Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When I Grow Up

I get asked a lot:

you could do this for the rest of your life, right?
"no, absolutely not!"
if w wasn't in med school and you all didn't have to move, you could see yourself in this position for 10+ years, couldn't you?
 "no, no, no, no"

bri, what is your dream job? 
"have a seat"

WV sunset from our little porch.

Let's start at the present with my current job. I run a very small house museum. And by small, I mean that I am the only full-time employee--in fact, the first full-time employee... ever.

I fully recognize how incredibly lucky I am to even have a job at this tough time--especially one that sort of fits in with my BA in Historic Preservation. I honestly had zero interest in museums prior to my internship-turned-contract-project-assistant-position at Historic Columbia Foundation back in 2009. If I am being perfectly honest with you, I really don't enjoy visiting most museums. My museum, however, is of the variety that I rather enjoy. Its a historic house museum that was first built in 1834. Its interpretation is as a house in western Virginia, occupied by a middle to upper class family during the 1830s and 1840s, which means it is furnished as such (with some truly impressive antiques in fact).

I am honored to work for such an establishment, but that does not mean that it is my dream job.

You see, the "house" part of my job is really the only thing to which my education relates. Ideally, after graduation, I would have tried to get a job with a Historic Preservation consultant, a State Historic Preservation Office or an architect specializing in historically-minded projects. I did not want to continue my education. I was way too antsy to get out into the workforce--a choice I still support. I think I was on the proper course with my position at HCF, but med school changed my circumstances drastically and I suddenly found myself living in a very small town in WV happily taking on the Executive Director position at the county historical society that owned and operated a house museum. I like to say that museums chose me. And in a town of maybe 3,500, the fact that I found any job, let alone one somewhat related to my field is a MIRACLE.

Back to the questions above. They are mostly asked by my very thoughtful and very supportive board members, who would like for me to stick around for the next decade or so. They ask me these questions often as if they can sense my restlessness and doubt. Am I happy? Yes. My life is wonderful. Am I fulfilled? Professionally? I'm not sure.

My answers above are definitely not the ones that I voice. But being the honest person that I am, for better or worse, I tell them gently that if my circumstances were different (ie: I didn't have a husband in med school in WV), I probably would not be running a house museum--or any museum for that matter. I probably would not be in the non-profit sector either. I can honestly say that "breaking even," "we don't have the money to fix that gigantic hole that could potentially ruin everything we stand for," and "in the red" are phrases that are voiced entirely too often in the non-profit world, and it makes me crazy. Admittedly, I write grants on the side for non-profits but not because I necessarily like it. I just seem to have a knack for it. But, I think the non-profit ideology of "breaking even" is completely out-dated and irresponsible. Off my soap box. I was also recently asked by another local museum to escort some early wedding dresses and Lincoln campaign posters to DC for conservation. Um, conservation consultant is definitely a job I can see myself doing. Ironically, its all about museums and dealing with things that I have only recently learned by trial by fire--but a free trip to DC? Sure! (And, I'm taking Cap! Girl's weekend in DC, baby! Stay tuned.)

Sunset in my hometown taken this weekend on our trip south. Post to follow.

So, what is my dream job you ask? Well, it really is more of a dream than anything else. I feel completely naive and nervous about putting this on the interweb, but here goes.

I would love to be a buyer/stylist specializing in historic preservation ventures and focusing mostly on interiors.

I know. Its a job that doesn't really exist--at least, not in those exact words that I have been able to find. Until this morning.

I was perusing Apartment Therapy--one of my favorite design blogs--and ran across this house tour. It is a gorgeous house in London, so take a look and enjoy. Anyways, one of the things about these house tours (I also love Design*Sponge's Sneak Peaks--highlight of my Monday) that I like nearly as much as seeing these incredible spaces is seeing the people behind the beautiful designs. The owner of the house, Katharine, pretty much has my exact dream job. Its one of the first times I have actually seen spelled out exactly what I would like to do for, well, ever. The only thing about it is that Katharine has the education, experience, connections, etc. that has allowed her to be successful in such a position. I have none of these things--but I've got dreams, baby!

And so, until the skies open and the sun pours down in radiant shafts on me as the angels sing their choruses, revealing the perfect path to my forever job, I will stick to what I know, which unbelievably is now.... museums!

What's your dream job?



  1. I totally get that, being a med school wife too, I also kind of feel a little tied down by my circumstances and I don't think I even have a dream job. I mean I honestly can't think of anything that I could do forever so good for you for at least figuring it out!

    1. oh, med school! such a sacrifice on so many levels. i wish i didn't have a dream job. i think it would be easier to be content with where i am right now. i envy you! thanks for stopping by!