Godmama Says…
a buncha stuff.

the drawing board…

When I was a little girl, I wanted to move to New York City and be a rock star when I grew up.   I did that… and then I grew up some more.   It turned out that this dream was something I’d eventually have to wake up from.   It was like the dream of climbing Mount Everest.  Making it up there was an exciting trip,  but you can’t live on the top of a mountain.   It’s rocky and cold, and there isn’t much air.   (There are also things that try to kill you like avalanches and bears…and junkies.)   So eventually I had to climb (and roll, and stumble, and fall)  back down to earth and figure out what to do next.

It has been that “what to do next” bit that I have lost sleep over intermittently for the past 5 years or so.   It has taken me this long to decide for myself that letting go of past accomplishments does not equal failure.   I will always be an artist.  I’ll still find some big exciting way to create and share music again,  I just won’t have any expectations of making a career out of it.

Career.   What an obnoxiously adult word that is.  I could never fit it into my brain before.  They beat you to death with it when you’re in high school:    Plan for your career!  Choose a career!  It’s Career Day!  Go see the career counselor!   Go to college so you can have a good career!   I didn’t want a career.  I wanted a  Silver Jet Gretsch  electric guitar and a one way ticket to NYC.  I didn’t want to have my face stuck in books for four years listening to somebody else.  I wanted my face in a spotlight with everybody listening to me.   So I skipped college and lived my dream.    I think it’s unfortunate that more people don’t take the opportunity to do just that.  It’s when you’re young, fearless, and wild* (*read:  still kinda stupid)  that you should be able to go out and climb whatever your mountain is while you have the energy and nerve to do it.  You should have a chance to live a little (or a lot, preferably) and actually have some of your own significant life experiences before being forced to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.   And why should you only be able to choose once?   Choosing a career path at the age of  17 or 18 seems to me as silly as choosing your spouse at that age, and just as outdated.   What do you know at that age other than basic algebra and what your favorite fast food is?

How about this:  Decide what you want to be when you grow up,  after you have actually grown up.

So after the descent from my mountain,  I spent the past several years hobbling around looking for jobs that would pay some bills while I tried to figure out What Comes Next.  I have written before about how frustrating it is living in a town where everybody constantly asks you What You Do when you haven’t quite figured it out yet.   I know what I used to do,  but after a while it’s just sad only talking about who you once were in wistful past tense,  as if referring to a dead friend.   In conversations with other adults,  I was experiencing the obvious difference between a job and a career.   People spoke about their careers with passion and pride,  I dreaded the idea of having to talk about my job at all.  I have always had the kind of  jobs that involve trashcans and dishes,  nasty customers and even nastier bosses,  and paychecks that always leave me disappointed and wondering what happened along the way that I’m still working so hard for so little.

At the same time I have held fast to the assumption that the only way I’d ever earn a dime I could be proud of would have to be through some form of art.   I limited myself to being solely a right brained and creative entity, which isn’t very creative at all.  This thinking was more a result of the expectations of others that I adopted as my own.   Meanwhile,  all around me people were starting their own creative enterprises.  Among my friends and peers there are people making a living with photography,  jewelry making,  greeting cards,  hula hoop classes,  sewing,  quilting,  glass blowing,  painting, baking,   burlesque dancing,  sculpting… and on and on.   People have always assumed I’d be good at making things, which is odd because I never have.   I just look the part.   But I fell for it and had expected myself to come up with a THING I was going to make that everybody would want.   I can make bracelets!  Or wacky hats!   I can throw parties for a living!  I like parties!   Maybe,  but those ideas were just distractions and never felt like answers to the nagging question What do I want to DO?

My latest gig is an improvement, job-wise.   I am working with children now at an artsy alternative daycare.  Fun for the most part, and a few steps closer to feeling like I am actually doing something positive with my days other than just handing people sandwiches and beer.  It appeases my insatiable mommy urges a little bit, too, which is good.   But a couple weeks into it,  I know that even this is just a job.  That could be fine,  maybe it should be… but it isn’t.    Not for me.  I’m not done.  I know I need to do something big with my life.   I went big with the first couple chapters,  and more and more I feel the hunger for something big again.  I want to expand my brain.  I want  to break out of this shell I’ve been cramping myself up in and shed my personal dissatisfaction.   I want to solve problems and help people.  I don’t want to settle for whatever $11-an-hour service gig I find on Craigslist… I want a career!  Finally,  I want a career.

The other day at the daycare I had bathroom duty for a little while.   Seven or eight kids at a time were herded from the playground  into the children’s bathroom while I supervised, and the doors were closed behind them.   In the midst of the chaos and screaming, a sweet little boy hopped off one of the tiny toilets and over to me with his pants still around his ankles.  He turned around and poked his bottom up at me.  Spreading his cheeks open so I could get a good look he asked,  “Is my butt hole clean?”

