Overnight I’ve gone from being the exhibit writer to, um, well, I don’t have a title anymore. Moved from my cubicle to, well, um, I don’t have a workspace anymore. I just show up at the museum collections storage room door, knock, and, once admitted, stand around until the tasks for the day are doled out and divvied up. Then we scurry off to unpack boxes, take empty boxes to recycling, hand off objects to and from the photographer, do data entry, and shelve the unpacked objects. I don’t know what I was thinking, but when I was told about this collections inventory project, I pictured a whole lot of data entry. And there is that. But, since I never worked in this museum’s registration department, my login doesn’t give me the ability to enter or modify data into the database. Made sense when I was in the exhibits department. Now? Not so much. But they won’t change it because I’m just temporary. So while I envisioned that I’d be maybe sitting around in a cubicle, doing a ton of data entry with this inventory project, instead I find myself being asked to help unpack giant boxes, haul objects up and down ladders, and vacuum using the world’s clunkiest vacuum cleaner. Even when we’re all standing around waiting for the next task, I’m standing around. All of it requires a lot of energy and it’s making it hard for the newly pregnant me to stay awake past 6:00 4:30 p.m.
Though I’m trying to stay focused on being grateful that I’m still earning a paycheck, all that I can think of is that I left museum collections management to go into exhibit development. And now I find myself having taken a step backward at just the moment when I’d made an agreement with myself to take a big leap forward out of museum work altogether. Not to mention that since I’m pregnant, this is exactly the wrong time to be moving into a role that literally requires heavy lifting from time to time. (I mean, I haven’t been asked to help move a piano or anything, but if and when that happens, I’ll have to figure out how to decline.) But that’s not even the biggest of my worries. It’s that I am on borrowed time. I am hurtling inexorably toward motherhood and, even sooner than that, unemployment. (For real this time.) By all measures, I need a (more permanent, long-term, benefits-eligible) job as soon as possible. The longer I wait, the more I’ll be showing, and while I see the baby bump as a deal-sealer for any potential employer: ‘I’m a sure-fire bet because I got another mouth to feed!’, apparently what potential employers see is: ‘NO chance she’s gonna stick around and work here after the baby’s born.’ I need to (1) find a job I’m even remotely eligible to apply for, (2) craft a cover letter that demonstrates that my years of experience in museums is directly applicable to cookie baking, dog catching, or what have you, and (3) land an interview, all before I start showing. And any one of those takes time. Precious time I’m running out of while I stand around in my new post hoping nobody asks me to help move a baby grand today.
So while this new gig is keeping unemployment at bay, it’s also coming at a cost of not getting me any closer to answering “Well, what’s next, then?” (Not to mention taxing the very little energy that I have.) Time spent on the clock is time not spent trying to nap figure out what I can do with my life. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.