on the job

Well, I won't say that my Imposter Syndrome has subsided, because that's a phenomenon that affects high-achieving individuals, not the nominally accomplished such as myself. But whatever it was that made me afraid of being found out for the incompetent, unskilled yahoo I am--that's gone. Because as it turns out, I'm pretty good at this assistant stuff.

Being an assistant is just a matter of being thoughtful, really. I know that sounds like I'm puffing myself up. And maybe I am. But that's all the job is. If you're already a considerate person, being someone's right hand (boss's words, not mine) comes easy. All I do is try to anticipate his needs as best I can, which gets easier the more I know him. And as we spend a lot of time together--the entire work day, in fact--that's happening quickly. The hours have ramped up, too. This past week I worked every day, including Saturday. Which leaves me exhausted today, but also grateful for the paycheck.

It's surprisingly fulfilling. There is absolutely no glory and praise is rare, but I'm satisfied by the little things. Remembering something important he would have forgotten. Finding information he can use. Even just making him laugh when he's getting tense. Often I do things he doesn't even know about. Discreetly calling ahead to a restaurant or an appointment, to warn them he's running late (if he were to hear me he'd get annoyed, maybe even feel criticized). Creating new contacts for this phone, from the business cards he collects. Like I say, little things. But little things are not his specialty. Big things are what he's good at, so I try to free him up so he can focus on those.

There's a personal element to it, too. He's a bit...socially awkward. Abrupt. Sorely lacking in self-awareness. He can crash a conversation into the ground pretty quickly without meaning to, whether it's in a boardroom or on a date. So he likes me to be there with him. After one of the first dinners, he took me aside and looked at me pleadingly and said, "I know I'm weird. I'm working on it. Will you help me? Will you watch my back? Can you do that?" Or something along those lines. And that was the moment I knew that despite how challenging he can be, I'd stick around for at least a while. I respond to vulnerability and honesty.

And it's been like that since. He brings me to meetings, professional and social, that I have no real reason to be at. And sometimes I can tell the others there are curious about my inclusion. But then my boss will blank on a name, or falter at a joke he doesn't get, and I'll smooth the moment over with what I guess have turned out to be pretty decent interpersonal skills. And I'll feel useful, and empowered. And I kind of love it.

There are other perks, too. I've already mentioned the meals, but they've become such an awesome part of the job that they bear mentioning again. I'm saving a ton on groceries, and eating in restaurants I'd probably never get to on my own. My boss will be randomly generous in other unexpected moments, too. Recently I was ordering him a bunch of personal stuff from Amazon (toiletries and the like) and he told me to throw whatever I needed in the cart too. Boom, free cosmetics. Then there was a night last week when he knew another employee and I were out getting dinner together after work. He texted her to say save the receipt, the meal was on him.

And then there's how laid back an environment I get to work in. Since it's just a private office, the atmosphere is relaxed, even though it's Beverly Hills. Often we're out running errands and I'm never expected to wear anything fancy or uncomfortable. In fact my boss prefers me in casual clothes. (I still try to be polished, though. It's Beverly Hills and Bel Air for Pete's sake.) These might seem like small considerations but I don't take them for granted.

It isn't all roses and rainbows, though. He can be rude, controlling, and impatient. If I so much as take too long to "clean up" (as he calls it) his dictation (which is often incredibly fragmented and grammatically garbled), he'll snap at me to forget it. But while a younger version of me might have gotten upset, it doesn't bother me. I just quietly finish on my own and then circle back to it when the opportunity arises. I don't take his personality personally.

He's just...complicated. It takes a compassionate person to work for him, or even to be his friend. He means well even when he falls short of doing well. In a way he's his own worst enemy. And that's something I can relate to, completely. And it's a lot easier to forgive someone shortcomings that you understand yourself.

Those are the broad strokes. Of course, me being me, I've quickly honed in on the fun stuff. The drama. The intrigue and conflict. The money. Oh, the money. The women. The extremely wealthy, somewhat famous, and entirely too entitled. All the stuff that makes for wonderful blogging. I can't, though. Not explicitly. If you want that stuff, you're going to have to read the book.

So. Let me state officially that everything I write under The Life of Riley tag is inspired by true events, but is not pure truth, by any means. It's just a fun way to creatively express some of the crazy experiences I'm having these days. A way to keep writing, even though now I have so much less time to do it. Who knows. Maybe down the road it could become something more than just blog posts. We'll see.

Why "The Life of Riley?"

Well, I've always loved the song. It takes me back to being a teenager and discovering my love of writing. But it was the lyrics themselves that really gave me the idea:

Lost in the milky way
Smile at the empty sky and wait for
The moment a million chances may all collide

I'll be the guiding light
Swim to me through stars that shine down
And call to the sleeping world as they fall to earth

So, here's your life
We'll find our way
We're sailing blind
But it's certain, nothing's certain

I don't mind, I get the feeling
You'll be fine, I still believe that
In this world, we've got to find the time
For the life of Riley

From cradles and sleepless nights
You breathe in life forever
And stare at the world from deep under eiderdown

So, here's your life
We'll find our way
We're sailing blind
But it's certain, nothing's certain

I don't mind, I get the feeling
You'll be fine, I still believe that
In this world, we've got to find the time
For the first time

I don't mind, I get the feeling
You'll be fine, I still believe that
In this world, we've got to find the time
For the life of Riley

All this world is a crazy ride
So, take your seats and hold on tight

So, here's your life
We'll find our way
We're sailing blind
But it's certain, nothing's certain

I don't mind, I get the feeling
You'll be fine, I still believe that
In this world, we've got to find the time
For the first time

I don't mind, I get the feeling
You'll be fine, I still believe that
In this world, we've got to find the time
For the life of Riley

That's my life in song, if ever my life were to be in song. First there's the expression's actual meaning: an easy and pleasant life, without hard work or problems. So yeaaahhhh. All kindsa layers there. "Sailing blind, certain nothing's certain?" Check. Always being fine, in spite of that? Check. Is my "world a crazy ride"? Feels like it to me.

But above all, writing is my "guiding light". And even though everything is changing dramatically yet again (new job, ending relationship, moving...), I know I'll be happiest if I continue to make time for it. If I make time for the life of Riley.

I'll make as much time as I can for her. I hope you like her story.