Nancy Roman

“I Coulda Been Somebody”

In conversation with an acquaintance recently, I remarked that I was getting ready for retirement.

“You’ve been getting ready for retirement for three years,” he said. “You’ll never retire.”

“Oh yeah?” I answered with my usual snappy repartee. “I will so retire. One more year, tops.”

But he was sure I wouldn’t. “You can’t retire. Instead of thinking about doing nothing, you should be thinking instead about what you want to do NEXT.”

Well, I know what I want to do next. I’m already doing it  (part-time anyway):  WRITE.

But I think this guy may have meant something that pays money.

And I don’t really have much hope for that by writing. I actually wrote something that made the New York Times bestseller list for a week or two – and still didn’t get paid one cent.

But a second career after retirement?

There are lots of careers I considered before I accidentally fell into Accounting.

The first thing I ever wanted to be was a movie star. First it was Shirley Temple. Then there was a long stretch of time where I thought I could be the next Hayley Mills. But even though I could cry at the drop of a hat (and often did – just ask my sisters) I see now that this would not be a good time to start a second career as an actress. There are only two movies per year for an actress over sixty, and Meryl Streep plays both parts. And she has an advantage over me. She can act.

I briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a nun. I was feeling that enormous stress of life’s responsibilities that  comes with turning nine. So I didn’t want to be the kind of nun that I saw teaching in my school. No, I wanted to be a cloistered nun. Where your only job was to pray. That would be easy. I would just pray. And maybe iron. There’s a lot of material in those big dresses and veils. I liked the convents where the nuns wore white, not black.

And although I still see the appeal of a life of serenity and simplicity, none of the nuns (cool nun pun) wears those flow-y veils anymore. And I also see now that along with all that praying, there is also a vow of obedience. Well, the first time someone told me what to do (gave me an order in the order, so to speak), well, that would be the end of my vow of silence.

After high school, I attended nurses’ training for one semester. My mother is a nurse, but I did not go to nursing school at her suggestion. No. Her suggestion was that I would hate it. “It’s mostly drudgery,” she said. But I knew that underneath, she really liked Nursing. And underneath all my teenage angst, I really wanted to be like her. So I went. And just like I figured I’d pick a convent by the prettiness of the veils, I picked a nursing school with a very pretty uniform. And cap. And just like the nuns, no one even wears a cap anymore. So it was a good thing it didn’t last.

My mother was right. It was drudgery. But not the actual working in the hospital so much as the classroom part. I was so bored. When I decided to quit, my advisor agreed that it didn’t seem like the right coursework for me. “I don’t really understand why you didn’t opt for college and medical school instead,” she remarked.

And she was right. I think I would have made a fine doctor. I excel at noticing everything that’s wrong with everyone. What a great diagnostician I would have been. And I can just see myself striding down those hospital corridors with a name-tag and a stethoscope and a clipboard. I’d look great. Not in scrubs. There is nothing attractive about the cut of those drawstring pants. And a short sleeve top with a boxy cut makes your arms look heavy and your stomach big. But a nice white lab coat would be great. With a pencil skirt and stilettos.

But as cute as that outfit might be, I don’t want all those years of medical school at my age. I need something that I can get right to doing a little quicker than that.

There’s Hairdressing. I can still wear a white coat if I want to. And I have a great sense of style. I can pick hairdos for people. I don’t want to stand on my feet all day though. I won’t spend the rest of my life – or one day for that matter – in Crocs.

I went to college after the nurses’ training fiasco. And when I finally graduated – I changed my major upteen times and finally ended up with a teaching certificate, but I knew during my student teaching that I didn’t want a life of hollering at kids to sit down – I had a hard time finding a job. But I finally landed a position that entailed typing names and addresses on purchase orders. I actually liked that job. But I saw a guy every day who not only liked his job – he LOVED his job. It was the mailman. He told me he was the luckiest guy in the world. Because he got paid to walk around. So that’s something to consider. What a great second career! Walking around! However, I would stick to June only. And maybe the beginning of September. Is there a walking-around job with that schedule?

