Back in the middle of August, I signed up with the in-house temp pool of -- well, in the interests of not getting dooced, let's just say a certain major University whose administrative offices are in downtown Oakland. Right away, they offered me an assignment as the assistant to one of the moderately high-up execs, whose previous assistant had moved on to a position with a different department, and who was beginning to get mildly desperate about finding a replacement.
Within about a week I was beginning to feel like a cat that had fallen into a tub of cream. My boss is smart, funny, and good at her job; the general atmosphere of the department is friendly and cooperative; the people I work with every day are interesting, competent, and from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences; and they think I'm doing a kick-ass job and the assignments they give me keep getting more complex and more interesting.
Of course, even though things were going great, I found myself in a state of introvert overwhelm. Too many people, too close, too much of the time! Ack! That's why I've been pretty much off the computer, aside from work, since I started the job -- by the end of a day, once spiritualmonkey picked me up & we got home, curling up with a book or watching a DVD was about all I could handle. Now that I've been in the job for a couple of months, that feeling is easing up a lot.
The position that I was filling as a temp had been posted on the jobs website, so I naturally submitted my resume. A month after I started working for her, which was the day after the job posting officially closed, my boss came into my cube and said, "We want to hire you. You're doing a great job, I've got my heart set on hiring you, and I just need to give HR reasons why none of the other applicants would fit the job as well as you do." Big ol' ego strokes. Nice.
Luckily, finding things that differentiated me from the other applicants wasn't tough. For one thing, only two of the others had bachelor's degrees, and of them, one had a BA in Spanish, the other had one in environmental studies. "Not that the environment isn't important," my manager said, "and of course it's useful to speak Spanish, but really, a public policy major like yours is so much more practical for what we do." HR concurred, and they hired me as a regular employee.
Hot damn -- benefits! Dental coverage, health insurance, paid holidays, vacation, and sick time, retirement plans... Whee!
Of course, since the University is a non-profit, and since for the past 20 years the state has been steadily decreasing the funding it provides, the salary isn't great. Definitely below market rate, although the benefits help make up for that a bit.
The biggest benefit for me, though, is the working environment. The job I had before this one was at another non-profit, working in their health services research section. If you've never worked in a grant-funded environment, I can't recommend it. There's a fundamental low-level sense of insecurity and fear pervading everything. No matter how well things may be going at the moment, if you don't keep hustling your ass off, in six months you'll be out of funds and out of a job.
Plus there's a lot of territoriality. If Researcher A has staked out a particular area of study, nobody else had better encroach on that -- even if Researcher B wants to study something that's related but which Researcher A doesn't choose to study.
And, of course, discovering that one of my co-workers was a back-stabbing mistress of office politics sucked big-time.
Anyway, the new place is very different. People actually enjoy each other's company. When it's somebody's birthday, out come the decorations and cake and ice cream and silly cards and people spend time standing around eating and talking and laughing.
There was very little time
Day to day, the job is interesting enough and challenging enough to keep me engaged. The people are fun and easy to get along with, as well as being good at their jobs and at working together towards common goals. As yet, no signs of office politicking spotted, but I'm most definitely keeping my eyes open.
For now, though, I love it. They think I'm doing great and keep telling me so. They're taking advantages of the Lexica aspects of my nature, giving me things to proofread and edit. I've made suggestions for a couple of changes I think we need to make to how we do things, and gotten the response "go for it - let us know what you need us to do to support you." My manager has said things like, "so you might need to fly down to LA for a day to get that done."
I've even got business cards. I've never had business cards before, but now I do. With the University logo on them and everything. Cool!
And things are going well at home, too. spiritualmonkey and I have been working out regularly, and seem to be past those horrible first 10 or 12 workouts and into the realm where working out actually feels good. That exercise stuff's addictive, y'know? The day after I work out, I've got an extra spring in my step. The day after that, I've got the craving on and off all day. And the day after that, I start to get cranky and it all goes downhill.
Seriously, I'm feeling stronger and healthier than I have in ages -- certainly since I spent September and October of 2004 immobilized on the sofa by a crippling case of sciatica. The workout we're doing was developed by a woman with severe back problems, and does wonders for strengthening the back and protecting it from further damage. Since I want never to go through that kind of pain again, I'm willing to put up with the lesser pain of my muscles shrieking at me in lactic-acid-induced agony a couple of times a week.
It really feels like things are on an upswing for the first time in years. We're doing what we can to ward off my depression -- getting up every morning and meditating, spending time with low-key friends, cooking real meals from fresh ingredients, working on keeping the apartment clean, weekly therapy even when I hate it. Success level is... intermittent. The black dog gets out of its cage more often than I'd like, but we keep shoving it back inside and poking it with sticks.
Still, things look brighter now than they have in years. I think I'll go spend some time decluttering the kitchen now - tossing out all the crufty old stuff that's been lingering there, collecting dirt and taking up space, blocking off the possibility of anything more useful going there...
And the fact that a clean kitchen means spiritualmonkey can mix us a drink now and I can bake croissants later, well, that's just a coincidence. :-D