I started journaling out of necessity about eight years ago when I resigned from my last legit gig. It was the result of a re-org so revolting I had to stay away from sharp objects for weeks. On paper, although a video producer, the new VP of Sales and Marketing put me right up there with landscapers and cafeteria workers. I barely made the page. (I know he scans my posts because he never knows what I’m gonna say, so for the record: I’m still offended.)
I gave my notice in the morning to my newly ordained female manager but still had to attend the “new group” meeting that afternoon. There were eight of us in the room, mostly upgraded AAs and a graphics guy. The new VP was going to do what he had always done best, tighten the screws. In essence, he thought we were all fucking the duck and the party was over. The lyin’, cryin’ and signifyin’ almost brought security. It was paranoia and bedlam. Oops!
Needless to say, I found this beyond amusing. I thought at one point she would announce my impending departure after almost thirty years but I could tell by the look on her face she knew she had already started her reign on the wrong foot. Uh, feet.
Instead of me giving notice, the word went out that I had decided to retire. How’s that for spin? Needless to say, I was back a week later under a new set of circumstances as a contractor at almost twice my previous rate of pay. I did that for five years as an in-house content producer. What was inconvenient for them at the time was they had big screen TVs installed in every building on every floor of a 200 acre site. Powerpoint wasn’t cutting it.
Though coming back was not my intention, the money soothed my fragile ego. For a while, anyway. But if I was chatting with someone in the hallway, the VP would cough loudly and tap his watch. “He’s on the clock, you know.”
It was killing him.
The money was the upside. The downside was I was fair game for any product manager, sales trainer, HR partner or communications manager who could hand me a soggy bar napkin with a wild idea on it and an itchin’ to start shootin’. People would show up unannounced at the studio with no script, no permission and no clue. Sometimes two groups at a time.
At that point, I had no one to run interference for me. In other words, I was on my own. Nobody had my back. My therapist made a killing that year.
I had to keep track of my hours, my expendables and my sanity. Hence, the journal. A CYA with a hard cover, courtesy of Staples. I still buy them by the dozen. If you’ve ever had your manager or the like, ask you about a questionable item on one of your expense reports or invoice, you’ll know what the pucker factor is.
Soon, my hours went wildly out of control. I was dragging down more than a VP and I had to hire an accountant. Then, other outside business starts creeping in. To complicate things further, the VP told me I was the topic of conversation at budget meetings. He said there was lots of concern. He did everything but tell me to buy a jacket with a bull’s eye on it. I was journaling my ass off by then.
At first, it was just shooting, editing and pre-production meeting time I was logging. Then, slowly, I started to add what time I got up, how I felt, what was bothering me, words I would look up, funny thoughts and what I was or wasn’t looking forward to that day. The biggest reason, was pulling that heavily scrutinized invoice together at the end of the month. Sometimes the number got so big, I wore a circle in my studio carpet before hitting the send button.
My journals are valuable to me. I always keep them in a safe place and if I pick one up and start flipping through the pages, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come. It’s then I become enlightened. It’s then I go rogue.
P.S. Content courtesy of my journals.
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