Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Glamourous Life

Once upon a time, I dreamed of becoming an actress. Not a star, but a working actress, like Marsha Mason in "The Goodbye Girl". I wanted to struggle, and do bad theater that no one came to see, and work my way up to occasionally do a commercial or a small part in a movie so that I could get residuals and not have a day job. For a while, I lived the dream. I had all the requisite day jobs on my way, too - A bartender at Chucky Cheese's right out of college, a sandwich maker in a deli (I still make the meanest sandwich in town!), and a secretary. I eventually did enough regional theater that THAT was my day job, and I loved every minute of it. But then it kind of dried up, so the man I had met and married while livin' the dream, suggested a move to Los Angeles. I had never considered LA. It seemed dry and made of cardboard and glitterglue. But the town we lived in was becoming a big city and they weren't hiring locals so much anymore, they were hiring TV stars to do plays, because in order for them to make money they needed to put butts in the seats, and if you're on TV, well, that is just the pinacle of success. So we packed out belongings and headed south.

I never worked in LA. I had a commercial agent that I hated (and not just because he had horrible hairplugs) a theatrical agent who took me on because I worked as an assistant for a casting agent (another day job), and he figured he could get people in for auditions. He never once got me an audition for anything, but he did take me to lunch once. Then, after much consideration that fabulous man I married and I decided to get pregnant. From that day forward, our lives would be turned upside down, and I would re-evaluate everything I had ever thought would make me happy. I stopped dreaming and started living, and I have never ever regretted it for a moment.

LA proved to be a difficult place to be financially unless you were raking in the big showbiz money, and since there had been a Screen Actor's Guild strike the year Joe-Henry was born, my fabulous, talented husband made the choice to get a day job, something he had managed to avoid his whole career. And since neither of us was in showbiz anymore, we made a decision as a family to move to a place that was more hospitible to our wallets. I always knew that a time would come that I would go to work when JH went to school full time, but doing what? What was I qualified to do? I have decent computer skills, but I am by no means a geek; I have a good eye for design, and like to tackle artistic projects, but have no business sense; and most importantly, I wanted to find something that would allow me to be around for my most important job: Mom. I didn't want a job shuffling papers in an office, and while being social at the local coffee place sounded great, I doubted that it was something that would actually make a difference in anyone's day but mine. I wanted somewhere to put my heart and mind for six hours a day, somewhere close to home, somewhere that took all my various skills and mixed them up in a new and challenging way.

My sister suggested the school district. Hey! That's an idea! I'd have the same hours and vacation time as Joe-Henry! So I quickly whipped my resume into shape in July, peddled myself madly to every interesting job within five minutes of my house, and soon found my dream job: working as a staff assistant to autistic kids at a school near my home. I was hired as a substitute, but have quickly learned that I will be there every day, and hopefully move to a permanent position soon. I work with another person on a team with four kids, who I have quickly fallen in love with. There are nineteen kids in our unit, and fifteen staff assistants and two teachers. The staff is incredible - passionate, caring and raucously good humored. The kids all vary in their abilities and ages, and they all melt my heart.

I have become a better mom in the last two weeks too. Of course part of that is that my son is at school himself, being challenged to his full potential, and even though there have been moments of fear and nervousness, I know he'll blossom in his classroom, just like he did last year in kindergarten.

So that's what I've been up to. A couple of you have commented with your congratulations on my new job, even though you're not sure what it is I'm doing. I've held off talking about it because it felt so huge - I didn't want to jinx it, and honestly, when I come home any coherent communication is saved for keeping some kind of order in my house, and even then it's mostly a sentence fragment "Jacket off the floor,please". I'm trying to stay healthy (there was a chickenpox outbreak in our classroom yesterday) and whole and be a good mom and wife, and learning to be better at time management and all that stuff. I'm hoping my blogging brain comes back soon, but in the meantime, know I'm appreciative of each of you for popping in to say hi, and check in even though there's not a heck of a lot going on on my blog.

I'm sure there will be stories, with the names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty (does that mean I can change my name, too?!), and if the past two weeks are any indication, they will be a hoot. So hang in with me, and thanks for stopping by!


Anonymous said...

Okay, a discussion about your new position in a school does not belong in a post entitled "The Glamorous Life". :)

I'm so thrilled for you that you are loving this new path in your life, and can't wait to hear more about it. And if you ever want to kvetch or talk about it, you know who to e-mail - I survived (relatively) unscathed after 9 years working in a high school!

anniemcq said...

Tracey - I was being somewhat facetious. Of course, even when I was in the arts, a so-called "glamorous" profession, I would have said it with tongue firmly in cheek.

Kimberly said...

Yeah Annie. Those kids are blessed to have you. I wish you were close and Mikayla could be one of your students. I'm glad you're enjoying it and if it means you'll be posting less then I guess we'll just have to get used to it because having you happy and content is more important that and the stories about Joe Henry's exploits.