Thursday, December 22, 2011

Office Cheer

It's a funny thing… office holiday cheer, also known as sweets, treats and sugar. Sometimes I think I would have a "healthier" day if I just worked from home. Early this week, I managed to spend an entire day walking by the cinnamon-sugar pound cake and didn't have even a bite. That said, it was half demolished by 11a. For the last three days, someone has so graciously brought in donuts. That's another treat that while they smell good, I feel horrible after eating them, like a rock just hit my abdomen.

We work in a cube environment and each cube has a bit of storage space with a flat top. You're not supposed to put anything on the top, however treats or other miscellaneous food items seem to be the exception to the rule. Maybe the thought is that these items won't be there long enough for anyone to be scolded. On one of the nearby storage tops was a set of brownies this morning. They looked homemade, so I asked who made them and took one as a morning snack (I was missing my 10a snack after all). I thanked the baker via IM and was promptly informed that she baked the brownies at 5:30a. WOW! Frankly, I'd rather be sleeping. To her, she was just spreading the holiday cheer.

While the office always seems to have goodies that magically appear, lately it has been far worse than normal. I can't quite figure out if people want to share the holiday spirit or if they feel less guilty when someone else indulges with them. Working in health has made me incredibly jaded about the decisions individuals consciously make. In a country that has an obesity rate around 30%, I shouldn't be surprised by all sugar filled snacks. I am one of those people with a bad sweet tooth. I just choose to indulge in moderation and hope that you think about doing the same the next time the office fills with free food. And if I don't indulge in moderation, I really should be running an extra couple miles at the gym. Maybe today is worth 3 mi. ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thoughts on the End of a Chapter

I wrote this in October. It seems I never finished it or posted it.

Some moments, I breathe with ease. Other moments, I struggle to keep the wells at bay. It's hard to comprehend how we got here. Divorce. You would think at an age of understanding that this would be easier. I find myself over thinking the actions and reactions of the two "adults" that I call mom and dad. It is weird to think that now there may be a negotiation on where Christmas is held. Not to mention that while I myself am not married yet, I already feel like my family has doubled in size. And with that, so have the obligations. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Dress Day

I walked into the store at 9a sharp, my mother by my side. Awaiting my arrival was my friend B and my future mother-in-law. I didn't know exactly what to expect. There were plenty of gowns and two trunk shows to boot. That day was to be the day I bought my wedding dress.

Our hostess showed us to a plush dressing room to drop our items. Then she and the four of us went to the main room where the Rivini Trunk show was setup. We started grabbing gowns. and moved from designer to designer until it was finally time to try on the gowns. The gowns varied from Cinderella fancy (and a hefty price tag) to sleek body hugging trumpet gowns. Of course, they all hug as most of them are made for people two sizes smaller than I am. I was just thankful that the gowns fit over my hips without having to go over the head.

I put on the first gown. I'm not sure exactly what I thought I would think or feel. I suppose the entire moment was anti-climactic. I looked in the mirror at a dress, that just happened to be white. And frankly, did not look very good on me. With that, the dress was off and we moved on. Towards the end of the first batch, we found a dress that everyone, including me, loved. From there, trying on dresses went into hyper speed and became much easier. Now we had a comparison. Was each subsequent dress better than "the one"? Turns out, 15 + dresses later, the answer was still no. We even ventured to the sister store, Vera Wang, where the second trunk show was being held. Pretty, but not "me". I'm not exactly sure with what I would have ended up if my friends and family hadn't been there. Mom was actually the one who picked out the gown for me.

After three hours at the bridal boutique, I walked out knowing which dress I will wear on my wedding day. I only have to wait 6 months until it is available for me to take home and alter. Afterwards, the ladies and I went to review bridesmaid dresses – LOVE LulaKate. We even decided on a slightly different color than what I had been thinking.

Very successful day! Another checkmark has been added to the list.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Open Enrollment

Whether or not you work there, they call it the pink palace. It's the company's corporate headquarters. The sales offices have a very different feeling and today I experienced the exact opposite of the pink palace, the front line. January 1 is an insurance carriers busiest time of year. Approximately half of your business is made January 1. If that day is not successful, it's next to impossible to recover. 

\With a combination of luck and skill, the Illinois market has been rocking and rolling for January 1. However, there are a finite number of people in the sales department, so I was asked to help with a handful of benefit fairs. This is the place where potential members learn about their options. While I focus on insurance, others may focus on banking, 401Ks, and even Sams Club memberships. A little rusty when I started, by the end I felt like I was back in business school, working on my 30 second pitch. With each encounter, there's a finite number of seconds where someone will listen to you. In those seconds, you need to peak their interest so that they consider the product you're proposing. To a certain extent, the product sold itself. Yet, every so often, I'd get a few tough questions and would have to tell someone directly that the product may not be right for them.

