From One Thing To The Next

I’m not sure if it’s normal to ask your boss for his opinion before you give your two weeks notice, but that’s what I did anyway. I had been extremely uneasy for the past 24 hours, ever since I got the job offer while I was in the middle of a meeting the day before. At the time I felt like I was going to either throw up or cry (three months later I realize it was undoubtedly a gross overreaction). Tim told me to sleep on it, and I shouldn’t make any quick decisions, and he didn’t think I should leave Tech Start Up, and I wasn’t sure I should either. Tech Start Up was my first real job, and I had became very comfortable and at home there over the past one year and ten months. Tim was my boss, but he was also my friend, and when I pulled him into the break room the next day to tell him I was going to accept the offer at Ad Agency, we cheers’d with our water cups.

Working at Ad Agency is a completely different lifestyle than working at Tech Start Up. It’s not better or worse, exactly. Even though I have the same job title, I’m doing very different things at a very different pace and with a very different attitude. At Tech Start Up I was on a marketing team of one for a long time, with no one to really tell me what to do or how to do it. I became self-taught, in a way, and made the rules up as I went. I was the voice of the company, and I truly cared about what that voice sounded like and how we presented ourselves to our customers, and the world. A month into working at Ad Agency I still referred to Tech Start Up as “we” when my new co-workers asked me about my old job as if I was still employed there. I missed it. I obsessively checked Tech Start Up’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to see what what was happening and if my replacement had started yet. “They didn’t fire you,” Zack would remind me. “You left them.”

The view from the 25th floor.
The view from the 25th floor.

The thing that made me most nervous about Ad Agency was that I didn’t think I was creative or driven enough to actually be hired there. My interview was at the Royal Tavern over a beer and we had talked more about my love life and what I like to do in my spare time than my actual work experience. Ad Agency has a reputation for long hours and quick turnover and I wasn’t sure I was cut out for such an environment. At my Tech Start Up goodbye happy hour, Tim asked me what my career goals were.

“I don’t know. I don’t really have any career goals.”

“What do you mean? Don’t you want to become a partner at Ad Agency some day?”

Our team had just done a round of lemon drops and I was feeling it. My eyes brimmed with tears as I looked down at my shot glass.

“I don’t know. I kind of just want to see where this takes me. And I want to learn a lot. Then I want to raise babies and stuff.”

“You wanna be a good mom. That’s cool.”

I felt stupid the next morning, even though I know Tim respects that sort of decision. It’s not that I don’t have “career goals,” I just honestly don’t really have a plan. And yeah, I do want to raise babies. I also want to write a young adult novel.

It’s been about ten weeks since I started at Ad Agency and for the first time, “climbing the ladder” has organically appeared on my radar and doesn’t seem nearly as scary as it once did. I’m learning so much, so fast, and the pace at which Ad Agency works is thrilling, if not satisfyingly exhausting. My office hours have shifted. Zack and I eat dinner later and I work out in the morning. I’ve adjusted.

The new plan is to seize opportunity, take it, and move along. It works or it doesn’t. In this case, it’s working (for now). I have a new boss named Annie who’s been in the biz for more than half my life and she’s teaching me everything there is to know. (Advertising language and tech speak are two very, very different things, by the way). She wants me to think as big as possible, and I am pushing my brain in ways I forgot existed.

Every once in awhile it hits me that ten years ago I was a sophomore in high school. Sometimes I think about my sixteen-year-old self who used to stare and prod and contemplate in front of the bathroom mirror and wonder, with a great sense of both fear and happiness, if she ever would have expected any of this.

Springing

There’s a man who sits on his stoop next to Dmitri’s, right on my corner of third and Catharine. He’s there every day, wearing those old school headphones that hug his ears and connect around the back of his head. When it rains he holds an umbrella; when it snows he sits in the driver’s seat of the pick up truck that’s parked right in front of his house. A stack of books a foot high rests on top of the console. He’s probably in his early forties.

