Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moving On

I put off going back to school because I knew my decision would be life-changing. I'm fairly change-averse in general, so making a quick decision to go bschool like I did was definitely abrupt. I knew it would affect my current relationships but that I would make new ones in their place. I was ready for a change, and a change I sure did experience. I gave up kickball and almost everything that came with it (read: Sunday afternoon beer pong tournaments, Monday morning hangovers and boys, boys, boys). I also gave up a ton of free time and a great deal of money. What I didn’t anticipate was giving up my house.

That sounds a little dramatic. I’m a renter and I have a roommate; this isn’t a tragic story about foreclosure fortunately. But it is a tragic story about two friends growing apart.

The roomie and I have been almost inseparable friends for over three years. She was one of my first real friends in LA, and I hers. We have experienced a lot of together, from boyfriends and one-night stands to job losses and family tragedy. We can finish each other sentences and even have coasters with our pictures on them.

When I got into Pepperdine, I was over the moon. My family was thrilled and I was not a little bit scared. I was sad to leave my relatively carefree life behind, but we’ve all gotta grow up sometime. I received (and still do receive) the most amazing support from everyone at work and even my little brothers think it’s great. But they don’t have to live with me.

From day one, the roomie wasn’t thrilled. I can’t put my finger on it, but her reaction was never what I had anticipated. While we remained good friends, our differences seemed to be exaggerated. Her work travel slowed down and I was either on campus, studying, exhausted or trying to catch up on my social life. Though I won’t get into detail on the interwebs, suffice it to say I need a place of my own.

I’m ready to make this change though too. I’m excited at the prospect of only having to stare at my own dirty dishes and clean my own bathroom. I’m excited to stay up late listening to music while I study or enjoy a blissful Sunday of homework, bagels and silence.

They say that going back to school and working full time is hard on relationships. I don’t have a significant other in my life so I thought I was exempt. Apparently not.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Home for the Holidays

The act of packing my bags, shipping out presents, and boarding that flight from LAX to DTW is always unnecessarily traumatic; usually, there are tears involved. When I was unemployed last year at this time, it was especially difficult. Part of the reason why I left Detroit – and haven’t moved closer since – was that I felt I needed to prove something. What, I don’t know exactly. But I wanted to make my own life and live the life I’d always imagined on my own terms.

And for the most part, I’m doing that. I have a job I like and that I’m good at, I am completely financially independent, I have a great group of friends, and have just completed my first semester of business school. Ninety percent of the time I think I live a pretty great life.

…and then I go home. There’s something about this particular trip this time of year that makes me feel inadequate. Like I should have made some sort of “transformation” while I was away, but have come back the same old Carolyn. I feel like my job isn’t good enough and that I’m not successful or pretty enough.

And the thing is that I have one of the most supportive families I could imagine. Perhaps it’s that they’re as thrilled for me when I don’t do anything as they are when I actually accomplish something. It’s been a truly amazing year. I got my real estate license, secured a new job, took my GMAT, went back to business school, ran a ½ marathon… we should all be pretty excited.

My parents want nothing more than for me to be happy, especially when I go to visit them. And honestly, I’m thrilled to be getting on that plane tonight. If nothing more than to escape the stresses that have seemed to recently crop up in LA, I’m getting out of dodge. I get to see old friends, build some sort of mid-century modern gingerbread house with my brother the architect, eat my weight in gourmet cheese and play with the little cousins. I know nobody’s judging me – they’re just excited to have me back for a few days. But I am. I can’t help but think of all the coulda, woulda, shouldas this time of year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Long Run

I don't want to run tonight.  I REALLY don't want to bundle up and brave the elements.  Vanster and I are tackling our third 1/2 marathon in just over a month so a long run (or two) is definitely in order before we leave for the holidays, but it's so cold!  In the last four years I've totally turned into a big So Cal sisssy.  I cringe at 50 degree weather yet still refuse to wear a coat.  Given the choice, I'd rather run in the cold than in the heat any day.  But given another choice, I'd rather stuff my face with Chinese food in front of Friends reruns than exercise for two hours, but I suppose we all would. 

I once read that being an adult is about delaying gratification.  I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.  Delaying being in a relationship by waiting for the right guy, delaying financial security by signing my life away to the student loan gods, delaying relaxation by going back to school.... all in the name of being mature.

