Zoombinis, a lonely obsession

Growing up I was all about computer games. I think the obsession started at school, where we would play things like Oregon Trail and Kid Pix. Zoombinis is quite potentially one of my favorites. I believe I started playing it in either 2nd or 3rd grade…

About 5 years ago I actually bought a CD-ROM version of the game from eBay. It was just as magical as I remembered it. So, when I saw online that the original company plans to revamp the game, I was obviously beyond ecstatic. A kickstarter was just launched for TERC to develop the game for both tablets and PCs. (I’ll be able to play it on my iPad!!!)

In addition to instantly backing this project, I started telling everyone else about it. At school, while in a group of 4 people or so, I brought up the fact they are re-making it. No one knew what I was talking about. No one had played it. The next time I was a little safer about it. I asked the group if they had ever played it instead of blurting out “omg did you hear they are re-launching Zoombinis isn’t that so exciting?!” but none of them had. How is it that I am at MIT and none* of my peers have played this educational video game?

One guy did bring up the Dinosaur Zoo game though, which I had forgotten about but am excited to have rediscovered. I also really liked 5th Grade Adventures which, although I didn’t realize it until now, had a lead female character and that may be why I like it so much.

I do find comfort that over 2100 people have backed Zoombinis though. So, while I might be alone at MIT Sloan, I am not alone in the world.

*Sample size of 14

To drop or not to drop

Sometimes I feel like the smallest decisions can be the hardest ones to make. I think I allow myself to make something seem like a bigger deal than it really is. I try to ground myself in gathering more information, such as the true pros and cons of a decision, but that doesn’t always help.

What am I fighting with today? Whether or not to drop my marketing class. With it, I max out the number of credits I can take this semester, which is a good thing. However, the class is painful. I can’t determine if it is the content or the professor or the structure of the class, but either way the idea of not having to take it excites me. The draw backs though are that I’ve already spent $85 on the case materials, and those aren’t refundable. Additionally, I’ve already gone to 3+ classes. But, because I’m in business school I need to accept those as sunk costs.

So, going forward will I get more benefit out of dropping or staying in the class? I’m pretty sure I get more benefit dropping it and giving myself the opportunity to take a class that is more interesting to me. Yet for some reason it still feels like a failure to drop it. I have no idea why I am giving this much weight to such an issue.

Snow days bring Golden Girls

This past week I had two full snow days off from school, both Monday and Tuesday. I haven’t had a snow day since high school. During college, we had snow for sure, but Macalester never closed because of it. Snow days are just as fun as I remember them being.

On Tuesday, my friend came over to play. Ever since we became Facebook friends before even meeting, I knew she and I needed to watch The Golden Girls together because she had taken a “Which Golden Girl character are you” quiz and scored Rose so I was impressed. We’ve been trying to find a time since the summer to get together to watch it but until the snow day, it never came up.

Obviously we made a drinking game out of it. We used the one we found here but cut out the part about choosing a character. We just followed the these rules:

  • When Sophia says “Picture it…”: Drink.
  • When Rose says “Back in St. Olaf…”: Drink.
  • When Blanche says “Big Daddy…”:Drink
  • When they eat a cheesecake, finish the drink

It was fantastic and everything I ever hoped it would be.

It also brought back a lot of fond memories for me. Growing up, anytime I stayed at my aunt Joann’s we would watch it together. Usually after my bath, she would cut up apple slices, serve them with cinnamon sugar, and we’d curl up on her bed watching it.

Once we moved to Minneapolis I began watching it every night as I fell asleep. Revisiting it now, it is no wonder I turned out the way I did. Just like Joe attributes my burping to Pippi Longstocking, I think The Golden Girls gave me my sarcasm and my ability to hold a straight face. Well, that and my mom.

Social Media – what goes viral?

This week in my social media class we discussed the attributes of content that make it go viral. Before the class, we were asked to post on our class tumblr a piece of content we recently shared and to dive into the reason behind it. I chose to discuss a tweet I had recently retweeted:

I retweeted this in order to raise awareness to the harassment that Anita Sarkeesian and other female video gamers receive online. #Gamergate has been something I’ve followed since the beginning, mainly because I love video games myself but also because of the pure hatred it has surfaced around the internet.

Retweeting this allowed others to learn about the topic and also enabled those giving the harassment to see there are a lot of people who support those they are attacking.

Even though I follow @femfreq myself, when I saw so many other people I follow also retweeting it, I knew it was something I wanted to stand behind. I chose to retweet this one in particular because I had never associated the two accounts before and realized how widespread the support was.


 

Berger breaks the components into 6 pieces, or STEPPS, that can make content go viral.

  • Social currency
  • Triggers
  • Emotions
  • Physiological arousal
  • Public
  • Stories

For my retweet specifically, there were emotions that it caused in me: frustration and anger. Strong emotions, either positive or negative, increase the likelihood that something will be shared. Super interesting!

Friends: a value

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staring at my apple tree

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.

Keeps getting better

disneyland

Day 2 in Los Angeles was even better than the first. I went to four different entertainment companies, from studios to video games to theme parks. The first stop was amazing – they showed us secret places and I saw people but that’s all I can say. I’m so much more excited about the entertainment industry now and I didn’t even think that was possible. I’m also finding ways that my skillz can best be put to use. I can tap into my previous experience in content distribution to work on the digital distribution side of a company. I’m also really interested in the data analytics side of things, and because those are turning into my favorite classes at MIT too, I might actually be prepared to do them.

Day 3 was a bit more relaxed which meant that we had time for me to try In N Out burgers for the first time (I wasn’t impressed with anything but the price). I also got to go to a donut place, DK’s donuts, and I got a wo-nut, which was my first ever waffle-donut and it was amazing. It was red velvet with white cream and then oreo crumbs. I also got a couple other because let’s be honest donuts are my life.

The first company we went to was really neat and I got to meet the man who created the candy for Katy Perry (yes, my mind was blown). In the evening we went to Universal Studios and I nearly crapped myself from excitement on both the back lot tour and the Simpsons Ride. It was just all so awesome and I’m like “could this seriously be my job?”

LA also continues to bless me with amazing weather so all in all I’m pretty pumped.

Los Angeles? Yes please.

I flew out to LA yesterday for a week long career trek with my classmates. It will be an opportunity to learn about, and meet, some really great entertainment companies. I’m extremely excited.

I’m even more excited now though, after spending just one day in LA. I fricken love it here. First, the weather is beautiful and perfect and 75 and sunny and who could even hate that ever? Also, I get to drive! Granted, I’m shlepping around my crew in a minivan, but I don’t think I’ve driven since school started and I’ve missed it. I got cut off by a Bentley and while my first instinct was to curse at him, I was just kind of like “awww, that’s going to be me one day!!), you know, just in a Maserati.

Last night we went out to a cool brewery that had VEGAN mozzarella sticks. Vegan! So I could eat them and not die! They were amazing. So, yes, I pretty much want to live here next.

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.

IMG_2220

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!