Okay, so here is my CV, anecdotal style. I'm gonna start from the very, very beginning. Not to be annoying, but just because some of those old high school jobs are funny. I may disguise specific details and the dates are approximate, because well, we've all learned from Dooce now, haven't we?
Starting in 1977 (eye roll):
- I went to an in home day care provider from the time I was six weeks old till I was around 10. This daycare provider is now in her 80's and is a member of my family. (I have referred to her as my fake grandmother before.) I mention this because when I was seven years old, I started having duties to take care of the younger children there. This is when I really started to think that I was good with kids and that maybe I wanted to be a teacher or something. When I was 11, my fake grandmother's husband died and she started to take in a LOT more children. I would go over sometimes to help out.
1979 or so:
- I started doing paid work for my mother's employer, a mutual fund company. This is funny. My job was to put an updated supplemental sticker in mutual fund prospectuses (prospecti?). I got paid a penny a prospectus.
- I had done a bit of neighborhood babysitting, but this summer I worked for one particular family everyday, full-time.
- I worked at my mother's mutual fund company. This time I was actually in the building doing microfilming, sorting, paper shredding, any easy paper moving job.
- Same as above.
- Same as above.
- Same as above, but only a few days a week.
- I started working at Taco Bell part time as mainly a taco shell fryer. To this day, this ranks as absolutely the worst job in the history of every job I've ever had. It was hot, disgusting, physically demanding, fast-paced, and dangerous. I still have scars on my hands where I flipped a burning hot taco rack onto my hand accidentally. I hated every minute of it. I worked here until just before I graduated high school in 1988.
- I graduated from high school.
- I spent three months in a blind rehabilitation center. I wore sleep shades as blindfolds for 8 hours every day. I took classes in Orientation and Mobility, Cooking, Sewing, Wood shop, Computer Technology, and we had "Seminar" where we were brainwashed into reciting verbatim National Federation of the Blind philosophy each day.
- I attended a small, private liberal arts college for my freshman year of college.
- Small, private liberal arts college hired me to Braille the campus. I had to take one of those Braille label making guns and go around and Braille label every. god-damned. room. It was boring and the gun never worked right and I did not finish the entire college by the time I left.
- I spent the summer working for my then-boyfriend's mother. I stayed at her house and took care of her nine-year old daughter for room and board. She had NO MONEY. I mean, she would give me ten dollars to feed us for the week. I learned how to stretch food and live on white day-old bread and lettuce sandwiches. I admired her though. She was recently divorced and took a job far away to try to get herself back on her feet. So we were alone a lot. This was WAAAY out in the country in the middle of the Nebraska Sandhills. It is a different life out there. I learned how to always have extra food for whomever might drop in. I learned about the winter wheat crops. I learned about 4-H calves and FFA. I really look back fondly at this summer. Despite the financial challenges, It was a lovely time. I'm so glad I did that.
- In the fall, for financial reasons, I transfered to Big, In-State University. I had a double major in Elementary and Special Education.
- I had a practicum in my first elementary school. A third grade class where I was supposed to aid a boy with cognitive disabilities. As part of getting to do the practicum, I had to take a series of courses at a Community Action Center dealing with race relations. This is where a bunch of savvy black women kindly laughed at my lilly white self and attempted to straighten my ass out. (I'm still working on it!)
- At some point in the 89-90 school year, I volunteered to provide childcare at a meeting for the ARC. The ARC is an advocacy group for persons with cognitive disabilities. While there, I offered private childcare services to anyone who needed to occasionally get out of the house. I left my number. By the next day, I had 37 messages for people wanting childcare from me. I knew I had found a need and I was on to something. I registered with a funding agent and became a certified respite care worker and had more work babysitting kids with disabilities than I could take on for the next four years.
- I took on one family specifically on an everyday basis. I took care of the amazing Tom every weekday morning from 6:30 till 10:30 for the next two years. Tom was a premature twin (his twin died at birth) with very significant disabilities. He used oxygen and had an NG tube due to some severe lung and eating difficulties. I totally fell in love with this kid. He was such a blast in his own quirky ways. Naim reminds me a little bit of him. Blond, funny faces, so particular and adamant about things.
- My practicum this year was in a self contained 4-6 grade classroom with nine students labeled "Severely emotionally disturbed" Duh Duh Duh Dummmm!!! They weren't that bad. They were fun.
- More of the same from above.
- I also started working summers in the early intervention preschool at the local school district. Tom was in my class the first year. I was an Aide.
- My practicum this year was in a "magnet school" of sorts for deaf children. It was a regular elementary school, but all the deaf kids from the region went there.
