Fitting in – or not.

For most of my life I felt that I didn’t fit in. I was smarter than the average girl allowed herself to be and wasn’t afraid to show it. I loved math and science, and arts and languages, and music and art, and history and geography. And this was in the early 60s when it was thought that girls couldn’t do math and science and shouldn’t do it anyway, because women were supposed to be wives and mothers. The educational system in the UK decreed that everyone take an exam at 11 to get ‘sorted’ into academic or vocational schools; I went to an academic high school. The only problem was that after two years of taking every subject, we had to pick either arts or sciences. My dad went to bat for me and I was able to take a combination – probably the only person in the school to do that.

Senior year in high school, all my classmates had their plans made; I had no idea what I wanted to do. My mom convinced me I had always wanted to be a nurse, and since I didn’t have any better ideas, and since I won a small scholarship, I went to nursing school.

I worked in nursing for about 20 years. I was miserable almost the whole time. I would get bored with what I was doing and bounced around from specialty to specialty spending a year or two at a time in one area. But after 20 years, I was totally burned out. Still not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, I meandered into accounting. It was difficult to find a job because nobody would believe I wanted to leave nursing. I was fortunate enough to land a job, with some pull from someone I knew who believed in me.

My employer paid for me to take a couple of computer classes in the late 80s, and I came alive. I took more classes, and 7 years later had earned an MA.  So then I was the proud owner of an AA in Business, a BA in English with a minor in Geology, and an MA in American Indian Studies. So now what? Are we seeing a pattern here? The first job I found was in – Accounting – where I’ve been ever since.

But there’s more to the story. I discovered that once I learned the job and knew everything I needed to know, I was bored. Excruciatingly bored. And it usually took anywhere from one to two years.

Then I found a book; a magical book; that changed my life. I discovered that what I thought was my inability to stick to anything had a name, and it didn’t mean there was something wrong with me! I am a Scanner and the book is Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. Other people have called us Renaissance Persons, dilettantes, jills-of-all-trades. We have many names, but there is nothing wrong with us. Our brains just work a little differently; we learn what we need or want to learn and move on.

Phew! That’s a lot of information. More later.

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Music

I love music; it can match my mood or change it depending on what I’m listening to. It can also calm me and distract me; make me laugh and make me cry.  I listen to a lot of different music from classical to rock to reggae to jazz, folk, and bluegrass. There are times I want to listen to something in particular; there are other times I enjoy putting my iPod on shuffle and just listening to whatever comes up. William Congreve, in his poem The Mourning Bride, written in 1697, said:  “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” (Often misquoted as to soothe a savage beast!)
In movies, the music can signal what is coming – the rising crescendo in a horror movie for example, or the plaintive melody that accompanies a sad ending. These same pieces of music can affect us whenever we hear them, perhaps calling to mind the particular scene in the movie. Or perhaps we can hear a song that reminds us of what we were doing when we heard it. Or perhaps the song just moves us in a particular way. My most favorite song of all time is “Unchained Melody”, but only when sung by the Righteous Brothers; any other rendition doesn’t move me like their version of it.
My favorite blue-mood music is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. But again there are several different versions of this piece; my favorite has real bells and cannon. Somehow, the electronic simulations of bells and cannon take away from the piece. One of my favorite memories of the 1812 is attending a Fourth of July concert on the levee in Baton Rouge when the kids were young. The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra played perfectly; the bells and cannon were perfectly synchronized. I remember getting goose bumps and tearing up at the perfection of the piece. I still listen to the 1812 if I am particularly depressed and need some uplifting.
My tastes in music are admittedly eclectic; I love hearing new artists and new pieces. I may not like them, but at least I gave them a try. Life is sort of like that; unless we venture out into uncharted waters, how do we know what we will like? I know too many people who just say, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t like that’! How do they know unless they try? I think their minds are closed to new experiences; they prefer to stay where they are and be ‘safe’. How boring that would be for me!