Finding a purpose

So I wrote this post over a week ago, but was sitting on it because it felt so unresolved. Now it might be resolved and I’m relieved. 

I’m at a fork in the road. An impasse. Basically I’m stuck. I’ve always had a purpose and right now I feel like I don’t. None other than to graduate from MIT, but that’s nearly done.

In high school, I wanted to do well in class and stay busy so that I wasn’t around home. Between my parents splitting up and my mom starting to drink, I liked to stay away as much as possible. I volunteered and took college classes and did all the National Honor Society stuff that a good student does.

In college, all my focus went towards Program Board and Student Government. I loved having an impact on the student body and contributing to the overall experience of my classmates. Student Government in particular gave me a great glimpse into the bureaucracy of business and I loved it.

After graduating, I remember going through a struggle similar to the one I am now. It was the first time I was embarking on a time of my life that wasn’t pre-determined. What I did after college was a blank canvas and I was nervous about that. It wasn’t a terribly long struggle though, because I had my job lined up before I graduated and started my corporate gig that summer.

Even then I found more ways to be involved. First, I started this blog. Second, I joined Girls in Tech and started giving a lot of my time to volunteering. It was a great experience and something I miss dearly. I tried getting involved with similar organizations while in Boston, but nothing has been the right fit.

Starting at MIT was a tad overwhelming. The classes were a lot of work and I got involved with a few groups, but I never felt like I was making an impact. Even when I was all in on the Its on Us campaign, the Women’s Advisory Group, and the Title IX Working Group, I didn’t feel like my efforts mattered. I’ve come to the realization that I have no idea where I’ll be living in a few months or what I’ll be doing and that’s hard. It’s also difficult to get out of bed every day when I’m not actively contributing to something I’m crazy excited about. I’m excited to find that next thing again soon. 

The next day though, I made a trip to NYC to meet with people in the entertainment industry. I ended up landing an opportunity to work with a small entertainment advisory firm. I’m going to be doing some really neat analytics work for identifying successful content before it airs. If it ends up being a perfect fit and I like the company and the company likes me, maybe it turns into a job. Even if it just working on extremely awesome analytics that focuses on content featuring strong females and meetings some really great people in the industry, that sounds just awesome too.

Advertisements

Purpose

This was written while drinking wine and ignoring The World Series… 

I am currently in a course titled “Leadership Stories: Literature, Ethics, and Authority” and this week we’ve discussed social media at length. Specifically, how the digital age has evolved story telling. A clear theme from the class discussion was one’s ability to curate their life and to manage the way they are perceived. Some shared that they tend to only share positive things; one student referenced an ESPN article she had recently read about a girl who committed suicide even though her Instagram profile reflected something else. This caused me to reflect on the image I put forward of myself both through social media and this blog.

In many ways, I try to share both my highs and lows. The purpose of this blog is to connect with others online. Sure, a majority of my readers are family and friends, but there are also a lot of people who just stumble upon it. I want to show how someone who suffers from depression and who had a difficult childhood can still achieve and take matters into her own hands.

At the same time, not all the stories in my life are my own to tell. Which is sometimes why I sorta drop from the site. I don’t always know how to share my own internal struggles while upholding the privacy of others.

Personally, I’ve said and done literally tons of stupid things and I never try to appear perfect (except when I’m trying to convinced Joe I am perfect, but that is a little different). I can fully imagine a future-world in which I question my decision to be so public about my thoughts and feelings. However, writing and sharing my feelings has allowed me to grow in ways I may never fully understand. Which is why I don’t think it will ever be something I regret.

At the same time, I can be very lucky. I also believe I make my own luck. I hope there are things about me that make people think “wow, I can look up to her AND I can see parts of myself in her” and “oh! maybe I can go to MIT/apply for this job/put myself out there too!” I believe inspiration is most powerful when you are able to see yourself in another’s shoes and that’s pretty much all I want. I want others to know they can.

California Summer

The California-summer depression has started. Cue binge eating and emotional drinking. Last night, I met with a Macalester alum who is a producer in town. While her view of the industry is just that, only her view, it scared me a little bit. Not enough to make me run back home and never look back, but enough to make me think twice. I need to know that this is what I really want. Unfortunately, I don’t know what I want.

