Okay, I confess, a crappy month at work and the cynic in me takes the wheel (and drives around bitching about the traffic).  But today is a new month and I was thinking more about Randy Pausch and his list of childhood dreams (all but one accomplished) and my list which just pointed out that I’m a frustrated artist trapped in the corporate world.  But there are things that I wanted to do as a child that I have accomplished, though not in the same straight-line way as Randy.

For instance, I loved reading National Geographic and wanted to travel in the wilderness and live the outdoor life.  I also wanted to be a psychologist.  When I was 30, I spent a year doing wilderness expeditions with disruptive adolescents.  It was one of the most amazing times of my life and a perfect combination of those two childhood dreams.  We spent 3 weeks in the high-desert of south-central Idaho with each group of kids, teaching them how to live off the land, make fire without matches, navigate with topographical maps, and be self-sufficient, while leading them through a brief curriculum designed to stimulate their self-analysis.  It’s amazing the effect such training has on the self-esteem of a bored and rebellious teenager.  Or on the self-esteem of a bored and frustrated 30 year old.  Knowing that I can walk into the wilds and make fire, find food, and live an interesting life – when most people would panic or focus on complaining – gives me a rare insight into my inner strength and resourcefulness.

I also wanted to be Perry Mason.  His style of investigative advocay just thrilled me.  I worked at my first law firm when I was 19 and got a taste of the real lawyering world.  I even completed a year of law school.  But by then I knew the downside of lawyering – lawfirm politics, long associate hours, high production stress, no recognition for anyone but the partners (ohmygosh, I just realized that the corporate world is my nightmare version of the legal world) – and I decided not to complete my law degree.  Then in 1995, I was introduced to the King County CASA organization and became a guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children.  I did child advocacy work for six years and helped to change many lives for the better.  I specialized in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and gave workshops across the US on advocating for Indian children and working with Indian families on parenting issues.  I learned even more about my own half-breed heritage and I met people that enriched my life. 

I also wanted to be a translator at the United Nations.  I love languages and how they intersect and evolve around one another.  Of course, I wanted to speak French – it had such a sexy air about it, but when language classes came up in school, my mother said, “You live in California, nobody here speaks French.  Spanish will be useful.”  (But she said it in a way that sounded like “Spanish or nothing.”)  So I, of course, said, “Then it will be nothing.”  And wouldn’t you know that at 41 I became fluent in Spanish without ever having taken formal schooling – and now I live in Mexico and speak Spanish every day.  It’s not quite the United Nations, but I never wanted to live in New York City because of the traffic and rude people (ohmygosh, I just realized that Mexico City is my nightmare version of NYC).  And, yes, my mother was right – Spanish turned out to be very useful for me.

So, there are four childhood dreams that I can mark with a * if not an X.  Maybe I will get to do something with my artwork someday.

So, here it is, July 27, and my last post was June 12.  This just goes to show that when conflict is between the day job and being creative, the day job wins.  For now I won’t be changing blog hosts because my stale blog would be a waste of advertisers’ money.

In the free moments around my 60 hour a week slog, I have managed to accomplish a few other things:

  • I took my CEP Level 2 exam on June 10 and passed it with flying colors!
  • I started studying for my Level 3 exam in November.
  • We celebrated Miguel’s 35th birthday.
  • I got tile floors installed in my entry, kitchen and dining room (okay, I worked the day job while the tile layer put in the flooring – but I designed the pattern and it turned out fabulous even though everybody thought I was crazy).

And yesterday I found Randy Pausch’s amazing lectures.  What an inspiration – and what a loss, his passing so young.  It does make one wonder what happened to our childhood dreams.  And when we were children, how many of us actually had the passion and conviction to say “I want this” ?  And then actually strive for that as an adult?

I never made a list like Randy did, but here is a list of things I did with such passion that just remembering the activity now I can feel myself doing it:

  • playing the lead in the elementary school play and singing the opening solo – and winking at my father in the front row (age 5)
  • watching Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl (and every other movie she ever did) and yearning to sing and be spunky like her
  • watching Star Trek and wanting to be like Spock
  • playing the not-yet-King Arthur in the class production of The Once and Future King (age 11)
  • singing the lead in the elementary school Christmas play (age 12)
  • singing Motown and the Beatles and Creedence into a pink plastic hair curler
    (oh, cruel world, I just realized that I switched from singing and acting to drawing after that creep Wayne Yee shamed me for knowing all the words to all the songs when I was in 6th grade – Wayne Yee, you suck)
  • designing entire wardrobes for Betty and Veronica and sending them to the comic publisher
  • drawing every art school entry form picture I found (remember those advertisements in Sunset magazine?) – houses with landscaping, portraits, cartoons
  • designing a costume for Tatiana in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (age 13)
  • designing the winning poster in a contest to publicize a local concert by Cuban pianist Joaquin Nin-Culmell and then listening to him play (age 14)
  • painting the winning Halloween window decoration at the local fabric shop with Sandy Abalos (age 14)
  • drawing my feet one day when I was sick and hated missing art class – and being amazed at how perfect they turned out (age 14)
  • drawing my first nude – and being amazed at how like a photo it was in its precision (age 19)
  • getting accepted at CCAC on the basis of my 8 pencil drawings portfolio (nope, couldn’t go – evil stepmother interference)

Miguel and I watched the movie August Rush the other evening and I realized that I did have one dream growing up – to go to Julliard.  But Wayne Yee, divorce and freaky stepparents intervened and I went into survival mode and never looked back.

So I’m holding out for my other childhood dream – winning a huge lottery jackpot and traveling the world.  I’ve got to have at least as good a chance at that as at going to Julliard at 50.