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September Surrender: Day Twenty-Seven

What I’m Letting Go

There’s a very quick turnaround time in the news industry. People are constantly in and out of their positions, switching things around in pursuit of new opportunities, or better ones. I can’t say what it’s like for those in front of the camera, but the production and editorial side of things can see dozens of new people every month sometimes. Things are constantly in flux, and a year in one position can feel like a long time.

My team is a little different. We have lifers a lot. People just get so comfortable with the morning routine, and the network itself, that it feels fruitless to begin again with a whole new team. I’m happy with the team we have, and sad to see anyone go, especially those I’ve known for a long time. Luckily it’s a small industry as it is, so people never really go too far.

The other day I was checking the “staff” section in our rundowns, noticing it hadn’t been updated in some time. We also, for whatever reason, keep a list of ‘past employees,’ with all their info for our teammates to see. I’m not sure why we’d do that, especially as a lot of them don’t even live in the same city anymore. This was made doubly weird when this morning there was a long conversation about a past senior producer who left at the very beginning of this year. Mostly people were just reminiscing about her managerial style, and what she brought to the program for years. It wasn’t a shit-slinging moment, even though there have been might have been in the past. It was kind of nice seeing people speaking so highly of her, even as she and I never really got along well. Type A personality types and I never seem to mesh. And even though all those memories of her and I butting heads came flooding back to me, I didn’t say anything. I even offered her a compliment, as she was very straightforward and quick to make decisions. She made it look easy, even though she had one of the most taxing and difficult jobs in the building.

This led me thinking about how she’d answer about me if asked. Would she be as nice? Would she even have anything nice to say? My reputation within the building isn’t necessarily squeaky-clean. I think people know me as a hothead; A loud, brash, annoying person who is inexplicably still at her job all these years later. Someone a few years ago complained to HR about me because I didn’t put a mask on when I’d get up to go to the bathroom. This person wasn’t on my team and never confronted me about it. And it’s not like HR contacted me about it either. But I know higher-ups who talk. And that came up about me. So do people also see me as a defiant little shit with no care for anyone else?

Who knows. All that matters is what I think of myself, right? I’m not so sure when it comes to being in the workplace. I still haven’t figured it out yet. All I hope is that I keep doing my job with no run-ins with anyone about anything. It’s not worth it in the end. It’s not worth it to damage my reputation more than it’s already received several kicks in the crotch. And as much as people tell me I need to care about it, I need to stop trying to decipher what other people are thinking about me. Because it ultimately doesn’t matter. As long as I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, none of the other office politics stuff matters. It’s really not as important as I think it is. Besides, it’s not like they’re going to have to talk me up to another network or another show team. I’m there until it’s time to move on to life’s next profession. I don’t care how long it takes.

What I’ve Discovered

I tried my hand at stand-up comedy once. A couple times. There was a good year there where I was having fun with it and giving it an honest shot. It’s not easy. I’ve always been a theatrical kind of person, and I have good memories of being on stage. I tried to make my humor be different than what most female comedians were doing at that time. Mostly they’d talk about how many guys they banged or what it’s like to have a period. No one cared back then. Maybe they do now, who knows.

Anyway, I had a few off-color remarks here and there, things that I probably wouldn’t end up repeating if I were to try my hand at it again. There was one night I signed up for where a talent scout was in the audience. Each comic who signed up had to bring at least four guests and got a small consultation with the person afterward. I did my set, actually got a round of applause at one point, and spoke to the woman after the show.

“You’re a freak,” was the first thing out of her mouth at me.

“What?” I asked.

“I can tell. You’re an absolute freak.”

I was quite taken aback, as I really had no idea what she was talking about. I was twenty-six at the time and hadn’t done anything I’d consider “freaky” in a very long time. If I was going to be a freak, I certainly didn’t want it to come off in public. She told me I had talent and that I should lean in to the freakdom if I wanted to keep going, and maybe make it more subtle as to really wow the audiences. I did standup only for a few more months after that, as I knew I wasn’t going anywhere serious with it. I think about revisiting it all the time, but I don’t even know what the kids are laughing at these days.

