Saturday, December 19, 2009

Burning Bridges, Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down.....

What is it with people saying they don't "burn their bridges?" When you leave a job or a relationship of any kind, I'm here to tell you - - that bridge is burned whether you know it or not. Whatever delusion you might be under that the other person or persons who loved you or worked with you still feel the same way about you are, at best, wishful, and, at worst, just plain wrong.

I met up with a woman I used to work with because she had something I needed. Otherwise I wouldn't have been caught dead with her out in public. You will understand why as you read along. She "retired" from that fine establishment after threatening to do so for about seven years. It was always going to be "two years from now, I'm outta here!" And that's how it went for seven years, so something got screwed up because seven is not divisible by two. The new math, perhaps?

Let's call her Martha, after Martha Stewart. She was talented; a gifted crafter and baker, but so f--king annoying, so cloying and pawing for attention for her skills that you couldn't help but hate her just a little or a whole goddamned lot. I think that's how most people feel about Martha Stewart. She couldn't even go to jail without getting all kinds of attention, and making a killing off some other inmate's crocheted poncho. It's one thing to steal from the rich, you bitch, but to steal from another inmate? That's low.

So, Martha told me at breakfast that she liked to visit the old haunt on a regular basis. She went to see her many friends because after all she worked there for nine million years and she just couldn't walk away from them. She loved them and they loved her and it was such a treat. Wow-zer. I gotta say, folks, this barely passed the straight-face test for me.

Having worked for attorneys for so long, I am very good at keeping a dead pan expression on my face because I had to. A man once told me he had great pain from a "genital defect in his back," and a woman told me that she suffered from "a detached rectum in her eye." In both cases I was forced to repeat back to these sad, sad Darwinian failures the words "CON-genital" and "re-TINA" so they would not repeat those phrases to anyone else. Though judging from the gene pools these folks frolicked in, I doubt anyone else in their circle of friends had ever noticed the misstep.

Anyhow, Martha's chirping along about our mutual past job, and she was just there, how I deserved to be let go if couldn't get along with so-and-so, that she put up another stunning quilted rooster wallhanging, and that everyone seemed SOOOO happy to see her..................... I'm sorry? What did you say, you malevolent, girdle-wearing, piggy-eyed, gopher-toothed, over-permed, pidgeon-bodied, ass-kisser? Did she have the nerve to say I deserved to be let go because I couldn't get along with the objet-du-suc' mah dik sum dey'? Cest' wat ler fuk? I just "mmm-hmmd" and smile-smirked and kept on eating my breakfast. I was thinking back to the multitude of heinous comments that followed her leaving from the bosses on down and how she didn't even suspect. She was the object of constant ridicule for her rigid work habits and her general demeanor (and her girdle), even though she was good at her very complicated job. She was the A-Number-One ass-kisser, tattle-tale for all those years and she made a lot of enemies. The bridge she thinks she hasn't burned was torched the second she left by all of her so-called "friends."

Fridtjof Nansen said, "I demolish my bridges behind me, then there is no choice but forward." He was an esteemed Norwegian scientist, explorer and diplomat, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922, among other awards and honors. He was the first person to ski across Greenland. Skied across Greenland, in case you didn't read that fully. Check him out on Wikipedia. He was a remarkable man, and that's a remarkable and curious quote for someone with his life. By today's standards, it seems impossible to believe that bridge-burning and successful diplomacy could go hand in hand, doesn't it? Perhaps Nansen believed in himself and his works to such an extent that his magnetism kept the best people right behind him, also marching forward and not caring if the bridges were burned? Maybe he stood alone, but by the look of his biography and his pictures, I would proffer he wouldn't have noticed if people thought him arrogant or foolish. He was brilliant, brave and a humanitarian of the age.
"My land is bare of chattering folk, the clouds are low along the ridges and sweet's the air with curly smoke from all my burning bridges." Dorothy Parker
Isn't that a great quote by the Queen of Demean? I say that with respect, as Dorothy Parker is a folk hero of women, in my estimation at least. She spoke her mind and no doubt sparked off more than her fair share of bridges. I've been accused of being a bridge burner by Toughy, my attorney pal. That's no lie and I'm far from insulted. Would I want to return to any job I've ever had? Any relationship? (Now there's a line-up I don't want to see!!!)

A pal of mine, I'll call Solana, meaning "sunshine" says "Bloom where you are planted." That reminds me of my voluptuous gardens, and hers which are next door to me. The wind carries seeds everywhere and each spring she and I try to figure out what's where and why, what to pull and keep, having to wait and see in many cases until bloom-time just what we have in our respective plots and spots. Sometimes if we just leave them, we get weeds that we've babied all summer. But more often than not we are rewarded with a luscious patch of fragrant yellow primrose or some other stunning revelation. All for a little patience and faith.

That's how I feel about burning bridges, that sticking to what was doesn't let the future bloom. I believe God or Allah or Buddah or whoever floats your Cosmic Boat can't get to you unless there's curly smoke in the air signaling release of the past.

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