Category Archives: Work and Career

Well, hell, I just signed up for ANOTHER dive trip. This addiction is expensive.

Well, hell. Just went to my dive shop to pay for the Bonaire trip that’s coming up and ended up writing a second check for a dive trip to Cozumel. I’ve been snorkeling with whale sharks off Cancun before but this will be a whole new ball game.
I have been told to expect some fairly strong currents while diving there.  And, I’ll admit, diving for the first time in heavy current makes me nervous.  Up until now, all of my dives (a grand total of 15) have been in very calm water. Well, I suppose I gotta test those waters some time. So, here we go!
I gotta confess, I am full-blown addicted now to diving. With each dive, my passion for it grows exponentially. As does the investment of my hard-earned cash. But I’d rather spend my money on dive trips and gear than anything else. I did not expect to fall for this thing so hard. I’m in love, I guess. And it feels good. Mighty good.
Oh, and I am finishing up the PADI Enriched Air course.  I’m going to clock several more dives before I begin the Rescue Diver course.  But I AM going to go for that certification fairly soon.  The universe commands it and I gotta go where the spirit leads me.

Well, I’m going for it – Rescue Diver certification

Well, gang, finishing up AOW last week in the Keys led me to a crossroads.  I know now for certain that I want to be a professional diver and instructor.  My next step to this is getting Rescue Diver.  Before I begin that process, I need to do a LOT more diving and further develop my situational awareness.  At this point I have about 15 dives total under my belt.  I am only just now becoming comfortable with myself in the water – I have a long ways to go before I am able to focus on others and keep a constant eye out for problem areas, what could go wrong, and what is going wrong – and then solving the issues.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been worried that I am too old to start down this path.  Here in my 40s, maybe this is all just too crazy and I should go back into an office building and just keep cranking out spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.  Put on some pants and go to some board meetings. I have devoted my life to a career in communications, writing and editing.  My background is in the energy, defense, and cybersecurity industries.  But I’ve been talking to a lot of dive instructors who are quite a bit older than me who went pro at my age.  And they are happy, happy people.  So, negative thinking must be banished.

My dive shop here in Raleigh doesn’t offer the Rescue Diving course until next April (our quarry here is just too cold and gnarly in the winter).  And that timing is perfect for me.  That gives me 5 months to just keep diving.  So that’s what I plan to do.

I am going to read everything I can about diving, start on the content part of the coursework, and, like I said, dive.  Also, I plan to take a Zen, wellness approach to diving so I am going to take some coaching, meditation and wellness courses to round myself out as a supportive, inspiring, safe instructor who leads by example and helps people find their path to happiness in the water.

Ah, but where to do all of this diving during the winter?  I think the cheapest, easiest way to clock the dives and see wonderful sea life in reasonably warm water is to do my diving in Florida.  So, now the hunt for where I’m going to dive for the next three months begins…I need to find a dive shop that isn’t focused on the cattle call of packing a ton of transient divers and cranking them through.  The hunt begins…Yee haw!
If anyone has a dive shop they love and recommend down in south Florida, let me know – hit me up on this blog’s Facebook page –  https://www.facebook.com/scubadivingdivaadventures/ –  or email me at scubadivingdivaadventures@gmail.com.

A new diver’s reflection on getting Advanced Open Water certified

I can’t sleep – it’s 4:20 a.m. and I have been up all night online planning out my next dive trip.  Here I am, after only having completed 15 dives in my life, completely and utterly addicted to swimming and breathing underwater.  And this brand new temporary Advanced Open Water (AOW) cert card is burning a hole in my wallet.  Even though it has only been a week since my last dive, I am hell bent to get back into the water to continue improving my diving skills.  Alas, I live in chilly North Carolina in the center of the state where we only have a freezing cold, nearly-no visibility dank quarry to dive in.  True, we’ve got a lot of world-class wreck diving on our coast, but in November, nah, not going to happen for this heat-seeking Southern gal.  For now, I’m all about the warm water diving in clear, calm seas.

