Waiting Professional Man

My Worst Job Interview Experience, Part 1

Do not apply for a job at the University of Cincinnati.

It took me two-and-a-half years to get a job after I started looking for professional positions. In November of 2015 I was invited to interview with the University of Cincinnati’s (UC’s) main library, Langsam. I, of course, was very excited. I was almost a year into my job search and hadn’t landed anything yet so to be considered for this position was heartening.

Earlier in the year I’d been asked to interview at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. This was my first time being flown out to interview for a job, and the experience was nothing but pleasant. They paid for my flights, put me up in a hotel for two nights, took me out for a meal, arranged my ground travel, and everyone I met or dealt with was kindly and professional. Even though the position was not a “professional” librarian position they still treated me like I was a “professional” with all the respect and dignity that that word implies in the academic librarian context.

You can imagine that when UC called to offer me an in-person interview I had a certain set of expectations. It was a little odd, then, when UC said that I’d have to pay for my travel to be reimbursed later after the interview. “Well, okay, that’s fair. I guess.” I thought. The sense of oddness grew to disappointment when they refused to pay for a second night in the hotel. I’d have to pay for that myself. At the time I was making less than $25k a year. It would have been fiscally prohibitive for me to have an extra night in a hotel room. So now, I knew that no matter what I did, I’d have to travel and interview on the same day.

These reservations aside, I was still excited for the chance to interview, and I dutifully began making my arrangements. Because I was having the foot the bill for my air travel myself I took the cheapest flights I could manage for my time schedule. This meant that I’d leave the day before the interview and fly from St. Louis, to Chicago, and then down to Cincinnati. Then, the next day I would have a half-day interview before getting a flight from Cincinnati, back to Chicago, back to St. Louis. Overland that’s 594 miles, one way, for cities that are only about 355 miles apart. I will never understand airline economics. How is it cheaper for the airline for me to do that than to fly directly? I’ll never know.

An overland map of my flight path because Google Maps won’t allow you to daisy-chain flight directions.

That was November and my interview was in early December. As we got closer to the interview date I began to learn more about what was to come, or not come, as it were. It became clear that there would be no shared meal, and I was told that “a shuttle would be provided” for my ground transportation from the airport. So, no one from the library was going to be meeting me. If you’ve never been there, the primary Cincinnati airport (CVG) is not in Ohio, but Kentucky. It’s at least a thirty minute drive from the airport to the University on whose property my hotel was.

Flash forward to the two days of the interview trip. I, of course, have had to take vacation days for this — another cost to me on top of the flights, albeit a normal and expected one. At 8:30 in the morning (Central) I got on the Metrolink with my luggage and proceeded to the airport for my flights. I don’t know now the sequence of events, but there was some relatively short delay in either St. Louis or Chicago and by the time I got on the plane in Chicago and we got in the air I was well stressed out. The flight between Chicago and Cincinnati is only about an hour, give or take, but the attendants still proceeded with the drink orders. I was ready for a drink and asked for a whiskey on the rocks. The attendant huffed a little and excused herself, because she didn’t have the machine to process my debit card. Prior to her leaving, though, she poured my drink. Then, just as she got to the front of the plan, “Bong!” goes the intercom before the pilot asks the attendants to secure the cabin for landing.

whiskey-clipart-whisky-glass-clip-art_418920That’s right. Free booze.

I still had plenty of time to finish my drink before landing and did so dutifully. We were approximately forty-five minutes late getting into CVG. Not terrible; and besides, a shuttle had been provided for me. I made my way through the airport. On the way to baggage claim I saw several drivers with signs expecting passengers. None of them had my name on them, nor did any indicate UC. So, I kept walking and looking for my shuttle driver. I had one bag checked and since it was after 6:00 PM (Eastern) in northern Kentucky there wasn’t much air traffic so it didn’t take long for my bag to arrive. Picking up my bag I next went out to the ground transportation area to continue the search for my shuttle.

Remember the oddness and disappointment I felt earlier in the process? I was now starting to approach genuine concern. Still, there was no UC shuttle. I knew I was staying at a Marriott and I saw a Marriott shuttle. I walked up to the driver and told him where I was needing to go and he shook his head saying in his thick accent “No. Not that Marriott. Airport Marriott only.” I thanked him and walked back toward the building. There were two other shuttle companies represented out there, that night. I approached both of them while they were chatting and smoking, but neither of them acted like they were expecting anyone, or in anyway acted like I was a potential customer, so, I gave up on them and went inside. Concern was turning to panic.

