The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Penis jokes, stray bullets, and a punch in the face.

…or, how I became a writer.

I’ve held a wide variety of jobs in my lifetime.

I’ve been a dishwasher, a waitress, a bartender, a nanny, a voiceover artist, and a motivational speaker.

I’ve worked in an ice cream shop, at a hot dog cart, in a classroom, and in an ambulance, among other places.

I have sold hand-knitted scarves out of the back of my minivan.

I was once named “Employee of the Year” at a computer training company. Four months later, I was fired.

I’ve also been bitten, pissed on, discriminated against, and sexually harassed. And that was just this morning.

What do all these experiences have in common? Just me. They are all part of the gloriously crinkled road map that has led to this exact moment and place. And today I am celebrating that crazy journey. Wanna come?

One of the best jobs I ever had was as a docent in a children’s museum. Several times a day, I had to give live demonstrations about the inner workings of Stuffee, the larger-than-life doll used to teach kids about internal organs. Parents would shift uncomfortably in their seats every time I would unzip and disembowel Stuffee, hold up his 6 foot long large intestine, and ask the kids “Anyone know what this is?” Some kid always shouted “PENIS.” Then one of the dads would make a joke like “Yeah, that’s about right.” Awesome.

Once, at the tender age of 19, on one very drunken Mardi Gras evening in New Orleans, I became a bonafide street performer. Apparently I had a knack for it too because one man who was out of beads handed me a twenty dollar bill and thanked me for sharing my gift(s).

I did data entry as a temp on the night shift for a few months in my mid twenties. All my coworkers were beautiful young black ladies with the longest fingernails I’d ever seen. They found me mildly entertaining. “What’s a white girl like you with a college degree doing down here at night? You crazy!” But I loved that job. I loved the solitude and the quiet. I loved racing against myself to do more entries and fewer errors than the night before. I made some great friends there too. One girl even took me to play bingo with her mom and grandma. And they thought I was crazy? Shoot. I tell you what – you haven’t lived until you’ve played and survived competitive bingo in Oakland California on a Saturday night. Day-yam. If the second-hand smoke didn’t kill me, a stray bullet could have. Those bitches take their bingo for serious, y’all.

One of the most promising but disappointing jobs I ever held was counting beads at a local bead shop a few years ago. Hand to God, I got paid to count out beads, put them into little baggies, and label them. It was perfect for me. The only problem was that the shop owner kept giving me more and more responsibility and all I wanted to do was count beads in peace, make a little pocket money, and get the hell away from my noisy kids. I quit after 4 weeks. 

I spent a couple years working with severely emotionally disturbed kids in their group home and classroom. That job was a heartbreak and a half. A good day was one in which I wasn’t assaulted or smeared with some kind of bodily excrement. I know…sounds like a regular day as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), doesn’t it? But it was worse because I couldn’t drink on the job or cuddle the kids. On my worst day there, I got punched square in the face by a very angry and enormous twelve year old boy. I had recurring nightmares after that and ended up leaving that job shortly thereafter. I met my husband there, by the way. He was one of the managers, not one of the poo-smearing kids.

Leaving that job was a turning point for me, and not just because I was sleeping with my boss.

After that, I switched gears and started climbing the corporate ladder. That was fun and very lucrative for a while, until I had kids. No big surprise, but I’m a classic unitasker. I just didn’t have the skills to be a successful full time employee AND a decent mother simultaneously. Something had to give.

And that something was my career.

I’ve been a full time SAHM ever since I got knocked up with Mini-Me almost ten years ago, not including that 4 weeks as a bead counter.

Until today.

I Rock the Powder Room Today I have officially been named part of an elite team of Jedi women writers at In the Powder Room. The editors there are on an “epic journey toward world domination” and apparently feel that my penchant for bathroom humor will help them get there. Either that, or they needed someone to help class up the joint. Bless their hearts.

They’ll be featuring my writing every Tuesday, provided I can meet my deadlines and continue writing things that don’t suck. Wish me luck with both of those, would you please?

I have to say, so far, the best part about being a professional writer is that it is highly unlikely I’ll ever be punched in the face. Also, I’m the one who gets to do the penis jokes for once. I’m not sure yet about the stray bullets.

Yeah… I think I’m going to like this job.

And if not, there’s always Stuffee. I could showcase his large intestine like nobody’s beeswax.

enthusiastically yours,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved.

31 Comments

  1. Iris, Iris, Iris!!!! I know about Stuffee!!!! They have one at a local children’s…. well, its not a museum, more like an interactive play land sort of thing, with water tables, and lots of blocks, and one of those giant monkey cage things with the nets and tubes and what have you. My kids are kind of grossed out by ole’ Stufee, but he is educational. I don’t think any of my children have ever guessed that his intestines are a penis, but then, I only have girl children. I’m excited about your new venture. You are too good to be hoarded for myself.

