On Life

Don’t Fork With Me

I’ve had a post rattling around my head for weeks, but running around the state, cleaning out 47 years of accumulation, having freakin’ Sophie’s choice with every family heirloom, trying to do my job and somebody’s else’s, running around the state partaking in end-of-year activities for seven of my twelve nieces and nephews, and trying to be a good and present wife (among a gazillion other things not even worth mentioning)…well, being a “good blogger” dropped way down on the list.

But the post wouldn’t die, and just kept bouncing around in that scary place called “my brain.”

In rare moments of solitude (like during the quick 5-minute showers I was able to partake in about every 6 days, not kidding–it was gross), I even thought of titles for this elusive post of mine. And I suck at titles, so anything that came to mind was a major victory.

I even remember a few of them.

The cliched, tired, and stupid, “New Beginnings.” (Although, this did give me a grin because it reminded me of one of my favorite SNL skits by Dana Carvey. And smiling is good.  Sooooo good.)

The apropos but OMG-its-a-forking-Disney-song, “Let It Go.”

The Billy Joel-inspired, “Moving On.” (Although that was but a brief, cheesy thought.)

The mantra my coworker and I made up in 1994 to keep our spirits up among uncertainty: “Change is Good. We Like Change.”

The rest are probably best left forgotten.

But one came to me tonight. And even though I am still in the middle of 121812892198 deadlines, several of which need to be completed tonight–nonnegotiable–this one resonated with me so much that I had to drop what I was doing and finally get this forking blog post out of my head…

I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I can let the toxic things, the unimportant things, the things that don’t truly matter go.

Jix was a home away from home. The best place on the ‘Net. A place to find kindred spirits. A place I found many kindred spirits.

Until it became toxic. Not just for me, but for a lot of people, as I’ve come to find out.

But it was home and a refuge for so long that I just couldn’t let it go, couldn’t stand to lose what had once been.

But you can only get beat up so many times. And after you’ve taken the high road for so long, and have truly done everything the right way, and tried everything you can to make peace to no avail, you realize that the power-hungry will stop at nothing until they get what they crave. And it’s best to just let them have the imaginary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Because, truly, the “power” they want so badly? Doesn’t actually exist. What there actually is is a lot of responsibility. And they don’t want that.

Once I realized that, it was a relief. I could walk away and not feel guilty. I was never, ever going to want power, and so I was never going to be thirsty enough to engage in the vicious fight that I was promised by someone who is not even in the Jix community who refused to give up control over Jix’s finances. Nope. Wasn’t going there. Was not, and did not, engage. Not when there were so many more pressing issues to be dealt with in my real life. And I especially was not going to waste my valuable time on detritus when there are so many important things in my life that actually deserve to have my attention. My dad. My husband. My boys. My family. My friends. My writing. My career. My health.

Me.

Someone I don’t generally consider as important in my eagerness to please everyone else.

So, after years of much painful deliberation and abuse, it suddenly became easy, and I was able to leave the community in the hands of people whom I trusted to to do the right thing.

And if my trust was misplaced? Well, I learned to let that fear go, too. I’ve had to.

Okay, so what was the next “new beginning” or “let it go” thing or whatever it is that you’re rambling about, Dana?

Being the Municipal Liaison (ML) of the NaNoWriMo region I founded.

Anyone who knows me knows that just as near and dear to my heart as Jix is NaNoWriMo. Some of my favorite memories are when my love of Jix and NaNo collided..introducing word wars to Jix (and I’m so glad that they’ve been carried on by others each year when I was too busy to lead), creating the first and only virtual Jix-NaNo crossover event, inspiring the creation of Jixewrimo…

In October 2018, I decided that I would no longer ML. I announced it to everyone in my region during NaNo 2018, but it didn’t seem real.

Well, right after the whole Jix fiasco, NaNo HQ sent out the email about intent to be an ML in 2019. I had made the decision, but could I follow through? I’d just given up Jix. I was in the process of selling all of my family heirlooms. I was in the process of getting the house I’d grown up in ready for sale. Could I go through with it? Could I give that up too? It was so much change!

Turns out, I did go through with it. I resigned. Which meant not just relinquishing MLship, but also the region I had founded. Double whammy.

Little did I know that when I originally made this decision, this would become a theme of my life.

Letting go.

I didn’t know that letting go of Jix and my childhood house were ahead of me.

I didn’t know that letting go could be so freeing, even as it is bittersweet and sad.

In giving up MLing, I am relinquishing that imaginary “power” some individuals think is so important. I am glad that I am enlightened enough to know that it is not important. At all.

I don’t mind taking on responsibility. I generally thrive on it. But some responsibility is overwhelming and unnecessary. And quite frankly, ungratifying.

