Friday, August 28, 2015

These days. (More of the same.)


This summer has gone by in a flash. A flurry of activity. Our lives have changed and forward progress has been made. A new normal is beginning to set in; a way of life that feels brand new and yet simultaneously familiar, like maybe this is where we were meant to end up all along.

We are a two income household and parents of a high school sophomore (w.t.f.). We are on the fast track to bigger and brighter, though right now feels awfully successful, too. Working in the trenches of healthcare has renewed my fervor to finish school. As a result, I have made the commitment to apply to grad school this coming April. Should I get in on the first cycle, our family will have to make some adjustments. But if history has taught us anything, it's that this clan can make things work. In the meantime, I have to focus on writing a stellar essay, taking the GREs (eep) and fulfilling all those little requirements that can sneak up and bog you down once that pesky application deadline approaches.

I'm going to have to be disciplined in the coming months, a quality that doesn't come naturally to me. As a family, we are making great strides: a chart dividing up the weekly household chores; a new tear-away calendar on the fridge, color-coded to list all of our various activities...even a plant watering schedule. I am more on top of things than I can ever remember, which makes me feel optimistic about things like establishing a weekly GRE study session, long-term meal planning, and, well, making it all work. Have you ever noticed that having less free time makes you more productive? It's a phenomenon I am currently experiencing.


I wax poetic about balance a lot on this site. How everyone talks about it but few truly achieve it. Heading into this new adventure, I had visions of days off spent writing and reading and exploring...preserving the time needed to do the things that fill my bucket. I'm not there yet. (Not even close.) But I'm also not too terribly sad about it. That new blog? It can wait for me instead of the other way around. And this space? It's always here for me when I'm ready to sit down and share my thoughts. (Though I aspire to spend more time 'round these parts.) Right this very moment I'm perched at our neighborhood Starbucks, across the workbench from Kiddo, who is attempting to tackle those last 130 pages of Angela's Ashes, his AP English summer literature assignment.

I steal moments where I can take them and that's just fine. Now is the time to give myself a break, a chance to ease into the changes that are taking place. I'm finally learning how to get off my own back already. My schedule hasn't stabilized, so my days off are inconsistent: one day here, two there, and plenty of weekends spent on the job. Mario's company has a clause that requires spouses to switch to their own insurance if it is offered by their employer. Which has meant devoting nearly every day off this month to health-related appointments before the September 1st switchover. The perk is that I can get contacts and glasses in one year, but the siren's call of the couch + Netflix must regularly be resisted. I'm busy, but good busy; busy in a way that my time feels well spent.


The boys have settled back into life at home after eight weeks away, and I've (re)acclimated to living with my messier counterparts. I've been making up for lost time by way of mother-son days spent eating Portland's cuisine, plant shopping, and painting pottery. (Also: his first pair of glasses, freshly shorn hair, new t-shirts, and scuff-free Chucks.) Yesterday we picked up his school schedule (I got a spot in Graphic Design!) and shopped for shiny new pens and crisp college-lined notebooks. We slurped ramen noodles and he painted a hedgehog with the utmost attention to detail. I made sure we dated the bottom of our creations in an effort to preserve the really beautiful moments we share. I never want to take them for granted. I'm still cool enough to spend an entire day about town with him, and I'm not letting a second of that go unnoticed because I was scrolling through Instagram when I should have been asking him about his life, loves and dreams for the future. I want to be able to look back on these days with some clarity, because boy is parenthood fleeting.

If being "well-rounded" is synonymous with a healthy individual, Kiddo is, well, rounding. Months of chores on the ranch, driving lessons in the wheat field, and boat rides on the lake have smoothed his edges. (Lessons learned during a bumpy freshman year probably had something to do with it as well.) What came home was a more focused, less fastidious version of the boy I know and love so well. His blossoming maturity, combined with a newly working mom, will force him to take on more responsibility when it comes to his schooling. I've been holding my breath for years, waiting for the day when my apprehension about his lack of focus would subside. When he'd find that fire in his belly that drives him to succeed without constant cajoling. I think we're getting there. (Boys, I tell you.)