My conversations with the potential members reinforced my thoughts that most people don't understand their healthcare benefits. I don't blame the individuals, I blame the system. The system is quite complicated. Even I, who has a producer's license in life and health insurance, occasionally have difficulty understanding benefits. While I was not happy to be so far from home, it was great to know that I could answer the many questions I received and help people understand the benefits that they are going to be offered this year. The experience gives me even more prospective on the business. Humana Resources and senior leaders may decide which benefits an employee group receives, but then the employees need to understand what benefits fit them. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Remote Working

Over the weekend of Sept 23rd, yet another friend got married. This time in Connecticut and on a Friday. While I understand the reason people choose Friday weddings, I will be the first one to say that they do bother me. I had asked for the day off, but given that my fiancé was working, I told my boss I could do some work too. What an experience!?!

On one hand, going downstairs to grab breakfast while not feeling that I needed to look overly presentable was quite nice. On the other hand, my computer, which is slow enough on the corporate network, was moving like a sloth while I worked with shared drives via VPN. Definitely painful. Not to mention that my VPN software was having problems so I spent a solid 2 hours in the morning simply trying to get my computer to work. Thank goodness one of my colleagues is also a friend. Otherwise, I surely would have missed my 7:30a central meeting even though I had been up for at least 1.5 hours.

I do think the remote working gets +2 for the amazing Lebanese lunch that my fiancé and I had. Thank you Yelp and Google! It is funny how I rely on these sites so much and rarely contribute to their content. I need to get better! However, a big -5 for the time it took to do anything remotely productive. I can't imagine if I had to use SAS or SQL to pull data. I might as well give up.

The wedding was a blast and the day after I got to experience New Haven's Big Green Pizza Truck. It was delicious and I'd like to export their business plan to Chicago.. and maybe San Francisco.

Oh, Rankings

We all say rankings don’t matter. However, when your school shoots up a couple spaces, there’s a sense of pride. Top 10, top 15, even top 25, they’re all fantastic educations and incredible experiences. We learn a lot about various subject areas, but we also learn a lot about ourselves. We build relationships and networks that will last a lifetime. We also find a number of people with similar interests that are highly driven to be successful. Each person may have a different definition of success, though that does not mean any one person’s definition is better than another. There are so many different rankings these days and there is no shortage of those joining the bandwagon. Your most well-known are US News and Reports, Princeton Review, Financial Times and The Economist. While each methodology is different, I say evaluate rankings with a grain of salt and try to understand what they are actually communicating via their methodology. One ranking may focus on criteria that is mute to you.

That said, I feel the need to give Darden a big shout for its newest ranking (as I said, they may not matter, but we still feel pride).

Darden #4 on the Economist list!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Moments Like This

So many times I start posts in my head, only to have them fade as memories. I craft the first two to three lines that would then develop into a whole post. However, lately, I can't seem to take the moment to write. Half the time, I'm on the bus and can't be bothered with the small keyboard on my phone. The other half the time, I'm at work, which of course means everything is blocked. I understand the philosophy of why sites are blocked including privacy and security risks, but personally I have found that I don't get the release I need to refocus on work.

At Darden, I spent hours studying. Every so often I would hit a brick wall, take ten minutes to write a post and quickly return to studying, feeling refreshed. I don't typically classify myself as a stressed person. Recently, I've been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. It is a very exciting time in my life as I plan a wedding. Yet, my family life is crumbing before my eyes and I don't know what to make of it. I feel helpless on so many levels. It's awkward. It's frustrating. Everything I have known for the last 30 years (almost) has been turned on its head. Wedding planning, which should be exciting, adds to the frustration. I contemplate a wedding planner. Granted,  a wedding planner doesn't pick your gown and bridesmaids dresses, which seems to be the real struggle these days.

This past weekend we headed back to San Francisco for our engagement party. Slowly, we tried to curtail the questions by mentally preparing people. Of course, that doesn't ensure that sensitive topics don't arise. It's inevitable that someone mentions something. I'm hoping going forward that we can focus on the happiness of the moment. (And in exciting news, I think we found photographer!) We'll see.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

I cheated on Elle!

One thing guys may never understand about the fairer sex is our attachment to our hairdressers. I left the San Francisco area three years ago and since then, have not replaced nor cheated on Elle. Instead, I pay the price of a plane ticket, approximately every three months, just to get to the proximity of my beloved hairdresser. This does not include the price of a cut or color.

In the world of finance, it makes little sense. And I understand this as I do indeed still balance my checkbook (and did harass Bank of America when then accidentally shorted me $5 - it was the principle). However, Elle is not just anyone. I've known her since I was 17 years old and we've been good friends since. She's done hair for over 10 years and seeing I'm one of those people that seems to like drastic changes on a consistent basis (only when it comes to my hair - odd, yes), she has yet to steer me wrong. That said, every time I try a new stylist, I receive a new point of view on what I should do and sometimes that too is fun. I am fortunate to say that I have yet to have a "bad do."

