May 19, 2006


So you want an ARC of BETWEEN, GEORGIA? Signed, natch.

Remember how Al Gore invented the internet? Right. Well, soon after he did, my dearest friend Lydia and I invented blogging! I bet you didn't know that, did you? AND YET IT IS ALL VERY COMPLETELY TRUE. This was before blogging was even a WORD, much less a phenom, and Lydia and I ran a web magazine called The Playground that got something like half a million unique visitors a year. We thought we were hot shtuffs.

By far the most popular feature on this PRE-BLOG mag was The Daily Dirt, a online diary where every day, either Lydia or I would post ramblings, musings, links, stories, reviews, whatever wandered through our brains. She was recently digging through all her old files, cleaning hard-drive-house, and found some of the Dirts, including one where she had talked about the difficulty of explaining what your JOB is when your job is writing. There are so many WORDS for it, and people have preconceived notions about what those words imply flying out of their ying-yangs so regularly it's like the NYC-Boston Shuttle. She articulated those notions --- here's what she wrote:

What you say: I'm a writer.

What they hear: I sit at a typewriter with my hair pushed back and my glasses low on my nose and tappity tap into the night. I crabbily repel all humans who attempt to contact me, forgetting what time it is, eating take-out, showing up at engagements absent-minded and preoccupied and late. I may smell. I may have a cat or a basset hound. I live "on the bluff" in a dramatically shaped house. My family finds my habits alternately endearing and infuriating. I have complicated relationships. I frequently pull one last page out of my typewriter and slam it down on top of a pile of other pages and say, "Finished!"

What you say: I'm a novelist.

What they hear: I’m a psychiatrist. I understand people. I tell Stories. I understand YOU. I may put you in one of my Stories. I live in a fantastic world of my own creation, and yet my characters are always fantastic versions of my own family. Go ahead. Say something witty. Tonight I will graft you into my epic. I have an Imagination. I am Imaginative. I also have Morals and there are Issues that I care about. My Novels focus on these Moral Issues and make Serious Points about the Issues that I care about, driven by the fantastic characters which are all based on you.

What you say: I'm a fiction writer.

What they hear: I buy and read magazines no one has ever heard of because they are technically literary journals (even though I call them magazines) and the reason I buy and read them is either because I am published in them or I want to be published in them. I write things no one can understand, largely because I was influenced by my endless and unprofitable stint in graduate school, which I enjoyed so much that I became a professor. If you attempt to read my work you will be stymied immediately by my nontraditional punctuation, my reference to obscure middle eastern politicians, and my insistence on using the format of a musical sonatina. If you aren’t stymied, I may become irritated.

What you say: I'm an author.

What they hear: I write books with titles like "How to Improve Your Community in Five Easy Steps" and I appear on Oprah and I wear coordinated suits and I am very VERY WISE. My signature is worth money. My friends speak to me deferentially and my family has a giant portrait of me in the living room. In the portrait I am wearing Chanel. I have never written a lick of fiction and I think it's frivolous and exasperating when people do. What matters is truth, and I have the truth. Ask me anything. I am well read and I probably have a degree in sociology or communications.

What you say: I'm a poet.

What they hear: I sit for long periods of time in my back yard in the fetal position. I have a deep and personal relationship with several astral bodies. In fact, I have my own star. It's right there. Its name is Amphetamines. I used to have an outfit that included primary colors, but I burned it in a ceremony with my friends where we also shot up a lot of heroin. I hate my parents because they ritually and constantly molested me, both of them at the same time, from the time I was born until yesterday, when I started Dealing With It. I am a bisexual and I worship the goddess Diana. I haven't pierced by ankle yet, but I have an appointment.

HA! That still kills me. And makes me wish I was poet, lo these many years later, JUST so people would think all those things about me.

SO, your mission, should you CHOOSE to accept it, is to say your job, or a job you have had, or a job you think people misconstrue, and do exactly what Lydia has done above. You say what you call yourself, and then you say what you think people assume about you based on the job. Put your entry in the comments and be sure to include an e-mail addy so I can TELL you if you win. *grin*

LYDIA, the originator of this contest, will herself pick the winners, since I have too many friends who stop by this blog to be objective. Since I am not judging, this contest is open to all. Except Lydia's sister and husband and, of course, Lydia.

First prize is the pre-read ARC copy of BETWEEN, GEORGIA, and I will throw in one of my brother's amazing Little Nonny Foxes.

Second prize gets their choice of a signed ARC of gods in Alabama OR a signed edition of the BRAND! SPANKIN! NEW! PAPERBACK! versions of gods in Alabama. The PBs are SO hot off the presses you could cook an egg on the cover. SO hot and fresh are these that I don't even HAVE my author copies yet -- just the promise that they are coming and my editor's delighted opinion that they are SO pretty they practically look lickable.

