|The Party Poster! Like the hair?|
Don't get me wrong - I loved working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab all these years. I was on the business side of the house (no head for science or math), doing subcontracts for flight projects and also cross functional process improvement projects and Lean Six Sigma and a host of other, related things...yes, I loved having career milestones like being the first woman group supervisor in the Acquisition Division and the first woman to do contracts for construction (this was wayyy back in the day of course - many many highly qualified women doing complex subcontracts and in management now - YAY!)....but....but...writing was and always will be my first love. I live, I breathe, I write. The idea of doing that FULL TIME.....yup, the Dream.
Yesterday my co-workers and colleagues and managers threw me the best, most purple, blingiest (I had a tiara, people, and I wore it!), chocolatiest going away party a person could possibly have in the workplace. It was perfect....
Today I did all the final bureaucratic things one does - turned in the badge and the parking pass, gave up my keys.....handed in the cell phone and the iPad.....
Hugs, more hugs, signed books (loved that part), signed my author photo that a lovely lady named
Walked to my car...
And I drove slowly around the buildings toward the gate, trying to take in and really feel the fact that I was leaving this place where I'd been so long...long enough that my daughter who attended the retirement party yesterday was in some of the earliest photos, if you count the baby shower thrown for me before she was born...and now she works at JPL. My late husband was still very much alive when I started there...the JPL family helped me get through his sudden and tragic death in a bicycle accident much too young...so leaving all that behind now was end of an era stuff for me, you know? (Although we all pledged most solemnly to Stay In Touch and I believe we will. Thank you, social media LOL.)
As I waited in line to exit the gate, I had a moment of panic. "I'm unemployed after all these years!" Then the line moved, the car edged over the boundary between JPL and La Canada-Flintridge and I couldn't go back even if I wanted to...and I said in a more confident, happier voice, "No, now I'm self employed."
As I drove up the little hill to the main road, I cried a tiny bit but I also felt physically lighter somehow, as if I'd shed - not a burden, because I truly love JPL and the work they do with Mars rovers and Europa and SMAP and all the rest of the Missions - but maybe a cocoon? Maybe now the writer in me feels truly free?
I don't know, but I'm so excited about having all day every day to write the best stories I can....who knows what will happen, but I can't WAIT.
The Dream became the Reality today.