When Elle said that she could not bestow her fabulousness on me prior to my engagement party on Saturday. I thought the hair could wait. Then I looked in the mirror (yes, we're all vain occasionally) and decided, it was time to try someone in Chicago. Groupon steered me towards J Gordon Designs. The irony, I didn't actually purchase the Groupon, I simply reviewed the salon on Yelp and called to see if they could put me. Plus, the salon is a measly block from my apartment. My stylist and I had a lot in common. My hair is darker than I anticipated, but it looks great. Not to mention, the checkbook is a little more full. We'll see if this becomes a habit.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Venue Search

Last weekend felt more like work than a holiday weekend. Saturday we left the house at 7a in order to arrive in St. Helena (Napa area) by 9a. Our appointments were back to back and by 2p we had visited six different venues. We took a breather at Starbucks and wandered through Union Square before our 5:30p appointment at the Merchants Exchange building in downtown San Francisco. I didn't know what to expect from the Julia Morgan Ballroom, but when I left, I knew I was in love. Both my fiance and I were excited about the venue, the coordinator and the ability to customize the space along with the food and alcohol. Not to mention, we were told we could party until dawn if we wanted! It was a vast contrast to the 11p final deadlines we saw in the Napa/Sonoma area.

Even though you think you find the "it". You still feel the need to make sure. We visited three very different venues on Sunday. Leal Vineyards, a beautiful winery that rivals many we saw in Napa, was the first stop. Stonepine Estates, which is a gorgeous estate with a lot of history was stop two. And finally, Pebble Beach, a breathtaking scene that could be enjoyed all night through the floor to ceiling glass windows of the reception venue, rounded out the day. By the end of the search, you learn what is important. Flexibility definitely weighed high. Easy access for out of town guests was another big consideration as at least 50% of our guest list resides outside the Bay Area. Beyond those two tangible items, I think the rest of it was feel. One of them just felt right. So right that we canceled our site visit on Monday. We were also exhausted.

While we haven't signed a contract, it looks like August 25, 2012 will be the big day. I'd say a successful weekend was had.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wedding Venue Shopping

Brazil has come and gone. It was a fantastic vacation and reminded me how much I miss Darden and the close proximity of so many friends. Since our return almost two weeks ago, we have tried to get serious. The wedding venue list needed to be narrowed for our visit to the Bay Area this coming Labor Day weekend. The entire trip revolves around venue shopping. What an experience it has been thus far.

I find more and more that I have no idea what I want. Winery? Sounds fun with great photos in the vineyards! Beach setting? I love the ocean and the crash of the waves! A wedding in downtown San Francisco? You mean we could take photos near the Golden Gate Bridge, the symbol of the city I grew up near!? The good news is that my finance balances me with some decisive yays and nays as we peruse the internet for photos of each venue we like. What better way to see the venue in action than to look at actual wedding photos?

We also have run into some predicaments. In a perfect world, each venue would slot itself into the time allotted on my master spreadsheet. Unfortunately, some venues have weddings, are simply booked or the event coordinator will be no where in sight. This leaves more rearranging and subsequently some concessions on which venues we want to see. Another interesting problem we've had is venues not returning calls. Last I checked, we are still in a recession. Wedding = $$, so why can't someone simply picked up the phone? I'm not exactly sure. While it leaves a poor initial impression, there are some venues that I still want to see (and they are public). I wonder if I do see a venue on a "self-guided" tour and love it, will we be able to get ahold of the event coordinator the second time around?

I know wedding planning is a massive task. At this point, I'll just be happy to get a venue and date set. I've reached that age where many of my friends are getting engaged. It's a race to scoop up dates in 2012. At least I am trying to be flexible with a window of August to early October 2012.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Dirty Laundry

There are some items that very much should be kept in private. I realize that and yet it’s harder and harder sometimes. Events affect our emotions and with that our daily lives. Everyone chooses to take on events differently. Some shout from the mountain tops, which likely include Facebook and Twitter updates. Others keep a low profile to the point where no one knows anything is wrong. I try to strike a balance and lately it’s getting harder. I have my confidants. Yet with each word that I speak I risk a new perception being formed. Partially about me and partially about others.

July 28th was my parents’ 32nd wedding anniversary and it may also be their last. For a couple who many of my friends envied as the definition of love, it’s hard to wrap my head around the turmoil currently in my family. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. Sometimes I just want to scream from the rooftops and others I know better than to say anything at all. It hurts to feel so incredibly helpless. It’s weird being almost 30 and a year away from my own wedding to watch destruction run rampant in front of my eyes. I realize over many years, some people grow together and others grow apart. Mutual wants at this age can be very different than those later in life.

The timing is bad. The moving parts are hard to comprehend. My brother is getting married in mid-June 2012 and I’ll likely be 2-3 months after that. I don’t want this overshadowing the happiness that is to come and yet it reminds me all too well of the difficulties that lie ahead. Maybe there’s hope or maybe this is just better for all parties involved.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Balancing Time

It's been just over 3 weeks since the engagement. We've booked two trips back to SF. One to select a venue and one for an engagement party. It would be easier if I or he had any semblance of what we want in a venue or even where. So far, it's been San Francisco +/- 200 miles. Turns out there are a lot of venues in the area. Beach, vineyards, city or something in between. This weekend we stayed in to relax and pinpoint a list of venues to visit. The good news, we have decided that a beach wedding is out, vineyards are in and we will consider a couple venues in San Francisco.

