Friday, August 28, 2015

So Far, So Good


The only way I can describe yesterday's interview was that it seemed to be a complete success.  I laid on my southern charm, and I think they loved it.  This job is so far north, it's almost in Canada, but one of the interviewers was from Tennessee.  This museum has a staff of five people, if hired, I'd make the fifth, and all four people at the museum were part of the interview process.  They seemed extremely nice, and if I get this job, they will be a wonderful group to work with.

They seemed very impressed with my credentials and my attitude.  The only thing I lacked was experience with the actual software they are using with this project, but they were impressed that I had researched the software and that I had contacted a former professor who does use the software and asked for his advice.  They were also impressed that I had started a drama club at my last school and felt that it would be very beneficial since this program is still in its infancy, and I had shown that I could build a program and make it a success.  This job has nothing to do with drama, it's strictly a history job, but I liked that they recognized how other talents and experience could be very beneficial.

The bottom line is this, in my opinion, I do not think that the interview could have gone better.  I was told that they have two other candidates to interview next week, and that they hoped to bring one of us up the next week and then have the person on the job two weeks after that.  It's a short timeline, but I let them know that I am ready and willing to be there and get to work.

Please keep me in your prayers.  I keep asking God that if this job is His will, then let all go well.  Today it did go exceptionally well.  And let's hope that those other two candidates suck, lol.

Thank you all for your support.  It means the world to me.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Prepared and Ready



I'm not sure what else I can do to be prepared for this phone interview.  I've read everything I can, studied possible interview questions, and prayed.  I've done all I can, now let's hope it's enough.  I feel confident that this will go well.  If by chance I am not what they are looking for, then they do not know what they need.  I AM their perfect candidate.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting Prepared



I'm doing my best to be as prepared as possible for this phone interview.  I've read articles sent to me by a friend about how best to handle a phone interview, and I will definitely be putting them into practice.  Furthermore, this job uses a skill (oral history) that while practiced in a different capacity is one that I was well trained for in graduate school.  I did my graduate studies at a university that was one of the pioneers in oral history.  Not everyone is good at conducting interviews, but I found I had a special talent for it.  Largely because people love to talk to me.  I know how to ask the right questions, and I know how to get the information I need, sometimes without even conveying that.  In a way, it's very similar to leading a class discussion.  You have to ask open ended questions and let the students talk.  Let that discussion lead to another question, all the while keeping the person answering the questions focussed on what I need/want to know.  

I haven't had many opportunities to conduct oral histories in recent years and some of the technology has changed, so I looked into the modern equipment used in the digital age.  I found out what some of the equipment that they use is and emailed a former professor and asked his advice, since the oral history center that he is now in charge of uses the same equipment.  I've read over techniques and manuals to refresh my memory about the best strategies and practices of conducting oral histories.

I've also researched the institution where the job is, the people who work in this particular museum (LinkedIn is a wonderful tool), and I have researched the surrounding area.  I want to know as much as I possibly can about this job, and he environment there.  Of course there is still more reading and research to do today, and rest assured, I will have cheat sheets and notes in front of me when they call.    I am determined to make sure that the four people interviewing me know exactly why I am the perfect candidate for this job.



By the way, I know I have been more personal in my posts lately than I ever have in this blog.  I hope that this is ok with my readers.  I've just been so focussed lately that I've felt the need to share what I am going through, so I would love your feedback on the direction that I have taken the blog in the last few weeks.  When I find interesting books or history or news items, I will definitely be posting about them, but I hope it's ok that I've just been more focussed on me lately.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Opportunity

Opportunity
By Helen Hunt Jackson


I do not know if, climbing some steep hill,
Through fragrant wooded pass, this glimpse I bought,
Or whether in some mid-day I was caught
To upper air, where visions of God’s will
In pictures to our quickened sense fulfill
His word. But this I saw.
                                          A path I sought
Through wall of rock. No human fingers wrought
The golden gates which opened sudden, still,
And wide. My fear was hushed by my delight.
Surpassing fair the lands; my path lay plain;
Alas, so spell-bound, feasting on the sight,
I paused, that I but reached the threshold bright,
When, swinging swift, the golden gates again
Were rocky wall, by which I wept in vain.



