Monday, May 5, 2008


Today marks one month and one day of unemployment.
Yesterday I went to the mall to see if maybe I could find some cute interview attire at my own personal Mecca of the Gimme Gimme, Anthropologie. My reasoning was sort of along the lines of if I dress like it they will come. But I didn't buy anything. Anthro was full of frilly print dresses and embellished sweaters too delicate for my hangnails, J. Crew had silk tops cut too full, Banana was just downright fugly in a Heathers playing croquet kind of way so I left empty handed and now I cannot help but wonder if because I am not dressing like it nothing will come. Just endless days of naps and going to the grocery store because every single day I wear jeans, a sweatshirt and some flip flops, the universal uniform of the unemployed.
Last year at this time I was on a work trip to China where the workers in the factories have to wear vests, each a different color to show what department they work in and at what level. If I were in China this year, right now, then surely I would be wearing the dingy grey smock flecked with metal shavings, my fingers stained with tobacco and machinery oil. But I am not, I am here in the States in my plush ivory bathrobe which is a blessing of sorts considering the next leg on that journey last year was India where somewhere on the road to Moradabad I ate a funky chaat and spent the next two weeks peeing out of my bum bum and cursing in the general direction of Ganesh and the Ganges, to anyone within hearing distance of the closed bathroom door. It was not so auspicious, that chaat I shat.
But no, now I am at home where my bathroom is clean(ish) and there is an abundance of toilet paper. Still I worry.
One month and one day.

In the lexicon of my family we have a word for this discombobulated malaise: derrumba. My dad first spied it on a road in Costa Rica, a street sign to warn drivers of a dip in the road ahead. It works: derrumba. Or if you're feeling particularly dramatic: derrumbatic. Translated literally, it means "to collapse."
I hear the irony in this post. Writing about factory workers in Communist China, India where golden-eyed beautiful beggars purposefully hack off an arm so they can make more money on the streets. Places in the world where there is no movement, just the instinct to breathe even if the air is brackish and still. And Anthropologie, my Mecca, where I browse in a fugue state of Yael Naim, where somehow a Visual Team has made apples fall from the sky and the pages of an old book swirl overhead as if caught in a breeze, where a shirt is easily $128 with a first cost of no more than $14. Made in Sri Lanka. I know how it works.
And yet this is all I really know, my survival instinct: It has been one month and one day. I have no solid leads and with every passing hour I feel smaller. My house, my car. Health insurance. There was a dip in the road ahead but I never saw the sign; I was driving much too fast. It collapses. Everything collapses.

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