I have gotten my emotional well-being and professional ass thoroughly kicked by COVID for the past 2 years. Turns out working for hospital internal communications can burn you out in the same way all those health care workers are burned out. And just as they are still expected to take of patients as if nothing happened, I’m still supposed to find inspiring, yet realistic, yet hopeful, yet validating words to help keep these folks going.
I gotta tell ya, Word Girl here is running out of words. But, I know, wah, wah, I chose this and I have other choices if I really think I can’t do this anymore. At least in theory I do. I’m also 56, so I may not have quite as many choices as I think. But let’s get depressed about one thing at a time, shall we?
In addition to COVID, there is a restructuring going on at work, because after 2 years of uncertainty and doubt and fear, what’s a little more, right? So just like I had to wait months and months for a vaccine, now I have wait months and months to see how much of the shit I’m imagining will actually hit the fan. But, again, I know, wah. wah. Everyone goes through these things, including me in previous jobs.
All I’m saying is the timing sucks, but suck it up buttercup, right? I’ve been on and off feeling sorry for myself and bending my friends’ ears (thanks for listening guys!), but I recently saw an old picture of me that has been helping me in the most unexpected ways.
During a recent girls’ weekend, Gloria brought a bunch of paper photos from high school and college. Oh my god, we were babies. Also, we couldn’t remember the names of a fair number of the other people, but I’m blaming COVID for that.
This one grabbed me. I’m not usually a fan of younger photos — I don’t ever wish to go back to my early 20s. But I love this photo, partly because it’s an 80s casting call, partly because of the serious attitude and defiance, but mostly because of the occasion.
Notice the fire theme? “Smoke” spelled out on the wall, paper flames coming out of my pocket, and I’m holding a lit match.
No, I’m not a pyromaniac, I just mistakenly dated one. I and my friends were celebrating the year anniversary that my ex-boyfriend set my studio apartment on fire after I broke up with him (and he had another girlfriend, so why come at me, ya greedy bahstid?). It destroyed most of furniture and my clothes. My friends actually applauded the clothes burning, and to be fair, they were not wrong. Not all of us who were young and broke could figure out how to look like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan on a budget. There were some bad choices; fashion mistakes were made.
And there was also a year of fallout that I and my then roommate (same) Gloria had to bear because the legal system favors those who know how to work it (like my ex) and not people like me.
But on this night, I didn’t care about any of that. We had a new place, friends, and we had beer and snack bowls made out of melted albums — ones that had been warped beyond usability during the fire.
And I look at that young woman, and I think, yes! We laughed, we drank, we did not give a fuck, and we owned that night and that fire.
There are a fair number of days recently where I feel like I have no control over what is happening at work and with COVID. But Badass 80s Sandy reminds me control is an illusion anyway, like hand burned decorations and paper flames. But a little attitude, defiance, humor, and a Talking Heads song can be an excellent way to cope, perchance to succeed, for one badass night.