Last Monday wasn’t really Monday. I mean it was Monday but also it wasn‘t Monday because I HAD NO ALARM SET. My eyes opened when they bloody well felt like it, I had a cup of tea in bed as I curled up with a book for an hour and I swear I heard birds outside chirping “Yeeeah, girl. Live your best life.” Later that morning, I fulfilled a dream I didn’t know I even had by becoming one of those women who takes a Pilates class after 8AM on a weekday. I used to yell at these women in my head (and sometimes out loud in the safety of my car), “DON’T YOU PEOPLE HAVE JOBS!?!” I’m sorry, ladies, I get it now.
I left my corporate property management job behind officially on Friday, June 30th and am finally focusing on writing and applying for grad school. Because I gots bills and need food to survive, I’m also working at two part-time gigs, one an adorable gift and housewares shop and the other a fantastic indie bookstore. Both stores are in South Park, my favorite charming little neighborhood in San Diego, and are around the corner from one another. On any given day, I can be seen skipping down the tree-lined street whistling to myself, entirely too jazzed to be going to work.
I’m off on Mondays and Tuesdays and work one or both jobs the rest of the week. My earliest start when working is 10 AM and some days it’s as late as 2PM; this means that working or not, I have enough time in the morning to get some writing done, enjoy that cup of tea or two and then dance around my room (literally, and full out) as I tidy up and then fit in a workout – usually Pilates or barre because I love supportive torture. I come home to get ready for the rest of my day, listening to an audio book or podcast as I splash on some makeup. I throw a little mousse in my hair for some structure and diffuse it lightly. I haven’t blown out my hair straight in two weeks – it’s wild and wavy and I’m kind of into it.
My first couple of weeks have been a blast. I’ve had the pleasure of opening and closing the bookstore (and pretending it’s my own) while thinking of creative ways to display new releases and crafting bookish puns to write on the sidewalk sign (like “Go On. Treat Yo’ Shelf.” *slaps leg and laughs at own pun*). I’ve learned about the book industry, ordering, taking inventory and gained insights into some great bookish news both locally and in the industry. I’ve sold gorgeous housewares, children’s gifts and stunning pieces of jewelry and more to people with a genuine appreciation for the art and effort that goes into curating products with purpose and displaying them with an eye for design. I’ve also been given free reign over organization projects as well as social media management and creating email blasts. Books, aesthetics, and the space to flex my planning/writing/organizing muscles: I am in my element.
The part I’m enjoying the most is how much I get to talk to people, an activity I think I’d forgotten I enjoy for a minute there. At my last job, I managed a resort-style, 500+ unit apartment community across from a private university, and while we rented to anyone who qualified, we did get a lot of interest from students whose parents could afford that resort-style price tag. Listen. A lot of the people I dealt with were great: college kids, military folks, families, young professionals, etc whom I was genuinely sad to leave behind. But MY GAWD, the handful of folks whose heady combination of money + privilege led them to think they could talk to my team and I like we were lesser human beings… they were the reason I often threw myself face-first on my bed at the end of the day and muttered, “I fucking HATE people.”
Really though, I love people and I remember that now. The cute kids who want to touch everything and squeal in delight when you give them something squishy or bouncy to play with, the husbands and boyfriends in search of a gift for their significant other, the parents who come in looking for books that will empower their kids and foster their love of reading… I love them all. I love when customers shake my hand or even hug me when I help them find the perfect little something, the fact that so many are regulars and remember my name. I love the sense of community, how wholly and incredibly different it feels to work for a small business as opposed to a huge corporation. This is all so new to me. It’s delicious.
I am never, ever bored. If I’m not rearranging or crafting some marketing material, my customers are my live theater. There was a woman who bought an oil-based fragrance from me just last week who raved about the perfection of its scent and emphatically recounted her long search for a fragrance that captured her essence. Somehow we veered off onto a tangent wherein she disclosed that she wears a necklace that’s actually a vibrator around her neck when she goes on dates. “If it doesn’t go well, I’m fine, you know?” she beamed. “I don’t need him. I’m good! I’m good.” I laughed with her and hoped quietly that she waits until she gets home to explore the many utilities of her choice in jewelry.
Then there was the gorgeous, blonde, tattooed mom who came into the bookstore looking for “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” because she doesn’t want her daughter growing up with a Disney damsel-in-distress complex. She told her beautiful toddler that she could play with this cute stuffed fox we carry in the store but warned her to be careful with it since they would not be buying it. I locked eyes with that precious little munchkin and saw a very clear, "Oh yeah? in her expression as she proceeded to chomp down on its snout and rip off the nose. “Oops!” her her batting lashed seemed to say. “Guess we have to buy it now!” That little girl is going places, I tell ya. People are the best.
So. I get to write. I get to talk to people about books and beautifully curated gifts. Feeling useful and (slowly) knowledgeable while feeding the parts of my soul that were being starved in the name of traditional paradigms of “success” gives me a sensation that it’s taken me a minute to properly identify. It’s calm, it’s relief, it’s happiness. I'm bad and bookish, yo. Let's make that a thing.
I leave you with a few little somethings that I’d like to start including with my blog posts. A little inspo, a little bookishness, a little peek into my current obsessions. Have a beautiful, productive, life-affirming day. Let’s stay in touch, ok?
Think Me: Take a risk. Let go of some of those I probably can’ts for a few but what if I dids and see what’s on the other side of worry.
Read Me: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. Sweet baby Jesus, this is the most quintessential example of honest, confessional and witty writing I’ve seen in some time. Irby is acerbic with her wit and embraces TMI to the fullest, most OMG-I’m-cringing-but-I-can’t-look-away extent. It’s a collection of essays that takes you through Irby’s challenging childhood through to her struggles to get her shit together as an adult. She holds nothing back and lets you know how much of a mess she is and has been in figuring out how to adult, how to live in her skin as a fat black woman, how to make room in her life for another person and how to deal with complicated loss. The best part undoubtedly is that between about a thousand oh no you didn’ts, you find these poignant emotional revelations that anyone with a less-than-linear love, career and life path will relate to HARD.
Drink Me: Genmaicha Tea. I love green tea and am discovering just how many blends of the stuff are out there. We all know I love me some matcha, but Genmaicha is another solid favorite. It has that traditional green tea flavor with an added layer of toasted rice. It gives the tea a different depth and tastes fantastic both hot and iced. I get mine from The Loose Leaf at my favorite farmers markets in San Diego.
Hear Me: Mi Gente by J. Balvin. That beat tho!!!! I used to deny liking reggaeton as a genre because frankly, some of the stuff makes me want to jam a pen in my eardrum, which is the same way I feel about EDM. There’s a new generation of reggaeton artists and some seasoned veterans doing some pretty amazing stuff right now though, bringing beats that blend the reggaeton sound with salsa, bachatha, cumbia and allll the things that make me want to dance. This jam makes me want to be a young hoodrat in a club shaking it for all it’s worth. So instead, I do it in my room with only my books and Benedict Bookington III to judge me.