Life Changes: A New Job and My Return to Astoria

It’s hard to believe that my last post went up half a year ago. Since February, the following has happened (in no particular order): my 31st birthday, visiting friends in Indianapolis, climbing Mount Beacon in upstate New York, and two weddings. I learned to make kimchi, bought my first used items of clothing (from The RealReal), saw Awkwafina’s The Farewell (which left me bawling), visited the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Whitney, held a hedgehog, made s’mores in the Catskills, and cooked Ethiopian food (i.e., chicken doro wat) for the first time.


Sushi, the first and only hedgehog I’ve ever held.

So life has been eventful, to say the least. But the most significant changes: almost a month ago, I began a new corporate job in marketing at a pharmaceutical services company and moved back to Astoria at the same time.  These two latest developments have been fundamentally healing. A month might not be enough to warrant definitive conclusions, but from the minute I accepted this new job with the pharmaceutical services company, I felt welcomed. Every day, my new manager and colleagues offer to help, make me laugh, and are considerate with their asks — the complete opposite of my last job. (Oh, the things I wish I could unsee. Whether the experience at that deeply troubled startup was worth my time, I’ll never be able to answer for certain — but at least I tried. Ultimately, I did actually achieve my goal of working in NYC’s notoriously volatile media industry. #noregrets.)

Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day” ends with the question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / With your one wild and precious life?” A big question, but for the here and now, I’m OK with plain “adulting.” The word no longer provokes anxiety or excessive snacking/online shopping as it did in grad school. This past year has forced me to reevaluate my beliefs of what constitutes “success” and how to achieve it. That hot new startup claiming to change the world? Now I know better. Now I have the confidence and wisdom to discern the red flags early.* Currently, at my new company (pharmaceuticals is genuinely a fascinating industry!), I’m learning loads and hope to stay for a while.


A view of the landscape from my friends’ house in Bloomington, Indiana.

Above all, to have a space to call my own and to think in has made all the difference. My place in Rego Park was unlivable: it was ridden with mice and roaches, had walls with peeling paint and mold, and was super-less during my last four months. Because my apartment was on the top floor, living there this past summer meant coming home to a kitchen and bed that somehow retained 90+ degree heat even after 9pm at night. But again: #noregrets.

My new studio in Astoria is just renovated, clean, and has a beautiful view of a bridge and the New York City skyline. I’ve been going on an evening run in Astoria Park almost every day to catch the sunset by the water. Weekends are spent wandering Ditmars Boulevard and 30th Avenue, which is lined with an eclectic range of shops, including trendy eateries and decades-old niche hobby stores.


A view of the Hudson Valley from atop Mt. Beacon in upstate New York.

And my newfound happiness in my surroundings has inspired positive changes in other areas of my life. I eat a salad every day in addition to my New Year’s resolution to drink a glass of lemon water. (I’ve mostly cut out dairy and eat meat less often, too. Because, well, the environment.) And I’m writing again! At my desk with my lamp and a mug of tea and a plate of fruit. Little things, no doubt, but they’ve come to matter the most.


Cooper Lake, before rain, from a recent trip to the Catskills.

*A company claiming to “change the world” — or other vague abstractions — as its mission is usually a red flag because no amount of marketing can compensate for the lack of product and/or monetizable business strategy. But I digress! #noregrets.


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