Sunday, December 03, 2006

from my fingers

what's on my mind right now:

i have to somehow get my winter greeting cards out this year. i found the perfect card, but it is pricey, so i'm trying to get excited about a cheaper alternative. not sure it will happen.

i'm turning 29 in january. january is next month.

i have a lot to journal about in my official journal for my high performance leadership class. a lot.

but i have no finals, which means i get an extra week in my break. maybe that means i can accomplish more.

is there asbestos in the popcorn ceiling in my family room? i will get it tested.

we rocked our presentation on thursday. the learning i'm getting from my class is again, more and different than i expected. i'm actually finding more links to my hpl class in this one and my strategy of tech class than i originally thought i would. it's great when things come together, but also frustrating because i feel like i am experimenting with new behavior all the time and others on my team are not. so it's exhausting and i'm tempted a lot of the time to fall into my regular habits. this past week, i got fatigued and shut down more than i would have liked. trying to stay the course at that point put me too far outside my comfort zone.

going home for christmas. need to book a ticket.

my knees are cold.

Post Script: I just looked at my last blog post. I installed the window coverings. With L. Both sets. And yesterday we hung all of the pictures on the walls. Maybe not in the perfect perfect place for all of them, but they are up. And 80% right is much better than 100% no data at all. The two prints my mom and I framed together 15+ years ago had been sitting on the floor for the 3 years since we painted the guest bedroom. Strategy class has taught me that implement and see is better than sit on it for the longest time, plan until it hurts, and hopefully get it 100% right the first time. I guess the class helped, too, since it's better to prototype--and rapidly, too--than not to prototype.

so how do I balance measure twice, cut once with implement and see?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

here i am

So here I am. In the basement in the MBA lab. Now that I've figured out my schedule, I'm trying to figure out my life. Not sure what to do. I seem to be a bit gunshy lately: hesitant. tentative.

It's like me to be tentative, but right now I'm kinda having a crisis of confidence. Since the summer, I have thrown myself into one experience after another. If I am honest with myself, that throwing myself into one experience after another began around age 13 and continues to today. Only now, I feel fatigued. I'm tired. I'm confused. I'm not as happy as I ought to be. I'm wallowing a bit, and it's not like me to be like this quite as I am now. And I realize that I need to hold myself accountable and figure out why it is so hard for me to sit still; why in conversations I turn the spotlight on the other person and avoid what about me talk; why there are two piles of laundry on my bedroom floor, and uninstalled window coverings I bought a month ago in the corner of the family room. I have started to lose things at home: my train of thought, my cell phone, my white tennis shoes. It is not a big place, and yet I still am losing things.

This week I am clearing away the clutter from what I actually care about and want to really do. Before that I was setting up a routine and getting used to it. Before that I was getting lost in reflection in Touchy Feely. Before that I was giving my dad a hard time about his unfinished PhD. And before that I was in Boston. Recently I have been paying more attention to when I do that thing where I get pulled in many directions and I enjoy the challenge of just staying afloat.

Enjoy is an overstatement. More that I love the challenge of making it all work. Only the problem with that is that I don't fully commit to and do any one thing very well. And I want to do that: do one thing--possible a few things--very well. So that means no more mourning about not being the better person I want to be: the one with all that stamina.

Better to figure who I am now, and what I need to be good at standing quietly in one place, turning my face to the sun, and knowing which direction to go.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

hand in the door

So I'm getting off the T the other day, and got in the way of a fellow trying to dive in the train. I'm leaned forward and my mind is on tackling the stairs to the street, and I see the crestfallen expression on the dude's face. The trains are somewhat mysterious here. There's no schedule posted anywhere near the platform, and no warning that a train is coming or leaving. Just a sort of rhythm that you get the hang of after a while. It's about 10:30 at night and I see his crestfallen expression. So I did the thing that people do on the elevator: reached back and stuck my hand in the doorway. The doors give my wrist a two-sided karate chop--hiYAH!

I grimace in pain and shake out my hand, force a smile to smooth the stranger's suddenly worried brow, and continue onto the platform. To my right, I see a harried commuter who had rushed toward another doorway, but missed it by a half second or two. Shoulders slumped, she meandered down the walk. The whole exchange was a 2-second interaction.

