Thursday, January 18, 2018

What would I be if I wasn't a writer? Jenn McKinlay

First, we have some news!       *Drum roll* 

Congratulations to our Rhys Bowen for being nominated for the Lefty Award for Best Historical Mystery for IN FARLEIGH FIELD!!!

And to Jenn McKinlay for being nominated for the RT Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Contemporary Love and Laughter for BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE!!!

Hip Hip Hooray!!!

And now, if I wasn’t a writer, what would I be?

While I love being a writer, there are days when the words won’t come where I am convinced I would prefer to be anything else…but I want it to be fun. Is that asking so much? Most occupations have a pretty steep learning curve, require multiple levels of education, licensing, residency, and what not. I am not interested in those professions. Nope.

What I want to be is the namer of names. Yes, I believe that is the proper job title. Specifically, I want to be the person who gets to come up with the names of things like the colors of nail polish or paint chips.

I feel like that would be a pretty sweet gig, allowing me to play with words but not require the commitment of an entire book.

A Prankster got loose in the paint chips! Click HERE to read more!


What about you, Reds? What is the wackiest job that you felt might be your true calling, you know, if you weren’t married to the word-smithing thang?

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm not sure if it's wacky, but I would be a interior designer. Sure, you're supposed to study something or get a certificate, but Dorothy Draper didn't have any credentials other than taste and creativity, and look how well things fell out for her. I love to add and subtract and tweak and change slipcovers in my own house - I can only imagine how much fun it would be to do for a client with more than a fifty dollar budget! (I get all my stuff at Goodwill or the 75% markdown aisle in Target.)

Also, working with someone else's money means I could hire burly laborers or skilled seamstresses to do the work - instead of having to do it myself. I have all these clever ideas about painting in my house, but whenever I run up against the fact that I'D be the one spending a week prepping, painting, and cleaning up (all while trying to keep dog and cat hair off wet paint) I decide I can live with what I have. But as the principal of Spencer-Fleming and Associates (the associate would be the Smithie, whom I would need to keep me organized) I would make a call and hey, presto! The professionals will lacquer that ceiling for me.

Confession - I may have a slightly skewed sense of how hard decorating is or how long it takes due to a steady diet of HGTV. Like, a whole-house renovation is only six half-hour episodes. How difficult could it be?'

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Jenn, I'm so mad you got Namer of Names first!!! Nail polish, lipstick, perfume, paint colors!!! I always think, "Who comes up with these??"

My next favorite job would be writing the tasting notes for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Here's an example: "The nose contrasted golden syrup sweetness with the sharpness of aniseed and lemons squeezed on a barbeque--peat-reek and barbeque char, like a battle scene from Master and Commander." Or, "The nose was fresh as the morning dew on a wakening daisy, with invigorating but subtle aromas of zingy lemon, mint, grass, pear and milk chews." (What on earth is a milk chew?) Of course, writing these would would require a lot of practice in tasting scotch whisky...



 JENN: Count me in, Debs!

But if I couldn't do either of those jobs, I'd be a film set designer. We had part of a film shot in our house once, and it was so interesting to see the little changes they made in the rooms to reflect the characters and the story. I will watch films over again just to pay attention to the set details--stories within stories. And wouldn't it be fun to be a location scout??? I could definitely do that!

HALLIE EPHRON: Namer of names would be sweet - or picker of colors-of-the-year. If those are taken, I'll be a pole vaulter. Imagine having the physical strength and grace to actually get yourself up and over. Sprint, plant, SOAR! The part where people watch as I fall on my arse? Not so much. 

RHYS BOWEN: Namer of names sounds like a sweet occupation! I wouldn't mind being a secret shopper at upscale stores, secret restaurant critic. When I was a small child I wanted to be a lion tamer. Now I am horrified how circus animals are abused so that occupation is a no-no. I also wanted to be an opera singer. I fulfilled that occupation a little when I sang with an opera chorus. Actually I'd like Rick Steve's job. Travelling around the world, exploring foods and wines and meeting local people. That sounds pretty sweet to me.

