Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Elle Woods - My Hero

Short backstory. High school Anna did not like being given superfluous work, and often took a sarcastic approach if it was forced upon her. For instance, our class was a trial for the Ohio Graduation Test, wasting a cumulative 10 hours of my week, so I wrote my essay on my dream about being a stripper. Unfortunately, that gem wasn't saved, but my mother passed this AP English prep assignment my way.

The teacher's feedback: "You are an excellent writer. The AP graders may question your choice of hero."

Elle Woods, a distinguished attorney of law and a politician, is the protagonist of Legally Blonde. More than that, she is a prime example of the discrimination that blondes face and the overcoming of the "dumb blonde" stigma. Elle Woods is someone I would like to emulate because she is a great woman on many levels.

First and foremost, she has long blonde hair. Though years of dying have made my hair unmistakeably blonde, it has not yet grown past the foot mark. Many an hour have I spent lusting over such luscious locks, only to find that when I look in the mirror, my hair is still at the top of my shoulder blades. I can only continue to envy the voluptuous hair and hope that mine will achieve its greatness.
Elle Woods also has a superb sense of fashion and the bank account to afford it. Growing up in Belair, she never had an issue with money. She has indeed put that money to good use. Her shimmering high heels, glamorous gowns, and even her fitness gear are red-carpet worthy. Never is she seen looking down, but dresses, rather over dresses, for every occasion. Her bold fashion sense allows her to go places most people dare not go.

Not only is Woods bold enough to stand out, she is bold enough to prove the dumb blonde stereotype wrong. Nearly everywhere she goes, people try to take advantage of her, thinking that since she is a gorgeous blonde, she must be foolish. Proving their assumptions amiss, Woods never falls into their trickery. She works very hard to make it into law school, and once there, she is taken as a joke. Determined once again to go against the stereotype, she rises to greatness by clearing an innocent woman convicted of murder. In fact, she clinches her victory and place of respect due to her knowledge of cosmetology and fashion.

Elle Woods is an inspiration to me as a blonde. I understand the persecution one goes through with blonde hair, a nice pair of shoes, and a cute outfit. Like Woods, I am determined to prove the assumptions wrong and will rise above the odds to earn my respect. Like Woods, I will hold my blonde head high.

Friday, September 23, 2016

My 28 Thoughts

Hello! In what has quickly become my favorite birthday tradition, I am going to use this day to give you a window into my head and share 28 thoughts. Perhaps one to grow on. Since 28 is an overall unexciting number, I will make my thoughts interesting. Confessions, shortcomings, musings, sidenotes. What a delicious treat for everyone.

1. Let's start with my current location, my favorite spot in Ann Arbor - my little porch. I spend as much time here as possible, soaking in the late summer - now fall!!! - air, watching the earnest students pass, contemplating climbing the tree.


2. I've been reading a chapter of Ernest Hemingway's book each night. Turns out, the book is more than an accessory. It's been so savory, and for ten minutes, I'm beside him as he wanders the streets of Paris, unsure of what his future holds, but knowing he's where he's supposed to be. I love a good coming of age memoir.

3. Then I glance at the big oak tree* and am taken back to the days when I sat in our crab apple tree and wrote stories about bunnies and thought about my future playing tennis and living in New York.

4. I consider this blog my own coming of age tale. How cool will it be to look back in 25 years and see the beautiful tapestry that was woven? And how lucky will the world be to have 25 years of my musings?

5. Then I snap out of it and go do stats homework.

6. Stats is currently my worst class, and I don't think it's a coincidence that I sit in the back. I can't help but scan the classroom, attempt to make awkward eye contact with people - which is oddly difficult - try to guess what their Tinder profile song would be. The sweet little man is speeding through binomial distribution in his Indian accent and I'm having an internal debate on whether the guy across the room would go with rock, rap, or pop. He's definitely choosing a Beebs song.

