This is the first time since “Snowmageddon” that I’ve sat outside on my deck and examined spring.
I say “examined” because spring this year diverges from years past.
Last year, virgin green blades of grass emerged, and the branches of my Bradford pear was veiled in buds. I was unemployed.
This year, the dead leaves from last fall still remain on the ground, which is entirely bare from the beating my boys gave it from playing their favorite games—soccer and field hockey. The pear tree has lost one of its main trunks in a recent wind storm and now blocks play of any kind, which is metaphoric for the latest twist in my life.
As another spring seduces me with warmth, I am also examining my life. In May, it will change, too. I’m leaving on a jet plane to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. No, I’m not “Jihad Jane,” and I haven’t been seduced by a Saudi sheik (fingers crossed for that to be the message in my next Fortune cookie).
My wonderful employer has tapped me—after three months—to help advance the importance of early care and education in the Middle East for the next two years. A serious and important topic and one that I can perform with confidence and respect as I’m immersed in a monarchical society, where I cannot drive (I’ll have my own driver—yippee!) or socialize with men (in public—boohoo!).
This life-changing event has led me to the decision to discontinue writing Girl On the Brink. As Ann, the last thing I need is some Wahhabi Cleric after my golden locks, which I’ve cut off (desert prep), or the religious police detecting a slip in modesty when the sun shines through my abaya and shows my skin.
Work will take me to Amman in Jordan (where I can “sin” on my off hours) and other sandbox countries.
Last year at this precise time, a different breeze blew. Newly divorced, I had been scrimping by on government services and flew to Antigua for Sailing Week (see that blog), reeling from the loss of my job of 3.5 years, with my girlfriend, who’s now off to earthquake-shaken Haiti to produce a documentary.
We may be different in love and in life, but we embrace change, and that’s what brings us together. For without change, we cannot advance as a society, a nation, a world. Change brings both the good and the bad, and it seems that we cannot have one without the other.
It’s the radical extremes—this recession, in particular—that weakens the belief that we are making the world a better place to live.
As Ann Powers, I hope that I’m a small but important chink in the chain that good things can rise from the Phoenix.
On that refrain, I say good-bye but not farewell.
Always Ann (Please keep in touch email@example.com),
Now that I have a boyfriend who reads this blog, I have to begin by saying this did not happen to me but to my girlfriend who has no name or location.
But she and I are the same size and age and have similar sensibilities.
We almost always make exactly the same mistakes, which is why we’re such good friends.
She called to ask me where the line is between exploring your options and cheating. How far out can you step before you say goodbye?
She hates her job, so she has been gritting her teeth and getting through it for well over a year. She’s undervalued and underpaid. So she’s been stealing time from her other duties and using it to look for a job while she’s at her job.
As far as I’m concerned, this is too normal to be worth talking about as a transgression. It is just too minor.
Recently, however, she’s started to get some job interviews. She comes up with an excuse and sneaks out. She told me she even leaves her interview clothes in the car so her co-workers don’t wonder why she’s all dressed up.
After the interview, she removes her lipstick and other makeup so she can blend into the blandness of her office without attracting attention.
When she dithers about cheating on her employer this way, I can tell she’s not genuinely troubled by it.
You don’t need to quit a job and be unemployed in order to find another one. Since you can get fired for even telling your boss you’re looking for another job, there is no choice. That’s just how it has to be.
Her approach to dating is very similar.
She’s always got a guy or three coming after her—one or two who think they are going out with her and at least one who she’s dumped but who hasn’t given up hope.
She doesn’t lead them on exactly, but she does manage all this male attention adroitly so she never has to be alone or pay for a meal in a nice restaurant. She tells them little lies so that Man A will continue to consider himself in the pole position (of course) despite the fact that she’s doing the same with Man B and often Man C, too.
It is always just about to collapse, on the verge of going out of control.
In the nightmare scenario, all these suitors arrive on her doorstep the same night with flowers, running into her other suitors. As I picture this, a battle ensues and the man left standing at the end gets her.
She’s not exactly cheating, I say, because she’s so adept at being vague. She lets the guys think what they want to think. She knows that clarity and transparency are not her friends, and that deception is allowed right up until the point she makes a commitment to one of the men.
She never seems to get to that point, however. If she told a guy she was also interviewing and auditioning other men he might not want to go through the evaluation, right?
I tell her you go girl, that’s just how it has to be.