LUCY BURDETTE: if we are not being realistic, I would like to be a basketball player, or even better a rock ‘n’ roll/country music singer, along the lines of Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt. Or for that matter, I wouldn’t mind performing in musicals on Broadway. 



However, if talent, age, and height are problems, then John always tells me I should have been a very high-quality hotel tester. The kind of person that would go into a really top notch hotel and check out their towels, their sheets, the comfort of their beds, and other amenities. Maybe I would check in for a night and experience the room, order room service, and then write up reviews. But no flea bags please!

INGRID THOFT: Namer of names would be the best job ever!  But second to that, (and is this is wildest dreams, right, so the laws of nature don’t apply?) I’d be an ice cream flavor tester at Ben and Jerry’s.  Somebody has to suffer through the grueling work of trying scoop after scoop, deciding if a flavor needs more peanut butter or perhaps fewer nuggets of cookie dough.  I’d also like to develop new flavors (and name them!) which would provide an outlet for my creative energy.  And since the laws of nature have been suspended, my cholesterol would be A+ worthy, and I wouldn’t gain a pound!



JENN: I have your back, Ingrid, or more accurately your spoon!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  All these sound wonderful! And I would happily be your apprentice, all of you. As for me, my choices, I fear, are a little bossy.  I would love to be a stylist for people, maybe on TV, maybe? Or in general? Like the fashion police, only  thoughtful and compassionate. I could stop people and say, in the nicest of ways, want to talk about what you’re wearing? 
I am sure it is completely shallow, and I am embarrassed. But sometimes I think… with “With Just the tiniest bit of tweaking, or, perhaps, a nice camisole, you would look so much better.”
Maybe I could be a restaurant table arranger, to make sure everyone has enough room, and their chairs don’t knock into the people behind them.
Or! Because I am sitting in the Phoenix airport now, perhaps I could be the “everybody get in line, and no pushing” supervisor. And also the onboard luggage enforcer, requiring people to put their carry-on bags over their own seat, and not simply where it is convenient for them.

Or, yeah. A rock star. 

What about you, Readers? If you could do anything, what would be your wackiest job choice?


85 comments:

  1. I, too, would definitely choose to be the Namer of Names . . . .
    But, if that’s taken, I want to be the person who gets to decide on the design for the next smart phone [so I can have all the perks I want and eliminate all the stuff I can definitely live without] . . . .

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    1. Nice choice - I’d be happy to give you my list of must haves :)

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  2. Congrats Rhys and Jenn. Both well deserved.

    If I couldn't be an accountant (and believe me, there are days I wish I didn't have to be, especially right now), I'd love to be a paid reviewer. I would love to be paid what I make now at the day job to read what I want and watch what I want when I want and then review it. No deadlines. No stress. Just me enjoying the world of fiction on my time table.

    Anyone know where I can get a job like that? Pretty please? My company is being sold at the end of the month, so I will probably need a new job by the end of the year.

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    1. Sorry about the job sitch - hopefully a dream gig will come along!

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    2. I have 20 years before I can even think about retiring, but by then Social Security will be completely gone (bankrupted by baby boomers and politicians who refuse to do anything about it), so I will never be able to retire.

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    3. Mark, dear friend, please don't blame the boomers. Some of us, including me, have paid into the system for fifty years, and are just now able to get the benefit of a promise made to us our whole lives.

      I fervently hope Social Security will be there for you, and for my children, as well.

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  3. So exciting, Jenn and Rhys! Congratulations.

    I'd love to be an automotive reviewer, so I could drive all the hot sports cars, then explain to moms how they could have the satisfaction of horsepower and the ability to merge into traffic at highway speeds, while still cramming a couple of soccer kids into the back.

    One job I never in the world imagined I would have, much less enjoy, is one I lucked into fairly recently: writing liner notes and program notes for classical music recordings and concerts. I'm nowhere near a musicologist, but then neither are most listeners, so I get to indulge both my love of historical research and my snarky sense of humor while helping people understand what a screwed-up (but lovable!) mess their favorite composer was.

