04 January 2005

Unemployed... in Greenland

I want to take a moment to reflect on where I was at this time last year, and how I am specifically not there right now. Well, sure, I'm still sitting in the same comfy chair staring at the same computer screen. But just for the sake of argument, let's not be quite so literal right now.

Last year at this time, I had just gotten laid off for the winter from a job that I hated, working for someone who was one of the most angry, petty, chemically unbalanced people I have ever had the misfortune of relying on for an income. Once, she called me in for an unscheduled performance review just as I was on my way out the door, all dressed up, for my brother's wedding. She quite unapologetically made me cry, and you can see my puffy red eyes in every photo from the ceremony and reception. Nasty piece of work, that.

So I was less than enthusiastic about going back under her thumb when the shop reopened in the spring, but I put off making it official for a couple of months while I swabbed my wounded ego with my weekly unemployment checks. Then, of course, I got a nicely worded letter from the big bully that my services wouldn't be required in the spring. Fine with me, I said! But of course that put my ego right back down where it had started, requiring a few more weeks of soft, cuddly unemployment checks and more wallowing. A fair bit of tequila was also involved.

Then I got my act together. I took a couple of courses in editing, got some fancy-schmance certificates for my troubles, and hung out my shingle as a freelance editor. I now proofread books, mostly mass-market fiction, for a couple of publishing houses in NYC, and I also do scientific editing for a few corporational types. I've been supporting myself in this manner ever since.

If you've been to this site more than once or twice, you know that I frequently fret about the crippling isolation and utter lack of human contact that are inherent in the freelance lifestyle. NOTE TO UNIVERSE: I AM NOT COMPLAINING. PLEASE DISREGARD.

This time last year, I was feeling sorry for myself, moping around the house, and still ranting about the she-devil I used to work for. Now I am gainfully employed doing something I love, that I can do in my sweatpants, that uses my brain rather than my brawn (I had been working as a cook), that even (gasp!) makes use of my dusty old degree in geology from Mount Holyoke. And as I like to say, I love all my co-workers, and ya can't beat the commute. I don't make as much money as I used to, but I'm more than happy with the trade-off in quality of life.

I've also started seeing a nutritionist, who has informed me that my past eating habits were so wrong for me that I probably had been experiencing things like poor short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and insomnia. I thought she was secretly best friends with my old boss, because, incidentally, those were some things that she used to berate me about. I've changed my habits, and boy was that nutritionist right on the money. So maybe I was just the teensiest bit to blame there, and maybe the Queen of the Damned wasn't entirely filled to the brim with bile and spite. But really, she was. Just look at those damn wedding pictures that will sit on my mother's piano for all eternity.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm where I am now, and not where January found me last year.

Although I do miss those regular checks.

No comments: