...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

everybody's got to grow up sometime. apparently.

When last we met, I was all cried out (I'll pause a moment to give you time to engage in the requisite singing of that song, safe in the knowledge that I, too, got my Lisa Lisa on)(here's some help if you need it), had tucked my collection of old love letters back into a large storage container in my basement, and was faced with a few decisions. Did I want to:
  • put on my Velma glasses and, through a series of treacherous internet searches, find out what my former paramour is up to these days
  • give up the ghost and watch season 2 of Dexter
  • say "Hmmmm?" and/or "Wha?" in regard to another old letter I found while going through the treasure chest of my past

If you answered "All of the above," you're right! With a few keystrokes, I learned my former love has never tried to scare pesky (his word, not mine!) folk away from old ghost towns, but he has amassed an assortment of mundane traffic tickets over the years. Also, season 2 of Dexter, although bogged down a bit by the annoying British girl, was quite good, if not a smidgen predictable.

And what of the mysterious letter, you ask. What about the letter?! It was from a large state university that didn't award me my original journalism degree, and based on the jaunty way in which the registrar employee prefaced the letter, I wrote them first to inquire about graduate degree programs. In family and consumer science.

Apparently, I thought I wanted to be a dietitian.

(sidebar - at various times, I've also thought I wanted to be a zombie hunter, but they apparently hire them in-house because I never see help wanted ads for that position, or a king crab fisherman on the vast Bering Sea, but as I write this, I'm sitting in front of an open window and a brisk 65-degree breeze is wafting in, making me want to wrap up in the loving arms of my slanket, so those long hours toiling in arctic temperatures perhaps aren't ideal for my soft, cubicle-conditioned exterior)

I don't remember inquiring about graduate school, but based on the postmark on the outside of the envelope, I can understand why I thought it might be a good idea to spin my world a little more off it's axis at the time. I was sinking in the aftermath of the previously mentioned break up, and my father was in a hospital attempting to recover from a stroke we'd soon learn he'd never fully be able to. Why not toss another dash of chaos and potential remorse into the pot and see how it tasted, hmm? Since I thought I wanted to be a dietitian, I must have thought it would taste fantastic.

That moment - at 25 - was perhaps the first time I gave serious thought to what I wanted to be when I grew up. I spent the majority of my college years clueless to life afterward. There were two years in the education program thinking I'd be a teacher. God bless those who do teach, because the fact it took me two years to learn I didn't want to be a teacher was a strong indicator of how effective I'd have been getting a lesson across in a classroom. By junior year, I thought graphic arts sounded fun, but in the olden days, you had to know how to actually draw, so my first attempt was a sloppy straight line - with a ruler - through that option on my list.

Don't we all grow up with ideas of what we want to be when we grow up? Whether it's something attainable or a grand dream, don't we all imagine such things? Or is that something I've picked up from television programs? Because I honestly can't remember ever having a thought, big or small, about what I wanted to be when I reached adulthood.

(zombie hunter not withstanding, of course)

When I received this particular letter, I'd been working as a newspaper reporter for two years. A degree in journalism seemed like the last feasible option on my list when I decided to pursue it, and when I was offered the reporting job after graduation, I told anyone who'd listen I'd only be there a year because I absolutely didn't ever want to work at a newspaper, thank you very much. Hear me now, I'd say, I (who) don't want to be a news reporter (what) when I grow up (when)!

A year later, I was named editor of said newspaper.

I held that position for five years. Add that to the two years I spent as a reporter, subtract the part where I kept saying I didn't want to be a news reporter, and, well, you can see I was a news reporter for seven years. If you needed help figuring that out, remember to be sure to thank a math teacher, not me! Apparently, I'd decided reporting WAS what I was going to do when I grew up, but it wasn't want I WANTED to do.

