New Jobs

I gave three weeks’ notice to my company last Friday. The people here are nice but I’ve known from the start that this was not the job for me, and I didn’t want to let myself get sucked in by complacency and routine.

I’ve been receiving some passive income from various ventures I’ve been playing with on the side, and I’d like to give myself some time to help those opportunities grow.

Additionally, I want to spend more time on my writing, which includes the new personal development website I announced last week. I’ve been working on getting that going, and I hope to go live in late July now.

Thankfully I am not leaving all guaranteed income behind: I have begun training as a tutor for PrepMatters in Bethesda, MD, which I will also be working for part-time.

That’s right, I’m trading one full-time job for three(ish?) part-time jobs of varying income potential. And I’m excited about it.

Stay-At-Home Moms (and Dads!)

I’m not trying to open a can of worms here. Just providing an observation developed from my past year of employment.

Last fall, I walked dogs and nannied two teenage girls from an affluent D.C. neighborhood while I finished my M.S.

It was frustrating as hell on a regular basis, because I was dealing with multiple living creatures with various needs and emotions of their own. I came home from one job or the other crying from time to time, frustrated that “they” (dogs or girls) wouldn’t listen to me/had a bad day/etc. I was emotionally invested in all of their lives, whether I liked it or not.

Once I finished my M.S. I started my cubicle job. I’m not emotionally invested in it at all, and the living creatures I interact with are generally people that won’t send me materials I need on time. At the beginning of my time here, I would occasionally go home and cry. Not because I was upset that someone had a bad day or was being difficult, but because I did not feel like I was directly contributing to society.

You think I’m off-topic already, but I’m definitely not.

Without any children of my own, I already understand why stay-at-home parents (SAHPs) say their job is difficult but fulfilling. The difference between my current job and my odd jobs from last fall are night and day. I was constantly problem-solving while with the dogs and girls, looking for dangers and coming up with fun places for us to go or things to do. I had to help with homework or clean up after sick dogs. I took one of the girls to the doctor (with her parents’ permission) when I became concerned about a sports injury healing too slowly. I left notes about the dogs’ demeanors and bowel movements if something seemed off, and told their “parents” about fun times we had chasing leaves and squirrels.

I regularly came home exhausted, mind reeling…but feeling like I had directly impacted people’s lives that day.

For some people, my current job would be difficult. Honestly, I expected it to be difficult, especially coming off “no-skill” jobs like dog walking and nannying. But most of what I do is repetition, and it is neither challenging nor fulfilling. I’m at the end of a long corporate chain of work, essentially copyediting products and looking for nitpicky details no one actually cares about (except me, I love being nitpicky on grammar and punctuation).

The consequences of doing my job poorly in the corporate world are misplaced commas or improperly indented headers. The consequences of doing my job poorly as a dog walker and nanny were lost dogs and upset children. The consequences of doing my job poorly as a grad student were serious research setbacks that, if somehow not caught by peer review, would proliferate out into the community.

I think my job as a dog walker and nanny was both more difficult and more fulfilling than my corporate job. I know that being a SAHP is probably not the most difficult job in the world (I’d imagine being a Navy Seal is pretty rough), but I do think it deserves more respect than most people in the “working world” give the position.

Neanderthals

Last night, Matt and I watched a NOVA episode about Neanderthals. We had previously watched a documentary on Netflix tracing human evolution that discussed the relationship between Neanderthals and homo sapiens, so we thought we were pretty up-to-date. For those of you unaware, Neanderthals are thought to have evolved separately from the homo sapien line; eventually the Neanderthals died out, leaving humans behind.

As far as I knew previously, it was assumed that humans had wiped out Neanderthals through war with our more-developed brains. It also helped that we outnumbered the Neanderthals ten to one at some point. What we learned last night is that the most recent hypothesis for Neanderthal extinction is interbreeding. Geneticists have found that our DNA is close enough to that of Neanderthals to have mated and produced fertile children. This was previously considered highly unlikely, given that other interspecies offspring (e.g. mules) are often infertile.