On the work front, all is well. Better than good, actually. My preceptor was on vacation the last couple weeks, which put me squarely in the trenches...solo. After ten years spent out of the workforce, I knew I'd have to shake off some cobwebs. But my inner perfectionist rears her head once in a while and, after being unable to hit a vein two patients in a row, I began to wonder if I'd lost my touch. (Maybe I'd never had it?!) I had a brief but acute existential crisis before putting on my big girl scrubs and going back the next day. Of course I quickly found my groove, and all my worries were cast aside. Earlier this week I got a totally unexpected fist bump and "Great job today!" from a trauma surgeon I'd only just met and thought Hey, I've got this. I've only been at this position for six weeks, but I've acclimated quite beautifully...I certainly found my calling in medicine all those years ago. Thank goodness I didn't let go of the dream.


Goals for September:

Establish schedules for school days, studying, etc.
Get organized. (Master those paper piles!)
Exercise. (More.)
Meal plan like a boss.
Write about something. Anything. Just write.
Find and preserve regular alone time.
Keep up on my reading goals.
Date that sexy bearded fellow of mine. (And make it a regular thing.)



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Scenes

 First touch-up since February. Blonde(r) hair, don't care.
 Lunch planning. (Pyrex for the win.)
 
Kiddo's new cactus shelf built by yours truly. (Now I have room for more, Mom!)
Watering schedule established.
Working some color into my uniform. (515 by New Balance)
 
Dream houses. (Been dreaming of our dream house a lot lately.)
Costco made me buy them. 
 (Container) garden. (First crop!)
Six hours at the dentist meant finally finishing this book. (Read it.)
Am I the oldest person alive still wearing an orthodontic retainer at night? (Until last week, I'd been wearing the glow-in-the-dark wire retainer I got when I had my braces removed 19 years ago.)
Work day breakfast.
 Day off breakfast.
It's a rough life.

Also:

These sandals (on order),
one pair of flip-flops,
and my classic Birks are all the warm weather footwear I now own.
(Others didn't make the cut.)

Marriage in real life.
(Celebrating 9 years + 2 months sans family has been cause for reflection.)

Not just for the elderly.
(10-hour shifts have been killing my feet. These have helped so much.)

The floral tonic to end all floral tonics.
(My face glows.)

The best cat toys we've ever purchased.
(Watching Vista play with them is more entertaining than Prime Time.)


Friday, August 14, 2015

Striking a balance.


After nine long weeks, the boys are heading home this weekend. I haven't seen them since July 6th, and although there have been Skype dates and iPhone photos exchanged, it's not the same. I've forgotten what it's like to get wrapped up in one of Mario's bear hugs (he hugs all of me and I feel so loved in those moments) or Kiddo's pecks on the cheek followed by his trademark "I luuuurrrv you, Mom".

Friday marks a whole month at The Job, and by month's end I'll be out of my 45-day probationary period, which means they have to keep me. And despite being out of the workforce for the better part of a decade, employment suits me. I like having something to anchor my day to; a purpose outside of the home. I won't lie: it's going to get tough. I've not had a family to contend with and schedules to coordinate since June. My wants and needs have come first. Boy, did I need that. I've been needing a break like this for, well, ever. My life has been defined by my roles and for once, it was about me. For much of my life I would have felt too guilty and selfish to take all this time to myself, but I've evolved emotionally and come realize I make a miserable martyr and it's time to stop saying yes to everyone else and no to myself so darn much.

Truth be told, I love being alone. Like, really love it. Solitude suits me. But I have come to understand that, contrary to my nature, I love having those boys in my life so much more. They are the yin to my yang and living proof that I've done good things on this earth. Mothering that boy and marrying that man are my greatest accomplishments. I appreciate some regular alone time, but I don't ever want to live life without them by my side. So while this was an awesome opportunity to get acclimated to full time employment and center my chi, it was always in preparation for making our lives together that much better.

For the first time since graduating (two years ago!?!), I feel like the future is within my grasp. Enduring that lengthy, ego-crushing job search caused me to falter for a bit. I began to negotiate for something less than I deserved (and wanted). It took time, but I absolutely scored the best job for where I'm at and what I need to take the next step. For the first time in ages, I have a pretty good timeline for taking the GREs (and studying for them), getting my application in tip-top shape, and applying to grad school. I even have a Plan B should I not make it in the first cycle. I'm not wringing my hands and fretting and trying to figure out what else could make me happy-ish. Because there is no need. As always, things are falling into place on their own time.


