Monday, April 14, 2008

My Brilliant Career - Marcia

Cynthia Ringer was my first boss after college. She was a big woman in a blue polyester suit with a white blouse and mock tie. Sometimes she wore a little jabot. Her hair was completely shorn at the back with a bristly red cockscomb at the top to maintain a semblance of femininity. I worked in the copy room. Sometimes she made me sharpen her pencils.

On one of my pencil-sharpening days, she took a quiet moment to appraise me. I was wearing my favorite red paisley genie pants, red deerskin booties, and a blue ruffled Pony Express shirt. My massive head of hair was spouting from a pony tail like a volcanic eruption—only brown.

“If you’re going to make it,” she said, “You’re going to have to cut your hair and wear a suit.”

It was about this same time that my well-intentioned mother dragged me off to a seminar called something like, “Your Future as a Woman in Business.”

“But Mom, I don’t want a future in business,” I said, buttoning up my red ruffled Pony Express shirt and dusting off my open-toed gold leather shoes.

We did the Myers Briggs test. I’m an ENTP. I can’t remember what that means except that I’m extroverted. (In recent years I tested out as an ENTF) It turned out that day, that I should have headed toward being a film director or an attorney. Spectacular choices. Who doesn’t want to be a movie director! Not me. Stuuuuuubbbborn. I wanted to be a writer!

Our hostess that day guided us through an exercise.

“Close your eyes, and imagine yourself ten years from now. What do you see?”

The vision was immediate. Me at my typewriter, in my beautiful, sunlit studio, looking down on the phlox and delphinium in my English garden, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I’m skinny, about six inches taller and look like Jane Fonda. (I’m sure I’d read “Pentimento” by then, and had probably just seen “Julia.”)

Whatever the woman was saying about computers and banking went right over my head. I wanted that window, that ocean. That cool empty room. A life where I could sit and spin, weave and imagine--Words. My first love.

Funny, as I was leaving that copy room job to head off for a year in Europe, the director of the company asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him.

“Well, then,” he said, “you better marry rich.”

Director, attorney, rich husband . . . All good choices . . . Not me . . . I’m stubborn.

But, I am a writer.

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