I quit my job last week. This is a good thing, but it’s hard to remember that sometimes; after all, who in their right mind gives up a (relatively) high-paying, extremely secure job with benefits…and in the middle of a recession? AND who gives up such a job when their husband is a musician, which, in case you didn’t know, is a somewhat unstable career?
I grew up in New York City, went to Dalton, where I majored in boys, and then Harvard, where I majored in cognitive neuroscience, and then moved to Los Angeles after graduation to be an actress (I’d been acting since junior high). One night, the son of a famous actor was at my house and told me to check out a Brooklyn-based indie band on MySpace – apparently I had gone to high school with a couple of the members. I friend-requested the band, the keyboardist started writing me lovely emails, we went on a date when I flew to New York for fashion week, and six weeks later we were engaged.
At that point, I figured I should probably live in the same city as my husband-to-be, and packed up my one-eyed shih tzu, Lucy, and about one-eighteenth of my belongings (I was moving from a three-bedroom house with a guest house in the backyard to a 300-square-foot apartment in Hell’s Kitchen) and made my way cross-country. I got a bartending job at Hogs ‘n’ Heifers (the bar that inspired the movie Coyote Ugly), but after a month or so started feeling a little world-weary about the fact that my job involved throwing back shots starting at 10AM, and left.
So then I had no source of income and an expensive apartment to half-pay for, and my mom asked me if I wanted to temp at her law firm to make some money in between auditions. Two years and a couple of promotions later, I was no longer an actress/writer who happened to be working in a law firm during the day: I was a full-on legal administrator. Which is, given my specific interests, a fairly depressing job. You lose sleep worrying about things like statements of account and whether a light is out in the conference room. Your primary goal in life is to go 24 hours without getting blamed for something. I didn’t want to act any more, and when I got home at night I certainly didn’t want to look at a computer screen for one more second, so writing wasn’t happening. What I wanted to do every evening when I walked through the door was to drink most of a bottle of wine, and then fall asleep in front of Intervention (yes, I know: irony).
But like I said: it’s hard to quit your job when…well, when there’s not exactly much waiting for you on the other side. But I was spending way too many hours locked in my office with my forehead planted on my desk, sobbing about the ruin of my infinite promise, and then sobbing some more at just how ridiculously like everyone else I sounded.
And then Thursday came, and it was hot. This summer has been miserable and rainy and frigid, but Thursday was hot. And I noticed that most of the staff – like, three-quarters – was wearing flip-flops. And while I myself do not care a whit about appropriate footwear, and would certainly love to wear flip-flops every day of my life if I could, this is not okay in a law firm, where there are clients and uptight attorneys who like to yell at sweet, blonde legal administrators roaming the halls. I got a couple of complaints from higher-ups about the staff’s excessively casual attire, and so I decided to shoot off a quick email reminding everyone not to wear flip-flops to work. This, let me emphasize, was my job. I was supposed to do things like send out emails reminding people about various things, like not leaving their dishes in the kitchen sink or putting lids on their coffee cups so they don’t trip and stain the rug. Whatever.
So I sent out the email (“just a reminder that flip-flops are not proper office attire, but sandals are still ok, see me if you don’t know the difference” – something like that), and it was like I set off a bomb in the office. Within minutes, I had upwards of thirty furious emails from staff members informing me about my Napoleon complex and general incompetence. One of them even basically called me a tramp for wearing short skirts (admittedly, they are pretty short). My day was going poorly.
But you know what I really thought to myself when I got those emails?
They are totally right.
I do not belong here.
And when the day drew to a close, I went into my boss’ office and gave notice.
It was pretty awesome. But now there’s this tiny, nagging little voice in my head saying over and over, and growing louder and louder, until there’s nothing else I can think of: Oh, my god. What have you done?
I suppose I’ll find out.