The Crazy Boss Thing Started Early

Niece is currently napping, so I think it's a prime opportunity to post something. On a side note, has anyone ever researched the sedative properties of breast milk? Because this kid only nurses at nap time and bed time anymore, but it only takes about four minutes before she is in a FULL-ON MILK COMA. Sister-In-Law tells me it's just the combination of filling her tummy, comfort, and making her STOP MOVING long enough to fall asleep. And while that sounds reasonable and logical, I have further suspicions...

Anyway, moving on. A'Dell posted today about her first job and asked for other people's stories. And while I'm sure you are all SICK by now of hearing about my last two awful bosses and the crazy situations they put me in, I've never told you about my early years as a Productive Member of the Workforce.

Technically, my first job was babysitting. I started when I was twelve or thirteen, I think. Mostly a few hours an afternoon every once in a while during the summer--nothing that required more skill than watchful eyes and the ability to open PlayDoh containers. It was around that time that I started helping out in the nursery at church, so I feel like I've been taking care of babies and kids practically my whole life. I think this only fed my baby-fever from an early age.

When I was fourteen, my brother (who was sixteen at the time) worked for an ice cream shop--one that specializes in mixing the ice cream with various treats on a stone slab right in front of you. I'm sure you can guess which one, but I'm not going to say the name and you'll understand why in a moment. I would often accompany my mom when she dropped off or picked up my brother from work (he had his license, but limited access to the car) and the owner seemed to like me a lot. So one day, she offered me a job. I worked there from September 2001 until February 2002.

Now, fourteen is a VERY young age to start working at a real job that required a W2 and all that. In fact, it was the youngest you could work in my state and I was only allowed to work for three hours at a time, only nine hours a week, and I could not be scheduled after 9:00 pm. But I had a REAL JOB. And for a little while, I loved it! We got free ice cream every shift and I felt grown up and responsible and I had MONEY that was my VERY OWN and all of that.

And then. I began to realize that the owners were kind of off their rockers. They played mind games. They played favorites. They change their minds and changed favorites. They unexpectedly cut or added hours. They might have even stolen tips... They were just slightly unhinged. When my brother and I needed time off for a family vacation at Christmas, they messed around with our hours and threatened not to let us have the time off, which was stupid because my parents had already purchased plane tickets so the most they were going to accomplish was to force us to quit, not give up our vacation. Then, at the "Business Christmas Party," which happened to be the night before we were flying out, the owner wished us well and hoped the plane would crash.

No, that was not a typo. I didn't mean she hoped the plane wouldn't crash. And remember, this was December 2001. Three months after the biggest terrorist attack this country has ever seen that utilized AIRPLANES as its weapons. And she HOPES THE PLANE CARRYING TWO YOUNG TEENS AND THEIR FAMILY (and about 100 other people unconnected to her) WOULD CRASH. And then she laughed and laughed as if this was not the most terrifying thing our young minds could think of at the time. Needless to say, we both quit soon after.

My next job was working for some family friends who were photographers. The husband did scenic/landscape photography and his wife took pictures of dogs. For calendars. And coffee mugs. What? It's a LEGITIMATE BUSINESS. I swear. She made a profit and everything. They ran their businesses out of their home and, as sad as I am to perpetuate this stereotype about Far North, their home was a log cabin. Which meant it was drafty. And the office was in the basement. Most of us called it the Dungeon. And we would often wear two or three layers with gloves. In the summertime...

Anyway, the wife was a student teacher in Sister's 4th (?) grade class before she married the photographer and that's how we got to know them. Eventually, all of us kids worked for them at one time or another, doing basic office work, like filing the photographs and keeping up the database. But I was the only one who go to do the BEST part of the job. You see, the wife had JUST gotten into the dog photography when I was hired (she gave up teaching to spend time with her husband, who had to travel a lot for his artwork). She built a studio above their garage and had all of this miniature furniture and set dressings and costumes.

