Monday, December 27, 2010
This year had challenges and milestones and deadlines and fun. I may think of 2010 as the year of Jobs I Couldn't Talk About, as many of them were dull, highly technical, or I signed a NDA and wasn't supposed to blab so for once I kept my mouth shut.
This time in 2009, I was freshly unemployed, laid off from a clerk job at a state agency. My freelance gig had also evaporated; my editors had been laid off as well. Christmas was virtual. But in Jan 2010, I landed gigs with Yahoo! as a search engine editor. The Yahoo! job was like being paid to read and do internet research. Pretty sweet, except for too many World Cup stories. Also the frightening foray into judging the work-safeness factor of images.
I tested for a job with the Census at around the same time and in the spring of 2k10, I worked as an enumerator going door to door in my neighborhood. My team was made up of my neighbors, too. We would share rides to meetings and when we went out in small teams, banging on doors and demanding to see your papers - just kidding. The link above goes to an interactive map where you can view the population changes, and which states gained and lost seats (Texas gained). Like the Yahoo! job, I was not permitted to talk about Census stuff or blog about it. I was bummed when I had to give my laminate and branded bookbag back, as that would have been an awesome lazy Halloween costume.
In the summer, after my Yahoo! contract expired and the all the people to count had been called upon, I got a job at Kerbey Lane Cafe on South Lamar. Working there was super fun and had a bonus: a free meal with every shift. Plus whatever your pockets will hold. Just kidding. Everyone at Kerbey is super nice, or at least there are very few jerks among the almost 100 or so KLC staffers I ran into while walking customers to their tables and giving them menus. I wound up eating a lot of grilled chicken Caesar salads, and learned that it is mostly jerks who order hot chocolate at diners. I also worked on a fantastic ice cream sandwich truck, Coolhaus, which was really a blast.
During this dedicated KLC time, I got a temp job at a cool state agency, CPRIT, as a tech writer. A few days a week for a couple of weeks I would work 8-5, then go to KLC for an evening host shift. I got a pair of those Godawful Sketchery show things with the Frankenstein's Monster soles that prompted actual laughs from customers, but were the only shoe that didn't kill my feet. Also, I thought the shoes would work as a great lazy Halloween costume. Just add black pants and a jacket and a square head and bam, you're good to go. A KLC manager drew me a diagram on how to cut a box for this costume. I learned on the job! For maybe the first time! Just kidding!
Right after the CPRIT job ended, I got a job with Travis County working early elections. This meant I had to pause my KLC sched, as every shift, from brunch to dinner, bumped up against my early election site shift. And the county job paid more, so...I miss you KLC, will be back soonish for more yummy food.
Working the poles, I mean polling place, both during early elections and the gruelingly long and generally rough November 2nd, was basically a good time. Early elections was a steady build. I read a few books the first week, the last week got steadier, and on final day of early voting we processed over a thousand voters. And we had a few provisional voters, and many we had to verify over the phone as they weren't found in our laptop database. I only took out the e-slate for one car-bound voter who couldn't make it inside the Fiesta Market, where the early election polling place was tucked away, near the frozen foods section. On election day proper, I was stationed in Mathews Elementary, which was a little familiar as I had volunteered there with the Austin Bat Cave in 2009. That was a long-ass day: 6am to 9pm or so.
Back up - I freaking loved being in Fiesta for seven hours or so a day. I have never before, nor will I ever again have such a chance to really explore a grocery store, and it was great. Some Fiesta standouts would be the giant, tasty tortas in the taqueria, the perfectly balanced garam marsala spice mix in the bulk food section, and the variety of beverages, from coconut water to Odwalla to yerba mate. I love the international foods, especially the chocolate-covered tea biscuits from the UK. The spices, vegetables, tortillas - everything at Fiesta was great, and the staff was nice, too.
In a super amazing turn of events, this final quarter of 2010 became completely serendipitous as a sweet, kind neighbor I used to ride the bus with when I worked that boring clerk job said she might have a position for me at the Office of the Attorney General, in the child support division. I started in November and have been temping ever since. I also have been writing hotel descriptions for Orbitz.com, which is super fun though all my copy is from internet research - no travel, yet.
So, in case anyone noticed: I have been doing little to no food writing all year. Even though I had two food-related jobs - Coolhaus and Kerbey Lane - I barely even Yelped, let alone BLOGGED. And this isn't because the scene from the photo I took above, at Max's Wine Dive when they hosted a fun Austin food blogger event, has become tiring. Although the headline, A Food Blogger Is Sick of All You Foodies, and a photo similar in content to mine on Eater.com made me snicker. I don't have blogger fatigue, nor do I have foodie fatigue, as the author of the "A Food Blogger Is Sick of All You Foodies" claims to suffer from. I was merely a little overworked and underpaid in 2010, and really, honestly, had not a lot of time for parties or blogging and fun stuff that makes living in Austin excellent.
Living here is still, however, excellent, and I am really glad to have the jobs I have had and the experiences I did. That said, it's on to the next thing - 2011. I may blog about food, I may blog about YOU, or who knows. I need a haircut and some vacation time. Happy New Year!