In giving up MLing, I am thrusting off a mantle of unrealistic responsibility that has weighed me down for too many years. In 2007, I took on the collective responsibility of growing a NaNo community in three very large, relatively sparsely populated counties. Oh, and did I mention that I don’t even live in any of them (my county is *actually* sparsely populated so would have been DOA) and every event was a 45-minute to 1-hour drive from where I live…one way?

But for years, I planned events, I made goodie bags, I bought prizes, I drove up and down I-75 and M-20 and M-10, and I tried. And for big events, people around the state came (Lansing, Flint, Detroit…) but for the local ones, which I was hosting three times a week (yes, that’s six hours of driving time per week, which is six lost hours per week of writing, which is painful especially for someone who loathes driving), maybe a handful might show up.

And sometimes I was the only one, even if several promised to be there. Sometimes there was one other person (Dan, I love you). And sometimes my two friends would come (Megan and Jess, I miss you). And sometimes, we’d even have eight people in attendance. I’m grateful for all of the Wombats I’ve met over the years. And I am verklempt over the hardcore few who kept showing up, year after year.

But I’ve come to realize that the stress is outweighing any growth. There’s so much to plan. So many people who RSVP and don’t show up, and I am on the hook for a guaranteed reservation. Then it swings the other way. So many people who don’t RSVP and then bitch at you for not having enough swag.

Now that I realize that the core people are the core people…I don’t have to try to grow it anymore. It’s been 14 NaNos. This is the group.

And I don’t need to be an ML to reach them anymore. They’re my crew. We’re going to get together no matter what. We’re going to bond every November no matter what. We’re going to meet at the same coffeehouse in Bay City every Saturday morning no matter what.

So I can let go of being in charge and just enjoy the good parts and not stress about the parts that suck.

And it’s okay.

Then there’s the third topic I’ve wanted to write about. The third portion of the trifecta of saying good-bye (ooh! that was one of the titles I had forgotten about!), my childhood home.

But I’ve rambled on for waaaaaaaaay too long now (and rewritten a lot of stuff to be tactful, because Honey is still my idol, and then thinking, “Fork being tactful! Be Trixie and tell it like it is, foot in mouth and all! Especially since you’ve been censored on Jix and your posts on the subject have been repeatedly deleted!” and writing with that resolution and then deleting and rewriting the frank stuff since the general population is not prepared to really know about the ugliness behind Jix, so this post has taken hours), so how I feel about letting go of my childhood home is a post for another day.

So, my long-winded point?

I am a new person these days. I’ve had to say good-bye to too much recently, most of it not my choice. I am finally able to say no to things that aren’t good for me. I won’t stand for anybody trampling all over me any more. I’m making me and my health and the things that are truly important to me a priority now.

So, in a nutshell, don’t fork with me.

11 Comments

  • Mary Allen

    I would never fork with you! πŸ™‚

    Good for you, sweetie. It’s a challenging, hard, torturous thing to do sometimes–letting go–but it makes room for so many new adventures. I love you!

    • Dana

      LOL! I probably shouldn’t have posted after two imperial IPAs (way stronger than just those normal IPAs *snort*) and a very long, hard day, at the end of a long, hard week, after several very long, hard months.

      I suppose after all of the stress and keeping a lot of my feelings in to project a positive outlook (because hey! That’s what we do, even when we’re getting stomped on *RME*), everything was bound to bubble to the surface. And this was my censored version. Imagine the uncensored version full of shocked incredulity and icy disdain. Heh!

      But yeah, 2019 has taught me a lot. Mostly, that I am going to start taking care of myself and placing my needs at least in the top 5, lol! And letting go is something I’ve absolutely *never* been able to do, but I am working on it. Having things forcefully taken away from me has shown me that I can let go when I have to, which is why I was able to follow through with voluntarily letting MLing go without nearly as much angst as I would have had without the lessons of Jix and my childhood home. Still, it was a lot of long-time things I held dearly to give up in a very, very short span of time,

      And you’ve hit the nail on the head! I have made room for many new adventures and much more time for my writing, for which I am grateful and looking forward to.

      Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…

      Hey! I just realized that that was what I had finally settled on for the title of my post before I had two beers and got all feisty and curse-wordy, lol!

      I love you, my friend. I can’t wait to embark on new adventures with *you*!

  • Julia

    I love you too. And the only forking I ever want to do with you involves eating together at a Vietnamese restaurant in Melbourne. ( Forks are good for noodle wrapping ).
    Take care of you. xx

    • Dana

      I love you so much, Julia! I wish I had the funds to book a trip to Melbourne *right now* so we could giggle and gab and fork noodles in a Vietnamese restaurant. I *will* visit Melbourne again some day, and I cannot wait to give you the hugest hug when I do. You take care of you, too. Much love and hugs!

  • Susan

    I know that you know that a lot of what you wrote above I could easily have written myself. I’ve had so much “letting go” over the past few years and a life that has revamped so much that the me of ten years ago wouldn’t recognize the life I live today.

