May 2, 2014

One Year of AP, X Years of Y

I had my one year review today at Allen Press. About 20 days short of year, actually, but close enough for jazz.

Don't know that I've ever really explained what it is I do there, so here it is, briefly: I proofread academic and scientific journals, checking for things from basic visual formatting (do the columns line up?) to esoteric terminology.

Put another way: I don't really read the articles. I certainly don't check for content or comprehension. By the time they get to me, they've already been reviewed by experts in the relevant field, and accepted. I don't know shit about eye surgery, but I know when Investigational Ophthalmology likes to use italics.

More accurately, I know where to look it up. That truly is what we do. Our job, as proofreaders, isn't to know anything - except where to find out what we need to know. For this reason, we have two rather large monitors at our computer - we simply couldn't view enough windows simultaneously on one standard issue - and bookshelves full of references.

The challenge of the job is thus to bring into agreement the tremendous amount of "stylepoints" each journal has - hundreds, in many cases - with the realities of what is present on the page. This could mean anything from aligning mathematical equations in accounting journals (I love this, and I don't know why) to checking genus species names in Mammalogy.

If this sounds a little mentally exhausting, know that it is, at times. But I like it, for the most part. And I do think I'm pretty good at it. Bringing things back to the review, the relevant bosses seem to agree. I scored well on every metric, and wasn't criticized on anything. So, if I had to guess, do most of my coworkers. They tolerate my scattershot rambling about bears, goats, dogs, potatoes (I am a one man potato lobby, and they really are the best food, just ask me), and running, and don't mock the stupid looking limp I've got at the moment. Which is all good.

Still, all good doesn't mean always good, or always optimal, So when asked what future plans I had, I just blinked, paused, and looked to the corner of the room.

"I honestly have no clue," I said. "I rarely plan beyond my next race, and right now, I don't know when that can happen. So I'm just looking forward to running again. I don't plan on leaving or changing departments. I like it here. But, I mean, I have no long term career plans. No long anything plans, really. Just, uh, run well, feel good, and be happy with life, I guess."

That was the most honest answer I could've given at the time, and it holds up now. Nothing there I change, though the wording could be more graceful. Probably not the answer they're used to hearing, either, though it seemed well enough received.

Notably absent from my goals was any talk of money. I didn't ask about it, because I didn't think to ask about it. I honestly couldn't tell you my present wage, much less when I may or may not be due a raise. This is, admittedly, some hipster bullshit. And also quite lucky, on some level. You can only be apathetic about money when you have enough of it. I'm aware that many people don't - both in this country, and certainly on the global stage - and how frivolously wealthy I am, by comparison.

Do note that I'm still far below middle class. But my bills are paid every month. I have health care, and want for no basic necessities. I eat what I want, replacing calories carelessly burned supporting my hobby, at which I'm really quite terrible, in the grand scheme. Nobody is running an 18 minute 5K in Iten right now, because that doesn't get you shit, other than a cheap medal and a pat on the back. I'm cool with that, because I've got the basics covered.

This is a charmed existence. I get that.

My leg still hurts. So although he weather is nice and the trails inviting, I can't run them. I'll bitch about this as it persists - and certainly if it persists longer than the initial 3 week prognosis - but all the while keeping in mind that it's all good, even when it isn't all good.

Goals? Be less slow. And?

I don't know. I don't know how anyone does, really. I'm nearly 26, which seems impossible. That's an adult age, and I sure as shit don't feel like one. I listened to AFI (Answer That and Stay Fashionable, to save a smidge of credibility... we won't talk about the fact that I really like a couple songs on Burials too) and watched Cowboy Bebop today, if you need proof that that sentiment is probably accurate. I worked, worked out, read a book. I still feel like an imposter in khakis, like my office life is a hidden camera rouse, that my interview was a set up to be told I'd been found out, that it was cute, kid, but it's time to stop playing office worker.

But that didn't happen. So I'm going to go back tomorrow. I'm going to work, and like it, but wonder, on some level, what they hell is going on. Maybe when I can answer that, I'll have a better idea of what's next.

Maybe - probably? - I never will. For now at least, I'm comfortable with my ignorance. It's good, until it's not, if it's not. No spoilers.

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