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    1. Yes, I can see yo at the wheel of a Ferrari... writing liner notes.

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    2. LOL - I like Hallie’s mashup of the two jobs!

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  4. Gigi, what a great gig!

    Jenn and Rhys, congratulations to both.

    I'd be a performer with Cirque du Soleil or a gymnast. I would love to have that kind of pinpoint control over my body. Or I'd be a professional chef or scuba diver. OMG, how are any of these even related! Fun flights of fancy though - thanks, Jenn!

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    1. Very fun! I topped out height wise in gymnastics by age ten :( always a dream...

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  5. Congratulations, Rhys and Jenn!!

    Oh, yeah, since I was a kid I wanted to be an official ice cream taste tester. Still do.

    And growing up watching James Bond movies with my dad, I wanted to be a secret agent/spy. Travel the world incognito, use all kind of cool gadgets and save the world!

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    1. Also, I should mention that in the 1970s I also watched TV shows such as The Avengers and the Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman which all have undercover spies as leads. Who did not want to kick butt like Emma Peel?

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    2. A guy once asked me if I liked the Avengers so much because of the really neat antique cars. Really??! No, I wanted to be Emma Peel--wear those great jumpsuits, drive the coolest cars ever and kick some serious butt!

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    3. Hallie, have you seen diana rigg lately? You really don't want to be her.

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    4. Hey now, Ann! Considering she's 79, she's looking pretty fierce. I have to admit, the headdress she wore as Lady Oleanna Tyrell was very flattering. Maybe we should bring back wimples for women of a certain age (and jaw sagginess?)

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    5. Julia - She was my fave GOT character!!! You knew when she was in the scene, the sharp wit would leave others bleeding. Fabulous. And, yes, to the wimple :)

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    6. That ^ was me -- Jenn. Forgot to sign out of blogger...again.

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    7. 79? I thought the aging was mostly makeup. Yikes. She’s even older than I

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    8. I love the way the Brits allow actresses to age naturally, and continue to include female characters of all ages in the stories they tell. Also, kudos to that New Jersey boy, George, for writing strong female characters of all ages.

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  6. Congratulations Rhys and Jenn!

    I don't know of a "wacky" job that I would like to have.

    I know that I did an unpaid version of a "job" for 25 years when I was a basketball coach / board member for the local youth basketball league. Growing up I wanted to be the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics, but since I wasn't that great of a player, I learned the game so that I could coach it.

    I love music and while I can't carry a tune in a bucket, the idea of being a musician would be cool. But the kind that existed in the 70's and 80's when rock and metal ruled the world.

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    1. Go Celtics!!! I played as a youth - but not very well. And, yes, 70's and 80's were the best years for rock stars.

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    2. Jenn,

      I was never a good player either. I knew what to do but I just couldn't get my body to do it. I realized early on that playing wasn't going to be my thing so I told everyone in the league that I wanted to be a coach.

      They thought I was joking, except for one coach (Tony Dias) who told me if that's what I wanted to do then I should go for it. I started as an assistant coach when I was 14 and was a head coach when I was 18. And years later, that coach who encouraged me was my assistant coach as we took a championship with our team. His passing a few years after that was as sad for me as losing my father and later my mother.

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  7. I love these, but would not care for being a namer of names. I would like to be able to sing beautifully. I marvel at people with beautiful voices. They open their mouths and lovely comes out.

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    1. When I was a kid, that's what I wanted to be. I would sing and sing and sing - my poor family. I had a knack but no real talent.

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  8. First of all, congrats to Jenn and Rhys on their nominations! As to 'interesting' jobs - well, either being the person behind the scenes who gets to catalog and decide what goes into the exhibits at the Smithsonian or some museum like that (I love historical details) or being a 'book display creator' (if that makes sense). When I worked at the library, one of my favorite things to do was create displays of books with 'curious' and 'interesting' themes. I'd wander the shelves looking for inspiration. Naturally, I highlighted certain authors that I myself loved. It's amazing how quickly those books were picked up and checked out.