I walk past him at all hours of the day, no matter if my work day starts early in the morning or late in the afternoon. He sees me ushering the boys out of the house in their karate uniforms and watches them race to their front door once they let go of my hands crossing third street. After a few months of nannying, I started waving and smiling at him. Just little nods, or a “good morning!” type exchange. Neighborly, curiously, kindly.

Two weeks ago I was offered a full-time job at a Philadelphia start up company called TicketLeap. Everything happened so quickly- I applied for the position Monday night by sending a tweet to the CEO, corresponded with him on Tuesday, interviewed Wednesday morning and was hired Wednesday night. I can fully apply my finding a job is like finding a relationship theory to the hiring process at TicketLeap. No games, no messing around. “I like you and you like me, let’s do this thing!”

After I got off the phone with TicketLeap, I burst into tears. This is what I had been waiting for for almost a year and a half. A job that matched my skill set and personality perfectly.  I moved to Philadelphia in November of 2010, worked a part-time job for a non-profit, interned for Yelp for 9 months (“It’s like we made a Yelp baby!” my boss said to me at my last event as an intern) and nannied for nearly as long. I had applied to countless jobs, went on over a dozen interviews and had a quarter-life crisis every two weeks or so because of it. My time had come. And now I had to tell the boys’ mother that I was going to leave.

I called my parents first, barely able to speak through my tears.

“I always knew you were emotional,” my dad said, “but you have to calm down. Where’s Zack?”

“Sitting next to me.”

“Is he wondering who this crazy person is he’s been living with?”

I hiccuped, then smiled. “No.”

“This is what you’ve been waiting for. Cheer up and go celebrate.”

Before we could enjoy a fancy cocktail at Southwark, I had to run down the street and tell my “family” about the job I was so excited for. At this point my face was red and puffy, especially below my right eye (you can always tell if I’ve been crying by looking at the beauty mark). I passed the guy on his stoop but barely made eye contact.

“Is everything okay?”

I stopped in my tracks. I’ve never heard the man say more than two words.

“Yeah, I just,” deep breath, “I finally got a real job and now I have to tell the boys I can’t be their nanny anymore.”

He smiled sympathetically. “Ah, I see.”

“Yeah.”

“You’ll be alright.”

I nodded.

***

This is what I will miss about nannying (in no particular order): greeting the boys as they get off the school bus, perfecting the toasted bagel with butter and cheese, M’s serious thoughts from the bathtub, A’s self-confidence, hearing A ask to be tucked in to bed, mid-day trips to the bookstore and Mama’s Vegetarian, being constantly flabbergasted by M’s level of intelligence, the look on their faces after they earn a new stripe on their karate belts, making friends with the other Queen Village moms (they don’t recognize me unless I have the boys by my side), my #nannydiaries, the fudgey brownies their mom bakes every week without fail (I will probably lose three pounds by not having one of them each day), Shabbat hugs, brushing up on my Hebrew while helping them with their homework, sleeping nine hours a night, spending my mornings at Bodhi drinking tea and writing (the one place I can truly call myself a “regular” at), catching M in the middle of a nap, introducing A to some of my favorite childrens’ authors (Judy Blume, Julie Andrews Edwards), listening to M ask questions about life, love and my relationship with Zack. He is truly the most insightful and adorable kindergartner I have ever known.

***

This is what I’m looking forward to (in no particular order): having a “regular” schedule, interacting with real adults, Tweeting for a living, planning events, working on a MacBook Pro at a desk in an office with green and brown walls in the heart of Center City, making new friends and contacts, putting everything I learned from Michelle C to good use, blogging and learning more about WordPress, using my brain and being proactive, wearing clothes other than leggings and a t-shirt, “evangelizing” the company (how many people did I convince to sign up for Yelp? I’m confident in my abilities), and finally, managing an online community. This job was made for me.

