damn that international journal of something and something

In direct contrast to the three amazing jobs I wrote about yesterday, here are the three very worst jobs I have ever had in my life:
 
1. Clerk at the Bursar’s Office of my College: This was when I went back to school as an adult and needed a part-time job somewhere that worked with my schedule. While it did fit nicely around my classes, I had some vivid nightmares about this job. The most common nightmare I had involved me getting yelled at by students who were angry when they were dropped from classes due to not paying their tuition. I would actually wake up from these dreams frustrated and screaming. The second most common nightmare I had was about counting tuition money incorrectly and being held responsible to pay the school back for it.
 
2. Cashier at CVS: Now, I love CVS for providing me with ExtraBucks and drugs, but working there was awful. This was while I was in college for the first time, so you can assume that most of the time that I  was working there, I had absolutely no idea what was going on around me. My first day, my register total was under by more than $100. I attribute this to me not grasping the exact meaning of numbers. Instead of firing me on the spot, they let me work at the pharmacy. For some reason, I thought only pharmacists could work the pharmacy, and not barely-functioning hungover college students. I don’t remember much about this, but it lasted not so long, as they eventually did fire me.
 
3. Managing Editor at the Journal of International Something and Something: This was my worst job of all time. In my opinion, being an editor is all about sitting quietly by yourself and writing on pieces of paper with a red pen. Or at least, that’s how it should be. This was a monthly, widely-read journal that had a total of one person on the editorial staff. I was responsibly for everything involved in the printing of the magazine. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Once I was asked to go to a medical conference, which is in itself not unusual, but I was required to transport all the materials to the convention, set up the actual booth, and stand there and sell subscriptions. At other medical journals I’ve worked at, all I had to do at conventions was go to cocktail parties and make small talk with the doctors. And I am so much better at that than any sort of manual labor and construction. Our booth looked like a life-sized version of one of those dioramas made with Popsicle sticks that kids make in elementary school. And I had to sit there for two full days selling journal subscriptions. But I do not like to directly confront people, so I think I only sold three the entire weekend. And the cost of the space rental for the booth was $6,000. The last straw for me was that the job did not offer any medical insurance, and during said conference I was suffering with a tooth that needed a root canal I could not afford. If you can’t tell, I am still very bitter about this job, which only lasted three months but felt like three decades.
 
Currently, I have a job that would not make my best or worst list. But I am a freelancer, so I don’t have to attend meetings or have anything to do with day-to-day office nonsense. I just sit quietly at my cubicle and write in red ink on a piece of paper, the way the Powers That Be intended for an editor to do. And it also allows me to use the office computer for doing things like writing blog entries (although my actual blog site is blocked!), and write and edit my own books while I have downtime. And believe it or not, after years of trying, I managed to get a job at yet another place that gives out free Diet Coke! 
 
Mentally, I am now going through a shift between what I think of as my job and what I think of as my career. My job is medical editing. It’s tedious and not fun but it pays relatively well since no one in their right mind likes doing it. My career, on the other hand, is being a writer. It’s what I put the majority of my energies into. It’s what wakes me up in the middle of the night when I suddenly realize the perfect ending to a chapter. It’s what makes me frantically type with two fingers onto my iphone when I’m on the subway. So I may have realized this late in the game, but my job is just something I do for money, while my career is what really makes me feel fulfilled and self-actualized. And at least I realized that before I tried to make a career out of playing minesweeper and drinking Diet Coke.

getting paid to drink diet coke is actually the best job

Today, I find myself having several different jobs at once. In order of preferance, they are: mother, writer, editor, and medical editor. But I have had many, many jobs in my life, some of them worlds better than others.
 
Here are the top three favorite jobs I have had:
 
1. Something-or-other for a Security Company: Originally when they hired me, I thought I was to be answering the phone. But the few times I did answer it, my boss picked up and said, “Don’t answer the phone!” My first day at work, I got there before my boss and sat for about an hour doing nothing. Then, I got bored and started reading a book. At that point my boss came in and said, “What are you doing?” I was nervous because I had obviously missed the part where I was told what I was supposed to be doing as far as work. Then, my boss followed up with, “Turn on the light when you’re reading or you’ll hurt your eyes.” Then next time he spoke to me was when he asked me to order him lunch, which I ended up ordering and picking up for him every day. Sometimes, I made coffee. Sometimes, I even made Irish coffee. But that was all I did. Eventually, they got me a computer and I naturally thought I was to do some sort of work on that. But instead I played minesweeper for hours (there was no internet). The job unfortunately ended when his daughter came back from maternity leave.
 