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    1. Oooo, museum curator! Good one!

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    2. Kay, I got my master's in Museum Study, and got to take classes and intern at the Smithsonian. And yes, behind the scenes IS as interesting as you more imagine.

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    3. Agreed, Gigi, that is a good one!

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  9. In 4th grade I remember writing an essay like this and I wanted to be a figure skater. I still would, assuming we're suspending the laws of reality so I can be slim and athletic. As a teenager I dreamed of being an astronaut or a police detective (yes, really). In real life I'm not smart enough to be an astronaut and a congentital severe hearing loss means I could never be a police officer. Now I'm a college writing instructor trying to figure out how to find time to write every day so I can be a writer -- like my favorite authors, you Reds!

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    1. I grew up on a pond that froze over every year and spent hours perfecting my spins. I dreamed of being a figure skater, too!

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  10. Simply shocked that no one mentioned the obvious. ..a Hallmark Card writer. Not the soupy one but the witty one. With insight snd aplomb you could dash off neat little one liners without having to worry about daily word counts.And you could specialize on occasions becoming the guru of "weddings" or "buddies". Agh the good life.

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    1. One tiny claim to fame of mine is that I actually did sell ONE verse to Blue Mountain Arts, the indie card company in Colorado. I don't think it ever even made it into a card, but it was a bit of a thrill.

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    2. Well done, Susan! I’d love to write the funny ones!

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  11. Congratulations Jenn and Rhys! Very exciting and well-deserved!

    This is a little less fanciful, but I once seriously considered going to school to become a massage therapist. I liked the idea that you make each client feel so good and then walk away, with no homework nor further commitment. (I may have been feeling a bit burned out from highly responsible managerial jobs at the time.)

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    1. Seriously, hard on the hands...

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    2. How fabulous - this one has never occurred to me. Happy to be on the receiving end, however!

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  12. Congratulation to Rhys and Jenn!

    Ice cream taster? Yes, absolutely, I could do that. If we're in complete fantasy land (as in no years of practice required), I'd be a pianist. I would love to be able to play beautiful music.

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    1. I'd like to be a pianist too, Christine. I took lessons from the third grade thru the first year of college, at which point we all decided I had no talent whatsoever. as we speak there is an out-of-tune Baldwin sitting in my living room.

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    2. Anyone who's attempted to learn an instrument for which she has NO talent knows that Malcom Gladwell's "ten thousand hours to become a master" is a beautiful lie.

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    3. Out of tune upright Conway sitting in my living room - free to a good home! All the men here know how to play but it's not the instrument of choice. I just dust it - when I remember :)

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  13. Hank, you're killing me: "I could stop people and say, in the nicest of ways, want to talk about what you’re wearing?"

    One of my high school teachers actually said that to me on a particularly mismatched day . . .

    I approve of many of the jobs suggested here, and would enjoy a few of them myself (restaurant critic, travel writer).

    I think I'd also enjoy being an art house movie projectionist, a water aerobics instructor (only if the classes were limited to women with bodies of a certain age), a library workspace designer and a beer taster.

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    1. Oh, so funny! I would’ve been nicer than she/he was, and she/he probably did not understand how cool you were. Xxx

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    2. Love to sit in airports and play fashion police, all the while wearing jeans and sensible shoes.

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    3. Love your list, Brenda! Movie projectionist and beer taster combined works for me!

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  14. Congratulations Rhys and Jenn!

    Me, I'd like to be a secret restaurant reviewer. I'd never have to wonder "what's for dinner?" agan.

    And yes, we'd suspend the laws of nature, so eating all that delicious food would not put on an ounce.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Mary/Liz, that would be bliss, never wondering about the dinner menu again!

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    2. Yes! I loathe the dread I feel at four o'clock in the afternoon when I have no idea what to make.

