Recent Developments

I left the office at four o’clock yesterday. The sunshine nearly blinded me, an unusual occurrence. Then again, I’ve never left the office that early.

Getting into my car, I followed the usual ritual: buckled seat belt, turned right out of the driveway, made another right on the first street, headed towards home. Sylvia Poggioli of All Things Considered interviewed Venetians on how cruise ships in the small canal affect the fragile landmark, rattling the ancient architecture. How silly, I thought, that anyone would consider ruining such a valuable landmark just so a couple from Akron can snap a few photos of St. Mark’s from the foredeck.

Pulling up to the first stoplight, I decided to pick up some groceries instead of sitting at home in a daze, so I turned right instead of left.

I had never seen the parking lot so empty. As I walked toward the store entrance, I felt overdressed in my work clothes – who goes grocery shopping in a dress and heels? I pretended I was sophisticated, masking the truth with straight shoulders and an expressionless face.

Grabbing a basket, I briskly canvassed the aisles. Instead of inspecting all the latest nail polish colors, like I usually did, I mentally reviewed my shopping list. Travel-sized body wash for my upcoming trip? I decided against it. How easy it was to switch back into hyper-frugality mode.

I bypassed the book aisle, where I would ordinarily browse the latest bestsellers, and went straight for the necessities. Diet Dr. Pepper (on sale), allergy medicine, coffee (also on sale), yogurt. Like an old pro I hardly even spared a second glance at the magazines and gum on the impulse shelves lining the registers.

The fading afternoon heat greeted me tiredly as I exited the building. While I walked to my car, a worn gentleman in a baseball cap and dirty jeans approached me in beggar’s communion, an oft-repeated ritual in my beach city.

“Excuse me miss, can you spare any change?” His faded blue eyes matched the heat-worn sky, I noticed.

“No, I don’t have anything.” Despite the truth of my statement, I could feel the shame gnawing away inside. The only difference between me and this man was that this time, I had a safety net.

As I buckled my seat belt again, my phone jingled. I knew who it was without looking at the screen.

“Hey hon, what’s up?” Mike asked. I could tell by his tone he already knew.

“Well, I saw it coming,” I sighed. “I got laid off today. The whole company was let go. Don’t worry though,” I reassured him, “I’ve already filed for unemployment, and my resume is ready to go.”

“It’s okay, hon,” he said firmly. “We’re going to be fine. Don’t worry about anything.”

“Alright,” I said.

“I’m on my way home right now, okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

I hung up, and drove home. At least this time, I wasn’t alone.

faded sky

 

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Recent Developments — 78 Comments

  1. The other day I was thinking to myself how much I’ve seen your blog grow in the past few months and feeling excited for you. I may not know you well, but I know this much about my life and I know the same to be true for anyone. When you are on the wrong path, shit does NOT work out. Jobs fizzle, lovers fade, self pity runs wild and the feeling is just this weird numbness that’s a lot like auto pilot but on an unreliable course.
    I know this because I spent A LOT of time trying to find a good job and be a writer. For YEARS. Feeling like an angry piece of shit that had sold her soul and time of life I can never get back for what? School? A staggering amount of student loan debt, first in a scholar’s program and it’s all just bullshit I’ve never used.
    I’m glad you got laid off. Fuck yes. Because you are meant to be a writer. A poor, starving, happy and cultured writer. Because that’s what I am and I know you can do it too. I make two pennies that hardly rub together, but I don’t care. I have enough for my love (Pepsi One) and I guarantee you’ll have enough for your Diet Dr. Pepper as well.
    I think that things are slowly starting to swirl into place for you. I know you don’t want any advice- Lord knows I hate when people give me pollyanna advice- but I hope you know that there’s one person in the world that is so very happy this happened to you.
    I hope you blog more because we all love reading your work. I hope you write more of what’s in your heart. I personally hope you finish the novel about that girl in France that was on the phone with that douche bag. I was very angry when that story ended.

    I think you have a window of time to do something very near and dear to your heart and I hope you take it and run-er-write with it.
    That’s my wish for you.
    Also- you’re fucking amazing.
    Heather…OUT

  2. I’ve been there, and it hurts. I’m sorry. I do love the way you structured your post though – brilliant writing! When I was laid off, I sat on the couch and ate cheese – lots of cheese – while I read and read and read. Once again, books saved me. (The cheese stayed with me for a longer time than I’d like to admit.) I’m sending you a HUGE hug.
    Blogging Bibliophile recently posted…Color Me PinkMy Profile

  3. Oh man, I am so very sorry. That is horrible. But you will get something else, I’m sure! You’ll just have to avoid the magazines and gum for a bit, then you’ll be ok. I’m sure. And while you have time off, maybe do a little writing? You obviously have the skills and inclination. Might be just the time you need for it.
    Misty recently posted…Invasion of the Fruit SnatchersMy Profile

  4. I feel for you, and am sending lots of hugs your way. I’m glad to hear that you’ll have unemployment soon, and that Mike is so supportive (not that he wouldn’t be, but you know what I mean!). Enjoy this time of unlimited reading and writing, and here’s hoping you find new, and better, employment soon!
    Ericamos recently posted…Why Free Clinics Are FreeMy Profile

  5. I’m so glad you do have that safety net. It makes such a difference, doesn’t it? I hope that you are able to take some time off to process and maybe even write.

