Tuesday, January 04, 2005

when i grow up

I've been thinking about what I want to do when Harley is old enough for daycare or preschool. While I've always wanted to earn a living writing, lately I've come to the conclusion that it's probably just a hobby like my mother always said, and that's OK. I'm letting it go. I'm going to separate it from the concept of earning money altogether. Oh, and let go of the motivation of winning (prizes, accolades--hell--even love).
Still, I remember the day in kindergarten when our teacher showed us those huge wooden A-frames, like giant Scrabble racks, gave us a stack of big black words on white cardboard, and showed us how we could put the words together to create our own sentences. It was one of those defining moments you have. Not long after that, I resolved to be a writer.
Through primary school, my best friend Emily and I wrote, directed and performed in strange little plays that were probably just extended private jokes. Emily came from a family of famous pianists and, herself very accomplished, also wrote and performed the scores.
There was another defining moment, in primary school, winning a role in Rinse the Blood Off My Toga. "My name is Flavius Maximus, I'm a private Roman eye. My licence number is IXIVLLDCC..." I was amazed at the feeling you got when you made people laugh. That was it. I forgot about wanting to be a writer and resolved to be an actor.
When I got to high school though, I got very self-conscious. In the first year of high school I took a lead role in a school play which so bored the audience that the entire production was pulled after opening night. I don't think I ever got over that blow to the ego. So that was it for acting.
I had always been pretty good at design, winning poster competitions and stuff, and had always loved sewing my own clothes, so next I resolved to become a fashion designer. I was really into Morrissey Edmiston in high school and I still have a letter from Leona Edmiston, written in black ink in very elegant handwriting, in which she kindly gives advice on how to become a designer. But then, another defining moment. There was a class assignment to design some boardshorts. I'd done some wild designs--shorts in silver lam'e, black shorts with tiny golden angels all over them, shorts made entirely out of James Dean's photocopied eyes, and so on, but the teacher said you couldn't get fabric like that and she failed me. I kind of lost my confidence with it after that.
I topped the year in French in Year 9 but then, perversely, dropped the subject to take up Woodwork. To make some kind of feminist statement or something, I think it was. Oui, je regrette... For the HSC I took 3 units each of Maths, English, Textiles & Design and Art. I didn't apply myself, preferring to spend most of high school in a gloom, so I got only average results except in English.
After high school, perhaps to please my father or because I'd read The Fountainhead one too many times, I enrolled in Architecture at UNSW but deferred and spent a year working as a junior graphic designer at a big book publishers, a job that had been offered to me while doing work experience there in Year 10. But I found it too hard to concentrate on a fledgling career as I was in a difficult relationship at the time, so I ended up just drifting around waitressing.
Eventually I began studying graphic design at night school while working full-time doing subbing and typesetting at a parenting magazine using the then-standard DTP package Ventura. I loved the promise of desktop publishing. Power to the people! But my TAFE hadn't caught up and had no computers and we were still just handpainting color wheels and gray scales. I remember one of my teachers announcing grandly that red and yellow was "a profoundly ugly color combination" and he forbade us to ever use it. I decided I was learning more about the design of the future (ie. using computers) in my day job so I dropped out of the course after a year. I worked at the magazine for a few years and did a bit of freelance design work on the side.
Together with my brother, who was a doctor at the time, I wrote and published a magazine for new doctors, taking advertising from the pharmaceutical companies. We took off overseas on the proceeds. The plan was that we were going to reproduce the magazine overseas, but once we got to Europe I realised I just wanted to kiss boys and dance on tables and finally, in Lisbon, my brother and I fought for the last time and we went our separate ways. Not for long--we both got on the same train to London and after some hours sulking, deigned to sit together and play chess. When we got to London though we split for real. He went back to Thailand, taught English for many years, and ended up marrying a local girl. Meanwhile, I met a boy from Perth on my first night in London, shacked up with him a week later, and spent the next few years with him. (Hi Jimbo, and congratulations on the birth of Tom). We spent a year back in Perth where I wrote copy for advertising features at The West Australian. I also produced another one of our doctor's mags on my own, which gave me enough money to go travelling again (I have never been able to save the traditional way). After another year travelling I split with my boyfriend, returned to Sydney and enrolled in a BA in Information Science at UTS. One of the subjects was Psychology and I decided after a year to switch to a BA in Psych at Macquarie Uni. And that, my friends, is the one thing I ever stuck with and finished...just!
While at uni I got into legal secretarial temping which paid very well and you could do nightshifts which fit well with uni. The other good thing was you got free taxis home. At the time I lived at Collaroy so it was a forty minute taxi ride home and I mostly enjoyed chatting to the cabbies. I loved temping because I could be an anonymous observer of the goings-on at each office, and every week was different. Ultimately though I was seduced by the income and became trapped in the corporate world in various permanent PA jobs.
And then I got into blogging, had Harley and the rest is...Archives.
So where to now, I wonder?