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March 20, 2006 - 12:54 pm

MY, WHAT A LOVELY TIARA!

We might all have the same basic needs in life, but we definitely don’t all want the same specific things where work is concerned. Well, unless you figure everyone wants to sit on their ass and collect free money, which, I realize, is a dream for some. But not all.

Stay with me.

I don’t think most people realize how unique our different takes on work really are, and the paralyzing fear of failure (for some of us) that can come from thinking everybody’s going after the same job you are can prevent you from going for it – especially if you’re as non-competitive as I am and the job you want takes more complex skills than operating a cash register, which, come to think of it, I don’t even know how to do. Hm.

Anyway, I remember at one point fleshing out the specifics of my dream job to myself and thinking, “No way.” I was convinced there must be a hundred people right in my neighborhood already doing exactly what I wanted to do better than I could, and more were certainly lined up waiting to do it – IF an opportunity ever came up. Which, of course, it never would.

My optimism is inspiring, isn’t it?

But then one day, all that changed. The realization that, no, in fact, not everyone wants or even could do my job came from sort of an odd place. It was a particularly emotional clip from a bad “reality” show (is there any other kind, really?) in which a contestant totally fell apart when she made the cut to the next round – crying, screaming, swooning, the whole Miss America bit. “Hm,” I thought, “I can’t even remotely begin to relate to her elation at winning that metaphorical tiara. I mean, sure I can relate to wanting something that much, but for the love of god, to be a contestant on a reality show? She’s completely mad. That girl wanted that metaphorical tiara with all her heart, and in her mind she’s won the biggest prize EVER when in fact she’s really just been crowned queen of this miniscule city called Wackoville, probably populated by a select few other delusional people blinded by that same glittery metaphorical tiara. Wow.”

And, voila. Here was my breakthrough: Maybe my glittery metaphorical tiara wasn’t so far out of my grasp after all. Seriously, it’s not like everyone in the world wants to be a self-employed residential architect in an in-town, upwardly mobile, old neighborhood of Atlanta any more than everyone wants to marry a millionaire-plumber on national television, right? Some people want to open a chic boutique for cats, some people want to be fur trappers in the wilds of Alaska, direct porn, sell curry tofu at Phish shows, be Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, teach Tai Chi, peddle barbecue out of a hot dog cart at flea markets in New Mexico. Whatever. I decided right then and there that with a little effort, the right cape, and a winning smile, I could be the hero of my own particular version of Crazytown.

So here I am. Busy as hell and loving what I do.

Some former clients whose renovation has just been completed invited me to their open house. They were all so appreciative and complimentary. That’s pretty cool. Another client’s house is slated to be on the Decatur Tour of Homes this December. That’s pretty cool, too.

I actually wake up excited about going to work. I mean, how great is it to design and draw houses all day? – and get PAID for it?! I’ll tell you how great it is! It’s fucking great!

Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t still sometimes screw up or that it isn’t occasionally a drag, because sometimes I do, and occasionally it most definitely is. A drag I mean. Like now, when I’m typing instead of finishing these drawings for a client because some guy erased all the data from my work computer in January, and I lost all her photographs for the second time and I can’t find the disc I burned them to and I’m too embarrassed to call her and ask if I can come back and take more pictures so I can finish her drawings.

I still love it, though.

The Boy Wonder told me the a while ago (as I was explaining for the thirty-million-teenth time why dad was still at work) that when he grows up he just wants to be “regular” like he is now and doesn’t want to have a job. He just wants to be able to do what he likes to do and not have to go to work. And, you know, given the way his father unloads on everyone about problems at work and how shitty his job is (he’s self-employed, for god’s sake!), I can understand where the boy’s coming from. He hangs on every word his dad says, and he certainly makes work sound like HELL. Plus, it’s always the reason he gives for why he’s not around. No wonder the kid hates the idea of going to work.

I seized the Kodak moment to tell my Boy about the metaphorical tiara and maybe motivate myself a little in the process. I told him he would have to get a job eventually, but that it could be fun. The trick is to figure out what you love to do and then figure out how to make money at it. He wasn’t convinced. I asked him to tell me some things he likes to do, and here’s what we came up with:

1. Play with Legos = Lego Designer, Industrial Engineer
2. Origami, design paper airplanes = Industrial Engineer, Aeronautical Engineer, Pop-up Book Artist
3. Invent stuff with things I find = again, Industrial Engineer, Inventor, Found-Object Artist (he’s really good at this)
4. Spy on my sister = Invisible Man, Ninja, Government Spy

He was pretty psyched about all his options, especially that last one. He’s was all like, “No way! There are REAL spies? In REAL life? And they get money for it? Whoa. COOL! I’m gonna be a SPY! Hey, guys! I’m gonna be a spy when I grow up!

Now instead of an engineer (hey, a mom can try, right?) he’s aiming to be some sort of hybrid between James Bond, XXX, and MacGyver when he grows up. Sweet.

Hell, at least he’s picked out his tiara.

~Samantha

recommended:
reading -Variance Application for the City of Decatur
viewing -Office Space
listening -"Chain Gang" by Sam Cooke

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