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    BWS Stories - "Get a Job"...Career Choices

    "Get a Job"...Career Choices - My Own Kind of Swan

    Connie Gotsch is the author of two award-winning full-length novels, SNAP ME A FUTURE and A MOUTH FULL OF SHELL, published by  She writes reviews for Midwest Reviews,, Epinion,, and  As program director for public radion Station KSJE, Farmington, New Mexico, she hosts a book show called Write On Four Corners.  Her web site is

    My Own Kind of Swan

    When I’m four, I tell my mother,
    ”I’ll drive a train when I grew up.”

    She bends her willowy frame,
    her most important asset,
    and chucks me under the chin.

    When I’m seven I announce,
    ”I’ll be a vet’narian.”

    She smiles the smile with the smirk on the edge--
    the one she uses when she thinks I’m cute--
    and frivolous--
    as her mother said a successful girl must be.

    So I ask my Dad, when he comes home--
    the Dad, whose mother kept the church books,
    and taught four sons to help with chores--
    I ask him, “Can I be a vet?”

    ”Of course,” he says. And that is that.

    At 12, my mother tells me,
    ”H-O sets are for boys.
    You need to go to charm school,
    because soon, you’ll want a date.”

    Charm rolls off my stocky hips.
    Boys say I’d be fun to rape.

    Mother laughs--
    ”They’re only bragging.”

    I ignore them,
    Get straight A’s.

    Mother shrugs,
    ”You’re smart.
    Too smart.”

    Age eighteen:

    Packed off to college--
    oak-lined campus--
    liberal arts.
    A place my mother would have gone,
    had she had the choice
    to do.

    At nineteen,
    The Time of Steinem.
    arts and letters

    Away from the woods,
    like a bat outta Hell.
    New York City’s
    the place to be.

    My hair gone straight,
    I study broadcast.

    Mother moans.
    ”A woman on TV?”

    Father says, “If it makes you happy.”

    At twenty-two, I finish college.

    "What would you like for graduation?”

    ”Speakers. Mother,
    for my stereo.”

    ”We’ll buy them when you get a job.”

    Twenty-three, crisscrossing country.
    Radio stations, not TV.
    News, announcing,
    selling ads.
    Probationary contracts, three months each.
    Then good-bye.

    Cheaper to hire someone new,
    than to raise my salary.

    Broke. Back home.

    Graduate school.
    Straight A1s again.

    Speakers maybe, at end of term--

    Dismissed from college
    by the Dean.

    ”Too aggressive for a woman...”

    Lawyer sighing very loud.
    ”You’ll never prove
    he said all that.”

    Cancerous mother. Drunk and bitter.
    Model’s body shot to Hell.
    Starved mind ranting,
    shouting curses.

    ”I told you so. I told you so.”

    ”You’ll always be a failure
    living with your father.
    Forget your speakers.
    Just use his.”

    She dies one night.
    I’m not sure I really care.

    School again.
    Grasping hard at second chance.

    Dad appears,
    with two large boxes.
    Stereo speakers
    gracing room.

    I cry and cry.
    He holds me tight.

    Four years later, Ph.D.

    Thirties, Forties--
    Build career.

    Hear those speakers
    in times tough.
    Gather strength
    from music soaring.
    Sing along,
    when times are good.

    Good times happening more and more.
    Experience equals office savvy;
    better performance
    better pay--

    Now at age of fifty-six,
    ugly, fat,
    still scorned by men,


    Can’t lose looks
    I never had.

    Can’t land in gutter
    turned face down--
    tossed away
    for someone young.

    Morning Host!

    Public Radio, KSJE!
    Speakers blasting
    Ode to Joy!
    Adventure waiting
    now FOR ME.

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