The Business Of Being Awesome

For the last few months now, I’ve been working with a great team of classmates at MIT Sloan on a podcast called The Business of Being Awesome. Erica and Lily started the podcast last year, and after being featured on episode 8 (below) of the first season, I wanted to be more involved.

I’ve been helping with strategy for the podcast, and then miscellaneous marketing efforts. It’s been a really fun team to be involved with, I’ve gotten some good press, and I even got to write a fun blog post about online dating. I’ve stolen the copy of this from the website, and put it below.

https://soundcloud.com/bizobapodcast/episode-8-the-necessary-evil-of-networking-bizoba

A love affair with online dating

I would deem 2011 the year “Kate Dates.” I went on at least 40 dates that year, purely for the enjoyment. There is something about finding someone who at the very least agrees with you on some political issues and probably a lot more. My website of choice was OkCupid. I chose it because it was free and I was still in college; I kept going back because I loved it.

My profile was amazing, and I took good care of it. Anytime that year I went to a new, good movie, it was instantly added to my “favorites” list. Granted, it probably wouldn’t make my top 10 cut long-term, but I liked to stay relevant.

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Not all my dates were good. I remember one guy who intrigued me because he was in medical school. He was seriously the worst of them all.

One guy confided in me that he had been married while on our third date… this didn’t sit well with me. Been there, done that.

Another guy really liked playing games and we had fun going to the Chatterbox in Saint Paul, where with food and drinks you could play any game (including video!) that you wanted. When he leaned in for that kiss though, I felt more like he was my brother and knew that was the end.

There is one date in particular that sticks out in my mind. I went out with this guy because he liked math and basically said he was a math professor “I work for the math department at the University of Minnesota.” You’d think that by date number 36 I’d be a little jaded, and maybe I was, but I still loved getting to know someone new. On the date, it was clear this guy was looking for something serious. Bless his heart, but I felt bad telling him “I’m just here to have fun, nothing serious…” Needless to say, it was one of the most enjoyable dates I had been on and I was looking forward to another.

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The next day, I went to Colorado where, lo and behold, OkCupid also has a presence. I quickly updated my location so I could meet a guy or two while the friend I was staying with had to work. This was the first time I met an actual married man, who was actually in an open relationship. It was interesting from an interview perspective: I had tons of questions about logistics, trust, intimacy, and the fact that they had children together. His wife’s boyfriend was around the house a lot and had met their children – this was a bit too much for me, but was definitely an eye-opening conversation.

Today, I’m engaged to the math professor [not a math professor] and couldn’t be happier. Yet, because of our relationship (rather than in spite of), I still love exploring the world of online dating.

Last year, I took a course titled Analytics Edge at MIT where, get this, we explored how analytics can give companies a competitive edge. One of the companies we did a case study on was eHarmony. We also discussed other social networks, specifically Hinge and how it leverages your existing network to connect you with 3rd degree connections. So fascinating!

Of course, I had to create a profile on Hinge, just to see how it worked. I remember the text I sent to Joe:

Me: “Hey, I joined Hinge fyi… #research”

I would hate for a coworker of his to stumble upon my profile and mention it to him and have him not know about it. We are all about communication.

This past weekend, his little sister was in town. She is currently single, and to be honest, I haven’t approved of her former boyfriends either. Wanting her to find a good match, I suggested we create her a profile. I chose Tinder, probably just because that’s what I think the kids are into these days. We also did Coffee Meets Bagel, so give me some credit.

Another friend of mine is also looking to find someone (coincidentally, it is the friend I visited in Colorado!). I’ve consulted with him on his dating profile, and am still trying to convince him to give me full rains. Think about it: if I had access to his account and his calendar, I could literally schedule dates I felt were a good match. I would obviously send him notes on our conversations beforehand, so he wouldn’t be caught off guard on something. The other side of me cringes at the idea of a relationship being founded on lies though… so I haven’t actually done this.

If anyone out there wants a consultant to help them with their online dating, I am your woman. I won’t actually independently chat with them, nor meet them for a first date, but other than that, count me it.

Originally posted on The Business of Being Awesome on April 1, 2016.

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That one time I went to Ghana…

So I just got home from an amazing week in Ghana… but before I give you the full play by play, I have to go back to a lazy day at the office this summer. On July 16th, this email came into my inbox:

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tldr: write a 300 word essay to be eligible to win a trip to Ghana.

