While the music industry was taking its last gasps, I found myself at 38 years old grasping at the straws of the tale end of my career. I felt stuck and too old to make a career change, especially when I had no idea what I wanted as a new career. The job I had desired so badly in my 20’s had morphed into a job I hated; suddenly I was a road warrior-travelling salesman peddling greatest hits Christmas compilations to Wal-Mart and Tractor Supply. I had a meeting with Dollar Tree to sell them on a “green living” DVD line – the irony of pushing cheap plastic goods from China as a way to promote a green lifestyle was not lost on me. I had come a long way from my days hanging out backstage with the likes of Henry Rollins, Garbage, the Roots, and the Cranberries.
I had been dreaming of my escape, but had no idea how to make my move or where it would take me. On New Year’s Day 2009, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child. The long days on the road had me long to one day become a stay at home with my next child, at least for a short time. I knew from my experience with my first child that babies are not really babies for very long. I yearned to have that experience with my second (and last) child. I also figured that staying at home for a year or two would be an ideal way to give me time to figure out what I wanted to do for my second career. I was so wrapped up in my job and what I didn’t like about it; I was having a hard time discovering what I actually wanted to do. I just wanted time to stop and think.
I knew my intense travel schedule would not really mesh with my pregnancy, but I resolved to hang on as long as possible. Things were tough in the economy and the company was going through changes so I figured it was best to stick it out. Then the rug was pulled out from under me. At 5 months pregnant, my position was eliminated and I was laid off from the company I had worked for 10 years. It was a bizarre mix of emotions: relief, anger, and betrayal all at once. I definitely needed a push, but it suddenly felt like more of a shove.
Once I got over the initial shock, I felt liberated. I had worked from home and it was joyful how I was suddenly able to get rid of boxes of CDs, catalog and assorted paperwork that had been cluttering my home for years. And I gleefully deleted every work email that clogged my inbox. Losing my job actually turned out to be a blessing. Although I had been planning on quitting, the lay-off at least afforded me a severance and some unemployment money that I wouldn’t have gotten had I quit on my own terms. And it saved me the awkwardness of quitting a long-term job (as I mentioned before, I absolutely hate break-ups.) The process was painful, and probably compounded by my emotional pregnant state, but I had made my break.
I suddenly felt lighter, although still unsure of the future. Until this point, everything in my career had been mapped out before me. Now I was suddenly facing a blank slate of my own choosing. I was like Sarah Connor as the end of Terminator 2: “The future, always so clear to me, has become like a black highway at night. We were in uncharted territory now… making up history as we went along.” I was riding in the car seat facing backwards: I had no idea where I was going, and I could only see where I had been.