If I'm going to spend all this time and money working on making my brain stronger, I need to do the same with my body.  Especially in an industry where looking the part is as important as playing the part, I need to get on the ball.  Plus, I always feel better after a good run.  I feel worse after a bad run, but those are fewer and farther between the more I train.  I'm always happy I put in the time when I'm done, but I'm not always thrilled to be running.

I am thrilled, however, to run this holiday-themed 10K on Saturday.  It will be a crisp morning down by the beach with a very manageable distance followed by a warm and yummy brunch.  We even bought Christmas socks, headbands and color-coordinated tops to really rock out the festive-ness.  I wonder if being excited about my attire will improve my time.   I wonder if I can talk the Vanster into running just six or seven miles tonight instead of nine.  As Dolo would say, "woof". 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Coming Down

One of the reasons that I so easily fell back into the routine of school and work was that I thrive on overstimmulation.  I am at my best (and happiest) when I have a million things to do because I crave structure.  My perfect day would be fully scheduled from the moment I wake up until evening when I can finally unwind for a few minutes before hitting the hay. It's not that I have endless energy, but that I like to know what I'm going to be doing in two minutes, two hours, two days... Before bschool, I filled my calendar with routine, social activities, and running.

Now that I have a brief break, I should really enjoy my free time.  (Really... I mean, I complain about not having two minutes to myself and now I have hours!)  And part of me is.  I've been watching a ton of Christmas movies, meeting up with friends, and I even took a nice chilly (and overcast) morning walk along the beach in Playa before conquering Target with the Vanster for a few hours yesterday.  I've even been super productive on the homefront (ironing, scrubbing the sink, etc.), which is good because those things definitely get neglected the rest of the year. 

But now I'm on the verge on boredom.  My hands smell like Clorox, all my laundry is done and the house is dusted to within an inch of its life.  I've watched all my favorite holiday movies, and with the exception of one quick trip, all my Christmas shopping is done.  I'm even stressing over what to make for dinner because I haven't been grocery shopping in months and I pretty much forgot what a normal meal is. 

It's just all been fairly anticlimactic if you ask me.  From the day I got accepted to finishing my first semester, I haven't had this huge epiphany or really changed at all.  I've incurred more debt, learned a little about leadership and communication, and probably aged myself faster.  This post-school pre-Christmas/New Years madness melancholy has set in and I really wish there were a magic cure.  More Christmas movies?  Cooking?  Catching up on some TV?  More sleep?  Shopping?  

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finals Week

So it's finally here - my first finals week of bschool. And what do you know.... it's kinda anti-climactic. My quant final was two weeks ago and I know I won't really have a problem writing 3 1/2 hours worth of organizational behavior essays if I put in a few hours of studying. But therein lies my problem - I'm either completely over or under-whelmed. Why can't I just be whelmed? I’m not a very even-keeled person by nature; I always have a ton on my plate and like it that way. I take on large projects because I’m bored easily – I’m an anxious busy-body. What on earth am I going to do with myself when I’m not crazy busy with school and work for a month? I mean, it is the holidays and there are definitely enough activities to keep me occupied, but I have like six weeks of down time.

Truth be told, part of me is really sad for this to be over with already. Like I’ve said before, I absolutely adore my classmates and not one part of me ever expected that. I thought Pepperdine was for old lame people. HA! We’ve definitely hung out outside of school and done our fair share of imbibing (I mean….celebrating) together. We’re diverse, yet we have so much in common. We’re forced to work together (as opposed to more competitive programs where the atmosphere is completely different) and I’ve come to realize I have some very interesting - and cool – classmates. Working forty hours plus school and group projects on top of a social life really takes it toll some weeks. And the days I really dread leaving the house at 7:30am and not getting home until at least 10:30pm, I know that I will at least have someone to roll my eyes at during class. I don’t know that this would have been such a smooth transition without this kind of support system. So the bigger question is what am I going to do without my new school friends for six weeks?


