Monday morning, I arrived just before 8, and the front doors were locked. I saw someone entering the building from a side door, but I did not catch her attention, so I waited! I met a student worker who also did not have a key before someone came to let us in. All good so far! The first thing I had to do was get some paperwork out of the way. Frankly, at this point everything is sort of fuzzy.
At some point fairly early, I saw the inside of my office for the first time! It was larger than I expected, since its strategic placement behind a large laser printer suggested that it had been a supply closet. Turns out--surprise!--it had! But it was a roomy one, so that meant that the primary consequence of its being converted was that it had industrial tile instead of 30-year-old carpet. All things considered, I'm not inclined to complain. I was told immediately to make myself at home and arrange things however I liked, which was nice because the place was jam-packed with furniture, not all of it serviceable. Over the next two days, arranging furniture was primarily what I did, with various people popping in to offer help with varying degrees of insistence. However, it is difficult to tell others what to do when you're trying to figure out the arrangement and the logistics at the same time! The wall to my right had a tall bookcase and two short ones stacked. The wall opposite the door had the wooden desk that was being used for the (new!) computer, a small file cabinet, and two desks arranged face-to-face to make a table of sorts, the left hand wall... I don't even remember, and the wall with the door had two full-sized file cabinets, and a giant storage cube with another short bookcase on top of it. Now, friends, I'm not going to go into the gory details, but it was dirty and in serious need of organization (and still needs organization). I don't think anyone knows what old paperwork is in those drawers, and the coffee spills I cleaned off of walls and furniture were at least 10 years old--likely more. The only furniture I removed, finally, was one desk and the storage cube. Everything else fit rather nicely, and people were actually amazed when they started to see what I had in mind!
Over these two or three days, and really into today, I realized just how excited people seemed to be to have me there--particularly the Editorial team. It's pretty cool how the press is set up (all housed in one building, which needs some TLC, but is a nice space overall): There is a hallway that more or less runs around the building, and the offices are set up (by design) to mirror the publication process. The first hallway is the Editorial staff, with my office at the end of that hallway, more or less at the edge of the "public" space, which has a sitting area, a book display, and several bookshelves of press books; there is also a reception desk attended by a student worker who sits opposite the main entrance (the one with the cool doors). Just past the receptionist desk is a very cool conference room with a long oval table, wood panelling, and shelves to display select press books. The coolest thing is that the wall that faces the front of the building is glass, with blinds, so that the light that filters through the front windows comes into the conference room. This is where I had my on-site interview. Past the conference room there is the supply room, another desk for the administrative assistant, whose office is to the left, and to the right a hallway, with the next department's offices--this time, the design team because after editing, the book goes to Design. Around the next turn we find Marketing. There are also Business offices, but I'm not yet sure where they fit... I think they're in between Design and Marketing. There is a warehouse at the end of the hall that forms the third side of the square, and then back down the fourth hallway to Editorial again. All of the offices that were built as offices have natural light. Alas! Mine does not. But nor does it have that carpet...
Monday at lunch there was a potluck, which is something that they do every month to celebrate birthdays--apparently mine is the only in January. Monday's potluck featured enchiladas and taco salads. After the potluck was the "All hands" meeting, which I will always mentally call the "All hands on deck" meeting. It is also a "launch" meeting, which is not a final book launch, but the launch of the project by Editorial to the rest of the Press. This includes a session of hashing out the title, which sounds like my idea of fun. Monday we were not launching any projects, but maybe this coming Monday! As I write this, I actually forgot that there would be another of these meetings on Monday. It is literally a multi-hour meeting, and seems like a good way to pass the time to me!
Editorial is still down one person--my supervisor, whom I have not yet met, who is out on maternity leave and expected back in May. However, it seems that the Press is almost always down a person--not in terms of staffing, because there is very little turnover--but simply because of people being out of the office for Press-related business, usually marketing, but sometimes (it seems) picking up proofs from authors? Anyway, that's not part of my job. Which is fine, really. Maybe one day, but not today! I don't know that there has been a day--or a time in a given day--when my whole team (minus the General Editor) has been there the whole day. This can create some... inefficiency. Confusion is not really the right word, because everyone else knows what should be happening. But they don't onboard often, which means that they don't have an onboarding process, which means no one really knows what has been explained to me. But it's not because I'm being neglected, or because they think they need to wait until I'm ready or anything ridiculous like that. People pop in on me from time to time, and when they finally did give me work, I sort of had to remind me that no one exactly showed me the processes, or gave me important information like what the folder titles on the Share drive *meant.*
So anyway, Monday passed in a whirl, and left me absolutely exhausted and with a bit of information overload (about who had been where, and what they were doing re: different projects, or profits, or what have you). But that exhaustion was also related to a BP med--the second that I have tried at this point, at a very extremely low dose. But on Sunday and Monday, this particular medicine made me too tired to function on a normal level, and also gave me some little spasming pains in my chest that freaked me out. On Monday, also, my BP spiked way above what was normal for me without the med--maybe in part because I was panicked about the pain and also exhausted? So I had to contact the doctor. Rather than try something new, I went back to the first one, which unfortunately doesn't seem particularly effective (any more--after only a month) at low doses, and at higher doses (which for me seems to be the minimum dose, just not cut in half) makes my heart race, which is the opposite of what it is supposed to do. I have already had to change doctors over the matter of MP meds because the authoritarian I had been seeing by default felt (rightly) that I didn't trust her judgment. So Tuesday, I went back to the first med, and made an appointment on Thursday with the new doctor to discuss options. So that was something added to the balance of the week.
