When I started college, I was an international relations major with a focus on Slavic states. Yeah…bad idea. I mean, I speak French at a first-grade level. And they have the same alphabet as we do.
Kathleen, you wonder. What was your reasoning for such a horrendous career choice? I mean, have you met yourself?
Shut up, I reply. I had a very good reason.
I had a vision of myself as a State Department employee- tall, thin, young, rushing off to Kiev to broker some ridiculously important peace treaty while wearing an adorable fitted suit that would totally make some world leader fall madly in love with me and we’d have lots of ridiculously multilingual babies. Of course, I was an amazing traveler. I had the whole low-maintenance-chignon-for-on-the-plane down. Adorable matching understated luggage. Certainly never broke down crying in the ladies room of the Wright Brothers Museum because I was exhausted and do you have any idea how many freaking planes there are to be looked at in Ohio because I do oh God want to die.*
Obviously, this fantasy made very little sense. Let’s break it down.
Tall? I was 17. While I may not have been (or am) pleased with being 5′ 2″, chances are that wasn’t going to change ONCE I HIT MY TWENTIES. But we all know that I’m not a science person.
Thin? I was a…let’s say “stocky”…teenager. Most of my adolescent fantasies feature me waif-like. Because I’m shallow. Maybe if I’d stopped being shallow long enough to eat a veggie once in awhile, I would have been a little less…stocky.
Young? Yeah, they totally let the 23-year-old newbies broker peace agreements with Russia.
Okay, the whole world leader thing started when I a.) read Bridget Jones and laughed at the line “Tony Blair was the first PM you could imagine voluntarily having sex with” until I realized IT WAS TRUE and b.) had a…weird…dream about the Ukrainian president. Remember that whole thing with the dioxin poisoning? I mean, he was passably attrac…okay. No. But I refuse to apologize for my subconscious.
Anyway, let’s ignore the fact that even had I stayed with the whole international relations thing, and gotten a job with the State Department, and actually left the United States occasionally- I’m not sure what I thought I’d be doing that I was working closely with a lot of world leaders? And why they’d fall madly in love with me? And why they wouldn’t have a problem when I refused to learn their language and wanted to raise the kids in Milwaukee because my mom’s here, dude.
Yeah. No problem with reality there at all.
Anyway, the biggest problem with this vision of myself is that I am not organized enough to be a good traveler. I’m okay once I get going, and yeah, I probably could have figured out how to do a chignon at some point and we all know I love buying things so the matching luggage would not have been a problem. But I would have been an absolute mess preparing for each and every jaunt because I AM SO UNORGANIZED.
Like this morning. I tried to find my suitcase. It wasn’t in my closet, it wasn’t in the attic. I had no idea where it could be. I mean, I haven’t used that one in several years and my house is not that big. Then I remembered. I used it to carry all the National History Day stuff to campus. So it’s still in my office. Full of National History Day stuff. And has been SINCE MARCH.
See? This is why I could never be that tall, thin, Russian-speaking diplomat that my junior-in-high-school self wanted so badly to be. Because I do stupid things like NOT UNPACK FOR THREE MONTHS.
In case you don’t know the end of the story, I actually got to college, decided I hated everything related to the international studies major, decided I didn’t want to live in Ukraine even if Tony Blair asked me to (I realize I’m mixing fantasies now), and became a history major.
I’m still five two. I’m slightly less…stocky (but funny thing, that doesn’t turn you into the person you want to be like you think it does in high school). But at least I don’t have to plan on unpacking more than once a year.
I mean conferences? From what I hear you can pretty much just bring a change of clothes and a bottle of vodka.