I will confess something to you – I am deeply regretting not having discovered diving sooner in life.  I’m in my 40s and I feel like I don’t have enough time left in life to catch up to folks who have been diving since they were little kids.  I would love to build a life around diving, but I worry that I have aged out of developing a career around my new passion.  That I can never catch up to match the professionalism and experience of folks who have been diving their entire lives so I will not be able to compete at a professional level because there just ain’t enough time.  The thing is, though, that worry has me more determined than ever to develop my skills and confidence in and under the water.  I am inspired and I aim to roll with that – into oceans the world over.

So, what went down in the Keys for my final adventure dive – Deep Diving – to finally finish up AOW?  I went down with my instructor and two other experienced divers who were along to take pictures of the reef and sea life.  One of the dudes in my group was sporting a $20,000 camera.  That’s right TWENTY THOUSAND dollars.  So, as you can imagine, he was hell bent to get the money shots while down in the deep water to get his money’s worth out of that set up.  On the boat, his gear was laid out at my feet and I kept thinking, “Holy shit, I could buy a brand new car with this bag of gear.”  But then I thought, “Nah, I’d rather buy plane tickets to go to Indonesia to dive.  But still…”
This guy with the expensive camera is a lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale.  He told me that he once took a year off from lawyering to live on his boat and dive.  But, alas, he lamented, his diving habit forced him back to his highly paid job.  Plus, he said he’s got a beach house in Key Largo he’s gotta pay for.  Life can be so difficult, can’t it?  I will say, he was really encouraging and never made me feel bad about the new diver in the group.

So, for the Deep Dive, we went down to about 85 or 90 feet.  At this point in time, I’d only had about 12 dives total in my life.  And I had only started boat diving a couple of days before.  So, yeah, I confess, I was nervous as fuck.  I kept telling myself – hell, girl, you’ve already been to 60 feet for Open Water, what’s 20 or 30 more?  My nervousness had me breathing hard.  And I realized that I didn’t really have a dive buddy down there – the other 2 divers were focused on taking pictures of all of the nurse sharks and sea turtles swarming around.  And my dive instructor was focused on picking up some lobsters and spearfishing lionfish.  I realized on this dive that there comes a time when you have to be comfortable with people darting around you and accept that you are no longer the center of your dive instructor’s universe – you will not be getting your hand held anymore. People get distracted and you have to be able to rely on yourself and no one else.  I realized that I need to always make sure that I have ALL of the equipment I might need (safety sausage, knife, etc.) to handle things on my own – and not count on my divemaster or buddy to have packed it all.  Of course, PADI teaches you this in the training courses – but no amount of reading compares to learning “in the field” and realizing out of sheer practicality what you need and what you need to do to make sure you live to dive another day.  You gotta always stay focused should you find yourself on your own.

On this Deep Dive, I also realized how vocational AND psychological this hobby is (is diving a hobby or a sport? I’m not sure).  There is something very deep and existential and intellectual about this exercise.  That combined with the practicality and vocationality of it really appeals to me.  God, I love diving.

So, anyway, I was breathing hard on this Deep Dive and, as you experienced divers know, I was using up air a lot more quickly being down so deep.  I checked my air and noticed I need to go ahead and head up to my safety stop.  But the other two divers and my instructor had about 15 more minutes of solid air time left and they were staying down.  My instructor signaled for me to go up by myself.  This was my first time on my own under water and my first time relying ONLY on my dive computer (and not an instructor pointing out to me) to make the safety stop at 15 feet for 3 minutes.  I thought I would be panicked as hell, but, to my surprise, my knowledge training and past experience (limited as it was) kicked in and I thought, just follow the process you’ve learned and trust your computer.  I was really calm and hyper focused on doing everything correctly.  I will say, hanging there alone in that water with nothing to look at did make me start feeling like I was in a sensory deprivation tank.  Not fun.

So, after 3 minutes, I ascended to the surface on the line.  One of the boat crew informed me to wait a minute – don’t come to the ladder just yet BECAUSE THERE WAS A MASSIVE MAN OF WAR hanging out next to me.  Sweet Lord have mercy.  And, yet, I was calm and it didn’t bother me – I surprised myself.  I simply trusted the crew to tell me when it was safe to come on board and floated calmly at the surface.  Bottom line, throughout the entire dive, after many unexpected things happening, I waited for panic and stress to grip me – but that never ever happened.

