All Roads Lead Here…

They say whatever you “play”  at being as a child is what you should be. Whether or not you become that is, of course, up to you.  There were two very significant activities I would play, so when I hear that–whatever you play at being you should be–I feel that it’s true, and if you think hard enough on your own life, you’ll find it true as well.

Getting off the school bus Friday evenings was always the same.  I would run inside the house, throw my backpack into my room, change into my tomboy clothes, and run next door to Granny Ben’s to play with Moe Moe.  Moe Moe was my first cousin, my dad’s nephew, and Granny Ben had raised him after his parents died in two separate and isolated car accidents while he was a newborn.  By all spiritual claims, Moe Moe was my brother, and every Friday evening we disappeared into our imaginations.  Granny Ben went yard-sale-ing every Saturday with my Aunt Ellen, so Friday evenings were reserved for scouting locations.  This bonding activity for them had existed since before I had, and I never questioned it or had any second thoughts when I passed them in the yard, sitting in their sea-foam green metal tulip chairs, sharpies in hand, circling tomorrow’s multiple destinations in search for junk-to-treasure.  As usual, I would wave and disappear inside the screen door in search for my own treasure: pretend.

The great thing about Granny and Aunt Ellen’s yard sale-ing was that typically they came back with some god-awful porcelain figurine to add to the collection in my room (perfectly lined from shortest to tallest, hidden behind my toy box) and a ream of paper.  I’m not exactly sure how this happened initially, but I remember the question, “Sissy, what would you like Granny to bring you from town?” Granny Ben asked every Friday evening in the small gap of time that I walked into the front gate to the screen door.  My answer was always, “Paper and a Dr. Pepper.” I had a place, hidden from everyone except Moe Moe, where I would stash my paper. There was an extra bed in the guest bedroom where no one slept,  and I would crawl underneath the quilt-covered bed, as far back as I could—which as a kid seemed to me like another kingdom underneath there—and stack my reams of paper.

Once the sound of the spring slammed the door shut, I would run into the guest bedroom and crawled under the bed into my paper kingdom. Moe Moe always knew where I was, so once I saw his feet underneath, I would emerge with a stack of blank sheets of paper. Pencils and pens in hand, he would be there waiting with a big, dumb smile. We would take our supplies into the screened-in porch, place our supplies on the extra-large boxed freezer, and pretend to write. Before either of us knew cursive, we would loop our hands like crazy, writing stories that no one but us could read. Eventually, we’d need to blow off steam from our deep writing, so we’d let the screen door slam behind us in our mad dash to my house to play Rocker Barbie.   I had the slickest stage any kid could imagine, and that sure helped when I had my own fake, plastic people to orchestrate into rock stars.

It’s no wonder I became a writer, or that I work in the music industry. Pretend is powerful.  Imagination is life’s way of guiding you into the best life has to offer. Playing is the world’s way of paving roads where there were none.

What did you play at being?

Jacktress of all trades.

My mom has only had two jobs her entire life and she’s retiring in April at the young age of 40 (we accidentally forgot to keep counting after 40).  Seriously though, I’m 32 and I’ve had 31 jobs.  At one point I was actually juggling four jobs while attending college full-time.  That is one less job than my actual age, but let’s face it there is the likelihood that I had the exact number of jobs as my age as I’m sure I’ve displaced one somewhere along the insanity.  Here is a list of the ones I remember:

1. Babysitter (Antlers, OK)

2. Joe’s Handy Stop (video clerk, cashier, stocking/cleaning slave @ $4.25 an hour – age 14 in Antlers, OK)

3. Mike’s Grocery (cashier and an extraordinary bagger in Antlers, OK)

4. United States Army Reservist (aka ‘Weekend Warrior’ with the advanced individual training of 75Charlie – Personnel Management Specialist – bootcamp at Ft. Jackson, SC)

5. Pizza Hut dishwasher (Stillwater, OK)

6. Pizza Hut delivery girl (I got promoted in Stillwater, OK)

7. Concert Promoter (Dropped out of college and headed to Buffalo, NY during the winter – I WAS REAL DUMB)

8. Camelot Music (Plano, TX)

9. CD Warehouse (Plano, TX)

10. USA Storage Unit (Plano, TX – most boring job in the world but at least I rode a golf cart around and peeked into storage units)

11. CD Corner (cool indie record store girl in Stillwater, OK – yes, went back to college)

12. KSPI Radio (alter ego DJ Jane Does – the gateway into management)

13. Artist Management (Jenny Labow)

14. Payne County Health Dept. (Thanks for getting me this job mom)

15. Artist Management (The All-American Rejects)

16. Bartender (Willie’s Saloon)

17. Tour Manager (The All-American Rejects)

18. Front desk of Truckee Hotel (Truckee, CA – good times)

19. Substitute teacher (Moyers and Antlers, OK after the first time in my life I ever got fired but in my defense AAR fired me for Green Day’s manager)

20. Continuity girl (NYC – The Breakup Artist – low-budget and I worked for peanuts…no really I volunteered but quit after ).

21. Telephone Operator for Doctor’s call service (Midtown East)

22. Temp (various record labels)

23. Sales Assistant (Elektra – finally got a break)

24. Director of A&R for Hautlab Records (finally, a pick me up)

25. Artist Management (The Effects)

26. Sales Coordinator at SOME Records (freelance sucks)

27. AOL Music (introduction into Corporate + Digital)

28. Artist Management (The Ropes)

29. MTV Networks (I had arrived – but now I realize arriving is only half the battle that you won’t win)

30. Artist Management (BETTY)

31. Writer (where I should have been instead of 30 other things).

I do suppose had I not had the 30+ jobs above I wouldn’t have much to write about now would I?  Besides, the 31st time is a charm.

How many and what fascinating types of jobs have you had?

One Continuous Mistake

Muscles grow between times of maximum stressBread dough rises between kneadings.  The real work of psychology happens between regular scheduled sessions….While the image of a writer in the throes of an idea (consumed, concentrated, riveted) is familiar to the point of cliché , we hardly ever hear about the time, toward the end of the writing process, when a writer (ideally) lets her writing rest…when she allows it to “just sit” (like in Zazen) seemingly doing nothing.  But as anyone who has tried to do it knows, zazen is not nothing.  Likewise, while one’s writing sits, far from nothing, within the writer.”

—Gail Sher, One Continuous Mistake (Four Noble Truths For Writers)

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