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2002-08-26 - 9:42 a.m.

Writing Assignment: Write about someone who has been laid off from their job.

She didnít bother setting the alarm anymore. She didnít need to get up early, but she found she did so anyway. Get up, eat breakfast, read the want ads. She supposed it almost resembled a routine. If she was going running later, she didnít bother to shower. But she always got dressed. She learned that early on. Spending most of the morning in your pajamas was just depressing.

She could go running any time of the day now. Before, when she was working, she would go running in the early morning hours, through the neighborhood, when it was still dark. It was so dark that she would usually hear other runners before she saw them. If it wasnít too hot, she would go running after work, on the Hike and Bike Trail, when the hordes of exercise addicts filled the trail. She liked going then, because it made her feel like part of something bigger than herself. Also, the people watching was spectacular.

But now, she could go running right smack dab in the middle of the day, if she wanted to, and so she usually did. She would plan her whole day around that run Ė if she ran before lunch time, than she had to be careful and eat breakfast early enough. If she ran after lunch, she had to wait a decent interval before going. The best time, she decided, was at 11 am. The trails were mostly empty at that point. Occasionally, she would pass someone her own age, and would idly wonder if they were there for the same reason she was Ė that they just didnít have anyplace else they had to be. Usually, the trails were filled with mothers. She called them the "mothers who lunch." Only now they werenít lunching. Maybe later. Now, they were power walking, pushing the jogging stroller with both hands, hips swaying back and forth, meticulously highlighted hair carefully held back by a visor, always talking, because they always traveled in groups. She resented them for their sense of purpose as much as she resented them for their financial security.

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