I sat in a room painted white with no windows and one door we weren’t allowed to use but did anyway. It was late October, 2011 and I was in Eastern Afghanistan separated from my husband by 15 miles of land churning with religious agony and human hatred. He might as well have been in space or at the bottom of the ocean. Actually, it would have been easier to get to him then. It was so dark outside I could see the Milky Way and consider the wonders of the universe. I usually just sat outside looking at the Big Dipper. Not only was it a beacon I saw home in (the United States), but it was also the same constellation my husband was under and possibly looking at as well.
I wasn’t outside pondering these things, however, I was sitting at a computer musing on what life would be like in Fairbanks, Alaska. We had just found out a week earlier, hours before leaving the paradise of Bali, that S would be transferred to Fort Wainwright only a few short months after arriving back in the States. I had spent so much of the year planning our lives in Louisville, Kentucky that this “summons” knocked the breath right out of me initially. We were waiting patiently for Callie to be born, we were considering buying a house, and I was getting out of the Army. Having more than enough time– more time than I wanted– to deliberate about what I would do after the Army, I had finally realized what I needed to do. Publishing.
I could give you quite the interesting list of jobs I’ve gone through in my life wanting to do. My dad remembers me wanting to be a ballerina and then deciding being part of a mountain rescue team would be my life goal. For many years I considered being a Christian missionary. Eventually it was English teacher. I couldn’t read enough to save my life. I used to read 5 books at a time (which annoyed my mom to no end). I wrote constantly. I adored language in any form. And that was it. I went to college and began my journey toward changing some 9th grader’s life through his English class. Then I started student teaching.
At 20 years old I looked almost 16 years old. As horrific an experience as high school was for me, I was in my second year of college and was prepared to re-enter the world an older, wiser, more intelligent person with no fear pressing down on my shoulders and no insecurity behind my eyes. Then I got stopped by a teacher in the hallway of the local high school who asked, “Do you have a hall pass?” My fears, anger, insecurities, and naivety had not been beaten off, they had just been hiding in the shadows, where they pounced from now with a vengeance and crushed my courageous, confident, passionate spirit. I stuck it out, however, making it to the class I was student teaching, and realized within two weeks that teaching high school English would not quench my thirst to share the passion I had of language.
I considered dropping the ‘Education’ portion of my English Education degree I was working toward, but stuck it out one more semester in which I took a grammar class. Yes, it was torture. No, it was not all for naught. I learned about Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) in that class and was instantly in love. I never tread carefully around instant love, as most people advise. I dove into researching it and imagined myself in some far off land, offering people a chance at achieving the 1950’s “American Dream.”
Back to the future– late October 2011. I had completed my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature (no Education), had dabbled with some jobs, and joined the Army. The closest I came to my dreams of TESOL was sitting in a back office in Afghanistan and flipping through a Webster’s Dictionary from the 1970s with Gil, a 54 year old Afghanistan native who had been a United States citizen longer than I’ve been alive. I sat at the computer researching the publishing industry and feeling my heart rate rising with excitement. I had found it! I had found a career that encompassed everything to do with my passion of language! Through publishing, editing, copyrighting, or anything in the industry, I would not be teaching a small classroom of uninterested students, hoping to change someone’s life once every 10 years, but I would be providing the resources to learn ANYTHING to millions of people! I could travel and learn about the industry from others. I could participate in events for charities and helping those in need. I felt at home in the web pages I read on publishing.
The next step was figuring out how to start this career in Fairbanks, Alaska. Definitely easier said than done. On the bright side, I knew I was going to need to start from the very bottom and work my way up. What a better way to learn about the industry of books than at a book store? I started looking for book stores in Fairbanks and found three. THREE. There is Barnes and Noble, Forget Me Not Books, and Gulliver’s Books. I grew up in northern California frequenting Barnes and Noble, so I had some good memories at this chain store. Forget Me Not Books is affiliated with The Literacy Council of Alaska and mostly volunteer work. Gulliver’s Books is a locally owned book store that has been in business for 23 years. I thought it would be neat to be able to have time to volunteer at Forget Me Not Books or the Literacy Council of Alaska as well as work at Barnes and Noble since I frequented there as a child, but Gulliver’s Books just seemed magical. It obviously instantly reminds one of “Gulliver’s Travels” which, before Jack Black’s raping of the story, was a fantastic (in the definition sense) classic satire and parody that was more fun when summarized for children but just as fun for adults who understand the hidden significances hidden within the tale. The pictures on the website and street view on Google Maps show a quaint building that has the airs of a fairy tale. It seemed perfect. Now, I just had to get a job there.
It is now August 21, 2012 and I finally walked inside this Gulliver’s Books with nerves high, and trying to hide my shaking hands as I hand my application and resume to the owner and retiring manager of the local bookstore. In short, I interviewed with the new owners immediately and was hired on the spot! It wasn’t in the bookstore yet, I now work in the Second Story Cafe of Gulliver’s Books, however it is just the beginning. I can’t stop thinking– “What if this is the first step to achieving all the success I desire?” Maybe someday I’ll be writing this as the COO of Penguin Press. Think on THAT for a minute!
Until next time folks…I’ll be enjoying my time as an unemployed, dependent, civilian Army wife.