When I was three years old, I decided I wanted to be a writer. When I was nine, I realized I would need a day job. That’s an awfully tender age at which to have your spirit crushed, but there you have it. My parents were nothing if not straight with me.
I spent the rest of elementary and middle school brainstorming potential occupations to keep me afloat while I waited for my literary ship to come in. Unfortunately, most of the ideas I came up with weren’t so much “day jobs” as they were “different ways to become famous.” Here are a few of the careers I mulled over during my fame-whore years.
This is such a boilerplate little-girl-ambition that it’s scarcely worth mentioning, except that, unlike some little girls, I actually took the first steps toward becoming a dancer. My mom enrolled me in dance classes when I was five. It became apparent almost immediately how much I sucked at ballet. I was tall for my age and quite chubby, thanks to all the uncooked hot dogs I sneaked from the fridge when my mom’s back was turned. I was also freakishly strong and relentlessly bossy. When the other girls missed their marks, I would literally grab them and yank them into position.
I had a lot of gall cracking down on them, though. I was the least graceful kid in the class. It’s a miracle I didn’t leave pot holes as I lumbered heavily across the stage. I dropped out of ballet classes after two years, to the relief of anyone who ever had to dance with me.
2. Manga artist
By now, you all know how much of a weeaboo I am. I used to try to conceal it, but there doesn’t seem to be much point these days. Watching anime and reading manga no longer dooms you to the kind of widespread scorn that I was subjected to in middle school. Japanese entertainment is now considered a legitimate part of “youth culture”–at least, according to a speech by President Obama, during which he hilariously thanked the Japanese prime minister for anime.
Anywho, I wanted to be a manga artist–specifically manga, mind you. None of that “inferior” Western stuff. But my artistic dreams were undone by the oldest adversary in the book: my inability to draw very well. (Lest you accuse me of false modesty, I recommend you take a look at my old comic series, West Enders Soap Saga.)
3. Con artist
Around age 12, I realized that I was a pretty good liar. In reality, I only ever used this talent for stupid shit: convincing my friends that my right ear was a prosthesis filled with gel, for example, or regaling classmates with tales of my buffalo-hunting Uncle Weathersby who lived in Reno. In the realm of fantasy, however, I pictured myself channeling my prevarication skills into a lucrative career as a world-famous con artist. I wanted to be like the guy who sold the Brooklyn Bridge, or Leonardo DiCaprio in that airplane movie.
I later discovered that con artists are almost invariably sociopaths. Since the opposite of sociopathy is neuroticism, and since I am as neurotic as the Venusian day is long, I figured I would be ill-suited to a career in grifting.
All right, I know there’s a fair bit of dissonance between this entry and the last one, but you can stop snickering. The truth is, I was a very religious child. When I was in preschool, I once put a homemade birthday card inside a sippy cup, tied it to a balloon, and tried to send it to Jesus on Christmas. There wasn’t any helium in the balloon, so obviously it didn’t go anywhere. But it’s the thought that counts.
So I wanted to become a nun because I was religious, but also because I hated sex and boys. So the chastity part of “poverty, chastity, and obedience” would have been no problem for me–nor would the poverty, since I’d been poor most of my life. In the end, it was the obedience part that sunk me. It was pointed out to me–and rightly so–that I was kind of a disobedient shit. No vows for me!
5. Misunderstood Scientific Genius
Growing up, I was always tickled by mad scientist types. From Doc in Back to the Future to Victor Frankenstein in the Wishbone version of Frankenstein, characters who were relegated to the fringes of society because of their half-mad scientific genius seemed really cool to me. I wanted to be the loony old woman who lived in a decrepit mansion on the edge of town and conducted horrifying experiments in the wee hours of the night. I certainly had the will–but I didn’t have the way. I turned out to be absolute crap at math and not much better at laboratory science. So that was that. I resigned myself to reading about mad scientists instead of becoming one. It’s not as satisfying, but it sure is a hell of a lot easier.