Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2017 Winners and Losers

Hi, friend. I know - I promised a 2017 recap update two weeks ago. That was silly of me, because that was the day of Follies. I thought life would be a breeze, thereafter, but then I realized I'm still in four classes, signed up for an independent study, and am interviewing candidates for Ross. I ask each candidate what their batter walk-up song is and judge them harshly on it. Just kidding. Kind of. I definitely ask the question. While I am honored to curate the next class of Rossers, I don't know how much of an impact I have because the form requires me to transcribe the interview, leading me to believe my opinion is not actually trusted.

Tonight, though, I'm avoiding class work and preparing food for a weekend in Northern Michigan with 700 of my favorite classmates. I'm staying with a bunch of men*, and while I wonder if they would survive left to their own devices, I don't want to risk it. Regardless, I've used it as an excuse to drink wine, eat cookie dough, and highlight the winners and losers of 2017.

Winner. Dreamland. I don't ever make serious recommendations, but this book was by far my favorite of the year. It's a journalistic perspective of how the intersection of an enterprising village in Mexico producing black tar heroin, a naive medical system over-prescribing opioids, a technological shift leaving an entire region struggling for employment, the rise of superstores, and the misappropriation of healthcare led to a devastation that is finally being addressed on a national scale. So many intersections!

Loser. The Browns. We're terrible.

Winner. American Vandal. Another recommendation, everyone. A parody on the Netflix hit, "Making a Murderer," this mockumentary will make you question whether or not you are subconsciously attracted to someone when you add an extra y to "hey."

Loser. Game of Thrones. I still haven't watched it. So that's sad for the show.

Winner. My goal of world takeover. We're getting closer, people. I even have some ideas of the company I want to start.

Loser. My ongoing desire to be near home. I've been away from home for awhile, and it's definitely gotten easier and more natural over time. Then I spend a vacation with my sister, her husband, and their kiddos, and all I want to do is be with them.

Winner. Follies. Turns out, I have a knack for satirical commentary and self-deprecation. Who knew. My legacy is cemented. I am the lush in a hot pink skirt and crop top screaming mild obscenities and propositioning random men from the balcony of the theater. I did, however, wear a bra, so it could be an improvement from Nips Navs.*

Loser. Commencement Speech. I don't know why they wouldn't want the aforementioned broad speaking to the Ross community. I'm sure they will pick someone qualified. As for me - I'm just going to reach a point in life in which people are not nominating me to speak, but people are still listening.

What am I going to do in 2018 and beyond? Good question. I was flipping through old books the other day, and I stumbled upon a journal I started during my nine month vacation prior to school. I was only consistent for four days, but on day four, I wrote, "I've been thinking about my why lately, and I keep coming back to this story Grandma told me about giving Stephen Fruit Loops." You see, Stephen was severely brain damaged and couldn't chew anything. But I wanted to share with him, so my grandma walked in the room to a choking child. It was funny, because the same day I read this, my dad posted this picture of the two of us, both napping, with me holding his wrist. I loved him. And I was adorable.

I think I have a really large capacity to love others and give myself to them. And in business school, honestly, sometimes I forget about that, because I'm being pulled in so many different directions. But in life, I think I'm going to do something with that part of me. For instance, pre-make dinner for helpless men.*

* A generous term.

* For those of you who still don't know what Follies is, here's one of the videos featuring our school President.

* I'm sure they're not totally helpless...

Monday, January 8, 2018

What's Hard about the MBA

Spoiler: It's not the academics. Grades really don't matter.

I shouldn't be here. It's the first day of classes, Follies, the annual MBA comedy show I have no business producing, is in two weeks, and I still need to fix my phone. But it's the New Year, and I have yet to stop by. Truth is - I've been avoiding you. I could say it's because all my creative energies last quarter went to writing for the aforementioned show. I could say the past two months flew by between work and holiday. And those would be partially true, but the real reason is that every time I sit down to write, I don't know how to say what I need to say. I have an hour before class, though, I put away all electronics and email, and I'm going to write.

