“What Do You Do?”

January 3rd, 2014

skirt biz card

The scary thing and the wonderful thing is that I no longer have a simple answer for this question. After leaving a job I thought would always be my passion, my calling, my alter ego, my reason for getting up in the morning, I’m going to have to relearn what I want instead of coasting on what I do. I am newly hatched. I don’t have a resume. My deadlines are self-imposed. My old business cards have been recycled.  I am open to being a stranger to myself for awhile, but if someone asks me at a party what I do, what will I say? That I’m a night owl and reluctant riser?  That I’d rather read cookbooks than cook? That if I have a religion, it’s poetry? That I love the sound of wind chimes on a wild winter night, the bell that rings in It’s a Wonderful Life when a fairy gets its wings, a mournful country song on a solitary road trip,  logs settling in a wood fire? That I dream of living in the country, but only if there’s a Starbucks nearby? That I’m easily distracted by bright shiny things and multiple conversations going on  around me? That I can’t not write? That if I lost all my music, I’d be lost? There’s no job description for any of that, or at least not one that you can present at a networking event. It’s a rare and remarkable circumstance to be suddenly standing in your life without a predictable identity that can be summed up on a business card or used to reassure yourself when the world shit-kicks you into self-doubt. I’m terrified and grateful at the same time. I know in the months ahead there will be times when I will regret my decision, worry about money, wonder what my purpose is, worry about money and long for my old routine. But how many chances do we get to start over by choice, to find out who we are instead of what we do, to have the whole world open before us in the same way it did when we first left home? In his poem The Laughing Heart, Charleston Bukowski wrote, “be on the watch. the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them.” I hope that’s what I’m doing.

8 Responses to ““What Do You Do?””

  1. Susan Parsons says:

    Ah, Nikki,
    You express this so eloquently. Stay in your body, and when it leans toward something or opens to something, you’ll know it’s right. I continue to admire you and thank you for letting me in on your ride.


  2. Nikki, take the time, read the poems, listen to the logs settling. Out of the peace and calm will arise the direction. That you already know.

    How wonderful that in the season where sprint gestate you are growing a new self.

  3. Well that should be where spring gestates…do please edit…

  4. Skip Johnson says:

    I did that 20-plus years ago, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. It changed my life and opened a whole new way of living. It was scary, but I never regretted it. Best wishes to you…

  5. Veronica says:

    I felt that way when I went to Belgium and left behind all the touchstones of my identity, and to a lesser extent, I felt that way this year when I shut down all my Web sites and ceased to identify myself as a “writer and artist” or “public relations professional” when asked.

    The good part is this: I now refuse to accept or give single sentence answers to “what do you do,” which is really Social Code for “Who are you and where do you rank?”

    I now require others (and myself) to listen, observe, and learn. I refuse to be One Thing.

  6. Amey Warder says:

    You have so much to offer. Take your time and know there are many people, including me, who believe in you! We will patiently wait while you land, and can’t wait to see where your navigation steers you next. Enjoy!!

  7. Constance Costas says:

    Hi Nikki,
    I just shared your December post on FB. Loved it. As for ‘next steps’, it’s a challenge I’m still trying to figure out. For you, please congratulate yourself on the good work you did, the jobs you created for women, the fine example of what’s ‘right’ with print media that you created. It’s a monumental achievement. Savor that.
    These days, book editing and ghostwriting seems to have found me, but i wanted to share a story with you about an evening a Phyllis’–a launch party for Lee Knapp’s book:
    Everyone went around the room introducing themselves, complete with job titles and published works, etc. It was an impressive group of women. Then we got to Pat Funk who said:
    Hi, I’m Pat.
    I’ve tried writing, I’ve sold real estate, i’ve done this and that but, here’s who am: I’m just Pat.

    I thought it was the most profound introduction of the night! It’s become one of my favorite reassuring mantras: I’m Pat. I’m just Pat. And that is plenty.


  8. […] want to reblog this wonderful post found on FRIDAVILLE. “What Do You Do?”. Especially, please, please, click on the link to the poem by Charles Bukowski. Perhaps it will […]

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