Mark Lieberman: Four Jobs, So Never Between Seasons

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Writers aren’t the only people who juggle more than one life at a time. Mark Lieberman tells how he combines his part-time football broadcasting jobs with his full-time job at a bank.

Just like many Americans, I have more than one job: one full-time job and three part-time seasonal jobs.

The seasonal jobs start the last weekend in August and last through the week before Christmas. They’re only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I do get paid and sometimes I get free food, but that’s not why I have ’em. I have ’em ’cause I love what I do!

My full-time job is at Chase Bank in the Unclaimed Property department. I work Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

My seasonal jobs revolve around football. I’m a football statistician for high school games (radio and tv) and for University of Texas at San Antonio games. I started doing high school football radio stats in 1997 and TV stats in 2009. I started doing UTSA football stats this year.  Continue reading

Serena Dracis: Between Lives? Don’t Micromanage the Universe

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this fifth installment of the Being Between series, Serena Dracis shares her three-step plan of how to work with the gods when they push you into a new life.

Thank you, Sally for inviting me to guest post on your blog! I’m thrilled and honored to be taking part in this series; it’s a subject near and dear to my heart.

Recently I wrote about reincarnation, a subject I love and will probably revisit again and again. If you have a chance and are interested in the topic, I invite you to hop on over and check it out.

Do we live more than one life? The answer is yes—and not always in the soul migration sense.

I often refer to my animal training career as “my past life.” I worked at the sea lion show of the San Diego Zoo for eight happy years during my late 20’s and early 30’s. My life was all about animals, training and educating people about the environment. It was so much fun! Really, I look back at the zoo as the best job I ever had, and the award from my peers for Excellence in Training still hangs proudly on my wall, alongside my animal pictures. I was single, young, and I loved my life. I used to say they’d have to pry my cold, dead body out of the zoo to bury it.

So how did I end up as a married nurse in Seattle, with the wildest animals around me a flock of chickens? It’s a little bit like the old me died and a new me was born.  Continue reading

Charis Maloy: Between Now and the Next Adventure

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this fourth installment of the Being Between series, Charis Maloy talks about living from day to day while planning for future happiness.

The mad writer Copyright 2012 Charis Maloy All rights reservedWow, Sally really didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she asked me to do a guest spot about transitioning!

Most of my readers know that I’m a busy girl. Multiple jobs plus trying to write and start a small business make for chaos. What Sally wasn’t really aware of are some of the major transitions in my personal life that are affecting the way I relate to work, and the sacrifices that I am making in order to do what needs to be done.

For the last year and a half, I’ve had my status as family doormat thrust down my throat. For the third time in my adult life, I allowed a certain few members of my family to bring me to the brink of bankruptcy. All while I was working nearly 100 hours a week.

In February, the characters in my head demanded that their story be told. On a major writing binge, I began to tell their stories. Then I had to stop and start building timelines to keep them straight because I had anywhere from 8 to 10 characters talking to me at once, telling me that I had, not a book, but a series.

Last May, after nearly twenty years of hiding my true self, I finally worked up the strength within myself to acknowledge that I am lesbian. This, in a small Wyoming town where my biggest support system has always been my very LGBT-unfriendly church. This is also the place where I once put my job on the line by mentioning in an offhand comment that my brother is gay.  Continue reading

Lena Corazon: Learning to Love the Space Between

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this third installment of the Being Between series, Northern Californian poet, novelist and sociology doctoral candidate Lena Corazon talks about her multiple lives and shares one of her poems.

Even though I’ve been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since I was a little girl, I always considered it to be little more than a hobby, something I did for fun. The route of academia seemed far more practical, and so I decided that I would study for a PhD and become a college professor.

I was lucky enough to get my wish. I entered a PhD program in sociology straight out of college, and quickly learned that grad school, like academia itself, is one big juggling act. For the last four years I’ve been student, teaching assistant, and scholar. I slog my way through 300+ pages of reading each week, grade what feels like mountains of assignments, and look for spare time to cram in my dissertation research.

