March Reading

So now that March is over, I’d like to give a recap of my resolution to read a book a week during March. Overall, I’d say it was a success. If you add it all up, I didn’t exactly read 4 complete books, but I finished 5 – so… winning.

Drinking, A Love Story by Caroline Knapp (30%) – This ended up being a really good memoir. It is about a woman who is an alcoholic and it follows her relationship with alcohol through the years. It ends with her going to rehab and re-entering life as a sober person. A few lines that really resonated with me:

Over time the drink itself becomes the reward, the great compensation for our ability to keep it all together during the day, and to keep it all together so well. (pg. 19)

 

‘My husband is acting like an idiot.’ a woman said at a meeting not long ago. ‘I have to remember that the resolution is not ‘Get a new husband” (pg. 61)

 

Addictions segue into one another with such ease: a bout of compulsive overeating fills you with shame and sexual inferiority, which fills you with self-loathing and doubt, which leads you to a drink, which temporarily counters the self-hatred and fills you with chemical confidence, which leads you to sleep with a man you don’t love, which leads you to circling back to shame and voila: the dance can begin again. (pg. 137).

Crash and Burn by Artie Lange (100%) – This was the only book of the five that brought me to tears. Most likely because it resonated with me so much. I’m not a closet heroin addict. Rather, I’ve had people in my life lose the battle to drugs and that has really stuck with me. It was so insightful to be in his head and to understand his perspective. I didn’t capture any life-changing or meaningful quotes though, I think because it engrossed me so wholly that I didn’t break out of that mindset.

The Corner Office by Adam Bryant (44%) – This book was full of insights from CEOs and other leaders from large organizations. I took a lot from it. First, it made me really excited for business school. Second, I picked up a lot of good insights that I think I can apply to my own leadership style. And third, I know I’m going to be a really good CEO one day. Here are my favorite quotes:

The qualities these executives share: Passionate curiosity. Battle-hardened confidence. Team smarts. A simple mindset. Fearlessness. (pg. 12)

 

They learn, they teach, and they understand people and the business world, and then bring all that knowledge together to drive their organizations forward. (pg. 13)

 

The people who truly succeed in business are the ones who actually have figured out how to mobilize people who are not their direct reports. (pg. 51)

Drinking and Tweeting by Brandi Granville (100%) – I picked this book because I really like drinking and tweeting both separately and at the same time. Therefore, I figured it would resonate with me. Right after I started reading it, I mentioned it to a coworker, and she knew of the woman who wrote it. I did not. So, having that additional insight was helpful, and gave me even more reason to follow her on Twitter afterwards. The gist of the story is after being married for 8+ years, Brandi finds out her husband is cheating on her, and always has been. This terrified the crap out of me, especially as I’m beginning to consider marriage more and more. It is crazy to think about being able to leave so much of your life in the hands of someone else who can just take it and kill it all if they want to. The happiness she described seemed like perfection, something that meant it was true – how could this lead to such destruction? Again, I was too absorbed in the book to record any quotes. It is a quick read though that I would recommend.

Ahead of the Curve by Philip Delves Broughton (30%) – A book written about a man’s two years at Harvard Business School. Although it’s just starting to pick up, it has A) made me happy I’m not going to Harvard and B) made me hope that MIT is at least a little bit different.

  • Apparently there is something called the Priscilla Ball at HSB. The men dress as women and the women dress as “sluts.” Seriously. And people have to pay $120/person to attend anyway. And people wonder why business school has such terrible rates of females.
  • “It felt as though HBD has two modes, deadly serious and frat boy, with little in between” – I’ve heard this elsewhere about HSB and other schools. I know it is partially the reality of business school, but I hope the people at MIT take it seriously too. And like to have fun, are cool and not misogynist. Just sayin’
  • The English journalist who wrote this book has an impressive vocabulary. I’ve learned 10+ new words all ready. High five.

Here’s to a month of no Caribou… Just kidding, turns out April is writing in my journal every day. Not really sure why I thought it was the former.

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Dairy Free: The Way to Be?

Earlier this year I went in for some allergy testing because I thought that may lead to an explanation for my ever-non-stop-eczema. After the 20 some scratch tests they did on my arm and properly passing out, I was told I wasn’t allergic to anything they can scratch test for. Next they sent me for a blood draw because clearly they thought I hadn’t been poked enough.

