Friday, February 17, 2006
I tend to plunge into the depths of despair and become convinced that everyone hates me, etc., if I make a mistake. I HATE making mistakes. But then I realized, duh, you know, I am not a copyeditor.
I had my three month review with my boss—whom I respect and like so much—and I finally had to say to her, “Is everything all right?” Which was code for, DOES EVEYONE HATE ME? And she just kinda looked at me like, “Huh?” And I explained that I thought my colleague was a little torqued because I had missed some inconsistencies in a document that is this big fat deal that’s going to be professionally printed and all that. I said, gulp, “I am not a copyeditor, you know.” And she said, “I know! I know a copyeditor is a whole different thing. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the budget in this contract for a copyeditor, so it falls to you.” AND SHE JUST TOTALLY understood.
But not everyone does!!!! I had to tell my colleague, let’s call her Sally—and her reaction was kind of funny, like I had just used the Twinkie Defense or something. Or said, “I don’t do windows,” or “I’m not a writer but I play one on TV.” It just didn’t wash. And I could hear her snickering and telling her assistant about it. Like, heh heh, ooooooooo, the little princess is a “writer” but she’s not a “copyeditor.” Heh heh heh. It’s a little awkward.
The rest of my three month review went swimmingly, however. And that made me feel better. My boss just looked right at me and said, “You’re smart.” Which made me want to cry a little bit. Isn’t that silly? But honest, my chin started to quiver slightly. Not because it was an affirmation or something, like—finally! Someone figured out that I’m smart! Not like that. But in a way like she appreciated me. And she appreciated that aspect of me and she GOT SOMETHING ABOUT ME.
The reason that made me happy—and a little tearful—is that it has taken me a fuck of a long time to get to this point in my career. I have had some really bingbangawalla jobs in my life.
The two years I spent on this one project almost put me in the grave. Seriously. Like nut farm walla. You can read about some of those stellar experiences here and here.
While I was going through it all, I went to this FABULOUS 40th birthday of a friend of mine and I got to see all my excellent women-dame friends. I have this one friend that I just adore and I don’t get to see her too often and she asked how I was doing and I said, “Well, I hate my job.” She looked at me—she’s a big advocate of my writing—and said, “There is no reason for you to be in a job that you hate. None at all.”
For some reason that was this gigantic epiphany for me. I really thought about what she said. She was saying that with all I have to bring to a job, there is no reason for me to be miserable. THE MUSIC SWELLS!!! Doves fly free. Water laps on the sand.
I am a big believer in making a positive out of a negative, tho, and during that two year project I learned A LOT of things. Oh kids, I learned a lot of things. And that project is the reason I started this website—because I HAD to have a creative outlet in my life. I HAD to write and I knew I couldn’t write stories right then because my life was CONSUMED with this project, so I started this so I wouldn’t go completely nuttyfuck.
I didn’t write about the job, per se, or my colleagues because the job itself was pretty interesting and I loved my colleagues. I just HATED Ratalie, my boss. She finally left and we all thought—we were like the munchkins when the Wicked Witch of the West died—I AM SERIOUS—that NOTHING could be as bad as Ratalie. Until Maralago the Dishonest Water Buffalo came. She will go down in history as THE vilest entity I have EVER worked for. I would tell my mother about the Dishonest Water Buffalo and she would be LIVID. She would say, “That makes me so mad I want to come down there and snatch her baldheaded and hide her hair.”
That’s my favorite expression of hers.
Good things happened from those two difficult years. I learned how to work my ass off and meet deadlines and WORK MY ASS OFF. And it has toughened me and made me a lot more confident in what the hell I can actually accomplish.
I’m sorry, this seems to have turned into a Stayfree commercial inadvertently.
Anyway, the moral of the story is: KEEP GOING!
Here’s one more poignant little acorn from that whole experience. When I first started on the project, it was in this horrific 17 story monstrosity in ROCKV-I-L-E Maryland. It was one of those ghastly all-inclusive Starship Enterprise kinds of buildings with its own dry cleaner and florist and BANK and stuff so you would NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE the sinister enclosure.
I was on the 17th floor and I had my own large office overlooking all the broccoli treetops of suburban Merland, and I would sit in that office and cry and cry and cry. I’d have to go to the bathroom and splash cold water on my face and I had to keep a double-powder compact of Clinique foundation in my purse to hide the red splotchiness. I had this one colleague who would always ask, “Um, are you OK?” Yeah I’m fine. I’m just having a slightly protracted nervous breakdown is all.
I didn’t have anything to do when I first got there (and oh, that was to change), so I started re-writing this story and it just about ripped my heart doing it. That story means so much to me now—because it’s about a real person, and I loved writing it, and I loved re-writing it, and it is representative of that time I spent on the 17th floor of that wretched building, crying, and pumping breast milk into little plastic bottles for my baby Daisy.
That story, “Sam Flute” is coming out this summer. Watch this space.
From the ashes comes the phoenix.
Cynicism is another word for reality