On my walk home, I notice that the karate chop broke the skin. Not a lot, but enough to make me wonder how it will feel the next day. And I wonder: if our roles had been reversed, would a stranger have stuck his hand out for me? In this town where I'm sometimes struck by the impersonality of everyday public interaction, learning terms like "massh0le," "unprovoked niceness," and "unsolicited greeting," would anyone have seen my crestfallen expression and reflexively stuck a hand out for me?

There's no moral or real point to this story, and no pretty bow to tie. But more than not these days, I find myself wearing my managerial hat. "The conversion of the pay systems on the T could certainly be managed better; regular announcements and signage could improve the customer experience significantly, and would be a very cheap solution." "Is the culture here genuinely different than it is where I'm from, or is it my impression alone? What's driving my perception and who can I talk with to get another point of view?" "Is risking my well-being for another person the right thing to do? What risky options are better than others?"

I just got past the halfway mark in my internship, and am getting involved in a really cool collaborative process. Still working on practicing new habits, and very much enjoying the process and time to reflect on how I'm experiencing my internship. A good friend came up to visit me this weekend, and we had a great time not restraining each other from the guilty pleasure we share in common. So my pockets are a little lighter now, but I finally stocked up on an emergency supply of correspondence cards and foldover notes. I packed quick and light for my trip to the East Coast, and stationery didn't make the cut. And after 15 years of knowing him, I found out that he is my Starburst counterpart (he likes the 2 flavors in the standard pack that I do not like, and vice versa).

In other news, I'm doing a really cool volunteer project with one of our portfolio agencies, and get to visit a place called Troy, NY at the end of this week. And the weekend after that, L is coming out for our 4 year anniversary. He has been going pretty hard at work lately and my IT infrastructure is not the best here in my apartment, so we haven't had a lot of chances to talk without the call dropping. The timing is great because he will have just returned from a vacation to Asia, so he'll have lots of photos and adventures to share. Can't hardly wait.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

no big deal

So I've been away for a while, and so much has happened. Going underground is great for taking time to figure things out, but journaling helps me remember where I was when--.

First year is done. It's so done.

Now my summer internship has begun. I'm currently in the Boston area. And prior to my internship, I don't think I spent more than 72 hours on the east coast at any given time. I'm living and working in Cambridge, which seems to be a nice place to hang out and see people. Late at night, people pepper the squares and go from this bar to that restaurant to the ice cream shop over there. Much different from Palo Alto, where the world shuts down around 11pm. Here, the bookstores are open later, and the major city is a couple of ten minutes away on something called the T. Not quite as sexy as the El back home, but it gets the job done.

Recently, I was in New York City and somehow found myself without a place to sleep on a Sunday night. So I called L's dad, and got hooked up with an uncle who's lived in Brooklyn for 39 years. Imagine coming from a small island (and the smallest country in the W0rld Cup this year) and landing in NYC. The bigness and intricacies of the subway system alone were enough to make me say "whoa." But he came and picked me up on the train, and I got to meet a new relative who apparently hasn't seen L since '94 when some of the W0rld Cup games were in the Bay Area. The uncle asked me if I was married to the big one--L--or the little one--his younger brother, l. I never really knew what it was like to be regularly known in someone else's context until a few weeks ago. L spoke at a commencement ceremony, and at some point, his brother l and I went to get a DVD of the ceremony. When we revealed our surnames, the guy behind the window (having just observed the ceremony) asked if we were related to L, and then marveled that someone as accomplished as L would have time for a wife since he was so busy with research and education.

In business school, despite being humbled by the bigness of the challenges ahead, all that you learn and how much you grow, there is still this sense that you are a Big Deal. At GSB, the rhetoric implies that we're on a mission to Change the World. Ideas are powerful--execution: key. And I believe the rhetoric. Every gorramn word of it. But I digress. Sometimes I forget that the roles that we play are not implicit. They are often explicit and well-defined. People are round. And I don't mean rounded rectangles that seem to be all the rage in web design and computer desktops these days. I mean really and truly round. That is, I am and can be a Big Deal in one context, and a very small one in another. And that's as it should be. Somehow, thinking through this concept of the roles people play will help me figure out how to be a better communicator. I'm convinced of it.