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

This is my fifth Thanksgiving in Los Angeles and the first one in four years that I haven't cooked for at least a dozen. The first year I was out here I had a big 'ole turkey day with my West Coast second family. I didn't have to cook a thing but I put in my piece by going grocery shopping, helping to set up, etc. The next year, my mom had just remarried and my eldest brother didn't want to go to Chicago with Greg's family, so he flew out to see me. I lived in a one-bedroom with a tiny kitchen, but my now-roommate promised she would help out. Because I'm me, I took the reins and bit off a little more than I could chew. I made a huge turkey, all the fixin’s, and just had my friends bring decorations, dessert and alcohol. Even though it took a week’s worth of cleaning my apartment and not being able to really enjoy having my brother in town, I was still glad I could do something like that for all of my really grateful friends. Plus, it was a great story. Three years ago the roommie and I moved in to our current house with a TON more room and a much nicer kitchen. Everyone who attended helped to clean up and the whole process was a lot more enjoyable. Last year took a lot more cleaning but I finally had the whole process down. Unfortunately, I had lost my job less than a month prior and I didn’t want to spend all of my severance on a huge meal for everyone else. I still made the turkey, stuffing and potatoes, but it was more of a potluck.

Much to the chagrin of some of my friends who claim my turkey is better than their mothers’, I let everyone know months ago that I wasn’t doing Thanksgiving. I had a ton of schoolwork due last week and I have finals next week so all the cleaning, cooking and shopping that’s required for such an event was pretty much out of the picture. I have some girlfriends who are great cooks and I knew that I wouldn’t go without.

Part of me really misses all the pre-Thanksgiving madness that I had come to love early on. I made a tradition of getting a mani-pedi and hitting up the farmers’ markets the Sunday before and braving the crowds at the grocery stores after work. I got my inspiration and turkey tips from coworkers and Williams Sonoma, and would have to call my mom nearly in tears because I couldn’t tell the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream (I still can’t but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter).

The other part of me is incredibly glad I chose not to cook. The roommie and I cleaned the house this weekend and I’ve actually had a minute or two to relax. Instead of prepping potatoes tonight, I’ll be able to do some laundry, study, and enjoy our friend’s company who is flying in from New York. The holidays fly by so quickly anyhow, I don’t want to stress out more than I have to. I’m incredibly grateful to have some wonderful women in my life who live by the beach(!) and will no doubt whip me up a memorable West Coast Thanksgiving.

As a single girl living in a city like Los Angeles, I know a ton of transplants. Holiday travel is expensive and stressful so a lot of my friends choose to stay here and have makeshift/orphan Turkey Days with their chosen families. In a way, spending this holiday with people who aren’t required to like you is perhaps even more special. I know I’m glad to see my family at Christmas, but being fortunate enough to have great friends around with whom we can share these kinds of things makes me truly grateful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Almost There...

I'm not almost there in the sense that I'm finishing up my degree, obviously.  But I'm almost there in that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I am a mere two and a half weeks away from completeing a MAJOR accomplishment and finishing my first semester of business school.  Succesfully (well, hopefully).

As far as I'm concerned, this is my most difficult week of the semester.  I have a quant final tomorrow night and then a presentation and two papers due in three days for OB.  Next week is Thanksgiving and the week after that is an in-class case and an OB written final.  Then I'm done - I can't believe that's it!  I can't believe it's been two months and at no point have I really lost my mind. 

And I have to admit, I kinda love school.  The idea of these student loans is still freaking me out a little, but I'm dealing.  I've made some amazing friends and I would much rather spend my Wednesday nights studying and brainstorming with them, than staying at home and doing laundry (or whatever else I would otherwise do on a weeknight).  I'm really looking forward to next semester's classes because I know I will be learning and growing with these great folks. And I'm honestly excited to take accounting and economics. That's why I went back to school in the first place.

This semester has defied all my expectations. My professors are nothing like I expected, my classes are smaller than what I imagined, the material is a lot more practical, and my classmates are way cooler. When I was invisioning my new adventure back in August, I expected a lonely struggle.  In fact, it has been anything but.  I've had so many positive unexpected surprises that it reminds me of how lucky I am and how things do tend to work out in the end.  Or in the beginning. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


When I started training for my first half marathon last summer, I learned way more than I expected about myself.  I learned that my body is strong, my mind is tough and that I'm the only one who can set my own limits.  Every time I have a good run, that sense of accomplishment keeps me going for days.  This revelation were completely unexpected and once I stopped running (and lost my job), I began to forget it all.

