‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Friday, September 28, 2012

Of course I'd demand an open casket

Everyone who had a vanity-related near-death experience this morning, raise your hand.*

This morning as I was rinsing the brown hair dye out of my totally naturally brown hair, I realized that I had a nose bleed and would probably end up with a Darwin Award for not getting out of the shower because I wasn't finished with my attempts at not looking my age.

I have never tried to slit my wrists, but I know that if you do, you're supposed to be in warm water to keep the blood moving quickly and efficiently out of your system. I think a shower would be good for that.

When you discover you are probably bleeding to death, you have decisions to make. Here is a flow chart:

Do I rinse these toxic chemicals out of my hair?
If yes, continue
If no, you now have chemicals in your eyes and hair dye all over the bathroom. Get back in the shower you stupid ninny.

Now that the chemicals are out of my hair, do I continue with the conditioner or deal with the fact that I'm seeing stars?
If yes to conditioner, continue
If yes to stars, good luck getting a comb through your hair ever again.

Do I leave the conditioner in for the whole two minutes?
If yes, you have a longer attention span than I do and are good at following directions. You may also be dead, but whatever.

I did call Chris for help at one point, but only because I couldn't get the packet of conditioner open and needed him to bring me scissors. I could have gotten the scissors myself, but then I would have bled all over the bathroom.

He didn't hear me anyway - at which point I thought maybe I should get one of those necklaces my mother-in-law wears. You know, the I'm bleeding to death in the shower and can't get the conditioner open necklace.

Except then you have a bathroom full of paramedics who now know more about you than either of you would like.

This way, my secret will be safe to the grave.

*Please tell me all about it in the comments.

Monday, September 10, 2012

the careening career

A few months ago a writer friend asked me what my plans were for my career.

I didn't have an answer because I haven't planned for my career since I was in middle school, deciding I wanted to train wild animals. After that I wanted to be a photographer because apparently all girls at some point a) want a horse and b) want to be photographers.

I had exactly one exhibit of my photography, which was so awful it still makes me wince.

It's safe to say that I haven't planned my career so much as my career planned me. After college I took a job as a photographer at a ski resort because if you answer an ad in a ski town and arrive at twilight, as all the twinkly lights are coming on and the mountains start to turn blue, you will say yes to working for $6/hour and decide you have always wanted to live on malt-o-meal.

Likewise my move to the beach: Move first, juggle livelihood later.

Between the "oh look! I have no money!" moments of career-panic, there have been other breeds of panic. These lead to a career that careens.

If you look up the word "careen" (because you've looked at it so long it starts to look weird and you want to make sure you're spelling it right) you find:

1. To lurch or swerve while in motion.
2. To rush headlong or carelessly; career:

That completely describes my career.

Career-panic has led to changes big and small. The latest was quitting a full-time job because it made my soul hurt and gave me a rash.* I didn't cite those reasons specifically in my letter of resignation, but only because I didn't realize the work and the rash were related until they went away simultaneously.

I think (and hope) that was the last lurch in my path. It's time to stop careening and start careering.

1a. A chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation.
1b. The general course or progression of one's working life or one's professional achievements: an officer with a distinguished career; a teacher in the midst of a long career.
2. A path or course, as of the sun through the heavens.

You know I'm going with #2, right?

Because that's what I think it should feel like. We find our careers by fine-tuning the direction we're going until we discover what we can contribute that makes us and the universe happiest.

It's that simple. Are you contributing? Are you happy doing it?

When we choose our career paths, we're choosing what we're good at - except that's not something many of us choose. It's something we discover.

The problem is that "career" is a noun, but it works best as a verb. Unless you do something about it, a career is either wishful thinking or a careening series of paychecks.

When people say things like this, I want to punch them, but here it is: listen, trust, do. You can't have a career if you don't do your career.

To figure out what that is you're supposed to be doing, listen to people who tell you when you're on the right track (including yourself). Listen to the message until you know it's true, and then start practicing whatever it is.

A lot of us have to have a day job while we practice. Some of us have two or three day jobs while we practice. (I like two or three day jobs, because then when the work you're aiming for starts to take hold, you can peel off the extras. It's like shedding floatation devices when you're learning to swim.) Do whatever you need to do to make it possible to fulfill your job on this planet.

Meanwhile, I can't help but go back to "as of the sun through the heavens."

Maybe our careers aren't a path at all. Maybe they're already exactly where they're supposed to be.


*I understand that leaving a job is not always an option. I also understand that when you do things for the right reasons, doors open.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Signs of the Apocalypse: Central Air

We have central airconditioning.

I know for most of you this is normal, but for us, it's akin to Pa coming home from Town and saying "Caroline, get the pigs out of the kitchen garden. We need a place to put the compressor. And we're bartering it for 3,000 jars of pickled green beans, so get canning."

Our house is not old enough to be historic - just clumsy. We couldn't put a screen door on because the door frame isn't true. Most of the windows don't open without a great effort. We've slowly replaced things as we've been able, but airconditioning seemed a bridge too far.

Meanwhile, Chris has been renovating his studio. And while the dehumidifier has been very helpful, he checked into air conditioning for climate control.

One of his clients, who has an HVAC company, deemed the project do-able.

This client is also a family man, and saw the wisdom of not restricting the airconditioning to the studio area. This is a shame, as I could have gotten a lot of mileage out of Chris sitting in air-conditioned splendor while the rest of us lay perishing of heat stroke. Sometime remind me to tell you about that time in July when he took the (only) fan out of the living room and moved it to the basement to keep a Linux machine from overheating.

We've had a fleet of nice young men working at the house on and off over the last few weeks, installing things I thought were only for making robot Halloween costumes. I'm never sure when they're coming, but since I'm sitting on the couch in my pajamas right now, it's quite likely they'll drop by to make sure it's working okay.

Believe me, they don't time it that way on purpose.

They won't need to come in, because it's obvious from the street that it's working. Not only are we not lying on the grass under the tree to keep cool, but all our windows are closed.

It's very strange to sit inside on the first day of September with the windows closed. It makes it seem like fall is really here. It's quite likely that I'll put on a sweater, jeans and clogs to go out later. I'll then take five steps and fall over dead from heat exhaustion.

Unless we had airconditioning in the house we lived in when I was five, I have never lived in a house/apartment/renovated garden shed with central air. I'm having an identity crisis.

People like my sister have airconditioning. People with houses they bought on purpose and with a plan. People who have kitchen cupboards with doors and drawers with pulls.

I'm sitting here thinking thoughts not my own. Thoughts like "maybe I should take that huge stack of pizza boxes to the dump."

It seems a bit late to get around to that "growing up" thing I've heard about, but maybe there's some middle ground we can inhabit. Airconditioned middle ground.

In the meantime, I'm going to need warmer pajamas.