Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Escaping the Hive

For the last year I’ve looked like your typical newspaper worker bee ... but I’ve been plotting and scheming.

Actually, those who know me well know I’m always plotting and scheming. But my goal in 2011 was quite simple: to leave my newspaper editing job. The deadline was Nov. 28.

My plan was to write freelance articles, get more involved in Benny’s school, pursue my own writing projects and generally make life better for the whole family. To make this possible, Ron and I spent 2011 paying off debt and adding to our savings. I worked a ton of extra hours through a colleague’s maternity leave, which helped. An inheritance from Ron’s father helped took care of the debt and we’ve been socking away every dime we could.

Then in November we decided to extend my departure date to Feb. 3, so I could do one more completely ridiculous work project and we could save a little more. My newspaper asked me to work two days a week until they found a replacement for me and I’m happy to do so.

So we did it! After Feb. 3, I’ve been working two days a week. It sure felt like a long road, though. I kept a little diary to keep my spirits up, counting down the days, tracking our financial progress, drawing up complicated schedules for my time after Feb. 3.

The schedules, alas, went right out the window. But I have accomplished a lot: In the first three weeks I wrote a play, started a short story, cleaned out the closets, rearranged furniture, chaperoned a Benny field trip and hosted a playdate. I spent most of one Friday cleaning out my papers, which took forever. I was shredding bills from 2010, with even a little 2009 mixed in. It's very cathartic, shredding bills from now-closed credit cards and other nasty baggage. Ron, meanwhile, found it easier to work out regularly and focus on his own job.

Monday, Feb. 6, was the first day of my new schedule and it did go mostly as I had imagined. I slept through my alarm and woke up at 7. Ron had already left the house. I put on my workout clothes and walked Benny to school.

Perhaps I was a little too relaxed; we were so involved in talking about the “Wicked” musical “Cupcake Wars” episode I’d watched the night before that he ended up tardy and we had to stop by the office to get a slip. Ooops. Then I came home and watched news channels and cleaned the apartment. Then I went to the grocery store and dry cleaner. Then I taught myself Scrivener for the fourth time (since every time I master the damn software, I end up not touching it for weeks and have to learn it all over again). Then I worked on a new idea for a short play until it was time to pick Benny up.

It wasn't the most organized day off, but it was fun.

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