Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Dream Career(s) continued

The other day, I started writing out my dream careers. This is a continuation of that post.

3. Used Bookstore Owner:
Several years ago, my husband and I met a woman who owned a local pet shop. I bought a male bearded dragon from her for my husband and over the years, actually began breeding those dragons for her. We talked a little bit about her eventual retirement. She had said that she would be interested in having my husband and I buy the shop from her. We knew from the get-go it would be my shop, since my husband already has a job.

I started giving it real thought. Serious thought. All consuming thought, even though it was 5-10 years away. What it boiled down to was I didn’t want to work 7 days a week. I would have had to let her staff go in order to turn a profit, pay off a loan and fix up the inside of the shop. With animals needing to be fed, watered, cleaned up after and just given general care, there wouldn’t be a way to ever take a day off.

But that idea of being a small business owner never left me. Since becoming a customer of the Ward’s Corner Book Exchange, I’ve been thinking I’d like to open (or buy an existing) used book store and exchange. I’m pretty sure there’s not much money to be made in a venture like this, but I’m willing to give it a try someday. Most likely, it would be years from now. My husband will be retired and we will have moved closer to home. Keeping a fresh inventory couldn’t be that hard if I’m running an exchange. Plus, all I’d have to do is keep an eye on Craigslist and Freecycle for free books to add to the collection.

I love books. Especially used books. I love that initial audible “crack” of a book’s spine when you open a hardback, the “flap” of a paperback when you lay it down, even the smell of the ink and pages of an older book. A Kindle or a Sony Reader can’t do that, and I’d wager that a lot of dedicated readers would agree with me.

I love browsing through the bookstore if I have a credit waiting for me. It doesn’t matter if I don’t need another book. I like browsing the shelves for something interesting that I’m going to want later on. For example: last week, I ordered four used Stephen King books that I’d missed. One of them has already arrived. The other three are on their way. I didn’t need them yet, but I wanted them.

And when you discover a new favorite author, what you see in your head when you read is always so much more vibrant and interesting than any film version that a studio could make. What better way to slip the bounds of Earth and time than through a good book? Maybe helping other people to feel the same way and feeding their love of books.

I can envision myself spending my days taking care of inventory, ringing up customers and talking to them about their needs, ordering new books for them, working on a website for the shop. The freedoms and pressures of being your own boss as a business owner seem like fabulous challenges.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Dream Career(s)

It was pretty good timing that I received my usual email blast from The Brazen Careerist in my in box this morning. Today’s email was, “Entry-level jobs have that lethal combination of bad pay + boring work. So the faster you can get off that bottom rung of the workforce ladder, the better off you are.” One way of doing it was to blog about what you want to do for a living. Since I’ve been feeling a little mentally uninspired as of late, I took it as a sign.

BTW, I love reading Penelope Trunk’s blog. It was actually the first one I ever followed and she inspired me to start blogging as well. Hey, 40,000 followers can’t be wrong! No matter what your career/dream career/current job in life is, I think anyone can relate to her.

But back to me. Over the years, I’ve had a variety of dream careers. These are the ones that seem the most attainable or most realistic.

1. Investigative reporter:
I grew up watching the Superman movies, over and over again. As a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be Lois Lane. At that point in my life, Margot Kidder’s portrayal of Lois was my goal. She was smart, brash, in your face, questioned everything, and brave (although a bit stupid at times…jumping off Niagara Falls to prove a point…come on!). Her only downfall was that she was hopelessly in love with someone she could never have, but couldn’t ever prove that Clark Kent really was Superman.

Years later, when Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman came along, I really grew to like Terri Hatcher as Lois, even with the ABC-family-friendly, watered down storylines. Her Lois was an ABC-family-friendly, watered down Lois Lane, but I’d take what I could get because in my world, a non-comic book Lois Lane was getting harder to come by.

I like being in the mix of things. I like being someone that people can come to for answers. Even if I’m not the one to fix a problem, being someone to pass along information can be rewarding. And there is my love of the written word. To fill inches of blank white newsprint with something that hadn’t been there before, over and over again, day after day…that seems like a little slice of heaven to me. When I think back on college, my best memories are of writing for the newspaper at the University of Northern Iowa: The Northern Iowan (not a real original name, but that’s not the point). I wrote for them for about three years. For one glorious (in the beginning, anyway), it was basically my turn to be the News Editor. THAT was a hard job to do: convincing the reporters to come to meetings and actually turn in their assignments.

