So What Do You Do?

There are very few questions that make me think as hard as the seemingly harmless, “So what do you do?”. I suppose most people mean by asking to know what is it you currently do as an occupation. Fair enough. More often than not the answer is that I’m in IT. I often oversimplify when asked for more detail. I don’t mean to be aloof. There is a reason behind my insanity.

You may know that my lifelong list of friends have been primarily artists, musicians, performers, caregivers, and spiritualists. Creative types. For those of us in this basket what we do to pay our bills is not necessarily what we do to feed our souls. There is a very sharp difference for the majority of us. I will eternally envy those who can pay their bills by doing what they love.

Every time I enter a new circle of people or look towards another job interview I have to field the question what is it that I do. I often wonder if listing what I don’t do would be easier. Accounting. There you have it.

To really answer the question, I’d have to start at the beginning. I may need to drop bread crumbs as I go.

I’ve worked as a seamstress, a pattern maker, a jewelry maker. I’ve made medieval garb, wedding gowns, elaborate pearl necklaces, and stuffed cats. I’ve snipped, beaded, and hemmed. I’ve worked as a cook in small private clubs, seafood restaurants, and in the college union. I’ve learned the art of making an authentic Philly Cheese Steak and can keep a line of hockey players fed without breaking a sweat. I’ve worked as a speech and writing tutor, back when I could talk so fast people would just nod and smile because, while they had no idea what in hell I’d just said, it sure sounded good. I was gifted with quite a number of red pens for my efforts. I’ve learned both English and Western riding and prefer Natural. I’ve broken and trained three horses. Everything they say about Arabians is true. I’ve worked as a painter and really, really hate painting ceilings. I’ve studied life sciences working mainly in marine and aquatic biology, botany, and ecology. I’ve measured wave frequencies and counted fiddler crabs. My personal ethics, however, put an end to what had been my intended career path. I’ve worked on political campaigns across a variety of parties at every level of politics. I’ve helped elect a county sheriff, a state attorney general, a handful of senators, and a president. I progressed from my abandoned study of science to the study of politics and fled screaming shortly after. I’ve worked as a model. Print and runway. Fine art nudes. I’ve done hair, make-up, and dressed more girls than I care to remember. I’ve designed and built theater sets and performed as a lead and an understudy. I’ve sung AND managed to not get booed off stage. I fell asleep at the piano more times than my grandfather would care to recall. I’ve designed, built, and helped destroy movie sets. I’ve been an extra and a trick shot. I’ve climbed into a morgue drawer in an abandoned mental hospital at night with nothing more than a set lamp in my underwear for the sake of art. I’ve danced. I do believe I’ve as much space set aside for dance in my closet as I do my old SCA garb. If not more. I’ve been a medic, trained for the special circumstances that surround medieval combat and faires. I’ve been certified in adult and pediatric first aid and CPR. I’ve worked as a domestic and sexual violence advocate. I’ve sat in court with women to keep them calm while asking the judge for protection. I’ve mastered the art of filling out a restraining order. I’ve been trained to handle both child and elder abuse. I’ve been trained to handle crisis as a counselor and advocate. I’ve turned a mountain of police reports into a simple spreadsheet. The best training is that no training will ever prepare you for what you will see and hear. I can hit a target with a arrow and a bullet but prefer neither. I’ve worked as a personal assistant but found that I’ve very little patience for people who read a PA listing as a personal ad. No thank you, no really. I’ve worked as a retail manager and would not wish the same on any sane individual. I’ve worked as an office admin. I’ve handled both union and non-union shops. I’ve handled payroll, personnel, bookkeeping, and reception. I’ve done the desktop publishing, word processing, run the mailroom, and in general kept the office running. I’ve gone door to door in a county uniform as well as jeans and sneakers for the environment and pet control. I’ve been sprayed with a hose more than once. I’ve driven cross country twice, driving a truck and pulling a trailer, without directions. I’ve learned to drive a stick shift badly. I’ve founded, organized, and run social, political, and spiritual groups. I’ve handled state non-profit filings and battled the federal 501(c)(3) forms. I’ve written curriculum, taught classes, and been a perpetual student. My college degree and abandoned masters involved the study of religion, spirituality, and philosophy. I am trained as a spiritual care provider concentrating on women’s issues and the complications of living in a multicultural and interfaith society. I’ve studied more religions than many people realize exist. I’ve attended services with Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, a wide range of pagans, and everyone in between and around about. I’ve been ordained. Thrice. I’ve performed weddings and rites of passage. I’ve counseled and directed. I listen because sometimes people just need to be heard. And if you are reading this, perhaps buried in this mass of letters you’ve discovered what it is that I really do. What feeds my soul. Oh yeah, and I’ve worked with computers. From small ISPs, internet cafes, large state universities, and everything in between. I’ve worked with PCs, MACs, UNIX, Linux, and written HTML til my eyes cross. I’ve done desktop support, network support, on site support, account maintenance, web site design and creation, black box, white box, and handled grumpy customers while making a double shot espresso. If it’s a computer or is run by a computer, I’ve probably fiddled with it at one time or another. Keeps the bills paid.

So. I suppose that’s what I do.

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