Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Career Choices

A number of years ago, after I finished graduate school, I was like many people seeking employment in the fair city of Portland. Unfortunately, facing the catch-22 of little work experience in any of the fields that caught my fancy (at the time non-profit work, archival research, and health sciences) and no one giving me the opportunity to further the skills I had, I began to turn to other avenues of interest.
At this point in time, I had been sending out upwards of ten job applications a day and had been doing so for about four months, decorating match boxes, drinking tea, and living in my folks house taking in a hundred-fifteen dollars a week in unemployment insurance. Desperation began to sink in as I scoured the internet.
And then something in my mind clicked. My internal dialogue went a little like this:
You love museums. You have told everyone that you want to own a museum. You need to work in a museum. Short of going back to school and taking up another master's degree in museum studies, what should could you do to work in a museum?
I sat at my desk for a while pondering this query. I could very easily try and work on my archiving skills. I had done quite a bit of work combing through dusty files searching for documents while looking for artifacts about my families time in internment camps during World War II. But I wanted to do something more tactile. I have a love for natural history.
I could become a taxidermist.
It seemed like a genius plan.

I found a taxidermy school in Montana with a low tuition, dorm, and meal plan. I could enroll and have a certificate in about two months. If I did everything correctly, I could master the art of large animal mounts and start working on animals for museums and build exhibits like they have at the Smithsonian, the American Natural History Museum in New York, or the Field Museum in Chicago. I didn't mind moving to Montana. I had a bunch of friends from Montana, and they all loved it there. Of course they were all living in Portland. And I had never killed an animal let alone skinned and tanned an animals pelt before. But those were all just minor obstacles that I could overcome.

That evening my parents decided to go out for dinner and they invited me along. I told my mother about the best idea that I had had in months. I explained all of the details. How I the cost of living would be very low while I lived in Montana and how the taxidermy school had a meal plan. A meal plan! How could a right minded parent argue with that?

After I finished outlining my new life plan. My mother sat there quiet for a few minutes. And looked at me and said in a very calm voice, "Patrick, you really need a job."

I paused not really certain what to say in response since this was going to be my path to a new job. So I mentioned it again thinking it would add more weight to my argument, a heavier sense of urgency, a sense of thought and commitment that this was what I thought was the proper choice in life. "But the school has a meal plan and a dorm..."

My mother sat silent for another minute. And we both looked at a giant mounted marlin on the wall of the restaurant. "Patrick, you need a girlfriend," was all she stated as we both stared at the giant fish on the wall.

"Yes, Mom. Yes...I know."

A month later, I took a job in a warehouse for minimum wage dreaming of stuffed deer, stuffed rhinos, lions posed like they were going to attack, and gazelle heads majestically staring forward from a polished plaque on a wall.

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