Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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LA and Amsterdam and Israel

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

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

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

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

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

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

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

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

Then I rode a camel.

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

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

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

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

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Somehow, I made it out alive.

The Yarn: My Story

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At Sloan, we have something called the Yarn. Once a month, 5-6 speakers from the community are chosen to share a story of deep importance to them. Some are funny, some make others cry, but either way they allow us to connected by sharing deeper parts of ourselves. Here is a link to some previous talks if you are interested.

Being someone who enjoys talking about herself, I’ve been throwing my hat in the ring every month since school started. This last go-around, I was chosen to tell my story. What I didn’t realize until the night of was that it was an all ladies night. I especially appreciated that (it just so happened to work out that way).

For some reason, I wanted to take the easy way out. I wanted to read a few excerpts from my book to give a glimpse into my childhood. Luckily, I met with one of the organizers to do a dry-run when she asked “why read something you’ve written rather than just telling the stories from your heart?” I realized I had become a little too fond of the work I had put into developing them and didn’t want to change it. But, the truth is, I’m good in situations like those and stories are so much better when told rather than read. Ultimately, I decided to tell the same stories, which also gave me more ability to read the room and adjust on the fly.

I requested to be the first to speak because I get pretty nervous if I have to sit in anticipation. I got up, told my story, and the entire time my arms got beet red from the nerves. Or maybe it was the bright lights. Yes, we’ll go with the bright lights.

Afterwards, a lot of people came up to me and thanked me for telling my story. It was really nice to get the feedback and everyone mentioned they are excited to read the book. At least 10 people told me they’d buy it, which means I only need to lock in about 999,990 more to have a chance at a book deal, right?

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These are the excerpts I was going to read. The first is the opening of the book, and the second describes a situation that occurred during 3rd grade.

“Katie, it’s all over. Everything. It’s done. The shit is hitting the fan here, it’s all over.” This was all Pat could say before his phone was taken away. I was sitting on the second floor in the Campus Center at school. It was my sophomore year of college and I was meeting with a tutor I had hired for help with my multivariable calculus class.

It’s strange, getting a call like that in a place that feels so safe. It was dinnertime and there was a lot of commotion on the floor below. I always preferred to sit near the balcony because it is so easy for me to daze out when I watched everyone else. I practically lived in that building my four years at Macalester. It was the center of life on campus, and because the student government offices also resided there, the center of my life.

My tutor was a fellow calculus student. She was extremely smart and really nice, if not a bit of an outcast, so one day after class I bashfully approached her and asked her to help me study. I quickly offered to pay her for her time, knowing that succeeding in this class would be more valuable to me than any money I could throw at her. I also think I felt comfortable approaching her because of the fact that she was a little over weight. As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t have the highest self esteem at times and approaching someone who was “below me” made me more comfortable.

Tonight wasn’t about that though. I was no longer concerned about getting all of my calculus homework done or even doing well on the quiz the next day. I had to, once again, step in to worry about, and take care of, my mother.

Yet, I had nothing to go off of. I knew nothing really, other than shit was “over.” What did that even mean? I packed up all of my belongings and rushed out of the building. I had no idea where to go- where does one go in situations like this? I couldn’t go “home,” if home even existed anymore. After a brisk walk across the campus on what had been, and I guess still was, a beautiful autumn day, I ultimately found myself outside my best friends’ dorm room.

I first met Devin and Mollie the week before classes started during orientation. It was a simmering late August day and without air conditioning, I was melting. Their dorm room door was open and on the inside, there was a fan. I hesitated for a moment, but then walked in and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Katie and I’m melting – can I sit in front of your fan?” I pressed ahead before Mollie even had time to respond. By the chuckle she let out, I knew it was going to be fine. “I’m Mollie,” she replied, “it is nice to meet you.”

Mollie reminds me of a character I would read about in a children’s book. She has beautiful, brown curly hair, a kind smile, and a style that would make you feel comfortable leaving your kids with her for the evening. In fact, I instantly trusted her as I walked in her room that hot summer day.

