Deciding to Be Somebody, instead of becoming somebody may be the scariest decision I have ever made.
Before a recent identity crisis, a friend asked me, "How many books on art did you say you had?"
I don't know. Lots.
Well? What have we told you for years?
Real quiet, I stuttered, Start my own greeting card business?
He just looked a Duh, a big No Duh.
My sister demanded, What do you ALWAYS talk about?
Uh...writing. That's the one. Or maybe, making stuff out of paper? Wolf Kahn? Top ten Baroque composers?
Get real, she said.
My writing instructor told me, "keep writing and don't ever stop." That was two years ago. I dismissed her as another person trying to build me up on myself; like, sure, I can write all night and all day, but who cares?
I care a lot.
However, I care about making money, too. I remember in the 80s when I started my career in finance how hot it felt, how happening and how now; it just blew me away to be loaning out money amongst male contemporaries, collecting it back and clapping my hands in between. Raise the glass and pass the money. Buy more suits at Nordstrom.
I enjoyed (in a twisted way) the parts of Money World where my life was threatened by psychos who called me and screamed, "I'm gonna kill you, bitch" and later we found bloody knives in his repossessed Toyota truck.
Yeah, I remember getting so close to finance company clients that I sent them a sympathy card when their daughter, age 14, died. I loaned them more money for funeral expenses. I let them skip a payment, too. It was only a few months later that I found out their daughter was a dog. We laughed, we cried; it's a moment I will always treasure.
I not-especially enjoyed calling the cops as my boss was being kicked to death in the street because we took Purple Boy's purple Trans Am away from him. (That's what happens when you "forget" three payments.)
Oh, yeah, and the way a different boss would scream profanity because my "branch" hadn't made enough loans. It's all about the "bottom line," he yelled some more.
Then there was always a balance sheet involved. I know how to do this, I told myself. I can handle a demanding career job. I will become an accountant and make all of the money for myself.
Many years later and many roads behind, I was into my third year after going back to college, when my balance sheet tilted to the right and stayed there. All of my hard-won investment; time, energy and devotion, had netted me not hard cash, but a mini nervous breakdown. The liabilities laid my spirit out cold and all I wanted was a quiet dark corner behind a dieffenbachia plant. To write.
I'm leaving it all behind now. No more pressure on myself to get A's in Calculus, Statistics, Federal Income Tax, Auditing. No more false hopes of fitting into the corporate world. No more looming CPA exam. Probably, no more hope of lotsa moolah, either.
I changed my major from Accounting to Arts & Humanities and dreamed the grand scheme of getting a Masters in Writing. Something completely different; something very good. I start in the spring.
What I hope is ahead:
People I enjoy meeting who love to talk about art, music, writing, and books, books, books.
Classes which I am born to take; creative nonfiction, novel workshops, women's literature, writing about art, research, modern art, post-modern art, and more.
Assignments which are no problem to complete on time--cuz they are fun!
Field trips to art museums.
Instructors who wear Frieda Kahlo necklaces and ballet shoes. (I miss that woman so much!)
The challenge of the senior writing project.
"Having" to learn a foreign language.
Subscribing to the annual Writer's Market.
Entering writing contests.
Feeling legit, not fake.
Taking a class trip to a music festival and getting credit for it.
Maybe singing? I hear people who are happy sing a lot.
Not having to worry that Dansko's are inappropriate for boardrooms.
Never dyking my hair off to look chic again...it can be curlier than Shirley Temple's and bigger than Cher's and maybe we'll call that art.
And, dang it, I am going to buy a new piano. One that works.
And last, but never the least:
Being me, not some other person who has become a stranger.
PS: I will still, however, balance my checkbook to the penny each and every month. I call this art, too, the anal retentive kind.