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Posts Tagged ‘babysitting’

So much to not love, the taking care of kids, for one. Yes, I have kids now. Yes, I love them, I love them so much that I really understand for once those corny words to the Tina Turner song, Love Hurts. But man, it’s hard taking care of kids. I want to be alone, and kids are kind of easy to get away from. You set them up with a television and video, Beauty and the Beast, let’s say, and wa-la. You’re alone.

Even then, even at that early age I wanted solitude. I liked sitting in Mrs. B.’s sewing room. Mrs. B. was a precursor to Martha Stewart. If you think about it, the whole late 1970s was that time when women broke out of the kitchen and into crafts. It was a new kind of creative time for women. For suburban women, like Mrs. B.

She stayed home, cooked and brought up the kids. But she did it with a sewing room of her own. She had plastic bins, all the scissors of different sizes and with zig-zag blades and sharp straight blades and curvy blades, all in one of the bins. Fabrics and fabric scraps. Spools of thread. Those I loved the most. Looking at her spools of thread.

I liked being at her house during the day, the kids outside in the sandbox with pails and shovels. Sometimes I’d put on the sprinkler and just let them go. They had a little swimming pool. I wouldn’t even stay outside and watch them. I knew in the back of my mind I was being reckless, but still, the sewing room was too big a draw. It had powers, that room.

Sometimes I think there was a part of me that formed while I was in that house. It was shaped like a U with square edges. A modern home, glass windows all on the interior of the U facing a courtyard. Mr. B. was from Lebanon; he looked exactly like the main character in the sitcom Taxi. One time I asked my parents if the B.’s were lesbian. My brother burst out laughing. Do you mean Lebanese?

You spend time, alone time in a house, a small child really, waif-like. I was so skinny I was like vapor, and vapor I seemed, steaming in and out of this room and that room. Lifting lids, letting secrets escape. It’s funny. My last write I talked all about what I didn’t love about babysitting. This one I seem to have found something that made it all OK.

-from Topic post, Job! What Job?; companion writing practice to this one

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I didn’t love babysitting. I dreaded it each time Mrs. H. called or Mrs. B, especially Mrs. B. Her kids were brats. I was a kid myself, I wanted to be a brat. I needed the money.

There were sunflower seeds and watermelon sticks to buy at Circle K on a hot middle-of-the-summer day. And earrings, I loved my little turquoise posts. I collected glass figurines that I bought from a glass shop in Old Town. Carmen and I took the city bus there, age 13, and shopped all day long like tourists on a vacation. We didn’t have anything else to do.

I hated being alone at night in those big houses after the kids went to sleep. The B.’s house had too much glass. I could see my reflection against the dark night. Skinny legs, brown, brown skin from being outside all the time. I was obsessed with all things scary – murders and sharks and airplane crashes and ghosts – yet I was scared to death. Still am. Still hate being in a big house by myself.

I loved nothing about babysitting, not the way Mrs. B. would tell me to feed Armin his peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich by pretending each bite was a plane. BRRRRRRR comes the plane in for a landing in your mouth. Not the way I felt compelled to look in bathroom drawers, looking for condoms or girly magazines, any evidence sex went on in that house. Not the way it made me jump when the phone rang or how the kids always fell asleep so soundly and so fast. Not even the money. Twenty-five cents an hour in some cases. But what else could I do?

-from Topic post Job! What Job?; writing practice on one of the jobs from this list

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I made a list of all the jobs I’ve loved before…who’ve traveled in and out my door…um, I mean, all the jobs in my life, which is the first step in this week’s topic post (Job! What Job?). I thought I had a lot more jobs than this. I guess I’m more stable than I care to admit.

July 13, 1974 summer diary, all rights reserved, ybonesy 20071. Babysitter: Starting at about age 13. From my Summer Diary of 1974, a few excerpts on babysitting: 

  • June 7: Dear Diary, Well, school’s out. I’m glad. I got st. A’s. Gonna babysit tonight. After school we went to Alvarado. I got my yearbook signed some more. Lisa wrote me today. I babysat the H.’s. I made $2.50. I went at 7:30 and came back about 11:45. Got to go. Bye.
  • June 10: Dear Diary, Well, I went to swimming lessons. My instructors name is Mark. We mostly just got organized. We did do some of the back float and front float. At first it was scary but it was fun too. I babysat A. and A. Got $2.25.
  • June 14: Dear Diary: Today in swimming lessons I got to dive. Michelle didn’t go. The Brody’s moved today. I babysat the B. kids from 2:00 to 12:00. Boy, were they BRATS!!! Bye.
  • June 18: Dear Diary: In swimming lessons we dived some more. Not off the high board! Mark says that this guy is a baby! He is! I like Mark. He’s nice! Also funny! I forgot to tell you yesterday but my guppy died. I babysat the B. kids. They weren’t real brats. I met their reletives. Boy, some more weirdos. Now I have about $25.00. Bye!

2. Dentist Office File Clerk: The next summer, age 14, I went to work with my sister at a dentist’s office. We drove in her brand new red MG convertible. I filed all day long while she worked the reception desk. It was the most boring job ever. After the first day of standing in front of the giant set of file cabinets pulling out identical manila folders and filing dental x-rays and insurance papers, I knew I never wanted to have anything to do with teeth again.

3. Retail clerk, Hallmark shop, age 15, where I stole something almost every day. I think the owner was on to me.

4. Banquet waitress, Albuquerque Convention Center, age 17. Got fired, along with all my friends, the night after we dropped water on debutantes and their escorts and essentially did a lousy job working the Senorita Ball

5. Hostess, age 17-18, at a restaurant housed in an old haunted building. I got to drink in the saloon after work each night even though I was under-aged.

6. Picture framer, age 19, for two different frame shops. From the second one I quit and got fired in the same instant. Good news is I can cut my own mats, and if I had the equipment, I could do my own framing. Given the cost of framing today, I ought to splurge and buy myself the tools.

7. Researcher for the Vargas Project, age 20ish. Beautiful flourishy hand-writing of the Spaniards who entered New Mexico. Otherwise showed me that I wanted nothing to do ever again with historical research.

8. Waitress for a university-area restaurant, early 20s. I never wanted to go back to waitressing, but then I discovered I needed tips to survive.

9. Account Executive for a Santa Fe advertising agency, mid 20s. Learned it’s all about image. Also learned I’m not.

10. A bum in Spain.

11. Research Assistant for a handsome Brazilian graduate professor who unlike other professors didn’t even make me grade papers (and I didn’t even sleep with him! He was just a nice guy.). I guess I was lateish 20s.

12. Program manager for a university program that did internet publishing related to Latin America. This was a cool job–got to travel all over Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean. Went to Cuba. Salary sucked. Started at age 29, quit at 35.

13. Internet trainer. Attempt to supplement my university salary. The role took me to Mexico a bunch of times. I learned how to say “mouse” and “click” and “ftp” and “telnet” and all sorts of early-internet words in Spanish.

14. Corporate sell-out, age 35. By then primary breadwinner for my family. I’ve had about six or seven different jobs in my almost eleven years with the company.

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