Category Archives: stories

Field Notes on Resigning from a Job

Saying Goodbye

A year and a half ago, I left my accounting job to get married and move to a different town. Last week, I left my teaching assistant position to teach college. While my experiences do not make me an expert, I have made some observations. Here are my top five observations and advice for resigning from a job.

1. If you did a good job and got along well with people, coworkers and managers will be sad to see you go.

2. When you give two weeks notice, be prepared for an onslaught of writing procedures, communicating job duties, and sad faces. As word spread through the high school that I was leaving my last job, people’s faces would fall every time they saw me and remembered I would not be there much longer.

3. Write down the contact information for everyone you want to keep in contact with. You may think you will never, ever forget the email structure or extensions you used every day for eight years, but it only took me a year to get fuzzy on those things after I left my accounting job.

4. People who never seemed to like you or never seemed to notice you may go out of their way to wish you well or to say how much you will be missed. My favorite response is to smile and say, “Why, thank you!” Even while I am thinking, “I didn’t know you cared.”

5. Be gracious. Leaving is not all about you. Celebrations involving food were a big deal at both of my most recent jobs, so my departures were commemorated with snack days and kind words and lunches and lots of attention directed my way. As much as I would rather not be the center of attention, I tried to gratefully accept it all with gracious poise because I knew it meant my coworkers cared.

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Wedding Collages

We do not have our official wedding photos back yet but here are some of our favorite informal ones!

Wedding Party Collage
Clockwise from the top left:
1. Groomsmen looking sharp: Mark, Chris, Clay (the best man), and Ben.
2. Cool, secret-agent-like ushers: Luke, Brian, Conner, and Cliff.
3. Lovely bridesmaid (and new sister-in-law!) Shanna.
4. Beautiful bridesmaid Laura.
5. Officiant Jon, looking relaxed.
6. Us with our attendants and ushers, looking a bit formal.
7. Personal attendant Rene, a rock star at organizing and assisting (note the way she easily holds three phones, a water cup, and a bouquet!)
8. Glowing matron of honor Sara (my favorite biological sister)

Wedding FunLeft to right from top left:
1 & 2. Getting dressed: Mom safety-pinned my dress straps because she did not trust the snaps. She told me to have someone check them if I felt anything tear or give way. Sara added that I should get help if I felt stabbing or bleeding and we cracked up.

3. Mom kisses Ben, my brother, after helping with his boutonniere.

4. Clay is a good sport about getting drafted to hold a bouquet.

5. My side of the family.
6. Brian’s side of the family. Interestingly, both grandmas pictured are on our dad’s sides, are named Ruth, and were born January 17 (one year apart)! Crazy, huh?

7. One of Brian’s favorite wedding day photos of me. I was laughing at the groom and groomsmen antics while they were posing for photos.

8. Josh, my brother-in-law, with Eli, my nephew. Eli’s ensemble is a white onesie with attached gray vest and purple tie because my sister is creative and handy with sewing! She added a purple band to his favorite hat (because he doesn’t like sun in his eyes or sunglasses).

9. Wedding party picture. I think our instructions were something like, “Okay, now act silly… or really excited… or something.”

10. Brian with his grandma Ruth.

11. The five of us girls grew close during our years in senior high girls’ Bible study with Andrea, our youth pastor’s wife. When the first one of us got married in 2007, we decided this photo would have to be our special tradition. Five years later, this was the fifth wedding.

12. Jon prays with the bridesmaids and me right before the ceremony begins. He told me, “This has been the most relaxed, special, fun wedding.”

13. A kiss from Dad as we wait around the corner from the sanctuary.

14. A high five from my brother, Luke, right before he and Conner open the doors for our entrance.

15. “You may kiss your bride.” At the reception, a dear, long-time family friend quizzed me, “I have to ask, was that a first kiss? Like, the first kiss?”

I smiled, “Um, no. It wasn’t.”

“Dang, I lost a dollar!”

16. My parents kissing after we drove away in a shower of bubbles.

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Wedding Rehearsal Adventures

The day before our wedding was hot but cooled off a little in the late afternoon when thunderstorms rolled in. As we gathered for the rehearsal, my dad warned everyone we may have to take shelter because the storms were likely to produce tornados. My response was something like, “Okay, let us know if we have to move.”

We ended up having to take shelter twice in two of the church bathrooms (there were two consecutive storms or one big one with two parts). The second storm was the biggest and Dad had us take cover in the shelters right before the city tornado sirens sounded. (A storm-wary dad with a smart phone is better than a weather radio and faster than tornado sirens!)

While we were in the shelters/bathrooms the second time, the power went out. Eventually, the worst of the storm passed and we emerged to a dark church and flooded parking lot (as far as I know, no vehicles were damaged).

Taking shelter with friends & family

Taking shelter with friends & family

WeddingRehearsal2

Tornado buddies Gram & Eli (a.k.a. my mom & nephew)

Conveniently, we had planned to have the rehearsal dinner in the fellowship hall and the lasagna stayed warm in the ovens. There was still no power, though, so the hall was very dark. I saw someone start lighting tea lights on the tables and realized I had better candles. I recruited my brother-in-law, an usher, and a friend to help me get most of the pillar candles decorating the sanctuary and put them around the dinner tables.