But anyway, so I'm on the East Coast. It's hot as you know what and humid besides. I'm walking to work as much as I can, which is doing wonders for the old ticker and wallet. I have no TV. But my place is gorgeous, in a great spot and close to everything, and my wireless connection is fast enough to impress me. And I'm living the semi-single person's life since L's back home. I'm 28 years old and this is the first time I have lived alone. So it should be interesting.

My first week on the job was motion from day 1. As far as first weeks go, mine exceeded my expectations. I am in a cohort of one other intern from another business school, and a full-time hire who just graduated from a b-school here in Boston. And we're expecting one new dude on Monday who's an executive MBA type. I met him: he's cool. What I like about the first week and the organization in general is seeing how the hairy process of high engagement investment in growing social impact organizations actually happens. The company is highly collaborative; the work intellectually stimulating, and there's a sense that we're working on something bigger than ourselves or our immediate mission; the people are nice and easy to talk to; and the processes flow toward goals being set and work getting done in a timely fashion. Interns and new people sometimes slip through the cracks the first week. But here, I'm pretty well set up on the paperwork side of things, I've met with my manager more than once, met with others on the teams and projects I'm working on and everyone in the firm and people in power who partner to support the organization, gotten started on my first two projects, had some time to reflect, understood the firm's priorities and where I fit in, seen both intensity and laughter, and produced something tangible and relevant. Some of it was deliberately planned, and some opportunistic (our first week coincided with a planned dinner for the whole team, board members, and signficant others).

A really neat week. So I have to keep the momentum going and make sure to overcommunicate. It could be an ugly situation to go off strong in one direction, and have it be 25% to the left or right of where I am supposed to be running. I tend to like to tinker and think through quite a lot, and collaborating with others, especially early on, will help me cut through the scut work/logistics more efficiently so I can spend more time on the stuff that makes or drives impact or value for the organization.

One thing, though: this no TV is peculiar. Now that I actually have time to watch TV, I am forced to Get a Life instead. Which I could use help with, so I may have to meet my neighbors or find a running buddy pretty soon. Stand by.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


So I've set a goal for myself this quarter: balance. It's not a SMART goal. It's not a particularly interesting goal. But it is my goal, nonetheless. I've been working on a few things over the last few months. One is my personal strategy. Those who have taken the core strategy course would know what I mean. The basic thrust is having enough focus to know what's for me and what's definitely not. This focus would mean knowing what to reach out and grab, and what to leave on the table. A second is structure. I've been struggling to organize myself efficiently, and am starting to do a better job at it. A third is authenticity. This means being my authentic self in interpersonal interactions, and integrating the personal and professional personas that I present to the world. Another aspect of this is being honest with myself about what's important, and doing my damndest to be real with myself about what it means to honor that.

I'm working on getting the right rhythm, figuring out how to make space and time for those things that require some of both, and sticking to it. This means, in a lot of cases, giving some things up. And I'm getting to the layer of giving up that's the hardest to get past because it means challenging some habits I've had for a long time. Like procrastination. Even writing it down hurts a little. The great thing about the internet is that once you write something down, it's there forever, somewhere in a cache or a server.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

by the phone

So I've been having an odd experience lately of seeming to wait by the phone. Partly this is because my service provider has not cleared up a bug in the system that causes the phone to randomly choose not to ring. But there is also the other part: I am waiting for it to ring. I am waiting for news and closure on several matters, both on the personal and career front.

I am beginning to see the tide turn, and beginning to recognize the value I bring to this environment. It was hard at first, since my experience is not something that's particularly valued in the classroom. It's often not directly relevant to what comes up in core classes, and I've been challenged to draw the links by myself, for myself. But I'm starting to notice that my connections can help people, too, and my experience is still worth a damn somewhere in the world. That I'm creative and I can make a way, and that matters. Well, at least here I'm considered creative. In my old job, we all were because we had to be. We had to fix stuff or jerryrig it because stuff was often broken and we mostly didn't have the standard tools or the time for lasting fixes.

Which is why I'm waiting by the phone on the career front. I'm hoping to get "the call" for a great internship on one hand, and expecting to receive phone interview initiation calls on the other. There are enough interesting and engaging opportunities to explore for the summer that I feel optimistic that I am finding the right mix of fit and chances for development and exploring new areas.

