Brothers and sisters, it's been a hell of a few months.
My job at the university has sucked for over a year. The parts I enjoy -- website maintenance and editing -- mostly disappeared because of my other job duties. I'd been working social media, which I complain about a lot, because our Facebook followers are absolute douchebags. But I don't think I'm at all bad at social media. It's mostly customer service, and I'm good at customer service. And sometimes you get to do something creative and fun, and those parts are pretty good, too. Altogether -- site maintenance, editing, social media -- that was the equivalent of about 40 hours of work a week.
The problem came when they assigned me to do news writing. I'm actually very bad at news writing -- I disliked it when I was an actual reporter, because I hate interviewing people, I hate transcribing interviews, and my news writing is, at best, not all that great. I was deliriously happy when I got out of the news business, and I definitely didn't enjoy getting dragged back in. I'd understood that news writing was going to be a minor part of my job duties. I was assigned a low-impact college to cover as my beat -- the faculty weren't demanding, and they didn't have a whole lot of newsworthy stuff happening most of the time.
Unfortunately, my boss decided she wanted me writing lots of news articles, so I had to do at least one story a week. Not that hard? Maybe, but it meant I had to spend over half my week tracking down someone to interview, conducting the interviews, transcribing the interviews and finally writing the news release -- and I didn't have much time for the rest of my duties. And god help you if one of your sources went on vacation before you were done writing -- that meant my article had to go on hold 'til he got back, and I had to scramble to find another article I could complete before the end of the week. This meant I often wasn't able to finish a story every week -- and explaining that my source was in the Andes 'til next month with no access to email just got me lectured about needing to make better plans.
They were vocal that they didn't like me not producing all the stories they wanted me to, and I was vocal that I didn't like having to spend most of my week on stuff I hated doing and wasn't good at.
So at the end of May, I got a piss-poor evaluation, solely because of the low quality of my news writing, and I was well and truly just about done with the place. Just a couple years ago, I'd gotten merit raises and everyone loved what I was doing and I was very happy with my job -- and now everything had gone to shit. But even then, I had been trying to improve -- I'd interviewed multiple different people and had set up even more interviews in the next few weeks. I had two stories half-finished, just waiting on completion of interviews the next week, and another with completed interviews, transcriptions, and adorable photos of dogs, that just needed to be written, and which was very likely to attract positive attention from more than one news outlet.
On the last Thursday of May, I learned that our division was about to go through a re-organization. I was being moved into a new department devoted solely to social media. I wasn't the manager -- I'd told them multiple times that I didn't think I had what it took to be a good manager -- but I was, for now, the only staff member. I'd be doing all the duties I'd been doing before, but now there was genuine hope for the future. I'd be getting out from under the thumb of my increasingly more demented and less competent boss. She and her supervisor both told me this was a great opportunity, asked me if I was excited about the change, and talked about my future with the division. And at our afternoon all-staff meeting where everyone in the division was told about the re-organization, I was singled out by the Vice President leading our division, praised for taking on all the extra duties, and thanked for my hard work.
On Friday, the very next day, everyone was excited for me. I heard from managers in other parts of the division who told me they'd actually campaigned to get me working in their department. I felt like there was a damn good chance that things were going to improve a lot. I felt appreciated and optimistic about where my job was going.
And on Friday afternoon, just a day after I'd been told about the re-organization, my boss called me in, told me my evaluation was too poor to keep me on staff, and fired me. So my boss and her supervisor -- and maybe the VP and others -- had blatantly lied to me, possibly because they're spectacularly incompetent, possibly just so they could enjoy giving me hope and then knocking it all back down. And they'd timed it so I'd lose my health insurance within days.
So the last few months have been devoted to job-hunting, getting health insurance, cleaning, packing, selling the house, and preparing to move in with my folks on the other end of the state. All of these have been pretty tough. There aren't that many jobs out there, and any job openings in the DFW Metroplex area are going to get dozens and dozens of applicants. On the bright side, I'd been hoping to move closer to my family. My closest relative is a five-hour drive away, and I'd like it to be easier to visit all of them. Still, it's going to be a tight squeeze -- my parents have no real storage space in their home, so almost everything I own is going to go into a storage facility. The only stuff I'll have in their house will be my clothing, my computer, and a single bookcase of books -- maybe for years, since it may be nearly impossible for someone my age to ever get a job again.
And on top of all of that, I've been working to say my farewells to Denton. It isn't a perfect city, and my job here was way less than ideal. But there's so very much about it that I'm going to miss terribly. I'll miss a number of very friendly merchants, I'll miss the amazingly gorgeous scenery, lush green trees, beautiful architecture. I'll even miss the music festivals -- and I nearly always hate the music festivals.
Denton has two different comics shops, which is a rarity for a town this small. I'll dearly miss having access to weekly comics -- my parents' hometown is 2-4 hours away from the nearest comics shop, and even if we make regular trips to cities where I can get my comics fix, I don't think I'll feel free to indulge my hobby when I don't have a job. I can put comics on my wishlists for birthdays and Christmas, but those only come twice a year, and there will probably be lots of other things I'll want to get, too.
And more than that, I'll miss Recycled Books, Records and CDs, which I consider one of the greatest used bookstores in the world. I visit this place almost every time I have a day off -- and I usually buy way more books there than I really need. When you love books, and you find a great big store devoted to books old, new, rare, and weird -- just thinking of leaving this store behind leaves me covered over with sorrow.
But the house is sold, the books are packed, and the move-out date of Aug. 23rd is scheduled. We'll see what happens after that. Maybe a short period before getting a better job. Maybe a long period of doing volunteer work. Maybe a very long period of mopping floors in grocery stores at night. Only time will tell.
In unrelated news -- I hate to say it, but I probably won't be posting any more episodes of the Metro City Chronicles here on E2. I've decided to work toward getting the entire series on the Kindle, and I'd like to devote plenty of time toward getting the stories rewritten and cleaned up. This will probably still take years to get done -- I've long intended to add a couple new characters to the series, but rather than having new superheroes moving into the city late in the series, I plan to fold Gossamer and the Shrike into the stories from the very beginning -- and this is taking quite a bit of time to accomplish. Nevertheless, I feel that it's better for me to rewrite the existing stories, get them published, and then get the all-new stories written, too.
I'd hoped to have more time for those rewrites while I was unemployed, but I've ended up having to devote a lot of effort into job-hunting and house-selling. And sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated with online job applications, it's just a little more satisfying to go play a few rounds of Overwatch instead. With any luck, once the actual move is out of the way, I'll have a little extra time I can devote to doing the hard work of rewriting.