And my job in all of this? To stand behind her camera and jump up and down while making ridiculous noises to get the dogs to look at me. But not TOO much noise, because we didn't want the dog to leave the set and chase me. JUST ENOUGH to look up and let her get a good shot. This is a skill I do NOT list on my resume. As you can imagine, this did not turn out to be my life's passion or fulfilling work, so I moved on to other things, although I did go back and work for them in the summers during college, for some extra cash.

Then, for most of my sophomore and junior years of high school, I did occupational and behavioral therapy for a high-functioning autistic boy in my church. This was one of the most rewarding and most exhausting jobs I have ever had and I have an enormous amount of respect for both the parents of those on the spectrum and for those who live their lives on the spectrum. The little boy was almost four when I started working with him, about 12 hours a week, and he was one of the cutest and sweetest kids I have ever known. I worked with 3-5 therapists, his parents, and his doctor and I learned an incredible amount about parenting, autism, and life in general. My senior year was going to be hectic, due to my over-achieving ways, so I quit at the end of the summer. In some ways, it was a relief, since the mom could be difficult and I spent a lot of time babysitting the siblings while also trying to do therapy (not helpful for anyone). But in other ways, I missed it a great deal.

All the other jobs I took during college and after are too intertwined with the secrets I'm keeping from you and from Google (mostly from Google), so I can't talk much about them. But I will tell you that, despite the fact that these experiences shaped who I am and I wouldn't trade them for a second, none of these jobs have anything to do with what I do now. Or what I used to do. Six months ago. Before I quit doing it. Temporarily. I think...

But if you were to ask me what my dream job is, it would probably include more of those jobs and the skills they taught me than my current occupation: a stay-at-home-mom who eats ice cream with her kids and takes photos of her dog and also her kids and maybe even does volunteer work for spectrum disorders. That would be a pretty sweet life!

What about you? What were your first jobs like? Did they start you on the path you're on now or just fill your pocket for the summer?


On Vacation (From My Not So Strenuous Life)

Hi guys! Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and support on my last post! I didn't intend to leave it up there for so long with no new content to push it down the list, since it's quite depressing. And there's even a part of me that wants to deflect and obfuscate and say that I didn't really mean a lot of it, that it was late at night, I'd had some wine, and was feeling sorry for myself. Or to make a joke of it all. Because that way it seems less real. But the truth is, I meant it all. And it's all still true, whether I'm comfortable with that concept or not. So it took me a while to be brave and be able to write a post that didn't brush it all under the rug.

And then there were all kinds of busyness on my end. Well, who am I kidding? I'm unemployed, so "busyness" to me is anything that requires me to wear something other than yoga pants. But I did go on a weekend church retreat with about 30 teenagers (five hours on a bus there 40 hours at the camp, and five hours back, with very little sleep in between), which was fun. Fun and exhausting. And for a split second, it was terrifying, when one of the boys put another one in a headlock and accidentally choked him into unconsciousness. But then the boy came to and seemed okay and his parents decided we didn't need to take him to the ER, so it all turned out okay. No last brain damage to date (that I know of), so I think we're cool.

My sister-in-law (who is married to Biggest Brother) called on the Monday morning after the retreat and asked me if I wanted to come visit. We'd been trying to arrange a visit for me for a month or so, since they had some spare air miles to use up, but we hadn't nailed down any dates. So we looked online and talked and the just... booked a ticket. For the following Sunday night. So I jumped up and did loads and loads of laundry and sent e-mails to get out of my (very limited) duties at church. And before I knew it, I was eating frozen yogurt at the airport waiting for my flight. Almost 20 hours later, I was landing in--

You know what? I'm getting kind of sick of my own secrecy on this blog. I bet you guys are, too. It's entirely necessary and sometimes I love the anonymity of it and I'm not going to stop on a lot of the important things like my name, location, or profession (basically anything that is easily google-able). But it's stupid to be so secretive about where I am when I'm traveling! So I'm just going to tell you.

Biggest Brother and Sister-In-Law (and Niece and soon-to-arrive Niece or Nephew) live in AMISH COUNTRY. Yep. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They just recently moved here from the suburbs of LA, so it's a huge change for them. And they LOVE it. There are rolling hills and farmland and horse-and-buggies and COWS and all kinds of countrish things. And it is wonderful. Brother has been known to yell "LOVE IT!" at random intervals while driving. It's actually unpleasantly loud and screechy (sorry, buddy), but the enthusiasm is infectious.