After a few minutes of small talk and sitting spread eagle on the floor in front of a whizzing fan, Mollie’s roommate walked in and gave me a look that conveyed “what the hell are you doing spread eagle on my floor?” Mollie, seeing that I was at a loss for words, chimed in “This is Katie, she lives across the hall.” Devin let out an exasperated breath and I skedaddled out of there without much more than a “goodbye!” Let’s just say, this was the better of my first impressions that introductory week of college. The next interaction we had went a lot better. As a petite, blonde jewish girl from Wisconsin, Devin surprised me with her love of The Simpsons, a mutual obsession.

By the time I got to their room, tears were pouring from my eyes and I was in a deep state of panic. I couldn’t make out any words and I couldn’t decide how, or if, I wanted to tell them. Yes, something bad was going on at home, but home and school don’t mix. My life at college was in no way connected to my life at home and bridging that gap could have disastrous effects. But, what could be worse than what I was already facing?

I don’t know how long I sat on their futon hyperventilating. Mollie was sitting next to me trying to console me while Devin was handing me a continuous supply of Kleenex. I had spent just as much time in their room as I had in my own, so I definitely felt comfortable there. I knew I couldn’t be alone, but at the same time I hated ruining their evening. They were both good kids, working hard on homework, and here I was messing it all up.

I eventually began to talk.

“For as long as I can remember… my mom has sold drugs,” I said. They listened intently, with supportive and encouraging demeanors. “I just got a call from Pat and I have no idea what it means or what even happened, but he was crying. He said it was all over and the cops were there.” From what I could discern, my house was being raided. I knew it wasn’t a joke because I had heard the cops voice, but other than that I had no more information to go off. I did not know who specifically was there, why it happened (rather, what specifically set it off), or where all my closest family was.

Suddenly, as quickly as I had entered their room, I now needed to leave. I felt cloister phobic and I needed to yell. I needed to run and scream and cry. What I wanted was for someone to understand. Mollie and Devin were my best friends, but they came from such different families. They had perfect upbringings, parents who loved each other, enforced boundaries, and above all else, stability and security. How could they possibly understand what I was going through? How I felt like everything had been pulled from underneath me?

I thought talking to Alice might help. Alice was another close friend of mine, but unlike others, she had seen things in life. I knew that her father had struggled with alcoholism and that her family had their own faults. Mollie didn’t want me to leave alone, so her and Devin walked me over to Alice’s room.

I managed to stop crying as we walked through the buildings and underground tunnels. Often a blessing, Macalester is a small campus in St. Paul, MN. Tunnels and skyways connect a majority of the building to protect us in harsh winters. Today though, the smallness was suffocating and I didn’t want everyone to see me crying.

Once outside Alice’s room, we knocked a few times but got no answer. Eventually I just tried the knob and luckily it was unlocked. Alice was actually just sleeping on her bed. It was still relatively early, seven pm or so, so we tried to wake her up. She was groggy but was able to look up and recognize that we were in the room.

“What…? Huh? What do you guys want? I’m sleeping,” she said, clearly not happy to see us there.

“My mom has been arrested and I don’t know where to go or what to do,” I pleaded with her, hoping she would know the right thing to say.

“That sucks…” was all she managed to grumble before she passed out again. We learned later that she had taken a few pills and really had no recollection of us even coming in.

So there I was. 19 years old, just trying to make something of myself. My mom had just been arrested for drug dealing (I presumed) and I had no one to turn to. Alice was right, it did suck.


Before long, I realized something was going on downstairs. A combination of others talking in hushed voices and me always being asked where I was going if I went into the basement, clued me in. I started hanging out downstairs more, hoping to pick up on what was happening. Mark basically lived down there, playing video games or watching wrestling. Him and I became close during that time, and I developed a crush on Lara Croft.

