LA and Amsterdam and Israel

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Somehow, I made it out alive.

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Snow days bring Golden Girls

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This past week I had two full snow days off from school, both Monday and Tuesday. I haven’t had a snow day since high school. During college, we had snow for sure, but Macalester never closed because of it. Snow days are just as fun as I remember them being. On Tuesday, my friend came over to play. Ever since we became Facebook friends before even meeting, I knew she and I needed to watch The Golden Girls together because she had taken a “Which Golden Girl character are you” quiz and scored Rose so I was impressed. We’ve been trying to find a time since the summer to get together to watch it but until the snow day, it never came up. Obviously we made a drinking game out of it. We used the one we found here but cut out the part about choosing a character. We just followed the these rules:

  • When Sophia says “Picture it…”: Drink.
  • When Rose says “Back in St. Olaf…”: Drink.
  • When Blanche says “Big Daddy…”:Drink
  • When they eat a cheesecake, finish the drink

It was fantastic and everything I ever hoped it would be. It also brought back a lot of fond memories for me. Growing up, anytime I stayed at my aunt Joann’s we would watch it together. Usually after my bath, she would cut up apple slices, serve them with cinnamon sugar, and we’d curl up on her bed watching it. Once we moved to Minneapolis I began watching it every night as I fell asleep. Revisiting it now, it is no wonder I turned out the way I did. Just like Joe attributes my burping to Pippi Longstocking, I think The Golden Girls gave me my sarcasm and my ability to hold a straight face. Well, that and my mom.

Mother’s Day Reflections

The cloudy weather and non-stop rain really does a number on me. As does Mother’s Day because I kind of hate the holiday. Not because I hate my mother, I don’t, I love her dearly, but I also don’t have the relationship with her that I want. I’m not blaming anyone else for this but me. At 25 years old I still haven’t accepted my mother for the woman she is and even though I’ve come a long way I haven’t come all the way.

I look on Facebook and I see everyone posting pictures of their mother’s and it makes me wonder what a normal mother/daughter relationship looks like, if one even exists. What is it that I’m missing from my relationship with my mother and is there anything I can do to take steps towards that? What is it that I am expecting?

As I’m currently watching The Wire, I can safely say my mom is Jimmy McNulty. He does things all the time that are destructive and make you just want to shake your head and say “fucking McNulty” but even though he isn’t a favorite character you still have to love him because he is a main character. And yet, I find myself more accepting of Jimmy than my own mother maybe because its just a TV show and not real life.

Then Eminem went and posted this video so it is Tuesday morning and I’m teary eyed wishing the sun would shine.

Social Media, Squared?

I stumbled into a marketing summit at aloft hotel yesterday afternoon. By stumbled, I mean, I signed up way ahead of time, but didn’t really know what I had signed up for. Specifically, it was on social media marketing, which I figured was both relevant to work and life outside of work (Girls in Tech, blogging, etc.), so I signed up.

My initial reaction was that I am over sales meetings. The first presenter talked about how awesome foursquare is and how people can use it, and then talked about his company, Shoutlet (the host of the conference). Even though it was sugared with valuable information, I just feel jaded and conferenced out. Maybe it is time for a conference break…

I combatted my distain quickly, realizing there was still tons I could learn. Plus, none of the other speakers were with the company, and I soon realized they were really quality presenters. I kind of like being proven wrong…

Good take aways

  • Checking in (via foursquare or facebook) can have good returns for both customers and businesses
  • If done correctly, it benefits everyone internally (recruiting, communications, merchandisers, etc.)
  • People have begun to instinctively search for an app rather than wait to be told about it. Is there an expectation now that most events will have an app?
  • The Mall of America did a really neat campaign last year that offered parking spaces for people who engage via twitter. Surveys showed great ROI with 60% coming who wouldn’t have, and 30% spending over $300. Great for a campaign that cost very little!
    • As innovative as their social media is though, MOA doesn’t have an app. Knowing this made me think about how awesome an app would be, geofencing (or some other technology that could read my location on a map) would make me a happy camper. Especially because those bathrooms are so few and far between!
    • Great ideas can come from anywhere: “MOA” and “bucket list” are often found together on social media sites. So, why not create a campaign aimed at crossing MOA off peoples’ bucket lists?

Awkward moments

  • Someone was wearing a see-through dress. So, of course I posted on social media about it, asking for advice on how to break the bad news. I ended up wimping out and not saying anything… she had a jacket with her, maybe she already knew? She was very nice.
  • The woman that sat next to me had a really beautiful ring on. I was like a kid in a candy store and couldn’t stop staring. To be fair, it was shiny.

