Dump It to Crumpet

There was a time when driving to the dump was high entertainment. It was a multi-media event. You could sell tickets. They did.

When I was a little girl, my dad let me ride along on trips to the city dump. That was back when they did dumps right. He drove his giant pickup truck up the dirt slopes to the area where backhoes and tractors were creating a lovely series of canyons to fill. You paid your five bucks and backed up to the smelly pile of refuse and added your own trash to it. I would sit in the cab, head hanging out the window, and watch in fascination as people lined up and started throwing items into the growing heap. Sometimes my dad would empty his load and then toss in someone else’s donations.

“Look at this,” he’d say, “they just threw out a perfectly good chair.” Now it was ours.

The smell at a dump is unique and tangy. It fills your sinuses with something between compost and dead cat. The tractors keep things percolating so it doesn’t get out of hand. The sounds of diesel engines and seagulls fill the air. Seagulls will scavenge anywhere and eat almost anything. While you would be hard pressed to find rats in the constantly shifting landmass, the birds thrive.

When it was time to go home, I sat on dad’s lap and steered the truck while he worked the pedals. Six-year-olds are welcome to drive at the dump. Everything’s already destroyed.

They just don’t make dumps like they used to.

Excuse me. “Disposal facilities”.

Trash is now sorted inside of three-story concrete bunkers where the seagulls can’t see it, and while you must still remove items from your truck yourself, you are encouraged to dump and run. No time to linger and enjoy the show. To get a nice deep whiff of that wonderful pungent tart and sour air.

I looked over to the hazardous waste area. Workers in gloves and coveralls tossed giant TVs, computer keyboards, empty propane cylinders, and…hey! that’s the exact same bread machine I have! The one that makes your loaves square instead of round. Someone tossed it? What a waste.

I mean…I guess waste is the idea here. Waste disposal. Got it. Don’t have to like it though.

Watching them work was like watching the Three Stooges pack for a move. They were doing something I have always wanted to do: take that machine that just broke on me in the middle of something super important and THROW IT ACROSS THE PAVEMENT WATCHING IT BURST INTO TINY SHATTERED BITS OF SORRY.

And these guys are getting paid to do it. Awesome.

They are the only thing standing between us and the Dark Ages.

The recycling facility next to trash collection sorted plastics from metals from paper. Conveyor belts carted them into the air and spit out bundles at the other end, five feet cubed. Some cubes were crushed milk jugs, abstract art; white with bits of random color. Soda cans came out impossibly interlinked, a cube of shiny aluminum brilliance. It was fascinating.

Management shooed me away from their art gallery and for all I know, saved my life in the process.

I came away with some favorite thoughts:

  1. I am re-confirmed in my opinion that, in this large living America, less is still more. So much of our trappings are disposable. Simply outdated, unused, or unloved. Less things. Try not to have so much in the first place.
  2. The recycle idea is wonderful. Re-gift. Re-purpose. Don’t toss it, see if someone else can use your bread machine. Shop at thrift stores. Donate freely. Circulate your stuff. Sharing is caring.
  3. It is deeply satisfying to watch old homework, random junk mail, and nasty utility bills get thrown across the room one. more. time.

 

Shaken Awake

Has anyone seen the 90s?  The 1990s…end of the century…any of this ringing a bell?

I recall the hubbub about Y2K and laughing it off but sort of curious whether, if it went and knocked out technology, we would be able to live off my fabulous garden and three hens.

Answer: yes.

The year 2000 came and went. I  looked up for a minute and marked the occasion with a shrug, but the 1980s were so fabulous, it sort of made up for skipping the decade between.

I spent the 1990s raising zippy little kids and we lived in a little feisty bubble that extended only as far as our little red wagon could carry us: elementary school around the corner and preschool around the other corner. We didn’t have TV by choice, but rented VHS movies from the library (also around the corner, or “river bend” as Pocahontas explained), watching Disney movies, science videos, musicals.

I have a lot of video footage (that’s when video came on film, people, you could measure it in actual feet) of my kids singing  their “ABC”s and learning how to somersault (you bend over until your head touches the ground, then your sibling runs up behind you and gives a mighty push) but nothing on the rest of the planet.

