2014 Wrap Up

I haven’t written in what I would describe as a long-ass-time. Ideally I would blame this all on having the hectic life of a business school student. However, this is simply not the case. First and foremost, I have just as much free time as I did while working my corporate gig. Although, now I’m in Boston which is lovely and daunting at the same time. Second, not writing was actually a conscious decision rather than something that just sort of happened.

One thing that happens in business school is you are introduced to hundreds of successful, brilliant, beautiful people. Somehow, it seems like most everyone else has things figured out, yet I am still floundering around. Soon, I began to question the “me” others saw. Was I too perceived to be smart and awesome? Or, was I sort of a nerdy introvert who wandered in off the street? I thought a lot about first impressions, and lasting ones too. When I first met people, did they want to get to know me more? Once they knew me, did they feel they could rely on me and did they have a desire to work with me in the future?

Interestingly, my communications professor described business school as a time to experiment and test out new styles. While liberating to an extent, testing out new things on people who will make up an extremely valuable network seemed… risky. Could my openness to the world about depression, my family, and other struggles make me weaker in the eyes of others? Probably, and I’m not writing today because I somehow stumbled upon all the answers. I’m writing because I realized that writing is an imperative characteristic of who I am, and getting feedback from others is just as crucial.

In September, I had penned the following:

Today was my first day of orientation. In a lot of ways, it was overwhelming. So many people, so much going on. I did realize however, that I need to let things go. I have a tendency to let small things bother me and I let them impact me in a larger way than any normal being would. Example number 1: the lady in front of me on our bus ride back from rafting this weekend reclined her seat. Not only did it jab into my knees, and I’m not that tall of a girl, but she was in the front and therefore had nearly unlimited space otherwise. Instead of politely asking her to move her seat, or ignoring it all together, I sulked for the next 2 hours until she moved to the back. Am I just overly reactive to small annoyances or do I have a complete tendency to avoided conflict?

Example 2: today we had our first class. It wasn’t an official class, but a first class nonetheless. At this point, we were already divided into our cohorts, meaning I was in the room with the 60+ others I will be attending class with for the next full semester. Every. Class. Next to me, a woman sat texting on her phone for literally the full hour and a half. Maybe a normal person could have ignored it, somehow tuned it out. I, however, was completely distracted by it. Things to say to her kept rushing through my head – “are you even paying attention?” “Are you not interested in this subject?” “Can you please put that away, it’s really distracting for me.”

I posted it here to highlight the difficulty of public self-reflection. The note was meant to be about me and how I deal with stuff. However, given the nature of my program and the fact that I share so much of myself online with people who may be mentioned, I risk offending others. This is never my intention and is just something I’ll need to continue to be mindful of as I press on writing.

To quickly summarize the last 4 months, let me just say and Joe and I are now engaged. I don’t plan on this being a wedding blog, but I will share the story of how it happened. After finally settling in to our new home, Joe and I decided to host a housewarming party. It was scheduled for Saturday December 13th, and the evening before we were just going to have a nice dinner with friends before going home to wrap up the final touches on the apartment.

When I arrived at the restaurant to meet Joe and the other couple, I was surprised to be handed a note from the matri de. All it said was “Jump in the Uber waiting for you outside. Love, Joe.” I nervously approached the black car and once I was inside, I called Joe to confirm I wasn’t in fact being abducted. Soon I could tell we were headed to the harbor.

I arrived at a boat that was beautifully lit in the Boston night sky. On board we just Joe, and I private table for two. We set sail and sat down for dinner and had a beautiful evening and in my cupcake dessert was the ring! I obviously said yes.

After that, we went back to the apartment and SURPRISE! All of my family had been flown in to celebrate with us. Good thing I didn’t say no.

Just kidding. None of that happened to us. Joe proposed while we were looking at Christmas lights around Boston (a holiday tradition of ours). We were walking down Commonwealth Avenue, which has a pedestrian median lined on both sides by huge trees. The trees were covered from trunk to tip in white Christmas lights and it looked like an infinite archway that clearly went on for blocks. He moved into it by readdressing a conversation we had been in the night before: if we got married, what last name would we go with? I was a little dead on the subject so I slightly zoned out and because I was getting cold, suggested we turn around. We were coming to the end of the block and there was a big statue at the end that we looped around. I wanted to read it so I stopped and it just happened to be a memorial for firemen that were killed many years ago. I was all like “oohh that’s so sad!” when I heard Joe summarize “and that’s why I want to marry you.” Then he took out the ring and asked “Will you marry me?”

