Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Alternate universe dreams and a dream job i was once offered

Singing at the Laphroaig Distillery in Scotland.
Remember 2009, when I blogged every day of the year? (mostly)? Yowza, was life simple then. I think about the fires in Australia and the Trump insanity and Brexit and #MeToo and I just want to scream with passion and then I wonder what it's all for. In 2009 I blogged about wishing our local weekly paper hadn't stopped publishing music listings. I took a lot of shit from that little blog, including some threats, and I lost sleep and friends.

Now that trivial blog post is dust in the wind because we have destroyed the planet and probably the dinosaurs all actually died because they drove too many gasoline cars everywhere and gave their children too many plastic toys and then the earth caught fire and it took 65 million years for palm trees to grow again.

What's new with me? I cannot stop wanting to create. I think about this insane drive to tell stories every time someone asks my boys what they want to be when they grow up. I think about it whenever someone tells me they want to be a musician.

I want to tell them: Please. If you can do anything else and still be happy, do that

It's devastating advice, but I stand by it. For whatever reason, whatever wiring is in my brain, I cannot be happy unless I am writing. It can be music or it can be essays, but it is the only thing that gets the jumble out of my brain and onto the page or the crowd and makes me feel sane.

Recently, in the continuing quest to clear out my parents' house, I found an email exchange between me and my mom from 1999. I had been 21 for less than a week when I was offered two jobs: one with CBS News as an assistant producer in their documentary department.

The other job offer was a company I'd never heard of, but which gave me three interviews and an impressive benefits package. My email exchange with my mom was about me trying to decide which job to take. CBS paid almost half of what the other offer paid. The other company was going to pay for me to get an MBA and to join a gym (Mom and I both thought that was the funniest "benefit" in the package). The other company was something called "consulting," and neither me nor my mom nor my AltaVista web searches could explain. The other job offer was from a little business called McKinsey & Co. I turned it down. (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?!?!)

Now in my head, there's an alternate universe where I took that job at McKinsey. I am a retired partner, and I own several islands in the Hebrides, plus a small unmapped island only known to rich people.

Hang on, now I'm doing that fantasy thing that happens when you buy a Powerball ticket, that suddenly you're living in your dreams.

My life is pretty good, and I could write a whole book about how growing up in a different economic class means that even when you do everything "right"  -- you go to the Ivy League, you get the 4.0, you meet the right people, you get the job offer, and you still don't know enough to understand what the freaking business is. And neither does your mom.

And also: art. You, in particular, cannot function without writing and without telling stories.

So you take the job as the television producer and life still turns out pretty good. Though in retrospect, I think I would have also kicked ass at that McKinsey job, so maybe I should see if the offer still stands?

(Still, I would suggest to my children to take the effin' McKinsey job. And then become patrons of artists whose brains are wired in less-profitable but unavoidable ways...)

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