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the road not taken
man, did i luck out
by heather m. millen

It's no big secret. I don't particularly love my job. Now I don't particularly hate it either. It's best described with a complete and utter lack of emotion. Which, of course, is an inhibiting factor of me whisking away anyone at the office with my captivating work ethic and infectious dedication to the tasks at hand. No, most days I'm too busy daydreaming about all of the good and true things I'll do one day and what steps I can take now to ensure I get there.

And if you're like me, not to mention a staggering percentage of Americans, you don't particularly love your job either. There's something lacking. Something you'd like to change. And maybe someday you will. Or maybe you are one of the fortunate ones who jumps out of bed each morning, does a heel-click, and skips off to the office (early). Well, lucky-freakin'-you. You have it made and the rest of us poor shlubs will awe, admire, and worship you three times daily.

Now I'm not here to whine and complain. Not me; I'm gonna put this negative energy to work. No, not on my actual job. Geesh, what kind of disgruntled employee do you take me for?! Rather, I've assembled a list of some of the career paths I could've taken, so I can better examine if I really have it all that bad. What if I had actually gone with one of the many fleeting ambitions I've had towards various professions over the years? What would my life be like then?

In kindergarten through third grade, I was going to be a ballerina. Don't look at me that way, dammit. I'd be cute in a tutu. Each career day at school, when students were asked to dress like the profession they desired to be, I could be found at the back of the class in my tights and toe shoes getting sideways glances from the future doctors and lawyers of America.

Oh, I knew it wouldn't be easy. So I took the classes, I took on a mentor and thus began my path to ballet legend. I'm not exactly sure where I got led astray but within time my point shoes were tossed aside and the dust began to accrue. All for the best, I'm sure. At this point, after 20 years of dancing, my knees would be shot, I'd have probably already had a hip replaced and I wouldn't have eaten for the past eight years or so. Let's be honest, I've hardly developed into the waifish figure of a dancer. Okay, no loss here.

Kindergarten Teacher
Now, fourth through seventh grade, I was dead-set on being a teacher. I'd even take notes on my own teachers to list the things I would do differently once I was the one steering the leaders of tomorrow. At home, I would force my younger sisters into playing school, all in training for my bright future. I made lesson plans, I compiled workbooks, and I even gave out smiley faces for good work. But as junior high approached, I realized I was really too cool for children and my makeshift classroom slowly evolved into a haven for pre-teen slumber parties.

Later in life, I actually worked as a preschool assistant. There I realized I never could've been a kindergarten teacher anyway, if for no other reason than my incredible distaste for those sweaters they insist on wearing in recognition of each and every holiday. I don't care if it's Halloween, there's never a justifiable reason to wear a bright orange cardigan with a huge glittering pumpkin on the front and matching candy corn-shaped earrings.

Granted, it's not really a career of sorts, but in eighth grade, I longed to be famous. Major flaw of this plan was no discernible talent from which to be famous by. Unfortunately, at this point, my ballet wasn't particularly developing. And although I was always involved with drama club (you are looking at the former "Cinderella" of Everett Area High School, thank you), I didn't really want to be an actress.

I just wanted the fame, fortune, and onslaught of perks. I wanted to wear a feather boa for no good reason other than that's what I so decided to put on that morning. I wanted furs, jewels, and my very own paparazzi. And if I wanted my bottled water to come directly from a crystalline stream in Northern Colorado, people'd better get moving or it'd be their ass. Right. So in light of obvious obstacles, this one didn't work out. But even now, I can breathe a sigh of relief. The public eye may have not been so nice to me nor any of my antics over the years. I believe Audrey Hepburn says it best in Breakfast at Tiffany's: "There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl's complexion."

Local News Anchor
I spent most of high school with the ambition of one day being a news anchor. I was even the anchor on our closed-circuit news program at school. There I got to speak to the world (okay, maybe not the world, but a good 800 students, at least) while flaunting my keen fashion sense and affection for Blossom-esque hats. The gig was easy enough and if anything went wrong, just roll tape.

It wasn't until I started noticing the personas of successful news anchors at the time that the doubts began to set in. Practice the classic tripe news anchor demeanor in the mirror as I may, I just couldn't get it right. No matter what I did, I still looked like a real live-action human being rather than a wax-figure replica complete with overdone eye make-up and fuchsia three-piece business suit. I just couldn't get that laugh down, dripping with sweetness and borderline psychosis, nor could I create B.S. conversation over Timmy Trimmel winning the county spelling bee or fain the slightest interest in the upcoming "Bee Keeper's Festival." It wasn't for me. But I wasn't about to abandon the news completely.

