In an attempt to soothe my aching head over my impending unemployment, I did some shopping on the weekend. (Most was needed stuff, and not for me. Sigh)
I picked up some cheap books-the bookstore having a 4 for 10$ sale, which makes it a “who cares if it sucks” sale.
One book in particular caught my eye, “A Year and a Day“, by Leslie Pietrzyk. It’s the story of a 15 year old girl whose mother kills herself, parking her car in the path of an oncoming train.
And oh, it makes me cry on the bus almost every morning so far.
I’ve searched for books on motherloss that would really hit the right tone, and for the most part, they don’t. They try to hard, they don’t understand the little missing pieces, or the fact that the larger hurt is underscored by the silences death brings. This book…it brings us to them. Tearing the house apart searching for recipes-I’ve done that myself, searching high and low for that crumbling Five Roses cookbook my mother had when first married, marked by flour and grease and her fingers. I never found it.
The anger. The lashing out in strange ways, at friends, at those who profess to care but have problems (seemingly) less than your own. The repentance. The confusion. The utter inability to process something as simple as Christmas. Having to be the adult. Having to not say what you want to say, wanting to scream at the top of your lungs,
“She’s DEAD! Not lost, not passed away. GONE.”
The vestiges of my former self, my younger, more fragile doppelganger, they live in this book. My memories came alive reading this, tears spring unbidden at the repeated “I’m fine.” through the book, the mirror of my adolescence, the constant refrain of “I’m ok, I’m fine” when all I wanted to do was fall into the arms of the speaker.
Alice, the girl in this book, she can’t fall either, the hurt in her heart far stronger than the need for comfort. The dry distance between her needs and wants, and the crippling prison grief becomes, especially at so young an age. Her need to comfort, and almost protect the pregnant 16 year old Paula, her helplessness. Her scorn for the one person she lets in, the one person who allows her to mimic her mother, Joe Fry. Her sweet pleasure in his gift of an acorn for her pocket, as she fiddles.
I could have been Alice. Well, except for the part where her dead mother speaks to her.
There’s a part where her brother has ran to Boston, and returned, and he’s talking about how he thought he saw her in a crowd, but realized it wasn’t her, and that this, THIS was when he knew she really wasn’t coming home.
I’ve seen my mother, in faces, side profiles, coats. And realized that despite not remembering her, not much at all, her face was imprinted on me, her movements. She’s never coming back either.
Seeing this written, truly seeing it as I have, it’s a blessing. It’s recognition.
It’s like home.
Yes, I am losing my job.
Some of it’s performance. Some of it’s having a poor manager, some is the needs of the business are outstripping my abilities. There’s a lot to it, most of which I don’t wish to get into publicly. I will say that as someone who has been with a company for over 8 years, it hurts. It hurts how this company treats tenured employees, and seems to consider tenure and accomplishment meaningless unless you’re an ass kisser.
I was once passionate about my job-loved it, loved that I helped action change for millions of customers. But in the last few years, that was smothered, as my job became more about making things “look good” than about actual change for Joe customer on the street. Things changed, my manager changed, and I no longer felt part of any team. Just another sucker doing shit work for a paycheck.
It hurts. I’ve been so proud keeping a job for this long, many years of it unmedicated, and succeeding that way. It’s almost like things only went south once I started achieving some measure of stability. Go figure. But I’ll never be uber organized, I’ll never be perfect, especially under pressure. I recognize these things in me, and realize that now, this isn’t the place for me, and at least for the time being, I need a job where I can just enjoy helping someone, a job which doesn’t find me working on the weekend and after “work” on a regular basis.
I don’t want that, and I never really did.
So I’m kinda scared, but kinda excited as well. I’m getting a reasonable severance, so I can’t complain, and they’re keeping me on till the bonus payout so I can get whatever payout is owed. So they aren’t completely inhuman. Having to sit through conversations about helping report automation learn the reports I was producing-that sucks. Hard. It’s like everything you worked for is taken away so easily.
I never truly felt like I was my job, and I’m glad of that. I’m happy, sated almost, to be done with this job, the constant panic and rush, never feeling like I had time or opportunity to truly do what I felt my job was. Excuses maybe, perceptions. But only hearing the bad stuff from a boss for months does this to you. Wears you down until you ARE that bad employee.
So we’re moving on. I hope to find something simple for now, easy, no stress. I’d love to take a month or two off, but I’d rather have a laptop. If I have an easy job again, I might start writing again. Reading Piertrzyk’s book has made me realize that I really do want to write that memoir of my childhood, even if I never do a damn thing with it.
Losing my job is making me realize all the things I want to do, things that are so much bigger than pulling data for someone.
This morning, walking to school, Vivian tried in vain to climb a snow-hill I promised her she could climb the day before. She tried and tried, and I grew irritated, knowing I was missing my bus. Finally I had to drag her off the snow hill and push her forward.
“You NEVER keep your promises to me!” she screamed. “You promised!”
Promises are funny things. They change when you least expect it.