Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Short Mean One

Last Thursday was another day of insurance research, and a particularly crappy one—I saw figures as high as $1500 for a month of coverage in the state’s high-risk pool. If that’s really what it will cost, that’s very bad news. Thus galvanized, on Friday I started work on my resume, and checked the job listings at the company that just laid me off. I noticed a position where the manager is someone I know and like, so I went ahead and applied for it, along with a couple of other jobs.

During my visit with my current hospice patient Saturday, he asked if I could fetch him a nurse, so I went to their station. C. got up immediately and asked, “Does he want the tall, handsome one or the short, mean one?” (By the latter, C. meant himself.) Peeking in from A.’s doorway, I saw C. rubbing his hands seductively over his torso as he spoke with A. He’s so funny. A. adores him.

When I arrived, A. already had a friend visiting, so I read The New Yorker in the dining room until A.’s friend came to let me know she was leaving. She told me that she and A. have been pals for 46 years. She also said she is 80 and writes textbooks for a living!

When I went to Rainbow on Sunday, I told my favorite checkout person that the threat of having to pay $1500 a month for health insurance had convinced me once and for all that a job will be needed. She had been extremely supportive of my more free-form plan, and of the new plan said, “I disagree!” I think she meant I shouldn’t make all my life decisions based on money, and shouldn’t so easily give up on what I want to do, but I felt quite depressed afterward, probably because I also think making health insurance the centerpiece of one’s life is pretty sad.

Here’s another dismal consideration: you can wear pajamas to extremely few jobs, which means items that constitute actual clothes will have to be obtained. I arranged with my newish friend Judy to undertake this on Monday, but fortunately it was pouring rain, so I slept all day instead.

Yesterday we took the bus to the large Goodwill at Van Ness and Mission (Judy said we also might want to visit “Salvation Armani”) and she explained to me how you buy pants: you have to look at every single pair and see if it’s your size and if it appears to be, try it on. Who knew? My normal method is to enter the store, advance two feet, look around in a general way, say “I’m sure there’s nothing here” and depart.

Judy found the pants I ended up buying, which struck me as much, much too small both upon first viewing and once I had them on. “Aren’t these way too tight?” I asked. “No!”, she said, demonstrating that it was still possible to pinch half an inch of fabric at the hip. I did locate a lovely skirt suit in pale green-blue, but Judy commanded, “Put that back! You look like a nun. It’s two sizes too big!”

I literally could not have done this without her. Not one thing I ended up purchasing would I have acquired if she hadn’t been there. I would definitely have bought the nun’s suit. I left with slacks, a jacket, and a white blouse—for a total of $18! However, as I further learned from my new mentor, there is some arcane reason you can’t go to an interview for a professional position carrying a red backpack, so then I had to buy a Coach purse at another thrift store in the Mission, for $24. I think the last time I owned a purse, I was six years old and it was a gift from my grandmother.

We had burritos at Papalote and walked to Judy’s, where we had a cup of tea with her roommate, Lesley, also a friend, and then I went home and put on my new outfit and went up to show Tom, who took a photo as evidence. No one who knows me was going to believe this without seeing it.

This morning I took a glorious bike ride to the beach. It was sunny out, fresh, a bit cool, breezy. Invigorating!

Normally I consider positive thinking to be cheating—something artificial tacked on to reality—but in my case, since I do so much negative thinking, it would probably count as what in Buddhism is known as “skillful means.” Everything won’t necessarily come out fine, but then again, it might, and the relentless habit of looking on the dark side can’t be good for the immune system. Accordingly, I’ve decided to retire this affirmation: “Everyone knows you can’t get a job after 50. I’m going to die in a homeless shelter.”

In its place, I’ve adopted these:

I have a satisfying and enjoyable life.
I am healthy and strong.
I am happy and content.
I have plenty of money and excellent health insurance.
I have interesting work and agreeable colleagues.
I have more than I need to enjoy each moment of my life.

I ran these by my mother and she said, “I guess all of that is correct, except what’s your work?” I told her my interesting work is to find work and as for the agreeable colleagues, I currently have the most agreeable colleague one could ever want: me!
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