My new job is Administrative Assistant I for the Philosophy Department at the University of Southern California.
A couple days after I started, one of the doctoral students came in to make some copies and asked, “Are you the new secretary?”
I experienced a split second on disconnect–like this “secretary” was someone I hadn’t met yet, and then it clicked.
“Yes,” I said.
I tend to make fun of the twisty things we do with language to make ourselves feel better about stuff, but at the same time, I totally fall for it. And I’m not sure what it is that is slightly demeaning about the word secretary, except maybe that it seems feminized, while assistant is androgynous. Like stewardess and flight attendant. Like soldier and troop. No, I guess that last one is a little different.
Anyway, my new job as an administrative assistant is fine. Benign. And it has health insurance. It doesn’t really pay our bills, but it will cover some of them. I don’t feel knotted with anxiety on the drive in, as I have with other jobs. The people are nice and the work is within the limits of my willingness and ability. It’s also in a really pretty building. I took some pictures, just for you. Coming soon.
The main drawbacks to the job are that it requires a fair amount of sitting, and a fair amount of sitting in front of a computer screen. So as a writer, I have to really wrestle with myself to embark on another shift of sitting in front of a computer screen at the end of the day. At the end of the day, it’s not what myself wants to do, really. What myself seems to want to do at the end of the day is go to the gym and read YA novels on the elliptical machines, or curl up and eat bean burritos and chocolate ice-cream in bed. Tonight, myself lost a few beans, so if you come to my house and you see the brown streaks on the sheets, it’s not poop stains, it’s just residuals from self-comforting behaviors that don’t necessarily imply depression.