The whole time, I couldn’t stop asking myself if I should be there or not. Or, rather, if I should have been there with “Target” on my nametag. Should I have taken vacation time to attend it? Since it was marketing I thought it would be relevant to what I work on, but now I’m not sure anymore. But oh. My. Gosh. The cupcake frosting was the most amazing part. I can still feel the buttercream frosting melting in my mouth.

Teaching Pinterest to a…

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

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

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

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

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

Bad dreams

So I have really bad dreams. I’ve never really thought about it being something completely strange, it’s just always been a part of my life. They are worse after I eat ice cream at night, so I’ve learned to avoid that. Sometimes they put me in a funk for the next day… but other times I can just forget about them.

There are certain themes that seem to come up over and over. I’m trying to document these things more so my therapist can tell me what it means about me (read: what the fuck is wrong with me).

To begin, there is always some type of sexual predation. It is usually someone I know or some composition of a few. It isn’t just people that I’ve been intimiate with either, anyone that I’ve ever met has some likelihood of trying stuff when I’m asleep. And that’s how it usually starts. I’m fighting them off and I’m having a hard time making it stop, so I resort to brutal violence. I’m talking guns, knives, mace, etc. It is so bloody and gory and it doesn’t matter how many times I stab someone or remove a limb, they find a way to continue chasing and hurting me. I can literally shoot or stab someone 25 times in the chest and it doesn’t even phase them [kids, don’t try this at home]. I’ve manually gouged peoples’ eyes out and they are still able to track me down, them and their friends.

I’m usually trapped in their house, or they’ve taken over mine. Other times, I think I’m finally free and that I’ve found help only to find that everyone else is on their side and they start attacking me too.

In my dreams, I’m often unable to scream or even talk. I can never call for help, even though sometimes I am attempting to call Joe. Dream Joe is a jerk though, I’m not sure why I’d want him to help anyway.

Two nights ago things took a dark turn. As I’ve said before, I’m very easily influenced by society, pop culture in particular. Therefore, Call Me Maybe made an appearance. A parody of it though, because someone had just posted the “just ate bath salts, your face looks tasty” lyric on Facebook, and bam, someone is trying to eat my face.

It was a little bit more terrifying though. I had been at a restaurant, waiting for SD to finish dinner with another woman. I got sick of waiting so I fled, and while I was speeding away, my car crashing into the back of a money truck. Money was flying everywhere so people started grabbing it (myself included), when all of a sudden a nice journalist man wanted to interview me about how lucky I was to be there at the time and what I was going to do with all my money.

So I got into his car. And then he locked the door and it turned out he didn’t even know what news was and then he attempted to eat my face. At that point, SD swoops in to save me and in order to do so, he gave his own life (to the bath salts eating cannibal). So, somehow my dream allowed this creep to turn into the hero and then I woke up appreciating him because he let me live while his face got eaten. When really I just want him to leave me alone.

Like, a week ago, I actually had a dream that he (SD) was attacking me (raping, actually) and then when I woke up I legitimately had a text message from him (in real life!) even though it had been months since I’d heard from him. That’s called creepy.

Let’s all cross our fingers for a good night tonight :) Just kidding. I’m fine. This is supposed to not be a depressing post.. so… yay for dreams! Or… yay for my dreams not being real! Something like that…

Writing a book

So last night I had a dream about how bad my GMAT scores were and that I should probably retake them. This morning, I woke up with even more anxiety about getting into Business school, where I want to go, how to get in, etc. At work, I Google “How to get accepted to Stanford” and was directed to this blog: How to get accepted at Stanford or Harvard or how to get a job at Google or Facebook. It was almost like this blog was written for me, because obviously I’m the only cool kid with dreams of going to Stanford and being CEO of Google.

In the blog, it suggests doing something to stand out. One of the examples? Writing a blog. What’s bigger and better than writing a blog and something I’ve always wanted to do? Writing a book. So, I’ve decided that I am going to write a book. Before September specifically, because, well, applications are due in October.

For starters, I’m going to ask my friend Mollie to be my editor/guide/supporter. She is great at those things. I eluded to asking for a favor of some sorts on her Facebook wall, along with this link: Facebook Murals. If the idea of owning Kate stock sometime in the future doesn’t appeal to her, I don’t know what will. (And by Kate stock I mean a certain % of all book sales of course).

UPDATE: There is then of course stuff like this. People are awesome and inspiring and I love it.

