Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stepping Stone and Middle Ground

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”


Last Monday was a down day for me, as evidenced from last week’s post. Strangely, around the time I wrote it, a message was left at my house to set up an interview on Wednesday morning for a Building Substitute position. While that was good news, the fact that I was already in New York, heading south for the wedding instead of north was a tiny problem.

I called and explained the situation. It was agreed I’d interview first thing on Monday morning after I’d returned. And by “first thing”, I mean 7:30 am.

But on Tuesday, I received another call asking for me to do a phone interview on Wednesday morning, the time they originally wanted me to come in person. So Wednesday, I anxiously awaited the call. Sightseeing would have to wait until I got this out of the way. I didn’t have high hopes to make a good impression over the other candidates who got to have a face-to-face interview, but I was prepared and thought it went well.

In fact, I was so excited at finally having an interview that I blabbed about it on Facebook. Many encouraging comments ensued.

On Friday morning, as promised, the school called me. I didn’t get the job. The assistant principal offered kind words:

“We hope you’ll continue to work in the district.”

“We anticipate openings for extended term substitute positions.”

“We wish you the best of luck.”

I hoped she meant it. The Social Studies teacher is going on maternity leave at some point, so maybe they’re hoping to put me there. Maybe.

Then it hit me. I was in a house full of friends and didn’t want to announce my bad news. While washing dishes, my husband asked me, and I told him.

He gave me a hug, and told me, “You don’t want this job anyway.”

I replied, “It’s would’ve been a stepping stone.”

Of course, subbing was supposed to be a “stepping stone” and we see how well that’s worked out….

Friday was also my son’s twelfth birthday. Our friends lit a cupcake for him and we sang “Happy Birthday”. Then it was time to take him out to do the things he wanted to do. This meant visiting Iwo Jima and Arlington National Cemetery. You know, places to lift my spirits.

On the way, I tried to help my husband get to Iwo Jima. Apparently, I wasn’t being helpful, but talking over Xena, Warrior Navigator (That’s what I’ve named our GPS).

He yelled at me, and I got teary and sniffly. Didn’t he know what a bad day this was for me? Wasn’t I trying to help? Had I been that interfering?

Poor, poor me.

Visiting these two sites was good for me. It put my life in perspective. I wasn’t fighting a war, facing death, was I? Some daily substitute days feel like I’m engaging in battle, but nobody has died. Yet.

It was moving to visit John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy’s graves and view the eternal flame. Then we walked in the swampy heat to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was impressed with the soldier walking back and forth. Every move and sound he made was calculated, exact. We viewed the changing of the guard ceremony, which was even more impressive. It’s a hallowed place.

A part of me felt depressed about this ceremony. When I hear horror stories about how some soldiers haven’t gotten the help they need, I wish the living troops got the same respect as the dead soldiers. The cost of war is truly enormous. The three days in DC were a constant reminder of the consequences of war.

Afterwards, we ate in Georgetown at a restaurant called “Old Glory”. My husband and I had eaten there twice before. It was nice to go back to the pretty town. Too bad I was still feeling sorry for myself to enjoy it fully.

Though at the hotel for only ten minutes, one of my cousins called from down the corridor, “Did you hear anything about the job?” Stupid me. Facebook. I was going to have relive this defeat all weekend.

On the way to dinner, I told my husband he could’ve been nicer to me when we were trying to find the Iwo Jima monument since it was such a hard day for me. Apparently, he didn’t know it was a hard day for me. He’s said it before and he said it again – I don’t reveal when I’m depressed about something. “I have to read it on your blog,” he added.

I wanted to be defensive. Wasn’t it OBVIOUS?

Not to him. He didn’t think the job was ideal for me. I guess he thought I felt the same if I didn’t really say otherwise. Saying it was supposed to be a stepping stone and that I’m disappointed doesn’t reveal the magnitude of my feelings.

Why do I have a hard time letting live people I care about know when I’m vulnerable? I know people who wear their feelings on their sleeves. I don’t want that to be me. But I’ll need to find a middle ground.

P.S. I’ve posted an excerpt of The Mist Chasers on my second blog:

Comments welcome.


  1. Theresa, I'm so sorry you didn't get the job. I was actually thinking about you the other day and wondering if you'd heard anything!

    I'm the same way. I don't like to show if I'm upset etc - in fact, sometimes I act like I'm manically happy even when I'm hurting. Why? I dunno! The I get all annoyed when people don't treat me 'like they should' 'coz I'm upset! Ah, the human psyche.

