The best unlaid plans

by Pari


The other day I went to buy a garden gnome (yes, you read that right) and ended up with a garden hippopotamus instead.  In reflecting on this odd turn in my original mission, I realized that it exemplified much of my life: I think I’m walking a straight line forward and end up on a curving one 93 degrees in another direction.

Mind you, I’m not complaining; the journey is always interesting. But in watching this motion, I’ve been wondering about why I keep striving for control.

What’s up with that?

Certainly not logic.

Many of the best moments  in my life have come from mistakes, wrong turns or unbridled curiosity.  I have so many examples of this . . .
In my last year of college, I thought I’d signed up for a history colloquium on death and dying. Instead I landed in a seminar about jungles. Yeah, jungles.  And it ended up being one of the most fascinating classes I’ve ever taken.

Another Ann Arbor experience ( . . . and I got to Ann Arbor in a roundabout way too):  
I saw several people walking toward a building with great enthusiasm and purpose, so I followed them. Guess what? Somehow I ended up in a master class about pantomime taught by Marcel Marceau. He must’ve known I didn’t belong there, but he let me stay. Would I have ever had that opportunity if I’d followed the rules and tried to register? I doubt it. The class had been sold out for months.

While a student in Hong Kong, I ordered a bowl of corn chowder. I thought it’d be the first truly western meal I’d had in months. Instead it contained silver fungus. Did I like that crunchy cartilaginous content? Nope. But it has made for a good story in the aftermath. The same can be said for snails, the spinal cord of a pig, sea slugs, molasses-cured grasshoppers, kidneys and blood sausage. Would I have eaten them if I knew what I was getting? Probably not. Am I glad I did? Well . . . mostly. I’m not a fan of congealed blood and sea slugs are the culinary version of snot.

My professional career has been just as unpredictable though I ALWAYS thought I’d make my living as a novelist. I certainly never intended to go into public relations and never bothered to get the credentials that some employers look for. And yet every job I’ve had has involved PR.  Tomorrow I start a new full-time gig as a program manager. My fiction has helped my nonfiction and it’s the latter that is going to carry me through this financially tumultuous time in my life.

If you’ve been reading my blog entries, you know I’m in a period of tremendous transition. The forward dreams I held about my marriage and future are in shambles. However, I have faith, given my fortuitous unplanned life experiences so far – that in spite of my efforts to control my life – everything will be fine and, probably, entirely different from what I expect.

What about you?

I’m in the mood for happy stories, so .  . .
Do you have an example of planning/ controlling that went awry and became something better?

Or you can help me name my hippo. I’m leaning toward “Petunia,” but am open to suggestions.


48 thoughts on “The best unlaid plans

  1. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Pari

    What a great post, and I hope your unlaid plans take you in a direction that brings you health, luck and happiness.

    My entire career as a photographer was unplanned – I wanted to write fiction, fell into non-fiction, and ended up earning a good enough living from it that Andy was able to give up his job and become 'my young apprentice' (you have to say this in the cackly voice of the emperor from Star Wars). The only thing I'm actually qualified to be is a horse-riding instructor.

    Love the hippo, btw. How about Adorabella, Evangeline, or Bridget?

    We have a gargoyle called Desmond who was intended for the garden, but actually sits in our downstairs cloakroom with a towel around his neck.

  2. Catherine

    Pari I just got off the phone talking with my eldest daughter where I mentioned after something inexplicable happened, ' I don't care about rational, I just want it to work.' I suggested that this was an apt family motto.

    I've had numerous unplanned benefits happen throughout my life.

    The most dramatic was having a car accident on my way home from work one night. The other driver and I walked away from the accident, but both our cars were written off. I had just enough injuries to not be able to work at my job or study. I think I've learnt patience now. That period of time of enforced rest gave me enough time to realise that working for the software company I was, was as bad as I'd thought…actually a bit worse than I thought because even though I was in pain I was thrilled not to have to go there every day.

    For each thing that sucked, there was an equal to or greater benefit.