Third Prize is a Bag of Schwag, like maybe some signed bookplates, some magnets, and I will throw in some whatnotty something I find on my vile mess of a desk, maybe even a MINT!


Posted by joshilyn at May 19, 2006 8:25 AM

What you say: I'm a Librarian.

What they hear: I am an austere, little lady with my hair in a bun. I am frumpishly dressed, and most days you will see my knee-hi's bagging around my ankles. I only say things like "Shhhh" and give patrons severe looks. I am an eternal spinster, and my only companions are the 100 cats that I go home to every night. I live to fulfill your every academic need, even if it is Christmas Day, since I have no life of my own. Since I obviously have nothing better to do, I'll be happy to complete your assignments and compose your term papers. I have the amazing ability to know the title and author of every book, simply by its color and size. I am not a complete pack rat yet but after work today, I'm going to the liqour store to get more storage boxes among other things.

Posted by: Cheryl at May 19, 2006 10:04 AM

What I say: I'm a nurse

What they hear: I stand when doctors enter a room, and have at hand anything they need (scalpel, check! brow wipe, check!), wear a white uniform with a starched hat and white stockings.

What I say: I'm a night nurse

What they hear: Oh! Naughty! Uniform is the same but MUCH tighter, lower cut and higher hemmed. With stilettos. When I'm not catching a nap, I'm "servicing" tired and overworked docs in operating rooms lit romantically by chest X-rays.

What I say: I'm a night nurse who works in a well baby nursery

What they hear: Ohhh! Babies!! I spend the night watching them sleep, gazing into their little doe eyes and reading them Shakespeare to give their squishy growing little brains a head start on the classics. Its all sunshine and roses - only happy endings.

(I have to admit, I do a little doe eye gazing when I get the chance and my favorite thing to do is to show a newborn his or her first sunrise but none of that other stuff is true. Except maybe the stilletos.)

Posted by: Em at May 19, 2006 10:30 AM

What I say: I'm a wire liaison
What they say (since they don't *hear* me): A wire what? Is that like a dangerous liaison? OR do you mean you're French? I hate the French.


What I say: I'm in banking
What they hear: You wear nothing but pin stripes (preferably in the darkest navy or charcolist gray) with your hair up and sensible pearl earrings and a watch as your only adornment. You delight in taking people's money and pull down at least 6 figures a year. Oh, and do you know so-and-so, I think they work for a bank? And, can you tell me why I recieved a charge on my statement? You must be a boring, stoggy type, since you work in a large building that is entirely oak paneled and has no light and sit behind a big intimidating desk. That is, when you're not in the vault counting MY money that you are stealing.

Posted by: Chris at May 19, 2006 11:06 AM

What you say: I'm a stay-at-home-mom

What they hear: Since I'm too lazy to get a real job, I had a bunch of kids so I would have an excuse to sit on my couch and watch tv all day. Because I have all this free time, my house should always be spotless, my yard perfectly manicured and my children clean and well-behaved. Of course, I'm too lazy, so none of these things actually happen. Which is fine, because my independently wealthy husband spoils me with a maid, a chef, a landscaper, and a nanny. I have no reason to be unkempt, but I always am, so clearly I just don't care. I am chock-full of unrealized potential, a waste of my college education, and completely uninteresting in any way.

What you say: I'm a home-maker

What they hear: I'm an earth mother who rises before dawn to bake my own bread and iron my sheets. I always make sure my husband has a love note in his hand-packed lunch. My children always come home to fresh baked cookies. They love to spend the afternoon weeding the vegetable garden. They get straight A's and never, ever whine. Our meals are always home-cooked and served at the table, where we talk to each other about our day. My husband relaxes in his easy chair while I get the kids bathed and tucked in at night. I never sit down or go to bed until everything is picked up, washed, put away, or mended. I love to get up in the middle of the night to tend my children's needs - they're only little once and it's such a privilege. I'm pretty sure I'm better than you but I'll never let on.

What you say: I'm a housewife

What they hear: I'm cowed by a controlling husband and obnoxious children who use me as their slave. I have no purpose in life beyond laundry, dishes, and vaccuuming. I'm frumpy, overweight, and boring. I sigh a lot and act the martyr but I never exactly complain. I have zero imagination, zero ambition, zero thoughts of my own. I'll agree to volunteer for whatever scut work you need me to do, but I'll act put-upon while I do it. I'm bitter and I hate my life. Everyone will be shocked if I run off with the pool boy, but no one will be surprised - or even very sympathetic - if my husband divorces me to marry his secretary.

Posted by: Amy-GO at May 19, 2006 11:44 AM

I don't suppose I could win if I just said "What Amy-GO said." could I?

Posted by: wendy at May 19, 2006 12:21 PM

What you say: I am a pre-school teacher.