2. Flea Market Helper: When I was very young, like under ten years old, my parents sold various items (mostly new hand tools like hammers and screwdrivers, if I remember correctly) at flea markets. We went all over the five boroughs of New York City, as well as Long Island and the Hudson Valley. I liked the car trips and the eating of junk food at the flea markets. But most of all, I liked it that people handed us their money, and all we had to do was sit there in order to get it. I am only now realizing this was very much like my job at the security company.
 
3. SomethingSomething Continuing Medical Education Company: This place knew they needed an Editorial Assistant, but they didn’t know the function of one. So I sat at my cubical all day for weeks and months on end and did nothing. This was after my deadbeat college period, so I genuinely tried to be helpful; I offered to edit things on a regular basis, but always got a cheery “No thanks!” from my boss. The company had a free soda machine, so you could drink ten Diet Cokes a day if you wanted to (not that I did that). They also had bagels one day a week, and parfaits one day a week. There were even free feminine hygiene products in the bathroom. At company meetings, we were given gifts of stuffed animals and Starbucks gift cards. Once a month, there was massage day, and we always had parties for every holiday. There was even a festival for Arbor Day. And almost once a week, there was an email from the president saying, “Be the first to respond to this and win a prize!” It was a very good year for me, but eventually they ran out of money and let us all go. 
 
This is getting much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll post again tomorrow about the three worst jobs I ever had. In direct contrast to the above-mentioned three jobs, all of these involved doing actual work!

I am a secret or perhaps not-so-secret nerd

In high school and college, I was not so nerdy. I went to one of those high schools that aren’t private, but you did have to test into them and most kids were in a particular kind of program. Specifically, I was in a writing program. But there were also science programs and an agriculture program. Yes, I went to high school in New York City, and I don’t suppose there are very many other high schools in the five boroughs that have a chapter of the Future Farmers of America. I also can’t imagine how many people who graduated that school actually became some sort of farmer. But I digress.

In college, I had a good time–possibly too good a time. But after three different colleges and more than that many drop-outs on my part, I finally graduated with a Bachelor degree in Literature and Communications. And all through my high school and college years, I had never once played a role-playing game (hencefoth, RPG) or read a comic book. Looking back, other than reading the very occasional science fiction or fantasy novel required for class, I’m not even sure if I participated in any activities that were particularly nerdy.

What changed everything? Both strangely and sadly enough, it was the death of my mother, which happened almost ten years ago. My mom and I were really close, and I became very depressed after her somewhat sudden death. However, at the same time I had to deal with my father’s depression and other ensuing family issues. It was all terribly overwhelming.

A good friend of mine suggested I needed something to take my mind of off the situation. What did she suggest? Not drugs, booze, knitting, or whathaveyou, but watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While I had heard of the show before, I thought only mildly insane people watched it. But my friend lent me all of seasons one through five (season six was airing at the time), and I got through them fairly quickly, watching a few episodes a night.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer quickly became my gateway drug to nerdiness. I loved the show so much, that my friend then suggested we play the Buffy Role-Playing Game. Now, when my friend had mentioned RPGs in the past, I had thought they were just for losers who never got invited to the good parties. Nevertheless, I agreed to play. Since it was my first time, my friends and I all took the parts of characters from the show. I remember I played Anya, and had fun using her quotes from the show and imitating her mannerisms.

When that game was done, my friend suggested we start a regular Buffy RPG twice a month, making our own unique characters. I was a little nervous, since prior to that day I’m not even sure I had rolled a single die before. But it seemed like something I could devote a lot of time and energy to and take my mind off my personal problems, so I agreed. I think we played for three sessions before I started gushing about how awesome gaming was, and my friend said, “If you think I’m good at running a game, you should meet the guy who runs my Mage game.”

That guy, as it turned out, became my husband a very short time later, and in addition to being the love of my life, he was the person responsible of introducing me to more nerdlier pursuits than I can name. Here is a short list of nerdy things: video games, tabletop RPGs, live-action RPGs, board games, card games, nerd-themed conventions, and of course, fantasy novels.

After having wanted to write a book since I was about five years old and reading a smattering of vampire-related fiction, the only natural course of action for me was to write my very own series of vampire novels. And since I’ve started to play RPGs, I will occasionally think, “This book reads like an amazing RPG that I would love to play in!”

So when a friend of mine said that very thing about my book, I was immensely pleased and flattered. And I no longer think nerds are people who don’t get invited to the cool parties.