Talks with Grandma

I came home from volunteering tonight and gave my Grandma a call. It’s probably been a couple weeks since I last talked to her, and I has missed a call from her on Sunday. We spent over an hour catching up, which just reminds me how much I love her to pieces. She has been such an influential person in my life. In a lot of ways, I think I turned out alright because of her. In other ways though, I wonder how I ever turned out the way I did. The funniest moments?

  • How similar we are. She was telling me about a woman who she knew who was going to be dying and she didn’t want her to die for a few days because she was busy and wouldn’t have time for a funeral. She says it in this point blank “oh geez I hope she doesn’t die today” type way that can only make me smile. Laughing, I explained how I had just said the same thing about my aunt having a baby. I hoped she could put it off for a few days (Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, so, success!) even though she was due on Monday so that Joe and I could come visit the baby right away. Her caveat was that of course she doesn’t want the woman to die, but if it is going to happen anyway there isn’t anything she can do to stop it.
  • “Oh, I think she is a slut!” was my Grandma’s response to me announcing my forthcoming trip to Kentucky to see Miley Cyrus. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard my Grandma use the word “slut” before, so that in itself was a shock. If Miley knew my Grandma though, I bet she would be proud that she is the one that finally brought that out of her. I’m just guessing here though…
  • She was telling me that the guy that baptized me had passed away and she would be going to his funeral. “You remember Father ____” she asked. Well, no, no I don’t. But, what I wanted to respond with was “I was baptized?” which would have given her a heart attack so I’m glad I somewhat have the power to bite my tongue, even if it only works around my Grandma.


Earlier this week, a coworker sent our team an email with a picture of an ipad he stumbled upon. He was at the Minneapolis/St.Paul Airport and a new restaurant, Volante, which put ipads at every table, where you browse the menu and can surf the internet. Being in the digital signage/in-store digital technology field, I just had to check it out.

Good thing I had this trip coming up! My grandma and I met at the airport around 5:30pm for our 7:30 flight to Washington DC. This should have been ample time, however, we were at a gate smack dab across the airport from us. It would have been risky to try to make it there and back, and I didn’t want to drag my grandma on a goose chase. Luck would have it though, that once I sat down, the airline attendant announced our gate had changed. The route to the new gate brought us right past the new restaurant… score!

From the onset, it looked like a really neat place. Trendy/modern with the appropriate flare of technology. We grabbed a table, and a waitress said she would be right with us to show us how to work the ipad. I was a little put off that she assumed I didn’t know how to use it, but was also glad to have someone there to answer questions my grandma had in a more patient manor. It’s nearly impossible for me to understand what it is like growing up without technology.

After flipping through the menu, I got myself a small appetizer (chicken lettuce roll ups) and a Heineken and my grandma a glass of wine (I’m so serious, I have her drinking already!). I’m pretty sure it was an asian fusion type of restaurant. Then, to finalize the order, I had to select the tip amount and scan my card on the little reader next to me.

20 minutes later my food came out, and I had ask the waitress about the drinks. She scurried over to the bar and picked them up. I’m not sure how long they had been sitting there, but I absolutely hate it when I get my food before my beverage.

The food was actually pretty good, definitely a place I’d go to again. The atmosphere was a little difficult though – two minutes after placing the order, I shut my ipad off because the constant attract-loop was, well, attracting my attention. My grandma showed annoyance too, so I shut hers off as well. Ya’ll know I love my grandma, but this woman is kind of short. Beyond us being annoyed at the distraction, due to the ipads, I could only see her eyes from across the table. It didn’t help that they were portrait oriented and raised onto a stand. If I ever go back (and I’m sure I will) I’ll definitely sit at the bar, even if I am with someone else. I think that sitting next to, rather than across from, would make conversations a lot easier.

