Wednesday, October 22, 2014



Traveling: En route to Denver. Trying to remember my own advice about packing. This is not THE BIG move. Out here this week trying to find an apartment. 

Reading: I Am Malala. This book has been pinned on my “to read”  Pinterest board for ages. When she was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize I was reminded of my intent and downloaded it to my Kindle for the flight. Its part history lesson of Pakistan part personal story. I find the personal anecdotes more interesting but the history helps put her life in context. 

Wearing: Lou & Grey clothes from Ann Taylor Loft. I meandered into The Loft looking for some new work shirts and walked out with an arm load of nothing of the sort. Blame it on the stress of moving:  my impulse control is at an all-time low. They certainly didn't make it easy for me, though.  The line is exactly the sort of clothes I like to wear. Comfy fabrics, neutral colors, interesting cuts. Wearing this tunic today...

Eating: Trader Joe's Chocolate Croissants. These are my road trip croissants. Whenever I travel I set out one for myself and each of my travel companions.  They proof overnight and have to be baked in the am for 20 minutes. My desire for warm chocolate croissants is motivation to get out of bed to pre-heat the oven.  

Listening to: Yelle. The french electropop band came to Cleveland and my cooler other half suggested we go. I was wary because I  don’t usually enjoy concerts unless I know some of the music. No matter, this time. Yelle was catchy and put on a visually entertaining show.  Go and be mesmerized by the synchronized mechanical dance moves of the dual drummers, who can be best described as French Luigi brothers. Despite the fact I don't speak French, I have these songs running around in my head. Well, its more the beat and a few words here and there, but isn't that always the case?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


For the last six years, my best friend at work was a 62 year old woman named Dara. (Said like Sara with a D"). That's us!

She already knows this story, but our first interaction scared the be-jeezus out of me. It was the first week of my internship and I had unknowingly screwed up a transaction.  Dara whipped into my cubicle, eyed me up and down with a look that said "what kind of an idiot are you?"  then very sternly asked "why did you do that?" Shaking in my khakis, I stammered "because our director told me to." She stepped deeper into my cubicle, looked at me pointedly and said "don't ever do that again." And then walked away.

I would eventually learn she was frustrated with management for going around her to direct me to do something she had specifically asked them not to. Nevertheless,  I spent the next few weeks of my life terrified of her.

Arguably worse than a scolding from Dara was spending the first year of my internship in the purgatory of a shared office with three 22-year-old male interns. So when a space in Dara's office became available, I jumped at the opportunity.   She was my team leader. This was my opportunity to learn from her. To finally do some real work.  You see, I had spent the majority of that first year not only listening to endless conversation about video games, but also converting paper files to electronic. Which is a fancy way of saying:  taking staples out of old contracts and scanning files for 8 hours a day.  On the upside, I never had to get coffee for anyone.

So I moved in with Dara. At 23,  the adults in my life up to that point had been teachers, coaches, or some other authority figure.  She was the first person who treated me like an adult, not a teenager in dress pants.  She broke the fourth wall, as it were.  She made me realize adults are just people too. People who tell dirty jokes,  people who drink, watch trash TV and make mistakes.

She was shrewd and and honest, but above all kind. She told people what they needed to hear, like "stop wearing that cowboy hat around the office and go get your work done"   and in the next sentence, ask about your sick grandma, or how your evening was? Because she genuinely cared. As for me? She usually chided me for my oft wrinkly pants.

She taught me how to stand up for myself and when I wasn't able to, she did it for me. She taught me not to feel guilty for using my leave or saying "no" to high level officials when the time called for it. She taught me to protect myself at work because, we're the ones who could be held financially liable, taken to court, or jail. Her tag line for avoiding prison time? "I can't braid big Bertha's hair!"

Whenever I forgot my lunch she'd share hers, which is how I came to try collard greens for the first time. And when I decided I liked them, she'd bring me my own portion.  If I ever forgot a fork, she had an extra in her drawer. She covered for me when I would groggily shuffle in after a weeknight filled with one too many beers. She listened to my many complaints about boys, roommates and  of course, work. She let me cry on her shoulder when my dog passed away. 

We could talk about anything: from why white girls flick our hair so often  (bangs in our face or possibly flirting) to our religious beliefs, and of course Downton Abbey. She taught me the transitive meaning of the phrase "in a minute." We laughed so much together, our boss was convinced we never did any work because our job could not be that funny.

So when Dara officially retired on August 26 this year, I was full of mixed emotions.  A horrible cliche but sometimes thats all we have.  I am so happy for her to enjoy the rest of her life. To enjoy the retirement she has earned, but I miss her too. 

I will miss hearing her bicker with the radio as though the people on the other end can hear her. I will miss her playing jazz music, even though I don't like jazz. I will miss her coming over to show me her latest knitting project while I drink my coffee.

She made those socks
Every day I want to jump out of my chair and run over to hers to tell her about my night, the status of a project, or just kill some time at her side. When I received the job offer in Colorado, I felt so elated and so lost. This was exactly the sort of news that would have me rushing over to her desk to whisper excitedly. I called her of course,  and we squealed our excitement through the phone line.
It is an impossible task to neatly package 6 years of friendship in one post. Six years, for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  I can hardly do the woman justice. She is a legend in our organization and in my life. She is a big sister to me. 

I am so grateful she saw something in me, brought me close and gave all of herself to her job and to our friendship. I know I can always call her should I need her. But I know its time for me to stand on my own. I know I can because she showed me how.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Go West Young Man

I have news.  Big News.

Will it affect you? Meh, not really. Will it affect me? Um yes, in every way.

Drum rolllllllllllllllllllllll............!

I'm moving.


To Denver.


In November.


1,326 miles away from Cleveland and even farther away from my family in Florida.

Commence panic attack? Yes, that seems like thing thing to do.

I'm moving because I accepted a position with a new agency. The work should be very similar to what I have been doing, but specializing in lease contracts versus the catchall it has been at my Cleveland Job. Wow, my work is not glamorous to describe, but I am excited! This is a good thing!

Ever since I decided to accept and totally relocate my life, I've had a lyric from the Toby Keith song, Should Have Been a Cowboy, stuck in my head:

"Go west young man, haven't you been told? California is full of whiskey, women and gold." 

Couple of things:
1. I know I am not a young man, nor do I have unfulfilled dreams of being a cowboy
2. I know I am not moving to California.
3. I know Toby Keith did not coin the phrase "Go West, young man"

But when I told my friend, Raisa (she of the How I Met Your Mother Party), we both burst out into the line at the same time, so it stuck.  And then I was sad for having to move away from her, because who will sing 90's country music with me in Denver?

For now, I'm in scramble mode. I have to tidy up projects at my current job, train my successor, figure out a place to live in Colorado, plan a move, go on a house hunting trip, clean my current apartment, fill out endless forms for human resources, eat at all of my favorite Cleveland restaurants, see everyone before I go, breathe, sleep... Its an ever growing list of things to be done in an ever shrinking period of time.

So if I'm not posting as frequently, it's because I'm doing one of the things above. If in my absence you're missing me, you can always follow me on Instagram @leshemc. There's also a link on the right side of this page, under my blog archive.

By the way, if you have any suggestions for transporting two cats across the country by way of car,  I am now accepting tips.  Figuring how my Cats will Manifest Destiny with me is also on my to do list, and has thus far been the most puzzling of all.