Wednesday, January 25, 2012

how to avoid being a professional

this has turned out to be a lot more difficult than i expected. the temptations have been many. both my parents had masters degrees, one an army chaplain, the other a psychiatric social worker. not going to college didn't enter my mind - at first. then, i made one feeble attempt at twenty, grabbing a bus to mexico city, loaded down with a 200 lbs suitcase full of books. i felt i could simply go off and become a writer. a great adventure with electric memories, ultimately abandoned out of common sense. 

no, that's right, i tried a second, more virulent effort. after five years at three universities -valpariaso, berkeley, and san francisco state, i fled to the mountains for a lookout job, the only one i'd ever coveted. i needed one unit to graduate and felt enormously proud of myself for not doing so. instead, i spent winters in new york, europe, doing theater, writing reams of stuff, some of which i still like. however, having met a german maiden, i thought i might marry and need to work. thus, to make a short story long, i drove through a biology course by mail. unfortunately, they'd changed the requirements at san francisco. in a mad rush i ran around for a day, taking tests and scooping up signatures, and completed my degree. 

generally, i like to finish what i start. that goes for all kinds of projects. when i don't have a project, i go crazy. mostly i've lived like a montessori student, following my impulses. luckily, this method kept me from falling into a career. as i said, the opportunities did arise. i started out as a school reporter, specializing in sports. the first year in college, the drudgery and other people re-writing my stories maddened me. i drifted into literature. alas, even though i desired to become a classic, i never aspired to being 'a man of letters.' 

i could have become a fire-dispatcher, a counselor, or, heaven-forbid, a teacher. not that i don't admire the latter tremendously, most of my friends of the profession. yet i realized, it's a full-time job and you have to read a lot of bad writing. ironically, i still audit classes and love being a student. always a bridesmaid and never a bride, thank god. not wanting the money-sink of a house and knowing the debt-ridden course of raising children, i decided to remain a child. and like a child, i've few defenses against ecstasy and misery, bouncing from one to the other. that is the price you do have to pay for freedom.

as far as being a creative person, i like works left in a semi-rough state, not too slick and impersonal. this effectively cut me out of the market. for whatever reason, it hasn't diminished my desire to make things. in the long run i've avoided wearing a uniform and the curse of celebrity, even if i'd like to set an example of independence for others.

there's a nature center two blocks away and on a walk, i took a few pics and mucked them up:

and you can browse through a large part of my holdings, if you wish: it's an example of what a dedicated amateur can do.