The Wildness in Me

Musings

I attended the Cody Rodeo last night. I even purchased a season pass, so color me committed. I ate overly salted popcorn, drank apricot beer and gabbed with my girlfriend from the ranch. She’s the wrangler there and would whistle with bursts of enthusiasm for the riders while watching raptly.

The sky’s brightness and the summer heat diminished and I begun to get chilled in my sleeveless white sundress. I watched the cowboys get flung from bulls and cowgirls turning a sharp corner on horses full of sinewy grace in barrel racing. I sometimes leaned back and hardly noted the action, instead just noted how I felt, which was charmed and at home, and other times I sat in wonder over the difficulty of roping a moving calf.

I myself started practicing roping a few months back, and it is no easy feat. I can only rope a calf if it is plastic and held fast in a hay bale, three feet in front of me and unmoving—which obviously helps if the calf is plastic. The idea that these riders can be swiftly moving atop a horse, swinging their rope, and catch a high-tailing calf is astounding and worth a whistle. If I could in fact whistle, which I cannot.

I had just wrapped up my first week at the new ranch, full of cooking up cheesecakes, biscuits, baked chicken, and cleaning cabins, learning to saddle and getting swept up in windstorms.

I felt as though I had hardly taken much of a breath as the night before last I stumbled up the barn steps and fell into a deep sleep at 6:30, not awaking again until 6:30 the next morning.

I was trying to keep track of all the newness, which had caused me to feel so breathless. Baking in a big old Western abode befitting a feature in Western Horseman. Riding horses up the side of a canyon while my nostrils inhaled an intoxicating amount of sage; I swayed with the horse and the sweet intensity of the smell and my surroundings. I heaved saddles on and hefted them off and felt that I belonged to the West and saddles and painting posts and sagebrush and that I always had.

And then when I had time to catch my breath my best friend told me she would go into labor soon. She is having twins and we texted back and forth in excitement. But then it started creeping up to me again. That feeling that I have tried to shake for months, but won’t go away. That my egg count is dwindling and motherhood is very far away from me.

I suddenly felt guilty about gallivanting up mountainsides on horseback and cruising around in a golf cart with a cow dog by my side with the wind making my hair look like Marv from Home Alone—because it is short again and the curls are as wild as my spirit. I felt like I had done something selfish somewhere along the line choosing to be so footloose and fancy-free. Had I chosen the wrong path, though it had felt like the right one?

Would choosing this kind of wildness prevent me from ever having something I had always wanted which was children.

I fear this kind of thing may not disturb men too greatly, or maybe even young women, because I don’t ever recall considering my egg count until my thirtieth birthday started nearing. And now I am somewhat obsessed with terms like egg counts and geriatric pregnancies—which for the record was the term for women who got pregnant after 35—adoption and egg freezing.

After many a meltdown as my thirtieth inched closer, and I masochistically read mommy articles and cried, I made a vow to myself to knock it the fuck off, and enjoy my present moments of ranching, making cheese, learning to fly fish and saddle horses, without thoughts of my egg supply or a geriatric pregnancy.

But all this rushed to the forefront of my mind again, while my bestie spoke excitedly of the impending birth of her daughters. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, not portraying jealousy over her joy, while she consoled me that my time would come. I even marched on and went to the rodeo anyway, despite a sudden and distinct empty feeling in my uterus.

I watched the cowboys and tried not to picture little cowboy kids in my mind. I did anyway. I stared at the ropers and came back to my egg count. I looked at the running baby calves and tried to surmise if it were possible that I could live without children.

Which is when I turned and confessed all this to my very new friend who was very kind and understanding as I ranted about my barters with God: I will give up any lofty career aspirations and settle down as a respectable banker if it means I get to have babies. I mean it, God. I will stop being wild. Errr, I will try really hard to stop being wild, but I can’t make promises once the babies come, because I want them to ride horses, camp under the open Wyoming sky and go on whale watching adventures on the coast.

For some reason just admitting to my barters about being a banker in exchange for babies, while she laughed and said she understood, caused all the egg count and swaddled babies that I might never hold, and ideas that I could possibly be undeserving of a baby to disappear into the Western sky.

I stuck my hand back into the too-salted popcorn box, popping handfuls into my mouth and washing it down with my can of damn fine beer. The sky was a deep blue, yet the mountainous outlines were black against the blue, like a very fetching bruise.

I let out my breath again and decided I’d be okay. This was nice. The young wrangler girl was nice. And the rodeo sure was nice.

As we walked past all the corrals of animals upon leaving, I dreamily took in all their beauty. The wildness of the horses and bulls and even the baby calves struck me and I told my friend, “I want them all!” To which she laughed again and nodded, like why not?

