(no longer) on vacation: some musings on rest and work

Last week, I was on vacation. I did a whole lot of nothing, and it was glorious.

the sweet taste of vacation
the sweet taste of vacation

Matt and I took a day trip down to the Mitsuwa Japanese marketplace in Edgewater NJ, where we got ramen and kitsune soba, passion fruit kit kats, bubble tea, black sesame ice cream (pictured above), sweet ume wine, delicious peppery seasoned seaweed, a couple weeks’ supply of my favorite bottled tea, some Japanese fashion magazines and, naturally, a couple of fine-point pens.

I busted through the fear of writing a crappy ending and started putting the last of my first draft to paper after a couple of weeks on hiatus (not done yet, but coming close).

I spent some quality time with my parents and assorted family, which was long overdue. All our birthdays and celebrations start in the fall and end mostly in the spring, and now that I’m living around 40 minutes away from home, I don’t see my family nearly as much as I’d like to anymore. (I won’t deny a part of me hopes we find and fall in love with a place within 10 minutes of where I grew up!)

Speaking of home, I went on the hunt for a book I’d tried to read 10 years ago. I couldn’t remember the author or title; all I remembered was that it was a small paperback with yellow on the cover, and there was possibly something to do with the moon. I knew, vaguely, where in the library it would sit. The virtue of libraries is that they hardly ever change where they keep everything. I dragged Matt along to the library with me; I don’t think he thought I’d find what I was looking for. I think we were both surprised that I snagged it, without having remembered the name of it, within two sweeps of the long Science Fiction/Fantasy shelf. The book is called Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman. I put it down ten years (or so) ago because the last time I tried to read it, I wasn’t ready for its elusive, quicksilver prose or its vocabulary. Even now it’s a book I have to read carefully or risk missing something; I can’t just skate through this one. It’s delicious for my brain.

Also this week, I was inspired to create an oracular deck – cousin to the tarot but not a tarot in the classical sense. “Major arcana” (21 cards) only, no minors, and different cards: the scarecrow, the rose, the cup, the menhir, the sea, etc. I plotted out all the cards, their meanings and reversals, and drew concept art for one of them. I’m not much of an artist so creating these will probably take me forever, but it’ll be so worth it if I ever finish.

I cleaned out my closet, removing all the stuff that’s either out of season or currently too small for me and putting it away. I hung up my size six skinny jeans on my closet knob so I’ll have to look at them and touch them every day – excellent inspiration to get myself fitting back into them. I wasn’t very good with the eating habits or the exercise on vacation, but I don’t think I was a disaster (except for one dinner) and the one good thing about being back to work is that I’m back to my structured routine, and it’s easier for me to force myself to eat right and exercise when I’m on a schedule.

On a less inspired note, but no less fun, I finally finished Tales of Graces f for the PS3 and moved on to Tales of Xillia. The latter’s player control feels much more like a first-person shooter than the style of the Tales series games I’m used to, but the scenery is outrageously gorgeous and detailed. I kind of almost wish they’d re-do Tales of Symphonia, my ultimate favorite of the Tales games, with the gorgeousness that new technology can bring to bear.

One of the best parts of being on vacation was going to sleep when I was tired and waking up when my body was ready. I dreamed so much, not having to cut my brain cycles short with an alarm, and I rested so well. I fell into bed each night in a cocoon of gentle contentment.

I didn’t realize until last night how unusual that actually is for me. Last night when I went to bed, as soon as I slipped between the sheets, I could feel the adrenaline begin to pump through my system as I realized that my vacation had come to a close, and work was just another sleep away. It felt – and feels every work night – like a constant low-grade thrill of anxiety, plus the headache that comes with jaw clenching (even though I do stay conscious of my jaw and try to keep it relaxed). This is what I fall asleep to Sunday through Thursday: an actual physical adverse reaction to working in the morning.

Most of this aversion stems from my feeling that I’m not in the right place, not doing the right job. In the fall of 2012, when I joined the Marketing team at my old company, it was partially to cover for someone who was on maternity leave, but it morphed into a full-time gig when the manager of the team got the OK to hire a writer. However, because our division was in the process of being sold to another company, even though I was “the writer” on the team, I got to do no writing whatsoever. Our work existence orbited one thing: getting all our materials over to the new company for evaluation. I ended up working only on materials that already existed, and retiring or handing off most of them. The one project I did end up keeping is something I was never supposed to do. It belonged to the woman who’d been out on maternity, who left the company when she found out what the new commute would be. I don’t blame her, with a 5 year old and a newborn at home, but taking on her pet project (the pet being the equivalent of a dark, horrible, life-sucking spider from the deep forests of myth) sucked nonetheless. It follows me around, slaps my face with its demanding schedule, shouts in my ear to RUSH RUSH RUSH because of its stupid relentless timelines, it drags me down, mind and soul: it’s my albatross.

That project is now the bane of my existence. It keeps me from feeling like a real member of the Marketing team at the new company. Added to that is the feeling, now that I’ve been with the new company for a while, that Marketing in general isn’t really a good fit for me. You’d think it would be, right? I’m a writer, I’m good with people, etc. But Marketing, as I see it at this company, is mostly research and statistics. The Marketers come up with a concept, but we have contracted copy writers who actually write our stuff, and a graphics department who designs it, so all I really see Marketing doing is making powerpoint presentations, reviewing graphic proofs, and keeping tabs on how a piece performs so they can tweak it to perform better. It’s hugely important for a company to do these things, don’t get me wrong! But it’s not for me.

Before I left on vacation I told my boss that what I really want to do, what I could really shine at, is working with words: proofreading, editing, possibly some writing too though I’m no trained copywriter and that’s a whole different ballgame from creative fiction and poetry. In addition to the other things we contract out for, we contract out with proofreaders. I’m told that this is because previously, marketers in the company were just looking at each other’s stuff and things were going out with mistakes. Why not, when it’s not your piece, you have your own job to do, etc? But in that arrangement I see a shining light of hope for me: I still see things with errors, even things that have supposedly been proofread by professionals. I told my boss about my passion and its intensity: give me a desk with a pen and a stack of copy to review, and I might just forget to go home, because proofing is fun for me. I could bring my enthusiasm to the job to make our materials look better, have fun doing it, and, bonus, save the company money on whatever their contract fee is with the outside company, since they’re already paying me anyway. Luckily, although my current job isn’t the right fit for me, my current boss is awesome, and is willing to start moving me in that direction.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to abandon my albatross yet, but with the huge efforts to rebrand everything mostly behind us, and only one new product launch coming, the albatross should lighten its wings at least a little, and I’ll have the space to dive in to proofing and editing and show my mettle there. I think once I do, they won’t need to think too hard about what kind of job they really want me doing.

Until then, it’s adrenaline-drip nights and headachey mornings, unfortunately. But here I am, showing up to work anyway. Luckily, at least I get to ease in and work from home today, and it’s a short week. Could be worse.

But I’ll be honest – I’m already looking forward to my next vacation! 😉

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