755: On Being Asked, "What Is Your Dream Job?"

755: On Being Asked, "What Is Your Dream Job?"

755: On Being Asked, "What Is Your Dream Job?"


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

In the early 2000s, my best friends and I used to hang out at this bar called the Turkey’s Nest in Williamsburg, and try to dream up what our lives would be like in the future. We all worked multiple temp jobs or full time jobs where we buried who we really were under cheap office clothes and pasted-on smiles.

We took orders and showed up on time and tried our best to feel lucky for whatever paycheck we got at the end of the week. Tried our best to be grateful for free internet at work and the ability to pay our rent. In my temp job, someone cried in the empty office behind me so often that the Publisher made a rule that the empty office should always remain unlocked so people could cry in it. We officially had an office for crying in. Meanwhile, I worked in a cubicle shoved next to the printer.

And so we’d meet at the bar after work, grab a slice of pizza on the way, call it dinner, and meet up to breathe and feel like ourselves again. We’d drink cheap beer or cheap gin and tonics in plastic cups with little red straws, play the jukebox, and plan our lives.

One night, we got a stack of cocktail napkins and started to make lists like “Top five places you want to live,” or “Top five people you wanted to date,” or “Top five careers.” T and I were both trying to be writers. She was a playwright and I was a poet. We also both had degrees in theater and had met in the drama department at the University of Washington in Seattle.

We both put down “writing” as our number one career (poet, and playwright respectively)… And, then, we both put down “acting” as our second. To this day we laugh that there was a time that “acting was our fallback career.” I mean, how unbound to reality do you have to be to list acting as a fallback career. But we loved each other's dreams and we also knew enough actors to know how impossible acting was and is. We just couldn’t think of doing anything that others would consider a real career, rather, a real job. We were artists.

In today’s imaginative poem, we see how the question of a dream job gets reworked into a question of what you value and what matters most. The concept of “the dream job” becomes what you do in your dreams.

On Being Asked, “What Is Your Dream Job?”
by Ally Ang

The cops fall dead at my feet, flowers blooming
from their gaping mouths, so I make bouquets
for all my friends. We drink wine in the park
and kiss each other’s foreheads, lips sticky
with laughter. My hand finds a home in hers
and no venom drips from a stranger’s mouth.
The sky glitters like a child’s art project
while we peel each other’s legs open,
sculpting our pleasure into a poem,
bloody and wet and begging to be born.
It awakens, rubs sleep out of its eyes,
and ignites the Capitol in flames.
Of course I do not waste my precious dreams
on labor.

"On Being Asked, ‘What's Your Dream Job?’" by Ally Ang. Used by permission of the poet.