Our only problem with vineyards is that my parents are what one might deem "opinionated" when it comes to wine. A vineyard may be beautiful, but if the family doesn't like the wine, I'm not sure how that is going to pan out.

Next up, I'm still trying to select my wedding party. It's a tough balance trying not to hurt anyone's feelings and recognizing that I can't give a nod to every wedding I've been in. The good news is I think my groom-to-be has figured out his list.

On Wednesday, we leave for 10 days in Brazil. I'm excited and yet have no idea what I'm going to pack. I've flipped through our documents and believe we have everything. We're making three very different stops on our journey. One to Belo Horizonte for a formal wedding of a Darden classmate, one to Iguassu Falls and the last stop will be Rio. It will be nice to not think about work for 2 weeks! Of course, I'm a little scared what the return will mean given that I'm the one finance consultant left in Illinois.

My transfer for Junior League of Chicago finally executed, which means that tonight I have to select a placement for the next JLC year. As I review the placements, I am trying to balance interest with time commitment. I am not sure how much time wedding planning with actually take and I don't want to risk disappointing one of my commitments.

It's time to figure out my balance - work, gym, wedding, JLC, soccer and me time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lone Wolf

There are dramatic changes going on within my office. My colleague has decided to take an account management position at the competitor. On one hand, I completely understand. She's been here for three years and it's time for a change. On the other hand, she's been an incredible source of information and soon, I'm going to be flying blind.

At the beginning of June, my other finance colleague jumped ship for the network team. She found a position with a job level change and subsequently a nice raise, which I've been told is the only way to get a good salary bump.

Since February, I have had some slow moments, which quickly changed when my first colleague left. I took over her responsibilities as well as ad-hoc project work. Now, with my other colleague leaving, we're about to figure out exactly how capable I am. I don't doubt that I can survive. I did make it through Darden after all. It will be quite different however, and I've become accustomed to my nice work schedule. Hopefully that doesn't change.

With a wedding to plan and my continual focus on the gym, the next couple months should prove interesting. And the balancing act will begin again. I'm going to miss my comrade as we've become more friends than strict colleagues. Any person who fills her shoes will start looking to me for advice... that's a scary thought.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I'm still in shock!

My birthday is tomorrow, so a few business school friends came to visit for the weekend in order to celebrate. Yesterday, the man and I had a doubleheader for soccer. The friends came just before halftime of the second game, camera in hand, to take a couple photos. After the game, I was convinced to walk to the middle of the field in order to snap a handful of photos of the man and me. I was tired, hot, sweaty and slightly confused. Next thing I knew, he was down on one knee, asking me to marry him. In shook, shaking a little, I said yes and gave him a kiss! The fans on the sideline started clapping and cheering (I didn't know any of them as most of my team had left). A perfect venue and time for a woman who defines a lot of herself based on the 20+ years of experience I've had on the pitch. There have been great moments and ones where injury has kept on the sideline. Regardless, soccer is still one of my favorite past times and over the last couple of years, I have shared the experience with my better half.

I never went to business school thinking I'd meet the love of my life. On the contrary, I was going to be focused - head down and studying as hard as I could in order to be successful in the future. While I was focused on my studies, I also met an incredible man and I couldn't be happier to soon call him my husband. Wow! As I write that, it even feels weird.

I keep staring at my hand. It makes me smile and feel different all at the same time. They say the engagement period is one of the happiest. I'm excited and yet know there will be plenty of questions and planning on the horizon. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the bliss of this moment.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Town, New Friends

It's a never ending saga when you move from place to place. The moment you get comfortable, the bags get packed and you must start anew. There's something encouraging about having a support system where you don't have to explain your Idiosyncrasies. On the other hand, it's exciting to learn about new people and share yourself in a way that many of your childhood friends may not view you. Regardless, with each new transition, I, at times, find myself longing for old friends.

Chicago has been a different transition however. There are four of us (plus a spouse) who attended Darden together and hang out regularly. Thanks to knowing a couple of Darden 2009 graduates, I've branched out and joined a new soccer team. Even after multiple weeks on the pitch together, I still struggle to learn everyone's name. I'm getting better though. The girls have started including me in their invite lists and for that, I'm extremely appreciative. I missed the last one which included each lady bringing and consuming her own bottle of wine. sounds zealous and I have to imagine very entertaining. The team's fearsome leader threw a small soiree on Saturday night including mojitos, rum punch, a BBQ and delicious rainbow mini cupcakes. Everyone likes to be included and I feel like I'm finally meeting new people that could become more than acquaintances. I also received my transfer email from Junior League (6 months later.. it was about time). I'm looking forward to getting involved in the community and there's no better time than summer in Chicago!

Plus, with my new found support group and three friends coming to visit this weekend, this year's birthday should definitely be fun!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Have you ever seen that question on a survey that asks, "how many email accounts do you check on a regular basis?" I find myself replying with a slightly obscene number. There's the old email account that no one uses unless they only knew me when I was 15. There's the post old account that has become my main email address. There's the junk email account that is still checked because I suppose not everything that goes there is junk. There's the post-Darden account because I had to grow up and get an "adult" address. And finally, there's my work email address. Checking all the accounts never bothered me much. With smartphones, it's very simple to keep track, however, I've noticed something with my Droid lately that has been bothering me.