    I hope things work out for you this year subbing. I know how hard it is. But... you might have more time for writing? Maybe?

  2. I'm still surprized at how my partner can misread my mood after so many years... actually i should rewrite that, I still assume he can telepathically read my mood after all these years...the only way bloggers know is because you take the time to tell us - we forget with those closest i think!
    All the best Theresa, have a lovely Thursday

  3. On the bright side, your blog is one of the few I visit regularly... Why? Because I enjoy your writing style and always find something of value in your stories. How's that for a pick me up? :)

  4. I don't like broadcasting my vulnerabilities either. I feel like a whiner to admit something upset me when I WISH it didn't.

    You'll find a great job that makes this in-between waiting worthwhile. Maybe all this interim suffering is meant to make you a stronger writer? It'll all get better, promise.

  5. Awww Theresa Milstein!!!!! I am so so sorry!! You had to put on a strong persona on the day because it was your son's birthday and I just guess your hubby was too preoccupied with stuff to notice!

    I'm trying so hard to say "well that's men for you" LOL because I'm not one to encourage such divisions but sometimes they (men) could be a little self-preoccupied especially when the woman is trying to keep everything together - multitasking emotionally and practically as always and forever more!!.

    I always get "well you should have said" or "how would I know if you hadn't said" etc from current beau and it drives me crazy!

    Cos like you I don't want to be on show emotionally all the time but whereas I am able to pick up subtle hints from others that they are upset it's never the other way round!

    But I'm so glad you were able to talk to hubby afterwards - to tell him how you felt! That's really nice - that tells me that your lines of communication are open and loving and there! It was just such a shame that this wasn't available when you were driving to the memorials. Thank goodness for Xena - we women really need her sometimes!!

    Take care Theresa Milstein!! And GOOD LUCK with the job hunting! I hope you trust your instincts about the phone call you got from the school - that maybe you are very much the choice to have when the teacher takes her maternity leave! That's your inner Xena working for you!!

    Hugs and more hugs!
    p.s HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your son!! 12!!! Wow.

    take care

  6. @ Talli, I tend to pick up on subtleties to detect other people's moods so I guess I expect the same.

    More time for writing would be good.

    @ Words A Day, I expect telepathy as well, I guess. My daughter knows if I'm down in a heartbeat. She senses the vibes or something.

    @ Halpey1, that was an awesome pick me up. Thank you!

    @ Vicki, I get mad at myself for getting upset too.

    I must be a very strong writer from all of this whining and suffering!

    @ Old Kitty, I refrained from mentioning the male stereotype too. I guess it's around for a reason! And I do feel like I can read his moods and respond accordingly. Maybe he doesn't feel I do for all I know.

    I'm glad I talked to. I should've done it earlier.

    I like the idea of having an inner-Xena.

    Thanks for the pep talk.

    I can't believe my son is 12. Yikes!

  7. I hope that temporary job turns up for you, Theresa.

    I agree, it is a stepping stone and a start.
    As regards men and emotional vibes, I think they are definitely hardwired differently.
    Saying that, my son picks up more signs of my moods than my daughter, so maybe it varies.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you, and happy Birthday to your son, I know, my daughter will be 13 soon, very strange feeling.

  8. So sorry to hear the job didn't work out - I'm sure one will come up soon! I'll cross my fingers for you!

    I'm not good at showing my down moments either. It's tough!

  9. hi miss theresa! im real sorry you didnt get that job but you didnt so now you gotta try again. when i was real sick i didnt want to say how i feel cause i didnt want to be a bother on anyone. my doctor said its ok to feel what you feel and it more ok to say it and i did a little at first and now i know its ok and it feels real good and mostly i get real nice words from people when i tell them. i think its something you gotta learn how to do. youre doing it right here and seeing how much people care about you and im one of them.
    ...hugs from lenny

  10. You're going to find out that you didn't want that job anyway. Either you'll meet the person who got it, and find that it wasn't what you wanted (and you would have been miserable had you gotten it), or something much, much better will come along, and you'll be glad that you didn't commit to that job because then you'd be stuck with it.

    It'll be okay. You'll see.

  11. I'm sorry you didn't get the job. I hope that something good turns up for you soon. It can be hard expressing our feelings to people; I think it's easier to do it on paper or online because we can think about what we want to say and revise it before putting our words out there. And somehow I think it's easier reading people's reactions to what we write.

  12. @ Brigid, I agree, some people are hardwired to be in tune to people's feelings. It tends to be women, but not always.

    13? So you DO know the feeling.