The gist of what she said is that she knows that she’ll never even be able to afford to have children or buy a house because producers are paid so poorly unless they are the top 50 in the world. “If you can see yourself doing anything else in the entire world, do that instead.” She equated the profession to being an addict – you only do it because you can’t live without it. Isn’t that depressing?

It’s depressing in itself, but pile that on a woman who is living in LA for the first time with her fiancé on the east coast and a job that is boring and pays so little she can barely afford to pay her rent let alone do the things she wants to do. Hint: that woman is me!

Now all I want to do it sit in my room and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and drink my Target wine cube wine. Which is what I think I will do.

 

IMG_1615

LA and Amsterdam and Israel

Lax_sign

I’ve arrived in Los Angeles. I flew in last night after a week of zero productivity back in Boston. Well, I guess it was productive in that I finished season 9 of Criminal Minds so I’m all caught up on what’s available via Netflix… that counts for something, right?

Coming to a new city and starting from scratch is so refreshing. I don’t have any bad habits ingrained in me yet and I can try to set better ones. I remember when I first graduated from Macalester and started working at Target – it was such a great time where I was able to get in shape, explore new hobbies such as baking and writing, and do a lot of self reflection. Then Joe came into the picture and while I’ve gotten a lot of good habits from him, I also picked up some bad ones. The lazy ones.

Last summer I had the opportunity to start fresh when I moved to Boston. Something went wrong though. Instead of having a home that encouraged activity, I feel the focal point became the TV and all of a sudden my entire summer disappeared. When Joe would get home from work we’d do fun things and explore the city, but I still managed to put way too much effort into Covert Affairs and Royal Pains.

Not wanting to fall into that same trap, I’ve decided to do something drastic. I am swearing off TV for the summer. Ideally I would find some sort of happy medium where I could watch some programs to stay up on pop culture but not so much that I watch hours upon hours. But I’m sort of like an alcoholic with my TV and I can never have just one.


In other news, Israel was absolutely fantastic. I believe it may be the best international travel experience I’ve ever had. On my way there, I had the opportunity to have an extended layover in Amsterdam. I was able to leave the airport and explore the city for about 8 hours before my next flight. I was a little nervous about managing all of this on my own. I had never been to another country alone before, but from what I had heard, Amsterdam is pretty accessible.

I quickly figured out how to buy my train ticket from the airport to central Amsterdam. I decided to take the Canal Bus, which not only allowed me to hop on and off the boat at places throughout the city, but it was a great way to see the architecture with a guide.

My first stop was the Van Gogh museum. I didn’t know much about him going in, but really enjoyed learning his story through the setting they offered. Afterwards, I went for pancakes at a cafe recommended to me by a friend on Facebook. They had a notice though that their credit card machine wasn’t working, so I made sure I would be able to afford something with the $10 I had. I found a Nutella pancake for $8, which also gave me enough for the tip. Once I got the bill though, I realized they charged me for water. Doh! I had to pull the whole “this is all I have” thing, and I felt like a dumbass. Boo.

Next I attempted to go to the Anne Frank house, but the line was 3 blocks long. Only having a short amount of time I didn’t want to waste it all in line. So, I just went and picked up some postcards and then sat at a rooftop bar and wrote them out to people while sipping a cocktail. It was beautiful and marvelous and the highlight of Amsterdam.

11270652_10204352577116061_1204457193382707754_o

Israel was something else entirely. The first night we had dinner on the hillside at a beautiful outdoor restaurant. The food was amazing, I got to connect with some friends I haven’t seen in a while as well as meet some new folks. It was so tranquil and a really great way to start a vacation. [Once I got home, I tried texting Joe but it wouldn’t go through. We were kind of in the middle of no where. The next day I had a bunch of texts from him and he was pretty convinced I was dead because he Googled the cell phone reception in Israel and was sure I would have coverage everywhere. Aww…]

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

The next day we went to Jerusalem and did the Old City stuff. I went in the room of The Last Supper, saw the golden dome and where Jesus was crucified… very neat from a historical perspective.