What they hear: I am a perpetually smiling, white sneaker with denim jumpers wearing, perpetual sing-songy voice utilizing paragon who adores ALL children and can cadjole the snarkiest child to behave with one whisper from my no-lipstick, raspberry lip-glossed lips. I can make finger puppets from navel lint. I want ALL of your toilet paper rolls and shoe boxes so I can make Musical! Instruments! Using Rocks! and Seeds! I know 101 games to play indoors on a rainy day in a 5 by 6 room with 24 three year olds. I can tell you how to get your child to stop wetting your bed and kicking the dog. I simply ADORE Little Angels purchased at the dollar store for Christmas and would MUCH prefer your home-made cookies over a gift certificate to an actual restaurant. I don't mind if you drop your child off late and disrupt the entire class or come to see her in the middle of the day, thus causing her to scream until you pick her up in the evening. I have no life of my own and would be glad to babysit your child on every off day I have and no, I don't mind the fourteen layers of clothes I have to get off of her in order to get her to the potty before she pees all over herself. Please feel free to send sardines in her lunch box for lunch and a Coke that will spray everyone at her table when she opens it. I CAN HANDLE IT. I can handle anything.

Posted by: Angela at May 19, 2006 1:36 PM

What you say: I'm a jack of all trades, master of none - a.k.a Network Administrator

What they hear: Because you work on computers, understand them and their communication links then you can fix everything from car engines to marriage problems! OR I get "You're just so petite and cute that there is no way you're a pocket protector, whirly gig hat geek!"
And people wonder why I run screaming naked in the middle of the night! LOL

Posted by: Margi at May 19, 2006 1:44 PM

What you say: I am a home-schooling mom.

What they hear: I am a super-organized, perpetually patient Saint. I awake every morning before dawn to prepare healthy meals for my children. We start each day sitting at our dining room table, studying our workbooks. I prepare equally healthy lunches for the little darlings, while also mopping the floor and doing 4 loads of laundry. I have complete control of my children every second of every day. We rarely leave the house, and I offer them no chance at any type of social interaction with any other people. Basically, they are not *socialized* at all, and it's really my secret fear that they will all grow up to be social misfits. However, I press on, because I feel superior for keeping my kids home.

What you say: I'm a homeschooling mom of 6.

What they hear: I really do have the patience of a saint. I must really know how to organize, and probably wouldn't mind it AT ALL if you dropped a few of your kids off at my house so you can run some errands. I mean, if I can handle six while homeschooling, what's a few more, right? Of course, with so many kids, we're obviously bordering on religious freaks, because no normal person would have that many kids and choose to homeschool, and NOT be a religious freak. At least one of them will win the National Spelling Bee, and one of them will end up in prison. Really, those are the odds.

What you say: I'm an un-schooler.

What they hear: Unschooler? What's wrong with good old fashioned school? Must be a hippie freak, that has no concept of how to educate a child.

Posted by: dee at May 19, 2006 1:49 PM

What I said: I work in retail.

What they heard: I work completely on commission and my sole purpose in life is to lie to you and rip you off. I am cunning and always fretting about ways to make my next dollar, yet, I have the same IQ as a microwaved grape. Please disregard everything I say or insult my parental heritage the next time you want to return the $30 dress you wore out last night.

Posted by: Sheri at May 19, 2006 1:51 PM

What I say: I work from home

What they hear: I wear nothing but pajamas and my hair never gets farther than a haphazard pony tail. After stumbling from my bed whenever it seems convenient, I might stare at my computer for an hour, read a few blogs, and then decide to make some margaritas. Since I have so much free time, I can make all the phone calls for my family and then run their errands. Three hour lunches, at restaurants? No problem. Sure I can go shopping with you in the middle of the day! It’s not like I’ll be missed. I check email for ten minutes in the afternoon. I say I have an office but really I just sit in front of the TV with my laptop in front of me, so it looks like I’m working. After I’ve watched a few Soaps, I like to hang out by the pool and sip more margaritas, getting a tan while watching my kids swim. I chat for hours on my cell phone, with friends. I sometimes go back and check email once more before 5pm and send drunken responses to outraged co-workers who wonder where I’ve been all day. I’m a lucky bee-yatch with no appreciation for how good I have it. I get paid a salary to party while everyone else sucks the corporate boob all day. The only reason I look busy when I go into the office is because I’m making up for all the time I waste at home. And the reason you’re not allowed to work from home? You didn’t have sex with the boss.

Posted by: dragonfly at May 19, 2006 1:53 PM

What you say: I'm a freelance writer.

What they hear: I don't actually have a job at the moment, thanks for asking. I do, however, have an awesome blog where I talk about my cats and my weird neighbors and all the CRAZY stuff they do (both cats and neighbors). Oh, and this one time? I sent a letter to the editor of the local newspaper and they totally PUBLISHED IT. In addition, you may have seen my numerous book, music and shampoo reviews on various websites like and, where I use the noms de plume "A Reader" and "Anonymous", respectively.