Other random thoughts:

  • The coolest part of the whole place? The outlet on the table that enabled me to USB charge my iphone while having dinner. I would eat that crap up if USB ports came standard other places. I always loose the adapters, so I usually need to plug it into a computer. Not anymore!
  • I didn’t like having to select the tip amount before I even placed my order. Had I known my drinks would arrive so late, I would not have tipped 18% (my options were 0, 15%, 18% and 20%).
  • I’d create the app differently, but over all, it was nice, intuitive, and responsive. No complaints about how it was created (ignoring the semi-annoying attract-loop).
  • The waitress never even came back after our food and drinks were served. It was kind of awkward, and not a place I would typically expect to tip.
  • Also, apparently the name of the place was Shoyu, thus the name of this post. Not sure if I went to a different place or what.
  • They emailed me the receipt, which was handy (and reminded me of the name of the place :) )

Luckily, I’m traveling two more weekends in the next month – maybe next time I’ll have better luck with the waitress and have a completely refreshed opinion of the place.

Permission to be me

Tonight I went to a Women Leading in Technology event, which was presented by the Minnesota High Tech Association. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw it on my calendar earlier today, and then I was like “what the heck is this event?” I was about to bail, but then I realized I paid $15 to go and felt committed. So I went. And it was awesome.

First was a short networking session. I met some interesting people, saw some people I have worked with, and generally had a good time. The best part by far though, was the panel. They brought together a panel of four strong, intelligent, successful women within the technology industry.

  • Carolyn Parnell, CIO MN.IT Services
  • Jennifer Haushildt, CTO, FindLaw at Thomson Reuters
  • Jean Becker, Senior Executive Partner, Accenture
  • Chris Mahai, Co-owner and Managing Partner, Aveus, LLC

My favorite part was when each woman gave a little bit of their background and how they got to where they are today. It was inspiring to see women from different companies and backgrounds coming together. For example, Carolyn started out as a social worker, and always made sure to work for companies that she shared a common goal or belief with. Jennifer, on the other hand, has been at Thomson Reuters for most of her career (19 years). Jean had a different start too, coming from a small town without phones or electricity, to becoming a nurse, and now is at Accenture. The best takeaway was from her: don’t be afraid to say way you want. Once, in an interview, when the interviewer asked her what she wanted to do, she replied “I want to be an engineer for a while, get my MBA, and then manage people.” The response she got wasn’t laughter, it was belief. Somehow, somewhere, I got ahold of the wacky notion that one shouldn’t announce that their sights are set high. Rather, that it is better to be humble and speak more to that next step rather than further down the line. I’m honest about these things with some people (Joe, my grandma, my diary, etc.), but not with the people that can help me achieve the goals. [From a professional standpoint, I mean. My family is very supportive of me and means the world to me.] But that is going to stop now, because I left tonight with the permission to tell people what I want, who I am going to be, and how I am going to get there. And, just so we are all on the same page, I’ll tell you too.

I’m going to be CTO of a fortune 500 company, whether I start it from the ground up or join one of the many existing successful companies. I’m going to be actively involved in my community, specifically with organizations that promote STEM fields to women and with my alma matter (Macalester + probably Stanford). I know these things won’t happen over night, but I’m a hard worker and I’m in this for the long haul.

Additionally, I’m going to be a published author and I’m going to drive a Maserati because they are awesome. I am a genuine person that tries to help out others any way possible. For example, I love meeting with Macalester students to talk about life post Mac, and I recently paired up a coworker with a recent Mac grad to dog sit while he is on vacation. It is sometimes the little things, but it is also the bigger picture, and I’m always willing to put myself out there for others.

And now it is my turn to pay it forward: tell people what you want, who you are going to be, and how you are going to get there. And don’t forget to appreciate the present.

To bite, or not to bite

I’ve been invited to participate in Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business’s diversity weekend for prospective students. It is a full weekend of meeting current students and alum, exploring campus and Pittsburg, and learning about general MBA stuff – being a female MBA candidate, financial aid, etc. I need to buy the round trip plane ticket though, which is why I am giving this so much consideration. I think it would be a really great opportunity to understand a top tier business program. Where I am struggling though is whether it is really a school I would consider. Nothing I know about it is ruling it out though, in fact, I like the small class sizes, the non-rural location, the global treks that are offered, and that they have a Technology Leadership concentration. I had a hard time finding the types of teaching methods they use, what clubs and orgs available, and if they have significant other programs (this wasn’t obvious on the website). Google is one of the companies that they feed into, but isn’t going to be as highly regarded as Stanford to them.

