Travel from hell –> Pretty good week

 

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What started as the worst week ever turned fantastic pretty quick.

Traveling back from China was the worst 26 hours of my life. Physically. I’m sure I had worse emotionally, especially when I was an emo-teenager. Something I ate on Saturday, most likely the dinner of dumplings, made me sick. I didn’t realize this until 5am the next day when Victor showed up at my door to take me to the airport. I was still sleeping and hadn’t yet packed, but he was an hour early so I fully believe I would have gotten ready on time had he not been early.

Once in the car, I took out the barf bag I had been carrying around with me all week “just-in-case,” at Victor’s request. It was the mix of the driving around (which was obviously terrifying) and being up so early, and my upset stomach could barely handle it. I did make it to the airport, but the second I was through the door I had to run to a bathroom. Luckily I actually stumbled into one with an actual toilet rather than a hole in the ground.

I cleaned up and went back out to meet Victor and Anya who were seeing me off. Victor wanted to grab breakfast but I was like “omg I will just throw up again” and decided not to eat anything. We said our goodbyes and I made it through security. I wanted to buy a bottle of water because I was pretty thirsty, but apparently it is impossible to buy bottled water at the airport in Kunming. They did, however, have little water machines with paper cups every now and again so I tried to use one of those. I couldn’t make the water come out. I ended up texting Victor and he gave me instructions. It shouldn’t have been that hard.

Having something in my stomach again made me feel ill, so I went to the bathroom. But BAM! there were 15 women in line. So, I left the bathroom and used the garbage can sitting outside, right on the main walkway of the entire airport. After successfully throwing up into recycling (oops!) I made my way to my gate and painfully waited over an hour because it was delayed.

Once on the flight, still thirsty and dehydrated, I got apple juice from the flight attendant when she came around. That didn’t work either so within 5 minutes I was throwing up in the bathroom of the plane. I sat back down again. By now, you’d think I had it all out of my system. I realized this was false when I felt ill again and went to the bathroom, again. There was a line, however, and stupid me didn’t bring my barf bag with me. As I stood there waiting I was carefully evaluating whether or not I could hold it. I eyed the seat pockets of those around me just in case, when all of a sudden I knew I had to reach for one. A seven year old boy had his sticking out a bit, and even though he was at the window seat I leaned in and swiped it. And voilà, there I went again.

The flight attendant saw me this time and brought extra bags for me as well as a small cup of water. Hot water, obviously, because this was still China. I didn’t drink much more than a sip because of my inability to keep it down. I eventually went back to my seat and tried to nap. I wasn’t able to do so, but soon we started landing anyway (it was about a two hour flight). About as soon as the “remain in your seats we are landing now” announcement was made, I needed to throw up again. I felt really bad for the man sitting next to me, no one should have to experience stranger-vomit. Thankfully it was mostly liquid at this point though and therefore wasn’t overwhelmingly stinky. Yay!

He only spoke Chinese but tried to show me some hand pressure points that would help make me feel better. It was hard to hold my barf bag and really do what he was showing me, but at least I tried.

Once in Shanghai, I had to get my new ticket printed and make it to the next terminal. I found my way to the singular Delta counter in the airport and attempted to get my ticket. However, they said I needed to grab my checked luggage first, even though the woman in Kunming explicitly told me I wouldn’t need to. Okay, so I sickly walk to baggage claim 7, where she told me, only to find she meant 1. Once I get to 1, most of the baggage had come out and it was clear mine wasn’t there. This is when I began to cry. I called Joe at $1/minute because I just felt alone without any ability to communicate and sick ans arrggg.

After making sure my luggage wasn’t indeed anywhere, I went back to the counter to tell them so. While listening to them decide what to do, I throw up again. Luckily I had the extra bags from the flight. They had to check for the luggage themselves, obvi, so there was more walking around. Eventually they said “it isn’t here” and finally just printed my tickets. Because I didn’t think I would be going through security again, I bought a water which they actually sell in Shanghai. I knew I would throw it up but I was just so parched.

Once I was in line for security, whoops, I saw some classmates of mine who were stationed in Shanghai for their project. I was just so so so excited to see people I knew and was able to communicate with. I just felt bad they had to watch me vomit while standing in line, but they handed me tissues and were really helpful.

