Burying the lede: The time I survived a bad pop culture week and lost my job
So last week went something like this:
Monday — Bates Motel ends. I knew I’d be a wreck and I was. The bawling started during act two and didn’t really stop till some time well after the retrospective that followed ended. You should know I didn’t start the finale till after midnight, so I was sitting on the couch, in the dark, with tears streaming down my face for something, like, ninety minutes. What can I say? When I love a TV show, I LOVE a TV show. The characters become part of my family. Bates Motel is part of an elite squad. I’m still not over Hannibal’s demise and I can only imagine how I’ll react when Supernatural inevitably fights its last demon/angel/whatever.
So I thought that was going to be the worst part of my week.
Then came Wednesday.
For the past five-and-a-half years, I have been gainfully employed at Gannett’s Asbury Park Design Studio. I would have been with Gannett for 20 years this August.
That’s right, I said “would have been”.
Wednesday — The entire Asbury Park studio staff found out Gannett was shutting us down; our papers shuffled off to the remaining studios starting at the beginning of May. When we metaphorically turn off the lights on June 25, it will be for the last time. Morale was low as you would expect after hearing such unexpected and, to be honest, unwanted news. Tears were shed. Hugs were given and received. We slowly went back to work because we still had a job to do — even if no one really felt like doing so.
Gannett has been my only employer. There’s a slim chance that will remain so as there are a handful of remote positions available, where the person will work for one of the remaining studios without the added inconvenience of moving to Nashville, Louisville, Des Moines or Phoenix. I’m not optimistic at landing one of these positions, but at the same time I’m not disappointed to be saying goodbye to my professional home. Gannett has been as good an employer to me as one can expect in this day and age. I hope my next employer will be even better. A lofty goal? Perhaps.
What I will miss the most is the steady paycheck. How could I not? It may not have been great, but it kept a roof over my head and the lights on since I moved here.
Of course, I’ll miss the people I’ve met since I arrived. Not the friends I’ve made, since I hope they stay in my life. My bosses have been amazing. I’ve been lucky so far. Not everyone can say that. I’ve learned a lot over the years at the design studio; both professionally and personally. I’m not sure I can state decisively what that is exactly, but I know I’ve grown. I can feel it. I’m a stronger, more confident person coming out of this experience.
Thursday — I woke up to learn director Jonathan Demme died. I also told my parents later that morning about the studio closing. They were fantastic and supportive because that’s who they are and who they always have been for me. I only waited to tell them because I didn’t want to start sobbing on the phone to them while holed up in a conference room at the office Wednesday afternoon. I wasn’t one hundred percent positive the tears wouldn’t start the next day, but knew the likelihood would be significantly lower.
I haven’t seen every film Demme helmed, but he made a definite impression on me with two in particular: The Silence Of the Lambs and Rachel Getting Married. You could say how dissimilar those movies are, but somehow I feel they have more in common than you might think at first glance. Together they feature horrific acts, strong female representation, narcissistic characters. But they also offer hope. Hope that Clarice will find the missing young woman before Buffalo Bill ends her life. Hope that Kym will make peace not only with her family but with herself. Demme was an exemplary filmmaker. One I looked forward to hearing from whether his latest film was a success or not. He will be missed.
Friday — Nearly the end of the week (I currently work Tuesdays through Saturdays) and the cherry arrives. After what felt like a horrendously long wait, MTV officially cancels its best series: Sweet/Vicious. The story of two college women, one the victim of sexual assault, who band together to bring justice to other sexual assault survivors by becoming vigilantes. The show wears its heart on its sleeve while kicking ass, never forgetting its purpose. It’s smart, funny and topical. It’s unfortunate this amazing show never found its audience. If it somehow gets a second chance with a more suitable partner (nowadays that is not MTV), it might finally get to break out of the shadows. Its current fanbase may be small, but we are a passionate bunch. Sweet/Vicious deserves better.
I’m well aware the cruelest twist of my week was the fact that I will be unemployed in less than two months. But as a pop culture acolyte, it is only apropos these other events affected me just as much.
As these chapters close for me, I look forward to finding out what comes next.
In the meantime …
I have four Bates Motel box sets to devour again before the final season is released. A little madness can do a lot of good.
Joanne Thornborough is currently a designer at Gannett’s Asbury Park Design Studio. Find her at @cinelitchick on Twitter and Instagram.