My ploy worked like a charm. Every few hours, someone would come downstairs and enter the closet underneath the stairs. Sometimes there was a light glowing from inside and other times there was not. Once I saw inside, I realized what a dipshit I had been; weeks before, I found a roll of super awesome metallic wrapping paper that I wasn’t even allowed to touch. I thought they were just being selfish with the wrapping paper (something I understood) until I finally saw inside the closet. The walls were lined with it!

Let’s be honest; I wasn’t an idiot. The instant I looked in the closet, saw the lamps and the soil, I knew what was going on. Even though I was never explicitly told, I knew I was never to talk about what I saw in there.

So, a few months later when social services pulled me out of class, I knew what to say. The woman was really nice. She told me who she was, said she had received concerns about things going on, and just wanted to check in on me. As warm as she was towards me though, I knew she was the enemy. I knew that if anything happened to my mom or if anyone found out about certain stuff, she would take me away from my home.

The initial questions were harmless on the surface “does your mom have friends over a lot?” But I knew what she was digging for, and even though I knew how I had to answer, I was scared as shit that she would be able to see through it.

“I know she recently moved in with a man,” she began, “did you know Mark long before he moved in?” Of course I didn’t know him long, we had only lived in Minneapolis a few months “yeah,” I answered, “I’ve known Mark for a while now and I’m really happy he moved in with us.”

“How are things going living with another person now?” was her next question. “Well, even though it has basically been my mom and I forever, I’m used to having people live with us, like my cousins and stuff. So, it wasn’t weird for me.”

Soon her questions became more direct, “do you ever have bad dreams about Mark?” Instantly I got a knot in the pit of my stomach. Yes, in fact, I had been having really bad dreams lately, scary things about Mark. How did she know that? Was I being that obvious with my lies? “No, of course not, I like Mark a lot,” was all I could muster.

Next she went back to my mom. “Does your mom work at all?” Crap. This one through me for a curve ball. She didn’t work, but employment is more verifiable. Plus, it is illegal to work and not report it, so, even if she was working under the table she would get into trouble. “No, Mark has been really great and helps my mom out when she can’t find work.” Seemed… reasonable… no?

If you knew my mom, it most definitely did not. But I was banking on this woman being a stranger and not really knowing the ins and outs of who my family was.

“Does your mom like to garden?” was her next angle. “No, she hates plants. Once I got her an aloe vera plant for mother’s day and she managed to kill that thing in months!” I thought that by adding more context it would help sell my story. “Have you ever seen plants growing inside?” was the last of her questions. “No, I’ve never seen any plants.”

At the end, she gave me her business card and told me I could call her anytime if I ever needed something. I knew damn well I didn’t need that card though. So, the second I was brought back to the classroom, I took the card and flipped it into the trash. I remember thinking how bad ass I was doing that, like, I was protecting the family and no one could break me.

That evening, when I got home, my mom and Mark were already fighting about it. After visiting me at school, the social worker went to my home. Mark was the only one there at the time because he had weird work hours. This time, they didn’t even worry that I was listening. Turns out, one of my mom’s friends got upset with her because she had cut her off. So, in order to get back at my mom, she called social services. My mom vowed to never deal with the woman again, she was hysterical. She was never really concerned about herself, but as soon as anything affected me, her precious baby, she couldn’t hold back.

Staring at my apple tree

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I was a lot of things when I was four, but most importantly, I fancied myself a song writer. I would sit on my bed, tape recorder in hand, trying to get the best recording I could. I then listened to the cassettes everywhere I went, turning my own songs into my instant favorites. In fact, to this day other’s can remember the words, and by others, I mean only my mom. What a treasure it would be if I still had those compilations. Alas, they’ve gone missing over the years, most likely mistaken for a Mary-Kate and Ashley album I no longer enjoyed (blasphemy in itself).

Looking back, I see these recording as true musical genius. Just starin’ at my apple tree. That would have been the song that changed the world. I wrote it while sitting on my bed, get this, staring at my apple tree. I don’t remember any of the other lines, but there were many verses and a course. My mom totally fed into it too – she would play it in the car, learn the songs with me, and commend my amazing skills. If I had limited access to a time machine and only got one use, I’d go back to 1992 and get those cassettes so I could treasure them forever. Then I’d realize how terrible they were and regret going back in time. OR (more likely – obvi), they’d be Taylor Swift’s next #1 hit because shiiitt, I’ve got connections.