I feel like I’m making this a bigger deal that it needs to be – I’m not deciding on where to accept admission at this point, I am just looking into possible programs to apply to. The only thorn in my side is the flight. Which normally I’m not such a pussy about but last week I found out that work would not in fact be paying the tuition for my summer program at Booth. I borrowed the money from my Grandma and told her I would pay her back in August/September, because that is when I thought I would be reimbursed. But I will not be reimbursed, so now I just have a loan out from my Grandma that I need to pay off ASAP (for my own sanity).

With that, I’m trying to gauge whether it makes sense to cash out some of my investments and pay her off right away, or make payments to her over time as I’m paying less interest to her than I’ll be earning on the investments (ideally). Financially, it makes sense to pay her off over time. I need to run this past her though; she might prefer to be paid back on the time line I agreed too. I hate having debt too, so I almost would prefer to just pay her off to not have that hanging over my head.

On a less serious note (or more serious, depending on your priorities) I got the new Candy Corn Oreos today!!! They are über fantastic. They taste very similar to the Birthday Cake Oreos from this last summer, only on vanilla cookies instead of chocolate. They are also fun colors (split in half yellow and orange) so that is entertaining to me. I wouldn’t necessarily say they taste like Candy Corn though… which may be a good thing seeing as I am eating a cookie after all.

Wouldn’t it be the coolest job in the world to be the person who manages the different special edition oreos? I don’t even know all the ideas I would come up with. Well, in all honesty, I have a running list. But sharing them here would defeat the goal of me doing it professionally, as whoever currently has the job could just swipe it. And you know what they say, “swiper, no swiping!” Just kidding. No one says that.

Busy bee

I’ve been totally overloading my schedule lately to keep me busy and entertained. It is totally working and I like it a lot. I don’t like when I get sedentary because then I also get emo. I talked to Drew this past weekend, but only on gchat. It was still super lovely though. Joe is always a great listener, but Drew has been through most of it so he comes from a different perspective. He starts at Stanford soon and I’m über excited for him.

Also! Last night I had dinner with an old friend from college. I hadn’t seen her in way too long so it was really nice to catch up. I forget how nice it is to be surrounded by people that get me. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad…

I’m applying for a couple different things here and there. One I’ve talked about before and that is the Girls in Tech PR position. My meeting about that is tomorrow! I’m also looking into being the volunteer lead for the food program at the school I used to go to. I thought that I’d blogged about it after one of the times, but I guess I didn’t. Anyway, I’ve volunteered with them a few times through work and it is always a great/sad experience to be back where I went to elementary school and see how I have/it has changed. Being the lead coordinator would be a great experience to both connect to the community more and make a bigger impact. Lastly, I’m thinking about applying to a fellowship type of thing. I heard about it through work, and it is really a mentorship program but I would be paired up with someone awesome in business and then would go to programs now through April. I need to read more about it though before I make a decision. It is with League of Women Voters and I don’t know enough about them as an org. Normally this is something I’d ask my Grandma about, but she’s in Ireland or London or something awesome like that. I’ll have to Google it.

Goin’ home

I’m at the airport now, waiting for my flight back home. I’m so über excited to be going home. Last night I was feeling so homesick which was lame because I should have been focusing on having fun and saying goodbye to all the awesome people I met these last three weeks. Alas, I went to bed semi-early and then left hella-early for the airport.

It’s hard to explain, but I also just really hate goodbyes. For me, it was easier to be all like “oh, I miss Joe, I’m so excited to see Joe” rather than acknowledge that I will most likely never see many of these great people again. It was truly a fantastic experience and there are people that I will definitely need to stay in touch with.