But those three years as a writer, those were the best. I learned about the ROTC on campus and what a great program it sounded like. I didn’t have any military inklings at the time, but if I had learned about it sooner, I might have gotten involved. I think my favorite article was about Hillary Clinton coming to our campus to speak on Bill Clinton’s behalf, a little schmoozing, really, back in early 1996. We were issued press passes. I still have mine in a scrapbook. I covered Student Government meetings, a professor who had been canned for solicitation of a prostitute, an outbreak of food poisoning from an on-campus International Programs event, a student from Bosnia who couldn’t go home and had lost track of his father, the Public Safety log (and found out about a gun being discovered in a trash can in one of the dorms), the construction of a new floor at the Library…those were good times. I loved trekking across campus in search of a story, beating the pavement and making phone calls up the wazoo.

I wish I could get my foot in the door out here at The Virginian-Pilot to try and start a career there. But a few years of a college newspaper and the random press releases and newsletter articles since then don’t carry enough weight. I’d even willingly write obituaries for a while if that’s what it took to get a reporting career started. Since that’s probably not going to happen, then I’ll write when I can: either at work, wherever that takes me, or here in this blog.

You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I even reviewed some Spider-Man Unlimited comic books online for a short time. I guess that just proves you have to grab your opportunities wherever you can.

2. Shelter Director/Shelter Marketing Coordinator:
I know I’ll never be a veterinarian, because I didn’t go to school for that, so being a vet is totally off my list. However, being able to work in a shelter would be so rewarding. Sure, there are going to be those days when you lose animals that no one wanted for whatever reason and they might have to be put to sleep because of health or behavioral issues, maybe even because of a lack of funding. (Remember how so many of us thought the Vicktory Dogs would all have to be put to sleep once they were rescued from Michael Vick? No one thought they could be saved and rehabilitated. That would be my daily inspiration right there.)

To be able to make a difference in the lives of those pets: the unloved, the unwanted, the unplanned for, those unable to be cared for, and even the lost ones. I think that would bring out the best in me. But it’s not just about them. It’s about making a difference to the people that come to adopt them, the employees that work there, and the volunteers that work there as well. And to be able to go to work every day, surrounded be like-minded individuals…what a good feeling that must be. You’d be surrounded by people who feel the same way you do, working towards a common goal of animal care, adoption and education. Shoot, even working at a zoo would be wonderful.

I like animals, but really, who doesn’t? I like being hands on with them and sharing my experiences with people.

When I was in college, I spent a summer working at a little petting zoo back home as a zookeeper. It was all set up as the typical Iowa farm and some of the animals you’d find on one. Years before that, I was actually a 14 year-old volunteer there. I remember the first task that Dawn, the curator at that time, had me do: muck out the hay from the pig pen. Someone had mistakenly put hay in with the pigs instead of straw. It was muddy and full of pig poop and it needed to come out. It was an early Iowa summer with some heat already and the flies were going to bother the pigs. So, I grabbed a shovel and a wheelbarrow and went to work. We had a compost pile set up behind the pig pen. It was for the animals and it needed to be done. I didn’t mind. Later on at the end of the summer, Dawn told me that while the pen needed to be cleaned out, it was also a test. She wanted to see how I’d react to such an assignment. When I did it without complaining, I passed the test.

Since then, I’ve volunteered as a Whale and Dolphin Spotting Trip Docent with the Virginia Aquarium, and later on at the Virginia Zoo with the Nocturnals and Primates Zookeeper. In that case, I was scooping up monkey poo, among other animals, feeding them, trying to keep my hat from being stolen by the squirrel monkeys, and I made friends with a couple of porcupines and a sloth. I managed to pet a rhino at one point, and I watched one of the elephants trust the vet and vet tech enough with her feet to show them her sole. That kind of trust in an animal that big for an animal so small in comparison (humans) was awe-inspiring, much in the same way to see a humpback whale in our ocean for the first time.

Hell, several summers ago, my father-in-law was visiting. He and my husband saw a truck go barreling down the road and hit a female duck. She was out walking with her mate. He flew off in time and avoided being hit. She survived and my husband came in to tell me what happened. He knew what I would do: go looking for the injured duck.