Thankfully, I was pretty bored at work and therefore used that time to write that essay. Not sure I would have spent the time at home to do it if I were busy… here’s what I wrote:

I have always had a passion for improving the learning conditions of young girls. Prior to starting at MIT Sloan, I was the managing director of a non-profit organization, Girls in Tech Minneapolis. The goal was clear: increase the number of girls pursuing technology professions by increasing their access to education and strong female role models. Even though I am no longer involved in Girls in Tech, this topic continues to be something I feel strongly about and will continue with once I earn my MBA. Girls all over the world should have better, equal access to education. It is this passion that drives my desire to learn more about non-profit education abroad.

The increased popularity of cause marketing has also turned my attention to the 1-for-1 model of non-profits. I first heard of TOMS through Hanson’s Take the Walk tour, and have been interested in the model ever since. How can we encourage more affluent people to give to those who do not have the same? By participating in this once-in-a-lifetime learning experience in Ghana, I hope to learn ways to apply this model to future for-purpose driven initiatives.

Lastly, I know this opportunity will teach me so much. Beyond learning about education and non-profit work, I will see a first-hand account of how to start from scratch. Adam Braun created something that is truly changing lives. Through this inspiration, I know I can do the same.

I also love the impact CommonBond is making and would love the opportunity to connect further! I am also a lot of fun to travel with.

A week later I got a 7am phone call from CommonBond in NYC telling me I had been selected. Cue intense excitement.

[My essay was also published on their blog, which you can see here!]


Last Wednesday, I took a flight from BOS to Amsterdam solo. Once there, I met up with Natalie, a representative from Pencils of Promise (PoP); David, Michaela and Ali from CommonBond; and Jason and Eryn, the other winners. Looking back, it’s kind of funny because I wasn’t once concerned about traveling to Africa with 6 complete strangers.

Completely unrelated, here is a photo of an Amsterdam Airport Donut:

Good donut.
Good donut.

The next seven hours were filled with wine and movies… but nothing really worth mentioning here. We landed late on Thursday and went to bed soon after we checked in. Early thoughts? — Ghana is hot.

Friday morning we left Accra for Ho early. There, we were welcomed by a great group of students who had been in a PoP school since 2013. After a performance of a traditional dance and the recitation of a poem, we were each presented with beautiful pieces made personally for each of us. Within minutes, rain started pouring and the students went back to their classrooms. We then got to see the inside of a PoP classroom and to observe students learning. The great thing about PoP is that in addition to building sturdy structures for children to learn in, they continue to support each and every community through teaching training and onsite support.

IMG_1960In Ghana, the teachers are taught tools to support active classroom engagement. And by active, and I mean active. The kids sing, dance, and move around because that’s a part of their culture. Outside of recess, I don’t remember ever having that in elementary school.

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The junior high school was a different story. Currently, PoP only supports elementary education, due in part to their focus on literacy and obvious financial constraints. The junior high structure was over 20 years old and was in pretty bad shape. The mixture of rain and a “faulty roof” clearly impacted students’ learning experiences. Here, they are moving their desks so their books don’t get wet.

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I left this community with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was so inspired to meet such great children. At one point, a handwashing station tipped over and multiple boys jumped up to help put it back up. The students even show up early to sweep the classrooms – there is so much pride in learning. That isn’t something I’ve seen in the United States – children just ready to jump up and help. On the other hand, the conditions are pretty bad. I can understand not being able to learn when something as common as rain interferes.

Next, we went to a site that showed an example of the “before” environments. Can you imagine going to school here? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”… it gets worse…

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On Saturday, we were honored to attend an inauguration ceremony. After a few speeches and being gifted a goat (literally), we got to see the before and after. Saying it is a stark contrast is an understatement.

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A “classroom” under a tree with just a black board and two benches
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The new PoP built school.

Even more touching was the way the children ran and cheered into the new school once the ribbon was cut. After both getting dance lessons from the kids and teaching them to nae nae, we went back to the hotel to drink some beer and tell some stories.

That night, we really got to know each other. Up until then I wasn’t sure if my style was gelling well, but after a few good stories I had at least a few of them on the dark side.

