2014 was not a good year. Almost as a common experience, the year was rough for most people I interact with regularly. Emotionally, 2014 broke something in me, and I'm trying to hold the pieces together long enough to heal.
There's no real short way to summarize the events of the past year beyond overwhelming and chaotic.
I started the year newly unemployed, after a brief tenure in a fantastic new job before the position was suddenly eliminated a week before Christmas. The library employment market, particularly for a technology focused librarian, is limited. Even non-professional library employment postings receive 70-100 applications, many from MLS graduates. On the bright side, I started securing bits of variable employment here and there, and if push came to shove, I could live off my savings for some period of time.
Then my partner's grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in February my parent's home suffered from a chimney fire. I started temping in libraries, on top of substitute teaching and contract web development work. We made plans to fly across the country to visit my partner's grandfather while we had the chance. My grandmother suffered a stroke and was left vegetative.
I found a full-time temp placement in a library for the summer (ultimately longer), getting me through the months of no substitute teaching. I took my mom to meet Norton Juster. On my birthday I found out a "clementine-sized" growth was found on my mom's intestines. On July 11th she went in for a "routine" operation to remove the growth, and a brain aneyrism blew out while she was under. She never woke up and passed away in the early hours of July 12th. On Monday when they find out at work they ask me why I'm even there, it was because I couldn't manage being home alone with nothing but my thoughts. Work gave me a direction, something to focus on.
We set the date for the memorial service in August in a event hall at a local library, laid the ground work for a fund in her name focusing on accessibility/accessible materials in the library. Two days before the service we find out my partner's grandfather has taken a turn for the worse, and we scramble to figure out logistics and finances to get him out there to say good bye until his grandmother tells us not to. The next day his grandfather passes. The day after is my mother's memorial service where I again say goodbye to one of the most important people in my life.
Repairs are still not started on my parent's home from the fire in February, and due to a chain of events and miscommunications, my stepfather is now searching for a new contractor at the end of the summer. The discussion of my partner and I moving in with my stepfather to help him afford and maintain the property is put on hold due to drawn out construction.
October I get married to my partner of 7 years. Everything was beautiful, and I'm very happy at what we were able to do with extremely limited means. My stepfather brought us to tears with a toast to us, and my mother's memory, ending with "may they grow old together." Our good friend and officiant for the day brings us to tears again with a profound gesture of respect to our loss. My stepmother brings me to incoherence and tears of rage when 10 minutes later as she takes her leave by informing me that I failed to acknowledge my father enough. My grandmother passes away, I find out about this after the funeral due to my phone periodically failing to notify me of messages. I apply to the permanent position that I've been temping in since June. We find out that my stepfather needs to either sell the house or transfer ownership to us in full as soon as possible. I avoid talking to my father because I don't think I can have a civil conversation with him after the wedding, and I know he's grieving for his mother.
November ends with my position going to the internal candidate, a wonderful woman who will do the job well. As a temp I could not be considered an internal candidate, no matter how much they wished to hire me. Fortunately I find another very part-time library temp position, re-start substitute teaching, continue the web development work, and end December with finding another part-time/variable hour position.
Through temping I have met some incredible people, and continued to grow as a librarian through the experiences offered. While (obviously) temporary and not the permanent employment I seek, temping has been crucial this past year. I love working in libraries, and need to work to pay the bills. Additionally, it has given me further supervisory experience, opportunities to work within different systems, and chances for creativity, expression, and growth. I hate being unemployed (or underemployed as the case may be), I need the goals and responsibilities that come with employment.
I tend to care about things a lot, I often invest too much into things, fretting and worrying about things out of my control. That still happens, but events touch me less now. In my personal life I'm more unfocused, less organized. I'm still devoted to doing things well, but more able to let go of things that are beyond my determination. Floating through things rather than becoming entangled. As if my ability to care deeply is stymied. Then a conversation about my mother's books, which we keep, which we discard, who keeps what, brings tears when I remember that in June my mother joked that she'd leave it to me in her will. My husband spends a lot of time dealing with me sobbing uncontrollably these days. When its all said and done, I hear this is actually rather normal.
What I do have is fantastic friends. Friends who have helped me find part time work. Friends who earnestly offer their time when they shouldn't be sparing it from other areas of their lives. Friends who make me laugh, sometimes so hard tears run down my face and a gasp for breath. Hell, I married one of them.
My husband works two jobs, one 50 hours a week, the other 20. I'm starting the new year juggling 4 variable sources of work, with a 5th on the horizon. I have savings, I have some inherited funds. We can and will get through this.
And at some point, it has to get better.
I didn't manage to get published this year, but I presented at a professional conference and guest authored on a highly read library related blog. In January I'm speaking on literature panels with published authors and professional editors. That's pretty damn cool.
Even if the positions aren't full time, every temp position I work in a library benefits me as a librarian.
Going forward, things will improve.