As soon as I graduated from Bastyr, I got a full-time job at a "dot com" start-up.
I worked in Operations and Human Resources. After being in college and grad school for nine years, I was baffled by the concept of ending my work day at 5pm. So, of course, I started my first food business.
But my days were devoted to these hunks. The owners of the company are some of the smartest, most humble people I've ever had the pleasure to work for, even after all these years.
They took hiring seriously.
And...most of the people they hired happened to be cute dudes.
It was a fucking blast.
Of course I worked under these conditions after I declared a break from dating dudes for awhile. I couldn't figure out why a first date kept turning into a relationship (NOT the case in NYC, by the way). I was 28 years old and still figuring out who I was on my own.
Then this job fell into my lap.
Sometimes life is good. And tortuous at the same time.
Thursday nights were...I can't remember the term, Upload Night?
Sometimes I'd stick around for awhile and drink a couple of beers while they "worked."
Either way, Friday mornings I'd find empty bottles of Wild Turkey stinking up the break room.
We'd go out for drinks at an *actual* dive bar called The Dock where fisherman still came for beers. We were young. Making bank. And loved to party. After years of devoting myself to my health and avoiding alcohol, I made up for lost time quickly.
I remember seeing a pile of cash on the table one night. The server was hugging everyone on the way out.
Apparently, we left a tip bigger than the tab.
One of my job "duties" was making sure there was at least a six pack of Fat Tire Amble Ale in the work fridge at all times. That's how cool my boss was.
I liked being one of the guys.
I was still trying to figure out my place in the world and this company helped me experience being a work stiff in a male dominated field.
It thickened my skin. And solidified my burgeoning desire to live a more bachelor lifestyle.
I knew that the longer I stayed in Seattle, the more likely I'd end up married and pregnant.
I was not ready to get married and pregnant.
I wanted to become an entrepreneur. Make money so I could give back to community. And have freedom, of course. A theme I return to again and again in my life.
Sometimes I look back and wonder: what would my life look like if I'd stayed in technology? Rose up through the ranks? Made it to VP? Settled down, never left for NYC?
Would I have ended up sick? Would I have ended up with three cancers at once?
I don't know why I ask myself these questions. I guess it's something we all do at some point.
Perhaps no matter what path I took, I would have still ended up here, disabled, unemployed. So I could help save healthcare.
I like to think this. That no matter the choices I made, this mission was still going to happen one way or another.
But then I think about what DID happen. Even if I could time travel back to this point in my life, I don't know that I would make that many different choices. And give up going to the White House? Impacting so many families? Training so many people in food education?
If I hadn't had such a positive experience at this company, I don't think I would have been brave enough to quit my full-time job in NYC and start my own business.
I can't help but have some regrets though. I've lost so many opportunities the last few years. Lost income. Lost gigs. Lost promotions. These would have been some of the highest wage-earning years of my life.
And instead, I make nothing.
So much loss. Too much loss.
I went for the brass ring and not only did I not grab it, I fell the fuck off the merry go round, got dragged underneath it and then dumped into a pile of old styrofoam carnival popcorn and someone's puke from too much funnel cakes and cotton candy.
I lay there some days watching everyone on the merry go round, going round and round. I think about getting back on.
But it scares me. If I don't handle my situation with kid gloves, I'll end up sick again. My genetic legacy knocking me upside the head. REST MORE DAMMIT. REST.
I hate resting. I think that's why writing is so powerful for me now. It allows a release for my overactive brain. My mind gets to go on overdrive for a writing project like this. The keyboard is like a steam hole in the tea kettle of my brain. It allows that sweet release.
Otherwise, the words overflow in my mind so fast and overwhelming that I can't make sense of anything.
This body with this brain. Worst possible match ever.
But alas, this brain and this body are going to have to figure their shit out. Breaking up would require either a psychic break or death so....for now, writing daily helps. A lot.
Looking back on this time in my life is a good reminder of how lucky I've been along the way. It's easy to slide past the good moments in our lives and focus on the difficult ones.
How fortunate to have these templates established, by great bosses, awesome co-workers, entrepreneurs with integrity.
I left Seattle anyway. But I think it's because I had such strong roots, I was able to fly or whatever that saying is.
Deep down, I knew I'd come back. When I was ready. Or, in this case, when I was forced to. But it's good, to be around people that I feel safe with, that knew me when I was a different person. A person with such optimism. Which I still have. But a very different kind of optimism than I had then.
It feels good to have people here in Seattle that knew me then and know me now. It keeps this version of me grounded in that strong young woman. Reminds me of that ballsy chick that saved up a bunch of money so she could hightail it to New York City.
After so much trauma, feeling safe is so important.
This job wasn't just a job. It was way to chisel out the kind of adult I wanted to be. Surrounded by a community of extraordinary people. Who were able to truly *see* me despite all my antics and loud mouth bitchiness, these guys wouldn't get offended. They would just laugh and exclaim "Jules! Drink. Your. Beer."
And I'd laugh back and down my Redhook ESB as we ordered another round.
PHOTO #13. This post is part of a series celebrating my life before I lost four organs to three cancers in 2014. It is an “online memorial” honoring the person I was, in the hopes that I can make peace with the disabled person I’ve become. Every day for 30 days until my birthday, I will challenge myself to write a post inspired by the photo I’m sharing. I will not plan the topic or write ahead of time. I will merely look at the photo and write whatever it inspires. Thanks for reading! #julesfor30 #happyrebirth