I need to vent. Trigger Warning: This blog may not be as well-written as others on this site. I’m pretty pissed. Here goes: Three and a half years ago, I quit my job. I quit for many reasons: I’d been … Continue reading
I worked for the Catholics when Captain Sully Sullenberger landed US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320-214, in the middle of the Hudson River with such skill and aplomb and no loss of life. A few days later, a picture of the plane– the so-called Miracle on the Hudson–appeared in the staff lunch room, scotch-taped to the whiteboard. There was a drawing of the plane floating in the river and underneath and around the plane were a giant pair of hands. God’s hands as far as I could tell.
I wondered that day as I stared at that picture on the whiteboard if Sully was angry that people were more willing (or at least as willing) to credit God and divine intervention than they were his skills as a pilot.
As I stood contemplating this bit of magical thinking, I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the other airplanes in the history of aeronautics that had crash landed with less fortunate outcomes. What pictures were we going to draw of these planes? I imagined the large God hands squeezing the planes and hurtling them like an angry Zeus and his lightning bolts, violently toward earth.
Is this what has happened to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370? Did God have some sort of score to settle with the 239 passengers? Where were His huge, cradling hands this time? Evidently God did want to save passenger Greg Candelaria (see this post on Patheos.com blog The Friendly Athiest). Mr. Candelaria credits the Big Guy with divinely intervening in his life, thereby saving him from whatever horrible fate the rest of the passengers succumbed to. This sort of thinking makes absolutely no sense. Somebody made an error and now the plane is gone. Period. Sully made a great save and no one died. Period. No magic.
What sort of arrogance is required to claim God singled you for salvation while condemning your colleague and 238 other people to death? The guy is still with us because he cancelled his trip. All of us who weren’t on that flight should also be able to claim divine intervention, yes?
We may never know what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Maybe they got Raptured. Maybe God picked that plane right out of the sky and took it to heaven and we will never find it. Maybe, Mr. Candelaria missed out on that. Maybe god doesn’t want him right now. I wonder if he considered that possibility?
I’ve long held the apparently erroneous belief that aside from being a writer, I am otherwise unemployable, but when I take an objective look at my work history, that just isn’t the case. Now, given the fact that I quit my last job over six months ago and have developed an online presence as a lesbian, feminist, atheist author, I may in fact never get another job, but up until last August, I did a pretty fair job of bringing home the bacon. I guess my belief about my employability stems more from my longtime desire to be a writer than from my willingness to do whatever it took to stay afloat. I’ve even managed to put together a couple of careers amid what seems to be a mishmash of jobs.
I’ve been a college English instructor, a college Computer Information Systems instructor, the technology director for a Catholic elementary school, and a systems analyst for an oil refinery. I’ve owned my own bookstore and managed the bookstore at a technical college. I’ve worked at our local independent bookstore in town a few times over the years, as well as at a national bookstore chain (and for a while I worked both places at once). Not long after I graduated from college I managed to get a job at the local university as a Secretary 3 by lying about my knowledge of filing systems, but my shorthand skills were not what they should have been and I didn’t take orders very well.
During high school I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken and while in college I dropped out for a quarter and took a gig at Arby’s, but I’ve never waited tables. During the summers while I was in college I worked as a forest fire fighter, first for the department of natural resources and then one summer for the National Park Service. I spent the summer between my junior and senior years of high school in the Youth Conservation Corps on the Olympic Peninsula. Once, I had a job in a television tower putting on local commercials in place of the national ads. I don’t remember much about that job except that I drove miles and miles up a gravel road to this boxlike structure where I climbed a ladder, locked myself in, and watched a lot of tv. And I did a stint during high school at a print shop where I learned to make silk screens and plates for printing presses, skills I wish I still had today.
Currently I am not working. Ostensibly I quit my job last August in order to pursue my career as a writer, but that’s not really going very well. I’ve discovered something new about myself: I don’t like to work in isolation. That thing that Robert DeNiro said at the Academy Awards the other night about writers—was so accurate. The mind of a writer IS a terrifying thing—the isolation, the neurosis, the procrastination, panic, self-loathing, it’s all true. I couldn’t hack it. So, I decided to go back to school. To get my masters degree in mental health counseling. So I can help writers battle the isolation, neuroticism, self-loathing, panic, and procrastination. I mean who better than I to provide this service? I am not planning on giving up on being a writer, but I am going to add “therapist to the worried writer” to my resume. Naturally, I plan to write about this adventure as it unfolds.
Starting a new career at the age of 50 is frightening. Taking on student loans terrifies me (though I do my best not to let on to The Little Woman), but I look at it like this—I have one life, one shot to get it right, one chance to find out really what I was meant to do. I don’t think I’ve figured it out yet, and I’d really like to before all of this comes to an end.