I officially get to list “AINS” after my name now that I passed the final exam in the program last month. It came at a weird time…my exam was scheduled two days after Grandma’s funeral and two days before her burial. It was a relief to pass because my mind and heart (understandably, I believe) were not in it. I’m about a third of the way through my final course to complete the API program—my test is scheduled for November 11th, and it will be here sooner than I expect…that’s just how time seems to work. Even—I’d even say especially—preparing for something, it happens…leaving you feeling off center and bewildered with its arrival. Anyway, hopefully more initials to add to my signature line by the end of the year.

After catching a Saturday evening movie at the theatre, we were in the car when a cover of “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” came on the radio. Nick and I tried to sing along, but it just wasn’t the same without Bill Medley’s deep baritone. Inspired, I found the real song in my iTunes library and played in through the car. We were almost home, but we drove around the neighborhood belting out the lyrics (windows up, of course…it was late, after all)…me finding amusement that I automatically go to the low parts while Nick aims for the falsettos.

I looked over to him and felt tears gather. I was perhaps a little maudlin as this was around the time my grandmother died…but it was a living photograph. One of those perfect moments in time, over too soon, that I hope I remember forever. Laughing and loving and having a devoted friend when life gets hard…12 yeas ago, I was in a very different place, and I never thought I would find myself here, feeling so incredibly blessed with my life.

We attended a lantern festival two weeks ago. In my head, I imagined that it would be transcendent, and I was not disappointed. I don’t know what it was specifically, so I think it was a combination of everything—the black of night broken by floating flame, the cloaking music, the collective awe at seeing the lanterns pepper the sky, and the unity with complete strangers. The political climate has polarized us in so many ways…it was nice to have an evening when everyone just accepted one another, no questions asked. We were all there to experience the show and we were all there the create the experience.

Sick of the touchy-feely stuff? Well, I’ll leave with this little Nickism:

The news one morning reported that a bunch of clowns were going to show up at an IT movie premier to protest the negative impact the film is having on the clown profession. Nick added that the protesters were all going to carpool and arrive in a little car…I giggle whenever I think of it.

Over and out.

A year of freedom

Tuesday was November 15th. Throughout the entire day, I had this nagging feeling that something about November 15th was significant. I have an amazing memory for dates which counterbalances my forgetfulness with refilling the cat’s water bowl—so I was extremely irked that I couldn’t figure out what happened on November 15th. I was getting ready for work the next morning when the light bulb lit.

I don’t use a bathrobe regularly, but I have one hanging from a hook on my closet door. That morning, I decided that my need for coffee exceeded my need for propriety in the form of non-nakedness. I decided to grab my robe and head toward the coffeemaker. As I yanked down the robe, I got a glimpse of my gold honor cords that were disturbed from their resting place.

November 15, 2010 was my last official day of school. I can’t believe it’s been an entire year (but I really should, because I’ve been paying on that student bill for several months now). I pet one of the golden tassels and shook my head. Earning those cords once seemed so important…and there they hung, completely forgotten.

I looked behind me to the top of the desk where my degrees sat, collecting dust in their leather portfolios. I gave three years of my life to full-time studentship while also working full time…and for what? In that moment, I realized that the real token that I was awarded for my work was confidence.

My classes did not give me new-found skills—I had those skills before. What I didn’t have was the guts to use them or the global understanding to use them to the best benefit. Completing my degree expanded my world and gave me breath.

I know that I want my MBA. I’ve looked into programs, and I’ve purchased materials to study for the GMAT. I completed my BS for my career—but when the time comes, I will complete my MBA for me. (As such, I certainly will not be enrolled full time!)

I look back and wonder how I survived with so little sleep, so little downtime, so little…everything. A friend told me that we get through what we have to get through simply because we have to. Nothing important is really impossible, you know. My outlook is still shiny and like new, unlike those expensive pieces of paper. I may not be smiling as big as I was a year ago (if I was, I’m sure my face would have cracked and fallen away by now), but I’m definitely smiling.

Copper Falls


November 14, 2010

It was a Sunday. By the time the last morning of my weekend dawned, I has spent the last 56 hours researching, writing, rewriting, proofreading, and worrying over my final papers for my final class. I was exhausted and a little sick to my stomach by that point, but I had a scant 700-1,000 words left to write for the class on the last and shortest of the week’s four essays, and I forged on.

We had tickets for the basketball game that night, and I knew that if I could just be left alone for a few hours, I could have the research and writing, including a final review, done by the 5:00 tip. Coquettishly, I asked Nick to make breakfast. He grumbled something incoherent (and probably not very nice!) and warned that starting next weekend we would be having nothing but waffles and pancakes. You see, he doesn’t trust himself to flip a pancake much less throw a batter together. He made a lovely omelet for me that Sunday morning, though.