Life alone has been interesting. I go through spurts of keeping the house spotless and then failing to empty the dishwasher for five days. Late last week I mustered up enough energy after a 10-hour shift to make ground taco meat and microwave a can of refried beans, then proceeded to eat nachos for dinner every night for four days. After a hankering for Chinese, I picked up takeout after work and have had it for lunch and dinner the last four days (not including breakfast this morning whereby I polished off the General Tso's Chicken). I've managed to brown bag it every shift I've worked, a fact of which I'm quite proud, though more often than not it's nothing fancier than a simple sandwich, baby carrots and some Triscuits. An organizational and healthy eating victory nonetheless. (Our breaks are short so my only other option is the dreaded hospital cafeteria.) My plant collection grew quite a bit this summer, and I genuinely enjoyed conducting a first of the month cactus and succulent soaking. I decided to plant a container garden on the back porch with tomatoes, peppers, chives and basil, and have come to cherish the moments spent each night barefoot with a watering can tending to them. I think, more than anything, I crave the simplicity of these last couple months. Marriage and motherhood require compromise, of course, but the lack of bickering and cajoling (Put on your pants! Let's GO already!) is so lovely. Single life, though occasionally lonely, has been rather tranquil. I'm not sure I knew what that felt like before now.

There are many things that can be done to make a family unit run more smoothly. Meal planning, schedules on the fridge, budgeting, sitting down to family dinner sans electronics, standing date nights ... just a few of the plethora of tactics one can employ when aspiring toward a more organized (family) life. But inevitably there are squabbles and pushed buttons and Do your homework!s and Husbands who thrash in their sleep when work is stressful. So how does one go about tempering these frustrations when aiming to create a more zen home? How can you prevent a coveted week day off from being invaded by errands and orthodontist appointments and bill paying? Is it even possible?

A popular trend among members of the blogosphere is to choose a word for the year. I've never actually declared a word, it's simply not my thing, but as I write this I realize the word Balance has dominated my thoughts and intentions a lot over the past few years. You see, in order to fill my bucket, I always thought my life should be divided into three equally important and distinct sections: Wifehood, Motherhood, and Careerhood. I really struggle to figure out how to give each part of my life the individual attention it needs to thrive without sacrificing the success of another.


I've come to realize that, for the better part of my adult life, I have been grossly overlooking perhaps the most important facet of all: Me. The Sarah sans husband, son and career; the woman with hopes and dreams of her very own. The Sarah that likes to camp out in the corner of a coffee shop and write. The Sarah that likes to tend to plant life and watch documentaries about the ocean and its occupants. The Sarah that wants sushi when she wants sushi and can't be talked out of it. The Sarah that doesn't want to spend yet another Friday night watching things that originated from a comic book character. The Sarah that occasionally sacrifices a whole day to lay on the couch in her pajamas with raging bedhead but doesn't want anyone to know about it.

If trying to balance three life-fulfilling aspects of a person is hard, surely four must be nearly impossible, right? I hope not. Unfortunately, I'm not a person who feels settled so readily, and as such it is my lot in life to have several balls in the air. A balancing act brought on by my fastidious nature. It sounds like a lot, trying to do it all (Hollywood has taught us this doesn't end well), but I've learned the hard way that neglecting one or more of these roles, or letting the balance shift for extended periods (see my many posts contemplating the 10+ years spent chasing Mario's career goals) leads to a domino effect of malaise.

I'm in a really good place. The best in my life thus far. A year later, I'm still enchanted by the Pacific Northwest. I'm challenged by my job, sometimes terrified by it, but I love it just the same. I'm learning so much about the world of healthcare, and myself in the process. Kiddo is settled into school and Husband into his position at work. I'm on the brink of getting everything I have ever wanted, while living with the assurance that I can achieve every single thing I set my mind to. The proof is in the pudding. (Job perk: hospitals have the best chocolate pudding.) I have this rare and wonderful husband who cares as much about my happiness as he does his own. That glorious kid I gave birth to all those years ago? He's a beautiful amalgam of wit and charm and brilliance. He has the face of an angel and a heart of gold. He's a pain in the ass, but he's my pain in the ass, and I wouldn't sacrifice a single second spent being his mom.