This whole time I was calling and emailing my one-and-only UC contact and checking my emails searching increasingly desperately for more clues or information about the shuttle that was to be provided. There was nothing. Only “a shuttle will be provided” was the information given to me. Inside the terminal I found an information desk with a kindly white-haired man posted to it. “I’m sorry. That’s not the kind of information I have.” He said, sympathetically.

At that time, one of us noticed a young man in a UC jacket standing by himself. I went to him and explained my situation. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m waiting for someone else.” I paused for a moment awaiting an offer of help in my plight. None came.

You can imagine how I felt at this point. It had been over eight hours of travel by train and plane for a trip that would have taken me five-and-a-half hours if I had just driven my own car. I was in a foreign airport outside of a foreign city with no one but myself to get me out of this situation. I was tired. I was hungry. I was angry. I was confused. I was scared. The University of Cincinnati had abandoned me at the airport. I did the only thing I could do in this situation. I got a cab that took me to the hotel which I paid for with my own money. “A shuttle will be provided,” rang in my ears.

The University of Cincinnati had abandoned me at the airport.

I get to the hotel, check in to my room, call my wife and regale her with my thus far harrowing story after which I head downstairs to the hotel restaurant. By this time it’s after 8:00 in the evening and I essentially had the restaurant to myself. I decide to treat myself after a long day and order something expensive-ish and a Manhattan, straight-up. Since I was the only customer the waitress and I were talking and I told her about my day. She was very sympathetic and earned a good tip. After a little while my drink came out and I started to sip it. On the second sip I realized that it was, in fact, a very pleasant Old Fashioned I was drinking and not a Manhattan. Right about the same time the waitress and the bartender came rushing over to my table to apologize for the mix up. This was hardly the worst thing that had happened to me that day and I took it in good humor. “Do you still want the Manhattan?” They asked. “We won’t charge you for it.”

13_1789356531_l“Yes.” I said. “I’d like that, very much.”

Free booze, twice in one day.

After dinner, I went back up to my room. I took some time to rehearse my presentation before heading to bed. But already I’m remembering that job interviews are your opportunity to interview your would-be employer as much as they are interviewing you. Thus far, UC had done nothing, nothing, to ingratiate themselves to me. In fact, they hadn’t treated me with any respect at all. Did they really want me, or not? Did they treat all their candidates this way? Did they consider this to be a “professional” position, or something less? If this is how they treat their candidates, how do they treat their employees? Did I really even want this job anymore? These are the thoughts I was having as the booze, food, and exhaustion took me off to sleep.

Continued in Part 2: Getting Out of Ohio

book and red wine on a marble table

I’m Fully Staffed Again!, or, I Needed a Drink

Recently, a candidate accepted a job offer to work for me. This means that for the first time since the end of June I’m fully staffed in my department. Prior to that I was fully staffed for 4-6 weeks, maybe. Other than that, from October 2017-May 2018 I was down one or more positions in my department. That’s most of my first fifteen months in this job. That’s not to mention my hiring manager who sought other opportunities after my first seven months and is not being directly replaced. Of the six positions under me I have now hired five of them, all five of whom are still in their year-long (!) probationary period which will require three performance evaluations each through their eleventh month on the job.

Now, no one is allowed to leave for two years, minimum.

I’m nailing them to their desks, dammit.

I’m tired of this crap.

Don’t get my wrong. I’ve got a great staff, now, of which I’m very proud, and I think our new edition is going to fold in nicely. But while I’ve gained a TON of experience in employee recruitment, it is not one of my favorite tasks. In particular, I hate reading through the cover letters and resumes, although it does give me plenty of opportunities to be judgemental, which is always nice.

  • Why did you put that comma there?
  • Don’t tell me about your reading habits. I don’t care!
  • Yes, it’s great that you volunteered as a puppy petter for three years, but how does that help you deal with an angry patron at nine o’clock in the evening?
  • So, you’re just looking for any job that’s not your current one, then?
  • “Library” has two “R’s,” thank you.

Okay, going trough the resumes and cover letters I find annoying, but the worst part, the absolute worst part is having to call that finalist and tell them that you went to the other candidate. I had to do this, again, and this time there were tears. Not blubbering and wailing (I’d guess that came after we hung up) but quiet disappointed tears. That was the absolute worst. While I’m confident I made the right choice, I felt like a terrible person. There was booze later.

