Monday, September 5, 2011

What's Your Line?

In honor of Labor Day...hope everyone is enjoying their 'day off...'

I met a new friend for lunch and a movie the other day. She has a law degree and a degree in social work, and went from being a guidance councilor at one of our most prestigious liberal state colleges for most of her working life to a hospice worker. She said as rewarding as the past three years have been, she is feeling very burnt out - as one could imagine. She said her life-long interest and what she wants to do now is...wait for it...interior decorating. She's taken many classes in the field, and hopes to work at a shop where she can take her life in this new direction. Wowzer. Talk about a sea-change. I didn't see that coming.

It got me thinking of all the job changes I've made and jobs I've held through the years, and how most of them have been in a similar field, except for when I was a kid, of course.

Here is my work history:
A babysitter during high school years. Then an office assistant over the summer for a photography outfit that took those school photos that everybody gets. After that, a part time job (on holidays) working for a woman's clothing shop. I then worked off and on in college and when I came home from Utah to prepare for a move East, as a receptionist for my dad's architecture firm. In my junior year of college I also began modeling for print and media advertising and in fashion shows, and kept that up through age 24, still modeling after moving to UT to work for a ski resort (as a waitress -- started out in the office but waitresses got better ski hours). I wanted to learn to ski and live out west for awhile. After the resort, I lived in Salt Lake City for 18 months more and modeled and waitressed part-time. I entered the 'face of the '80s' contest, and got an offer to meet with Eileen Ford of the Ford Agency in NY but -- (this is my big bone-headed move, but then again, who is to say, really?) coming from AR and UT, I didn't feel comfortable in NY, and took the train to DC instead of making my appointment.** I got off and saw the green space and low buildings and thought yeah, I can live here... The move was also influenced by the fact my college boyfriend was working for one of our Senators and was making a push for us to get back together.

At the time, I also really wanted to do something with my English/Journalism degree before future employers commented that all I had done writing-wise at that point was write for college papers, and mocking the big gap in my resume. I had to temp a few months, but ended up being hired as the second person in a three-person office to start a new architecture journal. Perfect place at the perfect time.

I learned so much on that job. The editor-in-chief left before the first issue was out, and the acting editor and I -- two young women -- put out the quarterly for two years, relying on freelancers to flesh out the staff. My boss was a SUNY grad, accomplished in the field, and brilliant despite her young age (mid-30s to my mid-20s), and we became very close, working in the fox-hole in a 'good 'ole boys' world. She was fired (she sued for discremination and it was settled out of court). The next boss was a brash young man also from NY with major drive and hutzpah. He hired 4 other editors and a graphic artist (who he later married), and took the magazine even further. When it became even more popular than the established 'official' journal of the AIA (American Institute of Architects), at that time #1 of three top architecture magazines, he was fired, and it was folded into the official journal, and my job expanded yet again.

And when it was sold two years later to a NY publishing group, and my then editor in chief was fired (a huge scandal, as he had been the editor for several decades), my job expanded again yet again. Unfortunately, that's when I met up with the 'boss from hell' who proceeded to fire everybody on staff but myself and one other associate editor (guess we were low enough on the totem pole to be 'molded,'), and hired all 'her' people. She then made life so unbearable we all quit eventually when it became clear we couldn't outlast her. I will do a post on some of the things she did, as they were remarkable.

The publishing business is a small world, and during those heady years I loved my job, I was offered jobs with TIME and with INTERIORS magazines, both in NY, and maybe I should have considered the offers more closely, but my intutition (and then-marriage), kept me in DC.

When I quit the magazine, I worked freelance as an editor for a small construction magazine, and as a features writer for my old magazine and a half-dozen other publications. By then I had divorced and met and married Excy, who was floating around as an architect in several states, having closed his Austin practice after a horse fell on him and broke his back. Eventually I wanted to move us home, and Excy was willing, more or less, so I interviewed with WINROCK Int'l, a nonprofit that works in 147 countries, and they moved us here, where I was the editor/public relations officer 7 years.

After going on disability, I have freelanced for various publications and publishing houses. I have begun writing my stories and essays more and more; so I haven't really deviated all that much from my first love, which has always been writing, since grade school. I have veered off to become a facilitator for grief-berevement and chronically ill groups, but that's not what I consider a job or career.

I don't really look back and regret my career moves (or non-moves, as they were), for they brought me to some directions that were highly important to my life. But ah, those roads not taken...they are interesting to ponder on a quiet afternoon...

though as I grow older, I find myself less and less interested in that kind of introspection and more and more interested in looking ahead...

**acronyms, acronyms...


injaynesworld said...

What vast and varied writing experience you have. No wonder you're so good. Never regret "the paths not taken." That why we get several lifetimes -- or so I'd like to think.

ReformingGeek said...

You have had some wonderful experiences and I'd love to hear about that boss. I think we can all related to a boss-from-Hell.

Yeah, live the moment, look ahead.

Andy said...

What wonderful memories you've made along the way.

My motto is don't look back, you can't change the past. Always live for today and don't worry about tomorrow until it arrives.

Excellent post!

Thanks for visiting my blog whilst I was away on vacation.

Sharon Morris said...

Amy, do you have a picture taken during your "face of the'80s" period? I'd love to see it!