Sunday, December 12, 2010

Flying (Running) Solo

Over the last six years I've learned how to do a lot of things by myself.  I've lived by myself off and on for years, I always travel and shop solo and today I ran my first half marathon by myself. 

And it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.  I mean, it was difficult because I had a massively upset stomach the entire time, but nothing that a running partner would help. In fact, the first eight miles were fantastic and my body still feels really good.  It was the second half that was difficult both physically and mentally to get through.  But I finished.  And it wasn't my worst time.  I didn't set a personal record, but there are always a number of circumstances one can't control during a race. 

What stinks is that I'm now home alone.  My sick running partner, who had planned on running the race with me up until yesterday afternoon, was kind enough to come out, cheer me on, take pictures and drive me home.  But that's about as exciting as it got today. 

Running 13.1 miles is an insane experience and an incredible adrenaline rush.  In fact, I couldn't even take a nap today because my heart was still pounding hours later.  Sometimes I have that tree falling in the woods feeling.  If a tree falls in the woods and nobody's there to hear it, does it still make noise? Am I making any noise?

I've long since given up trying to get my father to acknowledge my victories.  But it would help if someone would remember without me having to tell them a thousand times.  I feel like I've spent the last month fighting.  I took two finals, wrote two group papers, gave two presentations, trained for and ran a half marathon, battled a sinus infection, hopped on four flights to see my family for 72 hours, bought everyone's Christmas presents and I won.  I f*ing did it!

And I need a hug.  But instead, my family is thousands of miles away decorating the Christmas tree without me, nobody will return my texts or phone calls, and I'm eating pizza alone.  I've painted my nails, read my book, watched my DVR and even curled my hair out of a combination of both frustration and boredom.  Sundays are typically hard around these parts, but the combination of coming down from the adrenaline rush, being homesick and not having any homework to do is a difficult combination. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The No-Stress Turkey Day

When I would go home for the holidays for the first four or so years after college, I was a bit of a mess.  One Christmas two years ago I was newly laid-off and cried for two weeks straight. Not only was I miserable, but I made everyone else around me sad. I've wasted too much precious time spent with my family picking fights and acting like the typical high-strung big sister and daughter I've always been.

This year was markedly different.  It was the first Thanksgiving I've gone back to Michigan since I've lived in Los Angeles.  And maybe because I knew I was only going to be there for 72 hours, I managed to forget about the fact that I'm in the middle of finals and go with the flow.  I had no agenda, which was a first.  There was no Black Friday shopping that needed to be done, nobody outside the family I needed to see, and nothing I had to do that couldn't be left until Sunday morning when I got back to LA. 

My mother, in particular, noticed how unstressed I was for almost three days. My demeanor changed instantly about two hours before I had to head back to the airport and she noticed that too (for better or worse, exactly what I'm thinking and feeling is written all over my face).  It was nice to not be expected to help with Thanksgiving dinner or worry about what I was wearing or who I was seeing.  Having my whole family in one place was indeed a blessing, and I'm grateful I was able to get out of my own way and really enjoy everyone's company, even if it was only for a few days. 

I also find the holidays the hardest time of the year to be single.  I loved traveling at Christmas with my boyfriend in college and at nearly thirty, there's always part of me that's sad to go home alone AGAIN.  It's easier to not have a 'plus one' because I can do exactly what I want and spend as much time with my family as possible, but all those damn jewelry commercials and smitten couples all over the place? It will definitely be nice one day to have someone to introduce to my parents, wake up with on Christmas morning and keep me company on the airplane. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I was able to shed  fifteen pounds in the last three months because I changed my routine.  I made small changes in my diet, made sure I ran at least ten miles a week and did bootcamp every other Wednesday.  Now it's finals time, the holidays are here, and I'm losing my routine.  Long runs have been cut short because of injury, weather and travel.  I'm having to make more food decisions because when and where I eat is not necessarily in my control and it's generally a little hectic around here.

My life is made easier with routines.  From what I eat and when, to where I shop, who I see and where I go, I love the calm and reassurance of repetitive activities.  I like knowing that I can count on some sort of consistency, even if it's rather trivial.  In fact, I had a near meltdown earlier in the semester when I had to drive out to another campus for a class once a week.  I had never been to the building and didn't know where to park or even where the classrooms were.  Wouldn't you know I got so flustered I sat in the wrong classroom for fifteen minutes (in all fairness, so did another classmate - it was confusing!). 

Having a routine also relieves some stress. Each semester brings a new schedule and putting certain things on auto-pilot can be helpful.  For example, I know that most Sundays I will do two loads of laundry, go grocery shopping and vacuum the apartment.  One night a week I'll run and have dinner with Vani and I don't have to think about hitting the gym because I do it every Tuesday through Thursday at lunch. Studying is even built in so procrastination is harder. 

The months of November and December pose a unique conundrum for me.  I'm traveling, studying, going to holiday parties, shopping and running.  I've been skipping my regular workouts, getting take-out instead of going to the grocery store and spending time with my girl friends, not vacuuming or doing laundry.  It might sound lame, but routine gives me consistency, something to count on and just the smidgen of control I need in my daily life. I'll be away from home for the next three days so my schedule will be completely out of whack, but it's good practice I suppose.  I plan on being too busy and having too much fun to miss my dull routine. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday Buzz

More like holiday buzzkill.  I'm unbelievably excited to go home for Thanksgiving this year.  I haven't spent a turkey day with my family since I was 22 and it's been way too long since I've seen my little brothers.  But finals are getting in the way of my excitement!

Before I leave in less than three days, I have a presentation and a group paper due.  Two days after I get back I have a cumulative final, the day after that another group paper and presentation and then I get an entire week to study for my Global Capital Markets final and rest up for my latest half marathon. 

Luckily, the majority of the papers are done, I'm not too worried about the finals and I've been training for the half marathon.  But it's officially Thanksgiving season and between the end of the semester and the lack of real holiday spirit in LA, it might as well be August around here.

I haven't put up a Christmas tree in two years and I doubt I'm going to do so again this year.  It's not that I don't have the time or space, but by the time I'm done with finals and running, I'll be a week and a half away from going to Detroit until after the new year.  My Christmas tree is a little sparse and all my good ornaments are packed away at my mom's house, but I'm sure the act of putting on some holiday music, boiling the mulling spices and decorating the apartment would put me in a jolly mood.  However, I most likely won't do it because I know I'm the only one who will get to enjoy it.  And at this point, I'm not sure I wouldn't enjoy a nap even more.

Because I'm pretty much is school mode all the time around here, I measure things by midterms, finals, and semesters. Gina asked if I wanted to to go Coachella today and my immediate thought was not "oh, that's something I've always wanted to do" but "I hope that falls in between semesters, not before finals".  I know that I have less than three weeks left until I'm done with the semester and that a week from now I'll be crazed with school work, but I'm going back to Detroit for 72 hours this week so it will all kinda be put on pause.  I just hope I can pause it enough to really enjoy the time home with my family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Wedding Post

I promised Michael I'd write a post about Robyn's wedding.  So here goes. 

A lot of people don't know this about me, but I'm an extremely lucky girl; I have two families.  When I studied abroad in London in college, I shared a flat with a couple of Brits and a few Americans, two of whom would become some of my closest friends (Jenica and Shaum).  I ended up moving to LA over five years ago to work for Jenica's father and the Gerber family immediately took me in as one of their own.  Jenica's cousin, who has become an older sister figure to me, got married at a beautiful sunset ceremony on Sunday.

I haven't been to a ton of weddings in my day, but there is a distinct difference between a friend's wedding and that of a family member.   And I have to admit, this one was the best of both.  I got to enjoy everything about the day without having to deal with all the family dynamics, but I truly felt like I was at home. We were the first to get there, one of the last to leave, and I danced around all night (I mean, the groom's mother had me lead the conga line - I was a hit). 

It is always such a wonderful occasion to celebrate two people finding each other. It gives us single girls hope, but it also makes me think.  I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, but the older I get and the more people I know, I start to wonder if there is one person out there for all of us.  Or if there are indeed many.  Sometimes it amazes me how perfect two people can be for each other, and how once they meet it all just falls into place.  On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I could be happy with a life with any number of men. 

Robyn was one of the most beautiful brides I've ever seen.  She's tall, graceful and mature on an ordinary day.  Add to that a custom-made gown and the glow of marriage, and you have one gorgeous bride. Plus she's nine years older than me, so she's that much more mature. 