While working as a reporter, I once spent a day in a preschool classroom for a feature story. As I scribbled notes and snapped photos, I overheard a boy tell a friend he intended to be a turtle when he grew up. Not a fireman nor policeman nor doctor. He only wanted to be a turtle. As he mapped out his plans, I felt envious of this five year old and his resolute goal, impossible as it was. By now, that boy has likely gone on to decidedly non-reptilian ventures (of which I hope he wasn't too disappointed), and I have tried out a few others, too, but I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Finding this letter reminded me of that. From time to time, I've chalked this disconnected feeling up to the fact that, in all honesty, I don't feel like I'm a grown up. I mean, come on, I have an imaginary 14 year old boy living inside me, for god sake (hey Seth)! However, I'm 41, and I do grown up things and have grown up responsibilities, and I quite imagine it's about time I have a grown up plan. At the very least, it would be nice to have a plan that doesn't end in me floundering around clueless and/or afraid.

I love my primary job of being a stay-at-home mom, and I'm going to pretend I didn't call it a job even though many days it absolutely feels like work. I also, for the most part, love my part time bookseller job. However, my boys are fast approaching a time when they don't always need me around and I can't always work for minimum wage. It feels like I have to consider how to fill in the blanks created by not being part of the full time work force and how I can use that information to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. Tonight we had take out food and ice cream for supper, so that dietitian's job may not be the first option that comes up. Tomorrow I'll return to my day shift at the bookstore while the boys are in school.

And if you know any turtles, would you maybe consider putting in a good word for me?

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Anonymous Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

I had a plan. I had it all mapped out.

And then the proverbial rabbit died and I took what I had to.

And you know what? It ain't what I planned (corporate law instead of a naturopath) but it ain't so bad.

And at least I can wear kick arse heels.

But a turtle would be awesome. Especially if it was a Ninja one!

Monday, August 31, 2009 2:47:00 AM  
Blogger thatgirlblogs said...

we have so much in common, always. great post.

so how's Dexter? never seen it...

Monday, August 31, 2009 2:56:00 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

I think turtles are a bit creepy.

Have you ever thought of publishing a collection of your "Best of" blog posts? You'd have at least 55 instant buyers.

Monday, August 31, 2009 5:53:00 AM  
Blogger lime said...

my plans were drastically altered. i like being a SAHM mom but that ain't earning enough to get a limelet through school so i am on the job hunt.

Monday, August 31, 2009 6:24:00 AM  
Blogger justmakingourway said...

My plan all through college was to become a teacher. Until senior year when I student taught and discovered that people who are expert procrastinators do not a good teacher make.

So I fell into what I do now. I don't love it and I often think, "What do I want to do with my life?" too. Most of what I think I want to do involves additional schooling, which is not in the budget right now.

Um, yeah. Bottom line? I get where you are coming from.

Monday, August 31, 2009 7:18:00 AM  
Blogger Chasity said...

My younger cousins used to chase me around with snapping turtles. Have you ever seen one of those babies up close? Not pretty. Plus, my husband tells me turtles carry salmonella, so the whole germ factor leads me to believe I won't be befriending any in my near or distant future.

And the irony in my Monday morning is that I mentioned salmonella & scrolled down to enter my comment and the verification word is 'puker'. I TOTALLY hope the irony stops there (knock on wood).

Monday, August 31, 2009 8:07:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

Here's another reason why I'm not fit to return to newspaper work - did you happen to notice how deeply I buried the lead on this baby? I buried it so deep that if it were a reanimated corpse, it would have to work so damn hard to emerge back into the world that about halfway through clawing its way through the muck and mire, it would just give up and say "Screw that whole terrorizing the general population for the injustices I feel they have placed upon me."

So, yeah. That's why. Also, I clearly can't edit anymore. A good editor would have cut this thing down with a machine gun.

(notice what a great mood I'm in? back to the children's department for me today!)

Monday, August 31, 2009 8:11:00 AM  
Blogger NaomiTanakaJesson said...

I find its never the final outcome but the journey. How's that for trying to be deep and all thoughtful.

