Sunday, May 21, 2017


I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Idaho's capital.
Counting occasions and not separate visits, I think the number can only be somewhere around 5. And that wasn't always to 'Boise Proper'. There were 2 visits to the College of Idaho in Caldwell--once to meet the cello professor and once to tour the school--and then the two years of going to watch the BHS basketball teams compete (and win) at state.
And that's it. 

But everyone I have ever talked to who knows Boise, absolutely adores it. Almost every article/blogpost/op ed piece I've found (I like to research things, leave me alone) talks about what a great place it is. And most importantly, since I finally convinced myself it was time to go, Boise is the only place I have felt really good about and the one place that kept popping up in every conversation, thought, and inspiration. 

As of Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 1:07pm, I am the new orchestra teacher at HJH in Boise, Idaho. It's happening. I'm moving to Boise, Idaho in August.

I have loved my time in Vegas--well, maybe that's not true. I haven't loved every piece of it here. And, honestly, lately I haven't loved much at all. But I have learned from my time in Vegas. I don't know that I completely like the person I've become over the last 4+ years--but I know it has been a good thing for me, that it was the right decision to make 4 years ago, that I've done some serious growing up here, AND that it's definitely time to go.

2016 sucked. (Don't worry, that blogpost is still waiting to be freed from the drafts folder) Though I went into my 4th year of teaching/living in Vegas with gusto and hope for positive changes, those hopes were dashed only a few weeks into the experience. Not to be dramatic, but this has been one of the worst school-years for me--and, yes, that includes my first year with the psychopathic assistant, my second year when the anxiety/other health issues took over, and my third year wherein I felt inconsistent and useless at times. I have never woken up so many days in a row completely unwilling to go to work; I've never had so many Sunday evenings full of absolute dread knowing I had to go back the next day. I've been angry for much of this year. Do you know how exhausted constant anger can make you? Did you know that it wears down the immune system? Relationships with colleagues have deteriorated and I've grown incredibly tired of the politics and cliques and "me-first" mentalities. 
Please understand--I'm not saying this for pity.
I hate pity.

I'm throwing these details in because I still feel like I need to justify my choice, rationalize my decision. I also need to write this out so that I can look back later and remind myself how much it took for me to finally decide to make a change. I don't like change--at least, not when I can't see the outcome. I like plans. I like knowing what's going to happen. So even as far as October of last year--when so many things really sucked-- I was still resistant to making any changes. It wasn't until I was driving through the K-Town canyon with my mom that I finally decided to start looking for a new plan. Cue every single force in the universe pointing me towards Boise, Idaho. 

 I don't actually remember when this happened, but it first started with a conversation with colleague/friend EMF. Though at different points in our lives, we both moved from Idaho to teach in Vegas the same year, and just by way of friendly conversation one time she asked me if I'd ever considered moving back. And then she mentioned that Boise had recently changed their teacher salary schedule for the better.

Fast forward to November, a month or so after my meltdown and surrender to the necessary inevitable and a month of consistent web- and soul-searching, and I'm standing in a Vegas high school parking lot talking to Triple T, who graduated from Boise State. I asked a few (what I thought were) vague questions, and he managed to zero-in on the truth: "You looking to leave?" For the first time, I actually said yes without hesitation. And a light went on. He did some research, gave me some insight, encouraged me, and volunteered to help however he could. I went home that night feeling fortified, ready to take a few more steps.

A little while after that, I admitted to erratic-friend BG that I was looking to leave. Mentioned Boise. She was generally positive and volunteered to keep me updated on any jobs she heard of, then added that she'd grown up near Boise and she had ties to a local symphony there. 

And then came the putting-together of resumes and portfolios and exploring school district websites and worrying. Triple T talked to a few sources, and I finally decided it was time to bite the bullet. I contacted RLapp, finished my application, and was told that there were some "anticipated" openings and now it was just time to wait. So I waited. I had my screening interview with RLapp and felt like things went okay. I had found articles about the best things about Boise, and for the first time in months, I started to feel more hopeful than anxious. The last advice I was given from RLapp was that the process was very much "Hurry up and wait."

