Twelve years ago this morning, I was a 24 year old former teacher who had just resigned in disgust from what would have inevitably been a soul crushing career touching America’s future. It was basically a choice of self-preservation more than anything else. I’d interviewed for a new job over the phone, filled out a staggering amount of paperwork, and moved what few household goods I had accumulated since graduating college 129 miles south to embark on a new career. Early that long ago morning I met 30-odd strangers at a Shoney’s in Petersburg, Virginia waiting for an unknown future.

We were met with boxes of additional paperwork and a day’s worth of in processing. We raised our right hands and said the words and poof, we were the most endangered of all Uncle’s animals – we were federal interns. Like everything else in the government, the word “intern” means something completely different than it means out in the world. For us, it meant full salary and benefits and two guaranteed promotions if we managed not to get fired during our probationary employment period.

Since then, it’s been off to the races. Some of it good, some of it bad, but very rarely has it ever been dull for more than a few days at a time. I’ve been equal parts ambitious, discontent, proud, and horrified of the career that day launched. Uncle has given me the chance to go places and see things I never would have done or seen of my own accord. Alternately he’s driven me to drink and to ponder the rules governing what makes a homicide “justifiable.”

With a little bit of rounding, it’s now 12 down and 21 to go – or a little more than a third of a career now in the books. That figure is alternately depressing and incredibly hard to believe… or at least it is until my back starts hurting, there’s a throbbing in my knee, or my shoulder slides out of joint. Then I can tell exactly where those years went. It should be interesting to see what kind of mess I can make of the next twelve.

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