I used this poem "Opportunity," because I have a tremendous opportunity that presented itself yesterday. I got a call for an interview on Thursday. Because this place is so far away, they are initially doing telephone interviews. I mentioned this job before because I was excited when I applied for it. So often, when you come across a job announcement, you meet the minimum requirements but not all of the “preferred qualifications.” This job, however, I not only meet their minimum qualifications but also their preferred qualifications. I'm not familiar with the software this place is using, but I will be before Thursday. Besides, I've yet to find a computer program that I cannot master. I'm just going to spend today and tomorrow refreshing myself on some of the specifics of the job and the history that I will be expected to know.
This would be a wonderful opportunity and a place where I can be myself again, and not just the person my family expects me to be. Please pray for me. Pray this goes well, and pray that if this is what God wants for me, then it will happen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Carry the Ocean



I wrote briefly on Saturday about the book By That Sin Fell the Angels by Jamie Fessenden. My friend who suggested it then suggested another, this one was Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan. I've written about Heidi before because I've read her books Love Lessons and Fever Ptich. I'd seen Carry the Ocean before but after reading the blurb, I had decided that it didn't sound like a book I wanted to read. Here's the blurb:
Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.
But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.
As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.
Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.
I'm glad my friend convinced me that I should read this book. She said, “I consider it one of the best books I have read this year and hope, if you decide to give it a try, you will enjoy it too.” I value her opinion greatly, so I knew I had to give it a try. I downloaded the Kindle sample and began to read. The first thing you do is fall in love with Emmet. You can't help it.  The sample wasn't enough, I needed to read the whole book.
I also have to admit that I cried, a lot with his book. When I read Amy Lane, I always cry some, but I don't think I got through a single page of this book without a tear in my eye. I know that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but I will be honest, since I lost my job, I cry very easily. My depression is harder to fight right now.  Not everyone will cry as much as I did, but it was worth it. You see, I don't have autism, major depressive disorder, or clinical anxiety, but I identified with them.  Let me break this down so that I can explain it better.
I've always felt very intelligent. Like Emmet, I learned you can't say that to other people, but you can thank them if they tell you that. I am not a genius, but I do possess above average intelligence. For example, I went to the dentist once in high school, the dental hygienist asked me how school was going, and I told her all the things that were going great and about some of my accomplishments. I was set to be valedictorian at the time (I did graduate as valedictorian). She told my mother later, “He thinks a lot of himself, doesn't he?” I was mortified when I found this out. I'd only told her what she'd asked. I honestly wasn't bragging, but she thought I was. So, since then I've learned not to tell people I'm intelligent but to let them figure it out for themselves. This makes it very hard in applying for jobs and in job interviews because even though you need to sell yourself to the interviewer, I'm always afraid that they are going to think , “He thinks a lot of himself, doesn't he?” So while not autistic, some of Ememt’s issues hit home pretty hard.
Furthermore, I don't have a major depressive disorder, but I do have depression. I take an antidepressant for it, and I know that it doesn't work 100 percent of the time. You've seen from this blog that I have dark days. For Jeremey, it makes it hard for him to get out of bed; for me, it usually manifests itself as cluster headaches, which can be just as debilitating. I've battled depression for many years, and I also understand the influence parents can have on our mental state. Jeremey also feels what others are feeling. If someone is sad, he becomes sadder. If someone is scared, he becomes more scared. He's a very empathetic character, but he sees that as a weakness. I think one of my strongest traits is that I am empathetic. I can take on the feelings and understand someone else's emotions, but I use this to try to help people.
Also, I don't have clinical anxiety, but I do have anxiety attacks. Usually they happen when I have an approaching deadline, and I feel that I'm running out of time. I have them really bad when I have to fly in an airplane, and sometimes have them in crowds. The airplane situation is dealt with easily with Xanax, which I take to ward off the panic attacks, but the other ones I can't predict until it's too late. I have coping strategies, what Emmet would call modifications, to handle my anxiety attacks. What works for me is to sing to myself, “You Are My Sunshine.” Mama used to sing this to me as a child and I find it comforting. But also concentrating on the meter of the song, I can slow things down. When I have a panic attack, my heart races and everything moves so fast and I feel completely out of control. “You Are My Sunshine” calms me down and slows down my mind.
When I'd first read the blurb for Carry the Ocean I didn't think I'd be interested in reading it. Usually, when I find a book that I love, it's because I can identify in some way with the main character. I didn't think I could do this with Emmet or Jeremey. However, here's why I think this book is so extraordinary: Heidi Cullinan has written two characters that seem so different from us, but I challenge any of you to read this book and not identify in some way with these characters. I honestly don't think you can.
I cried a lot in this book because it was powerful and emotional. I cried because I was happy or empathetic. It's hard to describe the emotions that this book evoked in me. It made me happy, it broke my heart, and it touched my soul. I think there are three lessons to learn from this book. First, don't judge a book by it’s cover (literally and metaphorically). There is so much more to this book than that blurb, just as there was so much more to Emmet and Jeremey than most people could see. Second, there is no such thing as normal. Third, while some of us merely carry buckets of water, some of us Carry the Ocean.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why Do I Let Myself Worry?