You know how they always have garbages right before the x-ray machines for all the things you forgot you had? Yeah, they don’t do that in Shanghai. So when I get up to the front of the line I find I have nowhere to place said barf bag. I had to carefully hand over a warm bag of vomit to a very nice looking security woman who only spoke Chinese. She then passed it to a coworker and so forth – it finally found a garbage.

For some reason I thought that a skittle would be a good idea. Well, maybe I didn’t even think it would be a good idea but I needed something to get the taste of vomit out of my mouth. While it didn’t get the taste out because it came back up pretty quickly, it was sort of like one of those pills that makes your poop smell good. I still had to go through it but it didn’t taste as bad.

At this point, I was only 6 hours into the 26 hours of travel.

The next leg was a 14 hour flight. Once I made it on board, I warned my seat mate of my “motion sickness” just so I didn’t catch her off guard. I was on the aisle though, so at least she wouldn’t need to get up every time I needed to throw up. Surprisingly I only had to get up 3 times during that long flight, and towards the end was even able to eat some bread and managed to hold that down. Winning!

This flight was incredibly turbulent though. I really thought I knew I was going to die. And, at that moment, there was nothing I could do so I kind of just tried to stay focused and think of happy things. I ended up feeling very calm knowing that I would die, and I convinced myself that I didn’t want my last moments to be in pain so I somehow willed myself to numb away my stomach ache.

I couldn’t concentrate on any movies and I couldn’t read or play cell phone games, so I just sat there and reflected and maybe drifted to sleep once or twice. 13 hours later I’m finally in Detroit and I felt a lot more calm and not as freaked out. I didn’t even care that my luggage wasn’t there either, I just told the agents and they let me through customs anyway.

Only 3 hours of waiting and a 2 hour flight stood between me and Joe. I could handle that. I finally had real internet access again, so I watched some Criminal Minds on Netflix while waiting and then slept for the whole flight. Joe picked me up at the airport and we went to file the claim for my missing luggage together. It was actually kind of nice to not have to drag it around. Instead, it was going to be delivered!

Once home at midnight Monday morning, I slept solidly until 4pm the next afternoon. I missed class, but that’s okay in situations like this. I stayed up for a few hours and was able to fall asleep with Joe that night. Jet lag is a crazy thing.

The next day, everything in life was just so much better. My first class of the day was a new class called “Managing in Adversity.” Every class a different CEO or leader come in to share stories of how they, get this, managed through an adversity. First up? Ed Davis, former police commissioner of Boston, who was in office when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred.

It gave me goosebumps listening to the story through his point of view. All the people he had to interact with, all the things he saw and decisions he had to make. It made me want to join the law enforcement it was so powerful.

That night, I had a networking event for Netflix at the Lenox hotel. This hotel was right near one of the blast sites and was mentioned in the case we read in preparation for Ed’s talk. Even though I’ve been by there tons of times since moving to Boston, after hearing from Ed I definitely experienced it differently.

The Netflix event was awesome. I’m so in love with their focus on analytics and how they use data, I just want to work for them forever. They even had more women at the event than men, which adding this to their recent addition of Anne Sweeney to their Board of Directors, it is clear they value women in business more than most other tech companies. It is seriously such a dream company for me, I’m going to really try to pursue an internship with them even though they typically don’t bring us on.

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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.

Last minute jitters

Stanford is due tomorrow which means I’m pretty much freaking out and nearly hyperventilating. I needed to take a little cry break on Joe’s shoulder even. Crying is fine, because I haven’t cried in a while. It wasn’t even a good cry though, just a little mopeyness.

I didn’t know what this one would feel like, but it is really nerve wracking. Last week when I submitted MIT, I wasn’t stressed. I put my best foot forward and am happy with how it turned out. But with Stanford, I want to have it just perfect which is impossible because I don’t know what perfection is even if it exists. I’ve just got to put all I can into it and hope for the best, but it also feels like I should be able to do more. It’s an overwhelming feeling of just not being good enough, which is lame.