One thing I've realized lately is that in an ideal world, we really do spend our twenties growing up.  It's amazing how different I feel, look and act now than when I was twenty-five.  Heck, I'm not the same girl I was six months ago.  It's taken a lot of hard work and reflection but I'm learning how to be a better version of myself every day.  While I'm not always thrilled to live the crazy life of a single girl, part of me is glad that I have had all this time to myself and that I didn't meet someone amazing when I wasn't the best version of myself.  Life is one big learning experience, so I'll never stop growing and maturing (hopefully), but I'm terribly grateful that I've had the experiences in my life (good and bad) that have led me to who I am now. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Because I made the decision to move out of Detroit, and I wanted to take a job in glamorous LA, and I had all these plans for a life that was bigger and better than the suburban boredom of my youth, I never allowed myself to miss home.  (I grew up in the suburbs, but I usually just say Detroit - or Michigan - for simplification purposes.)  And for the most part, I don't actually miss Michigan.  I miss my family and my favorite little haunts (Moosejaw, The Duck, Dunkin Donuts coffee) occasionally, but it's pretty much a "been there, done that" thing for me. 

So it struck me the other day when I was talking to my best friend from high school who also lives in LA.  She moved out here after a year or so in Paris and some other various traipsings across the globe, while I moved here for a job that was going to get me out of Ohio.  She was telling me how much she missed Michigan.  The cider mills, the changing leaves, the snow, the pace, her family.  How could she miss Michigan when she's been to so many other great places?

I feel guilty every time I say I'm homesick because I know that I could be back in the Midwest right now.  I was laid off twice in two years (hello financial crisis) and could have seized those opportunities to change up my life and head home (Chicago or Detroit) with my tail between my legs.  But something was keeping me in California.  Something inside of me was telling me that I had things to take care of and accomplish in LA before I could go anywhere else.

In what has been a never-ending quest to rationalize all that I've done (and not done) in the six years since I graduated from college, I find myself taking a tally.  Especially now that I've decided to go to my ten year high school reunion when I'm back in Detroit for Christmas, I've been mentally making a list of all the things I've accomplished, what I value and who I've become. 

I don't have the typical trappings or milestones of a lot of my peers.  I'm not married, I don't have kids, I don't own a home, I haven't traveled the world.  But I will have run four half-marathons, I have made incredible friends, I captained a kickball team for five seasons, found an industry I'm passionate about, lived thousands of miles away from my family on my own, had crazy silly adventures and am just months away from finishing business school.  And a lot of that would not have been possible if I still lived in Michigan. 

When the weather gets cooler, the days get shorter and the holidays draw near, I undoubtedly get homesick and feel guilty about it.  Luckily this year I'm actually going home for Thanksgiving to see my family, godparents and cousins.  It's a short trip but my homesickness is mildly ameliorated by the fact that I can be there when it matters.  And as a bonus, I do believe both The Duck and Franklin Cider Mill will still be open. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pretty Red Lip Gloss

Oh, such a fun title!  It was fun, really.  Friday night I went out with an older coworker of mine.  And by (barely) older, I mean like four years.  She's married, successful, wonderful, mature and just that much wiser than me. And she's gorgeous.  So yes, it was a little bit of an intimidating prospect to go out on the town with her and her friends.  (Thank goodness for Halloween costumes - we could all look like idiots.)

So my natural instinct was to hit the mall before we could hit Main Street.  Not that I could wear anything new (I was dressing up like a cowgirl - not too terribly dorky) but I needed a little pick-me-up.  So I stopped by the make-up counter where Dana, the unsuspecting Macy's employee, humored me for ten minutes while I tried to describe to her exactly what I wanted. 

I didn't learn how to apply make-up until I was in college.  And while my morning make-up routine changed drastically when I started working in commercial real estate, I've always kept it simple enough that I can do it in ten minutes in the car on the way to the office.  My incredibly young-looking mother maintains her complexion with a little moisturizer and chap stick so I come by my affinity for simplicity naturally. 

Every lip gloss, lip stick, etc. that I've owned has been pale pink and girly.  Pretty, but not sexy.  I mean, I'm going to wear it to work (heaven forbid I have a separate one for work and one for going out), class and the bar so it has to be neutral.  Apparently at twenty-eight I didn't really know what neutral meant so Dana and I had a good laugh.  I wanted color, but not like a crazy red lipstick.  I wanted neutral color (??) apparently.  Anyhow, the jargon still alludes me but this redish clearish gloss is actually quite flattering and makes me feel (look?) a tad bit more grown up. 

So a little pretty red lip gloss changed my night.  OK, I lie.  It didn't.  But it changed how I felt.  I'm sure nobody noticed (I went out with strangers; they didn't know me pre-lip gloss), but I felt like I could handle the new situation with a little sparkle on my lips. And a ridiculous cowboy hat. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Certain Holidays

I'm a big fan of holidays.  In order, my favorites are Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July and Easter.  There are three, however, that I definitely don't look forward to.

As a single girl, Valentine's Day is definitely on the top of that list.  Everyone is always talking about what they're buying, what they're getting, and then flowers at the office... it's all too much.  One day I'll be in a couple and I'm sure I'll be one of those idiots, but for now I'd rather be bitter. 

For some of the same reasons, New Years Eve is also filled with pressure.  Most years I'm more than happy to do something low-key, hang out with my friends, and try to remember that it's just another night.  In years past I've done everything from board game nights to dive bars to fancy restaurants.  There's always the issue of the midnight kiss, what to wear, who's going to drive, what kind of exciting stories you'll have to tell for the next 365 days...

This year, I can't decide what to do.  I know it's two months away, but I have to buy the plane ticket for my Christmas travel this week.  I can either come back to LA for New Years and spend it the way I spend every other Saturday night with all the friends I love, or stay in Chicago and spend the evening out on the town with my high school friends.  The plane tickets are pretty much the same price and I have plenty of time off work, so the decision is all mine.  Do I spend what may be my last New Years Eve living in Los Angeles with my friends here or do I put on a pretty party dress, go out on the town, and do something new and exciting in Chicago?

And then there's Halloween. Pretty harmless, but somehow I just can't get into it.  Even in high school I'd put on my brother's lacrosse uniform and call it a day.  My mom used to make us amazing costumes when we were little, and my eldest brother loves the holiday, but I don't really like anything that requires a costume for whatever reason. Too much effort and we just end up looking silly.

This year I not only got dressed up, but I went out twice.  I was just a cowgirl with a jean skirt, plaid snap shirt and cowboy hat leftover from a bachelorette party, but it worked.  Most girls use Halloween as an excuse to be someone they're not and put on far too little clothing, but that's clearly not my style.  I don't mind looking sexy, but I will always lean towards comfort. 

Friday night I went out a coworker and her friends.  It was a much needed break to go out with some new people.  New, nice, sincere, successful people.  It was flattering that she invited me out with her peeps and was willing to introduce me to her close circle of friends.  Plus, it's always great to meet new people. 

Last night I went to a friend's house party.  They're all really into Halloween and some had pretty nifty home-made costumes and decorations, but like most of our parties it's more about the beer as opposed to what we're wearing.  Tonight is actually Halloween night and I'm still recovering from the last forty-eight hours.  I would have loved to be somewhere where I could greet some trick-or-treaters and celebrate the holiday with fun food and scary old movies, but alas.  I suppose that will all come in time though.  Instead, I'm in my sweats, catching up on some homework.  I even put off laundry and grocery shopping because I really just needed a lazy Sunday by myself.  Unfortunately I didn't run this weekend like I should have, but there's always next week and the half marathon is still six weeks away. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Get In My Belly

I've probably told you before that I'm bad in kitchen.  But that's not entirely true.  I am a good cook when I have the time and the patience.  And I actually enjoy it sometimes.  But those inspired moments are few and far between these days.

I live by myself and there is little economy in cooking for one.  Unless I want to eat leftover spaghetti for a week or spend an hour cooking (and cleaning up) just to make a 15 minute meal that I'll eat in front of the TV, it's easier to live on cans of tuna, quesadillas and bowls of cereal. 

My mother is a spectacular cook.  She spoiled my brothers and me because she never even wanted help in the kitchen. We sat down to a home-cooked meal at least four times a week and she has even taken a stab at catering a few events in her career.  She can make something out of nothing (sometimes a necessity in those leaner years) and would never force us to eat lame leftovers that hadn't been transformed into something a little more exciting.  And because she loves to cook, it is her way of showing how she feels about us.  Her way of providing for us when very little else was stable. 