    As part of a rehab scheme my return to work was with a local small publishing house, and then I worked for about 6 months at the local library. I found out that even when I worked with a fairly sociopathic supervisor I still loved turning up to work each day. So although I don't see library work as my final career, it's definitely one I'm prepared to commit to for a long period of time. If my plans had continued down the path I'd set I'd possibly still be working in a field that I found draining.

    It's not to say that doing my Masters in Library Science is all beer and skittles, it's harder than I thought it would be. I think in part because this matters to me I'm not just skimming along. Somehow without planning I've found a career path that is opening up a lot more than I expected.

    I vote 1 Gertie

  3. Reine

    Hi Pari,

    I love your sweet little hippo. How about calling her Haldis, meaning stone spirit, from the Norse. I kind of like Adorabella, or even Arabella, too.

    Once, I went to apply for a job as a carpenter and was offered a spot on the police force. That was a great time. There were many others, but probably the best nice turn on things happened at school in Boston. I was studying theology and thought I would take the opportunity to study neuroscience and do the brain lab while there. At the end of the course, I was offered a place as a fellow with an apartment at school. I stayed on to be a member of the faculty and administration after I graduated.

    Now I want a gargoyle. I'll name him Gallagher.

  4. Sarah W

    About fifteen years ago, it dawned on me that I wasn't going to find a permanent teaching job and I didn't care, but if I spent one more week as senior clerk in a chain bookstore under the management of the Marquis de Catbert, things would get ugly.

    So I quit the next day, took the GRE, applied to library school at a university half a state away and moved there with my husband, all in less than three weeks — timing is everything. After I earned my MLS, I hauled my longsuffering spouse three states west for a job, which I had for two years until I hopped the Mississippi for a better one.

    Never regretted it — best instant decision I ever made.

    (I have a garden cat made of stone, named Henge. He sits under the small pine my older daughter grew for me in an egg-carton years ago . . .his name is Treefer Southerland . . . )

  5. billie

    Love the post and the comments! I have always had a sense that there is something going on beyond what I can envision and control (although I try mightily much of the time to do so) and when I allow myself to "follow" the things that pop up and view them as possibilities, good things happen.

    Of course at some point in life I realized this was synchronicity, and that even difficult life events often fell into this category. We all know it when we read and write novels – the challenges are what make the story and build the characters! It works that way in fiction because it works that way in life. But we tend to resist that notion.

    I love that you're looking at things from a perspective that allows for good to come from things that are stressful and unknown. And love your hippo – I keep thinking the name Esmerelda when I look at the picture. We have several stone creatures that live in our gardens – one is a cat bathing himself, and one a very proper rabbit sitting upright. We have a turtle and several frogs. Oddly we have never named them – they are wild creatures who sort of live as symbols, I guess. Though I feel their energy whenever I pass by.

    We also have a metal sculpture of a funky person flying a kite. There's a message there for me as well, and I always stop and think about it when I walk by, even if it's only for a second.

    Look up hippo in Ted Andrews' book Animal Speak – I would do it but am on the run to the barn!

  6. Murderati fan

    Dear Pari, woman I admire. Naming a hippo is no easy task. Philomeena, Phillopina, Phantasia, Phredrika. I wish I could have been there and heard the conversation when you two met. She seems so full of childish wisdom. Judy
    And I wonder if she stopped by to munch on a leaf while on her way to the fountains and whoops you came along and plucked her to be in your world.

  7. Rae

    Hi Pari,

    Congrats on the new gig! And I love Petunia.

    I like control. Picture Monica from Friends…“Rules help control the fun!”

    I could tell you a number of stories about planning gone awry in my life, and how much better my life is due to those happy accidents. Here’s one, related to both crime fiction and transitions:

    In 2003 I needed to get my life in order (which really means I wanted more control over it 😉 and I decided one of the things I was going to do was start reading crime fiction again. That was it. I was just going to start reading the type of books I had loved as a youngster. I very specifically was not interested in meeting new people. You should also know that I hate conventions – I like to say I won’t attend events where I don’t control the guest list. You can see where I’m going with this, right? So, I picked up a book called “The Last Detective” by a guy called Robert Crais, and loved it so much that I wanted to know more about this writer who had created such magic. Which led me to his forum (now defunct), and Lee Child’s forum and to my first Bouchercon, and to chairing a Bouchercon. The most important part of it all, of course, is that through all of this unplanned excellence, I made friends who I cherish, and found myself with a life that makes me pretty darned happy most days.