If you had been with me back in April when I couldn’t even descend 2 feet without completely panicking and freaking out, you would not believe this was the same woman in the water now finishing up her AOW.  The flip switched for me when I finally conquered mask removal.  I know, I know, crazier things will eventually happen in the water and real stress and panic can happen at any time – but I no longer let the worry of that deter me.  I’ll deal with it – and I WANT to deal with it so that I can become a safe and skilled diver capable of teaching others.

So, what’s next for me?  I’ve got to get around to finishing up my Enriched Air course.  And, I am ready to start looking at the Rescue Diver course.  I’m going to go ahead and get re-certified in CPR in the next couple of weeks (my certification lapsed last year) and start the online coursework for Rescue.  I definitely plan to go professional.  I cannot help myself – I can think of nothing else but diving.  I am humble about my (lack of) ability and experience and grateful for being able to dive – and I want to maintain both that humbleness and gratefulness throughout my diving life.  Diving has, in fact, changed my life – caused me to push myself in ways I usually don’t do in the daily grind.  And I’m gonna chase that thrilling and magical feeling to…ah, well, dear reader…I shall go where the current takes me.

P.S. I did decide that I don’t want to live in the Keys.  It is more expensive than living on a Caribbean island, there is no job market for my career experience, and the water visibility is good but nowhere close to the clarity I have experience in the Virgin Islands and Curacao.  That said, I am still considering a move to south Florida – I can easily get a great job, would be close to decent diving all year round and could easily get to the Caribbean from Miami.  I could definitely work up to all of my professional certs in Florida.  Decisions, decisions.

On quitting my corporate job with no backup plan; or whither to next for me and my dog?

In three days, I shall turn in my work laptop and work phone and walk out of the office, hopefully never to create another spreadsheet or PowerPoint slide ever again.  Hopefully never to sit through another interminable meeting about spreadsheets or PowerPoint slides.  Here in the middle of my life, at age 48, I have resigned from my corporate job and am about to embark on a journey I have been dreaming of and planning for many years. I am breaking away from corporate life and am going to take a road trip with my dog, travel the world, do volunteer work, and work in jobs that allow me to be active, help folks on a daily basis and live a life of service and giving back.  Of helping people find their own happiness.

I knew well over a decade ago that I hated office life.  But I enjoyed the work – communications and government relations.  Or rather, I knew that I was really good at it.  I enjoyed excelling at something, even if I didn’t truly love the office environment. I knew that I genuinely detested being cooped up in a dreary office all day.  But, in order to do work that I was naturally good at and to make the nice big salary I so desired (yes, I confess, I was chasing money at the expense of happiness), I had to compromise – I had to trudge into a dreary, grey office building.  Over the years, I moved up and up, always making more money but always moving into yet another office or cubicle that seemed to suck the very life out of my soul.

I knew that I preferred to be outside or active or at least moving about all day long.  Some of my favorite jobs throughout my life have been low-paying or volunteering jobs – catering, bar tending, a tour guide for a historic site, food writer, restaurant reviewer, writing for a small town newspaper, tutoring English language, working as a tech in a sea turtle hospital, and even waiting tables in a small town Southern joint.  But I couldn’t reconcile the low pay or no pay of that work with the joy I had back then because I have spent most of my adult life since then chasing money.  And each time I got a pay raise, I found myself less and less engaged in the work I was doing.  Or rather, enjoyed the writing and editing parts, the dealing directly with people part, or helping co-workers – but NOT the corporate setting, not the spreadsheets and the slide decks.  The soul-sucking windowless offices and endless rows of cubicles. Not the ass kissing.  Not the having to wear pants and shoes (wait, what?).  I can now admit in all honesty, I genuinely dislike corporate office life.  But, dammit, I spent nearly $100,000 on a Master’s degree – I was committed to spending my life making that expenditure pay for itself.  Ah, I have been so misguided in my thinking.  I will tell you though – I had to finish paying off my student loans and work very, very hard to be debt free in order to pursue this dream.  Getting all of that accomplished is worth its own blog and I know that debt is exactly what keeps most of us from pursuing our passion and dream.

