50-48 – Jane of All Trades


When I was just out of college I got a job with the US Navy’s MWR** department as a child development associate. In order to be considered for this entry level, teaching assistant, minimum wage job, I needed to fill out a Department of Defense job application. I needed to provide ALL of my jobs and ALL of my addresses for the past ten years. As a newly minted college grad, the amount of jobs and addresses I had (a new one every semester and every summer, sometimes two) led to an application that was well over forty pages long.

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to look back on this application – yes, I have a copy in my files in the basement – in order to fill out other applications and write resumes, and in looking over I saw the plethora of different things I’d done. Upon leaving the work force to stay home with my kids, I did a number of other things that added to my job list and my skill set.

I often feel like the second half of my title’s proverb – jack/jane of all trades, master of none.

I feel less than instead of focusing on the first half of the proverb – jane of all trades – expressing my vast experiences and using the culmination of everything I’ve learned continually in my life daily.

I didn’t work until my first year in college. I lived a privileged life. I don’t believe most of my friends had jobs in high school. I didn’t have an allowance, but I had everything I needed. I didn’t take advantage and ask for crazy things, like spring break in Cancun or a European adventure. I went to the movies and the diner, and I didn’t do that every day. I did work a disastrous weekend at a delicatessen, which still haunts my dreams.

My first “job” was an unpaid high school internship in a law firm. I did all the usual secretarial/receptionist work, and got to go to court with one of the lawyers to observe. The other women in the office were very kind to me and I did learn a lot before I went to college to a pre-law/political science major.

When I changed majors two years later to elementary education, I did other unpaid internships in schools as a student teacher. I even got paid three times to substitute locally before I graduated.

At college, I worked as a Bio Research Assistant, which consisted of cleaning petri dishes and putting equipment in cupboards. I was also “campus security” for my dorm. I sat at the door overnight with another student and signed residents and guests in and out after the doors were locked for the night.

In the summers, I had an extraordinarily long list of retail and receptionist positions: Alexander’s* for inventory, Gimbel’s*, Kids R Us, Curtain Country*, Herman’s Sporting Goods*, JoAnn Fabrics,  as a temp for several offices. I also made and sold jewelry as a member of the SCA***.

In teaching, I taught for the US Navy program, a cooperative nursery school, day care at a college, Head Start as well as volunteering at my kids’ schools. As part of my teaching positions, I published parent resource newsletters.

I proctored the NYS Teachers’ Exams for several years.

I became a direct sales consultant for Creative Memories, a company that taught the techniques and sold products for scrapbooking.

I taught a tax class for other direct sales consultants.

I babysat.

I published a Travel Organizer chapbook.

I’ve been crafting this website and I think I’ve finally found a rhythm.

I’ve volunteered in ministries with my church in their adult enrichment, adult initiation rites, and day of service groups.

I wrote for a parenting newspaper, and then began to seriously freelance write. I’m currently working on two books: one on our home buying experience (horrible) and one on my travel/pilgrimage to North Wales (amazing). I’m also considering a book on my spiritual journey since I’ve begun attending church services and my conversion.

I have article submissions in process for The Sun Magazine and Vox.

So many things and most of them come back to writing.

Jane of all trades. I can use that.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

*since closed or out of business

**Morale, Welfare and Recreation

***Society for Creative Anachronism

A St. Patrick’s Day Memory


I’ve always been drawn to the Irish, all Celts really. The Irish captured my heart throughout childhood and college until my spirit finally fled to Wales. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, though and because of that, I will tell you one or two of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day college stories:

I went to college in a college town. Small semi-rural community with two colleges, fifty-two bars and no curfew.

One year, as usual I was underage (they raised it on my birthday), so I became the designated driver. We went to Murphy’s on the other side of town. You actually needed a car to get there; the buses didn’t run that far. We sat, they drank, and as the designated driver, I got free Cokes. At some point I was asked for my driver’s license, which I gave to the cute bartender.

He looked at it three times and exclaimed rather loudly, “Why did you give me this?! I can’t serve you!”

“But I’m not drinking!”

I had to leave and the bartender was pretty upset that I took my four friends, who were paying for their drinks, with me.

Green beer was a big thing at my college, but not in the capital where four of us were student teaching. My friend Mike and I whined (and whined) about green beer until the other two piled us into the car and drove us the 72 miles to our college town for green beer, and then back in the wee hours of the morning, but still in time for us to student teach.

We were warmed over yuck but we were there as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as we could manage. All of us that is except for Mike, who had the day off and presumably was still in bed.




There are things that stand out in my mind, a quick memory that jumps to another, a smell, the feeling of a particular fabric on your skin.

My first trip overseas was to the United Kingdom. It was 1986/1987 and my college roommate was student teaching in England. She asked me to meet her there and then we would travel together for winter break and afterwards return to school together.

It came at a perfect time, that if any one thing had been different, I would have turned her down. Luckily for me the stars were aligned in my favor, and the trip literally changed much of my life.

She asked me what I wanted on the itinerary, and I believe my response was: Stonehenge and a Castle. Everything else was her choice. I didn’t care as long as I got to see Stonehenge and a Castle.

There is much to tell that happened during these almost-three weeks, but when I put my request for a prompt and I limited it to seven choices, and People: Edinburgh was chosen.

We barely spent any time in Edinburgh, but it truly was the people who stand out in my memory.