It’s little surprise that during my first couple of years as a grad student, I didn’t pick up a single novel or write one word of fiction. Why? I had a skewed fantasy in my head about what it meant to be a “serious” scholar. Serious scholars, as far as I was concerned, did not prance about in make-believe worlds. Serious scholars didn’t waste time having conversations with imaginary people. Serious scholars did Very Serious Things, like immerse themselves in social theory and write books filled with academic jargon.  Continue reading

Louise Behiel: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Today I’m honored to welcome romance writer-translation manager-psychotherapist Louise Behiel.

When Sally asked me to consider contributing to this series, I had to smile—so very often I consider myself caught between a rock, a hard place and a mountain.  Think of me in the middle of a triangle where the walls seem to be closing in.

I’m blessed with many interests, a need to serve and a passion to write.

During the day, I’m the manager of Interpretation and Translation  for the Health Authority in Alberta, Canada. It’s my job to make sure that our limited English-speaking patients have access to trained and highly competent medical interpreters.

I am fascinated by the practice of medicine and by the amazing care given in our facilities. But, given that I don’t like blood, needles or body fluids, this is as close as I can come to the action.

Just in case you’re wondering, I speak only one language. But many of my staff speak three or four. One speaks eight. They work with medical professionals across the spectrum of health care. They can explain medical procedures, outcomes and information in each of those languages. It’s a big job (imagine keeping up with the ever-evolving medical terminology) and I’m honored to be part of the team.  Continue reading

Being between lives

This is the introduction to a series of guest posts about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Do you have each foot in a different life—or a few different lives?

I do. Feels like I’ve been trying to transition from one life to another for as long as I’ve been alive.

There was a time when I almost crossed over from everyday life to being a full-time writer. My short stories and poetry were published, a play was produced and I wrote two novels (bad ones).

Or maybe that time just looks idyllic in retrospect. I was pretty much a single mom to my son and daughter for ten years since my husband was away on business five days a week. Then I went to graduate school and worked part time as a graphic artist, while still being a mom.

After that, I started teaching college and thought I’d found the perfect career. That’s what so many writers do, isn’t it? Teach class, then close the door and immerse themselves in their real work.

But teaching drove me crazy. I couldn’t write and teach, too. The words of my lectures drowned out the words of my fiction.

So I became an editor on a medical journal. At last, silence!

I could write again, but found myself transitioning to a different kind of writing. I’d always written short stories, but now I was trying to write novels. Real ones.

That’s not easy. Short stories are like paintings, novels are like movies. Hardly the same thing at all. I had a lot to learn.

Years passed. My children grew. I moved from New York to Baltimore to San Jose to the Texas Hill Country. I divorced and found a new relationship. I left my editing job, tried working for a literary agent, then went back to the old job.

All the while, the writing continued, stopped, continued, stopped— I don’t know how many times I quit absolutely, positively for the last time.

Finally, I gave up.

Now, whether I write for a few stolen hours a week while working as an editor, succeed and make a living as a novelist, or have to wait to write full time until I’m old enough to retire, I accept that writing fiction is and always has been the focus of my life.

There’s a kind of peace in that.

Coming in November: writer-psychotherapist-translation manager Louise Behiel and writer-sociology Ph.D. student Lena Corazon.

By S.J. Driscoll

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy. 

One of my favorite writers has passed away.

Maeve Binchy made everyday life more fascinating than

Vampires, werewolves and zombies

Interstellar travel

Regency dukes

Lost civilizations

Ménages à trois

Secret societies

Aliens

Cannibalistic but intellectual mass murderers

Wizards, warriors and witches

Elves, dwarves and dragons.

That’s a lot for one writer to do

In a single lifetime.

Real is better.

Thanks.

By S.J. Driscoll

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck

Aside

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck.