It was around 2:00 in the afternoon when I turned in that final assignment, and it was an emotional moment. I rose from the couch, where my butt has left a permanent imprint from the last three years of heavy laptop use, and stretched my achy legs. I moved gingerly toward the bathroom and a much needed shower, personal hygiene having been largely forgotten over the past several days. I told Nick to get ready early, I was in the mood to toast my freedom.

I know the quality of the picture, below, is not great. Cell phones (regardless how “smart” they are) just can’t handle dark conditions! But, boy! Get a load of that smile:

That’s the smile that Aunt Brenda will tell little children of in a spooky Halloween story, those scary Osmond teeth. I try to reign it in most of the time, shield the world from seeing ALL of my teeth at once, but I was just too happy, tipsy, and sleep-deprived at the moment to care. I felt lighter, suddenly the weight of one of my “if I had it to do all over again…”s was gone. I did it, and the sense of accomplishment filled me with pride.

Nick and I knew and discussed prior to my starting back in college courses that it would be a few really hard years. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for just how difficult and stressful the past three years have been. I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy, to some extent, being a student. I love learning, and I know that I will go after my MBA in time. But that is not what I am thinking of now. Now, I am applauding myself for finishing even when I didn’t think I had the energy to do so.

Summa Cum Laude. I did not get too wrapped up in what my GPA would mean to me in the end, but I went in knowing that I had to give every class my all or I would be disappointed with myself. I graduated high school with high honors, a member of the National Honor Society, a decade ago without any real work. I could have gotten As in some of those classes with half as much effort, but I would have cheated myself. I did not have this attitude when initially entering the realm of higher education. I like myself and who I am a lot better now.

Even though there is not a graduation ceremony for my program happening any time soon (and I probably won’t want to participate by the time it is), I went ahead and ordered my gold cords anyway. I earned those suckers! I am going to wait to order my diploma until I have Nick’s name, so the little piece of paper that represents so much will also honor him and the significant role that he played in allowing me to complete my education.

Now, to the next chapter of my life. I have a wedding to get ready for in just over a month! Nick has pretty much done all of the planning up ’til now, bless him…but I suppose it’s time for me to get in the game!

A return (hopefully brief) of the insomniac

I can always tell when I have a lot on my mind, whether I admit as much to myself or not. Sleep eludes me as I feel every ache in my back and hear every creak of the house. I called it quits at about 2:30 today, fearing that my constant tossing and turning and groaning in frustration was likely keeping Nick up. (Although, he does not wake easily: I never let him live down that time when I need a pain pill the night after returning home from the hospital. He replied that he would get it in a minute, and I heard the telltale snore seconds later. It may have taken me a treacherous half-hour to navigate the stairs, but I got the Percocet myself.)

Everything I have worked for this year is wrapping up, and I have mixed feelings of pride and anxiety. Yay, I’m done! What now? I have spent more than three years being so busy that I could cry at any moment without notice, and in three days one of my full time jobs is going away. I would like to get my MBA one day, but I think I need a break to find myself again first. Oh, and give the floors a good scrub!

This week has been a beast. I have eaten terribly, skipped all exercise…all for this final week of finals that is sucking the life out of me. I should be exhausted. I took Friday off from work and was surprised that I did not get out of bed until after 9:00 in the morning! Holy cow! That’s super late for me! Yet, here I am unable to sleep. The human mind is a 10,000 piece puzzle, and I am sure that I’ve lost a piece by now; I’ll never get it all put together.

I had a showdown with my professor on APA 6th edition standards in the first week of class. Turns out I was right and he was wrong. As a result, he’s been extremely picky about everything else, just itching to find somewhere else to deduct points; happy to say, he has not found much of anything (he did deduct .10 points because I accidentally had two spaces after one period when the rest of the paper used a single space…but that’s all he’s caught me on). Lesson for the real world: you can learn from your underlings, too. Don’t be a jerk about it.

Needless to say, paper writing has been much more stressful in this class. I am also having frustrations with my assigned team (again) for the team assignments. I will say that they actually adhere to the deadlines I’ve been setting at the beginning of the week, but I spend most of my time reworking their sentences to be grammatically correct and just plain make sense! I was able to team up with a kindred spirit for a couple of classes earlier this year (he finished in September). To quote Mark, “I’m tired of having to take someone’s C or D level work and turn it into A paper material. At the end of the day I do it because I want the good grade, but it annoys me that other people ride our coattails.” It does help knowing that the end is near, I must say.

I also have a few big projects going on at work. I am hoping that they will seem more manageable once the school thing ends, but I am feeling as though I am stretched too thinly these days.