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  15. When I was younger, I wanted to be Laura Holt, as played by Stephanie Zimbalist, on Remington Steele. I would have my own detective agency, and solve cases, but Pierce Brosnan would show up to assume the role of Remington and be my love interest! And I would look more like Stephanie Zimbalist. LOL. I still wouldn't mind that now. I'm older, but then, so is Pierce Brosnan.

    Alternatively, I'd like to own a combination book store/tea shop, along the lines of Annie Darling's book store/coffee shop from Carolyn Hart's Death on Demand series. And I'd have Max for a love interest. *g*

    I also want to hire Hank for my stylist!

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    1. Ha, Mary, I'm sure I had dibs on Laura Holt first! I loved that show so much I used to record it--on VHS tapes, if anyone even remembers those... And Pierce Brosnan, sigh. I'm sure at some point in his early incarnation, Duncan looked just a little like Pierce.
      I was so sorry to hear when Doris Roberts, who played Mildred, passed away in 2016.

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    2. Oh, I didn't think about Annie Darling's book store! I change my mind - that's what I want. And those most interesting paintings - someone would need to take care of those.

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    3. I loved that show and Moonlighting! Very sad about Doris Roberts - what a talent!

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    4. MaryC, I really like the way you think! And as to Pierce Brosnan being older now, well, he still looks just fine to me. Sigh.

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    5. I liked Remington Steele and Moonlighting a lot. I don't watch network tv anymore, it isn't entertaining, only cable and Netflix.

      Piece Brosnan still looks good to me! Bruce Willis has changed a lot!

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  16. Rhys and Jenn, congratulations! No surprises there!

    Fantasy job--I'd like to work in the props' shop on a movie like HP--any of the HPs! My favorite quote was from the person who managed it all--he said the director, etc., would come up with a really great idea and turn to the CG-department & he'd say, "Wait! WE can make that actually work!"

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    1. Flora, what a great job! I'd absolutely love doing that!

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    2. I got to tour the HP studio outside London in 2013 - it was AMAZING! My favorite part was being in Snape's potions room, oh, also the humungous chess pieces, the bridge, and the night bus. So cool!

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  17. I hearby nominate Hank as the BOSS of everything!! We would all be much more organized, more polite, and we would certainly look better!

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    1. I just burst out laughing. Does it come with health insurance?

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    2. AND! I grew up with my sister saying to me: "You aren't the boss of everything." And that would make her WRONG! Love it.

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    3. Seconded! And if my recent travel experiences are typical, we need an overhead compartment boss. Can you also make the people in boarding group four SIT DOWN so the rest of us can get through when our groups are called?

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    4. Yes, please! Hank, we need you to get us primped and polished!

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  19. Oooh, ooh. I have it. How about being the person that people who want to be private chefs audition to? (I'm sure there's a clearer way to say that, but you know what I mean.)

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  20. Hank, I love your ideas. Someone, please, enforce the placement of carry-on bags!

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    1. Isn’t it so jaw-droppingly frustrating?

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    2. I've stopped doing carry-ons because I sensed I would snap and calmly chuck someone's little bag to the tarmac below - pretty sure that's frowned upon.

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    3. YUP. Most I've ever done is: Um, are you actually sitting there? Because that one empty seat is MY seat, and the place above it is only place available, so it's, um actually, mine.

      The guy SLAMMED his bag out, cursing, and huffed away.

      I sweetly said "Thank you!"

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  21. Kudos on the kudos, Rhys and Jenn! Well-deserved noms, for both of you.

    Since I was a starry-eyed fangirl of my cousins' band when I was thirteen I've wanted to be a backup singer. They never asked me, and I was far too shy and gawky to ask if I could sing with them. And play the tambourine, of course. Maybe I could sing backup for Hank or Lucy? Or both! I like both rock and country. And we could review hotels on road trips.

    I was a real-life kitchen and bath designer for a year, and then later designed and oversaw a kitchen/screen porch/garage addition to our house. Honestly, that was my dream job, and I still miss flexing those creative muscles. They're getting used again now, as we plan our new home.

