105 Ways to Give a Book

Losing My Job and the Lump in My Throat

For weeks now I’ve had a lump in my throat like the kind you get when you’re about to cry. But this one would come at seemingly random times — as I was washing the dishes, sitting by the pool, trying to fall asleep. In those breaks from my hectic life, I’d be forced to remember, “Oh yeah, I’m losing my job at the end of June.”

It would fit my ironic existence that I moved to an exempt job — no, fought for the reduced-hours position — and then that category of job was slated for elimination for the first time in twenty years. This isn’t the fault of My Fair County, but of my own unlucky choices. I’ve known since October when the economy tanked that my position would be cut. Since February I’ve been sure that there wouldn’t be another position for me to take since all jobs were frozen. Since April’s budget decision, it’s been a matter of time.

Through this school year of waiting, I’ve been pretty much okay. My salary is helpful for future savings, but not absolutely necessary. For months I’ve looked at the end of my job as a sabbatical where I could finally take a break, enjoy my family, write the book, and focus on KidLitosphere business. But today is my last day of work, and all I can feel is the loss.

It doesn’t help that I had found the perfect branch. It was built a year ago, and features huge windows overlooking the trees, thousands of freshly ordered books, and that new library smell. The library is fairly quiet, but my programs were always full. My position put me low on status, but my opinions were respected. The staff was wonderful, the five-minute commute amazing, and the pace perfect. And while I love the idea of not working in the summer, I’ll deeply miss the chance to give kids great books when they finally have time to ask me for suggestions.

Also, it’s hitting me that however much I’ve talked about going back to the library when jobs open up, it may not happen. The current staffing norm for new employees wouldn’t allow me to take a job unless I’d work every weekend. I’ve grown too attached to my branch to really consider another. Even the idea that jobs will open up is optimistic when an article in today’s paper shows the county will probably face an additional seven percent budget loss in this fiscal year. I’m realizing that I may not be able to go back.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that my situation will change. Maybe my writing will find a publishing home. Maybe I’ll contract out my services for a newsletter or expand my involvement in PBS or coordinate conferences for cash. Maybe my recycled jewelry hobby can turn a little profit in the holiday season. Maybe I can devote the time to my talented daughters who have missed opportunities with my mixed-up schedule. I may not want to go back.

Right now it doesn’t matter if I am not able to go back or don’t want to go back or even if eventually I can go back. Today it’s about losing something. A job, certainly, but also a refuge from a busy home life and an identity of what I do. It almost makes me cry, and it’s the almost that’s leaving the lump in my throat. I’m ready to lose that lump too.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the beach with my girls to see family and sit by the shore. I need to clear my head in the ocean breeze and let the salty sea absorb any tears. I need to have fun and sunshine. I need to reflect and regroup. I’ll read email, but otherwise will be offline for the week. That’s what I’m going to do for me.

When I get back, I’ll be getting KidLitosphere Central updated as it suffered from my Three Months of Busyness. I want those of you going to ALA to feel good about promoting it as a way to access our thriving community. I’ll also be pouring my energy into the sessions and registration for the KidLitosphere Conference. If you already know you’re coming, I’d encourage you to make reservations at the Sheraton in Crystal City. I can basically tell you that the conference fee will be about $100 and will include the conference sessions, along with breakfast and the nice dinner on Saturday, October 17th. I’ll be working on pulling together the sessions and presenters, but last year’s conference will give you an idea of what to expect. I’m thinking about a Library of Congress field trip on that Friday, for those who’d be interested. I’m looking at Politics and Prose for something on Sunday. Both of those outings are optional. Honestly, the specific sessions and field trips are almost irrelevant, as you should come to the conference if you are looking for an opportunity to meet/reconnect/network with the kidlitosphere bloggers/authors/publishers you know online while using some of the time to learn/collaborate/discuss issues.

Why am I giving you a preview of that conference information when I just said that I’m going to tackle it next week? Well, for two reasons. First, I want to end this post on a positive, forward-thinking note. Second, I know you, my blogging friends, may want to do something to help me feel better and nothing would be more helpful than getting the ball rolling for the conference. So mark your calendar, make reservations, and let me know you’re coming. One door closes, another opens.