One of the guests seemed surprised, “These are your wedding candles! Are you sure you want to use them?”

“Oh, sure! They won’t burn down much. At my sister’s wedding, we burned the pillar candles all day and barely made a dent.”

Before dinner was over, the power came back on. As people finished eating, Brian stood up to thank everyone. His speech began something like, “Abby and I would like to thank everyone for being a part and – oh, we have a fire!” By the time his sentence registered in my brain, he was already at a nearby table, snatching a burning paper napkin and dropping it on the floor to put it out. Everyone was fine and I found out later that one of the kids had been playing with a tea light. Poking a candle with a paper napkin is not advisable!

Brian finished his thank-you speech and we wrapped up the rest of the evening without further incidents. As Brian drove me to my apartment, I told him, “After what happened today, I think there’s something we need to discuss that most couples don’t think about.”

“What’s that?”

“If we have to take shelter during our wedding tomorrow, I’m not waiting anymore, I’d want Jon to marry us in the shelter.”

“I don’t think there are any storms forecasted for tomorrow.”

“I don’t care. If there’s another tornado, will you marry me in the shelter?”

He laughed, “Yes. Maybe we could stand with Jon between the two bathrooms and finish the ceremony there so people could see from both sides!”

What’s your funniest or most memorable rehearsal story? Ours is a tornado, a flood, a power outage, and a fire!

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Ping-Pong Ambush

Brian’s fortieth birthday was last week so I wanted a fun and memorable way to celebrate him. Even though we live 250 miles apart, we planned to meet at his parents’ house for his birthday dinner on his actual birthday (and other engagement festivities during the weekend).

Out of Nowhere
Brian knew something was up when he was setting up for college Bible study the night before his birthday. A few students were already in the room when one of the girls stuck her head in and motioned them to come outside. When he walked through the hall a few minutes later, the students immediately stopped talking. Near the beginning of Bible study, the ringleader gave him an envelope that contained a decorated plastic zipper bag and a note from me. He was about halfway through the letter when the students began throwing ping-pong balls at him! On each ping-pong ball, I had written a milestone from his life and a note from me.

The last part of the letter explained:
To honor and celebrate you on your milestone birthday, I have prepared an unconventional highlight reel of a few of the experiences, achievements, and blessings of your life so far. Enjoy!

Ambush #2
The next morning, on his birthday, Brian stood chatting with colleagues who share the same office area and told them about the students’ ambush from the night before. He went to his morning class and was trying to call the office secretary when she and the rest of his colleagues came “charging in and throwing ping-pong balls.” Brian was so surprised that he gaped at them, still holding the phone until it went to voicemail. He was not, however, as shocked as the student who was caught in the crossfire next to him!

Flashback: The Setup
Over a week before Brian’s birthday, I secretly recruited my co-conspirators via email and Facebook and then mailed them each a box of decorated ping-pong balls. They may have thought it was a weird request but both cheerfully agreed to help and to enlist others.

Back to the Birthday
After birthday dinner with his family and some relatives, Brian opened his gifts and wisely (or cautiously?) saved mine for last. The first package held a large jar and I asked if he knew what it was for.

“I have an idea.”

“You’re probably right. Where is that bag I suggested you keep handy?”

“In my car.”

“You should really go get it.”

“Oh, really?” He grinned as he started out of the room slowly and looked behind him. When he saw me going to get something, he began moving quickly in the direction of the car. I called after him, “Take your time!” but he didn’t listen and was back in the living room before we finished passing around the ping-pong balls. Brian sat there smiling and laughing while we all threw our projectiles at him and even his grandma joined in the fun!

Side note: The jar I liked and purchased to hold the ping-pong balls did not come with a lid, so my dad made a custom lid out of walnut.

BallJar

People ask how ping-pong balls became a symbol of our relationship. The short answer is that I have a vivid imagination and Brian listened and then added his own romantic spin. It has escalated from there.

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Ping-Pong Proposal

If you noticed that my last two Lows & Highs posts left out a day, you may have wondered about my counting skills. The omission was intentional because, as someone wise told me, “That day deserves its own post.”

Brian proposed on December 11.

The Disclaimer
If you don’t like proposal stories, it’s cool if you want to stop reading now and join in on the next post. If you have not already read Ping-Pong Ball Sweetness, please do because it gives some context.

The Set-up

On Tuesday, December 11, I was on my way to work when I received a text message from Brian that he sent me an email and the link inside would explain. When I got to work and read the text, I opened the email to read, “Abby, Here’s the start of a little something to celebrate your graduation. Love, Brian.” When I followed the link inside, it took me to a YouTube video that was set as private and I could not view it. I sent off a text of my own and Brian had the video fixed a short time later.

The Videos
The video was of Brian explaining that he wanted to do something special for my upcoming graduation, so he made me several videos. Every couple hours, he emailed the link to another video. The six videos featured him in different locations that are meaningful to me around my hometown: The campus building where we have weekly college student Bible study, the adult ed center where I volunteer, my parents’ house, and so on. In each place, he told me something he notices and admires about me.

