Nice Ninjas and a Growing Job Portfolio

Coming back into the classroom after recess, Ms. D. told me that I had been reassigned for lunch. They needed me to be a lunch lady from 12:00-12:45 for the mainstream kindergarten classes and then I would take my own lunch. My tasks involved wheeling the garbage can over to the kids, where they could dump their pizza crusts and snack bags. Then I was to supervise the chaos on the playground for thirty minutes.

As I held open the school doors for the sixty or so children to race out into to the frigid jungle gym, another lunch person shouted at me: “Watch Danny! He’s not supposed to play. He has to sit at that table and play with lego.” Two tubs of colorful blocks were shoved in my arms.

Danny saw me approaching and gave the universal body language for “fuck that!” He crossed his arms and scowled at me. I tried to move him but his feet were firmly anchored to the ground. Another lunch person said, “okay, just make sure that he doesn’t move around.” She whispered that he just had an operation.

So, I guarded Danny in the corner of the playground, and he continued to glower at me. I tried to lighten the mood and said, “dude, come on. Legos are fun. Let me do it with you.” Like a five-year old boy really wants to hang out with an old lady with crazy hair.

He said, “you call me dude again and I’ll take you out.”


“You call me dude again, and I’ll take you out.”

“Well, that’s not a very nice thing to say!”

“Ninjas say that.”

“Not nice ninjas. Nice ninjas don’t say rude things to grown ups!” And then we proceeded to argue about the social skills of professional ninjas.

That was a snippet of my day yesterday. I’ve been subbing in the local elementary schools on Thursdays. I get away from my computer, the kids are adorable, and I burn a ton of calories hoisting children off the floor all day.

Working in the schools is just one part of my growing job portfolio. My freelance writing and research gigs are the most profitable and take up most of the week. The online vintage bookstore is great for late afternoons, when my brain is kaput. I’ve got my labors of love – the newsletters and blog – and a draft of a book, which is picking up steam. And it’s all suddenly taking off. When I finish this blog post, I will package up two books for the post office. Then I’ll figure out a newsletter topic, make revisions of an article, hunt down subjects for the research project, write that newsletter, and set up the bookshelves for a photoshoot of a huge library of brand new hardcover books. At some point, I start shopping for tubs and faucets, because the mid-50s pink bathroom is finally going to get replaced.

Income-wise, my hustles and ventures are starting to add up in time and income to a real job. But it’s a job where I have completely control. I decide what I’m going to do every day. If the boys need help, they get priority. And the variety of tasks means that I never get bored.

I always liked Marx’s concept of a communist society, where a person could do one thing in the morning and another in the afternoon.

For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”

If you could piece together your perfect job portfolio, what would it look like?