Mad Skillz

I’m a really good driver. Ask anyone who ever road with me back in my Camry. I was a great reverser and liked going fast down long, curvy roads. Granted, I was a teenager, but still, I pretty much ruled the road/world.

Then downtown life hit. I sold my car and haven’t really looked back since. Till Joe and I moved in together, that is. With Joe, came a car. Life should become easier, no? No. Not only do I get incredibly anxious when anyone else drives, I can’t drive his huge ass vehicle (full disclosure: it is a Ford Fusion). I mean, I can, he let’s me and all, but take today as an example. I was to be at a Networking event for Women in Technology, which I was sort of looking forward to. I went out to the parking garage and got in the car. I put it in reverse, backed up, and realized there was no way in hell I could get myself out of that situation. I know that I am being laughed at as I type this, so I will draw a picture.

I’m the pink car, because pink is my favorite color. I pulled in along the pink line, but as you’ll notice, the light blue car came in afterwards, and I could no longer get myself out. I pulled out and back in a few times, to no avail. I dropped my head, turned off the car, and went back inside. It sure didn’t help that it was prime rush hour time leaving a downtown Minneapolis lot… people were staring. I called Joe, embarrassed. He told me to just keep wiggling and getting out to check, even if I had to do so every ten seconds. I was defeated though… and really just wanted him to listen and not problem solve for me. He did send me a kind text though…

I’m being sarcastic if you couldn’t tell.

I went back into the apartment, cracked a beer, and watched Damages. It felt good.

Then I pulled myself together, because, wtf, it’s just a car and just a parking spot you little pussy (I said to myself).

This time it worked, on the first try nonetheless. Granted, I needed to see-saw about 4 times, I did not even bump anyone else. Had it been my car, my nice, small, normal-person sized car, I wouldn’t have been as worried about it. But, I think the fact that Joe still has car payments makes me that much more nervous. Plus, it is fricken huge.

And, now as I’m typing this, I just remembered I forgot to fill up on gas and it was already on empty before my journey to Saint Paul. Sooorrrrry Joe…

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Connections

I worry about the connections I am making. I’ve realized over the last few years that I have a tendency to procrastinate my involvement. For example, I’ve been living in Minneapolis for over a year now, and I’m just recently finding the communities that I really connect with. The same thing can be found when you look into any slice of my life.

This is what made changing schools so often so hard. Before high school, I never went to a school for more than two years. The first year was made attempting to make friends, and well, sadly, the next year was spent losing them. The first time I really broke out of this bubble was in high school when I began my involvement with the student yearbook and volunteered at various places around town. By senior year, I real felt like I hit my groove. I was earning all A’s, compared to the C’s and B’s I got in 9th grade. I excel when I have the opportunities to lead, help others, and learn. Why can’t I find these opportunities right away? Same thing happened in college – not too much that I am proud of from my first year, but by second year and beyond I really made my mark on campus. And that, my friends, is the true value in any experience. Looking back and knowing that I brought students together for the Winter Ball, and that I sat on student government for two years, really makes me proud of my time at Macalester.

Now, I’m falling into my niche in Minneapolis. Work is going well, I’m enjoying the projects I am working on. I’m getting more involved though Girls in Tech and other local tech orgs; I’m volunteering with programs that really make me feel like I’m giving back (the Reading Corps, and Meals for Minds). I’m getting out there and going to blogging conferences and being less nervous about leaving the house and being who I want to be, and who I am.

So, what happens when I decide to uproot myself and go to Stanford? Did it take me a while to fall into a groove here due to the nature of my rotational program at work? Was it having so many new experiences with my friends and family being distant? Am I in a better position for change now that I have Joe by my side? What if I don’t have Joe by my side when I go to Stanford? Obviously I’ll be so busy I’ll barely notice (luff you!) but will I still face the same set back of a year in order to get myself acquainted with the people and community?

What if a year from now my comfort dissuades me from even applying? Will I find myself so entwined that I no longer entertain the idea of leaving? No, I sure as hell hope not. But, I also am dreading the day I no longer believe I can change the world. When this day will face me, no one can say.

Permission to be me

Tonight I went to a Women Leading in Technology event, which was presented by the Minnesota High Tech Association. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw it on my calendar earlier today, and then I was like “what the heck is this event?” I was about to bail, but then I realized I paid $15 to go and felt committed. So I went. And it was awesome.

First was a short networking session. I met some interesting people, saw some people I have worked with, and generally had a good time. The best part by far though, was the panel. They brought together a panel of four strong, intelligent, successful women within the technology industry.