But, the question for many of us is, “If I am good at a job and it pays well, even if I don’t enjoy it, then I should just go ahead and do it, right?” I used to think the answer was YES.  But, now, I am quite certain, we should all find work that we are passionate about.

I know – and I have known for years – that I prefer vocational work and work that makes a tangible contribution on a daily basis.  And so, not sure what I will do next, next week I will begin the work of figuring out what I am passionate about.  I tried to figure this out while working the daily grind.  But I decided to stop the grind that was making me so depressed and unfulfilled and put my myself in a position that forces my hand to take dramatic action – quit my job without having lined up another one.  I don’t care about the pay level in my next pursuit – my happiest days were when my salaries weren’t very much.  I know that I want to engage in work that actively makes a positive difference in the lives of others and each day I want to engage meaningfully with others.  I am tired of living in a Dilbert cartoon that isn’t funny.

Since I have announced my resignation and upcoming sabbatical – my plan to travel, to do volunteer work, to engage in jobs that don’t pay well but will allow me to be active and help others find their happiness, well, so many of my co-workers and friends have told me they dream of doing what I am doing and that they wish they could pursue what makes them happy.

I always ask them, “If you could quit your job today, and money was no object, family was not object, and you could live anywhere you wanted – all you had to do was pick your dream job, what would it be and where would it be?”  One of my co-workers said he would be perfectly happy if he could quit his suit-and-tie job and go and be a groundskeeper at a golf course.  Another told me she would go and be a receptionist at an art gallery.  Another told me she would go and be a park ranger (instead of being a cybersecurity expert).  Naturally, we’ve all had to make compromises in our work at one time or another in order to take care of our families, get the mortgage paid, pay for the kids’ college, etc. etc.  And some of my coworkers told me this week that I am just being a flake and going through a mid-life crisis and that I would regret leaving a stable, good job and that I am crazy and silly and that I would be right back in an office.  And, you know what, I may well end up back in an office.  But I have to at least TRY to pursue my passion and my dream to live a different kind of life – of using my talents and skills for caring, service, and giving.

I am not married.  I do not have children.  I have never ever wanted either of those things – instead, I  chose my own personal freedom.  And now it is finally time to test out exactly what that choice will allow me to do – in all of its forms.  I have played it safe for far too long.  In my life, I only take calculated risks – and those risks have always paid off and I have never failed in them.  Granted, sometimes those risks had WILDLY different outcomes than what I anticipated, but they were always life changing and granted me adventures and new friends and brilliant experience.  As I have gotten older, I’ve stopped taking those risks.  And the grind of routine in work I care nothing for has nearly crushed my soul.

Working through my fear of scuba diving and terror of breathing under water this year is what helped remind me of who I am – that I am adventurous and passionate and brave, that I want to engage with nature and other adventurous people and to face fear and challenges regularly.  I never want to fall into a safe, secure routine – ever.

And so, me and my dog, well, we’re on to our next chapter in life and so much is unknown, unforeseeable and, I’ll admit, at my age, I am nervous and a bit scared.  But I also am happier and more excited than I have been in years and years.  In my heart and my gut, I know I am doing the right thing.  I know, I know, all of those years I have given to the corporate world have afforded me to take the journey I am about to take.  And I gratefully acknowledge that and all of those who have hired me and allowed me to be part of their team.  But, now, on to the next phase.

Whither shall I venture?  Ah, we shall see, dear reader, we shall see.

