Friday, September 22, 2006

Another beginning

Libby's posts on beginnings, and then Anna's post about BLOW OUT THE MOON (which was a beginning for me, too), and then Meghan's post about how it feels to begin painting a new book made me think about another beginning--my start at the company I work now.

This week another editor and I took our shared assistant out to lunch, and she was recounting how she felt after she interviewed with me, how badly she realized she wanted the job, so much so that she could barely talk about it after the interview to her boyfriend. This was so different from her reaction to other interviews she had been on that her boyfriend commented, "You really want this job, don't you."

It reminded me about my own beginning. I talk about my "path" in my interview here, but not the specifics, really. Not those moments, those specific moments that I'll remember forever:

-I remember how I spent the night before my interview frantically trying to figure out what to wear. I didn't own a suit then (I still don't, actually), and was trying on skirt after skirt, shirt after shirt. I finally settled on a black business skirt separate, and a nice, deep purple, short-sleeved T-shirt. And I borrowed a long black suit jacket from Grace (do you remember, Grace?!) that didn't quite fit right, but I thought made my outfit look more professional. I found out afterwards that Megan found my outfit "refreshing" compared to all of the boring interview suits. Whew.

-I remember how it was so incredibly hot and humid and sticky the day I interviewed--it was the middle of July. After my interview I was so distracted and excited and worried, because I wanted the job so much, more than I wanted anything else in the world. I was so distracted that after the interview I went to get on the T (subway) and completely forgot about using a token and ended up walking into the turnstyle without paying. Ouch.

Other moments:
-A few weeks later, I was standing at the information desk in the children's section of B&N where I worked, waiting for the phone call. I had interviewed for two jobs at the time, the EA job and also a position at the Horn Book, a job that my coworker at B&N also interviewed for. The Horn Book told us that they would wait to see who Megan hired for her editorial assistant before making their decision, because they assumed that was the more desireable job, but that process had of course dragged on longer than expected, so we were waiting for that call, too. I would have loved either job. So I was standing at the information station talking to my coworker when the intercom buzzed saying that she had a call. My heart started beating faster when she took the phone and I could tell that she was getting good news, and I felt a mixture of despair and hope. When she got off the phone she was trying not to be too happy because she knew I was worried about my own situation. But I was happy for her. And even though I despaired that I wouldn't end up with either job, I also hoped that perhaps my not getting that job meant I would be getting the other...

-The WAITING. Oh, the waiting. It was agonizing. We all know how that waiting feels! Like waiting for the phone call from someone you like, like waiting to hear about a manuscript you've submitted. Like waiting to hear what your agent or editor thinks about your new book. But it was worth the wait. My future boss called me later that afternoon to make me the offer. I remember I was standing near the cash registers when my manager walked up to me and told me I had a call. When I picked up, it was her.

-And finally, a moment I talk about all the time. Two weeks into my job I remember the distinct feeling that I had found it. IT. I think I was photocopying something at the time--the exact task I don't quite remember, but I know it was somewhat menial. But still, I loved it, and I couldn't believe that I was actually working in children's book publishing, that this was my job, and I realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life, this was where I belonged. EUREKA!

I love these little snapshots of moments, these memories, remembering where I came from, how I felt. As my career progresses, I hope I don't forget these beginnings.


Libby Koponen said...

Oh, Alvina! This almost made me cry: you describe it so well, that feeling of belonging -- of knowing -- that this-is-it feeling (coming home -- that is, finding the place that feels like home,is home, the house or country where you belong....falling in love...finding a job, perhaps for some people finding God?).

Thank goodness -- not just for you but for me and lots of other writers too! -- that you found that job.

Grace Lin said...

hey, I remember that jacket...and I remember us going shopping after you got the job , trying to buy "professional clothes" like suits and heels. I was probably the worst person to go shopping with, considering I spent most of my days in pajamas. Did you ever even wear those suits?

Anonymous said...

I got seriously weepy reading this! It always makes me so, so, so happy to hear about people who have found their life calling and are so happy about it. Yay for you!

Anonymous said...

And I remember the first e-mail I got from you. Out loud going, "Is this a guy or girl? Do you pronounce it al-VY-na or al-veen-a." It had to be al-VY-na. Didn't it? I felt kind of sorry for al-VY-na, al-VEEN-a, having to work for she-who-shall-not-be-named.