I can’t tell you who was president then. I have no idea what the fashions were. If a food craze or fad diet swept by, it must have bounced off our bubble and landed elsewhere, because we were focussed on not choking on a Lego.

But on September 11, 2001, I was shaken awake (alive?). On my birthday no less. Not that turning 34 was such a deal. We had an alarm clock radio that woke us up at 6am every day with the news, (that explains so much…if you whack the snooze button, mission accomplished and you still have no idea what’s happening on the planet) but this time the sounds coming from that little box were absolutely foreign.

So much so that we flew out of bed and into the living room, turned on the TV and adjusted its crooked antenna. On the east coast, in New York City, one of the twin towers had been hit by an airplane. Just as the shock of what we were seeing hit, another airplane flew across the screen and into a second building. Right in front of us.

It couldn’t be real. We stood there, frozen, not breathing, as black smoke billowed into the Manhattan sky.

Minutes dragged by. I never changed out of my ratty lavender bathrobe. The kids wandered the house. I changed the baby’s diaper on auto-pilot. The TV announced that a plane had smashed into the Pentagon. I looked through the window at our clear – deserted – morning sky.

These weren’t accidents. I cannot think of a more surreal moment. It might as well have been a zombie apocalypse. Eventually, Hubby had to tear himself away and go to work. Just to feel normal. A voice in your head says, “If we go through the motions of a regular day, this will turn into a regular day”.

The kids foraged for Cheerios. A large truck pulled up in front of our house, and I stumbled out and signed papers for a delivery of gray blocks. The driver and I had no words. We exchanged looks that said, “Did you hear what they just said? Can they have possibly gotten this wrong? What’s happening?”

Or maybe it was just, “Lady, drag a comb through your hair already.” And he left. My phone rang. The baby cried.

After yet another plane crashed in the middle of a field, I have to wonder how, or even why, I got the kids to school that day. Perhaps the 1990s routine was that strong. Can you still tie your shoelaces if the world is blowing up?

The answer is yes. My world has blown up a couple of times, and all I can think is that the human heart is supple and tenacious, and if there’s a breath in my body, I’m going to tie my shoes and stand up. If only because – suddenly – so many others could not.

It felt like a physical punch to the stomach, and it was years before I could cry over the magnitude of such loss. Loss of life. Loss of innocence. Loss of a decade.

I can’t remember the 90s. I’ve misplaced that bubble. But I remember the day I was forced to pay attention to the planet again. And I think I learned how to somersault.

A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband

To every other little bride
Who has a “Bob” to please,
And says she’s tried and tried and tried
To cook with skill and ease,
And can’t! – we offer here as guide
Bettina’s recipes!

To her whose “Bob” is prone to wear
A sad and hungry look,
Because the bride he thought so fair
Is – well – she just can’t cook!
To her we say: do not despair;
Just try Bettina’s Book!

It’s been 100 years, ladies. And I want to know. Can you cook yet?

This little gem, circa 1917, is on my bookshelf, a wedding present from Hubby’s younger brother who stole it, I am sure, from a distant great-aunt’s box of cookbooks, gifted partly in jest and partly in fear that I would try to cook a chicken without looking inside of it first…again.

Written in chapters with roman numerals, the book follows the first year of Bettina and Bob’s wedded bliss as they keep house in a bungalow during the roaring ’20s, somewhere in America. Through dialogue with friends and family, we discover that “new fashioned breakfast foods are for feeding the stock, not human beings!” We learn what Bettina keeps on her “emergency shelf”: cans of pimentos and tuna, jars of dried beef, marshmallows and macaroni, a one-pound box of salted codfish. With a thousand ways to please a husband and three of them are “Jellied Beef”, “Radishes”, and “Peanut Butter Sandwiches”, I’m confused.

But what can you expect? When an engagement is announced, it’s toasted with…grape juice. Like. Until 1933. And, fresh out of World War I, “dainty, delicious, and simple” are the words of the day. This can be interpreted as: tiny little portions. Her flower arrangements are bigger. Good thing dessert is included almost every night. Bettina meets Bob on the porch as he returns from work each day, she in her apron, he in his spats. Recipes for “Tuna Loaf”, “Prune Souffle”, and “Ham Timbales” support their complete happiness.