When I first moved away, my biggest source of homesickness was wishing I had my mother to make me dinner every night.  The school cafeteria was lame (she always packed our lunches too) and I didn't have the means to eat out very often.  When I finally had my own place, I struggled with what to buy at the grocery store and had to create my own routine every night. 

So between my lack of time and inclination to cook these days, I derive a disproportionate amount of joy when someone cooks for me.  There is very little I love more in this world than a  friend making me dinner (or lunch, dessert, breakfast, a snack, whatever).  Whether it's a simple burger or a complicated chili, there is nothing quite like sharing a home-cooked meal. 

And I'm a lucky girl in this department.  After our runs on Thursday nights, Vani (or Brady) includes me in their dinner plans.  Gina is a phenomenal cook and Dolo is always whipping up something exciting.  And when boys cook for me, I'm completely done for.  Clearly, the way to my heart is through my stomach. 

Now that the weather is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I'm looking forward to some big, satisfying meals with my friends and family.  I even whipped up some spicy cherry chocolate brownies this weekend.  Because the recipe made a ton, I was able to bring them over to share with the pumpkin carving party and have some left over to drop off to a certain someone and his roommate. I clearly also show my affection with food. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I grew up a good Catholic girl,  so I was always aware of the necessity of faith.  But only in a spiritual/God sort of way.  It's only recently that I discovered the necessity of faith in ourselves. 

If going back to school, living by myself, being single and thousands of miles away from my family has taught me anything, its that we have to believe in ourselves. I wouldn't be doing all of this if I didn't truly believe somewhere deep down that the countless lonely hours of studying, being in class and toiling away in my cubicle was going to massively change my life. 

But in the middle of the tunnel, ten months away from graduation, I'm going a little crazy.  I'm wondering exactly how this is going to work out and indeed, if it is all worth it in the end.  I'm slugging through a job, in a city, that at times feels like its killing me.  Time is flying and I want it both to slow down and just hurry up already.  It's just eleven weeks until the new year and two weeks from signing up for my second to last semester of business school.  In a sentiment I've echoed before, all these changes are so bittersweet. 

I'm mentally ready to move on, whether that's to a different job, city, routine or relationship. I've been scouting jobs in Chicago with more fervor lately and I'm trying to really get out of my cocoon for a while and enjoy the company of my friends.  And while change is scary, I'm ready for whatever that means in the next year. 

I need to not only have faith in myself and my capabilities, but faith that it will all work out as it's meant to be.  I've always been of the attitude that I should follow my gut, work hard and good things will come.  I don't know that it's always served me, but I really do believe that things happen for a reason and that I'm meant to be exactly where I am right now. 

As in running, or any other monumental endeavor, results aren't always visible at first.  If one can make it through all this hard work and unknown, the rest will seem a whole lot easier. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Since when am I this insecure?! I guess we all have moments of uncertainty; we're all self-conscious at one point or another.  But the one thing I thought pursuing an MBA would help would be all that nagging self-doubt.  Turns out it has just made me more aware of the ways in which I'm self-conscious and self-sabotaging. That's a good thing, no?! I always say that awareness if the first step to recovery... or something like that. 

The upside is that I'm probably more self-conscious than I let on.  Except to those closest to me, I think I come across and fairly confident.  And I am, most of the time.  But a little too often for my comfort, I start doubting everything.  Most of the time it's physical.  I know I'm smart, capable (my grades thus far in bschool have been a testament to that), hard working and a good friend. But I don't always remember that; I don't necessarily think I'm very pretty or light up a room with my humor.   

I spent a few years in high school seeing a therapist, and the one thing we worked on the most was my sense of self-worth.  That I was indeed pretty enough, smart enough and OK just as I am.  Because really, I can't change me.  Nor should I.  My parents are great, but I was constantly criticized.  It has made me who I am today and allows me hyper-aware in social situations, but it also makes me overly critical of myself.

And I've found myself doubting just about everything lately.  Perhaps it's because I'm a tad bit lonely or that I'm overwhelmed with the kinds of choices I get/have to make in the near future, but I've become much more self-conscious lately.  When I really should be feeling completely the opposite.  I'm surrounded by tons of people who love me, I'm accomplishing something pretty important and both running and school have been going exceptionally well. 

The people I love and admire most in this world are those that write their own stories.  They don't conform to a particular set of social rules, they have a ton of fun doing almost anything, they are intelligent, confident and a blast to be around.  And that's the kind of person I want to be. I want to develop the confidence to go after EXACTLY what I want, ask for what I need and live the life I've always imagined, for myself.  I'm in the depths of something that can change my life enormously, if I let it.  If I let go of my fear and seize the right opportunities. 

But don't we all doubt ourselves sometimes?  Who wouldn't when living in LA, surrounded by some of the most attractive and fashionable people on the planet.  I think I just need to keep it more in perspective.  I need to realize that I'm worthy of love and success even though I don't always feel like I'm exactly the person I want to be, all the time. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010


It's terribly interesting what one finds they truly desire to do should they have the opportunity to do anything in the world.  OK, not in the world, but on a nice LA day.  Specifically on a Saturday morning.  Since both my run and my hike were canceled this weekend, I asked Gina to go with me to a farmers market.  Yesterday morning I woke up fairly early, got dressed in my finest weekend uniform (running shorts, t-shirt, running shoes), and picked up an iced coffee before we took a 30 minute drive down to a farmers market that I'm absolutely shocked nobody talks about.  It was fabulous!

We ate papusas, homemade lemonade, fresh donuts and sausages.  I bought some amazingly tasty pluots, some basil (fresh pesto anyone?!), a baguette, peppers and tomatoes.  And I even picked up a nice little mint plant to go with the two pots of basil Gina gave me a few weeks ago. 

After we watched some Big Ten football and napped briefly, I stopped at Home Depot for some potting soil.  Now you're probably wondering why exactly I'm giving you a complete run-down of my day.  It's because it has finally hit me; I've become my mother. 

Early mornings, farmers markets, Home Depot, potting plants... these are Klodd's favorite things. (Klodd is my amazing, supportive, hilarious, perky and blond mother - short for Claudia.)  And ones that I absolutely despised when I was younger.  My idea of hell as a kid was getting up early on the weekend to go to Eastern Market or the nursery to look at trees and plants. 

Now I don't know if it's because I'm homesick or because I've had time and space to discover what I like outside of my parents' taste, but the apple just doesn't fall that far from the tree.  And in a way, that makes me really happy.  It's reassuring that after six years and thousands of miles away from my family, we've managed to grow together. I didn't leave the Midwest because I didn't love or even like my family, but because I needed my independence.  From running and finance to farmers markets and hiking, I've discovered so much about what makes me tick, and I might just be ready to go back.  Someday. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Getting There

This is a bit of a mish mash today.  Eat it up!

1.  I can't believe it's been twelve months.  A year ago I started business school, started this blog, quit kickball, and changed my life around completely.  I had no idea what I was signing up for, but it has been a whirlwind.  I've been hurt, I've struggled and there have been many tears.  But there have been even more friends, more laughter, and I have found more strength than I ever knew I had. 

2.  I'm not sick anymore!  Yeehaa.  With just about ten weeks left until our half marathon, I'm back on track for our running schedule.  I'm doing full hour boot camps on Wednesdays, double runs on Thursdays, and weekend runs in the marina.  My eating habits are off but that's constantly a struggle.  Luckily I haven't had much of an appetite, but with midterms and papers I'm not cooking and grocery shopping like I should. 

3.  It's rainy and overcast in LA this week and I love it.  Despite it making me even more homesick, it's actually quite soothing.  The temperatures have dropped and it's the perfect weather to catch up on my DVR with some take-out, put on my favorite yoga pants, and study for my Global Capital Markets midterm that's less than 48 hours away.

4.  I'm getting overwhelmed.  Graduation is just ten months away!!!  It's exciting, amazing and totally scary.  I will be in a very different place than I am now in ten months.  And I have to find a job.  While I love my office most of the time, there just isn't growth potential and it will be financially (and mentally) impossible for me to continue what I do once I have my MBA.  Time to tune up that resume, sit down with the career center, and decide what it is I want to do for the rest of my life.  Oooooof.

5.  When I get stressed, I crave coffee.  It makes my tummy hurt when I drink coffee on the days when I run at lunch, but something about going to Starbucks or Peet's as a way to start my day seems to make it more bearable.  My emotions have been a little out of control the last week (I blame on the hormonies) and it's a harmless - if not slightly expensive - way of getting me through the day without crying.  I thought I got over the weepies six months ago.