Today S.M. Hutchins was kind enough to interview me for her Wonderstruck blog. Previous interviewees include writers Carrie Daws and Shay Fabbro.

If the interview were about someone else, I’d think it was excellent. If those accomplishments had been achieved by someone else, I’d be impressed. But this is me, so nothing I do is good enough. Why is that?

Maybe I’d better go back and reread some of Louise Behiel’s series about the coping strategies of children that carry over into adulthood.

Thank you, @smhutchins!

By S.J. Driscoll

Wheelbarrows have no feet

This morning I mulched the vegetable garden again. That means I lugged four 5-gallon orange paint buckets out the gate, across the concrete path, over the foot-thick live oak limb, under the fig tree, over the stone wall (duck to avoid the branch in the eye), through the rocky gullies where the rain runs down to the creek, past the deer scat, over the limestone shaped like fingermarks dragged through wet clay, around the cactus, and past the twelve-foot spiderweb (which I did not walk into) built by the green and gray spider big as a Cadbury Creme Egg. Finally, I arrived at our waist-high pile of ground-up cedar trees.

After filling the buckets, I carried them back and heaped the cedar bits around the squash and tomatoes and blackberries and mulberries.

On my last trip, muscles taut, gut sucked in, Huck Finn straw hat damp with sweat, a neighbor driving to her retail job number two stopped her car and ran toward me. Continue reading

Overture, curtain, lights? Live it.

One of my greatest pleasures in high school was when I’d go with a bunch of friends to see a Broadway show on a Saturday afternoon.

We’d take the Long Island Railroad in to Penn Station and walk to Times Square, to the trailer in a little grassy area where last-minute tickets were sold. We’d wrangle with each other about which show to see at which price. One of my friends, who now reviews for Variety®, usually had the last word but, as I remember, we usually chose whatever looked good at $2 a seat.

My friends and I went to some of the grand old New York theaters, like the Helen Hayes, the Schubert. The feel of those red velveteen seats and the scent of theater dust alone were worth the $2.

The best moment was when the curtain came up and the lights went on. I always experienced that electric sense of anticipation: something wonderful was going to happen.

The play itself might turn out to be bad, but I always took away that wonderful feeling of anticipation. It kept me alive through the train ride home, through the rest of the weekend and through the long, boring weeks at school.

This morning at seven, I sat on my back steps. The sun came up behind me, shining into the dark forest deeps, highlighting individual tree trunks, vines, branches, the way golden footlights pick out the set on a half-lit stage. The first songbird trilled, another answered, then the valley was full of music.

I felt a wonderful sense of anticipation, the same feeling I’d had just before the curtain came up in the Helen Hayes Theatre.

Do we voraciously consume books, movies, television, music, video games, not for themselves, but for that wonderful feeling of anticipation as the entertainment starts? Are our lives so constrained and boring that we need that artificial jolt to feel alive? This one will be great. This one will fulfill, justify, empower me.

We think the feeling comes from the media, when it really comes from the dawn.

It’s the feeling of a new start. The feeling of the birth of one of the wonderful days of our life.

Take it back.

By S.J. Driscoll

Farewell, My Lovely—Volvo

“I have a mule, her name is Sal, Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.”

I learned that old New York State folk song in elementary school. Ever since then, I’ve wanted a mule. Maybe because my name is Sal.

I’ll probably never have a mule, but I did have a Volvo.

In January 1991, my then-husband and I paid $19,256 cash (don’t ask me why cash–it’s a long, stupid story) for a new, 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual transmission 1990 Volvo 2.4 L 240DL, a silver station wagon. We lived in Northern Maryland at the time. I didn’t like the white one the dealer had available, so he found me this one in Pennsylvania.

The Volvo was the only constant in my crazy life for the last 21 years. That’s a whole generation.

I packed her with my own and my kids’ belongings when I left my first marriage. She was filled to the roof when I moved from Baltimore to San Jose. That trip cracked the front brake rotor, probably while going over the Rockies. My new husband and I filled her to the brim again when we peeled out of San Jose on the way to our new home in Texas.