What's hard about grad school - for me, and I'm sure for others - is the temporality. Fifty-six weeks, to be exact. And during that time, you're consumed with group projects, recruiting events, section events, club meetings, out of town commitments, spouses, partners, family, obligations outside of school. It's a whirlwind of parties and bar tabs and social gatherings that you may or may not get invited to, where you have the same conversations. It's talking about recruiting, internships, jobs, traveling. And you have to be happy, because, man, this isn't real life, and we're the future leaders of the world who are going to be making six figures and half a mil in five years, and our lives are great, and this Snap story is hilarious, and we can just laugh at the stupid decisions we make because we're all going to be gone in a few months anyways, but sometimes you want to break down and tell someone how alone you feel. Or how it all feels superficial. Or that, today, you're really sad. Which I did a time or two, and those friends were very gracious and didn't call me an emotional basket case which would have been totally justified.

And once you get a job you're in this weird purgatory between returning to your adult life and starting fresh - which is very exciting for someone who likes investing in the place they live - and finishing this brief transition period. It can be hard to motivate yourself to invest in new relationships, though it's worth it when you do, because there are amazing people that are deeper than a $1000 bar tab at Skeeps and a dance party at Rick's.* So for anyone, particularly MBA students, who looks at social media or listens to conversations and thinks everyone around has it together, know that I don't.** Frankly, I think most who claim to have it together are full of it. But I'm working on it. I'm starting a women's Bible study, I'm seeking friendships with new people, strengthening current ones, and ignoring idiots. And I'm going to cook dinner for people more this semester.

I started this post writing about the other factors in my life that made last quarter particularly hard. I wanted to justify my emotions to the readership so you didn't think I was a basket case. But, ultimately, those factors don't matter. There are always going to be hardships that you have to choose to overcome, while continuing to invest in wherever you are and whatever you are doing. With that, I'm going to go prepare for Winter A. I'll be back to recap the winners and losers of 2017 with a better sense of humor next week.

* Though let's be honest - Rick's is amazing.
** I mean, seriously, I cried multiple times writing this, though I blame the emotion on jet lag.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fall B Beginnings

I come to you from the Storyville coffee shop this morning. I’m sitting on a corner couch, Ray LaMontagne playing in the background as I sip my pike roast coffee and eat my overpriced granola. I’m so Seattle right now. I would take a picture, but my phone has decided to stop functioning as a camera, perhaps in rebellion to the fact that I’m refusing to fix the cracked screen. It costs $100, which seems like an unnecessary use of funds.

Speaking of exorbitant fixes, I took Maleek to the shop the other day, because I’m a responsible adult who got tired of filling her tires with air every other week. Among the recommended adjustments were: a muffler clamp for $3, brake pads for $200, a new exhaust manifold for $185, a new exhaust resonator for $151 - what's the difference between a manifold and resonator?, brake pads for $250 – that’s right, brake pads were on there twice - an exact fit battery for $170 - as opposed to the current one that isn’t the perfect fit. What is this? Goldielocks? The list went on, totaling $3700 to which I said, “I may know nothing about cars, but my fancy MBA education tells me that I should not put $3700 into a car that is worth $2500 according to Kelly Blue Book.” I did pay to fix the corrosion in my tires so air is no longer seeping out. I fear my time with Maleek may be nearing its natural conclusion. Ownership is a nuisance, so I think the move to a city comes at a good time.

I haven’t addressed the heavily scratched glasses yet, but I did realize I could use the UM hospital system for a free eye exam. I went there for a checkup the other day, and fret not everyone, I’m healthy as a clam. I have shrunk half an inch, though, and I am only 5' 3¼''. I deliberately turned around when they weighed me, but this tactic proved moot because they gave me a summary sheet at the end. Before I knew what it was, I saw my weight: 129. Not too bad. I like being below 130. And I had clothes on, so that adds a pound. And I had just eaten lunch, so that adds another pound. And I hadn’t gone to the bathroom that day and had drunk my usual three liters of water, so that’s another half pound. So really, we’re looking at a morning weight of 126.5 – 127. Man, I’m sexy.

