27 October 2008

Quitting is for Quitters

Thanks to an act of bad parenting by Mama Crow, I have never been a smoker. So I don't really know what it is like to quit smoking. I have tried and failed at Weight Watchers several times now, so I can imagine what it is like to break a habit that is so intricately woven into my lifestyle. I also can sympathize with having the jitters but in my case it was from hypoglycemia, not nicotine withdrawl.

Quitting is what I should have done to my temp job long before I "left to pursue another opportunity." I might have been more satisfied with life if I had just jumped the ship without even turning my head to shout, "Good riddance!" over my shoulder on my way overboard. Hindsight. What a bitch.

The idea of not quitting has kept me motivated recently. For example I worked hard, I kept focused, and eventually I was able to adopt Buster without breaking the landlord's rules or having to get a permission slip from my doctor. Somehow, the pride I might feel about not quitting is totally overshadowed by the enjoyment I get from cuddling with kitty.

Awhile back, approximately week and some change, I quit. I hadn't intended to do so, but with my current state of brain health I wasn't surprised when I did.

My friend runs a small editing and publishing outfit, and she had asked if I would participate in her company's First Annual writing contest. I waffled about it for weeks because I didn't know if I was up to the challenge. However, I ended up filling out the entry form and submitting my $20 fee.

The contest was fairly straightforward. A writer or team of writers had 36 hours to create a work of fiction in English. Within that frame of time, each writer or team of writers went on a scavenger hunt to pick up four prompts at locations around the city of Portland.

I've never been particularly competitive, so contests usually aren't my thing. Scavenger hunts most certainly aren't my thing. I have traumatic memories of failed Easter Egg hunts. Now I prefer to search for things on a list I created for myself.

For some reason, I decided to do the list backwards to forwards. I looked at the potential scavenger hunt locations and decided that would be the best way to navigate the route. I arrived at the last location before the other participants. The gent manning the location was a little uninformed about how the hunt would work. He kept expecting that I would have a clue to lead me directly to the prompt in his care. I asked for the prompt, and he wouldn't relent. I was there for at least half an hour. I kept reading the clue, but there was nothing indicative of where to find the prompt once I got there. Was this a cruel joke? Was this guy holding out on my writing prompt in a sick way attempt at flirting with me (I'm oblivious to these things)? Was I even in the right place? Am I supposed to buy something here to get what I'm after?

I was getting anxious. I had a flashback to an Easter Egg Hunt in which a 3 year old me is throwing a tantrum about not finding any Easter eggs while literally walking on egg shells.

I finally told the guy this story and that he should pony up already with my damn prompt. The prompt happened to be the sentence beginning on the third line of page 86 of one of the many books on offer. Yeah. Like I'm supposed to magically discover this gem with my special divining pen. Lame.

Needless to say, I wasn't much in the mood for writing after that episode. I went off to the other locations with a chip on my shoulder. The final location provided some much needed focus and zen. I should have followed my gut and stayed there all day writing on the margins of my official rules sheet. Instead, I went home and considered the skeleton created by the four prompts. I did not like what I saw.

I wrote about 6 sentences before deciding to take a break. After some hemming and hawing, some general sitting down to think through a plot, some hardcore procrastinating and some ignoring the task at hand for benefit of adoring my feline friend, I finally quit.

Here's the thing. I hate quitting. Even though I was still able to show some support to my friend and her business, I still felt uneasy with my ineptitude for follow-through. True, quitting not the end of the world, but it was the end of something important. Silently, I was using this contest as an opportunity to gauge my readiness for going back to work. The fact that I failed to complete the task at hand makes me feel defeated. And a little confused. What am I supposed to do now?

I hope someday I will be able to have a chance to quit something and feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction. But, like Mick, I can't get no...

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