Writer’s Workshop: I Was In The Mood To Write…

A black cat, because why not? Source: Scopio

Usually, I look at the prompts and choose the one that says some like "Write a post inspired by the word _________," of which there are two this time around. This time, however, I’m going to take the other four prompts and answer them, because I’m in the mood to write.

First, there’s "Happy New Year! What resolutions are you making? How did last year’s resolutions turn out for you?" I don’t make resolutions, because nine times out of ten I forget to do them. I mean, totally forget about them. I’m hoping to get into the habit of writing myself a note at the end of the day that summarizes what I did that day, because I’m always stuck for an answer when Mary asks, "so, what did you do today?" Not to mention when I’m asked questions like "what were the high and low points of the past year?" or "name something you learned last month." It’d be nice to have an answer.

Then, "Did you buy yourself any gifts this holiday season? Share what you selected for yourself." Mary and I have basically shopped for ourselves for Christmas the last 20 years or so, because otherwise we would have to write out exactly what we wanted the other person to buy, and even then half of it would go back. Mary buys knitting and crocheting books and patterns, not to mention yarn, and I have no idea what she wants, but she does, so she buys the stuff and says "thank you for my presents!" I do the same for the stuff I want, which this year was a 6th Generation iPod Touch with 32GB of storage. The iPod I had had since about 2006 bit the dust earlier this year, and I bought myself a little MP3 player to provide noise for myself when I sleep. After living with it and its limitations for a few months, I decided I wanted something better. Strangely enough, the new iPod (which I bought through eBay) cost just about as much as the other little player I had. Battery life on the iPod is better, I can run my noise apps as well as play the MP3’s I have on it, and the sound quality is much better. A winner all around.

Then, there’s this: "Write about your New Year’s Eve celebration. How wild do you get?" Not wild at all. We had pizza rolls for dinner, as has become our tradition, Mary was tired and went to bed at 10:30, I was in bed by 11:30 and asleep five minutes after the kids in the neighborhood stopped with the fireworks. We really live life on the edge.

I saved the biggest one for last: Share a quote you remember your parents using often when you were growing up. The one I remember Mom using all the time was "J-O-B does not spell F-U-N." In Mom’s opinion, work was not supposed to be enjoyable. If it were fun, it wouldn’t be work.

I think that attitude toward work is part of what kept me at the software company for such a long time. Something crappy would happen, I’d get mad about it, then I’d shrug, decide that it was just another example of J-O-B does not spell F-U-N, put my head back down and keep on keepin’ on. It was something I think I learned from her: I’d hear her complain about her wild kids, her crazy principal, the shitty neighborhood her school was in, the idiots downtown, the fools that ran the union and the school board, and I’d ask her why she didn’t find something else to do. "Oh, I can’t do that," she’d say, and drag herself through another crappy day, after which she’d come home and complain.

I never understood that. Mom was the most intelligent woman I ever knew and probably will ever know. She could do anything she put her mind to. Any company would be thrilled to have her. She could have taught in the schools that she sent us to, which were head and shoulders above the Chicago Public Schools. "I need a Master’s" or "I couldn’t make the money I make in Chicago" or "Oh, come on! I could never do that!" with a wave of her hand.

And I ended up doing the same thing. I’d get it in my head that I should look for a new job, then it’d be "I’m under/overqualified" or "I wouldn’t make anywhere near the money" or "I’d lose two weeks of vacation." And I’d stay, because J-O-B does not spell F-U-N.

And it’s taken me this long to realize that was BS.

16 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: I Was In The Mood To Write…

  1. I enjoyed your response so much, John. Often, I look over the prompts and long to combine some, if not all, into one, coherent, post. I said, often. Usually I just make some “thought notes” and move on.

    But, New Year’s Eve, my how so many of us have changed. Years ago, it was almost a mandated, religious, experience to party somewhere, to be with many friends, and to watch the ball drop. The parties have dwindled, so have the friends who are no longer alive or have moved away. And making it to the midnight countdown, well, if we do make it to the drop, it’s quickly followed by a yawn and straight to bed.

    And, the whole “job” scenario…not always fun. Should I live that long, I will work until I die; it’s become a necessary survival evil of sorts. I probably am more determined now, at this stage of my life, to bring positive changes to my employment environment or at least leave others with a lasting memory that I indeed gave it my best shot. Hey, I won’t hear any more complaints in the hereafter so they can bitch and moan about me until the cows come home.

