By Mary Lucia
Last April, after 28 years working in the cock-a-doodle-dude world of radio, I took a gamble that I might be great at something else (results still pending).
Frequently before gassing up with my passport to make the daily drive to downtown St. Paul, I would look at my small zoo of animals, my stacks of books, and my unvacuumed floors and think: Why am I leaving this self-created utopia? Besides a career I loved—and a paycheck, of course. Home always felt like the relationship I didn’t devote enough time and energy on to really make it work.
During the Covid lockdown, I admit to feeling envious of coworkers that sat in Zoom meetings looking relaxed in their drawstring pants, cats sauntering across their keyboards. Masked up at the company’s headquarters with my glasses continually fogging up, my anxiety tote bag was gradually filling with unhealthy resentment.
I knew I was white-knuckling it when I began envisioning a game of company dodgeball with a severed head. You know, the usual work fatigue thoughts. Yikes! It was time to reexamine what I was doing.
Leaving my job was far more emotional than I had anticipated. I had to be good with Dog that I had exhausted every possible avenue to create a more fun and equitable workplace. Never underestimate fun. When you accept that fun has left the building, I don’t see the nobility in hanging on, feeling frustrated and undervalued. The realization that the change I so wanted to see from others would ultimately have to come from me, at first, left me feeling defeated. Remember, I’m the person who regrets nothing, but dreads everything.
Within a few days of reflection, I could honestly say corporate decisions are not for me to understand. Build a bridge and get over it. Or, in the potent words of Viola Davis, “My dreams have to be bigger than my fears.” Anything that feels like it’s holding your integrity hostage must be kicked to the curb.
This move has never felt like an ending, though. I’ve always been a good friend to Rock and Roll, and in turn, it has always been there for me. Hey Ho Let’s Go!
This working-from-home jive has its benefits. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
I got my home studio up and running for voice work and I started writing a book.
Revisited the darkest time in my life with the protection of it serving as a creative endeavor.
I’ve gone through 15 bottles of Urine Destroyer, which I also imagine to be Lefty’s death metal band name.
Replaced my shower curtain liner twice, which is two more times than I ever did in a year.
Ghosted Nordstrom Rack online, accumulating carts full of things I don’t need, then never checking out.
Gave myself at least 11 minutes a week to grieve the losses of Sam Shepard and Tom Petty.
Purchased a dozen Lambchop squeak toys.
Microdosed Melatonin gummies nightly.
Cut every single tag out of every article of clothing I own—not to glorify my OCD tendencies, but just to move more comfortably in my day-to-day.
Watched the Ethan Hawke documentary series, The Last Movie Stars, about the lives of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. Certainly, the most creative filmmaking during a pandemic I have seen, leading to the unexpected conclusion that Hawke is the next person I would love to interview.
Checked the news each day bracing myself in morbid anticipation of the heartbreaking announcement that Tony Bennett has died.
Sat at the emergency vet with my new puppy, Enzo, who had his anal glands expressed while I simultaneously Zoomed with a notary from Nevada to purchase a used car.
Named the giant rabbit in my yard Lester Diamond after James Woods’ golf pimp hustler character in Casino.
And I’ve read voraciously, as I always have. I will forever be interested in other people’s stories. My commitment to reading memoirs and biographies knows no limit. Even the poorly written ones can act as a nice palate cleanser.
Might I suggest to you, reader, Joan Didion’s The Year Of Magical Thinking followed up with Ace Frehley’s No Regrets? Literary whiplash.
As an obsessive consumer of nonfiction, my summer reading has taken me everywhere I want to go: 1960s Black America as experienced by perhaps the single greatest thinker, activist, and poet; 1950s closeted Hollywood and permanent resident of the Chateau Marmont; inside Phil Spector’s powder room; wiseguy insights from my favorite episodic television series; badass Academy Award-winning actress who in a heated moment snatched the weave from her then-husband Miles Davis’ head; the style icon of a 1960s-70s rock goddess muse; history making in an antisemitic world of classical music; and firsthand stories of someone who hung out and smoked the chronic with Gary Coleman.
If this list seems tangential and weird, get to know me.
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