When I got to work on Monday, I came through the door with a smile usually reserved for Internet boyfriends in town for the weekend, all aglow and squealing and trying not to just throw down my bag and yell OMG YOU GUYS as everyone tried to work.
Luckily everyone squealed for me, or at least nodded and said Congratulations with sincere eyebrows and Marco stopped me and said he was serious about helping us publish it to the Kindle so people wouldn’t worry about walking around with a book cover that said COMING & CRYING in wacom-cursive on the L train. My heart was warmed. We had already met our goal, had made it in a few hours, and I stood in the middle of the office and told everyone all about it while I downed my 2nd cup of coffee (it’s amazing how little you sleep when you get emails every few minutes with dollar amounts in the subject line).
On my way in I had called my Dad, skipping the bus in favor of a long walk in the unseasonably warm weather, coat all unbuttoned, asking him if he remembered that book project I had alluded to a few times and he seemed to remember and I said, about sex, under my breath and he cleared his throat and said that was exciting and nodded with his voice, encouraging me from a distance it seemed, always in the interest of my happiness if not his understanding, and then we moved on to talking about the cruise he went on with his girlfriend that weekend.
Later in the afternoon John, my boss, and I went to a big brown bag lunch and he congratulated me on the way in and he told me not to forget them- ha!- and we talked seriously about it and he gave me advice and then we went into the meeting which skewed male and skewed suits and a few of them who I had never met congratulated us on the book and my god, this is the most unlikely audience! I saw my friend, an ex, and he talked about running into people who always seemed to know me and love me from my blog and he figured it was because I, as I have been told my whole life, had no filter. I nodded and said what a privilege it was, to work for a company with a product whose very mission is people ‘sharing themselves online,’ to be in an environment that actually supports and encourages me to Be Myself™ and do that passionately.
The more people I talk to about this, and the more I detect a tiny cringe in them, the more I realize that this transparency we preach is such an utter privilege. Because the worry, the cringe, is always followed by the questions, “Have you told your boss?” and “Have you told your parents?”
And the answer is, Yes! They were the first people I told! And they are the first people I keep telling, the people I reach for the phone or the people whose desks I linger around after I get exciting news.
I think I learned a lot about this (in so many different ways), from my last job, working for Jonathan Coulton. I remember when I first mentioned my tumblr in passing and he asked me what it was and said he wanted to add it to his RSS and I cringed a little. Would I be self-conscious? “Unprofessional”? Because as lame as that question may seem or be, when you value your job as I have been lucky enough to do time and time again, that risk doesn’t seem so obvious.
But then, I remember, the next time I saw him, he knew more about me. He asked me questions about my life, I relaxed, I suddenly became more myself. We were fellow human beings. And I think that’s both the challenge and the benefit to that lack of filter (“shameless” was what my mother called me growing up, with a laugh), is that you must acknowledge another person’s human-ness, even when it may be more convenient to ignore it.
And so yesterday I got this email from him,
We just realized that two pairs of underwear have been floating unclaimed around the house for some time; the theory is that they belong to you. I’m going to use them as the top level donation for a kickstarter project if that’s ok.
Speaking of which, congrats on the Internet loving you. Unfortunately, now you have to make the damned book.
Haha. ED NOTE: I used to house sit for him when he was away on tour. OKAY? Okay.
Anyway then I got home and called my mom and recapped the day, like I always do. She was relieved I didn’t seem too Unprofessional. And I stood on the sidewalk gesturing madly, filled with ideas, and knew that this position we are finding ourselves in is incredibly unique. We can preach about transparency but the world hasn’t entirely caught up yet, we are just lucky enough to find ourselves in a place where we can do this. And damn, what keeps giving me pause (and minor panic attacks), is what a responsibility this is.
I imagine the next few months will see many more nights like this— late, late nights at the office, hanging out with Melissa after hours, finished kicking ass at one dream job, staying put and doing another.