Tuesday, February 5, 2019

What you wanted to be when you grew up

I only watched bits and pieces of the Super Bowl, but I did manage to catch a bunch of the ads. The Walmart Store Pickup commercial was a fave. My stepfather-in-law and his son were visiting and we all laughed as we shouted out the name of the cars—Batmobile! Knight Rider! Dumb and Dumber! Scobby Doo!—we recognized. It was a clever commercial that made me think about how I used to want to be an advertising copywriter. 


Growing up, I thought I'd be a nursery school teacher. I always loved children. I babysat starting in fifth grade and worked as a day camp counselor the summer of sixth grade. My eighth-grade teacher got me into creative writing and advertising, after we did a project on different kinds of ads. In high school, a class taught by the eccentric and outspoken Dr. Zamichow was formative; I discovered that I enjoyed funny essays (I idolized Andy Rooney and Dave Barry), and he encouraged me. Once, when a student griped about not knowing what a "good" essay was, Dr. Z had me stand up and read one I'd written about the rising cost of making phone calls. I still remember how proud that made me feel. Math stumped and frustrated me, but I could write. I won the Creative Writing Award when I graduated.

In college, I temped at a big NYC ad agency during summer and winter breaks. I loved the fast-paced, cool vibe, and thought I'd be a copywriter. Somewhere along the way I decided to go into magazines—I read my mom's Ladies' Home Journal more closely than she did—and I ended up becoming an editor. My first job was at Redbook Magazine (R.I.P.). I've been lucky to work in a field that I adore with a whole lot of smart, fascinating people. Along the way, I've also written for a bunch of magazines and websites and, hello, gave birth to a blog. 

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I thought it would be fun to have five kids. Or maybe eight! Three turned out to be just right. I couldn't have imagined I'd have a child with disabilities, but then, I couldn't have imagined how amazing he would be—and that he'd enable me to understand that a world with people of all abilities is a very good world.

I'm grateful to have two jobs that I love, although three of my bosses (Max, Sabrina and Ben) can be pretty tough on me. So, what did you want to be when you were growing up?

Photo: Getty/Peter Dazeley

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