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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2009-04-29 - 10:22 a.m.

A few weeks ago, a large corporation (we'll call them "Globo-Corp") bought the company that I've worked for since early 2003 ("SlurmCo"). As of Friday, SlurmCo will no longer exist. My department--editorial--will be kept around for a few months, as GloboCorp transfers their editorial content to our data platforms.

As lay-offs go, it was drama-free, mellow, and kind.

SlurmCo was, at its inception in the '90s, the only one of its kind, and later was the leader in its field, and then more recently was starting to choke on the dust of an upstart competitor. That upstart competitor was also bought up by GloboCorp, and is the reason our editorial department was made redundant, so it's a little poignant for the people who were really invested in that battle.

As for me--I never expected to stay this long. I was hired (as a temp, eventually on staff) to oversee and create content for a wellness-related web product. When that project folded, other projects came and went, and they continued to keep me around. (Sometimes I think they just forgot to fire me.)

Management shifted around, my role changed several times, my team grew and shrank and repopulated, and I learned much more than I ever intended about data, databases, metadata, data analysis, data integrity, etc.

But the bulk of my job was writing about music. Aside from a brief period where I taught yoga for a living, this was the first time in my long, screwy work history that my day job actually meshed with my real interests and talents. I know that's what all jobs are supposed to do, but I'm not exactly a world-beater in that dept.

I appreciate the fact that I got a chance to be creative every single day. Five days a week, I wrote. I wrote about music I already loved--bios and album descriptions for artists I would have been blogging about anyway. I learned about countless artists, and entire genres, that I never knew existed, and through writing about them came to love them. And sometimes I gritted my teeth and wracked my brain for positive adjectives to describe the reggaeton, norteno, and Disney karaoke albums that routinely warranted editorial attention because of their chart omnipresence.

So, I loved the work, but the work is just one aspect of what made SlurmCo a cool place to be.

If you've ever been the office weirdo, or have had to suppress important parts of yourself in order to pass as normal in a workplace where everyone seemed as if they were about to start swing dancing in Gap khakis, you'll understand the deep relief and joy and validation of working with 100 other music geeks, pop-culture addicts, and amusing nutjobs nursing their extended adolescences.

Everyone here had something else more important than work going on--bands mostly, but also writing, film-making, roller-derby, what have you. And not all young hipster whippersnappers, either, but a diverse crew with a wide age range and varying degrees of acclaim/success/commitment to their art.

If you slunk in late with a hand-stamp still a-moulderin' on your claw, ears ringing, bags under your eyes, no one noticed, usually cuz they were doing the same thing.

If you wanted/needed to talk about your latest musical obsession, or debate the relative merits of Pitchfork, or share anecdotes about Werner Herzog, all you had to do was write an email, cc a handful of co-workers, and an impassioned, funny, all-day thread would blossom, to sweeten the drab cubicality and broke-pockets of daily existence. I made some friends for life here, and many entertaining acquaintances.

I know I am destined for Other Things, hopefully better pay, perhaps more meaningful work. God knows I complained about this place over the years. But it's just dawning on me today how a company like SlurmCo may never happen--to me, or the world--again. I am sad to see it go. I feel lucky to have been a part of it, right to the end.

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