Travel from hell –> Pretty good week



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.

A memorial day

I’ve been in such a funk these last few days that I just can’t seem to break out of. I’m pretty sure the sun will never shine again in Minnesota, and that’s a pretty depressing place to be.

This past Friday, a girl I went to middle school with lost her daughter. Her beautiful 2 year old went missing while they were camping, and she was discovered in the water after what I can only imagine to be the most unbelievably painful 2 days. I didn’t know her that well when we went to school together. We had a few classes with each other; I always thought she was a very sweet girl. Sometimes, things like this hit me harder than others, and this one, because it feels so close to home, is ripping me apart. The pain I can only imagine that family is going through is just tragic.

On not even remotely the same scale, but still affecting my mood, is that today I just found out that my two most desired things are pretty much incompatible. Stanford housing doesn’t allow for pets of any kind. I’ve looked for apartments/rentals nearby, and nothing seems to accept pets. This means that I can’t even get a puppy right now if I want to have the ability to go to Stanford next year and that really sucks.

I’ve been thinking about a puppy more and more and even put in an application with the place I want to get him from. I had intended to get him before the winter because I know that he will help me be a happier person during the terrible winter months. And even though I haven’t met him yet, I know he would love California so much.

Joe is encouraging me to look into the policies at/near the other universities I am applying. That in itself feels disingenuous – I want Stanford and I know I can get in. I understand applying to other places as safeties… but this feels different.

As I was lying on the couch though, unable to motivate myself to do so much as even turn on the TV, I couldn’t imagine ever leaving this black hole to succeed in Business School. I allow myself to waste an entire weekend when I have work and writing and Girls in Tech things I could be working on – how on earth do I think I could fight my way through school again? This place I’m in is so dark it feels like I’ll never break out and I should probably just stop reaching for my goals now.

After my two hour nap and then direct migration to bed, Joe set up my light box to use in the morning. After the move to our condo, I hadn’t really found a suitable place for it and kept it packed away. I was also hopeful that my depression was just seasonal and now that it is “spring” I should fall out of it. But apparently I haven’t. So, I’m pretty thankful I have Joe to remind me that this place I am now may not be permanent.

Winter Blues

Winters are hard. Even with my SAD lamp and my depression medication and my increased intake of dark chocolate, it is still a struggle to get out of bed in the morning and do something with my day. Some days are better than others, and I’ve been trying to pay super close attention to what foods I eat and limit the amount of alcohol I drink. This winter is better than a lot of others, especially last winter when I was living alone and didn’t have any commitments outside of work. But some days still just really suck and I want to crawl in a hole and cry.

Last week we moved the office furniture into the living room, and all the living room stuff into the den. I thought maybe the reason I was spending so much time in front of the TV was because it was nice and sunny in the living room and I wanted to absorb as much as I could. Joe was a good sport, as always, and dropped what he was doing to help me rearrange for the next 3 hours. It feels good. Right now I’m sitting at my desk in front of the window and couldn’t imagine a better place for my computer.

Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update as to why my posting has been more sporadic. I’d hate to only post emo-posts because then everyone would just think I’m a whiney little biotch unworthy of a follow.

Writing a book is not easy

It is my birthday and I am alone at Rock Bottom. I am kind of being an emo cat and I cannot figure out why. Maybe just because I was in a really long two hour meeting at the end of the day that didn’t go exactly as I had hoped. Maybe because it is my Birthday but I’m alone at the bar.

I don’t mean to be a whiney little bitch. I go to the bar alone quite often and usually really like it. And this time I even have Family Guy playing in the background which is really just enhancing the experience.

Joe woke me up at 5:30am to give me my birthday present because he had to be to work early. He got me a case of the Android Series 3 action figures!!! How awesome is that? They were exactly what I wanted and he even acted like he didn’t get them for me and secretly smirked when I gave him a little bit of crap for not getting it for me because it is what I really want. But then it was what he got for me because he is sneaky! Major improvement from last year… (luff yooouu!).