    • Aw, Meili, you’re so sweet to me. Thanks for sharing my excitement. I’m glad your girls don’t think a 6 foot section of intestine is a penis. That would totally set them up for a lifetime of disappointment. Ha!

  2. Congratulations! What an awesome ride you’ve had. Keep up the great work.

  3. Somewhere in there I’m sure I should be offering congratulations. Oh, right, at the very end. The bead counting thing would have been great if you’d gone to my mom’s after the earthquake of ’91. Millions of them – on the floor – still.
    You are an excellent writer and I’m very happy for you. And even though you got punched in the face, you also met your magic man, so a net gain in the end!
    smooches

  4. That is great news! And validation for you! How wonderful, one of the things that is sadly lacking in SAHM world is any sort of external validation. Congratulations on your new endeavor!

    • Thanks Alexis! External validation…that phrase always cracks me up. It makes me think of getting my parking validated. “Will you validate me?” Don’t you hate having to ask that? Ha!

      • I know I’m totally late to the party, but my mom used to work for a bookstore with a parking garage attached. Best moment? Some guy came in and asked to be validated, and her response was “You are a good person.” They both got a good laugh, and then she stamped his parking validation. 😉

  5. Mary the Oinkteller

    November 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Hooray, Iris! Congratulations on your powder room gig – I look forward to reading you there as well as here. Woot, woot!!

  6. More Iris=Happier Angela=better world for my kid.

  7. Congratulations on your next venture. You deserve it.

  8. Congratulations, Iris! I so knew you when.

    I guffawed at the dad-penis joke bit. I’m surprised you didn’t yell at the heckler to whip it out and PROVE it. 😉

  9. Beautiful. Just like the song. Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…

    It’s one of the best feelings when you get your first cheque for a professional writing gig. Almost makes you want to frame it instead of cash it. Almost.

  10. Wonderful! “In the Powder Room” will never be the same. Your data processing job sounds lovely to me.

    When I was in my role as Ms.Corporate-America, I used to think working the cash register at a self-serve gas station would be heavenly. Sit on a stool and eat potato chips, watch TV, and talk on the phone whilst counting out change. I never did achieve that lofty goal.

  11. Congratulations! Can’t wait to read about all of your adventures in The Powder Room:)

  12. Who are you foolin’? I jussss seeeeented you on Liberty Avenue slangin dat kitty. lmao

  13. Congrats to you! Who needs external validation? I guess I do as I spent the first quarter of the UGA vs. New Mexico State trying to convince the jack-ass a/k/a old high school friend sitting next to me that I’m still important and deserve to vote even though I don’t have a full time job and pay taxes. He’s divorced but probably would have been a great husband in the 40’s. Hope he doesn’t get all uppity and think he’s Ward Cleaver or anything though.
    Anyway, I digress, you rock and so does your writing so go get em girl!!!

  14. Remember I asked to be your manager first! Besides I would make a great assistant. My older sister is an English major and she loves to correct me….it’s keen-wa, not keen-o-a…..HA! It’s acceptable both ways you bitch! That’s what I wanted to say when I saw it in an article about healthy foods! She went to Cal….just a hop, skip and jump away from your old hangout! DH drove OD and her boyfriend (who grew up in Oakland) to his mom’s house after a SF Giants game. People literally came out of their houses to look at DH!! Or there was the time we could see the freeway in the distance, but had to drive through a neighborhood that had TVs on the street with for sale signs on them. Oh lordy, I could go on and on. Was it Catholic bingo or Baptist bingo…..Fel’s mom and sisters could have been there if it was Baptist bingo!

    I feel so left out not having any horrible job stories. I started working in a doctor’s office in high school calling the patient’s back and changing the table paper if they sat on the exam table, maybe throwing away a gown occasionally. From there I just moved my way around until I became a transcriptionist at 21. Did that for 33 years until the fibro hit. Now I have the best job in the world…..SAHW!!!!

  15. Congrats! Will you remind us on Tuesdays? I just know I’ll forget…

  16. boy is my life dull…

  17. YAAAAY IRIS!!!! So excited for you!

  18. You. Go. Girl!!! I am so happy for you!

  19. Hey congratulations!!

    that’s awesome news!

  20. Stuffee rocks!!!! I used to volunteer at the children’s museum in the little college town where I went to school and they had a Stuffee! Anyone who could 1)Memorize the Stuffee talk, all different versions of it for different ages ~and~ 2)Make me literally laugh out loud is FREAKING AWESOME in my book! Congrats on the paying gig! It’s working out well–I haven’t read anything yet that sucked, so it looks like all your dreams are coming true! 🙂

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