  8. Gar Haywood


    This was a terrific post. Does anything ever go as planned in this life? Wouldn't it be a shock to the system if something finally did? But as you point out, often enough to make living all worthwhile, something really great comes out of the unexpected, so coming home with a hippo when you left the house to buy a gnome will probably turn out okay. Personally, though, I would have started intending to buy a hippo. Maybe that's just me.

    Her name? How about Caprice? Merriam-Webster defines the word, in part, as "a sudden, usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes."

  9. Richard Maguire

    Pari, my grandmother had a hippo, made of stone, in her vegetable garden. She called him Horace. (In Latin, Quintus Horatius. A Roman poet and satarist. I just looked that up, btw. She lived to be almost 100.)

  10. Eika

    I'll second Reine: Haldis is pretty.

    For me, it was which college I went to. My dream college, Green Mountain, had 600 students, half-hour drive from anything, was on a farm, a good chunk of the food was grown on the farm, senior projects in the past had put up windmills for the colleges electricity… and I couldn't afford it. I intended to transfer there after a year at a public university and fell in love. Best friends, teachers, and environment I could want… and after a class in Technical Communications, I think I'd be happy working in a business, something I never even considered.

    How about that?


  11. Allison Davis


    My life is pretty much the — oh, what's down there, let's go find out kind of path. I'm not much of a planner. I came to SF and wanted to be a beat poet. I ended up working in advertising because it was the closest thing to writing I could find (and they offered me a job). Then I went "freelance" — did PR, wrote prolifically for local papers, starved, worked temp as a secretary, ended up working in an insurance brokerage, got my license and ran the brokerage for a few years, got bored and went to law school. At the same time, I was still writing mostly art criticism for a paper that was supposed to go national but we got screwed by the lawyer doing the offering (!?). Part of the reason I went to law school was because I spent a couple summers in Alaska hanging out in placer gold mines with folks my dad worked for in the '40's … that's too long a story for here. Then law school, much writing postponed — my last poetry reading was 1995. I onlly applied to two colleges, both early decision (one in NY, then I ended up in the Berkshire Mountains because I thought that was better for poetry, I was 16, stupid). So, now in the thick of my career, trying to get those books done.

    Hippo is definitely female, Harriet (Harry for short?) maybe? Harley? I would have gotten the Hippo, too.

  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I was 100% for Petunia until I read Louise and Gar's suggestions. Now I'm conflicted.

    I love the Marcel Marceau story. That is exactly the type of life experience you open yourself up to by leading a carefree life. These kind of things happen to me all the time when I'm in "research" mode. I go looking for one thing and let the universe tell me what I really need to find.

  13. Alafair Burke

    That is adorable!

    Way back when, I moved from Portland to Buffalo, New York, with a boy. I hated my job. I hated the city. I didn't hate the boy, but did realize he just wasn't right for me. Because I had already left Portland and my prosecutor job there, I finally went on the teaching market. I moved to Manhattan. I had time to start that book I always wanted to finish. I met my wonderful husband.

    I don't believe that trite phrase that things happen for a reason, but I do think that we have the strength to make the best of the unexpected.

  14. David Corbett

    You lost me at Ann Arbor (Go Bucks!!).


    I met Terri, my late wife, because she walked past me on the street in Berkeley. (I'm sure I've told you this story.) My brother had died six months earlier of AIDS and he'd begged me to get married so I wouldn't be lonely. Then this Modigliani walked past me — I was smitten, but almost talked myself out of stalking her. I felt an odd premonition, maybe even a presence, urging me to follow her into the cafe into which she led me. She later remarked, "It took you ten minutes to get up the nerve to talk to me, then you didn't shut up for two hours."

