(Me at the office. JK, I don't smoke any more. Or talk on the phone. Boo cancer! Yay email!)
I get this question occasionally: do I really screw around at work as much as it seems? What kind of a job do I have where I can just sit on the computer all day reading Jezebel, liking pictures of cats on Facebook, and sneak watching episodes of the X-Files?
The answer is simple: I work in an office.
For somebody who exclusively worked in retail or education, working in an office is a revelation. At first, it can appear to be epically boring--because it is. My job is to manage the digital publishing process for an academic and religious publisher and to assist with online marketing. If you are confused and think this sounds interesting, you are mostly wrong. Sometimes what I do is not boring, like messing with images for the html eblasts I put together (spam) and figuring out how to use Photoshop better. But mostly what I do is compile metadata for ebooks which means SPREADSHEETS. I literally spend hours and hours and hours compiling the same data into different spreadsheets.
But you know something? I love it. It's repetitive and mindless enough that I HAVE to listen to podcasts while I do it, or listen/watch episodes of The X-files. And even still, I have to go clear my head periodically by checking out Facebook or taking a walk in Riverfront Park.
For somebody who has only ever taught or worked behind a cash register, the freedom with an office job is staggering. If I have to pee, I can just get up and go! Even better, if I want to take a walk/buy a sandwich/drink some coffee/go talk to somebody, I just go do it! It's really amazing.
The best part, without a doubt, is that when the day is done, I just GO HOME. There is no grading, no planning, no student begging me to read their terrible poetry or go watch their soccer game. (As a teacher, I didn't really mind doing any of those things, until you multiplied each task by 200 and then I thought I was going to die from the stress.) And you know what else? I make more money doing this than I did as a teacher. Isn't that sad? I literally do work that doesn't matter to anybody, and I am compensated better for it than when I was put in charge of educating 200 teenagers.
Of course, the work is meaningless, and that's the dangerous line I tightrope. Because when you spend most of your time doing something that is completely inconsequential, it can be demoralizing. Which is another reason why I blog. I even write a few hundred words of a short story every now and again. I listen to TED Talks and like other people's baby pictures and listen to episodes of Castle and Bones and X-Files and read Salon and Slate. And then I take a walk by the river. Because then at the very least, I can look back at my day and feel like I accomplished something.