But realizing that my happiness is weather-dependent has inspired me, and after a lot of consideration (as you can clearly see – this post is more than a thousand words, for god’s sake), I have come up with the perfect job for me.

Weather Forecaster.

I cannot think of one other job in the world – not air-traffic controller, not auto mechanic, not bank teller, not even grocery-bagger – where you can consistently be WRONG – and you still get to keep your job.

And I can do it. I know I can.

I can stand in front of a map and be wrong.



  1. This is delicious. Can I say that? I like the way you peel back layers in your presentation, and no matter what you’re talking about, you’re always the style watcher. Thank you for my Sunday morning smile, Nancy.:-) You really do crack me up.


  2. I get the nun thing. I also wanted to fly. Too bad Sally Field got the role first.:)
    Definitely have to get creative. Nuns with Drones? U with me?


    • As long as I can wear my heels with the habit.


  3. I think you’d make an awesome weatherperson – whether you were right or wrong.


    • i can picture myself doing the dance of the hands on the map.


  4. Oh, man! This is perfection. I love how you build up to that conclusion, over which I will be laughing for a little while. And intermittently thereafter.


    • Intermittently – like the snow (and the accuracy).


  5. You would be great as an On-Air Weather Forecaster. You would definitely have the moves in front of a green screen. Of course the biggest perk you would enjoy…”Nancy’s wardrobe provided by____” (I’ll let you fill in the blank).


  6. this post is my absolute favorite……okay too many favorites – my top ten definitely. two things I wanted to mention: when I think about being a nun it is the “married to jesus” part that is just creepy to me. I like him and all, but married to him? um, no thank you. too much pressure. and also: you really want to be a weathermen in texas (where it is just plain sunny and hot as hell 350 days of the year). ;o)


    • You’ve got a point. I could never be married to Jesus. I need someone who’s always wrong, so I can be always right.


  7. Perfect !! So funny, too!! I watch our weather-wonder-woman every day just to see her outfit. I’d do the same for you. And I’d wonder, woman, how you could be so wrong and still keep your job😉


    • We had a weather-wonder-woman years ago that my husband loved to watch. Her boobs changed sizes from day to day, depending on what she was wearing. Inflatables, I guess.


  8. When I read “weather forecaster”, I was hoping you were going with the being consistently wrong angle. Sheesh. With all their super triple dopplar equipment, they still can’t predict weather as well as my mom could using “old wives’ tales” methods!


    • But did you notice? My weather-wonder-woman has now started showing, on her screen, the 5 dopplar forecasting sources she uses to make her own forecast! As if to say, “It’s not me; it’s them” when things go wrong.


    • Ben Franklin could do better with a kite and a key.


  9. I love this… I am still trying to figure out what to do “NEXT”, but you have it all figured out…. love your reasoning(s)….


    • Thanks! I think this would be the best job in the world – you are under no pressure at all to be right. Just say anything, and the next day report what actually happened.


  10. themonumentaljackass

    Wait two years, then write a humourous book and sell in India. I will be earning by then, and I will buy every single copy you put into circulation.😀

    This was hilarious, Madam To-be-weather-presenter!


    • I will remember to ask for international publication in India.


  11. June

    I DID retire quite a while ago and didn’t take me long to figure out what to do next….ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING I WANTED TO!! Mostly nothing! It’s wonderful….You are so right about being consistently wrong and keeping a job…that’s a job in a million…most of the time weather forecasting is just plain guessing…not EDUCATED guessing but guessing!
    Love your posts…this is a favorite!


    • My current job (as Controller of a big nursery) involves lots of forecasting. But they actually expect me to be right! What a relief it will be when being right is completely irrelevant.