I was definitely surprised. I think I just hugged him for a minute and then said “yes” and then tried on the most beautiful ring I have ever seen. We started to walk back because we had a dinner reservation but I think I was a little overwhelmed and made us stop to sit on a bench. I sat and hugged him and smiled and may have even cried a little, but chances are he was the one crying. Just sayin’.

We had a delicious dinner at a joint in the Four Seasons. Joe had reserved a table overlooking Boston Commons and it was just perfect.

(Regarding the fake story: this was actually a proposal story of a close friend that Joe had the dumb idea to tell me about as we walked to the restaurant. Really, Joe, you think that was the best time? I now like to throw him under the bus with it every now and again…)

We walked home and debated whether to tell people right away or maybe wait for Christmas (we’d be leaving in just a week). The excitement took over and right when we got home we started calling people.

First, it was my mom. We both sat on the couch with my phone set to speaker. Once it started ringing I got nervous and said “you have to tell her.” So she answered, we both said our hellos and then Joe went into it “Well, Sandy, I asked your daughter to marry me tonight.”

— Twenty second of silence — we thought we might have dropped her.

Finally, “… and what did she say?”

Joe clarified by stating I did in fact agree to marry him.

— Twenty more seconds of silence —

“Is she pregnant?” asked my mom in a way that I should have expected but threw Joe off guard.

In the end, it was a beautiful night and I’m excited to marry my best friend such a hot piece of ass.

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One day at a time

Yesterday was a pretty terrible day.. I think part of it was getting back home at midnight the night before, and therefore not getting my normal 9 hours of sleep. I think it was also influenced by the fact that I weighed myself in the morning and came in a full 8lbs heavier than I had on Friday. But, it was a graduation weekend which is really like Christmas which means I have a semi-excuse.

I was also pretty overwhelmed at work. The project manager on one of my major projects was out all last week, which meant I got about 100 follow up emails within the first 3 hours of her being back. Glad she’s back, hate email overload. It makes my head explode.

When I got off work I really just wanted to have a drink. But, the one ounce of sanity left in my depressed brain made me go home and work out instead. It’s almost like I am maturing and thats silly. But then after I worked out I had a cocktail while I watch Joe put together our new balcony set. So, in reality, I’m not that grown up.

Today was better. Maybe just because I told myself it couldn’t get any worse than yesterday. Maybe because I had tons of coffee. Maybe because I went out last night and didn’t get good sleep for the second night in a row and was too loopy to be crabby. Who knows really.

One day at a time though, one day at a time.

Toys for Tots

I’ve always loved Christmas. And my birthday. Mostly just winters in general because all of the best holidays fall within it. I think it boils down to the fact that I love to celebrate. Whether it is Easter or my best friend’s birthday – I’m first to arrive and the last to leave.

Which is why it was such a shock for me to learn that Easter actually falls on a Sunday. The Bunny always came on Monday evening – why on earth would he come so late? Same with Valentine’s Day. We always celebrated on the 15th. Totally normal, right?

Wrong.

My mother created this lovely illusion that holidays’ fell after they actually did. What sounds terrible from the eye of an onlooker, was really joy in the eye of a child. Anything on a discount meant I got that much more. 20% off? 20% more! 70% clearance candy? Yes, I will have 70% more please.

So, when “santa” came a couple days after Christmas, I wasn’t even taken aback. I got a few great gifts – fake barbie dolls and a few coloring books. But… why was Christmas coming for a second time? Hadn’t Santa already left the loot?

Somehow I knew that it was really Toys for Tots bringing me my presents. But, Toys for Tots didn’t mean anything to me. Sure, we were on welfare and sure, I was in a single parent household… but… does that warrant free Christmas gifts?

To this day I struggle with it. I feel so less deserving than kids that truly grow up in rough times… Yet, I didn’t grow up in a basket of roses. Was Toys for Tots created for children like me? Am I really the target audience?

