A New Path

I would be nowhere without Google Calendar. I use it to make tasks, set deadlines, organize life. I share one calendar with my husband, and we sometimes communicate solely through event updates. If one of us doesn’t come home, or leaves unexpectedly, the answer is in the calendar.

The calendar emails me reminders to do things. Buy birthday presents for nieces and nephews, make sure to do laundry for that upcoming camping trip. There’s a section for chores. One for bills. One for craft projects and blog ideas. One for work related items.

That last one? That one made me cringe today. It showed up in my email, an innocent chirpy notification pinging away on my phone. “Heather – Return to Work” with a light blue highlight.

Those little words have been bouncing around in my head all morning. For nearly five years, I have been pulling rabbits out of hats for my job. Doing the impossible, making things happen. My boss once joked that I would have nothing to do all day without Google, and to be honest, he was right. My job was to make curator’s dreams come true. To bring life to dusty old artwork, to create interaction with things that haven’t been touched by a real, un-gloved finger in hundreds of years. Most of the time this involved me saying something along the lines of “Yes, I can do that” and then going back to my desk, taking a deep breath, getting on Google, and figuring out how to make good on my promises.

In a way, this was really shitty. I didn’t have a team, I didn’t have a senior person who could show me the ropes. I had me, my proactive nature, and lots and lots of online tutorials that were mostly dubious at best. But it didn’t matter. Great things were expected of me, and I delivered. Now, if a “real” engineer were to look at my work I’m sure they wouldn’t say I made great things. But considering I would start out with nothing and end up with something – that was a great thing. It was enough. It was, in my slightly masochistic head, wonderful to consistently be expected do accomplish something that I had NO IDEA how to do.

So today, when the calendar notification popped up saying I should be back at work, it hurt. Because I’m not at work. Nor will I be – at least for that job. Because here’s the other thing about that job. It was a complete, 100% dead end. Project based activities might have furthered my skill set, but there was no future there for me. Not on a personal level, either, it was just the culture. Our HR director once said to a room full of employees that if we wanted to further our careers, maybe we should look outside the organization. I’ve never really felt the phrase “you could cut the tension with a knife” until that meeting. The atmosphere was so very cold, the employees so very hurt and angry.

I was raised by a hippie feminist who fought hard so I could live the life that I choose. I am a feminist myself. So when I had to make the decision about returning to work after Paige was born, I thought about the fact that the feminist thing to do would be to not put your career on hold for kids. Except where I was working – I was putting my career on hold indefinitely. (And isn’t the REAL feminist thing just the ability to have that choice in the first place? This is thought for another day.)

Hello and Goodbye.

Hello and Goodbye.

I am slowly looking for jobs. I have applied to one or two places that I would just die to work for – their philosophies, their goals, their very existence makes me happy – and also I am hanging out with my daughter, watching her explore the world. I am writing (much more than you see on the blog) and I am trying to take my time to find something that makes my heart sing.

And while day to day with Paige is so different, so exhausting, so overwhelming, it’s also quite a lot like what I loved so much about my job – consistently doing something that let’s be honest –  I have no idea how to do.

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