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But I'm Too Young to Retire!
The teller line at Farmers and Merchants Bank of Long Beach, 1979
Choose or Live by Default
My first paid gig was as a summer library page at 14. From that time on I have always worked and some of those jobs are great stories all their own. Working suited me. My single mom was a secretary; the Mad Men glamour she represented was something fabulous to which I aspired. Along with my secretarial escapades, I served stints as a retail sales clerk, bank teller, bartender, and airline reservation agent before deciding at 34 to pick up where I'd left off and get a college education and the degree that would lead to my life as an adult literacy instructor, school counselor and, most recently, part-time community college teacher.
Having worked full time for most of my adult life, I left my last full-time position over two years ago to teach psychology part-time in our local community college. The goal was always to establish myself and wait for the opportunity to work there full-time. That opportunity came and went recently taking with it the motivation that had carried me for the previous 5 semesters. There is nothing part-time about teaching part-time except the money. I decided to pursue full-time employment elsewhere. This turned out to be more challenging than at any other time in my life. Again, another story all its own.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Like a bazillion other people, I am enthralled with the artistic endeavors of others and very quick to say that I am not creative "in that way". In an effort to not be self-deprecating, I have added in recent years that I am aware of and happy with my own gifts. Those gifts, however, don't include art and music. I've gone to countless drumming classes and have been a perpetual beginner in belly dance for about 4 years now. A few years ago I returned to a djembe group after an absence of a little over a year. When I'd left, the Guinean instructor could not speak English at all and one of the women in the group was as much a drumming novice as me. When I rolled back in, Mandjou's English was excellent and Linda's drumming was the rhythm of my fantasies. The only difference was that they had stayed with it. Discipline and practice, practice, practice. Which brings me to my own artistic endeavor...letterpress.
My life as an artist...a conceptual work in progress
My unplanned free time dovetailed nicely with the college's offer of free classes for faculty. Before giving myself too much time to think about it, I started the letterpress class. I have long been a fan of the student projects displayed in the hallways and, as fate would have it, my husband won a small press at a conference a couple of years ago. By the end of the first class I was a changed woman. I love every tool, every piece of lettering, every wingding, the inks, the papers, the machinery and, especially, the instructors. I am even printing in my dreams. Suddenly, there's conversation about an art space in my sister-in-law's barn. My husband is an artist and is leaning so heavily toward retirement from teaching that he's about to topple over. And just like that new possibilities begin to take form. What's next? Your guess is almost as good as mine (in all fairness, I have more inside information). If, at my age, I can tap into some new resource within myself that is this surprising to me, there must be many more possibilities. Sure, the series of emails from prospective employers all with some version of the same message, "we appreciate your interest and skills but have decided to go with other candidates" is disheartening. Am I past it, though. Nah. Stay tuned.