8 min read

On Starting From 🟦 1️⃣ i

(square one)
On Starting From 🟦 1️⃣ i

its something I do a lot, starting over, going back to s-q-u-a-r-e one

from being a tot trotted to a different schools and apartments almost every year to the melange of hobbies and careers I’ve dabbled and deserted

I often find myself at Square One even more so as I age into my “thirty flirty and thriving” era

honestly still such a special movie

work/career has been a dominating theme of my life.

unsurprisingly as everyone in my family has had winding job paths, grew up in a culture where the first question was “what do you want to do (for work) when you grow up?”, been running fast and going nowhere on the hamster wheel of work half my life (since 15), attended a high school where preparing for college applications was practically a sport that also funneled me into engineering (a “good” path since it lead to more stable income and was for “smart people”), further compounded by studying engineering in college where the disdain for business/comms majors was palpable and engineering elitism thrived…

it feels as if my whole life I was plopped onto a series of moving walkways propelling my life forward based on valuing Money, Career, College Pedigree instead of becoming a fully rounded citizen pursuing the path of collective good where work is merely a piece of the puzzle not the piece de resistance of one’s life

its why I really don’t like talking about where I went to high school, college, or my “background” in engineering. the mental associations of greatness ppl have with these Institutions mostly pisses me off.

  • my college was expensive and tbh I don’t think worth $900 a credit hour especially for some of the classes professors clearly phoned in. i suspect it only has the reputation it does bc its not that great a school but rich families need to feel good about how much they’re spending so regionally it gets a better name
  • my high school was and is hyper competitive in every arena, academics, sports, number of girls attending elite colleges, number of clubs and activities they can cram on a college application, etc.
  • engineering is just another job, seriously, and any engineer who makes *you* feel lesser than is an asshole. not a brilliant asshole, just an asshole. my fave discovery was that in europe and abroad engineers are literally just like anyone else, no bonkers salary, no special societal designation or whatever, as it should be tbh
while the academic side of college was a travesty my Halloween game was 💪 (here I am as Karen from Mean Girls)
“I’m a mouse, duh!” - Karen

I 100% absolutely have and do benefit from the positive stereotypes associated with these Institutions and on paper I look like a star applicant which is why I don’t like to talk about them bc people get the Wrong Idea about who I am when they know Where I’ve Matriculated

so with all that preface its no wonder that I career hop and try to explore life on my own terms - I’ve seen what its like to live near the tippy top of the pyramid to be at the bottom looking upwards, and the many transitory levels in-between.

here’s a brief editorialized tour of jobs I’ve done

Jobs I have done

  • “sre” aka operations

  • software engineer

  • hr associate

    • having the halo of “I work in HR” was v protective while I was a young lass in tech

    • although it didn’t prevent all instances of unfortunate comments

      • one of which being in the freaking stairwell just the 2 of us like in those anti-harassment trainings

  • qa at plastic injection molding company

    • left bc of an uncomfortable env

  • co-owner of Bernie Shirts, a ~profitable~ now defunct t-shirt company

  • research intern on a recycling habits study for the city of spokane

    i even got an official badge
    • honestly the things ppl will put up with when you’re wearing a construction vest and have a clipboard

    • also where I learned how men juice up their resumes - my co-worker invented such a magical world where he was the Supervisor and added dollar figures that we didn’t have access to about the project. jfc.

    • also I found a diary entry raging about this other louth who whined on and on about his life and how he didn’t want his girlfriend to get ugly

  • night time cold press juicer

    • dream of night solo shift: check. and yes it is as amazing as I wanted - played whatever music, worked at my own pace. the only creepy ass thing was being alone in downtown at midnight - something about it gave me the heeby

  • daytime regs juicer

    • sidenote: probably the healthiest-ish period of my life where sometimes I would RUN TO WORK have my shift meal of a friggin rice salad bowl, juice all the fruits and prep the yummiest soups and continue to ferry fruits and veg from down in the basement upstairs by the binfuls then RUN TO MY HOME !!!!! the energy of youth and abundant freedom of my undergrad experience

  • Forever 21 Sales Associate

    • they really actually pretended like it mattered if we knew things about fashion and fabrics which is hilar in retrospect

    • i lived off of lo carb monsters and lean cuisines and picked up soooooo many clothes off the floor literally some people do not know how to act in a store

    • also was introduced to my true love Takis

  • Century Link contractor “Engineering Assistant”

    • lmfao what a bait-and-switch…it was manual data validation for the fiber rollout, there was never enough work, and somehow I was the one who told the QA ladies wtf our process was so they understood the issues

    • also I saw how much I took home vs the worthless contracting agency and knew it was a scam

    • also I got a cubicle which btw isn’t better than an open office bc people will just “pop by the cube” bc there’s no door and there’s no sound isolation between cubes….

