Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Daddy-Long-Legs

Last night I dreamed that there was a tornado downtown. The triangular black cloud was streaming along the streets, and buildings underneath were burning. I was with my dad and my Uncle Larry, and I said I wished I had my keys, so we could just go hide at work, since we weren't safe in the car. Then I looked in the backseat and my purse was there, with my keys. Dad said, "Let's just go to your office, " and I said, no, it's just a trailer, it's not safe. Let's go to Hatch, I still have a key. So we went to Hatch and Dad and Larry went in to get the kitties and hide somewhere secure, and I was just trying to disarm the Hatch alarm. Apparently they'd changed the code since I left, and it kept just beeping at me. I could see many different codes written in pencil in Jim's handwriting on the wall behind the alarm pad, and kept trying them, and was sort of wondering why the cops hadn't come by now. Then I realized probably alarms were going off all over downtown because of the tornado.

Hmph.

So, I have a hypothetical for you.

Let's just say I've been wandering about in this career-ennui haze. Maybe for years. Hypothetically. I didn't really have a career goal in college (majoring in Art with a concentration in Creative Writing, just to give the career counselors something to roll their eyes at). I wasn't working towards anything, and I'm sure that's why I slowly fell apart as a college student. Then I went to Hatch, and it was a very safe place for me. Some days were so much fun, and some days were so awful that I have probably blocked it. But it was easy to stay there for seven years, and to not think about it too hard. Then I did the hard thing and left and went to the gym, and we know how that ended. Now I'm here at the magazine, and I don't know where this fits in the grand scheme of things.

And now, hypothetically, what if a family friend with a healthy estate at his disposal came to me and offered to make an investment in my future? If his exact words were, "Perhaps Delaney should consider self-employment. Is there something she would simply love spending the next thirty years doing? I might be able to help." This is the only thing I've been able to think about for three days now (hypothetically), and WHAT does it mean about me if I can't come up with a SINGLE thing that I would simply love spending the next thirty years doing? Where have I gone wrong from the little girl in third grade who listed among her dozens of career goals: firefighter, chef, mother, ballet dancer, writer, cat trainer, unicorn, architect.

The first thought that floated through my brain was that maybe he'd just pay my bills so I could stay home and raise a family. I know this is not what he meant by this offer, I'm just handing this over as an example of how warped my brain has become. This is a particularly fine example, because as you well know, I have no IDEA if I want to raise a family, at least any time soon, so why would that be my immediate response if I were to be financially independent? Psh.

Every idea that comes up (or gets suggested to me), I immediately find a flaw. The long-discussed bakery idea? I don't want to have to get up before dawn every morning, and bakeries are risky anyway. Event planning? How long would I have to do that before I started making a profit? Catering? What, and ruin all the fun I have cooking for my friends and family every week? Writing? Um, that is just so unstable, and the only writing I feel prepared to do anymore is blog about why I'm never going to have affairs with douchebag singer-songwriters. Chad suggested I start a dogwalking/kennel/dog park kind of business, and my answer to that was the same as what I tell my mom every time she suggests I be a teacher: I get too attached and sensitive. If anything went wrong, or if there was some situation I couldn't control, it would just break me. Can't work with kids or animals.

The ugly reality of it is, I'm lazy, unfocused and unmotivated. I want to make a lot of money without having to work very hard. I am sure if there was something I was passionate about doing that I wanted to share with the world, I would work hard at that, but until I figure out what that is (is that ever going to happen?), the idea of just picking something and going for it makes me feel panicky, and sort of like I want to cry. I don't know if I have the discipline to be self-employed, unless my responsibilities were to make menus of a week's worth of meals and play solitaire... hypothetically.

And another thing is, I can thank my parents for instilling such a sense of fairness in me that I can't justify taking advantage of any opportunity without making sure my sisters are offered the same. Just because they got their shit together long before me, it is ok for me to take this baffling act of benevolence and run with it, without counting the M & Ms and making sure J & C each get an equal number as I?

My mom says it's helping her to focus her thoughts (she's sort of in the same place as I, scarily enough) to list the things that she knows she DOESN'T want to do. She's started that list for me: no office jobs, no strict time table but deadlines are ok (because my adrenalin doesn't start pumping until it's the midnight hour), no dress code, no coworkers hanging over my shoulder, but some kind of social aspect so I don't feel isolated. Nothing dull, routine, uncreative.

I would add to this something that is just a reminder to myself, because in my weakened state I have considered it lately: I don't want to work in the service industry.

There are plenty of people who work just to work. No restaurants would get cleaned, no garbage would get picked up, no water meters would be read if everybody got to have a career doing something they loved (I know that was a blanket statement and I'm sure there are exceptions to all those jobs, I'm sure there are people who love doing those things. I'm just saying, for the purpose of argument...). So who am I to be asked if I want to follow my dreams for a living, and to just sort of shrug and say, "I don't know?"

I will say this: I'm serious about not wanting to ruin the things I really enjoy by having my livelihood depend on them. Baking for Rumours is showing me that, like a mirror in front of my face. So instead of having an answer to the question, is there something I love that I want to do for the next 30 years, I can only say, I want to do something for the next 30 years that makes it easy to also do the things I love. So where does that leave me now?

Hypothetically, I mean.

2 comments:

k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mom said...

Maybe your career is your family and friends, and you earn money as you need it, as you can, as long as it isn't vapid, soul-sucking work that hurts more than it helps.

You have a gift for making people want to show you their best--those of us who have been chosen by you have all won the puppy lottery.

And anyone who can write about wrangling with the fates like you can will do just fine.

Improvise. It's what we all do.

Love you.