But I haven’t been working out intensely lately, so maybe that’s a soft 127. And I’m going out of town this weekend so I’ll probably eat a couple pounds. And I shrunk so my pound/inch has increased. Bahh, I’m such a fat lard… And this is why I deliberately turn around when being weighed.

Now that my quarter from hell has passed, I find myself twiddling my thumbs, wondering what I should be doing with my time. Take up gambling? Learn to golf? Learn to code? Work part time at Ross to ensure doors stop breaking(1)? Sugga Momma Bears has bounced back the past few weeks and is creeping up the ranks to hopefully secure a playoff berth. With them under control, I'm in need of a project, so I think I’m going to get a dog. I know what you're thinking - Anna, you packed two different black boots and spent half the day with your turtleneck on backwards. How do you expect to raise a dog? Thank you for your concern, but I'm not going to be dressing the dog. I just have to keep it alive, and I've managed to keep myself alive for twenty-nine years, which is a pretty solid track record. Plus, I’ve been craving some unconditional love lately, and since my pursuit of human affections is on a semi-permanent hold, this seems like a good solution. Truth is, I've been a bit lonely lately. You know how it comes in ebs and flows. The nice thing is that the more times you go through the ebs and flows, the better you get at them. I'll keep you updated. I want to name the dog Dorito and call it Rito for short, because my Rottweiler, Missy, loved Doritos.

I'm now drinking a glass of wine, finishing the post from home. My stomach feels all funky after the flight. Otherwise, Seattle was lovely. Amazon seems like all it's cracked up to be, the neighborhoods were quite cute, I watched football from bed at 9 AM. I ate so much good seafood, and perhaps I put on a pound or two. I don't know. I'm not going to weigh myself.

(1) I don't understand why doors break all the time. All they have to do is open.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Anna Gets a Job

First: shoutout to Jordan Kabbani for being a loyal dome blog and Instagram follower. Your fanhood drives me to greater dome selfie heights. Like the below shot at the pathetic offensive display that was Michigan vs Michigan State.


I began second year with every intention of job-hunting in the spring. I was going to go against the grain, pioneer my own path, forge through as those around me were receiving their signing bonuses, knowing I was waiting for something great. That's why I put myself through the regrettable rigor of six classes this term. Spring quarter Anna is going to be very grateful for this, but Fall quarter Anna is becoming soft and her gym coach has given up on the are you alive texts. My wheels, glasses, and iPhone all need to be fixed. I don't even want to talk about the abysmal performance of the Sugga Momma Bears. After a promising draft, the team has clearly suffered from negligent leadership.

Then I got an email from my mom. It was a very simple message: don't feel bad making money. You can do good things with money. Amazon applications were due the next day, and a friend urged me to throw my resume in the bag. I've respected Amazon since reading The Everything Store; Jeff Bezos and I have the aligned mission of global domination and similar distaste for Powerpoints. Plus, brushing the dust off my interviewing skills wouldn't hurt. Casual re-recruiting, I called it.

They asked me the usual behavioral questions. Tell me about a time when... Between you and me, my favorite question was, "Which bullet point on your resume are you most proud of." First, I asked if he was serious about the question being personal or professional. Then, I told him about you, because you have been a vehicle of vulnerability the past six years. Every time I've felt lonely, broken, or weak, I've come here. I've written about it and offered it to anyone who wants to read it. Every time, I've woken up the next day, and I'm still Anna. But a little bit stronger, because I know I've shared something scary without losing anything.*

After the eighth interview, I had a moment of homesickness. What if I got the job? What if I had to move to Seattle, much further from Cleveland than I pictured myself. Start over again. On my own.

Then I had a moment of excitement. What if I got the job? And I went to work in an environment where I was nowhere close to the smartest person in the room - and I could finally stay awake for the entirety of a Monday Night Football game? Even though it was West, the one place I said I wouldn't go, I'd be going to a place I already had so many wonderful connections.

