When some people have a bad day or a bad week, sometimes they head to the fridge and pull out the Rocky Road and their day gets better. Some people meditate, work out, or do yoga to relieve their stress. Some people throw pity parties and grab others to join them, whether those others are willing or not.
For me, I indulge in my fandoms, and no matter how obscure or childish, my fandoms provide me the escape that I need to get through my blues, and lately with being unemployed, I need my escapes more than ever, especially after being fired from the most toxic work environment of my life.
Without spoiling my future novel about this, I was the victim of unprofessional politics and guilt by association. I was hired by a manager that was pretty much perfect and made the job fun, but when she went onto greener pastures, the environment darkened to a place of bitterness and a dog-eat-dog mentality. As a common trend, people who left this “wonderful and enriching” place are often branded and scorned by the remaining management, and those still associated with those people who left, like myself, were scrutinized very harshly. I was doomed the moment I moved over to another manager, who instantly disliked me and made it known she would try to get rid of me. This manager’s word was gospel to the owner when it came to the way I worked and what my job functions were. Many of my accomplishments were denied and omitted from existence, and I was denied essential training for job functions haphazardly thrown my way.
Every day I was put on trial, or as I felt, a cow waiting in line for slaughter. After my last coworker and friend was fired, it was my turn for the guillotine. I was overloaded with a ton of work, and with my emotions already broken and exhausted from my father’s cancer, I was set up to fail. The moment tardiness was counted against me even for acts of God (Chicago snow storms for example, or accidents that were roadblocked), I knew it was only a matter of time before there were plenty of reasons to get rid of me. The end result, I was let go for being excessively late (an exaggeration…five times in three and a half months is not excessive, not to mention I worked overtime to make up the hours and always notified my managers) and I was let go for poor performance ( blamed for not completing a task that was my manager’s responsibility). I left the building with my desk possessions, my cactus Frieda, and a knife in my back as a parting gift.
The tears came, and I contacted my husband, my mother, and a former co-worker and friend (who had been fighting for me to be treated better before she left) that I’d been fired and the ridiculous reasons why. Future bills loomed over my head, my financial security broke into pieces, and I now had the stigma as a person who’d been fired from her job. Somehow, as I made my last long commute home, I had to calm myself before I totally started getting out the razors. If I did not have my friends and family maybe things would be different, but I had something else. I also had the things I loved, the things that comforted me when I was stressed. So as my first out of work week started, I turned to the TV after mornings of furious job searching.
I suppose at that moment I could have done something productive and work on my art or novels, but with a blow like unemployment, doing projects was a lot more challenging, and I needed a balm to haul myself out of my funk. So lately, I’ve turned television to prevent me from spiraling into a terrible depression. More specifically, I’ve explored the kind of television that’s helping me revisit an old favorite show of mine from my youth: the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
All of the Power Rangers seasons are on Netflix, and I’ve started re-watching the old episodes that had me rushing home from school to watch every day. In rediscovering this joy of my youth with the lovable characters, the crappy monsters, big robots and laughable dialog, I started to feel like a kid again, a happy kid who can escape for a couple of hours away from the worrywart unemployed adult.
I have even watched the newer Power Ranger arcs of the Samurai Rangers and the Megaforce Rangers, still cheesy and wonderful, and ebbing with happy feelings and geeky nostalgia. I leave each episode with a toothy grin and an excitement to keep watching the next episodes.
I know, I know, eventually I need to come back to reality, start the laborious job searching and researching of companies and fine-tuning my CV, but at least thanks to old school television I’m in better spirits.
Yes, I’m a married woman in my thirties watching the Power Rangers. I still buy comic books, love Star Trek, fangirl over anime, and spurn anyone who can’t share my love for Joss Whedon. My fandoms are who I am, and they get me through tough times. They help me escape.
In them, I can feel okay again. Reality can take a backseat for the moment.
