Saturday, Jul. 10, 2004 - 4:15 p.m.
I just woke up from a nap and am groggy and confused and a little achy. It’s wonderful, though, because it’s bright and sunny and I am not at work. I thought I might have to be, but the call never came, so my Saturday is unmarred.
It was a long first week of work. I have seen more paper wasted than I thought possible. I have watched seven people do the job of two, everything out of order with paper and tasks and files flying back and forth between desks. The project is a model of disorganization.
Those in the business of writing and publishing things have, over the years figured out a thing or two. Each stage has its proper tasks, from writing to editing to production and layout. We, having learned nothing from those who know what to do, are doing everything at once.
For a while, I know, I will be unable to stop thinking about work, because this is how I am with new things. And this obsession will be reflected here. It’s unavoidable. I’m just stunned by how completely my job resembles parodies of jobs, and I have to explain.
Here are some of the problems: The various chapter files of the various manuals we are revising were recently put in a clunky Word format. It was a bad format to begin with; for one thing, the measurements are off: one margin at .52", another at 1.13". But the client has approved the format, and she holds the new pages we send her up to the light to make sure they are aligned in the original fashion. And although there are headers, there is also a line of text outside the headers that must go at the top of most pages, though not all. This means that columns cannot break across pages, so adding a sentence to page 2 throws the remaining 150 pages of the document completely off, such that every pseudo-header must be re-positioned, one at a time. In the last three days I have re-positioned the headers in chapter 2 about ten times. This is because the client continues to edit the content long after we are supposed to have proceeded to the layout stage. She changes her mind daily, announcing that sections will be moved and definitions will be added. One day we are to use the word ‘beneficiary,’ the next day ‘recipient.’ Yesterday she reminded everyone to use commas when the word ‘which’ follows a noun – the most birdbrainedly backward take on restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses I have ever heard. But because I work with people called editors who are not, in fact, editors, everyone nodded confusedly and returned to their reformatting.
Yesterday I convinced my supervisor to buy a dictionary for the project. “If we just all agree to use the preferred spellings in, say, Webster’s 10th,” I explained, “we won’t have to spend an hour discussing whether to write ‘dietician’ or ‘dietitian.’”
So, such is my job. I also, in addition to adjusting to my 8 to 5 schedule, played a show far into the night on Thursday, went in at 7 a.m. Friday, and then watched L play last night until 3:30 a.m. So I am sleepy.
My bike is languishing in the kitchen exactly one part away from being rideable. L and I are talking about moving in together soon, so I have not been paying proper attention to my quarters: the dishes are dirty, the baseboards covered in cat hair. It is time for something to happen.