I got the offer. Now, the grain and I are moving in tandem. The path is pioneered. I get a signing bonus.*

Life's funny. When I consider my illustrious career, the only consistency is that I'm normally wrong, and if I say I'm not going to do something, that's probably the next step. My time at school has been an experience of growth, and I've learned more about myself than I expected. I've learned I'm pretty smart, quite curious, and really good at talking to people.* I'm driven and I'm adaptive. I've learned I can make my home anywhere, and I desperately want to be around people who push me to places I couldn't get on my own. I've learned that no matter where I am, I will take home with me, knowing that God's country will always be there, and one day, I could be there, too.

The time has also reinforced my approach to life: you can't plan. All you can do is position yourself to pounce on opportunities when they present themselves.

So I'm going to pounce. Then I'm not going to take over the world.

* I got at least two of the names wrong when saying good-bye. I really need to work on my ineffective name associations.
* Although not until I actually start.
* I'm also good at talking to myself, but I already knew that.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My 29 Thoughts

Yay!! It's the day of my favorite blogging tradition. The day I give my loyal readership an exclusive, unfiltered look inside my head.* Earlier this week, in a moment of contemplative nostalgia, I considered dedicating my 29 thoughts to 29 people who have positively impacted my life over the years, but then I realized I would be robbing the readership of my genius insights. So here goes.

1. I would like to be sitting outside on my stoop, but it is obnoxiously hot, and the only way I could do so is if I poured myself a glass of vino which I can't justify because I scheduled a party bus to the dirty D this evening, and if I start drinking wine now, I'm definitely going to Navs out.

2. That was a very long sentence. But not a run-on.

3. Navs out is an action verb referring to falling asleep at 9 o'clock when everyone goes out until the wee hours of the morning. I'm okay with this reputation.

4. Please, don't tell me it's hot because of global warming. When it's unseasonably cold, it's climate change. When it's unseasonably hot, it's global warming. Can I please comment on the weather without having to feel guilty about what I am or am not doing to save the environment?

5. In lieu of my porch, I'm sitting on my couch watching the A&M/Arkansas game. I love Saturday birthdays and college football.

6. And the Windians. Roll, Tribe, roll. I have a good feeling about this year, although I don't know if I'll have the stomach to fork over a ridiculous amount of money for a World Series game. Probably.

7. Another sports update. Sugga Momma Bears is doing alright. By Yahoo's grading system, I had the best draft which included the third string wide receiver of the Buccaneers. Fourteen people is too many. We need to rid ourselves of some chaff next year. SMB is 1 and 1 because of a week 1 lineup misjudgment.

8. I am the commissioner of the league, and I am hoping to replace the nickname Nips with Commish. It hasn't happened yet.

9. Speaking of nicknames, Dad texted this morning Happy Birthday Cakes. I don't know why I love that he still calls me Cakes, but I do.

10. Mom sent me a birthday card with her signature heart shaped character holding a little balloon. I don't know why I love that little guy so much, but I do. Family's just the best.

11. Carmelo went to OKC which means there will be yet another dominate force in the West. Ugh.

12. I still don't have high def on my television. I am ashamed.

13. I was told this week by a professor that because class is only an hour and twenty minutes, no one should have to go to the bathroom for the duration. I think that because the school is charging $65,000 per year, we should be able to go to the bathroom at whatever frequency our bladders deem appropriate.

14. I was told by another professor that I'm useless which I took as a compliment, because the fact that he can joke with me is a sign of respect. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

15. One of my skills is turning anything into a compliment. Like the time one of the cooks said about me: "Anna's really cool, but I'm surprised no one has killed her because of her laugh." He thought I was cool!

16. This game is highly entertaining. Big 12 football is much different than Big 10. I love the grind, but airing it out once in awhile is nice, too. Unless you're Speight; then, don't throw.

17. Back to the people in my life. I chatted with a friend from Charlottesville this week, and it was so good to be reminded of the strong individuals with whom I've had the pleasure of crossing paths. Some have been merely bumps, and some have walked with me for years, but it warms my heart reading small messages from people all over the world.

18. Now, if those people, when they read my blog, could like it on Facebook, I would feel validated.

19. A classmate stopped me the other day and told me reading my blog made his summer 30% better. Maybe it was 10%, but I like 30%. Also, he was a banker, so I don't think his summer was all that great.