- In college, I took classes in SEE, Signed Exact English--not ASL--because that is what the schools were teaching kids then. And still today except for in the schools for the deaf, generally. So, although I know much of the ASL vocabulary (it is very similar or the same as SEE) I do not know ASL grammar and structure very well at all. I can get by signing to an ASL user, but it is a struggle.
- During this time, I also did a lot of volunteer work for the blind rehabilitation center that I went to in '88. My friend, Susan, who was my roommate in rehab, worked there now. So I did a lot of work with her clients. In particular, I did adult literacy in Braille for the blind kids who had gone through public school never having been taught Braille and now as adults they couldn't read or spell the word "CAT." There were a lot of them. I mainly worked with two very intelligent students who had always worked with books on tape all their lives but could not write or spell because they were never taught reading and writing in school. I just had to start from the beginning and teach them to read.
- More of the same. Working with Susan and her blind clients, babysitting kids with disabilities, and doing practici. I'm having trouble remembering all the practici I did. There was one 20 hour/week one every semester. I worked in a lot of regular ed and special ed classrooms, resource rooms, etc.
- I student taught in the fall of '93. I worked in an LD pull-out resource center and then in a general ed kindergarten.
- The fall I student taught, I had severe financial problems because student teaching was so full-time and I couldn't get in all the previous work I had done. Student teaching is one of the only college interships where you have to pay them, they don't pay you. I ended up working at a bar on weekends with one of the mothers from my student teaching school for several weeks to get some cash. That is pretty much all I want to say about that.
- I graduated in December of 93 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. (You may have noticed that it took me five and a half years to get this done. Sigh.) I was dual-certified to teach elementary education and special education: "mild and moderate".
- In the spring, I was a grocery store clerk while I applied for teaching jobs and got nowhere. I mean nowhere. I graduated with a 3.5 GPA and was awarded an "outstanding student teacher award." I never had a bad practicum evaluation. My friends that were less qualified were getting jobs left and right, but I was getting treated rudely and shown the door.
- I applied for grad school and was accepted and offered an in-state tuition and work study financial aid package at Big State University the Next Boring Midwest State Over. My major was special education: Severe, multi-handicapped and deafblind. I picked this major, these kids, because I knew from my previous work in Nebraska as a respite care worker that these were the kids that nobody wanted to touch with a ten foot pole. I knew there was a need and hoped that this need would circumvent any problems people had with my own disability. I also knew that these kids were fun to work with and were not worthless, throw away kids. I had grown very attached to many of them. These were kids who were usually wheelchair users with sensory impairments, with cognitive impairments, with behavioral issues all at the same time. These were my kids, and still are.
- My work-study job at the special ed department was as a receptionist. I answered the phones and did work for all the professors. Not very glamorous, but I was in the heart of the place. I knew every professor and what was going on everywhere. This was really a fun job.
- I also got picked up as a Graduate Research Assistant in the department soon after starting as one of the receptionists. My first job was working on a personnel prep grant that recruited Native Americans to become sped teachers. This was fun because we worked with a lot of people on the reservations in remote areas by giving them computers, modems and Internet access. This was where I learned simple HTML and got on the web and built web pages. Where I got hooked to the net on Usenet and such.
- My practicum this year was at a really fun elementary school where I planned and implemented IEPs for two specific students with severe disabilities. Both students were foster children to a mother with about 15 foster kids. I would work with this mom nearly every semester at KU. It seemed like I always had at least one of her kids.
- We lost our personnel prep grant and I lost my main job. Luckily, just a few weeks later I was picked up on a grant that provided training to teachers in positive behavioral supports and functional assessment for students with "severe behavior problems." I really learned a lot at this job. I was responsible for assembling all the training materials (huge notebooks full of stuff) and attending and assisting trainings. Great way to learn stuff is by having to type out all of your boss professor's notes and citations and sit there at the copier while you copy article after chapter of book learnin' material.
- I think my practicum this year was the Montessori school where my job was to help them integrate disabled students into their program.
- Also this year I did a lot of volunteer work for the National Federation of the Blind and went on some trips to DC where we lobbied congress and also went to some conventions and stuff.
- Oh Duh! I also met D in '94 and started working for him as a personal care attendant in 95. I was live-in, so I can't really say it was an hourly job. He had two other attendants besides me back in the days when funding was better. The funding agency there (way better than the one here) suggested I get my CNA license, so that is when I got that. It was a cinch. I just got the Moxby's CNA book, studied it, did a bit of job shadowing in a nursing home, and took a test. I never renewed it in my current state I live in, so I doubt I am still officially a CNA. But I have kept my CPR and first responder training up until recently. (Recently = had kids.)
