Archive for March 2014

Post graduation-part two

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

As the end of my time in the classroom was nearing the end, I was regularly being asked if I was going to walk at graduation, if I was going to have a party and how I was planning to celebrate. In answer to the first question, it's complicated but I'l try to simplify it.  Because I was not earning another degree but a teaching certificate with an English endorsement, I wasn't qualified to participate in commencement.  It is kind of silly being that I completed over 100 credits and spent the equivalent of a new vehicle during this process.  But, I didn't feel strongly enough about it to make a stink.  And because I knew the university would tack on another $100 or so if they made an exception.  I wasn't about to pay them another cent.

Since I'm not one who enjoys having all eyes on me, I was hesitant about a big party.  I did want to celebrate with those who supported and encouraged me along the way, though. I did agree that this was a huge accomplishment and one that should be recognized but, at this stage of life, it felt a little silly.  Trey asked me to give him a list of the friends and family and offered to hold a graduation open house. It would be low key on a Sunday afternoon and guests could come and go as they pleased.  He promised to do all the planning and preparing as long as I gave him some direction .Done.  Because I rarely do anything like this, it felt so vulnerable and risky.  And because of this, I knew I would take it hard if no one responded to the invitation or didn't show up.  I should have gone with my gut.

Two weeks after he sent out the invitation, Trey got word that he'd be needed in California for a Monday morning meeting but required to arrive the day before.  When?  You guesssed it: the day the party was scheduled.  I didn't have it in me to reschedule. Again, he promised that I wouldn't have to lift a finger but what were the chances of that, really?

I woke up that Sunday morning and went to the store to get ice.  When I returned home, I left my phone in the car and went about my business inside.  A couple hours later, I retrieved the phone only to find it full of messages from my Seattle friends and relatives that none of them were coming because of the snow.  We had nary a snowflake and yet 90 miles south it was enough that no one would risk driving north.  I decided to carry on, knowing my local friends would be there but suddenly I was overcome with emotion and tears and just didn't have it in me to put on a happy face for 20 people. I wasn't expecting to respond this way but instead of pretending, I gave in and let myself be sad.  I called my close friend, who has been my biggest cheerleader and was coming early to help.  When I broke down, she and another friend swung into high gear and rearranged the plans.  They called everyone who was planning to attend and let them know not to come then rallied my closest girlfriends (who I should have just planned to celebrate with instead of having a party) and told me they'd pick me up at 5:00. I crawled back into my warm bed, had a good cry and slept off the afternoon.

The intimate celebration ended up being at one of my favorite restaurants followed by returning to my house and enjoying the overpriced cupcakes that were ordered for the occasion. It was such a sweet, loving gesture on behalf of my friends but looking back I realize that this was the beginning of my letting down and I had a hard time enjoying myself.  I didn't recognize how emotionally and physically fragile I was now that this journey had culminated. I had been operating in survival modeand living on an adrenaline rush with deadlines hovering over me and hoops waiting to be jumped through for the better part of the last 3 years.  It took its toll and my body was paying the price. My fragility made it such that a legitimate excuse felt like a huge rejection and I didn't have the reserve to see it for what it was. But it also made me realize how I needed to give in and rest.  I literally slept away the next two days, caught a nasty cold and slept another day away.

As I write this, I'm a month removed and wish I could go back, have a do-over and be a little more rational. I wish I would have seen it coming and realized that a massive letdown was inevitable.  Regardless, it can't take away from the reality that the verse I wrote on the front page of my journal in 2011 is as true now as it was back then.



Post graduation, part one

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Just when I thought life might slow down post graduation, it seemed to only switch into a higher gear.  Less than 24 hours after completing my internship, Quinn and I were on a plane to Mile High City--the weekend before the Super Bowl.  In the fall, he was able to tag along on a business trip of Trey's and check out Clemson and Duke.  When I saw that his college wish list also included University of Colorado-Boulder and The Air Force Academy, I said, "I will accompany you on this trip."  I also reminded him that it's rare for high school juniors to actually visit the campuses they are interested in.  It just so happens that the 6 on his list all are located in cities where we have close friends or family.  And we're always looking for a good excuse to visit them.

