Career Day

by marinashifrin

“A TOAST!” Leslie yelled, smashing her butter knife against a mimosa glass. It’s 1PM on New Year’s Day and I have yet to go home and yet to stop drinking. “To the Apocalypse! Let’s quit our jobs, spend our money, and have the greatest year of our lives!”

Two weeks later I quit my job and decided to have the greatest year of my life.

February 9, 2012 8:13 AM: in one minute my bloodshot eyes will open and realize it’s 8:14 AM — putting me 23 minutes late for Career Day at Manhattan’s School for Global leaders. I’d barely even have time to regret that last shot of whisky.

Simultaneously brushing my teeth, and the hummus out of my hair, I searched for the perfect I’m-unemployed-but-you-should-still-listen-to-my-advice outfit (which, as it turns out, doubles as a coffee shop barista outfit).Two weeks and eight days prior to February 9th I’d officially given my two weeks notice at my first, real world job. 

I tip-toed around the irony and silently slipped through the front door as not to awaken my anxiety; I’m going to Career Day without a career.

Hello Morning! I broke into a full sprint – 47 minutes late and counting. I texted my friend, the teacher who requested I come speak to the school about my “career” to let her know I’d be 5 minutes late.

Rolling into a middle school 59 minutes late and smelling of whisky is a surefire way to solidify your status as a struggling writer (I was one cigarette away from really completing the look). Career Day is exactly what it sounds like, a time for 12 year-olds to ask adults unintentionally existential questions — consequently causing the adults to re-think all of their life decisions. I’m going to skip over most of it, and instead replicate every Q&A session I’ve had for the past three weeks:

(Friend/Stranger Who Overheard Me at the Bar or Subway/Grandma/Ex-Coworkers/College Peers): You quit your job?

Me: Yup.


Me: I don’t like working.

FSGEC: What will you do for money?

Me: I don’t know. My main concern right now is which kind of bagel I’m going to eat for lunch (egg, toasted, with chive cream cheese).

FPGEC: Okay, well…with this economy…

Me: polite nodding

FSGEC: So, what now?

Me: I live, I guess.

Here’s the thing guys; it’s not rocket science. I didn’t like what I did for 10 hours a day so I stopped doing it. A lot of people ask me what I do now that I don’t have a job. The answer? I work my ass off. Whoever said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” probably really loved accounting or dentistry.

If you love creativity you will work for the rest of your life. You will take low-paying freelance projects to cover your rent, you will babysit at night for alcohol money, you will waitress to get a discount on food. You will have time to write, paint and create. You will be tired. You will be poor. You will be happy (more or less).

“If you weren’t working the job you have now, what would you do?” A 7th grader asked. Keep up, we’re back at career day.

The other three women on my panel uncomfortably laughed and looked at each other.

“I think I’d be a playwright.” The children’s theater production manager was first to answer.

“I studied art in college, so I’d probably be a painter.” The Macy’s Marketing Coordinator followed.

“I’ve always wanted to be a published poet.” The CBS International Director said.

My turn. I’d do stand up and celebrate my successes by drinking whisky with strangers until 4AM. I’d wake up early the next day to tell children they CAN be whoever they want to be (with a little hard work and a proper education). I’d buy plane tickets to San Francisco and Austin. I’d foster a puppy. I’d dance. I’d pick up an instrument. I’d cry. I’d fail and succeed. I’d worry later. Best of all, I would write about all of it in my little blog.

“I’d do this.” The unemployed writer said.

Lesson #23: Don’t quit your day job, with this economy…