As soon as I started taking the GMAT and applying for grad school, those lessons came right back to mind.  I remembered that I was capable and competent.  And while bschool hasn't been a walk in the park, I've managed to rise to the occasion and even have some shining moments (and some not so shining ones as well, but we can't get everything right the first time around). 

Getting an MBA shouldn't only be about finding knowledge or a new career path, but about discovering what we're truly made of and what makes us tick.  I love to be busy, I love a challenge, I love making new friends.  I've learned that I can work in groups, lead people, articulate my thoughts and manage my time.  I've had to teach myself a lot more than I expected, but that too has been a chance for me to grow.  I look forward to the next two years of reclaiming my confidence and truly conquering this undertaking. 

The harder we work for something, the more imporant it becomes to us. Sometimes I take my intelligence and work ethic for granted.  I don't feel a sense of accomplishment when things come easily, but I am easily frustrated when they don't.  It's in finding a balance between the two and remembering that we are capable, that we find happiness.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sundays Suck

I was going to try and stay upbeat and constructive, but seriously... Sunday's are pretty hard. Especially when I have research to do, finals to study for, and the sun sets before I'm even out of my mid-afternoon tutoring session. It's barely dinner time and I feel like I could hit the hay already. Heck, I’ve taken to not even putting on real pants on Sundays. I went to school (and Trader Joe’s) today wearing sweats, Converse and a hoodie.

When I was playing kickball, Sundays were my favorite day of the week. I could get away with not going out with rest of the weekend because I knew I was going to see all my friends and have a rocking Sunday afternoon. I was pretty much too busy drinking to notice how depressing Sunday evenings are.

These days, I sit at my computer, wander aimlessly around the quiet house, do some homework, and contemplate the long week ahead. Before kickball, I don’t remember what I did on Sundays. Guesses would include cleaning, reading, laundry and grocery shopping. Either way, that’s no way to start off the week. And next semester’s going to be even worse because I have classes on Mondays and Tuesdays; at least the days start getting longer in January.

Why do we take to feeling sorry for ourselves on Sundays? Is it that we didn’t get everything accomplished that we wanted to over the weekend? Or that we don’t have anything immediate to look forward to? Obviously some weeks are better than others, but I’m definitely having one of those super funky nights and looking forward to finishing these papers and enjoying the fast approaching holiday season.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


In less than a year and a half, I was laid off twice, for a total of seven months.  And I haven't had a raise of any sort since I started in commercial real estate over two years ago.  I know I should be grateful I have a job that I am in no threat of losing and one that I enjoy going to everyday at that.  It's just that life keeps getting more expensive - my flight from LAX to Detroit this Christmas cost me more than my couch or my computer - and I'm not moving upward or onward.  For crying out loud, I had a better job title and my own business cards when I was 24 (for those of you at home keeping score, that was three and half years ago). 

Then there's all the student loan debt I'm taking on. There's no way I'd ever be able to afford those payments on the salary I earn now.  I realize that I'm getting my MBA in order to make more money, and that this particular graduate degree has one of the highest ROI's, save for an MD, DDS, or JD. 

Now the point of this post is not to point out that I don't make gobs of money.  But that I sometimes have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees. It's hard to have faith that the dream of a life that I work so hard to achieve, will one day come true. 

Nobody is promised anything in life, not even the guarantee that we will see the light of another day.  I am grateful to have the wonderful friends and family that I do. That I can pay my bills, buy Christmas presents, and go out on the town when I don't have my head in the books.  Life isn't about money in the bank, or owning a home, or a having a perfect nuclear family - we all have to make our own story with it's own timeline. 

One of my favorite quotes is: "Live the life you've always imagined.  Go in the direction of your dreams."  Sometimes, I just don't feel like I'm going anywhere.  I'm been at my job for over six months now, the roomie and I have lived in the same (super cute) house for two years... It's ironic how finally taking my GMAT and getting into bschool was such a big deal just a few months ago.  Now that it's such an itegral part of my life, I take it for granted.  I forget that what I'm doing is pretty huge -  it's definitely changing my life's course for the better.  It's hard work and it's what I've always wanted.   I really need to keep it all in perspective and remember that life is constantly changing.  As my wise mother always says: "Enjoy the journey". 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dr. G and the Conundrum

Most of the time, I'm not one to take the path of least resistance. I'm more of the "pave your own way, make your own story, run that 1/2 marathon because you can" sort of girl. And the reason I chose an MBA in the first place was because I needed challenge. I needed to learn about the things I was too scared to conquer in my undergrad. After all, I’m taking on tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt to grow.

