Monday, November 9

Two paces off the starting block

Oct. 4, 2009

I’m telling myself the following: My current job is fine. It’s an excellent starter job in that there is little pressure, low to no standards, it’s not too far from home, etc. The actual look of the publications themselves is unimportant because right now it’s about getting my foot in that door and gaining experience at working with different styles.

When I go to look for my next job, I will choose newspapers that have designs I love because, as it turns out, that shit is important.

I got the feeling by the end of my first week that this job will give me the experience of how to create a carefully crafted turd. For instance, I finished my pages early one night — well, most every night that first week — so I was told to sit with my co-worker Lily* for a little bit. She printed a page and told me to look it over for errors. I’m still getting used to the design styles so I wasn’t much help there. Instead, I looked at AP style, spelling and grammar errors. I found one.
“Isn’t ‘Street’ supposed to be ‘St.’ because it’s with a specific address?”
"Ha ha! Look, guys! She’s actually copy editing!”
I’m not sure how long I’ll last. I know one year is my personal minimum. (May I mention for the hundredth time that moving is a bitch?) It would be ideal to stretch that to two years so I don’t look like a flighty fuck on my resume but …

The tradeoff for slowly killing pieces of my soul is that I get compliments from my chick supervisor, Agatha*: “You’re kicking ass! Here!! Two more pages!!!”

* * *

I spent my day going through the health insurance plans and 401(k) details. In one of the packets there was a list of all the newspapers this media group owns. I don’t think they meant for it to be a shopping list of potential employers but that’s how I interpreted it. I think I even applied to one of them, the one in Michigan.

I know three things about the boy who starts tomorrow: He graduated from a school in Michigan, his name is Martin* and he’s “nerdy-looking.”

I’ve now put together a fantasy future in which he is my married mate Martin from Michigan.

Martin and I hit it off because we’re new, and we don’t know anyone in this area because we were desperate for jobs. (My co-workers gave me blank WTF faces when I said I have no connections to the area, which means they probably don’t know how narrow the market is and how blood-thirsty college grads are getting.) Martin and I designed better pages for our respective college publications, we’re nerdy and horny (I could be projecting here) so we get closer while talking about these things. Fifty-odd weeks later, I pack up my stuff and the kids (Scurry* and Einstein,* cat and dog, respectively) and move north where he’ll follow when he has finished his 52-week stint. We’ll move into our first home together. It’s tiny but we’re in love. We’re happier now because he’s closer to home (he’s a family man, bless him) and I’ve finally landed back in Michigan, a land with a lake, pebbly shores and virgin forests. We’re transferred to the other company-owned newspaper here and we’re a wonder duo. Unstoppable. And so we remain until I grow sick of him, pack up my stuff and the kids (Scurry* and Einstein*) and head farther north because I’m a glutton for the cold — I’m more comfortable when the outside temperature matches that of my heart.

Now it’ll be even more interesting to meet him tomorrow.

*=Not their real names. I’ll get to that.

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