2014 Wrap Up

I haven’t written in what I would describe as a long-ass-time. Ideally I would blame this all on having the hectic life of a business school student. However, this is simply not the case. First and foremost, I have just as much free time as I did while working my corporate gig. Although, now I’m in Boston which is lovely and daunting at the same time. Second, not writing was actually a conscious decision rather than something that just sort of happened.

One thing that happens in business school is you are introduced to hundreds of successful, brilliant, beautiful people. Somehow, it seems like most everyone else has things figured out, yet I am still floundering around. Soon, I began to question the “me” others saw. Was I too perceived to be smart and awesome? Or, was I sort of a nerdy introvert who wandered in off the street? I thought a lot about first impressions, and lasting ones too. When I first met people, did they want to get to know me more? Once they knew me, did they feel they could rely on me and did they have a desire to work with me in the future?

Interestingly, my communications professor described business school as a time to experiment and test out new styles. While liberating to an extent, testing out new things on people who will make up an extremely valuable network seemed… risky. Could my openness to the world about depression, my family, and other struggles make me weaker in the eyes of others? Probably, and I’m not writing today because I somehow stumbled upon all the answers. I’m writing because I realized that writing is an imperative characteristic of who I am, and getting feedback from others is just as crucial.

In September, I had penned the following:

Today was my first day of orientation. In a lot of ways, it was overwhelming. So many people, so much going on. I did realize however, that I need to let things go. I have a tendency to let small things bother me and I let them impact me in a larger way than any normal being would. Example number 1: the lady in front of me on our bus ride back from rafting this weekend reclined her seat. Not only did it jab into my knees, and I’m not that tall of a girl, but she was in the front and therefore had nearly unlimited space otherwise. Instead of politely asking her to move her seat, or ignoring it all together, I sulked for the next 2 hours until she moved to the back. Am I just overly reactive to small annoyances or do I have a complete tendency to avoided conflict?

Example 2: today we had our first class. It wasn’t an official class, but a first class nonetheless. At this point, we were already divided into our cohorts, meaning I was in the room with the 60+ others I will be attending class with for the next full semester. Every. Class. Next to me, a woman sat texting on her phone for literally the full hour and a half. Maybe a normal person could have ignored it, somehow tuned it out. I, however, was completely distracted by it. Things to say to her kept rushing through my head – “are you even paying attention?” “Are you not interested in this subject?” “Can you please put that away, it’s really distracting for me.”

I posted it here to highlight the difficulty of public self-reflection. The note was meant to be about me and how I deal with stuff. However, given the nature of my program and the fact that I share so much of myself online with people who may be mentioned, I risk offending others. This is never my intention and is just something I’ll need to continue to be mindful of as I press on writing.

To quickly summarize the last 4 months, let me just say and Joe and I are now engaged. I don’t plan on this being a wedding blog, but I will share the story of how it happened. After finally settling in to our new home, Joe and I decided to host a housewarming party. It was scheduled for Saturday December 13th, and the evening before we were just going to have a nice dinner with friends before going home to wrap up the final touches on the apartment.

When I arrived at the restaurant to meet Joe and the other couple, I was surprised to be handed a note from the matri de. All it said was “Jump in the Uber waiting for you outside. Love, Joe.” I nervously approached the black car and once I was inside, I called Joe to confirm I wasn’t in fact being abducted. Soon I could tell we were headed to the harbor.

I arrived at a boat that was beautifully lit in the Boston night sky. On board we just Joe, and I private table for two. We set sail and sat down for dinner and had a beautiful evening and in my cupcake dessert was the ring! I obviously said yes.

After that, we went back to the apartment and SURPRISE! All of my family had been flown in to celebrate with us. Good thing I didn’t say no.