Monday, August 31, 2009 9:47:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

I basically went to grad school because I got to my senior year and wasn't ready to be done with school, just yet. But once I'd finished my Master's thesis, I was done. . .

When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a math teacher (because, you know, I liked math and was good at it, and wanted to study as much of it as I could, and what else are you gonna do if you have a Math degree?). I even seriously considered getting my master's in Applied Math instead of engineering. And now, I'm finally getting old enough to give some serious thought to teaching math at the community college as sort-of a retirement project. So, you know, you never know. . .

Molly has a degree in Child Development, and for the past 28 years (counting 1F's gestation), she's had sorta the ultimate 'Job In Her Field'. . .

Monday, August 31, 2009 9:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently an office drone. I wish I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up. Something cool. Something I lvoe. Something that doesn't make me cry when my alarm goes off in the mornings. Something that doesn't get me yelled at for no reason other than because I am the closest person to blame. You got any of those jobs lying around?

If not, no worries...I can be a turtle, too.

also, a dietician, really? When does that ever sound like a good idea? I don't want to know who bad the crap I eat really is. That would make my meals a lot more boring.

Monday, August 31, 2009 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

I'm doing pretty close to what I thought I would be doing though honestly? It's not all I thought it would be...

Monday, August 31, 2009 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Bex said...

this post really resounded with me.

kicking and screaming my way into it, i became a stay at home mom 4 years ago and only just discovered that it is what i really want to do. in this culture of instant everything, it seems like a shock that some things take time.

of course i still have my gig as part time yoga teacher. and i am not letting it go until they make me!

Monday, August 31, 2009 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous TwoBusy said...

Zombie hunting? That's just foolishness.

Bigfoot hunting, however, is clearly a growth industry. Especially in your neck of the woods.

(btw: your comment above? is why you are the beloved of the interwebs)

Monday, August 31, 2009 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

I feel for you. I just finished coursework to renew my teaching license and I don't want to be a teacher. It's hard for me, a feminist to say this, but I just want to marry a rich man.

Monday, August 31, 2009 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

Be careful... I've read stories about 41-year old women who at some point have 14-year old boys inside them, and they usually get arrested for it. The woman are junior high teachers and they end up with their faces all over CNN.

Also: When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer. And a running back for the Chicago Bears. Then, at some point, I wanted to have a radio show with my brother. And then I wanted to direct movies.

I'm still waiting on the call from the Bears. And from Spielberg.

Monday, August 31, 2009 1:22:00 PM  
Blogger MereCat said...

I don't know what I want to do when I grow up either. Being a SAHM is great, but I'll go back when they start school. Hell, since we started our family so late in life, by the time the kids are in school, I will be so old that all anyone will let me do is be a greeter at Wal Mart. I will just go straight into post-retirement employment.

Monday, August 31, 2009 2:16:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Wait - Seriously, do we HAVE to grow up? I'm 53 years old and STILL don't know what I want to be when I grow up. When I was little I wanted to grow up to be a bird. Yeah. Sooo, I feel your pain.

Monday, August 31, 2009 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger blissfully caffeinated said...

Go to grad school now. Going to school, or even just planning to go to school, is a great way to stretch out a non-career into infinity. Trust me, I know. I am an expert at the non-career. People can't believe I actually went to college because no job I've had since leaving school has remotely resembled anything that looks like it might require a degree or training.

You were a reporter? That rocks. Oh, I know! You should start writing investigative pieces on spec and then sell them to like the Drudge Report and the Huffington Post and TMZ. I'm sure you will eventually be a famous writer.

Or, you could go with the Turtle thing.

P.S. I LOVE that Lisa Lisa song. "All alone on a sunday morning, outside I see the rain is fallahallingying, whoa oh whoa oh." Love it.

Monday, August 31, 2009 2:41:00 PM  
Blogger Sailor said...

Ummm, shoot. I'm older than you by a couple years, and I don't know what I want to be when I grow up- but, honestly? Do I have to grow up??