7. Tinder profile song. It's a thing. Apparently Spotify and Tinder have recently partnered so you can judge others on their musical preferences. What's better though, is that you get to choose your profile song. We all know I've thought a lot about my batter walk up song, but this is a whole new market. How do I want to present myself? Gunpowder and Lead probably not going to work. Maybe a classic oldies: Signed, Sealed, Delivered. That might put off a strong marriage vibe, though. Or Closer because I'm unabashedly obsessed with that song.

8. I don't have Tinder, so it's really a moot point. I'm sure your wondering about my dating life. Don't worry, all you gents holding out, waiting until I make my millions, I'm still on the market. My previous prediction that my dating life would see success when Cleveland sports gained a championship was apparently incorrect.

9. I saw an eHarmony commercial the other day with a woman who was in her late twenties, stating she wanted to meet someone organically. She ends up alone at age 75, wishing she had online dated. Then I had a dream I had cats.

10. Well, eHarmony, I still think I can meet someone organically, and if I am single and 75, I will redefine cougar.

11. Back to stats and my shortcomings. For everyone who assumes I'm perfect, I have a couple more shortcomings to share with you:

12. I never know how to get rid of condensation on my window. I get that you use the defrost in the winter, but on humid mornings, I try cold air, hot air, and end up running my windshield wipers every five seconds.

13. I don't cry when animals die. I don't see this as a shortcoming, but others might.

14. I get random chin hairs. And one random neck hair that is suddenly an inch long.

15. I've recently switched my workout routine to 6 am and realized I'm not great at accepting coaching cues that early in the morning.

16. I'm at risk for ODing on gummy vitamins. Trader Joe's, how do you make Vitamin K so tasty? My worst case was about twenty, and I started to doubt the vitamins' efficacy, because this didn't affect the color of my pee at all.

17. Speaking of the bathroom, I wonder if I have to go to the bathroom, and I drink water, how long does it take the water to effect me? Do I have to go to the bathroom more after the drink of water, or is it pretty inconsequential?

18. I'm currently listening to the National, and it takes me back to my first fall in Charlottesville. The year I embraced indie music. And the Avett Brothers at the Pavillion. Besides the people, Charlottesville's music scene is what I miss the most. I don't think a music venue will ever replace the Pavillion in my heart.

19. A couple guys just passed in suits. Probably going to a ibanking or consulting presentation. I have no interest in either of those, but I do love a man in a suit. Probably best I don't pursue the professions - my mouth would hang open in the office a lot.

20. Another guy just passed on a skateboard. I'm considering adding a skateboard to my look. I think it would give me a certain level of street cred, and I'm always looking for ways to enhance street cred.

21. I have to work on my resume today, and there are a couple strengths I wish I could emphasize:

22. I'm an excellent napper.

23. My high five game is tight. Real tight.

24. I am exceptional at recognizing hair cuts. Probably because my sisters and I would compete to see who noticed my dad's haircut first.

25. I can turn anything into a competition - as evidenced by the previous statement.

26. I have a unique ability to generate extremely awkward stories.

To close - a couple confessions:

27. I stole a pair of sunglasses from CVS. I think. They didn't have a tag or sticker, and I didn't ask for the receipt. When I left, I realized my merch likely exceeded the total I paid. But we all know my feelings about CVS, so I have little remorse.

28. This is a juicy one. Remember the chicken sausage? The one I thought was stolen from the RKG fridge, at which point I sent a company email calling said thief out. I may have found it in the back of the fridge two weeks later. I still hold the thief returned the chicken sausage in a fit of shame after the email, but it's entirely possible I erred. Wow. Feels good to get that off my chest.

And one to grow on:

It's finally fall! The best season of the year, where everything feels alive in the midst of dying, the world is magical, and anything is possible. Year 27 was pretty epic, especially because I only worked two months of it. I have a good feeling about year 28, too.

*I don't know if it's an oak tree. Seems right, though.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Is Business School Stressful?

Short answer. No. At least not yet. But we all know I'm not giving the short answer.

First. New grad school rule: no getting below parallel while dancing in broad daylight. In my defense, they were playing Drop It Low, so I don't see how I had much of a choice. Still, save it for the club, Anna. Speaking of my name, I've been regretting the fact that I didn't redefine myself as Ana Navatsyk, the blonde, exotic Polack. God, I would have been so hot.