    I was working on my most recent novel, and wanted to do research in Guatemala, when an email came in from Joyce Maynard about a writing workshop she was giving on Lake Atitlan. I thought, Oh hell, as long as I'm down there, I might as well hang out with the tribe. My girlfriend-to-be was making the same decision a continent away, but too late — she was put on the waiting list. Finally, at the last moment, a spot opened up, and she flew to Guatemala. We met almost didn't meet, but since I'd been through this before, I knew better than to toss the opportunity away.

    So — serendipity doo dah. Take advantage of your chances. And they are chance(s).

    But seriously — the maize and blue?


  15. Barbie

    The Hippo HAS to be Petunia. It's all over her that that's her name! 🙂

    I think some of the best things in life are unplanned. Like… when I went on exchange to the US, I was supposed to work at a Ski resort in Lake Tahoe and live in a house with a group of kids around my age. Instead, I ended up living in Reno, livinng with a woman and her two daughters, whom I babysat, and working in a daycare. I couln't have planned it better if I'd thought of it. It sort of just happened and fell into place and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

    I hope your unlaid plans turn out to bring you the most amazing experiences, Pari. And PETUNIA is a cutie.

  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Naming a hippo is beyond me – I'm overwhelmed at the great suggestions! Hippolyta… Hippocrates…?
    But it is perfect for you, much better than a gnome.

    I am a little the opposite, too inclined to go with the flow instead of looking hard enough about what or who I'm flowing into.

    It all comes down to being conscious. Not unconsciously blocking the flow with control, and not being swept up in a side current because you're not paying attention to what synchronicity is really saying.

  17. Pari Noskin

    Holy cow! I just got back from getting ready for the new job and there's a lot to respond to here! Thank you.

    I love how you ended up in photography and how good it's been to you. Very cool that you were open to it.
    BTW: I like the names . . . especially Adorabella. That one cracks me up.

    That's a good family motto.

    It's interesting — and very heartening because of what I'm going through right now — that those difficult times resulted in important changes for the better. I also like how each one has eventually opened your world. The library science degree sounds like it will be enlightening and expansive as well.

    Your examples are extraordinary . . . from woodworking to law enforcement, from theology to neuroscience. Wow.

    BTW: a friend of my, writer Pati Nagle, has a gargoyle too.

  18. Pari Noskin

    Amazing and wonderful story. Thank you. How fortuitous that you were open to change and grabbed it. Even better, your husband was too.
    Love the cat's name.

    Yes. Synchronicity . . . that's the word for it.
    I don't know the book of which you speak. Sounds like I might like it.

    Gayle . . .
    Veronica? Hmmm. I'll have to think about that. Of course, I don't know that book either. Sheesh.

    I'll read that link later. Hope you survive the day.

  19. Pari Noskin

    A dare? I'd like to hear that story.

    Sarah/Louise — I'm open to these. The hippo definitely looks like a girl to me.

    Hey Murderati fan,
    She gurgled when I met her. I couldn't believe it. And now I've brought her to my arid garden and she seems quite content.

  20. Jake Nantz

    Pari – my whole life would have been different if I'd been in control of it. I never played lacrosse growing up, I played soccer. And I went to NC State to be an architect because I loved to create from nothing in my mind. Instead, wound up at a small school where the soccer coach was a dick but the lax team was new and just needed athletes, even completely unskilled or unaware of the rules. So I played, got a B.S. in English w/ Communications as an emphasis, started coaching lax when I worked at a real estate magazine, and loved it so much I became a teacher who writes to create from nothing in my mind.

    I met my wife because she student-taught at my school and I was good friends with her cooperating teacher, but I never would've even been there if architechture and soccer had worked out. I'm much happier with God's plan for me than mine, that's for sure.

    As far as the hippo, she reminds me of the dancing hippos so I would probably name her Fantasia or Disney, but that's me. Good luck with the new gig and, God willing, it'll turn out better than whatever you have in mind!

  21. Jenni

    Hi Pari,

    Loved this post, and I like the new hippo – my vote is for Hildy, but I like the name Petunia too.