The next day we started out at the Holocaust Museum and then it was time for the Dead Sea. Holy hell it was hot. I think it was over 115 degrees, and we were in the sun and it was humid as crap. I had thrown up a few times from night before (#winning) so I was hating the heat all that much more. It was the most amazing private beach party though. There was a beautiful buffet, slushies, massages, and great music. We got all mudded up and then dipped into the sea. I didn’t actually like being in the water. I floated too much, it tasted terrible (whoops!) and made all my skin sting. I didn’t stay in too long :)

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

That night we slept in tents in the desert. I was woken up at 1am by a jackal, who I thought was a cat at the time. I’m glad I didn’t know the truth then. I was woken up again at 4am because it was time to hike up Masada. Here is my paraphrased story of the land: Masada is this mountain in the desert that is flat on top. Thousands of years ago this guy, Herod, went and built his palace there because he was a nervous SOB and thought everyone was trying to kill him. The mountain top allowed him to watch his back most of the time, and then he had other protections in place for the rest of the time. Then he died and everyone left.

Then, years later, when the Romans took over the temple in Jerusalem, some Jews fled to Masada. They set up camp in Herod’s old palace and were able to use his cisterns as well. Then, after these 900 people spent some time on the mountain, the Romans decided enough was enough and came to get them. But because it is a mountain top it is nearly impossible to take over. Eventually the Romans used Jewish slaves to build an extremely large ramp up to the top where they then broke down the wall.

Not wanting to let their women and children be raped and made into slaves though, the man in charge decided everyone should die instead. So he chose men who would go around and kill all their families and then kill themselves at the end. The next day, when the Romans come in, they found that everyone was dead. They were pissed, I believe. There were a couple holdouts though, which is how we know the story. The Dovekeepers is a historical fiction novel written about Masada and it is an amazing book I would recommend everyone read.

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

Then I rode a camel.

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

The next day I rafted down the Jordan River and then ATVed up to the Syrian border. It was scarier than it sounds. Those red signs on the fence below say “Caution, Mines.” As in, land mines. I only walked where others walked… just in case.

IMG_1379

 

 

IMG_1377This is the inside of the former Syrian Military Headquarters. It looks like it was bombed… we took another set of stairs to the roof though, so it wasn’t completely destroyed. Because we hadn’t done enough yet that day, we went to a winery for wine tasting. That evening I was like, wow, how the crap is this my life. It all felt very surreal. But I can definitely see myself looking at Israel a lot differently now and have a new appreciation for the things that are going on in that area of the world.

After that we headed to Tel Aviv where the trip shifted to more of a party. It was amazing. We had the best resort on the beach and went to amazing outdoor restaurants.

IMG_1406 IMG_1407

Somehow, I made it out alive.

Saturday in China

Holy crap is this really my life? Saturday was a free day from work, so my hosts said we could do what ever we wanted to. Thanks to Pinterest, I knew of a local tourist destination called Stone Forest, and suggested we go there. It was only about an hour outside of the city and we got there around 11am. It was absolutely stunning and amazing and holy crap how is that even natural? It was an incredible experience and makes me excited to one day see the grand canyon too…

cb1

cb2

cb3

Afterwards, we went to lunch at a place that was clearly very upscale.

cb4

But we had beer too so it was all good. Next, we went go get massages at the most crazy place I’ve ever seen. I seriously thought it would just be a normal massage joint, but we got there and it was just breathtaking. There were large velvet couches, huge chandeliers, and a staff that could only tell me how beautiful I am. Then, we went to go shower where they had new toothbrushes and all these other amenities for us. We then put on robes and got led to bedrooms and were brought blueberry juice. My masseuse came in sporting a Maserati t-shirt and I knew I was in heaven. After an 80-minute massage and a foot shaving – seriously – I went to the buffet. Thankfully they had corn and cauliflower and watermelon so I got filled up on that. Here we all are in our robes:

cb5

After eating and dominating (aka, losing my ass) in ping-pong, we took a cab to the local KTV spot. I was under the impression that this karaoke place would be similar to karaoke in the US: tons of people, one stage, lots of drinking, etc. However, we arrived at this luxurious place with huge chandeliers and men in suits everywhere. They brought us to our private room, which would be ours for singing for the night. I had never seen anything so cool ever.

cb6

There we drank a lot and they delivered food, such as chicken tenders and French fries, to our room. I sang Sara Barielles (for Joe) and Hanson and Adele and Taylor Swift and Steven Tyler (because I love him) for the whole night. If we had something like this, at a similar price, in the US, I’m not sure I could ever be torn away. Pretty sure I’ll need to have one in my house some day. Best. Day. Ever.