Bettina is quite accomplished in economy (“I always try to use the oven for more than one dish if I am using it at all”), so you won’t find her spending all her allowance on the gas bill (“open fires are so nice”), and full of advice on how to use up those leftovers in the icebox (croquettes, salads, molded, or en casserole). She can remove ink stains with sour milk, heal burned fingers with olive oil, and cleans her steel bread knife by dipping it into the dirt in a flowerpot. I laughed at her newfangled “fireless cooker”, then pondered her jars of jellies and pickles, but when I read her conversation about how to get rid of ants…I got in line. Talk to me, Betty.

“Mrs Dixon was dressed in a trim street costume, but under her veil Bettina could see that her eyes were red, and her lips quivered as she answered, “Forgive me for coming so early, but I just had to. I know you’ll think me silly to talk to you confidentially when I met you only yesterday, but I do want your advice about something.”

“Why my dear, of course. I like economizing; it gives me an opportunity to use all the ingenuity I have.”

“Frank and I’ve lived in a hotel but – lately he’s been so different. Why – he hasn’t been at home with me two evenings a week – ”

“You must be dreadfully unhappy,” interrupted Bettina, “Why, Bob doesn’t like to be away from home any evenings at all.”

“But you’ve just been married!” said Mrs Dixon tactlessly. “Wait and see how he’ll be after a few years! Why, I can’t cook a thing – I can’t even make coffee! Frank says if he could only have one breakfast that was fit to eat – ” and she buried her face in her handkerchief.

“Why Mrs Dixon!” cried Bettina, cheerfully, although her heart was beating furiously. “Your trouble is the easiest one in the world to remedy! Your husband is just hungry – that’s all! You do just as I tell you for one month and I’ll guarantee that Frank will be home every single minute that he can!”

Coffee

7 T-coffee
3 T-cold water
1/2 T-egg white
4 1/2 C-boiling water

  1. Scald the coffee pot
  2. Add the coffee, cold water and egg-white
  3. Mix thoroughly, add the boiling water
  4. Boil two minutes
  5. Allow to stand in the pot one minute
  6. Serve
  7. Brace yourself

San Diego, August 28, 1965

She wore a hot pink and black granny dress chosen specially for the event, and white go go boots zipped up the back of her calfs. The boots she had begged for and received last Christmas. Her straight-as-a-pin strawberry blonde hair swirled around her shoulders as she hopped into the car, her freckled face rosy with excitement.

A sophomore at Castle Park High School, she barely knew the three senior girls who were giving her a ride to the concert that night. But it didn’t matter. This wasn’t a concert you take your boyfriend to. Her parents weren’t interested. And she needed to get there.

The girls parked in the lot of the Balboa Stadium, a horseshoe shaped AFL venue, home of the newly acquired Los Angeles Chargers. A pack of cigarettes was passed around, but after two coughing fits, her attempt at senior-level coolness was abandoned. The ride was enough.

With hard-earned nickels, she had purchased an advance ticket for a front row seat, the very best in the house for $5.50: on the field, with only a rail between the bleachers and an elevated stage. The girls pushed toward their seats, surrounded by over 17,000 fans.

The opening acts began. King Curtis Band, Sounds Incorporated,Discotheque Dancers, Brenda Holloway, and Cannibal & The Headhunters. Each new band raised the anticipation level for what was to come as the sun set in the west and stadium lights flickered on. In the open air that warm August night it was a challenge to not overheat from singing, dancing, or simply leaping over the benches with impatience.

150 San Diego police roamed the area, keeping fans in place. The chanting thousands stood up, searching for any sign of impending phenomenon. Her hand kept straying up to the commemorative pin given out by the sponsoring local radio station, KCBQ, the station who knew her by name, she called in so regularly with song requests.

And now they were bringing her the music in person. She could hardly stand the wait.

Just after 9pm, the British Invaded.