So I did. And then when no jobs got posted, my inner cynic/Hate Smurf found its voice and reminded me that it was a shot in the dark--"anticipated openings" do not guarantee potential jobs. Defeatist attitude mastered, I started casually perusing other districts, telling myself that the Smart thing to do is apply to lots of places, whether they were currently hiring or not. And yet, every time I started to fill out an application, every time I went to create a profile for a new district's hiring process, it never felt right. I never got the application done, never hit 'save' on the profile. (Which, okay, in hindsight is completely ridiculous and terrifying, like why-??) I really felt like it had to be Boise.

But still no jobs were posted. Since the screening interview in March, I had pretty much been in full Chihuahua mode, 24/7. I told myself several times it was never gonna happen--that maybe I'd felt all these promptings only to force myself out of my shell a little--and got well and truly on my parents' nerves with the number of times I texted them chihuahua gifs and texts. I prayed a lot, worried a lot, talked myself up and down several times. I went to the temple, and of course found peace and reassurance (and yet another push towards Boise)--but no concrete answers. 

And then, glory be, a job was posted. I read through the description, researched the school as much as possible, and kept a watch on my phone and email--and nothing. The closing date for the posted job came, the post went down, and I hadn't heard anything. Cue more chihuahua texts to the saintly parents, more cynical Hate Smurf self-talk, more desperate prayers. That week started pretty crappy anyway. And then...I got a voicemail asking me if I wanted to be put on the interview list for the same job that had gone up and down without a peep. I left a voicemail saying 'yes please.' We finally connected, and an interview was set up for the following Monday. The day came, I was majorly sick to my stomach, and the call was 4 minutes past the agreed-upon time. Not a big deal obviously, but those may have been the longest 4 minutes of my life. The call came, I spoke with the principal and department chair, and in 22 minutes exactly, it was over. I was told I'd know either way by Wednesday. I picked that interview apart for the next 48 hours--I destroyed it. I found at least 6 different meanings in every question they had asked, 20 different ways my answers had been insufficient, and of the thousands of outcomes I created in my mind, I was certain of only one: I had failed. I'd had a chance, and I blew it. 

On Wednesday afternoon, during my lunch break and literally 5 minutes after exchanging texts with my mom in an attempt to keep both of our hopes low, I got another call. He dragged it out: "Finished the interviews, 5 other highly qualified candidates, and...we would like to offer you the position." I had been WAITING for this call, those words, and the second I heard them, I panicked. I have a lot of ground to smooth over when I finally meet these people face to face, cos over the phone I'm kind of an awkward llama. I asked for 15 minutes to decide, called my mom, anxiously flailed all over the place, then made my decision and called him back 10 minutes later. Then I may have tossed my phone back on my desk and done a few Rafa-esque happy fist-pumpy jumps. 

though I'm completely positive I looked way less cool and intimidating

And so here we are. I have my final SMS concert on Tuesday. Though rumors of my leave-taking have been readily available, I've somehow managed to keep it from the people I care most about (my kids) and the people I may be keeping it from out of pure spite and distrust (...) Triple T, CJ at the HS, BG, and M at school are the only people who know for sure; I'm sure sappy posts about each of them will be forthcoming (just as a tidbit: I sent M a text Wednesday night explaining, and his return texts actually made me cry they were so nice). 

I turn 26 on this upcoming Friday (Golden Birthday, what what). By that point, I will have completed the final concert, attended my last SHS concert, and figured out how to break it to my kids. I'll hopefully have made concrete plans for getting the heck out of dodge, and more than anything, I will finally be able to see the light at the end of this tunnel. 

This is going to be a big change, in so many different ways. I'll be teaching 7-8-9th graders. They'll have already had 2 years of experience. It will be a smaller school, a smaller district, smaller orchestras. I will be figuring out how to teach classroom guitar. I'll have to get used to a new district, new buildings, new coworkers, new students, new rules, new cliques, new politics. 
There's gonna be snow. 

.......But there's also gonna be seasons. There's a 2.5 hour drive from my new job to my parents' place. There *fingers crossed* seems to be a principal and staff that are more concerned with student happiness and well-being than evaluation scores and pointless 'make me look good' programs. There's going to be a new work environment, which already has the potential to be less toxic. There's a chance for new starts and new adventures and making a difference in a new place. For all the changes and new challenges, I haven't yet felt bad about this decision. And, as evidence of true karmic luck, my new band teacher is also named M. 

I don't know what's going to happen next, but I know it's going to be difficult and I know it's going to be worth it. Bring on the new, bring on the change, because
I'm going to Boise, Idaho!

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I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Idaho's capital. Counting occasions and not separate...