The Fool’s Other Shoe


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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4 thoughts on “The Fool’s Other Shoe

  1. This is totally cool, Mel. I, for one, Believe and it is things like this that help me stay strong when I hear so many who do not believe. It is the little miricles that keep me in the Faith. They say God does not close one door without opening another….you are extremly talanted and have so much to offer, the right employer or opportuinity will present itself and you will land on your feet. I, too, am a fool.

  2. Here is my Notes for the Universe…TUT…message that came today by email…heh heh

    Do you want to know why I have an issue, Julie, with compromising, economizing, and settling for less?

    I have to work just as hard whether the bar has been lowered or raised.

    Yeah, “Poor Baby…”
    The Universe

    Julie, dream even BIGGER.
    (that goes for you too Mel!)

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