Oh, heyyyyy, Brooke…
First off…thanks for emailing me! I never ceased to be amazed by the amount of time/energy required to maintain my blog…so when someone takes the time to type an email in reaction to something that I have written, it makes me feel relieved/validated/motivated.
So, anyway: Careers. Dream jobs. Other things I would like to do with myself. Etcetera. When I moved to Portland, I couldn’t find a job for eight months. So scary! I was selling my possessions (books, clothes, you name it) in order to buy diapers and food. I once spent two hours frantically searching downtown Portland for Dylan’s lost shoe (she was going through a phase of random shoe removal…I guess riding in a stroller all day can get dull), because there was no way I could afford another pair of shoes for her. (And when I did FINALLY locate the missing faux-Converse, I literally cried with relief). All of my underwear were filled with holes and the soles of my own sneakers were on the verge of crumbling into dust.
Finally I got a job folding t-shirts at UO. My first day of employment was my birthday. I ended up working 12 hours, thanks to a scheduling mix-up. The idea that I was going to make $96 (before taxes) was the best gift I could have received. Eventually I became a manager…making me the wealthiest of all of my friends. That’s how Portland is…everyone is poor, but somehow, it never seems that way. The quality of life is just better, I guess.
After years of chasing shoplifters and folding an unimaginable number of t-shirts and jeans, I had this idea that I might go to nursing school. It seemed like a pretty good plan: virtually guaranteed employment for the rest of my life…and I would make enough money to consistently support Dylan. I definitely liked my job at UO…somehow working for me was a rite of passage for new Portland residents, so I seemed to know half of the hipsters in town. I met so many amazing, creative people. And even though my job was physically and emotionally rough at times, I still had a lot of fun every day. But after I sprained my ankle in a freak trampoline accident and spent weeks limping around on an air cast while I ran go-backs and pulled drawers, I realized that I couldn’t plan “UO manager” as a lifelong career.
But just as I was convincing myself of this nursing scheme, I was drafted to be a buyer in Philadelphia. Definitely an amazing opportunity for a department manager in a store 2500 miles away from the home office.
Wait…rewind a little bit…So the last year I lived in Portland (2006) was kind of ridiculous. A series of really shitty things happened to me. And I just couldn’t stop making huge life mistakes. Some day I will be ready to write about that time period, but right now it’s all a little to raw to translate into words. Seriously…thinking about some moments/events from that year gives me a sharp pain in my chest. And one day before I was offered this job in Philly, something terrible and traumatic happened to me. Relocating to the east coast was no longer merely optional. For my own safety and sanity, I had to leave. I spent the next six months secretly taking anti-anxiety medication (by prescription, I swear…no self-medicating), because I found myself in a permanent state of terror. The kind of feeling you get one second before you are almost (but not quite) in a car accident. The feeling you try to shake off with laugher afterwards. That was me. Twenty-four hours a day.
So now I’m here…and I have to say, I like my job. Seeing my own developments in our stores kind of blows my mind. I’m proud to be here. I’ve worked my way up at an impressive rate. And I have learned so much about the entire business of, well, BUSINESS. But yeah, most days I think, “What am I really contributing to the world?” As far as I can tell: more stuffing for landfills, more reasons to work up credit card debt, and new ways to obscure hangovers, hickeys, and bad hair days. Nonetheless, I am completely committed to this job. No slacking. No half-ass work. I want to be the best buyer.
But I still hold on to that nursing idea, even though I puke at the sight of blood, feces, and any kind of internal organs. I like to think I could build up a tolerance to that. You know, like changing diapers. At first it’s the most disgusting, arduous task ever…a few months later, you’re whipping off the most disgusting Huggie on the top of your bed, while eating chocolate pudding with the other hand. Whatever.
Other dream jobs: veterinarian (probably too late for that one), successful novelist (trying to work on that one), art teacher, trend forecaster, and yeah, COPY WRITER.
Ultimately, I want to make enough money to open a no-kill animal refuge (for dogs, cats, hamsters, any other neglected house pet). I’m planning this career change to happen around my 60th birthday.
Next subject: getting myself inspired to write after a long day of work. I am drafting stories in my head all day long. Whenever I have a spare moment. Fortunately I have a lot of meetings that give me an opportunity to space out. What else? Yoga helps. It sort of acts like a line separating work from writing. My usual schedule is something like this:
Go to work.
Yoga for 90 minutes.
Go home on the trolley.
Go to bed.
Sometimes I substitute laundry and housework for yoga. That stuff has to get done, too.
And driving out to my parents’ house every weekend…that’s a total of 4-5 hours of solid mental drafting.
If all else fails, sometimes I just force it. No matter what, I spend 9:30-11:30-ish writing. Even if I write something stupid, it helps.
I listen to lots of music. No radio or talking, because that just distracts me.
And having the commitment of my blog forces me to write something. I mean, I can’t disappoint the readers!
If I’m really stuck, like I just can’t do it, I zone out with Guitar Hero or Gossip Girl.
And sometimes I find it really helpful to read something by a writer I really love: Henry Miller, Nabokov, Sylvia Plath, Collette, or Bob Dylan’s Chronicles. Maybe old issues of McSweeney’s.
Someone really douchey once said to me, “You’re nothing but a hipster party girl. And an ugly one, at that.” Well, thanks dude. But seriously, my life couldn’t be more different from “hipster party girl.” I work constantly. I rarely go out. I’m like, “restaurants? what are they?” I guess that’s how I can afford to take so many cross-country vacations. But when I travel, I party down. I’m sure my Portland friends think I am a hard-drinking socialite…with really white teeth (because I bleach my teeth before I go on vacation…it makes me feel like I’m getting ready).
Okay. This is turning into a book. Time to get back to work.
P.S. I just decided that I am going to post this email on my blog, since I spent the better part of an hour writing it. And it answers a lot of questions others have asked. I hope this doesn’t cheapen the experience for you. Like, one time (about five seconds after I just finished having sex with this guy), he said, “Man, I’m really hung up on this girl. You have to tell me how to get her to go out with me.” Note: he was not referring to me. Don’t worry…it was a one-night stand. But still. Cheap!