Though, it might seem that I must explain myself on why I like the same shows as, say, a five year-old would, but honestly, I don’t believe it’s out of shame. (Though some judging does come from the husband, I honestly am quite used to it, and ignore it.) Perhaps there’s some anxiety to being a total geek, to indulging in things that are more subculture friendly than socially acceptable. Maybe that’s why the Power Rangers and comic books are so appealing to me right now. Mainstreaming sucks. I have to get a new job, I have to pay bills, and I have to worry about feeding my family. The underlying anxiety is that I could be viewed as “wasting my time” watching Power Rangers instead of pumping my fist into the air and fine-tuning the perfect resume so I can stalk and pester every recruiter in the Chicagoland area.
In the back of my mind I certainly feel like that.
Why am I wasting my precious unemployed time watching TV? For that matter, why am I watching something as juvenile as Power Rangers? Okay, so the subject matter may be irrelevant, but the idea that I would put my life on hold to be a kid again and return to Neverland (or in this case, Angel Grove, the setting of the first Power Rangers arc) could be perceived as wasteful. People are telling me to relax and put the past behind me, but for awhile after I was jobless I felt this desperation to stay on task. I was in a frenzy to get back on track to finding a job, any job, so I could be a comfortable grown up again.
Most of that was in my head. My last job was so poisonous that my health was deteriorating, and I was constantly trying to control panic attacks and migraines. After being fired, I couldn’t have been healthier, mentally, emotionally and physically. And yes, the emotional part of me needed work. I need a salve, and more than anything I needed to return to a state of wide-eyed innocence so I could feel good again about waking up in the morning and knowing I had opportunities out there.
The Power Rangers was essentially a show about good vs. evil, and sometimes a side story would sneak in where someone, a normal person or one of the rangers themselves, would learn a lesson about themselves. A lot of the themes can be redundant, and actually, quite simple. The theme that I see a lot of is being true to yourself.
Can a kid’s show really teach a 30 year-old woman that after she’s lost her job and her world’s been turned upside down? Sure, I can buy that. Maybe it can even teach me to be confident again, and that the simplest lesson in all of this is to believe in myself, something anyone would need while looking for a job.
Other than being somewhat detrimental to my emotional health, the Power Rangers is also a FUN, geeky show. I’m nostalgic for it, of course, but this show fulfills my love for superheroes and action and zipper-suit monsters. Okay, yes, I love the hokeyness of Power Rangers, and how it’s a show I can love and also make fun of.
And maybe I shouldn’t be ogling young actors in spandex but I can’t help it! Plus, you can really tell that these kids are starting out with their acting chops. I mean, look where Amy Jo Johnson is right now. (She was the original Pink Ranger, if you forgot.)
The current Power Rangers arc on TV, called Megaforce, is airing on Nickelodeon, and already I love the characters, and I can always point out the throwbacks to the original. There’s a talking head (well talking Tiki mask) and a silly robot giving the Rangers their powers to defend Earth from aliens. (Unfortunately, none of these aliens are the cone-bra wearing type like Rita Repulsa was, alas.)
The tiki head and his robot sidekick immediately recruit “teenagers with attitude” and pluck them out of school. Emma is the pink ranger, an environmentalist, singer and photographer. Gia, her best friend (and probably has the best chemistry with Emma than any of the boys, um…) is the blonde tough gal who’s the yellow ranger. She’s also the hottest chick in school, according to the black ranger Jake, who has a cute but annoying crush on her, trying to impress her at every turn. The only thing I know about him is that he’s slightly stalkerish and loves soccer and asking favors of his best friend, the nerdy Noah who is also the blue ranger. Noah speaks Billy, if you remember the original blue ranger as a giant nerd, and he also struggles with strength versus cleverness. Then there’s the new kid, Troy, who’s the red ranger, who’s “cool as ice” and the martial arts aficionado of the group. He has dreams of every ranger in history fighting the aliens, and defends kids from bullies. Otherwise he’s kind of as interesting as wet paint. But then again, he does have the lips…
Otherwise it’s much of the same as the original Mighty Morphin arc. Ugly insect monsters from space, lots of robot superpowers, and a mixture of good-natured teens. Can’t go wrong with that!
Definitely this fun, crazy television show chases away my jobless blues, and maybe, it can still teach me a few lessons about myself as well.