20. I might pour myself a glass of wine anyways since my apartment's not air conditioned, and the fan isn't cutting it.

21. Plus, it would be justifiable because I played tennis this morning. I've been playing a lot more this year, and it's been such a wonderful addition to my schedule. My forehand hasn't quite woken from hibernation, but it's getting closer.

22. My hamstrings and calves are subsequently tighter than usual. I learned last week one of the reasons my torso is not upright when snatching is because I have poor ankle mobility, so I need to work on that. Body maintenance is exhausting.

23. I had a post-tennis pumpkin spice latte. The first of the season. Basic AF. I am not ashamed.

24. The older men on the court next to us were joking around with one another, and I thought about sixty-year old Anna hitting the courts on Saturday morning. I'm going to be so good at retirement.

25. I need to get a job first.

26. About that - no update, but I think I'm taking some necessary steps to my world takeover by age 30.

27. Guys, I'm one year away from 30! I'm not gonna lie. I think I'm going to rock the last year of my twenties.

28. For real, though, this game is a shoot out; TCU Oklahoma is next. And Michigan Purdue. What a day.

29. I can't wait until I'm 100 and get to share 100 thoughts with y'all!

* As opposed to my usual filtered window.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Tattoo

Hey there, Stephen. I stopped by the other day to say hi, but I haven't gotten around to writing. School's been a whirlwind. Six classes may have been a lot to chew, especially when they're covering topics I know little about. I just finished venture capital, and I like to think my sweetness and big-eyed gaze compensate for my complete ignorance. Unfortunately, I think the big-eyed gaze also increases the likelihood of me being cold-called and sounding ignorant, so it's a trade-off. Business school is a very good place to realize all you don't know. I should probably be reading for that class, but I wanted to stop by.

I recently visited Dublin and passed a stand of used books during a walking tour. I was inspired to find the quote from the Dubliners I have tattooed on my rib cage. You remember, the one Mom and Dad did not like in the least? I wanted to read it in context since the last time I actually read the Dubliners was in high school. I didn't get the tattoo until years later, and the story in my head went something like this:

There was a man who didn't pursue his love in his youth because he was scared of rejection, of failure. And years later, he saw his former love and her husband of many years at a Christmas party, and he lamented: "Tis better to pass boldly into that other world in the full glory of some passion than to fade and wither dismally with age."

I found the Dubliners by James Joyce and flipped through to the Dead, the final pages of the book. There was a woman, a childhood love, and a marriage, but it was very different than what I remembered:

A man and his wife were returning from a festive party, where they had enjoyed all the luxuries of a fine life. On the walk home, the man's wife told him about a childhood love. They had frolicked in the summers, and before she had to return to boarding school, the boy, who had pneumonia at the time, ran to her window in the rain and told her he didn't want her to go. He caught severe illness and died. Much more depressing than I remembered. But years later, after hearing his wife relay this emotive story, her husband lay in bed and lamented that he had never felt that passionate about any aspect of his life.

I had been telling myself the wrong story all these years - and I'm sure Mom and Dad would appreciate the fact that I had something permanently affixed to my being without actually knowing its meaning. As it is, I like the real version better. The Dead wasn't about love lost due to lack of action - which could have been useful knowledge that time I confessed my feelings to the rando at the coffee shop. The Dead was about settling and the fact that it's such an easy thing to do without even realizing you're doing it.

So here we are. Year two. I think there are two routes I can pursue. One seeks comfort. It sees business school as the next step in a series of check boxes leading to what those around me define as a successful life. A job that pays $250,000 in two years, a nice bonus, a coveted status, a life that affords all comforts. The other seeks discomfort. It sees business school as the next step to something greater, though I'm not sure what that is yet. The interesting aspect is, discomfort could ultimately lead to a life of comfort, but the underlying motivation is different. And it's that motivation that will prevent me from looking back years from now and lamenting that I didn't pass boldly.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Dome Dominates NYC: Numero C

I was ten years old when I first visited New York City. My mother took my sister and me on a girls’ weekend, and it was magical. We ate a decadent Oreo sundae at Serendipity*, saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, spent a day in SoHo, and passed through Nike Town so often, my mother befriended the staff.* I loved it. The massiveness, the energy, anticipating when the walk sign was going to turn. The trip coincided with my burgeoning passion for tennis and quickly fading obsession with interior design, so I spent the summer practicing against my garage, imagining my life in a lush Midtown apartment that had an uncanny resemblance to Jerry Seinfeld's, breaking from tour as the next Anna Kournikova. Not everything turned out as planned.

