March Does a Thing

The view from my desk.

So, I got a job. Surprise!!! I started earlier this month, almost one year to the day since my previous seven-year gig ended– they were downsizing, I was let go with a nice severance package, and I figured I’d make the most of the money-cushion. I really leaned into the freedom I’ve been missing for the past decade, what with that whole divorce / single mom / full time job / lengthy pre-pandemic commute situation. And 2021 was a particularly stressful year, both workwise and all the planning and execution involved in getting the kids set up in Maine and myself out here, not to mention everything happening in the world.

I learned some things about myself this year. One of the things I learned is that, as it turns out, I am terrible at not working. I need a project, goals, structure, a mission, something that requires my focus and attention for a significant percentage of my waking hours each week.

The first six months post-job were nice — museums, hanging out with friends, exploring the environs, going to Ireland, not having to be at work (or much of anywhere else) on a schedule. Then I started to get antsy. I kicked around various ideas, did some volunteer work, considered a part-time job which wasn’t feasible for various reasons, and decided to look for full-time employment again, based mostly in an office with other humans. Two years of full-time pandemic remote work was enough for me to know I loathe it. Yeah, the flexibility is great – do the laundry, walk the dog, go to the gym or medical appointments, meet the plumber, etc. But I live alone now and I’m enough of a people-loving introvert (is that a thing?) to need regular in-person interactions with others. One of my favorite aspects of my last gig was the collegial office atmosphere, and a fair number of my friends are people I met at work over the decades.

I’ll be honest – I’m not remotely career-oriented. My entire “career” has been a series of decent jobs I worked hard at only when necessary, so I could pay the bills, take vacations, and buy things like nice clothes and niche perfumes. I think I’ve had so many balls in the air for so long that I failed to grasp what would happen if I gained a ton of leisure time and an empty nest almost simultaneously. It doesn’t bode well for retirement but I’m not going to worry about that now. Maybe I’ll ease myself into it; who knows, maybe in another five years (which had always been my vague quit-full-time-work goal) I’ll be ready.

In the meantime? The place I’m working ticks all the boxes I laid out for myself before I started searching. I wanted: a workplace with a mission I find interesting, co-workers who seem pleasant and reasonably sane, good benefits including generous PTO, and some flexibility/nobody’s watching us clock in and out. I think I’ve achieved all of that with the bonus of an absolutely gorgeous workspace; it’s an historic estate, with all the funky old Santa Fe details. Seriously, when I went to interview and we did a tour, I had to stop myself from squealing and clapping my hands together like an amped-up toddler. We’re in the steep-learning-curve portion of the festivities but I think it’ll be okay. Also I’ve worn some of my odder Edwardian-punk clothes (paired with more normal pieces) and nobody batted an eye, so. It’s probably fine.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m surprised, more than anything. On the scale between driven and lazy, I’m more the latter. I thought I’d take to a year of leisure like a duck to water. But maybe it’s less about drive per se and more about routine and structure, I dunno. Do you need to have a lot of things going on in your life? Or maybe not a lot of things, but more of a regular routine?

Also PS I would love to write about fragrance on this fragrance blog. Truly, nothing would make me happier. But I dig bottles out and sniff them (or sniff new frags while out on the prowl) and my nose just ain’t right. I can sit down and cry about it, or … I can write about something else, so here we are.

  • Sarah says:

    Dear March, thank you for your post. Let’s let the perfume go. Writing with your soft front, strong back and wild heart is a gift to us all. Alleluia, you are surrounded by beauty at “work”. My Mom used to call it “the pain of making a living”. I am forever grateful for stumbling into a profession I love(d). I retired in July. We moved to Maine. For it only being 6 months, what a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll report back when I’ve made it a year. Looking forward to your next post.

