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“Oh, the places you’ll go,” Mom once told me

October 18, 2010

It’s the night before the first day of grooming school–and incidentally, my 31st birthday. I’m sitting in my apartment, staring at a blank computer screen, and wondering how the hell I got here.

On the eve of the second millennium, age 30 seemed like a long way off. I was a sophomore at Ohio University, studying journalism and working part-time for two community newspapers. At 20, I had the next 10 years of my life mapped out, more or less. I’d graduate and pay my dues by working at a rinky-dink paper in the middle of nowhere for a couple of years before moving on to an awesome job at an awesome magazine headquartered in an AWESOME city that wasn’t in the midwest. I figured that 10 years was more than enough time to get myself settled into a career, so that by the time I turned 30, I could focus on more important things, like writing a novel about my grandfather. In the meantime, I hoped to adopt a dog and maybe, you know, find true love or something.

For the most part, the first few years out of college went according to plan. I moved with my girlfriend to rural Virginia, where we worked for a tiny newspaper owned by religious nuts. After two and a half semi-miserable years, I applied for a writing job at a university in Massachusetts and was offered the position two days before Christmas. Merry Christmas, me. Finally, I thought. I’m on my way. It’s all downhill from here.

My dear 25-year-old self, you were so naïvely charming back then.

The next few years passed by in a blur. I took up hiking, made lots of new friends, and fell in love with New England. My job, though highly political and hardly fulfilling, was going well. In 2007, I received an unexpected mid-year raise and an excellent performance review. In the meantime, though, my relationship was unraveling. By 2008, my girlfriend and I had split, and by 2009, I had a new editor who made belittling me his personal mission in life.

Needless to say, I approached Decade Numero Tres with trepidation. Despite my misgivings, everyone promised that the big 3-0 was going to be great. “It’s so much better than 29,” my best friend gushed. Easy for her to say. When she turned 30, she competed in a triathlon and started her own business.  (She always was an overachiever.) A coworker got married, another friend had a baby. My ex started a blog, met a Canadian, and began a passionate, international romance. And me? I spent my 30th birthday in bed with swine flu.

Over the next year, tensions escalated at my job, and I started seeing a therapist. My doctor prescribed three different antidepressants: one caused severe constipation, another turned me into a raging bitch, and the last one made me gain 30 pounds. The final straw came when my editor pulled me into his office and informed me that I was a terrible writer, the worst he’d ever worked with, and the only reason why anyone would ever say otherwise is because they’re my friends and family and are therefore obligated to give me false compliments. Devastated, I went home and discussed the situation with my partner, Jenn. My editor was right about one thing: writing was no longer making me happy. On the contrary, it was sending me into bouts of panic. Whether that panic stemmed from my editor’s treatment of me or plain old-fashioned burnout, I’ll probably never know. I mulled over my options, but I knew what I needed to do. Two days later, I handed in my two-week notice.

When things started to become unbearable at work, I intermittently entertained the notion of quitting my job and becoming a dog groomer. I worked at a grooming shop back in college, and the owner is one of my oldest and dearest friends, not to mention one of my greatest role models. I always said that if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a groomer.

And that brings me to the present, the night before my first day of school at the Massachusetts Academy of Canine Cosmetology. Welcome to the next phase of your life, Victoria. Good night, and good luck.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 7, 2011 8:05 pm

    Welcome to the blogosphere.

    This is a solid start, but in the future I’d like to read less about me and more about your cats.

    (Although I do enjoy “bark-ives.”)

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