Thursday, March 29, 2007


I got some deflating news yesterday. The head tech of the vet clinic e-mailed me back, and, in a rather unclear letter, she stated that there were no full time openings there now. I say unclear, because she kept going back and forth saying there might be openings in the summer, or the new vet coming in might need new techs, but overall it just seemed confused and not terribly promising. I don’t think she was trying to yank me around; I just think she is not sure what’s going to happen over the next few months, herself.

Although I was upset to learn this, I don’t really blame the clinic. When the director indicated to me that they were desperate for staff three weeks ago, she probably couldn’t know that they’d have four other people applying in that time, three of whom already have extensive tech experience and the last of whom doesn’t have a current full-time job getting in the way of training. I just really wish this had worked out. I’m sure that for a few days I will be fluctuating between the rational evaluation that it’s nothing personal and this is just how things panned out, personal offense and feelings of rejection, and a more zen assessment that if I’d been meant to work there, it would have worked out, so I’m meant to work elsewhere.

I can also take the positive lesson that I was able to learn a few things while volunteering, and the most important of those was that I like working in a vet clinic and learning the practice. That’s key, because I actually have a direction, now, even if it isn’t my only possible one. I can take that knowledge and look for another vet tech training position, rather than wringing my hands asking what I should be doing with my life. If it doesn’t work out, I have a few weeks to land a new job, so I can send out résumés for web-related jobs, preferably animal-organization related, at the same time. And, even if I do get a vet tech position, it doesn’t have to be THE career of the rest of my life. It’s just what I want to do now, and that’s all good.

This may all sound simplistic, but it’s a real learning curve for me. I’ve always felt that I somehow “should” be incredibly responsible, know exactly what I want to do forever and excel at it. I’m not sure exactly where this came from, although the employment difficulties my parents had in the recession of the 70s, along with the emotional turmoil around their divorce, certainly helped me decide at a very tender age that I was going to have to be “adult” and focused. I actually read a quote by Karl Lagerfeld, of all people, that reminded me of my childhood views:

“I was too exotic for where I was. I hated the company of other children. I wanted to be a grownup person, to be taken seriously. I hated the idea of childhood; I thought it was a moment of endless stupidity.”

This is why I was never terribly socially popular. Not only did I think I was smarter than all the other kids, but I really felt that I was an adult trapped in a child’s body. Perhaps I didn’t always act this way, outwardly, but it was always in my mind. In fact, I remember distinctly thinking at all of age five or six that, now that my father and mother were getting divorced, I would have to pull myself together and take care of my mother. How fucked is that?

Trying to be a responsible adult all of my youth did a lot of good for me. I learned how to work early. I applied myself to school and learning. Although I did do some boneheaded teenage things and tried some drugs and so forth, I kept myself aware and safe while other kids I know were getting pregnant, mixed up with dangerous dates, into accidents, or addicted. I got into my first choice of college and worked to put myself through. I’ve kept a roof over my head, steady employment and some stable relationships. Life has been pretty good.

But now that I’m moving further into my adult years I’m missing some of the things I didn’t allow myself as a kid. I miss having a dream and believing I can do it. I miss feeling that I can try new things without worrying that I will fail, end up broke and with no one to help support me emotionally or financially. I miss living for today, rather than having to create a strict plan for the future and adhere to it in order to feel secure.

I haven’t been unemployed since my very early teen years – not once - and there were periods I held several jobs at a time. I rarely had the time or security to be spontaneous and do what I want to do. I was allowing myself so little leeway or free time that six years ago I became debilitated by daily panic attacks. Even now that I’ve changed somewhat and solved that problem, the free time I allow myself is usually spent in a state of collapse or vegetation, trying to gear myself up for my financial responsibilities, rather than in actual rest, creativity or contemplation. I’m boring and bored and stressed, and it’s time to make a change.

So, I will accept that I’m probably not going to get full-time employment at this vet clinic, but I will not let myself feel I’ve failed, somehow. I will take what I’ve learned – both the practical elements and the knowledge that I really am enjoying exploring this possible career – and use it to find another position that I like. I will let myself be upset and uncomfortable about it for a few days – that’s only human – but I’ll remind myself that I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer there, and I have at least six weeks where I’ll be paid my current rate to find another opportunity.

Also, my trusty financial advisor, Mrs. Nator, reassures me that even if I had to go on unemployment for a little while, it would not make me a horrible person who destroyed our lives and forced us to live in the gutter eating cardboard, until she left me for someone more responsible. It may even be okay for me to use some of the time off to rest, putter around and - gasp! - play a little. I also believe that she mentioned that it would help her stick with me if I went back to cleaning the kitty litter at home more often, but that might have just been my imagination. I will let myself imagine better things!

Most of all, I will let myself continue to be excited. Excited like a child would be when discovering something new she likes to do and learn about. Excited as I was when I got my own first pet to care for, or when I could help clients find a lost dog or figure out if their bird was sick when I was doing animal communication. I’m excited to learn about caring for animals. I’m sad that the first place I thought I could practice in won’t work out, but here’s hoping I can convey that excitement to other vet practice directors, and get hired elsewhere.

Change is scary for me. Disappointment has frequently become debilitating. This time, I want to get through these things, and turn them around.


Corn Dog said...

DAMN IT! I have no doubt you will find something better, more intriguing and with different animals. I so understand what you have written about how you have always been the adult but even in this new adventure you are not out goofing around kid fashion, Da Nator. You are working hard toward a goal, albeit one you love. A career switch is tough and you volunteered, hoping it would work out. You can put that time down as actual work experience and I am sure the head tech will give you a good reference. With all those techs running around too now it would limit your experience so moving is probably best. Perhaps try the exotic clinic? I'm truly sorry. I know you were hoping it would work out. I was too.

Corn Dog said...

It is on Long Island. I am directionally retarded so it may not be do-able

Corn Dog said...

One more on Long Island. Both of these say they will take people without experience
But I would count your time at the current place.
Sorry DaNator but I have no idea if this is helpful or not. It may be like San Francisco and may be you can't get there from where you are in a decent amount of time.

Da Nator said...

Thanks, CD. The first one is in Long Island City, which is actually in Queens (don't ask). It would be about and hour commute, I think, but doable. Plainview is another story, but I won't bore you with commuter line details!

Not to worry: I'm all over Craig's List and other resources. I have a few places in my nabe in mind to actally stop by, and some listings that look intriguing.

kris said...

Sorry to hear about this - how disappointing! But maybe it would be good to just take some time off for yourself. I know what you mean about being the adult at a young age - my parents 'let me' decide which one to go with when they got divorced (I was 11). I think it would be great if you could just use that unemployment time to relax, do some reading, hang out with friends etc. without worrying too much about what was coming next. It's a rare opportunity, in a way.

First Nations said...

this is exactly the right attitude. and what the hey; you made some animals comfortable and thats good too.
karl lagerfeld is the last person i would have ever thought i'd have something in common with. dang.