Reflections on a New Job

I’m really not sure why you put up with me.

I’m here, I disappear. I post drive-by ramblings about random stuff that I’m not sure anyone cares about and then peel out, tires squealing, as I retreat into hiding once again.

Well, here’s my excuse this time: I got a new job. Where? I’ll give you a hint:

If you guessed The Des Moines Register, congratulations—what tipped you off?

Yep, I’m now a copy editor for the features department. And so far, so good! It’s my first stint at a newspaper, and I’m digging it. The days go pretty quickly since there is always a deadline looming. I’ve even gotten to write a few headlines and captions; impressive, huh? Yeah, I tell my kids, “I wrote that” and they ask excitedly, “You wrote that story?” And that’s when I say, “No, Mommy wrote that headline, see? ‘Dance troupe tours state.’ ” Then they try to feign enthusiasm to make me feel better. Because (sometimes) they’re sweet like that.

Let’s see . . . a couple things to share with you about my new job.

First, a bit of irony. I went to get my photo taken for my ID, and I was so focused on how chunky I looked in the photo that I failed to notice that my name is spelled wrong. If you’re thinking, “But isn’t it your job to find and fix errors?” I answer, “Yes, yes it is.”

Since they added my position and I’m not there full-time, they do not have a permanent desk for me. So instead, they have fixed up a computer for me in the storage closet, which I like to call “my office.” Right now “my office” is littered with photo shoot props that were cleaned out of a different storage closet. I do, however, have my own file cabinet drawer to store my things. Oh, yeah, I’m important like that.

If other people in the department are gone for the day, I get to sit at their desk and use their computer. For the past week, strep throat has made its rounds through the staff, which means that I’ve gotten to sit at the desk of sick people. I didn’t think too much about it until another coworker asked me if I was going to start taking Airborne before coming to work. I have, however, made good use of Lysol disinfectant wipes lately. Really, though, I do appreciate getting to sit with other people (and being near windows). So I kind of feel like I should thank people when they’re sick.

I now work downtown, which at first I thought meant that I was finally cool, but now I realize just means that I have to either pay nearly $10 a day to park or hoof it about 14 blocks. I’ve done both, and the other day I experienced my first ride on the free shuttle bus that goes from one end of downtown to the other and back. Unfortunately, after getting on I realized that I was taking the loooong way to my car. As in—an hour after getting off work, I finally made it there. But I did get a nice tour of the heart of the city. And I got to share my ride with many gentlemen who are living at the downtown YMCA. One of their friends did not make it on the bus because he was either too high or just a little bit crazy. Either way, he was thoroughly confused and agitated, and I was not sad to see the bus driver close the door and pull off without him. Yesterday a very sweet older lady climbed onto the bus (which looks like a trolley, by the way—so cute!) wearing all white. I mean ALL WHITE. Not only a white button-down man’s oxford and white pants, but white socks, white shoes, a white hat, white gloves, and a white mask covering her mouth and nose. Think Michael Jackson in his last few years. My first thought was that she was a painter, but you don’t really paint wearing gloves. She also had a leg brace and a cane, so I determined that she must have some sort of illness or disability (yes, I’m quick), but I couldn’t tell if this included her mental facilities as well. Regardless, she was a sweet lady, just not the type of person I regularly run across in my neighborhood in the burbs.

This week has been full of excitement here because one of our photographers won a Pulitzer Prize for her amazing photo of a dramatic river rescue last year. Then I found out that one of the writers I’ve been working with is also a Pulitzer Prize winner (19 years ago). I am humbled to be around such talent, and I’m hoping that all of the fantastic writers and editors here inspire me to keep working on my writing and improve every day. Yesterday we had a party for Mary Chind, the newly announced Pulitzer winner, and I was very impressed with the graciousness and camaraderie of this entire organization. It is a very friendly and inviting place to work, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.

So this is why I haven’t been posting much, among other reasons that I’ll save for another day. (Here’s a hint: dogs (yes, plural) and worms) Thank you for sticking by me even though I’ve been so preoccupied with life that I haven’t paid much attention to you lately. I promise, there are crazy stories I need to tell you; just need to learn how to juggle this new schedule first.


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