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Tag Archives: quitting

Obligation

26 Aug

Cover_IJThis has been a great year for me, reading-wise. Being the Type-A nerd that I am I devised a whole new system on how to pick books and optimize the quality of what I’m reading.

First of all I joined the Good Reads website which is a social media for books. Before I joined the site I had a hard time keeping track of book recommendations from family and friends. There were so many books I wanted to read, but when I found myself in a bookstore, I couldn’t remember a single one. So Good Reads keeps the list and I can sort it by highest user ratings so that hopefully I’m reading the best books on my list. I then take the top books on that list and put them on hold on the New York Public Library website.  I pick them up at a branch near my work on my lunch break. It has become such a perfect routine, and I’ve read great books this year and not had to buy them.

One book, though, has put a little hitch in my giddy-up. I have nothing against reading classic literature, even larger volumes. I read “Anna Karenina” and “Moby Dick” last winter and enjoyed them both. I’ve read massive nonfiction books about horizontal identities and the digestive tract. Some of these I’ve enjoyed more than others. But David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”? I can’t do it.

My relationship with David Foster Wallace has historically been bad. I just don’t get it. What is all the fuss about? I think a lot of his writing is overdone and depressing. I’ve read “This is Water” and a number of different interviews by him. In these things I see his wisdom, his intelligence, his ability to write very well. But, man, I could not get into “Infinite Jest.” I just couldn’t. I spent much too long trying to, because every review I found was glowing. The ratings on Good Reads were high. In a lot of ways, it made me feel stupid. What am I not getting about this book? What does it say about me that I feel as though I’m being tortured while reading it? I kept trying to push through, thinking at some point I’d be hooked and want to finish it. Alas, I eventually though, “Life is too short to read bad books.” I trotted the book back to the library branch near my work and returned it, probably never again in my lifetime will I try to read it.

Now I’m reading a trashy crime novel based on a network television show. But I’m enjoying it. I know it’s not great, and I don’t think I’m doing myself any favors by reading it. But guilty pleasures are so necessary in life. I’m happy reading this book, and hey, I’ve watched “The Jersey Shore” and liked that too! It is what it is. I have “The Count of Monte Cristo” on hold at the library and maybe that’ll cleanse my reading palate of the cheap-thrills book I’m reading now. But, I feel a bit like a failure that I couldn’t get through “Infinite Jest.” What am I missing? Why is that book such a classic? How is it possible to get past the first 100 pages and not start banging your head against a wall? I would love to know.

 

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Normandy/Calvados

26 Jun
Morning in the countryside.

Morning in the countryside.

I have decided upon a new rule for myself when traveling. Up until now, I have always had a ratio of 80% in a major city and 20% off-the-beaten-path. This needs to change. The truly amazing, awe-inspiring, life-changing moments I’ve experienced while traveling usually happen in the middle of nowhere, in a place no one has heard about. Case in point #1: Yoshino. Case in point #2: our road trip through Normandy.

D and our Twingo which we dubbed Amelie.

D and our Twingo which we dubbed Amelie.

A bit of wary of driving in Paris, we decided to take a train to Versailles and rent a car there. Easier said then done. We ended up wandering around in the rain, trying to find a car rental place. We finally found our way to a Hertz station where two French men assisted us in broken English. What we gathered from them, though, was that they had given us their most pink car, since we were ladies and must like that sort of thing. As we prepared to leave the lot, I ran in quickly to ask them which way to the highway. The cute boy with bright, blue eyes looked at me worriedly before rushing into a back room. He brought out a GPS unit and showed me how to work it. “Uh, it’s no charge….um…but that’s…exception for you.” He was truly our hero as we would have been quite lost without it.

View of Honfleur from the Ferris Wheel.

View of Honfleur from the Ferris Wheel.

We had reservations at a bed and breakfast place in a tiny town called Torigni-sur-Vire. But along the way, we made a detour to the north at a small fishing village called Honfleur. Dr. G had recommended it to me as his favorite place he has ever been. Dr G has yet to steer me wrong in life. Honfleur was possibly the highlight of my entire France trip. Everything about it was charming. From the chocolate museum with mechanical beavers making chocolate to the old Ferris Wheel to the old man painting the carousel to the apple brandy liquor to the fresh mussels caught that morning. We would have loved to stay longer, but we didn’t want to be late to check into our B&B.