Posted by: Badger at May 19, 2006 2:24 PM

What you say: I'm a quilter.

What they hear: I'm a chubby little woman with short gray hair and bifocals and I wear elastic-waist blue jeans, orthopedic sneakers, and t-shirts embroidered with the names of my grandkids. I teach Sunday School and bake fabulous homemade chocolate chip cookies when I'm not volunteering at the local nursing home. I painstakingly make hand-stitched blankets from little scraps of muslin and calico and yes, I'd be GLAD to take those old clothes you were about to throw away and turn them into a family heirloom for you. Pay me? Oh, don't be silly, Sugar, I'll do it for free. It'll only take a few months and it's not like I have a life or anything. No problem, Honey. Want a cookie?

What you say: I'm an art quilter.

What they hear: ".......???"

Posted by: DebR at May 19, 2006 3:06 PM

What you say: I'm a folksinger

What they hear: I own an acoustic guitar, but I don't really know how to tune it--thank goodness for electric tuners! My vocabulary is too big for pop music. I like to write songs about the environment and historical figures. If Wal-Mart ever carried my CD's, I would steal them.

What you say: I'm a singer-songwriter

What they hear: I'm a poet who can only write in rhyme, so I use the same (droning) melody and/or key over and over, for every song I write. I think Joni Mitchell is GOD. I write lots of songs about my mother, father, grandparents, and being on the road. I put stickers on my guitar. My secret dream is to have my CD's in Wal-Mart.

What you say: I'm a singer

What they hear: I can't write, but I don't want a real job, and it's fun to drive around the country playing in bars. Plus, all my friends do it, and we are cooler than you. I never put anything on my guitar, and I can actually play jazz chords and use a capo, so I don't have to tune so much.

(grr... I'm supposed to be BAKING for Basket Bingo tonight, and here I am, salivating over second place...)

Posted by: dynagirl at May 19, 2006 3:15 PM

What I say: My husband and I are aspiring screenwriters.

What they hear: My husband and I are a couple of misfit freaks with our heads in the clouds, and our feet in only-slightly-lower clouds. We have forsaken high-paying careers for jobs that don’t require us to work late so that we can spend all of our free time watching movies and reading Entertainment Weekly. We have a cute little worrisome daydream that we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking we can actually achieve. Besides, most Hollywood movies suck. How hard can it be to write a script that’s good enough to sell to *those* nitwits? Clearly the fact that we haven’t succeeded yet means that we lack even the minuscule amount of talent needed to be working screenwriters. We should give up now, while we’re still young enough to go to law school. But if we do make it and one of our screenplays gets made into a movie starring Johnny Depp, please feel free to assume that we’ll provide you with tickets to the premiere, pay your airfare, and let you sit on Johnny’s lap.

Posted by: Aimee at May 19, 2006 3:35 PM

What you say: I am a conservationist

What they hear: I am a granola-eating, card-carrying Sierra Club member. I live in a tent and worship at the altar of Greenpeace. I’m atheist, by the way. My wardrobe consists of handmade Earth Day t-shirts, a backpack and hiking boots. I recycle everything from coffee grinds to candle wax. I grow my own food, and when I absolutely have to buy provisions from corporate America, it must meet the USDA ORGANIC criteria. But I’m a vegan and thin as floss, so it’s not much of an issue, anyway. I wash my hair in a tub out back, but only twice a month. I choose not to shave. And the use of deodorant goes against everything I believe in. In my spare time, you can find me hugging the nearest tree or flouncing up to Capitol Hill where I lobby for the protection of alfalfa weevils, ringworms, and Leonardo DiCaprio. My transportation mode of choice is a bicycle. And I will probably have to hate you because there’s a better than fair chance you are oil-dependent and/or voted for Bush.

What you say: I work for the government

What they hear: I’m with the IRS. I’m also with the FBI. I inspect your meat, too. No bones about it, I am here to HARASS YOUR ASS. I am as much fun as an enema and as interesting as the pencil lead I order by the semi-load. I can't bear the thought of working for eight straight hours. “Good enough” is my motto. I graduated with a 2.0 GPA from a state school, and I often contemplate going postal. Yes, I drive a gas-guzzler, and OF COURSE I voted for Bush!

Posted by: Cathy at May 19, 2006 3:41 PM

having read the winning entry somewhere above, I will not attempt the unattainable. However, I did want to offer my congratulations as I understand you are nominated for/a finalist for the Townsend Prize. It is much deserved.

