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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The life I didn't choose

All I know is where I am at now. I know where my resume has gaping holes. I know how my interview skills have gotten a little rusty around the edges. I know my short-comings in my current full-time job as a parent and as an aspiring author.

And because I know those things, I know that I am not perfect. I am not a perfect mother. I am not a perfect writer. I am not a perfect wife. I am not a perfect daughter. I am not a perfect friend. I am not a perfect neighbor. Acknowledging my imperfections has got me wondering about the life I didn't choose. About the writing career I didn't pursue after I had a baby.

I'm sure I would still be imperfect in many ways, but I wonder about the parts of me that didn't get nurtured based on the choices I've made. At this point in my career, I would have had 12 solid years of writing and reporting experience. Sure, I'm still writing, but it has been many years since I did it full time. Since I did it without interruption. Since I did it without breaks. Since I did it without constant deadlines or editors barking at me over my shoulder.

I don't know where that other life would have led me, but I wonder about it. I wonder about it with nostalgia. I wonder about it as if it was the glamorous life I left behind. As if it was the gratifying work it never was. As if it was the serious boyfriend I never got married to. Or the city I didn't move to after my college graduation. Or the kids I didn't have those times I thought I was pregnant.

With all that wondering and romanticizing, I think about it as if it is something I've been missing out on, like that advanced degree I really want to hang on the wall behind the monitor. But I know it's not. I felt proud of myself when I decided to leave it. It was like deciding not to read the rest of novel I wasn't enjoying just because I started it.

I dreamt about this life. I dreamt about being a mom. I dreamt about getting to choose my destination each day with my kids at my feet.

I suppose that is the funny thing about choices. You never really know what you gave up. In some ways, I'm a better writer because I'm writing what I want to write about every day. But I don't have an editor. I don't have deadlines. I don't have someone pushing me to do better. At this point, I only have me. And some days--like when a rejection letter shows up in the mail--it's easier to dream about what I gave up. On those days it is just easier than pushing forward.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sad commentary on society (or me)

I am neither old, nor fat, nor has my image broken any mirrors.

Therefore, I cannot understand why of all the books that I read at Borders last night, the book I thumbed through for the longest amount of time was called, How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better.

I seriously considered buying that book at the store. Then I realized that it might seem a teeny bit vein to buy such a book. It would be more discreet to wait and buy it online (another reason to love the Internet). It's been almost 24 hours since I left it on the shelf, and I haven't given in to any online purchases--yet. Mostly, I'm trying to figure out why my brain seems to think I need such a book.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Worlds are colliding

Like the Boston University button I used to wear on my jacket which proclaimed, "Be You," I am always being me. But depending on who I am with, certain characteristics of my personality are accentuated. It's a bit like Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days. The story goes: "Some days are yellow. Some are blue. On different days, I'm different too." But instead of being determined by my mood, my color usually depends on who I'm with.

When I'm with Therapist Friend, my Sassy-Potty-Mouthed side is a little louder. When I'm with my in-laws, my Good-Wife-Good-Mother side is a little more prominent. When I'm at a networking event, my Smarty-Journalist side shines. When I'm with my husband's coworkers, my Level-Headed-Intellectual side is a bit more pronounced. When I'm out dancing, I flaunt my MILF-y side. Underneath all the slight fluctuations, I'm still me.

It's still a little strange when things get a little mixed up and those worlds collide. Like George on Seinfeld being weirded out by the potential ramifications of his fiancee Susan getting all chummy with Elaine, I too am a little weirded out by different parts of my life intersecting. Or more specifically, the different people in my life witnessing different parts of my life that they aren't usually exposed to.

Last Thursday night, a big Wham:

I was out with Teacher Friend. We were at our favorite Irish bar and dance club, dancing our regular moves, seeing some of the same faces. I was decked out in a hot pink top, tight jeans, black boots, a navy news-boy cap, and glorious amounts of eye makeup and lipstick. Therapist Friend would have been so proud! I looked fabulous (before I left the house, Father in Chief concurred with a fistful of my booty in his hand). I had invited a couple of women I've met through FIC's job. Florist Friend was there. Writer Friend stopped by with her husband. Writer Friend's husband has seen me around the office showing off my LHI side. He's seen me at parties flaunting my GWGM side. But Thursday was the first time he saw my other side and I'm pretty sure he was horrified.

I don't think he was horrified because I was all decked out (because I looked pretty darn good). I don't think he was horrified because I was out dancing (it's no secret that I like going out dancing). I don't think he was horrified because I was drunk (I was NOT drunk. Since I am typically my own personal designated driver, my libation of choice is club soda with a splash of cranberry). I think what horrified him the most (and I'm assuming this based on facial expressions alone) was the fact that I frequent that low-brow dance club almost every single week. And possibly more horrified because I am always inviting his nice, level-headed (and sexy) wife to join me.

There is a chance that he wasn't horrified at all. Maybe that was me just feeling a little over exposed as people from my Level-Headed life collided with my low-brow side. I'm not ashamed of my low-brow side. It's a fun, carefree, white-trashy side that reminds me of my Western New York youth. My youth of hanging out in fields drinking. My youth of sneaking into strip clubs. My youth of crashing parties in trailer parks. But I'm not doing those things now. I'm not getting drunk. I'm not hooking up with guys. I'm not sneaking around to unsavory places without anyone knowing about it. Sure I dance with hunky Latino guys, men with a touch of brown sugar, and geeky Silicon Valley engineers, but my adventures are all on the up and up.

Some people look forward to long bike rides (like FIC). Some people look forward to international travel (like Photographer Friend). Some people look forward to dinner parties (like Food Editor Friend). I look forward to wearing sexy outfits while shaking my hips around the dance floor. Those few hours offset the 164 other hours during the week when I'm a fashion-sensible mom and aspiring author.