Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I Write for the Lawmakers

So, last year I worked as a research analyst for the State of Alaska. A legislator would request information on something and I would research and write a report on it. This seemed like an ideal job for a person who was a trifle burnt out on trying to help people she didn't have the power to really help; teaching parenting skills to women who needed the entire society to change so that they weren't so overwhelmed.

I'm endlessly curious, it's one of the things that made me good at working with the parents. I would gladly research new problems and test new solutions. I love to write and always have and I do it well. I particularly enjoy learning new things and then communicating them to someone else.

In addition to being able to do research on the internet, on the phone, and in the library, and to write accurate and clear reports, one of the requirements was being able to be objective. To write reports that gave the legislator the information requested and helped her to make a decision, while not taking sides. When the legislator read my report, she wasn't supposed to be able to tell what my opinion was. You can see why I only lasted seven months in that job. I got the information. I learned the agency protocol for clear, concise, well organized reports. And then I rewrote them and rewrote them and rewrote them and rewrote them trying to make them value neutral. It was a bad job fit, I felt wasted and I wasn't doing the level job they needed; I see the big picture when they were asking for the small, so that they needed an essay and I wrote a dissertation. But, mostly, as my boss later mentioned in the wonderful reference she gave me, advocating is one of my strongest skills and I wasn't supposed to do it. And when I became passionate about how changing off and on daylight saving time affected the sleep patterns of teens, increasing their accident rates for a week after the spring change, when I wrote in the fifth draft that "changing time twice a year results in teenagers staggering with sleep deprivation for a week twice a year", we both knew that when the legislative session ended in May I would be moving on. It was a lovely job. If only I weren't so opinionated. If only I didn't care so deeply about the damnedest things. If only I were someone else.


Deja Pseu said...

I think your opinions are wonderful and reading them makes my world a better place. I'm glad you're able to share them here!

Ms. Mamma said...

You are a wonderful writer and such a fascinating lady to me! How frustrating to be in that atmosphere. You are a trailblazer.