La Beauconniere

La Beauconniere

After much skillful driving along winding roads, past cows and other speeding French drivers, we found the B&B where we were to stay two nights. As we pulled up, a smiling man waved eagerly at us. This was Dean. He directed us where to park and as we got out of the car, he introduced us to him and his wife, Suzanne. I can’t say enough wonderful things about them. They were two of the warmest people I have ever met. Kind, happy, eager to learn everything about us. We were likewise interested in learning about them. Their story is a tale that proves happiness is possible, and it’s never too late to lead a life you love. They originally owned their own law firm in Manhattan, but they didn’t like the hustle and bustle of city life. Dean is British and had always loved the French countryside. So one day they packed up, moved to France, and opened La Beauconniere. She has a passion for horses and cooking, and he loves history and gardening. They share this with the visitors that pass through. Dean calls himself a collector of stories. He loves to learn about his visitors.

They advised us to get dinner at a small bistro in town. We drove through the tiny town with one streetlight. We drank Calvados (apple brandy made in the region, 40%, not for beginners), and I ordered a Nicoise salad. The lettuce in the salad was so fresh and flavorful. I was in heaven. We went back home and crawled into our big comfy bed with the windows wide open to let fresh air in. We slept like the dead.

American cemetery at Omaha beach

American cemetery at Omaha beach

The next day I had made arrangements to spend the day horseback riding through the countryside with Suzanne. But there were huge gusts of wind, and Suzanne was worried about the horses getting spooked and didn’t want to not be able to communicate with each other. She offered to take me out the next day, but we had to return our rental car by a certain time or face a huge penalty fee. I was disappointed, but Dean promised to map out a good sightseeing day for us.

We headed to the D-Day beaches and in particular Omaha beach where the American cemetery was located. It was fascinating to see what those men had to go through, the long beaches and dunes they had to cross over. It was a moving experience, and I’m so glad we got to see it. There was a quote engraved there that stood out to me.

“If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest, it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest: All we asked…was enough soil in which to bury our gallant dead.”

-General Mark W. Clark

Amazing to see you much of the war came down to that one moment, that final hope to free France, all the countries that worked together to make it possible. USA, England, the French resistance. Astounding.

Afterwards we drove to the small town of Bayeaux to see the Bayeaux tapestry which was made in the 11th century depicting the Norman conquest. A stark contrast between the two wars and what people have fought for over time.

Our next stop was going to be Mont-St-Michel, but our trusty GPS broke, and we were nervous about getting too lost. So we found a convenient store with some maps and made our way back to Torigni sur Vire. Once there we found a little pub that was open, bought some beers (whilst noticing a black cat napping on the bar) and played darts. Naturally.

D proved to be a formidable opponent.

D proved to be a formidable opponent.

Once we started feeling a bit hungry we headed out to wander around the town. We stopped in a bakery to grab fresh baguettes, a liquor store to buy a bottle of cider (apples are big in that region), a grocery store so D could pick out some smelly French cheeses, and a butcher to buy some sausage. Back at La Beauconniere, we ate our humble feast and followed it up with some more Calvados brandy. D fell asleep early while I took a long shower, played with the cat Jake, gazed dreamily at the horses and wrote a little.

Jake resting in a sunbeam.

Jake resting in a sunbeam.

The next morning we said our goodbyes to Dean and Suzanne while they packed up some baguettes, homemade pear bread, and what was left of our stinky cheese, so we could snack on the road. We drove back to Versailles to drop off the car and spend the day at the palace. After our amazing countryside experience, it was difficult to stomach the mass amounts of tourists. The palace was interesting to see, but we ended up rushing through it, trying to get away from the crowds. The gardens were beautiful, and it was good to get fresh air after being herded like cattle from room to room. If I were a wealthy Queen of France, I think I’d rather stay at La Beauconniere as opposed to Versailles.