Posted by: Bob at May 19, 2006 3:45 PM

What I say: I am a Home Child Care Provider

What They Hear: I'm a babsitter. I never went to college and don't have a degree, so I am unskilled. Because I work from home, they may bring their child early and pick him up late since I'm "going to be home anyway." Since I'm not a "daycare center," they can bring their sick child to my house and pass it off as allergies, no matter what the illness. Vomiting? No problem, just choking on the drainage from allergies. Diarrhea? Too much Pedialyte that was forced down to compensate for the vomiting, which is, of course, caused by allergies. Thick, green river of snot? You got it, allergies. I also have the skills of a pharmacist, able to remember how much of each of the five medications that one child is supposed to take and when he is supposed to take it. No problem that six children are all taking a variety of medicines. I don't need any written instructions because I am supposed to remember when they took the same medicine 14 months and 10 pounds ago. But most of all, I love to watch your child every day, even if you have the day off and pretend like you don't so that I won't know. Because I *never* need a day off!

Posted by: Tonya at May 19, 2006 4:49 PM

What you say: I work in a quilt shop.

What they hear: I sit around all day sewing patchwork, and when a customer comes in I sell them calicos to make a quilt from in their church's basement.

What you say: I'm the assistant manager, and the owners daughter.

What they hear: God, she's retarded. Her mother only hired her out of guilt, and she must not know anything about the business. She can't have been quilting sewing more than five minutes and probably doesn't know the difference between wonder-under and steam-a-seam 2. Where is the owner ANYWAYS?!?!?!?!

What you say: I'm homeschooled.

What they hear: She's never going to amount to anything. She won't get a degree, or even a GED. Her IQ must be somewhere around 5. She quilt school because she was too stupid or had some sort of horrible illness. She's avoiding real life and will never be able to survive in a real job with REAL people.

What you say: I'm an artist.

What they hear: Jackson Pollock's artwork mixed with Van Gogh and Dali's insanity, living in an alley with 5 bucks, with no real desire to get a REAL job.

Posted by: Phoebe at May 19, 2006 5:38 PM

What I say: I'm a human factors engineer.

What they hear: I'm some weird amalgamation of a rocket scientist and those people who design crash-test dummies. I love math. My brain is huge. I probably snort when I laugh.

What I say: It has to do with engineering usability.

What they hear: I spend all day locked in a small room, dropping the same product on the floor over and over until it breaks, or perhaps counting how many time I can grab the handle of a product before my palm blisters. I can tell you how to best adjust your desk chair.

What I say: I'm a software engineer.

What they hear: I don't wear make-up. I invented Windows. I sit in a cube and type all day and wear jeans and sandals. I think Bill Gates is hot.

What I say: I retired from engineering to raise my kids and pursue writing.

What they hear: I'm on the mommy track now, which means that my children are overscheduled and I drive a minivan and drink a lot of designer coffee. I do layout for the PTA newsletter. Seven years ago the local paper published a paragraph I wrote for them. I tell everyone I know that the FAMOUS NOVELIST JOSHILYN JACKSON once wrote that I'm pretty on my arm.

Posted by: Mir at May 19, 2006 6:44 PM

What I say: I work for the Sheriff

What they hear: I can kick your arse.

What I say: I work in central booking @ the jail

What they hear: I can kick your arse. in jail.

Posted by: Dianna at May 19, 2006 8:49 PM

What you say: I’m an interaction designer

What they hear: “I’m a blah blah blah designer.” Designers. Those are those people who always dress in personally expressive yet trendy clothes, with hair died to contrast their nailpolish and at least one piercing off the earlobe. You can rearrange my furniture for maximum feng shui.

What you say: I’m a video game designer.

What they hear: You are one of those people who have been playing violent video games since the age of three. You wear black all the time, smell bad, consume large quantities of aging pizza, and live in your mother’s basement. It is only a matter of time until you snap. Furthermore, you have a penis.

What you say: I design educational software for children.

What they hear: You’re such a sweet thing! Isn’t that nice, doing something for the children? You wear conservative floral skirts and have dimples, which is lovely because you smile all the time! You always speak in an enthusiastic voice! You used to be a kindergarten teacher, and are unmarried! Just a moment, I’d like to introduce you to my recently divorced brother and his children...

What you say: You know that book, "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson? I make “A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer.” Except with less sex.

What they hear, if they are an average person whose science fiction literacy is lacking: I didn’t get that at all, and am furthermore somewhat intimidated by your use of literary citations and casual references to sex. You are my mental superior. I will now roll over and name you alpha female.

What they hear, if they actually read the book: You are my fantasy girl. I would ask you on a date, but that would interfere with my usual routine of wearing black all the time, smelling bad, consuming large quantities of aging pizza, and living in my mother’s basement. Instead, I will secretly take a digital picture of you and mod my copy of Tomb Raider to use your face instead of Lara Croft’s.

Posted by: Marleigh at May 19, 2006 9:39 PM

What you say: I am an logistical coordiantor for corportate events and marketing initiatives.

What they here.... mwaa, mwaa, mwaa, mwaaa, mwaa, mwaa.... ala Charlie Brown's teacher.

Posted by: Mr. Husband at May 19, 2006 9:50 PM

What I say: I'm a machinist.

