She Works Hard for the Money

March 3, 2012

When I was in college, I worked at FAO Schwarz in Boston for two years before it closed.  I loved that job.  I was going to school full time and working [more than] part-time, but it didn’t feel like work because, well, it was a toy store.  I made wonderful friends there, so when I wasn’t working with them, I was hanging out with them, so even though I was working A LOT, I loved it, and it was fun.

Some FAO friends, post-FAO.

After FAO closed, I worked at a bar in the Back Bay full-time on top ofmy full-time status as a student.  I also hosted karaoke from 10 PM-2 AM two nights a week at two other bars.  I went to class all day, worked all evening until sometimes 2 or 3 AM, and somehow made it to class the next day.  I must have been tired, but since I was 22 or 23, I must not have noticed (?).  I was a fabulous waitress and all the running around and time management challenges created such momentum that I barely even noticed I was working.  However, I almost never had a day off, and it made a huge impact on my quality of life not being able to call in sick (I was ALWAYS sick in college) without somebody being there to cover my shift.


Internship was when I learned how difficult my “real” job was going to be.  I worked from 8 or 9 AM to sometimes 7 or 8 PM, and I was EXHAUSTED.  I loved it, and I was taking grown-up responsibility for myself and my decisions for the first time ever.  Maybe all that non-stop work at the bar helped prepare me for long days, but it certainly didn’t prepare me for the emotional and mental strain this work tends to cause.

As I’ve said in past posts, I started with one hour of MT work.  That was nice.  Not financially sustainable, but nice.  That lasted for a little over a month before I began piling on loads and loads of work, which was not mentally or emotionally sustainable for me, especially when I would have every other Saturday off.  That was my only time off for about seven months before I came up for air and let go of some stuff.

My office/desk at my first "real" job.

For the past few years, when I have only been contracting, I have had steady work, but my schedule has been bizarre and choppy, so there were some days where I was working for two hours in the morning, and then I wouldn’t have anything else the rest of the day.  I would sleep in one or two days a week and then work all afternoon those days.  Then of course there were Sundays…

(Cut to this week)

This past week was the first week of my “full” (new) schedule.

Is this what I’ve been missing all these years -slash- is this what work is really like?

BORING ALERT: Monday was jam-packed with work and driving.  I had a morning group, a working lunch in one of my hospital cafeterias and then proceeded to have three back to back groups in three different locations.  Tuesday was packed with work and driving.  I had a morning group, a working lunch at Panera Bread on my way out to Metro West and had two back to back groups far away from one another.  Wednesday I had a working breakfast, went to the bank to close my BofA business checking account had a group 45 minutes away, and immediately had my meeting in a different location with my new contract – my shortest day.  Thursday, I had two back to back student sessions, each followed by supervision/feedback time, grabbed a Dunkin’s egg white turkey sausage flatbread sandwich on my way to Metro West and ate in the car.  I had my afternoon group immediately followed by a drive down the road for another student session and supervision time.  Friday I had a morning group, took my dog for a 40 minute walk during lunch, ate a quick lunch, had a session followed by A WHOLE HOUR TO watch TV BREATHE, and then another session.

Does this look like your schedule?  Is your schedule worse?  If it does/is, then I am sorry I ever complained about being tired from work before this week, and that I’m complaining now.  I came home on Thursday on the verge of tears because I was so tired.  I am not used to this. There is very little time to do the other things that need to get done, like walking my dog, exercise, eating healthy meals, cooking creative meals (something I don’t have to do, but gives me enjoyment), and alone time. 

The good news, is that I CAN adjust my schedule a little bit and find ways to use my time so that I don’t come home and decide that brussels sprouts and a few chicken meatballs is what I’m making for dinner, and then cry because of a Swiffer commercial on TV (that didn’t happen, but it probably would have…).  I CAN (don’t want to, but can) wake up earlier to take a run or walk the dog before work.  I CAN (and did) ask my boyfriend to help me prepare dinner on the really busy days (he likes to cook, but I do it better and prefer to be in charge meals). If I don’t have time to make a lunch for the road, I CAN make healthy choices at the hospital cafeteria (salad with various legumes, veggies, 4 oz of chicken, and a splash of olive oil = approx. $5 & 300 calories), Panera Bread (Bowl of Low-Fat Chicken Noodle Soup with a whole grain chunk of baguette = approx. $5 & 260 calories) and Dunkin’ Donuts (egg white, turkey sausage, and cheese flatbread sandwich = approx. $3.50 & 270 calories). YES I CAN.  When does alone time happen?  On Friday for one hour in the middle of the day.  That will have to do until May.

Why May, you ask?  Well, you see, what’s keeping me hopeful, it that this is not a permanent schedule. My students will have their last session with me the second week of May and Berklee doesn’t start the next site/clinical semester until October.  The well-elder organization I work for began it’s spring “semester” of my music program this week and goes until the middle of June before a 2.5 month break.  These two contracts take up all of Tuesdays and Thursdays, but they are the only things on those days, so I have a reduced schedule from May 15th to October, and completely free Tuesdays & Thursdays from June 15th until September.  I thought about filling in those days with summer work (summer camps, etc.) but now that I’ve started this schedule, I think that by the time those free days come, I’m going to need them.  Like whoa.  So I’m keeping them open for a couple of professional projects that need some TLC.  For which I can sit on the couch with my laptop and my phone until the cows come home in the fall.

When I’ll do this all over again.

Hopefully with a lot less kvetching.


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