  • Tara C says:

    Congratulations! Love the office environment you have. Esthetics are very important to me, I would take less money to work in a beautiful place. I’ve been retired for 8 years. Sometimes I feel bored and useless, but most of the time I’m very happy to just be with my dog, read, go for walks & bike rides and do whatever I want. I wouldn’t mind working at a very part time job for a few extra dollars, but then I couldn’t just pick up and go camping or on a bike ride at the spur of the moment. So for now I’m still happily doing nothing.

    • March says:

      “less money to work in a beautiful place” — and that is at least in part what I did. There was another potential offer I turned down because even though they paid better, the place itself was less interesting, and the job I took was on that amazing property. I’m glad you’re enjoying your retirement! I hope to be doing the same in a few years.

  • Portia says:

    YAY for March writing. I love to read you and hear you in my memory of your voice.
    Congratulations on the job, hope it’s a good one for you.
    I’m best if I have some sort of routine that has a good amount of space where I’m completely alone. Don’t really understand why but it’s absolutely necessary for me to be able to function in the rest of my life.
    Hug,
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      Hey — KNOW THYSELF, that’s the most important part! This was a learning experience, this past year. I said, what is wrong with meeeeee and Musette said girl you need a JOB lol. I think this job will allow me (in a bit) to work some from home, which will be nice when I want to. Sounds like you’ve found a good setup for yourself! And thanks for the compliment, I hear people’s voices when I read their writing, including yours and Tom’s! And Musette’s obviously.

  • Phyllis Iervello says:

    I am wishing you well on your new job. I have worked for the same company for 36 years and several months ago they asked me to retire. I have been devastated because I recently paid off all my bills and refinanced my condo, and was in the best financial situation I have ever been in and expected to work for at least two more years. I have no partner and now I am worried that I will have to sell my condo and live in one of the few crappy apartment buildings that are available. Plus I have worked full time most of my life except for a couple of weeks off after giving birth to each of my three sons. Getting I am hoping to get at least a part-time job but have not yet found anything that seemed a viable choice.

    • March says:

      Oh, no — I am so sorry! It’s terrible when things go sideways like that… I wish you luck in the job search. I’m getting older and I was worried about ageism, that it would work against me. Fortunately at least right now so many places are looking for people … even if it’s not your dream job, fingers crossed you find what you need to get by. Hugs.

  • alityke says:

    I have door envy! What an enticing workspace. Congratulations on the job!
    I’ve been retired almost six years. Working in the NHS almost all my working life fried my brain. For the last five years of working my direct line manager was a disorganised, narcissistic bully. Complaints to HR fell on deaf ears so I did the quiet quitting thing, walked away on the first possible date I could. Never shed a tear & declined a leaving do.
    The pandemic gave me the space to heal both mentally & physically. Mum & DH’s health have taken all my available resources in the last 12 month.
    I’ve only just started making arrangements to actual see friends socially.
    My work was always interesting but isn’t there a curse about living in interesting times?

    • March says:

      Oh, yeah — I used to say, well I’ll never be bored! THAT certainly turned out to be more true than I expected. I think working for the NHS would be fascinating to hear about (if not great to be actually doing…) I’m glad you’ve been able to be there for your folks. I was so, so grateful to have that time with my dad, when he really needed me.

      • alityke says:

        If you want to read about working in the NHS try Adam Kay, Max Pemberton & Rachel Clark. All junior doctors & funny, heartbreaking & terrifying all at once.
        Not so funny, Joanna Cannon Breaking & Mending. Nursing frontline perspective try Christie Watson’s The Language of Kindness.

        In truth, the NHS can be a truly tremendous beast when not being used as a political pawn. See the courage of all the NHS workers who kept the damn thing ticking over during Covid. Cleaners, cooks, porters & all those lost in the nurse/doctor/paramedic cheerfest, many who lost their lives.
        The idea it’s “free” is bullshit. We pay National Insurance from our wages, this started as a way to fund the Welfare State including the NHS

        • March says:

          Thank you! And yeah, I’ve always rolled my eyes at the idea that it’s “free” — of COURSE you’re paying for it! Even in the state NHS is in right now (it’s been in the news) it doesn’t have to be that way, and people aren’t doing Go Fund Me for their medical expenses like they do here. Our healthcare situation is shocking if you don’t have insurance.