  • Buffalo Exchange Buyer

    • literally was employee of the month 3x in my tenure so hell yeah that meant $10 starbys gift card

    • also got to wear the wildest outfits and took very bold sartorial risks

  • Food Truck Cleaner

    • it was once and fixed flat fee and that’s an awful pricing model and I’m p sure I am owed like $40 more bucks in mac and cheese creds

  • Office Assistant in the Dean’s Office

    not the dean’s office but a still from my video app/coup for SWE (society of women eng) Prez
    • This work study gig was pretty chill, I even interacted with Sharepoint lolz

    • the dean and I weren’t fond of each other - but the ladies who ran the office (and let’s be real the department) and I bonded and they were a respite of tenderness and joy and liberalism during my fraught undergrad years

  • Swim Instructor

    • the job I’ve been least qualified for

    • literally wasn’t even asked to swim for the interview

    • if you have kids going to swim school maybe ask what background the instructor has lolol

    • tbh I think most folks could teach 3 yos how to blow bubbles and obviously we had a lifeguard and no one drowned or even almost drowned on my watch

  • Intern @ Lobbyist company my friends dad was partner in

    • lol sounds more like a sentence out of a fancy Stanford lacrosse boy’s mouth, eh?

    • one time my task was to drive his car to the body shop bc my friend had smashed part of it and it was hilarious AND terrifying….like who takes the keys from one teenager and hands them to another?

    • it wasn’t lobbying for “bad” causes, but the fact that paid lobbyists have to be a thing you know isn’t great

  • Jamba Juice smoothie person and 2 time Strawberry Mascot

    remember when phone cameras sucked?
    • the best smoothie is mango a go go + matcha (and no smoothies with sherbet aren’t healthy but they are yummy)

LOL at the white sweater, she’s just tempting fate there

Careers I Considered During RadSab

  • Stay at Home Wifey

    • tbh if my job was managing the house, life appointments, etc and planning date nights, volunteering in the community and eating bonbons I’d be happy as a clam

    • I was p sad when it became apparent that I would have to return to work and I had to fold up that dream and put it away. it was a fun few weeks though

  • SRE Manager

    • HA. No more startups that’s the rule.

    • Also didn’t appreciate being told to that “sometimes we have to realize what we’re not good at and focus on what we are good at” (after pursuing the Staff SRE role first). A little helping of sexism on top of what was a shit sundae 💩🍨 of a month

  • Staff SRE/Observability Eng @ many notable household names

    • omg the hoops y’all they wanted me to jump through

    • we never even talked about observability

    • why does interviewing still suck 6 years after entering the industry

  • Code School Instructor

    • even tho my code school got bought out by an evil giant for-profit educational institution the reality of making sweet sweet tech money and being able to repay debts, share it with family, etc is very real and I thought I’d be able to help prep the ladies for what they should expect leaving the women’s empowerment bubble of the course

    • oh yeah its an all-lady environment (which you know mixed feelz bc who is there for the enbys and the genderfluid folks???)

  • Software Engineer

    • literally was techsplained to death or completely written off bc of holding the previous SRE title (happened so so much I stopped applying for SWE roles entirely)

  • Front Desk at a local Honda dealership

    • 4 day workweek!!!!!!!!!!

    • could learn more about cars

  • PT Cashier @ Ulta

    • + get to go wild with makeup everyday and be surrounded in a glittery femme universe

  • Freelance Writer

    • cons are the few folks I’ve talked to about this who’ve been published in Major Outlets even still scrape by gig to gig which sounds v stressy

  • Queer Elopement Planner

    • tbh as I dug into wedding prep even in oregon there’s assumptions of straightness and oh my freaking god so much stupid paperwork

    • this was also where I could apply my makeup skills learned from Ulta

  • Catsitter

    • tbh I’m not comfortable giving cats medicine so don’t think this would be a good fit

  • Random Craigslist Gigs

    • e.g.

substack is telling me I’m approaching the email len limit so TTFN!