Just kidding. None of that happened to us. Joe proposed while we were looking at Christmas lights around Boston (a holiday tradition of ours). We were walking down Commonwealth Avenue, which has a pedestrian median lined on both sides by huge trees. The trees were covered from trunk to tip in white Christmas lights and it looked like an infinite archway that clearly went on for blocks. He moved into it by readdressing a conversation we had been in the night before: if we got married, what last name would we go with? I was a little dead on the subject so I slightly zoned out and because I was getting cold, suggested we turn around. We were coming to the end of the block and there was a big statue at the end that we looped around. I wanted to read it so I stopped and it just happened to be a memorial for firemen that were killed many years ago. I was all like “oohh that’s so sad!” when I heard Joe summarize “and that’s why I want to marry you.” Then he took out the ring and asked “Will you marry me?”

I was definitely surprised. I think I just hugged him for a minute and then said “yes” and then tried on the most beautiful ring I have ever seen. We started to walk back because we had a dinner reservation but I think I was a little overwhelmed and made us stop to sit on a bench. I sat and hugged him and smiled and may have even cried a little, but chances are he was the one crying. Just sayin’.

We had a delicious dinner at a joint in the Four Seasons. Joe had reserved a table overlooking Boston Commons and it was just perfect.

(Regarding the fake story: this was actually a proposal story of a close friend that Joe had the dumb idea to tell me about as we walked to the restaurant. Really, Joe, you think that was the best time? I now like to throw him under the bus with it every now and again…)

We walked home and debated whether to tell people right away or maybe wait for Christmas (we’d be leaving in just a week). The excitement took over and right when we got home we started calling people.

First, it was my mom. We both sat on the couch with my phone set to speaker. Once it started ringing I got nervous and said “you have to tell her.” So she answered, we both said our hellos and then Joe went into it “Well, Sandy, I asked your daughter to marry me tonight.”

— Twenty second of silence — we thought we might have dropped her.

Finally, “… and what did she say?”

Joe clarified by stating I did in fact agree to marry him.

— Twenty more seconds of silence —

“Is she pregnant?” asked my mom in a way that I should have expected but threw Joe off guard.

In the end, it was a beautiful night and I’m excited to marry my best friend such a hot piece of ass.

Divas, Donuts and Drinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Hunt Begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unemployment rocks

This whole being “unemployed” thing is fantastic. Yesterday was technically my first day off. My last day was Friday, but the weekend still felt like any other weekend. Monday morning though, when Joe woke up and went to work and I got to sleep in… that’s when the feeling kicked in.

I tried to start the morning off with coffee, reading a book in my sun chair. However, I ran out of the nummy-good-mocha coffee I’d been using in my Keurig and once I realized it had milk in it, I cut myself off. But it turns out milk is really good and I can’t do without and I’ll have to find some alternative. For the day it was Caribou for me.

I didn’t get a high top. Which is disappointing but I made do. I got myself a soy-mocha, sat down, and began to write. It was the first time I had legitimately revisited my book in quite a few months. I started from the beginning, revising and adding more as it felt right. I had a lot of notes from when Joe reviewed it, calling out elements that needing more context or further depth. I probably only added 250 words, but it was nice to sit down with my coffee, no internet, a beautiful sun, to just write.

After that, I headed over to do my first workout in training for the triathlon. It was painful. The swim started out really nicely, but after just 6 laps I was dead. I couldn’t get my stroke rhythm going and it dawned on me that I didn’t have my nose plugger. I made do with what I had, completed my 15 laps, and only swallowed one mouthful of water. Next time it will be better.

Next it was time for a shopping run. Joe and I haven’t been shopping for food in a while because who needs to when you can subsist on Buffalo Wild Wings. After my invigorating swim though I wanted something that would nourish the soul, not set it on fire. While at Target, I quickly remembered to pick up more contacts and went to the optical center only to be turned down. My prescription was too old. My sadness was met with “we can get you in right now!” when I didn’t even realize they did that stuff there. I should have, but I just never thought of it. I zipped in quickly for the eye exam, and put in my order for contacts while still using my employee discount – high five.

