Mel's Madness

Who Needs Fiction?

Mel Jones

Mel Jones
September 28
Mel Jones had her own column in a local newspaper at 15 and was determined that she would be the next Shakespeare or Tolkien. But probably Erma Bombeck. And then life intervened. She grew up, raised a family, and wrote everyday. Mel did her undergraduate work at The College of William and Mary, and graduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Antioch University, Los Angeles. She holds degrees in History, English, Rhetoric, Literature, and Creative Writing (Nonfiction). Yes, she is overeducated. She has done extensive genealogical research, edited a now defunct literary journal, and taught children from kindergarten through college. She recently had an epiphany, if she sent her work out more, she would be published more. She’s working on that. Mel lives and writes on a small leisure farm west of Richmond, Virginia with her partner, parrots, and progeny.


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SEPTEMBER 8, 2011 7:11AM

The Fool's other Shoe

Rate: 13 Flag

I started reading the Tarot before I was twenty. One of my favorite cards is The Fool. It can be interpreted in many ways—of course there’s face value: fool. But there are nuances.

Is he really a fool? Well, he is stepping off of a cliff without looking at the consequences—he is looking up, into the heavens, the wild blue yonder filled with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. His is a step of faith.

And he takes it.

By August 23, 2011, my job felt like the proverbial other shoe situation. There had been several very negative, biting, interactions; the details aren’t important. A week or so earlier I had been told I could not seek part-time employment, to supplement my income, and keep my job. It ate at me. I’m an adult—and this is 2011, not 1851. Can’t? That particular meeting was a turning point. My turning point. The shoe hitting the floor, so to speak. Really? I can’t? Watch me jump off that cliff. But it was my job, my livelihood, my dinner. I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I was angry, snapping at people.

I came home that night and raged at Ian. This is what happened. Can you believe he said can’t? Told me I can’t, like he owns me!

Ian was playing guitar in the kitchen with a friend. They both nodded empathetically, desperately trying to not incur my wrath.

Where’s dinner? I asked.

Ian looked at me anxiously. I didn’t know what you wanted, so I didn’t make anything.He knew this was not a good answer.

I looked at the clock: 8:45. It was too late to cook now.

Ian quickly opened the refrigerator. I guess I could make you a salad? I’ve never made a salad before, but I can. He desperately wanted to say anything that would reduce the rage emanating from me. How hard can it be to make a salad? I can do it. You sit down and I will make you a salad.

He didn’t know how to cut the lettuce. Or the tomato. He thought there should be as much cilantro as there was lettuce. His friend sniffed the cilantro and suggested that a little bit probably went a long way. Ian looked at the vegetables and pouted. Really? It’s all just leaves.  But he tried.

I ended up laughing, although the tension of the day had mostly destroyed my appetite. I nibbled and Ian and his friend wrote a song in the kitchen. Anger and frustration towards your job should not color your relationships. I felt guilty.

But anyway, on August 23rd, I was conducting interviews for an assistant. I had done several back-to-back interviews and just before 2 pm I was waiting for the next appointment to arrive. And there was a roar—a loud truck, a freight train?

An earthquake. 5.8. The floor rumbled as we made our exit. I watched the windows rattle, felt the rail vibrate for what felt like an eternity.

At this particular moment, my two o’clock appointment was getting out of her car, oblivious to what was happening (because you don’t feel most earthquakes while in cars—who knew?). Phone service was down. I couldn’t contact my children or JL. I didn’t know if everyone was ok. I was anxious.

But this was my job, and at that moment I needed to conduct an interview. So, I brought the somewhat flustered applicant into my office. I glanced at her résumé and saw that until a week before she had been a full-time high school English teacher. I asked her what happened. Why did she leave her job?

Do you believe in God? she replied.

Not a good way to begin an interview with a prospective employer. But, the earth had just shaken everything around me. I thought to myself, probably not her version of God, but said, yes, yes I do.

She said, I was miserable at that job. I dreaded going in to work, getting up in the morning. Being there. It changed who I was. Changed my relationship with my son. I just kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. I woke up one morning and just knew God would take care of me, I just had to believe, and I had to take that leap of faith. I had to quit my job to be happy.

I waited, somewhat anxiously, for the ground to move again. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I can take a hint. The world shakes and a woman walks into my office and says have faith, just be happy. Quit. It turns out that she wasn’t even there to apply for the job. She just thought she’d like to do a little tutoring.

Ok fine, God/Universe, I get it!

I spent the weekend in the mountains of Virginia, at a writing retreat, watching hurricane Irene descend upon central Virginia—my home. I didn’t get a lot of writing done. I spent my days thinking and watching the distant cloudbank cover everyone I love—putting them in potential danger. Ok, I get it! I didn’t need any more metaphors. I penned a letter of resignation, 2 weeks notice.