Maybe, just maybe there will be a way for me to have the wildness, the West and little cowboys of my own. If I have learned how to saddle, make fresh cheese from scratch after milking a cow, not take my instructor’s eye out when learning to cast a fly line and rope a plastic calf, then I suppose anything is possible. At least, that’s what the West would have a girl like me believe.

The Man: Why He’s Not For Me

Musings

I am 27 years old and I have held nearly 27 jobs in my lifetime. I started working around 14, so you do the math. I have done in home care-giving for the elderly and cleaned poopy sheets. I have scrubbed floors and I have scrubbed urinals. I have waitressed and I have bartended. I have been a receptionist, and a bank teller, a barista, and a cashier. I have answered phones for an insurance company, and poured wine at a vineyard. I have been a babysitter and I have been a teacher. I have rolled out dough for breadsticks, made sub sandwiches at a breakneck pace and scooped out pasta salads. I have sold liquor and cigarettes at a party store. I have wiped bums, given baths to the old and to the young, shaved beards, clipped toenails, made breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, done laundry and given the heimlich. I have walked in on a guy in a bathroom just finishing up a line of cocaine. I have done it all. And yet I haven’t done enough.

I haven’t worked on a dude ranch or for the National Park Service. I haven’t been employed by National Geographic or Martha Stewart Living. I haven’t been an on-going extra on the set of Girls or been an assistant to a well-to-do executive who likes it when I accompany him to France. I haven’t been a railroad conductor or a farmer. I haven’t opened a bakery or a bookstore. I haven’t been a white-water rafting instructor or a circus performer. I haven’t worked on a lobster boat or saved the whales, though I did briefly try out to be in the Navy—I got cold feet over the lengthy commitment. Also why I bailed on the Peace Corps.

Of all the jobs I’ve held, I have fantasized about walking out of every single one of them. Jobs I’ve quit after 1-6 months—many. Jobs I’ve made it past a year anniversary—few. Am I lazy? Nope. Does every single boss I’ve ever had adore me? Yep. (Except this crazy Romanian at one, but honestly, it was her, not me. I’m a delight).

I wish I could say the problem was all the jobs, but no of course the problem is me. I know it’s me. I get so excited in the beginning. I think I have found the job that will finally bring me not only joy and contentment but a paycheck. I even pray and ask God if he’s not too busy to give me just this one job, this job that will beat all others, that will change the way I view work, please, pretty please God, let me have this job.

He gives it to me.

I jump for joy. I call everyone I know. Can you believe what luck? I wanted this job for so long! I always wanted to be a receptionist/waitress/barista! Think of the fun I will have when I am making coffee drinks! Think of the excitement I will have when I am answering and directing calls like those Mad Men secretaries. Think of the tips I will make when I show the world my friendly smile.

Fast forward. I hate it. It is loathsome. I am trapped and I need to find an exit strategy.

It’s not that I am simply too much of a gypsy, too much of an artsy soul, too much of a tree-hugger to be cooped indoors doing menial labor; it’s not that it’s beneath me and I can’t wash a dish or serve a beverage or make polite small talk; it’s not even that I can’t embrace the new change and try and excel at my new job; it’s that I truly despise working for The Man.

There have been a few times in life when I have not worked for The Man and I will tell you those have been my favorite jobs and my most beloved bosses (thanks for letting me blog at work, sleep in your coffee shop when my family got on my nerves, and take whole pots of flavored coffee to that guy I liked. And paying me to take your children to Henry Ford Museum, jump on the trampoline and dress like a Russian Fur Trapper all in the name of education. And wear my tall leather boots, tights and ratty cross t-shirt to work, not make me roll silverware at the end of the night and let me drink on the job. To those bosses, I salute you! Thank you for letting me be me).

It’s not even that I am ungrateful. I am very grateful for all the experiences and people I have met along the way, even the wretches because later when I am sharing horror stories with my friends, I win. The problem is that I am just not cut out to work for The Man. Truly I am not. It’s why I would probably do really well at one of those internet start-ups where they ride scooters, shoot nerf guns and have ice-cream machines in their employee lounge. They get it. They’re anti-the-man too. Except I probably wouldn’t be super good with all the techy stuff and I would eventually just want to be outside taking pictures of horses and bodies of water, so I’d end up quitting there too. It’s just who I am!

There’s a reason I’ve almost had more jobs than I have had years being alive. It’s because jobs are the pits and art in all its magnificent forms, including horses and God, is why I breathe. The reason why one of my favorite jobs included my getting to dress up like a Russian Fur Trapper was because I got to dress up like a Russian Fur Trapper! I mean honestly like I need to explain any more than that.

Tomorrow is Halloween and I am not allowed to dress up at my current job. This is bad. This is very bad. And does not bode well for said current job. I don’t know if you get it, but I really suspect Lena Dunham gets it.

I wonder if I can pretend cat ears are a headband? Also it should be noted that I did actually spend time today looking up train conductor jobs. Why? Because why fucking not?