          • alityke says:

            The evil Tory UK Government keep testing the water throwing out the idea of a new NHS insurance tax.
            The great unwashed of the UK are so brainwashed by them they don’t realise that the National Insurance we pay on top of our taxes is supposed to fund healthcare & welfare benefits. In fact I wonder if MPs actually know that

  • Musette says:

    Oh, la, Petunia!! I’m so happy you’re doing this! I am so used to working ‘remote’ (past 20 years?) and now it’s even more ‘remote’ because of my living in this remote burg… lordt. But! I manage it by structuring my day and that includes getting the hell out of here several times a day. I keep to a specific schedule, with few alterations. I am always showered, dressed, perfumed…etc…as if I were going into a regular office. I find it helps differentiate between work/home.

    I shudder to think what I would be like, unemployed (even with a crapton of money)… like you I do much better when I have that structure and focus.
    I’m wishing you much delight in this new endeavor! They are very lucky to have you, btw.

    xoxoxo

    • March says:

      You’ve been a GODSEND during this entire “what is wrong with meeeeeee” process, as you know, and thank you so much. You kept me from feeling like I was nuts. And I know how important that “getting ready for work” routine is for you, as well as getting out of the house! <3

  • Koyel says:

    Congratulations, March!

  • Dina C. says:

    Congratulations March! What a gorgeous setting to be working in! I’m glad you found something that’s such a good fit. I’m a stay at home mom whose kids have grown up. One still lives at home, but not for much longer we think. I live with chronic migraine, so a quiet, well-regulated life suits me best.

    • March says:

      Ugh, migraine. So, so tough. I go for years without one, then a spate of them, the absolute worst. I think people who’ve never had them have no idea. And thank you.

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    Your new job sounds great! How wonderful you have found something that works for you. I am working full-time remotely now, I thought that would be the bee’s knees after wearing myself out commuting all these years, but now I am reverting to a slug and in the end it is not best for physical and mental health. My lack of being around others has also diminished my desire to wear fragrance and that makes me sad.

    • March says:

      Definitely understand you on the fragrance front, although in my former life I had to be careful about what I wore at work, some people were pretty negative about fragrance. I do not miss my commute at ALL and I wonder if I could even do it again. I guess, if I had to, but it would be tough. I hope you find the right balance of time with other people while working from home.

  • Neva says:

    So happy to hear you’ve found an interesting job that has a mission. I think that’s the clue for doing your job happily. So many people can’t put up with the “boring” “regular” jobs. I’ve noticed it in the younger generation of my daugher some years ago. Times change and although our generation was born into a different world, we have to accept the change and adapt to it.
    I’ve been playing with the thought to make a change too because I live alone for several years and work in a home office for almost 20 years. I need to go out every day to feel the energy of other people. A nice office with new people would be a great change.
    Have fun and enjoy your new job!

    • March says:

      That’s so interesting … yeah, when I started out, the idea that I’d have an “interesting” job never crossed my mind! I needed it to pay the rent and not drive me crazy too often, and that was it. I thought I would love work-from-home, and I admit it had its pandemic advantages, but man oh man I missed the routine of being around the same other people regularly! Felt it more acutely once the kids left. I really DID decide though that this job (which may be my “last” career job) needed to be somewhere/something that I felt excited by, even if my specific work there isn’t thrilling.

  • cinnamon says:

    Like Tom, I’m happy to read anything you feel like writing about. And congrats on job. The place looks amazing and hopefully will be a good workplace.

