9.29.2008

Birds of a Feather - What I Wanted to be When I Grow Up

Unlike my sister, I will not put my shameless self-promotion in brackets and italics as an attempt to make it look unintentional – I will do the opposite. Listen up people! There’s some new stuff going on with the blog. I don’t “know the specifics”, I am not very “computer literate”, I don’t “do the Facebook”; all I know is every morning when I get to my corner to start my long day of tempstituting there is an email waiting for me from Meg with updates. Cool updates. Updates designed to make the blog better for you (‘cause lets face it, you’ve pretty much seen the extent of what we’ve got to work with).

So check it out, tell a friend. Not only will you be helping a recent college grad get out of her parent’s house, you’ll also be helping a not-so recent college grad stay out of her parents house. And really, you’ll be helping our parents, ‘cause Lord knows they have better things to do with their post-child rearing years then rear adults. Haha, I said “rear” …..


I would not say that I am very goal-oriented. I would say I am good at picking goals, and then horrible at actually achieving them. It’s not necessarily that I don’t like working hard to achieve something; it’s that I don’t like working hard, period. I like my goals like I like my orgasms – easy to achieve. I worked as hard as I needed to in high school to get into college, I worked as hard as I needed to in college to graduate with honors, and now, as a working professional, I work as hard as I need to to not get yelled at.

So I too have a long and varied list of careers that I pursued, and then abandoned for various reasons. Some careers required just a bit more natural talent than I had to offer, some required special schooling that I didn’t have, but most just turned out to be too much work.

Inspired by Meg’s post, which in turn was inspired by Eddie’s post, I give you the first “Birds of a Feather” post on the blog – one topic, two points of view. “Birds of a Feather” – get it? There are SO many bird analogies coming, you have no idea.

When I Grow Up, I wanted to Be:

Professional Figure Skater
I am not sure what it was but I seriously wanted to be a figure skater. On car rides I would make up routines to the music we listened to – this was difficult for two reasons: one, I know maybe three figure skating moves; two, my parents tended to favor music of the Crosby, Stills & Nash variety and “Ohio” does not make the best ice skating song (“I think, yes Brian, she has fallen dramatically to the ice and unfurled a red ribbon to represent the blood shed by the National Guard that day … damn this is depressing!”) I took some lessons at Wheaton Regional and even managed to master jumping up from one foot to the other. And then it became spring, and in order to continue ice skating I would have to get up early, train a lot, and generally dedicate my life to it. Nuh-uh. I must say I was completely vindicated in my decision to abandon my calling when, several years after this dream died, I was watching an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 and Brandon starts dating a washed up figure skater but then he convinces her to go back even though she has to break up with him and she wins some medal and thanks him on the air and tells him that she’ll miss burritos. FUCK NO – any career that prohibits Brandon Walsh and burritos is no career of mine.


Singer/Actress
This is where the “lack of talent” bit comes in. I had some talent, sure. Maybe even a little more than most. I could memorize lines like a kid with Asperberger’s. I would actually memorize the whole play and then mouth everyone else’s lines as they spoke – distracting but quite impressive, no? I took lessons at BAPA, the prestigious Bethesda Academy of the Performing Arts which, when I was a student in the early ‘90s, was located next to Bloomingdale’s in White Flint Mall. I tore up Drama Learning Center, a three-week drama camp that put on a slightly abridged musical. How many girls were Maria from “West Side Story” and Oliver Twist? I think the beginning of the end came during my second to last year at camp – we where scheduled to do “The King and I” and I was so pumped to wear a hoop skirt and my British accent was still fresh from my turn as Oliver. Unfortunately two older girls showed up out of nowhere, got the leads, and my hoop skirt dreams were dashed. I then got to high school and realized that I was way to cool to be a drama kid. I may also have been not talented enough but that’s neither here nor there.


Model
This is a dream that Meg and I shared together. We were both in-store models at Limited Too, and though she didn’t mention it, we both watched MTVs House of Style religiously. In case you were wondering Meg was indeed a very cute child. Dimples, curls, chubby cheek-ies, the whole bit. I was not cute - no dimples, pin-straight hair. Our Mom decided that Meg was the cute one and I was the pretty one – and I am pretty sure we’re both still fucked up from it. I am not sure why this dream died because I could so totally be a model. Totally. After all, this is what I look like:
[Amusing Editors note: when looking for an image for this part I googled "hot brunette" - BAD idea. VERY BAD IDEA. Especially while at work.]




