"after this month, [the company] will effectively shut its doors," katrinka told us during our weekly company meeting, her hands trembling, her voice straining to get the words out, alex sitting silently besides her.

and just like that, i, tony yang, will be experiencing my 3rd unplanned unemployment.

we all just sat there, adam, dana, myself, speechless. i was shocked, but not surprised. i was scared about the future, yet knew that one day i will look back on all this and laugh. here it was, the thing i've been wishing for since the start of the summer, that i would have more free time to go to the beaches, and it was happening, although a little different than what i imagined (in my version i still had a job). although technically we're still supposed to be working for the rest of the month, there would of course be some leeway, particularly since we're terminating the few billable projects that are still ongoing (thankfully still in their early stages). coming to work would be more like going to a career placement center.

"what're you going to do with all the computers?" i asked. "sell them," was the reply. awkward silence. "do the clients know?" i asked. "not yet," they said. more awkward silence, trying hard to think of more questions, but nothing came to mind.

the company had a long run, 7 years. sometimes i tell people where i work and they don't believe the company's still around. fact of the matter is, the bosses were burned out. they no longer had the energy to keep the company going, projects didn't seem to excite them anymore, and for personal reasons each boss wanted out, and figured this would be the perfect time to do it, when the company was experiencing a "lull" in our workload.

unfortunately not everyone was there. the other two designers, kristine and james, were out today, and wouldn't be in until tomorrow morning. we were asked not to tell them until after the bosses broke the news to them first.

were there warning signs? in hindsight there probably were, and i should've been able to spot them right away (having some prior experience), but the news still came quite suddenly. i know business had been slow, but we were reassured that it was a temporarily summer thing (just like my love affair with mesh), and that katrinka and alex were still actively pursuing possible projects. there'd been a lot of closed-door meetings within the past few weeks, and amongst the employees we'd joke that maybe someone was getting laid off. in my mind, that would've been the worst case scenario: a layoff (something i'm quite familiar with), maybe one designer, maybe one programmer (probably me). i didn't think the company would go under, at least not before that happened. little did i know, reality has a way of not following the script sometimes. not even an eyeglasses girl sighting this morning could save me.

we will still get paid for the month of july, as well as our health coverage, but once the month's over, the question of our medical insurance seems murky, the bosses will see if we can apply for COBRA coverage. i asked if there'd be a severance package and the answer was no. i didn't bother asking if we'd be reimbursed for unused vacation days. later i found out we'd still be elligible for unemployment benefits. when i heard that, i was so relieved and happy, i stopped worrying right then and there.

i went back to my desk and e-mailed a few people about the news. with no more work to do, i asked if i could leave. there was this awkward feeling in the air, people laughing nervously, everyone eyeing each other for signs of physical distress. each one of us put on our brave face. i said good bye to everyone with a smile, but my smile disappeared as soon as i left the office.

just when i felt my life was missing some drama, drama has a way of finding me. even though it's not a layoff (more like a "company closes its doors, employees lose jobs"), it still feels like one. technically i do have a job until the end of the month, but i really don't anymore. they should just keep us for a week to make backups and let them know where the files are, but then we should be allowed to go early, give us the rest of july to enjoy ourselves before we're left to the mercy of the department of employment and training (DET).

i called my mother outside south station to let her know the news. she took it quite well, wasn't as freaked out as the two other times i've went unemployed (used to it by now). i then took the subway home, felt sort of vulnerable, like people could some how detect that i don't have a job anymore, that i wasn't a part of the in crowd. i stopped by CVS to pick up a prescription, then walked home, calling a few more people in the process (renata, bruce).

the hardest part about losing a job is this feeling of being alone, you against the big cruel world, trying to regain a piece of that economic pie. i felt that way initially, but quickly overcame it when i realized i could collect unemployment. ah, "unemployment," that's the magic word, the soothing balm that takes all the pain away, at least for a short period of time anyway. unless they changed the rules, here in massachusetts i'll be elligible for at least 37 weeks of sweet government money, or as i like to call it, "the longest paid vacation you'll ever take." what happened today is such a complex blend of good news and bad news, i still can't wrap my head around it. as much as i'd like to continue to have a steady paying job, the alternative i've been given now, finding a new job while living under the protection of unemployment checks during the summer where maybe i'll go to the beach or maybe i'll do some traveling, it's not a bad second choice.

my mother dropped by a little later, delivering some food (curry rice noodles) and also to hear me retell the story of how i lost my job today. after she was gone, i entered some familiar territory of afternoon television programming, like riding a bike, you never forget. i watched mostly the news though, the story of the johns (kerry and edwards). although i wanted edwards to get the VP nod, now that he is, the choice was so obvious, i'm kind of angry that kerry had to put us through all this guessing game and secrecy. nevertheless, the johns will get my vote.

a red sox game i did watch tonight on television, the home team spanked the oakland athletics. my father dropped by to deliver some more camping photos (on a compact flash memory card) and after he left (10:30), i microwaved some indescribable meal and ate it for dinner.

now that i have all this free time, i'd love to do some traveling. taiwan might be too expensive until i found a job (although only the plane ticket, i have relatives there that i can stay with), but going back to costa rica might be an option. i'd also love to drive cross country for a few weeks, really take in the sights, enjoy what america has to offer during the summer season.

going back to "work" tomorrow. the irony.