  • Carolyn Parnell, CIO MN.IT Services
  • Jennifer Haushildt, CTO, FindLaw at Thomson Reuters
  • Jean Becker, Senior Executive Partner, Accenture
  • Chris Mahai, Co-owner and Managing Partner, Aveus, LLC

My favorite part was when each woman gave a little bit of their background and how they got to where they are today. It was inspiring to see women from different companies and backgrounds coming together. For example, Carolyn started out as a social worker, and always made sure to work for companies that she shared a common goal or belief with. Jennifer, on the other hand, has been at Thomson Reuters for most of her career (19 years). Jean had a different start too, coming from a small town without phones or electricity, to becoming a nurse, and now is at Accenture. The best takeaway was from her: don’t be afraid to say way you want. Once, in an interview, when the interviewer asked her what she wanted to do, she replied “I want to be an engineer for a while, get my MBA, and then manage people.” The response she got wasn’t laughter, it was belief. Somehow, somewhere, I got ahold of the wacky notion that one shouldn’t announce that their sights are set high. Rather, that it is better to be humble and speak more to that next step rather than further down the line. I’m honest about these things with some people (Joe, my grandma, my diary, etc.), but not with the people that can help me achieve the goals. [From a professional standpoint, I mean. My family is very supportive of me and means the world to me.] But that is going to stop now, because I left tonight with the permission to tell people what I want, who I am going to be, and how I am going to get there. And, just so we are all on the same page, I’ll tell you too.

I’m going to be CTO of a fortune 500 company, whether I start it from the ground up or join one of the many existing successful companies. I’m going to be actively involved in my community, specifically with organizations that promote STEM fields to women and with my alma matter (Macalester + probably Stanford). I know these things won’t happen over night, but I’m a hard worker and I’m in this for the long haul.

Additionally, I’m going to be a published author and I’m going to drive a Maserati because they are awesome. I am a genuine person that tries to help out others any way possible. For example, I love meeting with Macalester students to talk about life post Mac, and I recently paired up a coworker with a recent Mac grad to dog sit while he is on vacation. It is sometimes the little things, but it is also the bigger picture, and I’m always willing to put myself out there for others.

And now it is my turn to pay it forward: tell people what you want, who you are going to be, and how you are going to get there. And don’t forget to appreciate the present.

Sue Sylvester and I share a mother

So, I can’t find a decent clip of the video I want to show you, so if you are a fan of Glee and can remember back to the 13 minute 16 second mark of the 8th episode of season 2 (titled: Furt), continue reading. If not, maybe continue reading anyway.

I called my mom this evening because she sent me a text yesterday and was all like “I’m lonely, call me.” So I did, because I am nice like that. Somewhere between her telling me how bad she is at texting and me trying to convince her to move into a group home, she declared she would sing at my wedding. A wedding created in her own mind that is no way scheduled, planned, or in the near future, just so we are clear on that.

Anyway, this is more or less exactly what she said: “I was lying in bed the other day thinking of how I would style my hair for your wedding, and I realized I would not be able to wear my normal wedding-slash-funeral dress. I’ll have to actually go out and buy a nice one that is too expensive. I also know that I can’t drink or sneak out to smoke, and because I watch my weight, all I’ll be able to do is sing to you. I have the song picked out” and then she sampled it for me as I withdrew the iPhone from my ear.

The Glee episode that I am talking about is where Sue Sylvester is marrying herself, and her mom comes in and is all like “you poked my sternum.”  Then she says that if she cannot walk Sue down the aisle, she’ll have to just sing a song for her. The more I compare my mother to Carol Burnett the more my life makes sense.

Puppy puppy puppy

I want a puppy so bad. I would name him Chrome or Charlie and he would be the cutest puppy in the whole entire world. In a recent post I talked about how much a puppy would make me happy, and he totally would. I’ve done further research into the subject though and I picked out the exact kind I want so now I’m even more excited about getting a puppy.

There are so many open questions though. Did you know that puppies are really expensive? First, the puppy I ultimately decided on is a tiny mini golden doodle. Here is a good cute picture of one to get us on the same page:

aaaaaaawwwww!!! Isn’t he the cutest thing in the world that kind of looks like a stuffed animal? He is only the low low price of like, $2500 to get him from a breeder. Joe says that is a shit ton to spend on a puppy, but I counter that with “but is it too much to spend on your best friend?” That put a stop to that discussion (for now probably).

Next is the minor detail that the apartment we currently live in doesn’t allow puppies. This would mean we need to move some place that allows puppies. Fortunately, I found this wonderful new apartment building that is just being built right now! 222hennepin.com is where you can find more deets, but the gist is, it is no longer of a commute to work, it will be directly on top of a Whole Foods, and they have a leash-free doggy zone! Draw backs though? Rent is more expensive, and we would need to move. Lets approximate it at $500 more per month, taking into account the differences in parking, utilities, etc. For additional costs of the application, moving, and the new (bigger) security deposit: $3,000.

