15 October 2008

exciting julys

Weird stuff happens to me in July. I used to think July was unlucky or something, but this last one got me thinking maybe no. Here are six things in five Julys over 11 years:

JULY 1997
I decided not to pursue a career in classical and contemporary ballet after 13 years of training and performance. This was not an incident but a decision -- it didn't happen to me, I happened to it. It was hard. It was the right decision. No luck involved.

JULY 2001
A summer job at an architectural antiques showroom was cut short when the building fell down owing to dodgy construction. The owner had not gotten the proper permits and, in fact, had been told to cease construction twice. During the collapse, I was on the roof (which was unaffected). I was supposed to be on the 3rd floor (which was very much affected and would have meant a three-story drop alongside and under marble mantlepieces, ceramic bathtubs and sinks, and glass chandeliers). After I gave my statement to the police, I stopped to get a cup of coffee, realized I'd left my bag (with my wallet and paycheck in it) on the roof, broke down into tears, and discovered that the person behind me in line was a psychologist specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. My aunt, herself recovering from a spiral fracture in her femur, said I was the luckiest person she knew.

JULY 2003
After being in Cambodia for over a year (drawing comics, tending a bar I co-owned, and freelance architectural drafting), the Assistant District Attorney of New York rang me up. He was finally bringing the building-collapse case to court. (The original court date was scheduled for September 12th, 2001, a.k.a. The Day After 9/11, in the courthouse across the street from the World Trade Center.) In a third-world country with limited phone and e-mail access on the other side of the world, I was the only employee they could find. "Where the hell did the other ones go?" I asked the D.A.. It got me thinking about going back to the States and provided the beginning of an exit strategy. I told them that I would testify if they would pay my airfare to New York. They agreed. Lucky.

JULY 2003
On a four-hour taxi ride from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The taxi hit a guard rail, flipped forward twice, and landed right-side-up again. I was in the passenger seat with no functional seat belt. The seven (7) people in the back seats were not injured; they were packed in too tightly to have room to bang around. I broke my arm, fractured my shoulderblade, and broke two toes, one of which was later amputated. On my flight back to the States, already booked for the court appearance, I got an automatic upgrade to first class, which was 14 hours of loveliness on Thai Airways. But I should never have agreed to travel four hours in a car with no functional seatbelt in the first place. No luck involved.

JULY 2004
Will, my sister's ex-boyfriend and at one time my good friend, died of a drug overdose at the very end of the month (he was found in the first days of August). I was sad and angry. This complicated, brilliant, troubled person who had acted very, very badly towards my sister, the sister who is my hero, who has saved my ass on many occasions, who is smarter and kinder and more everything than I will ever be ... he was suddenly a saint in the eyes of many. And I couldn't tell him how mad I was, hold him accountable for all the shit he'd pulled in the last months of his life. HOW DARE HE. No luck involved.

JULY 2008
I went on vacation. An old friend confessed his undying affection. I was laid off after two years to the day. I went to the ER with a kidney infection. All this happened in the space of two weeks. (The undying affection did die, after I pointed out we have nothing in common, including but not limited to values, humor, tastes.) It forced me to re-assess what I do, what I'm good at doing, what I want to do, and where. And why. Still doing all of that, especially the "what I want to do" part. Good luck, mostly, though I can't say anything good at all about a kidney infection.

Five Julys, six incidents. Three were lucky, and three were luckless -- neither lucky nor unlucky. I netted out lucky, and I have some good stories. I think I'm ready for some boring Julys, though. Maybe for a long time.

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