    Again, great post John! Happy New Year!


    1. We were never big on going out on New Year’s Eve. When we lived in Chicago, it was usually colder than a penguin’s backside, and drivers are crazy wherever you are, so home is the safest place.

      Happy New Year!


  2. While “j-o-b” does indeed not spell “f-u-n” it also does not spell “m-i-s-e-r-y”.
    I never expected it to be fun but it had to at least be fulfilling or doing something to get me TO the job that would be more fun or fulfilling.

    At least that is what I told myself until I got pregnant AND my company chose to move to Seattle from Chicago right before I went on maternity leave. Then I stayed home with my kiddos and my JOB was both fun and not.


  3. I actually had a hard time staying up til midnight. I have been sleeping poorly for almost a week, gah.
    Anyway, I like that your mom was a dedicated teacher. Teachers hate all the stuff around teaching, but they love teaching. It’s gotten worse. Only the ones who who feel it’s a calling can endure it, and the rest of us must be grateful.
    I also like that she was trying to instill a work ethic in you (and obviously it stuck). As a parent, this is one of the hardest things to lead kids through — “Know when to hold em, know when to fold em” — jobs, friendships, dating, teams, groups — very hard to help them come to their personal limit when we as adults still struggle with this at times. I have liked many of my jobs. For me, it’s always been about the people. I’m a happy person, I can be happy doing a lot of different work, but who I work with matters to me greatly. Toxic is an overused word, but that’s how I have to define the line. BS is standard in all jobs. Bureaucracy in most — BureaucraZy, really. Toxic is my line.


    1. You sleep when you can get to sleep. I go to bed around 11:00 and might finally get up at 10 the next morning because I’ll wake up at 4 and not get back to sleep until 7. Thank heaven I’m retired…

      Mom pointed out that the quality of teachers had gotten worse since she was first coming up. When she started, teaching would get the best and the brightest, but gradually the best and brightest were going into other professions and the schools ended up taking whoever they could get. As highly politicized as things are in Chicago, what made a good teacher often had little to do with your ability to handle a classroom and more what you could do on Election Day…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I have a friend who worked SOUTH Chicago schools for a few years and is now tenured in the burbs. She’s my only teacher friend who’s still teaching.


        1. Chicago is a great place to start, provided you don’t stay there forever. In 37 years, Mom taught most of the kids in the neighborhood, so they knew not to mess with her…

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  4. J O B might not spell F U N but it can be contained in enJOyaBle and some jobs can be that. I enjoyed a lot about my work until my final boss arrived on the scene. Hubby and I agreed not to buy each other presents this year so we could avoid the sort of disasters you mention. Happy New Year.


    1. I worked for a number of people who were great to work with, but my last manager was someone I didn’t even like working WITH, let alone FOR. I was more isolated and he would call me at client sites to berate me about something I did that he didn’t like or something I didn’t do that he thought I should have. I really should have seen the writing on the wall when he became the manager and sent a memo to everyone BUT ME and people were coming up to me and asking if I was quitting, had been fired, or was transferring out. Turns out he had sent the memo to the wrong John Holton (there actually was another one who worked for a different division; he and I used to get mail for each other all the time), something he should have caught but didn’t….


  5. I’m so glad that my job was not so bad. LOL about your presents. I get a picture of what I want, the name of the store that carries it and sometimes even a coupon for a discount and give that to my husband. Since he shops on Christmas Eve he can’t always find them but he gets pretty close. This year the only thing I had to return was some sweatpants because even though I said Medium, he bought Small.


    1. Mary asked for a couple of blouses one year, and told me to make sure I got two because she was pretty sure she’d love one and hate the other. I picked out one I was sure she would love and another I was sure she’d hate. She kept the one I thought she’d hate and returned the one I thought she’d love…

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  6. You’re so right J-O-B does not spell F-U-N! I was thrilled when I retired even though my career wasn’t entirely a nightmare.

    Paul (hubby) and I had a wild New Years too. We stayed at home and drank mimosas by a fire in our fireplace. We did make it til midnight!


    1. Going to work is never fun, and everyone has bad days, weeks, even months, but staying in a bad situation for as long as I did was just plain dumb. It didn’t do my career any favors, that’s for certain.

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