Blog readers of a certain age grew up with Seinfeld—NBC’s famous sitcom about nothing. That was the tagline: A show about nothing. Have you ever considered what that really means, “about nothing?” No big topics were ever raised. Each episode delved into the minutiae of the characters’ lives. We know about their personal grudges, their underwear, their toenails. We never learned anything about the characters’ thoughts on, say, race relations or politics. There was really no plot to follow, each episode just a brief sketch reinforcing how shallow each individual truly was. It’s astounding that it lasted nine seasons. Good writing, I guess, funny jokes.
Towards the end of the series, George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander), the most fully developed character on the show, landed his dream job: Assistant to the Traveling Secretary for the New York Yankees. No, he didn’t dream of being an assistant to a traveling secretary, he dreamed of working for the New York Yankees—what kid from Brooklyn doesn’t?
I’m certain that, with enough thought, we each could come up with a dream job or two. Marketing manager for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Tasting room supervisor for Dry Creek Vineyard. Brew master for Dogfish Head Brewery on the outskirts of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. That last one checked off two dreams. These might be some examples. My actual dream job has always been to land a gig as a columnist for Runner’s World magazine.
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Like most bloggers, I’m a reader. A life-long reader, that’s what I always tell people, but this is a blatant lie. I became a reader in 1977, fifteen years old. Me, home sick with the flu, my mother popped in during her lunch break to drop off a book she grabbed at the grocery store. Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson. A five-hundred-page slog about a modern-day American writer who suffers from leprosy. Thomas Covenant, the unlikely hero, is transported time and again into an alternate reality where he is viewed as a messiah and forced to do battle with Lord Foul the Despiser.
Right, pretty ridiculous stuff. Twice as an adult, I attempted to revisit this book to see what hooked me, and each time I didn’t get through the first chapter. But fifteen-year-old me gobbled it up. And I haven’t stopped reading since.
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Since I never landed that paying job writing for a running magazine, I’ve done my best to steer my career in directions that meet my interest. My background is in non-profit finance and accounting, so while the work itself isn’t always that exciting, the focus of the organization can—and should be—meaningful to me. For eleven years, I worked at the local YWCA: Fitness, Childcare and Social Justice—all topics I care about deeply. Going to work was a treat (until I got bored with it).
My current job is adequate. It’s a non-profit providing services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. I’ve been there for a year. And while it’s great that I can help an organization that helps woman and children, I feel no passion. It’s just a job.
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When we moved to Gettysburg fourteen years ago, it was Susan, me and two-year-old Sophie. Eli was on the way—a bun in the oven as they say. Knowing no one, we gravitated to the one place in town we felt instantly welcome: the library. Before Gettysburg, before kids, Susan and I would spend at least an hour in Barnes & Nobel every other week browsing the shelves. We’d pick out books and magazines we wanted to read, often while drinking a cup of coffee or espresso. Self-care. Pampering.
Gettysburg doesn’t have a Barnes & Nobel, or really even a bookshop worthy of browsing. But Gettysburg has an awesome public library. The children’s room alone is the size of our whole public library in our D.C. neighborhood. The Gettysburg library, taken as a whole, is about the size of the B&N we used to visit. Books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, just like B&N, but in this case, everything is free. And that’s a good thing, too. The wages in Gettysburg suck. We no longer had money budgeted to buy four to eight books per month.
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Nine years ago, attending a seminar for non-profit finance managers, I introduced myself to the woman sitting next to me. She was about my age, she had a relaxed confident demeanor. After talking for a few minutes, I asked which non-profit was hers. The Adams County Library System she said. She worked on the top floor of the Gettysburg library. My library. She managed finances for the six libraries in our county. And this became my dream job, the Chief Financial Officer of the library. “Hey, if you ever decide to leave your job,” I said, “let me know.“
Any one who reads my other blog* (my anonymous blog) knows that my current employer has been struggling financially for some time. It’s been rough enough that I’ve kept my eye on any job postings in and around Gettysburg. I need to have an iron in the fire if things fall apart. And during this period of instability in my professional life, my dream job became available. For the first time in twenty-five years, the library is hiring a new CFO.
I start on Friday.
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* If you’d like to read my other blog, use my contact page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll send you the link.
Don’t forget, BAD ASS – My quest to become a Back Woods Trail Runner (and other obsessive goals) is out and the eBook is available for free. Please visit Smashwords to download it.