Sounds from my new apartment, at five-something in the morning

In my old condo, when I awoke at five-something in the morning to write,  I would hear

1. the tv of my nearly deaf, elderly neighbor, blaring through the walls and

2. the high-pitched bark of her little, scruffy dog, and sometimes

3. the wails of her infant grandchildren, whom she babysat.

And in the winter I would hear

4.  the scraping of the shovel outside my window and/or the rough scrabble of salt being thrown across the walk, and

5. the running of car engines as they warmed up. Other, more regular noises, included

6. the perking of my coffee pot, and the slight, barely noticable

7. hum of my laptop, and

8. the familiar creaks and groans of the building I knew.

In my new apartment, at five-something in the morning, I hear –

1. The distinct rustle of dog collars and leashes, as both my in-house neighbors have dogs. I’m on the ground floor, and can distinctly hear the leashes as they clang against collars, accompanied by the harried footsteps of their owners, and

2. The preparations of those who live above me, as they begin their day, and

3. the hum of my apartment as it awakes, coffee dripping, laptop warming up, heat turned up.


Today, the title “manager” officially replaces the word “writer” in my title for the first time in seven years.  Out of all the changes occurring in the past four weeks, I consider this the strangest, the one to most be marveled at, and afraid of. When I walk out the today I will quickly assume managing  – managing people, managing projects, managing national strategies. According to my boss, 70 percent of my day will still be writing.


Things to remember, my first day/week/month (or six months) of work:

1. Repeat names when you are introduced to people. You are terrible with names, and this is the only thing that helps, even moderately.

2. The strange will quickly become the familiar. Don’t stress over the strange.

3. Be present. This is all that is required of you for a while. Be present. Learn your job.

4. Save your questions to review with your boss all at once. Don’t pester her with every single problem or question you have as soon as you have it. In fact, do everything in your power to find the answer to your question yourself before bothering her to begin with.

5. Have humility towards the opportunity, the institute and the field. In fact, this is how you landed the job…by reminding yourself every interview that you possess passion for the field and humility for the process.

6. Your job, now, is officially one as a communicator. Think before you talk. This applies to  interviewees, fellow employees, all outside sources. Don’t just riff.

7. Be kind. Be compassionate. Again, be present. At the end of the day, you serve cancer patients and their families. You are in service to others and not to yourself.

8. It doesn’t matter what you eat for lunch this week, even though you think it does.

9. When you come home from the gym today, you can have the goat-cheesiest, spinichiest  omelette ever, and a glass of wine. And you can read blogs.

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10 Responses to Sounds from my new apartment, at five-something in the morning

  1. nova says:

    I hope you have a wonderful first day! I look forward to hearing how it went… I have a feeling it will be good.

  2. Dorothy W. says:

    Best of luck at your new job! It sounds exciting. And your advice to yourself sounds wonderful.

  3. Katie says:

    Listen to you with all your self-talk. You are going to be a great manager!

  4. Emily Barton says:

    Hope your first day went swimmingly well and that buried beneath confusion and feelings of “I’m never going to learn all this!” you had an extremely good feeling about the place and the people all day long.

  5. Noble Savage says:

    I think I’d take the new noises over the blaring tv and yapping dog any day! I admire your discipline in getting up at five a.m. to write — do you go to bed really early or just not get much sleep?

    Those first weeks at a new job can be so harrowing and so exciting at the same time. Fingers crossed that everything falls into place quickly, though it sounds like you’re already well on your way.

  6. Make Tea Not War says:

    Hope you have a really good first week.

  7. Cam says:

    I hope your first day went well. Enjoy that omlette and the glass of wine — you deserve it! Before long, all that was strange will seem commonplace. Keep reviewing your advice to yourself if you start to feel overwhelmed.

  8. Nova, it was great. And I learned about avian flu containment,which should be good for a novel someday, right?
    Dorothy – thanks! I need to give myself pep-talks sometimes.
    Katie, you are so sweet! I need you to email me again…yours bounced back..I’m thinking I misplaced one letter or something…
    Emily, I definitely have good feelings about place and people!And I too love that we are in the same state!
    Ms. Make Tea, Thanks! I’m already tired!
    Cam, the omlette and wine were perfect.

  9. Kerryn says:

    I hope that your first week and all those following are as great as your first day — and if you follow your own advice, I have a feeling they will be.

    Take care and be gentle with yourself — the first days of strange can be so, so unsettling.

  10. Andi says:

    Wonderfully wise advice to yourself. I think I’ll be borrowing some of those.

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