…From Unemployment

You just gotta be patient.

I won’t lie, this summer has been tough for me. After being notified in April that I wasn’t returning to Spring Lake Park, I wasn’t exactly upset at the time. I was frustrated and was caught up with my new job at Inside Edge taking all my attention and energy, so I wasn’t sure if my heart was really into teaching.

The final week of school, I had an interview but didn’t take it that seriously because the job would be split between two schools. I ended up regretting that decision almost instantly once the first week of summer came as I realized that I missed teaching and that I shouldn’t have taken my prior employment for granted.

Application after application was sent out to no avail. I tallied a grand total of four interviews this summer, by far the worst luck among the three summers I’ve had to look for work. I didn’t take the first one seriously, my heart wasn’t in the second because it was for a middle school, and the third I was incredibly nervous for reasons unknown. I left each interview dissatisfied with my answers, and though I was hopeful, I wasn’t surprised when I was turned down every single time.

During my final week at Spring Lake Park, I had an altercation with a student. He admitted he didn’t try in my class because he didn’t like how I taught, and I was frustrated that he never told me this in the two trimesters we were together. He became so irritated that before leaving my classroom, he announced to the rest of the students that I would never get another teaching job. Even though I knew he was trying (and failing) to strike a nerve with me, his words echoed in my head as yet another week would pass by with no good news.

A few weeks ago, Abby and I went on a somewhat-impromptu trip to San Francisco to see two close friends from college, Patrick and Patty. The job search was taxing me and I was feeling pretty lonely in Minnesota, so I wanted a memorable distraction for the summer. But, I had another reason for going out there. Thanks to the trouble with finding a teaching job, the doubts about my future career had returned, trying to figure out whether it was in education or baseball.

I figured that talking about it with two people whose opinions I valued would help me sort out this mess. Except, it didn’t. Staying up until 1 am with Patty one night, she told me that I should take advantage of being in my mid-20s with no kids and take a risk by pursuing baseball. After all, teaching would always be there once I wanted to start a family, but the baseball path would be more rewarding. Meanwhile, Patrick chose to remain noncommittal and suggested I start computer coding like him instead. I’m still not fully sure how serious he was with his idea.

The reason I became even more lost was that Patty wasn’t alone with her opinion. Abby had said the same to me for months and even added that this summer was the happiest I had been in roughly a year, even if I didn’t feel it. Other friends echoed those two as well. In spite of me writing my career manifesto in the early summer and getting so much positive feedback, friend after friend still said the same thing: “Bryz, I know you like teaching, but you love baseball.”

As we’ve approached late August and my string of bad luck continued, hope was renewed when I learned that Spring Lake Park coincidentally still needed a math teacher. Granted, the position would be half-teaching and half-tutoring and it was only 4/5 of a regular teaching load, but it was something. I reached out that I was interested and found renewed energy at the thought of getting to see the same students that I missed so much.

At least I thought I was re-energized. You see, two weeks ago I talked with another friend that pointed out that even if SLPHS took me back, the opening they had was simply a Band-Aid. They let me go once and I wasn’t fully happy there, so how could I know that it wouldn’t happen again? I tried to fight his logic but eventually gave up. It’s frustrating when you’ve got friends that keep making good points.

Fast-forward to earlier this week. Yet another friend (a coworker from SLPHS) was giving me advice, but hers was simply that I shouldn’t base my decisions off what other people believed. At the same time, she was chastising me for not applying to anything and everything available, as I was still holding out for that elusive full-time guaranteed teaching position. She showed me a long-term substitute job that she felt I should have applied for weeks ago, along with a couple middle school substitute positions.

Well, luckily for me when I went to apply for those middle school jobs, that one high school position was still open. Even though it was not a full-year position, I had made a decision with Abby. I’d give myself one more year of teaching to figure out what I really wanted with my life before committing either way. If this job wasn’t for a full year, well, I’d just have to piece together a couple positions. I’d get different experiences and I’d use them to see if teaching really was my future, or if the switch to baseball was to be made.

I applied last Monday. Thursday, I received a phone call from the high school’s principal. He apologized for the short notice, but he wanted to interview me just two hours later. Although Abby and I had errands to run, we postponed them so I could prepare.

Just minutes before I was to leave for the interview, I had a revelation. I pointed out to Abby that in my three prior interviews, I had been dead in the room, completely devoid of personality. I vowed that this time around, I’d make sure to be more lively, hoping that being just a little more upbeat would show that I was sincerely interested in the position.

The interview came and went. I crushed it. Being more upbeat was a success, plus I also chose to finally be honest with why I was no longer at Spring Lake Park (losing the passion for teaching) instead of beating around the bush. It paid off as the principal commended me for my candidness and later asked what he would hear about me when he eventually contacted SLPHS. It was certainly a gamble with being honest, but his closing question hinted at what was likely the final reason I hadn’t been hired all summer: My reason and the school’s reason for me leaving my prior position had never matched, raising a huge red flag on the way.

This evening (Saturday), I was at Inside Edge when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but knew it had to be the principal. I walked into the hallway and officially received the news of my fate. Although it’ll only last through Thanksgiving, my hunt is finally over as I’ll be a long-term substitute math teacher at Mounds View High School. I’m incredibly nervous, but also very excited for this opportunity and it feels surreal that I start my new job in just one day.

Yeah, I’m still uncertain about what my future holds, both beyond the holiday season and beyond the next calendar year, but I do know that I’ll put my entire heart into this job. If I choose to go the teaching route, this position very well could be the stepping stone to my next full-time gig. But if it doesn’t work out, then I’ll be fully committing myself to baseball, leading to many “IT’S ABOUT TIME” comments from my various social circles.