Then, I also hear one is supposed to feed their dogs too, so, I Googled “cost of a puppy first year” and came a quote of $1100-3500 for the first year (thanks to the lovely folks at About). Let’s be honest here, Chromy deserves the finer things in life, so the figure will be towards the $3500 side.

All in all, 15k for the first year if I can handle math after my morning mimosa. But, there are still more things to consider. Do I want to go to grad school with a puppy? What happens to Charlie in the case of a break up? What about my pink couch that I love so much? Will he bite it? What if we need to go on vacation? We’ll have to get a puppy sitter and it isn’t like we would have money for a vacation anyway after how much he is going to cost. Agck! I didn’t even consider the costs of puppy classes! Oh, wait, I guess About.com figured that in. High five!

Teaching Pinterest to a…

I just had one hell of a time explaining Pinterest to my mother. She is planning on building a new house, and she messaged me the other day asking me to be her interior designer. However, when she said “I don’t want none of that Crate and Barrel or Ikea crap,” I realized I had no idea what she wanted (and nor did she). Is this not similar to saying “I don’t want any of that filet mignon or chicken mcnuggets crap”? This is an easy problem to solve in this day and age though, because Pinterest was created for this exact reason. So I thought to myself, “well, she could just create a Pinterest board of all the things she wants for her place so I can get a rough idea of the style, etc.”

You would have thought I asked for her kidney. To throw away. She would give me a kidney if I needed one, no problem, but no, I was asking her to throw one away. After talking her off the ledge, I described that it is a website, similar to facebook where one can share photos they find online. You “pin” things that you like to your “board” and can add comments to them.

To which she responded “wouldn’t it be easier if I just told you ‘hotel lobby’?” No, mom, no it would not. Then she suggested I just come and stay with her for a week and we go shopping and pick out the stuff together. I nearly had a heart attack thinking of all the ways one of us wouldn’t make it out of that scenario alive.

I tried to make it as easy as possible. First, go to facebook. Log in. Then, in the address bar where you type the website, type in pinterest.com. You can choose to login with your facebook account, meaning you don’t have to register and remember a new password or anything. This part pleased her.

She couldn’t try it today though. Maybe she will do it tomorrow. We’ll see. If anything ever comes of it, you better believe I’ll share the board on here.

A glass of bubbly

This morning I woke up around 7am and attempted to get Joe and I some donuts. I eventually succeeded, but it wasn’t until just before 9am that we finally sat down to indulge ourselves. The other week, when we went to Angel Food, I grabbed a magnet with their contact info on it. It didn’t have their hours though, so sneaking into the kitchen didn’t give me any more info on the hours. I got there about 10 minutes before 7:30, and they were busy, baking away, so I figured they probably opened at 7:30. I went for a walk around the block and strangely found myself following a couple home on their walk of shame. The girl was carrying her heels and wearing the guys suit jacket because it was cold. They weren’t talking, and my guess on the situation is that part of the deal of her going with him back to his hotel room was that he would walk her home in the morning (maybe back to her own hotel? I lost track of them around 8th and Nicollet). I’ve definitely been in the situation before… you really just want them to let you do that walk alone, but maybe she and I are different in that respect.

Back to the donuts – when Hell’s Kitchen opened at 7:30, I asked the lady when Angel Food opened. “9 or 9:30 – they open late on Sunday because of church and stuff,” she answered. Really people, really? I have a hard time believing that is really why they weren’t open, but I then had to do the walk of shame myself, the shame of having no donuts.

I looked online when I got back (I hadn’t even brought my cell phone, it was just going to be a quick jaunt!). Angel Food opened at 9am but YoYo Donuts, the best donut place ever, opened at 7am. I kissed Joe goodbye, told him I was taking his car, and made my way to Minnetonka. Soon I’m on my way home with a half dozen donuts and a relatively bright outlook on life.

It’s hard to describe how I felt actually. Yesterday Joe and I went to visit a few homes on the Parade of Homes and I fell in love with some of the features of the million dollar homes. A light fixture here, a countertop there, and one of those faucets above the stove so you don’t have to lift the heavy pot of water back to the stove complete the vision I have of my future home. I know that two years from now I will be in business school, and I know what I will be successful in whatever I ultimately do. I envisioned being back in Minneapolis, living on Lake of the Isles, and maybe even having my kids go to that school by the Walker.

