My First 11 Jobs

Last night I was cruising around on Twitter and came across the hashtag #myfirstsevenjobs. It was really interesting to see how people’s careers progressed (or not) over each job transition.

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Working the Tramway with Amy

Anyhoo, I thought it might be fun to consider in my depth than a tweet my first MANY jobs. Seven won’t cut it for me, and I’m in the mood to paint a path from beginning to present day me.

1. BABY SITTER

Since it seems more a right-of-passage than job, I’m not sure whether to count this. But babysitting IS work – particularly when you are babysitting three brothers who love to get into fights, go on the roof, and do the opposite of what their parents put down as rules … not to forget force you to play non-stop driveway hockey. Ah, but I enjoyed it. Five bucks an hour back then, and I felt I was asking too much.

I’ve actually known people who have paid the bills with babysitting. Man that is smart. I’d never considered it back when Z and I were flat broke.

2. SUBWAY SANDWICH ARTIST

Ah, my first ‘real job’ on the books with tax deductions.  I walked into the restaurant and answered this question correctly: The lunch rush just finished. The tables are messy, the tomatoes need to be cut and a customer just walked in the door. What do you do first?

Serve the customer? Then fix the floor? Then cut tomatoes? CORRECT!

I got the job. It paid for my week-long grad trip to Mexico. A summer well spent during a time when I really was in a bubble about the value of a buck.

2. OLD NAVY

Never-ending-folding-opportunity!! I walked into a group interview for this simply because some friends of mine and I were wandering around the mall and there was a sign. I was wearing this ridiculous pink tank top and my hair was sloppily piled on top off my head in a bun. Apparently this made me hip enough to land the job. They played non-stop 80s pop music and the floor was concrete … i.e., it was literally painful to work there.

4. CONCESSION STAND

Truly my worst job. In writing this, I realize I am lucky this was the worst job I ever worked. Really it was just gross – limp lettuce, drug deals in the walk-in-freezer, concession stand food, and a bunch of flirting-with-each-other fifteen year old kids working their first jobs. Did one season to save money and then ditched it.

5. TRAMWAY

Oh man, the job wasn’t great but the summer was AMAZING. Since I was a kid I had wanted to work a summer in Jasper National Park. So during my first summer of university, I got myself a job at the Jasper Tramway working in their retail shop on top of the mountain. We’d do 12 hour shifts, but we ALSO all lived together in a big house, and rode bikes up mountains, and ate ice cream in the park and went dancing all night long. It was incredible. Everyone should work a shitty job in a beautiful national park at least once.

6. BOOK SELLER AT CHAPTERS

I have very mixed feelings about this time in my life, but my most vivid memories from then do come from this store. Here I met a boyfriend, and also my best friend Catherine – she worked in the kids department and it took about 6 months before we ever really spoke to one another, because we were shy. Twelve odd years later and she’s still a rock in my life. This job also helped pay for the back and forth trips to Hungary during my time courting Zsolt.

I just have a bit of a pinch with it, however. When I finally left for good, after three years of working there and showing up keen for each shift, the management were a bunch of assholes minus one fellow. Not a card wishing me luck (I was moving to England to be with Zsolt), barely a thanks, and the head manager (who so clearly hated his job) didn’t even want to let me use my discount one last time on buying books. I know that sounds petty, but in retail that’s like saying ‘go frack yourself’.

However, it did connect me to good people, and was a place about which I cared.

7. PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPER INTERNAL DEBT COLLECTOR

How the HECK I ended up doing this, I don’t know. In England you go to a job agency, and they place you in a position. Somehow I ended up here and accepted it because, you know, money. It was my first financial office experience. It was my last financial office experience. I worked about 9 months here, observed the bitterness of both management and long-term employees, saved cash for my MA in Creative Writing, and then took off on a trip to Iceland, never to return there again. I also met some great people, all recent university grads like myself.

8. ASSISTANCE SERVICES UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON

This was a FUN job. I got to go to other students’ lectures and take notes for them. Sometimes I’d go hang out with them on job placements. Other times I would just take them around campus so they were familiar with the space. It was all about helping these young people feel capable in their studies.

10. LIBRARY ASSISTANT & DIGITIZATION

Again with the University, but at a tiny library in the Humanities campus that looked out onto a courtyard. *happy sigh*

If we had stayed in England, I most certainly would have remained here for ages. Not only was it a lovely place in general, but the people – oh my goodness, such good people. This was the first job where I really felt valued as an employee, and in turn it made me value the job so much more. I wasn’t some expendable part-time employee . . . I mattered to them. It’s also where I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my manager truly helped me navigate that nightmare.

10 – ish. MORE LIBRARY

I truly love libraries, and this was no exception, but WOW… working for the city is a ridiculous jungle of protocol, ridged rules, and hierarchy. However, I did work at a very special branch in our city.

11. FREELANCE WRITER & SOCIAL MEDIA’ER’

Ohhh yeah. I don’t know how this happened, except that I had a MA in creative writing, moved back to Canada, did some blogging for local sites, and then one day went to a networking meeting where I randomly told people I was a writer. From here Camille Boivin came into my life. She hired me as a blogger, and it was a great relationship. I had two main clients in my work, and they helped Zsolt and I float along just enough to get out of my parent’s house and into the apartment in Vanier. It was lean times, but times where I was really building what I wanted to do with myself.

12. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

A series of fortunate events, and projects, and job board emails, led me here. I am happy and grateful. So grateful. My project for the organization is the book club. It basically wraps much of what I have loved into a big ball, and then lets me play with it. I am inspired daily by the people with whom I work and am in awe they have welcomed me into their circle.

AND THAT IS IT.

?: What were your first seven, or eleven jobs? Share in the comments or write your own post and link back here🙂

My takeaways from all this:

1) You gotta carve your own path, and it probably won’t be a straight or expected one. If it were not for my taking on independent projects like blogging for Apartment 613, writing my novel, or creating Write Along Radio with my co-host, or randomly telling strangers I’m a writer, I would never have had the better doors opening for me. Also, I did an MA in creative writing . . . which people may tell you leads nowhere – except for me, it lead everywhere I pushed it to go.

2) Being valued is important. Once I stopped accepting shitty management, or devaluation on my services, or being treated as expendable, I found positions where my work was honoured. I want to work with people who care, and so that is where I end up. Put it out there and, if you can, don’t accept less.

3) A monkey wrench does not need to stop you. During all these years I felt, at different times, totally aimless in life, totally broke and worried about payments (plotting out our groceries dollar by dollar then feeling sick when we went over our small budget), totally sick with chemo, and totally worried about dying any second. But I’m still doing what I love to do, because I am far more than my fears AND (point 2) work with incredible people who help me keep going.

Okay, I can’t believe I have written so much in this post. Blame it on the lack of children in my life. If I had had a kid, then I would just bore THEM with all this recollection and take-away insight . . . heck, if I had had a dog I’d aim it their way too. But it’s just me and you, honey, blogging around together.

And so I will now stop writing.

The end.

Just a little nothing

My honey has a new job! YES – congratulations, Zsolt! You do good work, and this is a good thing! The job is kind of an extension of his previous work – only now he gets to work with a great team and learn even more. I’m super proud of him🙂

And with this new job, he received an iPad, which is fancy. And with that iPad, we found a doodle app.

And with that doodle app, I was doodling🙂

This, along with a nice few days spent in Montreal, was a lovely distraction for tomorrow head MRI.

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Chemo Eve Eve

My friends do this thing each year called Christmas Eve Eve – when everyone gathers at a bar/pub to have some drinks and just pause for a good time. It’s nice and I’ve loved going.

Well, tonight is my ‘chemo eve eve’. It’s far less jolly and eventful than Christmas celebrations – however, I did paint my nails this evening, which was an adventure. With my eyes being so messed up, trying to focus upon the thickness of the polish upon my nails was rather different. Things a few feet away aren’t so hard, but those very close up details do challenge me. The entire time I was working that paint brush with my cutiicles, I was narrating to Zsolt: “Can’t clearly see what I’m doing, but it’s going on. Oh! All over the finger. Okay, now for the other hand!”

It may have helped if it the room hadn’t been so dim. My Dad always says “don’t curse the darkness, turn on a light.” But as I was only cursing the nail polish, I forgot all about the lights.

But hey, this was the best part of my evening, and I was revelling in the ridiculousness. My nails are now a very dark blue/green, and they look like someone painted them with a translucent blindfold on. Which is somewhat true, at least in the case of my left eye.

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new hair cut, pre-nail-painting

So chemo starts very soon. Chemo and the magic key to remission: HER2+ targeted drugs. I am both dreading the chemo side effects, and looking forward to getting the cancer under control. It has truly had its way with me these past few months. Unfortunately I now have spots alongside both eyes, and – ugh – in that layer between the skull and the brain. So pretty much skirting the brain, though perhaps technically in the brain. But at least it’s not in the essential tissue … and I would like to avoid any ‘yet’ with that statement, and just say we’ll radiate the heck out of them and blast them away. Or so I pray. Brain is bad bad bad news.

But eye on the prize – we’ll do chemo, and then at the same time, radiation. I don’t know if it will be a targeted radiation treatment or full brain. The lovely doctor I spoke with today said he needs to consult with a few other doctors first. Either way, it will make painting my nails in dim lighting with one wonky eye look like a total cakewalk. (Karen, next time I’ll give you a call!)

Here is a nice story, and it’s also why I think I will do much better this time around than 5 years ago when first diagnosis. Everyone I love is here. My husband is beside me, and my family are here for me, and my friends are never too far away either, even when I’m too tired to do anything but think of them.🙂 Just this past weekend, my mom broke out the flip chart board, and my entire family brainstormed ways to help support me in beating back the cancer – getting to that golden word ‘remission’ (officially my new favourite word. I like it even more than ‘butter’ and ‘delicious’). This family gathering was the most touching thing you could see. And then, after all that brainstorming, we made a picture board together.🙂

Mission remission. Get this damn cancer under control! I’m going big, because there’s no choice for going home – except if you are speaking literally, but let’s not muddy that up. I want the cancer gone. gone, gone, gone. May this Chemo eve eve mark the moment when everything starts going right. It needn’t be a shitty day – but instead a day that tips the scales, and gives my body the chance needed to regain control. Let’s pray on that, if you dig prayer. Otherwise maybe you can just nod your head and think: go for it.

Cheers to getting better. And to family. And to dark nail polish. And – oh! To a cute new pixie cut. It may only last a week, but at least that’s one week when I can rock this new look. (I may look a bit grumpy in this picture, but really I’m just exhausted. Cancer is exhausting.)

And now, it’s time for bed.

😛