The screams reached octaves that only dogs can hear, it’s likely ships in the harbor began evasive action. The Beatles ran on stage and began a one and only, last minute concert in San Diego. There was mass gyration, a flailing of female forms, as devoted fans completely lost their minds. Our sophomore, only sweet 16, watched John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr performing only a few feet away, their perfect mouths singing into microphones…and couldn’t hear a single note.

With no intermission, they played a dozen hits: their truncated version of Twist And Shout, followed by She’s A WomanI Feel FineDizzy Miss LizzyTicket To RideEverybody’s Trying To Be My BabyCan’t Buy Me LoveBaby’s In BlackI Wanna Be Your ManA Hard Day’s NightHelp! and I’m Down.

There were Charger-worthy football tackles as each song brought more fans over the rails. Police held back the tide of sobbing humanity while the Beatles worked off their pre-show dinner of sodas, sandwiches, and KFC.

We know now that this August would mark the last of their commercial concerts, at the end of a frantic four year touring schedule. They could not compete with the fanbase wall of sound, realizing that live performances no longer had anything to do with their music. The next step in their musical journey would be the creation of Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band.

So I’m glad our sophomore – when she realized The Beatles were done, when she watched them abandon their instruments on the stage and flee for their lives across the field to a waiting helicopter – hiked up her granny dress and hopped the rail. Racing ahead of the surge, she and everyone else ripped up the turf that the musicians had run their rhythmic shoes over. She held onto that contraband fistful of sod for the next 25 years. In a baggie. Like weed. Until it turned into dust.

She kept it next to every album The Beatles ever made, heaps of memorabilia, and of course, her KCBQ pin.

Fast forward to June 6, 2019. I’m at the Fair, standing right in front of the stage, singing at the top of my lungs with the band: The Fab Four. I’m delighted that my childhood training was so thorough: I know all the lyrics. I know all the dance moves. I hitched a ride with girlfriends. I’m only missing the go go boots.

I’m happy to report that mom never did take up smoking, although The Beatles were all heavy smokers and worse. KFC, however, remains a family delicacy.

Get it While It’s Hot

I guess I saw this moment coming, I just didn’t realize it would arrive so quickly.

My children are splitting up their inheritance and I’m not dead yet.

As begins most of my plights, I was going along, minding my own business, cleaning stuff. This is my happy place and people should respect it. By people, I mean the quasi-adult humans that I spent many hours and several body parts birthing in a hospital and the rest of my life cleaning up behind. We are hosting actual adults this summer and naturally, this means my feather duster is putting in some overtime.

I cleaned out my bookcase.

Here’s how that looked in my mind: These treasures came from a used book shop for a quarter each. They are ratty because they were loved but no one reads them anymore. I shall return them to the shelves from whence they came and rejoice some stranger’s heart.

Here’s how that looked to my kids: These treasures came from Mom’s bookshelf and they are spun from pure gold. They are ratty because I accidentally left them in the tree fort/floor of my car/washing machine. I shall rescue these irreplaceable tomes and anything else not nailed down before my mother’s dementia progresses to the point where she can’t remember that I wanted that!

Now. As I descend from a long line of women who kept stuff around just for the pleasure of dusting it, I am not emotionally bound to any one item. If it delights the heart of my children, by all means take it now. They can dust it for me and decide whether I get visitation rights.

But. In the back of my aged mind I hear warning bells. Don’t confuse the real things with the fake. I’m not talking about diamonds. I’m discussing relationships. Things are replaceable. Books are dime a dozen. You only have one Mom and her shelf life isn’t quite the same.

Well, depending on who you ask, I suppose.

You may have noticed, no one is ever pronounced “dead” at a funeral. Lots of interesting phrases though – the latest trend being “celebration of life” – because who wants to be a Debbie Downer when someone exits their current house full of loot, never to return?

Most religions subscribe to a “Me, Act 1” and “Me, Act 2” version. There’s a ‘before’ and an ‘after’. It’s uncomfortable to discuss the turning point. No one likes to dwell on that little detail. But you’re not dead.

Buddhists would have me doing re-runs until Netflix is obsolete. Not so exciting, but steady work.

Hindus would put me in a mini-series (starring Angelina Jolie).

