Saturday, April 27, 2013

The forecast looks brainstormy

I'm happy at my new job.

It's quiet on the Marketing department's half of my building's sixth floor, unlike the HR half where I sat as a temp amid sounds of recruiters ever on the phone asking prospects about their professional licenses and acceptable salary ranges, and within earshot of relationship managers talking about disciplinary actions. (And most of all, among floating wisps of gossip; ironically, I heard more sotto voce rumors and bold broaching of taboo topics when I sat in my old cubicle in HR with all the rule-makers and rule-enforcers than I did in any other place I have ever sat for work.) 

I share a private, bracket ( ] )-shaped cubicle-wall-enclosed space with a quiet graphic designer who mostly just sits at her computer, pops in a pair of sleek white earbuds, and designs things all day long. She and I work as a team -- for logos, marketing materials, brochures or booklets or pamphlets, little kits and packages, website "banner ads," flyers, table toppers (those pyramidal paper things you sometimes see on restaurant tables with three panels telling you about the specials), stand-up banners and promotional "signage," or anything else, I supply the copy and she handles the design and any attendant art.

And likewise, I pretty much just sit at my computer and write and edit things all day long. Sometimes there are meetings, but so far they've mainly just been genuinely fun (I'm a nerd) brainstorming sessions for new company-wide-initiative promotions or logo/tagline combos. There are few things in this world that get me salivating and chomping at the bit like seeing the word "brainstorming" in a Microsoft Outlook meeting invite or e-mail. "All right!" I think to myself, picking up an imaginary poker with which to stoke the fires of my brain. "License to be creative! Ohhh yeah!" (I repeat: I'm a nerd.)

At the first such brainstorming session I attended, everyone in the room was handed a worksheet and given five minutes to come up with image and slogan ideas for this one message we'll be highlighting later this year. I was the earnestly nerdy new girl, furrowing my brow and scribbling with solemnity, raising my hand to share ideas (as many if not more than anyone else in the room of twenty or so, including the VP who was mostly just looking at his smartphone) and saying stuff like, "Well, just to riff on what K. said..." (I swear I talked about "riffing" off ideas twice during that one short meeting), and, at one point, "I'm thinking on more of an abstract level, I think... Yeah, I don't know where I'm going with this." Sometimes the fire can get a little out of hand, and that's when I probably need someone to give me a baseball-style signal to shut up.

At the end of the session, the girl who'd been leading up at the SMART Board asked us to turn in our worksheets. Mine had a bunch of batshit, idea-sparking doodles on it (a crystal ball, an hourglass with tiny grains of sand amounting to a huge mound of sand at the bottom... probably the sort of elementary conceptual images that all the graphic designers in the room found cringe-inducingly "101," but to me they were awesome). My sheet looked as if a crazy lady had gotten ahold of it and drawn her hallucinations all over it (at no point did anyone ask us to draw anything on the sheet). 

But I was at my most spectacularly nerdy at a smaller meeting-of-creative-minds for which we'd been asked to come ready to brainstorm logo (and tagline, for me) ideas pertaining to a handful of different cities and counties. Most of the others, who'd been having these sorts of meetings for years, groaned that they hadn't had time to do research, and the girl leading the meeting did a bunch of Google and Google Images searches while we were all in her office, not having done so beforehand. 

Meanwhile, I'd spent an hour or more doing those searches plus looking at the city and county websites, their official seals and crests, the style of slogans they seemed to like for their existing programs, jotting down trivia and factoids I'd gleaned from Wikipedia. So in the meeting, I was like Alice Cooper in that scene in "Wayne's World" where he busts out all those facts about Milwaukee. "The Torrey Pine, Latin name Pinus torreyana, is a rare and endangered species that only grows in San Diego County." "The Palomar Observatory, a nationally renowned space observatory at Caltech, is featured on the county seal." "Go-go music, a percussion-driven sub-genre of funk, originated in DC and is pretty much still only popular in the DC metropolitan area." OK, I didn't say the Latin-name part, but I said all the rest of that. My boss took notes when I spoke, and at one point murmured, "That's fascinating."(Uh, I'm mostly sure that she was not being sarcastic.)

I haven't brought in my snow globes yet, but I did select a computer wallpaper to replace the anonymous blue screen I've had this whole time, ever since I started as a temp in January. It's not much, but to me a move like that -- putting your personal stamp on a piece of company-owned property, indicating that you expect to stick around for a bit, that you feel you deserve to stick around for a bit -- is the work equivalent of keeping a few things (pajamas, toothbrush, spare work outfit) at your significant other's place for nights when you stay over. It's not full-on moving in yet, but it represents a tiny claim staked. 

I feel like I deserve to be there.

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