Cosmetic Chemist
I will not dedicate to much space to this dream as it was but a fleeting one started in 11th grade chemistry when I realized I could balance equations like a motherfucker. I decided that I LOVED Chemistry. I decided I would BE a Chemist. I decided that SCIENCE was boring and the only way the world would be lucky enough to have ME practicing my chemical genius was if I could create make-up (see above career). I believe I told my Chemistry teacher this. He then pointed out that in order to be a chemist one had to actually be good at chemistry. And that was that – put in my place by the man who dressed up like Robin Hood at our school football games.

Journalist
This is where we start to get into realistic career goals, ones that I had from ages 18 onward. Not to reference BH 90210 twice in one post but I was slightly Andrea Zuckerman. Not in the awkward “throw myself at my male best friend on a merry-go-round” way but in the dark-haired newspaper queen way. I was really into it. Like, editor in Chief of my college paper into it. And it was fun. And I really liked it. And I had an interview with the Washington Post after college. And they told me I was talented. And they told me they’d be honored to have me work at their paper. And they told me that first I was going to have to get some professional paper experience. And then they told me that that experience would be in the form of covering Howard County Public Schools for one the Gazettes. And then I said goodbye to journalism. In retrospect I look at this job as the one who got away. ‘Cause here I am, sitting on my corner, writing but not getting paid, hoping my Boss-Pimp doesn’t bitch-slap me for not editing his meeting notes.

Pastry Chef
I love Martha Stewart. That woman is a genius, a ball-breaker, an ex-model, and she can make anything out of chicken wire and grosgrain ribbon. It was around the time I became obsessed with Martha (summer of ’95 – I love you Martha!) that I decided I wanted to be a Chef. A pastry chef. ‘Cause dessert is delicious and easier to make than real food. This dream waxed and waned from ’95 to ’03 but after giving up on journalism I had to do something, right? I went pretty much full force after this one, literally sending in an application to L’Academie de Cuisine. I was invited to the pastry program’s senior project review – which was a Willy Wonka-esque smorgasbord of baked goods, spun sugar, and candy. But then the whispers started, rumors among the students at the review – pastry chef’s have to get up when? And get paid what?? And work where???

Event Planner
The only job I’ve wanted and worked hard to get. I mean worked HARD. Whenever I’d tell people what I did for a living I’d get “ooh! That sounds like it would be so much fun, going to all those parties!” That’s like telling a firefighter his job sounds fun because he gets to drive a sweet truck. After four years, countless nervous breakdowns, no relationships, and only the occasional Saturday off and I decided that I’d had enough. There was much wackiness and we would have made an awesome reality show but that can only get you so far. Eventually you have to leave the carnival. And what do I have to show for all that hard work? An apartment I can’t afford, a few nice pieces of jewelry, and a life-long aversion to salmon. I think that’s going to be the name of the memoir I write – “A Life-Long Aversion to Salmon: Once Caterer’s Story.” Stay tuned. And for god’s sake don’t tell Oprah – I don’t want her to get all “A Million Little Pieces” on me if I embellish a few details.

So here I am. Floundering after realizing that my chosen career isn’t what I want to do after all. I think this is something that many of us can relate to. As Meg notes, we like to think of ourselves as the voice of the 20-somethings. Something to keep in mind is that she and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum – she’s in her early 20s, I’m in my late 20s, yet here we are, in the same boat. It seems perfectly normal to be a 23 year old looking for that right job to launch you toward your career, it’s a little scary to be a 28 year old looking for that same thing. Especially after a false start. However I refuse to believe that I am the only one may age in this position. Someone once told me that the average person has seven career changes in their working life – that seems like a slight stretch but doesn’t it kind of make you feel good? Sure you’re a technical recruiter now but you can be a hair stylist one day! Sure you work at a financial company now, but there is no reason that your dream of owning a bar can’t come true. With age comes wisdom, and sure your late 20s isn’t really that old, but just as you know what you want to be when you’re little, you know what you don’t want to be as you grow older. And that is wisdom enough for me. At least that’s what I tell myself every night before I eat my dinner of tuna and Ramen.

3 comments:

2 Birds, 1 Blog: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

A+ post.

When I read that you would choreograph ice skating routines on car rides, I was like "how did she manage to choreograph to 'The Traveling Willbury's?"

<3M

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I remember when you were a huge fan of Martha Stewart. You were always baking pies and other amazing treats.

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