Friday was the last day of my internship. I had my laundry guy, Mario, and my coffee guy, Zach. I had my 7:45 gym crew. I gave directions to a couple foreigners on the train the other day. Not just general directions. I gave them the optimal route. I finally figured out the conference system at work. Obviously, it was time to leave.

Grad school seems to be a constant transition. The moment you’re comfortable with class material, a new quarter begins. The moment you’re comfortable in your own skin, recruiting starts. The moment you’ve established solid relationships, it’s summer. And the moment you’re comfortable with your work, you leave.

It’s also a time for experimentation, to be selfish, and to figure out your best move forward. New York City was an experiment. When I began grad school, I desperately wanted to return home when I finished. After all, there is so much that I love here, and not a Sunday went by that I didn't miss family dinner. And then I spent a summer in New York.

I don't know if I can do any description justice, other than that it gets me. Opportunity is everywhere to create your own adventure, whether it's listening to a bluegrass jam all night, strolling through the Met*, or people watching in the park. It's a place where I can sit on the subway and create narratives for any of the dozens of people around me, like the man texting the contact "unknown caller." Maybe it was a joke, or maybe the contact was labeled "unknown caller" because he was hiding something. They were texting about a hotel room. Were they meeting for a drug deal or a torrid affair? I'm an optimist, so I decided he had hunted down his wife's long lost sister, wanted to keep it a secret, and today was the day for the big reveal over a steak dinner.

It's a place I can sprint down the street with my ten pound gym bag and heels because I had gone to the wrong restaurant location and not run into someone I know. Where I enter a bar at noon to pick up my credit card from the night before and am greeted by three men on holiday from Switzerland, insisting that I have pickleback and join them on top of the bar, dancing to Springsteen. Where I was not asked once why I was still single or when I was going to meet someone.

But I did meet so many people. People who don't have everything together but are figuring it out, and in that chaos and grind, there's a sense of unity. Despite what I had heard, even the strangers were lovely: from the man who carried my bag down the subway stairs to the sweet girl dancing to the subway violinist. I didn't get cat-called once, but I did receive multiple compliments from random men, including how fabulous my eyelashes are - thank you, fellow residents of the West Village.

Of course, it had its annoyances. For instance, the credit cards. I don't understand why every bar doesn't enact the policy: give back the credit card, if I don't cash out, I get charged 20% gratuity. The fact that I spent $70 on ingredients to bake cookies. In retrospect, I should have just gotten one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I needed milk and dark chocolate for the integrity of the cookie. The multiple restaurant locations. The seventy year old man waltzing into the kitchen in tightie whities.* The stickiness of the subway, though even that was made better by the cool breeze signaling the approaching train. Still, every Sunday, I spent catching up with random friends passing through, enjoying brunch with new ones - which inevitably turned into an afternoon drink - or simply recovering from the week. While there was a moment or two of missing home, those moments were brief and slight rather than lingering and painful.

I'm back in Chardon. I can smell the fresh air, see the trees for days, and hear the crickets and birds. I gave gifts to my nieces and nephews, continuing to solidify myself as the favorite aunt, and they told me all about their summers. I spent the afternoon talking with Grandma, listening to stories about Frannie, who I'm apparently supposed to remember, and Ruthie, who died this past week. I went to dinner as the seventh wheel with my siblings and their spouses, laughed heartily and got a dessert all to myself. My dad talked through wing-T strategy and what the team needs to improve before the season starts. I love it as much as I always have, but this will always be here. For the first time in a long time, I'm excited that the next stage of life may be somewhere else.

* I didn't share.
* that’s not surprising, though, because she makes friends everywhere.
* That's right, guys. I'm cultured.
* That can be avoided the next time around
* Perks of being single