Sunday, September 13, 2009

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 13

# 13 - "Get a good job and stay there."
This has to be one of the very few things my mother taught me a million times with which I beg to differ. When I think about all the adventures I would have missed ... but on the other hand, I guess I could have avoided a few heartaches too, and retired with a great income, several years ago.

I have done so many different things in my life - the thought of doing the same job for 40 years makes me cringe! Let's see, I've been a rancher and a school teacher. I worked as a secretary for the guy that owns all the Schlotzsky's in Austin, because it paid better than being a school teacher.

Then I became the unemployment compensation manager for the University of Texas System, traveling all over the state. Then I worked in human resources for an Oil Company that eventually went belly up during one of the many bust. From there, I managed a dude ranch in New Mexico, an adventure involving murder, Patty Hurst, and a survivalists commune, that deserves it own post/story. Click on Read More Below...

I remember, when I was interviewing for a job as an assistant to Bob Honts, then county commissioner, He said, "I've got to go back on the dais, you have two minutes to tell me why I should hire you." To which I replied, "I have an above average intelligence, more energy than I know what to do with, and a low tolerance for boredom." "OK, will you take the job for this amount," he said, pointing to a wage scale that was in such small print that I paused and squinted, causing him to then say, "OK, how about this much," which was several thousands more per year. That began a rather crazy but amazing adventure in power and politics with a guy that was really just too smart for his own good.

Then Bruce Todd came in as the new county commissioner and had the good sense to keep me until he got the lay of the land, which didn't take long, as evidence by the fact that he also quickly figured out that I was a little too wild, and a political nightmare waiting for a place to happen. Bob Honts thrived on political nightmares, so that wasn't an issue for him. Bruce brilliantly suggested that I was too smart to stay in a job that had become beneath me, saying that I could do better.

Fortunately, a couple of days later, friend, Barbara Vacker Cook (at the time married to Mayor Lee Cook), asked me to apply for a position as Executive Director of Keep Austin Beautiful, which I did, and got. The best thing about that job was that it was a stepping stone to becoming the ED of Keep Texas Beautiful, which put me in the middle of the Don't Mess With Texas Campaign, and again took me all over Texas.

It was about this time that my kids were in Junior High and High School and I needed to be more available to attend their events, so it worked out great actually for me to step down from there to open Judge Orlinda Naranjo's County Court at Law office. This was interesting because I learned a lot about the law, courts, etc.

Then I saw a job at the Wildflower Center and thought it would be cool to work there, which it was - such a beautiful place to go to each day. Then I was asked to apply for the Director of Development position at the Center for Child Protection and that was no contest. Helping abused children? Of course.

OK, this is getting monotonous, so lets just say that I think I was heading towards where I always really wanted to be, which is writing, and staying out of offices, meetings and events. What many of you don't know about me is that I'm a closet recluse. Not sure if that is an oxymoron or if it is redundant, but you know what I mean. I can do "social" in spades, but it is never my first choice, so sitting at my computer, alone, all day, just writing, suits me perfectly. And perhaps in a round about way, this brings us back to mom's lesson #13 that she taught me a million times.

When she said "Get a good job and stay there," perhaps she meant, do what you love and keep doing what you love. So, mom was right.

When my son Colt was about 12-13 years old and I was about 40, he asked me what I was going to be when I grew up. After pausing for a moment of irony, I told him I wasn't sure. When Colt was 33 and worrying about why he hadn't figured out just exactly what he wanted to do with his life, I reminded him that it wasn't until I was 50 years old that I finally figured it out.

People talk about finding your true self. I don't think we are born with a "true" self, I think we build a true self. I think it is the life that we dabble in and sometime stumble over that creates the person we really want to be - our true selves.



  1. Loved this blog! I didn't figure out what I wanted to "be" until 50 either, so don't worry Colt! L/Doob

  2. My Dearest Friend, Sueann.

    This blog was extremely special for me. It was so wonderfully written and so true to heart. I am so blessed to have been in your life since 1978 -- many years sharing directly in the live action, both good and bad, and other times with you in spirit every single day.

    To readers of Sueann's blog, let me give you one example of this Lady's strength of character. Seventeen years ago, when I was battling cancer, I moved to Houston temporarily to be treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Bald as an eagle, withering away on chemo, and fighting a very scary battle, the outcome of which was highly uncertain, I received many wonderful cards, floral arrangements, and phone calls from the dozens -- actually hundreds -- of dear friends with which I am blessed to have in my life. A very special soul sister, Sueann, however, took it a step further, as always. She put her extremely hectic life on hold to personally come to me and be by my side. Together we enjoyed the dog races in Galveston, fondly remembered old times, laughed, and silently cried. Sueann slept by my side that night. I will never forget.

    This is only one tiny example of Sueann’s very kind heart and willingness to be vulnerable. One of the side effects of my cancer treatments is a limitation with regard to computer keyboarding. Having exceeded that limit for now, I will not share more stories in this venue. But, rest assured, they all reside safely, sweetly, and permanently, deep in my heart.



  3. You are a dear person Annie-Fannie!