International News Correspondent
Okay. So stuffed behind a little news desk in some two-bit town wasn't gonna do it for me. I needed action, adventure, travel, and a corporate expense account. I would bring the news to the people. I would travel to far off war-torn lands and tell of the controversy, the dramas, and the stories of the people who lived there. Unfortunately, a wisely warranted fear of stray bullets, kamikaze terrorists, and land mines would hamper this dream. Looking back, it's easy to find relief in abandoning this career goal. Quite simply, I'd be dead.

And that brings us back to present-day.

Somewhere around college I settled on Public Relations and continue to plot that course. It may not be most exciting road to travel, but now that I've put it into perspective, I think I'll go finish off that Monthly Report. Corporate America really isn't that bad.

What about you? What if you really had become an NFL quarterback? You'd have had five concussions by now and wouldn't be able to count how many slices of toast you had for breakfast let alone the stats you've accrued along the way.

Or how about world famous writer alongside the likes of Fitzgerald and Hemingway? You'd be an inspiring genius, penning words for the ages ... but from your alcoholic stupor, living a life of excess, plagued by mental illness, and ultimately driven to an untimely and tragic suicidal death. Sure, you'd become a legend some day, but aren't you much happier with your pro-bono work and under appreciated prose?

I know I feel damn lucky. Excuse me while I go suck up to "The Man."


Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen


stage beauty
my life with the ghost light
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topic: general
published: 5.5.06

let's hear it for the girls
sex and the female mind revealed!
by heather m. millen
topic: general
published: 2.19.03


trey askew
9.22.02 @ 11:52p

Preach on sister! I've still got hope for that president thing. 9 years to go baby!

russ carr
9.22.02 @ 11:56p

Let's see...
Inspiring genius, penning words for the ages - check!
Alcoholic stupor, life of excess, mental illness - check!
Pro-bono work, under appreciated prose - check!

Sounds like Intrepid to me.

sarah ficke
10.11.02 @ 9:24a

I always wondered about those preschool teachers and their sweaters. Even my mother, usually a very tasteful woman, had one of those christmas sweaters and holiday earrings. I think it's the influence of all of those paper cut-out decorations they put up all over the walls and doors.

jael mchenry
10.11.02 @ 3:27p

I was big on the "teacher who writes in the summers" thing in fourth grade. Must be something about that age.

adam kraemer
10.11.02 @ 3:29p

I was very disappointed to recently learn that my gradeschool teachers lied to me, and that, in fact, some snowflakes may very well be alike.

matt morin
10.11.02 @ 3:50p

And that she enjoyed you as a student.

tracey kelley
10.11.02 @ 3:51p

Ugh. If you want to hear some horrendous TV anchor stories, slide up to Matt* if you get to meet him. He'll have all types of great broadcast gossip.

In DSM, there's a 26-year-old dingbat named Bobbie Silvernail, who chased, snared and was impregnanted by a local plastic surgeon within about 5 months. Because she was a "celebrity", the local rag thought this whirlwind "love" affair was big news. Best quote: "I fell in love with {plastic surgeon}after he did my boobs, because ever since I was 16, I had always wanted 2 things in my life: bigger boobs and a man who looks like Steve Perry of Journey. And {surgeon} looks a lot like Steve, don't you think?"

Exact quote. Newsactors are not from this planet.

matt morin
10.11.02 @ 3:55p

If she wanted bigger boobs and a Steve Perry look-alike, isn't that technically 3 things she wanted?

heather millen
10.11.02 @ 4:03p

The fact that that's what she "always dreamed of", strengthens my point that news anchors are stupid little muppets.

robert melos
10.11.02 @ 9:30p

I always wanted to be a writer, from the second grade on. there was a brief four week period when paramedic/fireman was big in the 4th grade, but I came back to writer. I forced my dream to come true. Now where the hell is the money?

Forget it. Now I wanna be a rock star.

sigbjørn olsen
10.13.02 @ 3:14p

The things you always regret the most are the things you didn't do... At least that's how I see it - which I guess is why I have an inclination to do things most would not, without any form of understanding of what exactly I'm getting into (or more importantly, how the hell I get out of it).

My life would be fairly pointless if nobody remembered it, if there was nothing left by it after it's gone - exempting tragedy. But then again, I don't seem to do much to achieve what I aspire to. Irony of life.

heather millen
10.15.02 @ 3:40p

I agree, Sigborn. Though these examples are not exactly things I regret doing.

And in the end, I would much rather regret doing something than regret not doing something. Because rarely would the former happen. All of the experiences along the way, , good and bad, is what "life" is to me. And I want to live it to it's fullest.


mike julianelle
11.5.02 @ 4:18p

I want to see a picture of Heather in a Blossomesque hat. And I want to see it now.

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