In my earliest blog posts I concentrated on my job search. I did that because I really didn’t have anything else other than the persistent Hell that was my old job. I’ve been in this job less than two years and I still feel like a new-hire in a lot of ways. I also still remember what it feels like to be a job seeker and how frustrating that whole process is. Because of that memory and some of the horrible experiences I’ve had made a particular effort to be sure that I treat all of my applicants with as much respect and dignity as possible. Anyone that I give a telephone interview to gets an email response of a thanks-but-no-thanks that is either generally or specifically encouraging. Anyone who is brought in or otherwise gets a second interview gets a phone call from me, personally. Again, the phone call is personal, supportive, and encouraging.

These are small acts, but so many would-be employers don’t bother. When you have dozens of applicants for a position it’s not practical to email each of them individually, obviously. Hopefully, HR informs them eventually of their status, but many times they don’t. No one should ever be left to guess what their status is for any open position. Job searching can be such a bleak and horrible valley. It is an undignified chore, regardless of your skills or qualifications. It really doesn’t take much to treat others with even the smallest amount of respect; the respect they deserve.

So, Where Am I Going, Anyway?

In reference to my last post, and maybe in continuation of it, I’m asking a question about the rest of my career. This is also a continuation of the question that I first asked in my earliest blog posts,”Why do I want to be a librarian, anyway?” While my official job title may not say so, I’ve effectively reached my primary career goal coming out of library school: Become a Head of Access Services at an academic library. Great! Success! Now what?

What is the career path for someone in my position? My two previous supervisors became a head liaison librarian and a university librarian. Both would be remarkable and unrealistic jumps for me. My only publications are a promotional story about the library in a student newspaper and this blog. My two presentations were good, but not of the substance to show real professional staying power. Whatever is next for me, it will be hard for me to be taken seriously as a candidate without some highfalutin street cred.

I happen to work in a professionally prolific division of liaison and teaching & learning (T&L) Librarians. These are people who regularly publish and present and win awards for their efforts. While my job does not require me to emulate them I’m starting to feel like I should. I’ve always said I wanted to be active in the profession, regardless of my job description, but I have few ideas on where to start. One idea I mentioned in my previous post: get on a committee or committees. That, I plan to accomplish by Thanksgiving. But my experience with professional librarian committee work has not been all that positive, thus far. So, I can’t put my name on a committee roster and think that’s enough. I need to do work that is published in an industry publication. But again, where to start?

Paul Sharpe is my old boss and currently he is the University Librarian for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He also is the former editor of the Journal of Access Services (JOAS) and is still listed on its editorial board. Because of this, I’ve long known about JOAS‘s existence but never have I made the effort to see what they’re actually publishing, until today. Here’s a smattering of their recent article titles:

  1. Assessing Access Services: Building a Five-Year Plan to Sustainable Assessment
  2. Clinging to the Past: Circulation Policies in Academic Libraries in the United States
  3. Enhancing Access to Reading Matieals in Academic Libaries with Low Budgets Using a Book Bank System: Makerere Uinversity Library Experience
  4. When You Are in Charge: Reflections on Managing Staff in the Library
  5. Opportunities for Improved Patron Service with a New Integrated Library System

A few of these, and some others I didn’t type out actually look interesting to me. I hope to get to some of these in my professional reading discipline that I’m starting to build. It shouldn’t be surprising to me that some of these look interesting — it is my profession, after all — but considering my ambivalent attitude toward my profession the surprise is still occurring. Perhaps I’m not as jaded as I thought? Or perhaps they’ve lulled me in with their gentile song? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

I’m good in front of crowd and I word good.

I was speaking with a colleague recently, one of the T&L librarians, after I read a series of blog posts she co-wrote for The Librarian Parlor and without getting too much into my professional ambivalence told her how I didn’t know what I had to contribute and wouldn’t know where to start. She completely empathized with me and knew exactly where I was coming from. It’s some form of impostor syndrome, we agreed. It’s not that I don’t think I could do the work. I’ve always believed that I’m a good writer and a good public speaker. I’m good in front of crowd and I word good. That’s not the problem. The problem — or the question, anyway — is what situation do I have to describe that would be of interest to an editorial board or reader that may actually be professionally useful? What new data could I collect that would be illuminating? I have no freaking idea. What am I doing? Where am I going, anyway?

white shark with fish

Swimming with Purpose

In a few short weeks the new semester begins. This will be my second academic year in this position. Over the last year there have been so many changes at work including a roughly 83% (five out of six) turnover in personnel in my department. That means that only myself and one staff member are doing the jobs we were doing at this time last year. Another position was moved under me that I didn’t have at that time, and yet another position has been created out of whole cloth.

