February 7, 1999

When I was a kid, I would start getting ready for the first day of school three hours into Summer Vacation.

I wasn't always crazy about school itself  --  especially as the year wore on (and that new floor wax smell wore off)  --  but as far as I was concerned, the first day of school rivalled Christmas or my birthday for sheer excitement. In fact, I think I loved the first day of school even more than I loved Christmas or my birthday. All three occasions involved new clothes, applesauce pancakes for breakfast and squinting into a camera lens.  But only the first day of school was a chance to reinvent myself, year after year.

So I endured Summer Vacation, the way you endure previews at the movie theater  ...  vaguely interested in the proceedings, but itchy for the main attraction to begin.

By the end of June I was making lists ("Books I Want To Read This Year," "People I Hope Are In My Class, Especially Sandra Mecham," "People I Hope Are NOT In My Class, Especially Kimberly Houk"). By mid-July I was sketching my dream wardrobe from advertisements in American Girl Magazine. By the end of August, I was going to bed at night with my new notebook and school supplies laying on the pillow next to me.

By the beginning of September I had usually worked myself into a complete frenzy.

And when I was finally there on the first day of school, sitting in my new classroom, sweating in my new Sears & Roebuck jumper and my stiff uncomfortable new penny loafers, listening to my new teacher ask us to write about What We Did During Summer Vacation ...

... I didn't have a whole lot to write about. Because I'd spent the last two and a half months in dizzy anticipation of this particular moment.

It wasn't until I grew up that I learned that sometimes the anticipation is more thrilling than the reality. But that's another story for another day.

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Which brings us to today  ...  the final day of my impromptu *vacation.*

Tomorrow morning I start the new job  --  rejoining the world of pantyhose and paychecks, after two months of elective down-time  --  and a lot of the emotions I'm juggling this afternoon parallel those old first-day-of-school feelings.

I'm happy, for one thing. I got the job that I really wanted ... a job that I know I'm going to be good at. (Nobody puts grumpy customers on hold the way *I* do.) My brain and my butt are going to get some much-needed exercise, after weeks of sitting in front of this computer writing about weather and kitchen appliances. AND I'm going to be able to pull my own weight around here financially. (Read this: I can spring for the cheap Chinese food, once in awhile.) 

This is all good news.

I'm also pleased  --  and surprised, and grateful to Whoever Is In Charge of Things  --  to be given another chance at this reinvention stuff.  New job. New office. New boss. New Terri. (This "New Terri" is still going to spin around in her chair when nobody's looking, probably.  But she will never come to work hungover.)

And  --  I don't mind admitting  --  that I am nervous as hell. It's not a panicky, "Oh my God I can't DO this" sort of nervousness. It's more like the quietly jittery "I just want to get it OVER with" sort of nervousness I felt midway through those childhood Summer Vacations.

But mostly I'm just excited. If I had a brand-new notebook, I would probably sleep with it on my pillow tonight.

(And if my new boss asks me what I did during my vacation, I can tell her that I fell madly in love, changed Zip Codes, celebrated five months of sobriety, discovered Japanese-language television, lost eight pounds, rebuilt a website, flew to TicTac and back, read eighteen library books AND made friends with a movie star's mother.)

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Incidentally: I'm not sure yet how the new job is going to impact the website  ...  whether I'm going to have the *oomph,* at the end of a nine-hour workday (plus forty minutes' worth of commute) to post much of anything, or whether I'll have to save it all for weekends. For a little while, at least, my entries might be a bit on the side of slapdash and piecemeal. Hope you can all bear with me while I adjust to a new schedule/new lifestyle/new writing habits.

I'll be back ... eventually.  Promise.



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