A change that my employment has wrought in our lives is that now I do not pick up the girls from school. Also, instead of my dropping off my husband, he drops me off after we bring the girls to school. The girls actually attend school right across the street from the Press, which is pretty amazing. So though he has started picking them up from school at 4, he couldn't do so on Tuesday, so I literally walked across the street to them and they met me, and we walked back to the Press! I had my colleague--who was the hiring manager while the General Editor was on leave--tell me that they were welcome any time! So they will absolutely be able to walk over after school, if not this school year, then the next. This was an eventful week for the girls--between the two of them, they had three standardized tests, and got report cards today. Luckily, this meant that homework was lighter than usual this week, which did make things easier.
In addition to letting me know that the girls would be welcome at the Press--which is actually open to the public, though this is little known--the many mini-conversations (and some not so mini!) that I had this week with the same colleague and others let me know that my arrival has been eagerly anticipated, and not simply as an extra hand. People do seem to know things about me--so I did have two opportunities to explain the premise of my upcoming Mythlore article! I was urged during one of these conversations not to linger in my office all day--to get out for lunch, in particular, though some people do lunch in their offices. I walked to meet my husband on Tuesday and we had a picnic on campus; on Wednesday there was a Pokémon Go event. I explained this to my new colleague as he popped in to tell me that he attends the noon service at the Episcopal Church across the street. This lead to a conversation about games and gaming. I suspect that he will try out Pokémon Go at some point. There is another employee in the building who plays casually--but whose parents are constant Pokémon Go-buddies, which is kind of hilarious. Today, I talked a bit with their son, and when I described them as more serious players than we are, he said, "Yeah. They have a problem." He's clearly as deadpan as his dad, or close. (They are pretty rabid players, but they're really nice about it. Good people.)
Thursday, I had the doctor's appointment, which went well, and I deferred starting a new medicine by a bit. I actually seem to have left over sick leave from either my previous position, in which I was not authorized to use it, or the one before, though I meant to donate it to the sick leave pool Either way, it is handy because I can use it immediately if the need arises. So I went to the doctor's, and on my lunch break I picked up my parking permit and went home with my husband so that he could change for an event that he hadn't planned on attending (until a potential donor was identified--falsely, as it turns out), but that some people from the Press were attending, so I heard of it that way. I actually helped coordinate a meeting between a member of Marketing and my husband to investigate the contents of some boxes of books left by the Press at Cushing Library. This lead to another informal conversation, and getting to know another colleague who also happens to be somewhat of a Tolkien fan!
You may wonder whether I did any actual work this week. I'm still trying to figure that out, really--but I think I got a bit closer to working, if nothing else. On Tuesday, I was told that I could start checking permissions on some of the projects that will be published in Fall 2019, not to acquire the permissions myself, but to see whether the author had done so. I was shown some spreadsheets and how to get into the project folders, and told that another editor might have a template for entering the relevant information. That editor was out on Tuesday, and in training on Wednesday. Actually, for a period of time on Wednesday, I actually WAS the editorial department (and was told so before the other remaining member left). In the process of going through the list of projects in a spreadsheet, however, I was told by someone looking over my shoulder that the book I was working on didn't need permissions, so... yeah. I began to get the idea that I didn't exactly know all I needed to know. But I could start. Bit-by-bit, I have taken what I've learned about what information people need to do their jobs, and done my best to put it in an accessible format on my own. Thursday, I did, in fact, get the template, which was not Excel but Word (much to my chagrin) and relied on pulling images and information from the manuscript using macros. I confess that I don't even know what that means, but that wasn't really an issue. Rather, it was an issue that again I was told "oh, you don't need to be working on that," and redirected, but without a really accurate (as it turned out) picture of where to find the information I needed. Which was frustrating.
