When I Grow Up


I love Daily Prompts where I actually have an idea of what to write! Today’s prompt http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/futures-past/ asks what one wanted to be when we were growing up.

Well, I’m not grown up yet. I might be 62 but I still think of myself as somewhere around 15. Okay 15 with a lot of miles on the old clock, but still an interior age of 15.

I have always been a slave to fashion. As a junior high school and high school student, I’m sure my mother despaired of clothing me for the school year. First, things had to be in style. I remember many Christmas presents of clothing that had to be returned the day after Christmas! One year I wanted a pink Angora sweater and a box-pleated skirt. You see – I had seen a girl in the year in front of me wear one of the most exquisite pale pink and I needed it. Bad. She looked similar to me in many ways. Dark, short hair and she wore a ribbon around her hair to make it look poofy. I wore scarves. Mom bought me a nice sweater and skirt, but they were dark pink and not the light, pale color I wanted. We took them back ………..

Yes, we had to wear dresses or skirts when I was in school. I graduated in 1969 so it wasn’t all THAT long ago. The year after I left, they got to wear pants and then jeans. My mother made my skirts – some of the stuff she made was stunning in its intricacy – and I remember her gagging when I requested a mini skirt 17″ long. I had the legs for it – and I got it. I made some of my clothes, particularly dresses.

So what did I want to be when I grew up? A fashion designer. I had a fantasy of moving to New York City (which would actually have scared me to death being from a college town in the Midwest) and attending Patricia Steven’s School of Fashion Design. I saw the ads for this school in Glamour.

In New York, I had a garden apartment. It sounded good to me and the picture in my mind was a first floor flat with french doors opening onto my garden. Knowing what I know now about large cities, break-ins and other crimes, I would change that to a flat on the 20th floor nowhere near a large tree ………… The apartment, above ground or not, would be decorated in yellow floral chintz. And I would have matching dishes. My friend from high school, Marsha, would tell me that she couldn’t understand why I had to have everything matching. If I had a pink dress, I had pink shoes ………….

Well. I didn’t go to school in New York City. I went to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois (even though I lived in the college town of the University of Illinois) and I studied to be a German teacher. I started in 1969 at the ripe old age of 17 and left school as a junior at the age of 20. I was so depressed I thought life was over. The constant grind of writing essays in perfect German, reading German literature and falling asleep on my dictionary wore me down. Not to mention being forced to speak German all day long – I began to think in German.

After my drop out, my mother being extremely pissed about it, I searched for years for something to do. I decided to try being a hairdresser and went to “beauty” school. Okay. I wasn’t that good at teasing hair and doing updos. I wasn’t good at all, actually. I could cut hair, perm hair, color hair, etc. but that setting hair and teasing it was beyond me. I worked as a hairdresser for a couple of years after school until chucking it in. If I had to shampoo one more head of hair I would have screamed. Also, when you cut hair, it gets all over you. We wore street clothes at the shops I worked in and there is nothing worse than a sweater with hair all over it. Unless that hair gets in your mouth. I was always buying new scissors too. And new scissors were lethal. I would cut my hands between the first and second finger of my left hand constantly with these sharp things. I gave it up.

I ended up working with developmentally disabled adults in a residential facility for a couple of years until I met my husband and we married. Since he worked days and I worked 3-11 we never saw each other. Finally I left that job and began working during the day so we could have time together.

I started my career as a legal secretary in 1979 and worked in a law firm in my hometown until I became pregnant. I then started temping at various places and didn’t go back to work until my son was 10 months old. We had moved to Iowa for a better job for my husband (it wasn’t) and I found work in two law firms there. The first one was horrible. I met my future boss who was an associate at the law firm then. A few years later, I went to work for him and stayed until we had to leave the town for work in Detroit, Michigan. I loved that job.

I found work in a law firm in Detroit prior to moving there. It was an interesting time and I worked in the legal field for many years. One job was in a large law firm where I met most of my dear friends. I loved that job too.

I decided to return to school in 1985, knowing I had only a few credits left until I could graduate. It took me 5 semesters and I achieved a B.S. from Wayne State University in Detroit, all the while working full time. I had every intention of going to law school – until I graduated. I looked around and decided that there was no way I wanted to do that work forever.

I managed to putz around until 1987 when we bought a home that we could afford on my husband’s salary alone. I could then be around when my son got out of school. I loved picking him up at school and we would play board games until it was time to make supper.

In 1988 I began reading the Tarot and teaching classes at local adult education programs in the metro Detroit area. I would be one of three psychics the class would meet with and I would lecture about what I did and I would give them all mini-readings. There were at least 27 in each class! This is how I built up my clientele as they would call and schedule private readings or group readings with me. I did this for 5 years until once again we moved and I started homeschooling our middle school son. Frankly, I was tired. I recognized that while I wanted to guide everyone toward spiritual enlightenment, they wanted to know if they were going to win the lottery or if the man they desired was ever going to make a commitment to them. Whew.

At the same time that I started reading, I started quilting. Then I started selling my work and buying antique quits, quilt tops, vintage fabric, etc. I also started buying collectible or rare books. In 1996 I had my first textile show and went on to do many many more over the next 9 years. I sold my rare books online and I must say I really enjoyed that job. Except for the shows, which were a lot of work and a lot of sitting around!

After moving to Canada, I spent about 5 years still running my business. It became so expensive to purchase the quilts (from the US) and the books. Everything that comes into Canada is taxed. The GST was expensive, but it was a bunch of onerous paperwork too. We decided to move back to the States and I wrapped my business up at that point.

Coming home was the most fantastic thrill I’ve ever had. Living outside my country wasn’t something I enjoyed. It was odd because I didn’t think it would make that much difference – but it did.

I worked first in a law firm and then at a call center for a telecommunications company and finally for an outdoor outfitter. I kept doing what I do – sewing, making quilts, now knitting ………….. and when my husband became ill – I had to quit work to take care of him. Even working a few hours a week wasn’t possible as he needed constant supervision.

I’m now alone most of the time since DH has moved to the nursing home. Now I sew, knit – dye yarn – whatever. I don’t have to work. One of the staff at the nursing home saw my new shirt yesterday and said “Why aren’t you a fashion designer?” She made me laugh.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    Great ideas!


  2. Relax says:

    I know people our age (I’m 62 also, but more like 8 years old than 15) who still desire a wardrobe planner, as they are aware but inept. If you had any interest, I’m sure that option would find you some takers. Or, there’s always enrichment classes to offer. Or, yes, you could simply just have fun dressing yourself! Nice story. What we do for love, right? God bless you.


  3. yeseventhistoowillpass says:

    Now that’s a life story!


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