What they hear: I'm a magician/auto mechanic. I can make anything you can dream up. Even if you don't have a drawing -- or know how to make one -- or have the least idea what you really want it to look like. Yet. I can easily add material or remove holes fter the part is finished, just like you can in your CAD program. I can create raw materials out of thin air. I can spin straw into gold. Thoriated Unobtanium? Sure. No prob. Got it right here in my back pocket. All parts can be produced instantaneously regardless of material, size or complexity. No matter how many parts you want or how many other jobs are in line ahead of you, your parts will be ready this afternoon. And yes, I very much enjoy your recitation of the clearly printed dimensional information spelled out on your drawing -- almost as much as I enjoy interpreting the hand-written, alien scrawl describing the most important features. In addition, nothing makes me happier than the chance to remove broken off bolts, screws or fittings. I especially enjoy the ones you've chisled away at first with a hammer and a screwdriver. And yes, once removed, said bolt and hole will both be pristeen and suitable for further use.

Posted by: David at May 19, 2006 10:22 PM

What you say: I’m a mom.

What they hear: My identity is entirely wrapped up in my children and I’m neither bright enough nor ambitious enough to want it any other way. I might have gone to college just long enough to snap myself up one of those high-income earning hubbies, but my goal from the beginning was to drive a mini-van, have 2.5 babies, and wear Capri pants with canvas tennis shoes that are color coordinated with my shirt and socks. I take scrapbooking as seriously as if it were a real job.

What you say: I’m a stay-at-home mom and a writer.

What they hear: I mostly just hang out in my house mopping up after the kiddos and running them to play dates and extracurricular activities. I have a computer and I know how to use the word processing program, so I call myself a writer because it makes me sound more interesting. Besides, I really think I WILL be a writer someday… once the kids are grown and out of the house and I have actual time to sit down to learn and practice the craft. Until then, I inspire myself by watching day time soaps while I fold laundry and I keep a blog where I wax eloquently about things like DOING the laundry and cleaning up after three rug-rats and the dust bunnies that endlessly torment my tedious, domestic life. Oh, and I make a pretty good batch of cookies.

What you say: I’m an attachment parent, an unschooler, and I do my best to turn my bliss into pay now and then.

What they hear: I’m one of those crunchy, granola types who wears inappropriate footwear year round and t-shirts promoting the value of breastmilk. I’m anti-everything-from processed sugar, cribs, and pacifiers to polluting the environment, corporate greed, and government monopolized public schooling! I’m so anti-, in fact, that I’m darned near un-American. My feral children (who still can’t read, recite the alphabet, or spew their multiplication tables) are rarely presentable and will either grow up to be MIT grads with absolutely no social skills or serial killers, it’s really hard to tell which. I live in the country, I make my own soap, and I milk goats. Yes, the goat milk smells funny, but then again, so do I. Those civilized soccer moms will pay a ridiculous sum for a bar soap scented with a drop of lavender. Sheesh… why should I work for a living when I can turn my antiquated homemaking skills into easy cash at the farmer’s market…or on ebay?

Posted by: Tracy at May 19, 2006 11:49 PM

What I say: I'm an xray tech.

What they hear: I'm an unsmiling, sadistic beeyatch in scrubs who doesn't really care about the radiation that I'm zapping through your body who will make you get naked and lay on a cold hard table and then twist you up like a pretzel just for fun before I give you an enema and make you drink liquid chalk. Then I'll smash your boob between too steel plates just to see you wince before we tell you that everything is normal and you get to come back next year and do it again.

What I say: I'm a bellydancer
What you hear: Underneath these clothes is a body that will make you weep. You should be turning green like a martian with jealousy. The tummy is flat and can do things that the tummy was never intended to do. I only listen to wierd arabic music and only wear spangley sparkly two piece outfits and own harem pants in every color. My husband is the luckiest man in the world cause he's married to a belly dancer. I'm dumber than dirt but can pop my hips and shimmy my tits better than anyone on the northern hemisphere.

Posted by: Deb at May 20, 2006 7:44 AM

What I say: I'm a massage therapist.

What they hear: I LOVE to touch people - even you with all your hairy back and weird, smelly feet. Oh, what you ache? Of course, I know EXACTLY what's wrong with you, even though I'm not a doctor. I'd be happy to give you a massage for free since I know you, and I don't actually deserve to get paid for my work since I use my body. I believe in all sorts of weird "energy" work, and I can heal all your ills with a balancing session and a little footrub. I bath in lavendar and take only herbal remedies because I think conventional Western Medicine is a waste of time. I wear only Birkenstocks and eat organic - like you should. I'm into "free love" and if you ask really nice, and tip me well, I might give you a happy ending.

Posted by: Autumn at May 20, 2006 2:30 PM

These are so good that I don't think I could top them. And the writer thing has really been covered, but . . .

What I Say: I'm a writer.