It was NOT.

In that instant,  a bell rang in my brain and for the first time in more years than I care to admit,  I knew for certain exactly what I want to do next.

I am ready to go to college.  Not a trade school,  but college.   I am prepared to exceed my own expectations of myself.  Specifically, I want a degree in psychology.

Now and again over the past several years when I have daydreamed about what kind of career I might have had if things were different, I have seen myself as a therapist.   I have the daydream, and I sigh and tuck it away under the mat in front of my brain like a secret key.    I have lived through a unique array of life experiences.   I listen.  I am fascinated with the human mind and how it works.  I have an unusually empathic sense of how other people feel and why.  People come to me with their problems… and I dig that, but now I wanna cash in on that shit.

The first person I mentioned this to scoffed involuntarily and made the offhand remark that I should consider something more realistic for myself first… like pet therapy.   That was a bad reaction, and I had a bad reaction to the bad reaction.   I cried about it,  because it was the first time I had vocalized the delicate embryo of my New Dream,  and it felt shot down.   But if I had cared what people thought  I was or wasn’t capable of 20 years ago I certainly never would have dared  to live the giant unlikely dream that I had then.   People have knee-jerk reactions to the sound of Big Dreams.  They come from fear, skepticism, and their own insecurities.   If I’m going to be strong enough to see this thing through, then I certainly need to be strong enough not to be wounded by other people’s harmless flashes of fear and doubt.   (See that?   I’m already good at this psych’ stuff!)

Okay,  so I’ve got the big plans and the big dream… but the first obstacle is big cash.  I never really had to deal directly with the fact that in this great nation of ours,  knowledge costs money.  A LOT of money.  A prohibitive lot of money.  From the obsessive bit of research and asking around I’ve done so far it looks like I’ll start with community college for the associate’s degree,  and onward from there toward a bachelor’s two years from now.   Whoa.  What is happening to my vocabulary?!

I’m presently doing several searches at once digging around for scholarships for old ladies who haven’t been schooled in two decades.  If all goes well, this will be a reality for me by fall.   That’s the goal.   It feels damn good to have a goal again.

Wish me luck, Godchildren!  And stay tuned…


9 Responses to “the drawing board…”

  1. This is exciting! I’m not sure how that child’s “ane” inspired you, but shit…whatever inspires is good!

    I have a bachelors in psychology and have always known that at some point in my life I’ll go back and get my master’s in counseling. Whenever MY mountain (which currently happens to be my bakery) either fails or succeeds (either way giving me “time” to do something else).

    I think you’ll love it. Just because we prefer to implement one side of our brain or the other, doesn’t mean that every endeavor doesn’t require the opposite side as well! You will have the opportunity to creatively concoct research topics and projects. To stylize when you write academic papers (even just a bit), and to figure out new ways to problem solve. Creative? Definitely. Just differently so!

    You will shine at whatever you put your heart into. And slinging sammys and beers isn’t it (for either of us!).

    Best of luck and if you ever need help, I’m here! (I’m a total nerd when it comes to school!)

    Oh, and going in debt for school? You and everyone else!!!!’ Who cares!!!

  2. thanks meghan! 🙂

  3. That’s really cool, dude. It takes a lot of guts to go out and go to school as a grown up. My friend did it a few years ago and got a couple of federal “adult reeducation” grants. I don’t know if that’s still a thing but maybe?

  4. thanks alicia, i’m going to look into that riiiiight NOW.

  5. Maya, yeah, poop in the behind could really inspire change. I was playing the mommy role yesterday and discovered poop stuck on toilet paper. I laughed it off as I’m thought about my son when he was younger.

    My hubby is successful in business right now, but I’ve been telling him that he’d be good as a therapist.

    I think the change would be good for you. I’m completing or trying to complete my PhD and there are so many others who are my age and older starting a degree or completing one.

    Times have changed and with the stagnant economy most people are going back to school. So, yeah, Maya, you have my 100% support. I like psychology and many times wished I’d taken that path. It’s a good career path. You can do many things with it.

  6. Congratulations. Sounds like a lovely dream.

  7. I feel the same way. I too am considering going back to school once I get settled in San Diego. Something with computers maybe. Good luck, Maya and I KNOW you will do GREAT.

  8. I can completely relate to all of this (minus the rock star phase) and can only hope that your endeavors become an inspiration for me, if I should think about things so self centeredly! Psychology is by far the most interesting subject to study! You can practice analyzing your friends and doing Pavlovian experiments on children. You will enjoy it all so much!

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