Grad school wrap up – the final edition

(First, let’s catch up: I settled in a soulless apartment in Columbus, job is great- in fact today  my boss told me he was expanding my responsibilities, haven’t seen much of the city or met anyone new due to school and D – and that’s where we begin our story…)

It started here… and went here along the way…got really good here…stumbled here…stressed me out here…and now it ends.

Grad school.

The links above are various Grad School recaps from the residency weekends.  I suppose, technically, this all started here.  Where I was accepted into a program that required me to fly to Toledo, OH once a month.  I get asked all the time why and how I chose this program, and honestly I cannot remember.  And really, that doesn’t matter.  What matters is how much I can noticeably see the change in me in the last 18 months.  What matters is that I started and finished something.  What matters is that I did this all on my own and all for myself.  What matters is that it was a wonderful experience where I have met people I hope to know a lifetime.  Some are almost family (seriously, one gentleman in the program reminds me of my dad SO MUCH and now I know what it would be like to go drinking with my dad).

Walking into class for the last time Friday night I was anxious.  The Professor looked around the room, acknowledging the mixed emotions and simply asked, “Ready?”.  Most nodded their heads or responded her word.  I shook my head and responded, Not Ready.

The beauty of going away for grad school weekends is I was immersed in the program.  I was out of my state, away from my apartment, my job knew not to call me during those weekends – they were my time and I treasured that.   That would end.  I don’t have a once a month getaway to a place where people think I’m smart and creative.  Where I can learn new things and collaborate in a controlled environment.

The good news is that Saturday night was such a disaster that I became ready for Sunday to arrive.  Yes, a sub-plot to the grad school wrap up – let’s call it Single Again.

Single Again

fail againYes.  Saturday night.  After a great day of class, after a stellar review from our professor on a giant project, after I worked hard on a significant part of that project, after the whole class was celebrated at a happy hour party, after I gave some great advice to the cohort that is a year behind us… I got dumped.

It really takes something for me to go on a two month writing hiatus.  I love nothing more than talking about myself to mostly complete strangers, after all.  I have always been this way – not wanting to write when it was things I don’t want to admit.  For the last two months, I didn’t want to admit that while I loved this man, I did not love the way our relationship was working.  And I did not want to admit that our relationship was working poorly because I just wan’t the gal for him.  I knew these things.  I felt these things.  I did not want to say these things out loud.  So, I didn’t write.  Perhaps I should have addressed them, in blog and real life.  Perhaps that would have led to us each being kind of stressed about this for the last couple of months.  And being stressed about it just caused me to be edgy, crabby and not at all myself.  I have been trying to get him to admit this isn’t for him – he just needed to get there.  Why didn’t I end it?  He makes me laugh.  And I liked the way he wrapped an arm around me as we fell asleep.  And that he teased me about how I cut his grass.  And that he let me help tile his kitchen.  But I knew he didn’t love me.

So, while break ups are no fun, I’m not all that surprised by this one.  While I wish it was really the case that opposites attract, I’m not sure we would have had enough to sustain a long term relationship.  Plus, I’ve been lonely.  And there is nothing worse than feeling lonely while in a relationship.  I’ve never noticed this before, and maybe this is a sign of getting older and wiser, but there is something very honest about a break up.  I appreciate the honesty.

I’m ok.  Dating is trying people on and seeing if they fit.  D was my favorite classmate before we gave a romantic relationship a try and it just didn’t work.  Considering my ex-husband is one of my very best friends, I’m certainly of the persuasion that people can be friends with exes, as long as there were friend qualities to begin with.  (Why Adam Science and I will never be friends – because we weren’t ever friends.)  So, here’s hoping that the wonderful man I got to know as more than just a favorite classmate and I will still be friends.  I make a really excellent friend.

But – back to the grad school weekend – it made it much easier to be ready for it to end Sunday.  The break up was indicative of a larger ending – and new beginnings.

So, in the end, this wrap up could have been called, Things that made me sad, actually made me happy.  End of school, breaking up… parts of those are really sad…but I get to take the very best parts of those things and move forward.  And I’ll fail even better next time.

