Monday, December 16, 2013

That Time I Decided to go to Graduate School: The First Semester

It's unbelievable to me that 4 months have gone by. Four months of classes every Monday and Wednesday, of team meetings, homework, social events, new friends, new stress. I finished a take-home final exam for my other class on Sunday night.
I guess you are wondering how it went? I'll use one word to summarize: fine. I am still so excited about this opportunity and recognize how fortunate I am. I also owe myself some credit; I worked really, really hard to get here. I am proud of myself, and continue to be shocked and amazed at what I manage to accomplish in a day, a week, a few months. Sometimes it's hard to remember, and usually I doubt myself, but look at where I am now!

I thought the hardest part about starting school was going to be actually getting out of my office and going to class, and then staying awake for 2.5 hours while someone lectured. How wrong I was.... that's hands down the easiest part. The hardest part is preparing for class. Reading the materials in advance, studying the case, taking notes. I'm not talking about flipping through 30 pages of material 15 minutes before class starts. I'm talking the hours spent reading, analyzing, and figuring out what it all means. That is hard.
This semester we took 2 classes: Data & Decision Analysis and Marketing Management. We also have a 1-credit project based class that extends through each semester of our first year. Marketing was great, relevant, and relatable. DDA was miserable for me. I couldn't figure out what it meant, how it applied to me, or how I would ever use it in my job. The 1-credit class (Management Practice) was basically a consulting project and an insane amount of work.
So what's next? A couple of weeks off, and then we're back in action on January 7. It's really not enough time off if you ask me. Next semester is going to be even more challenging for me. Operations, Accounting, and Finance, plus Management Practice. I'm hoping that something speaks to me in at least one of those classes, because right now the only positive will be when the semester ends. Speaking of, we're done at the end of April, and then summer semester starts mid-May. We do have a spring break, but I'm sure it will be largely spent on that pesky 1-credit class. Or at least I hope it will, I don't want to put anything off. Playing catch up while working full-time is not easy, and I have a feeling my travel schedule next year is only going to increase, not decrease. Plus we're already planning #kanda2014, a return trip to Iceland, and possibly a long weekend in Italy. Lifestyles of the poor and infamous? :)
In general, I'm feeling good. I am still slowly making friends. It makes me smile when I see sub-groups of people doing fun things together, even if I'm not invited. I continue to receive accolades at work, I'm excited about what I'm doing at school, and somehow my personal life hasn't taken that big of a hit.

I'm looking forward to the next couple of semesters, continued friendships, maybe even some budding romances! Stay tuned.... going to graduate school is a decision I make every. single. day! :)

image 1 2 (source: don't know)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Today, she would have been 89

My dad called me on the morning of October 23 to tell me the news I have been hoping I wouldn't hear for a much longer time. My grandmother had passed away in the middle of the night. The next 24 hours were a blur of work, tears, travel, and family. I feel so fortunate that all 4 of us were able to jump on planes almost immediately. It really solidified how many wonderful people I have in my life that were willing to step up, take over, and let me completely disconnect for a few days to spend time with my sweet, sweet family.

We flew the next day, and that Thursday night, we tried to forget why we were all together. The 5 oldest grandchildren, her 2 daughters and their husbands had a smashing time together. Laughing, telling stories, and just enjoying each other's company. At one point I teared up, turned to my oldest cousin and said "she'd be so mad, but she's so happy." "Not until tomorrow Kathryn. Tonight is for celebrating. But you're right." And then we got rip-roaring drunk and neglected to eat dinner, but it was so, so, SO worth it. Family time is the best, even under the worst circumstances. 
The next few days were hard. I sat in a corner for the first 45 minutes of her wake. My stubborn cuss of a grandmother didn't give any of us the chance to say goodbye. But in that time, I realized maybe that's okay. I've realized that she's actually always there. She's laughing as I send ridiculous text messages to cute boys. She was watching and shaking her head while my cousins and I drank ourselves quite stupid. She's holding grandpa's hand and walking on the beach, picking up shells and having picnics. She's writing love letters and thank you cards and cooking in her kitchen high in the sky. I am sure she is passing along a disapproving stare, thinking about how proud she is of her 9 successful, driven, determined, dedicated grandchildren, and missing her pup.
I didn't realize I would miss her this much, miss her voice and the way she cut off all of our conversations and how she'd spend hours doing arts and crafts with her granddaughters and her lemon cookies and climbing the sand dunes and every other memory. But what makes me tear up the most, what has brought me to tears late at night under my covers is how happy I think she is. Her heart hurt so terribly before she died, and I just know that she's happy again. Her suffering ended, and I really and truly think that when she walked through the pearly gates of wherever she went, my grandpa and my uncle were there to greet her, and I can just imagine that instead of saying hello, she spit out some sassy comment and hasn't stopped.

