Thursday, March 29, 2007

Work Whine

Getting used to a new job can be a very difficult thing. Not only is there all the hoopla of learning new programs, and new ins & outs, then there's all the thousands of questions you have on what wasn't covered, and all the questions YOU get asked, to which you can only answer

"I dunno".

It's difficult getting used to this new job, and that is for sure. Any new job is difficult, but this one… how do learn when there's really no one to learn from? How do you bond with your department, when you're over a dozen years younger than anyone else? How do you get to learn, when the rest of the team has a closed-door meeting, and you're outside the door.

Since joining MD, these are the things I'm experiencing. Yes, the people I'm working with are nice. But am I learning anything from them? Am I getting exposure to the world of marketing/communications, to even the world of MD?

No. I still feel like a temp, because I'm still on the outside. I don't know about so many things, and half the time, when I am asked to do something, it's fully administrative. Why WOULD I know where a file someone else worked on, years ago, is? Ask me, however, how to plan an event, and I'm going to be getting right on that, and enjoying it.

Instead, I feel like I'm shuffling my feet, that I really haven't taken any step forward, although I know I have. Having a full-time, permanent job, is a good thing. It will mean I can finally start moving up the ladder, once I've put in the appropriate time. The problem is, putting in that time is going to probably drive me nuts. I'm getting stimulation, yes, and sometimes I really adore my job. But am I learning? Am I making the experience what it needs to be? No, and that's because of the changes in the department itself, because of how I'm seen here.

I've already learnt that this department has massive turn-over, and no-where so much as with the Marketing Assistant. Quite frankly, I don't think they expect me to be here more than 6 months, because I've got a sneaking supscion that most MA's here don't last much longer than that. But I need to be here a year to learn all that's necessary to move up the ladder with the next positon - and, moreover, to look impressive on the resume.

Temp jobs, or contracts, or even other jobs that only last a few months, don't look impressive.

That's why it's so important for this job to work, but I'm afraid it won't. I'm afraid I won't get to do what I want to, despite how much I ask to be given the things that I'm good at, that showcase my skills.

I'm also afraid of the impending regime change. At this job, both C. and S. are on contract - they’ve both worked for MD before, but probably won't choose to stick around again once the desperate need for them starts to wane. P, who is the director/my boss, is actually C's sister. She's taking early retirement in a few months (I'm not sure about this, all I know from eavesdropping is that she's leaving & has handed in her notice, but no one's told me anymore than that). We've also got someone joining us for PR, who's name is apparently Pam - you know, apparently, because no one actually bothered to tell me someone's joining us, again, I managed to overhear.

So, I feel like I'm really out of the loop. And with the best friend's consortium that seems to be the rest of my department, I think I'm going to stay that way. But when the new boss comes…what then? Do I stand a chance of trying to move myself up the ladder, secure more responsibilities? Or do I become disposible because of being (kinda) part of the old regime, of not possibly adapting fast enough to the new boss' way of doing things?

I have no idea, but I'm a bit nerveous. I need to be here a year, just one year. And in that time, I need to grow & learn. Hopefully that will be possible, but I'm nerveous it may not.

And in the meantime, I'll keep working my ass off, and planning for the next job.

The next job, which I'm already determined, is going to be in a PROPER coms department, will NOT involve 'assistant' in my title, and will actually, hopefully, have people closer to my own age in it.

I've just gotta make the best of the year between then and now, before then.

PS: yes, I know I should stick around for far more than a year, but I'm not sure if that's going to be an option, who knows. Maybe the other C won't come back from maternity leave, and I'll be able to get that job. However, I don't think that'll be possible in this regime, only because I probably won't know they've even decided to get a new coordinator until they're advertising!

Also, there doesn't seem to be any real 'junior' position here - only me (which, let's be honest, this is entry level again), and then 5 years or more.

GRR, GRR, GRR. I guess this is what comes of taking jobs out of desperation though :D

Friday, March 2, 2007

You Call THIS Winter*?

Canadians love to talk about the weather. Absolutely adore it. Up here in the frozen north, discoursing about the weather has been referred to as “Canada’s National Sport”**.

Whole conversations revolve around the weather. “Cold enough for ya?” or “It’s cold, eh?” are both frequently used to greet friends, lovers, business acquaintances, and can even serve as an introduction to a stranger on the street. They are the beginning of conversations so vast that they can cover politics, the economy, and the only thing important to Canadians other than the weather – Hockey Night in Canada.

This is especially true of winter – Canadians will silently & heroically solider through the summer, despite monsoon rains, temperatures in the upper 30s, and swarms of mosquitoes so large they frequently devour small pets. But the coming of winter releases the raconteur that dwells in each Canadian heart.

EVERY Canadian has at least one war story about the time they battled Mother Nature/ Jack Frost/ F***ing Winter. Even I have succumbed to the lure of telling about ‘the time I nearly got frostbite on my thighs’ or ‘how I used to walk home from school in -30 celcius weather’ or ‘how I dared to use transit & then actually walk to the university library in -40 weather’. And I am nothing to pure-bred Canadians, who fondly recall snowdrifts higher than their houses, how winter lasted 10 months in their area of the country (versus the average 9 every Canadian will tell you about), how they used to send their young to school in a sleigh harnessed to the dog’s back. They tell stories of menacing polar bears, frozen roads, blizzards that last weeks, and power failures that last for months.