This is a post that I needed to write and contemplate. It's one I need to believe, even though it's very hard to do so right now. I feel like a complete loser as I write this, because I just received my seventh rejection letter in one week. Seven “we were very impressed with your qualifications, but we selected another candidate for this position” letters, I must be a real winner. (Sarcasm, if you couldn't guess.) I am trying to keep my faith and believe that God really will direct me, and He will provide for me. It gets tougher every day to keep believing that something good will come out of all of this.
I've spent an awful lot of time in my life worrying. I've worried about grades in school, job interviews or lack thereof, approaching deadlines, and many, many other things. I've worried about bills and expenses, rising gas prices, insurance costs, and what I did to end up in this situation. Lately, I have worried most about what I will do next, where will I go from here, and whether or not anyone will ever want to hire me.
Over the span of my lifetime, worrying accounts for hours and hours of invaluable time that I'll never get back. I've decided I need to quit worrying and look to the future but it's very hard when the future looks so bleak and uncertain. I'm not convinced that I can give up my worrying, it's a part of who I am, because if I'm not worrying about myself, I'm worrying about others. I found these four biblical reasons not to worry, and I'm hoping they will help me deal with my current situation better and maybe encourage someone who's in a similar position
1. Jesus explicitly tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that worrying accomplishes absolutely nothing. Consider Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
I know Jesus is telling us what is best, and I also realize that worrying is a waste of time. But, how do you actually stop worrying? I don't have an answer. I can't bring myself to act happy all the time without a care in the world, because I do worry. I know it is a waste of energy, but I cannot seem to stop worrying. If I am not worried about my own life and future, I am worried about my friends and family.
2. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that worrying is not good for us.Worrying is destructive to us in many ways. It becomes a mental burden that can even cause us to grow physically sick. Consider Proverbs 12:25:
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
I know the medical implications of worry and stress. It is a major cause of my headaches. One of the things that my medicine for my headache does is that it allows me to sleep and to take my mind off my worries. I also know that it causes weight gain. I know that I'm a stress eater. I know that I want to sit down and drink a whole bottle of wine in hopes of forgetting my troubles for just a little while. (I don't because even one glass of wine can trigger one of my headaches.) I know that I am not the only person who turns to destructive behavior when I am stressed, but that's just it, it's destructive behavior, and we have to save ourselves from it.
3. Paul told the Philippians that worrying is the opposite of trusting God. The energy that we spend worrying can be put to much better use in prayer. Here's a little formula that I've been told to remember: Worry replaced by Prayer equals Trust. Consider Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I have certainly prayed plenty, and many people have been praying for me, but maybe I am not praying enough. In times past, when I didn't understand something, I prayed and meditated on the answer. I did this when I didn't understand my sexuality. I'd always been taught that being gay was evil, but I was not attracted to women. I was attracted to guys. I knew I wouldn't be happy alone, and I knew I'd make a woman miserable. So I prayed, and I meditated. And God delivered his answer. I am gay, and God still loves me and wants me to be happy. I just need to do that again, and realize that God does love me, He will take care of me, the right opportunity will come along, and He wants me to be happy. I just need faith.
4. Peter wrote that worrying puts our focus in the wrong direction. We are told that when we keep our eyes focused on God, we remember his love for us and we realize we truly have nothing to worry about. Consider 1 Peter 5:6-7:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
I know that God has a wonderful plan for our lives, and part of that plan includes taking care of us. Even in the difficult times, when it seems like God doesn't care, we can put our trust in the Lord and focus on his love for us, because that never wavers. God will take care of our every need, but when I read these passages, I feel guilty. I know I should put more of my faith in God. I honestly don't doubt God, and I trust Him completely, but each time I get a rejection about a job offer, especially one that I know I was well-qualified for and would have done an excellent job for the organization, I begin to doubt myself.
I don't know if I've said this on this blog before, but my current boss at the job where I volunteer, told me that when she was looking for a job that she prayed to God, “LORD, please let me get offered the job that is right for me. I need to trust in You, and Your guidance, because You know I get confused when there are choices.” So I'm putting my faith in the idea that God wants me to have patience and wait for the right one. I hope He just doesn't want me to get confused. Besides, He is providing. I finally started getting unemployment benefits, and it was a much easier process this time around. I have the love and support of my friends and family and that means the world to me, and I know I have the love and support of God. In the song “Crazy,” Patsy Cline sang, “Worry, why do I let myself worry? Wondering what in the world did I do?” And she's right (or Willie Nelson was right since he wrote the song), if I keep worrying and not putting my faith in God, then it will drive me crazy.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Moment of Zen: A Good Book


About 4 p.m. yesterday, I got an email from a friend of mine.  She suggested that I check out a book review she had just read.  She said that she thought I might be interested in the book.  I clicked on the link, and it was a review for Jamie Fessenden's By That Sin Fell the Angels.  Once I read the review, I knew it was a book I wanted to read (if you read the review, you'll see why she thought of me).  The book is available on Kindle so I downloaded the sample to see if I'd really like it or not.  By the time I finished the sample, I wanted more, so I got the whole book.  I'm a slow reader so it usually takes me a while to read a book, but this one I sat down and read from start to finish with barely a break.  I just needed to know how it ended, and I finished just before midnight.  I've only ever done that with one book before, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  By That Sin Fell the Angels was really that good. I'm sorry it ended.  I've never read a book by Fessenden, but I know I'll be checking out more of his books.