Two of my five email accounts use gmail. Both of those accounts flow famously to my Droid. Once upon a time, I downloaded the yahoo app for my Droid until that account stopped updating properly and I gave up the app for the preinstalled messaging app. Needless to say, the account now updates, however, I have to remember to click on the app for it to do so. It doesn't just notify me that I have messages, meaning when it does update, there's 20 notes to sift through. And then there is AOL - a lost cause that I'm more than ready to delete. I just need to figure out which of my parents is the actual account owner and get them to delete the account.

With all the email checking, I've decided it's time to consolidate email accounts. At the end, there will be 3 accounts standing. One work and two personal. What I find funny is the difficulty I've had simply changing my email address. I was overly impressed with Off5th. I clicked on their edit preferences link a the bottom of a recent message and it took me to a page where I could change the frequency of emails, unsubscribe, update my email address or change my store preferences. Brilliant! Most people assume that all you want to do is unsubscribe and so that is the only option available when clicking the little link at the bottom of the page. While I'm sure that's true most of the time, I was very impressed! The rest of these emails may simply get the boot if I can't easily switch them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 23, 2012

This is a long overdue post...

June 23, 2012 is the day my family is going to grow by one. During the 6th race of the Kentucky Derby, my little brother put on his serious face and asked his then girlfriend to marry him. She of course said yes between many hugs and kisses. I felt very special to be a witness and the boy took many fabulous pictures.

Given that my family loves any excuse to celebrate, mom quickly took the weekend the BF and I picked to go home as the perfect date for an engagement party. I met the the soon-to-be in-laws. Funny enough, most of them have names that start with J (including my brother's fiancee). One of the mother's sisters prided herself on marrying someone without a name that started with J and she has subsequently added other letters to the beginning of her children's names.

I saw friends of my brother's that might as well be brothers to me. It amazes me how time flies. One of them actually gave my brother an engagement photo which was a photo of the two of them as kids. I'm guessing elementary school and my brother, pricelessly, had a shirt on that said his childhood name (think, Jimmy as a kid, Jim as an adult). Makes me think I should go digging through my old photos as a long time friend of mine from middle school also ties the knot on June 23, 2012 (and unfortunately, I had to decline the invite to be a bridesmaid).

I'm constantly amazed how fast time flies. It's hard to think that soon enough I will cross the big 3-0. Sometimes I still feel like a kid, but then I realize I'm not. I have plenty of friends that are married and have kids of their own. Meanwhile, my little brother is growing up and getting married. WOW. Congrats NBH! I love you.

Race to Taste

I wanted more than anything to turn off the alarm on Sunday morning and go back to sleep. Instead, I forced myself out of bed and out of the house by 8a. The boy and I had signed up for the Humana Race to Taste 5K. It's been a while since I've competed in a race, if you can really call running a 5K for no reason competing.

Since my move to Chicago in February, I've been a slave to the gym, in a very good way. Over the years, the gym and I have been on everything from fantastic terms, seeing each other almost daily, to long hiatuses, often due to the fact that I've injured myself. Recently, I've taken up Pilates. Not only am I attending the free mat classes, but I've also paid for a group apparatus class. Likely the first time I've paid for any trainer related activity at the gym.

Outside of the gym, I've found a couple of soccer teams. While the rules aren't as strange as those in Atlanta or Louisville, I do miss the full 90 minute games that I played in San Francisco. My teammates likely think I'm insane when a team asks if I'd like to play again and I excitingly say YES! I even sometimes eye the teams before taking off my stuff.

With all the activity going on, I'd say I'm back in good shape. However, it was Sunday that put it in perspective. The morning was perfect for a run and the loop couldn't have been better - Millenium Park past Solider Field and back along the lake. BF paced me for most the race, which both confused and motivated me to keep my pace. We passed the first mile at 7:15, a little faster than I would like. The second mile disappeared after 15 minutes. And I kept waiting to see the third mile marker. To no avail, I soon saw the turn and the last dash to the finish started. I crossed the line at 23:59 (7:43 mile pace). Not bad given that these days I may run 3 miles, but only with a combination of a mile warm up and 8 quarter mile sprints.

The race felt good! In addition, by 10a, I felt like I had accomplished a lot. We took the couple mile walk home to enjoy the weather and let our bodies relax. Plus, who can say no to a walk through the (free) Lincoln Park zoo? I just wanted to say hi to the big kitty cat (aka Leopard).

Chicago is definitely an amazing place during the summer!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Not too long ago, a friend of mine from Darden and I had a catch up call... how's life? What have you been doing? Work? Family? Extra curriculars? La la la... you're what?! Switching jobs already!?!

It's been a year since graduation. I've had my one year anniversary at my employer. Given that I was the first person in my class (that I know) to start work post-graduation it's hard for me to imagine that people who started after me are already changing companies, careers and positions.