    However, what I really would love to do, if anyone would pay me for it, would be to design--or redesign--public bathrooms. They're almost always awful, aren't they? Either the stalls are too small, or not numerous enough, or they have all those signs plastered all over about washing your hands, and then no convenient way to do that, and then you have to PULL THE DOOR HANDLE to get out. The single germiest object in the world. And don't get me started on the disparity in how many stalls there are at large public venues for women vs. for men. I've seen floorplans for so many convention centers (when I spent 15-20 weeks a year traveling to consumer shows) with men's restroom with dozens of urinals, and a handful of stalls for women. No wonder there are long lines. Oops, I guess I did get started, didn't I?

    Debs, isn't a milk chew like a milk chocolate caramel candy? No idea how I know that, but it floated up from someplace in my cranial filing cabinet.

    I'd be no good at all naming things, but would enjoy what everyone else came up with!

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    1. Brilliant! Absolutely, brilliant. And then you can come work on my house. I have a list!

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    2. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we are going to remodel out master bath. I cannot find a bath designer, no one seems interested in the job.

      Apparently, HGTV gives us an unrealistic view of services available.

      if you want the job, its yours! :)

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  22. congratulations rhys and jenn.

    i'm having serious computer issues, thus the laack of capps and the repeating of letters.

    our juliie sang backup for the carpenters lo those many dys ago. i'd really like to be able to sing or even just carry a tune.

    Or a physicist/mathematician. sort o like sheldon on the big bang theory.

    but most of all, today, i want to be the supervisor of that apple support call center person who hung up on me this morning. i would so be firing her forthwith.

    PS I called back and got a dear child called stephanie who took care of me in the manner to which i am accustomed.

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    1. re naming names, i would lik33e to be the person who names newborns. No more unpronounceable gender non-specific surnames, directions, fruits or vegetables.

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    2. "Firing her forthwith" I enjoyed that way more than I should have. So much customer service housecleaning to do - Oy! You're hired, Ann.

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    3. It’s very easy. The customer is always right. Period. People will tell nine more people about a complaint. And if it’s a good story, those nine each tell nine more. Nordstrom knows about this. So does Wegman’s. Apple should take note.

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  23. Oh, I wish I could sing. All styles, all music. Not even a bucket helps. Dream job? Be paid to read anything I wanted, watch any movie, and not have to report on it to anyone. Yeah, I don't think that's happening. I would love to be the traffic police. I would be able to shoot paint splotches on cars whose drivers were rude, discourteous, stupid, dangerous---you get the idea.

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    1. Paint balling traffic cop? LOVE LOVE LOVE.

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  24. Congratulations to Rhys and Jenn on your nominations! It must be such a thrill to have your work recognized that way.

    In an anything goes possibility for jobs, there are several things that come to mind. Being a singer with a voice like Alison Krauss would be divine. Her songs with her amazing musicians crew and her musicality always have such an intimate touch to them, but a reaching out to include those listening. And, since I'm one of those crazy people who often imagine a song and dance routine as I'm out in public, maybe musical theatre would be a good choice.

    Then, there is the area of travel. I'd love to be paid to travel to different places and seek out the literary connections and be paid to report on those. Or, do tours of book settings. I still haven't given up hope of a London tour of Debs' settings there.

    And, of course, like Mark, it would be wonderful to be a paid reviewer. But, then maybe the best of all would be to own a bookstore and have author events where you get to promote and spend time with your favorite authors and their books.

    Oh, one more. Goat keeper. Having a farm where I raise goats, but it would be even better if I got to play with the goats and someone else did the daily stuff. I know that seems a bit lazy, but, hey, it's a fantasy deal.

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  25. Big congrats to Jenn and Rhys!
    Writing IS my daydream job. I did several other jobs before I got to this place in my life. But alternatively? Costume designer. I always notice costumes in moveies and plays and always end up in the clothing department of any museum that has one. The fact that I can't draw, am a mediocre seamstress and -even when I sewed - did not have that great eye for combining fabric and style should not be roadblock, should it? :-)

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