Working On It

I like to make resolutions for the new year, though I never took them all that seriously, because I never thought I had that many changes to make. Be nicer to my brothers, more considerate to my parents, get straight A’s, go to the gym four times a week, lose ten pounds. These are run-of-the-mill resolutions that I have made and broken year after year. I’m trying to make changes to my life in 2011. Big time changes.

The new year is coming at an appropriate time for me because I’ve been pretty miserable for the past two months, and for no real reason other than I haven’t had a job, and have done nothing during all of my days except convince myself that I am a good for nothing state school grad with a generic major. What I did these past two months, I’m really not sure. A lot of resenting and wallowing and taking things and people for granted. A busy day for Allison Berger would mean going to the gym, making hummus, and trying on (but not purchasing) clothes  at Anthropologie. Just two months of unemployment sent me halfway into a quarter-life crisis.

But enough about the past, let’s talk about the future! 2011 is looking bright. I’ve got a brand spankin’ new job as the Marketing Assistant at the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and a short but powerful list of shit I want to work on for myself.

First, I am going to be less judgemental. I’m really bad about this, and always have been. It’s the “looks” I throw too casually in all directions that hurt people. Caroline Post called it the “Allison Eye Flare” back in high school, Eric Jaffe made note of it senior year of college, and even Zack wonders sometimes- “What is that face?” My body language is too obvious. JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE MAKE DIFFERENT LIFE CHOICES THAN I HAVE DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE BAD CHOICES OR BAD PEOPLE.

Second, I am going to have a more positive attitude about where my life is headed, my relationships, my writing, and opportunities for the future. I am twenty-three years old and I can make things happen for myself. I was recently on the phone with my grandma, who told me that I sounded “down” and unlike myself. I told her what was up (I do nothing all day, I’m tired of waiting like a puppy dog for Zack to come home from work, I’m running out of money) and she sounded shocked. “If you don’t keep your chin up,” she said, “you are not the granddaughter that I thought you were.” I’m young, I’m in love, I live in a beautiful neighborhood in a fabulous city, I have friends, I have skills, I have a family who cares. I gotta stop complaining. The world is my fucking oyster.

Third, I am going to stop saying things out loud when I drink too much, because I’m tired of feeling anxious the next day for fear I said something too forward or offensive or spilled someone’s secrets. This is a serious concern about something that is absolutely preventable. I’m also going to stop drinking too much. I started on this one about two months ago- when I stopped receiving a paycheck. Going out is expensive, man.

Finally, I want to go to the gym four times a week, and lose ten pounds.

Not everything can change.

I’m Not Crazy

Waiting to hear back from a company about the status of your job interview is kind of like waiting to hear back from the guy you hooked up with two weeks ago after too many Mad Mex margs. You really liked him and you thought he liked you. He was cute and he had all the qualities that you look for in a job. I mean, guy. You hit it off- there was chemistry, a connection. It wasn’t just physical; you swear there was something more. You leave his apartment feeling satisfied and you smirk to yourself, You are awesome.

Days pass. You text and you call. There is a voicemail or two, a wavering “Hey, what are you up to tonight? Haven’t heard from you in awhile.” Suddenly you are Facebook stalking someone you have only met once, trying to figure out what’s going on in his head via status updates.  It’s been two weeks and he hasn’t called you back. You’re drunk on your porch with your friends and you are shaking your head. “I swear, I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy! I just need to know why! WHY!” But you are. You are a little bit crazy (shout out to Dyanna Betts).

So why won’t this company return my phone calls or emails? I made eye contact and connected. I spoke confidently about my internships and my activities at school. They loved that all my experience has been in music and the arts. They thought it was cool I studied in Amsterdam. I wore a cute outfit. The owner of the company even told me I was pretty.

There’s nothing I hate more than when people don’t return my phone calls. It’s that nagging feeling in the back of my head that makes me want to keep calling. The crazy person in me wants to show up at their door (shout out to Lynsey Smith). Like I said, I just want to know why they didn’t hire me.

In the stalkerish vein of this post, I leave you with this song.