The elephant in the corner

Phew. That’s a relief. After months I can finally let that big grey beast shamble into the light and reveal that what I have not been mentioning since September is that I have been inching towards getting another job. I interviewed in October, in November and then in January. It’s been a protracted process but this week I accepted the offer and I start on April 1. Huzzah!

What this means is that I am leaving the unstable, shifting world of a small publishing company whose name you wouldn’t recognise to go and work for a monolith of publishing with a name you certainly would know. This allows for something of an exhalation of breath, because my present company recently changed hands in a transaction in which it fulfilled the role of the free flip-flops you get when you pay for a ‘special’ spa pedicure. Indicative of present company’s importance to new faceless corporate overlords is the fact that our HR representatives were summarily fired and replaced with someone who might drop by every now and again if the weather is ok… Oh, and did I mention that my husband also works for the free flip-flops?

So, that sums up reason # 1. Fortunately, beyond being a bid for continued health insurance and some quasi-guaranteed income for us, I actually want this job. I’m more than ready for something new, somewhere new. And frankly, it was easily won. This is heartening to me, because it feels like proof I can cut it in the US on my own terms.

Changes ahead, then, and I love change. Time was that roughly every three years I would take all the components of my life (job, city, boyfriend), throw them up in the air and let the pieces fall where they would. The status quo is not for me, I have far too low a boredom threshold. Now, facing a new two hour commute that will require me to be on a train into Manhattan at a time in the morning when I’m usually sipping coffee in bed and listening to my husband sing in the shower, I am just plain thrilled. Think of all that reading time, or listening time, or quiet contemplation time. There is no downside to it that I can see that can’t be overcome with a few hundred pages and a mini bottle of Purell.

Then, I will be working in a big city again, which I haven’t done for, oh my god, more than 10 years. Not only that, but it’s Manhattan. Since part of me is still a scruffy schoolgirl from a Birmingham council estate, that seems impossibly glamorous.  My initial reaction is, Must Try Harder with clothes, and probably Should Wear (Even) More Black. When I lived in London, absolutely everyone was better dressed than I was and looked as though they were on their way to some ineffably cool place that I would never find but where they would fit right in.  This time round I’m at least going to fake it.

As for the job itself, there will be the inevitable learning curve, those three hectic months where you have to figure out everything from where the paperclips are stored to what you are really supposed to be doing.  It’s like a great, big, knot that has to be teased out and is composed of smaller knots that also have to be teased out. I am almost salivating at the thought.

You may notice that I’m not big on looking back. This habit of mind, I think, is what allowed me to move to the US with minimal disruption. I make decisions and then carry them through, and I am rarely plagued by ‘what if’s’ or ‘might have beens’. If I come to where the path in the woods splits, I’ll take one direction and not waste my time wondering if the other route was prettier. In general, everything works out for the best, even if not quite as anticipated. I feel good about the decision to accept this job, so now I’m looking ahead.

Still, it is not an unmixed blessing. I will miss my department, who, individually and collectively, completely rock. They are the benchmark. Above all, I will miss my inimitable manager, aka Zoesmom, who effortlessly combines the roles of friend, mentor and professional role model. It is said that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers; absolutely the reverse is true for me. I would take her with me if I could. I will not say that I hope we stay in touch, because I know we will. But there, you see, is the cloud around the silver lining. To take a step forward, I have to leave something behind.

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I've run out of books. Again.

10 thoughts on “The elephant in the corner”

  1. Congratulations! That’s wonderful, and it does sound so glamorous to be commuting to Manhattan! I hope you love your new place. I’m kind of jealous about all that reading time … It must be wonderful to have it settled. Protracted job searches and interview procedures that go on and on are rough.

  2. You are determined to make me cry. I was getting ready to make a banal comment about how starting a new job is like learning a new language blah blah blah until that last paragraph. I’m not sure what I am going to do if you keep saying all these nice things.

    Of course we’ll stay in touch — I have no doubt and if I could, I would go with you in a heartbeat. I would love it! However, I know there is something terrific about starting over where no one really knows you. Change is great and I have every reason to believe you will make a smashing success.

    Oh, and you won’t need to fake it.

  3. I am so excited about this. You’ve been wanting this change for a long time. I know you’ll be great (and so will ZoesMom!). And as far as clothes go, I laugh at you–you’re already perfect for NY. And besides, they let me in, with my inimitable fashion sense . . .

  4. Just make sure you leave from a station in which the train is not too crowded to sit in the morning (I sometimes had that problem with the reverse commute from Manhattan to CT), and you will absolutely LOVE that down time where no one can bug you. I’m so happy for you and know you’re going to love it (well, for three years at least until it’s time to do something new).

  5. Many Congratulations Becky. I KNOW you will enjoy the new wardrobe picking, and I wish you all the vey best of an exlusion zone and no smelly armpits or being jammed into other people’s crotches on those commutes. (or perhaps it is, in any case, a very different journey from London commuting)

    As for the job, well of course you will impress people. You always do. Good for you!

  6. Oh how exciting, Becky! And you have such a perfect attitude to change. I cling to the old ways too much, and fear the worst, but then am fine when I actually make the break. All that emotion wasted for nothing! And good luck with the new clothes shopping. I love that sense of reinvention that comes when you move work places and can be someone completely fresh again. Obviously, you just have to tell us all about it now!

  7. Thanks all! The shopping will definitely be fun and part of the reinvention process. Litlove is right about that!

    Dor – any recommendations for lengthy novels gratefully received, because I’ll be burning through short pbs at a ruinous rate.

    Chris – Thanks! And I’m thinking The Quincunx would be perfect for the train.

    Zoesmom – I won’t be known as ‘Mike’s wife’! In fact, I am reverting to my maiden name because all my ID is still in that name, so I’ll have a new identity again.

    Georgia, I am hopeful that the commute will not be as unpleasant as I remember it was on the Piccadilly Line from Wood Green.

    Emily, I’m planning to travel from East Norwalk, which I think will allow me a train with a seat. I also plan to be really quite aggressive in asking people to move their briefcases/coats/random junk.

  8. I’ll be sad to see you go. Make a promise to yourself to do that train reading. In an earlier life I took that same train to a job at a slightly different flip-flop. I planned to get tons of reading done, but every morning I’d wake up just as the train passed the emergency exit sign at 59th Street. I was never sure when I fell asleep, but it happened every dang time.

    If you haven’t already tackled it, I think you’d enjoy Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle.

  9. CONGRATS! I know I’m late to the party but this is wonderful! Have a great time in ME and I am looking forward to hearing about this transition. Being midway through some transition myself, I envy your attitude towards it…I don’t adore these three months, so much, although I must admit my department is making it quite easy to change my mind on that account.

  10. Jason – I admit, I’m a little worried about falling asleep. I used to go through my London commute in a daze sometimes. I shall have to read very exciting literature until I get used to the early hours.

    Courtney – I am waiting to hear how your transition is going, it is so much bigger than mine will be. I keep thinking that my change is the opposite of yours in that it involves more driving, more travel, more complications…

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