45 comments:

Kelly Fineman said...

Oh Pam. Massive hugs to you. What a difficult time.

I think, my friend, that I will do what little I can and see about coming to DC to meet you in October. It's totally driveable, and my Jane Austen stuff doesn't conflict this year. Just have to clear it with the hubby (since he's sick, I figure he gets a vote).

I hope you can relax and enjoy your kids and the Shore. And the knowledge that when that new door opens, something good will be on the other side. You deserve it.

Jen Robinson said...

Oh, Pam, I do understand. I still remember crying my eyes out the night that I left my first post-college job in Boston, to change to a different office in my hometown instead. It was a good change for me - I could walk to work, and I liked the smaller office - but I knew that I was going to miss my co-workers and that lifestyle of going out after work, and all of that. Leave things that you love are hard. Sending you good thoughts!

I made my hotel reservations already, and look forward to registering for the conference. I think that you're going to do great and amazing things in the next few months (and afterwards, of course). But for now, it's understandable to be sad.

Terry said...

Big hugs and a HUGE wish for the silver lining in all this. I'm within commuting distance for anything you need help with, so just holler. Pack some of your favorite books and enjoy the beach!

susanwrites said...

Yikes, Pam. Even when we know it's coming it doesn't make it hurt any less. I lost my job back in October and even though it wasn't a place that filled my heart with the sort of joy your library did, it was a tremendous blow to me on so many levels....so many that I am still, 8 months later, trying to adjust.

I am still quite adrift and someone told me it took a year to make it through that sort of an adjustment.

I am trying to see if I can manage to come to the conference this year.

I think you are doing the right things for you...give yourself time to grieve this change in your life.

Hugs.

Melissa said...

Pam, I'm sorry you lost your job... sigh. I'm glad, though, that you're being (mostly) positive about it (or at least trying to be).

I'm coming in October (yay!). Thanks for all you're doing with that.

web said...

It's hard. I left by choice, but am still kind of staggered to know that for now, there is no job left to go back to if I wanted to.

And how much it sucks that they are losing someone like you! Libraries need people who can do what you do, and do it with love.

scb said...

My heart goes out to you. I hope the time at the beach will start the forward process -- but believe me when I say it's all right to cry. Take care of you.

Abby said...

Pam, changes like this are never easy and I'm sending big hugs to you. Here's hoping that the future unfolds in unexpectedly wonderful ways!

And I am planning on coming to the Conference this year. As luck would have it, a college friend of mine is getting married that Sunday in DC. Two birds? I kill you with one plane ticket! Woohoo!

*eyes credit card bill* I will make hotel reservations soon... maybe not 'til after I get paid next week... but soon, I promise. ;)

(PS: My word verification is "prockcog". Is it just me or does that sound vaguely dirty?)

Colleen said...

Oh Pam.

Man I am so thinking of you right now. I don't have much to add to all the good thoughts above other than that I am thinking of you. It always sucks, even when you know it's coming. And I really do believe that when one door closes, a window is always opened.

Big hug........

david elzey said...

i've gone from thinking the economy sucks to just flat out hating it for all it's doing to people's lives.

having lost my treasured bookselling job just over a year ago i've found the time since to be really good for rethinking and restructuring my life. i know it's tough now, but i hope you're able to do the same and make good with it.

(verification word: subtect. i think i may need to invent a definition for that one)

Charlotte said...

Gee. The part about job as refuge and identity provider rings really true for me, and I hope the sting of losing that wears off quickly, and other, better, things come to fill the void!

On a different note, I am so looking forward to the conference, which will be my first one! I can't wait.

CindyinTempe said...

Leaving a job for any reason is hard. I waited to retire a full year after I was eligible. I had trouble bringing myself to make the change. I know that even though change is good it's also traumatic.
My verification word is appript. Sounds somehow like it fits!

MotherReader said...