I’m nearly fully staffed. The new position has a person in place, while another unexpectedly became open a few weeks ago and is in the search process now. I’m skeptical, at this point if that position will be filled before classes start in the last week in August, but we can hope.

anakin skywalker fan artWhile I’m far from the expert manager I’d like to be, I’ve gained enough comfort and confidence that I’m starting to feel a little restless. I’m like a shark. I need to feel like I’m always moving forward. Stagnation leads to depression. Depression leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the Dark Side of the Force. I’ve always been like this, but there are external pressures that lately have been niggling at the back of my brain creating the feeling of unease.

Success should never be measured just by money, but to be personally successful in the things I’m committed to the fact is that I need to make more money. While I’m making more money now than I ever have before, it won’t be enough to achieve the success to which I’m referring. The best way for me to make that money is to increase my professional success. While I’m off to a good — if delayed — start, I’m feeling that I need to broaden my portfolio to make myself more attractive to other positions that may open up in my current library or another library down the road.

I probably have to do this job at least two more years before I’m attractive to another library or for another position within this one. I’m okay with that. I like my job and where I work, and I don’t really want to leave the area in which I’m living. But the facts are, in librarianship, in order to move up one usually has to move out. I can’t do either of those things until I build more skills.

I’ve made my feelings about my library school experience clear throughout this blog. To be honest, only three years from graduation and I feel like the education I received is already obsolete for academic librarianship. At best it would have been sufficient for an ’00s era librarian, but when it was 2015 and I was seeing librarian jobs posted for functions I’d never heard of (e.g. GIS Librarianship) I knew there was a problem. Furthermore, I still have the problem of no teaching experience and no way to get it, as far as I know.

I’ve looked into digital humanities as a possible interest, but haven’t found a passion for it. I’m interested in outreach, but have little time to participate in my outreach librarian’s programs. I have the capacity for metadata, but not the interest. I’m frightened that I’m going to be stuck in middle management making not-quite enough money for the foreseeable future.

While in my position I’m not technically a “professional” librarian, one way I can increase my value is to act like one. The best way for me to do that is become active in committee work though a conference or other professional group. I’ll be returning to the Access Services Conference, this year, where there may be opportunities to jump on a committee with them. They tried to talk me into it last year, actually. I felt like the new guy at a church in which the old-timers were eager to put the new person to work.

I’m also making a concerted effort to up my professional reading. I have books that my boss has given me on various aspects of management in libraries and I have access to Lynda.com and other online materials in which I can build management skills. I also can read more literature in the field, especially from the two major librarian professional organizations of which I’m a member: ALA and ACRL. Right now, I’m hoping for two hours a week. I’ve already done an hour, this morning. This may not seem like a lot to you, but it’s a big deal for me.

minions rejoicing

I still feel like I need to build library-relevant skills that are outside of the management realm. What that looks like, though, I just don’t know. Hopefully, being engaged in my professional reading and taking whatever other learning opportunities I have will help. It’s easy for one to say “follow your passion,” but that seems trite and unrealistic. Only a lucky few of us get to truly make a profession out of our passions. If my inner shark is going to swim with purpose, I need to keep exploring my options to find that purpose. So, for the time being, at least, my purpose is to find my purpose.

avenue q purpose


Nevertheless, He’s Anxious

As you can see from my previous post, it’s been an up-and-down year for me. Equal parts joyous and difficult. Right now, things are going well for me. I’m being productive at work. My biggest problems are that I have another two positions to fill, one planned and one not. Those searches are both in process. The planned open position is a newly created one that fills out my staff and gives us redundancy. The unplanned one came up when one of my staff — how should I say this? — decided to seek their fortune elsewhere. It’s unethical for me to get into the details, but the staff member’s departure both creates and relieves headaches for me. I’m optimistic that it’s more relief than not. Things are going well. I feel like now I have no significant roadblocks between me and complete success.

Which is exactly what keeps me up at night.

sleepless bugs bunny

Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself, but it seems like every time something good happens in my life I seize the opportunity and tarnish it. Three steps forward and two steps back. Very soon, I will have a staff almost entirely hired by me. My boss seems generally happy with my work. I’m treated with respect by my professional peers in the library. And I have friends and colleagues I can go to when I need to. It seems that everything is going my way. What then am I going to screw up next?