The Dive Diaries: 3 down for Advanced Open Water

Sept. 28, 2019.  I must confess. I was nervous diving into the dark, mucky quarry today in 5-foot visibility. The water had all the visibility of swimming in a chocolate milkshake. But, here’s the thing. Once I got down there under the water, it didn’t matter to me that I could barely see my instructor or my dive buddy. I had lots of tasks to do so I didn’t care if I could see. And I realized when I am focused on several tasks, my awareness around me expands. I feel my body floating and I enjoy the sheer act of being in the water. And much to my utter happiness, I always felt so comfortable and calm throughout the tasks – though I still take FOREVER to equalize. So, today I finished Peak Performance Buoyancy, Search & Recovery, and Underwater Navigation. And I completed everything on the first try (well, no, not true – some of the knot tying tripped me up). Next week, I will do Deep Dive & Wreck – off the coast of South Carolina – with SHARKS! Again, I am nervous because I am so worried because it takes me so long to equalize that I will hold everyone up. But I cannot wait to see my first deep wreck dive. Tonight, after we finished up the dives, we walked over to the dive shop bonfire on the other side of the quarry – a few of us sat around in the dark, drinking beer and talking about…well…diving and then dating and then love…but mostly diving. I like diving better than dating right now (that has its own stories coming up). I genuinely love the path I am on…I have found happiness and joy in this sport. And there is such an amazing support group and community around me. Little did I know how walking into my dive shop back in April to sign up for OW and the trip to Curaçao would change the path of my life. I believe there are no coincidences in life. Or maybe they are all coincidences. But this chain of events from then to now took me out of my comfort zone and a life I was settling for. These experiences reminded me of how adventurous and brave and wild and free I truly am at heart. I found myself again. I lost her somewhere…but never ever again. Ever.

Flee the dull grey office and dive into the ocean, baby. Or, be a cattle rancher.

Earlier this morning, a co-worker asked me how was my trip to Curaçao. I told him about finally getting Open Water and how this has inspired me to further immerse myself into the world of diving and ocean conservation. He told me about how much he used to love diving and that he got into it from a good buddy of his.

Jim: Yeah, my friend loved diving. He was obsessed with it. We worked in IT together at Verizon. He got sick of working in an office. So he decided to quit it all at 50 years old.
Angela: No shit, that’s awesome. To do what, be a dive instructor?
Jim: Well, to be part of a dive crew on a boat in the Caribbean.
Angela: At 50 years old? That’s some tough grunt work. Damn.
Jim: Exactly, he found out real quick that being on a dive crew is a young person’s game. Even though he was really fit and super healthy. He said he just couldn’t keep up the daily hustle.
Angela: So what did he do? Seems like the best thing to do when you get older is become a boat captain or maybe maybe run a dive shop. He could still have been an instructor.
Jim: Nope, he gave it all up and moved to Texas and became a cattle rancher. He’s still doing it. Loved it.
Angela: WOW. Well, the thing is, he tried out his dream for diving. Found out that wasn’t for him long term. At least he went for it. And then he went for another dream. Sounds like your friend knew one thing for sure – he was never going back into an office.
Jim: Exactly. I wish I could do what he did.
Angela (laughing): Jim, what the fuck are we doing here? Let’s just walk out right now. Let’s do it.
Jim: God, I wish we could. But, money, Angela. Money. Bills. Mortgages. Cars. Health insurance. RETIREMENT PLANS. That’s real life, Angela. Not scuba diving and cattle ranching.

And so ended my conversation with Jim. I’ll take diving and cattle ranching over life in an office any ole’ time. It’s ALL real life. But Jim has some legitimate points and concerns about making big life changes when you are older and feel you have more to lose. Stay tuned.
#nevergiveup #ilovecuracao #girlsthatscuba

Finally, after 5 months of trying, I got Open Water. Now what? Well, I’ll tell you.

Back at it. I LOVE LOVE my dive shop in Raleigh – but it’s dangerous. Came in a couple of hours ago to get an adjustment on my regulator – and left with new equipment, put down a deposit on a boat dive trip to Bonaire coming up, signed up for the Advanced Open Water cert, signed up for the Night Dive campout at the quarry in a couple of weeks, and a boat dive in South Carolina. I am officially hooked, line and sinker.

I’d better leave the dive shop before I sign up for the Honduras dive.  I have developed an addiction and I got it bad.  But I want to get AOW before I move to Curacao.  I want to be full-on ready to take advantage of all of the diving possibilities this island has to offer.

Leaving behind the dark side of life (and the people who inhabit that place)

When I lived in DC and worked from home now and again, I’d get stir crazy and miss human interaction – then after a few days in the office I found I couldn’t handle the Dilbertesqueness and day-to-day horrors of office politics. I left the larger corporate world – sure, the money was wonderful, but there was no joy in it.

