I got a message yesterday from a guy who worked with me on a mega-project back in January. I was surprised to hear from him because I had stopped working for the non-profit world about a month and a half ago, but since he didn’t know that, I called him back. He said he needed the pictures for a marketing brochure he was making. I told him that I didn’t work for X anymore. He said, “Yeah, I heard that.” He then continued drly, “Congratulations on your scholarships.” Then it hit me: how the hell would he have known that? He wouldn’t have known that I got the scholarships unless he talked to my ex-boss and she gave him my number. It’s unsettling. Sure, let me drop everything I’m doing right now and help you pro bono. Right.
Which brings me to the whole getting axed from the non-profit/private foundation world. Back in April, my boss calls me to join her at local bakery where we frequently had meetings. When I get there, she buys me a cinnamon bun and a drink and sits me down. While I’m mid-bite, she said, “There’s no easy way to say this…” which of course began her spiel. She said that there wasn’t any funding for the position and that I could just tell people that. I knew what it was really about: I wasn’t fit for the job.
I agree. The job looked great on paper and sounded fabulous at cocktail parties (“Yes, I work for X; we work to strengthen families and transform neighborhoods”), but it was confusing, thankless and exhausting. It was a love-hate relationship. I loved working with teenagers, teaching digital storytelling and creative writing. I met talented and dedicated people who truly believed in transformation ideas and neighborhood empowerment. Their work extends into their homes, seeps into their weekends.
But then there was the other side, the cattiness and competition. I encountered ageist people who spoke only in abbreviations and others who couldn’t understand why I had to miss a meeting because it conflicted with my class schedule. Last quarter, I told someone that I was teaching reading and writing to first-graders in the Central District. She said curtly, “Uh huh, that’s great, but you should be working in this neighborhood.” I wasn’t expecting a humanitarian award, but I didn’t think she would stomp all over my work.
So when I was let go, I entered into an unemployment funk. I was dumped! And I was the one who wanted to leave them first! I had sacrificed an internship at a literary agency for them and I was dropped. I said, “Oh no you didn’t!” and they said, “Oh yes we di-id! Booyah!”
I was feeling sorry for myself, imagining all the horrible things I would have to do for money (I had an *excellent* street corner in mind). This lasted two days. I had great support. Mike was really sweet, saying, “I’ve been fired from more jobs than you’ve had!” So I cried a river, built a bridge and got over it.
And what do you know, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I received enough scholarship money to postpone working for a bit. I’m more frugal but less stressed. My chaos is school-related, the way it should be.
I could say more, but it’s just whining. I should ask them, “Where is it? Oh that’s right, it’s in your face!