The Prestigious Job

3 Aug


It was karaoke night, a very promising start to any story.

Hilary and I were just warming up, wanting to choose easy songs to get ourselves in the groove.  “What about ‘Dear Marie?'” I said.

“Yes!” she said.  “We could sing that in our sleep.”

We sat back as the opening chords of John Mayer at his most angsty began to play.

Dear Marie, we sang.

Tell me what it was I used to be.

My voice caught in my throat.

Oh dear Marie, I began again.

Tell me what it was I used to be.

And if you’re further up the road can you show me what I still can’t see?

The lump grew.

Remember me?

Hilary’s voice cracked.

I’m the boy you used to love when you were 15

I squeaked.

Soon we were both in tears, half crying half laughing as we stumbled through the song.

“I don’t know what to do,” my friend said as Hilary and I clutched each other for support.

There wasn’t much to do, really.  Just let us get it out.

Last summer Hilary and I were both working Very Bad Jobs.  The kind of jobs that suck your soul out one useless hour at a time.  The kind of jobs that mean you spend $27 at lunch every day just because you know of no other way to make yourself happy than to eat an expensive, sit-down meal midday to numb some of the pain.

The kind of jobs that require a phone charger at work, because by 10:00 AM you’ve already sent 455 hopeless text messages into the void.

Those kind of Very Bad Jobs.

During this time, Hilary and I listened to a lot of music.  We sent each other songs that we were really feeling, songs that we thought the other might like.  Together we built a very sad, very emotional Very Bad Job playlist.

Dear Marie was the number one song on this list.

I listened to it over and over every day, tears streaming down my face in my cubicle.

I listened to it in the cafeteria where I ate soup in record breaking temperatures, tears streaming down my face at my table.

From time to time I’ll go looking for your photograph online

From time to time I’ll go looking for your photograph online

But some county judge in Ohio is all I ever find

Hilary once said “Dear Marie” is made of the stuff of her teenage diary, the kind of words you inform your sister to burn upon your death.  The kind of secrets you don’t want the world to know.

It’s an emotional song.

Hilary and I didn’t collapse in karaoke due to its lyrics, though.  We collapsed because those words, those faint guitar chords, they brought us back to last summer.

Back to our Very Bad Jobs.

I’ve been thinking about Very Bad Jobs lately.

One of my friends is in the midst of her own Very Bad Job complete with loss of free time, decline of emotional and physical health and the feeling of desperation/crying at every corner.

I get it.

This job was supposed to be a dream for her, supposed to be the start down a prestigious career path.  It’s the sort of job that sounds really good to other people, especially parents.

She is utterly miserable.

My Very Bad Job took place at a Very Good Company.  A very prestigious company, the sort of job that if you had told me in high school, “In your 20s you work in Downtown LA for X Company as a writer,” well I would have died.  I would have known all my dreams had come true.

The reality of these dreams, though, was fairly awful.  Further, the awfulness wasn’t getting me anywhere I wanted to go–professionally or personally.

No amount of prestige could make up for that.

This year I am a nanny.  To say this isn’t a prestigious job doesn’t really do it justice. When people find out I nanny there are all sorts of condescending responses, especially when they find out I have a master’s degree.

And yet.

I am so much happier this year than I was last year.

And yet.

Maybe it doesn’t come down to the job.

My friend’s high school classmate just landed a Very Cool Job at a Very Cool Company in San Francisco and my friend had a moment of panic.  “What am I doing with my life?” she asked me.

I reminded her that she was eating two types of queso for dinner with me, because that was true.  That’s what we had done that night.  I reminded her that she was pursuing something she loved.  I reminded her of how a job doesn’t say all that much about a person’s life or happiness or state of being.

My life sounded very cool as a social worker in London and I watched every available season of The Bachelor in the span of a week.

My job sounded very cool as a copywriter in LA and I cried every day I came home from work.

I currently wash dishes for a living and I smile a lot.

Maybe it’s not about the job.

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6 Responses to “The Prestigious Job”

  1. Shannon August 3, 2015 at 10:40 am #

    This came at the perfect time. I’m looking for an out of a Rough Job of my own. True, it sounds good to my parents and friends, but there’s gotta be more than that, right?

    • jillianlorraine August 5, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      Good luck! I think there’s more.

  2. Bailey Brewer August 4, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    Gurrrrrl I’m with you. It’s hard when people don’t get it, but crying during your lunch hour (I used to go to my car and call my dad two time zones away) is so not worth it. xo Let’s hang soon with the Hilmeister.

    • jillianlorraine August 5, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      Yes! Yoga?

  3. sarah August 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    i relate to this so much, including the nanny part. i’m currently trying to transition out of my ex-dream job and into being a nanny. when i told my dad, he asked why i wanted to be a nanny if i have a college degree. thanks for writing this!

    • jillianlorraine August 10, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

      Thank you!

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