Monthly Archives: July 2008

Thoughts on Grad School

With a private massage practice, factoring 3 clients/day (accounting for no shows and sick days), 5 days/week, leaving myself 4 weeks of vacation, I stand to make around 40k/year. Of course, a crapload of that goes to self-employment taxes, but even so, if we keep out of serious debt, my family doesn’t need more than that from me.

The problem is, when the economy really sinks, no matter how mainstream massage is becoming, I believe that it will always be seen by most as a luxury. And, as much as we MTs might like to think massage is this life-saving thing that everyone needs, for most it is a luxury. Helpful, wonderful, healing, sure. Everyone likes a good back rub, but when people are struggling to buy groceries and gas, people fire their housekeepers and massage therapists at about the same rate.

If I’m going to put all the time, energy and money into a graduate degree, I’m going into a field that allows for job security, management opportunity, and an income of 60k or more. It also needs to be something I feel good about doing, something that I will enjoy studying and practicing.

I’m considering an advanced degree in nursing, and becoming a Nurse Practitioner. I have a knack and love for learning the ways of the human body, so that’s a start. Nurses are in high demand, and probably will never want for enough jobs. I could specialize in women’s health, or even go into midwifery (nurse midwives in Louisville? 80k average). It’s still hands-on – in fact, Nurse Practitioners do a lot of the things doctors do. Plenty of opportunities to run things and boss people around. And, once I’ve slogged through what would probably end up being 4 years of school, I can apply my holistic approach to Western medicine, and do a lot of people a lot of good.

I’m nowhere near close to settled on it. I just don’t know what all is out there. I could describe a thousand working class jobs, but I just don’t have a clue as to what the Other guy does. Any ideas? How does one research what job to go after? My career future is a wonderfully blank canvas. I may still live off the grid and shoot squirrels for dinner.


My Trip to the 5th Dimension

Just when they were getting ready to promote me to supervisor, I’m quitting the market research job. This is my last week. Tomorrow night they’re having a party for me and another coworker, an old hardworking country-loving Texan who I call Handsome and who calls me Good Lookin’, who has been working there for an eternity. We’re both quitting to spend more time with our kids. He, closer to the end of his life; me, closer to the beginning of Rocky’s.

I’ve learned two things at that job. One, I really, really like supervising people. Two, I really, really need to be around people so I don’t go crazy. Three, ok, there are three, I don’t detest an office job as much as I thought I would. In fact, it’s a nice change after a long day on my feet. And learning computer programs is . . . well, it’s fun. Don’t quote me on that. After all, I’m supposed to love having dirt under my nails, being from the farm and all.

Speaking of deeply ingrained belief systems, my incredible, amazingly tough therapist (lets call her Doc from now on) spent the last couple’s session, the entire hour, letting me and Rukan in on her plans for our future. Apparently, I’m going to grad school, and I’m going into management. “You are a talented leader, Blue, and you’re very smart. Don’t let it go to waste.” According to her plan, I will at some point be joining the professional class, making 75-90k/year. Uh, what?

I know, right? To her credit, she’s right about me – many of you have not had a chance to get to know this part of me, but I am a natural leader. Always have been. If I weren’t so emotionally stunted, I’d be running people’s lives right now. In the right settings, my peers look to me for leadership. And I am smart. I’ve never really believed that. Both of those Blue-facts have come into the light in the past year.

Then Doc told me what I’d be getting my advanced degree in, and my jaw literally dropped. Big-biz marketing? City planner? Poli-sci?

After a few moments watching my stunned silence, Doc chuckled and said, “close your mouth, honey.”

“But I hate politics. And marketing. And Doc, city planner? I mean, really?”

What followed was an enlightening conversation that has cracked my head clean open. Have you ever heard the one about the creatures living in a 2-dimensional world, who have no idea there’s a much bigger, 3-dimensional world out there, until something from the 3rd dimension bumps into them? You just have no concept of anything beyond your scope of reality. Unless something bumps into you, and you are able to open your mind to another reality.

The reality of my family is that we’re artists, musicians, writers, truck driving hippies and edgy women with dirt under our nails. Inheritors of a fortune made by our privateering ancestors, we have gone to school and become educated, not to make more money, but to better the world through the hands-on work we do for little pay. Our inheritance now gone, my generation is facing a recession which I believe will mark the end our nation’s high ride. What goes up must come down, and we’re going to crash hard.

I’m a survivalist like my Dad and brother. I’m going to learn to hunt, and grow chickens, veggies, herbs and fruit on my acre of Kentucky. Seriously, don’t laugh, I have been talking to people about teaching me to shoot, and I believe I might actually learn to aim, shoot, kill, haul, gut, prepare and eat wild game within a few years. I’m going to build skills with which I can trade for needed services and items. I’m going to live off the grid. That’s what we in my family do when there’s trouble in the wind.

