Dawg and I are really good at unemployment.

Granted, this is just the first week.  It’ll get old, but it hasn’t yet.  We’ve been applying and interviewing, sure, but we’ve also been hanging out at Third Place, and Sadlack’s, and Fullsteam, and Fletcher Park and wow, that dog is popular.  We’ve all but moved into Fallon Park, though.  I’d forgotten how much I loved it, and it’s been years since I’ve been there. I used to run there, way more than a decade ago, when I was a young schoolteacher living in those teeny little sweet apartments, the ones they tore down to make room for all those godawful McMansions shoehorned into those little Five Points lots scaled for duplexes.

Fallon Park has creeks running through it, and wild tangles of ivy, and little hills you have to scramble over while holding coffee and a leash, and four-foot cliffs held together by roots which tumble down into the stream.  You might see owls there, during the right time of year, or rabbits at the very least.  Certainly lots of other dawgs.

Fletch is pretty funny at the park.  If he thinks we’re headed there, he’ll hop willingly into the car, and even let me do ear drops before we take off.  (Side note: this is a huge improvement over the FOUR people it took at the vet last week to get them in.  I finally figured out that once he’s buckled into the car, he’ll resign himself to the process.  Not cheerfully, but still.)  Once we’re at the park, he starts with some cautious sniffing and poking around, checks in on the stream on the south side, and trots through the first field.  He plows ahead bravely along the narrow path by the river, or totally balks, depending on his mood.  He rolls around in the ivy.

When he gets to the field on the far side, he is suddenly thunderstruck by the sheer dizzying expanse of the open space.  He takes leave of all reason and sense and decorum, and begins a series of wild zig-zags at Nascar speeds.  Sometimes the zig-zags are back-and-forth in front of me, and sometimes they’re around and around me, so that we end up in a spiderweb of leash. Every zig, and every zag, ends with a brief pause, belly down and tail wagging, before the next burst.  He’ll do this the length of the field, or until he spins himself out, exhausted.  It’s fun to watch. His happiness is contagious and sincere. (It’s easier to manage if I’m not also juggling coffee.)

When I was in grad school, my schedule looked something like this:

  • 9:15 am: get up and get to school
  • 10:00 am -5:30? 6:30? 7:00 pm, depending on the self-importance of the professor: class
  • 7:00-8:00 pm: dinner
  • 8 pm to 2:30 am: work work work 
  • 2:30-2:40 am: cry in the car on my way home about the shambles my personal life had become
  • 2:45 am: begin structures homework, or exam prep, or grade papers
  • 4:00 am: sleep, maybe
  • 9:15: am: do it all again, every day for 3 1/2 years

And when I was finished with all of that, and got a job that allowed me to go home at 5 pm, I remember thinking:  I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to DO until bedtime.  I’m not exactly sure what this routine is supposed to look like.  I’m not exactly sure how to behave during this new chapter. So, I repainted my entire house, started a bunch of projects, made to-do lists, and proceeded to really, really enjoy my freedom.  I realized quickly that working in architecture was going to be far, far less creative than any other job I’d ever had, and I needed an outlet.  I also wanted to hold myself accountable for getting out and enjoying every second of rediscovering all the great things taking place around me.  Two birds with one stone: I started a blog.  I didn’t expect anyone to read it, but wow. People read it.

Wait. You didn’t think you were getting out of here without a metaphor, did you?  It’s not really a metaphor, so much as a thank you.  Thank you for following along through all of my investigating, balking, scrambling uphill, balking again, and wild zig-zagging. The tangling and the joy and the mess.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate every click, every comment, every word of encouragement, online or in person.

I’m going on a little hiatus, y’all.  I’m not done writing, but I’ll be working on some new projects, and I’ll be elsewhere for a bit as I figure out what’s next.   If you’d like to follow along, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail (katherinebranchball@gmail.com), and I’ll keep you posted.

And thank you, really, thank you, for being here, whether it’s once-in-a-while or since the very beginning.  It’s been a lot of fun.

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