And I’m done being a cheese-ball! Here are some random thoughts from the last few weeks…

So you know when you hear a voice, and it sounds so much like someone else you know that it instantly brings you back? I hate that. Well, I’d probably like it if the person sounded like Joe or something, but my professor from last week sounded exactly like a former male-acquaintance. Pretty much it gave me the hebegebees, and made me instantly annoyed. This didn’t encourage engagement in the class, sadly, but I learned a  lot nonetheless.

I finally booked my trip to DC with my grandma for this fall! I’m super excited for it for many reasons. First, I’ve never been on a trip that is just my grandma and I. I really like spending time with her so I think this will be lovely. Next, even though I’ve been to Washington, D.C, I’ve never had the opportunity to do the touristy type stuff. I want to be there without any serious time constraints so we can just explore, visit museums, see the sights, etc. I also like putting trip plans together so it a pretty fun project for me to work on :)

Last Wednesday was my corporate visit to Google. I was so excited going into it… maybe too excited. I didn’t know what exactly to expect, but I knew it was pretty much the most awesome thing that had ever happened to me. Two words that sum up the day? Overwhelming and intimidating. I think I expected it to be more… fun? Start up like? Goofy and amusing to be at, maybe? But the vibe I got was very different. I had to sign my NDA (so I need to be careful here!) but they didn’t really tell us anything top secret. We spoke with a woman for a bit and then there was a panel discussion. I got the feeling that not many people are good enough for the company… especially after the “come in at the bottom and pull your weight” lecture.

I get why she had to go over that… I really do, because as I recall this is exactly how I felt when I first started my job. I was like, holy crap, I worked hard for 4 years at Macalester to build my way up and now that’s all gone and I’m here again at the bottom. I sure didn’t fight it though. I bitched about it to Joe every now and again and eventually got over it once I started to be valued for what I brought to the table.

Overall, it was more pretentious that it needed to be. Coming in with an attitude of like “oh, you should feel honored to be here” isn’t good for anyone. The company needs employees just as much as people need jobs. This hasn’t really changed my love for them though… even if I couldn’t find anyone to sign my Android figurine.

Call me maybe?

So today was a fantastic day. I was quite tired when I woke up, but only because I was up so late. I find it hard to go to a game and be so riled up only to come home and go to sleep. Anyway, made it into work with coffee in hand (judgmental boyfriend next to me, “we should really stop wasting so much money on these things!”) with time to prep for my 7:30a meeting. After that, the day was jam packed and that’s exactly how I like it.

A one piece of awesomeness: my project buddy, who up until this point has been driving this big project I’m working on, put in his two week notice last week. The timing isn’t great from a project standpoint- things are really ramping up and funding requests are due next week, etc. The timing is absolutely perfect from a “Kate needs more to do” standpoint.

Throughout this project I’ve gone in with the whole “I need to understand everything that is going on incase PB dies or something” mentality. Thankfully he didn’t die, he is just leaving the company. This means I get to step up and take over the project which I’m über excited for.

When I first found out he put in his notice last Thursday it took me so long to fall asleep. I was excited and jumping around and couldn’t wait to meet with my manager the next morning to discuss everything. I really see this as my opportunity to step up and demonstrate what I am capable of. The only thing that really stood in the way though was convincing my manager that I was the right person to take over. It made sense to me, but I know that I strive in an environment where I am thrown in and forced to swim. My manager has no reason to understand that about me yet.

Friday couldn’t have turned out any better had I written the script myself. I met with my manager and she was like “Kate, you are awesome, I need you on my team long-term and I’m excited to see you grow into this role” or something close to that ;). What this means though is that I am getting a promotion and I get to really drive this project through. Ahh! I’m so excited because it is awesome and fun and exciting.

At home now… just put together a turkey burger in an effort to give myself energy to clean. This was unsuccessful because it was really old and turned out disgusting. I looked on the box for like, 6 minutes to find the expiration date, but couldn’t find anything. So, I ate it anyway. The ketchup and vodka masked the freezer burn.

