38. The New 15


Like many left coasties raised in the 70s, I wore the "Girls Lib" and "Girl Power" shirts with my tennis shoes and head scarf.  My Mom took me to her NOW* and AA** meetings and took pride in not showing me how to cook.  My brothers were given black baby dolls the same Christmas I was given a train set and skateboard.  My parents took seriously the call to raise little girls to be firemen, and little boys to be ballerinas.  We listened to "Free to Be You and Me" and all of us adored Wonder Woman.

I was encouraged to be any old thing I wanted, excepting of course a traditional woman (stay home, raise kids, cook nice dinners).  But this free and open wide horizon left me wanting more structure and feedback and encouraged an absolute worship of education and teachers and books and (good) grades.

I’ll never forget walking home from school at 15, sobbing over a newly received B- on a French paper.  I remember a kindly neighbor pulling over and asking me what was wrong, and attempting to make me feel better with the usual talk about it being  a perfectly respectable grade and why when he was young he was lucky to get a "C."

Even at the time I knew it seemed overly dramatic to get so upset, but I know why I was so heartbroken.  I wanted the hard work and discipline and love of learning to be reflected in the universe around me.  I wanted my love to translate into success.  And success wasn’t a B-.  I wanted there to be a seamless line between my inner world and the world of other people. 

And this discordance is so like how I feel about my job loss that it’s uncanny.  I thought if I brought my best most open self to my work and if I led the organization with determination and integrity and treated the employees fairly, well, the good would just spill out of the clouds and the people would see my effort and admiration would flow forth.  Of course now that seems terribly naive. 

That last day, the worst day, when I listened to the complaints about the direction of the agency and the vote of no confidence, I was so stunned that I was absolutely frozen.   All I could think of was getting out.

I dream about work still.  I dream that it turned out better, or worse (depending on the night) and I wake up thinking it’s time to get ready to go to work.  Then I realize it’s just me and the kids today at home.  And they ask me what we’re going to do today and sometimes I honestly have no idea.  So I make them breakfast and try and think of something.

*National Organization of Women
** Alcoholics Anonymous


10 Responses to “38. The New 15”

  1. September 9, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    I can identify with your “B- on the French paper” story. I was exactly like that when I was a teenager, and your words resonated with me.

    I also had a lump in my throat at your description of your last day. I’m sorry you had to go through that. (HUGS!)


  2. September 9, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    Your are the overachiever to my underachiever, my ADD brain does not compute. I honestly think some people are too smart and savvy to work for other people.

    Good luck to you. I have a feeling you excel at anything you do and quite frankly, that can be viewed as a threat to those more insecure.

  3. September 10, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    CrankMama – don’t you know the big brains get voted off the Island first? I was equally shocked to be fired from a job where i was excelling. At least i think i was fired. And at least i think i was excelling. It’s hard to tell with those zany internet service provider start-up companies. Anyway – they turned up at my house one day to collect my company computer and company cell phone and all those manila envelopes. But i didn’t get it. Couldn’t they feel my enthusiasm and dedication – for instance in my late night emails, sent company wide, in which i wrote things like sort of suggest that our corporate name and entire image should be changed immediately to MY NEW IDEA? Far be it from me to be BOSSY but what kind of internet service provider start-up company is named Nex-i when it could be Jack?

  4. September 10, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    Bossy – I did indeed get voted off, but I’m glad I got kicked off with someone as cool as you.

    Jessica – From an OA to a UA, rock on sister and thanks for the kind words.

    SkyAngel – Soo sweet. Thanks for the kind words.

  5. 5 SingleMama
    September 11, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    There is nothing as wretched as having the direction of your days suddenly taken away. It’s disorienting and awful. How do you revamp your life and your idea of you? And who the hell are those people that took everything you worked for away?? Jerks. Happened to me too. But you?ve survived everything up til now, so we’re all sure you’ll come through this too.

  6. September 11, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    No good deed ever goes unpunished. Demonstrating enthusiasm and virtue just seems to generate hostility. What a bizarre world this is.

  7. September 11, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    One of my least favorite lines ever used?

    “It’s not personal. It’s just business”.


    It is very personal.

    Big hugs.

  8. September 11, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    I added you to my roll. Hope you don’t mind. I like you, Cranky…

  9. September 13, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    I’m sorry. I really am.
    I went through a similar circumstance – I had dreams about it as well…nightmares, more like it. It took me years to fully let it go. Just by chance, I actually felt like I had closure with it this past January, after 8 years.

    And…my previous comment – I just now saw the AA in this post. I hope that I haven’t offended you. I have some members in my family as well, and some that should be.

  10. September 13, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Kevin –
    No worries.. where would we be without jokes about moms and drinkin’? I’ll tell you where: serious grim land, that’s where!

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