The hype at the end of business school subsided instantaneously. We thought we were going to make the world a better place with our new tricks from a tremendous education. In reality, we return to the working world, much like some of us left. While some are faced with daily challenges, others are simply going through the motions. During my time, I've had a couple of challenges, but nothing Earth shattering. My plate is still basically empty and while I understand I am needed somewhere, it seems that no one has the time to tell me where (a couple of changes have management spread a little thin currently). Overall it irritates me. I sit here putting in my hours because I feel I should. However, the hours aren't the least bit productive.I didn't go to business school and graduate in the top of my class to assume a lackluster position.

Over the weekend, we hosted friends for tacos. One of my good friends from school works at a company from which I did not receive an offer even though I did make it to second round interviews (little mistakes...and nerves). Recently, she was taken to a happy hour by the finance department asking if she'd like to quit her rotation program and work full time as a senior analyst. The position was interesting, yet she has decided to continue her rotations and thought it may be a good fit for me.

I'm not looking to jump ship, though I'd be lying if I said I'm not open to opportunities. In the right position, with the right company, at the right price point...I'd highly consider the switch. In the back of my mind, I'm troubled however. I think of all the people I've met including one of the champions of the program I'm in and I don't want to disappoint them. In addition, I have a relatively defined career path here, though I fear my next assignment may be in a personally less desirable city. Then I keep returning to the thought, I need something to do. If I don't get work, I don't build my skillset and subsequently, my resume. Is it wrong to look? I'm not exactly sure right now. What if I wear to apply? I'm very torn. I stayed in a position for too long prior to business school and I don't want to make that mistake again. On the other hand, it's likely I haven't been in this position long enough.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I wait for the minutes to pass, which is something I haven't done in months. Don't get me wrong, I have wanted time to fast forward at the end of the day, but not like this.

Last night, I composed an email requesting more work. I recognize that it's hard to give me more work from 500 miles away when the day its consumed with meetings. However, perhaps the note needed to be more blunt. "I have nothing to do." On one hand, it's my fault for not realizing how lean my workload was becoming as I sent completed tasks. So I now sit here trying to brainstorm some grand idea that would keep me busy and help the office. So far, no luck.

CNN was interesting for a while, though I've maxed out on my intake of news. Most "fun" sites are blocked and my phone signal is horrible at my desk. I'm back to, so what?

12 hours of work, the gym and a soccer game later, I'll be off to Vegas tomorrow for one of my favorite weekends of the year - soccer tournament + Vegas nightlife.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ode to Public Transit

I'm on the bus, on my way to work. It's been one of my longer work weeks, which is likely nothing compared to my classmates and the life for which I recruited initially.

Before Chicago, I was never a public transit person. Sure I'd hop on the local metro during vacation, but almost never in San Francisco (exception: attending SF Giants games). I remember laughing about the bus names in Boulder, Hop, Skip, and Jump. Even with a student pass included in tuition, I'm not sure I ever took a route. However, I did walk frequently.

Yesterday, on my way home from soccer, I pondered the fact that my primary uses for my car are getting to and from soccer and Costco. I still have a half tank left from my arrival in February.

Public transit and primarily the bus system is my new found friend. It's my transportation to work and going out on the weekends. We even managed the metro to a Cubs game and the bus to a Bulls game.

Plus, on the bus I get my daily dose of Facebook stalking and Words With Friends! There's something to be said for a good transit system in the city. Who knew?

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Cville Weekend

I've officially been in Chicago for just over a week. Per the usual jet setting lifestyle, I spent my second weekend in Charlottesville instead of Chicago. The boy and I met up with his old roommate as well as MissFab, a close current second year friend. She was the perfect hostess for a trio of friends who wanted to relive a Darden weekend.

We arrived late Friday night, dropped our belongings at the hotel and went straight to the Corner for a nightcap. It felt oddly familiar to be at Trinity, a bar we frequented prior to graduation. Yet there were no familiar faces and far more undergrads than I recall.

Saturday we walked the downtown mall, looking for food to fill our hungry bellies. Even the stores on the mall had changed - new faces while old staples  were no longer around. Not to mention, almost nothing looked open for brunch/lunch. We journeyed to Charlottesville running company so that roomie could purchase a new pair of shoes and then the boys went running, while the girls indulged in some proper bonding time. And if course, no Charlottesville trip would be complete without Arch's frozen yogurt!!

Two Darden 2010s happened to be at the UVa basketball game, so they stopped by to catch up. It made me miss the days when everyone was in close proximity.

After much hours of tossing around ideas for dinner...Mas, Orzo, Shebeen...we settled on sushi at Tokyo Rose. It was quite good, close to the house and a great way to begin the night. We followed up sushi with drinks in Ivy and dancing to 80s music at Three. Just like old times!

Sunday morning we were set on crossing an item off MissFab's bucket list - brunch at Bluegrass Grill and Bakery. Delicious though their operations and math could be improved.

While the weekend away made me a bit nostalgic for days at Darden, coming home reminds me how much I love my new place and the city of Chicago. This weekend, we're off to San Fransisco for the Venetian Masquerade ball my mom planned to support a local charity. Then we a handful of weekends at home.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Updating the Address Book

It was so easy to keep track of classmates while in business school. We all had Darden email addresses that followed the same naming convention. Not to mention, many of us lived a stones throw from Darden grounds. Today, it never ceases to amaze me where people ended up.