    I’ve worked freelance for one guy for coming up on more than seven years now and I’m ready to stop — which I’m planning to at the end of this year (periodically I imagine the giving notice email). It’s a ‘job’ that has worked reasonably well, pays very decently, and allowed me some flexibility but I’ve just had enough.

    I think I’m at a point where I will be able to gainfully fill my time — or not. I’ll have to see. One thing I am looking forward to is travelling loosely in Europe for part of each year — and finding out a bit more about my mother’s family. And just ‘being’ rather than having ‘need-tos’ and ‘shoulds’.

    • March says:

      LOL the ‘giving notice’ email … I used to fantasize about that the last couple of years of OldJob, when things got tough. But I knew it didn’t make sense financially so I … did not. Traveling around Europe sounds like an excellent way to spend part of the year.

      • cinnamon says:

        What about the dog? Can she come to work?

        • March says:

          No, and she’s none too thrilled. But I’m only 5 minutes away, so I’ve been coming home at lunch to take her for a short walk. Hopefully she’ll get more comfortable with this, she’s used to having me around!

  • taxi says:

    Congratulations! The view from your desk is intriguing. Sounds as if you’ve found a positive environment to combine work with freedom.

  • Annabel Farrell says:

    What a great story, really enjoyed it and the very best of luck. From what you say about the job it sounds a good find! Always enjoy reading your posts.

    • March says:

      Thanks so much! I feel bad not writing more perfume posts, but I’m not going to lie and say I sniffed something new etc. And trying to sniff old loves right now is just so frustrating.

  • Maya says:

    I love your photo. Here’s hoping this new job works out well for you. It sounds like it could be a lot of fun!

    • March says:

      Thanks. I waffled about saying anything, it could all go wrong lol, but that’s true about anything in life, so I figured why not.

  • Tom says:

    First- you could write about paint drying and I’d happily read it, so keep it up. After all the motto is “ WE’RE MORE THAN PERFUME AND LESS THAN SERIOUS.” sooo.

    Second- congrats on the job. The pix you posted of the place had me kvelling. Sometimes the environment can make all the difference, right? For a year or so of the decade or more I worked at The August Times I was in the Bradbury, the 19th century wrought iron & brick fantasy with the giant atrium that’s been in about 1000 movies including “Blade Runner”. That atrium was boiling in summer and freezing in winter but it was a joy going there. None of us wanted to move back to “The Square” w hen room opened up.

    Third- I’d love to do nothing, or at least try. I’ve never been able to financially for very long but I think I could subsume my need to be busy by writing. Or eating. Or traveling. Or writing about eating while traveling. Or knitting. Short of PowerBall winnings however that ain’t happening: I’ll be working ‘till the grave, and possibly after.

    • March says:

      I didn’t realize that about the Bradbury — I went and googled! Blade Runner is a movie I loved and never forgot, I saw it again when they re-cut it or whatever a few years ago… what a gorgeous space. I’m thinking that for me, maybe “doing nothing” is something I enjoy when it’s bracketed by “doing something” — I truly thought I’d be better at it lol.And thanks for the kind words, I keep trying to write SOMETHING about perfume and it just doesn’t work.

    • Musette says:

      I’m with you, Tom, re March’s subject matter; I don’t think I’ve ever read a boring/uninteresting post by her – ever.
      Friends and then-DH and I discussed alternatives to doing what I currently do. The results were..interesting, to say the least:
      1. Dominatrix (sigh. AGAIN? )
      2. Contract killer

      Neither of those sound that appealing.
      And I suspect I would’ve had to start relatively early on No2, since I doubt there’s an inDeed! posting for those jobs…

      xoxoxo

  • Kathleen says:

    Congratulations on your job, it sounds perfect for you! I don’t love to work but a necessity being about 10 years from retirement. However, I understand what you say about having a routine. Perhaps our downtime/free time is more appreciated after having done some sort of productive thing? My dream job would be to have the luxury to volunteer at an animal shelter.

