You Can’t Always Get What You Want… but if you try sometimes, you might find…

I just had a job interview. Yes… just like last year, I am in the Bay Area, where I want to be, and looking for work in the field I want to work in. Of course, this is unexpected [unexpected because I (clearly incorrectly!) thought that I would be returning to the school where I worked last year for this year – where I really wanted to work again]. But not totally unexpected in terms of the state of public education and budgets and the general state of affairs that I knew I would find in California on my return last year following more than five years over seas.

I am at a funny place in my life these days. I am in a place, geographically, where I would like to stay. I am in a place, physically, that is forcing me to acknowledge that I can no longer leap tall buildings in a single bound. I am in a place, emotionally, that is totally erratic – there is simply no other way to describe it. I am in a place, mentally, that is strangely calm.

As I was riding Bart under the Bay, from the city I am so happy to call home, to Berkeley, a place I would love to work, Mick (with the assistance of the London Philharmonic Orchestra) came symphonically onto my iPod apparently reminding me:

You can’t always get what you want…
You can’t always get what you want …
You can’t always get what you want…
But if you try sometimes, you’ll find…

I wondered if this song was going to be a good omen, or if I should skip to the next song, wanting all the luck I could account for in my corner. Then Mick said, “I saw her today at the reception, a glass of wine in her hand. I knew she was gonna meet her connection, at her feet was her footloose man…”

You can’t always get what you want…
You can’t always get what you want …
You can’t always get what you want…
But if you try sometimes, you might find…

I let it play.

The interview was for a really good job at a good school with good people. It seemed like the briefest interview I have ever had (but on second thought, it was about the same length of every other interview I have ever had, so I am not sure what that means.) It seemed like real people were talking to me about real things and wanted real answers. At one point, in perusing my resume, the principal had said, “So, Sparks, to China. There ‘s a move everyone makes.” I laughed to myself. Yeah, how much more legitimate can a geography teacher be than one who actually pulls a freaking geographical? And on leaving the interview, the standard self-doubt and insecurities that go with the whole process came up. Did I say enough? Did I say too much? Did I sell my self? Did I look desperate? Did I seem enthusiastic?  Did I demonstrate my experience? Did I highlight my talent?

As I walked out of the school and headed over to a sunny beer garden to contemplate the whole thing, Rehab’s song, ‘Sittin’ at a Bar’ came on. I smiled. I remembered hanging out of the back of a songthaew haphazardly bouncing along a pitted road between Thong Sala and Haad Rin on Koh Phanghan with a one-time soul brother as we belted out the lyrics to that song…

Bartender I really did it this time
Broke my parole to have a good time
When I got home it was six a.m.
The door was locked so I kicked it in…

As I contemplated this memory in the hot (really hot – but a “dry” heat!) Berkeley sun five years later, I thought again about my situation. I am not the norm for my age group to be sure. I cannot imagine most of my friends in my current circumstances. I thought about a lot of the teachers I know who were surprised to hear I was in a situation where I had to look for another position, but really glad that they were not. I considered the disadvantage of starting at a new district, losing years of experience on the pay scale – again, starting all over – again. When you think about it like that it doesn’t sound so good.

But then, you can think about it another way, too. I don’t know too many people over here who have gotten to see and do the things that my unconventional decision-making has brought me. I may not have the security that a lot of people do, but I have navigated crazy back roads in Thailand, seen the sun come up over Angkor Wat, walked on the Great Wall of China, lived in an ashram in rural India, gone diving off the coast of Borneo in the Celebes Sea, met real geishas in Kyoto, shot automatic weapons in Vietnam, brought my preguntas to la junta with Par Par Lay in Burma, eaten buffalo at a family barbecue in northern Laos, crossed the Mekong in a longtail boat, given up my seat to a monk on a flight back to Hong Kong, been upgraded to Cathay Business class and traveled by night bus through the jungle, had Bamboo snakes in my house, fed monkeys on the beach, cursed cockatoos in my lychee tree, thrown Mexican fiestas in Hong Kong and had raging toga parties in my little house on the South China Sea. And those are just the adventures in Asia.

When I got up from lunch it suddenly seemed less terrible that I did not have a job. But I hoped I would get one anyhow.

When I got home an hour later the principal I had just interviewed with called me.

“We loved you, why don’t you come work here.”

Fuck. Yes.


When I began writing this post I was on the train coming back to the City from the East Bay, unemployed.
When I finished it, I was sitting on the couch in my apartment in the Mission drinking a beer, employed.
I realize that there are a bunch of you out there who are waiting to tell me you told me so.
I am totally fine with that… and I love you for your infinite and amazing support. xoxo

About Amanda

I am repatriating expatriate trying to work it all out. Well, to work some of it out anyhow. I am writing here for sanity, focus and general over-sharing.
This entry was posted in Chasing the Life I was Supposed to Want, Life, Perception, The Future, true stories, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to You Can’t Always Get What You Want… but if you try sometimes, you might find…

  1. The words the principal used to offer you the job…it seems so right 🙂

  2. thedatingleprechaun says:


  3. Amy says:


  4. Uncle Reecie says:

    Burn on and burn bright.

  5. Will says:

    You are wonderful to love.

  6. Alyssa says:

    mmmm hmmmm….nice one to come back to:)

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