Past Lives, Part I of…who knows?

I’m going through my very, very old email to purge some of the stuff I don’t need anymore, and I have the distinct feeling I’m looking in on someone else’s life. This particular post is just about past jobs.  There’s so much more to the old email story, but I have to start with what doesn’t get me all emotional and fired up, because I ain’t got time for no existential crisis. 


I picked my own winding trail during my journey seeking a career worthy of long-term commitment, sometimes with ease, and sometimes only with the great effort of hacking back the ever-encroaching jungle of adult life and just barely keeping it at bay. I’ve tried to pick and choose aspects of jobs I have liked along the way, to find this mythical perfect career.  I think I have. I have no regrets about my experiences and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, not even to be mildly attractive to recruiters at this stage in my life. It’s been a wild, satisfying ride.

Within those old emails I found a few novels I edited: some YAs, one for children, and one, a graphic novel – my first and only. An invitation to Maurice Sendak’s 70th birthday party in 2008. Some ghostwriting work.  A shit-ton of marketing copy.  Lots of graphical comps, flyers, business cards, discussions about websites, and ad proofs.  So many contract negotiations. Report card content for six years worth of students. Lots of expense reports.  Lots of lesson plans.  Lots of orders for science experiment equipment. Too many emails regarding my chronic hard-drive-breaking disorder.  A ton of love from my clients.  Over one hundred scripts I’ve edited.  Conversations from seven years ago regarding script development for a movie that’s coming out in eight weeks.

Below are some email snippets from my work along the way.  Names and publications have been changed to protect my coworkers and old bosses.

Side note:  Something else that’s cool about browsing these emails is that I found, in March 2004, my official invite through a friend at Google HQ to try out this newfangled Gmail stuff in its beta testing stage. Everything previous to that date was important stuff forwarded to myself from my old hotmail account. I WAS THERE WHEN IT STARTED, FOLKS.

2000:  As Assistant to the Director of a non-profit.

“I rebuilt the logo for you and am working on the webpage. Want me to build you guys a database?  We have Access on all the computers and I know SQL.  I’d love throw all these boxes of hand-written note cards in the trash.”

O’, my arrogance! Whatevs. I built the shit out of that database, then I dealt with those note cards like a boss. Fun fact:  I actually knew zero SQL at the time I wrote this email, but frantically learned it shortly after they accepted my offer. This tactic has woven a similar thread through the entirety of my adult life so far.  “Yeah, I can totally do it.”  “Shit, now I have to learn how to do that thing I just said I could do.” 

2003:  As the Senior Regional Account Manager at HotJobs/Yahoo!:

“Hey there, XX –  I’ll be conducting a remote training session for your Honolulu offices on Tuesday.  Here are some instructional documents I wrote up for you guys that should help you during your transition from XX Company.  We’re so excited you’re on-board and I look forward to meeting you and your team!”

I owned the Hawaii presentation. Bigtime.

2006: As Junior Editor and Personal Assistant to a VP at Scholastic:

Very important!  Please read each bullet point, all content of this email is extremely relevant.  YOU MUST READ THIS TONIGHT.

  • “The back matter copy I wrote for XX Book is attached and ready to send, pending your approval.
  • Marketing sent over the jacket illustrations.  You need to sign off so I can FedEx them back by tomorrow.
  • Look for the XX Author edits in the next email.  I sent you the master doc with my cuts.  Almost 250 pages!  Hope you like what I did.
  • Check out those expense reports and approve so I can fax them back to corporate.
  • I’m running down to the architect’s office later to get signatures on the blueprints and your building permits should be ready for pickup this afternoon.
  • Terminex guy will be here early, before I get here, so *****very important***** ANSWER YOUR FRONT DOOR around 9am. I had to put down a deposit because of the previous two appointments you missed. They’ll take your deposit this time if you don’t let them in.
  • I walked the dogs at 2pm, and (XX Kid)’s last day of school party stuff from Whole Foods has been purchased and is ready to go for tomorrow, as well.
  • I managed to negotiate a private scuba course that an instructor over at that dive shop in Venice will do so you can have your certs before you guys leave for Belize next week.  You can’t cancel these appointments, or you won’t get your certification on time.”

It’s no coincidence that, when I left this job, I promptly moved to the middle of nowhere in a heavily wooded area of Washington state where I had no cell phone reception and no land line.  

2008:  As the Computer Science teacher at an elementary school:

XX is very bright, and I have no doubt that she is capable of mastering the skills necessary for fourth grade level computer curriculum.  The problem is that XX seems to be much more worried about socializing than she is in listening to lessons and instructions…..XX is a good girl – smart, funny, kind to her classmates; while I’d like to encourage her high level of enthusiasm for, well…pretty much everything, over the past four years, she has consistently been the most disruptive student in her grade when in my classroom.

At the time, I didn’t recognize the irony of these parent emails.  Then I realized my mom got notes like this all the time.  Sorry, mom.  Sorry, past teachers.  I wish you hadn’t been forced to discourage my enthusiasm FOR LIFE.

Stay tuned for Items of Actual Interest that I might reveal through the course of this surreal digital archaeological excavation of my young adult life.

I’m sure my old work emails are thrilling you into a slow and agonizingly delicious death, but I have to get some work done now, people.



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