Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wake Me Up When September Ends

It's hard to believe the summer has come and gone, and yet I feel like I'm already wishing away September, and the month after that, and the month after that. . . .

August has been rough and I haven't really been in the blog-writing mood. Generally my mind is always thinking, always writing, but not these last thirty-one days. Since my announcement about the new job, I've come up with only one idea for a blog post, and I couldn't even summon the energy to put it together. And then today it was like everything cleared up and I had two ideas, one of which I am writing now, and maybe I'll get to the other two if I get another bout of writer's block.

It's been a summer of "what's next?" With all of our wedding-related trips, Mike and I were constantly in a state of "what's coming up?" We came back from Denver and I didn't even bother to unpack my suitcase (though this really isn't something out of the ordinary), because I knew in four days I was going to be repacking it to go to Dallas. And then I came back from Dallas and I was hit with reality: there were no more "what's next" moments and I had to face the present. And I wasn't particularly ready to do that after spending the previous two work weeks in over my head, working in the office till 9:00 or even 10:00.

So what did I do instead? I thought about what's next anyway, even though there's nothing really planned: where Mike and I could go for our first anniversary (how quickly time flies). I thought about trips Mike and I would like to take next year. I dreamed about being at my grandparent's house in Spain, relaxing on the beach with the family. There was a lot of thinking and picturing and hoping and daydreaming . . . but there wasn't a whole lot of living in the present.

And these past two days I got a healthy dose of the present that made me not so healthy. I realized I am now a month into the new job and I will be expected to start really picking up new responsibilities and understanding how everything works here. I wouldn't say I have a big ego (as Mike accidentally called it last night), but professionally, I do have pretty high self-esteem, and I felt that plummeting this week as I was repeatedly told I was doing things wrong. I have to admit, I'm not really used to hearing those words. At least not as often as I have been. I'm not used to redoing things a second, third, and maybe even a fourth time because of my errors.

The thing is, I wasn't ever told how to do it right, a lot of this has been trial and error. And my new colleagues have been very patient with helping me out so that I can grasp everything and transition between the two publishing houses. While working on the books is the same, there are a lot of details that aren't and that part's been super stressful.

Realizing that I'm starting from the beginning in some areas, and I don't know everything, I became incredibly anxious, probably more anxious than I've ever been. I was worried I was doing everything wrong. That even when I redid something a second or third time, it still wasn't right. I was worried about people thinking I was dumb, about my boss regretting the decision to hire me, about whether I made the right decision to leave Harper.

I spent the last two nights walking down Bleeker Street while crying on the phone with my mom.

I got home and didn't want to talk at all. I picked up some sushi (food therapy, anyone?), watched the Yankees game, and did freelance. I was mentally exhausted. My wonderful husband came home with flowers and gave me a back rub, and he let me cry some more.

And then I woke up this morning and said, "enough."

Both my mom and Mike told me I needed to meet with my boss, that I was possibly stressing out, and making myself anxious, over nothing. The last two days were spent redoing things and getting behind in my own schedule, but today I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and I didn't feel like I was in over my head. I met with my boss to better discuss what was going on and where she wanted me to be. Before I even got to the point of how anxious I had been, she told me I was doing a fantastic job and that she was glad I was here. (So yes, Mike and Mom, you were right, I was getting worked up over nothing.)

It's hard being your own worst critic. And it's hard being a perfectionist. I was so worried about what people were thinking about me, how they felt about my work, that I forgot to trust myself. I know what I'm doing. Maybe not every detail, maybe not every system, but I didn't know them at Harper when I first started, either. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. Reminding myself to ask for help and that's okay.

I'm not saying I'm going to stop dreaming about what's next, but I won't use it as an excuse to deal with what's now. I'm going to need that escape every now and again because I don't think this will be the end of the insecurities. I'm just going to handle them better. Less crying. Less anxiety. Less doubting.

For now, I'm going to get through these next two days, take the long weekend to regroup, and hopefully, come next Tuesday, I can start the work week with a fresh outlook. I'm mentally and physically exhausted, so it's off to bed for now. Where I can dream about all the beaches I want, and that's okay.

Wake me up when September begins.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

When It Rains, It Pours

Whew, it's been a while. I knew the month of July was going to be crazy, but I wasn't expecting it to be this crazy. I thought I'd surely get in a blog post or two along the way, but before I knew it, July was over and August was here, shepherding in a whole new month of  fun and commitments . . . and not a post in sight.

It seemed like every weekend in July contained something, and when Mike and I would sit down to discuss what we had going on during the week, we'd realize every night was filled with something: kickball, softball, birthdays, happy hours, etc. Sure, these were all fun things, but those fun things add up to wanting a weekend  to catch up . . . but that certainly wasn't in our cards with weddings, showers, and barbecues. We knew going into the month that there wouldn't be much downtime, we just didn't realize that I also would be throwing a major wrench into our routine.

Remember two months ago when I announced Mike found a new job? You know, that post where I tricked you all into thinking I was pregnant? Yeah, well, the job fairy has struck us again. . . . I'm now a senior production editor at Penguin.

Let me just say that I was not looking for a new job; I was happy and comfortable at Harper—with my job and my friends. But sometimes when you're the most comfortable in life, you're thrown a curveball to see if you can hit it. I saw a job posting for my now-current postition at Penguin and debated whether I wanted to apply. It was a step up from my role at Harper, and I'd be working more consistently on hardcover books (I worked on a few at Harper, but they were always design related). But my commute would be twice as long. I would be the last-in, and in a wavering industry you worry on being the first-out. And Mike and I wouldn't be able to meet up for lunches now that our offices were so close.