I doan' wanna!

Let's go play with turtles, then read some cool books, okay?

Monday, August 31, 2009 7:05:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Becky said...

I hate to break it to you, but I AM a turtle.

Monday, August 31, 2009 7:09:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think you would have been a good zombie hunter.....

Monday, August 31, 2009 7:25:00 PM  
Blogger Kate Coveny Hood said...

I was so apathetic about my future while in college that I think it's a miracle that I graduated. You would think that I'd be the Tommy Boy type on the 7 year plan... But I didn't really have a problem with graduating - it was just the part after that that made me close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and say "nah nah nah nah nah...." Actually - I still feel like that a lot of the time.

But I have so many more interests now than I used to and often wish I could go back and do it again. Or at least go back in time (I'm thinking of George Carlin in Bill and Ted) to visit myself and say, "Kate! What is wrong with you!? Why did you drop all of your creative activities? Do something in design. Oh yeah - and try writing - something tells me that you may like it... Forget about that psychology degree. You'll never do anything with it. Providing therapy and needing therapy are not the same thing."

But I can't go back. So I have plan for the future. And I really do think that we're all doing that on some level. And at least we (as in everyone here reading this post) have each other to talk to about it.

Monday, August 31, 2009 8:35:00 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Ah yes, I am reminded of a certain letter sent to the Naropa Institute, where I considered pursuing my masters in writing and poetics. The only poems I'd written were limericks (of which Allen Ginsburg was perhaps not a fan.)

Monday, August 31, 2009 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

It is a J O B job teaching. It is suitable, not perfect, but livable, and the summers off kick ass.

Monday, August 31, 2009 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger The Savage said...

There is much lust in me for you!

Monday, August 31, 2009 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger bernthis said...

I wanted to be a reporter but never made it past being news editor of my school paper and then a couple of articles for the Times Picayune.

It is amazing how quickly the kids grow and how much less they need us. I'm going to miss that part a lot

Monday, August 31, 2009 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger WILLIAM said...

Zombie hunter training is very difficult.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

OMG!!!! we are in season 3 of Dexter and I already have a post for this week telling why I love the show-I dont know anyone else who watches it- woo hoo!!!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 8:58:00 AM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

ok back to the meat of the post. I ahve ahd five million different careers (fashion stylist, social worker, teacher) and my time now, when I can work from home as newspaper columnist and write has been my favorite (so good in fact that i wrote a whole book of my own). It's hard to quiet down enough to ask yourself those tough questions of what your passion is -but you'll figure it out :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 9:03:00 AM  
Blogger Jormengrund said...

Love the blog!

Now, if I could only figure out how to grow up, then I could decide what I want to be when I grow up!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa @ I Pick Pretty said...

Whatever it ends up being for you, surely it involves writing? I'm guessing this here blog is the answer, but I'm guessing this is something you love to do, in addition to being excellent at it?

The only thing I've ever known for certain I wanted to do when I grew up was being a mom. Call in the PC police for saying it, but there it is. Still searching for the magic answer - one that comes with a paycheck, that is - otherwise.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Juggle Jane said...

Oy - sometimes I feel like I AM a turtle!

Right now I am knee-deep in graduate degree brochures, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Why did I ever think I would have it all figured out at 32?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 6:55:00 PM  
Blogger AiringMyLaundry said...

Oh, my plan took a huge nosedive when the stick turned blue when I was 19. Right now I'm a SAHM but my dream is to be a writer. A published writer.

I haven't seen Dexter before but I've heard all about it. My parents love the show.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Juicebox said...


Wednesday, September 02, 2009 8:55:00 AM  
Blogger Kathy B! said...

I had LOTS of plans! And I seemed to mek u-turns every time I was supposed to be heading straight ahead... But can you imagine how boring it would be if we all ended up where we thought we were supposed to?!

Friday, September 04, 2009 6:46:00 AM  

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