The Final Rose

Monday, May 27, 2013

The way I see it, job searching is a whole lot like dating.  It's all wondering what the other person thinks and what they're saying to their friends about you and if they'll call tomorrow.  It's both really exciting and the most stressful experience you could possibly imagine.  Total he said, she said.  As we all know, I'm not so good at dating.  We don't need to get into that whole story.  But, as it turns out, I am pretty darn good at job searching.  That, or my Columbia education is worth every tuition penny paid.  Probably that one.

In the past, I've applied for jobs like it was my hobby...and had zero results.  For every job I've had, I applied for at least fifty more.  I was always trying to get that next job, better experience, bigger city, etc.  The two jobs I've had since grad school were great, but not necessarily what I saw myself doing.  Like most twenty-somethings, I just felt unsettled and the need to do more.  Thus, the endless job searching.  Rejection was the new normal.  I haven't really picked up that particular hobby since moving to New York, but with the end of coursework and desire to move back to the Midwest, it was time.  I completely dreaded the job search process.  In my experience, it just never quite turned out like I thought it might.  Oh hey, we're back to dating.  Crap dang.

So this time was a little different.  In mid-February (with The Chief snowed in for Blizzard 2013), I started the job search.  Higher Ed hiring is notoriously slow.  Throughout February and March, I applied for eight mid-level type jobs in Midwestern universities.  I felt pretty good about all of them, but obviously I had my favorites.  And then one day I got four rejection letters in one day.  Now, if you're counting that is exactly half of the positions I applied for.  So yeah...

Ultimately, I seriously interviewed at two different two favorites of the original eight.  One involved an in-person interview at a conference, phone interview, and then on-campus interview.  The other involved a phone interview and on-campus interview.  Phone interviews are horrible.  It's like talking to a potential date on the phone before you meet, but with his entire family on speaker phone.  Who can handle that?  On-campus interviews are like first dates.  They pull out all the stops to convince you that they are the one, all while not-so-secretly trying to figure out if you are the one, which is all they really care about.  In the span of 11 days in early May, I flew from New York to two different institutions.  One ride from the airport with search committee chair, one dinner with colleagues, one full-day interview with tons of different groups and faces, one ride back to the airport.  And repeat.  Somewhere in there, I actually forgot what state I was in at that moment more than one time.  In total, I had about 36 hours in each city.  One of those overnight trips even involved a spectacular afternoon with Baby Sister and Just Matt.  As is true of all good first days, the school paid for everything.  Not that I mind, but it's nice to know that someone wants to treat you nice.  I always offer to pay my part of a first date, but let's be honest...judge the ones that actually let me.  But back to job searching...

In an unexpected turn of events, I was offered the University of Kansas position the day of my other on-campus interview.  I had a week to answer Kansas while the other school made their decision.  I loved the Kansas experience and people, but I just couldn't make an informed decision without knowing about the other opportunity.  So Thursday night before I had to tell Kansas on Friday, I received a second offer from the other school.  And thus began the most stressful twelve hours of my entire life.  Don't get me wrong...amazing problem to have and so blessed to have great opportunities...but really darn stressful.  I freaked out a lot.  Cried.  Prayed.  Talked to my family.  Did that whole process over again.  Slept very little.  But when I woke up, I just knew what I was supposed to do.  I absolutely felt like I was on the final episode of The Bachelorette, when she has to decide between two people to marry.  And even if you know what's right, it's nearly impossible to make that decision.  The other job had a lot going on for it.  A LOT.  Would have been a huge career step for me, but I have the rest of my life for that.  But Kansas had good people, and you can't find that everywhere.

It's taken me all weekend to recover from the stress of the final rose ceremony decision.  Not only did I have to say yes to one, but I had to break up with one I also really loved.  I've only done the breaking up once in my life, and it did not go well.  I'm much more used to being broken up with or not getting the job.  Being the one in control was really stressful.  Oh yeah, and it all happened while moving 600 students out of my residence hall.  So blessed, but still.  I celebrated recovered with a rainy Friday night in Times Square, Annie (staring Glee's Jane Lynch), and Shake Shack...

...cause you can't do that in Kansas.