- A tough year. I got very sick and had trouble keeping up with everything. I had applied for a job at an early intervention program that could double as my practicum to save time. My classmate, Alison, got the job instead and I got placed there as well but without pay. Alison was very deserving of the job and I have nothing but good things to say about her, but the teacher in this classroom did not support me as being competent enough to teach and she didn't want me there, even as a practicum student. She told me that she would never consider leaving her daughter alone with me and so she would not think of letting me be a teacher with other students as well. I might have fought it if I wasn't so sick, but I ended up not finishing. I think I finished in a high school. That was a bit challenging because I had really no previous high school experience.
- If you've lost track, remember I'm still going to classes and working on my degree. I will share with you about one class series in particular that I really liked. It was on non-symbolic, concrete symbolic and augmentative communication. This is figuring out how to communicate with those who cannot cognitively communicate on a symbolic level, i.e. with words, signs or pictures. Very detail oriented, tedious and interesting stuff. We would take data on behavior states of kids that were pretty nonresponsive and also take data on their environment and try to look for patterns and match things up. Are they crying always at the same time a certain lamp is on? Are they communicating that they don't like that light? Very interesting and I think a great way to improve the quality of life of some of these kids. Also we learned things like communicating by using picture boards, 3-D objects and calender boxes. Also, for my ultra nerdy side, we got to study augmentative devices such as electronic speech synthesizers and computers controlled with eye gaze and really high tech stuff. I loved these classes.
- I worked in a elementary school in a few inner-city schools, where we had to go through metal detectors and all that. Practici became very difficult for all the students. There was a widening rift between some of the professors supervising the practici and the school districts. The students were caught in the middle. The professors wanted us to implement stuff that the school districts didn't allow us to do, but it was our assignment! How to get around that? The professors were very idealistic about full inclusion of the students and wrote our assignments as such, but it wasn't really happening in the schools and they resented us coming in and trying to get these students more involved in the regular class activities. We were guests in the schools, but the professors weren't really cutting us much slack either. A classmate and myself who worked at the same school, were asked to leave because an argument broke out between the profs and the teachers. It was awful. We were being sort of used like political pawns and even spies when all we wanted was to do good and learn how to teach and get good grades.
- My work as a GRA was winding down and I finished up my thesis and graduate work and graduated with a Master's in Education with a 3.9 GPA. I got a teaching certification in Elementary, Learning Disabilities, Behavior Disorders, Mild Mental Retardation, Severe and Multiple Disabilities and Deafblindness. I also got a surprise reading specialist certification tacked on because of some summer courses I took combined with some required reading courses from my bachelor's program.
- I moved here in mid 1997 and got a job almost immediately working for a certain agency that will remain nameless. It was a holding tank for adults with cognitive disabilities and I was supposed to be the director of programming for the "Severe Room." No shit. That's what they called it. I was a bit desperate to take this job as the warehousing of disabled people goes against pretty much everything I believe in. But I had this grandiose idea that I could change everything and basically transform this program into a support/coaching program to get these folks back out into the community doing productive things. Well, they were totally against every idea I ever mentioned, like adamantly. I figured out really quickly that my real title was "Babysitter of Under-stimulated Rocking Warehouse Inventory That We Must Shelter Society From" and my job description was limited to wiping up slobber and pouring simulac down NG tubes and, of course, shutting my damned mouth. I quit this job after only three weeks. It was a mistake on my part and I didn't even get a paycheck as my paperwork had not been processed. I just let it go.
- For most of the 97-98 school year, I was a substitute teacher. I refer to this time in my life as The Daily Panic. You get a daily 5:30 am automated phone call in which you have to press one to accept a job and press two to reject a job. You had seconds to get your head on straight and figure out if you could do the job or not (i.e. I would not teach 12th grade calculus under any circumstances) and if you could get there via bus. This was also fun because I would bus it to these places and walk in with my guide dog. This caused quite a lot of alarm and confusion. But most of the time, they had a class full of kids waiting and no teacher but me, so they had to deal. I did special ed most of the time. I did regular ed occasionally. I can do it but it is exhausting and I just really figured out that I am not really that great with 30 students in a class.
- Also, I started doing part-time work for a department in a major medical school. I was hired to be the assistant of a professor who had cerebral palsy. This was not the greatest match as I was becoming more and more hearing impaired and he had speech issues, but we did our best. Within a few months, another person changed jobs and I was given his job and a full time research associate appointment. I worked on a grant funded project that was a national leadership training and information center for adult leaders with cognitive disabilities. We worked with people who couldn't read or write, had lived in institutions, but were national leaders in self advocacy for the cognitively impaired. One of my jobs was to help these leaders write letters and speeches and things. Also, I translated a lot of academic material into user friendly language that these individuals could better understand. We had a unique position here in which we had to deliberately take a back seat to people with less education and skills than us, less political and economic power, and no credentials in the academic world. It was not perfect by far, but it was really an attempt that we made to deliberately and fully give up our power to support the voices of those less powerful. It was interesting. One controversial thing we did was worked with the department of health and human services in DC to get people with cognitive disabilities on grant review committees so they could have some say in what the government funded on their behalf. We converted an entire three day grant review training class into something that people with cognitive disabilities would be successful at (without dumbing it down). I really liked traveling to DC and meeting some of the bigwigs in the disability movement.