Two weeks into classes, I feel quite settled, save a few kinks. I still have to establish a reliable bookbag pocket system. Do I put my keys in the front pocket with the calculator or the middle with my snacks? Or do I put them in the side pocket where they are easily accessible but risk being dropped. And my cell phone? Should it be up front or in a pocket within a pocket? My headphones? I thought they were lost this past week until I found them hiding in some obscure compartment.

I still don't have my binders. I was very excited to use Amazon one-click, but in my enthusiasm did not change my default credit card, so now, some lucky individual at 11 Altamont Circle has binders, and I have paper all over my floor. I don't mind buying more, though, because I got my deposit check from my apartment back this week and am practically rolling in the dough.

Classes are interesting: applied microeconomics, strategy, financial accounting and statistics. The accounting and stats classes are made more interesting by the prof's* accent, so hopefully I'll stay awake more than I did in college. Potential business: accented audiobooks. Household Chores narrated Edward, the Brit. Learning how to clean the toilet has never been so sexy.

I applied to the social venture fund and was rejected. It's true - even I get rejected occasionally, but I don't think my heart was really in the application. I should only apply when my heart is committed.

Companies have started visiting campus, and I talked with Ford this week about a marketing rotational program that gives you exposure to three different strategic areas of marketing over time. You know the drill: networking, oozing intelligence. Afterward, of course, I followed the golden rule: thank you notes. Thankfully, years of Grandma Tippit threatening to stop giving us birthday money if we didn't write a thank you note has prepared me for such a time as this. I shot off an email to everyone I talked to during their work hours so as not to be disruptive. I received a response with a question on Saturday, though, and I wasn't sure if I should respond on Saturday or wait until Monday morning. Etiquette is tricky.

I had a consultation to review my communication style and efficacy. It's confirmed. I'm an amazing communicator. I also made the three hour trip to Cleveland Thursday night to have a coffee with a man entrenched in the Cleveland sports industry, and immediately return to finish a group project. The trip was totally worth it, though, if only because I had dinner with my parents and met Greg Pruitt, an apparent Browns legend.

Saturday was another game day, which meant another day of revelry, chanting, pretending I am in college again, only to be harshly reminded this morning, that, no, I am not 21. In fact, I will be 28 this Friday!

Once again, my fantasy team caused me the most angst. I made some good moves this week and was feeling pretty confident after a strong performance Thursday night, but yelled in the Trader Joe's checkout line when I saw that Coleman, the Browns wide receiver who I didn't start because, well, the Browns are the Browns, scored 26 points warming my bench. And they still lost. Very Browns of them.

So. The burning question to which everyone seems to expect the answer to be yes - is it stressful? I can't help but think I have different stress triggers than some.

Feeling wasted at your job. Working for a boss who doesn't trust you. That's stressful. But this. This is why I'm here. I get to take two years out of my life to learn, meet smart, kind people* and explore different areas where I can make an impact. What a very rare and exciting privilege.*

Instead of stress, I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude this week. For a dad who proudly introduces me as going to Michigan for my MBA and tells me what an accomplishment that is. For a mom who constantly shares her wisdom and encouragement. For family - man, I'm so grateful for my family. For people who have made this transition that I was somewhat dreading so very easy. And for the chance to define my future.

It's possible I'll be stressed at some point this year, but for now, I'm going to go watch Jordy Nelson lead the Sugga Momma Bears to a week two victory.

Signing off,

Ana

* When my sister first went to college, we made fun of her because she started using words like prof and drinking coffee.
* Still no d-bags!
* Plus, I'm not working 25 hours a week at a restaurant this time around.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Letter to Pappy

Tuesday morning, I packed my book bag and made the five minute walk to my eighteenth first day of school. Isn't it crazy? You were only able to finish high school - I forget whether or not the war kept you from graduating - and I have the opportunity to pursue a master's. I'm going to Michigan, but please don't hate me. I will never forget my roots.

