What is my Job?

Job as in work, not Job as in the guy with all the bad luck from the Bible. You know, the one who has a whole book named after him.

For the past few months I've been thinking of working, of vocation, of all the "free" time I'll have when all three kiddos go to school in a few weeks. Sure, I'm a student again and sure I have a house that I love and an aversion to offices. But what of meaning and purpose and all those Big things that drive other women into the workplace? What of a paycheck?

I applied for a job before leaving for my MFA residency. Part time, a sort of mirror-under-the-nose job (meaning you only have to be breathing to get it). I didn't get it. The ones who did get hired are, well, alive I suppose, but very young. I'd never thought of myself as old, and I've never once thought the past ten years raising children would be seen as inconsequential (honestly, how many 20yr olds know how to feed a family of five for less than $100 a week?). But, well, the girl doing the hiring was herself no more than 25 so I must have seemed positively ancient. Who knows. That may not be the reason at all. The job description said some weekends and I said, "yeah, sure, a few weekends are ok," yet the two new hires were scheduled for every single weekend. What's more, I already did the job on a volunteer basis, so why pay for what they could get for free? I was even called to cover some of the newly hired employee's shifts (without pay), which was enough for me to say see-yah-latah to the volunteering gig, which is too bad because I *liked* being there. But I *dis*like being used more.

Anyway, I applied for another job just last week, interviewed two days ago, and now am waiting to see if I'm called for a second interview. My emotions are more tangled than St. Nick's shoelaces because, you see, I want them to want me, but I'm not so sure I want them.

I should have thought through this earlier, say before applying, but I didn't. I only thought, "Wow, I could do that job! I might like it!" I didn't think of my MFA of my kids my garden my dog my running program my photography ... I just thought of this title and how cool it would be to add to a query letter "I'm the Program Coordinator at blablabla."

The job would involve public speaking. Fine. I like to give presentations, I'm seldom (that) nervous, I think I'm pretty entertaining when I speak. But, well, my sense of humor is a little *off* sometimes, and I've noticed this organization lacks a sense of humor (certainly my type of humor). And I don't wear cosmetics. I blame it on sensitive skin but really I just hate the way it feels. I hate feeling "made up" and artificial. I hate not being able to give Dr. D a hug without leaving a smear of foundation on his jacket or not wanting to snuggle up to Mud Pie because my mascara might smear. I like to feel superior to all the "made up" ladies out there, which covers for knowing that they, rightly, feel more beautiful than me. I'm not a pretty person, and I'm ok with that. Some days. When I'm at an interview with a mascara-clad, hair-highlighted, heel-and-hose-wearing potential boss, however, I don't like feeling homely. I want to scream "look past the freckles! The start of wrinkles and dark circles around my eyes! You need me!" But inside I know they're seeing the future Face Person for their organization and they're judging her on her face. Which isn't much to look at.

The job would involve writing. Fabulous! I love to write, rather obviously. But that's the problem. I do love to write, I have to write to breathe, but I love to write what I love. I may not want to write for their publications or in their way, or I may enjoy it but may have little lovin' left for my own writing, which just won't fly with this aforementioned MFA.

A job could offer me so much. Money, a feeling of competence and importance, immediate gratification, an avenue for growth and pushing beyond my anxiety (agoraphobia, you've met your match!). But I'm just not sure. I had these great ideas for starting a book club at the kids' school or being a room mother or building a chicken coop. I'm eager beyond words for my mornings of sweet solitude once ALL THREE little ones are in school. I'm thinking maybe, just maybe if I can ever get this anxiety disorder kicked I might get off the medications and perhaps, oh dare I think it, have one last baby. I want to get a Ph.D. so Dr. D and I can be a pair-a-docs. I want to be the kind of mom I imagined myself being, before the reality of motherhood knocked me on my ass. I want to rake leaves this fall without the panic of too-much-to-do-too-little-time. I want to inhale. To exhale. To feel both. I want to grow my photography business and hook rugs.

So, anyway, the phone just rang and I ran to answer it with hope-mingled-terror. Do they want me? Do they? Oh, please, please, please want me. Prove that I'm not ugly, not marked by my past and the shadow I carry and will always carry as long as I'm alive. Please make me meaningful.

And yet ... when caller ID foretold a sales call, I was greatly relieved.

A self-portrait I did in college

A self-portrait I did in college