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

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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.

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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.

Portland has donuts, in case you didn’t know

The first day Kylie and I were in Portland was hot and cloudy so we decided to just wander around rather than stop in and actually shoot any donuts. I wanted good sunlight to properly light them in my light box. As soon as we left though, Kylie realized she kind of wanted a donut. We passed a sign for “Delicious Donuts” and decided to try it out. It wasn’t on my radar as a place to checkout beforehand, but it was a quaint little shop worthy of a visit.

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Inside, I didn’t really want one because we had just woken up and I hadn’t finished my coffee yet. Kylie said how awesome they looked and said she was going to get one, so I got one myself. But then after I got it she was all like “oh never mind, I don’t want one” and basically she tricked me into a donut. Just sayin’. It was good, but nothing epic so I decided not to take official pictures and rather just enjoyed the dough.

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Later in the afternoon I saw Blue star and had to go. It wasn’t even the one I had mapped out, I didn’t realize they had two locations. Plus, it was raining, so basically fate pushed us in. We got one to split because we were on our way to dinner, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try Blackberry Basil. It was fantastic.

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A few hours later we were on our way back to the hotel when we stumbled on the Voodoo truck. This was just pure magic because we had just been wandering our way back – I knew the cross streets and we kind of just turned based on the lights. Again, fate, I tell ya.

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Kylie got the Oreo donut and I got one called “Marshall Mathers” and it was spectacular.

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Two days later the sun was finally shining bright. We set out for a day of pictures, complete with my fancy camera and other equipment. First stop: Blue Star. But the other Blue Star, not the one we went to on the first day. Everyone was super nice to us and they even gave me a little discount on the donuts because we were using them for the book. Here are the ones we shot (including the one in the back, with a shot):

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Voodoo Donuts was pretty close. Before we even saw it though, we saw the huge ass line of people waiting to get donuts. Seriously. I asked someone who was about half-way through and he had been standing for 45 minutes already. No thanks.

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Luckily, I knew of a place called “Voodoo 2″ and we went there instead. It took about 30 minutes to walk from one to the other (not counting the wait on the bridge for the lifts to raise…..) and the other one had only 4 people in line. We waited for 10 minutes (also, why does it take 10 minutes to get through only 4 parties?!) and got the goods. It was a neat looking shop and a fun experience, but I’m sad to say they didn’t completely live up to the expectations.

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All in all, we had a good time in donut land.

Boston Lady!

What a month. Seriously. So much has happened since the last time I wrote. Some how, some way, I managed to pack up all the material possessions in the condo Joe and I share. Except for a 6 pack of Angry Orchard (more on that later). I’m now in Boston and am here to stay (mostly).

Let’s see… Joe had just left the last time I wrote. I ended up missing him a lot more than I thought I would and it was not an enjoyable month. Yet, I made it my month of relaxation and watched more TV than I had anticipated. I also had some alcohol around to get rid of, which I did a valiant effort of consuming slash giving away.

I worked out a fair amount, probably not enough to successfully compete in a triathlon, but enough to keep me feeling active. I enjoyed every day outside that warm weather was present, but sadly I think that was 5 days total, max. The rest of the time, when I could bring myself to shower, I would just stand there wishing I had my shower wine glass rack. Soon my friends, soon.

Eventually it was time to pack up. I started about 5 days before the mover came because it’s so impossible to live in a home that is torn apart. Turns out, this wasn’t enough time. I scrambled the last few hours, ultimately making 4 separate trips to U-Haul for boxes and other packing supplies. Arg. And of course, once the day of moving finally arrived, I found a full cupboard of rubbermaids I missed – D’oh!

Having movers is extremely nice and is the only way I’ll ever move again. However, it’s also kind of awkward because all there is to do is sit and drink beer and watch Orange is the New Black which for some scenes is just like porn, while they are doing the moving. Four hours of this later, it turns out the apartment wouldn’t fit into 2 u-boxes (a fear I had initially but temporarily ignored when the u-haul-help lady said I could also increase my order after the 2nd box if I needed more space…).

This caused somewhat of a domino effect on the rest of our plans: I needed to get the movers back out, reserve another u-box, push out the date of arrival in Boston because of the delay in shipment, postpone the movers and elevator reservation in Boston, and blerg, so much. Now, stuff will arrive this Friday, when I will be back in Minneapolis for a wedding so Joe gets to do this part alone.

Initially I was cursing Joe for not be there. It sucked. But then I remembered that while I am basking in my funemployment he is working long-ass days at a new job (which he thankfully loves) to help me through grad school. That put it into perspective and I calmed down. The second day of the movers, I bought a 6 pack of Angry Orchard to kick back and praise the fact I was finally done. Except it only took them 30 minutes and I didn’t even have time to finish one before having to take off. Whoops!

After a few days with my cousins and then a weekend down in Dallas, I finally arrived in Boston on Sunday night. I was so excited to see Joe I was nearly in tears, which should make you throw up if my love for him hasn’t already.

I’m meeting more and more new classmates and getting so excited for classes to start in the fall. I was a little nervous it would be hard for me to break out of my funemployment phase but I think I’ll be so, so ready for it come August.

Today I’ve just been wandering around Boston. I came in with Joe on the commuter rail from Pembroke, where his friend lives that we are staying with. I hung out at Starbucks for a good portion of the morning and then Joe and I grabbed lunch. It has been really nice and relaxing and I’m happy to finally be getting close to the fun part of summer where I don’t have the stress of so much coming up. I’m traveling through July 1, and then I’m here, happy.

National Donut Day

I’ve been looking forward to this day for quite some time. First, I cleared out my entire schedule. Without any commitments, I was able to dedicate the entire day to moving from shop to shop. Some were offering freebies which is marrying my two most favorite things: donuts and free stuff. Those were my top priority. I also made a stop at the hot-new place in town; I had been dying to try it.

As soon as I woke up, I popped out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning. “Donut day!” I shouted to myself in my head and across Twitter. I rushed out of the door within minutes.

First I went to Yoyo Donuts. First, they were offering free donuts and I wanted to get there before they were all out, and also, I won a free dozen donuts from them via Twitter so I wanted to give them some pay-back love.

There were slim pickings, so I just got one of the last ones that looked like a raised donut and got out of there. I didn’t want to hold up the line at all on such a busy day. Bonus: It has Oreos on it.

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Next I went to Bogart’s Doughnut* Co and it may have been one of my best donut experiences ever. There was a long line, but I was expecting that. The shop has only been open for a few weeks and I think that business has been crazy ever since. I’m always seeing pictures on Twitter of people standing in line, rain or shine.

After standing in line for only 5 minutes, the owner, Anne, came out and was all like “omg, I’m so sorry, we are new and today is just crazy busy! Here, come back another day and use this coupon for a free donut” and I was all like “hellz yes this is awesome” but also felt it was extremely unnecessary because the wait at Yoyo was just as long. I felt bad that she felt so bad, I think they are doing a great job there!

Anyway, I got in and purchased my donut and happily I was able to get a raised donut. They were selling them just as fast as they could make them and they said soon they’d be switching to cake, which everyone knows is the evil step-sister of donuts… Not only was it brown butter flavored, but it was hot. Oh, my, god. If I could have video-taped the experience without being hella-creepy I would have. It was warm, fresh and perfect like a Krispy Kreme donut, but 100x better because it was real and made with love and ahhh it was amazing. I didn’t even get a picture of it because once I pulled it out of the bag the complete donut fell into my mouth and I was in a food coma for a little bit. I guess I’ll just have to go back!