I came here to write. Which is technically what I am doing but I’m not actually making progress on my book, what I should be working on. It is like, day 97 of NaNoWriMo (also known as day 20), and I’m at less than 20k words. That averages at less than 1000 a day when my goal is supposed to be 1,667. If you have a failure stamp, I have a forehead that could use it.

Volunteer Work

Some volunteer work is really awesome… whether because it is actually a fun experience or because it is very fulfilling/meaningful work. Some volunteer work sucks. This happens when it is neither fun nor fulfilling. I will now provide some examples of each.

Planting trees along the Mississippi River in April in 40 degree rain/snow weather: Awesome. The work was grueling and the weather was painful. But, it was with a good group of people and we were all able to laugh at our situation. Plus, maybe some of those trees took root and will end up being huge and living longer than me.

Overnight shift at a homeless shelter: Awesome. I was mainly there in case anything happened, but I don’t know what I would have done if something actually had. I mostly made coffee, chatted with interesting people, and sat at a desk shushing people before going to lie down for my 4 hour sleep shift. I did it a lot during college and it was a nice way to get homework done without friends getting in the way. I also felt like I was actually contributing though… these people had no place to go and I was kind of watching over them keeping them safe at night.

Manning a booth at the Living Green Expo: Suck. No one stopped by and no one wanted to hear what we had to say. I did get a back massage out of the deal though, and I sat there eating M&Ms with Joe the whole time. Let’s just call it a wash.

Bagging potatoes for 3 hours before going on a tour that ends in a sex-slave room: Suck. I’m a corporate cube worker. I can’t be brought to a warehouse, stuck in front of a pallet of potatoes, and be expected to happily stuff 10lb bags for 3 hours. I get bored. This could be my ADHD, this could be that bagging potatoes isn’t my thing. Either way, the entire time I was thinking “I would be working so much harder if they varied up my tasks a bit…” which in turn slowed me down further. The day ended with an “international tour” which took us through a really neat mock-up of different homes across the world. However, the last room was just a bed under a red light with a small blanket on the wire frame and handcuffs. Bam – sex trafficking. How does me packing potatoes help? It doesn’t, not at all, which left me feeling even more deflated.

Handing out tons (literally) of food to elementary school children who really need it: Awesome. I’ve done this a few times at my old elementary school. The first time I got to give out girl scout cookies which made me the favorite of every child there. It also hit really close to home because only a while back it was me in that school having my own not-perfect-home-situation and I made it out, so, I want to help others in any way I can so they can make it through too. I’m trying to get the Lead Volunteer position with this organization so I can make a bigger contribution, but, I feel like I’m stalking them to no avail.

Re-shelving books at a library: Awesome. You get to have quiet time playing with books. I was able to both build my “to-read” list and make fun of some of the crazy books people borrowed. It was also really helpful to learn my way around the library… I still find myself grabbing random stalks of books and re-shelving them sometimes. Hey, that’s a good idea. Instead of legitimately volunteering at a library, I could just creep around shelving books on a regular basis. Then I wouldn’t have to fill out the application or let them know when I’m going to be in… commitment is overrated.

The moral of the story? If you think volunteering sucks, try something else. You just aren’t doing it right.

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.

Happy Tuesday to me

So first and foremost I need to rant about how much the elevator algorithm in my building sucks. There are two elevators for 14 floors of apartments. Surprisingly, I rarely see anyone, unless of course they are there to cock me off. [And yes, I am using words like that in order to get more hits. It’s the way of the internet folks]. I am able to see which floors the elevators are on, so when one is on 6 and the other on 9, which do you think comes down to get me? The one on 9 of course, because it makes no sense. A bigger issue yet is that it doesn’t even seem like it uses any logic. It isn’t designed to have one sit on 6 at all times, because that would sort of make sense to sit half way (floors go basement through 12). The elevators basically just sit where ever they were last called, which is pointless for so many reasons. Elevators can be smarter than this.