    I actually do have a metal chicken, but not the huge one in KD's link (hilarious story btw) – just a little one that sits on a shelf that caused endless jokes between my dad and my kids about why the chicken crossed the road.

    One of the times that comes to mind for me when things didn't go as planned was when I was in high school in Pakistan and planned a trip to Delhi with some friends. When we got to the border at Lahore, one of our friends had issues with the crossing, and we missed our train. She ended up having to turn back, and we had a pretty emotional parting sending her back home. Once across the border, we hustled our way by taxi to Amritsar and were ready to get on a train and continue on to Delhi, but our trip was delayed by several hours, and we couldn't get any information why. We finally pulled into Delhi late that evening, exhausted. When we asked at the Delhi station why our train was so late, we were told the earlier train – the one we were supposed to be on, if everything had worked according to plan – had derailed and killed almost everyone on board. That was the start of a hugely adventuresome experience – including a visit to the Children of God cult (I almost posted about that on PD's blog, but got sick with a cold last week and didn't have the energy to form coherent thoughts).

    On another note, I got my NM Vacation Guide in the mail today and am ready to start planning for a trip later this year! Can't wait to see your area of the country. I see in my guide that the town of Clovis has a pretty cool music festival, and that may be worth checking out, now that I've read all about Clovis through you. 🙂

    Glad to hear you are open to whatever experiences come your way. I think with your great attitude, you will have some wonderful times ahead. And if they're not exactly as expected, I always remind myself, it's not what life throws at me that matters, it's how I react, grow through the experiences, and what I learn from it. Good or bad, we always learn. Cheers!

  22. Reine

    Pari, it's a lovely day here on Murderati with the flow of serendipity. I want to clarify that my fellowship wasn't in neuroscience, rather it was in student affairs/counseling. I'm not sure what prompted the course director to promote me for the position, but he did. As a result I got to study all the neuroscience I wanted and was invited on neurology rounds with a number of the lecturers and researchers. A number of years later I asked the course director why he had done that, and he said, "Becuase when I asked you if you had a background in biology you said 'No. None. I just want to see if God is in there somewhere.'" I mean he might have laughed me out of the place, right?

    Much like Alex, I think direction is critical, and being open allows discovery. Some people are best off being very focussed. For myself, though, serial focus works best, and it has allowed me to adapt when things were not going so well, as when I became a quad.

    Zoë, I do look forward to Desmond's piccie!

  23. Tammy Cravit

    Like many others, much of my life has emerged in the way it has because of serendipitous wrong turns – or, more often, because of moments when I let go of the wheel and let things work themselves out. The most recent example has been this curious new set of directions my professional life has been taking — from a really unbearably painful experience as a party to ugly litigation, through a goodly period of time as a paralegal, sharp left at dreams of law school, and now well on the road to becoming a mediator (a path which fills me with an overwhelming sense of RIGHT-ness.) And through it all, still writing, still reading, and still maintaining a sense of adventure about where it'll all go.

    I long ago learned that things tend to work out the way they're meant to, if we can just stay out of fate's way and let them happen.

    Don't have a name for the hippo, but I'm sure the right one will find you.

  24. Reine

    I see I need to clarify more . . . one of those days. I should have said I asked the course director why he'd admitted me on the neuroscience course, and he said, "Becuase when I asked you if you had a background in biology you said 'No. None. I just want to see if God is in there somewhere.'" Sorry.

  25. Jenni

    Reine, I have never heard of a Javelina – what a cute animal! Loved the video.

    Tammy, I have worked as a paralegal for most of my career, except for a brief couple of years as a mediator, which I loved. Best of luck to you! I would do that again if I could. It was the most rewarding job I've ever done. I moved and lost the opportunity – and that is the story of my life – every move closes doors and opens others, and in the end, the only thing I can count on in life is change.

  26. Pari Noskin

    I think your Monica tendencies are admirable. Sheesh . . . running a Bouchercon? Amazing!
    Anyway, I very much like your story and the end result. I also like that you were open enough to the experience to see where it might take you.