6.  Maybe it's all the bridal "stuff".  A good friend of mine is getting married in six weeks and even though I'm not in the bridal party, my recent weekends have been filled with bachelorette trips, bridals showers, wedding gift and dress shopping, etc.  Don't get me wrong,I have no intention of getting married any time soon and my dear friend more than deserves to be as happy as she is, but it makes ya think.  I'm in my late twenties and haven't had a meaningful relationship since college.  What's wrong with me?!  OK, rhetorical question.  I know the answer (most of the time). 

7.  And it doesn't help that I've been a hermit.  I've discussed before that I have the ability to completely shut myself off.  I haven't "gone out" on a weekend night in ages and I don't even join my friends for football at the bar on Sundays.  Again, I'm using school as an excuse to be alone and essentially not have to have human contact and be my own worst enemy. I have a midterm, paper and presentation this week.  And then another midterm next week.  But seriously, it's not that big of a deal.  I'm four semesters in already and I'm not taking particularly demanding classes - I need to get a life.  I know it'll make me less weepy. 

Monday, September 27, 2010


I'm not good at being sick.  I suppose nobody really is.  But I seriously give up all my grace and composure when I'm ill.  I'm prone to laying in my bed, crying to my mother and generally feeling sorry for myself.  Being sick makes me sad, lonely, homesick and depressed.  It's no fun at all.  I've had a head cold (and refused to see a doctor) for five days now and while some moments I'm feeling better, I'm losing my voice and am zapped of all energy. 

I don't know if it's the perfect Cali weather, but since moving out of the Midwest I get sick so rarely - maybe once a year.  These colds last about a week, take up home in my lungs if I'm really lucky, but don't come back too often.  No sinus infections, bouts of bronchitis or trips to the ER for my asthma like I would get in the Michigan winters.

Before my first set of finals as a freshman in high school, I came down with the walking pneumonia (whatever that is).  I was completely wiped out for over a week and remember laying on the couch shaking and crying between study sessions.  It was probably the sickest I can remember being and it was then that I truly discovered the mind/body connection.  See, my parents had just taken me to see a psychiatrist for the first time and it was a completely traumatizing experience.  I literally left the doctor's office a thousand times more physically ill than when I entered.  I firmly believe that I might have been coming down with a cold that day, but the experience of going through what I did completely wore my body down and brought on the pneumonia.

Since moving to California, I've been able to shed some demons. Now, I'm not perfectly happy all the time, and there's been a certain loneliness front moving in lately, but I'm generally more confident and content than I've ever been.  It's most certainly a combination of the ideal weather and enlightened attitude that allow me to be more healthy more often. 

Now I say ideal So Cal weather, but we hit a record high today and it's almost October.  One hundred and ten is a scorcher.  And I have a second floor carpeted apartment with no air conditioning.  Pity yet?  Also, we have midterms next week.  Now I suppose I'm always in the middle of some school crunch, and being sick gives me an excuse to stay home with my books, but the last thing I want to do is study when it is this hot and I feel this lousy. I can only drink so much water and take so much ibuprofen.  Despite this head cold/allergies/whatever is making me feel like my head is full of cotton and my throat is closing up, I'm going to start running again tomorrow.  Maybe sweating it out will make this body feel better.  Have to get back on the horse sometime, and it might as well be sooner than later. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Living By Myself

Living by oneself is often mesmerizingly perfect (that's not a word, but it works so I'm sticking with it).  I have picked out everything in my apartment (or at least approved of it- I still have some leftovers from the parental units).  I know where everything is; nothing moves if I don't touch it.  Everything is exactly where I want it to be and all the artwork is mine.  I only have myself to blame when I come home to an empty fridge and I can leave my blow dryer on the bathroom counter all day.  My home is as messy or as clean as I want it to be on any given day and I don't have to wake up on the weekends to anyone else's schedule but my own.  I can take an afternoon nap if I please and wear my favorite, softest, holiest t-shirt to bed.  Heck, I can even have a terrible chic flick on while I iron in complete bliss.  (Yes, iron and bliss in the same sentence.)

There is, however, one drawback that seems to repeat itself regularly.  Sundays are particularly difficult when I'm not really busy.  I like to have a set schedule (running, meetings, lunches, errands) because it keeps me from getting lonely, and sometimes I even enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon to get homework (and housework) done before the start of the week.  But some weekends, the solitude takes its toll.

Normally, I would sulk, read a book, go to bed early, and try to be productive.  But yesterday, I couldn't take it any longer.  So I let someone in.  And lesson learned.  I generally have a hard time letting myself look vulnerable or asking someone for what I want (and we wonder why I have difficultly with the boys), but I managed to do exactly that.  Well, sorta.  I didn't exactly ask for what I want, but I told a friend how I was feeling and he gave me precisely what I needed, plus some.  After all, spending time with a person is what makes them feel special.  I'm still having a hard time digesting this... so I'm blogging about it.  I guess I should make more of a habit of not only letting others in, but opening myself up to the people around me.  It was definitely the highlight of my weekend and I wouldn't have enjoyed those hours of company had I not been brave enough to put myself out there.   

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Ode To My Legs

My legs hurt. They hurt like they haven't hurt in nine months (when I ran a half marathon and then sat in the office and at school for two straight days).  I've gone from a little gym cardio (a couple miles a couple of times a week) to full on overachiever-style half marathon training (i.e. from 2 miles a week to 12 miles a week overnight).  I severely pronate, have the occasional bout of tendinitis, and get blisters when I wear the wrong socks, but I generally feel good when I run.  Except for today.

This morning I had one of those runs I'd just as soon like to forget.  The kind that makes me nervous when I do longer runs.  As in life, we have our good and bad days - our good and bad runs.  Failure (is it still failure if we run three miles?) is inevitable and means that we are truly challenging ourselves and doing something worthwhile. 

But back to my legs.  I love them.  They're strong.  They're tan.  They're smooth.  I've gotten compliments on them from old ladies and handsome young suitors alike.  There are muscles in my thighs that come out when I'm in training mode and they look spectacular in a pair of white cotton shorts.  They're perfectly proportional and slightly scarred and imperfect, just like me. 

Most importantly, their strength (and pain) is a constant reminder of all I can accomplish and how far I've come.  That hard work pays off, no matter how discouraged one gets in the process. They get me where I want to go, can be wrapped around the ones I adore, get weak around cute boys and hold me up long enough to conquer the world.  So to my shapely gams, the miles of pavement they've pounded and the genes that are responsible for their awesomeness, I say thank you. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Answers... Well, Not Really

I've linked to and written about Penelope Trunk before.  Hers was the first blog I started reading with any regularity and its the honest to goodness inspiration for this here ranting and raving.  But anywhooooo, I think she's brilliant.  A little mislead at times (she definitely wouldn't approve of my MBA because it's not from a Top 10 school), but brilliant. (Another side note, it was her blog that introduced me to the Pioneer Woman.)  Penelope has the audacity to write about career advice when she is not even the CEO of her own start-up, but it's her lack of convention that is usually at least thought provoking when everyone else sounds like a broken record. 

Today, she wrote a blog post that again goes against my usual way of thinking.  As we all know, I seem to be struggling a little bit lately with the question of where on earth this MBA is taking me.  Literally.  Do I pursue jobs in Chicago (possibly even Charlotte) to be closer to my family and settle down or do I make the best of what I've worked so hard to build here in LA???  Well, Penelope would say that I need to pick something and stick to it.

Now that's usually my train of thought as well. When I first moved out to LA, I knew it was wasn't going to be temporary.  I don't do anything temporarily.  What's the point?!  If I'm going to do something, anything, I'm going to put my heart into it and try and make it the best experience possible.  I'm a fervent believer in making the best out of any situation, but I also think we should know when to quit and walk away.

I've found myself in the situation of waiting and being blindly loyal one too many times. In relationships, at work, with my family.  So I've unfortunately turned into a person who cuts the cord first.  I'm the first to run away before I can get hurt.  And oddly enough, it doesn't work.  In fact, that itself is the reason for a lot of the pain in my life so I'm definitely working on letting myself be more open.  And trying not to run away so quickly. 

And while the job will ultimately determine where I go (they're not exactly plentiful at the moment), I'm pretty set on moving to the Midwest when this is all over.  I'd stay in LA for two extenuating circumstances; neither of which are looking overly likely.  That being said, I can and will change my mind tomorrow.  Penelope Trunk be damned, I will go where my gut tells me to.  I've followed my instincts thus far and while in my weakest moments I'm convinced they're flawed, I know better. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mona Lisa Smile Part 2

I come from a long line of trailblazers.  Fifty-five years ago my grandmother got married in a blue dress.  That sounds lame, but back then it was a big deal.  She did it to be be different.  To show that flare we rarely get to see.  Nana couldn't imagine the kind of life her granddaughter would one day be able to live.  I'm educated, well-traveled, independent, and have an active social life that includes lots of exploring and tons of great friends. 