Editor’s note: Kate is in China and unable to post herself, so I’ll be uploading her submissions as they make their way to me.

China Is Amazing

I’ve only been in China now for just over a day and I already know I love it. The flight here was extremely long and taxing, made worse by my cold, but now that I’m here I’m glad I’m staying awhile before having to go back.

The first thing that caught my attention was the cars. There was a pink Bentley at the airport and it was beautiful and amazing. All of the other cars are really nice too – the man that picked me up from the airport, Victor, was driving a pretty nice BMW. Within the first 10 miles I also spotted a Maserati and the rest are really modern too. Up until this point my experience in other countries, Egypt, Costa Rica, Mexico, even Italy, has been that their cars are pretty old and not as nice. I asked Victor about it and it turns out that they have to pay 100% import tax on cars too. So, they are hella expensive.

This doesn’t make it any less scary when they are whizzing at you on the highway though. The traffic laws seem to be lacking, or, potentially the only one they enforce is no running red lights. Otherwise people don’t stick to their lanes or use turn signals either. That part feels pretty standard for outside the US.

I’m also treated like a princess here. We went to the zoo and I got all dressed up in fancy Chinese dress, and they lightened up my face more because light is beautiful, they say.

chinadress

But on top of that, I feel very comfortable here. Everyone wears colorful outfits and has bright pink luggage too. I’m seriously in love with their style here, I feel like I fit in. AND! They wear fanny packs. It is beautiful. The only reason I didn’t bring mine was that I didn’t want to look weird… now I’ll know for next time :)

I’ve had trouble eating with the chop-sticks, maybe I should have practiced first. I’m not going hungry though, and even if I do a little that’s okay because I was still carrying around Christmas weight. Anyway, I now know to ask for a fork if I think I need one. Last night we went out to dinner and I tried pig skin, bamboo, tofu, and some really spicy soups. The pig skin was a little tough for my taste, and some of the soup really spicy, but I’m happy to be eating authentic food rather than just McDonalds (which I can get literally everywhere).

Another potential reason I’m not going hungry is that I’ve discovered Oreos. And not just any Oreos, Chinese Oreos, which surprisingly are different from American Oreos. There are just a lot more flavors. So last night Victor took me to a store and we bought every flavor they had. Strawberry, Green Tea, Blueberry/Raspberry, Mandarin Orange, Grape/Peach, and Vanilla Ice Cream. I also got these amazing chocolate covered Oreo wafers, which were better than they have any right to be.

chinaoreos

Re: Water. They have to boil water to drink it from the tap here, and so with dinner, they served hot lemon water. I then asked if I could get a bottle of water too because the food was so spicy, and they apologized that it was cold but I said that’s how I like it. Even the beer I had was room temperature, it is interesting that they don’t drink cold things much, especially when it is so hot here! In Kunming, it has been and will continue to be a consistent 80 degrees every day. Which could be another reason why I love it so much.

Editor’s note: Kate is in China and unable to post herself, so I’ll be uploading her submissions as they make their way to me.

Divas, Donuts and Drinking

The bar search continues. The Tip Tap Room is pretty solid, although they do have a substantial lip at the bar. They have a unique menu though, which is perfect for when I’m in a mood for something other than just standard bar food. Now I’m at Firebrand Saints. Location is perfect, it is right across the street from Sloan, they don’t have a lip at the bar and they have some nice outdoor seating. Downside? “Bad” drink options (which I totally understand is relative). By “bad” I mean they don’t have Bud Light -wtf- or Red Bull. How can I get my pre-class kick on without Red Bull?