After having goulash, aka: funeral hot-dish for lunch, I went for a run. I should have given myself more time for my stomach to settle but I’m new here. After lasting nearly a solid mile, my body had enough and walked the rest of the three miles. Except I ended up going about 3.4 miles, and maybe ran a total of 1. It’s kind of fun to think about where I will be in a few weeks though, this is the probably the worst I’ll do.

After some stretching, I began session 1 of Python on code academy. I was surprised both by how easy it was and how quickly I got through it. Knowing Matlab, Mathematica, R, etc., really makes it easy to pick up something new. I’m excited to learn more.

No “perfect day” would be complete without donuts, so I made a stop by Glam Doll on the way to drop off my bike for a tune up. The “Scream Queen” (chocolate cake donut with chocolate frosting and candied bacon) was all I needed to spike my energy for my last yMac meeting for life. (That may be a little extreme, but who knows!). I got a nice goodbye, enjoyed seeing some friends, and got home just in time for some Harry Potter before falling asleep. Perfection is the only word that describes my Monday.

Any then this happened #loveMKA met-gala-2014-mary-kate-olsen-ashley-olsen-red-carpet__oPt

Joe, my Significant Other

So Joe will be joining the SO (significant other) club at MIT. Mainly because he is awesome, but also because we both think it will help with the transition for him to have connections too. We were chatting about housing when Joe says “oh, that reminds me, I’ve gotta reach out to the SO group!” because he is just that proactive.

So then he started researching them online a little bit more… He realized that the entire board is literally just women. He found on their website reference to events “Favorite SOS events: scavenger hunt and mani-pedi.” and all he could say was “This could be interesting.”

I suggested he could use a pedi though, which he totes could. I’m sure that there are more men involved with the club, just not at the board level though. That’s my guess.

Anyway, Joe is perfect and I’m excited that he is excited about Boston and actively looking for ways to participate in the things I’ve got going on. And create his own stuff so that when I’m busy and traveling the world I don’t have to worry about him getting bored.

In other news, my mother is staying with us this week. I’ve also realized that I don’t write as much when I’m not drinking (February was relatively successful!), but now that it is March maybe things will pick up again.

 

Summer Travel

I’ve been wracking my brain the last few months about what I should do with my summer. While speaking with my interviewer at MIT, he strongly suggested I take time in between work and starting school to decompress. It makes a lot of sense to take time between – I can only imagine what a shock it would be to go straight from working my corporate job to flying out to Boston to begin classes right away.

So, I’ve been exploring tons of ideas of what to actually do. Here are some things that have made my list:

  • Road trip across the USA
  • Go to Canada to hang out with Kylie from Booth
  • Go to a “boot camp” of sorts so I can be ripped like Kara Thrace
  • Spend time at a writers retreat finishing my book
  • Volunteer with a nonprofit in Nepal with a future classmate of mine
  • Do the whole Eat-Pray-Love thing in Bali with this retreat
  • Learn to program at a hacker school type thing
  • Work with a girls coding program in NYC
  • Go on an adventure tour through Thailand/Cambodia
  • An Internship

Road trip across the USA
This would only be fun with Joe. Road tripping alone would not only be semi-boring, but it would also need to be done without a car as the only car is Joe’s. This could, however, be combined with some other idea. If I go to Thailand for a few days and then come back, Joe and I could spend a few extra days eating donuts on the road out to Boston. Just sayin’

Go to Canada to hang out with Kylie from Booth
I emailed my bff from my time in Chicago, asking if there was anything we could do together…

I was thinking, what would it look like if I visited you? Is there anything cool we could collaborate on or create during my time there? Is there anywhere you’d like to go that you might want a partner for? All these ideas are running through my head, and surprisingly (only surprising in that I’ve only known you three weeks in person) you’re on the short list of who I’d like to spend my time with.

