Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lizzie is coming back

I've spent three years working here in New York. I sometimes feel like it's been a constant battle trying to adjust to this city. Growing up in a place that called New York City the "Evil Empire", where I was raised to think that all Yankee fans were assholes, made it difficult. But I always pushed through the whole team-hating thing. I thought to myself, what if I was raised to think that everyone from a particular race was an asshole? If I wanted to overcome this racist upbringing in disguise, then I had to spend part of my life in the empire that El Puké pitched for.

No wait, why did I really move to New York? I really wanted a job in advertising. And Boston had very few opportunities at the time in the field. I was destitute for a "real" job in general, so I made myself an ultimatum between two extremities to confirm that I was worth something; a windsurfing instructor in Puerto Rico or a copywriter in New York. In the end, the copywriter won by a judgment call, and three years later, here I am, pen in hand, with no windsurfing gear in sight. I have learned through my experiences that I actually like pharmaceutical-specific advertising. I have more ownership and knowledge as a copywriter, so I've confirmed that in my life, this is something I would like to pursue, although I wouldn't mind teaching sailing to kids either.

You might think, of course you prefer teaching sailing, why not? But our job was still stressful at times, and our job description didn't end at teaching. There was this incredibly diverse group of kids at this program, with all kinds of reasons for coming here: our family has a boat in Nantucket, so John needs to learn how to sail, this program is known for having the best sailing program in Boston (take that Courageous and Piers Park), we have 10 kids and can't afford to send them all to camp, we can't keep our kids out of trouble so we signed them up, now they're your problem. Some of these kids came with some effed up baggage, and it made me feel good that they could confide in me with their issues, even though there was the occasional fight, temper tantrum, weekly head injuries, or the countless isolated incidents, isolated to each kid, but numerous when you see hundreds of kids everyday. We also had to clean the bathrooms, take out the trash, clean goose poop off the docks, and other nasty tasks. I once did a fleet check in the middle of a hail storm. I can still remember feeling the pricking on my back. I can also remember loving every minute of it. We would sing Sloop Jon B as we made an assembly line of moving trash bags to the dumpster after a late night of entertaining some function event. "I wanna go home," but I really didn't. If possible, I wanted to stay overnight. They became my second family, who supported me through everything.

And after a super late night of annotating the Print CVA in New York, I thought that I wanted to go home, but I wasn't joking this time. I was burnt out, and no one seemed to care about how I felt. I told my friend in Boston, and she revealed to me the term "work/life balance." And I knew it existed, I just wasn't sure that it existed in the ad industry. There were a few times, when I asked myself, what if my son has a baseball game next Wednesday night? Am I expected to just miss it? I guess so. I don't have any kids, but what if I did, and they played baseball, and I didn't want to take a full day off to ensure that I could make it to their 8PM game? Apparently, that's what work/life balance means. You still work, you'll still have some late nights, I wanted to go to a Journey concert on a Wednesday night and told my boss a month ahead of time, and I was told no.

That's when I determined that I was done with SYMBICORT. I went on some interviews at CDM and Juice Pharma.

CDM is way too buttoned up. I asked them about it, and this guy in dark jeans that looked like they had been pressed and starched, said something like, well obviously that's a rumor, look at me I'm wearing jeans in the middle of the week. But I really liked that they were focused on creative aspects like pitching and concepting. I forgot that I was a creative. I don't remember the last time I was in a pitch. I've asked, but my brand is always busy.

Then I interviewed with Juice Pharma. Talk about doing something groundbreaking. I would be working on the Gardasil vaccine, and other preventative vaccines in the pipeline. Working on a product that helps people is my fuel, and Gardasil could keep all women from getting cervical cancer, so I was estatic.

That interview went very well, because if I'm truly excited about something, I am completely focused on conveying it, so they knew my word was honest.

Then somehow things turned. I finally realized how many events I had missed with my family and friends in Boston. Barbeques and birthdays and life stories all forgotten because I wanted to live in Manhattan and didn't mind what it took to get there. As I kept looking at my situation, moving to Manhattan became less and less of a priority compared with seeing the kids I taught how to sail getting their life on track and going to college, or seeing the kids I grew up with getting their life together and pursuing their dreams.

Boston is my extended family, and I miss them all. Even the kids who made fun of me in high school, because I was shaggy and dressed like I was on welfare. I miss you guys too.

So, I made an announcement about moving back to Boston, and no one believed me. I guess I had threatened to move back before and it never happened. I was...I am serious. I gave MedicusNY my two weeks notice, and the ones that I'm quitting to be closer with called me a "fucking idiot for shooting yourself in the foot and quitting your job without a safety net." Meanwhile my friends here in New York were in complete denial and were crossing their fingers for an offer from Juice Pharma. But recently, everyone finally realized that I was seriously determined, and I'm finally getting the support that I was hoping for.

This week, Juice offered me a position with 15K padding, and I turned it down.

I have three days left at my job. I plan on visiting my cousins on Saturday, and spending most of next week in Boston. The first thing I will do when I get there is get a membership, a real membership to Community Boating.

I have to find an apartment...and a job...and a Red Sox bar, oh wait. They're all Red Sox bars.

I'm coming home.