    Caprice? I love it. This poor little hippo might need a few names. Heck, I gave each of my children two middle names . . . why not a sculpture?

    I'm glad to know I'm in such good company. And the fact that she lived to be 100 is probably totally attributable to the hippo . . . wouldn't you agree?

    That's a nice story. I ended up at Ann Arbor after swearing I didn't ever want to go to a big university. It's also nice to hear that the U you've chosen has led you to more choices than you'd thought you'd want or could have.

  27. Pari Noskin

    Reading your comment, I was reminded of the dog in UP and the "Squirrel!" If you didn't see the movie, go do it right now! And what a fabulous ride you've been on so far. I do want to hear more of your story sometime. It sounds really fascinating.

    Beautifully put.
    Seeing where things lead us is an occupational benefit of being creative too. I think where I tend to flub up is by trying to constrain that curiosity too soon in the process.

    " . . . we have the strength to make the best of the unexpected." That might become my new mantra. Wow. Thank you. And I'm pleased that you think the hippo is cute; it's quite a honor coming from the Duffer's mom.

    GO BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Why am I not surprised that both of your examples centered on love? Hmm? Serendipity rocks, doesn't it?
    . . . And I'll try not to think less of you re: the Bucks. I know, deep down, you're bigger than that.

    Thank you for those kind wishes . . . right back at you.
    I've found that I'm a lot more open to new experiences when I'm traveling. I know that sounds trite, but as much control as I try to exert over my life — traveling is the one place where I just let it happen (other than making my flights).

    I hope you take this the right way . . .
    You're such a cosmic Pisces! You're absolutely right about being conscious. I call it "paying attention." If we do it, wonderful things come our way, but we don't go tripping over the edge because we didn't see it either.

  28. Pari Noskin

    I'm so glad for you that you ended up on this different path. It also sounds like you've come to a lovely place in your life. I bet that you have many experiences in your teaching that are unplanned but wonderful too.

    And thank you for the good wishes. I'll gladly take them!

    Wow. That story about Delhi resonated with me. There have been times that I've been delayed and found out later about car accidents and other tragedies where I might've been right in the middle of them otherwise.

    As to coming to NM. You must tell me when you plan to come. I'd love to meet you.

    As to attitude, yes. That's usually what it boils down to, isn't it? Our reactions. They make all the difference.

    Thanks for the clarification. I still think it's incredibly neat. But, then, your response to the Director was too!

    Serial focus? An interesting concept. I think I might fall in that category. I can be tremendously focused on projects — single-minded in fact — and that helps me in my work projects. But I'm trying to grab this transition in my life and pay attention to new ideas and possibilities rather than trying to orchestrate this particular piece of time.

    I adore javelinas, but wouldn't want to meet one in the wild!

    A mediator? That sounds *right!* I'm so glad you found that.
    As to letting things work out for themselves, I think again that it has to do with attitude. If you're willing to accept what comes (not just going with the flow, but acting within it as well), you'll just be happier with the end result than if you fight it.

    No need to apologize. Your story and your beautiful words to that Director are what matter.

  29. KDJames

    I survived! And, more remarkably, so did my co-workers.

    Sorry for the hit-and-run this morning, Pari. I thought that link to a post about coming home with an "unexpected" purchase might make you laugh. God knows, re-learning how to laugh saved my life back when I was where you are now. Well, in truth, I was quite a bit further along than you are now before that happened. I have no doubt that the path you're on will be amazing and surprising and ultimately satisfying. Hope you love the new job!

    Control. What a fiction that is. Every time I think I've got a plan, the universe smacks me upside the head and says, "You call that a plan? I'll show you a plan." Sort of like the knife scene in that Crocodile Dundee movie. It was roughly seven years ago when I decided that I couldn't write and, not only that, but it was better for all concerned that I stop trying. That I'd been deceiving myself by imagining I had any slight talent for it and, difficult as it was, I needed to accept that and move on. I was done. It's a long convoluted story, and the jury's still out regarding any supposed talent, but I'm pretty grateful for the slap upside my head that changed that plan.