    People often say that these things happen for a reason, or happen for the best, and while that often is the case, we leave out one important fact. When things like this happen, it os an opportunity for us to refocus and find other paths we hadn’t considered. Whatever path you follow next, you’ll do well. You’re determined and smart and absolutely capable. I’m sure it’s a whirlwind right now, but I hope that it’s not completely overwhelming. When it is overwhelming, you’ve got lots of folks behind you to help get you through this. And even though we only know each other through our blogs and twitter, please know that I do care about and believe in you, and that I’m here with a listening ear anytime, for any reason.

    (I know that sounds so corny, but it’s absolutely true.)

    C
    Celeste recently posted…First DaysMy Profile

    • It is an amazing feeling – the other times I’ve been laid off, I didn’t have it, and went into debt. No fun.
      Thank you SO, SO much for your support and encouragement. I am convinced this will be a good thing, as you said.

  6. This was a great post, even if it was about not great news. I think your HuffPo piece was perfectly timed for this, and maybe now you’ll feel free to puruse new opportunities that come your way because of it.
    Ellen recently posted…AwayMy Profile

  7. AWESOME use pacing in this piece!! I love that you held the reveal right until the most perfect of moments and picked the most salient details to give it punch. It totally smacked me between the eyes.
    Jamie recently posted…No Ifs, Ands, or ButsMy Profile

  8. K, really hoping that whole blocked-from-commenting thing has been fixed for good, because WHOA do I ever want to leave you a comment this time.

    That’s such a hard thing to have happen! I hope that many opportunities come your way soon, and that life doesn’t get too tough in the meantime. I’ve been there (not exactly your situ, but similar) and it’s tough.

    Hope that you and your other half stick together as a team on this one, cos not doing is a nightmare.
    Considerer recently posted…Coffee in Real LifeMy Profile

  9. I started reading and LOL at the trying to be sophisticated buying groceries and then I got to the end. :( So sorry I can’t say I know what you’re going through because I don’t but I can say that I’ll say a prayer that things get better and soon. Its great that you have a supportive partner and I’m happy that he’s there for you. Sending virtual hugs. ((hugs))
    Growing Up Madison recently posted…Sanus TV Mount Safety GiveawayMy Profile

  10. The writing in this piece might be the best I have ever read on your blog. I love how perfectly it’s paced, and wondered where you would end up. I am so sorry about your job, that is so crappy. It’s the hardest thing, but bigger and better things are coming your way. I want to hug Mike for how supportive he is. Sending lots of good thoughts to you!
    Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…The Very Best Way To Watch a ShowMy Profile

  11. I’m so sorry Natalie. But I truly believe that when one door closes, another one opens. Sending you hugs until I can give you one in person next week. This is so well written with hints and foreshadowing throughout leading to the news. The lines “beggar’s communion” and “His faded blue eyes matched the heat-worn sky” are excellent!
    Linda Roy recently posted…Spanx. A Lot. (The All-Day Embrace)My Profile

  12. Wow, I’m so sorry. I’ll never forget the time my friend and I, poor students at the time, were walking around downtown Ottawa and a homeless guy asked us for money. My friend apologized because he had none, and turned out his pockets to show he wasn’t lying. Then the homeless guy offered HIM change. :) Hang in there!
    Janelle recently posted…The Racist Reset ProgramMy Profile

  13. Just catching up with your blog. Sorry to hear about the layoff. But on a positive note: this is an absolutely brilliantly crafted post. Not only is the language beautiful, but the structure is pure artistry. Thank you for this.
    Brian Sorrell recently posted…SalvationMy Profile

  14. How strange. On the day you posted this, my family was on Huntington Beach, splashing in the ocean and our party was talking about people we know who live in the area…I said, “I know a writer who lives somewhere around here.”

    I’ll repeat what everyone else is saying, you’ll find your way, and it will be through writing.
    Chris plumb recently posted…What I’ve Learned in 1 Year of BloggingMy Profile

  15. Natalie,
    SO sorry to hear this. I know you will use every opportunity to expand your writing horizons…how often do we look back at times like this years later and say “wow, that’s when IT happened!” I cant tell you how many it moments I discover after I go through them. Hope you are taking best care of yourself! Get the journal yet?

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