But if this life is a one-off, he who dies with the most toys wins. Of course, if you’re the lucky dead dude, you yourself won’t know you won, but everyone left standing around will, and as that’s the whole point, it’s a win-win. That would be cause for celebration, certainly.

They will put my ashes in an urn or my photo in a frame, and set me on the shelf with the books they rescued and dust us all the same. I’m okay with that, because I read a Book that says dead is dead and dust is dust and if I am interested in an Act 2 I should bring it up with the Big Guy and make resurrection arrangements.

Meanwhile, allow me to suggest an excellent book: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.

No, you can’t have it. Yet.

I am merely suggesting that if we’re going to go around putting PostIt notes under the big-screen TV and the InstantPot, there had better also be a modicum of manners.

I’m not dead. Yet.

“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.”
Ecc 9:5

Moms Graduation Speech

As I ponder the idea of no longer being a participant in the public school system, the thought that I am rid of fund raisers, done with dirty basketball jerseys, shed of tracking a textbook assigned ten months ago and never used, and altogether destitute of paperwork to be filled out in triplicate with a blue ink pen…a single tear of pure joy glistens in my eye. My left eye. The one that twitches.

Let freedom ring.

I’d like to thank everyone who made this moment possible.

I could not have worn such a deep trench in the elementary school doorway, had not Hubby insisted that homeschooling was “not an option”. Thank you, Hubby, for challenging me to find a way to homeschool our kids anyway by bringing home sixteen years of creative projects for all 800 of the students I adopted there.

Thank you, Middle School Principal, for welcoming five siblings in a row, children who brought their bicycles with them instead of their mother, children who learned the value of a dollar by hustling duct tape wallets, the value of deodorant after gym class, and the value of functional stall doors in a bathroom. We learned there’s no place like home after all.

Shout out to my firstborn for teaching me that we all learn in our own ways during high school. Some of us learn while sitting in the back row, staring out a window, and doodling on the homework. We learn that teachers are furious when they call you out in front of the class and you actually know the answers.

Second born, thank you for becoming fluent in Spanish so that I don’t need to be. It’s as entertaining as the German, Russian, and whale your siblings pretend to speak. You taught me that there’s no such thing as too many boxes full of awards.

Middle child, my never-in-a-hurry-why-do-you-want-to-rush-stuff one, thank you for waiting until two weeks to graduating to decide that you actually did want to attend college. I think your degree in “Communication” is as authentic as the panic attack I had.

I appreciate the effort it took, oh fourth one, to move to a new high school, forsaking the legacy of our family reputation to create a name for yourself. You played varsity sports as a freshman, losing every single game for a year, and ended your senior year with mono. You taught me gumption. One of us deserves a gold sticker.

And now, the last man standing, he who had to grow a sense of humor at birth, the one who had no idea his vision was bad until twelve tender years of age, the man who can perform quantum physics yet struggles with a pencil and long division, is poised on the platform, prepared to join his siblings in the world of adults, so long as there’s no laundry involved.

Thank you for doing your homework, love. Even if I think it’s cheating to do “research” from your couch instead of fighting classmates over the last three reference books in an actual library a day before the term paper is due. Sorry about that dopamine addiction. We all thought educating through an iPad was a good idea four years ago.

I’m so happy. I’m so blessed. I’m so tired.

I hope I can make it through the ceremony.

In conclusion, an Honorary Mention goes out to my fellow moms. Yes, that award given to our kids at school assemblies, recognizing that they have been showing up and breathing in and out all day. The one that reminds us that we are all winners.

To the girlfriends who stood by me during Common Core Math and the common cold; those who heard my battle cries and administered hot tea and hugs. Thank you for reminding me that the school system with its trappings and traps, is temporary after all. Our educations are priceless. And our possibilities are endless.

Let’s do this.

Mother’s Day Hotline 2019

Good morning and thank you for calling the Mother’s Day Hotline.

Please listen carefully, as our menu has definitely changed.

If you are considering parenthood, you’d better press 1.

If you think that five kids are the perfect number of offspring, press 2.

If you are currently surrounded with toddlers, please press 3.

If you wore actual pajamas and a burp cloth in public yesterday, press 4.

If the words “this is your last warning!” was issued three warnings ago, please press 5.