Now here’s my problem. There is a FEMBA economics professor infamous at Pepperdine by the name of Dr. G. I’ve only been in this program three months, but his class was even mentioned at orientation. He’ll make you stay past midnight, he’ll make you want to pull out every last hair follicle, but he’ll make sure you learn. Even his syllabus mentions the onerous workload and that he runs his classroom like a boardroom; Dr. G is obviously the chairman.

This semester’s class load has by no means been easy. There isn’t a ton of regular work for our Organizational Behavior class, but the reading is significant and there are few weeks I spend less than five hours on Quantitative Analysis. My quant class totally stresses me out because I have trouble following along with the professor and only learn what I need to in order to do well on the exams. OB, on the other hand, makes me think. I enjoy our class discussions and doing the research. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

Fortunately, I have taken (remedial) accounting before and I have a degree in economics. I must also append that statement with the fact math is in fact not my strongest suit. Again, I do things because they are a challenge and I am curious. Why should I take communications classes when I already know how verbose I am? Perhaps this problem of not being drawn to things I’m necessarily comfortable with is something I need to tackle in the rest of my life, but that’s a different blog post for a different day.

I am planning on going into finance. I am paying through the nose for this MBA. I should take Dr. G’s class and immerse myself in the madness. I should continue to tackle those things are most difficult and become part of the elite club of those that have taken on Dr. G’s economics and won. If the guy that works at Starbucks can do it, so can I.

But I don’t want to be turned off to economics and finance. I do have accounting to consider as well as a full time job and a life I keep trying to live. And it’s not like I’m not going to learn anything by taking someone else’s economics course. Plenty of people have completed Pepperdine’s MBA with a concentration in finance, never having set foot in one of Dr. G’s “boardrooms”.

So what do I do? What would you do? Am I being a pansy?  What will I regret the least?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Fall...

Despite visions of myself as a sleek, cool, hip, modern, professional, urbane, independent woman, I will always be a Midwestern girl who loves nothing more than hoodie sweatshirts and funky colored argyle socks.  This is never more apparent than in the fall.  I love LA weather 90% of the time, but I have dreams of rainy days locked inside with a good book, trips to the cider mill and the smell of fallen leaves.  We've turned the clocks back for the winter and the sun is now setting before I leave the office in the evening.  It's strangely hard for me to digest this time change along with 85 degree weather.  I have boxes upon boxes of sweaters (and I keep buying more because they really do make me so happy) and I just want to bust them out in all their colorful glory.  I want to bundle up in cordoroys and super soft scarves and I actually have a little ache somewhere inside of me everytime I see the seasonal specials on display at the store. 

Going back to school is a decidedly "fall" activity: buying books, sharpening pencils, anticipating new friends and new schedules. Unfortunately for me, it also means final exams right around Thanksgiving.  In the next two weeks I have a final exam, two papers and a presentation due so I hardly have time to plan, prepare and execute a multi-course meal for over a dozen.  And then there's all the cleaning...

But despite my hectic schedule and the decidedly un-fall weather, the holiday season is fast approaching.  I can't wait to spend a few hours meandering down Canon Drive wandering around Williams & Sonoma and checking out the window displays. All I want to do is burn the pumpkin spice candle and write Christmas cards. 

My first Thanksgiving in LA was hilarious.  I was so amazed that I could swim all morning and feast all afternoon - I always just associated Turkey Day with the typical frostiness of the Midwest and Northeast.  My second Thanksgiving in LA my oldest brother flew in from Michigan to celebrate it with me, and I was too stressed out, cooking for thirteen in my itty bitty apartment, to even realize what was going on.  As the years progressed and all of my friends begged me to cook them their annual turkey, I was just grateful to have so many loving and supportive people around me, even if I was thousands of miles away from my family. This year, I will definitely miss how crazy the farmer's market is the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the "need" to buy some new fancy utensil/pot/ingredient/cookbook for this year's feast.  I am no chef, but I feel like I'm losing some of the few fall activities I have left in this crazy town. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Life is Good

Life is indeed good. I have a job that I actually enjoy going to every day and one that offers me camaraderie and growth. I am surrounded by people who believe in me and one of my biggest problems is having too much work thrown at me because I am competent and capable. The pace has slowed down just in time for this last push of writing, studying and research and my new (additional) team has worked out famously. A year ago I was newly laid-off and horrifyingly afraid that I would never be able to break into a commercial real estate brokerage again, especially one that’s been this supportive.

