My First Seven Jobs:
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- Counselor at an outdoor wilderness program in Quebec.
Let's pause here.
If you know me - if you know me at all, if you've read my blog, if you've ever run into me at the market or in my backyard (the only two places I go), you will think this story is a lie.
You will be wrong.
There are only two words necessary to explain how I wound up being a counselor in Quebec at an outdoor wilderness program that featured juvenile delinquents and untamed nature:
Those words also explain how in my life I came to join the Communist Party, failed 8th grade algebra on purpose, and why I went to San Francisco State College for, like, twenty minutes after graduating high school.
My boyfriend at the time (we'll call him Chris Craven. Because that's his name) said yes when our friend (we'll call him Donny Becker. Because that's his name) suggested the idea. We were all living in (we'll call it Santa Cruz. Because that's where we were living) hippie bliss, composting our gardens, henna-ing our hair and eating homemade (possibly poisonous) tofu when Donny said, "let's lead a wilderness program this summer in Canada."
There might have been pot involved in that idea.
Chris said, "why not?"
And Donny's girlfriend at the time said, "I'm in."
I am not a wilderness sort of gal. I'm a chaise lounge by the pool sort of gal. But Chris was so wonderful. And Donny is a great friend. And I always wanted to be the type of person about whom people would say, "she led an outdoor wilderness program in Quebec."
The fly in that ointment is that I would have to actually do it to earn the reputation.
This is the part of life that aggravates me the most: you have to actually do things to get credit for having done them. Fuck me.
It was gorgeous in the wilds of Quebec. The kind of rugged, untamed nature that I would normally have to have been court-ordered to spend the summer in. Which, ironically, was why the teenagers in the program were there.
They were about three years younger than I was. But even if they had been a hundred and three years younger, there was no way they were going to see me as an authority figure.
For one thing, they needed to show me how to do everything. I forgot to learn survival skills before coming to this experience. My bad.
For another thing, I cried a lot.
I can only imagine what kind of role model I was for these hoodlums. Between the life they knew and the life they saw me living (whimpering, screaming at the sight of bugs, tripping and falling my way up and down mountains, flipping over canoes and not being able to climb back in, and did I already say crying?), I think it was prudent of them to choose to return to shooting up and hooking on the streets of Montreal.
They are probably quite successful today. I really should try to get in touch. Maybe one of them is a literary agent.I have a manuscript. About a summer in Quebec.
One hoodlum in particular sticks in my memory.
Every morning we rustled the kids' sleeping bags and banged pots and pans to wake them up because they needed to collect wood for a fire to make breakfast.
I would say to this particular hoodlum, "get up! You need to get wood for the morning fire."
And he would open his sleeping bag, show me his nakedness, and say, "I got your morning wood right here."
It was a great joke.
It only took me about ten years to get it.