Sunday… just.. wow. We went to a community near Togo where there must have been over 100 community members on site helping build. With PoP, they provide supplies and skilled labor, but require the community to provide the unskilled labor. It both ensures that the community is committed to bringing in the new school and that it is something they truly want. To see 50 grown men giving up their Sunday to literally make 4000 cement blocks to construct a school… I was just in awe. I think football dominates Sundays in the United States.

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After that we got in a small taste of tourism when we went to a monkey sanctuary. We were told a beautiful story about the history of the land and how monkeys came to be as important as they are. Then we fed them and I nearly lost my shit.

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And all of a sudden, Monday was our last day. We visited a commnity where PoP is piloting e-readers. It was so cool to see a classroom full of students on e-readers in the middle of a village with minimal electricity. They were actually in the middle of a sexual education lesson when we began observing. It felt rather intrusive but also really neat that they are learning about that at a young age.

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I left Ghana with such great respect for both the people in the communities and the impact Pencils of Promise is making. The children and families I met have such a strong desire for education and bettering themselves. They are hardworking and kinder than I see most days. Because of this trip, I know I will be a life long supporter of PoP. Beyond that, I formed great relationships and learned about starting a company from a fantastic CEO. I believe I have an even better appreciation for education and am excited to discover how I can impact the next generation. I have a deep understanding of what some lives and cultures in Ghana look like, and I will continue to reflect on the ways life differs in the United States. I believe this experience has even influenced the way I will raise my own children some day. It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity. I’m pretty much pinching myself right now.


 

Update 10/23/2015: a version of this post was also published on the CommonBond blog.

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.

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.

Friends: a value

At Sloan, we don’t have official classes during January. It is called the Independent Activities Period (IAP) and is time for students to travel, do externships, or participate in a short term class. I’m in a class for this week called: Conflict Management & Assertive Communication. It has actually been really interesting and has prompted a lot of self-reflection.

One activity I did was called “values.” We were given a handout with maybe 50 different values and we each had to self-select the 5 we individually valued most. I selected, in alphabetical order, Fame, Friends, Humor, Self-Acceptance and Wealth. I was a little hesitant to select this specific set because Fame + Wealth seems incompatible with Self-Acceptance. Yet, just because I love me for who I am doesn’t mean I don’t want others to do the same, right?

Next, the trainer asked “How do others know these are your values?” My eyes went straight to “Friends” and I realized: They probably don’t.

I’ve never had a plethora of friends. In fact, for a majority of my life I would say I had none. Growing up, I related better with adults. So, if I can count my adult friends then I am fine, but in all honesty it was difficult to be my true self around them too.

I had what I thought was my first “best friend’ in 6th grade. Then one day we got curious and kissed and she never spoke to me again. In 7th grade I had a close friend who ended up hating me by the end of the year because she thought I was a lesbian and by 8th grade I had a new bff. Then I switched schools because that’s what happens and in high school I got along better with guys. I had one good high school friend but even by senior year we spent less and less time together.

Once I got to Macalester I was like “holy shit, I finally found my people” and had 7 good friends that I would always hang out with. Over the years some of them drifted away (read: we didn’t click and things got awkward). And then there were just Devin, Drew, and Mollie, which would be all I ever needed if they all lived in the same state (or at least not California, Minnesota and North Carolina).

Post-college was hard. It’s also when I started this blog because I realized I needed some way to get what was inside of me out and a deep friendship wasn’t available necessarily. I think I rub people the wrong way. My humor can be hard to read, and I’m not good at making people feel overly welcome if I don’t like them. Maybe I’m too judgy, which I do try to work on.

I’m also an introvert and am very anxious in large group situations, which is what makes business school kind of funny. A recent article in the Huffington Post spelled me out to a T, and also made me feel a lot more comfortable with the fact that I’m not rolling in friends. tldr: I withdraw in large crowds, small talk stresses me while deeper conversations are great, phone conversations are hard and I basically shut down when I’ve had enough of people. I think it was actually secretly written about me.

So, now that I’ve uprooted my entire life to move across the country to go to a school that revolves around networking, how am I doing? I feel extremely alone. I miss people understanding me and I miss having a deep connection. But I also acknowledge that as an adult, best friends don’t just fall from trees and real relationships can take some time. I’ve got one thing going on right now but I don’t want to be overly eager and jinx it.

