Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What some people do for a living

So here it is, almost the Ides of March again. I remember my first 'ides of march' post last year, was a trip down memory lane detailing mid-March catastrophes.

Now I see the pre-spring bursting-at-the-seams energy as a good thing. Me, I'm out of my mind as usual. But the good news is that I am enjoying the insanity rather than fighting it. So one crazy thing is that my job is really two jobs, Executive Director and Administrative Assistant. Since we tightened the old belt and cut out a position, there are only two of us. My Program Director is already doing two jobs, so I can't complain. But I began to notice that I am a mean boss. I flog that poor Admin. Asst. like a government mule.

Now that we are putting the fundraisers together, it is especially intense. If you want to check it out, don't say I didn't warn you! I sent a fundraising letter to all my friends and God Bless the darlings, they started sending $$.

My friends have the most varied occupations as I'm sure yours do too. Many of my friends are writers in addition to the following. I have 2 psychologists, 6 carpenter/contractors, 2 tile setters, 1 communication cable installer/engineer, 3 nurses, a computer geek, 3 store owners, 2 restranteers, 1 chef, a classical musician, several authors, one judge, a medical transcriptionist, a transitional housing job coach, a peer counselor, a business consultant, 2 graphic artists, 2 online business entrepreneurs, a photographer (and hermit), a former school custodian, a dentist, a doctor, and a dozen massage therapists (lucky me!). One of my high school sweethearts was a famous illustrator for Disney before he died a couple years ago. The thing is you could put all these people in the same room together and you would have a party. Simple as that...they are all stellar humans who happen to perform the current job description of their choice.

A man I once worked for was a carpenter before he decided to go to medical school. He had a rich Hawaiian auntie who paid his way and he became a surgeon. When we started the remodel on his medical office, he was so happy to throw his stethoscope on the desk and strap on the tool belt again. You have to love a guy like that. My friend Shaun, a petite lass, was a dump truck driver, became a nurse, then private detective/insurance adjuster and finally went back to school for her Masters in physical therapy. Wow. Her husband was a nurse anesthiologist, became a master tile setter, and now is back to his original profession.

We have so many opportunities to express who we are. I jumped from college to massage in a sleaze joint, to phone soliciting, to recycling center worker, to pre-med, to truck gardener/tree planter to house painter/carpenter to self-employed masseuse, to job coach at a sheltered workshop, to cabinetmaker to landscaper, to domestic violence shelter advocate, then shelter Director, to Big Brothers Big Sisters Director. What a surprise. It never occurred to me to go for a career.

I had a short little attention span that quite forbade that type of thinking. So here I am...having a ball, my confidence running just ahead of my incompetence most days. My learning curve is always steep. I must like it that way, because I can't seem to stay with what I know. Some days I am so exhausted, I wonder why I have created such a life, where getting through the day feels like a marathon.What I figured out is this: like many folks I have a hell of a time asking for help. Guess what? I am so freaked out most of the time-working these two jobs in one, shouldering more responsibility than I thought I could, crashing my computer with my manic energy, making hellatious accounting blunders and still managing to have it all turn out okay. Why? Because I have to ask for help a dozen times a day.

Like Sandra Bullock in 28 Days, with the sign around her neck, 'Confront me if I don't ask for help'. I was handed this weird combination of qualities: a tough little body, a galloping mindless energy, ferocious ambition, a dose of ADHD, and a clown's gift for klutzing. Most days my mind is like a catfight in a burlap sack. So asking for help hits the restart button and off I go again. Another thing that happens, is like I mentioned in an earlier post, self doubt comes blowing in with gale force to try to topple me. When it doesn't work, when I laugh at how nuts I seem to get, instead of cursing it, I get another opportunity to restart the day.

A lot of my friends also design their lives to be maximally challenging. My cuz is the head of a huge women's homeless shelter. Because they believe in the women, empower them to make their own choices, and stand out of the way, some exciting (sometimes horrible) things happen, some huge disasters ensue. But these gamblers on human potential never stop expecting the best. I love that about my friends. If they aren't racing around the next bend to see what new thing they can learn, what new person they can meet, they are betting the ranch on someone coming through and not worrying if they don't.

This cobbled together life that found me, that nailed me, even though I was too distracted to settle in for a long time, came with great friends, a splendid man who really sees me and still sticks around, and my brothers and cousins who have loved me so well all my life. When I was a little tyke, the stupidest things would upset me, like having to share a bathtub with my brother and cousins. It never occurred to me that it might get a lot weirder than that.

I may even retire sometime from the exhausting day job. I wonder what will happen then?! The friends are for life, and who knows maybe even after that!

1 comment:

Angela said...

Wow, Julie. What a great post! I'm so glad you're blogging again.