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March 16, 2012

What have I been doing all this time?

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:42 am

One of the scariest things about quitting my job is that I keep telling myself that I’m not good for anything else. (Man, just more and more parallels between capitalism and abuse, y’know?) That I’ve been totally ruined working at only this one place the last ten years; it’s the only “real job” I’ve ever had and no other employer will ever want me.

Except, of course, that’s not true. It’s not even true that I’ve only done this for the past ten years. I’ve done this on and off for the past ten years, interspersed with all kinds of other stuff. So, just to prove to myself that analyzing ethnographic data about science and math education isn’t the only thing I’m capable of doing, here’s a list (in roughly chronological order) of every way I can think of that I’ve earned money in my life:

Starting with…
– Paid babysitting gigs from age 11 through college
– Building hiking trails for the Boulder County Youth Corps
– Waitstaff at a retirement home. “Sanka or Regular?”
– Retail mall job at The Rave selling shoddy, shiny clothes to teenage girls
– Transcribing sociological interviews for my Deviance in Society professor
– All manner of things at E&ER including transcription, quality control, coding, data analysis, interviewing, lit review, project planning, academic papers; I even wrote an entry for an encyclopedia.
– Cleaning houses in Boulder
– Scrubbing toilets and other janitorial delights at McMurdo
– Winterover General Assistant-ing at the McMurdo Heavyshop, which mostly involved moving a lot of 55gal drums of oil, grease and glycol around, shoveling snow, taking out trash, sweeping up after mechanics, and listening to infinite books-on-tape on headphones I really wasn’t supposed to be wearing around the equipment
– Cashiering at Burger Bar
– Freelance transcribing tapes about charter school governance and finance
– Being a MySpace spambot for a “nationally renowned” banjo instructor
– Two seasons in USAP Supply, doling out heavy equipment parts and driving a forklift named Elvis
– Bartending Day Bar at Southern Exposure
– Accepting money from my family with all the strings that are attached to that
– There are probably a few odd jobs in there I’m forgetting
– I’ve also done some light construction, building brick walls and such, but I didn’t get paid for that
– And I’ve done a ton of other organizing, event planning, and project management “work” that I also don’t get paid for

So, um, there.

Noted: The reason that my research job gets classed in my head as “the only real job I’ve ever had” isn’t because it’s the job where I’ve, say, worked the hardest, clocked the most hours, made the most money, or felt the best about what I was doing. It’s simply because it’s the only white-collar job I’ve ever had. And that’s some bullshit.



  1. Hmmmm…capitalism and abuse…as Manal would say in Arabic translated to English “the hearts and the minds are close right now”…I am reading Fanon, well, Fanon for Beginners, so an overview of his work and life, which has a lot to do with capitalism, colonialism, and abuse. Fanon’s project of “liberation existentialism” reworks many “great thinkers” thoughts, such as Freud, Adler, Lacan, Sartre, and Cesaire. Anyway, one of the ways the he challenges Sartre involves this idea: “Essence does not precede existence, so we are free to reject the categories through which others seek to imprison us.” I guess my point was that, yes, too often it is assumed that only “white-collar” jobs count within the heteropatriarchal, imperialist, capitalist society in which we live; however, as your post demonstrates, there are many other jobs that you have performed (paid or not) that might better illuminate what it is that is important to you in regards to your existence as a worker.

    I don’t know…maybe I am totally off my rocker…haven’t yet finished my first cup of coffee. ❤

    Comment by orgasmicon — March 16, 2012 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  2. Hehe. I’m only on my first cup of lemon echinacea throat coat tea, so…

    I’ve been wanting to read some Fanon for a while and, especially based on what you’ve said here, I think now (or in a minute here) might be a particularly good time for me to dive into some of his work. I want to do some thinking about the interplay between maymay’s and my conceptual exploration of “submission as resistance”, existentialist framings of liberation, and critical race theory. Fanon seems like an important puzzle piece. I’d love to chat with you about this more (and maybe borrow some books) when I see you in a couple of weeks. (!!)

    Also: What is “important to me in regards to [my] existence as a worker”? Huh. I’d never really even considered that as a question – since I’ve always assumed that, in a certain way, my positionaliy toward “work” is always-and-already-trying-to-get-out-of-it. 😉 This is in obvious tension with my often all-consuming workaholism. 😛 Maybe spending some more time looking at this list of Things I’ve Done with an eye toward what’s important to me about WORK, rather than what’s important to me about a given JOB, would be useful…


    Comment by thirdxlucky — March 16, 2012 @ 11:58 am | Reply

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