I had applied for several adjunct positions—but had gotten no responses yet. I was stepping precariously into the great unknown—eyes wide open, looking at the wild blue yonder. The Fool.

I clicked send. Dropped the other shoe. Let go.

The next day, after a phone conversation with my boss, in which he tried to convince me to stay—made me promise I’d think about options to make the situation better, my cell phone rang. It was an Associate Dean from one of the colleges to which I had applied, with a job offer.

Not full-time. But affirmation that I had made the right choice.

So, today is my last day at my current job and next week, I tighten my belt and begin chasing new dreams with less money, less stress, and a sense of hope that belongs to fools.

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How fabulous!! Very inspiring, in this time of scary unemployment statistics.
I love this story. For too many years I went to work, not because I loved my job, but out of fear that if I left, I wouldn't find other work (and therefore let my family suffer), or I wind up in a worse job. The events of the last three years have changed all that for me. Someday I'll blog about them. Meanwhile, congratulations for moving on!
Congratulations, and good luck! And tell Ian to go easy on the Cilantro. =o)
Wow. This is what I needed to read. For weeks I have been trying to write an essay about why I quit a job I'd had for twenty years. Perhaps I can do it now. Thank you. Excellent writing. Good luck chasing those new dreams.
Becoming an adjunct isn't for everybody. There are no benefits, no job security, and immense pressure to serve underprepared students. Keep us all updated as you move into your new career.
Fabulous, fabulous!!!
I'm so happy for you and you will be fine. You will be more than fine, AND you'll be happy!

You're no fool, no siree!

No one should have to put up with a disrespectful employer who cannot tell the difference between being a boss and being an abusive father-figure. If you'd tried to go to work for a competitor of his, maybe I could understand. I also notice that he didn't try to dissuade you by, oh, I don't know, offering you more pay!
Congratulations! Listening to god is especially accurate and fortuitous during earthquakes.
I waited 'til I got sick. Very sick. Sick enough to have to go on sick leave. I applaud you for hearing the truth and getting out before it got worse. And it would have. Congratulations on making it to High Priestess of your own life. :)
Let go. Let love. Let life. You can never be a fool if you follow your heart and intuition. And if all else fails, looks for signs! Especially those that shake the ground beneath you! Best of luck with your new adventure!
Sometimes you just have to jump in. Good luck to you.
Great story. Inspiration to all who must leave in order to survive. I've done it myself and can tell you that living off of the land is not always so bad.

The best of success to you.
I enjoyed this. It wasn't my First read. My First read was an old Interesting Post.
It was One Person who had some bones to pick. I had missed it.

I miss most post.

'I never read blogs.'

I said that before I was arrested in a Bank in PA. Someone said:

'Read Salon'
'Read Unclaimed Territory'
'Read Chris Floyd' and other`

I am glad I did. It's one way to learn,
discern - not much farming gets done.
I had old wounds fester and I read blogs.
When I got banned from Salon I blogged.
Last eve I had to re-sign on Open Salon`gin.

emma peel 2 caused me to nod on a Old Blog.
It wasn't her Blog. It was a Popularity Blog.
Fay (smile) did research and had 'bones to pick'
And emma peel 2 was her Great Spirited Self.
I nodded when emma peel 2 spoke her Mind.
She is not a "Yes Person" and I Love her Mind.

I sure like this post. I miss much. Time flees.
The faster I go - the behind`er I get. Behinds.
That's a PA German/Amish saying. A Maxim.
I have been preparing a Nova Scotia get away.
The rain last week, P.U. light bulbs, Big Mess,
and on/on . .; ..
I feel like a break.
I'll be a runaway.
I'll pack greens.
I'll fill my P.U..
It hauls milk.
No bone pick.
I giggle at you.
That's a comet.
Good Luck too.
It my comment.

Fool eat food.
I'll miss much.
No call fools`
Cupcake. huh?
I'd share one.
emma peel 2?

You etc., fun.
I call You two?
You Cupcake.

Let's Share it?
We can sit too.
Somewhere, ay.
Sit on a couch.
Eat cupcakes.
Mice eat too.
I do see one.
He scampers.
He/she nibble.
Mice eat crumbs.

Last year one do?
Mouse do what?
She built a nest.
She lived in my
printer - squeak.
Yesterday was sad.
Wow did we grieve?

My eyes were full.
Tears sure flowed.
Best be. Take care.
I can't keep up too.
I get re-launched.
Kerry no farm too.
He very sad editor.
He seems so nasty.
Be respectful. okay.
Thanks for this post.
You can't skip it too.
Kerry pick bone too.
He has his nice pets.
thank you. you are speaking to and for so many people right now. this is the message people needed. thank you!