I briefly considered listing one of my old Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fan site awards on the “Awards and Honors” section, because I really don’t have anything else. And, while I am legitimately proud of them because I was young and taught myself how to code HTML, I don’t want them to think I’m making light of the application. It’s also kind of pathetic if my only award is from 2001 so I left it off.

I’m going to go to sleep, get a great night of rest, and wake up early tomorrow to put together all the final touches. My essays are done (except one for a fellowship), 90% of the application itself is done, I just need to read through everything 10 more times probably. But, mmmrrrahhhhhhhhh

Kate’s a Pin Up

My new found obsession, Twitter, has led to many exciting adventures. The most recent was my opportunity to be photographed as a pin up girl.

Everyone is going to have an amazing time at @glamdolldonuts for our last $50 mini-shoot. There is still room to sign up, don’t miss out.

— Christi Williams (@grinkie) April 24, 2013

The only reason I saw the tweet was because it was retweeted by Glam Doll Donuts, which is probably my most favorite donut shop in all of Minneapolis. Even though I was at work, I emailed right away. It was kind of like “ohmygod… I need to be in this photo shoot. When is it?” And then she was all like “May 15th” and I was like “SOLD!!!!” I had a work trip that evening, but I was sure I’d be able to get of all my modeling done during the day and make it to the airport on time. [SPOILER! I did.]

The whole night before I was worried about everything playing out right. I signed up for hair and makeup, only because I’ve never been able to do my own. But… was I supposed to bring my own clothes? In a panic, I mapped out all the vintage clothing stores between the condo and Glam Doll. After looking at nearly every picture taken by the photographer in her pin-up book, I determined she did in fact have costumes due to the fact that some women were in the same outfits. I determined to go in wearing whatever, hoping they would have something for me. [SPOILER! They did.]

The night before, Joe and I were lying in bed. He was working on homework because we hadn’t seen each other in a while and he had things he needed to do. I was attempting to fall asleep, when I posed a question, “what do you think about people who have big pictures of themselves hanging on their wall?”

He responded “It’s a little vain. Why do you ask?”

“Well, noooo reason,” I said in the most suspicious way I could. I had the intention of getting a print done for the new condo… but after the whole Veronica Mars fiasco, I knew I needed to run this by him.

After pretending to snore, he asked me once again “Kate…. why do you ask?”

He assumed I had made a purchase. “No, I have not spent any money today other than at Caribou and Crave” I said. He knew I was being too specific, and continued to question me. After going back and fourth for a while, laughing a bit and then doing some crying (high five PMS!), I finally assured him that I had not purchased a large portrait, and had no plans to.

But honestly, in hindsight, I’m totally getting one printed. Largely printed, in fact. How cool would this be on my wall??

eating donut

NaNoWriMo, Day 1

Day one of both NaNoWriMo and my memoir class and I’ve already made the tears flow; in public nonetheless. I’m chilling out at Open Book downtown, where my class took place (it’s through the Loft Literary Center). I felt it would be an inspirational place to continue the writing, so I find myself perched at a table. I have to write 1667 words tonight (of an actual book, meaning, this doesn’t even count!) to meet my day 1 requirement for NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November. The goal is to write 50k words by the end). I’m not writing a novel, because I don’t believe in fiction. I’m using it as a structured force to write my memoir. The fact that today was the first day of my class was just a coincidence .. I like the ways things tend to fall together for me.

The tears came from what I was writing. In terms of the book, I’m at the point in my life where I had lice one summer. My mom sent me a care package because I was staying with family at the time and they agreed to keep me so my mom didn’t have to deal with the lice. Except, the care package made me miss her so bad that I made her drive out to see me that exact same day. I still feel guilty about the money she spent on shipping the package when I had her drive out anyway.

The class so far is fantastic though. Usually I get bored by people and don’t like to come back to things like that. However, there are reading assignments and writing that we have to do before the next class, both of which I’m excited about.

Further, the people in the class are perfect. None are intimidating to me, in a good way. I feel comfortable, like I bring my own strengths to the group, similar to how I felt at She’s Geeky. While some people have really awesome stories, experiences and educations, I also feel content in having my story be my own. I’m also intrigued by the stories of others and am looking forward to being inspired by them.

