Kansas basketball is keeping me sane

I don’t have a lot going on these days. Since losing my job and moving into my in-laws’ house, my days are filled with sitcom reruns and job applications with little to look forward to. (Did you know FX shows “Mad About You” on weekday mornings? Next time you’re home sick from work, hit me up and I’ll tell you where to find the good stuff on TV.) While I’m thankful for a lot of things — namely my husband’s great job and my in-laws’ remarkable generosity — life isn’t awesome right now.


Me and Meghan in Austin

Some people use unemployment as a chance to get their homes in order or catch up on their reading or tackle a project they’ve neglected. I’ve devoted my newfound free time to Kansas basketball.

In a previous life, I traveled to Austin and New Orleans to see my Jayhawks. I paid way too much to watch KU play in College Station (in basketball and football). I drove to Houston to watch the national championship with other Kansas alumni. I even made it to the 2013 Sweet Sixteen in Dallas, but I never blogged about it because it was the first time I’d ever seen Kansas lose in person and I was just too sad.*

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A journalist’s rite of passage: The layoff

I had meant to update this space with little morsels like “Lessons learned at the bar” or maybe something about the Royals being in the World Series. But I felt like I was constantly working, and in my downtime, I was moving to a new apartment or attending a wedding in Kansas or I just didn’t feel like firing up my laptop on my day off. But it looks like I’ll have more time to write in the coming weeks, because I’ve been laid off.

My last day at the Press-Citizen is Oct. 31. After a reorganization of the staffs in Iowa City and Des Moines that required all employees to re-interview for new positions, it turns out there’s just no place for me in Gannett’s “newsroom of the future.”

I feel like a loser and a failure. But I also feel free.

The truth is, Iowa wasn’t working out anyway. My husband, who thrived as a social studies teacher and football coach in Kansas, has spent the last year making pizza at Casey’s. Our cars are falling apart. We struggle to make rent. We have few friends and no family for hundreds of miles. And the only reason we were even living in Iowa was this job. Now we’re free to leave.

So we’ve hatched a plan. George (that’s my husband) couldn’t bear the thought of spending another Thanksgiving at Casey’s, so we aim to vacate the state within four weeks. We’re subleasing our apartment (the one we moved into Oct. 1), packing our things, and setting up camp in my mother-in-law’s basement near Wichita.

From there, we enjoy the holidays with our family for the first time in a while, and we look for new jobs in new places. So uh, hop on over to my LinkedIn.

The post-grad funk

On Dec. 12, I did something no one in my family has done before: I graduated from college. In fact, I graduated from a good school — the University of Kansas — with a decent GPA and a respectable load of activities.

Me with my dad and four-year-old sister at KU's j-school graduation.

Before graduation, I had something to do for work or school every day. I spent countless 12-hour days on campus. I composed editor’s notes on the treadmill and ate lunch and dinner at my desk.

Now I’ve joined the 15 percent of workers age 18-24 who are unemployed. I’ve applied for jobs and I still have hope that I’ll find something before it’s time to pay back my student loans.

But I’m already in a rut. My calendar is empty and my brain is foggy. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the post-grad funk. It’s the hangover that comes from a four-year bender of working hard and being busy. It’s the same restlessness I always feel during breaks from school, but this break doesn’t have a predetermined end.

I could clean my room, write thank-you cards to everyone who sent a check for my graduation, or finish my Christmas shopping. But I’m learning that everything is harder without a schedule.

So I’m imposing a little structure. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be up at 8 a.m. each day. I’ll get my work out in, look for jobs, and get started on all the projects I’ve put off: scrapbooking, decorating my room, organizing my closet, putting the rest of my clips on the website. I’ll be a beacon of productivity, and my life will have meaning once again.

Or I’ll stay in my funk and you’ll see a very similar list appear as New Year’s resolutions next month.

(Don’t worry, I have a warm and fuzzy Christmas post in the works to counter this bummer.)