I sat down after business school and tried to compile people's information on Facebook and LinkedIn into my gmail address book. Trying to formulate one source of the truth - post Darden email, phone, birthday, and location. What I've often found is not everyone updates these sources as religiously as I do. Even in business school, my classmates' locations would often differ from Charlottesville.

About two weeks ago, it was finally time to update my address to the world! Chicago - my new home! (At least until the next promotion or something like that.) I spammed my entire address book. Surprisingly, this was brilliant as I immediately knew which emails simply no longer work. (Also, if you decide to do this, BCC is your very best friend!). It's amazing the number of responses I received. However, it's also annoying given that many included little notes to which I feel the need to respond. Plus, I've also realized that once I receive a response, I then have to update the address book. That takes time! I think I have just shy of 100 left to update! Welcome to my Friday. :)

Next up, I'm hoping to use some of these newly found addresses to drop handwritten notes. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Somber Goodbye

I was so excited to leave that I never thought I'd be sad to say goodbye. One thing many people don't know is that I have family in Louisville. We often have family dinners with Monday night sushi being my favorite. When everyone's there, it's chaos. Three kids just under 10, as well as another two sisters, one 12 and one 16. A total of five kids, each in their own world, fighting for attention. Although technically adults, my two cousins can still bicker with the best of them. It's family.

Plus, you can't forget the wonderful owners of my little sushi place. Jessica knows part of my order without me ever having to ask. Roy makes the best sushi in town. And as my uncle says, it's hard to jump around to different sushi restaurants. You get comfortable and used to one, it becomes your favorite. I'd very much agree as these days I  feel like a regular, barely looking at the menu when I order.

I'm two days out from my big move  north and it just hit me how much I'm going to miss this place. The next adventure is on the horizon and I thank my family for making the current one so much fun. Jessica gave me a mug for the days when I miss Tokyo. My uncle and aunt passed along a housewarming gift. By Wednesday night, I'll be in Chicago and on Thursday, I'm headed to Vegas to see my immediate family. Time flies.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Well Being, Not Immortal

I ventured to the gym last week, thinking it was time to "get in shape" before my next season of indoor soccer. The next morning, I woke with a tickle in my throat and quickly halted my workout routine. Some people say you can sweat out the sickness, but I don't buy it.

Today, a dear friend of mine sent me this article. It discusses that while exercise won't make you immortal, it does improve life. One of the people mentioned in this article is my friend's father. He was a miraculous man, always full of energy. Yet with all his good habits, cancer was his fatal end.

The article makes an interesting point about exercise not making you immortal, but helping your overall well being. While I hate 5:30a workouts, I feel amazing after them. The time I spend in the gym over the course of the week vastly improves my performance on the soccer field. When I'm in shape, I simply feel better all around. So why is it a couple weeks on the couch can make me forget how much I love the feeling of being active? We, including myself, all make excuses as to why that 30 minutes can't be spent at the gym. Today, I'm going to try not to make the excuse.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Case Method Lives

A week ago Monday, I found myself sitting on a 7:15a flight to Chicago. I had arrived late the night before and expected to sleep for the hour. Instead, I overheard a seatmate say that he was headed to San Francisco and the guy next to him, Los Angeles. Next thing I knew, I was conversing with the guy sitting in front of me who was returning to China, where he is getting his PhD. In comparison to their travels, my hour flight felt like nothing.

The conversation with the guy in front of me ensued. We talked about what each of us respectively do. Then came the conversation of MBA. I don't recall where he attended, but our traveler to San Francisco quickly joined as we reminisced about the case method. It was an interesting conversation as Mr. Going to SF said that he thought the case method was worthless and cases were simply too easy to solve. It made me question what types of cases he studied as most cases don't have a correct answer.

As I've noted before, I believe the case method is about thinking. It's learning to state your assumptions and ask questions to make a final decision or recommendation. SF-Bound seemed to think it was simply about getting the right or optimal answer. I noted that while some cases may have an optimal answer, I thought a subject like strategy doesn't necessarily. Sometimes an expansion in one direction will succeed, though you'll never be able to say what would have happened if a company expanded in a different direction or not at all. He strongly disagreed because he was a strategy guy that always found the optimal solution given the facts at hand. I commend him on his confidence, but must resume that there's not always a right answer. And in my opinion, the case method is far better than a professor lecturing on a book I can sufficiently read on my own. You can't teach everyone's individual experiences from a textbook. That's what makes a case classroom so rich. I may never serve my country, yet through the eyes of my classmates, I understand what it means to do so.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

If I Had a Business

In the digital age, we all search online to find what we need (I presume that's how you ended up here). Given that I'm still fairly new to downtown Louisville, I'm constantly using Google Maps to "search nearby." It floors me how many addresses aren't necessarily correct. I'm even more surprised by the number of service retailers that don't have websites. I suppose not everyone needs a website, but I find myself shying away from retailers without one.