I weighed the pros and cons and then started updating my résumé . . . it couldn't hurt to apply, right?

I applied the Thursday before July 4th weekend. I had a call from HR on Friday with an interview set up for the following Wednesday. OK, I had the long weekend to think about it.

Mike and I spent that weekend hanging around the city, enjoying what would be our (first and) last free weekend of the month by trying some new restaurants, visiting the Harry Potter exhibit, and seeing Super 8.

I interviewed with HR on Wednesday and was called on Thursday to set up an interview with my would-be hiring manager for the next morning. Everything was moving quicker than I expected.

Friday I met with the hiring manager, and I got a good vibe. I knew over the weekend I'd have to really consider my options should Penguin extend an offer—it didn't feel like I'd have a lot of time to think about it if everything was moving this fast. And there really wasn't a lot of time that weekend, either: Friday night was Kunal and Smiksha's Sangeet in Jersey. Saturday was my cousins Ali and Zoey's graduation party in Westchester, and Sunday was Kunal and Smiksha's all-day wedding ceremony and reception back in Jersey.

Me and Mike at Kunal and Smiksha's Wedding

 Then came Monday. And an offer. An offer which I obviously decided to take. Tuesday was the dreadfull tell-the-boss day. Wednesday was fairly rough as I started figuring out what I needed to tie up before I left in two weeks. Thank goodness Ginna swung by the office around 7:30 to pick me up or I would have been there even later. Then Thursday I was off to Mississippi for Hilary and Nick's wedding.

My sister, me, Josephine, and Ginna at Hilary's wedding
(Unfortunately, my photos with Hilary are still on my camera.)

I had a fantastic time in Mississippi. I get to see Hilary so rarely that I cherish every moment with her. Since I got there on Thursday, I was able to spend some extra time with just her, Nick, and her family, which was really nice. Josephine and Hai arrived from Houston late Thursday night/early Friday morning, and though I was exhausted, Joey and I stayed up till 3:30 a.m. catching up (I would learn later that this is nothing compared to Hai's normal hours). Friday was Hilary's bachelorette party. On Saturday, Nicole, Bobby, and Mike arrived, and we had the rehearsal and BBQ. And then on Sunday we had the wedding! Monday was a traveling day I would rather soon forget, so we'll just skip right over that. . . .

Back in the city, on Tuesday we saw Harry Potter and the Deatly Hallows Part 2, Wednesday was Ginna's birthday, my sister was in town so we saw How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Thursday, on Friday my parents took the family out to dinner to celebrate my upcoming birthday, Saturday was a barbecue in Tarrytown (and then another Harry Potter viewing in 3D Imax with Dad), and Sunday was my cousin Jennifer's baby shower.

Tired yet?

On Monday I had a going-away happy hour; Tuesday was softball; Wednesday was my final day at Harper and then Mike took me out for an early birthday dinner at Benihana's; Thursday was my birthday—but I ended up going back to Harper because there was a surprise bridal shower for Amanda, followed by drinks and 16 Handles to celebrate my birthday; and on Friday, Mike and I went to the Yankees game (I am no longer allowed at Yankee home games when the Orioles are in town, I am 0-3, and it's usually the only game the Yanks lose in the series). We were supposed to be heading to Cape Cod for the weekend with Andrea and Brad, but with my new job starting on Monday, it was too stressful to figure out the timing of getting there and back. So Saturday we (finally) relaxed before heading to Jim and Ethan's barbecue, and then on Sunday we went to the outlets so I could get some new clothes for the new job.

Which leads me to this week!

Monday was my first day at Penguin and so far it is going well. It's comforting to realize that not much changes from house to house—at least in regards to working on the actual books. There are definitely some style differences, and there are going to be system differnces, both of which I'm trying to pick up as quickly as possible. But essentially, what I loved doing at Harper, I'll be doing here. My boss and department members seem great, and I look forward to meeting more people around the floor, because I really don't know how to function at a 9-5 job without having friends nearby. Every now and then you just need the coffee break, you know?

Time will tell whether this was the right decision, though I think it was a good move. I got out right as the Rupert Murdoch stuff started and as the publisher of the Harper imprints I worked on resigned. Surely there are going to be some changes there that I'll be missing. I'm no longer at the same job where people knew me as a fresh-faced kid right out of college and it's nice that people at Penguin will know me only by one name here (as opposed to Harper where I was still working under maiden and married last names). I already miss my old work friends, but they assure me that my leaving means we'll see each other more outside of work because we can't be lazy and just say, "See you tomorrow."

There's also a little bit of irony involved in my job switch. For years I wanted to be a marine biologist, even going to Sea World camp two years in a row during high school. (Laugh all you want at my nerdiness, it was awesome.) There are still days that I wonder "what if" and miss the idea of working with animals. But organic chemistry was the death of that dream, and eventually I found my way back to English—as most of my family expected I would. Now I find myself working at a company called Penguin (an animal I got to work and swim with at camp), and my new subway stop has marine mammal murals:

This weekend Mike and I will be in Denver for Jay and Holly's wedding, flying back on a red-eye Sunday night/Monday morning (something I booked long before I ever thought I'd be starting my second week of work at a new job). Then Thursday I leave for Dallas for Natalie and Landon's wedding. And after that things should slow down a bit as summer winds down . . .

. . . that is, if I can get out of jury duty at the end of the month. ;)

When it rains it pours, right?!