Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

It's 2:00 in the afternoon and here I sit after refereeing a tug of war match between two adorably destructive groundhog babes and my delicious dill plant. Tom Waits is hoping he doesn't fall in love with me and I'm drinking lukewarm coffee from a chipped Salmon Falls mug, looking for an "area of opportunity."

To be more specific, I'm LinkedIn-ing and Monstering about, searching for new employment.

How appropriate it seems to "Groundhog Day" back here a minute to a few Thursdays ago when the garden dill had no teeth marks and still stood favorite-leather-knee-boots high. I was happily employed until 1:00 that afternoon when I was suddenly asked to join a meeting which presented me with an unexpected, yet oddly familiar, story about the economy, big business practices and the necessary reduction in force which was erasing my position. All of this was very kindly accompanied by sincerely-said sorries, a manila envelope with a final paycheck, and two empty W.B. Mason boxes to pack up my four month old office up in. There we were--my wonderful ED, our lovely VP of Ops and me, awkwardly making jokes and smallish talk while untacking and packing my kids' wallpaper art collages, one adorable zombie crayon kitty, three appropriately dark, wonderfully obscure photos from the very recent ex, my wilting magnolia plant and the same chipped mug I'm currently sipping this horrible coffee from.

Thank you life IT department for the auto upgrade to unemployment v.2.0.

I'm a bit familiar with this crazy carnival having been through the same thing only eight months earlier with the same company. Cue the circus music, kids! Please draw your attention to the center ring! Fun under the big top begins with getting the Malbec and coffee stains buffed from your molars and dragging your kids along to hang in the oddly mesmerizing waiting room of the local breast imaging center to get things literally handled before your dental and medical insurance runs out at the end of the month.  Hurry! Hurry! You won't believe your eyes! Marvel at the severance options and a few potential internal job opportunities.  Step right up! Test your stomach and skills on the roundup of resume rewrites! Watch as they're dangerously done without an editor in the early afternoon over a basil gimlet because you're unexpectedly unemployed and you should not drink Malbec and risk staining your newly cleaned tusks!

Maybe I can get a temp job barking at the Stratham fair in a few weeks.

The 48 hours following the RIF had me shaking my fist at the universe from various places--from under my jacked up CRV while changing the pancaked tire preventing me from commuting my kids to school, from the drive thru window at Dunkin Donuts where they were out of half and half (and NO young man who looks as though he's enjoyed a full bottle of Lorazepam, I would certainly not like skim milk instead. Look at me for a second, dummy. Do I look like I drink skim milk?!) and from the unemployment office where I sat nodding off next to a man smelling of road tar and pipe tobacco waiting for what seemed like a week to get confirmation that I would not be getting any unemployment benefits for some time. There's nothing like having a few days unravel like this and then, after dragging yourself from the unemployment line to the car, having your iTunes shuffle up The Drams' "Wondrous Life." I briefly considered wandering out into the middle of Old Rochester Road into an oncoming Coast bus.

Yeah. I see what you're up to, universe. Time to cue the awesomely talented stiff upper lip, because unlike moments when I might actually fall for a flirty Basil Hayden-fueled text sent at 1:00 in the morning, I'm not falling for this. Plus, I'm out of tissues to wipe any potential mascara streaks. Oddly enough, they were used to clean up the horrible, sans-skimmed burnt coffee I spilled all over myself after jerking my car out of the Dunkin Donuts drive thru.

After hearing I was looking for work for the second time in the past year, a fabulous friend took me to lunch and ask me if I was getting tired of it all. She's known me for a very long time. You MUST be sick of it by now she challenged, hands quickly miming her fret and frustration (or showing off what I'm guessing would be white belt karate skills) while highlighting what she apparently sees as my constant, convoluted struggles. She also made a quick side note that she's quite convinced that I'm due to fall apart at any moment.

I didn't even bother argue that last point. Because some days I feel like my head might actually launch from my shoulders.

Instead, I told her that what I'm really most tired of is having to talk about it sometimes. It's really hard to tell your friends these parallel tales. Oh sure "it's their job"--a sad, grossly unpaid one--to listen sympathetically, unaffected, and to chant "rah rah" comments while clinking rocks glasses or sending you job leads and nominating dating candidates. And sure, I'll bet there's been days when I must have said some of those same certain words and phrases my friend was using to describe my life in her same silly astoundment. Affair! Divorce! Single! MY POSITION HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!

How astonishing!

Lately, however, I find I'm saying some of these very same words that were perhaps once shared in dismay with a new, slightly reckless and perhaps dangerous sort of exultation.

"Yay! Unemployment!"

O.K., it's not like I'm behaving as though I've been cast in an episode of Glee or living out a horrible scene from the very underwhelming Rock of Ages. Sure, you can thank me later for that. I just really, really, really don't want to be totally identified by these unfortunate events. I would rather be amused by them. I would rather you all be kind of amused by them as well.

Let me be clear for a sec. I do have moments when I feel it's really very unfortunate that I can't change some of the things that have happened to me and my darling deductions.

However, let me also take a sec to thank sweet baby Buddha that I can surely change who I am in relationship to it all.

I've recently watched some of my favorite people redefine themselves. How incredible to watch them move quite gracefully, some rather abruptly, beyond big personal despair or over various roadblocks towards a promissory note of something better. One tossed up a self-proclaimed (and completely beautiful, I must add) Hail Mary and was brave enough to break his own heart and leave the ones he loved because he knew he couldn't stick around here a minute longer and be the person he deserved to become. One friend taught her already sickeningly talented self to make the most amazing silver jewelry that you should immediately go and buy for yourself or for me or for someone you love because it's as strong and beautiful as her spirit and generosity. Another dusted off his former garage band bent and soon discovered that a zillion talented people, and at least one who can't sing for shit, would all love to go and get a room with him. I watched a truly beautiful Miss Somebody pull herself away from an almost deadly deadly siren song sung by a boy in now-tired NY rock boutique finery and sporting a very pretty, shiny Gibson that never held tune to her much shinier charm and class. She walked away and became the hero of a far more well-written, beautifully self-penned love song. I've watched and admired all of these people. And I've taken a few notes.

Father time can shut his pie hole. When you think about it, time isn't really running out. It's here. Right at this moment! Happy fucking Independence Day, kids! And until I make my next career move, I'll invite you watch me as I just allow things to decisively and beautifully fall apart a bit. Just look! Today finds me able to actually write something down. It's been months and months since I have had the ability to sit and focus long enough to write anything other than a grocery list. Let's face it. Some jobs have a terrible way of exhausting us. Some slowly, unknowingly kill important parts of us. Some take a pillow filled with the money needed to knock off the items on that sad bit of flash writing currently known as the grocery list and will push it slowly into our creative faces and asphyxiate the dreams we want to chase most.

I know it's temporary, but damn it's nice to be able to push that pillow off my face for a bit. I'm hoping some of you might get the chance to come for air when you can. Unless you're really into that sort of thing--and more power to you should that be the case. I'm more of a handcuff girl, myself. Either way, let's all try and be brave and even a little bit reckless when we're forced to find the next version of ourselves. Which means I shall now daringly hit publish and hang tightly on to the very alluring thought of being able to do something I love, even for just this day.

I'm telling you, that one thought is my life raft.