In the meantime, I’m putting together my menu for tomorrow. I invited some friends over for a couples dinner and there are some gluten free needs that I have to prepare for. My manager is gluten free and had I thought about this any earlier than right now I could have asked her for advice at work today. Alas, I found a website that should suffice. Now I just gotta drag my ass down the street to the new Lund’s (I’m assuming they are more likely to have gluten free rice-noodles than Target…)

As my last random-ass note, the title goes out to my grandma because I have been trying to get a hold of her for a hella long time. I need her social security number in order to sign us up for a white house tour for our D.C. trip in October. High five.

Weekend in review

So I had quiet a weekend. It actually ended up being pretty darn productive, considering I went shopping and got some very needed items. First, I got a suit jacket. Since I’ve lost 50 lbs none of my suits really fit me anymore and I haven’t really had the money to go shopping for all new things. I finally convinced myself (with Chicago impending) that I can spend a little bit to get a couple nice pieces. I want to Macy’s with my grandma yesterday and got a skirt for hella cheap, and then a jacket for not cheap, but I loved it so what the hey.

I also got a new computer. My first generation MacBook Air was sucking my will to live, and I knew I wouldn’t get any sort of writing done if I didn’t have something new to work with. Specifically, I’ve been eyeing up the app Scrivener. Unless I wanted to upgrade my already crappy computer to OS 10.6, I wouldn’t be able to get the program without a different computer. So, I bought a new computer. I’m typing to you from my awesome new MacBook Air. I love it. It took about 5 hours of continuous use to drain the battery for the first time, and then less than 2 hours to recharge it.

Thursday night, while Joe was in class, I spent a lot of time preparing for my family to come the next day. I finally finished up all the little tasks I’ve been putting off since we moved in- hung pictures, finished putting my office stuff away, and then I even dusted. It has actually been kind of nice to have a couple evenings to myself each week. Because I’ve promised myself that I won’t just resort to watching TV or playing video games, I figured now was just as good as any other time to finally get the computer. I’m seriously going to get going on this book now. Really seriously, I swear.

Friday night would fall under the “cluster-fuck” category. When my family finally found my apartment (none of them have “in-the-city driving experience”), they were about ready to kill one another. Each had a different version of the events, obviously, but the gist was my cousin drove too fast, they are all blind and can’t read street signs until they are directly under them, and after spending 5 hours in the car together they were ready for some space. My grandma and two cousins made a second trip down to the car once we got to my apartment, so I had my mother to myself. She was complaining that my grandma wouldn’t pick her up and made her meet her on the way. I told her she needed to settle the fuck down and that the only reason she was in town was because my grandma invited her to come with, so she should be a little more grateful and stop trying to find any/every reason to bitch. She began in on excuses but I wouldn’t have any of it “can you please just build a bridge so that we can all have an enjoyable weekend?” I begged.

So, in order to calm down, she took some combination of medication. She turned into a completely different person, reminding me of the heroin addicts that I knew from back in the day. Specifically, we had this family friend that would come over some evenings for dinner and would be so strung out that he would fall asleep at the table. At age 10, I found this highly amusing. Flash 13 years later and change the “family friend” to my mother… it is no longer funny. I was stressed out, embarrassed, and worried to the max. The thought of her living alone, driving, functioning, etc, brings me over with a tremendous amount of guilt, with an equal part of resentment.

Her justification of it is that she just started new pain medication from her surgeries and was recently placed on another new medication that states “may cause drowsiness.” While that may be true, to me it sounds like another thing happening to one of those people that bring things like this upon themselves. I hate that it’s easier with her far away, that it is easier when I can ignore it. I just really wish she was healthy and okay and could handle herself, and I don’t know what would need to happen to get her to that point.