At the end of the day, I do like flying solo. I'm perfectly content to try that new noodle restaurant and eat alone perched at the counter. I enjoy wandering through antique stores and undiscovered neighborhoods whenever I feel like it. But when twilight falls, I want to kiss Kiddo's sleeping forehead and watch a pre-bedtime crime drama curled up on the couch with that spectacular man of mine. Their mere existence makes life exponentially better.

It has been a looong road, but I've learned that you CAN have it all, if you want it bad enough.

I do.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

(Better) Realized: Capsulizing

 

When it comes to clothing, capsule wardrobes are all the rage. I never felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon, due in large part, I think, to my desire to lose some weight. I didn't want to buy + commit to a finite number of pieces I hoped not to fit into in the near future. And if I'm honest, the fact that it was the popular thing to do probably deterred me a bit as well.

But a funny thing happened: I inadvertently adopted a capsule wardrobe anyway.

Recently, after washing, drying and folding a t-shirt I loathed for the umpteenth time, I grabbed a garbage bag and purged my closet. Those underwear I cursed every time I wore them because they rode up? Trash. All those shirts that were too small/big/short/stretched/unflattering went in the bag for donation. Those cute shorts I bought ages ago, tags still intact, but could never quite button up? Goodbye.

After all this time, it finally occurred to me that I had only been wearing a few pieces all along: the items that fit my style and body just right. The rest remained ignored in my closet. Those uncomfortable clothes created noise, and I was regularly annoyed when I put them on in the morning only to realize why they were relegated to the back of the drawer. Inspired by this revelation, I eliminated any and all unloved clothing while vowing not to replace them with anything new unless I actually needed it, I'd tried it on, it fit perfectly, and it coordinated with the rest of my frequently worn pieces.

This issue extended beyond just pants and shirts. This spring, I noticed my bras were worn out after several years of wear and were no longer fitting as well as they once had. I decided to replace them with some discount store versions which were 1/3 of the price of my old ones and seemed just fine. Until they weren't. There was gapping and adjustments throughout the day, I became keenly aware they weren't quite right, and more often than not they made me miserable by day's end. As a result, I was rewashing my one remaining higher end bra every couple days (which would have led to its rapid demise) while avoiding the new ones. I wised up and bought two of the expensive ones a couple weeks ago. It was an investment, but I'm comfortable and realize three good bras can easily replace five cheap ones. But I suppose I got caught up in the money and convenience and ended up doing myself a great disservice.  (One should never sacrifice on underwear. Ill-fitting undergarments can turn blue skies gray.)

With this new found appreciation for a wardrobe that allows me to grab anything off the hanger with the assurance it will fit + flatter, I've become keenly aware of the way I treat my treasured duds. Those (inexpensive but awesome) MicroModal tees I love get washed more gently and less often these days. I respect them for their ability to make me feel good, and it's reflected in how I care for the them. Cold water is just fine, and the shorter express wash cycle does the job quite well. We made the switch to a kinder detergent + softener a few months back; a couple tablespoons will adequately clean a whole load, which actually gets clothes cleaner and contributes to a shorter wash time on HE machines (which detect the presence of suds and keep trying to rinse).


Gone are the days of buying clothes that come with the If I lose ten pounds this will fit perfectly! caveat. Or owning twenty shirts with a mediocre fit. Earlier this month I had to buy scrubs in preparation for my new job. Instead of buying lots of cheap sets, I bought just eight really nice pieces: four tops and four bottoms, one pair for each shift I work per week. I'll admit, it was a chore. I must have tried on a dozen different sets, stretching and squatting down in each to make sure I could move without restraint or bunching. I ended up going with the higher end brands, at a higher cost, but it ensured I would always be comfortable. I don't have a single scrub top that will be relegated to the bottom of the pile, to be avoided until laundry day because it makes me feel insecure or awkward. It is yet another example of the joy a less is more wardrobe can bring.

As with most things, simplifying my wardrobe is a work in progress. I still pick up things that are pretty yet impractical (or potentially unflattering for my body type), but more often than not I put it down and walk away (or promptly return it). And on days like today, when I'm not working, I can throw on a shirt and shorts and walk out the door without futzing with my apparel. Because everything fits.

