I know you are but what am I?

More than a playground insult, it’s an existential inquiry, really.

I am an annual pass holder at Mt. Vernon, as of this weekend. That’s something.

During the coffee hour after church on Sunday, the husband and I chatted with another young, childless, non-DC-native married couple. He’s an FBI agent and she works for the government, alluding to her work in such a way that I, with excellent people-reading skills, understood not to ask more. I’m confident that both of them could kill me from across the room with just a stare and a snap kick.

When we meet new people, the question of what everyone does immediately comes up. This makes sense. We’re a culture that tends to gather basic information about how to relate to one another based on what we do for our bread and butter.

But what if one, such as yours truly, isn’t working? I’m not a communications manager anymore. I’m no longer a press secretary, or, as I liked to say to avoid questions, “in political communications.” Even my freelance book reviewing days are indefinitely suspended.

So when we chat with people and the husband says what he does and everyone (around here) knows what that is and what his days are filled with, I stand next to him thinking quickly about how to communicate that until very recently I was gainfully employed and highly thought of by lawmakers and senior staff alike.

If we had kids, I would have no problem staying home and telling others I stay home with the kids but “I stay home with the dog” doesn’t command the same understanding or respect.

The husband and I chatted over the long weekend about income-generating ideas I could undertake. I could open my own dog walking business. I could be a pet sitter. I could stroll over to the mall and apply at Ann Taylor. I could follow up with A Certain Organization for the third time in five days and elevate the art of following up to the level of professional stalking.

But I don’t want to own my own business, I don’t want to feed other people’s cats and I don’t want to work weekends at the mall. The husband and I have worked very hard our whole marriage to pay off debt, live frugally, and save. We keep reminding ourselves that we came to DC in the full faith and knowledge that this is God’s plan and that we can, with continued frugality, live on the husband’s income alone. Bearing these things in mind, the urgency of a mall job suddenly dissipates.

So what do you want to do, redwhiteandnew?

Isn’t it obvious?

I want to write. I want to be a writer. And now is the perfect time for me to do that.

So I’m a writer. A purveyor of fine words and phrases, if you will. And if the time comes in the next weeks or months that I need to work part-time for someone else, I will do that but I will still be a writer first and foremost. So be it if this writer also happens to have a 40% discount at an upscale women’s clothing store. Worse things have happened.

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8 thoughts on “I know you are but what am I?

  1. In the Top 10 SIgn that we inhabit some of the same nerdiness levels: my immediate jealousy at reading you have a season pass to Mt. Vernon.

    A few weeks ago I met somebody and found myself starting to ask the Work Question, and remembered that I hate that question, so I fumbled into “What…is your life specialty?” It thoroughly confused her, so I fell back on the Work Question after all, but I decided that I like “What is your life specialty?” I might try to work it into more first meeting conversations.

  2. I am convinced you are indeed a writer, no matter where you work. Next to you, Dave Berry should work at Ann Taylor (my opinion anyway).

Shout at me.

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