When I moved to Los Angeles, my family was super supportive.  My cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents all gave me more than their blessing.  They never wanted anything more than for me to be successful, happy and fulfilled. None of the things that a city, a relationship, or a job can bring.  Five years later, they're shocked I'm still in Lala Land and sad I'm missing my cousins and little brother grow up.  And frankly, I'm right there with them.  While I cherish my friends, my go-go lifestyle, being able to run along the ocean, the constant sunshine and the never-ending surprises, I too miss my family. 

Life is the journey of pursuing happiness.  One rarely gets all they've ever dreamed of by the age of twenty-eight.  And how boring would that be?! God willing, I've got nearly half a dozen decades left in this life.  Heaven forbid it all make sense before I'm thirty.  But I could use a little consistency.  And maybe that's why I like school - I can control exactly how well I do and it's nothing if not routine.  And not a little bit exciting. 

Part of me thinks I should be married by now.  That a picket fence, a brood of children, a doting husband and a sparkler on my left hand would make me happy.  I see my high school and college friends pursuing all these things that make sense, but that I haven't honestly given it too much thought to until now. 

But let's face it.  If I really wanted those things in life, I would have made very different decisions for the past six years.  I could have married my college boyfriend, stayed in the Midwest or had a linear and predictable career.  Instead, I moved away.  I followed my career, learned to live on my own, and when I finally got bored I started running half marathons and applying for business school instead of joining an online dating site and learning to knit. 

So I realize this post is all over the place, but I've started and stopped it nearly a dozen times at this point.  The whole thing was going to be about how watching "Mona Lisa Smile" made me think about how expectations of females and their roles have changed so much in just two generations.  But let's face it, this is where I come to rant and write in circles an try and digest what I'm going through during this bizarre and transitional period in my life. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Dreaded Grind...

I had three weeks off to catch up with friends, do a little shopping, finish some *fall* cleaning, and read brainless books.  After nearly a month of relaxation and a little weekend away in Palm Springs with the girls, it's back to school.  And work.  And the rest of life.

School, work, gym, laundry, friends, studying, sleeping, eating... not enough time in the week.  I know I get bored and obsessive when school isn't in session because part of me needs to be super structured and scheduled, but the start of a new semester is usually a little bit overwhelming because I haven't quite gotten into the swing of things yet. 

I haven't even had extra time to blog because I've been so caught up catching up.  And it kinda felt good to do nothing for a little bit, knowing that it wasn't going to last long.  Last semester I went home to Michigan for almost a week and felt like I fell behind right away. I struggled in my finance class up until the very end and I know this is NOT going to be the easiest semester. 

I bought a new Kate Spade planner (swoon!) but my computer bag isn't in yet and I haven't found a new wallet (the old one broke and the outlets this weekend were of no help).  Strangely enough, it's those little things that help me feel in control.  Knowing everything is in its proper place and having a to-do list calm me down when the the minutia of everyday life feel a little overwhelming. 

So before the weekend, my piles of ironing, the grocery store, a friend's band, game night, a long run and some errands get in the way, I'm going to publish this post that has taken me the better part of a week to write.  I know you're just dying to hear about my oh-so-exciting life so I promise to get back in to the swing of things first thing on Monday.  Or something like that.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mona Lisa Smile Part 1

I recently read somewhere that the pursuit of happiness is the source of all misery. There was also a great article written recently in the New York Times about the new twenty-somethings.  And the one thing that really stuck out was that part of the reason we are now experiencing the rise of the so-called quarter-life crisis, is because we have too many options. 

Just a generation ago, when our parents graduated from college, there were much different expectations for twenty-two year olds.  My parents, for example, met in college, dated for four years, and got married as soon as my dad graduated. Just about two years later I was born, my father dropped out of law school, and the family moved the big city where my dad got a nice button-up corporate job and my mom was teacher.  Soon after, my brother was born and my family moved back to the quaint suburbs of the Midwest where they could own a home a raise a nuclear family.  All this before my parents were thirty.

I, on the other hand, spent six months abroad when I was twenty years old and didn't marry the guy I dated for four years in college because I wanted to pursue my own dreams.  I moved thousands of miles away and decided to get a masters in business five years after undergrad.  And that's a fairly linear career path as far as some of my peers are concerned.  Some took a year off after college to backpack across the globe.  Others took jobs in foreign countries, or even moved back in with their parents.  Many have done a combination of the former at different points since graduation. 

Watching 'Mona Lisa Smile' really makes me appreciate all the freedoms that a) I take for granted and b) make me miserable.  With the rapid rise in technology, communication and travel are easier than ever.  Nobody stays in one place anymore, let alone one job or even one career.

Even in the last few years, Generation Y has been taught lessons about the frail nature of a singular career.  My papa worked for GM for decades, retired at the ripe old age of 55 (not!), and has been retired now for almost longer than he worked.  GM didn't expect to have to pay out his pension for thirty-plus years and now everyone is paying the price.  After the financial crisis, GM's stock dove and my grandfather's life savings and benefits are in jeopardy.

If banks can crumble and nobody's job is safe, why should we live a linear life, doing the 'corporate' thing? When there are seemingly endless possibilities (internships in Fiji, nannying in Norway, tour guiding in Israel), it makes little sense to pick a single job, a single city or even a single person and settle down.  But is there ever an end?  Do we ever grow up?  Does there ever come a magic AHA moment when we decide that starting a 401K, investing for retirement, learning how to cook, buying a home and having that brood of children makes sense?

Psychologists say that we're most content with our decisions when we have fewer choices.  This makes sense, right?!  This means that even though we can travel the globe at the drop of a hat, stay in touch with our friends and family thousands of miles away and across the seas, float in and out of careers, jobs, partners and cities, we are not actually happier than our grandmothers who didn't go to college, married the man their parents approved of, and spent their days making a house for their family.

I've been feeling a little antsy lately because I feel like I'm coming to a crossroads in my life.  In just eleven short months I will be finished with my MBA and no longer tied to anything in LA.  Not a job, career, city or even a man.  The world is my oyster and I don't have the first clue what to do with it.  Part of me definitely wants to move closer to my family, find someone to spend the rest of my life with, get a predictable post-MBA job and live that life in the Midwest we're all expected to at some point. 

But I have to admit, LA has gotten to me a little bit lately. All this sunshine, great restaurants, beautiful beaches, good friends,  fun day trips, cultural activities.  Why grow up when I have another fifty years to be predictable?  But I'm lonely.  I've lived here for five years now and manage to keep myself detached from so many things.  Is that even relevant?  Attachment is a quaint idea we might have to retire along with things like rotary telephones and the Concorde.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Fall in my home state of Michigan means changing colors on trees, breezy cool evenings, warm socks, college football, cider mills, unexpected warm days, crunchy fallen leaves, and shorter days.  Unfortunately, there is really no fall in LA.  In fact, it is the end of August and we're having some of the warmest weather we've had in nearly a year.  I'm excited that we're finally getting some real beach weather, but I know I'll start missing the cooler temps when I'm watching football in my shorts (after five years in LA, that still feels wrong) and all cooped up doing finance homework again. 

Fall, regardless of the weather or geographic location, means change.  We go back to school; we prepare for a new academic year and for growth.  Like in nature, its a time of preparation so that we can blossom come spring. 

I'm really into making resolutions and setting goals because I love the fact that every morning is a new beginning.  Every day we wake up with the opportunity to be our best.  To change our bad habits.  To start over again.

So I'm going back to school in less than a week and it is high time for some new goals and better habits.  I bought a new pair of running shoes this weekend and signed up for another half marathon (my fourth) right after the fall semester ends.  I will go to the gym three to four times a week, even if it means I have to sneak it in during lunch.  I will go grocery shopping more often.  I will make sure I have fresh, whole foods in my refrigerator for consumption, not just frozen junk. 