I did realize that one of the problems was that I didn't know enough about what I was doing to even know what questions to ask. I didn't know what I didn't know. I found myself asking on Thursday what, precisely, the publication process looked like, and why, when in that process, and by whom all of the folders in the Share drive were created. By the end of Thursday, we were getting somewhere ,but I found myself very frustrated by mixed messages, lack of coordination, and the complete and utter failure of anyone to orient me to the job I was supposed to be doing. The person who has helped the most is the one who most recently vacated my current position. So I have decided to make some documents that I'm calling "Editorial Assistant Workflow"--to train the next Editorial Assistant. Or for reference. Whatever.
This brings us to today. Except actually, it doesn't. Because life still happens. And last night, life wanted to throw me a stupid curveball. The girls were on the verge of going to bed--literally saying goodnight--when my daughter (H) (prompted by big brother (P) told me that she had just found a bug in her hair by looking in the mirror in the bathroom. Oh. Dear. Lord. So I look at her, and--no, seriously--there is a bug *crawling in her hair.* Because that's totally what I need at 10:00 at night. I picked it out. It fell on the floor ad sort of ran around a bit while I took pictures of it. You know good and well what it was. So I kicked into extermination mode, combing through her hair and then second daughter (I)'s with the regulation comb while the "guys" (husband and son) bagged and vacuumed everything. After that, since brushes and barrettes needed to be sterilized and washed and bagged and whatnot, P and I went searching for a 24-hour store from which to procure brushes and combs and things. At 1 A.M. or so, I was finally ready to bathe. I'm not going to lie--I combed out my own hair, too. The plan was to call the local lice center for free head checks for everyone. Which I did.
Today began... well, abruptly, after too little sleep. We started the normal routine of dropping everyone off, and as soon as the clock rolled over to 8 A.M. I called the lice clinic (a nice place really, with nice people) and made an appointment. Then I went into work. I was sluggish. I had a headache that just kept getting worse and worse and worse. My stomach was acting up. But a colleague stopped by (the marketing person) to chat about meeting my husband the previous evening, and she said how we seemed like neat people. It's interesting to see people get to know us in our different capacities without "ranking" us one above the other, but perceiving us as complementary. This is new. And I like it. We talked about a range of things (including her Dr. Martens sandals and how I, too, favor "slightly subversive footwear in professional settings"--because I can get away with saying things like that here). Then, I went to ask our Finance and HR person about sick leave for lice clinic appointments--was that an appropriate use? And she was just great. She wanted to make sure that I didn't need anything or have any questions, and afterwards, since none of my own department were there, she took me around the building telling me a bit about everyone (more personal things, like where they were from and how long they had been with the press, and about any recent marriages and births) and giving me the opportunity to have more of those mini-conversations. It was really nice, and incredibly thoughtful. I can tell that people like me here. And there doesn't seem to be any petty competition. I'm not a threat to anyone. It's great. Unfortunately, my headache was getting worse and worse, and I'm afraid to take ibuprofen with the BP med. I sat in my office, and the heat was getting oppressive, and my stomach was queasy, and the pain was there, and I made the mistake of taking a sip of coffee... And I pretty much had to leave. At that point, another member of the Editorial department did show up, and I told her what was what (even about the lice), and I left for the day. At 10:20. :( So now I have to put in another sick leave request.
What happened the rest of the day, you might ask? Well, I came home and changed into yoga pants and took a 1.5 hour nap. I woke less queasy, with headache, and needed to call the lice clinic to postpone the appointment at their request because they're swamped. Great, right? :/ My son (P) and I had lunch, then went to Target and bought, among other things, a slipcover for my sofa (the better to wash when needed). Then we returned home and cleaned and washed things (a work already in progress). So yeah... I didn't stay at work, but I vacuumed with a headache. Under furniture. Then we watched a Twilight Zone and I drank a favorite headache remedy: Blackberry Sage tea. That is about the time the headache started to subside, though it was already better than it had been when I left work--MUCH better. The girls came home; then two of us went in search of some supplies for a meatless supper of soup and grilled cheese (since I wasn't feeling seafood of any kind). We scarfed the meal down before heading to the lice clinic, where everyone was checked--AND EVERYONE WAS CLEAN. I have a picture. I did NOT invent that louse. I was stunned and relieved and stunned. Obviously I will keep watch, but in the meantime, we went to Freddy's (at P's suggestion) for some custard on him. And some people who didn't eat enough soup and sandwich before the lice check had some fish fillets. And here we are. I have literally spent the remainder of the night writing this! So... I guess so far so good? The finance/HR person says that my colleague the hiring manager "has big plans for me." I wonder what that means? I'm excited to find out. If I can get someone to show me the ropes.