When I got fired last year, it was unjust but welcome. It was unfair; I was bitter but not angry. Like a newborn baby, I took a deep breath and felt life for the first time in a long time. Things came into focus, fears became assuaged. I felt courage and tried to create dreams to strive for – but I ran out of money.
Dreams didn’t pay my rent, nor did the good comments on my writing – on my blog or elsewhere. My 6-year-old needed birthday presents – not to mention milk. Reality slapped me into getting a corporate job. I called it the year of the circle. I was going back to where I worked 8 years ago; to a job I didn’t love; to a boss I didn’t admire. I was going the wrong way on a one-way highway and like on a circular endless track, I couldn’t get off. But the job deposited paper into my account every two weeks. I then gave the paper to other people who gave me food and electricity. I was stuck in a cycle of transferring paper and crying.
It was the wrong job. The wrong responsibilities. The wrong boss. I had just learned how to be unemployed and now I was employed again. My projects went on the backburner – along with my relationships, my health, my happiness. My mind was stuck, as if frozen by medusa’s glance, and I was paralyzed from moving forward.
My creative passions and energy were spent convincing myself that it wasn’t so bad, convincing myself that I was lucky to have a job. But I felt too sick to appreciate it. It felt like a battle of money versus time. I just kept foreshadowing my death and thinking I can’t imagine wishing I had more money – but I sure wish I had 20 more minutes. Having the choice of the life I lived, I will always put sunshine, feeling good and love – before money. I will always put my family before the growth of someone else’s business.
Three months into my new job I had a review. My boss went over some concerns but said I was too hard on myself and don’t worry, you’re doing a good job. I quote directly. I requested vacation. She had just hired a new VP to be my boss. I thought this would be a good thing. Not so much.
I took a 5-day vacation and came home to work emails that showed me that the new VP was redoing much of what I set up to do in the next few months. She re-orchestrated it and well – apparently I was no longer needed. I knew it that morning. I had told my boyfriend and my sister. I felt it in the energy and as soon as I walked in that morning. (And now do you believe I don’t like being right all the time.)
I think she read my stuff; my big mouth explosions all over Twitter, my Meeting Poetry of her psychologically tormenting meetings, the famous post outside my blog. Funny – I never did mention any names or the company where I worked. Ironically – or not so much so – she started “following” me just in time for my morning Twitter: “Good morning sunshine. Good morning freedom. Life’s clapboard says Take-2 on creating the life 4 ME. I have shed my skin of the evil beast!”
Firing me was the only thing she could do to show me her teeth; raise the moat to her castle and make sure I’m on the outside – not contaminating her version of the world. I also think she thought she was letting the lion out of the cage; clearly she was not the ringleader that could make me respond with a whip.
I held onto my truth for as long as I could there. I didn’t want to become another one of her soldiers. Another shuddering 20-something girl in her office that only succeeds if she speaks and writes like her. That only succeeds if she does well with her teaching. I’m definitely not a color you find in a standard crayon box … I don’t even fit into one of the boxes with the built in sharpeners.
Who knows which of these actions set the bigger action into motion? Who knows what pushed the final domino; I’m just enjoying the pleasure that comes with the pattern that the fallen dominoes create.
The whole thing lasted 3 minutes. She said it was hard for her. She said she didn’t think I would be able to meet the responsibilities of the job. She said today would be my last day. Here’s some paperwork (I knew this part). I realized I was working for the same woman, 20 years apart. Then she walked out and her assistant came in to give me more paperwork. She made me sign a sheet that was a list of all the paperwork she was giving me. I took the paperwork and went to my desk to pack up. The assistant had to watch me. She offered me plastic bags. I told her I cleaned out any personal files from the computer and I left all the emails. I left my files but took my personal notebooks. I didn’t take one office pen, but I did take a stack of Broadway posters they were discarding anyway. The whole thing took 22 minutes; I know because I was on the phone with my boyfriend the whole time so the phone recorded it.
I walked out of the building with two plastic bags holding 3 kinds of boots from under my desk and a pair of flip-flops. I took my 3 steno notebooks and the 3 pieces of my son’s art from the walls. I took the mouse pad a vendor gave me right before I went on vacation; it had a picture of Zihuatanejo on it. It inspired me to book our trip to Mexico.
I waited on the 34th street train platform for the C train for over 20 minutes; four E trains but no C. Finally I got on the E train. I saw it as an omen – it may not be the train I was waiting for – but it will still get me there, it just may require a transfer.
My thoughts were like the semi-buried roots of an old tree; they were wrestling each other to spill out towards sunshine. 5 days of vacation had fixed me a little. I was feeling better, had more energy, the joie de vivre had returned to my step. The me was beginning to set back in – and now I was freed.
A second firing – almost on the one-year anniversary of my first one. I guess this will looks shitty on my resume – but that’s about it. For all the tragedies in the world – if that’s the one I have to walk away with, I say Amen.