Now, I could go on.  I could go on about how I want to open up to those people around me (a lesson I learned when he besties from Chicago were in town).  Or reign in my budget (I spend my money a lot differently than I did before I went back to school).  But one goal at a time.  From change comes change. Baby steps.  We're just gonna start running again. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


All semester, I dream of these days.  The three weeks between classes when I can go to bed early, wander around the mall aimlessly and catch up on my DVR.  The few weeks I can go out with my friends and not feel guilty about having to get up early the next day to study.  This is my summer vacation - it's supposed to be spent at the beach, wearing the dresses that haven't seen the light of day and doing all those summer LA activities I've been missing because a) I've been swamped between work and school and b) weather-wise, we haven't had much of a summer here in Lala land. 

But I'm sulking.  I have a handful of errands to run before Beth and Zak get to town tomorrow morning and I don't want to do anything.  I don't want to go to the grocery store, iron, vacuum, or even pick up the air mattress.  I'm super excited for them to get to LA because I know we're going to have an amazing time - we definitely all need the break - but all I want to do is chill out (i.e. watch MTV and go to bed early). 

It also doesn't help that I drank a wee bit too much tequila on Sunday.  I usually get pretty depressed after I drink hard liquor so I tend to stay away.  A drink or two isn't too bad, but an afternoon of imbibing at a Mexican restaurant on Sunday really did me in.  It is now 72 hours (and a good workout) later, and I'm still feeling it.  Not physically of course, but the anxiety is ridiculous. I've taken on some new responsibilities at work too.  And while it's a great opportunity and I'm learning a lot, taking on a new endeavor often causes stress.  Plus, the timing couldn't really be worse.  I've managed to get it all done, but only with a few extra hours and definitely some sweating. 

So it's time to get out of my funk and have a good time.  Snap out of it.  Get my stuff done.  I had a relaxing weekend of waking up late, meandering around Bed Bath & Beyond and catching up with friends.  And starting tomorrow, I get to spend some much-needed time with my favorite people whom I've known for well over a decade now.  Part of me wishes I were going to Chicago instead, but I know we'll have a better time here going to the beach, cooking and enjoying some of my favorite LA summer activities. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Halfway Done!!!!!

It feels like just yesterday I met all these new people and gave up a huge part of my life to go back to school while continuing to work full time.  The last twelve months have totally flown by; heck the last semester has come and gone in a blink of an eye.  But honestly, I hardly recognize the girl I was last summer. 

I took my last final of the semester on Thursday and I really killed it.  I've been struggling through my finance class for the last fourteen weeks, but I knew at some point the light would come on.  A lot like my economics midterm and accounting final, an honest to goodness weekend of studying makes all the difference.  I wish I had really put in the effort throughout the entire semester, but I'm glad I finally connected the dots. 

There's a certain sense of accomplishment when you manage to do something you never thought you could.  School is a lot like running.  You have your ups and down, good days and bad.  Before it begins, you're totally freaked out, but as the days and weeks progress, you seem to get the hang of it.  There are speed bumps - bad quizzes, shortened runs, injuries.  But in the end, it all comes together.  And you always manage to finish, for better or worse. 

As I drove home from campus (ok, so I drove home from the W Hotel where a group of us had a few drinks), I had a rush of mixed emotions.  I am very proud of myself for a number of reasons.  But there was a certain sense of loneliness knowing that there was no chilled bottle of wine, no hug, no flowers and no dinner waiting for me when I walked into that apartment. Days like today I love living alone, when I can eat cheese and tomatoes on the couch, watch a chic flick and iron my new shower curtain.  But there are moments during this whole journey I wish I had someone to share it with. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I forgot about this.  I forgot how hard these weekends are.  Sundays aren't particularly fun around here, but today's been particularly difficult.  It's finals week again and I've been procrastinating all day by ironing, cooking and feeling sorry for myself.  Our marketing paper and presentation are due Wednesday and I have a daunting 20 chapter finance final on Thursday.  Guess who's gonna need a stiff drink with her girl friends Friday night?!  Guess who really needs a hug right now?!

Even when I had a roommate, this wasn't easy. Being forced to do something alone (studying for finance and writing a presentation) for an extended period of time is frustrating.  It's been so great to have a particular marketing classmate around this semester; I never had to study or write alone.  He was always just a call/text/BBM/email away and I knew that he was in just as much pain (if not more) than me.  He made me smile.  Hopefully we'll have another class or two together next year, but my window of opportunity for spending this much time with him is pretty much over.  So while I'm excited to officially be halfway done with my MBA, the end of this particular semester is a tad bittersweet.

Last semester at this time I had just ended all contact with the roadie.  I feel like I'm in a constant state of transition.  From one relationship to another, one semester to the next... I've never had consistency in my life and I don't know that I would know what to do with it if it smacked me in the face.  I'm in a much better place this semester and part of me is actually looking forward to the fall, but I'm mourning the passing of time as much as anything else.

The good news is that some things are falling into place.  I need to remember that things do really happen when they're meant to and are never what we expect.  I've said it before, but the more I try to control the universe around me, the more miserable I am and the more miserable I make everyone around me.  Letting go of some things is hard, but it's key.  Taking it all one day at a time would prove to be better for my mental health I'm sure. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Overly Tired

I am physically and mentally exhausted.  I am getting about six hours of sleep a night and still not getting as much studying done as I need to.  Between the gym, errands, laundry, and writing our group marketing plan on top of going to school, keeping up with my friends and working full time, I need a few more hours in the day.  I don't know if it is the lack of sleep, homesickness or my hormones gone haywire, but my eyes got a little watery this morning as I put together a tour package. 

It does, however, seem to be in the water around here.  Shaum is completely overwhelmed with MBA applications (I would be too if I were applying to four of the top ten schools in the nation) and AJ is apartment hunting with his girlfriend.  None of us know where we'll be in a year and that's daunting in and of itself.  Add to that some everyday stressors and an existential crisis and we've got a winning combination. 

The good news is that I can get things done when I sit down and concentrate.  I got really far on our marketing plan when I put on my iPod, tuned out the world, and wrote.  Hopefully I will be able to do the same thing for finance this weekend.  I need to be able to price bonds and learn the difference between NPV and IRR.  I also have birthday parties to go to and launrty to do, but I guess that's all secondary at this very moment in time.  School is most definitely the priority.

But again, it's a bit bittersweet.  I met some amazing people this time around (one in particular, whom I won't have classes with next semester) and I hate to see another chapter in life end.  I need to continue to remember that things not only happen for a reason, but they happen when they're meant to.  This summer held a lot of deadlines for me and they're getting too close for comfort.  I promised myself that I would enjoy what may very well be my last LA summer.  That I would start really looking for jobs next semester (super scary!) and that I would get it all together in order to make my next transition in life that much more smooth. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Finals Countdown

I need to get on the productivity train.  I'm been having a hard time keeping motivated lately and have managed to spend too much time moping, hanging out with friends, and strategizing as opposed to getting down to work.  I spent most of my waking hours this weekend procrastinating and vacillating between being totally stressed out and completely relaxed.  But really, that's pretty normal around these parts. 

I'm having a serious case of writer's block with regards to our group marketing plan and it doesn't help that the rest of my team seems pretty unmotivated and unconcerned with how the final paper is going to turn out.  I know I'm working with smart guys, but being the only female in the group and still needing to study A LOT for finance, I'm a bit worried that it's going to get down to the wire.  I think I've made a valiant effort at trying to get everyone on the same page, but I can't honestly get on my teammates when I'm having a hard time putting the words on paper.  I can blog, but I'm coming up short for marketing.  Of course. 

They say that group/team work is a really important part of business school but I never believed it.  If given the choice, I tend to do things by myself.  I have a hard time with teamwork because I like to be in control and do things in my own way and according to my own schedule.  I don't write in a linear fashion and I find that I'm best under pressure; I conquer projects one bit at a time, rarely in order. But in almost every class there has been some form of teamwork.  This marketing class and my quantitative analysis class, however, have been the most team intensive.  Quant was my first class at Pepperdine and meeting with my group almost every weekend became incredibly draining.  It did, however, teach me how to work with different personalities.  I found myself taking on more than my share of responsibilities, but it was a learning experience.  This marketing group has been different in that I'm working with four guys so there's that whole dynamic.  But besides teaching me how to work cooperatively, I've made great friends.  I never thought I'd say this, but part of me is sad to see the end of this semester. 

We had a review session Friday night for our finance final exam and I finally feel like I'm putting the pieces together.  I've become more comfortable with the concepts from the earlier chapters and have been able to spend more time on these last chapters.  I'm definitely not going to ace this exam, but if I manage to put my nose to the grind here, I might be able to pull off a respectable grade.  I have to. 

