10 Things I Quit Doing in 2018

Working for money. This is a bigger deal than it sounds because what it means is that I disentangled my ego from how much money I make. Now the U.S. Government has set my value with its incredibly generous Social Security benefits.

Waiting for somebody else to carry stuff. I schlep an enormous amount of stuff between Time of the Month Club and Street Angels and I like it, I don’t know why. Five years ago, I’d be looking for a man or a donkey to haul all these bags and boxes but no more, man, I am my own hauler.

Wearing pants that aren’t jeans. I take that back. I wore a wild pair of gold and brown flowing pants to a reception during the summer. They were nice but felt like pajamas. There’s a reason why Levis are timeless.

Eschewing the phone. A big dose of ‘get over yourself’ came hurling at me from Mars one day and I fired up the phone attachment for my cochlear implant and called the damn dentist. Big breakthrough, folks. You have no idea.

Putting up with hijackers. If I own the plane and I am flying the plane, the plane is going where I want it to go. When you own the plane and fly the plane, you can go where you want to go. Meanwhile, take a seat in the back.

Buying stuff. I am done with stuff. My house is full of stuff. I don’t even like buying stuff for other people who haven’t had the time I’ve had to accumulate a lot of stuff. I’m really sick to death of stuff. This makes me not a great Christmas present giver.

Indulging timidity. My patience for people who don’t ‘want to make waves’ has vanished. At the same time, my admiration for people who call out injustice, hypocrisy, and all kinds of ridiculousness has soared. And, yeah, I decided to go with the cool kids.

Drinking wine all night. I was never a drunk but I could always drink a fair amount. Let’s just say – I’m a shadow of my former self.

Trying to control the relationships of others. I say this as old dog and new dog bark and nip at each other. ‘They will work it out,’ we were told and so they will. But it is a pain to listen to and not just with dogs.

Holding back. I don’t, anymore.

Count Me In

“There’s no rest for the weary! It’s up and at ’em.”

There was no lounging around for us the day after Christmas because in the dime store business, it was time to take inventory. Between December 26 and 31, we counted everything in the store, every spool of thread, every potholder, greeting card, hammer, lampshade and goldfish.

When we were done counting a bin or a box, we put the tally on a little pink slip for my dad to pick up later and add up. Down ‘on the floor’ as we called it, we could hear him up in the office punching the adding machine keys and pulling the crank forward when he wanted a subtotal.

Not everybody loved taking inventory but I did. For one thing, it was something I could do. I could count stuff and fill out the pink forms. In other essential dime store tasks I lacked some proficiency. Things like making keys and cutting window shades, lost skills now, were lost to me then. I was ahead of my time in judging these things archaic and needlessly exacting. Customers were Luddites in this regard, expecting perfection and getting very grouchy when the key didn’t work or the shade was too short. So inventory was a great relief. Simple. Productive.

But more than just a story  from the glorious past of my family’s Ben Franklin Store, the inventory-taking is a metaphor for what people always do, in more or less organized fashion, after Christmas and before New Year’s.

It’s early yet. Just the first day of inventory-taking so we’re dealing with stuff on the counters, not the stuff in boxes in the back room, but, with that, here’s a go at what I’m seeing for 2015.

  1. My children have orbits around us, their parents, even through they now have their own little moons to orbit them. Some of my children’s orbits are more elliptical than others, one or two spend time looking for water on Mars. When the phones don’t work on Mars, ours still seems to ring.
  2. Work is purpose and people need purpose to live well. Not all work is paid work but real work still causes stress and strain. If it didn’t, it would be play which people also need. The stress and strain keeps people’s brains from floating like old ice cubes in a dying Margarita. Who knew fear of failure could keep people alive?
  3. One can have an enduring relationship with a car. I do. Sometimes, I suspect it could be a death trap, particularly in the summer when I pass semi-trucks n the freeway with my top down and I think to myself, you should really wear a helmet if you’re going to drive like this and then I just gun it to get past the truck and think to myself, people have no idea what a badass I am for driving this beautiful tin can of a car this way. I might die in that car and that would be okay. Bury me in my Thunderbird.

ThunderbirdSo those are three things I found taking inventory tonight. But it’s early yet, just December 26th. We’re counting the easy stuff, the Aqua-Net and Play-Doh. We haven’t gotten to the snarl of screws and bolts in the bin at the back of the store. My fingers haven’t gotten black and greasy from handling all that metal, no shards have gotten under my skin. Not yet, anyway.

Maybe that’s next.