Archive for the ‘job’ Category

The Wishbones

March 23, 2009


I went in the library last week looking for something that was like chick lit but with substance.  I don’t want to waste my time reading a brainless book about a girl who’s only goal in life is to get married.  But I want to read something that is entertaining, something that doesn’t require too much brain power, but at the same time doesn’t feel like I’m killing off my brain cells by reading it.  If anyone has suggestions for chick lit with substance, please let me know.

Anyway, I came out of the library with Tom Perrotta’s first novel, The Wishbones. I love Tom Perrotta.  Although I think he missed the mark with The Abstinence Teacher, his earlier novels Joe College, Election and Little Children are among my favorite books.  The Wishbones is about Dave, your average 30-something guy from suburban New Jersey.  Even though he would love to be the next Bruce Springsteen, Dave plays guitar in a wedding band and is engaged to his high school sweetheart.  His life seems very safe.  But then he meets a new and exciting girl from the city – a poet from Brooklyn.  Does he play it safe and stay in Jersey or risk loosing the life he has now for a chance to live the life of his dreams? 

The Wishbones is like High Fidelity meets The Wedding Singer.  It’s hysterical and touching and manages to be authentic and original even though its your typical coming of age / becoming an adult story.  It was good to read since I’m sort of going through a “now I’m adult what should I do with my life” phase. 

Last week I got rejected from Columbia for grad school.  It’s not a big deal, their program was not one of my top choices and I think they’re just an over-priced brand name school anyway, but it was the first grad school I’ve heard back from.  And the rejection comes at time when I’m really, really starting to strongly dislike my job.  Last week I found out a number of my co workers are quitting and I got this panicky feeling like I’m on a sinking ship and I need to get out.  Grad school was my out.  There is only one other school I applied for in NYC.  If I don’t get in there what will I do?  Last week when I got my rejection letter I just felt like quitting my job, recession and finances be damned, and doing volunteer work cleaning up nature trails through the Meadowlands.  But realistically?  I’d never do that.  But I would love to.  Sometimes I don’t even know if I want to study public health in grad school anymore.  But maybe this is just the burn out I feel from my current job.  Who knows.

Yesterday I went to Manny’s house because his nieces wanted me to teach them how to bake cookies.  All four nieces were measuring ingredients at the same time, so needless to say our measurements were not the most exact or precise or accurate.  We might have confused the baking soda with baking powder.  But something went wrong because our cookies came out completely flat, like crackers (but still tasty!).  The girls told me that in Mexico they call this el ojo (the eye).  It happens because we were thinking too much about the cookies, which caused them to deflate.  The oldest niece told me this happens to her when she bakes cakes.  She tries too hard and thinks too much about it, and the middle of cake deflates and sinks.  We put the next tray of cookies in the oven and we made the decision not to think about cookies.  We talked about our favorite movies.  The cookies came out better (still flat but less deflated).

Whatever happens with my job, grad school, my career, and the direction of my life, I hope I have the courage to: 1.) not be afraid to do what I want to and 2.) not to settle and 3.) not become a victim of el ojo by over-analyzing everything in my life like I always do.

Dog and Books

March 6, 2008

Meet my puppy, Leo. He’s pretty much the best dog ever and everyone who knows him agrees.
he’s my been my buddy this week while my mom is vacationing in california visiting her friend. leo and i have the house to ourselves for 10 days. so far its been really nice, except that i have to drag my lazy ass out of bed 30 minutes earlier to walk and feed him. but just look at that face! he’s so worth it. so its been nice living by myself again. go work, take care of the dog, pay some bills, buy some groceries, cook some food, do some laundry, wash some dishes – all on my own time. manny was able to spend a few days here which was nice and we cooked up some amazing chicken burgers with salsa. thankfully, its been a pretty uneventful week, with the exception of this minor commuting crisis that i was able to avoid because my awesome supervisor let me leave early and my awesome friend gave me a ride home.

anyway, I’m still getting through Working which is the most fascinating book I’ve ever read. its people taking about their jobs. we hear from policeman, firefighters, various factory workers, miners, maids, janitors, car salesmen, bank tellers, secretaries, professional sports players, housewives, flight attendants, stockbrokers, truck drivers, accountants, and a whole lot more. it was published in 1972 so the jobs have changed a lot since then but the issues are still the same. basically, you should read it. my favorite part was the section on bureaucracy. some employees of a federal government anti-poverty program were interviewed and they really spoke to the frustrations of working in a huge government machine where divisions and agencies are constantly reorganized and restructured but NOTHING is accomplished. one program manager got in trouble after they found out she was getting involved with union organizing. they took away all of her responsibilities but couldn’t fire her because she was a high ranking employee. so they gave her a paper to write about the economics of poverty which was due in 6 months to keep her busy. but she kept organizing for the union during her work hours and every time someone came into her office she had to shove all of her union papers off her desk. and she didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it. she would write the paper a few days before it was due because she knew nothing would ever be done with it. she said:

It’s extremely frustrating. But, ironically, I’ve felt more productive in the last few weeks doing what I’ve wanted to do than I have in the last year doing what I was officially supposed to be doing . . . When you do something you’re really turned on about, you’ll do it off-hours too. I put more of myself into it, acting like I’m a capable person. When you’re doing something you’re turned off on, you don’t use what talents you have. There are a lot of people in our office who are doing very, very little, simply because their jobs are so meaningless.

