Sunday, October 14, 2012

An unexpected twist in the 49th year

I am now, officially, a victim of the U.S. economy. (For some reason, I like repeating that phrase. It makes me feel like a part of the culture of the country, something I don't always feel.) But let me back up: On Wednesday, as part of a company wide restructuring at Conde Nast and at SELF, I was laid off along with 8 of my colleagues (and apparently around 60 others at the company.

I always pride myself on my intuitive skills, but while I knew budget cuts were coming, I must admit my radar failed me in this case. I was shocked, and there is nothing fun about being part of a small group packing up offices while the rest of the shell-shocked staff tip-toes by, making sympathetic looks.
It's empty!

But. The truth is, after more than a decade at SELF and more than two decades in magazine publishing, I am (to put it mildly) ready for a change. For the past year, I've been talking, planning and reflecting on what my next phase of life will be: a job in digital, hopefully working on something I love (books? longform journalism?) A combo platter of editing, writing, teaching, consulting and flexible living situation shared between NYC and CT and, hopefully, more far flung places. (A few months in Rome? A distinct possibility.)

Not that I haven't shed a few tears. It's hard to say goodbye to colleagues of eleven years, and no one wants to be told to clear out. But those eleven years have also bought me a nice cushion of severance, a wonderful luxury. I am grateful for that. And the more hours pass since walking out of the 4 Times Square, the happier and lighter I feel. I'm excited to run every day and sit less at my computer. I am excited to write in our new gazebo.

An indoor/outdoor space with a view--and no wireless. Perfect for writing.

And when I look at the week ahead, I feel pretty excited: A few private editing projects for tomorrow. A consulting gig for Wednesday. A new writing group on Thursday night. A mediabistro teaching gig that starts next week. A spontaneous trip to London the following week--on frequent flier  miles (I'm tagging along with a friend who is going on a business trip, so no hotel costs, either).

I never thought I'd be excited to freelance, but after 25 years or so of (corporate) office life, I find I'm looking forward to finding my own rhythm, seeing what comes my way, variety, more flexible hours (I am not a 9 to 5 person by nature) and seeing if I can make a go of it combining a little bit of office work and a lot of remote work from wherever I happen to be. My goal for the first six months: To do work that feels fun, challenging and meaningful, to earn enough to pay my bills, and to be able to put a little bit away in savings. I am open for business! Woo-hoo! Stay tuned for more on how this new situation will affect my dual domicile marriage. Your guess is as good as mine! All I know is: Right now, I am definitely not feeling Monday Morning Dread. Partly because this will be my view tomorrow morning.


  1. Wow. Beautiful. Sigh. There is a tremendous sense of freedom when you are suddenly untethered. Also terror. But mostly, it's kind of great. If you can find the gigs that bring in the money to pay the bills...which is the one thing you can't get untethered from. But you do feel a sense of having much more choice and control over what you do. And that's what's great.

  2. You most certainly have your room with a view. You'll do great, Paula. Best of luck!

  3. may or may not remember this... but back in 97... the corporate people walked into our office and completely shut us down. A corporate buyout, restructuring thing. I really did not see it coming. Period. ( and I was the Director of Nursing at the time.. geez)... but, as painful as it was at the time, there were so many positive things that came out of that mess. It sounds like you are ready for a change. Embrace it. You will be fine. I just know you will. xoxoox.

  4. Hey Paula. Congratulations on your newly acquired, albeit, unexpected, freedom. May your new "office view" be your muse! Write on!

  5. From reading your blog over the past few months, it looks as though you are more than ready and qualified to spring into your next chapter... Adventure! Good luck on all of your endeavors! xo