I also went out to dinner and drinks with some of the guys from my class afterward.  And that, in fact, is what business school is all about.  In the end, its about the connections we make.  As Tony would say, "networking" sounds so trite.  It connotes that we're using each other for something, rather than making new friends and learning about one another.  It ended up being a group of people whom I don't know really well, and some of their friends.  It was a lot of fun, the company was great, and we bonded in a way we can't in a classroom.  Considering I don't get along so well with some of the people from my the earlier semesters, it felt good to make new business school friends.  Or any friends, really. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Up Oprah?!

The past six days have been extraordinary.  I took off work last Friday to go camping with eight of my friends up by Lake Arrowhead.  For me, the best part of the trip were the car rides with Gina.  G is in commercial real estate, starting her MBA program at Pepperdine next month, and is an all around spectacular human.  We got to talk for hours and really bonded.  I mean, I adore this girl (and her ridiculous cooking skills - I have a lot to learn fro her).  The rest of the time was spent relaxing, napping, drinking, eating and laughing at each other.  Despite being sweaty and dirty, it was a great way to spend 48 hours.

And the shower I took when I got home?! I don't mean to gross you out, but I had to clean the bathroom when I was done.  There was scrubbing involved.  Both on me and the tub.  We got home early enough on Sunday that I could do laundry, iron, grocery shop and nap before heading back to the office for what I expected to be a long and brutal week.

HA!  While the brokers were away in San Francisco, I got to take Tuesday off.  I had every intention of staying home with my finance textbook and getting through some killer material.  But we know how this story ends because its summer, I live in LA and I'm a bit of a tan slore. 

So Tuesday morning I putzed around the house like only I can, hung out by the pool with Gina, and then took her school supply shopping.  I mean, that's pretty much my idea of a spectacular day no matter how you slice it.  Add to that a completely blissed-out afternoon/evening/night of eating, cuddling, and laying under the setting sun and I'm completely worthless. 

Now it's time to get my head out of the clouds and get to work.  I have two weeks to conquer 20 chapters of finance, write a group marketing plan and give a presentation. All I really want to do is go to Dodgers games, lap up the sun and enjoy the last few weeks I still have an "excuse" to hang out with my bschool peeps from this semester.  Failure is not an option.  And I'm not close to failing.  I'm just not doing as well as I would like, especially given that I'm in a finance class and that's what I should really be excelling at. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Decisions Decisions

Business school has been wrought with tough choices.  But I guess that's just a part of growing up.  A part of life, really.  Our decisions shape who we are, what we do and who we become.  Some are automatic and require little thought, while others are life-altering and require insight and patience to process.  Good thing most decisions in life are closer to the former!

Tomorrow morning I will register for classes for my fourth semester of business school.  WHAT?!  I'm definitely having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I will have my MBA in a year.  My life will hopefully look very little like what it looks like now.  And of course this is both scary and exciting.  Kinda like how I felt a year ago. 

For the first three semesters, the choice of which classes to sign up for was more a matter of logistics than anything else.  I knew which classes I had to take and in what sequence, so it was more about the professors I wanted and the nights I was available.  That certainly isn't the case anymore.

Going into business school, I knew that I wanted to concentrate in finance.  I always regretted not taking finance classes in undergrad so this was the perfect opportunity.  Really, the impetus for the whole thing.  Unfortunately, the professor for my core finance class hasn't been great.  Intuitively, I understand what is going on in class.  But I'm having a bit of trouble connecting the dots.  I've also been more distracted than usual this semester and haven't really put in the necessary time. 

There's a great professor who teaches an entrepreneurial elective next semester that I'm dying to take.  Its about venture capital and start-ups and that's really the part of finance that interests me.  Due to the strict restrictions of the my concentration, however, it's not possible to take this class and still graduate with the necessary finance credits.  While part of me really wants to forget about the concentration and focus on the classes that I'll enjoy, this time around I think I know better.  If I want to get a real venture capital, private equity or investment banking job, I need to have this credential. 

As much as business school is about making connections, friends and personal development, it's about getting a job.  And learning.  While I bemoan bad, boring teachers and would prefer to learn about things I'm personally interested in (and take this entrepreneurial class with my friends), I know I need to "suck it up".  While I'm not thrilled to take this next finance elective, hopefully it will be better than the finance class I'm currently struggling through. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Honesty and Expectations

In my never-ending quest to control everything, I get all kinds of uptight.  I try to will things to go a certain way and get upset when they don't.  I over analyze and process and plan.  And I rarely just let things happen.  This is particularly true when it comes to men.  I often attempt to make nothing into something, disregard the somethings, and forget how to go with the flow.

At the end of last year I became involved with a man who was completely outside of my comfort zone.  From his past to his friends to his age and choice of profession, I had never met anyone quite like him.  I couldn't put him in a box or identify how I felt about him in a romantic sense.  We had a connection, but it never made sense.  To either of us.  At first I pushed him away.  But as soon as I became emotionally involved and started to have expectations, he bolted. 

Shocking, right?! It's actually quite a cliche.  And one I'm becoming all too familiar with as I find myself attracted to a certain kind of man in LA: charismatic, brilliant, a bit eccentric, and completely aloof.  So I did the only thing I could; I let things cool off. 

After three months, he and I have been back in contact and yesterday we decided to get together to catch up.  And it was one of the most honest and fun days I've had in a long time.  Because I had no more expectations and I wasn't trying to get him to see me in a certain way, we could completely be ourselves.  I remembered why I liked and admired him and how much he made me laugh when I could let myself go and be silly.  Perhaps it was because I just needed to have someone's complete attention for an afternoon while we played bocce ball and caught some rays on the back porch. 

We talked a lot about his motivation to continue to write and work and he helped me to see that I'm more than what I do and what I study.  The circumstances under which we met were curious, but maybe we were brought into each others lives for reasons it took seven months to discover.  Perhaps we're all more alike than we like to lead on. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

4th of July

I love holidays.  You've heard me get all worked up about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even Easter.  Wait, wait.  I need to amend this.  I don't love all holidays and I don't love them like Martha Stewart loves them.  I couldn't care less about decorating my house with Easter eggs, American flags or skeletons.  I think it's more about the passing of the seasons for me.  Halloween just isn't my thing and St. Patty's Days are usually less than exciting.  But the Fourth of July really gets me going. 

I suppose the reason I love the holidays I do are because they bring back good memories.  There's absolutely nothing like spending a warm Michigan weekend boating, drinking, napping, and laughing on the lake with family and friends and then watching all the neighbors' illegal fireworks go off as the temperature drops and the sunburn kicks in.  Now I haven't done this since the summer after I graduated from college, but I've had a few great Fouths in LA too.  One year we saw Kenny Loggins at the Hollywood Bowl and more recently I've gotten into the habit of spending the day at the beach with friends and then barbecuing and watching the fireworks off the pier.

Unlike most years, or most weekends for that matter, I don't have any set plans this time around.  Fortunately, the majority of my friends live near the beach so I'm pretty sure I'll end up sunbathing and catching the fireworks from someones roof.  Fireworks have a special place in my heart.  Whether it's on the lake, at a baseball game, at the country club or off the pier, I find them to be completely mesmerizing, astounding and romantic. 

The difficult thing about this weekend, though it has nothing to do with the Fourth of July, is that my friends fall into two categories: crazy, single and chasing 21 year-old boys and coupled-off and boring.  Where exactly does that leave me? In general, I'm pretty low-key.  I tend not to drink in excess (anymore) but I like to have a good time (I am single and in my late-twenties, after all).  I love outdoor activities and being social, but I have no intention - at least premeditated - of getting too wild or even staying in. It's definitely my goal for the holiday weekend to have a wonderful and memorable time, but to be productive and mellow as well. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting Ahead of Ourselves

For the past few months, a newlywed coworker of mine has been looking at houses.  Living in their overstuffed (but fabulous) one-bedroom is putting a strain on the relationship between her and her husband.  They both work long hours and I have a feeling she's looking for something new to get excited about.  A few weeks ago she and her realtor found a steal.  It was priced low for the neighborhood, had a huge back yard and was seemingly everything she was looking for.  She had even envisioned the little garden she could spend the summer building out back. 

Unfortunately, it was such a great deal that she was outbid with all-cash offers from investors.  She was definitely disappointed and had to jump back in to the house hunt that much more disheartened.  At lunch that week, one of our brokers commented that she should refrain from envisioning new gardens, window treatments, etc. until an offer is accepted on a house.  To which I replied: we're women, it's what we do. 