So even now, as I reflect on my current friendships and how bad I am at keeping up with people across the country, I still see these connections as being ever so important. It was just a lot easier when we lived together and it makes me want to be rich enough so I can buy a huge piece of land and have all my friends live next door. Wisteria Lane doesn’t look too bad right now.

Portland has donuts, in case you didn’t know

The first day Kylie and I were in Portland was hot and cloudy so we decided to just wander around rather than stop in and actually shoot any donuts. I wanted good sunlight to properly light them in my light box. As soon as we left though, Kylie realized she kind of wanted a donut. We passed a sign for “Delicious Donuts” and decided to try it out. It wasn’t on my radar as a place to checkout beforehand, but it was a quaint little shop worthy of a visit.

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Inside, I didn’t really want one because we had just woken up and I hadn’t finished my coffee yet. Kylie said how awesome they looked and said she was going to get one, so I got one myself. But then after I got it she was all like “oh never mind, I don’t want one” and basically she tricked me into a donut. Just sayin’. It was good, but nothing epic so I decided not to take official pictures and rather just enjoyed the dough.

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Later in the afternoon I saw Blue star and had to go. It wasn’t even the one I had mapped out, I didn’t realize they had two locations. Plus, it was raining, so basically fate pushed us in. We got one to split because we were on our way to dinner, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try Blackberry Basil. It was fantastic.

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A few hours later we were on our way back to the hotel when we stumbled on the Voodoo truck. This was just pure magic because we had just been wandering our way back – I knew the cross streets and we kind of just turned based on the lights. Again, fate, I tell ya.

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Kylie got the Oreo donut and I got one called “Marshall Mathers” and it was spectacular.

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Two days later the sun was finally shining bright. We set out for a day of pictures, complete with my fancy camera and other equipment. First stop: Blue Star. But the other Blue Star, not the one we went to on the first day. Everyone was super nice to us and they even gave me a little discount on the donuts because we were using them for the book. Here are the ones we shot (including the one in the back, with a shot):

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Voodoo Donuts was pretty close. Before we even saw it though, we saw the huge ass line of people waiting to get donuts. Seriously. I asked someone who was about half-way through and he had been standing for 45 minutes already. No thanks.

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Luckily, I knew of a place called “Voodoo 2” and we went there instead. It took about 30 minutes to walk from one to the other (not counting the wait on the bridge for the lifts to raise…..) and the other one had only 4 people in line. We waited for 10 minutes (also, why does it take 10 minutes to get through only 4 parties?!) and got the goods. It was a neat looking shop and a fun experience, but I’m sad to say they didn’t completely live up to the expectations.

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All in all, we had a good time in donut land.

My thoughts on a wedding…

 

Kates thoughts on a wedding

A really good friend of mine recently got married. When she first told me she was engaged, I thought to myself “holy crap, aren’t you too young?” but I was happy for her if that was what she really wanted.

It was a rather quick engagement, so shortly after their engagement, we had the Bachelorette party. It was awesome. Hanging out with girlfriends and getting to wear cute dresses while doing silly things as directed by truth or dare… what could be better? So, I said “aww… I want to get married.” She was a good friend though and told me it isn’t wise to get married just because you want to have a bachelorette party… 

After getting home from the BlogHer conference, I was super excited to see my friends. First, I was looking forward to being around females I actually like, but I hadn’t seen some people in years and I was really hyped to be reconnecting.

Then I realized that everyone was in the wedding party but me and I felt pretty alone. I think a lot of it was that I was already feeling alone from being at the conference and yearning for that connection. This was just another opportunity to be reminded that I don’t have a lot of close connections. At the end of the day, I definitely don’t blame my friend for not having me in her wedding… rather, I just wish I was close enough to someone to warrant the opportunity.. I think I’d be pretty good at it :)

So then came the actual wedding day. I was probably more nervous than the bride. It’s hard to explain why. I feel like maybe I was scared for her committing herself to one person for the rest of her life? Terrified for me for having someone my age and close to me get married? Worried that society would start telling me to get married? Maybe even a little nervous that I would cry at the wedding and show emotion to others? (I sure do hate that…)

I don’t know if I’ve just never paid attention during weddings or if nothing really sunk in because I was too young… but this one was different. The whole time they were saying their vows and stuff I was thinking “Holy shit, a wedding is forever and isn’t just about the big day…” Which again, was super scary and reminded me it’s probably something I’m not ready for. Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking how beautiful it was. I had never seen my friend happier and they both had this amazing glow that brightened the entire evening. I hope that one day, if I do get married, that people feel that from us. 

