I have a job!

I have a job!

Three years after leaving newspapers, I’m starting a new job on January 17th. I haven’t exactly been lounging around eating bonbons all this time — I’ve drafted one novel, reworked another, revised the one I drafted, wrote queries and collected rejections on both of them, and worked as a freelance writer for a variety of clients, most recently the Technion.

(Oh, and there was an adult Bat Mitzvah in there, wasn’t there?)

But being on staff somewhere is different. This feels like grasping the wood of a dock after treading water for a long time. It feels like feet on solid ground after drifting weightless in space.

There are many wonderful things about freelancing. I’ve appreciated the ability to set my own schedule, accommodate family needs and put time into fiction. But I also love many things about a traditional job — being part of an organization, connecting with co-workers on a daily basis, having a dependable paycheck.

Now I may have the best of both worlds. This is a halftime job, at least for the near future, so I will still have time to work on my novel, maintain some freelance clients, and be available to Daughter during her last semester before college.(In theory! In reality, I know it will be a challenge to make time for the novel.)

By now, you’re probably asking, So what’s the job?  (Trumpets, please.)

I’ll be communications director for Golden Gate Audubon Society, the independent local chapter of the national conservation organization. GGAS has an incredible grassroots volunteer base who lead dozens of free bird-watching walks each month throughout San Francisco and the East Bay. It provides nature education for inner-city kids, and political advocacy on behalf of birds and other native species. One of GGAS’ recent achievements was a San Francisco ordinance requiring that new buildings be “bird-safe” — i.e., take steps such as using frosted or textured glass to prevent migrating birds from flying into large glass-walled skyscrapers.

So you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about birds in this blog in the future.

Maybe it morphs into Midlife Bird Mitzvah?

No more adorable kitty photos? / Photo by Ilana DeBare

More seriously, this feels like the end of a phase of being in the semi-wilderness. Perhaps transition is always a wilderness — like the ancient Jews in Sinai, when you are no longer what you used to be, but not yet what you are going to become.

I was a newspaper reporter when I entered the wilderness. I hoped to be a published novelist when I came out the other side. But would I succeed? And in between… what was I? where was I?

One of the reasons I undertook the adult Bat Mitzvah process two and a half years ago was to help tame that wilderness. I hoped that studying to become a Bat Mitzvah would serve as a small anchor — providing structure, connections, and achievable goals — when everything else in my life felt amorphous and uncertain.

It did fill that role. But even so, I’ve felt a little unmoored.

It’s nice to touch a dock.


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19 Responses to “I have a job!”

  1. John Mangels Says:


  2. Duane Peterson Says:

    mazeltov. this sounds like a great new chapter.

  3. garycoates Says:

    An admirable cause and splendidly joined. Brava!

  4. susiew Says:

    you go girl!

    Caught some good birds today on the Bay Trail in Richmond. Oystercatchers, grebes,etc.

    Have a great time!

    • Ilana DeBare Says:

      I will take your “catching” of the birds in a metaphorical sense. :-)

      By the way, I was out on the Bay Trail in Richmond this afternoon too! Did we walk past each other???

  5. stepvoss Says:

    Congratulations, Ilana. It is so wonderful directing communications for a group one actually can be proud of. Well done!

  6. Alix Christie Says:

    Yay Ilana, from one still out in that wilderness between newspapering and novel-writing! I admit to a twinge of envy as I paddle, envying you that half-time dock. Sometime this year, depending on the latest round in the publishing wars, I may be joining you on drier land! X Alix in London

  7. Nicholas Says:

    New blog: Bay-Life Bird-Mitzvah

  8. Deb DeBare Says:

    They are lucky to “catch” you ! enjoy your last week of sort-of-freedom before plunging in…. ! x o x o

  9. Tom Moore Says:

    Congratulations from another freelancer!

  10. susie m Says:

    Mazal tov, Ilana. I can’t think of a much better place for you to land on this leg of your journey. Great post, too.

  11. laurelkell Says:


  12. Rebecca Says:

    Congratulations Ilana! Great to be paid while working for a worthwhile cause –something you can feeling good about. Look forward to your pics of local wildlife.

  13. Barbara Kluger Says:

    Mazel Tov on your new position! I’m inspired by the new direction your life is taking. I’ve been treading water myself for far too long, and I’m hoping that 2012 will be my year for climbing up on a dock for a secure footing.

  14. Jane Says:

    Great going Ilana! So happy for you!

  15. Martha H. Says:

    Congratulations, Ilana! Audubon is a wonderful organization! They – and the birds – are lucky to have you.

  16. Janice Dean Says:

    What a wonderful post to read after getting behind on my favorite blogs. As we gamers say, grats!!

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