Monday, March 28, 2011

The Best Things in Life are Free

Wear Sunscreen - most people know of it as Kurt Vonnegut's commencement speech at MIT, but apparently it was actually written by a Chicago Tribune columnist, Mary Schmich.  It was later recorded in 1998  by the Australian film director, Baz Luhrmann, his version being the one that most people are familiar with.  If you have ever heard it, and I'm sure you have, it contains great advice and in my opinion it should be read or listened to rather frequently.

"Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday."  Mine actually came this past Saturday at 6:30 pm.

It was the end of my work day and I was just moments away from placing a call to my favorite Thai restaurant for some take out.  My best friend Virginia was visiting as we were planning to leave the next morning for a girls day out with my sister Pam and friend Patty to Santa Cruz.  Yeah, good times.  When through the front door runs Nicole, the project manager for our gallery, and also, unbeknownst to me, our HR Director.  She looked like she had just seen a ghost or was running from the law, I couldn't tell, I just knew that she looked extremely disheveled and anxious.  Small talk.  Me: "We need more Windex, and some note pads."  Her: "Okay, okay.  But I also came by because I have some not so good news."  Or maybe she said bad news, I just know that I felt that filmy cloud form over my eyes and my mind.  Her again: "We have to let you go.  The gallery is having money issues, and someone has to go.  Because of seniority Kim it will have to be you.  I'm so so sorry to have to tell you this."

She hands me my paycheck.  Confused, I'm waiting for her to tell me I will have two weeks or perhaps a small severance pay coming, instead she tells me to go ahead and shut things down, then asks if I have any personal belongings I need to take with me . Wow, I'm being fired.  Am I being fired?  "No, no, you haven't done anything wrong, it is a matter of finances."  Well, it sure feels like fired to me.


As we were escorted to the front door, we, as in me and my dear friend who had to witness this humiliating "we have to let you go",  I felt like schoolgirls that had been caught shoplifting and now were being escorted to the waiting room, either to wait for our parents or the proper authorities.  And unfortunately, I do have experience with that, somewhere around my 16th birthday, and no, I'm not proud of it and neither is my mother.

Stunned, we get in my car, heading over to the restaurant but now I can't think clearly and my car seems to be driving me.  My appetite seems to have followed suit with my job and completely disappeared, causing the car to bypass the restaurant entirely and heads instead to the liquor store, not for liquor, but a pack of cigarettes.  We are both closet stress smokers.  When we enter the store, the clerk (a nice Indian man, our age, but of course we think he looks much older than us) makes the mistake of asking "How are you?" Instead of answering with the canned "Good, thanks", I say, "I just got fired."  I also start crying.  There are customers in line.  "Deepak" as my friend Virginia later calls him, started dispensing his sage advice.  "Don't worry.  You have nothing to worry about.  Start meditating.  Me, I've never smoked in my entire life."  Meanwhile, Virginia is busy pandering to the other customers, with hands cupped and open, "money for the poor, any change", as she is definitely a "glass half full" kind of person and can find humor in most any situation. This caused me to start laughing and crying in unison which made me look like an even bigger mess, and I'm sure the customers or staff considered calling Napa State Hospital to see if there were any padded rooms available.  The customers sadly shook their heads, with a "Sorry, no" to her plea for help.  Perhaps they saw the BMW parked out front and couldn't quite garner up the necessary sympathy.

The next day in Santa Cruz we were walking down Pacific Avenue and saw a sign, Palm Reader, and in our state of ambiguity decided that this might be just the thing we needed on our, "where, when, why and how" kind of afternoon.  As we approached the stairway to the psychics second floor office, a homeless man leaning up against the psychics sandwich board sign, with a sample size cup of very berry frozen yogurt in hand, said to me "you really want to know  your future?"  "Well,  yes I do", I replied.  "Give me you hand, your right hand."  He looked hard at the lines that documented my birth, life and death, and did declare that I would find the love of my life by September.  "Where?" I asked.  That he didn't have the answer to.  He didn't say anything more, nothing about new jobs, new careers, hitting the lottery.  But he was sure about the love.




 
We left disappointed since we had hoped to have our  magnificent futures affirmed and awaiting us.  Walking off in search of a coffee joint I turned back in time to see my homeless very berry psychic turning the corner.  And as strange as it might seem, he gave me enough, a bit of hope and it didn't cost a cent and neither did his free sample of yogurt.

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