And holy heck did writing about them feel good.

Back soon, friends.


Not letting go…

wpid-20130531_132228.jpgThis is a picture of a skirt I bought in the year 2000.  I was 20.  I am now 33.  That means I have packed and moved this skirt many, many times.  I bought it when I was interning with Hyatt the summer of 2000.  It came from Urban Outfitters, a store I haven’t visited in years.  I moved it back to college after that summer, back home after college, into my cousin’s house when we were roommates, into Colin’s house, to Louisiana, back to St. Louis, back to Chicago and now I am packing it for Columbus.

I have not worn this skirt since the summer of 2000.

I was in the best shape ever that summer due to all the walking and being a broke intern, so needless to say this skirt doesn’t fit very well (read: at all) right now.  I just gave away three heaping shopping bags of clothing to my friend Angela – things that didn’t fit me any longer.  Things that I was over or had shrunk or never looked right on me anyway.  (Editor’s Note: Few things will motivate you to lose weight like watching your cute, skinny friend try on the clothes that used to fit you.  I kept thinking – damn girl – you’re skinny.  Then I realized that since she was trying on clothes that used to be mine – and fit me – that once upon a time I was that thin.  Dang it.)

I couldn’t give away this skirt.  When I look at it, I see me.  I see this kind of hippie girl who wants to wear skirts with embroidered flowers from Urban Outfitters.  I think this skirt is cool, even though my sister has told me more than once it is not.  I’m not clinging to the past.  I have some clothes that I recognize I’m doing that with…a t-shirt from the summer I played on a softball league through the casino in Louisiana, a t-shirt from an old boyfriend, this dress that I once looked damn good in – those are all things I hold on to for the memory.  This silly embroidered skirt is different – I can remember the one time I wore it.  It wasn’t particularly meaningful.  I picked up a friend at the airport in it.  Maybe it’s just who I want to be.  It’s the same reason I’m holding on to this pair of cream pin stripe pants (that also don’t fit me – damn you stress eating!!) I feel awesome in those pants.  I feel professional and cool.  I’m holding on to them.  They did not go to the friend who fits into my things better than I do.

What a silly post.

I’ve attempting to downsize so much.  I wish someone would come and take so much of my crap away.  But not this skirt.

In other news, packing is going just terribly.  I don’t ever remember packing being this tough.  More than one person has pointed out I have a LOT of stuff.  I suppose I do.  My mom and grandmother came over to help yesterday.  A lot of things are in boxes.  A lot of things are still not.  I’m ready to throw away sooo much stuff.  Also, in what feels like tradition, I have this sinus/head cold thing that’s taken over.  I started with Save-a-Lot during my first ever sinus infection.  Packing while all drowsy and woozy from cold medicine is even less fun.

Ok.  Back to it.


A story. In many, many parts.

I. Vacation

I was on vacation last week.  I took the opportunity to stay away from most social media while I was gone.  It was really nice.  All of it was nice.  It was a vacation in three distinct phases.  I took almost no pictures and I’m going to try and capture the highlights.  Which as I sit here seems incredibly daunting because last week was monumental.  It was a week that goes in the Sarah History book.  That sounds dramatic, but, you’ll see…

My time away started 40 minutes north of Asheville, NC at a big, beautiful cabin at the top of a mountain.  6 bedrooms, amazing kitchen, 5 classmates, 2 facilitators and an emotional experience to beat the band.  A few classmates and I chose to be part of a organizational behavior process called a T Group.  It’s an experience that focuses on feelings in the here and now.  There are only two rules – use “I” statements and you must remain in the present – if the experience, feeling, person, etc isn’t in the room then they are not in the conversation.  It’s intense and there’s a real learning curve for those rules.  I really didn’t know what to expect going in and I purposely kept myself in the dark about the expectations of the weekend so I wouldn’t create biases.

Warning: cheesy ahead.  I can’t describe the weekend.  It was every bit as intense as promised and I love these classmates and facilitators I went through it with in a very special way, as they were witness and participants to this work.  I felt overwhelmed, confused, sad, bad, mad, glad and afraid at certain parts.  I really experienced change and internalized awareness.