I realized that the tide was turning while actually sitting in an interview. I have been branded a career-switching poet and been liberally patted on the head since I got here. But I went to an interview where the other person could readily see the directly relevant value of my previous experience. It was a little jarring. I'm so used to psyching myself up to exude confidence and draw the lines for my interviewer that I was unused to the other person drawing them for her/himself. It felt so peculiar that I actually had to fix my face. There's some learning to be gained out of this, and I'm not sure exactly what, but I'll no-doubt have plenty of time to think about it when I'm not studying for finals.

In other happenings, I'm excited to be departing for a service learning trip to Brazil this week. This trip comes at a difficult transitional time on the home front, but I hope it will all work out.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

the L word

So I'm getting to work with people a lot more this quarter. I got on the study group bandwagon on day 1, and it has really made a difference. Learning to work well with diverse teams was something I really wanted to improve on when I came to school, and now I am getting a chance to do something about that learning goal.

Not sure how much I've blogged about it before, but I am in this program put on by the center for leadership (and blah blah blah, not sure exactly, but it's called CLDR, I think) since the beginning of school. It's had ups and downs. Working with the same group of people over time means that you have to resolve your differences, and learning all this stuff about how to give each other feedback all the time means you kind of have to be straight up with people, too. There's a bit of cache associated with being in the program, since most people apply, but there're only about 70 of us this year, and we're all in the same section for our organizational behavior and strategy classes. Our teachers like to throw around the word leader all the time to make us feel like we are somehow different from our classmates who are not in it. Sort of like Oh the Places You'll Go, but without the rhyming.

But I do find that I think about leadership (that's the L word, by the way) a lot more than I otherwise would. I think about what it means, how to be good at it, and what the bad kind looks like. I think about the value I bring to a new situation, how can I contribute, and how can I help the group function. I think about ways to experiment with what I do to break out of old habits and old ways of thinking, just like Mrs. Stanford would have liked. And even though it can get incredibly uncomfortable, I find that it's a defining part of my transformative experience thus far.

Recently, a classmate of mine went looking for the L in the leadership program I'm in. Our activities have begun to focus on a consulting project our teams are doing with social entrepreneurs leveraging technology. Sometimes, it does feel that we are going on a random walk (sorry, carryover from finance class). The linkages are not often apparent, the content is sometimes just plain huh? But I've begun to think of it in a different way. Somewhere between when we started and now, we went from being consumers to producers. What do I mean? I originally expected to sit in a chair, have the top of my head flopped open like one of those free water bottles companies are giving out these days, and just sit there while the leadership stuff just got poured in. But we are not empty vessels. There is no beanstalk in the sky, and these are not magic beans. It's confusing and often ambiguous, and sometimes there's no clear direction at all.

For lack of a less trite way of putting it: I think the L is in each of us. It's the way we approach new situations, what we do to make systems work better, and how we share what we're learning with other people. If we are to become the titans of industry that business schools expect us to be, should we not begin by taking ownership for ourselves and our own learning?

No answers yet for me. Still mulling it over. Meanwhile, I've been working on two cool projects this week. One reminds me of back in high school when we had to be parents to a boiled egg (I guess now, they're using sacks of flour "babies"). Interesting to see how other folks work. The two dudes in my team are very attentive parents. Me: not so much. Note to self: get in touch with maternal instinct.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

growing up micro

So I talk about myself being very detail-oriented. I call it comfort with, passion for, experience handling--whatever. It's what I've had to do for the majority of my career: deal with a lot of details a lot of the time. Calm my managers with my sheer mastery of the small stuff. And I'm challenging myself to be less obsessed with micro (said details) and more mindful of the macro view.

I just passed my first active test. About and hour and a half ago, we closed the book on a fairly large event. It wasn't a whole lot of people, but it was fairly large in scope and involved different audience stakeholders. I found myself tamping down the urge to dive in to a minute by minute program. I didn't even make a spreadsheet.

Well, actually, that's not exactly true. I made one spreadsheet, but it just had names on it, no "6:32-6:38 Blah Blah Blah" type of my usual handiwork. I was responsible for one major area, and I did a bang up job, imho. I made sure that area didn't have a whole lot of opportunity for micro level scheduling detail. It was the best thing I could have done. It was an experiment my coach and I talked about some time ago. What would happen if I didn't do what I usually do--if I didn't play the role I usually play? How would the team function? How would it make me feel? I know that I felt darned uncomfortable. But I tried to think about it like I think about planning a wedding: as long as two people end up married by the end of the day, you can call it a success.