In Northern California, we used the Volvo to transport our seakayaks to the water, from Monterey Bay in the south to Bodega Bay in the north. Here she is with four kayaks on top and one inside. She was 15 years old then, but still handled like new.

My Volvo 240DL

We drove that car all the way up to Vancouver, Canada, and down to La Bufadora on the Punta Banda Peninsula in Baja California, southwest of Ensenada. Continue reading

Changes

Guest post by Prudence MacLeod

I have seen a lot of change in my lifetime. This was brought home to me the other day as I was sitting on the boat, waiting for inspiration to strike. It wasn’t happening so I went back to my default, people watching. There weren’t a lot of folks on the boat that trip, so not much was going on. K was knitting and I was re-thinking my decision to leave my knitting behind. Oh, wait there we are.

A big man, mid thirties maybe, walked down to the observation window and stood gazing out at the water. He was careful to stand close to a young girl sitting near the window. He was also careful to keep his gut sucked in as he tried to look cool. “Dude, the girl is about twelve or so and far more interested in that phone in her hand than in a guy older than her dad.” I didn’t say it, but I wanted to. Eventually her indifference caused him to lose interest and walk away.

I returned my attention to the young miss, her pony tail swaying gracefully as she watched her thumbs dance over the phone in her hand. Hmm, the phone; I remember when I was her age the phone was securely attached to the wall of the house. When my daughter was that age we had the magic of cordless phones. Wow.

Ok, what else I wondered. Music. When I was her age I had a record player. As a teenager my daughter had a CD player. I’ll bet this girl has an I-pod with a play-list thousands of songs long.

Cars. When I was a teen we didn’t have a car, couldn’t afford one. Folks who did have them would sometimes get one with a radio in it. Luxury. My daughter’s first car had a CD player in it. Now they have cars with phones, computers, I-pod docking stations, TVs, movie players, and the damned things can parallel park themselves.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Change has happened more swiftly for my generation than any other in history, and the pace is accelerating. I cannot begin to imagine the wonders this young miss will witness by the time she reaches my age. Awesome. I hope I’m still here to see it.

So, how about you? What changes have caught you by surprise, stuck in your memory, or just messed with your calm?

***

Prudence MacLeod is a spiritual seeker, dog trainer, official Reiki Master and interior designer, and a writer with two dozen books available. “I have roamed far and wide for over sixty years in this realm, and I have seen much; some I wish I had not, and a great deal that I would love to see again. Some days I feel like Bilbo Baggins, for I have been there and come back again. No, I haven’t written a book about my wanderings, at least not yet, but much I have experienced, observed, learned, surmised, or imagined, is woven into the tales I have written.”

See books by Prudence MacLeod on Smashwords

Thanks, Prudence!

Rockaway, Far Away

The best thing in the world–one of them, anyway–is to feel sand beneath your bare toes when you walk on a sidewalk.

That’s what I thought when I was a kid visiting my cousins in Rockaway in Queens, New York.

They lived in a 2-story gray house tucked behind another house a block and a half from the water. The air smelled sharp, of brine from the ocean, and popcorn and hot dogs from the boardwalk.

You could walk down the block and go straight from concrete to the fine, warm sand of a Long Island beach. Turn left, and you’d be on the splintery boardwalk wood. I must’ve been small, because I could never see the top of the vendors’ carts, only the sides. I got only a glimpse of the pink cotton candy in white paper cones and the hot dogs impaled on spikes. The open doors of the arcades and other attractions were off limits.

I must’ve been very small.

When I told my parents we should move there, they laughed. They each came from the City–Mom from Brooklyn and Dad from the Bronx. To them, suburbia meant moving on up. To me, it meant deadly, deadly boredom.

At night, the pink and yellow boardwalk lights lit up the sky. I heard music against the background of the gentle surf.