Because I have presentations due the week of Thanksgiving and finals the following Tuesday and Thursday, I have decided not to prepare my usual Turkey Day feast for the masses. Part of me really loves scouring the interwebs for recipes, going all out at the farmers’ markets, and spending hours battling the crowds at Williams & Sonoma and Ralph’s. But alas, my sensibility is rearing its head this time around. I’ve been fortunate to have so many people around who wanted to join me in years past, and this year is no different. Again, what’s making me anxious is that I have so many options; too many people are requesting the pleasure of my presence. Everyone should have such problems…

Now of course this expression of love for my current life situation doesn’t come without some caveats. If you know me at all, you know that I’m a bundle of anxious energy all of the time. I can’t sit through a movie because my mind is going a million miles a minute and I can’t fall asleep without reading a boring book because I have a hard time turning myself “off”. This becomes a bigger problem when I’m dealing with conflicts in my life. Small personal dramas, school stress, virtually anything really, can ruin my sunny outlook. That’s not to say that I don’t usually have a positive disposition (I’m a people-pleaser after all), but I have a hard time keeping it all in perspective most of the time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

8 Weeks In...

I'm having a really hard time comprehending that I've been in school for two months now.  It feels like just yesterday I was going to orientation and getting lost in the halls (surprisingly not hard to do even at 27 and in an office building).  I managed to survive midterms despite some personal drama and in two weeks I get to register for next semester's classes.  It hasn't been the easiest 8 weeks of my life, but it's really amazing how easily one can just fall back into the routine of working and studying; I don't exactly remember how I kept myself busy before bschool. 

But now it's crunch time.  I have two restests, two cases, three presentations, two papers and two final exams left - and that's all in a matter of six weeks.  I'm already preparing myself for late nights (I will have to break down and call the pizza delivery man one of these days) and Friday nights without my friends.  I'm pretty sure this is one of the last weekends before finals that I will be able to go out twice AND sneak in a run (I signed up for another 1/2 marathon in January). 

I always say that I'm good under pressure.  What this really means is that I'm an excellent procrastinator and can't get much of anything done until I can literally feel the deadline.  Unfortunately, my Quantitative Analysis class has taken up so much time that I haven't been able to start my last two Organizational Behavior papers and have turned to setting my own deadlines in order to conquer those bad boys.  In fact, Quant is so bad I actually dreamt about not finishing my two latest assignments last night.  The last month at work has been overwhelmingly crazy, but this little reprieve couldn't have come at a better time.  The fact that I'm blogging means that I'm not working through my lunches to tackle a ridiculous number of assignments. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'A' Squad

I'm pretty sure the last time I heard the term "A Squad" used in reference to me was when I DIDN'T make it when I was playing 7th grade volleyball (hey now, I made some good friends that season on the "B" team). Bdubs has taken to using this term these days when talking about our close group of girlfriends. We all met playing kickball (on separate teams of course) and have become pretty inseparable in the last year. Now I'm not too proud to say that the majority of our activities revolve around recreational sport and drinking, but we're all in our mid-twenties and single - it's inevitable.

And then there are "Girls Night". The best part about these girls is that they can cook and they like to eat. There is always flowing beer, full-fat cheese and some sort of gourmet concoction. I'm talking homemade sushi, dark chocolate covered strawberries, hummus from scratch... and I bring salad (I told you I can't cook but I do try). These gatherings of about eight of us starting about six months ago as a way for us to rally around each other. We had one when I got a job, when Riegs had her heart broken, when Kulas moved… But now they have turned into much more than that. These are the nights I will give up my homework to enjoy. I always show up in my pajamas and it never fails that I laugh until I cry.