What They Hear: I sit at home all day and watch lots of TV. I say I'm a writer, but since I'm not published, either it doesn't happen or my stories just magically appear fully finished. So of course I have loads of time on my hands and would be happy to do all of the things you were thinking of asking me to do. Research is just an excuse to read a lot and not write. If you are a member of my very large extended family, you will assume I'm writing happy little Christian fiction where everyone finds love and finds Jesus and we all live happily ever after. You would pee your pants if you knew that sometimes my characters say bad words. Maybe you will think that since I'm nearly 27 but look 17, that I couldn't possibly have the life experience necessary to be a good writer, meaning the life experience that YOU have. I am just playing around until I figure out what I really want to do with my life, until I get a Real Job that pays Real Money in a Lovely Paycheck every two weeks. I am constantly trolling for material and anyone unpleasant I will put into my novel and portray as a nightmarish harridan with lots of moles that have hair growing out of them. I never go outside but simply bask in the glow of my computer screen, writing about Real Human Relationships that I could never have in real life because I spend the day in the basement poking at the computer keys like my keyboard is some gross but interesting bug on the sidewalk. I also have indiscriminate personal hygiene and questionable eating habits, not unlike some gross but interesting bug on the sidewalk.

Posted by: Sarah at May 20, 2006 3:13 PM

What I said: I'm a high school teacher.

What they heard: I'm an altruistic saint who doesn't care if I make any money or not because I have taken a vow to help teenagers (much like nuns give themselves to the church, and commit to poverty, chastity and obedience). I am *thrilled* to use my master's degree to work at poverty level for 60 hours a week (not counting grading papers) because I adore teenagers and long to be their friend and even their parent if you aren't doing a good job. So don't worry about whether or not they do any homework or behave in class. I'm just delighted to have your wonderful child in my classroom and try to teach Shakespeare to him, and no, the ADD isn't a problem at all, and yes, I'd be delighted to meet with you for two hours *after* I've spend six hours dealing with 150 teenagers. Of course I emphathize about your stinking husband who left you as a single mom so you must work 60 hours a week (hmm...that number sounds familiar), so you don't have any time to spend with your child, so I'd be happy to do that for you. I have lots of spare time to devote to giving your child attention and tutoring for free because, after all, I work such a short day AND I get three months off in the summer, during which I can sit on my lazy hiney and eat bonbons.

Posted by: Katrina Stonoff at May 20, 2006 9:53 PM

What I say: I'm the choir director for our church.

What they hear: I am the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live. I disapprove of "popular" music, and my iPod contains nothing but all Gaither, all the time. If you offend my delicate ears with a naughty word, I may very well surrender to a case of the vapors. I am softly spoken, with a voice like an angel, and of course, I'd love to sing that song for your [wedding/funeral/christening/baptism/etc.], even though I've never heard of it before.

Posted by: Jessica at May 20, 2006 11:31 PM

What I say: I'm a Renaissance re-enactor.

What they hear: Now would be a good time to back away from the crazy lady before I either stab you with my eating dagger, or bore you to death talking about Hotspur as though I knew him personally.

Posted by: Jessica at May 20, 2006 11:41 PM

What I say: I am a bookkeeper.

What they hear: I am a slightly over middle age, matronly woman, with a straggly, unkempt bun held together by a pencil with a chewed off eraser. I wear bifocals and squint alot, and screw up my mouth to look disgusted almost all of the time. The look of dissapproval is permanently stamped on my face, and I am always ready to launch into a lecture about how you SHOULD be handling your money. I am far too boring and ugly to ever have a personal relationship, and my only real value as a human is my uncanny Rainman-like ability to remember the exact amount, date written, and receiver of a personal check you wrote out for "supplies" 6 years ago that you need reimbursed from the company, today. In the next five minutes, of course. Receipts really aren't that necessary between friends like us, right?

What I say: I'm an accountant.

What they hear: I am boring. Extremely boring. You never want to have to spend any time at all with me, unless of course you have money problems. In that case, I will be happy to spend hours of my time, uncompensated of course, describing to you the exact ways in which you may entirely avoid ever paying taxes at all, and of course all legally. Also, I can magically make your failing business prosper beyond your dreams, if only you can come up with the magic sum of money that will motivate me to speak to the devil, with whom I have a standing agreement, on your behalf, thereby saving you the inconvenience of selling your own soul, as I have sold my long since. I never ever have money problems myself, as I have stashed millions away in secret foreign bank accounts, probably ill-gotten gains that I have imbezzled from the poor hard-working small business owners that are fools enough to trust me, or else possibly from huge corporate entities that will enver miss it, if I am of the few elite "hacker pirate" accountants that work for places like Enron. Either way, I am rich beyond your imagination, but simply work as an accountant in order to establish my cover to the IRS for when I retire at 40 to live in a tropical, tax-free paradise.