    • March says:

      Yeah … I’m hoping (this job comes with pretty extensive PTO benefits since the pay is less than amazing) that the contrast with work will make me appreciate the time off? Weekends are more meaningful etc. Honestly without kids to drive around all the time, I’ve got so much more free time than I did, even working. Volunteering at an animal shelter would be lovely and so valued.

  • Jill says:

    March, congrats on your new job, and above all for being brave enough to create a new chapter for your life.
    I retired 2 years ago. I wanted to retire earlier, but was advised against it financially. Covid has really turned my plans for volunteer work upside down, as I wanted an in person experience. As it is, I may need a hip replacement, but hopefully I’ll be ableto get around better in a few months.
    Keep us posted…

    • March says:

      Oooof, hip replacement. Although I have several friends who’ve had them and were very pleased. Yeah as I mentioned below, the volunteer jobs I found were pretty isolated, which makes sense with COVID, but I wanted the community that used to be part of that. I hope everything goes well for you, both with your hip and life in general.

  • Maggiecat says:

    Congratulations on your new job! I’m also a people living introvert, so it’s definitely a thing. I’m retired now, but the first year was dealing with a family crisis and then very major back surgery and recovery, so I’m just starting to figure every out. I’ve gotten very involved in volunteer activities at my church, maybe too involved, but I’ll figure it out. And so will you!

    • March says:

      Sigh. My mom was a church lady, such a community for her. I should give it another whirl, there’s a church here I really like. I hope you’re well on the road to recovery and your new normal, and enjoying your newfound opportunities.

  • MMKinPA says:

    Sounds like a great situation. Congrats on your new job. I worked part time/freelance when my son was little, then part time pre pandemic. Covid knocked off that job, I took up sports photography and spent my son’s last couple of years in HS going to all sorts of games and becoming a cult hero ? to the high school athletes here. I now work very part time at the same thing, and contemplating how I can make it a bigger job – learning to do portraits, probably, and setting up a studio in my office. My husband is nearing retirement, so part time suits both of us at the moment. I lean lazy too, so building my business up will help me from descending into sloth…

    • March says:

      That sounds awesome! I kept hoping something like that would fall into my lap — a friend with an idea, a passion project, something I could get excited about plunging into. I hope you figure out a way to make it all work for you with all the advantages and minimum hassle.

  • SpringPansy says:

    Interesting – you’ve written about what I’ve been thinking about for the past 6 months. I had a full-time job, went to part-time, then retired in August (I might even have stayed as the part-time thing really suited me, but it just wasn’t interesting work). So retirement: I like it and I don’t. Awesome to get up when I feel like it and to go for walks and get in some yoga every day and work on home projects that I’ve been putting off, no more Sunday work stress. At the same time, I feel less relevant somehow and I do miss the human interaction. I do have a Mr. SP around, but it’s not the same as the whole work colleague thing that I enjoyed. Anyway, I’m trying to decide what’s next — volunteer? and where? Another part-time job? I don’t want to commute anymore. Start my own gig? Seems a bit daunting without a partner. What’s becoming clear is that no one will knock on the door and hand it to me on a silver platter. I’ve gotta get out there and figure it out myself. And congratulations, BTW, your new job sounds like it will be terrific!

    • SpringPansy says:

      And sorry, I didn’t mean to make that quite so lengthy and so all about me!

      • March says:

        Not at all! At least I’m not alone … the part-time gig didn’t make any sense given what health insurance would cost me out of pocket. And the volunteer opportunities here are numerous, but they’ve been (understandably) made more COVID-safe, so: masking, social distancing etc. Gone are the days of 10 people sitting in a room chatting while sorting donated books or whatever. Most of the opportunities I found were pretty isolated. And after an hour commute each way for years, I am loving my 5-minute commute lol. I just can’t imagine some ridiculous commute again. I hope you continue to work on figuring out your next chapter!

  • Janet in California says:

    Congratulations! It sounds perfect for you. ??