Dealing with change, letting go of the past

betty ming liu Travel 32 Comments

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. That’s pretty unusual because I love a good snooze. But with a ton of changes going on in my life, the brain was churning away and wouldn’t turn off. 

My seismic shifting began last month. First, I ended a 14-month relationship. Now I’m wrapping up my teaching gigs and getting ready to take on a new reporting job that starts in January. Meanwhile, my daughter is starting to look at colleges. Plus, I’m wondering when the lawn guy will get here to rake the leaves blowing around my yard. And what about scheduling the plumber to repair that annoying bathroom leak?

Dealing with to-do lists goes on and on. Like the issue in my kitchen: I really need a new frying pan. The current one is an old stainless steel number. It was part of a shiny set of Farberware that I bought in 1983, when I was a proud, hopeful bride. These pots and pans have outlasted my 18-year marriage and carried me through a decade of divorce.

Then recently, the rotted handle fell off the 12-inch pan. And last night, the knob came off the pan’s lid. So making fishcakes tonight involved awkwardly steadying a handle-less pan while juggling the lid with potholders.

The cats & dog hung out to watch me struggle with the broken pan. My photo here isn't so great but look closely; the handle's not attached to the pan. The round thing is the detached lid knob. Ridiculous.

Now I can’t decide if I should write to Farberware customer service and have the pan fixed. I’ll bet if I sent in the busted parts, the company would send me replacements for free.

The problem is, I’m waffling between fixing and trashing the pan. If I chuck it, well, that’s a waste of still-workable stainless steel. If I want to keep it, that means going online, figuring out who to contact, possibly making a phone call, definitely writing a letter, finding a sturdy mailing envelope, packing the broken knob and handle, and taking everything to the post office.

Oh, what to do? This pan has been with me nearly 30 years. It’s been comfortingly familiar in my hands during painful transitions that cost me my dream of a happy nuclear family in a stable home. But to this day, whenever I use any of my Farberware, I have vague flashes of memories from lives lived. Do I need to keep remembering?

I guess the real issue is that sometimes the weight of making decisions feels like too much.

Of course, my capacity for making good choices is outstanding.  :)

Except that right now, I can’t decide what to do about the damn pan.  :(

Not sure where I’m going with this post. But maybe you can relate. Is there just too much going on? Is it the holidays? Is it the pan? Should I fix it or toss it? Or maybe I should forget about everything and simply spend an entire weekend in bed?


Comments 32

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    aw, mj! you’re the goddess of frugality, my role model. i must sound like a mess if you want to buy me a new pan. thank you!

    but i can’t accept it — yet. i was just in the kitchen making breakfast for me and the animal crew. and of course, i had to stare at the busted handle and knob all over again. i’m feeling better today. maybe i’ll just make the call to farberware. it would be nice not to waste the stainless steel.

    and thanks, naomi. i appreciate you making the time to comment too. :)

  3. I would toss the pan and get a new one. I really like cast iron pans they work very well with anything from frying to sauteeing.

  4. Hi Aunt Betty :D

    I vote for tossing the pan.

    It’s best to remove things that symbolize un-ideal memories of the past from your daily life. If you can’t throw it away, just store it away. It’s good feng shui :) Best to surround yourself with symbols that make you happy and reminds you of good events. This goes for pictures, statues, furniture, etc.

    I’ve been using this green non-stick pan. It’s ceramic instead of teflon.


  5. On the pan issue I have an interesting idea. Keep the pan and buy a new one. Use the old one for an art project, hang it on the wall paint on it and hang it on the wall, or something like that. That way you have a memento and are able to feed your cats!

  6. My two cents: toss the pan. You won’t miss it.

    I’ve gone through a slightly similar thing throughout 2011. I’ve had “In The Heights” memorabilia displayed in my home – pictures and other knick-knacks that we in the company received as gifts throughout the run. They represented the most exciting and rewarding time of my life.

    What’s wrong with having those things around to evoke those memories? Plenty, because gigs have been scarce this year, and I MUST work like hell to change that – and not rest on my “Heights” laurels. “It’s but little good you’ll do watering last year’s crops.”

    Those knick-knacks and photos are now in storage.

  7. Thanks for sharing. I have similar evenings with the cycle of to do lists – always happens when there is a lot going on.
    Someone told me that the best way to resolve a problem is to eliminate the decision – to identify the cause and work on that level. I don’t think fixing the pan will “fix” the pan.

  8. I like Ivan’s idea of using the pans for an art project.
    I think, also, with so many new things happening in your career, a new pan might be a good symbol. I know the comfort of using old pots and pans, my grandmother did that. New pans weren’t broken in and didn’t have the experience or memories of familiar dishes.

    But if you get a new pan, you can both adjust to your evolving life together.

    It may be senrimental to hold onto them, but it may just feel good to let them go. Stronger than the steel over those 30 years is the thick skin you’ve developed. Be proud of that and keep that around.

    And see if Farberware can recycle the pans for you…

  9. Same thing happened to one of my sauce pans. In the collar end attached to the pan, where the handle connected, there should be screw threads for a bolt.A rummage in my cellar workshops’ huge collection of misc. nuts, bolts, screws, etc turned up one that matched the threads. Then it was simply a matter of another rummage in my spare parts collection to find a steel “L” brace about 8″ long, drill a hole for the bolt, hacksaw off one end of the brace to be about 2″ long and bolt the shortened end to the pan. Piece of cake!

  10. Hi. Just a heads up. I’m new to this blog.

    If my husband would let me I would never replace perfectly usable pots & pans etc. It’s just that I come home and things are missing :( I don’t know why I hold on to things. I dont think its all about memories for me although a few years back i accidentally gave away my son’s favorite teddy in an obligatory cleanup and I just can’t get over it :( Maybe it’s because I absolutely HATE shopping!! That makes sense. Right?

    Good luck with your decision :)

  11. The answer to this lies in your priorities. In a day and age when our energies are pulled in a different direction if you feel it worth your time and energy to reassemble the pan, then other things in your life will be put on the back burner. :) If you have other fish to fry (no pun intended, hah!) then I say buy a new pan, recycle the old pan so you can be free to move on. Either way, the beauty of it is that it’s o.k. whatever you choose (and yes, letting it sit there and worked with the maimed pan counts as a choice, too). <3

  12. Get thee to the nearest restaurant supply store and get thyself a brand new set of pans; then chuck al the old ones. It will feel so much better, guaranteed. Out with the old etc…

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