Also, Niece is in love with all things "horshie" (she just turned two years old), so this is like heaven on earth for her. Although I'm pretty sure everything dragon-related (what she calls "heynows" because of an Aussie kid's show called Jane and the Dragon, which has "Hey now, hey now now" as the chorus in the theme song) is quickly eclipsing the horshies. Heynows and drain-gons and Ell-ee-ut (Elliott from Pete's Dragon) are some of the favorite topics of conversation.

I've been here for almost a week and a half, which is exactly halfway through my trip (It's amazing how easy it is to travel when you have no responsibilities and someone else paid for the ticket! I could totally get used to this!). Niece's vocabulary skills are exploding! She speaks in paragraphs now and it's amazing some of the things she tells me. She calls me "Onnie [adorable child version of my real name that I wish I could share with you, but I cannot]" She even learned one of the songs from Pete's Dragon, "I love you, too," which she sings as "Ahlowah, too." That's also how she says "I love you" at bedtime: "Ahlowah, too, Daddy! You okay? Guhnite!"

The other day, she looked at me and said, very seriously, "Me two. [holding out two fingers] You a hunna dolla." We're still not sure if that means I'm worth a hundred dollars or if I'm a hundred dollars old, and whether that's big or little. But it was adorable nonetheless. She knows "hunna dolla" because when she sings "Tomorrow" from Annie, she sings "bet your bottom dollar" as "bet ya hunna dolla." I cannot get enough of this kid!

I'm loving it here and am actually considering a relocation. Wait! Pause. Slow down (Mom and Sister, especially). Don't get ahead of yourselves. I have no actual plans to move. But after my two failed attempts at being a Responsible Grown-Up with a Reliable Income in the Far North, I'm contemplating going back to school for some kind of grad work and any decent school would require a new address. Plus, the last few times I've been out of Far North, I've felt this pull to stay where it is warm and sunny and cheap...

BUT! I have not given the job search the old college try yet this time. Oh, Lord, this time? My life is kind of a trainwreck, huh? Okay, don't answer that. Where was I? Oh yes, reasons to stay in Far North. It's about to be spring there, which means there will be less snow on the ground soon, as opposed to the MONTHS of accumulating it ad nauseam. PLUS? I have a pretty sweet deal with Sister and I live so close to family. AND? More school debt? Not really an enticing idea.

BUT! The East Coast would be great for school and would be warmer for more of the year and also would be close to SOME family, especially the growing and changing portion of the family (see: Niece and soon-to-arrive Niece or Nephew), which I ache to know that I'm missing out on this for most of the year.


I have no idea. I'm really conflicted. And a lot of it is the fact that this winter has been hard. Don't get me wrong, Far North winters are always rough and getting to lay around in yoga pants all day kind of sounds like a dream. But spending a long, dark, cold winter cooped up in the house with Snow Anxiety and nothing to accomplish and beginning to feel like you left your job for no other reason than you are stupid and selfish and a coward who can't hack it is not really the delight it pretends to be. So I should probably give Being Employed in My Hometown one more chance before I make any radical decisions. I think....

What I do know is that I miss blogging. I REALLY miss it. I dream about it. I write posts as I'm drifting off to sleep (hey, do you think that might be why I dream about it?). And it's not like I've RUN OUT OF THINGS TO SAY! I've just gotten lazy. And a little discouraged by my laptop/Internet issues. And, as far as excuses go? NaBloPoMo was a lot of work, but it was fun and I loved having a relationship with my readers. But afterward, I felt kind of burned out and I totally used that as a crutch. But this is a thing I CAN accomplish. And I should pour a little bit back into the thing that kept me sane through my last job-failure. So while I am searching for and (hopefully) adjusting to a new job, I'm going to be here, yakking your ear off, come hell or high water.

Having good Internet here at Brother's house and a set nap time for Niece should totally help. Here's hoping I can find my rhythm again.