The “freak” comment never left me though because I genuinely didn’t understand where she was coming from. I wracked my brain trying to analyze her thought process, but it’s actually a damn-near impossible task. You can play armchair psychologist with someone all you want, but you’ll never quite grasp the way they think about thinks. We can distill our process down for comedic effect, like Louis C.K. once did, but as far as the actual individual mindset, I’ll never be able to know how another thinks. Just as they’ll never know how I think. They can see my thoughts, but understanding the process is the thing I’m obsessed with knowing.

I know it’s an impossible task, but I always feel like anything could be possible. I wonder if you can ever know someone so well, you know them better than yourself. I know I hear that all the time, but it’s yet to find me. I’d love to give someone a peek into my brain, and I realized there’s just far less of that fear of someone finding me out. Maybe I’m more of an open book than I give myself credit for. I know I wear my heart on my sleeve, I guess I didn’t realize I let my freak flag fly so obviously sometimes. Oh well.

What I Hope to Find

When I was twenty, I dated a fellow fencer for a summer. I may have spoken about him before but not as in depth. Our courtship was relatively quick. He took me out on one date and I was smitten. When the relationship was brand new, my friend *Charmaine and I were in a Costco one time and he was texting me. Since at the time I had no sexy text skills, she was directing me on what I should say to him. Let’s just say it worked and I had him hooked. I remember being at a house party, getting drunk and high, calling him three times that night to tell him how cool I thought he was. He seemed to take it well. We spent a lot of time together as we were both teaching at the same fencing club that summer. I remember one time I was sitting in my car ready to go, and he was standing outside the driver’s side window. He was going on about how he was “really into me,” and surprised that he was falling for someone so quickly. He then kissed me sweetly and I took off.

I was delighted to see he had texted me as soon as I pulled away. I was just so giddy over this entire relationship. No guy had ever been so up front with his feelings for me, and I just wanted to tell him over and over again how much I cared.

Weirdly from the start, I said out loud that it wasn’t going to last. I never told him that, though. Just literally everyone else around me. But I was willing to go along for the ride as long as I could. I already spoke about this but things came to an end that November when he stopped talking to me as we parted for our junior years of college. I broke up with him because I couldn’t stand the silence any longer. We ended up reconnecting that January at a fencing tournament, and were still pretty good friends for a few years. But foolish, naïve me, I thought it was a way to rekindle what we once had, as I always held out hope that I knew in the back of my mind wasn’t coming.

For years I tried to ‘get him back,’ even though it was crystal clear he had moved on. Although it was that obvious to me at the time. He’d text me every time he was feeling ‘saucy,’ reminiscing to me about how good I was at certain things, wishing he could get all that again. I was more than willing to participate, as I feel like when a guy speaks like that to me, it must mean they like me a little bit, right? But it was a lot of talk, no action, standing me up, and hooking up with me only to pretend like I didn’t exist the next day. We were both at fault, and I wish that I didn’t spend so much time on him.

The thing is that I didn’t speak too nicely about him for a long time after we stopped talking for good. Even now remembering all this, I’m still harboring some dislike and anger towards how I was treated. I’m not sure if all that is coming back to me in karmic form, but I don’t like the things I said. I don’t want to be resentful or hateful, I just hope to let it go and keep it far away from my thoughts.

Clearly he was not the one for me. He just wanted me as a fantasy, and I wanted him for what he ‘used to’ be. What we used to be. That’s not fair to do to someone on both ends of the spectrum. I just hope I can find someone who sees me not just as a fantasy or a memory. Thoughts are always good, as they’re one of my favorite things to talk about. But reality can be a lot better if we let it just be.

Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I really don’t think so.

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