Happy… even through the cold

Things have been really good for me lately, too good. So good that I think it’s probably one of the “high” phases in the great cycle of depression. Which to be fair, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It makes me not take it for granted one bit.

Joe and I were sitting on the couch the other Saturday night – I was nursing a cough and didn’t feel like going out after such a busy day. [Mark and my brothers came over to celebrate Christmas. I love all of them, but just having children around/in my apartment is a little stressful.] So, after having a nice dinner, complete with a slow-dance desert, we settled down to a lovely movie. Cuddled into his crook [the space between his arm and body] I felt so at peace. Happy with my job and happy with my relationship; happy to be sitting on my pink velvet couch wrapped up in the most comfy blanket in the world; proud of the progress I’ve made on my book and excited to make the next steps in applying for a writers grant; relaxed after a wonderful day with my family and just being.

Joe made it through draft 1 of my book. It made for a couple of silly moments – me waking up in the morning to him reading stories such as my birth or my first period. But overall, there is no one else that I would rather have the first read. It is no where near done. I left holes and mentioned random characters without any introductions. But, it has a beginning and an end and some stuff in the middle, so I consider it a draft. His “assignment” was to read through and tell me where he wanted more. I don’t always know how much detail to go into, either when explaining people or situations, so having an outsiders perspective is priceless. Just having someone read the draft though, makes me realize it is a real book. His ending comment, “As you’re aware, stories need fleshing out and more flow, and you need more of them – especially more stories from your Sam-and-older years. What you have is compelling and interesting, though. I think there’s definitely something here,” was all I needed to keep going. After a short break after NaNoWriMo, I’m back on the horse.

In other news, a friend and I went looking at wedding dresses the other day. Not because either of us are getting married, but because dresses are pretty and girls are allowed to day dream and stuff like that, and it is wedding dress season for some reason. But then some staff ladies (yes, multiple!) came in and were like “Can we help you?” and “what are you looking for?” and “oh you should try stuff on” and then I had a panic attack and needed to leave. Good thing I don’t need to wedding dress shop for realzies.

A week of technology

The Holiday Tech Bash hosted by W3i last Thursday at Aria was awesome. It was just as awesome as the MinneDemo event hosted at the same space on Tuesday. Except, Friday morning I woke up with a tad more of hangover, probably due to the bar Joe dragged me out to afterwards.

At the event though, Girls in Tech raised some money! I think it was my fabulous speaking skills that earned us the dough. Or not, because people were busy playing cards. But I did manage to turn 50 fake dollars into a lot more, so, I can take a sliver of credit myself. It was just a really cool event though where I met a lot of great people – and saw some friendly faces too! Including someone from Macalester! I really feel like I’m beginning to become connected to the Tech community here in the Twin Cities, and I’m even more excited when I think of all the great things Girls in Tech can accomplish. I’m really proud to be heading things up.

Monday night was a Girls in Tech Happy Hour. It was held at aLoft hotel and was a pretty good time. Frist, I just love that space. Second, it was like a symbolic passing of the baton type of thing… both Jacque and I got up on “stage” and spoke for a few minutes. It was nuts because there was not an ounce of nervousness in me. It’s amazing to feel so great and confident about something – I know I’m doing the right thing.

Last week just just so much awesomeness wrapped into a bubble, and then this week, I’ve got notta-damn-thing planned. I hate how that seems to happen. It should be okay though, Joe is finally done with class!

Anyway, even though I didn’t get any book editing done today, it was still a good day. I did some nonprofit stuff and had a nice time with Joe. Then I took my new prescription which gives me a tummy ache and knocks me out – not sure why I haven’t learned to just take it at night yet. We went to the Holidazzle and I felt like a rock star remembering the order of the floats (or at least recognizing each one) from the time I worked on the planning team (Winter of 2010).

I just found out Milkweed Editions has decided to close/cancel their Jan – March submissions calling and I’m über disappointed. That’s when I was going to submit my book and then get published and be super awesome. It would have been nice to work with them because they too are a local nonprofit and really strike my fancy. However, I was hoping to get a decision regarding my publishability by October just in case they actually did want it. Then I could put “author” on my resume for Stanford and be even cooler. Now I’ll just continue finalizing the manuscript and consider branching out to other publishers, or, wait to see what Milkweed says.