I also felt a yearning.  Marcus Buckingham, who presents on the Strength Finders assessment and co-authored a good deal about the topic, says one should pay attention to the yearnings – those intense callings to something.  For me, it was Graphic Facilitation.  One of our facilitators also worked as a graphic facilitator – a tool to visually record and organize a meeting, process, thoughts, etc.  You can go here for some examples.  A friend of mine had recently posted on FB that she was taking a graphic recording workshop and I was really intrigued then.  Once I saw this facilitator complete some of it – I was hooked.

I’m getting off track.  (I could use a graphic recording for this post.)  That was vacation part 1 and it was great. Vacation part 2 was EVEN GREATER!

Mystery Man (actually, it’s not much of a mystery any longer – let’s call him D from here on, shall we?  I shall.) D and I left the retreat and headed to a different cabin atop a different mountain.  It was a belated birthday present – a peaceful trip off the grid and a chance for us to spend time together – no school, no hotels, no classmates, no kids, no pets – just he and I spending actual time together.  The cabin we found was right out of Sleeping Beauty – when the King and Queen send Aurora to live in the woods so the evil lady can’t find her?  It was like that.  A sweet, little, comfortable cabin for two.  We had everything we needed, including lots of dry firewood to make lots of fires while we curled up, played Scrabble and I was introduced to Duck Dynasty.  (Which I surprisingly loved.)  We hiked, and read, and talked, and napped and sat in the hot tub under the stars (more on that later).

Vacation moved on to West Virginia for the next few days, but took on a different tone.  D organized an offsite retreat for the company he works for and I was along for the ride.  I went to a few dinners with them and spent some time at the spa and managed to have breakfast at the Greenbriar with my friend Meg.

II. Boys

So, let’s talk about boys.  One boy, in particularly.  And, man is probably the more appropriate term.  D is in the master’s program with me and we’ve been seeing each other when we can – mostly school weekends.  The more I see him, know him, listen to him, understand him, learn about him, make him laugh, ask him…the more I like him.  He was always my favorite classmate and transitioning to him being my favorite guy has been really wonderful.

This week was something new for us – spending 8 consecutive days together is a first.  And not just regular days – intense retreat days, fairy tale cabin days and then work conference days.  Each of those phases brought different aspects of me to the relationship.  Sometimes I’m good, sometimes I’m a lot to take.  And I’m constantly afraid people are getting tired of me.

There were two distinct and dichotomous moments on this trip.  That shouldn’t seem like blog-worthy news.  Couples have highs and lows.  The intensity of these two moments came in such a short time span that both left me speechless in their own way.  I’m hesitant to describe either of them here because I know we have mutual acquaintances who read me blather on here – and while I opened myself up to public viewing of my thoughts – he didn’t necessarily sign up for that.  So, those are stories going in the old fashioned hand written journal.

III. Lists

If you’ve ever wandered over to the page on this blog entitled List 2.0 you’ll see my list of things to do before I die.  An oddly specific item is this:

Spend time in a cabin in Asheville, NC to recharge, hike and sit in a hot tub under the stars

I know.  Oddly specific.  I attribute it to the blog Peanut Butter Runner.  I started reading a lot of fitness and running blogs when I started training for the half and ran across this one.  Jen lives in Charlotte and gets away to Asheville, NC pretty regularly.  I was reading her Asheville posts – about the great food, funky vibe and the cabin and the hiking and I was overcome with the yearning to do this.  (Pay attention to yearnings!)  Onto The List it went and crossed off it is.  I felt incredibly recharged after just a couple of days at the fairy tale log cabin with D.  Monday night, after Scrabble, after dinner, after some more Duck Dynasty – the clouds had all gone away and there were stars.  I sat outside and tilted my head back so it was resting on the edge of the hot tub behind me and just stared at the stars.  And made lots and lots of wishes.  It was a beautiful moment, and a really romantic one at that.