In other news, I’m not doing a very good job managing my summer. I’ve gotten some good Ingress playing in, as well as other video games and TV shows (just started Covert Affairs, which I *love*). But that just feels like such a waste. I’d rather be putting my energy into writing and working on other small projects. Yet I have absolutely no discipline. During school or work this isn’t as much of a problem – I’m better at time management when I have a lot of things to do, including things with deadlines. So why am I so terrible with self-imposed deadlines or prioritizing my actual priorities? I’ve tried to schedule things, block out my day into “writing” and “exercise” chunks, but things end up getting in the way or I just plain decide not to do it.

I just work better under pressure but I’m having a difficult time creating the pressure.

Monday, I flew out to Pittsburgh for the Miley Cyrus concert. It was good. It wasn’t ticket + flight + hotel great, but I’m still glad I went. Row 1 seat 1 turned out to not be as awesome as it should be. She played all the good songs I wanted her to though, and she is a fun performer. At the end of the day, I’d rather see P!NK over and over because she is still the most amazing live performer I’ve ever seen.

IMG_2220

Also in Pittsburgh I stopped by an awesome little donut shop called Peace Love and Little Donuts. They did mini donuts with toppings and they were fantastic. The manager was pretty nice too and liked my book project. I need to get better at book layouts – how do people draft those up?

DSCN0186Anyway, I’m off to solicit sponsors for Girls in Tech, publicizing the Hacking Arts Hackathon I’m working on, and prepare for a pre-term class I’m taking/teaching. Oh, also going to start reaching out to agents with my book proposal. Toots!

 

The Hunt Begins

Where oh where will my new writing bar be? I’m heavily missing Crave right now and I desperately need to find a replacement. Joe and I have been to a few places nearby our place. One called The Hill Tavern was pretty chill and had a good start, but I wasn’t excited by the chicken fingers which in itself isn’t a deal breaker but the outdoor seating left a lot to be desired. As do the bartenders.

The next place we tried, Harvard Garden I think, had pretty good food and a good atmosphere. No outdoor seating though, and the bar had a big lip which makes typing on a macbook air… difficult. I can see it being a place we go for joint dinners but won’t be a place we go to nerd out…

The Tip Tap Room was pretty good both in food and location, and walking past it the other day I noticed they open up their entire front when it is nice out… I’m actually not sure why I’m not there now. Joe and I tried it when we were hear in April and it met all our needs.

Right now I’m at Harp, which is in a different part of town (north end vs. Beacon Hill I believe?). I wanted to wander to this neck of the woods because I think it may be closer. But the walk felt about the same, so now I’m confused about that. Anyway, Harp’s bar has a lip, which makes me a sad cat. Also, the two people I sat between seem… not my type of folk. But right as I checked in on FourSquare the “tip” was that the chicken strips here are the best in Boston and now I feel completely torn because sometimes you just need a good chicken strip (although I don’t think tonight is that night..). One redeeming quality is that there are high tops near their open walls, which could actually be a decent substitute for a good bar.

The people next to me just got the chicken and it looks pretty good. Better than what the Hill Tavern had for me. Also, that really good song from Matilda just started playing. [My google search of “pick me up when, going song from Matilda I would like to hold my little hand” tells me it is Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root.] So torn!

Not only will I keep you all updated on this important search, I will also take recommendations for places that are close to the West End apartments. Not that that’s where I live or anything.

Boston Lady!

What a month. Seriously. So much has happened since the last time I wrote. Some how, some way, I managed to pack up all the material possessions in the condo Joe and I share. Except for a 6 pack of Angry Orchard (more on that later). I’m now in Boston and am here to stay (mostly).

Let’s see… Joe had just left the last time I wrote. I ended up missing him a lot more than I thought I would and it was not an enjoyable month. Yet, I made it my month of relaxation and watched more TV than I had anticipated. I also had some alcohol around to get rid of, which I did a valiant effort of consuming slash giving away.

I worked out a fair amount, probably not enough to successfully compete in a triathlon, but enough to keep me feeling active. I enjoyed every day outside that warm weather was present, but sadly I think that was 5 days total, max. The rest of the time, when I could bring myself to shower, I would just stand there wishing I had my shower wine glass rack. Soon my friends, soon.

Eventually it was time to pack up. I started about 5 days before the mover came because it’s so impossible to live in a home that is torn apart. Turns out, this wasn’t enough time. I scrambled the last few hours, ultimately making 4 separate trips to U-Haul for boxes and other packing supplies. Arg. And of course, once the day of moving finally arrived, I found a full cupboard of rubbermaids I missed – D’oh!

