About eight years ago on this date, Jan. 1, my ex was in the hospital following the second of five spinal fusions she’d have over a period from November 2012 to January 2015. I woke up in the Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa after spending New Year’s Eve 2013. My immediate supervisor at the Wagoner Tribune had thrown one huge fit a couple of days before Christmas over the art for the front page. It was clear, I wasn’t the editor of the paper anymore.
And all the bullshit help they had told me they would do when she had to have surgery at one of the slowest times of the news year wasn’t happening. Needless to say, three and a half months later, I walked away. I didn’t give two-weeks notice. I had been at a few jobs in which I could tell they didn’t want me there anymore. So, to hell with them.
I was thinking that with my experience and accomplishments, I could find a job by the end of the summer of 2014 if not sooner. I came close, very close. But apparently, that didn’t work out. Some other things were going on at the time.
My ex had to have emergency back surgery in March of that year and was still recovering when I just told them “I’m through” and turned in all my keys and grabbed my personals.
With more time on my hands to send out several applications of which I wouldn’t hear anything back, I found The Golden Girls on the Hallmark Channel. I think they aired four or even six episodes a day. As my ex was spending some of her days in bed, I would DVR the show and watch it while I did things. I didn’t know it at the time, but the burn-out from the job along with the personal issues and some other things left me depressed.
I made the misfortune of quitting about three weeks late, because I had to wait until July of that year to fill out all the paperwork to get my 401K because they did it the reports at the end of financial quarters. I had always lost my health insurance. I could still keep it through that COBRA nonsense of only $799 a month, which was left than half of what I was paying out of pocket for my doctor’s bill and medication.
Anyway, whenever I needed a moment to laugh or take a break from housework or the pesky tediousness of filling out those online applications and horrid cover letters, I’d watch Blanche, Dorothy, Rose and Sophia. One thing I didn’t pick up during its initial run as a kid but re-watching the shows as someone in his mid-30s, I noticed how life had thrown all the women a curveball. Blanche, Rose and Sophia were widows. Dorothy was divorced after many years.
Life changes almost unexpectedly and through no fault of your own. None of the ladies were from the Miami area but had moved there to start over. And by starting over, they moved into a home that Blanche owned. But they weren’t retired. They still had to work jobs. They still had to get out. They dated again. They even had premarital sex with multiple partners. The nerve that this was occurring during the Reaganeighties with the HIV/AIDS epidemic probably angered a lot of people.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan were the anti-progressives. They wanted America to return to a 1950s dreamscape that never existed even among some of WASP elite. Despite some earlier shows involving typical mockery of LGBTQIA, the show actually changed its tune and was progressive for the 1980s and early 1990s at least.
I watched a lot of TV over that time but I gradually begin to feel better. You see about two weeks after I left, they had replaced me which gave me the idea they had someone waiting. Some other things happened at that workplace. A legal notice turned up missing one day when I suddenly became sick. Some other things that I won’t mention, but I know when people are ready for you to leave so they don’t have to fire you knowing they could face legal action.
Less than two months after I left, there was a major managerial shake-up as my immediate supervisor was terminated for some reasons I can’t say because I don’t really know. When I shared them with other colleagues, we had some suspicions. And the publisher went on to be the CEO of the company and moved to another location. About a year later, they sold to BH Media Group, which is owned by Warren Buffet. So in hindsight, I got out at a good time.
Things got better for a while until they got worse, but that’s a story for another time.
Like a lot of people, the news of Betty White’s death on Dec. 31 came as a shock to me. But it’s not a surprise for a woman who was 99, just 18 days why of her 100th birthday. A lot of other people have written, will write, and speak of her fare better than I could without giving the Wikipedia version. I admired White as I did Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan. I think the best thing an actor, director, writer or producer can do is produce TV series, movies or books that people can lose themselves into. The real world may exist all around them. But w can have a moment each day or week to escape.
Thank you, Ms. White, for that escape. And thank you for being a friend.