Years ago, just before I turned 30, I worked in a bookstore for about 4 months. I was 'between' presenting jobs and utterly, utterly skint. I had no idea what to do - but my mortgage had to be paid - so I got a job at the now defunct Books Etc for a mere £250 a week. I had been used to earning this (and more) a day as a presenter (oh those were the days... Jaysus what I would give for that now...) so this was pretty hard to swallow. But I grudgingly did... and slowly but surely I actually discovered ways to enjoy the darn job - even if I had put my back out and was frequently told off for committing the ultimate crime of 'reading at the till.'
My colleagues were an eclectic bunch: a man who wore suits and waistcoats every day and declared he was relieved to tun 40 as he had in fact been 40 in his head since the age of 16. He looked 60.
A Swedish girl who admitted to be from a inbred family and had a strange tick and talked about her irregular bowel habits. An ex-banker who had given up his lucrative salary to write book just as his wife was 6 months pregnant - as you do. He had written about 2 chapters and was 'stuck.' A short Canadian who went on Internet dates every night - his lesbian sister then would try and hit on his dates. His dream was to bring his future wife back to Canada where he lived by a lake and it reached - 28 in winter. There was a girl called Red who would go to meet her mates in a bar - get there, see them and then think 'I can't be bothered' and trek back home. She said was absolutely not a a single per cent depressed. Finally there was the manager - a nice guy who wore every shade of beige one could ever wear - ate the same lunch from the same cafe every single day and said he had only ever dreamt of managing a bookstore.
Best bits of my day were in no particular order: the half hour walk to and from the bank, depositing takings - a total dawdle, a gossip fest and gettin' some fresh Spring air; lunch - I'd hit a local cafe called 'bada bing' to be served by two brothers I nicknamed 'the cheeky boys.' Their lasagna was to die for. I flirted to win extra garlic bread. (In those days extra garlic bread could make or break a good/bad day). Meeting reps and picking books I wanted in store - as I covered Politics, Kids, History, Film and (fittingly) self -help; re-stocking the card selection, which I took over and trebled profits (I know me a good greetings card when I see one. In fact that's where I discovered the amazing cards called Harold's planet. Uber cute.)
I swore I wouldn't be there when my 30th b'day came around - problem was, it was a matter of weeks away. The clock was ticking - job interviews in telly came and went, each one I'd be almost selected for, only not to be. I wondered if I'd ever get out from between those dusty shelves - ever work in telly again.
One day as I left the coal bunker like staff room (dank and dark and smelt of mould - in the basement) I stopped to flick through the slush pile - books that had been damaged in transit - and spied one on luck. Seeing as I could do with a whole heap of it in my life, I grabbed it. I'll be honest, it wasn't the most exciting read: repetitive, overly simplistic and ragingly positive. BUT it did make me think. I started to adhere to it's suggestions - grabbing opportunities, appreciating what I had - and feeling lucky. The moral was: act like you're lucky and you damn well will be.
Lo and behold it bloody worked! By the time my 30th rolled around, I'd handed in my notice, planned a massive party, secured a job on a travel show as the presenter and met with an agent who had a publisher interested in the teen novel I had written. It was like stars aligned, the angels sang and all my lucky numbers came up in a row. Never mind that the publisher rejected my book in the end, and that the tv show was the worst experience of my life as I was mercilessly bullied - at the moment - as I turned 30, I felt like everything was up for grabs. The torturous 20s were over - my career was on an upward trajectory - I'd met my soul mate, I'd bought my flat.
Now, it is 10 years on. They have flown by in a heartbeat. In a way everything has changed - and nothing at all. I'm married now - got engaged 6 months after I turned 30. Married the following year - 9 years ago in October..... We've had two kids - moved out of London. I've changed career - been in the same job on and off for 5 years - which on bad days worries me and good days I feel so blessed to have had something that I really enjoyed - and has let me be a Mum - getting home in time for bath time. On good days I remind myself how hard it was to move from a tv presenting career to that of a script editor - and I managed it in 12 months. In my heart, I believe if you want something enough - you can do anything. (Except it seems write for 'Parenthood' in the US - I don't have that little green card unfortunately....). I digress. Mostly - with luck, with persistence, with a bit of serendipity - you can get what you want.
Weirdly, I read an article today that mentioned that Lucky book. Exactly 10 years after I read it. I felt this this was a sign. During Martini Friday (a night I throw occasionally where I invite some cool women I know in the area over and I make some killer martinis - on Friday, they were lychee) one woman said to me 'You are about to enter the next phase. It's exciting. Your next career chapter.' I think that's true. I can feel it - everything happens for a reason and all that. Husband today announced his career plans and they excite me a lot. I'm not quite sure where the wind will take me yet - but it'll all work out.
It always does.
Now if only I could find that book!