And that’s why Bdubs calls us the “A Squad”. It sounds like we’re in high school, but it symbolizes our bond as ridiculous grown-ups. Perhaps it’s that we can all laugh and make fun of each other, but they’re some of the most understanding and least judgmental ladies I’ve ever met. I’ve pull some outrageous stunts in their presence (not doubt with at least a little bit of goading), and they continue to love me just the same. Sure, they’re gonna post the pictures of Facebook, but they’re not going to tell me what an idiot I looked like. When times get tough (lost jobs, broken hearts, difficult choices) and friends fall away, these ladies have been my rock and they are truly the reason I’m still trucking.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


One of the struggles I definitely wasn't prepared for was my apparent inability to feed myself efficiently.  My schedule these days is very out-of-whack.  In college, we were forced to pretty much each at least two square meals a day.  We were always on campus, had a cafeteria at our convenience, and it was paid for (!).  When we needed to stay up late to study, there were vending machines, pizza delivery men, and boxes of oreos. 

These days, I like to think of myself as a little more sophisticated.  I've spent the last five years living on my own, grocery shopping and cooking.  I tried to eat granola bars and coffee for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and then whatever was in the house for dinner when I got home from work.  Now, I don't even know when I'm hungry.  The days I go to class I try to pack another sandwich to eat during class.  The problem occurs when I find myself eating four turkey or pb and j sandwiches in a span of three days and still being hungry.  I don't have time to go grocery shopping because my evenings are filled with group projects and class.  Sundays I study or am at school and definitely don't want to slave over the stove when I haven't even had time to catch up on Grey's Anatomy for three weeks. 

I'm definitely not hungry at 5pm on the car ride from work to school and there are rarely opportunities to scarf down that pre-packed sandwich that's been sitting at the bottom of my bag for hours.  I get home between 10 and 11pm and am far too drained to do anything but open a bag of potato chips or pour a bowl of cereal.  The next morning I'm starving and counting down the minutes to lunch by 10am.  You'd think this would be a great weight-loss solution, but that hasn't seemed to happen either.  That's partly because what I do put in my mouth isn't great.  So little time for fresh anything...

Part of me really wants to start cooking; to get a few cookbooks, spend a ton of money of fresh produce I know will go bad before I get a chance to enjoy it properly, and finally do as much good for my body as I am for my mind.  The more rational part of me says: "screw it - I'll cook in two years when I have time (yeah, right... when I'm working 80 hour weeks) and enjoy the grape jelly on Ritz dinners while I'm still single". 

So what do I do?  What do I eat?  When?  I wish there were books about what to do in these kind of situations.  Last night I made apple bread from a box (I burnt it) and a frozen pizza.  Awesome. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This Week's Theme is Support

Making hard decisions is "hard".  Living with those decisions can sometimes be the most difficult part.  From my decision to finally tackle the GMAT, to figuring out where to apply to grad school and then actually doing it, required the support of my family and friends.  I was constantly calling my mom to get assurance that I was making the right decision.  I talked about it often to my friends to get their input and even talked it out with my coworkers. 

I knew that getting my MBA would require sacrifice, but I wasn't quite sure what exactly that would entail.  I knew I wouldn't be able to spend as much time with my friends, travel back to Michigan as often and take on huge amounts of student loans, but there have been a few surprises these past six weeks. 

The biggest surprise has been the range of support I've recieved for the choices I'm continually making.  Obviously, my peers at Pepperdine have been amazing.  We spend so much time together and are really good at reassuring each other that it'll all be worth the sacrifices and hard work in the end.  My roommate, whom I consider one of my closest friends, hasn't exactly been there for me.  I don't know if it's because she doesn't understand how difficult it is for me to do this alone, or that she can't see the connection between my new lifestyle and the ultimate goal, but we've been struggling.  Part of me really hates that I've had to separate the "good" friends from the "bad", but I've realized what amazing bunch of people have really shown up for me.  They're the ones that make this possible because nobody can go through life without a good team of cheerleaders.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


In theory, I was going to keep this blog upbeat and professional. It was going to be about only the serious issues I face daily when trying to make my work/life/school balance "work". Well folks, it's gonna get personal because that's pretty much all I can come up with right now.

