Job Honeymoons

I was sitting in my second review meeting a few weeks back and one of the board members I just met turned to me and asked how it was all going. Of course my answer was positive and excited and enthusiastic. He looked me right in the eye and said “ah, so the honeymoon isn’t over yet!” He explained how soon I would stop my enthusiastic climb and start to slump. The slump could last months, according to him, but the trick was to persevere through it, and it would level off. Then it would be okay.

Part of me disagreed vehemently (in my mind and silently of course) I don’t want to slump, and if I do, I will never ‘level off’. That means I am stagnant and I want to always be growing! Well, its good in theory at least…

I’ve reached the end of the honeymoon now, and I actually find myself yearning for that level period. Looking back on what he said its not so much about the physical actions of doing the job and love of work, its about emotions and relationships. That leveling off, I hope, means the extremes will mellow and that comfortableness will help me have more confidence in myself and my work. I still want to always improve, but coming home either bouncing with joy or in floods of tears is draining–I hope to settle for contentment.

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The world hasn’t stopped spinning yet

You know how when you are little and in school, and you miss a day–you think to yourself, how could they possibly carry on? What were lessons like, and how did everyone not feel the gaping hole left by your absence?

If your school was anything like mine, you quickly learned that it did go on, because the catch up homework was insane. Everyone else had theirs done, knew the lessons and information except for you.

Last year as a teacher I learned that it can actually be quite lovely to miss class and set an assignment for someone else to oversee. I didn’t even mind the extra grading.

The world never stops spinning it seems.

Well, I had stopped blogging for a while and the world kept on. I stopped because I finally managed to get a job. That big magical J-word that should somehow complete me, give me an identity and pay the bills. Well, one step at a time. It is just for 6 months, and it is not my identity, but it will do.

Then I went to my sister’s wedding which required 2 weeks off 🙂

At school, you know how to catch up, as a teacher, you pre-plan your missed days, but in the normal work force, your own little corner actually does stop spinning. Its an odd game of catch up that I’m playing now. I don’t hate it, its just a new experience. Perhaps it finally is satisfying that inner self-centered demon we all keep telling us only I can do that job…well, for the moment because you are the only one assigned to it, but lets end on a happy note.

Working and Spending

I feel like I must have read this article about how we work and consume a few years back when it first came out. If you have read Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed, please take a second to. It really changed quite a bit about how I think and helped me to prioritize what is important in my life: i.e. spending time with family, having fun rather than being overtired, stressed but rich. As a naturally very stingy person, but also someone who wants to be comfortable and live in the world I was appalled by the contrived nature of the entire system.

Anyway, the article in question was making the rounds on my facebook feed and so I read it again and have been re-thinking it all. One thing that has changed now, is that I finally managed to get a job. It doesn’t start until January, but it is going to be one of those all consuming jobs. I’m excited, and elated, because as you know, I really struggled with finding self-worth in myself, and needed it in the form of some stranger willing to dole out money to me. So rational, I know!

Combine the new job with the Christmas season, and my little 1-year don’t buy any retail is so far out the window. I’m sure it will return soon, but I realized Chris and I were currently undergoing exactly what this guy had. The long time travelling, scrimping budget because there is only a minus number every month, suddenly you land a job and POW, you should buy starbucks–cuz I love it. Also…gingerbread frappuccino (cuz its summer here baby!!!).

The first step to anything is being aware of it. How you spend and why. I want to take back this consumer drive that I feel pressured into from global economies, and buy only what I need (not what they want me to need). I hope this is something I can start/maintain this next year. I’m not saying don’t spend–that is impossible. I’m saying think. There are some things like living which are so much more important (if you can even figure out what those are–I’m still working on it).

Fan Fiction and Academic Writing

Since I seem to have time on my hands, I recently volunteered to write for New Zealand’s Creative Commons about various topics that may be relevant to copy right and creativity. My first entry went up a few days about Fan Fiction, and while I attempt to champion the cause, and stick by to the idea that people should write more because it does make them more creative, and indeed eventually makes them read more which expands the entire literary market, it is a tough sell. Why?