Also, totally managed to connect with someone from the Grace Hopper conference committee today. Girls in Tech is going to partner in some way when they come to Minneapolis for their 2013 Celebration of Women in Computing. 2013 is going to be a good year.

Quick updates

Today was a pretty awesome day. Remember a while back how I was all like “oooohh… work never challenges me…”? Well, I’m not saying I’m all of a sudden über challenged or anything, but I have been thrown onto a few more projects. Which equals busy sauce at work. This makes me happy.

Further, a super awesome article came out about me today. If you are so inclined, you can read it here: http://tech.mn/news/2012/12/04/kate-agnew-girls-in-tech-msp/ .

Quick life update? NaNoWriMo: 30,000 words. Not the 50k I strove for, but 30k nonetheless. This means I am 25k closer to finishing my book. I’m really happy with where it is at. I’m confident it is what I would call a first draft as it does chronicle most of my life. Step 1: Write it. Check! Step 2: Edit it. In progress…

I totes bought Joe a pretty good Christmas gift, until I realized he probably wouldn’t like it. So, even though it was already wrapped and under the tree, I unwrapped it, returned it, and will be getting him something else. Maybe there is such a thing as shopping too early…

We rearranged our apartment! The “office” is now in the living room, and the couch and TV are in the den. This is an effort to make me a happy camper through the winter months rather than sitting in the darkness. Also, I love my sun lamp. High five for technology equalling happiness.

Lastly, condo hunting has been great. We didn’t love the IVY, reasons for this include: not allowing owners to rent out (how would I go to San Francisco if I got in?!), charging owners for access to gym, not including parking in the 1 bedrooms, tiny closets, small windows etc. The Carlyle rocked our socks off. Beautiful pool, hot tub, workout area, view, morning sun, nice counters, huge closet, home to a timberwolves player, great parking (which is included!). I’m not completely sold yet though, mainly because we haven’t been approved for our loan yet because we haven’t applied yet. We are looking for more of a May move in date so I’m just getting the lay of the land now anyway.

Well, I’ve gots to run to my Girls in Tech meeting… first one as Managing Director!

I make lists. Here is one of things I am stressed out about.

Things I am stressed out about

  1. Money
    • Lack of it. Especially around Christmas time. Plus, I went shopping this weekend and maybe shouldn’t have. But it was fun and good retail therapy while the high lasted. Now I just have the guilt. I’ll return the shoes most likely. The sweater is really cute.
  2. Work
    • Not busy enough. Things were better last week and are hopefully good this week, but still. Sometimes I’ll read a tweet about a company I’m interested in out in San Francisco and I’m mad that I’m stuck here in MN. But, not really mad because I know I will get to leave as soon as Joe is done with school and I’m being a supportive girlfriend.
  3. The party
    • Cleaning. This house isn’t like, bad, but just the typical stuff like vacuuming and what not before people come over. And I kind of want to do laundry, but I bet people that are coming over for our birthday party won’t care if there are dirty clothes in the hamper.
    • Shopping for supplies. Both food and drinks. And figuring out the deets on how I want to decorate. I have most of the stuff figured out and I know what I’m going to get and what not, but this week is a busy week for Joe (I just found out he has a paper due Saturday night… how stupid is that?) so I’m left to do most of the stuff on my own. Like shopping.
  4. Writing
    • I’m super far behind on NaNoWriMo
    • I have stuff to do for my memoir class too, which isn’t until later this week but I’m still allowing myself to be stressed about it
  5. My weight
    • I’ve been feeling like a fatty lately
    • My weight isn’t up, but I just am not as muscular as I once was. I should be working out more, but a gym membership costs money and I’m probably too lazy to do it anyway
  6. Losing stuff
    • I can’t find my skewers. It isn’t a huge deal and I can just go buy some more at Target, but where the heck did they go? I’ve checked seriously everywhere.
    • I also can’t find my glow sticks. I’m less concerned about this one because I wasn’t sure if I had kept them anyway, but now instead of inserting awesome glow sticks into self-blown balloons, I’ll probably just get a couple dozen helium balloons. Except, those cost money.
    • While I was down in my storage unit looking for skewers and sticks and bringing back down Halloween decorations, I found a box that something had spilled all over inside of. The box was filled with cards and memorable newspapers, and pictures too. Not to mention my Mary-Kate and Ashley video games and dolls. Those have more or less survived though, thank god.
  7. Watching too much TV
    • I got rid of my TV for a reason, and things were fine then. No, that is a lie, things weren’t necessarily better but at least I didn’t have a TV. Now I watch TV and I’m having a hard time figuring how much is normal and how much is the line of me turning into a sack of potatoes.

