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no one is as cool as you think they think they are

October 22, 2008

Today I went downtown with my friend Kerry to look for items that could supplement my meager work wardrobe, since I have a temp job coming up tomorrow that lasts a full ten days.  I will be receptionizing at what was described to me as a “boutique design firm” in Telegraph Hill.  I am enthusiastic to work anywhere that is associated with the word boutique as anyone who was with me in Paris in December ’06 can attest to, I guess that would be Liz only, but for everyone else all I can say is that on that trip the words “boutique” and “cute” and any combination of the two were abused to the full extent of our verbal powers. 

Anyway, we’re downtown trying to find economical (read: cheap) businessy shirts that walke the thin line between professional lady and sexy secretary.  After a painful half hour in H&M, another thing that Europe has ruined for me, Kerry suggests that I help her find lipstick for her wedding.  I leap at this idea since I have been entertaining the notion that I might start wearing lipstick.  I’m not sure why I am suddenly overcome by this urge as I have always disliked the way lipstick looks on me, but like fencing, it seemed to be one of those things that might have the power to change the course of my life, or at the very least my afternoon.

My lips are being enthusiastically painted fuschia by a tall blonde woman when my phone rings.  It’s Callie.  She tells me that she’s having a mental breakdown over the normal things: job, friends, money, geography, the unutterable weariness of life after college.  I tell her that she needs to call our other friends, since they are suffering from these as well, and could probably offer a sympathetic ear.  One of them, who shall remain nameless, is even toying with the idea of moving back to the island and commuting to Seattle with her mom, and although this was told to me with a laugh the unmistakable wistfulness in her voice betrayed the fact that she was only half joking.  

In a strange turn of events it seems that I am the only one who is NOT having a mental breakdown, although judging by the previous entry this is probably only half true.  Honestly, thought I feel pretty good, and that is a welcome change.  And yet, only yesterday I found myself standing on our balcony, my head resting on my arms, literally paralyzed by some unknown anxiety silently repeating the words, “You will return your library books today.  You’re going to return those books,” over and over again in a soft firm voice.    

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kent McMIllan permalink
    October 22, 2008 4:26 am

    It has been more than 30 years since the older reader had to look for a job, but he can still remember how discouraging it was and has some sympathy. At that time he was trying to find gainful employment doing something that he’d spent quite a bit of time in college preparing to do. The dead calm of a local recession when the principals of the firms he thought he’d like to work for were sitting at the receptionist’s desk left him wondering how any ships ever left port, much less reached faraway lands with exotic goods.

    He would walk into an office to find a principal or partner of the firm sitting at the receptionist’s desk as if to get the first glimpse of a new client who wasn’t a green architecture student looking to hire on.

    Ultimately, the older reader opened the telephone book and picked a firm at random from a list of offices of people who engaged in a mundane activity of no aesthetic conseqence at all – engineers are as a rule philistines – and there began a series of events that were hardly what he would have planned for himself, but were nonetheless a highly interesting and entertaining voyage to land of adventure.

    In that the older reader is a member of a profession that is almost entirely filled with other intuitive personalities of some variety, he has observed that nearly all of them have also pursued a meandering path in life which in retrospect almost makes sense.

    Drawing a straight line on a chart isn’t for many of us the best way of laying in a course that will take us somewhere that we didn’t know we wanted to go.

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