Friday, July 15, 2011

I can['t] sleep through a storm

It's summertime. This causes thoughts of summer camp to dance in my head.  One of my favorite things at camp were the evening devotions - the stories we tell campers to wind them down and get them to sleep. Give them a message to mull if they are old enough or just some soothingly spoken words to comfort them if they're littles.

One story I remember well was called "I can sleep through a storm." A ranch hand looking for work approaches a farmer and answers every question with "I can sleep through a storm." Farmer is perplexed but hires him. One night, a few weeks later, a raging storm strikes and the farmer leaps from his bed and doesn't see the hand anywhere, he's angry, so he runs around the farm to find the animals safe in the barn, the hay covered, the plants protected, etc, etc.  The hand is snug in his bed, snoozing away.  The morale, duh: be prepared for the storm.

Second storm reference: the end of Terminator/the paint ball episode of space, a character looks to the gathering clouds and says Viene Tormenta.  A storm is coming.

This was my facebook status on Wednesday afternoon when I heard my boss ask my neighbor to go get coffee with him.

My boss doesn't go for coffee. He doesn't even drink coffee.

And then he came for me.

And laid me off. Just like that. After 5 years I get 30 days notice (which apparently was nearly just 2 weeks), no severance pay, but I get to take my cell number with me. No formal announcement has been sent to my client organizations yet and I don't think one will be. The three of us being let go will just fade away. We were helpful, thanks so much, and now we're gone.

I flash back to the encounters I've had with others looking for work. That faint discomfort I felt - I can feel your desperation, your worry, your weakness, and I'm ignoring it.  I can't pause to think about that right now. I'm bleeding improv-polished weakness all over the place. Via email to basically every contact I've ever made. Via facebook to all my friends. The outpouring of support is humbling.  I feel empowered. I feel powerless.

It's hard to pace myself right now.  I'm everywhere at the same time. Is it available, here's my resume. My lack of focus is crashing around me and my head keeps hitting the rocks. I am 32.  I will be unemployed. Do I take the first job? Do I gamble on the right job? What is that anyway.  Rudderless. Aimless. Focused. Determined. Predatory.  Emboldened.  Fearful. Angry. Hurt. Betrayed. Unsurprised. Resigned.  Finished.

Thursday I drove to work like a rock star. The right songs came on the radio. Things were going to be okay.  Today, I am less sure.  But, because I'm me, I still don't believe this will last too long. Something will come. It just will. I am happy. I am sad.  I am laid-off. "This economy" has become my economy.

The final irony, of course, is that after all the worries and the negotiating and the PERB filings and the victories: none of my clients were laid off.  They all kept their jobs. And I lost mine.

Back to the storm and the sleeping. In April, I finally got on track. I was making plans and saving. Readying for the storm. But I started too late.  I didn't sleep Wednesday.  It's storming and I'm awake. The most I can hope for is a nap.

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