i’m good enough, i’m smart enough, and darn it, people like me

January 27, 2010

at the end of the Fall 2005 quarter, as i sat at my kitchen table furiously grading student exams and wondering how i would get to san francisco in time for the ballet performance i had backstage access to (answer: i wouldn’t. yay school!) and generally cursing my entire blasted life, i had an epiphany: i did not need this shit. 

in fact, i took a little grading break and looked up some publishing jobs. hey, i thought, i could totally do these. i could leave school and get a job and the world would not end. so that’s what i did.

of course, things didn’t exactly go in that linear progression of leave school–>achieve publishing job–>happy and well paid. there was much gnashing of teeth, much agonizing, much working in shitty jobs. but through it all, even when it sucked, i realized i was happier than i would have been had i stayed in grad school. filing > teaching, it turns out, at least for me.

for the past month, i have been working on this copyright project, involving figuring out which books have and have not been registered for copyright in the past ten years (we’re supposed to register like 95% of our books). this project is a perfect clusterfuck of annoyance: it’s boring (relies heavily on data entry and data verification); it’s frustrating (apparently people just didn’t bother with things like answering mandatory deposit notices from the Library of Congress); and, worst of all, it will not fucking end. it has taken over my life. every day i discover something new and horrifying about the situation. 

so today, as i’m once again getting irate (because i have yet to force myself to just stop caring), i realized something. i had an epiphany, you could say, a come to jesus moment. i do not have to do this. i do not like this job any more. and, more than anything else, i am better than this job. no more feeling guilty for being a shitty employee: i’m done feeling bad because i dislike my crappy, boring job. i am better than this. and dammit, i deserve better than this. i am going to find something better to do with my life, something that makes me happy and doesn’t cut my pay every year. i am going to do this, even if it means moving to the goddamn east coast and learning to drive in snow. that’s how serious i am, people.



  1. you are talking FEISTY and i like it! also, can you pass some of that over here?

  2. How to Drive in the Snow

    1) Don’t, if you can ever avoid it. One of the great things about places with nasty weather is the excuse to stay home sometimes.

    2) Drive slowly.

    3) This is an advanced technique, but wiggle your steering wheel a little as you drive. It helps. Don’t know why.

    And there you have it. And may I further suggest not going to the East Coast, but rather somewhere in the middle. Most liberal arts universities have publishing companies (as you well know) and some of them are very good. University of Nebraska for instance. Even if you landed a similar job there, the money you made would actually allow you to save up for time off to write a book or buy a house– in other words, afford you the dignity of a life. Unlike California where the cost of living is honestly criminal, and ditto NYC and the like.

    • i am actually sort of exploring the idea of ditching the publishing life to go be a public historian and see what that’s all about. i just applied for a job with the NPS Pacific Regional Office in Seattle. doubt i’ll get it, but it would be kind of awesome if i did. and i’m contemplating applying for a historian job at the census, although i’m not sure how badly i want to move to DC and work in suburban maryland.

  3. You know I love you, baby. You’re on a trek. You are breaking free. Movin’ on up. To the east side, even. Life is a highway, and you are gonna ride it all motherfucking night long.

    But remember: if you feel your car start to spin, take your foot off the gas and countersteer. Countersteer.

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