Which is kind of the best thing I can imagine.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

With Gratitude


Life has been full lately. I have two weeks of training under my belt, and that deer-in-the-headlights look I was sporting the first couple days is no more. I'm finding my groove—slowly but surely—and feeling more confident. It's hard work and the days are long, but gosh am I learning a ton. I was in a holding pattern regarding one of my state licenses, which had me feeling a little anxious (I couldn't perform all of the job requirements without it), but it finally went through and I'm official. Phew.

Grad school is starting to feel real. Like I'll actually get there sooner rather than later (or at all). It feels closer and more attainable than it has...well, ever. This job has also reinforced my desire to go into medicine. Thank goodness.

The word that comes to mind a lot these days is gratitude. I'm grateful for this opportunity after searching so long for the right job. All those rejection letters and months of applying were worth it; this is absolutely where I'm meant to be. I'm grateful for this time alone to adjust, and also deeply grateful for a family that supports me unconditionally. They selflessly let me have these last few weeks to myself so I could funnel all my energy into this new position. (I miss their faces!)

There have been many bumps along the road. Times when I thought total fulfillment was a pipe dream; an ideal few achieve. I grew impatient and resentful and frustrated with how long this process has taken. Now I realize it was all a necessary part of the journey. I have to take the good with the bad and trust that things will always work out in the end. And sure enough, they always do. But, you know, when you're in the thick of it it's easy to go there: to that head space where you doubt. Doubt your abilities. Doubt your decisions. Doubt the path you chose. Doubt others. Doubt, doubt, doubt.

Thank goodness the universe likes to prove me wrong.

In the spirit of appreciation, here are a few things that deserve my acknowledgement. Because I cannot focus solely on the big, life-changing things. Especially on those days when life has me down or work is hard or I'm suffering from Mom Guilt. So I try to remind myself daily to be grateful for the little things. They matter.

I'm grateful for...


This little jewelry catcher. (May it prevent me from losing another wedding ring.)


Quick and easy homemade meals that double as lunch the next day.


Pizza and hard cider after a long day. Because sometimes you don't even have the energy for quick and easy.


This hand cream. It was an impulse buy at a local shop, but my cracked knuckles are thanking me profusely. (I easily wash my hands 100+ times a shift.)


This garden, which offers a reprieve from sterile hospital corridors. Fresh air, colorful foliage, and not a beep or alarm to be heard.


These shoes, which have been kind to my sore, tired feet.


Fresh cut flowers. Rose bushes are a chore, but the clippings sure do brighten my day.


This bag, which has dutifully carried my lunch to work every single day. (I haven't hit up the hospital cafeteria once.)


This fuzzy cactus. Kiddo and I fell deeply in love with one just like it a while back, but it wasn't for sale. Two weeks ago, while checking a local shop off my must-see list, I came across this beauty. It makes me really happy. (The shop owner said it was grown from seed at a nearby nursery and is 10-15 years old!)


Days off. Now that my time is less free, I have such an appreciation for the opportunity to sip coffee, catch up on my blogroll, and write.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Big Sky State


 Tomorrow I officially start my new position. The last week has seen computer training and Welcome to the Company meetings and mission statements and blood pressure practice and instilling the fear of God in the way only HIPAA violations can. I shall be thrown to the wolves tomorrow, though not really, but you know, caring for critically ill patients tends to come with a lot of responsibility. There is so much I need to learn, and I have no doubt my face will bear a deer-in-the-headlights expression a time or two. I'm so grateful that my résumé crossed the desk of the right person at the right time. Someone who saw something in me, despite obvious lapses in experience and training, and decided to give me a chance. I won't let her down. The stars aligned for this opportunity to come my way.

With this sort of pressure comes a fair amount of self doubt, and I remind myself daily that it's too late for them to say Wait! We interviewed two Sarahs. We meant to hire the other one!. And though nerves are certainly normal, they offer an excellent opportunity to do some exploration into one's own capabilities. It is true that there is nothing I haven't been able to learn or tackle when my mind was set to do so. I'll be okay. Overwhelmed at first, sure, but I'll show that 120 day probationary period who's boss. This has been a long time coming, years, and I'm so excited to usher in the next chapter. It's progress; a stepping stone that brings me thismuch closer to my goals.