Some of these jobs will appear meaningful on paper. The idea of the antipoverty program is exciting. But people are stifled by the bureaucratic decisions and non-decisions. When you’re in the field and get into sticky situations with politicians, you can’t count on your office to support you. You’ll be punished. (p 346)

You know when someone says something and expresses how you’ve been feeling so much better than you could, and all you can say is “Yes! Whatever she said, I feel.” Yeah, as a government employee myself, what Ms. Lilith Reynolds said sums it up for me. There’s really nothing else to add.


February 23, 2008

OK, I know this blog wasn’t supposed to be all about me complaining about my life. But reading Working really makes a person think. So here it goes.

I feel lost. And stuck. I really need to make things move forward in my life. My co-worker told me yesterday that she knows that I want to quit soon. When I asked her how, she said she could see through my handwriting that I was loosing interest in this job. I am a pretty good judge of character and very few people surprise me. But her perceptiveness surprised me. And she’s right. I cannot really complain about this job. It’s a comfortable desk job. I starting working one week after I graduated college in the field I studied. This job is what I studied. I get health and dental benefits. I’m in a union. I have a pension and retirement plan. My co-workers are nice. How many college grads get these things? I really did like working here in the beginning. But things have changed. Our grant was increased by a lot of money and we expanded and hired about 25 new people. So now have fewer things to do. Actually, I only have to do 3 things: make phone calls for other people and answer phone calls for other people and enter data in excel spreadsheets. And I don’t want to do those things anymore I’m bored out of my skull all the time.

I am also hating the city and hating working in an office. This weekend I went with the family to Boston to visit my brother, and on our way home we stopped at Hampshire for some lunch. I haven’t been there since Manny’s graduation in May. I got out of car and remembered how much I loved to be surrounded by land rather than buildings. Being surrounded by hills and farms and fields renews me in a way that the city never does. Sometimes I love the city. Sometimes walking past beautiful old buildings, or looking at the skyline, or walking the streets of Brooklyn that generations of family have walked before helps me feel renewed. Being around my family and loved ones makes me happy. I love the city, I really do. It’s my home, my entire family is here and my life is here. But sometimes it is so stifling. Sometimes being around so many other people just chips away at me making me angry and impatient and makes me hate people I don’t even know. I do not want to feel that way. Times like these really make me want to move out of New York and look for a job elsewhere. There’s job opening in my dad’s union in Washington DC that I’m very tempted to apply for. But I don’t want to leave my loved ones here. And I don’t want to go from one boring desk job to another. Which brings me to my next point.

I don’t know if I want to study public health anymore. Maybe its just because I’m sick of this job. I really want to do something that involves me being outdoors and some other aspect of health. I was thinking of environmental science. I am going to look into getting a MS in environmental studies rather than an MPH. I want to be outside, in all sorts of weather. I don’t mind working in a cubicle sometimes, its comfy. But not 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Also, I think I’m done working on 9/11 health issues. I want to continue revising my Div III thesis, but besides that’s it. I’m so burnt out on this; I’m so numb to this issue I just don’t care anymore about what happens. And it’s starting to affect how I talk to people who call me for health information and referrals, which isn’t good. I need some distance.

So not only do I feel stuck career/job-wise, but also in my personal life. I have either lost touch with my friends from college or they live far away. My friends from home have moved in with their significant others so I see less of them. I still live at home with my mom. I live out of the city in suburbs and anytime I want to see my friends in the city I have to take 2 subways, a train, and a taxi to get home. This journey could take me anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, which is OK on weekends but gets to be drag when I have work the next day. I have a boyfriend of 5 years and we hardly spend any alone time together because we both live at home. I am in a really good place financially but I cannot afford a place by myself. Well, I probably could but all of money would go to rent and I wouldn’t be able to save any for going to back school. I feel like a jerk for complaining, I mean really I don’t really have any reason to complain. Even though I feel unhappy now, I know I have it pretty good and it could be a lot worse. I just feel stuck. I want a little more independence; I want things to start rolling. So I’m going to:
1.) Open high interest savings account and start saving like mad (Check this off the list! Just did this online)
2.) Look into internships and jobs in environmental science
3.) Look at MS program requirements
4.) Keep learning Spanish
5.) Do more work on revising my Div III (I am leaving to do this now right after I publish this post)