Mid-afternoon, Brian sent the fifth video and texted me, “I just hit send on the next one. Hopefully these have made u smile all day.”

I replied, “Oh, they have definitely made me smile! If I didn’t already want to spend forever with u, the videos would have convinced me.”

“That reaction makes me smile. I’m glad I’m sending them all in one day instead of piecemeal.”

Around 3:30 p.m., he sent the last video where he sat in his office over four hours away and said even though I said I did not want graduation gifts, he had some help and a present was waiting for me at home.

I worked the next hour in suspense until I could leave for the day. Since I was sure Brian was waiting by his phone to hear my reaction to his gift, I sent him a text that I was on my way home but had to stop at the store for a few things first and would let him know when I got home.

The Question
At home, I entered through the back door and saw a path lined with ping-pong balls, leading through the kitchen to the living room. I shed my bags and coat and followed the path to where Brian stood waiting in a ping-pong-ball heart.
Surprised, I asked, “What are you doing here?” as I walked over to greet him. Yes, it was a silly question. As Brian pointed out later, I should have known as soon as I saw the ping-pong-ball path but I was surprised to the point of being flabbergasted because I came home expecting a nice bouquet of flowers or something similar. My memories are blissful and a bit hazy after this point. He got down on one knee to propose, and then pulled out a ring box and opened it but I could not take my eyes off his face. After I said, “Yes, of course” and we were hugging, he said something about putting on the ring. “Oh, yeah, I didn’t actually see it before.”

He showed it to me again and helped me put it on. Then he told me my plans for the evening had changed and our parents were meeting us for dinner at six. What he did not tell me was that his sister and my sister, brother-in-law, and baby nephew were also meeting us! It was a sweet surprise and we had a terrific time celebrating with our families.

After Brian and I recounted the story of how he proposed, my mom looked over and told Brian he did a good job, “You gave her a story.”

Brian made this video to announce our engagement.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 26

What do you collect?

My tangible collections are journals I have filled (dating back to the early 90’s), children’s and young adult books I enjoyed as a kid, and interesting glass bottles.

My intangible collection is hundreds of stories, real and invented, mine and others’. I remember the plots and characters and can retell them or listen to them over and over. I have loved stories for as long as I can remember.

We are nearing the end of the 31 Days Challenge, so make any question suggestions and I will do my best to answer them before the end of the month.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 16

What skill or ability has always come easily for you?
Organizing. According to my parents, I was born organized and they have no idea why. They tell stories about how, as a small child, I used to line my toys up according to size, shape, color, function. When I was five or six, I found my mom’s handful of personal organization books and proceeded to read all of them. I may have been the only elementary student in the world with my own filing system, card file, and personal organization notebook. No, I am not OCD and everything does not have to be perfect, but I do enjoy order and planning.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 8

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to grow up to be Queen Esther. When I found out that wasn’t possible, I wanted to be a princess. In college, I even wrote an essay about pretending to be a princess.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 3

What brings out the worst in people?
Hunger, tiredness, and sore feet bring out the worst in most people. Lots of people need to have a snack, a nap, and more comfortable shoes before they go out in public.

My mom’s advice to my boyfriend about me was something like, “You have to feed her regularly. If she doesn’t feel good, feed her. If she gets crabby, feed her. If she gets too quiet, she probably needs to eat something. When in doubt, just get her a snack.” Yes, she sounds like I’m two years old but she is pretty much right about the eating thing.

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Drawing a Blank

On an April 9th in the 1980s, I received what I thought was the greatest birthday present ever: a baby sister born the day before my second birthday. Decades later, I still hold the same opinion.

I tend to remember random events and stories and experiences in vivid detail for a very long time. A couple years ago, my mom (ever the scientist) quizzed me to see how far back I could remember. I was able to recall an entire conversation I had with a family friend before I was two. As I rummaged through my memories, looking for milestones, I grew puzzled. “Mom, I don’t remember going to the hospital to see Sara when she was born. I remember Sally* still in her package but I have no memory of going to the hospital and I know I was excited about seeing her.”

A sheepish look crept across Mom’s face, “Oh. Um, there’s a reason for that.”

“What, you didn’t let me go?”

“Well, you had a cold so when Dad went home [from the hospital after Sara was born], I told him to give you 1/2 teaspoon** of Dimetapp. When he brought you to the hospital, you looked worse. You were kind of lethargic and your eyes were a little glazed. I thought you might have meningitis or something and thought to myself, ‘Oh, no, we’re all going to be in the hospital!’ I asked Dad if he gave you the Dimetapp. He said, ‘Yes.’ I asked, ‘How much?’

‘1/2 tablespoon.’**

So you don’t remember because you were overdosed on cold medicine.”

Units matter, people.

*Sally was the doll I received the next day. She is on the far right in the earliest picture of Sara and me.

**Edited because my mom says it was 1/2 teaspoon/tablespoon instead of 2.

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