I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 363 - Badges and Promises

Daily Kup (My Life on Spring Break)
Kollege Kid is packing to return to school. Great piles of laundry go down into the basement, are dragged up the stairway two hours later, and are swallowed whole by the gaping maw of an enormous duffel bag. It's become a frightening efficient process over these last four years. Everything that has been all over the bedroom floor for a week disappears into the vortex of luggage and is zipped. It takes a startlingly short amount of time to load it into the car and then she's gone, leaving only fiery tire marks like a scene from Back to the Future.

As toddlers learn to walk, they take a further step on each opportunity, going away and coming back. Venturing and retreating. As they grow older, they learn to travel farther on each trip and to move faster. If parenting is a sport, it's not like big game hunting. It's more catch-and-release.

I don't help pack anymore. Kollege Kid has that well in hand. I'm always at a loss for something useful to do during the energetic and stylized dance that is returning to college after a vacation.

Earlier in the day, a souvenir of another time had been unearthed from the deep recesses of a dresser drawer. For the amusement of six-year-old Princess Potatohead, Kollege Kid pulled out her old Brownie and Junior Girl Scout vests. The Brownie vest was intact, if a bit wrinkled. The Junior vest came complete with an envelope of badges that I said that I would sew on many years "as soon as I have the time." Somehow, in twelve years I hadn't managed to scrape up the time.

I Scrape Up the Time
There it was -- a little pink envelope with thirteen badges left over from fourth and fifth grade. Envelopes only 'stare at you accusingly' in really bad fiction so, if not staring, this envelope was displaying a bit of attitude.

This was just one forgotten promise shut away in a drawer, well-intended but now thoroughly irrelevant. Promises don't stay ripe forever. They have a shelf life.

Promises made to children are particularly important. Children trust you until they get to be old enough to understand that adults are people. They don't know a pipedream from a plan, a musing from a mission statement. If you have a glass of plum wine with your General Tsao's Chicken and airily announce, "One day, I'm going to live by the ocean," children run to get their bathing suits and beach toys.

My own parents were masters of this type of dreamy projection. Brighter days were right around the corner and we were going to do some wonderful things. Like have a harness racing track in our backyard near the old barn. Or go to the fancy school with the children of the rich people. I'm not sure why these ideas were appealing but they sounded good as the yarn was spun. My parents not only counted chickens before they hatched but before there were eggs or even some hens and a rooster. It was their charm.

I specifically did not want to be the kind of parent who teaches children that any dream is most likely a wild and baseless musing. I never promised an elaborate tree house when we didn't have any usable trees in our yard. I never got out maps and drew over highways in red marker to places that we weren't really going to go.

But there's that envelope again. It stands for favorite clothes that did not get mended and play dates that weren't arranged. Promises that went stale.

The promises that we unwittingly break that affect the people around us are small open sores that sap our energy. Even worse but somehow more acceptable are the promises that we make to ourselves that never see the light of day. Read more books? Keep in touch with friends? Thirty minutes walk three times per week?

It's a long list. They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Or one stitch. While Kollege Kid packed, I got out the thread.

"Why are you doing that NOW?"  "Because I said that I would."

Hey, it's a start. Maybe I'll surprise her by building that bookcase in her bedroom that I bought the wood for in 2001.

The Last Drop
What little unfulfilled commitments, either to yourself or others, have you been carrying around?

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