I miss you, Gram. Keep watch over all of us, and let me know you're there every now and then. See you when I see you. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I challenged my family to a Christmas Day 5k

The rules are there are no rules. Everybody has to participate, everybody has to finish, but there are no winners and no losers. Some will walk, some will run, some will train and some will not. I am going to have sweet prizes for everyone who finishes.
I needed a little oomph going into this holiday season, and a reason to get back on the wagon, if you will. I can eat and drink as much as I want when I'm doing cardio exercise regularly, which might explain the extra cushion I've inherited in the last 5 months, as I'm pretty sure the last time I found myself in a gym was about that long ago. #brokenfoot #notagoodexcuse
So, that's that. Our 5k is just for our little family, although if any of you find yourselves near Lake Hartwell on Christmas Day, you should by all means join us. We're a pretty fun bunch!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The City of LOVE

For the second year in a row, I spent the last weekend in October in Philadelphia. One of my best friends from work is in his 2nd year at Penn, and another one just started, so I was able to see 2 of my favorite people in 1 weekend. We celebrated Halloween dressed as a cookie (with a mouse counter-part a la if you give a mouse a cookie), a Wal-Mart employee, and a minion (with many other minion counterparts). We started the night catching up and reminiscing while getting ready, went to another friends apartment for a little pre-party, and then scurried off to the big party. 1,000+ MBA students in a large club... crazy things can happen. We found ourselves in the middle of the dance floor yelling and screaming and jumping and dancing and singing along. I had yellow smiley face stickers with me due to my costume, and successfully "stuck" everyone around me. In fact, people were coming up to me and ASKING for stickers. My costume was a complete and total success, and I'd highly recommend. Vest purchased here, stickers purchased here. I wore a sparkly white Old Navy t-shirt and a pair of shorts, plus my favorite boots. Comfortable, a little revealing but nothing skanky, and creative. Checks all 3 of the boxes for a Happy Halloween!

I woke up on Friday and knew my friends had schoolwork and other commitments, so planned to spend the day with my girlfriend who flew in from London. We met up for lunch and paraded around Philadelphia. We took each other's pictures in front of the LOVE landmark, had way too much fun viewing the Liberty Bell, poked around on the country's oldest street, and then deemed ourselves tourist-ed out and plopped down at Khyber Pass Pub on 2nd Street for a couple afternoon cocktails. I had taken the day off work, and usually taking 1 day off means not really taking a day off at all. This time, though, I didn't check or respond to emails, I didn't take phone calls, I enjoyed a true vacation day. Let's be clear, I certainly paid for it later, but at the time it was worth it to be completely present with a delightful friend. At the end of our afternoon, another friend picked us up on her way home and we headed over to their absolutely gorgeous loft in Fishtown. I gotta tell you, the more I hear and see of Philadelphia, the more I love it. In part because it's completely different from Atlanta and the south, and in part because so many people that I love live there.
Friday night I found myself back with my work friends for a family dinner and the most entertaining game of Cards Against Humanity. We stayed up far later than we should have laughing until we were crying, rolling on the floor because our stomachs hurt from the belly laughs the game brought on. It was the best medicine I could have imagined, being completely uninhibited with friends who take me for what I am, love me no matter what, and push me to be the best person I can be.
Saturday morning we woke up late and lazed around. Anna had to go in to work, Andrew had a paper to write, David & Ali had beer games to attend, and I had a brunch to be gettin' to! The girls all met at Honey's where we gabbed, ate, spilled coffee... all the things you'd expect. After brunch we meandered over to Whole Foods to pick up the necessitites for a homecooked dinner, grabbed a fresh juice to make us feel like we were eating healthy, and decided to check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We spent a solid 2 hours in the museum looking at the art, nearly getting kicked out twice, laughing until our sides hurt, and just genuinely enjoying a Saturday afternoon with no plans, no places to be, no agenda... just being. It was glorious. We literally got kicked out of the museum at closing time, and of course no trip to Philadelphia is complete without a detour to the Rocky steps and statue. Somehow it didn't surprise me that there was a huge line waiting to get a picture in front of the statue, so we killed some time taking group pictures in front of the museum. It was the perfect time of night to capture our silly friendship.
It still blows my mind that I met these women on a soul-searching trip to Costa Rica, and they have somehow etched their ways into my life, into my every day. Sometimes you meet people and have a connection, but as soon as that event is over the connection fades. Not this time, and for that I am so thankful.
The trip continued on from there - another night in cooking dinner and spending time together. Another brunch with friends and old coworkers. Mani/pedis and shenanigans. Fried pickles on a plate. Moving my flight back 4 hours just to grab the last remains of the weekend. And a businss class upgrade on the trip home, on top of a weekend that already had more cherries-on-top than I could have imagined. It's weekends like this, both home and away, that remind me of all the goodness in my life.
This fall has been tremendously challenging. Going back to school, traveling way too much, losing my grandma, weddings, birthdays, work overload, and so many other things. Sometimes, all it takes is a word, or a picture, or a memory, to remember that every single minute is worth it because I love what I am doing, I love the life I am so privileged to live, and I chose it. I chose where I am, who I am, and who I'm doing life with and I have pretty darn good taste. <3 p="">