It was great. It really was. I'm proud of us, and I'm proud of the finished product. And I'm starting to trust in the process of transformation.

Monday, January 16, 2006

when I'm not skiing

So it occurred to me that I am not skiing. I had thought about it since I used to do around this time of the year. Instead, I came home. Not that apartment-in-the-city-esque Schwab home, but one of the several homes where the heart is. This is the one where the husband is. It's nice: being home sometimes. The daisies are starting to come back, but the camellias continue to refuse to bloom. The onions that L was so excited about somehow lost the underground part and became just roots and stem, so instead of regular sweet onions, it's more of a green onion story. Sometimes, I don't know where I fit into the household anymore, since I'm home only once or so a week. Do I just pick up whatever chore? Or am I still fully responsible for things? I spent Saturday getting things that were broken fixed--like my favorite sunglasses and interview shoes--and shopping for things that I had been meaning to pick up--like long sleeve t-shirts. When we went to visit Kellogg, they took him away for a whole day of education about where to find everything in the local area and how it was his duty as the non-student to support the Student during this intense period of activity. That orientation has made a world of difference. I've spoken with several SOs who've said they would have loved to have had that.

Anyway, work on the job front continues. People continue to submit their applications to school, so I've had some interaction in that direction, too. Weird. How long ago that all seems. I guess, no matter how big the fish in your pan are, there are always bigger fish to fry. Always ever-more competitive environments to compete in or goals to achieve. Always more interesting places to go over holiday weekends.

Time to turn to homework, at least for a while.

Friday, January 13, 2006

chocolate butterflies

So I was walking to Schwab today. And I happened to be walking from a direction that I don't usually go. I was walking from Escondido Village. I was taking in the afternoon and the breeze. I just passed a tree with a metal tag on it, and was reminded of how the University keeps track of all of its trees. It knows how many trees there are on campus. I had hear this stated confidently, so I was pondering whether it was a rumor, or was it plausible.

Anyway, so I was walking, and I saw a brown butterfly with wings the color of chocolate syrup with a butter yellow edge. It caught wind here and there, and meandered past me. And I thought, how good is it to be alive and enjoying the beauty of a butterfly in the afternoon? See, that's the difference between autumn and winter quarter. Autumn quarter, there are no butterflies--just mandatory things. Winter quarter, so far, is all about choice. Sure, there are core classes. But these are classes I might choose to take, given the choice. And I can choose to take more classes. Or get more involved in clubs. Or take on a group project. I could shadow an alum in a job function I want to investigate over spring break. Or, I could apply and maybe get accepted into the new Brazil service learning trip. Are you friggin kidding me? This is on top of all the career choices that are being presented at the same time this quarter. So many choices. So many people to talk to about them all. So much opportunity.

So now I am at a bit of a crossroads. I can enjoy the sun and the exploration and the pondering. Or I can get cracking on the job front. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to do both.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

this close

I am *this* close to being done with finals. Yep. One more to go. A take-home exam, no less! So, why can't I put a word down on paper? I don't mean a filler word to take up space. I mean one that actually means something.

This quarter, I've spent about 20 hours either sitting for an exam or working on one at home. So the next 4 hours to push this last one out the door should just breeze by.

Yep. Any time now. Breeze by.

Monday, December 12, 2005

knight to C4

So I officially passed my first class. This is a pretty major milestone for me, given that I wasn't sure about that particular class. It was like a trick: a HA! What you've been studying the whole time is not what you need to know to do well on the final! checkmate.

Yesterday while I was studying for the statistics exam, I learned something new. I don't mean I learned something new about statistics--there was a lot of that, which is a bit disconcerting considering I had a final on the material this morning. I learned a new term,

"knight to C4."

It was what L said when H and I were on the verge of solving something. Where we were just one move away from taking over the place. I have had a lot of knight to C4 experiences, it seems. There is what you learn. Then there's what you're tested on. Then there is what you need to know. And there is wide gap between the three. It is a continual process to narrow the gap, where appropriate, and accept the span as a characteristic of the system, where appropriate.