I love waking up early. It always leaves me with a feeling of hope for the future. I think that if I had a puppy I’d be a lot happier. Not that I’m not happy, but sometimes I find myself too idle. And everyone knows that idle hands are the devil’s plaything. Joe referenced an article he recently read about a child getting a dog for mental health issues. Something about the kid being able to rely on the puppy but then also being responsible for him enabled the kid to settle down or something. Not only would it be good for me to have a cuddle buddy for nights watching TV, but it would ensure I have a reason to get out of the house a few times every day.

So, those are the things I thought about on my way home. Once I got home ready to eat donuts, I found a way to turn this somehow into a relationship talk with Joe. I may have sprung it on him, but it came up by the fact that our apartment doesn’t allow puppies. Because I really want a puppy, this means we need to move. A good place to move to would be the new 222 Hennepin building, however, rent is a little bit pricier there. If they look at things post-tax, Joe and I together don’t meet the 3x monthly rent = income stipulation. He made a joke about him not pulling his weight, to which I replied “well… when are you thinking about starting to look for a new job?” Not the most tactful way to open up this conversation, but the situation is more a case of him not being fully utilized and challenged for the immense amount of smartness he has. Especially as he wraps up his graduate degree, I want to see him in a position that makes him happy and properly compensates him for his contributions.

The “talk” actually went pretty well. My viewpoint was mainly that I didn’t want to see him without ample life goals – he didn’t want to commit to changing jobs while he was still in his program but would rather do so upon completion. Tomato tomato at end, but it was still good for us to talk through all that.

Later, Joe and I were watching a little episode of Burn Notice when a few scenes centered around champagne. I was like “holy crap, I really want champagne now” but of course it is a Sunday and here in the lovely state of M-N, liquor stores are not open on Sundays. So, I went down to Rock Bottom to sip on my glass of bubbly. It was everything I hoped it would be. Until a creeper came and sat by me and wouldn’t stop harassing me and I eventually just paid my tab and left because I couldn’t stand sitting there anymore.

My Boba Adventure

I think that I’ve drinken to much because I’m really very tired and I have the sniffles. The sniffles aren’t necessarily related to the drinking, but the fact that I have been drinking means that I believe both statements belong in one sentence.

Yesterday I was walking through the IDS center when I stumbled upon a yogurt shop. I don’t know the name of it, but it is one of those super awesome grab your bowl, fill it up with everything you want, pay one low price by the ounce type of places. And in this shop? They definitely have bobas. I only know this because I stopped in to see what they had… specifically interested in some chocolate + gummy bear combination only to be surprised by the one item eluding my drunken stupers. By this, I mean that I have been coveting a boba cocktail for months.

It first started at this tweet: https://twitter.com/katesacliche/status/225765308424650752 I was all like “oooooh, I totes think bobas should be in cocktails” and then went to Google – only to be severely disappointed. This led me to believe that the only way to get a boba cocktail was to go to the UK. But that seemed to be a lot more spendy than just buying my own pale of bobas. But a whole pale seemed like a lot and I only needed a couple.

Please hold, Joe is talking to me about MMO games. Like Eve. I am faking interest. Oh good, he is done.

And then I found it. I found the bobas in the IDS center. It was like one of the moments that a shining sliver of light comes from the clouds er… ceiling… to sparkle upon the moist bubbles of juicy joy. [I’m going to get so many hits for that sentence]. So, I grabbed a cup inside the yogurt shop, scooped some bobas, paid my $1.42, and was on my way.

 

Once I got home, I let them sit in vodka for about an hour. Mainly because it was only 4pm and I wasn’t even yet in the mood to drink. Later though, I poured them into a martini glass, topped it off with the rest of a nearly empty can of red bull, some more vodka, and a splash of orange juice. This is what I came up with:

 

Oooohhh… such pretty colors with balls at the bottom. And oooooh, what a cute laptop case and ooooohh what nice frames you have on the wall.

It was tasty. The balls were really squishy and perfect and bursted at just the right application of pressure. I may have bought too many balls though because I have been sucking down this same martini glass (since refilled with vodka + orange juice ~3 times) for hours.

Final verdict? I’ve had many great ideas throughout my lifetime, and I may say this a lot, but this may be one of my best ideas ever. Seriously. My newest thing in stopping by the yogurt shop for bobas on my way home.

Business School = Online Dating

Searching for the right business school is online dating. Not “similar to” or “just like,” no, it is. How can I say this with such certainty, you ask? Because I have extensive experience in both arenas, that’s how.

First, spoiler alert here, a new blog mini-series I am working on chronicles my online dating adventures. I’ve titled it “The Chronicles of OKC.” I dated a few handfuls of men before (and well, after too) finding Joe, and I can say it’s a cool thing. You down select through reading different profiles, creating specific criteria “only show me men aged 24-35 that are taller than 5’6″,” and through some light messaging. Only the lucky few are awarded a date.