And that’s exactly what I did. I found her in a neighbor’s yard. She was upset and tried to get away from me, but with whatever injuries she had, the duck wasn’t hard to catch. She was black and white. I found out later on she was a mallard mix of some sort. I brought her in the house and let her sit on my lap to calm down while I got online to look for local wildlife rehabilitators and found one in Virginia Beach. She was a vet tech with a friend who had land for animals that couldn’t be released into the wild. The vet tech took the duck from me and gave me her card. I called her the next day. She had x-rayed the duck. She wasn’t going to die but she’d never fly again (broken wing and shattered hip), so once she was a little more healed, she could go to the friend’s house to live out the rest of her life.

Even at a shelter, I know I can’t save all the animals, but I’m going to try my hardest and my best to do my part.

Until a job at a shelter or a zoo can happen, I’ll have to be content with volunteering as a dog breed-specific rescuer with American Brittany Rescue and Va German Shepherd Rescue. You can only donate but so much money to a cause. After a while, don’t you want to do more, or know how your money is being used? I think that’s what got me into rescue.

Like looking for an opportunity to write, it looks like animal care is something in my life that I’ll take what I can get when I can get it. Animals don’t ask for much. I think it’s my calling in life to spend it in service to animals in some way.

Jeeze, this could be an outrageously long post! Maybe it would be better to save another dream career for another day’s post.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stupidity Overhead In The Office & Out In Public

Man, it's been a while since I've posted anything. I haven't felt real motivated lately (obviously) but I do have something today.

Several weeks ago while at work, I overheard a conversation that grabbed my attention and made me go, WTF???  Names have been changed to protect the dumb.

Neggy was sitting at her desk. I thought she was working. All of a sudden, she starts sniffing the air like a dog and announces, "My computer smells!"

No, wait, it gets dumber. Really.

So Neggy starts shifting around in her desk, messing with her computer, still sniffing and keeps announcing, "My computer smells! I think it's coming from the tower. It smells damp!" She actually gets up from her desk, walks away from it and continues to sniff. "Why does my computer smell?" This goes on for a few more minutes. I've turned around in my chair so Neggy can't see me rolling my eyes. How the hell can a CPU SMELL damp and still function? Nothing was wet or damp around her. I'm starting to think she's a crackhead.

All of a sudden, Neggy goes back to her desk and sniffs her work area again. "Oh, I don't think it's my computer," she announces. "I think it's the fabric softener I use. I think its my pants that smell!"

Yeah, she just announced at work in front of a bunch of people that her PANTS SMELL.

Very calmly, like it's nothing, Push-Over asks her, without taking her eyes off her own computer, "Do you want to borrow my Febreeze? I keep a bottle of it under my desk." After this, Neggy was happy and sprayed her pants all over with Febreeze to cover up whatever smell she thought was coming from her fabric softener. (What kind of fabric softener is she using that it apparently reeks?)

The reason I thought about this was because of something I overheard last night. We had gone down to Greenie's to meet some friends down there and sit on the deck overlooking the Chesapeake Bay to watch fireworks.

The fireworks were being fired off on Ocean View beach, about 2-3 blocks from Greenies. That white condo building in the photo to the left, to the right of the fireworks, was just about where they were being fired from. Remember this...we were watching fireworks on the Fourth of July in a heavily populated military community, on the beach, from about 2-3 blocks away. Pretty cut and dried, right?

The fireworks started after 9 PM and it was a pretty good display.

Someone in our group had purchased a small American flag to wave. It was made of plastic and probably 8"x12" in size on a plastic pole about 24" long.

As the fireworks were going off, someone on the other side of the deck at Greenies actually yelled at her, "Put the flag down, I can't see the fireworks!"

Okay, so you're outside and you can't see the fireworks around a flag that's 8"x12" in size? Alright, Buzz Kill. So she hands the flag off to another friend who yells, "These colors don't run!" He waves OUR NATION'S FLAG ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF IT'S BIRTH. He's not being obnoxious. And once again, the douche bag from the other side of the deck yells, "I said to put the damn flag down, I CAN'T SEE THE FIREWORKS!"

At this point, they just decided to let the big baby have his way and not start anything with him, but we were all pretty much amazed by the guts of that man to complain about an American flag being waved ON THE FOURTH OF JULY.