So, you know how I change my entire life plan every ten minutes? Yeah, that’s nothing new and the result is that I have the most confused work experience that anyone could ever have. I think it’s good to have some variation, but I definitely overdid it. I swear it all started with the idea that you had to declare your major in college and then really work hard to realize your dreams. That’s not a good thing to tell 18 year olds. Of course, lots of my friends instinctively got their generals out of the way and then moved on to one or two possible paths. I, on the other hand, had tested out of a lot of general classes and was unfortunate enough to have the entirety of the university curriculum at my manicured fingertips.
Phase 1: Random fact – I used to design costumes. I actually spent half of jr.high and all of high school doing the costumes for the theater departments. If that sounds lame, it totally is. But I didn’t know that at the time. No, at the time, I thought I was the pimp shit of hemming. I even won a state award my senior year. I knew what I was doing with my life. I was going to win a Tony. I got a theater scholarship to the University of Utah and everything. I had all of my first year classes lined up: Intro to Theater, Costume Design, Fashion Construction, History of Textiles. And then this really great thing happened. I was offered a summer position at the Utah Opera. They only take 1 to 2 people a year. And then something happened that was surprising at the time, but in retrospect was totally predictable. Once I had actually succeeded and gotten exactly what I wanted, I changed my mind. I dropped theater like a bad habit and turned down the job at Utah Opera. I kept the scholarship by taking one acting class, but that was it. That part of my life was done.
Phase 2: The problem with leaving the world of theater is that it was all I had been thinking about for the last 5 years. I didn’t have that many outside interests. So when I dropped it, suddenly everything was fascinating and new. Big problem. I felt like I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, but the only other thing I really enjoyed doing was writing. So I went to the academic advisor’s office and re-declared my major as journalism. I took a year of communication courses and things like that, but realized that I couldn’t be as invasive as I needed to be. I always ended up writing what I thought rather than “the inside scoop”. The only class I really loved was photojournalism. So I decided it was a sign from God that I was meant to take pictures for a living.
Phase 3: So I had my nice camera and I was getting pretty good at the photography thing. I took my second photojournalism class and then for fun I took a photography class from the art department. In the meantime I had started doing paid portrait sessions for people I knew. I did a few senior photo sessions and things like that before I moved on to engagement sessions. The next thing I new I was doing full on weddings and making 5 grand per event. It was fun work and I really liked how creative it was, while still being “functional”. Obviously, this was a lot better than running around trying to take pictures that were socially important. So I went back to the academic advisor and switched my major from journalism to art. I was going to be a professional wedding photographer.
Phase 4: That went well for a while actually, until I got completely burnt out all of a sudden. I started feeling like I was contributing enough to the world. What was I doing, anyway? I was just taking pictures of parties. I started to get nagging sessions of guilt about adding to a consumer driven wedding market that was already creating unrealistic expectations in the minds of young women. Besides, I was turning down smaller weddings so I could take the big money jobs, when the whole reason I got into it was to provide a cheaper but still classy alternative. I was turning into a bad person. So I took some other courses randomly. One was adolescent psychology and I just fell into it completely. It was so interesting, especially the part about the school environment. There were so many things that had to be done in schools! That’s when I started thinking about teaching. If I became a teacher, I could really make a difference and I could turn around the lives of young, misguided teens. So I went to the academic advisor and told her that I needed to redeclare as an education major. She took one look at my history and said she wasn’t changing it until I could prove that I was serious about it.
Phase 5: So I did something a little radical, even for me. I didn’t register for the second half of my sophomore year. Instead, I went straight to the local school districts and got a job as a substitute teacher. I took every position I could get for the first month, until teachers became familiar with me. After a while I had classes who requested me all the time and I got some jobs that lasted a few weeks to a couple months. I was finally inside the classroom, in charge of really teaching these kids. I was making a difference in their young lives. And you know what? It totally blew. I had panic attacks regularly about kids who weren’t reading at grade level. I started getting to schools as early as 6 AM, waiting there like a groupie until the janitor unlocked the door so I could sprint in and prepare elaborate classroom projects. I spent so much on classroom materials (and was paid so little) that I took a night job at a department store and kept picking up photography jobs for the weekends. And I was tired. I got tired of yelling at students who wouldn’t settle down, tired of kids who weren’t potty trained or didn’t know not to eat their boogers, tired of parents who sent their kids to school in pajamas during snowstorms, tired of faculty meetings in which teachers would just bitch about particular children and how they wished those families would move away. I was tired. And really cynical. I needed a change. I needed happiness. Do you know where happiness is?
Phase 6: Um, yeah, I quit teaching and got a job at Disney World. I needed sunshine and laughter and tanning and people my own age. I needed a mindless job that wouldn’t have me up until 3 AM, creating word puzzles. I needed to stop having nightmares about fire drills. And there was Disney, like a little beacon of sunny goodness. And you know what happened? They made me take out the garbage and clean up vomit 6 days a week, 9 hours a day and then paid me so little that I wasn’t able to fully cover my rent. My life became one big mindless routine of simple activities. Wake up. Go to grocery store. Come home. Make sandwich. Go to work. Pick up garbage. Put in new bag. Take garbage out to dumpster. Wipe tables. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Even the trips to the park weren’t enough to keep my interest. I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t empowered at all. The thought of doing that forever was horrifying. I needed to really do something with my life.
Phase 7: I went back to school, ambitionless and directionless. I signed up for random classes because they were at convenient times and threw myself into reading books, trying to find a good path. To facilitate the reading of books, I got a job at an independent bookstore. And then I spent a year having no idea what I was going to do. I was doing boudoir photography on the side for money, but that wasn’t the most appealing career. For those who don’t know, that means I was taking scandalous pictures of married women for their husbands, etc. Still, putting 38 year olds in pin-up costumes is pretty damn boring, no matter how nice the lighting is. Finally, at the beginning of my senior year, listless and uncertain, I went back to the academic advisor, empty handed. I asked her to just find me a path. When she pulled up my record she pointed out that I was one class short of earning an English degree. When I had defaulted to taking random classes I signed up for a lot of English courses because I had read all the books anyway. I was only short one advanced class. Took it. Done. Here’s your degree, congratulations on graduating. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Phase 8: So what do you do with a B.A. in English? You take the LSAT. Why do you take the LSAT? I don’t know. What happens when you get the scores back? You consider law school and realize you have nothing better to do. If you’re lucky, you’re already in love with someone in another state. So you move there and go to law school. And then you start blogging and basically your life gets pretty lame. Luckily, you stumble on a random side program called ADR and put all of your attention on that, ignoring the mainstream classes. Despite your best efforts to the contrary, you do well and they give you a J.D. and a pat on the back.
Phase 9: ??? Basically I’m qualified to design a gown, write a news story about it, photograph it, teach others how to think about it, clean it, write an essay about the hidden themes behind the gown and then mediate any arguments the gown gets into. So if anyone is hiring for that, I’m your girl.