If you think you are still cool enough to do the same activities as your middle school kid, please press 6.

If you now communicate with your offspring through text, please dial push click tap press 7.

If you no longer recognize your child beneath the teenager disguise, please press 8.

If you have been wondering about your own mother lately, better press 9.

If you, yourself, are a now Grandmothering, please press pound.

If you are parenting fur-babies, please press star.

If you are a MOTHER. If you are a LIFER. If you OWN this. Press here.

Thank you for calling the Mothers Day Hotline. Enjoy your toast and tea. See you again soon.

You’re Fired

It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, it was the morning after. I arrived at my Day Job bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with my lunchbag full of mason jars, my regular bag full of gummy bears and caramel corn, and my heart full of song. Tomorrow was my six month anniversary in my new position and I was, in the words of my supervisor, crushing it. Finally I was going to get a formal Review with a tidy row of boxes and maybe a gold sticker at the top that said so. I had waited over two years for the system to catch up to my presence on the payroll. It was about time I had something stuck to my refrigerator for it.

The first two months in my new cubicle were delightful, the second two were surprising, and although I was the right person for the job, the last two had been filled with a determination to prove that I was the right person for the office, as doubts had been raised. I had been invited to play a game or two and politely declined, knowing my own abilities as an actress would have cost me a daily forfeit. Meanwhile, I checked in regularly with my supervisor to make sure I was on track with my tasks and my letter of resignation was stuck in permanent limbo. I hoped a work Review would override it altogether.

Moral of the Story.

Wow, the whole building was empty. I congratulated myself on arriving a few minutes early as I flipped on my computer and walked my lunch to the break room. From a far corner, my supervisor’s voice asked whether we could have a quick meeting before the day started.

Hmm. I hadn’t seen her there. I also hadn’t seen the senior staff guy who materialized at the far end of the table. Intrigued, I sat down, thinking, “There must be some new procedure or activity to work on. How exciting.”

“Things aren’t going entirely the way we’d expected,” she began, “so I have here two different items.” She slid them across the table, upside down.

“One is your termination paperwork and the other is your letter of resignation. All I really need to know is which one you want to sign.”

In that very telescopic moment, as I stood in the road watching the monster truck about to hit, I thought:

  1. Hallelujah, I’m free! (joy)
  2. Oh cr*p, I have a lot of work on my desk, who’s going to get it done? (guilt)
  3. Wait, she told me right up to yesterday what a great job I was doing. (betrayal)
  4. Where are all my office friends and why can’t I say goodbye to them? (loss)
  5. Wait, do they all know what’s happening right now? (shame)
  6. How will I explain this one to Hubby? (anxiety)
  7. Why? (rejection)
  8. Oh yeah…(gobsmacked)

…because, until an employee passes the six month mark in a new cubicle, said employee has no rights. Legally, my supervisor didn’t have to tell me anything and could fire me without cause. Personally, she owed me an explanation – unless of course, it was personal. Expressionless, we waited to see who would flinch.

It was one last shell game, forcing me to publicly lie about the circumstances of my departure and keep her hands clean. I glanced at the masculine presence in the room, realizing that he was here to watch the show. When it stalled, he baited us with some mansplaining; he was the opening act for the Femme Hysterics. How cool is that?

I handled myself like the professional I am and I hope everyone took notes. Perhaps she’d forgotten that I was in her exact position, not six months earlier. Basic protocol involves placing your items into a box, turning in your keycard, and being escorted from the building by a burly man. It took me two trips to my car and a Costco sized cart to collect the stuff I had squirreled away at my desk. And the break room. And my gym locker. The orchid I received for Admin Professionals Day perched on top of the pile like a saucy hat.

Then I timed the monster truck, leaped onto the bumper, and took that free ride right out of town.

The pep in my step may have come from the sure knowledge that I had a blog-worthy story.

But it was probably from the fact that I was now free to write it.

And you, my friend, are free to write yours in the Comment box.

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Calling It Quits


(How I want my video to look vs how I really look…hahahaha)

Transcript:

I am about to celebrate the one year anniversary of the last day of my Day Job in a Cubicle. The Day Job taught me many things, both about myself and humanity in general, things I am still processing and folding into the pudding that is my life.

