“Leaving It Better” Can Be Bittersweet- The Complex Feels of Changing Jobs

It was a habit I’d gotten used to every Thursday morning. Thursday is Scone Day.

Every Thursday for the last year, I’d start my day in the bakery by double-checking our inventory and getting started mixing giant batches of scone dough. Sometimes three flavors, but lately just the two best ones. Giant masses of sour-sweet short dough, weighed into mounds, then pressed into discs. No real thinking about it, unless something went wrong- the mix too dry, too wet, not the right yield, or whatever. Otherwise, it was automatic- just like most aspects of the position I’ve worked in for the last two years.

Today I made my last batch of scone dough. Next week, I’ll be moving on to a new job. The staff says it won’t be the same and that they’ll miss me, and I know they’re being kind. I’ve trained the people I’m leaving behind well- they almost function better without me hanging around looking for something to do.

“Looking for something to do.” Once upon a time, the position was grueling. I sweated my bones trying to make production lists, meet the needs of a frantic bakeshop, and train a parade of faces and names to bake. Now, the job is almost… easy. It’s scheduled. Practiced. Thoughtless.

I helped make it that way, and now I’m too tired and stressed to enjoy the easy part anymore.

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“Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes…”

Good afternoon, friends and neighbors!

There aren’t too many solidly true things in life- stuff you can rely on to ALWAYS be the case, in all cases and climes. One of them which I learned from my father, and has since borne out over and over again, is as follows:

“Change will not happen- in a person, in a system, in an organization, in ANYTHING- until 3 conditions are met:
1. The person must recognize that change is needed.
2. The nature of that change must be understood.
and 3. The consequences of changing must be held as preferable to the consequences of staying the same.”

It’s a sound philosophy, and makes complete sense, doesn’t it? Change is scary. It shakes you up, maybe kicks you out of your comfort zone, and casts a pall of uncertainty over everything you do. Why put yourself through that if you don’t think you need to, don’t know what you need to do, and don’t stand to gain from it?

Sometimes, though- change happens without you noticing. It creeps up on you and realize that, maybe, you don’t NEED to change- you HAVE changed, and need to accept it, or deal with it.

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Where You Find Them

Good evening, friends and neighbors.
It’s 5:15 in the morning. My alarm just went off, but I was up at 4… and at 2.

Since coming home from the wedding, Emily and I decided that for the first few months of 2017, all we wanted in the world was to be boring. No sudden moves. No job changes and hunts. No weddings, no big events, no nothing. For just a few months, all we wanted to do was wake up, go to work, come home, maybe eat out every now and again, and catch our breath after the last year and a half.

Things keep changing though, and the world comes knocking.

“Things change.”


“All things change, and we change with them.”

Since I was a kid, I loved folk stories and legends. One of my favorites was a story about the Magic Ring of Solomon. In short, the famous Biblical king seeks to humble an overly-proud servant of his by giving him an impossible quest: finding a magic ring that will make a happy man sad and a sad man happy. The legendarily wise king is astonished when the servant returns, claiming to have succeeded. The ring is a plain silver band, with the Hebrew for “This too shall pass” engraved on it. Immediately, the king realizes all his riches and success will one day be ashes, but that a man NOT fortunate enough to be king would take the message as a promise of good things to come.

According to the legend, Solomon rewards his servant handsomely, takes the “magic” ring, and it gives him balance and wisdom the rest of his life.

We do not all have magic rings.
We do not all realize how things can-and must- change.
We do not all know that nothing lasts forever.

I promised myself long ago that this blog would not get political- and I plan to keep to that promise. We are in a time of upheaval. There are those who would say we always have been, but don’t really pay attention.
So maybe this blog can be like Solomon’s ring- not everything to everyone, but SOMETHING to everyone, maybe everything to someone.

If nothing else, I offer a counter cliche to “things change.”

“Simple Joys”


I spent the last year or so in what felt like a constant state of flux. I travelled across the country, and set down roots somewhere far from everything I’d known before. I was jobless, job hunting, and hired several times- then fired for the first time in my life- so I officially started my own business, got hired again, and got married.

More than once, I felt burned out.
More than once, I wanted to rip my hair out and scream in frustration.
More than once, I collapsed in a sobbing heap and just wanted to pull the earth over me.

More than once, it really goddamn sucked.


Through all of it, the things that kept me together were not great gestures. They often weren’t expensive, or expected, or even “things” at all. Simple joys- by definition- usually aren’t.
Baking and cooking (though mostly cooking recently, as baking is my job.) The meditative prep and emotional lift of good flavors and smells- and feeding someone else- can’t fail to ground me in some universal truth: that all people eat, and being one who feeds them is a gift. Back at the casino, I told my friend Karen that when life gets really frustrating, I find myself looking forward to going to work because that’s where I know there are things under my control. I remember her chuckling and nodding and saying, “That’s absolutely it… and no one else will ever understand it.”
Warm Society. As I write this, I am sitting at the bar of the Liquor Store on Belmont in SE Portland. The bartenders and kitchen staff know me here. No one is really bothering or talking to me- and sometimes that’s how I like it. All the better to write. It’s a splendid thing to, every now and then, be wrapped in the ambivalent embrace of the public and carry on my day as a spectator to theirs. Perhaps they feel the same way about mine.
Books. I read and reread my favorites, the ones that inspire and make me smile. Certain stories wrap me in their lessons and words, reminding me that there is still hope in the world. There are always heroes, and who knows where they will come from- but when I read these books, I feel for a moment that I can be one.
Exercise. It does more than keep me healthy, it makes me feel ALIVE. It forces my body out of torpor, and so forces my brain to quell whatever it is that’s bothering me for the time being. With the sun on my face, weight in my hands, and sweat pouring, my mind can move in different directions. All of my best ideas come to me when I am exercising- it’s one of the few times I can go completely, perfectly blank.
Calls from old mentors and friends.
A good book and hot tea on a rainy day.
A smiles from the old lady you helped at the grocery store.
HELPING that lady at the grocery store.

Whatever you feel like are your rocks in the stream, your anchors on reality- they are wherever you find them.

Stay Classy,