IV. Wishes coming true

So, then this thing happened where I got a job.  A stars-aligned into the perfect scenario kind of job.  April 2nd I was told my position is being eliminated.  April 15 I was told I wasn’t right for this job.  April 30 – I kind of bombed a technical interview they put me through on a 2nd chance.  May 7 – I have a 20 minute interview with the actual hiring manager and I have the offer 24 hours later.  And it’s not just a job.  It’s a job that will let me do what I’ve been doing and am good at for the last 8 years and combine that with the Organizational Development tools and concepts I’ve been working on with my master’s.  It’s this perfect bridge to the other side of Organizational Change Management – which is what I want to do.  It’s a job where my title is consultant.  It’s a job that will pay me enough to start paying back the school loans I took out to get the legitimate education behind what I want to do.  It’s a job that makes me feel valued.  Like all the steps back in the last few years were worth it – because this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.  I’ll be moving to Columbus, OH in just a couple of weeks.

I’ve never been to Columbus, OH before.  I really need to figure this out.

When I think about the roller coaster of the last 6 weeks, it’s nothing compared to the roller coaster of these 6 days!  Leaving the school retreat content to start thinking about what comes next and focus on what I’m good at and two days later have that job in hand.  I had no idea what the week would bring when it started – but I almost like that it all happened so close together.  We never know when the biggest days (or week) of our life is going to be – and this was absolutely one of the biggest weeks of my life.

I can say this next sentence without it being scary…

I don’t know what happens next!

I don’t know where in Columbus I’m moving, I don’t know what happens next with D, I don’t know who I’ll work with, I don’t know exactly what the work will turn out to be…and I can hardly wait to find out!

The universe is messy

That is what a friend said to me tonight about the last few weeks and I have to agree.

Today was rotten.

The queen of the Mouseketeers died.

M-I-C...See you real soon!  K-E-Y...Why, because we like you!

M-I-C…See you real soon! K-E-Y…Why, because we like you!

Margaret Thatcher died.

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

This next one is strange, but I’m sad the CEO of JCPenney was fired today.  I’ve been following the story of Ron Johnson since he left Apple to turn JCP around and thought some of his strategies would resonate with shoppers.  They didn’t.  JCP has been in a tailspin of lost revenue and confused patrons.  This bums me out.

jcpAnd then, it stuff in my own small world as well.  My best friend Claire had to put her cat down and that is devastating to her and hard for me to console her at all because I don’t know what anyone could say to make me feel better if the situation were reversed.  The day I found out I just burst into tears every time I’d hear one of my own cats purr.

I saw my ex-husbands niece and nephew today.  My ex-brother in law was giving me some software and I stopped by to pick it up and I haven’t seen those kids in years.  As friendly as Ex Hubs and I are, there are still some boundary lines and I would never want to confuse the kids or create more awkward conversations, so I don’t see his family anymore really.  But once I left, I was overwhelmed with how much I’ve missed those kids.  They were my family for a minute too.  And my ex-brother in law and I get along better now than we ever did (not that we didn’t get along, I think I’m just older and less pain in the ass-y).  And I know that I don’t want to have kids, so people think I hate kids, but that’s not true.  I appreciate kids more once they get to the age those two are now – I just need a kid who can have an actual conversation and is potty trained.  The kids told me about camps and running and friends and school and it was just nice.

And lastly, I think the shock of something finally wore off today and I’m feeling it.  My company has been in trouble for a while (Google Supervalu – you’ll see) and those troubles finally reached the banner I work for under that parent company.  Last Tuesday I was told my position is being eliminated as of June 1.  I got laid off.  It’s the 2nd time in as many years that I’ve lost a job.  The thing is – I know it was the right move.  My company was overstaffed at headquarters.  I even wrote a paper about it for grad school.  It wasn’t wrong to eliminate jobs.  We had a hunch it was coming.  I never saw it being my position.  I didn’t love this job, I didn’t love this company, so I’m not devastated that it’s all over.  I’m suffering a wounded ego and today it started to sink in that this is scary all over again.  I have to find something new.  I have to support myself.  I have to do so while finishing my last semester of grad school.

