Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cowboy-up: a love story in three parts

Kate P asked to hear the "cowboy up" story. To be fair, I didn't bring it up. First it was brought up by e!, who used the phrase in comments to illustrated a point about not being weak and wobbly.

Enough preamble, already. Let's get to the cowboy(s).

Let's say it was seven years ago. (It was). Let's say Nina was having an existential crisis and was shot through with anxiety and guilt.*

Nina quit her lucrative, high profile job in the banking industry because of the above feelings. She had no idea what to do with herself and was feeling anxious, guilty, scared and generally like complete shit. About everything.

She did what all people in her situation do: she applied to graduate school. Then she was told, ever so gently by one of her oldest friends, that she might consider teaching while in graduate school as a way to pay the bills.

Now, Nina had resisted teaching as a career ever since she took that popular personality type indicator test that indicated that she would be in a state of unrelenting misery were she to do anything other than become a nun or a teacher. She didn't resist so far as to become a nun, but eight years working in the banking career in a state of near-unrelenting misery had begun to wear her down. (See above).

Let's stop referring to me in the third person, shall we?

While in graduate school, I got some teaching experience so that I could become, in real life, just as prosaic and ordinary as that hateful test said I was. I applied to a semi-local college for part-time work, and got it because the above referenced friend worked there and bullied someone into signing off on the hire even though I had NO experience or training.

To my horror, I was an excellent teacher.

To my double horror, I liked the job an awful lot.**

To my infinite horror, I discovered that I never wanted to have any other job every again.

The end.

Oh wait. I forgot about the cowboys.

To recommence: I needed more than just part time teaching work, so called the local community college English Department and invite myself in for an interview.

I arrived at the local community college campus feeling sticky and hung over, and frankly, dreadful. I did not think the interview would go well, but I felt compelled to try, since I could not piece together a living unless I had one full time job or two part time jobs. My obsession with retirement savings had already begun. I was low on cash and I was sticky and terrified.

I am almost to the part about the cowboys.

When I knocked at the door of one Erica Lovelace, I was convinced everything would go terribly wrong. When no one answered, I decided that it had indeed gone wrong before it ever started. I turned to leave, but heard the door creak open behind me.

"Do come in," she said. "Nina, is it?"

Before me stood in a red-head in her mid-fifties with a sassy bob and curvaceous figure adorned by Levi 501 jeans, boots and a western shirt complete with mother of pearl buttons. She was not wearing a hat, but she did have a "Bandera, Texas" coffee mug in her hand.

Freeze frame. Faint and beautiful music hangs in the air, and a diminutive old man with a long gray beard and flowing robes steps out of the firmament. I admire his sandals.

"Gandalf?" I say.

"Nina," says he. "I am, of course, God. I suspend your disbelief for this brief psychiatric moment to congratulate you for being, finally, where I intend you to be at the moment I intend it. Your cooperation on this day makes my never-ending work at harmonizing the universe easier due to your compliance. Give me a high five."

Here, he raised his hand up as high as it would go, so we could, uh, "high five".

We did. Then he have me a wrinkly eyed smile and stepped back into the crack in my psychological outfit.

I looked again at the woman before me, and I had goose-bumps. My heart raced, my mouth went dry, my knees gave a little.

My life, of course, was changed forever. So was hers, though she did not know it at the time. I entered her office and she proceeded to hire me for a full time teaching job - without checking my references or caring tuppence about my lack of experience. As I left her office, I asked her "Why are you doing this?" I was sure she could see how appallingly dirty my hair was.

She paused. I could tell that she could not put words to the experience I was having earlier.

"I don't know," she said. "It's just a feeling I have, like you are meant to be here, like I absolutely MUST hire you" she shrugged. Then she smiled.

"So I am."

End, part the first.

Part the second will go up tonight, and part the third will go up tomorrow morning preceding "Sin of the week" - oh, and let me just say, my crime this week is especially wicked.

Thank you for reading.

* notice now how little has changed.

** crappy grammar unedited. It's for effect. Deal with it.


Em said...

The sad thing is I have no idea why that grammar is crappy.

I did not know you once had a lucrative, high profile job in the banking industry. I've pictured you as a teacher then, now, and forever. My brother-in-law is also in the "lucrative, high profile" banking industry. I've heard so much about the culture. . .

I can't wait for your sin of the week.

LAS said...

I never would have guessed high profile job in the banking industry either - I thought always a teacher! Can't wait for the rest of the story - I love your blog. I better start reviewing my sins this week...

Kate P said...

Oh, man, I remember asking what unicorns eat, but I don't remember asking about "cowboy up" at all. . . should I apologize? I'm enjoying the story.

As an aside, the "personality indicator test" link goes to my blog. (Yeah, everybody send me $250 and I'll tell you what about you drives me up a wall.) I guess I should be thankful that you didn't link the word "nun" to me. They'd never take me in a million years.

e! said...

lol... when i said, "cowboy the f#ck up" i didn't necessarily mean there should be a cowboy or cowgirl in said reference... but i like the story thus far.

Nina said...

em, Yes, I worked in the crazy industry for eight years. Damn those Myers Briggs people for being right. I hated it.

The sin will be grotesque and inexcusable.

LAS, yes, that was me, back when I wore dark suits and tied my hair in a bun and had all sorts of serious thoughts interest and dividends. Oh wait, that's still me. Except for the wardrobe. That has changed. I still have to email you. I love your blog, too.

Kate P, thanks for the heads-up about the faulty link. I believe it is now fixed. And you are right about another thing: you DID ask about the unicorn diet. It was e! who wanted to know about the cowboy story. (Research in progress regarding unictorn nutrition. Will give answer soon).

Kate P said...

Unicorn nutrition. . . maybe magical things will happen if I feed it to my cat!

nicoleantoinette said...

You could tell stories all day and I would keep on listening to them/reading them. I love all of the little details and twists of this and wish you would have been MY teacher.

bred said...

i am waiting with baited breath for parts 2 & 3... what a superb storyteller you are. :)

would it expose my blog-crush too much if i tag you to do a meme this early in our relationship?? you can save it for a rainy day. here's the link if you say yes.

jen said...

Am still waiting anxiously for the cowboy part. Is in the vein of "cowboy up and do it bitch!"---sort of like a western nike ad or something.


i've been drinking. :o)