Posted by: emjb | April 7, 2006

Clear sailing for navel gazing

Now that Nathan’s sleeping more and I’m sleeping more, I find myself struggling with some unpleasant tasks (still having to write those letters about Nathan’s birth) and a confusing decision.

Actually, I’m not struggling now with the letters, just needing to find the time to get them down. I woke up about 5 this morning thinking about my stupid midwives (they’d just sent me a card commemorating all the babies born in their practice), and the letter I needed to write kind of came to me. I took my shower and cried a little, as thinking about this always makes me do, but then I was able to go to work. I know I’ll get those letters out soon, now, because I’m a lot stronger than I was five months ago. A lot less ignorant, too, thanks to ICAN. And people like DoctorMama.

Anyway, so going to work. It brings up a new dilemma, one that I haven’t really discussed with anyone yet, not even Matt (hi honey!). Today was the last day for the girl I’m ostensibly replacing. And I was asked more than once, “So you’re going to stay, right?” And since I was being asked in front of my boss and a big group of people, I always said brightly “That’s the plan!” and made a joke about staying unless they booted me, ha ha. Because there’s almost no chance they’ll boot me. I’m here, I’m partially trained already, and god knows no one else is volunteering to do my job.

But I don’t want to stay.

But we need the money.

But Jesus gay, I just hate this kind of work. I haven’t been an admin assistant for over 7 years…haven’t filed anything, or made copies for people, or given a rat’s ass about anyone else’s messes unless they made messes for me. And suddenly here I am, back doing crap I hate, and I know this will sound snotty, am way too talented to be doing.

Do you know what I did today? I printed out clip art of rabbits and eggs and lilies and glue-sticked (stuck?) them to construction paper. Then I went downstairs and stapled them to a bulletin board. This is part of my job. This, and ordering coffee (I don’t even drink coffee) and replacing toner, and faxing things for people, and checking out AV carts. And some never-ending data entry. And printing out forms. And reserving rooms for classes. All of them necessary jobs, except maybe the rabbits, but professionally speaking, it’s like being sent from high school back to elementary and being taught how to spell “cat” all over again. Aagh.

You see, here’s the stuff I actually know how to do. I can design books and newsletters and annual reports. I can edit and write textbooks…I’ve written five already. I aced the copyediting test Simon and Schuster sent me (they didn’t hire me because they were cheap bastards, but they told me over and over how impressed they were with my test). I can manage a budget, train a new employee to do my job, hell, write a fucking training manual (I’ve written or rewritten at least 3 that I can remember). I can scan and professionally touch up photos, develop negatives, and make prints in a darkroom. I can use PhotoShop, Quark, InDesign and several kinds of databases. I know a little bit about web design and animation. I’m one of the few people I know who have ever had to use a pica ruler or spray mount.

And I’m not using any of that knowledge here, and it makes me feel mean and hateful.

To make it worse, I’m working for a hospital, a place thick with bureaucratic foofaraw, endless minutiae, and constant tiny crises that make everyone scream and run in circles. There are 3 forms that have to be printed for everything, and I’ll tell you right now, they’re all stored on a single computer drive with no logic whatsoever, so the simplest tasks take dozens of clicks. I spend half my time just looking for some damn Word or Excel document that somebody stuck somewhere and named something random that has nothing to do with its function.

So it’s not like I can just turn off my brain and do the job. Stupid as it is, you have to pay attention not to fuck it up. And I don’t want to. I resent using any of my memory for the work I’m doing. I resent having to care about it.

On paper, it should work as a temp to perm job. The money’s ok, and better than my alternative, which is butt-ass broke unless I get a successful interview soon. The people are very ordinary but nice, not any more psychotic than your average minor bureaucrat. I get to scurry around the bowels of the hospital several times a day, which is good exercise, and kind of fascinating. And I am certainly physically capable of faxing things and printing out bunnies. But really, it’s killing me.

It sounds sensible to say, just take the job but keep looking for a better one. But it feels uncomfortable to me. It requires me to lie all the time about whether I want to stay, and then it will require me to lie to get time to do an interview, and then I will eventually leave after my fairly nice boss has taken a lot of time to teach me all the tiny details of my job and she will have to start all over.

In the past, I’ve just turned this kind of thing down. I’ve been able to be hopeful that Better Job will come along, and it did. But I wasn’t a mom in the past, wasn’t trying to help my husband get his business off the ground, wasn’t living with my folks. I’m feeling all this pressure to play it safe, and it’s messing with my head.



  1. Ooof. I haven’t been there in a while, but I completely know what you mean. Rabbits? Glue sticks? Construction paper???
    I don’t think you can do it. Not the paper bunnies, but the having to lie all the time. “That’s the plan!” Oh god. Soul-killing.
    Probably you should sit down with the boss and tell them what you said here, more or less.

    One way to look at it is, you do HAVE a safety net. It’s not fun to have to rely on your folks and delay your husband’s plans, but you can. It’s not like you’d be out on the street with your baby. In which case you’d need to smile brightly and say “This is my DREAM JOB! THANK YOU SO MUCH!”

  2. ha, DM. Yeah, the more I look at it, the more it’s obvious, ain’t gonna happen. I’ll just have to be a leech on Nathan’s grandma a little while longer. I can still do dumb temp jobs, at least, so long as they don’t turn into dumb full-time jobs.

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