Lately, the very existence of this blog has been a source of anxiety. Librarianship is a very small community. What happens if I don’t obscure people’s identities enough? What happens if I write something I think is innocuous, but turns out to be professional suicide? What if, even though I don’t make money at this blog — actually, I pay money for this blog — it is found and considered a conflict of interest?

I’m generally very good at compartmentalizing work from the rest of my life. At most, during off hours, weekends, or vacations, I’ll check my work email for major updates, but not more, and I don’t put work emails in the same feed as my personal emails. I actually use three different email products on my phone. Apple Mail for personal, Gmail for work, and GMX for my spam. Ne’re the thrain shall meet.

But the last two Sunday nights, regardless of how tired I am or any other conditions, I’ve had trouble sleeping, and the sleep I have gotten has been thin. I keep fearing what failure I’ll commit next, or which failure I’ve already committed that hasn’t caught up with me yet. How am I going to screw up next? This, when everything else seems to be going so well.

To help avoid the self-inflicted wounds one thing I’ve been trying out this week and last is a simplified bullet journal technique for my workday. If you’ve not heard of bullet journalling before, it’s a way to keep track of your accomplishments without writing a prosaic traditional journal. I first tried it in early 2017 (I think) and gave it a two week trial. In that effort I was trying to keep myself accountable for my whole life, basically, and I found that ultimately, while it was an effective way to keep yourself honest, I really couldn’t justify the amount of time I was spending simply updating the journal and prepping for the next day. It wasn’t for me.

This time, however, I’ve scaled it back considerably. I’m only worrying about my workday, for one. I found an old planner in my desk drawers left by a predecessor and note the date. I then note the known items I want to accomplish throughout the day with bullet points, crossing off each with an X after I do them, a slash for items that I’ve worked on but are continuing projects, and and infinity symbol after the item if it’s a task I want to do everyday. That’s as elaborate as I’m getting. See YouTube for examples of how elaborate some people get. Like I said, I simply don’t have time for that. Here’s an example of what a bullet journal may look like:

Monday, June 25, 2018

  • Update Stats  oo   X
  • Professional Reading  oo
  • Update Schedule  oo  X
  • Schedule Phone Interviews    /
  • Set Locations for Phone Interviews   /

So, in this example — I’m using “oo” for the infinity symbol — I accomplished the easy stuff. I updated the stats from the weekend and set the circ desk schedule for the coming weeks. These I do regularly. I began but did not complete the process of scheduling and assigning locations for telephone interviews for an open position, but I never got to my professional reading. Who does, really?

Notice what I don’t do, here, I’m not prioritizing anything. I make the lists as they come to me and executing them when I can as much as I can to the best of my ability. Because it’s a paper planner, I can carry it with me all day and always have it available when I need to add something, regardless of connectivity issues. I don’t have to use some fancy project management software to set or realize goals. I live on my phone as much as everyone else does, but for this problem, I really wanted a low tech solution. This is my fifth workday using this technique, and so far, it’s working. It’s giving me a tangible resource to manage my anxiety about my ability to perform my position as best as I can.

In my experience, anxiety and depression don’t get cured. They dissipate. They go into remission, but they always come back. My anxiety, this time, is all about being afraid of myself. It’s all about fearing what I’m going to do next to ruin or diminish my good position. I still have a lot to learn about being a manager and a leader. I still have a lot of trust to build in my staff. I need to improve my consistency and build a consistent service model that reflects the realities of my patron base. That all takes time. I will make mistakes. My fear is not in making mistakes, i.e. trying things that don’t work. My fear is making the unforced errors; losing my temper or not acting when action is necessary that will come back to haunt me and make a mess of what could be a highly successful role at this job.

In the meantime, I just need to check myself.


PS: I actually did my professional reading today! Woot!

camping in the woods

Vacation: All I Ever Wanted

Got to get away!