There's No Place Like Home

Saturday, May 25, 2013

People, this is a big one.  Epic.  You probably want to sit down for this.  Refill your coffee or mimosa or whatever you need to make it through.  Trust me.  Major changes coming to {the ivy project}...

Once upon a time, there were these two girls who bled green and gold...

But then one of them had to go and get married, so then there was this man who did this to our family...

And then one day, not so long ago, they arrived at a weekend wedding wearing each other's school colors instead of their own...

Baylor fans, have no fear.  For every one picture of us in Kansas clothes, I have a hundred more in green and gold.  Our family also learned that the TV has this channel called ESPN, but that's really a different story.  And now you're all caught up.  

So where is this all going?  

If you read closely, you know my time in New York is coming to an end...for now.  New York will always be here, but I've just had to accept that my relationship to it needs to change a bit.  I absolutely adore the concrete jungle, but obviously there are a few pretty good reasons to move west of the Hudson.  I'm pretty much done with classes and can do the rest of the doctorate thing from a distance.  I still plan to come back to New York two or three or four times a year (which is probably news to my family), but it's time to be a little closer to Tornado Alley.  I just decided that it's more important for me to travel to Manhattan than to live here and miss family events.  But that doesn't mean I'm not freaking out about leaving the city.

So yesterday I accepted a job and in seven weeks I will be a resident of the great state of...  

Kansas.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Kansas.  Seriously.  Kansas.  What have I gotten myself into?  

I am moving to Lawrence, home of the University of Kansas Jayhawks.  It is about 30 miles west of Kansas City and only two hours from Baby Sister and Just Matt in Wichita.  Two hour drive instead of six hour flight.  Shoot dang!  But, um... I am preparing to move to a town with a population 1% of the size of my current city.  Over eight million to 82,000 residents.  Oh my...


So I think it's safe to say this is going to be an adventure.  You know how you all came to visit big sparkly New York City?  Please come to Kansas.  I'm really going to need you there.  Obviously, more details to come over the next few days.  And just for your viewing pleasure...

I think it's safe to say I have no idea what I'm getting myself into...

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's Throwback Thursday, Oklahoma edition...

Because you just can't help but sing along.  Especially with my new friend Hugh Jackman in the lead.  Have a good one friends.  Pray for Oklahoma while you're at it.

Oklahoma Rising

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I can't really begin to put into words the events and emotions of the last 48 hours.  Homesick doesn't really even come close.  When it comes to storm season in Oklahoma, there is a fine line between excitement and heartbreak.  That line, as it turns out, is a 16-minute warning window and an EF5 tornado.

You see, your average tornado-chasing day in Central Oklahoma can be kind of fun.  Typically, we know the day's storm potential.  Storms tend to develop on the plains and slowly move into the city.  We have time to prepare, take our precautions, and do what we do best.  Ride out the storm.  Okies are the world's best amateur meteorologists.  An Oklahoman knows significantly more about weather than some East Coast weather personalities on my local news.  By storm time, we're flipping channels, laughing at the weather guy's bedazzled tie, and posting minute-by-minute updates to our social media accounts.  Some of us Okies may even enjoy the occasional "tornado party."  No tornado party is complete without the Gary England game (our millionaire meteorologist with a cameo in Twister).  With juice or coffee, of course.  We are always careful about tornado days, but it's usually not the end of the world.  When things get a bit scary, we head to the hospital down the street for stronger shelter and then go out for dinner after the storm passes.  We may or may not stand at the windows and watch the storm roll in until the very last minute.   The Chief never cooks on tornado nights.  There's just too much excitement in the air.

But when it's bad, it's worse than bad.  Unimaginable.  Heartbreaking.

And it all changes in an instant.

A two-mile wide tornado on the ground for over an hour is absolutely every Okie's worst nightmare.

I could never begin to list all of the wonderful stories, gestures, and support for my state in the last two days.  From colleges that re-opened empty residence hall rooms for newly homeless families to major companies that made major donations, the response was immediate.  Oklahoma is good in good times, but Oklahoma shows its soul in crisis.  Our teachers pray in public schools when that's the only hope of safety and teach tiny little people to sing "You Are My Sunshine" when the all-too familiar freight train sound hovers overhead.  My church, like so many others, responded immediately with volunteers, donations, and prayers for out city.  That, and $1.2 million dollars toward tornado relief.  Our local sports heros prove that heroism isn't about winning a game. Just following God's nudge to help...