    But I like the me of today, in a lot of ways, better than the one I used to be. The upheaval of my life has caused me to consider and look at things and change myself in ways I’d never expected to have to do. Painful, yes, but the healing kind of painful where you cut out the garbage from the wound so that it can heal properly.

    And I like to think that it’s not just a letting go or jettisoning things out of our lives but a making room. Sweeping and clearing out the clutter so that your life is open to new experiences, or like Mary said, new adventures.

    I am so glad you’re making room in your life for YOU for a change. To be you, in my eyes, is to be an amazing, powerhouse dynamo who gives her all to whatever she puts her mind to.

    I’m excited to see what a freed-up, newly purposed Dana will do next.

    To new exploits and escapades, my friend!

    • Dana

      I like the you of today, too! And I have been so proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and going after a degree in a field you truly love. I am glad that it has led to a career that gives you a lot of happiness. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you, my friend.

      And it is comforting to know that I have a kindred spirit as a friend who gets a lot of what I am going through on a visceral level. It’s nice letting go of major things in my life but still having my true friends by my side to share in my new adventures.

      I am so flattered that you think I am a dynamo, but most days I don’t feel that way. I see someone very different than you see. Sometimes my vision is more accurate. Sometimes your vision is (even I can’t see it while I am plowing through things, lol).

      I’m actually excited to see what I do next, too, lol! I’m already hitting many of my goals, and even on the days that I am feeling lazy and unproductive, I can still see that I am farther ahead than I was six months ago or even two weeks ago. It’s nice to feel energized instead of beat down!

      To new exploits and escapades for all of us!

  • Deanna Berger

    Fork yeah! Keep what’s serving you, inspiring you, motivating you and drop the rest. Maybe something about the physical sorting of a household of memories teaches one that. I remember in September 2018 when you were making the to-keep-ML-ing or to-stop-ML-ing decision. Good for you for making it and sticking with it. Good for you for eliminating toxicity in all aspects of your life. Good for you for not sacrificing your sanity on the altar of misguided loyalty. Good for you for focusing on yourself. With all that old crap gone, look how much room there is for new adventures. <3

    • Dana

      You are so darn smart. I love that I am a terrier about some things, but that also means that I hang on to things too long, too. Convinced that I can do more, make them better, even when they are a lost cause. I am really starting to learn to recognize the lost causes by looking at what is inspiring and motivating me. And, yes, the physical sorting of tangible objects of memories really does teach you something. At some point, you have to make a decision on what to keep and what to let go. And I have really learn to be at peace with letting things go, which is not something most terriers know the concept of!

      The last two weeks have been so…peaceful. Although maybe that’s not the right word either. But looking at what’s left in my life and realizing that most of it is what truly makes me happy and is motivating for me, well, this is a new concept for me. And I *like* it.

      I’ve even learned to say no at work to those who like to overwork me because they know that they can—because I do sacrifice my sanity on the altar of misguided loyalty. And saying, “No, I am sorry, your ’emergency’ is not my emergency, and I have my own work to do without taking on someone else’s because they are lazy/incompetent” has been very satisfying. I used to think that I wouldn’t be considered a team player at work if I didn’t say yes to everything. But they have tangibly shown me in the last year how much they value me through two things that I have never heard of them doing for *anyone* at the company (Mary can back me up on this!), so I feel like I can say no without disappointing them. I still say yes, and I have killed myself on two occasions in the last two weeks because of someone’s laziness *and* ineptness (he was fired on Friday), but there were two other times in the last two weeks that they wanted me to kill myself because of him, and I had the confidence to turn them down, explaining that I’d already done my share to bail him/the company out of the mess he’s created. It was someone else’s turn. Like his supervisor. Or his alternate supervisor. Or his department head. People who’s job it actually is to clean up his messes!

      Being able to do that in the work realm has been particularly liberating, when before I would have been so worried by saying no, so I guess the upheaval in my life and being forced into painful good-byes do have some very positive, tangible effects! And I can’t wait for the new adventures in this new roomy life of mine! πŸ™‚

  • Mary Allen

    Oooh, who got fired, Dana? Nosy me wants to know!

    “sacrifice my sanity on the altar of misguided loyalty…” Omigod, I have done that SO MANY TIMES in my life. In fact, that pretty much describes the lion’s share of my “friendship” with a certain former Jix writer/asshat! πŸ™‚

    I think we should all get shirts made that say “I vow never again to sacrifice my sanity on the altar of misguided loyalty”.

    Who’s with me?! πŸ™‚

    • Dana

      Malcolm. I don’t think he was there before you left. His writing was absolutely horrific, he didn’t learn from mistakes, and he could never meet a deadline. I never met him in person, but apparently he had the attitude that he knew better than anyone else and no one had better try to tell him anything. Oh, and apparently he thought that women are inferior to men. Good riddance!

      I would wear that shirt!!!!!

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