What am I even doing with my life? *shrugs* Hell if I know. But one thing’s for sure, this time I’ll make sure to enjoy every moment of the ride.

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… From Being In A Rut

You just have to persevere.

Kamelot, “Insomnia”

When the night begins to fall

I watch the shadows growing tall

Feeding my insomnia

Like a fly on the wall

I was in a musical rut.

I don’t know the exact date that I became aware, but I do know what event in my life caused it. One day about 6 months ago, I was having trouble playing some Rise Against from my iTunes library. I did some digging and eventually my computer notified me that the entire folder was corrupt. I deleted the songs from my computer and attempted copying the CDs again, but to no avail. Frustrated, I wasn’t sure what to do, other than know that I’d be missing one of my musical staples until I either fixed my computer or bought a new one.

I moved on, listening to everything else that I already owned, but I discovered in no time that I wasn’t satisfied. It’s odd that just one missing artist could do that. Even the other artists would release new albums and I’d quickly snatch them up, but I’d repeatedly find myself bored within a few weeks. It was clear that whatever I owned simply wasn’t going to cut it.

I was trapped in the undertow, and I discovered the only way out was to first go deeper beneath the surface.

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…From Careers, Pt. 2

I’ve finally figured out my future.

Continued from Pt. 1…

Now it was mid-April of this year, shortly after my birthday. I was sitting in the assistant principal’s office, discussing my most recent observation. I was asked how I felt my teaching had been going recently and I was upfront and honest with him. I fully admitted that I had become complacent with my teaching and that the fire I once had was missing.

I didn’t explain why, but the heart of it was from disagreeing over the school district’s philosophy. I saw many things that didn’t please me and I saw no change in sight. When I needed help, I felt that I didn’t receive it and it caused me to lose motivation to try my hardest.

Another thing that didn’t help was that I had just started my new job with Inside Edge. This didn’t necessarily come from me losing hope with teaching, but rather that I found an opportunity from one of my favorite baseball sites. I ultimately jumped at the chance because it sounded interesting and because it was located in Bloomington. I had been biding my time for years, and I finally saw an opening for baseball that had previously been missing.

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…From Careers, Pt. 1

I’ve finally figured out my future.

What am I even doing with my life?

It’s a question that I’ve rhetorically asked multiple times on Facebook, often in response to an impressive feat I’ve found while scouring the Internet for entertainment. There’s the teenage girl that looked bored as she thrashed DragonForce’s “Through The Fire And Flames” on guitar. Another instance was finding out the lead singer of punk band The Offspring already has a master’s degree in molecular biology and he’s working on his Ph.D. Though the question was always meant to be humorous, there was always a sliver of truth contained underneath. I’m currently a high school math teacher looking for a new job after my last school decided that I was replaceable. I’ve been looking for new openings while holding a part-time job as an advance scout for Inside Edge, a baseball company that works for ESPN and major league teams. It seems that everything should already be figured out.

But seriously, what am I even doing with my life?

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… From Belize

Note: When this blog was first created, I mentioned that its purpose was to follow in the footsteps of my annual “Things I’ve Learned From My (insert year of college) Year At Gustavus,” but would allow me to expand on my thoughts instead of writing a quick musing as was typical in those posts. This one is going to hearken to the roots from years ago, but I’ll still include a little text after each bullet to provide a little more context. Without further ado, here’s my list of Things I’ve Learned From My Honeymoon In Belize.

Many people have already asked me since I returned from my honeymoon about how it went and where we visited. It does get a bit repetitive telling the same story over and over again, so I’m going to provide a summary before I go into the “Things I’ve Learned…” portion.

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… From My Name

My name is wrong.

Bryz-Gornia. A name straight out of your bowl of alphabet soup.

I’ve had comments on my last name throughout my entire life. Back in elementary school, I recall my second and fourth grade teacher (she was the same woman) asking me what would happen if I were to marry a woman that also had a hyphenated last name. Would we hyphenate our names together, creating some sort of god-awful conglomeration that would never fit on any government form, personal check, or arcade game high score list? I politely smiled and said no, even though I thought it was a pretty dumb joke.

In middle school, I had an acquaintance that was very immature and loved pranking me. A good example is that he tricked me into visiting a non-nude porn website while we were in the computer lab one day. Very funny, and I’m still not fully sure how that got past the school’s firewall. Anyway, he also was the person that first realized that the second half of my last name sounded very similar to the disease “gonorrhea,” so he started calling me “Bryz-Gonorrhea.” It really bugged me at first, but the amusing fact is that as people have tried calling me the same as I’ve reached my mid-20s, I just laugh at them and call them a hack while telling them the nickname has been around since I was 11.

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… From Bucket Lists

#30Parks60Days

As the New Year approaches us, resolutions are being put into place. I should exercise more this year. I should eat healthier. I should try to make new friends. Etc. etc. etc. I’ve tried doing resolutions in the past, but they’ve never come to fruition. Like many before me, it lasts about a month or so, and then one day I decide I don’t really feel like carrying through. Then that day turns into a couple days, and before I know it, I’m two weeks behind. Oops.

As for a bucket list, the irony is that they typically contain something that is much more ambitious, and yet I think they’re still easier to achieve. From the movie The Bucket List, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman created a list that involved travelling around the world, and then they gradually crossed off everything from that list. Granted, it helped that Nicholson’s character was a billionaire that funded the entire trip, but they managed to succeed in doing everything that they desired.

Now, there are certainly things that I would love to do sometime in my life. I would like to go skydiving someday. Visiting another continent would be nice (odd that I’ve visited every state in the U.S. but have never left North America). However, I’ve never considered these to be part of a bucket list. I’m only 24 years old, for god’s sake, I think it’s a little early for me to be finding things I must do in my life.

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