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a birthday dispatch
i’m 31 today. i write a newsletter every year on my birthday and reflect back on what i’ve written in previous years, which has become a really nice tradition.
i don’t feel like i have too much wisdom to impart this year. candidly, the past two months have been extraordinarily difficult for me.
this involves things i’m not ready to share in detail, and may never feel comfortable sharing, but i think it helps give some color to why this summer i was at the end of my rope, even before i got laid off. here are the basics of what happened that i’m now working through: i was violated. what happened to me was illegal and it was awful. i will probably never get the justice i deserve for what happened. it forced me back to see my therapist and my psychiatrist regularly.
today i’m functioning in a way that resembles normalcy. please don’t ask me for details. if i want to tell you, i will, but i haven’t told the overwhelming majority of people because i’m not ready yet. you don’t have to express concern for me—it makes me uncomfortable for people to be overly concerned with me because it makes me feel incapable somehow, which i know isn’t true and i’m grateful to have people in my life who would be concerned—but please trust that i’m working through it under the supervision of trained professionals. hopefully this sheds some light on why i might have ignored a text, been emotionally absent, or not shown up to a birthday party this summer. to put it extremely mildly, i’m dealing with some stuff. i feel a little sheepish about explaining all of this, but i hope if you’re a longtime reader, or even if you stumbled upon this newsletter accidentally, you can understand.
then came the subsequent blows - my layoff, the second in one year lol, and getting a shitty case of covid. i got laid off with no warning and was offered two weeks of severance in mid-july, and after some back and forth i was able to recoup a bit more severance money than that. i don’t know how to express to managers conducting layoffs that they are taking away your livelihood when they lay you off, and not doing anything to soften that blow is unacceptable. it should be illegal, imo! FYI: it is shameful to offer an employee next to no severance and then announce your plans to open a new office for your firm in a new city, all within a three-week span.
i don’t know if i’ll go work for another company anytime soon — this layoff experience was brutal. i complained a normal amount to loved ones, but i got up again the morning after i got laid off, and i signed up for unemployment, and i got on cobra, and i started collecting freelance clients, and i’m now starting to work again in earnest, a month later. it has not been the best summer of our lives. but it certainly has been *a* summer!
ok! that was the doom and gloom portion of the newsletter. if you’re still reading, i appreciate you. here’s the joyful and contemplative birthday programming you’re looking for — an incomplete compendium of things that have been so great about this summer and the past year.
i feel profoundly lucky to have the professional, personal and overlapping personal/professional networks that i do. when i was laid off last year i was blown away by how people rushed to support me, and i immediately - literally overnight - found my next gig via twitter dm. this time around has been no different, and i’m eternally grateful for whatever thing i unintentionally did right to build all these relationships with amazing people. i used to bristle at the idea of networking (and frankly, the idea still instills a feeling of dread, along with memories of sipping a flat and sweaty seltzer at a corporate happy hour event) but i’ve accidentally been building these connections over the past decade, which is technically “networking,” and i’m so stupidly happy about the dumb luck i’ve had in doing so.
i also feel insanely lucky to have a partner who encourages and supports me, and is there to comfort me when i need it and to push me when i need that, and whose friends are equally supportive and wonderful, and have become my friends over the past three years. so stupidly grateful every day that i responded to a panicked twitter dm from chase after he unmatched me on hinge by accident <3 <3 <3
the bond sisters develop when they grow up bickering constantly and then end up living in the same city and being closer than ever is unmatched. i love that jackie lives in new york (albeit on the literal other end of the C train). this summer she took me with her to a dave matthews band concert and i had so much fun at one of her favorite places. we speak our own language together and there’s nothing like what i have with her with anyone else in my life. i love her so much.
my friends are incredible. the way people in my life showed up for me when i needed them to this summer is something i hope to pay forward forever. i feel so grateful to have my friends. this year i’ve leaned on them and they’ve leaned on me; i’ve answered crying phone calls and sat on couches as they processed mortality and betrayal, and they’ve done the same for me as i worked through my own shit. i’ve gotten closer to good friends and reconnected with high school friends across the country who i now realize i have as much in common with as my friends who live down the street.
i’m proud of myself and my work ethic. if all goes well, next month i will surpass the monthly income i was making at my director-level job that laid me off in july. i’ve tried to approach everything about this layoff with confidence and optimism and i’m really glad i did. i’ve never given myself the luxury of trusting myself enough to be self-employed for longer than a few months, but i think i’m ready now. i think i can be a better boss than a lot of bosses i’ve had before. i’m ready to prove that to myself. (more on this to come from me and my business partner soon…!)
i love carmichael, even though chase and i think he might be part wolverine.
i’ve loved giving myself the gift of living independently and alone for the first time in my life. it has made me stronger and more self-sufficient. also? you can just be a couch gremlin whenever you want. you know exactly what i mean by this, regardless of whether you live alone.
i’ve started recording every conversation i have with my 85 year old grandfather, papa mike, because i can’t believe how much i learn about how he grew up and about our family every time i see him or talk to him.
i’ve started prioritizing my health more seriously this year, which for me means sleeping better, drinking less, managing my anxiety, and finding ways to move my body that feel empowering and challenging. i’ve been enjoying my strength training, and once i’m a little more healed from covid i’m excited to add regular pilates and cardio.
in october chase and i are going to spain for two weeks, a big adventure. we’re going to hike the camino de santiago in the north, along the coast in basque country, for five days and then immerse ourselves in everything madrid and andalusia have to offer.
14 years ago on my 17th birthday (jesus christ), my high school best friend andrea and i came into the city from lancaster for the day. we walked around st marks place, went to serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolate, and were awed by the city. i don’t think at that point i considered i could live here — i didn’t even know where i was going to end up at college 12 months later.
whenever i get too down on myself, i think about how insanely cool 17 year old maya (wearing cringey fake glasses from urban outfitters and a high-waisted skirt that did not flatter my hips) would think my life is today. she wouldn’t believe it —not that i ever eventually lived here, and certainly not that i still live here and that i have this whole little life i’ve carved out for myself.
today i’m going to the spa with erin and paris, and then i’ll get my hair done, and then chase and i will go out to dinner.
when i was younger i could never envision my life as an adult. my mind was clouded by anxieties and what-ifs and scary hypotheticals. i’m so proud of the life i’ve made for myself. i’m so lucky that it’s better than i ever could have imagined. i can’t wait to see what this year brings.