On a positive note, Badger Men’s Basketball started last week. Nick and I bought a nine ticket package for the season this year. With the use of my coworker’s tickets, we were able to catch both exhibition games and look at the new recruits. I am excited to watch them develop over the next four years since they are already pretty great athletes. Last Saturday’s game was against the LaCrosse Eagles. Since I did go to UW-LaX for a couple of years, I thought it only fitting to wear an old school shirt beneath my Michael Flowers jersey!

I will also need to work on a different approach to applauding, as this silly engagement ring is unforgiving against my right pinky-joint. Who knew that there was a sport out there that I actually love? I will watch a lot of sports in companionship, but left to my own devices, the game stays off; college basketball is the exception. Everyone seems to be offering tickets for tomorrow’s (today’s, I guess) football game against Indiana. I don’t know how many times I need to repeat myself: I am literally a fair weather football fan. Tomorrow (today) is supposed to be cold with a rain/snow mixture. I would not enjoy myself. Further, I would probably make sure that whoever I was with knew and appreciated how much I was not enjoying myself. Nick knows this. He turned down tickets offered to him, too. Fortunately, basketball is played indoors!

Badgers vs LaCrosse Eagles 11/06/2010

Well, since I am up anyway, I might as well work on my papers more.

A bunch of unrelated nonsense

  • My last class to complete my marketing degree officially ends on November 15, 2010.
    Wait a minute, let me try that delivery again: MY LAST CLASS ENDS IN NINE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    There, that’s better.

    This has been a work-intensive class, and I am easily writing 5,000 – 10,000 words every week to complete my assignments. I’m all out of words, but I am getting through knowing that the end is near. It also helps that the class is in consumer behavior, which is one of the most interesting areas of marketing.

  • Since starting school again in 2007, I cringe while blogging. I struggle to find the balance between conversational writing and using proper language skills. I use contractions. I start sentences with conjunctions ALL THE TIME. I use the word it. I abuse the passive voice. This is not how I present myself in formal essays, but separating the two voices of Laura is difficult.
  • I am at 900 running miles for the year. I am trying to get the motivation to go for a run this morning, but something has been off during my runs this last week. I’m not feeling pain exactly…I know how to deal with that particular woe. I guess what I am feeling is dispassionate. Apathetic maybe. I don’t know, but every step has felt like a chore this week, and that just sucks all of the joy out of running. I planned to do my weekly 10er yesterday, but I cut it short and did an upper body strength training workout instead. Runner-Laura is a much happier person, so I hope I figure it out!
  • On the subject of running, I expressed to Nick today that I hope that I continue with regular running mileage once my challenge is over, because I’m pretty proud of the cardiovascular fitness I have achieved this year. Maybe I will have to set a similar challenge for next year, but only at an easier distance, like 750. That would allow me flexibility to do activities other than running. I am undecided.
  • Nick is having to temporarily work a different shift at work, and we never see each other. He should be back on my schedule by Thanksgiving, but it has been weird coming home to an empty, quiet house and going to bed alone. Sophie is very confused.
  • In my “spare time” (read: when I have writer’s block for school assignments) I have been trying to upload old photos from my last summer with Mom to Flickr. I have been storing them on an external hard drive that was probably purchased a decade ago. I would be devastated if I lost the pictures, so this will make me feel better. It’s a very slow process.

  • I have decided to get my wedding band soldered to my engagement ring. I will have to drop off the set at the end of this month to make sure it is ready by the time we fly out in December. I am going to feel very naked without it! I will also need to get my wedding dress taken in before then. I really haven’t lost weight doing P90X, but my clothes are all too big now!
  • We are going to the first Badger men’s basketball game of the season tonight. I am excited to see our team this year. We bought a nine-pack of tickets that the University was offering. The seats are not great, but it gets me in the door to watch ‘my’ boys. I would love to have season tickets, but the Badgers are popular—no room left in the inn! A coworker of mine mentioned in passing that he has season tickets in the first level, but that making it to a lot of the games is difficult with kids. I told him to keep me in mind if he ever needed to get rid of tickets for face, and it is actually his tickets that we will be using tonight. SWEET. I love Nick for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is because he introduced me to college basketball.
  • I tried to be superwoman last night and do Ab Ripper X. I tried back in September, and I had a mini-relapse of my disabling back pain. I spent a week on muscle relaxers, narcotics, and lidocaine patches. I decided to try it again, but with heavily modifying everything to be kinder to my back. I really really hurt today. I guess that seals the deal: never again.
  • I know this isn’t really a decent post about much of anything. Maybe when I am not writing so much for class I will come back in full form? I am going to cut this one off here because I could really go on rambling for quite some time, when what I really need to do is figure out what to do with my hair when I get married since I have less than two months now! Where did this year go?
  • Ciao!