In Canada, you prove your toughness by standing up to the weather, by proudly defying it. For men, this means going out & about in shorts when it’s ‘nippy’, and when it is truly ‘chilly’ (-20 or below), with an un-zipped parka, sans gloves or hat. For women, it means avoiding hats so that your hair still looks good, wearing stiletto boots or high-heels despite the 6 feet of snow piled up at street corners & going shopping at the mall in defiance of the severe- weather warning placed on their city. When inside, this toughness is continued by running around in bare feet at home, refusing to turn up the heat or add extra blankets to the bed, no matter how cold it gets, and, while at work, to go around in short-sleeved shirts while the air-conditioning runs at full-force.

This is, simply, “The Canadian Way”. To defy it or protest against is futile- you will be seen as weak, as unpatriotic, and, if you continue to defy & complain that it really IS COLD, you will be assimilated by force until you too, can proudly stand up and declare:

“You Call this Cold?! You should have been here for Winter ’97, when the mercury froze in the thermometers, they closed all the schools down for a week & the snowdrifts were 12 feet high. Ahh, but you just don’t see winters like that anymore these days.”

*Please note: This is not a work of fiction. With the exception of the polar bears & the mosquitoes devouring small pets, Jo has either experienced all of the above, or knows/ is related to someone who has. At this moment in time, she is sitting on the 9th floor of a building where the air-conditioning is so strong it can be heard, while half the men on the floor are wearing golf shirts and outside, snow swirls around causing white-out conditions for the fifth day in a row. When she gets home, Jeff will have just come in from having a smoke on the balcony in bare feet.

**For more information about Canadian social habits & phenomenons, please check out the amazing Will Ferguson books "Why I hate Canadians" and "How to be a Canadian", which have inspired many of Jo's verbal & written rants about her bizzare fellow Canadians. Jo actually learnt how to act like a Canadian with the help of these important pieces of literature.

The view from my sister's apartment. Vancouver is considered one of Canada's warmest cities.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Eliminating the N-Word

After yesterday's post on Burma, I'm thinking about writing about more serious topics occasionally (Jo's monthly advocacy post?) I doubted I'd be touching on controversial subjects again so soon.

Then I found an article on the BBC website about how New York City is trying to ban the use of the N-word because its historic meaning/context, despite which the word has recently become so prevalent and 'cool' in pop culture (as I'm sure you all know). This prevalence is, according to some, because the meaning has "changed", and the argument, that, through using a negative word in a different connotation, it is reclaimed. It's also suggested in the article that some people theorize that the 'youth generation' doesn't know what the historical meaning/context is.

Personally, I knew what the word meant by age 10 (Mum had to explain after my first exposure to Gone With the Wind, even though just how it was used it the movie was enough for me to realize it was a 'bad word') and I knew just how bad it was that, when it started becoming 'cool', I can remember yelling at a couple of my sister's classmates for using it. I've always felt that there is absolutely no reason why I should be using the N-word - it was never applied to 'my' (please note, I am using 'my' loosely, hence the quote marks) people, and therefore, there's no reclamation involved for me - my use of it, knowing the connotations, would be unacceptable
to me/ of me.

And, as for the youth, if I'm not mistaken, I'm JUST the wrong side of 'youth' now, at age 25.

I'm not qualified to speak on reclaiming a word from its previous meaning, because I can't think of many that apply to me that have been reclaimed (I'd wonder if 'bitch' counts, but any reclamation of that seems to have been at a pretty frivolous level). However, I'm still curious about how this will work, whether or not it's a good idea/enforceable, and many other things. So, while I'm not qualified to discuss it, I'm throwing this open for comment:

Do you think this is possible, and is it a good idea? Can the/has the N-Word be reclaimed? Do you think such an idea would work in your own city? And, for those of you in the NYC area - what's your feelings on this as a 'correspondent in the field'?

I know this is a topic that is flammable, and that it could stir up a lot of things, so I'm laying down some ground rules:

I'm interested to hear other people's opinions, but with one caveat: If the N-word gets printed, or comment is derogatory/ flammable, then the comment gets deleted. If someone gets offended by something that I don't catch before they do - please, PLEASE let me know, and I'll delete it immediately.

The idea of this is to get other people's views on a particular idea (the regulation of words), not to start fights, or heavy-duty discussions of race relations. It's not that I mind having that type of conversation, but someone may get hurt or offended, especially as some might take advantage of the anonymity provided by the internet - and I don't want to see that happen.

For those who'd like to know more about the
article in question, please click on the link, or click on this link to read an opinion piece posted on the topic on BBC.

Thank You!

Before I write anything else, I just want to thank everyone for the really terrific feedback I recieved yesterday.

In the act of writing about somewhere I would like to be able to aid, I managed to do a tiny bit by letting others know about the situation that prevents me from doing all I'd like. Being made aware of what I'd (to some extents, unconciously) done, made me feel really great.

You turned me from a blogger to an unintentional activist.

Thank you all for making me feel like the amount of money I'd like to give to aid & freedom campaigns in Burma- approximately a million bucks.