Making lists makes me feel better. I will stop crying now.

From Hot Glue Guns to…

When I was in middle school, I carried a hot glue gun with me at all times. Just before this started, someone had asked if I had one. Being the sarcastic seventh grader I was, I said “oh yes, I have one right here in my back pocket.” I then realized how funny that would have been, and decided that going forward I would never leave home without a hot glue gun again.

Well, that only lasted for about 3 years. I got sick of carrying it with me and never being asked again if I had one. I think word got out and therefore everyone conspired to never ask me for one. Even though the hot glue gun went away, the sentiment never did. Ever since then, I like to be the one that is prepared, thinking of any possible need before it actually arises.

So, after years of questioning why I’ve been moving around a spare keyboard that I asked for for Christmas in 2005 but never actually used, it finally came in handy. I was just a year away from making the transition from desktop to laptop, and haven’t looked back. Yet, the keyboard is actually really cool; it is a backlit keyboard where you can change the color of the backlights (red, blue or purple). You would love it.

Anyway, after months of chomping away on the loudest keyboard in man’s history, Joe looks up and asks “does my keyboard bother you?” To which I replied honestly, “it only sounds like nails on a chalkboard my love.” He was supportive though “oh, I guess I should start thinking about getting a new one.” I blank stared for a while, thinking if I still had it, when I finally pinpointed its location. I knew it was in the basement storage unit in my apartment, and it just happened to be the second tub from the top. We ran down there, and let’s just say, you’d think I’d have gotten him a new Christmas puppy “oh my gosh, I have never had a keyboard this wonderful and new in my whole entire life.” Mission. Accomplished.

A Cliché: Discovered

So this morning I was really missing my brothers and went down to visit them. I was reminded how cliché I really am.

In the kitchen, visiting over a cup of coffee, my step-dad’s awesome wife and I were visiting. We were watching the boys play Star Wars Lego on the Xbox when she mentioned that in her first marriage she bought her husband a Lego set for a present one year. I understood it as an example of his immaturity, which of course made me think of Joe because I got him a model for Christmas!

Turns out both she and I got our significant other’s Millennium Falcon sets. I didn’t realize how cliché that is until today.

A phone call home

So I spoke to my mom last night on the phone. It didn’t last too long and it was relatively cordial. I called her to see which Twin’s game her and Curt wanted to go to- that was my Christmas gift to them. We also chatted for a bit about her life- the last time she went to the eye doctor, her RP and MD had progressed the least they ever have. This is good news that means she isn’t loosing her sight at the same rate that she once was. Obviously this put her in a good mood and made her a bit easier to handle.

I started filling her in on the details of my life. I explained that work is going well, life is going fine, mostly everything is good. I then told her that Joe and I are looking to get a place together and she starts in about how she thinks we are going to get married (this probably contributed to my dream last night where Joe wanted to get married and I said I wanted more time, so he orchestrated this entire plot to make me realize I should marry him, the Prince of Scotland [only for the dream, sadly]. Most of the dream is fuzzy.. the best parts were the blindfold/water plunge while tied to a chair and then being rescued by a Siberian husky; and that the linens he picked out looked fancy on top, and then had “hilarious” written underneath).

Anyway, when I told her that I am both looking at local MBA schools and considering something out-of-state depending on GMAT scores, she got all in a huff about me leaving the state. I blew up on her. I was like: “Sandra. Why must you turn everything into being about you? I am a 23-year-old woman and am able to make all my life choices without consulting you…” Apparently she thinks that she needs to be able to get to me at any time in case I ever have an emergency and need to call her. I decided to spare her the detail that Joe is my emergency contact.