Archive | June, 2011

Mad Pen: a blog year in review

24 Jun

In the Mad Men season four finale, Don Draper’s steady girlfriend Faye tells him (after he dumps her to marry his secretary): “I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.”

I’m a little late to the season four party (thank you, Netflix), and while that kind of writing certainly keeps me watching, it’s also given me a chance to realize that I’ve surpassed the blogging honeymoon period: I’ve maintained this blog (while at times only monthly) for over a year now. While almost everything has changed since my first post, many things have come full circle. A year ago, I worried about finding a new job once I moved to Florida.  After getting a new job that I have now been laid off from, I’m hearing a familiar soundtrack.

As this blog is about transition, here’s a closer look at mine over the past 365+ days of navigating my way through change:

Pre-blog landmarks:

September 2008: Met Aaron at a mutual friend’s wedding in Blacksburg, VA; long-distance relationship ensues.

January 2010: Aaron applies for job in Fort Lauderdale, says he won’t move without me, or ask me to move without a “bigger commitment.”

March 2010: After a request from Aaron, I get sized for an engagement ring in New York City (was there for a journalism conference with students); Aaron accepts job in Ft. Lauderdale; I tell my principal I’m leaving at the end of school year; principal cries (not really, but I like to think he did on the inside).

April 2010: Aaron asks me to marry him over my Spring Break in Blacksburg (yes, please!); Aaron moves to South Florida (aka SoFlo); decide on August wedding; planning commences.

A blog is born

June 2010:  I create blog to maintain sanity; write through gloom and more gloom; end bittersweet school year; visit Aaron in Florida and suddenly moving there (here) becomes real (cut to me crying on a golf cart).

July 2010: Start cleaning out my house of six years (emotional roller coaster ride unleashed); try to be a low-maintenance bride.

August 2010: Engage in some pre-wedding self-deprecation, and then some more; get married in Virginia; move all our possessions into a truck for a 15-hr-driving honeymoon to SoFlo.

September 2010: Return to Virginia for final house-on-market preparations and cleaning (and to pick up my car); reunite with childhood penpal (fresh from the Alps); parking garage beats me in hand to hand combat; search for new teaching job in Florida and pretend to be a housewife by baking a pie.

October 2010: Land and begin new teaching job; meet new and awesome teacher friends; adjust to educational politics in the Sunshine State (standardized testing on steroids); my parents visit their old vacation spot (which is now our home).

November 2010: Spend Thanksgiving in Richmond with Aaron’s family and my friends; continue to survive Florida drivers.

December 2010: Learn that when you communicate effectively, marriage is less compromise, more growth; spend Christmas in Virginia with my mom, dad, sister and family, Aaron’s parents, and our hometown friends.

January 2011: New year, new challenges: Transition sucks. And then some. What’s this positivity you speak of?

February 2011: Realize I’ve stopped comparing myself to others; celebrate six-month-a-versary right after Valentine’s Day (which was accidentally incredible); forget every monthly anniversary after this, despite our best efforts.

March 2011: Get fired up about blogging teacher who got publicity for all the wrong reasons; Aaron’s sister and family visit during Spring Break and we are reminded of why we want (yet fear) children.

April 2011: Survive my first voluntary crafting project;  forget the rest of the month because I didn’t blog about it!

May 2011: Get laid off from job, then can’t stop writing about it;  Aaron leaves the country to fulfill a childhood dream; I try to do my best despite challenging circumstances; rely on strengthening friendships with grounded colleagues to see me through.

June 2011: Aaron returns home with Ecuadorian roses; I end another bittersweet school year, this time on the beach with beer; Aaron and I take our first cruise (to the Caribbean); I start cooking again (every day, with mangoes, which have taken over our lives).

* * * * * *

So it turns out I’m more than just beginnings. I relate more to Birdee Pruitt from the movie Hope Floats than I do to the stylized and trendy Don Draper. No surprise, Don is pretending to be someone he’s not while Birdee is growing into her true self. She says to her daughter: “Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most.”

It was the middle of this blogging year when I realized no matter how scary the beginning was, or how sad the end becomes, this adventure is helping me grow. Because in the worst of times, I have the best of what matters.

Don’t fear or bank on beginnings: sometimes they’re exciting; sometimes they’re terrifying; but they’re always temporary.

For the first time in months, I’m content with transition. I’m happy with my middle.