Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It (aka My Dream Job)

Maggie Q as NikitaI have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. My dream job is to be a spy. It is such an ideal career for someone like me! Just imagine – I could live overseas, speak different languages, wear cool disguises, and spend my time deciphering codes, solving puzzles, and extracting sensitive information all in order to protect our nation’s security. And maybe I’d even get to do occasional amazing things, like skydiving at night, or rappelling down the sides of buildings, or sparring with bad guys who get in my way.

Well, unfortunately, I discovered my dream career a few years too late. Apparently, the CIA does not hire people over the age of 35 to work as Operations Officers. And also, it’s not the kind of job that goes well with parenting three kids.

Sydney Bristow Alias

Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, the best female TV spy ever (in my opinion)

My inner child is crying. “Waaah! I wanted to be Sydney Bristow! So unfair!” The life of espionage is so seductive. And is it any wonder? Film and TV role models of female spies, like Sydney Bristow, Nikita, and yes, even Foxxy Cleopatra are super sexy, intelligent, and independent. Plus, they can kill a man with their bare hands. Plus, they get to use high-tech gadgets like tubes of lipstick that take photos and lift secret files from an enemy’s computer. And they get to do all of this while wearing disguises, like Spy Barbies.

Beyonce as Foxxy Cleopatra

But alas, such a life is not meant for me. I guess it’s just as well. I’m actually scared to death of heights and could never bring myself to jump out of a plane to complete a mission. Guess I will have to face the fact that I am only a typical soccer and gym mom, teacher, and suburb dweller who bakes fresh bread and never does anything out of the ordinary.

Or am I?Spy hiding

Sunrise Surprises (aka Bringing Easter to the Neighbors)

The kids and I woke up very early on Easter morning. Earlier than the birds. Earlier than the Easter Bunny. Possibly earlier than the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb. But most importantly, we woke up earlier than our neighbors. Then we set out for a stroll around our block, armed with a big basket full of colorful spring flowers. Every now and then, we stopped in front of a neighbor’s house, picked out a pot of flowers, and left it on the doorstep.

What was the point of our early morning adventure? My seven year-old summed it up beautifully. “People are going to find these flowers when they wake up, and they’ll be so surprised and happy!” Exactly. Giving flowers to someone, especially when the person does not expect it, is a simple way to show someone love. And so today, we chose to show love to our neighbors, even to some we do not yet know. We will not get to see their reactions, but I hope that at least a few will smile. And I hope that they all have a very Happy Easter.

Happy Easter to the grumpy woman next door, who yells at my kids when they accidentally kick a ball over her fence. Happy Easter to the elderly woman who walks her dog around the block every day (and who caught us leaving flowers on her porch this morning). Happy Easter to the family with the whiny little boy who comes over our house nearly every day and makes huge messes. Happy Easter to the neighbors who have lived next door forever and who once left a basket of pumpkin muffins on my doorstep one autumn afternoon ten years ago (yes, I knew it was you). A very happy Easter to all of our neighbors, including the ones whom we have not yet met. May you be blessed by our gift of flowers.

What Shall I Do Now? (a secret revealed)

Okay, brace yourself. I am going to let you in on a secret about me…a little-known secret from my past. But you must be careful not to judge when you find out, okay?

Here it is:

My very first computer was a Commodore Vic-20.

20111111-223330.jpg

I was six years old when my stepdad bought it for me for Christmas and hooked it up to my bedroom television (which looked a lot like the one in above photo, btw). I was smitten from the first moment my hands began to type on the clunky keyboard. I had discovered my calling. I was destined to be a geek.

And really, it took a true geek to love the Vic-20. These days, playing a game means popping in a CD-Rom or downloading a file. But the Vic-20 didn’t have such fancy-pants technology. Games either came on a cassette, like this:

20111111-224733.jpg

Or you could do as I learned to do at the age of six: spend hours copying BASIC code out of computing magazines in order to acquire new games. See, I told you…geek from the very beginning.

And the Vic-20’s best game ever? Adventureland. Ohhh…I spent so much of my early childhood glued to the screen, playing God in a very nerdy, BASIC, text-based kind of way.

I’M IN A FOREST. TREES. WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?
(answer) kick tree
OKAY. WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?
climb tree

Yes. That was computer game bliss in 1981.

Eventually, as time passed, I moved on to better, more powerful systems (Commodore 64, Apple II Plus, Apple IIe, Packard Bell 486…skip a few…iPad 2). I no longer program my own games, though I am still quite the gamer. Only now when I play God, it is usually to a family of Sims or a squadron of strategy-game soldiers with wa-a-ay more pixels and power than my first little personal computer could churn out. But my Vic-20 is the one that started it all, the one which opened the door to techie adventure, and taught me always to wonder, “WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?”