Tomorrow I am flying out to Pittsburgh to visit Tepper Business School.. I’ll let you know all about it ;) Also, I’m writing sober right now. High five for that.

Sad afternoon

So sometimes I waste too much time watching TV and then I turn into a sad monkey. This past week I’ve both gotten Joe hooked on How I Met Your Mother and watched the first season with him. When I was insta-tears at the end of the last episode, I obviously had to storm off and pout for a while. Shows like this have a joint affect on me- I both am sad for the characters because I too have felt that pain, but I’m also so sad that I’m allowing a silly show to get a rise out of me. I know it is just a show and I shouldn’t be so vested in it, so I get mad at myself, but, am still mad at what happened in the show.

Joe came in to try to calm me down. He recognized that I was just in a funk though, so he suggested we go out for a drive. Just getting out of the house can work wonders on my mood. We were both in our pajamas still but just decided to walk out as is. I had two pairs of shoes at his place- coach tennis shoes or my high heels- because I didn’t want to put on socks, I decided that the heels would be most appropriate. We looked hideous.

Driving around was nice. We went looking at big houses and listened to NPR. It is really a beautiful day, so now I’m feeling a bit better and may just be a tad more productive with my life. Or something like that.

My mom stresses me out

So I just got off the phone with my mom- we are meeting for dinner tomorrow night because she will be in town, and this will be the first time she meets Joe. Just speaking to her and realizing that I have to see her has totally riled me up and I’m in near tears just thinking about it. I get a stomach ache imagining how the night will play out, starting from the long car ride up to Coon Rapids to the hug I am sure to receive upon my departure. I don’t know what it is about seeing her that freaks me out so much, but I just don’t like the way she loves me so much (I recognize that this isn’t what normal people complain about). For example though, she stares at me across the table with these crazy-eyes, tells me how beautiful I am every few minutes, and always wants to hug me/touch me. It gives me the chills, and I feel uncomfortable the whole time.

There is also the fact that I have a hard time controlling myself around her. When the fact that just thinking about her makes me angry, actually being around her is that much worse. I am quick with her, very impatient, and I feel bad about how I treat her. I try to be open and welcoming to her, I try to make myself excited to see her, but when it comes down to it I’m a nervous wreck.

The last time I saw her was about a month ago when she was at my aunt and uncles house. She constantly whined yet complimented how skinny I had gotten and was upset that she was up 10lbs. I completely blame my body image issues on her (as well as nearly all my mental issues, I suppose). [We decided that tomorrow we can go out to eat because she managed to drop the 10lbs from last time]. At their house, she kept telling me how proud she is of me and all this other junk. What I’m sure many many others would appreciate, annoys the heck out of me. 

Later that evening, I got a call from my aunt (my mom was staying the night), saying she needed my help finding her cat- my mom had let him out. I had taken Tylenol PM to help me get to sleep and was in no condition to drive south and help find a cat in the rain (I’m surprised I even answered the call) so I had to let her down. When I woke up around 1am and checked my phone, I had two missed calls and one message from my mom. She had gotten kicked out of my aunt and uncles place, began driving and had gotten into a car accident. She had nowhere to go and needed my help. This message was about 2 hours old, yet I frantically called her to see what had happened. No answer. I called Curt (her boyfriend) and he had not heard from her- as far as he knew she was still at my aunt and uncles.

I called Joe because I was clearly freaked out and in a panic. He talked me down and explained that if I couldn’t get ahold of her, there was really nothing I could do. When I last saw her at 7pm, she had already started drinking, so all that I could assume is that she hadn’t sobered up and had gotten arrested (from drinking and driving, which would not be the first time). I managed to fall back asleep and didn’t hear anything until about 9am the next morning. It was a text message from Curt that just said “Everything is ok. Big mix up. Take care.”

To this day we have not discussed it and I don’t know what happened. I’ve spoken to my mom maybe twice over the phone since, and she has attempted to apologize. Not wanting to think about it or even talk about it, I was quick to changed the subject. All’s well that ends well, no?

