Breakup Diorama, Decor, Mind
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[BREAK-UP DIORAMA V] The Office / ‘Just Like a Woman’

Seriously, WTF? Read the Museum Plaque Introduction»

Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain

Bob Dylan, Just Like A Woman (Blonde on Blonde)

BUdio_office_futonview

[Figure i: Read the headlines. “Hey, I probably won’t have a job when I get back,” she said to him, nonchalantly, reading the headline on the cover of The Oregonian while they were on vacation, walking through the foggy drizzle of a coastal town. It was September 2008, and the headline read: Dow drops 500 points. Seriously, like she knew what that meant. But she did know her smallish advertising agency—where she had been employed as a copywriter for barely a year—just went through a second round of lay-offs after similar bad news earlier that summer. When she was called into the conference room the next week, she already knew. She had presaged it via mass mediums. She mostly felt empathy for the woman who had to lay her off. Then she went to the back parking lot and called him. “It is done,” she intoned, with near Biblical prophecy.]

Everybody knows
That Baby’s got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls

BUdio_office_desk

[Figure ii: Work it out. Obviously, one of the first trips she made was to Pier 1 Imports, where she bought vine-like curtains on sale for $22 each. She recognized that one probably shouldn’t start self-employment by spending money on drapery, but this was like, an investment, in her like, business. She then went to the paint store and bought a vivid acid green color to match. She spent a week decorating her “office” (slash guest bedroom in a pinch). She reclaimed a desk from her parents’ house that her dad had made for her when she was a teenage girl. She stripped two branches off a dead cherry tree in the front yard, polished them with lacquer, and turned them into curtain rods. As she painted and primped, she remembered all those times, sitting at her mod ad agency desk, surrounded by posh, creative and hip people, tapping out a headline or two about HP printers to sear the souls of the consuming class but not disturb the red-penned ire of the corporate legal department, when she thought, “Is this as good as it gets?” Glee is probably not often associated with lay-offs, but in her case, she long knew there had to be a different way to spend your life, your days, your words, and she would find it, here in this room. A room of one’s own.]

She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

BUdio_office_rebelyell[Figure iii: Queen Mary. Terror in her belly tinged with pure thrill-seeking adrenaline, she launched Jessica Holmes Copywriting, and a year later (practically by random side project accident) became the co-creator and driving force behind Story Story Night. Both endeavors grew wildly successful, fast. She never seemed to have enough time for all the copy work that came in, seemingly unbidden; clients not only lovely and interesting but readily willing to sign off on her estimates. The storytelling program quickly became a sold-out phenomenon every month. She had expected the underdog struggle, but not the flagrant demand. When the responsibility and weight and deadlines and public nature of everything began to pile up, she found ways of blotting it all out. She found ways of staying in the groove. Because the days were hers, and carpe diem muthafucka.]

Queen Mary, she’s my friend
Yes, I believe I’ll go see her again
Nobody has to guess
That Baby can’t be blessed
Till she finally sees that she’s like all the rest
With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls

BUdio_officealoneparty

[Figure iv: Alone party. No matter what, she thought, she kept her shit together. She got shit done. She never missed a rent payment. She never royally screwed up a show (though she still saw herself as terminally shy, and was somehow surprised every month to find herself on a stage). She never felt the want for money in a hazardous economy. Though she lived a somewhat bohemian life in this mid-century house with her musician boyfriend, she had it made. She had cracked the creative’s poverty code. She would walk around the house, procrasticleaning in the middle of the day, and think, “This is the happiest anyone could possibly be.”]

She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

BUdio_office_nativelady

[Figure v: Burn out. It was both a sudden shock to the system and a deep crevice tirelessly etched by the glacial wear of ingrained patterns and looping habits. Her burnout. Her depression. For her, it sort-of felt like one day, about four years into everything, she was so happy she could barely breathe, and the next day, she was lying on the pullout that acted as a guest bed in her office, heart beating wildly in some unnamable flight-or-fight anxiety terror, tears streaming down her face but eyes still wide, wondering, “WTF is happening to me?”]

It was raining from the first
And I was dying there of thirst
So I came in here
And your long-time curse hurts
But what’s worse
Is this pain in here

BUdio_office

[Figure vi: Seriously, WTF? She began to move through time and space as if through quicksand. The luster fell off everything. Her vision for her future became a slow beat in the back of her mind, then ceased to throb entirely, transforming each day into a pointless list of meaningless to-dos. Her heart was a firebomb, detonated. Her insides Dresden after the storm. She didn’t know where to turn. She went to hot yoga and let her tears blend with the sweat. She read self-help book after business productivity article after self-help book. Journey Into Power. The Happiness Advantage. Everything on the Harvard Business Review by Tony Schwartz. Eventually, she began rethinking her reality, her intrinsic routines, her friendships. Where were they now, when I am drowning? Where was he now? Who and what is to blame for this hell?]

can’t stay in here
Ain’t it clear that.
I just can’t fit
Yes, I believe it’s time for us to quit

BUdio_officecurtainrods

[Figure vii: Your world. “Remind me who I am. Remind me who I am,” became her silent conversation with her friends, who she quickly isolated by dint of unresponsiveness and self-sequestering, partly due to the adult acne that returned suddenly with a vengeance, exacerbated by the swampy climes of hot yoga. Her internal torment blazed across her face; her very skin betrayed her soul. She began cutting out things that she thought might be at the source of this pain. Friendships. Projects. Demands. Habits. Yes, even him. Finally him. She eventually knifed her self-made universe through the very heart. Because she had to face that no, he did not remind her who she was. Because he was never really present, in this house of her own creation but of his very real ownership, to do that. Because his core personality centered on relentless public-facing positivity. So of course, what was he to do, when he would come in the room and see her on the bed, shaking, pimply and dry crying in the middle of the day, but look bewildered, annoyed and think, “WTF?”]

When we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don’t let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world

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