  12. This is incredible! I thought I retired 14 years ago… I am now looking for a job. I haven’t worked in so long people ask if I have any current experience… uh, no! That’s why I’m looking! I may go back to thinking about being a nun again… oh yeh… I guess I would have to do it part time since hubby likes his dinner on the table… good luck!


  13. Brilliant post, it made me laugh so much. I thought about the nun thing too but only because I looked good in black. Settled as a number cruncher, ‘have pen will travel’ kind of girl. As his credit controller, the MD called me the company rottweiler. I sent a reminder letter (just one) to a company in India and they were so unnerved by it, they sent their cheque by registered mail. It was for £5.64!


    • I am in the same career, but debt collection is hard for me. My mother raised me to always be polite. “Be nice; don’t argue” was her motto. And now I am the biggest wimp in the world.


      • My intention was never to let the little guy go out of business and where I could, agreed ‘extended terms’. It was the bigger companies that took the mickey, but luckily I had good telephone relationships with their accounts clerks and if they were honest with me, I was a little more flexible with them.


  14. Ray G

    “Weather Forecaster”
    Sorry, (maybe not so sorry), you don’t have enough BS to be one of those know-nothings.


  15. I save your posts for when I need a great laugh and this one is a keeper. Finding yourself over the years and maintaining your high style in the process was funny enough but there are extra giggles in the conclusion.


  16. This was the best Nancy, I don’t mind at all it was over 1,000 words it remains the best. I can absolutely see you as a weather person. Fabulous clothes, attitude and a pointy stick. Hey, maybe they would give you one of those cool maps like they use during elections.


  17. Reblogged this on Grandes Vendas Cheles Ferreira.


  18. Laurie

    Writing will be a great activity for retirement. You could attend workshops and conferences and readings, in addition to writing – I wish I could do that. One of the English professors at the CC in Lexington just retired – he has already published three novels and he is looking forward to being able to focus on his writing.


    • Writing is what I love. And how I truly want to spend my retirement.


  19. Laurie

    Nurses have terrible outfits nowadays, long loose tunics with balloons and teddy bears all over them. It is interesting about the nun thing. I kinda wished when I was in college that I was Catholic so I could be a nun. I was willing to do whatever work would be required. I thought it would be a way to do good work while being taken care of. And at 50 I still think it might have suited me – to have people around me, to be taken care of, to be able to take care of others, to do good in the world, to have lots of opportunity for quiet and meditation but still not be isolated. But I was never baptized in any faith, let alone Catholicism, nor was I instructed in any religion in any form.


    • I always thought that Life would be so simple if someone else made all the decisions and you just did as you were told – as long as what they were telling you to do involved nice things. That’s the appeal of becoming a nun – to me. Maybe there are some nice communes for non-religious people. No cults though. I won’t worship just anybody.


  20. ola eu tanbem lembro do meu tempode biblioteca era sempre um grande,prazer emtrar numa para faser os temas pesquizas pra escola eu mesma,escolhia minhas rdação era ma beleza pois eu tirava sempre a melhor nota da aula


  21. Reblogged this on Suzie81 Speaks and commented:
    For those of you that haven’t had chance to check out my Blogger of The Day, Nancy Roman, here’s a post that I think you’ll love!


  22. Ah feel your pain. (to quote Bill Clinton) So much so that I wrote a book about all that stuff entitled: “I Could Have Been famous But Sex, Love and Life Got In The Way.” Might wanna give that a shot as well.


  23. I wanted to be a fireman, and an actor, and a rabbi. I settled for author.

    But I’m curious about your being on the NYT best seller list and not making money. I’ve never hit the list and made lots of money from lots of books. What’s wrong with this picture?


    • Just a weird situation… I was a contributor to a book, “The Right Words At The Right TIme, Volume II” by Marlo Thomas. All the proceeds went to St. Jude’s. Well worth it. (But it would be nice to make money too…)



  1. My Shortest Career | notquiteold

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