Friday, February 24, 2006

Catch 22.5


I don't write/talk about my job much, do I? One would think that after spending 11+ hours a day, 5 days a week all wrapped up in work that I'd have more to say about my job. I've always admired the European notion that your profession doesn't define you the way it does in the states. Here it's one of the first things you ask a new acquaintance. "So, what do you do...?" Blechk.

For the curious, I sit at a desk in an open office (no cubicles or individual offices) and mostly answer phones. If somebody wants to ship something from the US to some other country, they can call me and I can make it happen. It's a lot more complicated than that, but you get the idea. Most of the people I work with fall into 1 of 3 categories. There are people like me who had "worthless" majors in college and found ourselves needing steady work with benefits... (A disproportionate amount of girls in this category and all the married ones (like me) seem to end up leaving after a few years and a 1-time use of maternity leave), then there are the business majors... they need to get some "experience" in before going back to school for an MBA (about 1/2 of these never make it back to school and just work for this company forever), and Third there are the Chinese speakers (who actually chose this as a profession). Our company is based in Taiwan, all our managers are from Taiwan, and oodles of other folks in the industry are native Chinese-speakers as well. If you speak English and Chinese (Mandarin) then you are set for a career in the shipping industry.

This is NOT where I ever thought I would be. For a long stretch of time I was one of those haughty-type bohemian college students who would rather starve than take a "sell-out" job. I worked up to 7 freelance jobs at a time, got paid peanuts and worked myself into the ground. But I did things that made me feel good about myself, especially when I rattled off my current projects to all those curious new acquaintances who asked "so what do you do?...." *sigh*

All of a sudden I found myself getting married (obviously there is more to the story than that...) and whamo... things change. Expenses skyrocketed, insurance became an issue, and Mr. Renn's scholarship ran out and he still had over 30 credits to go.... issues. So Emily had to sacrifice a lot of things that she had thought she never would. I heard about this job from my SIL who had worked here and even though it was 40 miles away from where we were living, I applied and accepted the job. The pay is only fair, but the benefits are great. I've never had the guts to look for another job since I started here. I probably could have found something more fulfilling for me, but somehow I would have felt bad knowing I'd be leaving soon-ish if we got accepted to a dental school. So I have been working here for over 2 years. I've driven an hour here and an hour back every day for 493 work days. It's quite the long slog, this job that I do not love but do not hate.

Assuming I am able to work right up until my due-date (most people here do...) I have approximately 102 workdays left. The very thought of being finished makes me ecstatic and terrified. I've had this job almost the entire time I've been married. I may not love it, but I am comfortable with it by now. I have not spent the time I've been working here keeping up on my former skills, and I haven't even done a very good job keeping my academic mind awake. I've left myself very ill-prepared to find a different job more suited to my strengths because I've let a lot of what I considered my strengths atrophy a bit. *double sigh* None of this was on purpose.

I haven't an inkling what will happen to me after our move. I'm fairly certain I will need to do something to supply some income while we are at Dental School... but it's a bit early to even start looking for opportunities. A) - We are not moving until August, B) - I will have a newborn and it will probably be a while before I can even consider spending energy on anything else.

For a while I entertained the idea of trying to get into a Masters program while we are there and taking out my own student loans and applying for grants... maybe that will still work out. But just looking into programs I get the feeling that they are full of haughty-type bohemian college students who would rather starve than take a "sell-out" job.... and I might not fit in... they might not want a sell-out like me.

2 comments:

-->jeff * said...

i raise my glass of mugi-cha high and bow my head in respect to one who has made the noble sacrifice of reality over bohemia.

stand up tall, em. you did not get a film degree from byu to go out and be a script girl on the next halestorm feature. you sat through sharon's scatter-brained theory class, dean's i'm-sincerely-smarter-than-you lectures and tom's ecstatic production classes to learn to see the world. to live your life like a documentary, finding beauty in the simple and the everyday, giving voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. you are not caught up with the needs for glamour, but are one of 'the gleaners', working to bring about work and beauty greater than any polish-french movie. even your blog shows this. of course you have not lost your artistry- you have put up three postings today with as much insight and wit about an 'average' life as the best seinfeld episode. are keeping your skills sharp without even realizing it. you are a cinematic cougar. you always will be, regardless of how you answer 'what do you do.'

give mr renn a big kiss, enjoy your weekend, and eat a tomato.

cheers to you.
never stop writing.

[i still have your 'Christmas in a vietnam prison' script-- if you ever do snap and overturn your desk and decide to direct it, i'm there.]

Shelley said...

Ah, you're not a sell-out Emily. You're just a pragmatist, which may be very hard to admit if you are a externally bohemian spirit like we are. I'm sure I'll end up doing the same thing - I'm getting married, our expenses will skyrocket, and I have a nearly "useless" major. *Sigh* Poor artsy types like us, right? But hey, we enjoy life still! And I know having a baby will fulfill some of those needs you have in ways you never thought possible. I think sometimes we mentally exchange practicality for blandness, which it can be, but it's also life.

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