Monday, September 3, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

Sometimes life hands you unexpected opportunities that can dramatically alter your direction of travel. Other times just when what appears to be such a chance is emerging, it suddenly flits away. We have had a few experiences that fall in the latter category in the last couple of weeks.

The most significant is that Alison got a call to interview her for a position with the State Department. As this was the first such call that she has received, we were both rather excited that she was being considered! She went on to go in for a personal interview as one of the ten final candidates for a single position. Our hopes were high that this could very well be the first step in Alison's quest to work for the government rather than for Starbucks. Sadly this was not to be. Though she made it to the final ten, she was not chosen for the position. So that takes us right back to no immediate prospects for furthering this quest.

At nearly the same time I was made aware of a position working for Fairfax County as an interpretive and volunteer coordinator for one of the large parks in the area. It isn't a Park Service Position, but it is a permanent government position with full benefits doing very similar things to what I have done with the Park Service, and it is in the immediate area. I applied for it thinking that they were unlikely to get anywhere near the response that is normal for federal NPS jobs and that I had a pretty good chance at getting it. I had already begun to think about what it might be like to do this job.  I learned two important things as a result of sending in this application.  

First: the county government moves about 3,000 times faster than the federal government. Four days after the application period closed I knew whether my attempt was being forwarded on to the selecting official or not. This same stage of the application process takes an average of three months for Park Service positions!
Second: apparently either far more people applied for the position than I expected, or I am not nearly as qualified as I think I am, because what I found out is that I had been summarily rejected in the first stage, and that my application was not forwarded, which means that those making the hiring decisions will not even see it.

Both of these outcomes carry with them the potential for depression, hopelessness, and even despair, and it would be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. The reality is that we have little cause for such emotions. Though it is disappointing that things did not work out as we hoped, particularly as it relates to the potential of Alison getting the State Department position, we have been abundantly blessed in the seven months of our marriage.

I not only have a job, but it is one that is reasonably stable for the next two and a half years, so long as I retain my status as an active student. This is in some question as Obama's administration has cut off the STEP program, through which I am employed, and replaced it with the new Pathways program. At this point it is still unclear how I will function in this new program, or what the transition (which is supposed to occur before the end of this year) will look like, but the one thing I do know is that there will be a way for me to transfer from one to the other and that I should (fingers crossed!) not lose my position as a result of the change. Far more importantly (in my mind) than simply having a job, I have one that I love doing, which is also giving me some very unique and marketable experience for future endeavors. I mean, I get paid to take pictures like this. :)

Alison too is employed, and though it is neither a dependable 40 hours per week position, nor what she wants to be doing, it does provide us with much needed additional income, and is remarkably convenient in terms of location. While I have to drive 25 miles through DC metro area traffic each way to get to work, Alison's commute is just a hair over one mile from our home. Her schedule is less than ideal, both in that it is variable (making it hard to make plans) and in that it often requires her to work very early in the morning, but even that has its positive side. The early schedule has allowed us to do things like getting away to go camping and going to baseball games, and the unusual time requirements have made it easier for me to focus on making significant progress on schoolwork while she is away.

We truly have been blessed and God has consistently demonstrated his faithfulness to us. Yesterday in church I was reminded of the great truth in Hebrews 10:23 which exhorts:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 
He who promised is indeed faithful.

Even when the shower starts to back up as it did last week, providing us with the fun task of discovering why. I made a trip to home depot to acquire a drain auger (better known as a "snake") and with the use of this handy tool I pulled out an absurd plug of who knows what rotting material that had made its home in the drain. Most of it had been there long before we ever moved in, but it was at that moment that the addition of soap scum and Alison's hair that we had contributed caused it to reach critical mass. Thankfully I was able to get it out and the drain has functioned properly ever sense. So all's well that ends well.

That too is a recent blessing that we have enjoyed. Each year the Shakespeare Theater in DC has what they call a "free for all" in which they distribute free tickets for a particular show. You may recall that last year we went to go see "Julius Caesar" in this manner. They have a lottery for each day and you have to apply for each separately the day before.  Alison was ready when the lottery opened for the first day this year and to our surprise we were selected for that very first show. So we headed into DC to enjoy a splendid performance of "All's Well That Ends Well."

Now I must admit that prior to going to this show I didn't even know that this was one of Shakespeare's plays. It is actually part of the famous First Folio, originally published in 1623, and is believed to have been written between 1604 and 1605. Who knew?

It turned out to be a splendid show and a wonderful random diversion that was well worth the effort to make happen. And so I end now with the closing words of the show and the recognition that, indeed, all's well that ends well.

All is well ended, if this suit be won. That you express content; which we will pay, With strife to please you, day exceeding day:Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts;Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.

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