Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Road of Life

My last post got me to thinking about "The Road of Life."

You know "The Road." We read about it in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." We use terms like, "Well, that was a bump in the road," for when life gets a little tough. We talk about, "He's on Easy Street," or we take a trip "Down Memory Lane."

Life really is a Road Trip!

I just wasn't given a map though...

Some people are given maps at an early age. It directs them right from the hospital where they're born, onto a highway ramp, onto the interstate for a couple of miles (not far...) and directly to a certain destination. And there they stay. Their parents, grandparents, (and even further back), know this place well. They know all the people, the best restaurants, parking, local events... Heck, their ancestors even built a lot of the foundations and buildings!

That's some people. And, here's one of their maps:

I did have some sense of direction when I was young. I knew, like all my older sisters, that I was going to go to college. So, for my first 21 years, I focused on school. That was my goal, my destination, my path... my road.

But, after college? I was told, "You can do whatever you want!"

Here was my map:

(Drawn, by me, on the back of my Rutgers diploma
I received in Communications/Journalism...)

I didn't have a clue! All my friends from Rutgers already had their jobs lined up three months BEFORE we graduated. Me? I spent the entire summer after graduation in my friend Jeff's parents' "Rec Room" watching MTV...

(You remember "Rec Rooms"? They're now called "Family Rooms" ever since the 90's McMansions building craze.)

I did internships in college to get a feel for what I wanted to do. I worked in the research department of WNEW-TV (now FOX-TV). I didn't like the screaming, crying, and firing atmosphere going on in the news room. I actually had a news director SCREAM in my face - literally six inches from my nose - for several minutes until someone told him I was "just an intern." He then screamed, "THEN WHY THE HELL AM I TALKING TO HER!!!!" and stormed away.

Then, shortly after my lost summer, my friend from R.U., Alice, got me an interview at Woman's Day Magazine. (I worked with her at the Rutgers newspaper - The Daily Targum - as a cartoonist). So, I got my first paying job in their art department as the Art Director's assistant.

I paid all the art department's bills. I really didn't know what I was doing. When they told me on the interview I'd be "doing invoices" I said, "Ok." Then I went home and asked my mother what an "invoice" was...

But, I liked what the other people in the art department were doing - layout design! I didn't want to go back to college to get an art degree (especially since my parents wouldn't pay for it...) so I did what any normal 23 year old would do. I packed a suitcase, grabbed my Snoopy phone and moved to L.A.


I didn't know anyone. I didn't have a job. I'd been there ONCE for a week. But, I always had a dream of going there (I LOVED The Beach Boys and all the 60's surfer movies)...

I still miss Annette...

I landed a job hand-painting clothes in Venice Beach. I got paid PER piece. The first day I painted two shirts. The next day I did three or four. That's ONE DOLLAR a shirt. At the end of that week the store's accountant came back to where I was painting and told me, "Honey, you're going to starve." By the end of the first month I was painting about 50 a day!

But, the store's owner was a whacko (go figure... a whacko in L.A.!) and the job only lasted about seven months. By the end of the year I was broke. I sold my "vintage" orange VW Bug, packed up Snoopy and moved back to Jersey.

To La La Land and back. 

So, I was back in Jersey, living in my sister's spare bedroom in the basement and wondering, "Where am I?" And, more importantly, "Where am I going?"

There were so many roads to choose...

And I still didn't have a map.

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