Spinning Right Round, Baby, Right Round

Spinning…spinning…spinning.

And now, dizzy.

That’s the way my mind is feeling right now, and sadly, I can’t just blame it on the blonde hair. (That’s often my go-to excuse for everything from losing my pencil, only to find it behind my ear, to forgetting if I should push down on the elevator button because I want the elevator to come down to me or up because I am trying to go up. Seriously, that does happen to me.) Dizzy, because my brain that wants everything to be cheery and happy and carefree all of the time and when tidbits of information throw a wrench in that happy little bubble of a world, my brain suddenly becomes like my favorite amusement park ride- the Scrambler, twisting and turning to make laughter bubble to the surface. But, sometimes the centrifugal force is too tiring.

That’s today.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you want something until the option is taken off the table and today, my table was cleared, handily. When Thad and I first talked about the Foreign Service a few years ago, I was one hundred percent on board; I think I even said something like, “Great! I will just teach wherever you get assigned!” After all, we’d already been looking at international schools as a way to get overseas again.

I was naïve, no doubt about it. It didn’t take long into my freshman week at FSI to learn that it isn’t as easy as having a teaching degree and applying for jobs. No, the governments (both home and host) have a lot of say in whether or not the dependents of diplomats can work, and as luck would have it, our first posting was one of those countries where I’m not allowed to work. (To be fair, Chengdu was #1 on our bid list and there were definitely squeals of excitement when we got it, but at the time I thought I’d for sure be able to land a job with Peace Corps in Chengdu, which obviously didn’t happen.)  But, I figured I’d sit the two years out from teaching and then jump right back into the middle school pool at post #2.

Bidding time rolled around and after lots of planning and researching, we submitted our list of thirty choices, many of the top ones being places where I could potentially teach. No email. No email. Email! Our assignment arrived! After scrolling down Thad’s BlackBerry to get to the meat of the email, I saw in bold letters our home for the next two years: Kuala Lumpur. I must admit to a bit of shock, as I didn’t even remember having that on our bid list, (after going back and checking, it was #18- love your mid-bids, FS folks!) but was excited to live nearly on the equator, as I do hot much better than cold.

My first order of business was to check out the work situation, which is grim, as it turns out. But, I wasn’t giving up hope. Through the summer and fall, I talked a good game about working at the embassy or online (I even completed nine credits through Pacific Lutheran University during fall term to add an online teaching certification to my resume!), but I think in the back of my mind, I was planning to make the classroom teaching thing happen. Rationally, I knew it was a misguided fantasy I was carrying around, but it was what had settled in my mind and heart.  With Christmas here,  I’ve been dreaming of reading A Christmas Carol with students, marveling at Dicken’s word play, I’ve lain in bed, creating lesson plans revolving  around awesome new YA books I’ve been reading lately, and as I’ve edited blogs for my middle school niece, I’ve realized how much I’ve missed talking with kids about their writing.

It’s not going to happen. At least not in a brick and mortar classroom.

Through the help of some great colleagues, my fears were confirmed this afternoon: I will not be able to teach at an international school in Malaysia. I could apply and even be offered a position, but I would not be allowed to accept it.

I’m having a hard time accepting it.

If you had asked me yesterday (or even this morning!), I would have given you a list of work options that included the embassy, online teaching or working in a local school, but my emphasis would have been on the school.

Tomorrow’s list is going to be one option shorter.

Spinning…spinning…spinning.

Not one to dwell on the negative for too long (although a bit of a short pity party is in order), I’m already hatching plan B. Since international schools do a lot of their hiring in the winter for the coming school year, I was starting to worry about getting my resume, application and letters of reference in order, but now that it has been swept off the table with gusto, it’s time to move on and focus on the options I do have. On a multiple choice test, it’s always better to have two answers to choose from rather than three, so I’m choosing to look at this the same way. I’ll focus my energies on the actual possibilities, rather than the ones I secretly (but without good reason) hoped would materialize.

Online teaching.

Embassy work.

Both could be (will be!) great.

But, maybe I need just another hour to spin…spin…spin.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.