I don’t want to make a hasty decision.  I’ve been thinking about moving out of St. Louis for a while now.  I have a short list of cities that are interesting to me.  Do I just move and then figure things out?  Do I stay in St. Louis where I have a stronger network?  I just don’t want to take another “job”.  I want to take something that feels like a next step.  This whole past year was just a “job”, but it allowed me to concentrate on school so it was okay.  I accepted this stagnant feeling.  I am bursting at the seams now.  I am antsy for what’s next.  I want to feel somewhat settled.  I think that has something to do with why I was overwhelmed after seeing my ex-niece and nephew.  I don’t for a second think I’ve started to hear any kind of “biological clock” but I do want some stability.  I want this family unit of my own.  And for a split second I saw my alternate life with a brother in law and a niece (I have nephews on my side – Ex Hubs had the only niece – and I seriously do not know what to do with boys – but I can be a princess with the best of the 2nd grade girls) and I felt extra lonely.  And jobless.

I’m just having a moment of self pity.  I haven’t really felt this since I got the news last week.  I stayed pretty busy, I concentrated on reading and watching a Hoarders marathon.  (Come to think of it, that may have been the beginning of the self pity taking shape… I may have texted Claire with “How come a hoarder can get a husband and I can’t!?”  Claire responded with 1) Hoarders aren’t picky and I am and 2) Have I seen my spare bedroom because I might actually be a hoarder and I shouldn’t sell myself short.)  It’s what friends are for.

So, thanks for indulging my pity party.  Just a bad day.  Deep down I know losing this job isn’t the end of the world, that it really is an invitation to find a new opportunity.  New city.  New job.  New direction.  I just have to figure out what those things are.

Cats will not clean for you

I have big plans to start 2013 with a spotless clean apartment.

If you know me and have seen my apartment, let’s all have a big laugh right now, shall we?!


No, no!  I mean it!


I thought about taking a few before pictures, but I am not ready to post that kind of shame on the blog.  Let me paint you a verbal picture…

There are at least three clean loads of laundry on the couch in my bedroom.  (Yes, I have a couch in my bedroom.  It’s where the laundry goes.)  From my bed I can see 7.5 pairs of shoes on the floor and I know for a fact there are two more on my bathroom floor.  The top of my dresser is covered in a heap of necklaces, because the hook I hang my necklaces fell down.  It fell down 3 months ago.  There is a completely random stack of magazines, text books and mail next to my bed.  The suitcase I brought to Orlando is still on my floor (it is empty…just not put away).

Usually, I would stick an “In my defense!!!” kind of excuse in here about being busy or work or school – alas, I have absolutely no good excuse.  I’m just messy.  But before I turn into full on hoarder, I need to get to work.

My goal is to get my room cleaned up and move the furniture around.  The bed placement is all wrong.  I’m too close to a window that overlooks the backyard and street and there are patio lights and street lights that I am convinced are interfering with my sleeping.  I need to get the dining room clean as well so I can use it as a workspace tomorrow as I create my 2013 plan.  And nothing feels clean if the kitchen isn’t clean.

Stupid cats are just going to taunt me with their napping all day.  I’ll show them – I’ll get the vacuum out.  They hate that.

Send positive and clean thoughts my way, friends.  I’ll need them.  (And if you wanted to send a Merry Maid or two over, I wouldn’t say no…)

Under the influence of exhaustion

I know better than to write when I’m this tired.  It could be worse.  I could have taken sleeping pills, have those not work, still be awake and try to write.  Those usually led to some pretty fantastic blog posts…Fantastic in the most sarcastic sense of the word.  See here and, my absolute favorite crazy girl post I ever wrote, here for examples.

WordPress, where I host this blog, sends daily emails with writing prompts.  Questions to answer, stories to tell, memories to relive and secret thoughts to bare to the online world.  There have been a few tempting prompts lately:

  • What question do you hate to answer? (My answer: Have you ever thought about having kids?  Don’t get me started.)
  • If there were a fountain of youth, would you drink from it? (Only a little.  I think I’d like to stay this age for some time.  I don’t particularly want to be in my 20’s again.  I like the idea of 33 forever.)
  • What’s your ideal Saturday morning and are you doing it?  (That prompt was obviously sent on a Saturday morning.)

