After a decade of no viable employment for Chi and I/we were getting dangerously close to the edge of ending up homeless and bankrupt, something sustainable finally came up!
Listen while you read to “Selamat Jalan!”, a spunky, adventuresome piece from “Neo”, the EP Chi and I recorded in Tokyo in 1998 at the beginning of our musical collaboration. “Selemat Jalan!” means “Bon Voyage!” in Bahasa Indonesia.
23 September – late December 2013
Chi is closing in on a permanent, full-time salaried job w/benefits in Hawaii! That is a MAJOR game changer, and neither of us can imagine a more ideal solution to the endless problems we’ve been having for…pretty much the entire duration of our marriage. However much one might think that the perfect thing for us would have been to make a sustainable go of it with our musical ensemble, that would actually be a waking nightmare for me. I can live very well without the stress and duress of having to be on the road with Chi constantly on top of having to continue functioning as a single mom living for two, etc. That’s what he would have preferred, but realistically, he’s getting too old to tour, and there is no safety net with that sort of thing. The cruise ship gig was looking like a good bet, but the English thing and score-reading would put a lot of pressure on him that he will not have with this gig. That also is not really a sustainable, permanent solution. In this scenario he will also have a stable, nice place to live, and virtually no overhead while earning a livable income. It will also be a structured situation where he will not have to deal with the types of things that totally overwhelm him here.
Additionally, living in a beautiful place where he is in a culturally advantaged position with ready access to the support he needs in order to be able to thrive and reach his potential while productively engaged in a capacity that makes good use of his skills and is something he can continue to do until he gets too decrepit to be able to move about on his own and at that point he will almost certainly be taken care of by the same entity, while enabling him to continue to do music, is absolutely ideal and takes an enormous amount of stress and pressure off of me.
I know it’s not wise to count one’s chickens before they’ve hatched, but I’m retooling my plans for his absence. I can imagine being quite happy continuing to live in L.A. doing my thing and going to visit periodically, performing in festivals and such with our ensemble, while finally being free to get my own needs met for the first time in over a decade and free from the stress of having to live with somebody I am highly incompatible with. I’ll also most likely be spared the catastrophic asset loss I would almost certainly be faced with if we split up under less favourable conditions.
Under this scenario, I am no longer under pressure to get all the stuff done that I want to, so I won’t have to redline myself into the ground. I can take it at a more reasonable pace and prioritize differently. I still have a steeply inclined road ahead of me in recovering from the near total ruin that having to support Chi and deal with his endless drama and maintenance issues for all these years has wrought upon my capital base and career path, but that will come. This looks like a slam-dunk and salvation for both of us.
The gentleman that owns the business and is interested in hiring Chi is exceptionally pleasant to deal with, and he was going to come to L.A. to interview Chi and other candidates for another open position, but due to increased workload because they are short-staffed, he was not able to and asked if Chi could travel to Hawaii to do a site visit and face-to-face interview, saying he would be back with detailed information soon.
A couple weeks went by, and then finally he got back to us with detailed information about the facility, housing arrangements and the job, plus a list of questions for Chi concerning information that would qualify him for the position according to the state agency charged with oversight of that industry. It took a few days to prepare a response, but we finally sent it off and waited with great anticipation for what we assumed would be travel arrangements.
The time seemed to drag on interminably with this process proceeding painfully slowly, like gaining ground in a fierce battle inch by hard-fought inch, much like the concurrent recording odyssey. Just as I was getting psyched up to celebrate the most awesome birthday/Christmas present in modern history, the silence became deafening.
Finally one day the next week as I was in the middle of dealing with a mess from spilling soup all over the dining table when I came home for lunch, Chi asked me if I had time now. I said “no!” with some exasperation, assuming he was going to hijack my lunch break with more noise about the radiation hysteria he had been going on about the night before, but reconsidered and asked more gently, “for what?” He said that the contact in Hawaii had responded. I certainly had time for that. I hastily dispatched the mess, hurried into the living room and sat down at his computer with great anticipation. My heart practically stopped as I read the message basically saying that after consulting with an insider contact at the state agency that oversees his industry, he can no longer consider Chi for employment at his company because of the possibility that his criminal record for domestic violence is such a huge concern in terms of being able to get a clean background check, which is an absolute requirement for that job.
I spent the rest of that day and the next one in a mild state of shock and denial, having more difficulty than usual forcing myself to muddle through menial work at the day job with my brain repeating over and over like a broken record, “No. That is not the correct outcome. Retry.” I even actually heard myself thinking “God is in control”, even though I formally rejected the Christian religion nearly two decades ago.
I refused to waste my time sitting around thinking “what in the fuck did I do to deserve this?”, and focussed instead on being proactive and thinking along the lines of “what in the fuck CAN I do to FIX this?” I immediately set about drafting a reply gently pushing back and proposing an alternative way of thinking about the problem. This. Just. Cannot. Happen. That job simply has to come through because the alternative is too destructive and awful to even contemplate.
Still somewhat numb with shock, I made a determined effort to not do my default thing of thinking, “Yeah, of course. Silly me. How dare I ever expect a positive outcome to anything?” I also refused to believe that I have become so habituated to my whole life being such an irredeemably hopeless pile of shit that I have stopped emotionally reacting to catastrophically disappointing turns of events. I also tried to avoid dwelling on all the plans I had made and was so excited and hopeful about that would now be totally ruined.
I resolved to not sink into despair at being once again denied my freedom which had just a couple days ago seemed so near that I could taste it, nonplussed at the cruel paradox of how trying to protect myself from domestic abuse may have just condemned me to a life sentence of it, along with miserable, degrading poverty and hopelessness, imprisoned in a toxic marriage I would not wish on a mortal enemy. I suddenly had a lot more empathy for people serving hard time for crimes they did not commit. Chi took it calmly and instead of adding fuel to the fire as he normally does, behaved decently. He was almost certainly relieved.
It was rather challenging to be cheerful during the height of the holidays (Christmas), but I decided that getting depressed and admitting defeat before the final outcome was known would do absolutely no good. This could just be a case of us running into a bridge pylon in the path toward this desperately hoped-for goal, and I’m sitting here with white knuckles wondering whether it is a fatal crash that has totally destroyed this applecart, or if it’s just another setback that will buy us time to get more recording done while it sorts itself out, so it may work out even better than if his departure were imminent. The Purgatory-like uncertainty is just difficult to endure.
UPDATE: It was a fatal crash.