I remember  back when I was very young, I read a lot of Fan Fiction. Mostly X-files stuff since that was the only thing I cared about and I couldn’t wait to read the new situations. Then fast forward a few years, and in University I had a roommate who wrote Fan Fiction, I can’t remember in what area, and I was upset. 1) Because she had gone beyond me, beyond the reading and 2) I didn’t think she was cool enough (not that I was cool by any stretch of the imagination). I fell short of the whole community again. See, I’m not nerdy or geeky enough with my obsessions to be accepted, but the fact that I have such leanings makes me strange to the outside world. I’m guessing a lot of people must fall in this category but because of this ‘middle of the road’ mentality, we never meet or form support groups. We are perhaps, just a bit normal.

Anyway, writers were never supposed to be ‘cool’. So what is wrong with Fan Fiction? It IS creative. I guess it comes down to quality control–the complaint against a lot of indie publishing. But really what is quality. You can have a perfectly written manuscript with a terrible story. Or a terribly written great story. We are looking for that sweet spot. But that ‘spot’ is subjective.

Throughout the course of my PhD, I was told again and again what a terrible writer I was. And I would meticulously re-read my paragraphs for what they meant. I think, they hated my style–my voice. That illusive thing that writers are searching for all the time. Academic writing is supposed to be bland and dry. The more boring it is, the better it sells (to libraries and people who only skim read it because it is so boring).

Academic writing may have something in common with Fan Fiction then–that sort of tight initiation group and a particular way of writing. Not everyone can fit in. Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch. Neither is evil, both need something a bit more. I want MORE creativity from Fan Fiction and a transition into ‘real fiction’ which is silly. And I want academic writing to be interesting.

As a way of confession, I finally opened up my old thesis. I’ve decided to take a Fan Fiction approach to it. Make it more interesting, fill in the gaps and tell the story that people actually want to hear. But to do that I have to become a fan of my own work, which is going to be a tough one.

Sorry for the ramble. But I’d love to hear thoughts on Fan Fiction and Academic writings for you guys. Parallels, differences, you hate one, love the other. Again, I guess my mantra really is: just write.

Why should we hire you?

Today I had my very first interview here in New Zealand. It was my first non-Classics related, or teaching related job interview as well. I’m sure you can imagine how nervous I was, because every single one of us has been there.

Last night while watching scifi on the couch next to Chris, I typed into pinterest ‘interview’. The site came through for me offering hundreds of links to advice from what to wear, how to answer questions and other tricky topics. Reading it at first made me feel amazing. Then I clicked over and felt worse. I typed into Google ‘how can I get a job when I have no skills’ and was reassured that just by having lived, I certainly must have something to offer. I didn’t sleep well.

The interview was at 10:30, and I nervously stared off into the middle distance while re-reading and re-researching everything I had already done weeks before. I’m not sure if it helped. I left my house way too soon, walked too quickly and arrived 20 minutes early. I pretended to look at hair dye for 15 minutes. I should dye my hair.

So how did all the advice stack up? Well, I had dressed fine, tried not to touch my face or hair, gave some eye contact, but not creepy eye contact (I hope), and the hour of grilling passed quite quickly. I can’t tell how I did though. No one threw anything at me, or shouted, so that is always a positive sign. As sick as it may be, I loved talking about how I could help, and what I could do. I felt…useful. Perhaps the best bit of advice was from something I learned from a TED talk last year about body language. And yes, I totally did a power pose before going in…

There were many predictable questions: tell me about yourself, what is your greatest strength, how would you do X, and finally, Why should we hire you? I’m not sure I got that one correct. I had read, last night, about a question “If you were a brick in a brick wall, which brick would you be?” I think that may have been the question that threw me over the edge. Obviously I would be that left over brick that people stubbed their toes on as they walked past since the manager had ordered TOO MANY bricks. Does anyone know a better answer??

Its easier to interview and apply for jobs when you aren’t in love with the job. So now I try to convince myself that I didn’t want it, so that I will be ready for rejection if it comes. Now back to more job applications. Does anyone have any useful interview tips, if I get other interviews?

