A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Offering

Note: this turned out to be a much more serious post than I first intended. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. But you've been warned.

People always take stock at New Years – out with the old, the boring, the frustrating, and the painful; in with the new, the hopefully better. They offer up prayers and make resolutions, desperate for change. In years past, I’ve heard people say things about how a particular year has been a particular hell; my friend Tara at Head in the Clouds wrote a very amusing end-of-the-year post describing her resentment of the year 2010 – the whole year. But I’ve never experienced this phenomenon before; usually there is some good and some bad, but not enough to tip the scale in one direction and make me hate a particular calendar year in total.

At least, not up until now. I’ve never been quite so ready to say goodbye to a year until 2010. I think my year was right up there with Tara’s, only I can’t find a way to make it sound nearly as humorous. If nothing else, I envy her for her bad year because of the opportunities it gave her to crack self-depreciating jokes. Not that her year wasn’t horrible in many ways, but even when comparing unpleasant experiences, doesn’t the grass still always seem greener for the other person?

Over the course of my 2010, both my grandmother and grandfather died, and there are just no good verbal witticisms that are appropriate to discuss such a significant loss. I wish I could put into words just how important they both have been in my life – but I think that is the subject for another post, perhaps many. Suffice it to say that their deaths have colored all my other experiences in the year 2010, and coupled with a move across five states and the realization that I would not be hired to teach full-time in New York, I have decided that radical life change only turns out for the better if you’re Julia Roberts – in either Pretty Woman or Eat, Pray, Love. I struggled with depression all throughout the fall, listlessly watching endless reruns of Law & Order instead of going out to make new friends in New York. I spent Christmas in bed with mono, and by New Years Eve, I was definitely for it to be 2011.

If I’m honest, not all of the changes that took place in 2010 were awful – although it was hard to leave our friends in D.C., we love the little town in New York where we live now. I can gush about Nyack for paragraphs at a time – our entire Christmas letter was filled with details about the adorable little town. We live within walking distance of dozens of restaurants, shops and several state parks; we are finally free from the urban crush in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Yet we can easily take the train into New York City and enjoy all of its incredible enormity. I can hike along the Hudson River with the sheer-faced cliffs rising up over the path, or sit by the creek behind the library. I can go on a whim to see a Broadway show or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, pretending to be John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

Having moved to Nyack, my husband and I feel like we will finally be able to have a regular life – which may not sound too glamorous to a lot of our friends, who give us a hard time because we don’t spend more than the occasional weekend in New York City. But honestly, after several grueling years of graduate school, all you want is to walk on the beach or by a stream, to explore the woods and admire the cliffs. I’m learning to kumbaya with myself again, which has been one of the best things that I could have wished for in the midst of loosing my grandparents.

(Yes, I am using kumbaya as a verb. You don't have to be in a place as serene and lovely as this forest to kumbaya, but I've had a really hard time trying to commune with nature in the middle of Washington D.C.)

It was difficult at first to realize that in gaining this physical space and emotional freedom, I may have lost my shot at being a professor. Now that I have potentially found a job that would lead to a very fulfilling career, I can envision a whole real life here – preparing grant proposals that would help fund educational assistance and disability services, joking with the employees that I met at my interview the other day, then coming home to my husband, a stack of books and my writing. We will visit the nearby state parks and the museums downtown on the weekends, and travel further up and down the East Coast. We will be able to breathe.

All of the sudden, getting this job seems like the ticket to everything that I’ve wanted for a long time, even if it is an unexpected route to my goal(s).

A friend of mine has wisely advised me that I shouldn’t get too invested in the idea of this job. She knows how I get excited about things that aren’t settled yet, then I inevitably end up very disappointed, even depressed when things don’t work out. I am trying to remind myself that even if I don’t get this job, the department director does consider me a qualified candidate and so I would likewise have a shot at similar jobs. Out of all the job listings that I have answered, though, this seems to be the one most perfectly fitted to my experiences, skills and interests.

And so I find myself wishing that I believed more firmly in the power of prayer.

I won’t try to explain my philosophy on prayer or faith in this post; that would double the length of the blog entry. Suffice it to say that although I was raised a Baptist, I don’t exactly believe that simply asking for something will bring it to pass. Whoever he is, God is not a genii. You cannot rub the bottle and expect to get your wish. Over the last day or two, though, I have wished that I could try something similar – something akin to an ritual offering or a rain dance. I find myself wishing that my actions could affect the outcome of the situation – and so for some reason, into my head have popped images of Native Americans offering up prayers of supplication to the skies.

I do not have enough faith – in God, in myself – to believe that a whispered prayer will bring me the job and the life that I have imagined for myself. There are plenty of people who wish and pray and never get what they would like. But in way, by collecting these beautiful images here, I feel as though I am praying.

I am hoping that while 2010 was a year of great loss, 2011 will be a year to rebuild, to create a new life for my husband and myself. That is my prayer, even if it does not take a traditional form.

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