Compare this to the business school search. You look at tons of business schools online, finally getting a better understanding of what your search criteria is “I want class sizes smaller than 50, the ability to gain international experience, and for it to be a top-tier program.” Now you are left with only a handful of schools, with whom you thoroughly review via profiles, feedback from others, etc. Maybe you even exchange emails with the admissions folk. When you are ready to take that next step, you set up some in person meeting. Campus visit? Local information session? The median doesn’t always matter, but the feelings you get while on this “date” can be very telling about how your personality will fit with the institution.

Let’s take tonight as an example. Kellogg was in town doing an information session of their full-time programs. I’ll admit, I was a little lax in saying “yes” to this proposal, knowing little about the school. However, they are ranked number four according to US News (read: 6’0″, masters holding professional, living in a condo downtown), so I just went with it. Right off the bat, they impressed me with highlighting the MMM program. While I still don’t know what it stands for, I know it is a dual-degree program, resulting in an MBA and a masters in engineering in two years. The engineering degree can be focused on innovation and design and doesn’t require students to have a CS (computer science, folks) undergrad degree. Holy cow, sign me up. It’s like all that I’ve ever wanted to accomplish wrapped up neatly into two easy years!

After diving more deeply into the university though, I found myself comparing everything they said and did to Stanford. “Oh, well Stanford has a better partners program…” What does this mean then? Are Stanford and I meant to be? Maybe, but I need to stop looking lustfully at their profile and sending quirky messages back and fourth – we need to meet on their turf. We met in that group setting a while back, which was great, but I want something more… intimate. Who knows, it might not be a good fit, but I’m not making any friends by going on all these info sessions with Stanford on my mind.

My overall opinion on Kellogg? We would make great friends. A lot of the program sounds great, they value involvement, alumni engagement, designing your own education through many elective options, etc. However, I don’t feel that spark. I’d go visit them on campus or even consider applying (especially to the MMM program!), but my after-the-first-date gut feeling: it will never be more than a friends (maybe with benefits) type of relationship.

To bite, or not to bite

I’ve been invited to participate in Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business’s diversity weekend for prospective students. It is a full weekend of meeting current students and alum, exploring campus and Pittsburg, and learning about general MBA stuff – being a female MBA candidate, financial aid, etc. I need to buy the round trip plane ticket though, which is why I am giving this so much consideration. I think it would be a really great opportunity to understand a top tier business program. Where I am struggling though is whether it is really a school I would consider. Nothing I know about it is ruling it out though, in fact, I like the small class sizes, the non-rural location, the global treks that are offered, and that they have a Technology Leadership concentration. I had a hard time finding the types of teaching methods they use, what clubs and orgs available, and if they have significant other programs (this wasn’t obvious on the website). Google is one of the companies that they feed into, but isn’t going to be as highly regarded as Stanford to them.

I feel like I’m making this a bigger deal that it needs to be – I’m not deciding on where to accept admission at this point, I am just looking into possible programs to apply to. The only thorn in my side is the flight. Which normally I’m not such a pussy about but last week I found out that work would not in fact be paying the tuition for my summer program at Booth. I borrowed the money from my Grandma and told her I would pay her back in August/September, because that is when I thought I would be reimbursed. But I will not be reimbursed, so now I just have a loan out from my Grandma that I need to pay off ASAP (for my own sanity).

With that, I’m trying to gauge whether it makes sense to cash out some of my investments and pay her off right away, or make payments to her over time as I’m paying less interest to her than I’ll be earning on the investments (ideally). Financially, it makes sense to pay her off over time. I need to run this past her though; she might prefer to be paid back on the time line I agreed too. I hate having debt too, so I almost would prefer to just pay her off to not have that hanging over my head.

On a less serious note (or more serious, depending on your priorities) I got the new Candy Corn Oreos today!!! They are über fantastic. They taste very similar to the Birthday Cake Oreos from this last summer, only on vanilla cookies instead of chocolate. They are also fun colors (split in half yellow and orange) so that is entertaining to me. I wouldn’t necessarily say they taste like Candy Corn though… which may be a good thing seeing as I am eating a cookie after all.

Wouldn’t it be the coolest job in the world to be the person who manages the different special edition oreos? I don’t even know all the ideas I would come up with. Well, in all honesty, I have a running list. But sharing them here would defeat the goal of me doing it professionally, as whoever currently has the job could just swipe it. And you know what they say, “swiper, no swiping!” Just kidding. No one says that.