    @ Lenny, I'm glad you have such a good doctor. It's good that you can reach out to people. I'm going to learn from your example. Thanks and hugs to you.

    @ Jemi, if we could be better about showing them, we'd probably get over them faster.

    @ Liz, I hope you're right. I'll look back a few months from now and see if I'd taken that job a certain opportunity would've been lost.

    @ Neurotic Workaholic, it's so much easier on paper, especially virtual paper. I have to get the guts face-to-face.

    Reading the reactions from all of you always makes me feel better. I have to learn to let the people I see do that too.

  13. I love "Xena, Warrior Navigator" -- too funny.

    But I'm really sorry that you didn't get the job, and that you had a hard day overall. I still have a good feeling that something great is coming for you in the future, but I'm no fortune teller, so we'll see. (*whispers* I hope it's a book deal...)

    I think I'm the opposite in terms of showing my feelings -- I wear my emotions on my sleeve (only with close family and friends, though) but try not to express too much in my blog, on Facebook, etc. Must be an internet paranoia thing.

    Sorry this comment is so long! I think of you often and hope something good will come along soon!

  14. I'm sorry you are having a rough week. *hugs* BUT, I honestly believe something better will come along. You certainly deserve good things.

    Happy birthday to your son! :)


  15. First, I wish with all my heart that the phone would ring and the perfect opportunity would just land in your lap. Quietly. And solidly. I really do. I'm very sorry this wasn't it.

    My husband is very practical in some areas and it sounds like yours is, too. If we put on a brave face, well, it must not be too bad. If we fall over in hysterics, then we've overreacted! Grrrrr. It's a male thing.

    As I read your words, I couldn't help but think of Elinor Dashwood. She had great depth of feeling, but had to be strong all the time. I think you're much like her, in the best ways possible.

    And, in the end, her dreams came true....

  16. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't get that job, but you will find something better. At least you know there will be some kind of opening in the near future, so that still gives you some hope. I know substituting isn't the ideal job, but look where it has gotten you in the blog world! You have such a great community of people cheering you on. It is only a matter of time before something unfolds for you.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  17. @ Shelley, Xena, Warrior Navigator has made my trips to unfamiliar places so much better. I had to give her a fierce name.

    @ Lola, thank you for the nice words. Hugs to you.

    @ The Words Crafter, I think my husband often thinks I'm overreacting.

    It's so funny you mention Elinor Dashwood. I took the "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" quiz on Old Kitty's blog. I got Elinor Dashwood! She sounds like me. I'm sure my actual sister would wind up the as the sister. I should make her take the quiz.

    @ Tiffany, I'm lucky to have so many people like you cheering me on. I'd better figure out something soon so I don't disappoint! I'm about to reach my one-year blog anniversary along with beginning another year of subbing.

  18. My niece graduated with an advanced degree in bio-germs or whatever, I'm not sure. She relocated to take a job teaching in Philadelphia at a junior high school.

    The kids throw dice in the back of the class, throw desks across the room, and rip out security communications devices to keep the cops away. Several kids have been arrested in her class, anyway. It's a fun school.

    Careful what you wish for. Being a drive-by substitute isn't so bad if you were in Philly.

    Good luck in your quest.


  19. Happy birthday to your son.

    I am sorry to hear that you did not get the job--that must be disappointing. Like you said: it is difficult to trump other applicants over the phone when they are meeting in-person with the hiring folks.

    Regarding your question about warning your family about how you feel, I am awful at that as well and usually make things worse for myself by not telling. You would think I'd have this figured out by now, but I am far from resolving it.

  20. @ Walter, your poor niece. When you put it that way, I'm happy right where I am. There are places like that in Boston too.

    @ Slamdunk, my son was happy to know about all the birthday wishes.

    I'm going to make a greater effort to be up front. I just never know what to say and how to act. Written expression is easier.

  21. I'm sorry you didn't get the job.

    But it sounds to me like going to a consecrated place like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier would be an experience we ALL need to have. In fact, if we were to have an experience like that every day in order to put our lives in perspective, we'd all be a little happier.

  22. Sorry about the job, T. My heart hurts too, with discouragment for you. Maybe that Social Studies job is just what you need to get to your ideal place? Things will fall into place at the moment they're supposed to. I know it.

    And I have the same problem with my husband. I can't tell him what I'm feeling until I'm about to explode. I blame it on the fact he scores a ZERO on emotions in the Myers-Briggs personality tests. I have an overabundance of passion for the both of us. :o)

  23. I am sorry you didn't get the job. I know how frustrating the job search is. I do know what you mean about not sharing your emotions with people you are close with. Sometimes I find myself revealing things I haven't told my friends or family to my hairdresser.