Decades later, when I lived in Northern California, the feeling of Rockaway came back to me when I walked along the beach in Santa Cruz and entered the dark arcade with its flashing neon and ringing bells. It wasn’t a feeling of remembrance, though. Just a feeling of loss.

Why are children so powerless?

My cousins didn’t live in Rockaway too long. My older cousin went to live in Japan. My other cousin, an accomplished accordianist–we used to be so close–I’m not sure where he is. Somewhere playing his music, I hope.

My Rockaway is gone. All the little single-family houses were knocked down to build high-rise apartments. At least, that’s what I heard. I’m not going back.

As long as I don’t go back to find out, the sand will still be warm beneath my toes.

By S.J. Driscoll

Life Is for Enjoying

Guest post by Coleen Patrick

The fragility and courage of young men–why are these qualities so heart-breaking to me? Is it because men are supposed to be stronger than women? Or is it more personal than that, since my son survived cancer when he was a teen?

When I first read Coleen’s post, I knew her brother’s face would remain in my memory for a long time. That’s why I’m honored to have this as my guest post for today. Thank you, Coleen.

November 1st was the start of National Novel Writing Month–NaNoWriMo.  This year I am participating and writing in honor of my brother.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo five years ago, and used the general principles to write my first middle grade story.  I’d been filling notebooks with stories for years, but I did it strictly for the fun of it.  Suddenly I wanted to do more and NaNo seemed like the perfect way to launch that spark.  So I started writing with more of a purpose.  The only person I told at the time (other than my husband) was my brother.  I remember him being fascinated by the idea of writing a thousand plus words a day.  He was a creative type–he drew, wrote, cooked (even went to culinary school), so he was the perfect person to understand the need to do a writing marathon in a month.

When I finished that first draft, I put it away to read it at a later date with fresh eyes.  Then, when the time came to go back to it, I decided I didn’t really want to write.  So I went out and got a job, leaving the story behind.

I was afraid.  Afraid to read the rough draft.  Afraid of what it would mean to move forward with my writing.  So I went about life and work without it.

And then a couple of months later, my brother died.

It was sudden–a brain aneurysm.  He was 31.

My brother was so funny.  He did the best Chewbacca impression ever.  He was also incredibly kind.  Maybe it’s the sharp finality of death that smooths away the rough edges of a life, but I truly can’t remember him ever being anything but nice to me.

But I think he was hard on himself.  He had unrealized dreams.  He had physical obstacles, like when he stopped working in restaurants because he couldn’t be on his feet for that many hours (he battled Type 1 diabetes starting from the age of 11).  But I think maybe some of his biggest struggles were more internal.  He got bogged down by dark moments, the kind that show up to shadow your plans and leave you filled with self-doubt and fear.

I know that fear.

I have one of my brother’s journals.  In it there’s the beginnings of a story, some sketches and some personal notes he wrote to himself.  One of those notes sticks with me:

“Write damn you! Write! Anything, something, Please!”

My first instinct is to feel sad at that personal plea to his self, but then I realize that goes against what he wrote.  Because he didn’t want to get stuck in those paralyzing fears.

In fact the first line in the journal he wrote is: “Life is for enjoying.”

I remember my aunt said at his funeral that she was sad because she couldn’t learn anything more from him and I get that because I would love to know what he would have thought of the LOST finale (our last conversation happened to be about the beginning episodes of season three and the oh so random subject of peanut butter).  I also am curious what his thoughts would be regarding Twitter, the Kindle or his take on the whole new world of publishing.  I would love to hear his opinion on all of this crazy writing stuff I’ve been pursuing. Plus I wonder if he too would be blogging, putting his writing and drawings out there. Tweeting.

But then again I know now, five years later, that I am still learning from him.

I am learning not to be afraid.  I am learning not to worry about regret.

And I am learning to enjoy my life, from random peanut butter moments to marathon writing months.

 What are you looking forward to?

This post first appeared here on October 24, 2011.

Thanks, Coleen!