Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I love when my mother is trying to come up with alternate careers for me, which has largely been stirred these days by thoughts I am having of going back to school to get my MSW to spend all day listening to people's stories and trying to make them come up with something useful at the end of it all. Or to keep them from doing desperate horrible things. As I've spent the good part of my 32 years doing both, becoming a therapist seems to be a good fit.

For my mother, this new adventure and its attendant new potential load of student loans for me is annoying. In my family, career flakiness is hereditary, passed down the paternal line and the fine exemplar of my father who has been (in order) a football player, a steel worker, a bouncer, a big time executive, an Australian, a radio newsman at a country western station, a carpenter, a big time executive (round two), followed by current career objective: fireman.

My resume is not as impressive, filled mostly with waitressing and teaching jobs, and that magical year I spent sticking needles into people, carving up various body parts, and culturing pretty much anything that can come out of a person. And of course, my current post as "attorney-at-law," which has always made me wonder what else people are attorneys AT.

Admittedly, there are days when my paralegal doesn't catch me standing at my window swaying with the rhythm of the hawk flying free outside while reciting that bird prayer from Forrest Gump. Generally those are days when I'm turned loose on a brief, which is the part of law I adore. The writing.

"Ah!" says my mother with a hand clap I can even hear over the phone. "That's it! You can be a writer!"

Perhaps the dreamer in me grows thinner each day, but whenever someone tells me they are a writer, I want immediate proof. Like a publication. On real paper. That other people see. In that sense, I have written things on pieces of paper that other people see, but I am talking about things people enjoy reading to escape from their lives for a while, not to give them acute gastritis.

The truth is - yes - like 25% of people my age, I would love to be a REAL writer. In fact, an essayist, humorist, historical fiction philosophical kind (narrowing the percentage to 13.5%). The truth also is, like in so many other areas of my life, I absolutely lack motivation to put pen to paper if there isn't a regular paycheck or some sense of notoriety involved.

I have also noticed that I really want to be a writer after I finish a wonderful novel. ( Like Midnight's Children. Salman, you hottie you. No wonder you land models.) This is pretty much like going to see a movie and deciding to become an actress. Because your inspiration is the result, but it's not a guarantee to last beyond the realization you need talent, drive and an ability to withstand the incessant nagging of a personal trainer. In the end, you realize you just want to live in the movie. Like you realize you want to live in the book. It is almost as if by writing the book, I think that I will get to permanently check out of reality. And there are much less strenuous ways to do that - some even unconsciously easy.

You also realize, particularly if you read blogs or even comments on facebook posts, that there are lots of people out there who want to be writers who are actually better at it and more dedicated. I am nothing if not a graceful loser in the game of life.

"Aw," I shrug. "they should have it. Where did I put that financial aid application?"

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