I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about what I’ll do for work when I finally go back.
Actually, the “recently” part is misleading. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I might do for work for, like, twenty years now. But, for the last couple of years, with motherhood being my full-time, most-exhausting, best-ever gig, I got to stop pondering. Now, as preschool looms, and these magic days of mother-daughter solo time near their end, I’ve been forced to consider what will come next. I know, it’s a common question for people who have taken time off to raise their kids. But in my case there is an extra element of cluelessness. Forty-plus years in to life, I have yet to have the slightest clue what the hell I’m doing with it.
It’s not for a lack of effort. I have tried any number of things: waitressing, teaching drama, slinging espresso, wrangling cattle, cleaning cabins, being a line chef, selling engagement rings, writing screenplays, reading screenplays, singing commercial jingles (“uh-oh, Spaghettios”), acting in horror films, bar-tending, answering phones, and working as a mounted park ranger in New York City. (To be totally accurate, that last one was a volunteer position, but they offered to hire me.) I have also sung in a slew of bands. Eight, at last count. Nearly all had terrible names, and only one of them ever made any money. Even that wasn’t a lot.
I am too old to be in bands now. I can’t act. My park-rangering days are long behind me. So what to do? I just don’t know.
But I do know this: I love taking tests. I particularly like taking tests about, well, me. So taking one that would tell me what to do with my life seemed like the perfect solution.
I decided to take a career aptitude test online.
The first one I took was easy. Comprising ten simple questions, it took about three minutes to complete. So far, so good. But it concluded by suggesting that I pursue the culinary arts. I can attest from personal experience that this is a terrible idea; so can the people I nearly poisoned. So much for that exam.
I tried another. This one declared that I was a shoe-in for forensic psychology. Huh? I did a bit more reading (and took another quiz on their site, called — seriously — “Is Forensic Psychology For Me?”) and decided that seven years in school to become, basically, that guy on Law And Order who deems the psycho killer unfit to stand trial was, well, not the answer I wanted.
Back to the web. The next test started by asking me to choose:
|I would rather be a Landscape Architect|
|I would rather be a Marketing Communications Specialist|
I could not imagine wanting either of those less. I looked for a new test.
This one inquired as to my gender, and then continued:
“What is your current career or desired career?”
If I knew that I wouldn’t need a goddam test, would I? But I was getting desperate. I took it anyway. Even when the next question was “True or False: I find theoretical physics interesting.”
At the end I was informed that I would make an excellent “bilingual education teacher.” Fantastic. Except that I speak only one language. Unless you count Latin, which is dead, so you shouldn’t. Unless you, too, are dead. In which case I apparently can teach you English.
I searched Google once more. These first tests were all pretty superficial. I needed something more serious. “The Free Career Test’s” website told me it was “America’s #1 Career Test.” That should work. It also stated that the test would take 15 minutes to complete. Yikes! That seemed long. But MJ was napping, and the question really needed to be resolved. A quarter of an hour wasn’t too much to ask.
When I saw the first question I scratched my head. These were going to require some thought. For each set of three activities I had to say which I would like to do most and which I’d like the least.
The first set:
|1 a.||Running a boarding house for students.|
|b.||Illustrating children’s books.|
|c.||Teaching needy children overseas.|
Choice “a” was just silly. Running a boarding house for students? Where am I, Dickensian England? Shall I dish out the porridge? Do I have the plague? For God’s sake. Next are they going to ask if I want to be a blacksmith, a milliner, or a cooper? Perhaps I should just time travel back to ancient Egypt and be a pyramid!
I marked this “least.”
Next: teaching needy children overseas. I guess that’s a good thing to do. But overseas where? Paris? Somalia? The Australian Outback? Anyway, we just moved in to our new house. I think it would be best to not disrupt MJ again so soon. Sorry, needy children. I would like to help. But I am obviously a jerk.
As for illustrating kids’ books — yes of course, I’d love doing that. But I super suck at drawing. Did the test-givers care? I decided not. I marked this “most.”
That was just question number one.
Subsequent stumpers involved liking or not liking “spraying crops from a small plane,” “preparing packaged foods for resteraunts,” or “opening a hatchery to raise fish.” I deliberated between “altering garments in a clothing store” and “raising dairy cows.” I agonized over “parachuting from an airplane” versus “planning a birthday party for kids.” After a while my mind became so numb that I picked answers nearly at random. Managing a garage? Sure! Tapping maple trees for sugar? Never!
Just as I got to “taming wild animals for a circus” I heard MJ wake up. I looked at the top of the page to see how close I was to being done. I’d already been at the test for what seemed like hours. Perhaps I could hold her off while I finished up. I needed to know my destiny! And God knows I didn’t want to start over later.
I had completed 31 of 100 questions.
Forget it. Who has the time for this? Frankly, with every question on that exam edging me closer to the suicide hotline, I concluded that it would be best for all concerned if I abort the mission and focus on the job I currently have. It doesn’t pay much, the hours are brutal, and glamorous it’s not, but at least stay-at-home moms don’t have to hold lions at bay using a chair and a whip.
Unless you count dealing with toddlers, which can, at times, be a little terrifying. But at least I can do it in my sweats.
I guess that means I’ve found my calling.
Right now her diaper needs changing.