Anyway, why am I ranting about elevators you ask? Because I was sitting at work today and having nearly completed all that I was to do I asked myself “hmm.. its 11:30… what should I do for lunch?” Normally I just sit at my desk and maybe read a blog or two (or like yesterday, follow WWDC). Today I was feeling a little down though for some reason. Pinpointing that reason is nearly impossible as 10 minutes prior I was in a pretty exciting meeting. I love the projects that I’m working on right now and it is actually something that I care about. I could go on and on about the possible reasons for my mood change though… maybe it’s because I’m not eating as much to try and drop my 5lbs from travel-gain. Maybe it’s because I am PMSing or something. Maybe it is because I’m not being challenged enough at work or I don’t have enough on my plate. Maybe it is because I’m lazy and just wish I were at home playing The Sims (especially with my new Pets expansion pack!!). Lastly, it could be because I’m suppose to update my silly resume for MBA stuff and I need to get it done today but I keep putting it off.

So I came home for lunch. In this hour I will probably blog (check), eat a snack, finish my resume, and put in a load of laundry. The more I can accomplish the better because then I will feel useful.

A lovely Sunday jaunt

So Joe and I woke up this morning with the desire to go for a bike ride. His alternative “we could drive to Yo-yo for donuts instead!” made my plan an easy one. We biked to Yo-yo. Somewhere along the line we got off of the trail, and I looked at my iPhone. We were technically still mostly on the trail, and we were only maybe 2 miles away! So, we biked for another 4 miles before realizing I had somehow angled us back to the city. This is in part my fault because I always try to be sneaky and stuff, so I didn’t tell Joe where we were going. He said I should have realized we got turned around because all of a sudden the sun was on the other side of us “the sun rises in the east baby… there is no way we are still heading west.” Dammit!

Once we realized, we turned around and finally got on the right track. Things were becoming familiar as we were coming upon the correct streets. After what was to be our last turn, all that stood between us and a few donuts was a huge as hill. I couldn’t even make it up actually… I had to walk my bike after about half way. That was okay though, because soon enough I would be cramming a maple-bacon long john down my throat.

Eventually, we made it. We were walking around the front trying to figure out a good place to lock our bikes when I glanced up to the unlit “open” sign. Yes, unlit. Meaning, they were closed. Why were they closed you ask? No fricken idea, because their hours on Sunday are 7:00am-Noon and we were there just before 10a. The sign on the door said they were closed though, due to Memorial Day. I think I saw a tear in Joe’s eye.

We reluctantly turned around. Hungry as shit, we knew we wouldn’t make it all the way back without stopping somewhere. We ended up stopping at The Depot due to its awesome proximity of being on the trail. After a silly duel with barista, I conceded and accepted my “smoothie” with almond milk rather than water. I hate milk. It was okay though.

We also got donuts. They were old fashioned and while that isn’t the kind we normally like (we are a “raised” duo) they tasted really damn good, probably because of our hunger. We lounged around for a while, me trying to cool off as I often succumb to heat exhaustion. Soon enough, we were on our way back. We actually made it home in two pieces (as in, Joe and I each in one piece). Along the way I still got really hot a few times and he would squirt me with his water bottle. After it was all said and done? 28 miles and no Yo-yo donuts.

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.

Dropped salads

So sometimes I just feel really sad about things that have nothing to do with me. For example, I was at work, walking past the cafeteria. I heard a crash come from behind me and I looked to see that a woman had dropped her lunch! Her entire salad went down and there was a big mess on the floor. I literally had to fight back tears because I felt so bad for her! I can only imagine how embarrassed and disappointed she was… Not to mention the person who has to clean it up and the others who saw it happen as well.

Another example is this morning in my bedroom I looked out the window and watched someone slip on the ice. She wasn’t even a young woman and I really hope she didn’t get hurt at all.

I don’t know why I concern myself with these things. Maybe I think that because I am going to be sad either way that I might as well have something tangible to be sad about? It is frustrating to feel sad when I really have no reason to be. Pretty much my life is great and I’m “happy,” but not in the emotional sense. I don’t feel like anything is missing per say, except for some sun maybe. So why do I feel this way? Other than dropped salads and fallen women of course.