December 14, 1982
First day on the new job [teacher’s aide in special education classroom], expectations low, all went fine. I never had any doubt that I can do this job, and so I’m pretty low-key about the whole thing. Plus it all makes sense—I’ll live here to help with Nana, I’ll save money for possible grad school next year, and I can feel good about doing this job. It feels so much like the volunteer work I’ve done that getting paid is almost a fringe benefit. By the end of the week I’m sure to feel different—there’s a high frustration level to contend with. Today three kids were absent, leaving four kids to two aides plus the teacher. I meet my charge, Nathan, tomorrow.
… Guess I better send off my GRE registration forms. I worry that this life will soak up all the energy I have and there will be no time for taking math refresher courses or writing lucid autobiographical statements. Do I want to get my Master’s—in Journalism—or anything else for that matter? I suppose I do. Discussion over this very thing last night with Mom. Emphasis: this will not be like college. What will it be like then?…. This morning: fifteen minutes with Krista, Down’s syndrome five-year-old, on my lap while I rocked in the rocking chair, thinking, “this is what I should do. This is the most worthwhile thing in the world…” Doesn’t take long to change my mind—Dougy’s drooling and banging and non-existent attention span—the hitting, yelling, running, chasing, crying…. Well okay for now but in terms of career, no thanks…
So I shift gears again, back into Temporary Position, temporary life, temporary job, temporary home, temporary routine, temporary plans. Which makes it hard to fit into the lunchroom scene, the teacher’s lounge…remembering being a kid in elementary school and seeing that door marked TEACHERS. Occasional glances into that secret world, the coffee, the ashtrays, the conspiratorial laughter. How funny to sit there now and hear the usual things about work, families, sick colleagues—all the things I’ve heard over the years at various jobs, in various breakrooms, no different here. And there I am, not 30+ years old like everyone else, not married, not dressed in wool skirts or polyester blend pants, not planning to be here a year or even six months from now—so the workday LUNCH once again becomes a difficult scenario. Presenting myself as something ever so slightly different from what I am/want to be in order to come just a shade closer to fitting their ideas of what, in my position, I should be…. Teacher’s aide, dental lab technician, English major, nurse’s aide, dog kennel attendant, vacuum cleaner salesperson, women’s studies major, whatever, whatever, whatever.