If I opened a business tomorrow, top items on my list would include simple logistics, such as:

1. Correct address and location on all the map sites
2. Make a website - it can be simple, but must look good. First impressions count.
3. Put myself on the local and national review sites, starting with Yelp.
4. Post hours of operation
5. Post prices to my services, it answers a lot of questions that you or your receptionist doesn't have to

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Bridge

What is it about crossing a bridge that seems to put negative images in my head?

It may be a result of the cold weather as I've been on a HUGE soup kick lately. I made homemade Chicken Noodle Soup two nights ago and had leftovers for two meals yesterday. It was amazing! Right now, I'm craving some sort of seafood soup, though I haven't pinpointed exactly what I want.

I've never made seafood soup and it sounds slightly more complicated than the old fashion chicken noodle. After browsing recipes, I thought I'd glance at local eateries as what better night to go out than Friday. Living right on the edge of the Ohio River, I always have the choice to stay in Louisville or venture to Indiana, which in some respects may be closer at times. More often than not, I find myself avoiding the bridge.

I can't quite figure out why. It could be the preconceived notion that it always takes longer to get over the bridge. This stems from the fact that some of the worst traffic in and around San Francisco is due to the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. I know the junction coming from Indiana can be backed up at times, but nothing compared to California. Just a random thought during the lunch break as I look out on the Ohio River and its trusty bridge.

One month left in Louisville...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


It was a blur. The last two weeks had me in four different cities with two stints in Chicago. Every time I'm in Chicago, I set up the house just a little more. However, not being part of a divorced family, I'm starting to sympathize with those who have had their stuff in two places. I managed to remember I needed a black dress for a bachelorette party in mid-January. Forgetting that with any good black dress and night out in Miami, I should have a pair of cute, likely open-toed, shoes. Ooops. Either I'm going shopping or wearing flats.

It's funny how I return to Louisville and feel less and less like this is home. I'm sick of having a hotel key in my wallet. I returned, thinking I'd have a stack of mail including at least 3 bills. Instead, I had one lonely letter in my mailbox. I panicked as one of my bills was due in 7 days. Thoughts of "what if it never shows up" closed my mind. The next day, I received the rest of my mail, including two packages. USPS holiday backup or Galt House fail? Hmmm.

Two friends visited for New Year's in Chicago. Besides a little rain, NYE was a cloudy 50 degrees. I promised snow, they received warmth in Chicago terms. Maybe they brought it from Houston. My night concluded with me picking up the place and taking this photo:

Incredible view if I do say so myself! This will be the first thing I see every morning, assuming it's not dark outside. I can't wait. It's possible that I'm counting down the days until my move... 34.

Great Moments of 2010

Every year has its ups and downs. I suppose it's just a part of the rollar coaster we call life. While the downs remind us that we're human, it's the ups that make us feel the downs are worth it. The last three years, I've compiled a great moments list. It's incredible to see what I've done and remember that each year has many moments I'd like to remember. Here are my great moments from 2010 (in no particular order):

1. Graduated with my MBA from Darden
2. Received an award for Academic Excellence (Top 10%) on the day of Darden's graduation
3. My amazing day in Stockholm, Sweden including the best blueberries I've ever had and mouth-watering dark hot chocolate
4. Visiting Swedish Lappland
5. Leadership and Theater J Week
6. London
7. Paris
8. Buying my first adult couch (to be delivered Feb 2011)
9. Receiving my Darden 10-K (Yearbook)...very nostalgic
10. Paramore in Cville
11. Duke's MBA Games - specifically the business suit swimming relay race and dizzy bat
12. Bahamas (crashing my friend's honeymoon!)
13. Receiving and accepting a full time job offer
14. Permanent placement = CHICAGO
15. Sushi Mondays!
16. Birthday in Louisville with Mack and Lauren
17. 2nd Annual May Vegas Trip with Schnepp and the man
18. San Francisco Giants win WORLD SERIES!
19. Passing my Life and Health Insurance exam with flying colors
20. Night out in SF with my soccer peeps
21. Weekend of girl time with my mom in Chicago
22. Junior League of Louisville's Second Sunday event (I was in charge of Hula Hooping)
23. Darden dinner and night out in Chicago (Oct 2010)
24. My first Ohio State football game
25. Shooting clays at the Greenbrier (Thanksgiving)
26. Follies - Darden Dancing
27. Becoming an Illinois resident (my first license after California, which I had for 12 years)
28. NYE w/ BVB, Jackie and her man @ The Drake Hotel in Chicago

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Credit Card

I'm going to regret being up this late on a work night, but it's worth it. I've been contemplating a new credit card lately. While I'm not a proponent of changing cards frequently, sometimes the good "rewards" vanish as credit card companies update their programs. I pay off my credit card monthly and thus, I'm not concerned about APRs, but more about what I get for the money I spend. I'm an AmEx lover. However, not everywhere takes AmEx, so I needed a backup card. There are credit card sites galore that all basically have the same information, which hasn't been very helpful. I wanted to share one site I found that seemed better than the rest, check it out.