When I was finally making over six-figures, I believed I had truly arrived in life. That the salary was the culmation of all of my dreams, hard work and, yes, graduate shcool debt. But none of that turned out to be true. I realized that my happiest days were when I was living off of $20,000 a year, traveling the world and immersing myself in other cultures. Learning to understand who Angela was in a global context. Moving from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism.

Lately, I’ve been reading one Princeton professor’s work as to what makes for work-related /career happiness and ultimately general happiness. Before I started reading up on living a life of effective altruism and normative ethics, I already understood I am obligated to give of my time and money to make a difference in the world. If I am in a position to do that, then ethically I am obligated to do so. Once you figure that out, the rest falls into place.

There are lots of sociological & exhaustive psychological studies offering stats on what makes for a satisfying career. In my career and in my voluteer/side pursuits I’ve learned to follow these tenets (and push myself even more on the volunteer side to live these) and it’s what drives me now. For number 6, I had to do some altering of that personal life – for me, it was to quit drinking, smoking and surrounding myself with negative, needy, dark and draining people and people engaged in their own forms of self-destruction (ah, is that altruistic behavior? Yes, if those kinds of people are keeping you from achieving and being all that you can.) Once I did that, my God, it was shocking how much clearer the path became. I also used to believe that my cynicism and dark side were the things that kept me honest – the fact is, acknowledging that I have both of those and looking them square in the face and not being enslaved to them is the most honest pursuit I’ve ever embarked upon. [Editor’s note:  about 3 and a half years later, I discovered that I could drink again and do so in moderation and not let it lead me down the dark path – though, when I get tipsy, the desire to light up a cigarette is STRONG in me.  But I have scuba diving goals and smoking fucks that up.  So, note to Angela – NO SMOKING DAMMIT.]

So without some meme saying trite things like “Follow your passion” (I have a passion for Chinese opera but I won’t find happiness by trying to make a career out of it because I would suck at it on numerous levels – but I CAN support Chinese opera and feel just as fine about that), here is the prof’s simple premise – remember though, these are edicts for people in a position to make choices and who have options – part of fulfilling obligations to helping those in the world who need it or devoting yourself to particular causes:

“Here are the six key ingredients of a dream job:

  1. Work you’re good at
  2. Work that helps others
  3. Engaging work that lets you enter a state of flow (freedom, variety, clear tasks, feedback)
  4. Supportive colleagues
  5. A job that meets your basic needs, like fair pay, short commute and reasonable hours
  6. A job that fits your personal life
  7. Most importantly, focus on getting good at something that helps others.”

I swear to God, people, it works.

Your day job vs. gardening – when your wife will only suck the tip

When the Life Path Genie appeared before the man in his dull grey cubicle there on the 39th floor of the office building, it really was quite a shock. He had never complained about his work.  And while pushing cyber paper and assisting Vice Presidents with important needs and gentle egos wasn’t what he’d dreamed of being when he grew up (he’d planned to be a sexy astronaut or a real pussy magnet in a loud and famous heavy metal band), well, he was never the type to complain.

And while his job wasn’t necessarily as fulfilling as his hobby of raising 20 varieties of daffodils in a tiny hothouse he’d built in the backyard, his job paid the bills and provided decent health insurance for both him and his wife of 10 years.

Although he was middle-aged and in full health, he knew it was just a matter of time before he needed pills of all sorts and regular rectal exams.  “That’s the aging process love!” his mother told him before she died last year.

The man often found work fulfillment by sometimes attending a monthly whiskey club some of the lower-level employees on his floor had put together.  But he wasn’t much of a drinker so he didn’t always go.

The Life Path Genie showed up the moment he clicked on the third job listing on LinkedIn.  POOF! The genie appeared next to his computer. Only 10 inches tall. The man was startled but he didn’t cry out.

“Since you’re in a cubicle, I’ll have to whisper,” whispered the genie. “I see you have been looking for jobs while you’re at work.  You know, you could get fired for that.”

“You aren’t wearing little shiny pants,” said the man.  “Or a little turban. Where’d you get such a tiny business suit?”

The genie tapped the computer screen impatiently.  “These things are of no importance.  What is important is that you looked for jobs three times three days in a row from a work computer. Such actions immediately summon me, your personal Life Path Genie.”

