An 8-to-5 Pace

There’s a reason I never set a schedule here on my blog. It’s because I inevitably get caught up in whatever I’m doing at the time, whether that’s spending two months driving through the backroads in New Zealand or simply pondering the purpose and pace of the blog itself. And now, sure enough, I’ve been sufficiently preoccupied by my new life in Portland — and wondering, too, about the direction my sporadic musings should take — that, as is becoming habitual, I’ve pushed Literary Vittles to a dusty folder in the back of my mind.

I’ve settled into an 8-to-5 pace that forces me to wake up on time and do workout videos on the IKEA rug in the living room/dining room/kitchen if I have any hope of exercise. I limit myself to buying lunch once a week and make sure to eat a hearty breakfast each morning. After showing up at work looking like a sheep one day, I reluctantly admitted that it was time to start fixing my hair again. And I downloaded an app to keep track of which outfits I wear, and how often, which sounds ridiculous but is also ridiculously helpful. I hardly recognize the reliable person I’ve become in the short space of just one month, and it’s jarring to think about the other ways in which I’ll continue to adapt without question.

Starting a new job is always startling, for many reasons. There’s the adjustment to office-specific patterns of behavior and communication; how much corporate-speak will your colleagues tolerate? What’s the boundary between formal and informal, and when is it deemed appropriate to cross? Portlandians are exceptionally friendly and open and warm, and they don’t like to criticize others. Which, on the whole, is a wonderful quality, but from a practical standpoint, what it often means is that I’m left wondering if I’ve committed a terrible mistake that half the office isn’t telling me about. Very different from the direct triple-correction I’d receive each time I made an error in my New Zealand workplace.

I look back at my work history and realize that it’s strangely lacking in the private sector. There’s retail, but that’s another beast entirely. Nonprofits struggle with everything, from paying their bills to rationalizing to donors why those bills should be paid, and higher education is a strange and capricious thing with its enormous endowments and conflicting senses of self. In contrast, the private sector is fast, the answers to questions relatively straightforward, and existential crises regarding purpose/meaning/drive simply do not exist. Much has been written about these stereotypes already, but it’s strange how quickly I’ve arrived at many of the common conclusions.

How strange, too, that I’ve found such an environment in Portland. But, as Kiwis would say, it suits. There’s something to be said for punctuality and efficiency and being able to divide moments of work from moments of rest. In time, I’m sure I’ll come to understand.


9 thoughts on “An 8-to-5 Pace

  1. I saw your latest blog post in my Reader just now, and it reminded me that I’d read but not commented on this one — I meant to, but life is busy.

    Welcome back to blogging! And I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts that “There’s something to be said for punctuality and efficiency and being able to divide moments of work from moments of rest”.

    After graduating in the summer this year, I had planned to go to grad school in the autumn, and that was a pretty fixed plan — graduate, study for a Master’s and PhD, and start teaching. But I hadn’t expected that the freelance proofreading job I started in the summer would develop into a full time editorial position (private sector). And that, in fact, the topic that I began studying for my Master’s really didn’t grab me.

    It meant that my work-life balance was non-existent because I had to study at the weekends and every time I got home from work.

    So, yeah, I understand what you’re saying. For me, it was a huge relief to withdraw from my Master’s and focus on my job. When I’m at work, I work, and when I’m at home, I’m free to do anything I want.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying Portland, and I hope you continue to enjoy your job.

    1. I’m so sorry I never replied to this comment! We traded thoughts over on Twitter which was nice, though. 🙂

      It sounds like you made the right decision to withdraw from your Master’s program. And a huge congratulations, by the way, on securing a permanent editorial position! That’s a big accomplishment in this day and age, especially with the publishing industry still recovering from years of doomsday predictions.

      I am continuing to enjoy my job as well — which is good, because I don’t think I’ve put this many hours per week into anything before! Just today I was thinking about how I needed a release from work, and that I should put up another blog post — because why not. Several of my colleagues are aware of and potentially even read my blog, which makes me a bit nervous, ha! But ultimately I’ve been fairly conservative in terms of sharing my viewpoints over time, and although there are a few older posts that I wouldn’t publish today, I still don’t mind their online presence.

      Anyway, I’m starting to ramble. Just wanted to say thank you, & now I need to pop over and see what you’ve been up to. Cheers!

  2. So glad to hear things are going well in Portland! Sounds like the perfect fit and that you’ve settled in nicely, and it’s good to hear the job is going well! I’m also super intrigued by that outfit tracker app (as a secret chronic outfit-repeater).

    1. Yes, I love Portland so far! I fit in here very well, I feel. And it reminds me of Melbourne with its excellent public transit system and tons of good, cheap places to eat. Still love Melbourne, too. 🙂
      The outfit app is called Stylebook and it works really well – you can create outfits and then add them to the calendar within the app. It’ll also tell you the price per wear of each item should you choose to enter the data. The one thing that’s a pain is taking all of the photos. You’d be surprised how long it takes to photograph every top and pair of trousers you own, ha! And then editing out the backgrounds requires a lot of patience. So maybe reserve that for a Sunday afternoon when you have some spare time, haha. Hope everything is going well with you, too!

  3. Having worked in both the public and private sector I know what you mean. I have to say I like the private sector better, I find it to be more fluid and open to change which is something I thrive on. I hope it treats you well.

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