Some people would probably say like, “well, no, not really, because Kate, you are going to see her tomorrow and you basically had a panic attack.” Urgle- I want to cancel on her, ignoring it will make it go away mostly :(

On a similar note, Joe and I are going to look at a condo tomorrow! Not in the “we are ready to take that step” type way, but rather we are going because I saw the listing and was like “omg, that place looks amazing I want to see it.” Besides the fact that it is a tad outside my price range, my lease goes through July and I’m not sure I’m ready to buy yet. However, I get really excited thinking about what will happen next and planning out my goals and future, so this will give me a nice vision to hold on to.

I’ve also been looking a crap ton into grad school options. Well, MBA options which are really St. Thomas and the U of M. Joe will be starting his masters program in July at the U, and I’m also throwing around the idea of shooting for next fall. Technically for MBA programs one is supposed to have two years of work experience, but I plan on taking it slow and I’m already missing school a lot, so I think it could be a good opportunity. Never know until I try at least.

Home sick

So I went into work this morning, hoping that getting out of the house would make me feel better. This was not the case. It wasn’t so much the sitting/e-mailing/conference calls that got to me, I was mostly okay if I wasn’t moving. However, when I get up to make a copy or have a meeting, I felt instantly dizzy and wanted to throw up. Of course then I just avoided moving, but people were telling me I looked sick and should get away from them so I didn’t infect anyone. Point taken.

Walking home I had the strangest cravings for pizza and cool ranch doritos. It reminded me of when I was about 6 years old and got really sick once. All I remember was eating a lot of doritos, and puking up nearly just as many (or maybe just one huge dorito… not sure how that addition works). I couldn’t eat cool ranch for YEARS because it always reminded me of being sick. That has since passed so I’m not sure why now all of a sudden I am craving them while being sick.

As for my flight home yesterday- nothing really went according to plan. Turns out, they got the original plane so they no longer were oversold (apparently they thought they were going to use a smaller aircraft). However, it was delayed a shit ton and the original 6:00pm that they teased me about going on ended up leaving before my delayed 6:30pm take off. How lame is that? Not to mention.. no $300 for me…

The flight was hell two. My ears went all whack because I was stuffed up, and I couldn’t manage to fall asleep either. I ended up talking to a nice woman next to me though- she seemed kind of impressed with me, which was cute. Her son is a junior in college now, so we talked a lot about college and I suggested he do summer programs like the ones I did. She was in Denver for her book club, and now I’m starting to think about forming a book club. Basically we would only read memoirs… anyone interested?

Upon my arrival, I had a message from Joe, so I sent him a text telling him we just finally landed. He couldn’t believe my flight was delayed so long, and not wanting me to take the light-rail back so late when I wasn’t feeling well, he offered to come pick me up. I didn’t want to make him do that, but after going back and fourth I relented. I called him once I was off and walking to the pick-up zone, and he mentioned he was just getting ready for bed. What proceeded went a little like this:

Me: “So… you aren’t picking me up?”
Joe: “No… did you want me to?”
Me: “Umm yeah, that’s what I said in the text”
Joe: “What? No. You said that you were sure that you didn’t want me to come”
Me: tears starting… “No… I meant sure come get me… but its fine, I’ll take the light-rail”
Joe: “No, no, I’m sorry, I misunderstood! I can be there in 15 minutes!!”
Me: full-on tears in the airport “No, no, its fine. But I just don’t want to talk anymore. Bye”

I ended up taking a cab because I wasn’t sure how long the wait would be for the train, and I also couldn’t imagine myself sitting through the entire ride. I just really wanted to be at home in my bed resting. $50 later, I’m fumbling to get my keys out of all my luggage, because clearly I can never remember where I’ve placed them 3 days prior… I’m out on the street looking like a total doofus, so of course there are other people out there looking at this crazy crying chick who can’t get into her building. I typically never meet anyone in the elevator either, but god hates me so I had to last night. Looking back now, it’s all quite comical- but it sure wasn’t then. I rushed into my apartment (found the keys!) threw all my stuff down, whipped the crap off my bed, and lied down crying like a 6 year old. Mih.. it’s kind of funny thinking how dramatic I was- just your typical frustrated girlfriend who got left at the airport :(