For one thing, I’m weak-kneed for a Scottish accent. And bagpipes…… Completely unrelated, but I visited a Gettysburg battlefield at the same time as Bike Week and one of the riders got off his Harley and started playing the bagpipes. It was one of the most moving feelings I have ever experienced. The memory still manages to choke me up. Sorry for the digression.

I’ve always been a tremendous fan of Scotland and the Celtic people.

In the summer before the trip, we both (my roommate and I) worked at a camp that had an entire group of British exchange students, and one of them was Clive A. Clive was the canoe specialist and he and I embarrassingly started a food fight in the dining hall. It was disgusting and we both got in serious trouble and I couldn’t drink orange juice for almost a year afterwards, but it was one of our bonding moments. And I was one of three people who could understand him through his thick Scottish accent.

Our trip from Pitlochry to Edinburgh was somewhat eventful, although not as eventful as Edinburgh to London, but still. The snow had begun falling before we got on the train, and once we’d arrived in York, the snow turned to mush in a country that didn’t know what to do with mush. Trains were delayed, but eventually we made it into the city to meet up with Clive.

On our way, we ran into an Aussie fellow we met on the train in Wales.

This was January and so the hostellers were a small group. We didn’t run into the same people, but we did meet a couple, stay a bit, change hostels with them, meet a couple more and then trade. It was neat. We met Peter in Bangor, went our separate ways. Actually we were ion the same train. At Perth, we went on to Pitlochry and he changed for Aberdeen. I was indeed surprised to find him later on that evening in Pitlochry, and the next morning he came with us to Edinburgh.

The Scottish hostels were a bit different than the English and the Welsh ones we’d been used to up until now. For one thing, the Scottish curfew was 2am rather than eleven or midnight. Scottish hostels also did not provide silverware; you were supposed to carry your own, and we did not know that. They were kind enough to let us borrow. Also in Scotland, we, as women, were not automatically served a half-pint like we were in England and Wales. In Scotland, we got a full pint, and for me who didn’t drink that much, but soon discovered the wonder that is hard cider didn’t really pay attention to the size of the glass other than to be marveled that I was given a pint in Scotland. It was very exciting.

Not to mention that by this time the drinking age in NY was 21 (raised on my birthday, the bastards!), so my first legal drink was received in the UK.

Clive took us to three places, but the only one I remember the name of was Preservation Hall. He’d said it was named for the one in New Orleans. *shrug* I didn’t know. He and my roommate seemed to be in charge and that was fine for Peter and me. We tagged along like wayward puppies, following as Clive searched streets for a working ATM. They weren’t on every street corner in 1987, and it took a little time for him to get some cash.

We laughed and talked and drank and three and a half pints later we stumbled out.

The next thing I knew Peter and I were put on the taxi queue, given an address to get us back to the hostel before the curfew and my roommate and friend left me there.

We stood for a moment or two and decided we could find our way back before curfew, and we didn’t need to pay for a taxi. Thinking back, that was probably one of the stupidest things I’ve done. I met this guy three or so days earlier and so we wandered down the streets.

By now it was snowing, and Peter, being from Australia had never seen snow, but this wasn’t just any kind of snow I told him; this was fairy snow. The kind that lightly dusted your hair, and sparkled in the lamplight. We sat on a snow covered bench beneath the Edinburgh Castle that was lit up for the evening and watched the magical snow glitter and glimmer, twinkling in competition with the stars against the blackness of the Scottish sky, the only light one or two lamps and the castle far above us.

It was sweet and cozy as we walked hand in hand, stumbling down one street and then another, not even knowing what we were missing by not having a cell phone or a nav system, but we made it.

Right before curfew. We came in as the warden was about to lock up, although he was kind enough to ask about my other friend, and I said she wouldn’t be back.

We found a warm spot next to a crackling fireplace and left drips where the snow melted off our woolens, our hair spraying water on each other like a dog might when he comes in from the rain.

Peter and I stayed up most of the night in case my roommate needed us to open the door for her, but he was right about that being futile and I didn’t see her until the morning when she woke me for the train back to London.

Peter and I said goodbye until our pen pal letters started up once he was home and that lasted several years.

A two hour delay, sitting on a moving train car that was only moving for me and my hangover, a crick in my neck from how I fell asleep on my rucksack, wondering why we weren’t in London, an amusing conductor who was much funnier than he should have been sober and snow, snow, snow, and wondering if we’d even get back to the United States because flights were being cancelled left and right.

Finally, we were heading to London, but we weren’t able to sit together. I ended up with a man named Kevin. Scottish, but he needed to show up at the military something in London to check in and then turn around and go home. Didn’t make much sense to me, but we had a nice chat the entire way to London. He was short and had very small hands, and I’m not sure why that stands out in my mind. We also talked about the Scottish money – the pound note, well all of them that doesn’t have a picture of the Queen on them. There was a shortened history lesson of Scotland, and my roommate and I were back in Bishop’s Stortford hoping to get on the plane the next morning, and Kevin and Peter were just happy memories.


Amazon.com: Creating Transcripts for Your Unique Child: Help Your Homeschool Graduate Stand Out from the Crowd (Coffee Break Books) eBook: Lee Binz: Kindle Store



This is free today in the Amazon store for Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download their FREE reading app to your computer or phone.

This book looks interesting (I have not yet read it; I’m going by the description) for those non-traditional students who have had a unique education, not just for the homeschooled.

If you don’t have typical high school transcripts, I would definitely check it out.