This week, I am gathering a coffee mug, some tea bags and snacks, a warm cardigan, framed photos and other knickknacks and moving into my new office. The last time I did this was in the early spring. I took the bare minimum – just enough to keep me sane in a job that fit me about as well as a size 6 pastel acrylic sweater. But this is the real deal. Work I like, work I care about, work I can do right off the bat – as opposed to learning arcane databases and style sheets. Plus, it’s in a lovely old house, complete with a screened door – something I asked for in a job nearly two decades ago. Something I was beginning to believe was a naive fantasy.
…showing up for the interview, no longer really caring that my brown boots don’t match most of my outfits but I wear then anyways because I can’t afford black ones.
Was it patience or perseverance? Moxie or an unending desire for authenticity that got me to this place? In my final rounds of job applications, I had grown so tired of it all: the putting myself out there again and again; getting the first call and then being asked to write a pseudo letter or document of some kind – an exercise to further winnow the pool; showing up for the interview, no longer really caring that my brown boots don’t match most of my outfits but I wear then anyways because I can’t afford black ones. I didn’t get nervous for interviews any more. Like Neil Diamond at a casino, I’d just done it too many times. Instead of feeling perky, I showed up and was me – a relatively curious, smart, caring middle aged woman with two kids, a crazy cat, a dying dog, a mature relationship, a needy older home, bills and groceries and all that.
I’d become more than a tad embarrassed by how long this whole job thing was taking. It seemed to be a mark against my character. I mentioned this to one woman I really like but don’t know well and she said, “Heavens, I’m just so impressed by your moxie. That you know what you want and you’re sticking to it.”
I’m not sure exactly what she meant, but thinking about it, I guess what I “stuck to” were certain principles – working in a job with good people in a humane and even beautiful environment; being part of a living/daily community – be it the community of the University in which I now work, or the community of people with whom I share a roof, or the community of our town or our state, or the community of like minded people across the country engaged in similar work; being available to my kids as much as possible; learning new and relevant ideas; seeing space for growth.
Last spring, reaching out for possible answers as to how to make what I wanted fit with what the world seemed to want – namely cubicle jobs that used writers as cogs in a giant corporate process – I got in touch with a life coach who asked me to draw in concentric circles what matters to me with regard to life/work, and I drew this. Creativity is in the middle and environment – as in the aesthetic environment, the environment in which a screened door matters – is on the outside, the outside being only a smidge less important than the inside.
I think I might take this drawing with me and tack it to my wall somewhere at my new job. If there are days that feel tough, this seems like an excellent reminder of what I waited for, what I imagined could be. Moxie rising.