Photo courtesy of Bitch Planet published by Image Comics.

How my socks and Bitch Planet saved the day

Special shout-out to Big Planet Comics!

I wore one of my Christmas presents on Monday — @DarnTough socks from my friends Heather and Jasbir. Man, I’m glad I did.

Monday morning as I prepared for work, I made sure to include “The Left Hand of Darkness” in my bag with a plan to finish it this month. On my commute, I picked up where I left off. Within the pages I read was this quote on page 75, “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.

Wow, yes, that is so true! I departed from the train and felt a little strange on my path to work, like something deep in my gut was pulling me in the other direction. It was a strong force, but I kept moving forward because I had to go to work!

It was a pretty quiet day, though overall, work has been pretty stressful since the election. My work endorsed Bernie first, then later Hillary because with Her, at least they knew that most things regarding environmental protection efforts wouldn’t be upended. So grief and tension hung high in the office’s atmosphere like a thick fog reminding everyone of what happened and what is to come, myself included.

But on this day, I felt indifferent about the negative reality and chose to focus on my work. I made a long list of to-dos and accomplished all of them by 2:00. It was a rare day. Maybe it was the socks? I spoke to my coworker Marissa about how angry and sad I’ve felt lately about the results of the election. She expressed to me that it has been hard and she’s been focusing on positive things outside of work, as another coworker, Josette also mentioned to me a couple of hours previous. Marissa then asked if I had heard of “Bitch Planet”. I responded with an overtly excited, “Yes!” and she suggested we do a book club, but not a book club. I agreed to this non-obligatory suggestion and pulled in a couple of our coworkers, Kate and Josette. Josette said to us later, “I’ll read anything by Kelly Sue DeConnick.” Walking away I felt renewed and that everything was a little bit more positive.

I made a long list of to-dos and accomplished all of them by 2:00. It was a rare day. Maybe it was the socks?

Back at my desk, I called Big Planet Comics: “Hello there, do you have a copy of the Bitch Planet trade?” They had one and set it aside for me. Love those retailers. I looked at my calendar for the rest of the day and noticed I had a meeting scheduled with the Vice President. It was only 15 minutes which I thought was funny, funny odd not funny ha ha. Who knows, she’s a busy lady.

My meeting with the VP rolled around, and I went to the room she booked five minutes early to set up Skype (since she’s across the country and that’s how we communicate). I discovered the room was full with the President, the HR representative, and the VP on the screen. I walked away thinking that they must be wrapping up a meeting. A few minutes later HR invited me into the room. Now I know something is up — there is no reason for me to meet with all of them except in the case that I’m losing my job. “No, I’m paranoid,” I told myself.

They asked how I was doing. “I’m better than I was — I had a bad head cold.” Then the President began with something I can’t fully remember, but the clearest part was: “We’re reorganizing and eliminating your job effective immediately.”

We’re reorganizing and eliminating your job effective immediately.

OK. Then came the shock and waterworks, but I told myself that I must stay composed. I knew this was coming. I knew this was a possibility with the post-election results and change in administration — that everything at our grassroots organization could change under the new presidency. A new president brings with them a change in personnel which results in policy change, more accurately policies that protect the environment are under threat and tactics once employed will have to change too. But still, I was shaken up. I didn’t want to cry, so I bit my tongue. Must stay composed. I heard them out and asked questions.

They told me, it’s not you, it’s us, and offer recommendations and a severance package. Phew! That’s a relief. HR walked me through the relevant paperwork and Operations joined in and offered to pack up my desk and send me a box via courier. By courier. I immediately thought she was a time traveler from the 1800s because it sounded classy and somehow fancy. I love it; I love her, and I’m glad she was the one to see me out. She gave me a side hug, and I fought back the tears. Must stay composed.

Must stay composed.

I donned my coat and purse, grabbed my lunch box, and left for the last time. I called for an Uber via app and entered my next destination: Big Planet Comics. I picked up my comics (“Bitch Planet” and “Image+”) and thanked the retailer who set them aside for me. From there, I walked in the brisk 24-degree weather to the train and the cold wind rushing against my face made me realize how dry it was. I haven’t cried and I have no tears to shed. I felt stronger and carefree. I also felt that all this was meant to be, I knew this was coming, and I am prepared for it. My résumé and portfolio are both up to date (nerd alert: when I’m bored I like to fiddle with my portfolio because maintaining a website is exciting to me).

Then, my phone exploded. I began to receive notes from my coworkers that they’ve just heard the news, they were shocked and offered encouragement — telling me I’m talented and not to let this situation get me down. Very sweet. I replied with thanks and told them I’ve just picked up Bitch Planet, so we’re going to have to hang out now outside of work. They’re into it and can’t wait to discuss the first five issues.

On my way home, I thought of the many ways to break the news to my husband. Maybe I’d pour a couple of drinks…no that’s not a good way for him to receive bad news, to associate it with drinking; we love cocktails, no need to sully them. Maybe I’d suggest we eat out and toast to new possibilities? Shortly after that, he called me. He suggested we eat out! Perfect. OK, but I’d have to tell him right away, so he can process the news in the comforts of our home before going out to eat at our favorite pub.

On my way home, I thought of the many ways to break the news to my husband.

Habitually he looked in the fridge as we discussed what and where to eat. This is when I made my approach. I took his hands in mine gently and told him the news. Concern washed over his face, he apologized, and embraced me. I recounted the day’s tale and how I somehow stayed composed. We spent most of the evening going over the possibilities and what to do next. We discussed the election and how this kind of thing probably happens with every shift in administration, and that it’s probably happening all over the place right now and many people are losing their jobs.

Despite the crazy change, at the end of the night, we both felt pretty solid, albeit tired. As I changed into my pajamas and removed my socks, it hits me. I said to my husband wide-eyed,

“Maybe it was the socks!?”

He says, “What?”

“Maybe, I was so darn tough today because of my Darn Tough socks!!”

He laughed and said, “That’s it!”

But it was also that I had created a goal, something to look forward to and that’s reading “Bitch Planet” and discussing it with my incredible coworkers who I am so grateful to have worked with and know. I think back to the quote from “The Left Hand of Darkness” and how applicable it is and will always be. It’s a new day, and while I can surely expect uncertainty, I’m also certain of the friends I’ve made along the way and the books we’ll read together.

Discover more of my musings on Twitter: Brittany Matter!
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