I was poked

So I was poked on Facebook. I don’t know when it happened, because I don’t even think that they notify people for it anymore. I also don’t think I even know how to poke anyone, which leads me to believe it could have been a mistake. Why does Facebook even have this option anymore? Maybe people riot when they threaten to remove it, but it seems rather silly to me.

Late night thoughts (as in, 10pm)

So last night I finished reading My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me, and all I could ask myself was “how the hell is this my life?” This was just after I read a Facebook post from someone I graduated with, who after still not having a job, posted these as her post-grad career options: vigilante/superhero, prostitute, wife, or live at home. I, on the other hand, spent 4 hours in front of the computer preparing for and taking my Kaplan Advanced GMAT course. The computer wasn’t even my own, it belongs to my super awesome boyfriend who didn’t even mind that I took over his entire desk for the evening and made him bring me chips and dinner and stuff.

So how do I find myself here? Lying in bed, completely satisfied and happy and content. I don’t know, a part of me doesn’t think it’s fair or something… like, this girl in the book is 33 and single and has had some cool jobs but also spent a lot of her time cleaning up cat piss. That should be me. She isn’t sure if she will get married or if she can even have kids anymore. She had a boyfriend for 5 years (the one that eventually wrote a book about her) and she thought that she was going to marry him. Does thinking that now about Joe make me a fool? Especially when I think it even though I just read a book about it not happening to yet another person and me thinking “oh yeah… but that won’t be me…” BUT IT WILL. Because I predicted pain and I’m always right. I guess my question is more why she had to go through a lot of crap and well, I guess I have too, but, urgle, I dunno. Sometimes I just want a dog.

Recap

So it has been way too long since I’ve written and I really don’t have any excuse for it. Why is it that sometimes we can have so much drive and passion for something and then other times find it difficult to follow through?

I’ve been baking a bit lately! Last Thursday I made chocolate chip cookie dough balls, and they turned out much better than last time. I had thought that I used a different recipe, but now when I just went back to review it looks the exact same. So, basically it’s just the Nestle chocolate chip cookie recipe, except exchange ⅓ milk for the 2 eggs. I think they turned out better though because I know that recipe like the back of my hand (again, not sure why it didn’t dawn on me before…). Maybe it is because I did the ingredients in the correct order this time? Although.. I’m sure I would have last time too, who knows.

Anyway, I used probably 1 bag + 1/5 bag of chocolate chips. This was my Facebook status:

So I finally did the impossible. I made chocolate chip cookie dough with TOO MANY chocolate chips…

They literally almost wouldn’t stick together. I’m glad I was actually making the balls versus real cookies because I think had I not been rolling them tightly, they wouldn’t have stuck together. I also used a stick this time, so they were “pops” instead of “balls.” People liked the sticks, saying it made them easier to eat. They also made it semi-easier to dip, but at the same time, what the heck do you do with the pops after they have been dipped? I don’t have fancy styrofoam to stick them into, and when I attempted short-glasses-filled-with-rice-to-prevent-tipping, the chocolate just oozed down the stick anyway. I eventually just started putting them on wax paper and everyone seemed to enjoy them just fine :)

Tonight I made chocolate cupcakes (both normal sized and mini) to bring into work tomorrow. I still need to frost them, but I am getting tired so I will do that in the morning instead.

I finally wrote my essays for my Booth Summer Scholars application! I’m having a few people review them for content this week before I submit my application. Work is being super awesome and supportive about it, which makes me love my company even more.

I’ve been pretty busy at work, working over 40 hours a week. Crazy, I know. But I knew this time would come. And I’m excited that it did. My days go by so much more quickly now, and I’m really diving deep into my project. I almost feel like an expert on it at this point!

Joe got into his grad program today! I’m so happy and proud of him. He’s pretty fricken awesome in pretty much every way… just sayin’.

Money has been stressing me out lately. I called my mom today to thank her for the Valentine’s Day card she sent me and we mistakenly got on the topic of money. I’m a little angry with her because 6 months ago she über guilted me into lending her $6,000. At the time I was pissed about it but now I’m more accepting of it. However, I have about ~4k in credit card debt because I’m a dumb ass and got in over my head spending-wise right after college. It was kind of like the “holy crap, I’m making how much?!” reaction, in which I splurged beyond my abilities before I realized how quickly the money went towards rent and other necessities. Luckily I’ve stopped myself and am trying super hard to bring it all under control, but either way talking to her didn’t really help things.

Anyway, this felt super awesome to catch up and just reflect a little bit on my feelings. I feel bad now for being harsh to my mom when my frustration really lies with myself. I’m super happy with the way work and life is going though, so I just should count my blessings and be grateful I didn’t get into debt any deeper.