And I firmly believe that life would be no fun at all if we weren't allowed to get a little ahead of ourselves.  We'd have no hopes or dreams if we couldn't picture ourselves in an idealized world.  Reality isn't always fun, but anticipating the future and daydreaming is.  It gives us direction and sometimes even clarifies our purpose.  Now, I'm saying this because sometimes I think I do it too much.

Obviously I spend a lot of time thinking about, working on, and being at school.  I'm spending a ton of money and energy on my MBA and to get me through it I picture what I will be able to do when I'm done.  The kind of life I will live, job I will have... even the feeling of accomplishment after it's all done.  As I try to decide what kind of jobs I want or even what city I eventually want to live in, I need to picture what I think or want the rest of my life to look like. 

There is a school of thought that says you need to envision things to make them happen.  Isn't that was 'The Secret' is all about?  We all make things happen in our lives and having a powerful vision is no small part one's ability to conquer a problem, take a risk, make a leap of faith, create something new and be great.  After all, you can't do something if you can't see it happening.

Sometimes I have a tendency to jump in with too much enthusiasm.  I picture something I like and go for it.  And often I get hurt.  I'm getting increasingly better at dusting myself off and trying again, but sometimes I feel like those around me become frustrated on my behalf.  This is particularly true when it comes to relationships.  I'm easily excited and enthusiastic.  Part of me thinks that I can will most things to happen, while another (more rational) part thinks that I should chill out.  But what fun is life when you can't allow yourself to go after what you really want, in all aspects of your life. 

Monday, June 21, 2010


Being single forces one to be introspective to a certain degree.  I'm forced to listen to myself, count on myself, and figure out what I like and want to do.  And if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: I'm happiest when I'm active.  After three half-marathons in less than a year and a half, starting school, getting a new job, and moving, I was a bit burnt out.  OK, I was a lot burnt out.  I spent some very unnecessary energy on boys who weren't worth my time and who didn't understand me at all.  I used school as an excuse to not go out with my friends (something I'm still working on) and my eating/sleeping/exercise habits were practically non-existent. 

This blog serves a few purposes for me, and one of them is that it is a chance to consciously reflect on what I'm feeling and doing over a period of time.  Seven months ago, my blog was all about how amazing I felt after a nine-mile run.  And I miss that feeling.  The last time I had that much adrenaline pumping through me was January when I finished my fastest half-marathon and then immediately started my second semester of business school. 

My moods were so dramatic and unpleasant the beginning of the year that I was seriously contemplating seeing a therapist.  I was in a funk I both couldn't shake and couldn't pinpoint.  School was going well, I was in a new relationship and I was finally living alone again.  Sure, some friendships had evolved and had even been lost, but my misery was beyond all that.  It got to a point where I didn't even want to be around me, and that's never a good sign.

So I got in the car and took a drive.  Actually, I just sat in my car in the driveway.  I don't know why this works, but let me tell you that it does.  Even when my parents were getting a divorce my mom would go for a drive.  Drive up to the cabin, be alone, drive around the block.  It's cathartic.  Cleansing.  Anyhow, I came up with a solution that I thought would be both more productive and less expensive than full on therapy.  Exercise!

Now, I'm no gym rat.  I have a pair of what I think are ridiculously expensive yoga pants I bought with a little discretionary bonus the other day, but I wouldn't dare wear them to do the gym; I live in them around the house and wear them to the grocery store (which, by the way, I haven't been to in weeks).  I wear oversize t-shirts, my favorite running shorts, a headband and my training shoes.  The new gym is four times as expensive as the old one, but I actually go.  In fact, the financial burden alone is enough to make me go three times a week. 

And guess what? I'm happier.  I don't always want to go for a run after work, but I do it.  The gym is in my building and it's too easy just to walk up the stairs, put on my clothes, and hop on the treadmill or elliptical.  I even got back in to spinning, which is hard, but fun.  The showers are clean and relaxing, it is never packed in the early evenings or weekend morning, and I'm not intimidated by all the beautiful people.  In the six weeks I've been going, I feel a difference.  Both in my body and in the way I feel mentally.  I feel strong again.  And when I feel physically strong I remember that I am mentally strong.   

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Struggle

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I'm going to let you know right here that I just looove to make myself miserable.  I gravitate toward things I'm bad at.  Running, for example.  This body wasn't built to run, but I finished three half marathons, two 10ks and a mud run in less than two years.  Golf too.  I have terrible hand-eye coordination, but I love golf.  I even watch it on TV.  I gave up playing years ago but I always enjoyed meandering a beautiful 18 holes on a sunny day. 

Finance and business school is no different, really.  If I were to gravitate toward things I had a natural ability for, I would take courses in communication and economics.  But part of me feels that defeats the purpose.  I'm not all about taking the hardest professors, but I made the decision to complete an MBA in order to learn new things.  Things I was too intimidated during undergrad to overcome. 

Welcome to finance.  I've never been super strong in math.  I understand the concepts, but I don't particularly enjoy it so I don't spend my free time studying it.  But hey, I did really well in accounting last semester and in the fall I barreled through with a very respectable grade in quantitative analysis somehow. 

And I'm a smart girl.  In theory.  I knocked the GMAT verbal section out of the ballpark, but was less than thrilled with the math section.  It's just not my strong suit, I tell ya.  But I'm going to bschool to get a job in finance.  I get numbers. When I have time to think about it and put all the pieces together.  I like finance.  I want to know more about it.  I want to learn.  My problem right now is connecting the dots.  I understand what the professor is saying in class, but I don't take the time every weekend to go through the practice problems.  We're on chapter 13, and I haven't connected the processes yet.  Time to buckle down.  Failure isn't an option.  Not this time around. Not on my dime. 

Too add to my frustration, my marketing class has been a huge time suck.  Two hour group meetings every weekend, reading and studying for quizzes every other week, case write-ups, project research... And it wouldn't be so bad if I felt like it was going to culminate into something worthwhile.  Instead, I'm killing hours of my time with something that a) I don't care about and b) isn't amounting to anything significant.  My grade in that class is completely subjective and even though we're going into week seven, I'm convinced the professor still doesn't know my name.  How does that even happen?  Especially when I've met with him outside of class and I participate weekly. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Boys.  Men.  Guys.  Whatever.  I'm surrounded by them all the time. I have two little brothers, a dad, my mother's husband, and at least three guy friends I consider amongst my closest.  And then there's the office where us females are very obviously outnumbered.  Commercial real estate, and brokerage in general, is very alpha-male dominated.  A bunch of former professional, Olympic and college athletes.  And me. 

Going in to business school, I knew that as a female I would be in the minority.  But like I said, I'm fairly used to it.  I thought (and still think to a certain extent) that being a female in a man's world has its distinct advantages.  For better or worse, I'm noticed because I'm just not expected.  The differential between men and women in both business school and the business world in general is getting smaller.  But especially at the C-level, women are still underrepresented. 

When I first started working with a structured commercial real estate team, I noticed right away that a woman's voice was missing.  In the process of securing business, negotiating contracts and following up with leases, my team lacked the sense of process, logic and relating that women seem to inherently have.  Now some men, especially in such a cut-throat atmosphere like brokerage, don't like working with women.  But that's only a reflection of their own insecurities.  Not to draw on stereotypes, but women offer a different perspective. Having a woman on your team is a problem-solving technique, pure and simple.

In the last few months, it has become increasingly obvious that I relate to men differently than most women.  I'm a fairly typical female in that I wear skirts, put on makeup, get nervous around cute boys and talk on the phone.  Even though I don't like to shop (if I were good at it, that might be a different story), I'm super tidy, chat it up with the ladies at work and love chick flicks.  There's nothing about me that screams "she's one of the boys". 

But more than once, I've found myself surrounded by a table full of men.  One will say something slightly inappropriate for mixed company and immediate ask for forgiveness because he only then realizes I was listening.  Inevitably, another one will pipe up and add that "Carolyn's cool".  Or "she can hang".  And I am and I can.  And I want to. I have a strong personality.  And a foul mouth.  And sarcastic humor, a big laugh and I can talk about cars.  I like to drink beer, go to baseball games and watch golf.  Heck, I once went to an Angel's game and sat in the VIP seats while wearing a pencil skirt and heels.  I didn't think twice about it.  There were plenty of men around still in their suits who obviously came straight from the office.  Why was I getting funny looks?

Because I look and act fairly femine, I never thought twice about it.  Only recently have I begun to notice whom I'm attracted to in social situations.  I have a close set of girlfriends.  I'm close to my mom.  I like pearls, cardigans and the color pink.  But put me in a classroom setting and I'm in the corner with all the boys.