It's not about money or who donated what amount or making a big gesture.  It's just about family.  And Oklahoma is family.  And all we know for sure is that God answers prayers.  How could you possibly think otherwise, when a reported death toll of 91 is suddenly lowered to 24?  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34:18).

In the last couple of days, a lot of New Yorkers asked me a lot of questions about life with tornadoes.  Why would someone live in that area?  Why rebuild if you've lost a home before?  Why don't you all have basements and storm shelters?  Why were kids in school if the weather was going to be so bad?  Why?  Why?  Why?

[spoiler alert for this weekend's post]

Mostly, people want to know why my very-near-future plans involve a not-so-small move to tornado alley.  But the thing is, it's home.  So where else would I go?  It's not our first time to stare down a storm and it certainly won't be our last.

"Guts and grace and mercy, we have shown them in our turn, when the fields had turned to dust and the skies began to burn. When the storm shook our souls and the mighty buildings fell, through fires and desperation our faith has served us well. I choke back the emotion, I'm an Okie and I'm proud So when you call me Okie, man, you better say it loud. Now we look into the heavens at the eagles climbing free. It's the spirit of our people on the wing, can you see? We're Oklahoma Rising."

Life on the Road

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I've been traveling a lot lately.  Remember how my new year's resolution was to not re-earn my elite flying status for 2013?  Yeah.  I'm well on my way to another year of elite status and not at all going to achieve that resolution.  Among other things, this never-ending travel is the reason for the lack of blog posts lately.  Since St. Patrick's Day (so not quite two months ago), I've been to Orlando, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Houston, Kansas City, and one more trip to Fort Worth coming up next week...some personal, some work, some school related.  I can't necessarily share the details of all those trips quite yet, but will soon.  Promise.  All of this while working in NYC, finishing up my last full semester of classes, job searching, and writing a dissertation proposal.  I actually forgot what state and city I was in the other day.  I found myself flying out of Kansas City and looking for the St, Louis Arch.  Needless to say, I did not find it.  Also needless to say, I am so very exhausted.

Some thoughts on life on the road...

I never unpack my suitcase anymore.  Curling iron, travel makeup, shoes, and chargers all stay neatly packed away in my suitcase, which stays open in my hallway.  Sometimes I don't even unpack the clothes.  What isn't worn on the trip stays ready for next time.

Sitting in the bulkhead seat (first row of the plane) offers the best seat on the plane, best service from flight attendants, and best way to get off the plane faster than anyone else.

First class upgrades are the best thing to ever possibly happen.  Except that now when I don't get upgraded, I know what I'm missing.  It's not so good back in coach.

I had to do eight loads of laundry yesterday to make up for all the travels.  So if you're counting, that's all my clothes.

The Dallas airport has the best food, hands down.  Pappasitos is at gate A28, in case you need it.  They know me there.  Houston Hobby is a close second for dining choices.  Kansas City is a very distant last place.

American gives me nice perks, but the Southwest flight attendants are loads of fun.  Flying Delta next week, which I don't even know what to do with.

I spend a significant amount of time trying to convince non-New Yorkers that we are actually very nice people.  But then I go places like Kansas and meet actual nice people.  I sort of forgot what they were like and don't know what to do when people go out of their way to be nice to me.

My Kindle Fire is a lifesaver.  I spend ridiculous amounts of money on movies for flights.  But if that's my worst coping strategy, we're probably ok.

I get to see Baby Sister and Just Matt just about every two weeks.  Which makes all the craziness and middle-of-the-night flights totally worth it.

I cannot sleep on flights.  Ever.  Monday night I fell asleep for about ten minutes at the very end of the flight, waking just in time to see the most spectacular skyline God every created.  Let me tell you, when the first thing you see upon waking up is the Empire State building and brilliant New York City night, it reminds of you just one more travel lesson...

There is no place like New York.  And there's no place like home.  Especially when those two places are the same thing.