Having movers is extremely nice and is the only way I’ll ever move again. However, it’s also kind of awkward because all there is to do is sit and drink beer and watch Orange is the New Black which for some scenes is just like porn, while they are doing the moving. Four hours of this later, it turns out the apartment wouldn’t fit into 2 u-boxes (a fear I had initially but temporarily ignored when the u-haul-help lady said I could also increase my order after the 2nd box if I needed more space…).

This caused somewhat of a domino effect on the rest of our plans: I needed to get the movers back out, reserve another u-box, push out the date of arrival in Boston because of the delay in shipment, postpone the movers and elevator reservation in Boston, and blerg, so much. Now, stuff will arrive this Friday, when I will be back in Minneapolis for a wedding so Joe gets to do this part alone.

Initially I was cursing Joe for not be there. It sucked. But then I remembered that while I am basking in my funemployment he is working long-ass days at a new job (which he thankfully loves) to help me through grad school. That put it into perspective and I calmed down. The second day of the movers, I bought a 6 pack of Angry Orchard to kick back and praise the fact I was finally done. Except it only took them 30 minutes and I didn’t even have time to finish one before having to take off. Whoops!

After a few days with my cousins and then a weekend down in Dallas, I finally arrived in Boston on Sunday night. I was so excited to see Joe I was nearly in tears, which should make you throw up if my love for him hasn’t already.

I’m meeting more and more new classmates and getting so excited for classes to start in the fall. I was a little nervous it would be hard for me to break out of my funemployment phase but I think I’ll be so, so ready for it come August.

Today I’ve just been wandering around Boston. I came in with Joe on the commuter rail from Pembroke, where his friend lives that we are staying with. I hung out at Starbucks for a good portion of the morning and then Joe and I grabbed lunch. It has been really nice and relaxing and I’m happy to finally be getting close to the fun part of summer where I don’t have the stress of so much coming up. I’m traveling through July 1, and then I’m here, happy.

An update on too much

I know its been forever since I’ve written. Things have been so hectic, and in lieu of giving the most thrown together recap, I’ll try to pull some semblance of a story together… starting with present day…

Today was a mopey-ass day. It started out really good but then I got a call from the doctor stating I have to go in for another colposcopy, aka, the worst procedure ever. [Aside: The doctor lady told me to take ibuprofen beforehand and I asked her if I could take a few shots of vodka but she didn’t know.] I was supposed to start my triathlon training today but after that news and the endless rain and continued apartment stresses [see below], I just wanted to stay at home for the night. So, I ended up writing out some thank you notes as it is my last week(!!!) at work. Which in itself feels really weird. I woke up on Monday and was like “holy cow, this is my last ‘Monday morning!’ for at least the next year.”

Joe got a job. This is a good thing. But they want him to start ASAP and while in Boston this past weekend we realized that the housing market there is a joke. Especially in “off season”, aka, not when students are vacating the area. To start things off, we found one place we loved but then by the time we got back to the realtor’s office it was gone. Then we spent three days viewing endless apartments and walkups and other random vans-down-by-the-river, until we realized that not only is there nothing available in the timeframe we need it to be, there is also nothing available within the price range we set for ourselves.

We finally got something squared away through an outgoing Sloan student so we left Boston happy. All good and awesome right? Well, no, because it turns out it isn’t as clear cut as that and we don’t know when we’ll be able to move or if we will be moving in. Which, in some ways is okay because we still don’t have our place rented out, but in other ways sucks because Joe will still have to be out there and I’m a lame face who doesn’t want to be alone.

So basically I have no idea what the next three months of my life will look like. Which I suppose is fine, because a lot of things are good and falling into place too. I’m trying out a new business development role within Girls in Tech Global. I’m super excited to continue with the organization and about my growing responsibilities (or, at least shifting). I also connected with the Macalester Alumni in Boston group – so at least if I am there this summer I will not be alonezies.

And finally, if you support my writing and fun projects, please back my donut book because you guys, it’s gunna be really good. Plus, I’m already going to be traveling to a lot of places anyway and I need good reasons to photograph (and eat!) good donuts.