I suppose it’s only proper that I don’t know how to begin this post – I’m about to start a new part of my life and I don’t really know how to begin that, either. I just know that at 8am Monday morning, I will need to be awake(!), showered(!!), caffeinated (necessary, really) and functional(!!!) in a location roughly 30 minutes from where I’m sitting right now. Then I will shadow someone I’ve never met during her morning rounds before heading off to a wine seminar in the afternoon.

Thus begins my new job, 33 or so hours after I leave my old one. I’m seriously overwhelmed.

At least I won’t miss a paycheck.

The new job is everything I could really hope for right now – it’s in a field I like, sounds like a ton of fun, has totally normal adult hours, normal adult really amazing benefits, weekends off, business cards, responsibilities, a 401(k), all that sort of stuff that seems semi-standard for middle class Americana.* I know plenty of people who, at my age, already have all of these things, have had them for so long that these things are totally normal life.

For me, however, this kind of life has always seemed far away from my own. When I was in my early twenties, active avoidance of business cards and the associated lifestyle (and income, apparently) made up a larger portion of my decision to go to grad school than I’d care to admit to then or now. By my later twenties, weighted down with years of grad school and nothing to show for it besides an MA, panic disorder and an inability to sleep, things like business cards and an 8-5 job with actual responsibilities felt out of reach, like I’d somehow screwed everything up and would never get to that level. When the only job I could get after quitting my Ph.D. was at a liquor store, those fears felt like they’d been confirmed.

The liquor store job, however, turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me after grad school. It was low-stress, mostly fun, and filled with happy, well-adjusted, relaxed people. Work involved very little of me sitting on my butt at a computer, meaning that I’d get home eager to sit and write. Most of the time I spent there was in full workout mode, lifting 30 packs of awful beer or cases of wine or spirits or whatever else and carting them all over the place; the rest of the time was spent dealing with customers, an experience that was alternately good and harrowing. I have stories, but I’ll probably never share them. The good people are wonderful but boring; the nutcases I’d rather never think about again.

The best thing some days was that we got to drink on the job. It was almost mandated sometimes, when sales reps would trot in, bags of wine bottles slung on their shoulders, and we’d adjourn to the tasting area to rip through 3-10 wines, discuss, and move on with the day. I decided I wanted that job almost immediately.

That’s the job I start Monday. Even better: I get to work with beer as well as wine.

I’m still not sure how it happened. I mean, I know how it happened: I applied, they looked at my resume, read my beer/wine blog, interviewed me, hired me. But still, knowing how rootless and terrified I felt this time a year ago, I’m not sure how it happened. I know that that person – the rootless, terrified one – and I are the same. We share the same memories, we know the same people, we like the same drinks. But where the rootless, terrified person looked at herself and saw a string of failure, I feel pretty good right now.

I cannot believe that this is my life.

I should be asleep right now. I am so, so screwed when Monday morning comes around and I’m supposed to be functional earlier than I’ve tried to wake up in months. My sleep schedule has been set to “adolescent on summer break” for so long that I have no idea how to break it. I tried earlier this week. It, um, didn’t last. It’s 1:43am and I’m typing instead of sleeping.

In other “I am not yet a motherfucking adult” woes, I’m 31 and I have zero professional wardrobe, because I haven’t yet needed one. In grad school and teaching, I wore jeans with whatever shirt and a pair of Chucks or clunky heels. At the liquor store, I wore older jeans with whatever shirt and Chucks. I haven’t needed “work clothes” since my tellering days in college. Now I find myself in dire need of something professional and no clue how to do this.** My attempts to begin to put one together today involved Ann Taylor’s sales rack and three and a half hours in other stores. Net acquisition: one pair of capris to wear on my first day. I’ll wear them with cognac heels and _______ shirt. Probably the shirt I wore to the interview, because I haven’t the foggiest what else I have that I could wear. At the same time, I’m laughing at myself that clothing is my biggest worry right now. It feels amazing.

Clothing woes aside, I’m waiting for the moment when I can look at my job and my life and not feel stunned. Maybe someday I’ll even settle down enough to write some more.

Life is strange and oddly beautiful sometimes.


*Or at least used to be standard. After the economic crash, it’s hard to say anything’s standard anymore. Especially for people in their 20s and early 30s.
**I *would* have to end up at the distributor whose reps never wear jeans. The other guys almost always do. We don’t. I’m actually good with this – the reps at my new company always look fabulous – but this is not helpful in a ‘what to wear’ sense. That said, it is truly neat to be in a field where looking fashionable is seen as desirable. That wasn’t always the case in academics – good fashion sense was sometimes taken as a sign that the fashionable person was not living a proper ‘life of the mind.’

Note: I’m categorizing this under “reading” because I feel like I’m reading my life right now rather than living it. I’m not sure how to live it yet.