Just wanted to check in to let you know that I'm reading your comments and they've been very helpful. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my kidlit community? You guys make it all worthwhile.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I'm sending lots of hugs and warm fuzzies your way. I would love to come to DC, I'll talk to the husband to see if we could swing it. We still need to take a honeymoon...
Even if you're not in the library recommending books, you do an amazing job with Kidlitosphere, your blog, and everything else you do, so your recommendations are still out there and reaching eager readers! Best of luck with everything!

Tashya said...

Hi MR,
I like your blog style, what are you writing? I'm looking for single title teen stories, target audience girls 12-18, and my company is seeking more women's fiction titles. Anything like that?
--Natashya Wilson, Sr. Editor, Harlequin Teen

Bryan said...

Pam- Sorry to hear about the job. After the cat incident, I'll keep my *supportive* comments to myself!

So, are you driving right by my house again on the way to the beach without stopping to try out my open door?

Jennie said...

Oh Pam, I've been wondering about you as we hear the news coming out of your system. I'm so sorry.

I will be there this October, but I'm going to stay at home instead of the hotel.

If you need help "planning," Eventide in Arlington makes some really nice cocktails and has rooftop seating...

Christine said...

Loss is hard- I'm so sorry. And you are certainly still getting great books to kids. I depend on you for ideas for my own.

adrienne said...

Pam, Ack. The beach sounds just like the thing. Transitions are always hard, even when they're good ones. It's extra-hard when it's something a bit out of your control.

Vivian said...

I'm so sorry, Pam. I've been in the same situation and I know how bittersweet it can be. You're doing the right thing by taking care of yourself and your wonderful family first. You surround yourself with things you love, and I have no doubt you will find new possibilities and adventures to come. Wishing you all the best.

Pat said...

So sorry to hear about your job. You are my all-time favorite blogger (I stalk you in a nice way). Nina Lindsey recommended your blog to me when she was chair of the Newbery Committee and I have been reading it ever since. Ohio Libraries are going through a tremendously scary time right now so my thoughts are with you. Take care of yourself and your family.

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

How horrid!
Finding a job that is the right fit is so hard. And to lose it now... these are scary times.

God knows what is going on with my library system (labor negotiations continue) and I haven't had the strength to blog about it yet, myself.

Thanks for sharing with us. And, not sure how comforting words from a stranger will be, but having been laid off a time or two myself, I have found that it's always led to better things and opportunities that I wouldn't have considered otherwise.

sequesterednooks said...

Pam,
I'm sorry to hear about your job. No matter what the circumstances, it always hurts to leave something behind. Is volunteering an option?

No matter what you are still able to share your love of reading and influence children's lives. Have a wonderful and relaxing time at the beach with your family!

Tasha said...

Pam, I am so sorry to hear this. I know you will land on your feet, you have so much going for you! But as everyone else has said, make sure you take care of yourself first for awhile. Huge hugs!

Jennifer Schultz said...

Pam,I so wish there was an opening in Fauquier, even though that's probably too far for you. This stinks. I am so sorry.

Grace Lin said...

i'm sorry to hear about your job. Crossing my fingers that something even better comes along for you.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Hugs to you Pam. I hope you are enjoying your time at the beach. Endings are sad but the beach is the right place to go through it. I just know you will be breaking new territory when you get back, and new adventures await.

Sandra Stiles said...

Pam I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It doesn't matter if you know it is coming it is always a let down. Somewhere deep inside you keep hoping it will change. Take time at the beach to saturate yourself with all things relaxing. I know there is something better waiting for you. You are destined to do great things. You already do as you have proved with your blog. Good luck and I'll be praying for you.

ZG said...

MR:

I send a very large hug to you tonight.

I do know how it feels to leave the library - perhaps forever.

Know that you made a huge difference in many lives there - but that you continue to do so here and in every other sphere of your life.

ZG @ Lodestar

Anonymous said...

This is my first time on your site, but boy do I understand that lump in your throat. I just lost my position in March as a high school librarian, and June 19 was my last day at the job I loved! It was the first time ever in my professional life that I have loved my job. I've taught for many years, and I finally landed where I belonged. Due to all kinds of financial reasons, my district decided to cut our ranks in half. With 15 years of seniority, I didn't make the cut! Ouch. I am just now not bursting out in tears when I consider going to the position they placed me in. It's a job and I don't want to sound ungrateful, but it isn't what I love. All the well meaning comments from people don't really help. I felt like there was someone else out there that felt my pain. I am on the west coast and can't afford to attend the conference, but I enjoyed reading your blog. I'll be back.
Lost Librarian in Washington State

Saints and Spinners said...