Two weeks later I went back in for my test results. “Dairy allergy” came back as a 3 on a scale of 1-5, which, given everything else, was the best lead I had. My doctor advised me to eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream from my diet for three weeks as a test. Anyone can do something for just three weeks, right? No big deal.

Then, though, my eczema improved at least 80%. I no longer had spots on my face or itched nearly as much. That kind of result can’t be ignored, so I decided to continue with being dairy free. [Also, why the hell did it take 25 years for doctors to diagnose me with a dairy allergy when I’ve been dealing with eczema and hives outbreaks since I was born??]

I think that is when the true gravity of the situation kicked in. No mac & cheese, no pizza, no Magnum Gold?! ice cream bars, no yogurt and berries breakfast, no morning cereal, no nacho cheese Doritos, no parmesan garlic boneless wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, and the list goes on. It was a pretty shocking revelation to say the least.

And then, as with all things, I complained enough until people started offering suggestions. I’ve begun using almond milk on my fruit-loops with marshmallows each morning (omg, so good) and it turns out, I like it even more than milk. I’ve been getting my daily mocha with soy milk, no whip, which is sad, but doable (and more expensive). The ham & cheese sandwiches the conference this past weekend? Sure, let me dissect it here at the table and just remove what I can.

Turns out though, most things have an alternative. Last night, Joe and I ordered pizza from Pizza Luce. We were able to get it with pepperoni + pineapple and then Rinotta “cheese” (get it? It is like ricotta but without cheese, so it is “notta”). Pure gold. The pizza was good too, albeit a bit spicy. Hopefully my Minnesota-pallet will mature.

The thing that was hurting me the most though, causing sleepless nights and a general irritability, was not being able to have Velveeta Shells and Cheese. How can one properly go out hard one night only to know the hang over breakfast won’t be complete? Let’s just say, it was eating me up.

So, this last weekend when I was talking to Kraft, I asked them when they would introduce a dairy-free mac & cheese. I didn’t get an official answer, but I also didn’t get a “never.” Feeling hope, once again, I went to Whole Foods and found, omg, dairy-free mac & cheese. As I sit here typing, I’m so excited to get hungry and make myself a bowl. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.

Talks with Grandma

I came home from volunteering tonight and gave my Grandma a call. It’s probably been a couple weeks since I last talked to her, and I has missed a call from her on Sunday. We spent over an hour catching up, which just reminds me how much I love her to pieces. She has been such an influential person in my life. In a lot of ways, I think I turned out alright because of her. In other ways though, I wonder how I ever turned out the way I did. The funniest moments?

  • How similar we are. She was telling me about a woman who she knew who was going to be dying and she didn’t want her to die for a few days because she was busy and wouldn’t have time for a funeral. She says it in this point blank “oh geez I hope she doesn’t die today” type way that can only make me smile. Laughing, I explained how I had just said the same thing about my aunt having a baby. I hoped she could put it off for a few days (Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, so, success!) even though she was due on Monday so that Joe and I could come visit the baby right away. Her caveat was that of course she doesn’t want the woman to die, but if it is going to happen anyway there isn’t anything she can do to stop it.
  • “Oh, I think she is a slut!” was my Grandma’s response to me announcing my forthcoming trip to Kentucky to see Miley Cyrus. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard my Grandma use the word “slut” before, so that in itself was a shock. If Miley knew my Grandma though, I bet she would be proud that she is the one that finally brought that out of her. I’m just guessing here though…
  • She was telling me that the guy that baptized me had passed away and she would be going to his funeral. “You remember Father ____” she asked. Well, no, no I don’t. But, what I wanted to respond with was “I was baptized?” which would have given her a heart attack so I’m glad I somewhat have the power to bite my tongue, even if it only works around my Grandma.

Future Kate

Future Kate and I have a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I’m really good to her, such as when I took all of my required courses early in my college career leaving time to do what ever I wanted senior year (which, in hindsight may have led me to choose a major I otherwise wouldn’t have… but oh well). Other times, I screw her over good. Forget my keys in the condo? Oh, well, that is a Future-Kate problem and not anything to deal with now. And then I get home late and crabby and the last thing I want to do is get the spare key from the desk guy… Car running on empty? Future-Kate problem. And then the next time I’m running super late and have absolutely no time to stop at the gas station but have no other option.