Yesterday, after spending a particularly long day in a conference room with my fellow new-hires, I made my first work-related purchase: shoes. After determining I wasn't inclined to go the Dansko route (too much walking, not enough standing in one place), I settled on the snazziest pair of Saucony sneakers one could ever hope to lay eyes on. I had hoped to be above vanity when it came to work shoes, but one cannot loath the look of their apparel and still feel good about themselves. (I need to exude confidence!) It is a fact that practical shoes, more often than not, lack pizazz.

Today, this fateful last day before I am officially a full time career woman, is for errands and preparation and scheduling blog posts. Because although blogging is not my career, it provides personal fulfillment and should therefore not be neglected. I am working diligently to establish a healthy work-life balance in these early weeks because lord knows it won't get easier anytime soon. They say it takes 21 days to make something a habit, and I'd rather establish this routine from the get-go. Besides, who wants to go into a new job with a bunch of loose ends yet to be tied up?

So. Tetanus shot administered. Scrubs purchased. (Apparently that oh so familiar scrub color is called "Ceil Blue". You learn something new every day.) Now I'm perched at a favorite coffee shop—today is a day for comfortable familiarity, not exploration—blogging and reflecting and adding to my to-do list as things come to mind. It's one of those coffee shops that also offers a small gourmet menu, and the fig they used to garnish my croque-monsieur has me feeling very fancy. I have never quite grasped the luxuriousness of figs, but knew sophisticated people get it, so I wanted to, too. I think I understand it now, which takes me one step closer to my desired level of worldliness. (The perfect level of ripeness is the key, I think.)

Posts will be written, plants potted, new scrubs laundered, and floors scrubbed. Because those are my loose ends and I'll no doubt find solace in the innate ritual of domesticity. I'm craving simple and straightforward. Decluttered. (Mind and surroundings.) Which brings to mind my recent trip to Montana over the July 4th holiday weekend.


My in-laws' lake house, located on Flathead Lake in northwest Montana, has been a beacon of calm our entire relationship. And while trips up there involve family—family ties are inherently complicated—it's a place to go and chill and reacquaint one's self with nature. Want to be reminded how vast this world is? Spend a couple days in western Montana. By comparison, our troubles are small. Mario, Jared and I typically stay in one of three little cabins on the property. It's a simple one room building with two beds, a small twin for Kiddo and a double for us grownups. There is a sink, bathroom and wood burning stove, though the plumbing is not hooked up. It is quaint and uncomplicated, and I would absolutely love to fix it up and make it a proper guest retreat. There is something to be said for having your whole family in one room, falling asleep to a cool breeze and the sound of water lapping the rocky shore.

I spent 10 years of my life living in Montana, and yet I'm still amazed by the countryside. Vast expanses of uninhabited, untouched land still exist in this country, and Montana is living proof. And the people? Salt of the earth. I stopped by a small nursery on my way home, because I simply can't resist foliage these days, and entered to find four women of various ages perched around a table in a flora-filled room, drinking tea and talking about their lives. I was immediately invited into their little community, talking to me as if we'd known each other for years. In most parts of Montana you smile at strangers and help your neighbors. Someone's car stalled? Get out and push it off the road. Then offer them a ride.

Montana's entire population just broke one million people in the 2014 census. That's less than half the population of the greater Portland metropolitan area. Yet so many times we meet people that have a connection to the Big Sky State. (My New Hampshire orthodonist's college roommate lives in Bozeman. The son of the registrar at Kiddo's school goes to college in Missoula. I sat next to a woman on a flight from Boston who co-owns a company in Bozeman, despite living in Vermont. A lady I met in my orientation classes summered on Flathead Lake as a child. I could go on and on. It's really quite remarkable.) Montana is a place that leaves an impression and creates a kinship between people who might otherwise have nothing in common.


Living just 10 hours from the lake house after all these years is a pleasure. I am a road tripper at heart, preferring a car to a plane whenever possible. I enjoy the rhythm of long drives: audiobooks, packed lunches, and uninterrupted time spent pondering this, that and the other. I do a lot of productive thinking during road trips. Mario and I have spent many an hour confined to the car during long drives, which has forced us to tackle tough issues and learn how to communicate effectively as a unit. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to drive up and see the boys before beginning this new chapter. (Tomorrow?!) It was the perfect way to prepare my mind for the weeks and months ahead.

Here's to simplicity. And reinvention. And capturing that rare sense of community. See you on the flip side (otherwise known as Friday).