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So, newsflash, I don’t much like my job. Today I spent much of the day putting together an SPSS file for one of the studies I work on. All you social science majors out there…heavens, there must be dozens of you…remember this hellish stats program. Remember? You have to define the variables, and give them little names, and then you enter your data for a long long long time, wasting your youth as you squint at the screen. And then of course, you have to analyze the data, and I don’t know about you, but I specifically chose to major in psychology and then to do social work specifically so that I wouldn’t have to do math, but SPSS doesn’t care. And you cry and cry as you try to remember what exactly a histogram is, and if chi-squared and regression analysis have any meaning in your life whatsoever. Of course they do! They’re why you’re wasting your youth, right? Because remember, you took out a ton of loans so that you could go to school, which you are now repaying by actually doing much of the same stuff you did while you were a student!

No, it wasn’t pretty today. I did, however, have plenty of time to gnash my teeth and think, almost obsessively, about what I would rather be doing. Career-wise, I mean…non-career-wise, that’s a whole different topic that I’m not going to get into right now as it migt cause me to break down weeping at the mere thought of wasting my youth in so many agreeable ways, none of which I am doing at the present.

So, without further ado, Chiara Fantasy Life Theater Presents(dun dun dun!):

My Perfect Job

9:00: Walk the fifteen minutes it takes to get there from my house, on a nicely manicured street with a sidewalk, past many delightful little cafes and cute little boutiques and reasonably priced restarurants that have all my favorite things to eat for lunch in them. Arrive at agency, which is a non-profit, feminist counseling center offering individual, group, and family therapy in huge clean offices with large windows looking out onto a gorgeous view as well as a sliding scale fee schedule. Greet nice, funny, knowledgeable, and sympathetic colleagues, all of whom are having coffee and reading journals on their computers. No cheesy inspirational posters or corporate landscape paintings in sight. Make self hot chocolate because I still do not drink coffee. DSM-IV in office is mostly for show. Many toys in office.

10:00: First client. Regardless of age, ethnicity, class, or DSM-IV diagnosis, client has an issue that I immediately recognize and understand and towards which I can be sympathetic. Client is well-spoken and highly self-aware, making therapy into more of a friendly chat. Client thinks I am brilliant when I say something very pithy that speaks right to the heart of his/her situation. I tell her/him, “You’re doing all the work!” After client leaves, spend time writing thoughtful case notes, never once referring to insurance company’s payment plan for various disorders. Write things like “Get out and play more” and “A nice dark red is a good color for you” under Treatment Plan.

12:00: Lunch, either brought from home, consisting of healthy homemade meal that includes vegetables, or taken in one of aforementioned cute-yet-reasonably-priced restaurants with several colleagues, including supervisor, whom I beg to come along because “it’s just no fun without you.” Supervisor buys everyone dessert and tells me she likes my haircut.

1:30: Talk scheduled somewhere for some people who want me to explain something psychosocial to them. Voice rings with sincerity and passion for subject. Thunderous applause; everyone thinks I am brilliant. Someone pulls me aside afterward to ask when I plan to write a book. “It’s formulating,” I say.

4:30: Walk home from agency with paycheck in pocket, which is for one million billion trillion skajillion dollars. Promptly pay off student loans, student loans for sister, and the mortgage on my mom’s house. Finance software company for Carl. Buy mom house in Seattle so that she can spend half her year here and half her year with her Miami garden. Make regular charitable donations to eighty-four million worthy causes, including but not limited to RAWA, ACLU, Quaker Peace Concern, Heifer Project, Real Change, Chicken Soup Brigade, University District Youth Shelter, and a bunch of others. Promise to finally make a pledge to NPR if they will give me one hour in a closed room with Ira Glass. Go on round the world trip. Go back to work the next day because I find it, you know, so satisfying.

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