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.

5 Responses to “Mad Pen: a blog year in review”

  1. Katharine at 2:33 pm #

    I hope I can tackle transition as well as you have. I’ve got a feeling there are going to be some major changes in my life over the next year, and I’m going to need to bookmark this post and read that last section over and over and over and …

    • Kara at 8:05 pm #

      When you’re in the middle of major transition, you will probably say, “you lie, Kara, you lie!” At least that’s how I felt, but you just have to put one foot in front of the other each day and somehow, slowly, things start to make sense. Then comes a rush of confidence. Good luck, Katharine!

  2. Ida at 3:38 pm #

    Hey Kara,

    It’s great to hear you are in a relatively stable idle right now, flanked by two scary hills (the previous firing and hopefully upcoming re-hiring). I love that quote. It is true; it’s the middle that counts. 😀

    And plans with friends. Maybe next week will be better. Brent’s family is eating my days. Soon enough, though, we’ll get together.

  3. Eleanor at 3:48 pm #


    You are such a wonderful writer and I so enjoy reading your blog even though I may not always comment….love, it’s the middle that counts…a summation of what our real priorities are and meanings that all of a sudden come to life for each one of us….we all have storms in life and always will but we also have people who love us and the memories that sustain us and the little every day joys to keep us going…just remember that God is our anchors in all of our storms and he’s always there for us….love you much and you make your Aunt Ellie so proud!


  1. What to learn from what you don’t finish « GOING SOFLO -

    […] more in love with ideas than follow through. I felt like a blogger failure. But then I remembered I’m more than beginnings, and have a year of developed posts to prove […]

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