Things like how to decide whether people are looking you right in the face and lying. Things like how to keep your compassion for people who are screaming in your face. Things like accountability within systems designed to serve a greater good and what happens when you involve egos that serve only the personal and immediate good. Things like people who would rather play games than create a vibrant successful team.

Moms, help me out here…it sounds like working with toddlers. Am I right?

Now, how many times a day do the words “I QUIT!” come out of our mom mouths?

It’s like a frustrated fantasy that never comes true, a four letter cuss word that feels so good when we say it even though we know it solved nothing. Because, of course, we don’t quit. We just grab a cookie and keep slogging away. There’s work to do.

I just don’t have enough experience in quitting. I love thinking I am made of tough stuff, and stamina, and thrive with interpersonal adaptations. You can’t raise five kids and be a fluff. I’m good. There is no such thing as throwing in the towel.

As a matter of fact I have a meme that says “You may see me Struggle but you will never see me Quit”. Yeah, whatever.

Today, we’re going to challenge that concept. Which means I am also challenging myself.

Let’s talk about it for a minute.

“Quitting” carries nasty and judgmental connotations, as the worst thing you can possibly do, as the mark of failure and shame, a sign of weakness, and as the last possible option in nearly every situation.

Well, Except for situations that society decides to approve. (And now we have to decide which society we live in because that is constantly shifting around.) It gets tricky.

Who decided what was worth quitting and what was not? Who gets the thumbs up or the thumbs down? For example:

You can quit smoking but not a marriage.

You can quit a job but not college.

You can quit drinking but you don’t quit your sports team.

You can quit Facebook friends but not your family.

You should quit making videos but not quit writing blogs….

Who decided which way my thumb goes?

If I make the decision to quit….anything….if one of my kids comes to me with a conversation about “Quitting”, how am I going to handle the idea of it? What do I advise them? What do I advise myself?

Because, one year ago today, I sat down with a friend and wrote a letter of resignation. I had spent three months with all the signs that I needed to move on from the Day Job, but were ignoring them because I am not a quitter. So, instead of working smarter, I was working harder. Instead of bowing out gracefully, I was stubbornly putting my head down and trying to prove to myself that I was not a failure or weak or unable to “grow up and play with the big boys”.

What a joke.

There are games no one should have to play, just to earn a paycheck.

I’m saving the end of that story for next week, but I’ll leave you with some signs that it’s time to Quit; because Quitting has a place in intelligent decision-making and sometimes staying is the wrong thing to do.

I’ll see you next week. Bye.

Reasons to consider Quitting:

  1. Negative energy from it consistently overflows into other areas of your life
  2. You say “It’s just a job”, can do it with your eyes closed, are apathetic or complacent
  3. You don’t ever want to go to work, your gut is telling you to stop, you make careless mistakes
  4. Your boss or coworkers make you miserable or create a toxic environment
  5. You feel mentally or physically unwell from the situation
  6. Physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse
  7. You tried talking to the boss/coworkers to no avail
  8. Your pay or benefits are not worth the personal price you are paying
  9. Other jobs look exciting, your talents aren’t being tapped, the career has no future
  10. You don’t share the company vision or values
  11. You’ve been there too long, you’re burning out, there may be downsizing ahead

All of which can be applied to any job, including raising kids, as I found out. There was absolutely going to be downsizing in my company, right?

Okay, just for balance, here are some reasons not to Quit:

  1. You’re angry or sad about someone or frustrated with yourself
  2. You’re burned out and need a vacation
  3. You’re broke and don’t have the next job lined up
  4. You need medical or other benefits and you don’t have a bridge in place
  5. You’re acquiring skills for your next job
  6. Someone else says you should
  7. You don’t have a departure plan prepared
  8. You didn’t take a hard look at the company culture to see whether improvements were incoming

Also, HERE is a fun LINK or TWO if this blog has you thinking…..

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Technology Traps

Transcript:

“Okay. Family story time. We’re gonna start with my dad. A few years ago, we got him a tablet. First piece of technology ever. And he had fun playing with it and he still does, but we tried to set him up with an email address. So I made him a password, showed him how it worked, got him set. Good job Dad, and I’m gonna go home and I’m gonna send you an email….

