Monday, October 6, 2008

canned goods

yesterday was exceedingly low key and spent solely accompanied by rufus, who watched me touch up my pretty pretty princess walls with feline wonderment. later on I fast forwarded through someone's tivo-d mr. and mrs. smith to the sex scene while manging on some ramen, and then I planned to walk to see my favorite man, trader joe, to acquire some of his culinary wares. on the way, I stopped into cafe abir to get a jasmine tea for the road and also to write down my schedule. on sunday nights the sushi restaurant is eerily dark and deserted, and on this particular one, extra creepy due to the black tarps everywhere from the evident construction that had gone on earlier. in the back next to the miso heaters, I stood and scanned the new schedule for my name. it wasn't there. no shifts for two weeks, all of mine mysteriously replaced by this alleged "karyn" character. I blinked, started walking away, and then went back again to double check. "karyn?!" I shrieked to the unsympathetic miso heaters, as the familiar feeling of impending doom closed it's fingers around my neck.

is it even legal to fire someone that way?

the walls lurched in and I had to get out. I punched the swinging kitchen door open and rushed back through the gate without bothering to shut it, blindly plowing through customers at the cafe. just before I reached the door, the other host (not to be confused with fucking KARYN) jumped in my path. kelly is a cartoonish girl of about 20, boasting small stature and an unbelievable white girl afro, always outfitted in some burlap sack shaped goodwill find with perpetually smeared eyeliner. easily excitable, endlessly chatty, and with a naively sweet, poodle-esque disposition, it goes without saying that I could never particularly stand to be around her for longer than a few moments without activating my brain's built in white noise machine.

she waved her arms dramatically in front of me to stop me from bolting out.

"hey! hey christina! christina!" she yelled, even though at that point our faces were mere inches apart.

"yes, kelly." I growled, unable to disguise my begrudging tone, but at the same time knowing that she would not notice.

"did you see the schedule? because, because you're not on it! did you quit?!" she babbled some more of the same information although differently worded and then stared at me expectant and wide eyed, and I noted that the right side of her face had a large clump of mascara trailing down her cheek.

"yes, I saw. no, I did not quit."

"but I wonder what's going on! I mean, it's so weird, you're like, the head hostess and that karyn girl's only been working here two days! do you think you're fired?"

I blinked at her some more.

"I don't know, kelly. excuse me." I said calmly as I stepped around her to get to the door. "but let me know if you hear anything."

"I will, totally!" she called after me, waving vigorously as if swatting imaginary flies, "I'll text you!"

seconds later I was halfway down the block to broderick already. my mind raced, I pulled out my cell and started making frantic phone calls, lydia t., my three managers, my boss, trying to leave voicemails that didn't sound completely crazed. the only person who answered was lydia, and she knew nothing about it. I put in my one functioning earbud and turned my music all the way up and I started aimlessly walking, staving off the inevitable panic attack when I stopped at a light on divis caught a glimpse of the treehouse in the distance and realized that it doesn't matter. I had already thrown in the towel on my old "new life", anyway. I hated the management and worked my objectified ass off for shitty pay, and subsequently spent 68% of my time smelling very strongly of tempura fried shrimp, which is fine, if you want to attract domesticated mammals, hungry asian people, or flies. you can't fire me, you fascist fucks! I thought, I quit!

pressing on I made it down through the lower haight and into the mission, and I met up with zoe along the way. we did a three legged bar crawl ending at my favorite dive, the lone palm, after running out of whiskey funds. she asked, shaking her head, "does it ever end, with you?"

this morning when I woke up I still hadn't received any phonecalls back from my higher ups, and I waited until almost eleven to walk over. the construction on the dining room was in full swing, workers swarming like a shaken up ant colony, weilding two by fours and paintbrushes dripping with varnish. it still smelled like fish. I climbed the stairs to the office deliberately and when I reached the top I heard my russian manager, mikaela, bade me to come in and shut the door, although her voice sounded muffled and distorted. when I lifted my head to look at her, I saw that she was wearing a full on biological warfare gas mask.

I gawked at her in disbelief and she threw her arms up exclaiming something in her previously endearing bad english about her extreme sensitivity to dust, and then immediately started making awkward small talk that I interrupted.

"so, I think we both know why I'm here."

her beady eyes blinked from above the apparatus strapped to her face, and she nodded, but didn't speak.

I continued, "I'm here to talk about the schedule, specifically why I'm not on it."

"ahh yes." she sighed. "the schedule." and then pointed to the mask and asked, "do you mind if I leave this on?"

a helpless chuckle slipped out on my behalf when I answered, "actually, in spite of preferring to address a faceless firing squad, I do."

"very well." she said, removing it with great care as if her lungs would collapse immediately, and then coughed for effect. she went on, "you are no longer on the schedule because we can no longer employ you. as the economy is so bad, you see, we were forced to evaluate all employees and the collective decision has been made that you are the first to go." she folded her hands in her lap and coughed again.

I tried to remain emotionless but failed, my voice started to break and I went off like a spun top, ranting about the unprofessional, ill executed, and rather cruel way that I found out. I reminded her that I worked 6 days a week for them for months without complaint, that I hadn't called in sick one time over a year, and the constant grievances from the servers about the other hosts' incompetence compared to my performance in the workplace. I stood up, snatching my iced coffee and said, "this is fucked. you're right. the company is like a family. completely fucking dysfunctional. thanks a lot." and slammed her office door, blinded by my hot tears. I tore out of the cafe, this time uninterrupted, and coughed and wheezed back to my house, passing one of my new roommates in the hall who asked me how I was doing and I only managed to sputter some unintelligible gibberish.

it's real. everything is officially in flux.

right at that moment, my aunt peggy called to tell me she was outside, waiting to give me a ride back to sonoma for a dental appointment. back in the dentist's chair I closed my eyes tight and tried to think of anything other than the needle in my gums or the stinging burn of rejection from a place that I considered to be my home away from home for 14 months. the fact that it was both a thorn in my side and an important part of my identity made it even more of a home conundrum. the tragedies stewed in my mind, my divorce from the tsunami family, the treehouse circuit, and everything I felt was stable before having been ripped out from underneath me and the wild freefall when I'd rather be sitting pretty and getting my bearings. I was jarred back from my regretful reverie into the glaring fluorescent light overhead when my dentist brought up watching appallingly graphic sex scenes on TV.

I peered into her goggles and lolled my tongue around in my propped open mouth cavity to acknowledge my interest being piqued.

"wha shaw?" I said, drooling on myself. she wiped my cheek before answering.

"pretty much anything on HBO."

"wha bouw shawtime?"

"oh, showtime's not as racy."

"nuh uhhh!" I protested. "ca-fornicashun!"

"never seen it. but I swear, these days they'll just put porn on tv and it puts me to sleep."

I had to draw the line and I pulled her instruments away from my obstructed tongue and replied succinctly, "you're watching the wrong kind of porn if it puts you to sleep."

"about the time you're fifty, it just dries up you know, after your periods stop coming. there's something for you to look forward to. even great porn puts me to sleep." she stuffed more wads of cotton in my gums, and I closed my eyes again in protest.

"you know what, jenelle?" she said, adressing the dental tech. "at my funeral I want you to make sure that when they roll the casket out that everyone showers it with cotton rolls and floss. could you do that for me?"

jenelle agreed obligingly and suddenly everything was drowned out by the whine of the drill.

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