Not only did we breed out Neanderthals, we actually still have some Neanderthal DNA mixed in with our human DNA. Certain races/heritages (i.e. South American and Asian) were more likely to have  components of Neanderthal DNA given the locations in which our caveman ancestors lived so many years ago.

EvolutionOfMan

I’m sure many of you have seen some version of the “Evolution of Man” comic, showing us crawling up out of the primordial ooze to become upright hunter/gatherers…and ending with a picture of a man hunched over in his cubicle in front of a computer.

What happened?

I’m not here to hypothesize on the whys of where we are today, but the show last night got me thinking about the consequences of this progression. We did not evolve to sit in front of a computer all day, eyes fixated to an endless stream of information that we can access almost anywhere. The show last night said that our caveman ancestors were able to bench press 300 – 500 pounds! For comparison, today’s man, on average, can bench press slightly less than his own weight if not training, while a man regularly lifting weights can bench press almost his own weight.

These realizations have led to increased interest by many in a Paleo diet and lifestyle, which includes CrossFit, a form of exercise based around tasks that early humans would have been able to do. Meanwhile, I’m sitting at my cubicle with a heat wrap on my back from typing all day while sipping on an overpriced coffee drink pumped full of sugar to get me through the afternoon.

Imagine telling our ancestors–even 200 years ago–that we would live such sedentary lifestyles, on average, in developed countries that we now have to make time out of our day to go to a room and move around for awhile. We call this room a gym. Also, because we have so much food available to us, we actually have to restrict ourselves from eating because it’s making us even more out of shape. Oh, but just because we’re eating a lot does not mean we are well nourished. In fact, many people in developed countries are now  fat and malnourished due to a diet of convenience foods. All of these things add up to a depressed population, with one in ten adults in the United States suffering.

But that’s ok, because we now have pills to fix all these things. Or cover the symptoms. Same difference, right?

The Cubicle Life

Hello loyal readers. I have not posted in weeks because I have been settling into my new job as a cubicle jockey. I’m now working as a Technical Writer/Documentation Specialist for Dovel Technologies, Inc. in McLean, Virginia. That’s right, someone was finally willing to take a risk on me, and I got my first post-education job, which I’m told is the hard part. Although, my title is somewhat deceiving, as I actually do very little writing in this position.

I’m still adjusting to corporate culture in the private sector, as it is much less relaxed than the academic world I came from. Right now I’m wearing a dress, blazer, and pantyhose (I hate the word “panty”) with an identification badge hanging from my neck. The break room has horrible coffee and Dilbert comic strips taped to the cabinets. Most of my job involves taking meeting minutes, meaning I’m involved with various meetings that don’t even affect me throughout the week. Out of the 24 meetings (currently) scheduled on my project this week, I will be attending 14. I know lots of you probably have similar schedules, but I am the one responsible for recording everything.

Most of my office mates seem to either skip lunch or go out to eat. Many of them have commented on the fact that I bring my own food to work. I also bring my own lattes out of necessity (I literally spit out the break room coffee after I took a sip). I’m usually one of the first people in the office every day, arriving between 7:30 and 8 a.m.; that means I also leave by 3:30 or 4 p.m. every day. For both the morning and evening commute, I narrowly avoid the worst of rush hour on the D.C. Beltway.

My back hurts from sitting in a chair that was not designed with humans in mind. In fact I’m not sure for whom this chair was designed, but the answer is certainly not short people. I have gone from using Outlook and Internet Explorer on a “never” basis to a daily basis. Most of the emails I receive are not relevant to me at all; I also make sure to send emails to people when the topic is not relevant to them, just to keep things fair. I assume that’s how I end up on these email threads in the first place.

There, now that I have gotten the “my new job” post out of the way, I can go back to posting fun stuff again. Thanks for sticking around!