It’s this stint I’m doing for Americorp that has kept me away; basically I’m tutoring kids with their reading skills. It’s nice to finally have a more long-term job that will help with paying off some of my student loans, but it’s very time consuming. Seems the difficulty of working over forty hours a week, plus having a social life, plus swimming on a regular basis has seriously cut into my ability to write. When I manage to have some free time I find myself taking a nap instead of doing something useful.
It’s not as bad as it sounds at all! I’ve learned a few things about myself volunteering with children. Mostly that I like kids. When I first started I was really worried I would discover that I was the kind of person that don’t enjoy their company. While they can be overwhelming at times and not everyone’s cut out for it, I found I can take it in stride. I especially enjoy the kindergarteners. Their energy can be difficult to contend with, but have got to be the funniest kids in the whole darn school.
For some time I was thinking about becoming a teacher. The kids are great, you get a lot of time off, and even though the pay isn’t great I’m not looking to get rich anyway. On the other hand there’s the parents, the administration, evaluations, state-run testing… Those parts of teaching are not so fun.
The truth is in order to be a good teacher and deal with all the nonsense, you really have to be dedicated to the job. As a writer who’s looking for a fulfilling day job in case things don’t work out, it didn’t sound like the profession for me. I know I’ll be happy to raise up some kids of my own someday, but the drive to teach kids isn’t high on my list of passions. At least not as high as a teacher’s should be.
So what are my aspirations? Writing’s the main goal, but what if I never become the next Stephen King or Neil Gaiman? What will I do then? I believe I may have stumbled across the answer. Considering my interests it’s weird why I haven’t considered it sooner.
Not too long ago a Reddit user studying to become a mortician posted an AMA on /r/creepy. I was intrigued by the user’s answers and delved further by looking into a YouTube channel they recommended. From there I became acquainted with Caitlin Doughty and her Ask a Mortician series. I binge-watched her videos and picked up her book Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory (I may write more about it if the fancy strikes me). Suffice to say working with the dead sound like a fascinating and fulfilling career choice!
So the plan is to save some cash while I’m volunteering with Americorp, then find a job in the funeral industry that doesn’t require a license. Perhaps transporting bodies or operating a cremation oven like Doughty herself. After some time I’ll likely figure out if the profession is right for me and if so, try to get into a school with a mortuary science program. I fully intend to continue writing throughout this process and I’ll keep you up to date with my thoughts on the matter. Here’s to a new journey!