A fantasy by any other name


I used to work in politics.  I say “used to” because I and many of my co-workers were laid off after the last elections.  That was easy to see coming.  I am no longer needed in politics, apparently, and, while I am often described as stubborn, I have never been described as stupid or clingy.  Time to move on.

Actually, the timing could not have been more perfect.  For the past year or so, I have engaged in what I call and “employment fantasy,” wherein I don’t have one repetitive job, but three or four careers that are vastly different from each other.  I dream of flying between my role as a crochet artist and designer (there is no way in hell that would be left out, of course), a bike messenger (or something that is equally physical), a writer (of provocative blogs?), a contract policy analyst (god help me), and/or one of those sweet gals who hand out samples at the grocery store (everybody loves a woman who dishes out food and charm in equal helpings!).  Thanks to politics, I realize that I am now well on my way to living my “employment fantasy.” 

One could examine the situation and say that I am merely piecing together scraps to eke out a living.  Well…..yes….. but that is not the right attitude in 2011!  I didn’t realize that my perspective was so ’90s until I took an employment workshop, taught by a lovely blonde lady who made her students feel special by referring to each and every one as “friend.”  In addition to her classes, this lovely lady makes and sells jewelry, is a “Career Coach,” and a “Chief Connection Officer.”  For some reason, I suspect those are only a fraction of her titles.  

In true character, I sat in the class skeptically shaking my head.  Such a waste of my time!  a whole day to learn how to make a LinkedIn profile?  When I could be at home looking for my next mind numbing indentured servitude so as to continue this unavoidable and empty black march toward a life of corporate feudalism and/or the nondescript martyrdom of public service!  Then I heard the choir sing and the clouds parted.  She used a term that struck me.  It was the only part of her conversation that found its way into my battered mind.  The rest was the garbled gibberish one hears in a dream.  The term she used, to describe her own life and my employment fantasy was “portfolio life.” 

Ahhhhhhh.  The phrase alone is musical and cosmopolitan!  That is me all over, baby – musical and cosmopolitan!  I began to use the phrase in conversation.  The first time I used it, I felt uncomfortable.  I reassured myself that it was because the word was new to me and I just hadn’t deeply embraced the concept.  The next time it didn’t feel any better.  There was something about my delivery that needed work; that is why my friend replied, “Wha??”  I practiced the phrase in the mirror, wrote it on paper, and spoke it over the phone to no avail.  it felt, looked, and sounded freakish to when I said it.  No, it just wasn’t working for a girl like me. 

Many hours of pondering what it REALLY means to have a “portfolio life” did not solve my dilemma.  Yes, I am on my way to several careers, and a collection of useful, unexpected, and clever tools as I navigate through the work force.  I DO lead that kind of life.  I WANT that kind of life.  I DESERVE that kind of life.  But to make that life work for me, I determined that needed to create my own phrase.  I dug deep down into what it means to be me.  Analyzed my blood lines, my family history, my own past life experiences, and looked around at the home I have created for myself.  The phrase I chose would have to be descriptive and correct.  It would need to encompass the useful, unexpected, and clever employment tools I have collected over the years, and would need to paint a picture of how those tools are arranged in my life.  Any one who hears this phrase would have to know that it was created only for Lisa.  Finally, the answer.  Proudly, I can say that I know myself.  With the strength of a thousand generations I stand assured.  From the highest rooftop I now shout with confidence, courage, and fortitude, “Friends, I don’t lead a ‘portfolio life,’ I lead a ‘junk drawer life!'”