Then Doc cracked my head open a little more. She offered me a peek into a new dimension. She said, “you have a prejudice toward the professional class. It’s time to get over it.” I thought about it for a moment. I have a deep commitment to honoring my family and its way of life. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, I believe my family’s way, the way of dirt under your nails and helping others for little pay, is the only really honorable way to live. And thus my prejudice.

So . . . my family’s way of life . . . is . . . not . . . the . . . only . . . right . . .

. . . way. Heaving of bosom, catching of breath.

Doc pointed out that when we’re no longer on the margin, when I’m making the money I’m capable of, I’ll be able to help people more. Yes, but, but . . . I don’t wanna grow up and be responsible! I don’t wanna sacrifice! I don’t wanna leave my comfort zone! Mama, tell them to stop cracking my head open!

Rukan, with a new kind of gleam in her eye, added, “We won’t have the worry over our heads of Rocky’s college, or our retirement. We won’t have to worry about how to pay for Rocky’s cardiologist visits. We can travel.” She was getting excited, seeing, for the first time, that we could have a different future than that we’d always expected for ourselves. Then she said The Big Thing.

“Blue, if you go to grad school, I’ll be right behind you. I’ll go to college.”


But, you hate school. You’re school-phobic. You swore you’d never go back. You are the epitome of hands-on helping, my rock-solid working-class goddess. And hell, you don’t even think you can pass the National Massage Exam.

“Yeah, I’ll pass it.”

So Doc’s got Rukan inspired enough to turn toward college, and I’m floating in the 5th dimension, staring around me in shock and awe and fear and – what’s that? A little piercing ray of excitement. I think Doc must write Obama’s speeches.

“You can still have chickens,” said Rukan.

Behold the flashing lights

I dreamed I was a k.d. lang lookalike drag king, and I woke up with a migraine.

Bathroom Conversation, Contributed by Rukan

Rocky: Mommy?

Rukan: Yes?

Rocky: I like watching my poo come out.

Rukan: That’s cool.

Rocky: When my poo hangs, I like that.

Rukan: Oh yeah? Why’s that?

Rocky: It makes me look like I have a penis.

Rukan (holding back from cracking up): Yeah, I can see why you would think that.

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The Nose Knows

When you’re sitting at the head of a massage table, you get an odd perspective on people that few get to see. Even very tall people would have to stand behind a shorter person, and crane over the top of them to look down from the crown of their head. Many massages later, my Very Important Observation is: most people’s noses are off to one side. Not right in the middle, at all. They point slightly leeward, a little starboard, anywhere but straight ahead. You usually can’t tell from the front.

When I was a wee young lass, I had a teacher who had a long, sharp nose, like a pointed beak, the tip of which wiggled up and down when she talked. I wonder if she noticed.

Rukan would like to add that people’s right and left nostrils never quite match.

Message from God, or just plain old bad hygiene?

Preface: Please check out the Readers’ Poll at the bottom.

I smell like a citronella candle. Citronella and lemongrass, a little bottle of Burt’s Bees insect repellent I found in my bathroom stuff. To ward off the bedbugs, which had disappeared for a while and have since returned. I guess the eggs hatched. In any case, Rukan, who is usually an insect beacon and thus protects me, like flypaper, from getting bitten, is dressed in: a long sleeved flannel shirt, buttoned at the neck and wrists, tucked into: thick sweatpants, tucked into: thick socks. Did I mention it’s summer in Texas, and we don’t keep our AC on at night? She’s sleeping, somehow . . . should I take a picture and post it? She would murder me. I think I’ll choose life over art.

I gave my notice at my night job, the market research company. I’m very disappointed to have to go, since I actually like the job quite a bit. It’s the only thing in my life that uses my brain. But I need family time back. I need to spend evenings with Rocky. I need to not have four jobs.

Not that the four jobs amounted to overtime, really – usually 35-45 hours a week, including the baby we watch. It’s that it’s four jobs. I work two ten hour days, and one 13 hour day, going to two workplaces in a day; my other days are split up between housekeeping, nannying and market research. Oh, and chores. And business calls. And the fact that I’m diagnosably ADD and become forgetful, unfocused and generally angst-ridden when my life is disorderly. My grandfather, who was the same way, used to say, “I have a one track mind with eight tracks playing at once.” And so it is.

So, to come back around to my original reason for posting, before I got distracted, we’re taking these three days to battle the bedbugs. In addition to cleaning thoroughly and bug-proofing the stuff that needs it, Rukan and I are purging our house and packing for the move. It’s happening. We have a date. February 1st, the day after Ev’s birthday. Enough time to make a chunk of money for the move and for three months’ bills when we arrive in the Homeland, and maybe some to put toward a down payment on a house, eventually. The good news is, Louisville housing is affordable for us. The other good news is, Louisville massage therapists don’t make that much less than here, so we’ll still be making a decent living. The great news is, once I have an established clientele, the $300 I make sharing my 15 clients/week with the Massage Pimp will translate to $900/week in my private practice.

In other news, and on a lighter note, except not really, I keep getting clients with big belly buttons, and lint stuck in them. Reader’s poll: if it was a sign from God, what would be her message?