Anne Notations

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I only cried once

View from my office window at sunset, winter 2009-10.

Today I received my layoff notification, effective July 1. I've been dreading this for several months, which is why I've been the writing equivalent of tongue-tied here... strung out, anxious, distracted. Too much to say for a blog; too little energy left for benign topics.

When I left the meeting this morning, at first I was simply relieved to be out from under the dark cloud of unknowing. I went out to lunch with dear friends (one of whom was similarly laid off last year) and returned to my office to do some work.

After I posted a "pink slip" visual pun on my Facebook page, friends began posting and emailing me to express shock, support, and sadness. Even anger on my behalf, in a few cases, which I admit made me feel loved: fierce friends say what we can't, at times.

I've worked at Brown for 34 years, with a three-year break when I worked for two other colleges. My office is, literally, my personal "room of one's own," complete with plants, Star Wars memorabilia, framed family photos, lamps, and my collection of University directories and Commencement programs going back to 1974. My friends are my colleagues. The campus remains one of the prettiest places I've been; each day has offered foliage and brickwork and details that refresh my eyes.

Across the street from my building: the College Green.

This evening after I'd arrived home, I sat Kevin down in the living room for a tough talk about his slacking off (again) in school, and the possible consequences, such as no college next year. I am weary of it. But parenting must be done regardless of mood or circumstance, and I'm the only adult at home to do it.

I served him supper, and then stood by the kitchen sink as he ate, muddled and mute. After an action-packed day, I was at a standstill: What now? How am I feeling? (Answer: About 100 years old.) I saw myself suddenly as an old, tired woman. I'd been sloughed off, deemed useless, passé. My face sliding down into jowls and grooves. My hair a mess of colors: brown, dark blonde, gray, and blonde highlights – pathetic! Bags under my eyes. Shoulders slumped. Dumpy. Defeated: stopped in my tracks after a lifetime of charging forward, coping, learning, branching out, adapting, having fun, moving past tragedies, immersed in work and play and family.

As if my posture had telegraphed my thoughts, Kevin rose from his meal and took four steps to my side. He reached his arms around me and pulled me close and patted my back: pat... pat... pat... pat... "It will be okay," he said calmly. We stood that way for a minute, and it was not awkward in the least to be embraced by my 17-year-old son.

What bolt struck his heart and moved him to comfort me? Here was my contrary teen, smart and sarcastic and skeptical. Here he was, tall and wise now, holding his old, tired, fired mother and telling me everything will be all right.

That's when I cried.


  • Anne, I'm so sorry, that really stinks. I'm glad your son was there for you at that moment. I've been at my current job for 12 years and in my current office for over 8. It seems short compared to 34, but my office is also the only real space I have that's just for me and it's filled with my own stuff. And while I often wish I could quit my job and have more time with my kids, I know I'd miss my space and all my friends. And even then, it would be my choice.
    Again, I'm sorry and thinking of you.

    By Blogger Bean, at Fri Mar 26, 11:40:00 AM EDT  

  • After reading this, we can all cry. I know I did.

    XOXO, love,

    By Anonymous jm, at Fri Mar 26, 11:50:00 AM EDT  

  • That's beautiful, Anne. I am sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to you yesterday but I found out later and you are off today. It makes me so sad that you won't be here anymore and I won't get to say good morning and good night to you everyday! This whole deal just sucks. Big hugs to you!
    xo, Kerry

    By Blogger Kerry, at Fri Mar 26, 12:36:00 PM EDT  

  • Why did Kevin know the right thing to do? Because he has a heart of gold... You know with all of the difficulties we've both had raising our sons, I always tell you to look for a heart of gold. My son's heart of gold and compassion toward others always made me feel secure about him. You will find your place and Kevin will find his...heart of gold and all!!!

    By Blogger r_weeks, at Sat Mar 27, 01:53:00 PM EDT  

  • This brought tears to my eyes. I am speech(word)less.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Sun Mar 28, 01:16:00 AM EDT  

  • You're so much more than your job, and I'm so glad Kevin was there to let you know it. *hugs*

    By Blogger BrideOfPorkins, at Tue Mar 30, 06:39:00 PM EDT  

  • I'm so sorry to read this. I sometimes need to hire freelance copywriters/copyeditors if you're interested. Ping me on

    By Blogger Karin, at Tue Mar 30, 07:25:00 PM EDT  

  • I am so sorry. Your blog made me cry, and I'm not usually moved to tears about stuff. All I can say is, God bless you.

    By Blogger Kita, at Thu Apr 01, 03:25:00 PM EDT  

  • Anne,
    I do not even know you , but I know Ian and follow his blog and your comments... and that sometimes takes me to your blog. So sorry about the job loss. Hopefully another window will open. asd

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 04, 05:17:00 PM EDT  

  • Great entry. I am sorry about your job loss. Take heart that you were there as long as you were, and undoubtedly left it a lot better than when you started.

    By Blogger AddledWriter, at Tue Apr 06, 07:22:00 AM EDT  

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