Tonight I have my first mid-term in over five years and I can't remember the last time I studied this hard. And it's an ESSAY exam - I rock those. Between being in study groups with the overachievers (basically everyone in an MBA program is an overachiever - that's how they got there), and being totally freaked out over an actual graded exam, I've been going a little mad. Add to that another midterm on Tuesday for my actual "hard" class - Quantitative Methods - and my inability to hang out with my friends (again, I'm too busy studying!). Even work has picked up because someone around here realized I was smart and needed a challenge to excel - imagine!

As they say, it's all well and good until it's well....not. Due to some shall we say "surprises" in the friend/boy department piled on top of everything else, I was definitely struggling to balance all those balls in the air. My friends, those balls came a-dropping down yesterday morning and I had to take a day off work. Ideally, I would have used that time to study, do laundry, go grocery shopping, pick up my dry-cleaning, wash my car, Swiffer the living room or organize my sweaters... but instead I laid in bed until noon, cried my way into the bathroom to take a shower sometime in the afternoon, and made it to my study group around dinnertime, all the while berating myself because I couldn't keep it together.

Not that I feel a ton better today, because I most certainly do not, but I feel better that nobody cared that I took a day off to just take care of myself, even though I wasn’t “sick”. Lord knows that I wouldn’t exactly have been a stellar employee, and probably an even worse student, if I didn’t give myself the time to get it together.

So maybe there was a message to this story. When you’re in the midst of midterms, you find out a good friend of yours slept with your man, work is getting too overwhelming, you’re PMSing and you miss your friends, TAKE A DAY OFF WORK.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smart Women Marry Money

This is not a very popular or politically correct statement, but it's true.  One of the things I've been struggling to wrap my head around since starting this program, is that when all is said and done I will be in about $80,000 worth of debt including my undergratuate loans that have been so graciously deferred now that I'm back in school.  If I plan on paying that off in 10 years, that's about $900 a month (or what I know pay in rent).  Should I not marry money, or remain single, I shall be in my forties, living with a roommate, struggling with debt.  What a life!  All this, while my bosses are buying 2.5 million dollar homes and $80,000 SUVs (note: they're white men in their thirties and forties with wives who don't work). 

Theoretically, I'm getting my MBA because there is a proven ROI (Return On Investment).  I will more than make up for the $60,000+ I'm spending on this education in the increase salary I will command with those three little letters after my name.  In theory.... 

I obviously think getting my MBA is worth it.  I'm convinced I need it in order to leap frog to the kind of professional level I strive to be at and grow myself personally.  I wouldn't be doing this if I truly thought all I ever needed was a man and an endless bank account to make me happy.  I'm just saying... it makes sense!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Here goes...

So this is my first blog post and I'm kinda nervous. I don't know if I have anything worthwhile to say... I don't know if I'll be too open or edit myself too much. I don't even know if anyone will ever read this and I definitely don't know how to use this thing. But here goes...

I'm starting my fourth week of business school this week and I missed my first kickball game in months yesterday. Our Organizational Behavior class spent the weekend in San Pedro (oh so glamorous!) for a communications retreat/workshop. Fortunately for me, my class is pretty kick-ass and I ended up having a great time and making new friends. I was home yesterday by one after getting a measly seven hours of sleep all weekend and definitely could have made it out to the kickball field to cheer everyone on by three, but I chose not to.

Now that's a big step for me... I made the conscious choice to stay at home by myself to decompress, watch movies and study, rather than drink with all my kickball friends.  I decided NOT to see the Brit, NOT to wish Dolo a happy birthday, NOT to consume 1,000+ calories worth of Bud Light in order to socially lubricate myself... This, oh blogosphere, is huge. 

Now I'm not saying it wasn't hard or that I'm not checking my Facebook a thousand times an hour to see if there were any pictures posted of the festivities that I missed (I don't like to feel like I'm excluded from anything).  Heck, I'm not even saying that I'm sure that I made the right decision or that I've given up those kind of activities for good (Oktoberfest anyone?!).  It was just the first in a long line of "DECISIONS" that I will now be making for myself. 

For the past year or two (or even more), I feel like I've just been taking whatever comes my way, as opposed to making things happen.  My first decision was to do this whole MBA thing and like anything else, there are pros and cons.  It seems like overnight my priorities changed.  And well.... that's just a lot to digest.