A Not-So-Little Pat on the Back

This post is a brag because this is my blog and I’ll brag if I want to. Also, I post plenty of embarrassing or unflattering content about myself, so I don’t think anyone can fault me for publicly praising my accomplishments.

I am now a Senior Technical Writer at LogRhythm. I started less than two years ago having no “technical” technical writing experience, although I have a 16-year career related to controlled writing, editing, and language use in general, including creating IT certification courses. The first six months at this company were really rough for me. About 10 percent of that was my own sour puss attitude at the company I loved shutting down and being completely ungrateful for the amazing opportunity I walked into, but, honestly, 90 percent of it was the massive learning curve. Almost everyone I work with agrees that this is the most complicated product they have ever worked on. Not only was I going from a job in which I had total control over the development of a product that was firmly in my area of expertise to one in which I was in a reactionary position, dependent on the goals and management of others, but I also simply couldn’t understand the product. This was tough. I hate feeling useless and not being able to take initiative. Most jobs I’ve had required a one-month or so learning curve before I could show up to work confident in what I was doing and my ability to handle anything that came my way. This one was every bit of six months and still, 21 months later, plenty of issues come my way that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to start dealing with and that I feel quite intimidated by. Continue reading →

What Is It I Do Exactly?

I don’t know about you, readers, but it’s taken me years to really remember/know/understand what most of my friends do for a living. Some of them don’t really know what I do either. And hell, I dated someone for many years and never quite understood what he did. Probably that’s because he generally slept in until 10 am, surfed the internet all day, and then took people out for drinks and dinner, but there must have been some kind of work in there somewhere. The friends whose jobs I can actually describe well are friends who I’ve worked with or whose industries I’ve worked in.

Well, if you’re following my blog and wondering what it is I do, I write technical manuals. User guides, upgrade guides, installation guides, and all kinds of other technical content for a cyber security company. At least, that’s what I do in the current iteration of the full time employment phase of my life. In other iterations, I’ve been an ESL teacher, a localization/translation project coordinator, and the managing editor of an elearning company. So, I’ve always worked with language in some form or another. Continue reading →

The Novel: New Year, New Project

I didn’t choose a New Year’s resolution, but a resolution chose me. I’m coauthoring a YA novel. This is an unexpected turn brought about in part by reading No Country for Old Men and by a personal and highly controversial project Ironman was working on. No, none of that is supposed to make sense to you. Perhaps I’ll explain someday if this novel is successful and I end up on a book tour.

To get in the right head space for writing for this audience, I spent some time looking back through my senior yearbook. I’m not in the yearbook as much as I was in previous years because I only went to school a half day that year. I was all about making money at my awesome Burger King job, hanging out with my college-age friends, and being done with Alden once and for all. But, I still had friends in school and they left some entertaining and often cryptic messages on the pages of that yearbook. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Gratitude

Ok, yes, it’s cliché to write about what you are thankful for on Thanksgiving. Several-years-ago-me would have rolled my eyes at the thought, just as I rolled my eyes at all things holiday related because of the commercialism and forced nature of it. I still despise the commercial side and don’t decorate or celebrate in any big way (because by the time Christmas rolls around we’ve been subject to decorations and holiday music for two goddamn months already in every store and on every street corner!), but I have adapted slightly and brought a little holiday spirit into my life in my own way.

Adult life goes by fast. I mean, remarkably fast. I look back on events that happened five years ago with certainty that they only happened a few months ago. Sometimes it takes literally months of planning and trial and error to finally get together with a friend for lunch because our schedules are so hectic and rapidly changing. And I still am unconvinced that 40 is just around the corner. So, the way I see it now, it’s nice to have a day on the calendar dedicated to giving your beloved some extra attention, to appreciating your parents, or to reveling in the fact that you are alive on this amazing planet for another year. It doesn’t have to be commercial at all. There doesn’t have to be a big sit-down dinner or a parade or a massive family picnic. It’s about taking a moment. And so, especially because my life satisfaction level is currently around 96%, today I’m taking a moment to write about what I am thankful for in my life. Continue reading →

The Death of a Company

Today, two years and ten months of hard work, passion, organization, learning, training, development, trial-and-error, testing, experimenting, data entry, writing, editing, frustration, excitement, and thrill, are rendered meaningless. When the CEO and COO of Medallion Learning called me on May 5th around 10 in the morning to tell me the company was shutting down, I was managing eight courses in various stages of progress. I had roughly thirty contributors working on those eight courses. Some of those courses we had collectively only spent twenty hours on while others we had spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on. And that was just my team. There were also people on sales team and the IT team for whom work came to a grinding halt.

Within the first few hours after that call, I ran through a dozen different emotions: stoicism, panic, shock, sadness, confusion, frustration, disbelief, disappointment, and even embarrassment. But mostly I just felt sick to my stomach. Normally, when you leave a job, someone steps into your role and your projects live on. But when a company shuts down, that’s it. All the effort and man hours are just tossed aside. And jobs I’ve left before weren’t jobs I was invested in. Sure, I enjoyed much of the work I did in the past and the people I worked with, but at the end of the day, I was just a cog in a machine participating in straightforward work-for-pay transactions. Not so at Medallion Learning. Besides working with a great group of people who cultivated an environment of respect and actively solicited input from each other in all aspects of the company, I was solely responsible for establishing the publishing department from scratch. I created processes, wrote guidelines, built a team, developed best practices for scripts and designing, and personally approved every script, video, and supplemental learning aid that ended up on our platform, Calibrate. My boss trusted me 100 percent to work autonomously and make amazing courses. He supported me with whatever I asked for, but other than that, left me alone to make elearning magic. I didn’t have any money invested in the company and I wasn’t the legal owner of my work products, but those courses were mine. So my nauseated feeling didn’t have anything to do with my uncertain future but rather a deep sense of loss and uselessness knowing that everything I created was for naught. Continue reading →

Uniform

I’ve had my fair of jobs that required me to wear a uniform, starting with my very first official job at Burger King. I still remember the stiff and scratchy navy blue pants, the chunky black orthopedic sneakers, the visor that did nothing to keep all the grease out of my hair, and the polo. The heavy, ill-fitting polo shirt. Polo shirts that are three sizes too large seem to be the unifying factor of all jobs in my life that required a uniform. I don’t understand why uniform manufacturers seem to think the minimum weight for anyone in a job that requires a uniform is 150 pounds, but that seems to be about the weight that aligns with the smallest size polo available. Besides Burger King, these jobs also subjected me to this fashion crime. Continue reading →