Posted by: hiai at May 21, 2006 6:31 PM

Wow - I wonder how much of this OTHER people ever think - or if this is just revealing what we think about *ourselves*... and, no, I'm not a psychologist :)

What I say: I'm a historian.

What people think: Oh, my great-great-great (insert a few more greats) grandfather fought in the American Revolution, have you heard of him?? When you're not busy hanging out in the local cemetary doing grave rubbings, you must be sitting around in your spectacles and tweed suit watching the History channel.

Posted by: Tiff at May 21, 2006 9:57 PM

What I say: I'm a lawyer

What they hear: I know too many words for my own good and use them far too often. Despite this, I am not a writer because I am not creative enough to be a writer. I have no imagination whatsoever. Because I lack imagination I spend my life in offices with stuffy people in gray suits and self-important displays of diplomas on their walls, writing, but nothing anyone actually WANTS to read. I know the answer to all questions related to things unknown and unknowable, such as taxes, opening a business, divorces, wills, family disputes, neighborly disputes, and property disputes, and all other conundrums in which people find themselves. AND, I'm an argumentative b****. Note: If I were male they'd hear: I know how to carry on an intelligent conversation (I live in Utah - 'nuf said). OH, AND I really wanted to be a screenwriter but didn't have the guts to pursue something so risky and fun, so I instead took the easy road and went to law school (BTW--this is completely a bow to Aimee, above--I have a friend who just left law to become a screenwriter--more power to him, and to you!).

Who am I kidding? When was the last time you heard a lawyer say "I am a lawyer" in so few words? Clearly we would say something like: "I am engaged in the practice of utilizing, defending, and implementing the laws of both the state and federal government of the land in which we live via representing various persons, corporations, businesses, and other entities in courts of both state and federal jurisdiction wherein judges and magistrates rule and instruct us as to the correctness, applicability, pertinence, relevance, and validity of the laws we invoke on behalf of our clients."

Posted by: Sharee at May 22, 2006 2:33 PM

What I say: I'm a project manager.

What they hear: I don't really DO anything. I have nothing but soft skills, and I'm ridiculously overpaid for them.

What I say: I organize the efforts of the technical experts around me to achieve an objective (or series of objectives) as specified by a client, within a given timeframe and budget.

What they hear: I think that the people I work with are so inept as to need someone to keep them on task and focused.

What I say: I do all of this for several projects at once, with competing resources and budgets and priorities.

What they hear: I think I'm really busy and important and the whole world would just FALL APART without me.

Posted by: mothergoosemouse at May 22, 2006 2:53 PM

What You Say: I'm a marketer.

What they hear:
I am evil incarnate. My life revolves around convincing your aged relatives to spend your inheritance on Med-Alert units and your children to want $25 Sponge Bob foam hats. I’m too greedy for self-betterment and too shallow to accomplish it anyway. I am responsible for Richard Simmons and Mr. Whipple. I took your favorite commercial off the air. I drink martinis at Smith and Wollenski’s Grill. I see you as an opportunity to sell more Ginsu Knives. I ran you off the road while talking on my cell-phone in my Saab. I drive the collective IQ of the country down by constantly speaking to the LCD. I am the LCD. I made Ricky Martin what he is today, and I know who’s responsible for Pop-up ads. I’m busy, so please just give me your demographic information, and tell me what your favorite commercial is, so I can head home and spend a miserable evening drowning my sorrows in expensive vodka.

Posted by: DLFP at May 22, 2006 3:05 PM

Brilliant! All of them. Just one more that hasn't, amazingly, been covered.

I'm a blogger. What they hear: I'm an egocentric computer geek who spends way too much time writing weird stuff and putting it out on the Internet where anyone can read it, although no one really does read it. I then spend the rest of my day clicking on other people's blogs, but I don't really read their posts. I do leave comments so those people will click on my blog and leave me a comment, although they don't really read my posts. Basically, I'm wasting my time, skills and energy creating a community based on self-absorption and misdirected relationships.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at May 22, 2006 3:32 PM

I say: I am a Stay-At-Home-Mom.

They hear: I have no life. I live for my kids. We spend our days doing little crafts with popsicle sticks and pipecleaners. I can sing all of the Barney songs. I cook and clean and watch soap operas. Did you hear what the heiress to the Cunningham fortune, Felicia Nottingham Cunningham did with Mr Hawthorne? They say she's carrying her father's baby. Oh my goodness, I have the best recipe for cereal snackbars made to look like little animal faces. I have it right here in the pocket of my denim jumper.

Posted by: Heather at May 22, 2006 9:48 PM

I say: It is what it is.

They say: Woulda Coulda Shoulda

I say: It is what it is.

They say: If only, I wish.

I say: It is what it is what it is what it is.

The repetitive wisdom of motherhood.
Cheers from MotherPie

Posted by: H.A. Page at May 25, 2006 1:18 PM