The intensity level has ratcheted down some serious notches. Now, it seems that one still does need to study, and there is still lingering anxiety associated with wanting to do well. But there is no fear. We are here. And here we will stay until it's done. We are paying for this discomfort: this education. So what of failure, then? What of it. There is learning and eventually a chance for redemption in a failing grade, too. I think I finally get what they say about grades don't matter. To the extent that they tell you how much you need to prove to pass the challenge and show you how much there is to know, they do. To the extent that they prove what you've learned, they don't.

I am finally beginning to cash out and take to the bank some of the promises that were made that I would meet amazing people and have amazing experiences. The picture doesn't look like what I thought it would look like, but it's there all the same.

In the rest of the world, life goes on. It was a beautiful day today. L is sick, and went to bed before 8pm, and other people around me are coming down with similar ailments. One of the Unions at Stanford went on strike this morning. California is planning on killing Tookie at San Quentin tonight. My parents have conceived a brilliant entrepreneurial idea--my mom called to tell me about it. One of my friends got a job offer he was waiting for. Someone I know asked his girl to marry him.

Have been very reflective overall today, and pretty unreasonably mellow, considering that I am officially in the thick of finals week. On the last bit of happy news from above, though, I read a piece of writing tonight that I had forgotten about. It's called

The Prophet "on Marriage"
by Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

on the difference between sticking and standing out

Is it possible to be too quirky? Quirkiness makes you memorable, but does it make you lovable?

I'm learning here that I need to tame my natural eccentricities. It seems to be OK to have interests--everyone has those. But I've always thought of myself as a little odd. Maybe it comes with growing up awkward, funny looking, left handed, and tall. Maybe I'm still growing up.

We're getting more group assignments now, and I find that I have to work very hard to self-regulate in small group settings. In large group settings, I have all my filters on, so I do fine. Chit chatty networking sessions and company functions and dinner parties: fine. And one on one, I can connect with people. But in these smaller group settings where we're a group that decides to call ourselves a team, I find that I'm often the odd person out, and it's feels weird to have this sensation so often. I've spent the majority of my career working in small teams, and I thought I did a pretty decent job and could be good at it in the future. Now it's all sharp edges and dissonant notes. Not the blues notes that fall between the regular ones on the board, but the ones that stick out. And I gravitate toward other dissonant notes. So I'm OK at shallow and I'm good at deep. It's this sticky stuff that's in between that is the concern. It's not quite professional, but not really social. And until I get to know people better, it's damn uncomfortable. I keep reminding myself that I should be more nice and less in my own head. And I've been working on listening harder, too.

L never seems to have any trouble blending in. People who meet him (unless he's playing basketball) remember him as a very nice person, even if he doesn't really say anything. For years, I've been studying how he does it, and I still can't manage to get my arms around it. One could argue that he is a nice person, and that's why he exudes niceness. There's more to it than that, though. So far, all I've figured out is that I have to listen harder, brood less, and get out more.

Now that's we're nearing the end of the quarter, I find that I'm able to open my mind up to more things and more activities. I'm not running ragged from one thing to the next as I began to in the beginning, but I am doing more with the time not spent in the classroom. Yesterday, after weeks of frustration and inertia, I finally understood the process and framework behind what we do to model things in Excel. And it wasn't because I went to office hours or reread the lesson. It was because one of my classmates explained it to me, and we worked through the midterm together. Had I reached out better before, I could have enjoyed much less heartache. It is said (at least, it was said in a letter to first years that has been passed down for umpteen years) that poets have a taller mountain to climb. I'm not so sure that it is true of poets in general, but it has been true for me in modeling class, and I guess it will also be true in the case of succeeding in these small group work project settings as well.

Monday, November 28, 2005

can't stop crying

So I'm sitting here trying to buckle down and do my Modeling assignment that's due in the morning, and my mind is wandering and I can't focus and I realize I should stop pretending that everything is OK. Someone important to me passed away last week, and I will have to accept it at some point.

Today I walked through my classes and tried to appear to pay attention to the teachers and the people who were doing what we do after we leave and come back after a while: catch up. And I did my best not to burden other people with my grief. That's one of the things about being here. I am among busy people I don't know well who don't know me. There's a robust social aspect to school, but for me it still is and feels much like a workplace environment. To share something like this in a face-to-face interaction would mean a socially correct pat on the shoulder, a five second pause, then immediate departure. Can't be known as the person who burst out in tears in the middle of OB class.