“Wait, are you from human resources?” asked the man, looking around nervously.  “Are you here to fire me?”

“No, no, no,” said the genie, laughing just a bit.  “I’m here to help you find your true life path.  Obviously this isn’t it, or you wouldn’t be looking for jobs.  At work.  That’s really taking a risk you know.  IT and human resources could find out and then it’s the axe.”

“Well, it’s not so much that I want to quit. I mean, I have great benefits, the pay is decent.  Higher than average really! I’m low-level so I’m not really on the radar of the really super important people in the top levels of management who ensure the continued success of this operation.”  The man paused for a second and continued.  “Oh, and there was this one woman who was only about 30 years old working in the cubicle next to me and one of the new managers really liked her blonde hair and cute pants and noticed her talents and raised her several pay grades.   She was moved up, not for looks, but for talent.  It shows that you can get ahead around here if you have talent and combine that with the right pants!”

“Sir,” said the genie, “you’ve been here six years. The flowers of your labor are in full bloom. You come to work early so that the important managers can see you and you stay late, laughing loudly at co-workers’ jokes that aren’t funny, so the managers know you are working late. When, in fact, you are playing solitaire, updating your Facebook page, reading the New York Times online and talking about sports.  Is this how you want to spend your life?”

“Well, genie, there ARE worse things to do with yourself,” replied the man.  “Like working for the state or with people who don’t speak English.”

“I also know that your wife doesn’t have sex with you anymore because she also isn’t happy in her office job,” said the genie.

“Well, she gives me hand jobs some mornings,” said the man sheepishly.  “Sometimes she gives the tip of my dick a right good sucking.  What business is that of yours?”

“Good sex is important to finding your life path,” said the genie matter-of-factly. “Well, sir, I think I know all I need to know about you.  Get ready, my friend.  Your life is about to happen!”  And with that, the genie disappeared with a poof that was no louder than an unobtrusive fart.

The man had no time to figure out what had just happened because he had an important meeting to attend that was actually really very unimportant.

That night after arriving home and tending to his tender daffodils, he walked out of the hot-house and stood very still in the quiet of his backyard.  It was dark already and the stars were clear and bright.  He looked over into the neighbor’s yard and there was the pretty 24-year old school teacher who had moved in only 3 months earlier.

She was naked and looking directly at him. He walked over to her.

“What are you doing?” he asked, feeling blood rushing into the tip of his rather unused penis.

“I’m going to fuck you right here in my backyard,” she said, wrapping her lithe young limbs around his body. “And then I’m going to kill you.”

The man turned to see if his wife was peeking out the window.  She was not. He turned back to face the school teacher.

“That’s fine,” he said. “I very much want to stick my cock into you and see where this goes.  But please don’t kill me.”

“We shall see,” she uttered softly. “We shall see.”

The next morning, the man’s wife found her husband dead in his hot-house, stabbed in the stomach presumably by the clipping shears protruding from his belly. He was sprawled across the Hoop Petticoat variety of daffodil.

The police speculated that this was most certainly a suicide. When they questioned his wife and the neighbors, including the school teacher, no one knew of any reason that the man had to kill himself.

“We loved each other,” sobbed his wife. “We went to the movies regularly and ate out at lovely restaurants once a week.” When asked about how he felt about his job she replied, “He’d just gotten a 3 percent cost of living raise at work. They allow him access to social media. It was all going so perfectly.”

“He couldn’t have suffered from any kind of despair or disillusionment. Why, why throw our life together away?” she wailed. The wife was inconsolable but comforted by all of the gluten-free and free-range gourmet duck fat casseroles that friends and family had started to bring over to express their sorrow at her loss.

Later that week, at the man’s office, as his department’s administrative assistant cleaned out his desk (there were mostly clip binders and soy sauce packets in the drawer), she found a sticky note addressed to the VP of Human Resources.

“Dear important sir. I did not attend the three meetings I had on my Outlook calendar for tomorrow. I didn’t want to work here anymore.”

“Tsk tsk,” said the administrative assistant. “What could he have wanted to be, poor dear?  A VP perhaps!” She was going to give the message to human resources but remembered she had to put out coffee in the conference room because four very important managers were scheduled for a meeting in 10 minutes.