Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

(you asked for it, Leigh Ann)

I am starting a new corporate job in a week and a half. After making the huge decision to go freelance, I am changing my mind as is my God-given right as a female and an American. I have been off of “real” work since the end of April, and in that four months have realized a few things about myself. One: it is quite lonely staying at home all day, especially with Mike still traveling more than half of the time. Two: it may not have been the smartest move I have ever made, leaving behind a steady paycheck and a 401k match at the start of a recession to start my own business. Three: I wouldn’t mind having a job that pays well whilst Mike and I are in the throes of buying a house and wanting to have a fantastic wedding in the next year or so.

So, I got a great offer from a seemingly great company and I took it. And I am actually looking forward to putting away my flip flops in favor of my old business casual threads, meeting new people, learning a new industry, and bringing home my share of the bacon. I have one more week of the luxurious life, hanging out with my dog, being totally on top of laundry, and leisurely mornings spent cranking on my future bestseller at the Lowry Starbucks, then I’m ready to give it all up. Once again, I become a copywriter instead of a freelance writer. Life is good.

So this is what happened during my four months off:

I learned how to mow a lawn and took it over as my very own chore.

I had my blog recognized by one of my favorite writers.

I saw Kanye West in concert and wasn’t even the oldest person in the crowd.

I made a long-overdue trip to see my grandmother and uncle and had a great time.

I went hard-core backpacking for the first time.

I gained and lost the same five pounds at least three times.

I got accepted as “freelance staff” for a really cool magazine but have yet to come up with a great pitch.

I officially switched from PC to Mac and will never go back (although the jury is still out on the iPhone.)

I finished a triathlon while suffering from remnants of a chest-cold and another unmentionable condition in 95 degree weather and survived.

I met a homeless man named Cowboy (call-sign: Nightcrawler) and bought him some whiskey.

I turned 32.

I alienated myself at the Democratic National Convention Volunteers’ Orientation.

I had drinks with a high school friend whom I found on Facebook, seeing her for the first time in 15 years and realizing that people change just as much as they stay the same.

I raised over $1500 dollars for breast cancer research.

I became the proud owner of world’s coolest bicycle.

I watched helplessly as my little sister turned 30, making me feel even older than I felt on my own thirtieth birthday.

I felt even older than that when I attended the wedding of a girl I used to babysit.

Mostly though, I sat and thought a lot about things that I needed to think about. Things I had been putting off thinking about in favor of work, things that were desperate to be thought about and healed and then thought about some more. I finally sat for hours at a time grieving the loss of my mother in a way that I had avoided before because there was never the time.

I think it is rare in this life to take a real break before the age of 65 or so. We are always running around trying to climb the ladder and make the dollars and be at the appointments and functions and meetings without ever realizing what we might be sacrificing. Our sanity, for instance.

I spent the first portion of my break feeling guilty for not making enough money and not working hard enough. However, with a week and a half left to do whatever I want, I am leaving the guilt behind and replacing it with the things that I never had time for before. Then it is back to the corporate grind with a new appreciation for the good that can come out of being with other people and getting paid to write about things that are alternately really interesting and super boring, but getting paid just the same. Until then, I will be riding my cool bike to the library and Top Nail and the cineplex, because there is just enough time left to read the new David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, squeeze in a mani/pedi, and see Mama Mia before I start chasing the other rats again.


Lucas said...

MS - How I've missed you! Glad your break was so productive. Personally, I feel we as Americans don't appreciate the value of still time. Our breakneck pace through life is not at all beneficial. Good for you for not only slowing down, but for realizing what a wonderful thing it can be. Hope your new job rocks and that you are quickly deemed the coolest chick in the office! Congrats.

Maggie said...

SO glad you're back!

That girl from Shallotte said...

Oh, Cara. I hope you know you made two very wise (and not easy) decisions in quitting the corporate world and going back to it. I'm happy to know my friend is less stressed and in a good position to continue to conquer the world!

Thank you for the shout-outs my dear!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Good luck and hope you meet some really nice new rats!

Sounds like an awesome use of your time off.