Basically she is this amazing woman who also runs a women in technology group up in Canada and is on the very short list of anyone I would ever co-found a company with. Her and I getting together would make things happen.

Go to a “boot camp” of sorts so I can be ripped like Kara Thrace
This is a good idea on the outside. I want to test myself physically… if I could join the Marines just to go through boot camp, I would. However, I couldn’t find many places that were more “get ripped” vs. “fat camp”. This Luxury Boot Camp could be good, but is only a week long. Bikini Boot Camp is similar, minus the mansion. The Camp lets kids join, which scares me off right away. At the end of the day, something like this might be fun to do with another lady, but wouldn’t leave me looking like Kara Thrace.

Spend time at a writers retreat finishing my book
This month long writing retreat in Greece would be beautiful. I could fully devote myself to a goal (finishing my book) while enjoying a new culture and city. There will even be a resident instructor that focuses on memoir writing. It’s a long time to spend away though… and I might get bored staying in the same place the whole time.

Volunteer with a nonprofit in Nepal with a future classmate of mine
On the MIT Admit site, a fellow admit mentioned that she will be spending two months in Nepal prior to orientation.

If you join me, we can also go hiking in the Himalayas, learn some Nepali, eat loads of dhal bhat, see all the stars in the sky ever, go asian safari-ing…

While this would seriously be one of the coolest, most amazing opportunities full of adventure and learning and on my own-ness slash some scary parts, it’s too open ended for me. Plus, if we didn’t get along it would be a very awkward start to business school.

Do the whole Eat-Pray-Love thing in Bali with this retreat
I was nearly 100% sold on this trip. It includes physical activity (yoga), adventure (traveling to 3 different areas) and writing. It would be a small, intimate group of mostly other women, most of whom would be older. It would be awesome. It also over laps though with a really good friend’s wedding, so, basically it won’t work. I could get in late or something, but then I might just prefer one of the other trips. Also, I wonder if the long classes would be good or bad – would it be better for me to just go on a trip where I can write rather than where I would have actual assignments?

Learn to program at a hacker school type thing
Part of me feels like I should learn more coding or development type skills if I’m going to go to MIT and start a company with someone. On the other hand, I’m actually pretty good at following lines of code from my computer science and math classes. I’m just not sure if I would meet the requirements of Hacker School… or is that impostor syndrome talking? Also, living in NYC for three months would require more travel for Joe and I – we’d go through withdrawal otherwise… aww

Work with a girls coding program in NYC
Girls Who Code is a great organization out of New York City. They put on a intensive summer program for girls to learn programming and discover their passion for technology. I don’t think they have any open positions nor are they looking for temporary summer folks. Yet, I would love nothing more than to help put together this program or something like it.

Go on an adventure tour through Thailand/Cambodia
I’ve never been to Asia. During college, I had signed up for a j-term trip to China, but without enough interest from other students, the trip was canceled. Still, it feels like the next place for me to visit. I randomly searched “Thailand adventure tour” and was brought to the g adventures website. They have a healthy supply of exactly the “world adventures” I am looking for. As of right now, I’ve narrowed it down to two:

  1. http://www.gadventures.com/trips/essential-vietnam-and-cambodia/AVEV/2014/
  2. http://www.gadventures.com/trips/indochina-explorer/ATIC/2014/

Fun? Absolutely. Spendy? Very much so… Worth it? Haven’t decided…

An Internship
I applied to a Management Leadership for Tomorrow program, which among many other things, offers support to students pursuing their MBA in a select number of programs. One perk of this program is having access to a few internships during the summer before the MBA program begins. Because MIT is one of the few partner schools, I applied and would be very excited to get this opportunity. However, I’ve received mixed messages. On the website, it looks like applications are only being accepted through January, but in an email I received from a partner school, they said they are reviewing apps through April (on a rolling basis).

This would be a great opportunity if it were to work out, but I’m nervous about waiting so long before making a final decision.

So who knows what I’ll end up doing – it may be any one of these items or something entirely different. Have a good idea? Let me know…