- Same thing.
- Same department, changed grants. I am horrible, HORRIBLE at the politicking that some jobs require. I was also having more and more trouble with my vision and hearing. It was decided that I would change to a more "behind the scenes" job with more straight computer work and less communication demands. Boring! But I really got lucky and worked on a very interesting project. I was the "dissemination coordinator" on a project that trained medical school faculty to recruit and accommodate students with disabilities in the medical field. I did more of the behind the scenes work on building a website, making brochures and literature, training materials, writing articles for newspapers and journals about the project, going over interview transcripts, etc. But we did make a series of videos where we (not me) interviewed doctors, nurses, dentists, and other allied health professionals with a variety of disabilities. I met many of them and it was so much fun. I wrote stories on doctors who were blind, had CP, had dwarfism, used wheelchairs. Nurses with only one arm, who were deaf, who had learning disabilities. I interviewed an EMT with autism and learned how his autism actually helps make him a better EMT. It was fun, and I liked the publication and writing aspect of it.
- Same as above.
- Also started working for D again. I worked for him in Kansas, then he went to school a couple of hours south of me while I lived here and worked. Then we moved in together again and I started working for him as a personal assistant again. This time, I was the only one and he had health problems. It was a lot.
- Around abouts the time I started working on the med student grant, I started longing to do real human service work again. Also, I think the medical professionals with disabilities inspired me. I had always wanted to be a nurse, or especially an occupational therapist or physical therapist, but I was convinced by others in high school that it was impossible. I already knew that I could do a ton of nursing duties that I was being trained to do for D. I knew that it wasn't impossible, but by this time, I didn't have the math to go back to school. And besides, did I want to have this Master's degree and then have to go back and start over just to get another bachelors or associates degree? I knew I would not be able to be a floor nurse forever due to my vision/hearing. I would have to move into management. And I would need a bachelors and even a masters for that. Then, I came across the perfect dream job.
- I learned about Child Life Therapy. This is a support person in a children's hospital that preps the child for medical procedures, deals with the emotional trauma of childhood illness, coordinates with educational professionals so the child's educational goals are being met, etc., anything to keep the child's development on track and healthy during a serious illness. I was only a couple of classes, a lot of hours of field work and a test away from this career. I could do this. I took the classes, I studied for the test. And I got myself at first a volunteer practicum and then an assistant's job in the child life department of a local hospital. I worked part-time, mainly in the oncology unit. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this job. I was really good at it. I was really kind of overtrained for it, but it was right up my alley. I can't tell you now what happened to this dream. D's illness, my mom's death, my infection with MRSA, my deciding to have children all played a part in the death of this. But other really WRONG discriminatory crap happened that I can't even write about now. I still get physically ill when I have to walk into that place sometimes. (I've had to take the kids there for some specialists and stuff.) So close....yet I couldn't quite grasp it.
- Everybody gets sick, more disabled and/or die and my jobs start to dwindle and die. I'm still doing a bit of work in 2003 for the hospital and another grant where I work on a program that matches disabled teens with disabled adult mentors. But my work is getting sparse and my disability is becoming more problematic. I know I'm going to need to reassess my alternatives and accommodations and rethink everything. My mother's death sidetracks this even more.
- I still work as a CNA for D, but had to take a break from other work when I became pregnant. I did take a class at the commission for the blind here and relearned and updated my technology skills. But basically, I'm a SAHM for now. We'll see how I am able to jump back into a career or transform it or remake myself or start my own business or something. Who knows? I think this is the time in my life when I'm a mom. I had a long time to focus on my career and I took it as far as I could, which was pretty respectable, I guess. It's not over. Its just a bit dormant for now. And that's got to be okay.
I think the saying is very true about how you can have everything, just not at the same time. Life works in chapters and although my career can rebirth at any time in my life, this was the only real time that I could have the chapter of motherhood. I get a bit bored and have brain rot sometimes, but I like being a SAHM. I like motherhood. Lucky for me, motherhood does tie nicely into the skills of my career, and the experience can give me that mom's perspective if I go back to some job where I have to serve other moms and their children. I'm now a teacher, I'm a manager and organizer, I'm a behavioral specialist, I'm a writer, I'm a researcher, I'm a bookkeeper, I'm a nurse, I'm a counselor. The pay is crap and the union solidarity is weak at times, but I really like my job.