    I love your hippo (I thought of Disney too) but I have no name suggestions. You're welcome. My cat's name is "kitty." I used to have a cute little stone bunny rabbit in my garden. The Wonder Dog bit its ears off. I know, what kind of idiot dog tries to eat a stone rabbit (he earned his nickname, the hard way).

  30. Pari Noskin

    That's mighty profound and perhaps the only truth: the only constant is change.

  31. Pari Noskin

    No problemo. Actually, it turns out the job might not start until Wed. It's part of a big bureaucracy and the wheels are turning a little more slowly than everybody was hoping. I'm fine with what happens though. If I have tomorrow off, I'll use it well.

    And I've spent a lot of today getting ready, so I'll have MORE time to be aware on the morrow.

    As to plans and life lessons, yep. I'm in your camp. Every time I try to exert major control, I get a kick in the butt.

    Oh, and I have to Labrador Retrievers. One of them just threw up an entire peach pit. So I know dogs who'll eat stone and whatever else comes within 50 feet of their mouths.
    I do plan to look at the link later . . ..

  32. Pari Noskin

    Okay, KD,
    I totally read that blog and roared! Thank you so much for it.
    Best. Metal. Chicken. Story. Ever!!!

  33. PD Martin

    That hippo is just tooooo cute! And I love the name Petunia.

    I guess the most amazing and personal example of things not going to plan for me was with children. My husband and I tried for years to have a child and I became completely obsessed. Many years later we adopted Grace from Korea. As the saying goes, it was worth the wait. I can't imagine loving anyone more than I love our Gorgeous Grace.

  34. Terell Byrd

    Petunia is great and so is Hippolyta. Hippopotamus is river horse – maybe White Beauty. Actually I would probably be mushy and name her Sweetie Pie.

  35. MJ

    Love this post! Some of my magic moments were also in Ann Arbor, and dang it, I sure hope that there is syncronicity because something good has to come of all of this weird path zig-zagging…

    My plans upon entering college – lawyer, lobbyist or something else parent-approved and directed. My plan upon graduating college – anthropology PhD and teaching/researching writing.

    Reality – detours through Chinese language, Japanese auto suppliers, law school as a default when I got depressed (interested only in copyright and Old English Laws in Old English class), and a dissatisfying law firm career that THANKFULLY pushed me to learn meditation and mindfulness (= sanity for the anxious), realize how much I want to write mystery/noir (finally, a new life goal!) and find even more sanity and happiness in playing acoustic fretted instruments (joyful sanity).

    Needless to say, I'm sure not a billing superstar (and I'd cut my head off if I were one) or focused on being the most conformist and dedicated law firm lawyer ever.

    Sure hope that something is at the end of this path….

    I'm surrounded by people who have "succeeded" according to the terms of the day job world (nonstop work, conformity, the trappings of wealth, no time for creative pursuits) and in the crazy wisdom tradition believe that in my failing to fit in, I've at least kept my soul. Though my soul also wants a guaranteed secure future career path (good luck with that)…

  36. Jody

    Wow! I didn't find a teaching job when I finished college. Was thinking of joining the Navy while I worked temporarily at a restaurant. Went out on a blind date with the friend of the boyfriend of one of my co-workers. We were engaged in two weeks & will celebrate our 39th A. in August.
    Worked as a substitute teacher for a few years after my neighbor dragged me back to school for company. Fell into a temporary non-teaching part time position at the university library. Eventually got a full time job there/here & am up to 26 years at the library. I love my husband & I love my job. Never planned on either!

  37. Pari Noskin

    When were you in A2? I'm wondering if our paths crossed in the Chinese Dept?

    My path to this current job was really zig-zaggy to and I don't know what the future holds. However, I'm really grateful for the interesting ride . . . aren't you? It's fabulous you've kept your soul. That'll keep the joy coming.

    Thank you for sharing those two stories. Some might say you fell into the marriage and job. Others might claim it was destined. Me? I'm just delighted you're so happy. It shows with every key stroke you made.

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