The Cliché Experience: BlogHer13

I had a good time at BlogHer. I wouldn’t consider it life changing, but I wouldn’t call it a worthless experience. First and foremost, BlogHer is very different from any tech conference I’ve been to. Essentially the male to female ratio flipped and it was like: bam – all these people I don’t typically interact with. I knew this going in though, prepared for it, and was truly excited about it.

But then I remembered why I tend to get along with men better than women. No, why I get along with techies better than fashion and mommy bloggers (and I mean no disrespect here!). I’m self conscious more than anyone would probably expect. I have this lovely veneer of confidence that usually sustains me, but I need to have something to keep it up. It’s like the “fake it till you make it” saying, where, when everyone is talking about certain topics I literally have nothing to add more than a nod. So then I’m like “dang, I wish I could just sit here and look cute” but in reality I know everyone is looking at me like “omg, why are you even here.”

Another insecurity that surfaced at BlogHer? My loneliness, my strong desire to have a best friend with none to call my own. I truly enjoy the company of other women and am jealous of those that have just an über strong connection with someone nearby.

Then came in Google Glass. Anyone and everyone asked me about them. Remember in my last post when I said I liked the attention? Yeah, it turns out I only like that in small doses. It wasn’t bad when people were excited about it and wanted to try it on or something, I definitely welcomed that. What I hated was the “what is that on your face?” inquires. One, because that isn’t very nice to say and two because I don’t know how to talk to people that have lived in a cave for the last 6 months. And I’m an introvert and kind of just wanted to wander in peace.

It wasn’t all “woe-is-me” though. The sessions that I went to were really engaging and informative; the keynote speakers were inspiring and made me laugh. It was a really well organized event that ran smoothly from start to finish. I connected with a lot of passionate women who I will remain in touch with. And, because they are the ones that really made my BlogHer experience, they shall get special mention below (there were others too, but I lost their cards or didn’t get them maybe). Right now though, I’m just truly looking forward to a hug from Joe and quality time with my friends from college.

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.

Rabbit Holes

The last few days I’ve been writing feverishly. I’m in what I would call an all-out-attempt to write as much as I can before this month is over. I’ve even preemptively told Joe that instead of our date night being Friday this week (the last day of November) it would need to be Saturday.

This past weekend was lovely though. Joe didn’t have any school work to focus on so I mostly attached myself to him at the hip. Literally- I even helped him go to the bathroom. High five for crossing a new relationship line.

 

Yesterday I spent the day at a write-in at the library. I wrote about 4000 words, ranging from watching people OD on heroin to witnessing problems with alcohol abuse. This made the evening viewing of Denzel Washington’s Flight rather comical. For those of you who haven’t seen it, let’s just say it resonated with me.

As Joe and I were sitting outside of the theater for our friend to join us though, I was kind of in a crabby mood. I hadn’t eaten in a while and just not the most fun person to be around. Sometimes when I am writing, old emotions come back… So, to entertain ourselves, I read Joe excerpts of my diary from when I was in 7th grade. Because who doesn’t bring their 7th grade diary with them to the movie theater? Well, either way, it stirred up a lot of emotions, both in terms of my relationship issues and back when I was all suicidal and stuff. And then, all of a sudden, I stopped journalling for an entire year and don’t have record. I don’t remember what I felt entirely, but the few and far between entires are rather depressing.

In order to dig back up those thoughts, feelings, emotions, I decided to look into my old AIM logs. It took a while to find, but eventually I got the disk I had written everything to and Joe saved it for me because I do not have a disk drive anymore (because I live in the 21st century people). Because I am a horder, I have all conversations from about 2000 through 2006. Every person, every exchange. Let’s just say, I am allowing myself to go down a winding rabbit hole and who knows where it will lead. Its really a good thing I am such a pack rat though. I found an old mp3 file of the Rupert Intro Song. Good stuff, folks.

Anyway, I’m back on my desire to buy a condo. “Now is the time to buy” says everyone everywhere. And it probably is. So, I’ve told myself that I can buy one if I actually finish this book. And finish it I will.