now and them. So I was obviously shocked when I got a phone call from her this past April to tell me that she had had a seizure, which let to an MRI, which revealed a malignant golf ball sized tumor on the front of her brain. Doctors told her that it could have been there for easily ten years, but since she showed no symptoms until the seizure, no one could ever have suspected.
She was admitted to the Mayo Clinic where they performed surgery to remove 98% of the tumor. After that, she did pill chemotherapy and radiation, which just finished. Last time I spoke to her on the phone, she told me that she was doing great. "I'm lifting weights and going for walks. This is the first time in my life where my only job is to take care of myself."
3. You never know what work experiences will come in handy in the future.
For five years, while I was in college, grad school and just out of grad school prepping for... more grad school, I worked in local news production. Initially, I got the job because I needed a night job to faster pay off my credit card debt. The lousy pay was only exceeded by the lousy hours, but the high stress environment was also an incredible rush and I worked with some seriously awesome people over the years. Though I liked that job, I never intended to make it my career, and when I was offered a promotion, I elected to go to grad school for Library Science instead.
After my boss was fired, I became responsible for everything he had been doing in addition to what I had already been doing, which was my job and half of another person's. It was officially too much work for one person, and I started to unravel--big time. A friend told me about an opening at her library, and sent me the job description, which was incredibly intimidating. After re-reading it a few more times, I figured I might as well apply. I was pretty miserable at work, my friend was on the hiring committee, I just might have a shot.
Even though my friend went into early labor and wasn't actually there for the interview-- I got the job. A big part of the job is creating video content for the library's website, which means I spent a chunk of my day today learning Final Cut Pro, which is pretty similar to the non-linear video editing software we used at the tv station. The old adrenaline rush is coming back a little.
4. You're stronger than you think and you can't predict the future
I went into libraries with the goal of working in an academic library balancing teaching, outreach and hopefully finding a way to be creative--that is exactly what my new job is. Not only that, but it's a brand new position that is more or less a choose your own adventure. So even though this was my 'plan' there is no way I could have ever predicted that meeting one person in library school; landing one job working horrible hours that gave me library instruction experience; one grad assistantship in distance learning and five years in local news would all congeal to make me qualified for my dream job.
If my previous job hadn't gone to hell, I probably never would have applied for this new one--I needed the push. Even though my former boss is still looking for work, he's collecting unemployment, and last time I saw him, he seemed much lighter in spirit--I know he'll land on his feet. My mom is doing well and is incredibly lucky to have access to the best medical care in the world. She's a little skinnier and a little balder, but I'm going to give her a kick ass scarf when I see her for her birthday in two weeks.