A family emergency

So I can’t believe it is already Wednesday. This past weekend was busy moving more of Joe’s things and gettings stuff from Ikea. Our internet was supposed to be up and running on Monday, but alas, it was not (and is not). Joe’s more upset about it than I am, but I’m looking forward to it too! I’ve already tapped out my 4GB of hotspot from my iPhone, so I’m really internetless until that gets set up.

Sunday night we were just lounging around and putting stuff away when I noticed I had a voicemail from my Grandma. She called to tell me that my mom was in the hospital because she fell down the stairs Friday night. My Grandma had gone to Fargo on Saturday morning (after finishing her coffee and buying a house, mind you- which is just funny to all of us who know her) to be with her and said she wasn’t doing too well. Apparently she shattered her hand/wrist/arm (not sure really) and had had surgery already. I got my mom’s phone number from her and called her right away. She sounded so sad. She told me that it happened at about 11:30 Friday night. She called 911 herself and they rushed her into surgery. As she was describing looking down and seeing bone and blood I got a little queasy, but mostly I just felt really bad for her.

I was also really upset that I didn’t find out until Sunday night. This happened on Friday and no one bothered to call me? My mom said she had talked to Curt and her sister and my grandma, and no one even let me know. If I had been called on Saturday or something, I could have dropped what I was doing and rushed up there. We don’t always get along but at the end of the day, she is still my mom!

I had a hard time falling asleep Sunday as I was thinking about what if she died and no one even called me then either. Sometimes I joke about being better off with her life insurance money, but at the end of the day, I can’t lose my mom. Things like this make you think a little more seriously about things and that was tough. After talking it through with Joe we decided to go up and see her on Monday.

Monday morning I went into work for a couple of meetings that I had and then we drove up around noon. Going through a crisis like this really made me appreciate my employer, everyone was awesome and supportive and it wasn’t a big deal for me to leave for 2 days. When we got to Fargo we went straight to the hospital, my mom was really surprised. I brought her an electric blanket because I knew she was freezing in that place. Joe and I sat and visited with her for a while; I cleaned the blood off her hand and took her for a walk. They said they would release her on Tuesday so Joe and I came back in the morning to check her out.

We got her home all right, but it was hard for me to go into her place, for multiple reasons. The last time I was at our house (before she moved) all the furniture was intact. It was hard to see it all moved and now at this townhouse that I’ve never been to. The blood was hard to see too. For as much as there was you’d think someone had lost an entire arm or something. I tried helping her out as much as I could, but it was hard to be there and I had to get back to the cities too.

After we left, I probably cried for like, an hour of the drive. It’s just hard thinking about her living alone and not having anyone to help her out. I worry about her a lot and her falling down and having to go to the hospital doesn’t help cut down the worry. I feel that me being busy with my own life and being used to just ignoring things allows me to not be consumed with guilt and sadness. The way Joe help me rationalize it is that I don’t get all sad when I think about my Grandma living alone, so I shouldn’t think about it being sad with my mom either. This sounds fine and dandy, but harder to apply than to philosophize about. I caller her last night to check in though and she said her sister is there to help her. I felt better knowing that.

Reasons I’m not going to Jamaica

So, Hanson, my favorite band in the entire world, is going to do a week-long concert tour/celebration in Jamaica. However, I will not be joining them. This is the saddest thing since sliced bread (that may not be the saying… but you get the gist).

  1. The trip costs $1500/person, not including airfare. This means that for Joe and I to go, it would cost us each just under $2k. Yet, we only have $500 each in our travel fund, so… this was a point of contention.
  2. I totally would have taken out a loan for this (graaannndddmmaa?) but when Joe said no, I no longer had anyone to go with me. Convincing recent college grads/a cousins that just bought a car is more difficult than it has any right to be.
  3. They sold out. How stupid is that? They weren’t even on sale for a week and now they are all gone. I was hoping to continue working Joe for this… thinking I could leverage both my raise (that was announced today) and my future winnings from the NCAA tourney (TBD.. $500 cause I’m lucky?).

Well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. I hope that all the lucky gals who are going enjoy tie dying with Zac and mixing cocktails with Taylor… teardrop.