I chose a casual chic look the first day, classy the second, and capped the week with a hint of Bohemian. Solid lineup. I entered class and looked for my assigned seat, hoping I would sit next to that dream boat. Then I remembered Luke Bryan decided to pursue country music instead of his MBA, so that wasn't possible. I wished they had sent a school supplies list because I found myself ill prepared without binders. Throughout the lectures, I struck a balance between not speaking and asking inane questions that drive the conversation nowhere and elicit eye rolls. I also tried not to roll my eyes. I did wake up anxious this morning, but that was because I knew I shouldn't have passed on Deandre Hopkins for a running back in the first round of a PPR* fantasy league. Rookie move, Sugga Momma Bears*.

Most of my classmates are at the local watering hole for the weekly drink special, but I've been thinking about you and wanted to write. Plus, I'm finishing a Netflix documentary on JuCo football, and the MBA games are tomorrow, so I need my rest to be at peak performance.* And the first NFL game is tonight. Welcome to another season of Browns mediocrity. Sixteen years after you passed, it's still a building a year.

I visited the cemetery the other day to catch up with Stephen, and as I was chatting, I realized I don't often talk to you when I'm there. Maybe it's because Stephen was my brother or maybe it's because his grave is easier to find, but I wanted to stop by today and say thank you.

I went to Woodstock last weekend, Aunt DeeDee's annual party that has grown to include most of Chardon and half the surrounding counties. Much of our rapidly expanding family* was there, including Briella, my eight year old niece.

I see myself in her, running to her gramps for a big belly hug and his hearty laugh. It's weird to think that I was her age when you were diagnosed with cancer. I'm so glad I was able to spend those hot summer nights watching baseball with you and grandma. I remember one night in particular, your body was growing frail and you were leaning over as grandma tended one of the injection wounds. You were looking at the ground with a hint of sadness, but when you saw that I was watching, you got that glimmer in your eye and flashed a reassuring smile. I only remember you smiling, no matter how knobby your knees were, or how black and blue your arm was. Maybe it's because I was young, and that's all I want to remember, but maybe it's because that's all you wanted me to remember.

You're probably wondering what I'm going to do with a fancy degree. I plan to do something great, but great is defined in so many ways. What you did, pappy - moving your family, supporting them on the little you made so they could have better, instilling values that enabled them to build strong families, and filling your home with joy and love - that was great. I recognize it's rare, and I don't take it for granted.* If I have a legacy as strong as that, well, I would consider my life a great success.

I can't wait until the day we can share a couple beers, but for now, thank you for being such a big part of the short time I knew you. Even in your absence, I hold tightly to what you taught me about fighting, about family, about love and sacrifice, and I hope that when you look down on occasion and see me, you smile.

* Points per reception
* My team name, which I thought appropriate because I am the only female. Also, you will notice it is a before and after, a classic Wheel of Fortune puzzle that I appreciate from all those nights watching it with you and gram.
* I probably have some homework I could do, too.
* You have 26 great grand children!
* Despite what grandma says, not everyone in my generation is entitled.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My Encroaching Reality

I tried writing yesterday. I was in a cafe with my Ernest Hemingway accessory* beside me, which seemed the perfect setting. Instead, I kept imagining my life in a Bordeaux apartment, sitting on my terrace overlooking the quaint streets. I would take up casual smoking and look classy doing it, pass the mornings writing and afternoons painting. I would obviously acquire the skill of painting. I would meet my Monsieur while sipping a martini in a dimly lit bar that smelled of elegant cologne and smoked whisky. We would spend weekends in Paris, summer in a chateau, live in the countryside. Our two children, Noemi and Auguste would frolic in the field as I drank wine and prepared a meal of fine cheese, bread, and duck breast. Despite my steady consumption of carbs, my thighs would shrink, and I may or may not stop shaving. I'm not sure if French women shave.

Alright. Snap out of it, Anna. Forgive my romantic fantasies, but when this was my view, I couldn’t help myself.


