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

Winter Wanderlust

Okay, so technically it is not winter yet. But close enough. I am sitting in Starbucks with a warm cup of coffee to thaw my frozen hands (yes, ordinary coffee…not those 500-calorie pepperminty, foamy Christmas drinks), staring outside at the gray fog, and dreaming of escaping this dreary suburb where I live. I want to get out there, to see and taste and smell the wider world, to walk the streets of exotic cities and take in the sights of nature.

Yes, I am afflicted with wanderlust. It is such a powerful desire, that it is all I can do to keep from trekking over to my nearest REI and purchasing the first internal frame backpack I see. If only I could hop on an airplane this very moment! And where would I go? Well, for starters:

1. Chile – I long to hike around Isla Mocha, to see penguins on a desert beach, and vecuñas and flamingos in the wild. I would visit Pablo Neruda’s house and enjoy a New Years’ fireworks show in Valparaiso, and go shopping at the only store in the world named after me (how awesome is that?) 20111130-093504.jpg

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2. Orlando, FL –
Actually, I have already been to Florida. I did the Disneyworld thing, and, even better, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand on Cocoa Beach and watch an actual space shuttle launch with thousands of other onlookers. That was spectacular. However, I am dying to return to Orlando, FL, in order to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, yes, I realize how nerdy that sounds, but to walk through Diagon Alley and visit Hogwarts Castle and drink a butterbeer…that would be magical.

3. Europe – Now I have gone from nerdy to cliché. But come on…it’s Europe! I would begin in England, of course, to see the places where Dickens and Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth walked and Harry Potter flew by (well, ficticiously); and of course to watch a real live Manchester United soccer match. But then, the rest of Europe beckons: the bullfights of Madrid, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Neuchwanstein Castle, the city of Rome, and the birthplace of IKEA. Europe! Need I say more?20111130-100806.jpg

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4. India – Not only is the cuisine superb, but there is something romantic about the country of India. Not like Bollywood romantic, but in a sentimental sense, like Rudyard Kipling stories and saris and spices. The Taj Mahal is an obvious draw for me, too. But also the people…and this is hard, because part of me would want to experience the wealthy, tourist-y side of India, while the rest of me wishes I could stay awhile and help the poor who crowd the streets and have nothing at all.20111130-101834.jpg

5. The Amazon Rainforest – Yes, I am an adventurer at heart. I would love to explore the depths of an ancient rainforest, to see beautiful and deadly wildlife up close, to hear the shrieks of exotic birds and other creatures, to feel the cold stone ruins of past civilizations. And just think of the great photos I could post later, on my Flickr page!

6. No particular order: Japan, Egypt, Morocco, Brazil, Kenya, Haiti, New Zealand, Russia. Any of these places will do. There is so much fascinating architecture to see, museums to visit, foods to try, and music and people and lives so different from my own.

But too bad for me…traveling takes time away from my family, and from work. Not to mention an awful lot of money. But I will be patient during these long, cold days of winter and monotonous suburban life. I will remember that to many other people in the world, my life here in California, with its redwood groves and gorgeous coastline, and superb wines and architecture and world class cities and stuff–is a remarkable destination, too. How silly of me, to feel so impatient to leave it behind!

Now I shall finish this cup of coffee and head out into the fog to work, so that I can save my money toward satisfying this wanderlust. Maybe I cannot hop on a plane today, but it will come in time. And I will take on this great world, with my REI backpack strapped to my shoulders.