I rarely use this blog as a forum to dive into my past, or dive into how or why I believe what I do.  Maybe answering some of those questions would be fun.  Maybe they would let me feel like I am doing some of the creative writing that I used to love to do.  Or, maybe it would just be a continuation of the exercise in narcissism that I have lately believed this blog to be.  I feel like I ramble a lot about my present situations.  Most of which are pretty trivial.  Maybe I could craft a better story or meaningful post if I followed a prompt one day.  There are all of these books of questions that you can buy – they’re the things I’m forever trying to get people engaged in on a road trip or something.  But I like when people tell me stories.

It’s 1:15am.  I should be sleeping.

It was really, really windy in St. Louis today.

I want to read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green but I’m afraid it’s just going to make me cry for days.

My family’s Christmas is this Saturday.  Which makes actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day way less stressful.  I mostly just sit around and make pancakes and have some kind of tv show marathon.

I typed a paragraph here about something.  Then I deleted that paragraph.  I just edited myself on my blog.  That doesn’t happen very often.  Especially at 1:31am.

Quinn has been more affectionate than usual lately.  It’s because it’s cold in my apartment and she wants to use me as a furnace.

Okay – my eyes are sleepy.  This quality rambling can cease.  For now.

The break up song

I made a new playlist.  It’s the “I don’t need no stinking man” playlist.  Can you guess why?  Oh, it’s obvious?  Dang.  Ah well, it’s true.  Gentleman Friend and I are no longer.  For those of you playing along at home you know that last year about this same time I broke up with a gent by the name of Adam Science.  Well, they were one in the same.  Late last year we rekindled and had been dating again ever since.  So, this is the 2nd break up in as many years.  I renamed him in the hopes of giving the relationship outlook a fresh start.  However, I’m pretty sure this one is sticking.  I’m less angsty about the break up this time, but I’m angrier.  I was just made a fool of and not shown empathy or kindness or respect from the man who said I was the love of his life.  Ick.

BUT, instead of wallowing, I vote for angry girl music and a returned focus on school and running.

Typically, for good break up music I go to my favorite band, Cowboy Mouth.  They have this song called “How do you tell someone” and it’s good break up stuff.  “All I’ve gots my dignity so I will leave in style!”  I found this clip of Cowboy Mouth playing the song.  Damn they are such a good live band.  It’s been ages since I’ve seen them.  I for sure need some more Cowboy Mouth in my life.  They vamp until about 1:02.

My girl Pink always comes through for me.  Her latest song “Blow Me (one last kiss)” is my anthem right now.  If a super white girl from the midwest can have an “anthem.”  The first verse is:

White knuckles and sweaty palms from hanging on too tight
Clenched shut jaw, I’ve got another headache again tonight
Eyes on fire, eyes on fire, and they burn from all the tears
I’ve been crying, I’ve been crying, I’ve been dying over you
Tie a knot in the rope, tryin’ to hold, tryin’ to hold,
But there’s nothing to grasp so I let go

Here’s the rest of the song:


Rounding out the break up playlist is:

Shake it out by Florence + the Machine

Suddenly I see by KT Tunstall

Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Survivor by Destiny’s Child

This much fun by Cowboy Mouth

So what by Pink

Wild Ones by Flo Rida and Sia (It’s not that it’s a break up song, but dancing around to it makes me feel strong and sexy)

End of the World by R.E.M.  (It’s the end of the world, but I feel fine!!!)


I’m sad.  Two years is a long time to spend with someone to have them not understand why what seemed like such a little thing to them was such a big thing to me.  I stopped by the grocery store after Zumba tonight and walked past the olive bar.  The smell of olives made me think of him.  So does the Rachel Maddow show, and NPR, and pumpkin beer.  Oh well.  It will fade and I’ll move on.  But I can be sad about it for a minute, right?  If I promise not to go a little crazy like last time?

Any great break up songs I should add to the playlist?  They can’t be mopey break up songs, only angry girl break up songs.