with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
My father told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up, except for three things: a lawyer, an advertising executive, or a certified public accountant. He said he’d disown me if I went into any of these three fields.
“Disown”: a funny word. As if he owned me in the first place, a lower middle-class American daughter of the 70s and 80s — child of Kool-Aid and shag carpeting and Tupperware — as if we had any family money to withhold. He intended it to be funny. He knew I would get the joke.
Still, I recall the way his lip curled above his cigarette at mention of any of these professions, as if these three were somehow worse than all the others. I didn’t understand his disdain, but for the most part, I heeded his advice — comic or not — mostly due to a skill set that kept me out of those realms. My writing career has occasionally nudged me within the bounds of the advertising world and its seductions, but I’m hopeless with numbers, as well as on-the-spot debate, verbal sparring when it counts.
Last evening, a new acquaintance asked me, predictably, what I did for a living.
“Are you a professor?” she asked first, guessing.
“No, I’m a writer,” I said. The word “writer” has never rolled easily off the tongue for me, but what else am I, at this point? I write. I barely get paid, sometimes, but I write. I write for embarrassingly little money, most of the time.
“A writer! That’s fantastic,” she said. “What do you write?”
I hesitated. “I write…anything that will pay the mortgage, pretty much.”
“But what do you like to write?”
“Well…I used to write plays,” I said.
Her eyes lit up. “Fantastic!”
I remembered, at that second: yes. It was pretty fantastic, once. It wasn’t something I did for money. It opened a few doors — it scored me a corner-office meeting at NBC, where they were considering me for one of the writers for the show “Providence,” and meetings with four different film studios in L.A. — but playwriting had become a thing of the past once the babies arrived. Copywriting, copyediting: that became my necessary financial contribution to our little family.
These days, despite nearly 15 years of writing experience — long enough to call it a “career,” certainly, by anyone’s definition — I find it more difficult than ever to find writing gigs. I don’t know if I’m looking in the wrong places, or if they’ve simply dried up in this economy.
My girls tell me they want to be writers, artists, singers, designers. They still believe it’s possible to be whatever they’d like to be, to make a good living from it. Maybe it will be possible, for them, someday.
I resist the urge, again and again, to tell them to consider law, advertising, and anything, anything at all, having to do with numbers.
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