And I get a phone call a couple days later. He’s super frustrated. “I can’t get this thing to work. I don’t know what it wants, it just keeps asking for my address and I keep typing it in there and it won’t take it and it doesn’t even know who I am.”

“Okay, calm down let me see what’s going on.” And. He had been putting his house address in, over and over and over again. And I had to explain how an email address was different from a house address but it’s still called an address and you still kinda live there and that’s where your mail goes but it’s not real mail, it’s electronic mail. So. Anyway, we’ve come through that. We’re good now. He gets my emails. He gets my blogs. I hope he reads them….maybe not this one? Anyway. Okay.

So, fast forward. My mom gets on technology and she’s gonna start reading my blogs, so I make her the first ever video, right? And it says, right across the top, The Video for Mom…for you, Mom! So she’s getting them, I suppose she is, and I get on the phone with her, “Hey Mom, how did you like the blog?” She’s like, “Oh, honey it was so good. You did so good. I’m so proud of you.” “Oh, thanks mom.” And I said, “But, um, what’d you think of it?” She’s like, “Oh, it’s fine.”

“So you watched the video?” And she’s like, “What video?” “The video. It’s like right at the top of it.” “Well, I read it, I read it.” “But on the top there was a video, right?” And she’s like, “Well, I saw your picture.” “No,” I said, “You have to…that, that wasn’t a picture. That was a video. You just tap it, you just poke it, and then I start talking to you, like this!” Pretty exciting. And yeah, we’re figuring it out.

Which probably explains a lot about Monday. Because I think I’m related. Sorry about that guys. Um, yeah, that was not good.

So my website has been dying a slow, long death since Monday. There were a lot of interesting situations going on in there. Today’s Wednesday, so it’s the third day out, third Monday in a row for me. I spent five hours on the phone today, so far, with my website host trying to get to the bottom of things. Sometimes I think I know more than they do, which is not an optimum situation…in these situations. Okay then. Hopefully it figures itself out.

But first I lost all the photos. If you go back and look at all my blogs on Italy, all my pictures are gone. I can still find them somewhere else but – wow – that was a lot of work that’s just gone.  And then some of my blogs started to leave, all by themselves, they just decided they were gonna go in the trashcan. Um, that’s not okay. When you have a “blog” you should have them still where you put them. So we’ll find out. We’ll get to the bottom of it some day. I don’t know if this is the day. We’ll find out.

Technology drives me crazy. So I guess what I want to close with is the subject of flip phones for your kids. You know, technology is a good tool, and it’s a fun toy, and a terrible distraction from “real life”, so it’s kind of a love/hate situation for me. All of my kids – all of them – and it really doesn’t matter with my firstborn because there wasn’t this huge desperate need for kids to have their own smartphones, not that long ago. But now, apparently it is, and you’re pretty much nothing if you don’t have a smartphone from toddlerhood on.

Let me show you what I have. My children – my children who, the youngest who is 18 and he’s gonna graduate high school and people, he’s doing it with a flip phone. Flip phone. Pretty beat up. Wait, wait. It can do: that. It can do that, so, you know, texting is super fun and apparently it’s a step up to have a keyboard on here because the phone they had before this “upgrade” you had to like punch the numbers over and over to get to the “s” and then you were texting like that. I figure, they can get on the internet all over the place, whenever they want to and they don’t need to do it with their phones. It does not have to be that easy. That’s the Mom Two Cent Blurb on my part. If they need a smartphone, they can grow up, get a job, and buy their own and get their own plan to go with it.

And also…my mom’s phone just died. My sisters tried to get her a smart phone and she refused and bought a $160.00 flip phone…because they get really mad when you don’t want a smartphone and then they sell you these and make as much as they can for them because – guess what? – their data plan is not gonna get attached to that. So they’re losing money, and they know it. Whatever. Aye yi yi. All right.

Well you guys have a good rest of the week. I’m assuming that I can even post a blog for this weekend, so this is me: optimistic! And um, Happy Monday! Again!

See ya later, bye.”

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!