In other news–it is officially Christmas since I now have a sparkling gold tree…

Obligatory Thanks Giving Post

I know its a day early here in New Zealand, and it is two days early for the USA, but things will be a bit busy on the day, and I was told if you can’t be on-time, be early.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year–you wouldn’t think it from a vast majority of my complaining–but things are actually quite good. But before I dive into some long laundry list I’d like to take a moment to consider Thanksgiving outside the USA.

Growing up, my family wasn’t big on celebrating random USA holidays, and I remember the infamous story of either my sister or I asking my mother on what day we were supposed to celebrate the 4th of July–I’m sure she laughed, but the answer really was that we didn’t. But we did always have Thanksgiving. We’d order incredibly expensive and hard to find turkey (when we could find it, since turkey is not popular at all in Japan–one for now, and then one for Christmas later) and invite everyone we knew. We almost always hosted, and we would gather students, missionaries and randoms–most of whom were not american. My sister and I always helped (and I hope it was help and not getting in the way). It wasn’t about a family gathering. It was gathering people and eating.

I can’t remember the last thanksgiving I had with my family. I celebrated approximately 4 in the USA, one for each year of university. It has always been important to me though. The first time I decided to host Thanksgiving, completely on my own, was actually here in New Zealand, and it was also the first time I celebrated it with Chris. Despite being British, he has completely and utterly embraced the holiday albeit a strange morphed version which I grew up with. No where else in the world has the week off, so often I’d have to take a day off to cook along–and last year I was so stressed all I could manage was to walk across the street to the local pub and order a disappointing turkey meal with new friends.

One thanksgiving action I regret, is that someone I didn’t know once got left out. I still kick myself to this day for it. I didn’t know her, and I was told later I made things awkward since everyone else in the office was invited bar her. I keep replaying it thinking how to fix it. But drama will always happen, and all I can do is swear that next time a few unknowns feel free enough to pop in dragged by their friends who I do know. Because that is the point.

So what is thanksgiving to me? Its an excuse for a party. Its when you get to invite people to your house and cook. I miss the family element. The delegation of duties between the three of us girls. I’ve never done the ‘thankful’ bit aloud. It always seemed a bit too much like bragging. So I’ll make my list in my head.

Now I must start the prep work. Not just the cooking but buying enough plates so that people don’t have to eat with their hands.

Age and the age-ist world

Race and gender continue to be hot topics for debate, and their respective causes need to be written about and proclaimed from mountain tops. We need to educate the world, we need to judge less and love more.

A more difficult cause to get behind is age-ism. We persecute the young confining them in schools where they are forced to sit for long hours and try to persuade them that their worth is encapsulated in their grades that the gain on standardized tests.

When they are in college we barrage them with more knowledge and train them up to do things that aren’t needed in the ‘real’ world. We won’t hire them without experience.

And then they get too old. We won’t hire them because they are at pregnancy age, or you calculate that they can only give 10 years to your company rather than 30 (secrete: the younger will probably only give you 2 years, and the older is a safer bet, but that is pretty age-ist of me to say).

Then they get even older. They regress, retire, need care and what do we do?

I guess this is a way of saying: ‘life sucks’ but what I actually mean is that you are never ever too young to do something, nor are you too old to start something. Again, while reading Amanda Palmer’s book, the bit that was the most inspirational to me was one of the first sentences she wrote.

I’m thirty-eight. I started my first band, The Dresden Dolls, when I was twenty-five, and didn’t put out my first major-label record until I was twenty-eight, which is, in the eyes of the traditional music industry, a geriatric age at which to debut.

Those who get their PhDs usually finish sometime in their early 30s meaning until then they are living the perpetual life of a student and only afterwards do they begin a semblance of ‘adult’ life. The official age for a geriatric mother has been pushed back to more than 37.

I am 28. Will be 29 next month. Its not too late to start something–and that is my plan, so watch out. When I am 60, it is still not too late to find and capture a new dream. It is only society which limits us. This ‘lack of experience’ amuses me because from the moment you are alive you gain experiences. I know how to learn, how to think, so I can do anything.

Where is the pessimist today? Not here.