I'm sending waves of empathy your way, MotherReader. Like Web, I left voluntarily when things were good and it seemed that I'd be able to return when I was ready. Years later, my daughter is older and there's no job to return to.

Good wishes for great things to come...

gail said...

Well, Pam, what everybody else said. Plus, you're smart to be focusing on all the irons you have in the fire. Maybe losing a job is like surgery--at some point in the recovery you notice that you're not in anywhere near as much pain as you were in the day before. Hope that's the case.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Aw, man. Im so sorry. Big, big hugs to you.

eisha said...

That's rough. I know what you mean about identifying yourself through your job - I felt completely adrift after we moved and I had to temp for a year. It wasn't horrible, and I was grateful for the money and the people I met, but it just wasn't me. But Pam, you've got so much goodness going on, what with the conference and PBS and your awesome family. You're going to be just fine, I know it.

(My word verification is "reepoly." Do you have some special setting that makes up awesome non-words-that-should-be-real-words?)

jone said...

Pam, my heart goes out to you. Was it just yesterday that we were at Multnomah Falls and you talked about this happening? I am hoping to make it to DC. Please feel free to call or email about the conference.
Enjoy the shore and your time.

Robin Brande said...

Pam, SO sorry about the sad parts of this, but I'm happy for the opportunities you'll now have time for.

Good luck in all things! You'll be coming out on top--you'll see.

Gregory K. said...

Criminy - every time I turn off my Google Reader, I miss something I wish I hadn't missed. I echo the support and empathy in the earlier comments, Pam. No fun, even when you know it's not the end of the world. To help keep you busy, I promise to come up with a whole slew of logistical issues and really bad ideas you'll have to sort out in regards to the Conference! And if you need any further help, just ask :-)

Michelle said...

Pam, good luck to you! I hope you find that place where you are more comfortable with where you are professionally. It will be a change to be sure but you're entering into it with just the right amount of trepidation and enthusiasm.

I'd love to participate in the KidLit Conference and seeing as though I'm in DC I should be able to swing the day. Marking it on my calendar. :)

Good luck to you!

Mary Ann Scheuer said...

Pam, you are a wonderful writer, sharing your feelings so fully through your words. I know just how you feel about having to leave a position you love. I hope your week at the beach is full of both quiet time and laughter with your family. I'm new to the Kidlit community this year, and it's truly an amazing community. I love your leadership. Good luck and thank you - Mary Ann

Mitali Perkins said...

Pam, your future is so bright I need to put on my shades to consider it. Staying with you through the loss and waiting eagerly for the gains.

Camille said...

Isn't it amazing, the number of us who have shared this kind of experience?

You are now on your way to the next great thing -- and just being there for your kids is ONE a great thing.

Little Willow said...

Sending you lots of good thoughts. I hope your next job is worthy of your knowledge and time, and appreciative of your dedication. I send you the best of luck as you go on the job hunt.

Lady S. said...

So sorry to hear this, Pam. I've been away for a while, so read your (beautifully written, as always!) blissful beach break post first. Good things coming about through bad things has been on my mind lately, as I was helping my sweetie write an acceptance speech for a really significant award, and he talked about the disappointment he'd had back when doing graduate work and wasn't able to work on the subject matter then. Not that you'll have that long to wait for the good to come of this, of course!

More than ever wishing there was some way to swing attending the conference!

Linda said...

As someone in the same position (that of having no position), I understand the lump in the throat. I got word that my job was being eliminated the same week that my first picture book was published -- that bit of uplift has helped tremendously. Thanks for writing about your feelings, and good luck to us all.

MarcomMom said...

I got such a vision of your library and of what seems like a dream job as I read this post (new to blog and catching up). You're so right about other doors opening, but that doesn't make grieving a genuine loss less hard. Sending you good wishes...