I Gamble

29 May

I got so many wonderful responses to my “I Quit” post that I thought I should write a follow-up.

The main reason I quit my job was because I hated working at the reception desk. I knew it wasn’t for me, and I was only sticking it out so that I could one day move to the tech position that was promised me. At some point, I felt like I was being shuffled around and was never actually going to get my chance. It seemed the only way I would ever have a chance at being a full-time technician was if I quit the reception desk and cleared up my schedule. So I gambled.

I’m a good Reno girl who knows how to gamble responsibly. For me, the key is always to not put at risk too much. Sure, you have to bet big to win big, but no one wants to lose their house or their entire life savings. Gamble what is feasible to lose. I am in a lucky position in life where I can be unemployed. I have the financial resources; I don’t have anyone depending on me; I have a lot of support from those close to me.

So I felt it was a 50/50 chance that in quitting my job I would be offered the technician position. But if that didn’t happen, I was still okay with my decision. It was still worth it.

So I quit. The following week was difficult as some of the upper management began acting rude towards me. It hurt, because I was under the impression that I was a good employee, that I’d put in over a year of hard work, and I deserved much better treatment. I accepted that my time at the clinic was over, and I was meant to move on.

Then, last Tuesday, I was called into the clinic owner’s office. I thought he was going to hand me some sort of a project for my last few days. Instead he sat me down, said a lot of uncharacteristically kind things to me and offered me the technician job. Apparently, the woman that has been training me the last couple of months insisted that they hire me, that they were being foolish if they didn’t. I was surprised by his offer, and I decided to take it.

It’s good training, and in many ways what I wanted to happen, but at the same time, I find myself disappointed. I’m not entirely happy with where I work, and oddly enough, a part of me was excited about being unemployed. I feel like that is such a callous and foolish thing to say. There are millions of people out there that are struggling with unemployment, so I find it hard to sit and whine about having a job. I should be grateful. It is the job I wanted after all.

But a part of me wanted to have time to write, to travel, to lay in the sun in Central Park, to visit friends and family, to spend an afternoon plotting out my life and scheming for the future. But it’s off to work I go. Don’t get me wrong I am happy, but there is always a part of me that will wonder if I could be happier.

I quit

15 May

I quit my job.

It still feels shocking to say it or write it, but on Monday, I put in my two week notice and breathed easy for the first time in weeks.

It was such a hard decision, because in a lot of ways, I loved my job. I loved working with animals, training to be a technician, being respected as a good employee.

But in so many ways, I was absolutely miserable. I didn’t like working reception, and I desperately wanted to move to the technician job. Unfortunately my office manager put her foot down, screamed at anyone who wanted to help me, gave me the silent treatment and demanded that I stay in reception. I was apparently too good an employee to lose. I tried everything. I tried reasoning with the practice owners, I tried compromising my schedule, I tried working extra days. I tried demanding the raise I’ve been promised over and over again. It was like I was talking to walls.

Then I got sick. Really sick. I was fainting in strange places, losing vision, feeling numb in my extremities. I was sick to my stomach, and I finally went to a doctor. After a bunch of tests and a lengthy medical history interview, the doctor essentially told me that I was killing myself with stress, and that I needed to cut something out and focus on taking care of myself. I knew what was wrong.

I was miserable Monday through Thursday working at the reception desk. I was angry, frustrated. I could feel tension in my neck and shoulders when I left the office. My only salvation was working as a technician on Fridays. But by the time Friday rolled around I was suffering from exhaustion. I hated my job. I hated the clinic. I was miserable.

So I quit. I’m terrified about what lies ahead, but I’m also so relieved. I’d rather be dead broke and happy, then sorta broke and miserable. Not a huge difference there anyways. I’ve jumped from job to job my whole life without ever taking the time to really look for something that I want to do, that means something to me. I’ve always hired on to whatever place has taken me. And if you’ve heard the stories of my job history, sometimes it worked out well, sometimes it was a nightmare.

I feel free. In two weeks, I can move anywhere in the world. I can spend my days writing. I can actually take a moment to breathe and think about what I want to do.

I’ll find something else. I’ll find something better. After all, it has never been a problem before.