Writing seems to help. Crying does, too. It's the remembering that hurts the most even when it makes me smile. The last time we spoke--and it's been a while since we spoke--he was working on a paper about the ritual of celebrating in the end zone after a touchdown. And I remember I wasn't surprised. He could be lecturing on political uprisings in Kenya one moment, and writing a paper about how black folks feel about their hair the next. I remember sitting in his office thinking about how long he must have been a professor here to have such a nice office, earnestly telling him about the stuff I was trying to figure out with my college studies. And he would ask me questions. Didn't offer much in the way of pointing me in a certain direction or drowning me in the names of people to call, as professors can. Didn't seem to get too riled up about the crises of electives and study abroad in my undergraduate education. He just offered me an open door, a comfortable chair, and a real mellow chat. And I will miss him.

Friday, November 11, 2005

so far so good

Today began the Net Impact Conference hosted by GSB. Already my mind is clicking. That's definitely a good sign. We've got a project to do for one of the core classes, and just thinking about what problem we could explore for the project makes me think about a lot of other ways to apply the same skill framework.

Some folks are looking for trouble tonight, so I may tag along. Sometimes I feel so old because I get sleepy more than I used to. Hopefully a nap will remedy for a few hours so that I can go out.

Monday, October 31, 2005

foundation in education

So I've been looking for signs in the universe to give me a hint about what I should be doing and how much I should be worrying about academics. Yesterday, I found one. In the middle of the night, I went over to someone's room to have midnight coffee cake, and on my way back, I found a quarter on the hallway floor. It is a 2004 Iowa quarter, and the slogan on the back is "Foundation in Education" and it has a picture of a little schoolhouse on it. It reminded me that once upon a time, I was excellent. I knew it because the Iowa Tests told me so. Now, I am not so excellent. But the Iowa quarter reminded me that I have a foundation in education--I used to know something once upon a time. Somehow this made me feel peaceful. Like, even though my midterms won't say that I'm excellent, I used to be, and that is enough. These days, I just want to learn as much as I can without losing all dignity through complete academic failure.

I could count the number of us on one hand who dressed up for Halloween today. I guess most everyone else had already partied over the weekend and gotten it out of their system. Me, I like to celebrate the day itself regardless of what happens before: raid my closet and slap together whatever I can find. This year, I took a few branches off of the faux tree in the dark corner in the family room, put on my nightgown, and called myself a woodland nymph. The downside of homemade costumes is that they can very open to interpretation since the low/no budget prevents absolute clarity of form. So I was assumed to be a muse or healing goddess. Eh, close enough. Much closer than the year I dressed as a pimp, and was assumed to be a rice farmer or that dude Raiden from Mortal Combat. One year, K and I dressed up as shadows of our former selves. Most folks thought we were just depressed.

I am not able to be home to pass out candy this year. But L is passing out chewy granola bars on our behalf. Just like candy in terms of nutrition, but with fiber, too, so they're slightly better than pure sugar.

So, two midterms are out of the way, and I have two more to go: one in the morning, one on Wednesday morning, plus one final for a half quarter course on Wednesday. Then I'm done for the moment and free to figure out how to get it all done for the rest of the term.

Meanwhile, I am working to stick to my guns and not get caught up in activities that don't fit the bill of what I'm really interested in. It's tough, and sometimes I just want to hop on the next bandwagon I see. The last bandwagon was the opportunity to enhance my MBA with a joint Master in Education degree--it only takes a few more classes. The application was due today, and I resisted the urge to hop in with two feet. I made a list of priorities at the BBSA retreat, and since I committed to a handful of activities (both school and other) up front, I've been trying to keep my eye on what's most important to me, and then just promise myself I'll keep an open mind about the rest.

Monday, October 24, 2005


studying for midterms on a Saturday night. where did my youth go?

the good news is that I finally hung my pictures on the wall and I got a free one year yahoomusic subscription through the University. won't say I have the best taste, but I'm working on it.

would love to hear what others are listening to as they study or work or whatever, so please comment and share a yahoo music link to your station, if so inclined.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

weird thing

weird thing just happened. wouldn't publish. hope it's fixed now.