    It'll happen.

  24. @ Amanda Sablan, you're right. I didn't mention it in the post but while we were by the tomb, we heard gunshots because a funeral was taking place. It made the idea of sacrifice and death even more real.

    @ Jackee, I hope you're right about the job situation.

    A zero on the Meyers-Briggs personality test?! I'll have to look up that test.

    @ Missed Periods, the job search is frustrating, especially because there aren't more jobs out there.

  25. Hi Teresa... sorry about the job. My mother (very wise woman) has a saying that goes "if its for you it wont pass you".. your job is out there somewhere and it will be along in good time!

    As for men picking up on your feelings???? Dont be daft! Men dont do that. You have to hit them square over the head with feelings... and women generally hate to do that.. Another saying from a wise woman "we you are pissed off and feeling down, its not your husband you need its a girlfriend!"

    So big hug sister! Husbands are great on sunny days!!!

  26. @ Barbara, I'll keep looking for the job that's out there waiting for me.

    Okay, I'll rely more on chicks for venting when I'm down.

  27. Talk about a roller coaster of emotion! Honey, you were on it. Sorry you did not get the job. Something better awaits.

  28. @ Bossy Betty, I hope you, and the other people who commented are right. Something better awaits.

  29. Hi Theresa .. sorry about the job - but as your hubby said .. it probably wouldn't have suited you .. and job full of misery is not a good alternative.

    However I guess the process of the whole interview etc .. will be a big learning curve and you'll be handling similar situations with much more aplomb in future?! That's out of your way .. now you can concentrate of better things ..

    Have a good weekend .. happy days lie ahead .. Hilary

  30. @ Hilary, having an interview definitely gave me confidence for the next one. Thanks for the nice comment.

  31. The wheel spins...
    We compromise with less than our ideal which is more than many have and find ourselves waiting for the next chance. The waiting is hard but we keep moving forward. The wheel spins and another chance will come. I'm looking forward to toasting your success.

    My natural tendency is towards secrecy... always has been. These past years I've made an exception with my lover, making an effort to be open and share more than I'm inclined to, but I'm coming to question that. Shrug.
    I still believe that communication is an essential part to any kind of relationship, but finding the best balances may be even more important.

    Balances, yes the plural is intended: I don't think people in relationships are equal, quite simply because people are not equal. Some people are stronger, some are smarter, some are more creative, some people are better dancers, some people love more, some people are more empathic, etc... Naturally, the same can be said of the negative equivalent.
    Wanting or expecting to be equal in all respects in a good way of gearing oneself for disappointment at the very least. That isn't to say that we can't ask another person to effect changes for our sakes, but we come back to the communication. We need to communicate our needs for them to be taken into account.

    I'd be very wary of gender patterning, especially considering that a good part of gender archetypes come not from physiology but from cultural/societal formatting and parental perpetuation of past concepts. So it doesn't take much to produce some one who doesn't meet the average.

    Yes, I know you didn't make any statement on this subject... Sorry for veering of topic.

  32. @ Alesa, I guess I'm secretive too. What am I supposed to say? "I'm depressed." It just sounds so... pathetic. And if I did, he'd give me a hug and say a few nice words. I'm not the kind to want to talk about it. I just want it understood so I can be treated differently for that day. Maybe.

    I don't think people in any relationships are equal either. Someone always loves and cares for one more than the other. I'm used to being the one at the disadvantage here.

    Like, you, I don't want to go too far with stereotypes. I was more against it until I had my own children and began teaching, where I do see some definite patterns that can't all be explained away by nurture.

    When my son was two, he got a carriage and doll for his birthday could've cared less. And my daughter was still a baby (maybe 9 months) when she pulled his doll and treated it like her baby.

    Boys in classrooms tend to have more energy and resolve their conflicts in a more physical way (not necessarily violence) while the girls tend to stew and want to talk to a teacher about it.

    But at our heart, we all feel the same things and there are plenty of exceptions to any rule. In some ways, my son is more sensitive than my daughter.

    Most of my life, my friends have been guys because I get them more and maybe I'm more like them.

    Now we've both written posts within the post.

  33. I really like the excerpt from your story. Thw whole fog scenario is very intriguing. I awarded you with two blogger awards. :) Check out my blog to see them.

  34. @ Sara, thanks for reading my excerpt.

    And thanks for the awards. I'll head over to your blog now.