Prior to leaving for Boulder, Quinn was able to connect with two CU students who graduated from high schools here. The day before our tour, he spent the afternoon with both of them separately and got to see the campus from their perspectives. The next day's scheduled tour was hardly necessary.  He was hooked.  If it was August 2015, I could have left him there and never looked back. Mountains an hour away.  A state of the art engineering facility and world-renowned program.  His cousins just 20 minutes down the road.  Built in friendships.  A rejuvenated football team.  His interest was definitely peaked.  After our official tour, in a snowstorm, he was even more determined to call this home.  

At CU with "Ralphie"
Cousin time

Since they couldn't make my graduation party, we had our own little celebration.  So sweet.

Ty loved his big cousin taking him for a ride in the laundry basket.

Storytime before bed.

The next morning we headed south to Colorado Springs and entered the gates of the Air Force Academy campus.  We had been there before as tourists but this just felt different when looked at through the lens of "this could be where my child spends four years of his life." However, it was a complete polar opposite of where we just left.  Structured.  Disciplined.  High Expectations.  Low Acceptance Ratio.  Challenging on every level. I could tell that, other than the possibility of jumping out of airplanes and one day piloting a plane, there wasn't a lot of appeal to Quinn's laid-back personality that dislikes rules, being controlled and living in an environment of intense mental and physical discipline.  But the upside is that the education is free, the training is the best in the world and your post-graduation career is an open ticket. After the tour, we drove 10 miles down the road and had a great reunion with our former neighbors and Quinn's godparents, the Cunninghams.  They named their son, "Quinn" also so it was a fun and interesting evening having both boys answer every time we said their names.  We also enjoyed ribbing each other over the upcoming Super Bowl as Joe (a die-hard Steelers fan) loved reminding me of Seattle's one appearance in the big game 8 years ago. 

About to enter the beautiful campus.

The two Quinn's.

We returned home and I spent the next two days collecting and organizing my letters of recommendation, reminding my supervisors to send in their reference forms, updating my resume, writing a cover letter, ordering my transcript and completing the substitute application to begin subbing in my school district. The weekend then culiminated by the greatest football game I've ever witnessed. (Yes, I am biased!!!!) We joined 27 other crazy Seahawks fans for an amazing party and celebration.  It was such a high to watch history in the making.  I still had an adrenaline rush the next morning and woke up at 5 a.m. to take in the highlights and watch all the sports analysts eat crow.  It was delightful.  Suddenly, my high was interrupted by a 6:00 a.m. phone call asking me to sub.  Unfortunately, the district didn't have me in the system so I had to refuse--which killed me since it was my principal's husband and she had recommended me. Trey took me to coffee and while waiting in line at Starbucks, I got a call from the secretary at my middle school panicking that she had no teacher in the 6th grade math class. I explained that my application hadn't been pushed through yet.  She called me back 10 minutes later and said, "Get in here!"  For the next two days, I pretended to know something about multiplying and dividing fractions with about 80% of my former students. The teacher called me on Tuesday night asking me to come back another day as he was still under the weather.  I had to turn him down because I promised Ben that we would go to THE SEAHAWKS VICTORY PARADE!!!
Love this!!!

An old friend that was at the same Super Bowl party, called me the previous day to see if I was serious when I said I wanted to go to Seattle for the parade.  A local charter bus company was sending 8 buses down at $20 R/T for a seat and she secured 4 tickets.  They were expecting 300,000 fans and I knew I didn't want to drive and look for parking.  Plus, this friend is super fun and I knew we'd have a great time traveling together.  We loaded the bus at 8:15 a.m. and what should have been a 90 minute ride took over 3 hours.  The parade was to start at 11:00 a.m. and we were still on the offramp at 11:30. At this point, Ben was pouting and I heard him mumble, "this isn't even going to be worth it."  Fortunately, because the crowd was actually closer to 700,000, the players couldn't make it through traffic in a timely manner and they started the festitivities at 12:30.  Even though there were hundreds of people in front of us, you couldn't have asked for a nicer crowd.  Everyone was just so happy to be there and being all huddled together made us forget that it was 17 degrees outside.  After a 36-year wait, this was a celebration we couldn't miss--and I'm so glad we were there to witness the magic and excitement.

Everyone loved our poster mocking the naysayers.
Week two came to and end and it was time to gear up for my graduation open house.......stay tuned for part two.