Let’s recap the last year:

  1. After 2.5 years of doing a nation-wide search I finally landed a new position at UNLV.
  2. In as little as two weeks I secured an apartment that met my needs sight unseen from 1,600 miles away.
  3. Rented a pickup truck which we loaded with everything I’d need and drove with wifey on a 25-30 hour single push (including stops) from St. Louis to Vegas.
  4. Spent a week with wifey getting set up and acclimated before a tearful goodbye to her for what at the time was an indefinite period.
  5. Excitedly started the new job.
  6. Fairly quickly learned the lay lines of the building.
  7. Realized my hiring manager was not… a stable genius?
  8. Wifey visited for two weeks in August. YAY!
  9. Made friends. Not a small feat for me.
  10. 1 October shooting at Mandalay Bay happened.
  11. Wifey got a job and moved here in October. SUPER YAY!
  12. Same week wifey moved here I went back to St. Louis to present at a conference.
  13. My best employee got promoted and moved to a branch library.
  14. Went to another conference in Atlanta in November
  15. Spent a winter spiraling into depression when the fabulous new job wasn’t going so well.
  16. Got a really poor 7-month evaluation.
  17. Thought I was going to get fired.
  18. Not-a-stable-genius hiring manager announced she was leaving for another job and stopped speaking to me for the next two months.
  19. Started getting training and guidance from my Associate Dean (and new boss).
  20. Depression spiral dissipated.
  21. Promoted an employee into a different position internally.
  22. Same employee was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.
  23. Parents came to visit. Their first ever Vegas vacation.
  24. Same employee died of colon cancer.
  25. Hired someone to fill the first open position (#12 above).
  26. Promoted someone to fill the position initially left vacant (#21) by the deceased employee when she was promoted.
  27. Passed my final probationary review with a much better score.
  28. Hired a person to fill the position vacated by my deceased employee when she died.

What’s your year been like?

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. This may have been my most eventful year since the feverish days of poor decision making in my early twenties. Probably, more so.

Even though we’re out of the spring semester I’ve not really been able to slow down. I’ve been in the process of on-boarding my most recent hire who started on the 17th (#28), plus end-of semester cranky patrons are shocked, shocked! that they have blocks on their accounts because they didn’t return something on time back in February. No rest for the conscientious!

The good news is that I’m fully staffed for the first time since October.

Also, the good news is that I’m going on a two-plus week vacation starting next Friday, May 25. I’ve never done a two-week vacation before, but this time I really think I need it. We’re going back home to camp, hike, see family, and do touristy stuff in our home town. While emotionally, I’m not ready to go back home. I’m excited to be getting away and not have these issues to deal with. The added bonus is that since we’ll be camping most of the time, I’ll have minimal internet access and generally be inaccessible.

Another benefit of going back home is that we can stock up on all the products that we otherwise can’t get in Vegas: Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce, St. Louis craft beer, norton wine, etc.

Like I said, we’ll be camping in a favorite MO state park most of the time outside of Ste. Genevieve, unless we’re traveling. The park happens to be roughly centrally located to all the family that we plan on seeing and we got two sites so that not only will there be our tent, but my parents’ camper and my step-son’s pop-up. For most of the time we’ll have the grandkids (eight and eleven years old) staying with us. We’ll be kid-sitting. Doing fun outdoors stuff during the day, taking them to their little-league games in the evening (eight times!, as far as I know). Plus, We’ve got Cardinals tickets, plans to see wifey’s friends at a potluck lunch, and some city sight seeing to do. We’ve got to go to our own house — yes, we still own a house in St. Louis where my step-daughter lives — and do some work there, and grab the rest of our stuff which we’re going to pack in a U-Haul trailer and haul back to Vegas with us. It’s going to be a busy two weeks.

We’re not doing the single long car ride this time though. We’re going to take the northern route, I-15 to I-70 to I-55, on the way out stopping in a hotel in Denver and at friends’ in Kansas City. On the way back, with the trailer, we’re taking the southern route where there are a lot fewer mountains, I-55 to I-44 to I-40 and then north from Kingman, AZ, with a plan to stop in Amarillo, TX which is almost exactly half-way.

It’s going to be a long, fun, humid, busy trip different than any I’ve ever taken before. It’s much needed and much deserved. We owe it to ourselves to take trips and do different things sometimes. They don’t have to be new things all the time, but different things. We all need to get out of our routines, out of our towns, and do something different. I never have been and never will be someone who has to be told to to take vacations. I don’t understand that mentality. Normally, we take a lot more short trips in the course of a year that we’ve done this past year. With all the moves and new jobs and difficulties the year has brought we simply haven’t been able to do that sort of thing since I got to Vegas last May.

I’ve noticed a difference in myself because of it, too. A few weeks ago I thought I was in the early stages of mental exhaustion, possibly even another depression spiral. I’m certain it’s because I’ve not been able to get away as much as I’m used to. Call it forest bathing, escaping, self-care, or retreating, it doesn’t matter. You need it. I need it. We all need to get away from time to time. Now, it’s my time.

See you in a few.