Six months at Medium

A rambling retrospective on reentering the workforce after almost 15 years of self-employment

Ariel Meadow Stallings
8 min readSep 12, 2023

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Photo by the author of a typical slice of life in Seattle’s Capitol Hill

This weekend, I was out doing what I spend much of my time doing on weekends, which is walking around my neighborhood in Seattle. For better and for worse, Capitol Hill is not the bohemian geighborhood it was when I first moved here in 1997 (better: the gays can comfortably live anywhere in Seattle now; worse: the artists and bohemians got priced out)… but for me, those shifting cultural sands make city living interesting.

The dog and I were walking home after dropping a return off at a local Amazon Fresh, the oddly automated grocery store experiment. We wandered past a boutique on Pike Street that I’d recently read was closing soon, and I decided to pop in.

Ritual is an upscale boutique known for its gender-neutral gothic apparel, high-end leather harnesses, gorgeous tarot decks, and other esoterica. It’ll always be famous for me because once, while on a date with a demisexual federal investigator, he glanced at the gothic attire in the window and said, “That’s what I feel like under my work clothes.”

Walking into Ritual this weekend, I found the proprietress behind the counter, sorting black candles.

“I heard you’re closing,” I said. “I’m sorry… slash congratulations?”

“Both,” she said. “I just need to shift gears and get a job with health insurance.”

“Girl,” I said conspiratorially, leaning on the counter, “I got a job this winter for the first time in 15 years, so when I say I get it, I GET IT.”

“…and?” she asked.

And,” I said. “All those years of therapy? It turns out I wasn’t as broken as I thought. It turns out that feeling anxious and insecure are actually natural emotional responses to being a single parent running a small business for a over a decade.”

We talked for half an hour about the realities of small business ownership, parenting humans, and which local tech companies have the best gender-affirming care benefits for dependents. It was one of my favorite kind of neighborhood chats.

In part because it made me take a moment to be super grateful.

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Ariel Meadow Stallings

I'm a Medium product manager, but also a whole-ass person: author, publisher, devotional dancer, Seattleite, mom, and just a human humanning.