It is because of this dynamic, though, that I’m constantly playing through different scenarios in my head. A few weeks ago, I was walking outside on the ice when I saw some frozen dog urine. Instinctually, I questioned whether urine, after a long night of drinking, freezes at a different temperature than normal urine. When I got home I posed this question to Joe. We quickly agreed that it would be a perfect science fair experiment for our future children, Liam and Olivia (just kidding, who pre-names children they aren’t even pregnant with, with someone they aren’t even married to? #Awkward).

We wouldn’t have the kid(s) drink, you see. We’d probably swap nights where first I am the sober one and Joe drinks, and then both of our pee is tested, and then the next day we swap. That way, in case anyone gets hurt there is a sober person to drive the other to the hospital. Just in case.

Hypothetically speaking, is it wrong to have kids play test with urine, if it is in the name of science? Would we get our kid boo’d out of school for being a freak? Would Joe and I then be the outcasts at the PTA meetings? Ha, me attending PTA meetings…

In other words, is my interest in the alcoholic concentration of urine going to negatively impact Future Kate?

Women in tech v. Women in business

Last week I moderated a panel of female investors and entrepreneurs at a tech event in Minneapolis. I was excited to be involved and am thankful for the opportunity. I learned a lot from the women in the panel and I also learned more about myself. 

The tool I got to use for gathering questions was pretty neat. Anyone in the audience could submit a question online and it was directly fed onto the iPad I held. It kept the flow moving along quite nicely by not having to vocally solicit questions from the audience. It also gave me the ability to vet questions and as the moderator, that was my duty. 

As the questions started rolling in, I noticed a certain theme among some of them. Lean In came up, as did being a working woman with a family. I deeply considered whether to bring up these topics and ultimately I decided against it. I believe that when we are discussing women in technology it needs to be a different conversation than discussing women as professionals. 

I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In when it came out about a year ago. I thoroughly enjoyed its message. It really resonated with me considering my ambitions to become an executive officer at a large company while also wanting a family. I felt it clearly addressed the issues that separate men and women, both acknowledging that we are different, and calling for greater equality. This discussion needs to continue until women are treated and compensated as equals in all industries and is not specific to technology. 

Insinuating that fewer women are in technology because of these inequality issues ignores some of the outright sexism that exists in tech. Society does a terrible job of teaching kids that both boys and girls are smart and that girls are as capable within STEM fields, just as boys are as capable within historically female-dominated industries. 

Online and in conference rooms, women are often seen as inferior to their male counterparts. I’ve gotten weird looks introducing myself as the technical consultant and my male coworker as being from marketing. Phrases like “who can we talk to about the technical stuff” and “will you be taking the notes?”/“can you grab us all coffee” undermine both our intelligence and our earned right to be there. Assumptions about a lack of technical skills means women have to prove harder that they are competent. Additionally, as Amanda Hess explains, women encounter situations online that no one should have to deal with, making for a larger barrier to entry for women. 

Neither battle can be won in a silo, but I think acknowledging the differences is an important step. As we continue the dialog on gender equality, keep in mind there are additional hurdles for women to jump when entering technology and similar industries. The Minneapolis tech community is extremely supportive of women and is a place where I truly believe we are equal. I hope this spreads to more places and we grow towards a more gender balanced industry. 

Joe, my Significant Other

So Joe will be joining the SO (significant other) club at MIT. Mainly because he is awesome, but also because we both think it will help with the transition for him to have connections too. We were chatting about housing when Joe says “oh, that reminds me, I’ve gotta reach out to the SO group!” because he is just that proactive.

So then he started researching them online a little bit more… He realized that the entire board is literally just women. He found on their website reference to events “Favorite SOS events: scavenger hunt and mani-pedi.” and all he could say was “This could be interesting.”

I suggested he could use a pedi though, which he totes could. I’m sure that there are more men involved with the club, just not at the board level though. That’s my guess.

Anyway, Joe is perfect and I’m excited that he is excited about Boston and actively looking for ways to participate in the things I’ve got going on. And create his own stuff so that when I’m busy and traveling the world I don’t have to worry about him getting bored.

In other news, my mother is staying with us this week. I’ve also realized that I don’t write as much when I’m not drinking (February was relatively successful!), but now that it is March maybe things will pick up again.