One of the worst jobs that ever had me, and as an artist all jobs are at best a nuisance and mostly a time gobbler, was at Kaiser Permanente, the health insurance company out in California. KP’s corporate office was in Oakland and for four almost unbearable months I commuted from the very west of San Francisco to Oakland. I started the same day as this sweet Chinese woman who looked like she could crack under a falling leaf. My manager was named Kitty; she was five feet and getting shorter by the hour and reminded me of Holly Hunter if she never realized her true life path and went into health insurance. She was a soccer mom. And after a few lonely weeks there I realized the place was overrun with soccer moms. My office did have a door; for a consultant that’s the equivalent of getting to urinate in the King’s chamberpot and even get some on the floor without worrying about it. There were boxes filled with supplies, including a woman’s sweater. Kitty mentioned it was the last consultant’s materials; take what I need; free rummage sale.
After a few weeks another of the soccer moms came up to me and chatting about the woman that was here before me, said, circa 1956,
“DId you hear what happened to her?”
“No, I don’t talk to anybody.”
“Well, about a year ago she checked into a motel down the street, took a shotgun, and killed herself.” Soccer soccer soccer.
Ten seconds later I went to Kitty’s office and demanded she get all of her personals out of my office. Kitty changed colors and got defensive and at that point I realized that health care offices are not for the sensitive and caring individual who needs healing. A few weeks later I saw my Chinese friend and her face was red and she was almost in tears because she was so miserable. Her boss was this guy who looked like Major Dad gone fascist (I interviewed with him and at some point I expected him to pull out a chocolate schwastika and offer me a bit while complaining about women). I felt for her. She was working for am misogynist and she was female.
A couple of weeks after this the admin there, who seemed functional and friendly, started talking to me about religion and the power our Jesus Christ, nay superpowers, and giving me a pamphlet on such foodstuffs. I said literature, DH Lawrence, was my religion. I should have tried to make out with her and got fired on the spot. It would have saved me another month.
About four months into this, the Other Soccer Mom once again approached me and once again, circa ’56, said “Oh, did you hear what happened?”
“No, unless we’re discussing Jesus and you have pamphlets, I don’t talk to anybody.”
“Oh, well, the girl who killed herself last year; her boyfriend works two floors below us and last week he went down to the same hotel, took a shotgun and killed himself.”
A day later I made my recruiter buy me lunch and almost in tears told him I quit. Kaiser Permanente….our name is your address.
The reason this sprung to mind is that in my current gig a few months ago one of the consultants suddenly died. Nobody says why or how and yet she was a fixture on the floor; I had just spoken on the phone with her a couple of weeks before; now I am looking through some of her old materials; it’s an eerie thing, like a geyser with a lighthouse built on it ready to blow, as far as scrubbing the psyche of corporate America clean; subtle invisible psychic punishments are hard to spot and easy to cover…for a while. I guess we’ll see.
Back in my drug days, at the lowest point of my life since ninth grade, sitting there getting high with my girlfriend there was a point where a line appeared, a floating line of sand from some hourglass measuring my life in time and it dared me to cross it; and part of me wanted to die and wanted to take too much of what I had for a few reasons but I wanted to kill myself at that point and didn’t. It’s a damned six dimensional miracle that I didn’t die in that scenario but since then, there’s been a grappling with what I call facing your own suicide. For me, it’s been a grappling over the years; not killing myself in a physical sense, but a suicide built on some spiritual ending; then I realize suicide is just death with poor taste in fashion and that it’s really about walking through your own death; it’s a shaman’s call and it’s a terrifying relief and liberation. Crumbling towards ecstasy I suppose.
Ah, and last night I dreamt three Muslim men were holding me captive; I tried to smart off and one grabbed me by the face and I think had a gun; then another older man with a woman came in concealing a gun to help me. The Muslim men did not treat the woman well but the older gentlemen shot the leader, who I think was sitting. Well there it is.