Monday, October 17, 2005

the red cape

I guess I go from feeling completely overwhelmed and questioning why I'm here to feeling extremely fortunate. There's something about not being able to do all that I want to do that's incredibly frustrating, yet somehow liberating at the same time. I compare it to the feeling of clearing out one's desk: filing away the 20% of papers that are important, and chucking the other 80%. Those things that exist on the margin are the majority of the frustration.

Also, I've been thinking a lot about an idea I call the little red cape. It's not fully formed yet, so I can't really talk about it in definite terms. But it has something to do with viewing a past experience, and recounting it as one where you swoop in wearing a red cape and change everything for the better. It gets more interesting when that same experience is reframed as one where your red cape is not so much draped across your shoulders, but hanging from your fingertips in front of the leadership of an organization. In that way, you end up leading management to rush at problems that aren't necessarily there, then in another direction and another. I dunno how I got to be so cynical. Eh.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

on synthesis

A lot of information is coming at me from different angles.

First, it's the email. These days, it seems that 8 out of 10 messages (somehow, not 4 out of 5, since they only seem to arrive in batches of 10 or more) offer the opportunity to get involved in something or other. The other 2 are comprised of either an FYI of some sort or a reminder of something I probably didn't need to be reminded of because I put everything in Outlook.

Then, there's other people in general, especially in the hallway conversations. Standing at the computer terminal, or sitting in the library minding my own business, and somehow end up talking with somebody about something interesting. I randomly got a Modeling tutor yesterday because I was lamenting the dearth of tutors to the guy standing in the next kiosk.

OK, next comes Coursework. Assignments show up in course materials, schedule, wherever is handy. I searched for review sessions the other day, finally gave up, then contacted the TA only to be directed back to a place I thought I had looked in Coursework. aaarrggh.

Last, but not least, there're the effing syllabi. They all have different formats, emphasize different things, and are wont to be more dissertation than summary of the class.

So, today, while I'm supposed to be working on reading the Eli Lilly case for D&D, or doing my Econ that's due tomorrow, too, instead I finally gave up on trying to keep it all in my head or just consulting 6 syllabi each day. So I'm shunning people all this afternoon, I'm trying to figure things out, and I've spent the last 2+ hours making a work plan. Others have done it, which is how I got inspired. Of course, their formats weren't as deluxe as mine, so I had to make my own. I'm almost done.

The good news: Soon, I'll be able to look at the whole rest of the Autumn Quarter on one page. What joy to be able to plan out my life around my work with ease!

The other news: Soon, I'll be able to look at the whole rest of the Autumn Quarter on one page. That means that I will realize that I don't have time for Board Fellows or any other neat thing I wanted to sign up for. Loose before, the shackles of academics will become just barely moveable tight. Somehow, I had convinced myself that it could be done, and I would do it. Now, I'm thinking, what the--? I went to Student Life today, and heard myself saying that I was going to have too few extracurriculars. Me? No job and no extracurriculars? Apart from threeish existing commitments I made before I started school, I'll have nothing until next quarter.

I must say, though, having a lot to do does make me honest about what's important since I kinda need to cut away everything else. I am so tempted to throw caution to the wind and sign up for Board Fellows anyway. Like I said, I'm almost done, but not quite, and looking at my workplan and realizing that somehow it will all get done is akin to that feeling I get when I stare directly at the sun: my eyes hurt and I can't look directly at it, but I feel kinda powerful. Standard wisdom might caution against trying doing it at all because it could cause permanent damage.

So this is what I signed up for. And agonized about. And wrote about and revised my writing about. I keep asking people who have been through it how bad will it get before it gets better. And they laugh at me. They all laugh at me. And then they reminisce about the good parts. And when I remind them about my question and ask it again, some finally admit to not knowing quite how bad it gets, but knowing for sure that it will get much much worse.

I'm not going to the Halloween Party. There, I said it aloud and that alone makes it so.

I will probably still apply to Board Fellows, but only to the orgs I'm really passionate about. How's that for a compromise? There really is something fascinating about looking directly at the sun. just can't resist. This school wouldn't be a consistently amazing experience if people threw up their hands and cried to the moon. So I'll miss FOAM, and the Halloween Party, and House, and Study Trips, and maybe also being in a WIM group, and being a Siebel Scholar, and part of a Career Team, and a few business plan competitions, and a few parties here and there, some lectures, Admissions Advisory Council, and a few hours of overrated sleep...