Sitting in Chuck De'Gaul airport, I am a nine hour flight away from reality. Since I’m not sprinting to my gate as I usually am at this airport, now seems the perfect time to reflect briefly on the late fall/winter/spring/summer of Anna* and look forward to the next adventure.

I started working at age fourteen, spent summers juggling two jobs and babysitting, pulled weekend doubles at the Cheesecake Factory throughout college, and served part time in addition to full time employment. So the past nine months, I rested. I soaked in the goodness of friends and family, established myself as the favorite aunt, and celebrated marriages. I became domestic, mowed a lawn, helped my sister move, painted a house*. I temporarily satiated my travel bug, upped my country count to thirty, enjoyed delicious cuisine, made new friends around the world. I laughed a lot, cried a little, considered where I want to be after graduate school.

I even read. From Phil Knight's - my spirit entrepreneur - biography to the Principles of Economics to America's Bitter Pill, the less than riveting tale of Obamacare's bureaucratic journey that confirmed I have no desire to be in politics, I managed to gain a little knowledge.

And my biggest accomplishment by far: helping the Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA title with years of gritty optimism, prayers, and attendance of game six, shouting from the rafters.

With such a full year, it’s hard to imagine I still have more to accomplish. The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of new faces, preparation for the months to come, and cultural adventure. I could say a lot about particulars, but my main conclusion is this: Ross does a great job of 1) giving you opportunity to build relationships before class begins and 2) choosing people who are smart, humble, and authentic. I expected to enjoy most people, but even so, we are in business school, and there are investment bankers, so I assumed there would be a greater percentage of idiots. But even the investment bankers are nice – at least for now. If the first year is as intense as they say*, I am glad I will be going through it with these classmates.

Before we embark - I'm told it's good to write goals; how much better to share them with the ten people reading my blog? With that, here are some overarching goals for the next 21 months that I reserve the right to change.

Lead a club.

Find a mentor. Admittedly, I always think of Seinfeld and the mentor/protege relationship, but I hear mentors can offer wisdom, and I love wisdom. Plus, you sound intelligent when you start a sentence with, "I was talking to my mentor the other day," so I'm taking applications. At the very least, I'll take one trip to the career advising office.

Do something completely out of my comfort zone - which is difficult because at this point, my comfort zone is really large.

Get involved with a church. I was scanning some online, and one has holy yoga - I have a feeling that's not going to be the one I choose.

Make a couple friends that would invite me to their wedding. Not too many, because weddings get expensive, but a couple.

Squat 190 pounds and do a muscle up. Because I need fitness goals, too.

Where do I want to be at the end of 21 months? I want to be near family, marketing something I love, specifically sports but food, drink and travel are also viable options. I still have a desire to create, and I want to be in a position of influence with leaders who trust their employees. I want to touch people. What does that look like? I'll let you know when I find out, and I am well aware it could be nothing as I imagine it.

Most importantly, trust that in the end, I will be where God wants me to be. The chicken scratch on my chalkboard reminds me, "God is wholly good. Trust Him now with everything. Show me where to walk, for I give my soul to you." Holding tightly to that belief, and taking an occasional deep breath when I get overwhelmed, the rest will fall into place.

So as the French say, "Allez le blue!"

* Because let's be honest, it's just there so I appear well read and intelligent.
* I know, I should have created a better name for it.
* By painting a house, I mean painting a room, but house sounds better.
* Still doubt it.

Some of my favorite pics from the last nine months.
Florianopolis, apparently home to very good looking people, but an even better coastline in my opinion.

Nothing better than reunions with the college bestie.

El Cristo!!! And a lot of clouds.

A few of the children I worked with. At this point, they were staring in awe at my blue eyes.

A dreary but magnificent Halong Bay.


The beautiful New Zealand sky.


Melbourne skyline, matched in greatness only by their delicious donuts.

Ko Phi Phi island. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Angkor Wat in the extreme, extreme heat.

Our last night in Singapore. So much laughter on this trip.

We did it!!! World champions.

My last night in Cville spent with amazing friends.


The sweetest kiddos who I got to spend so much time with this summer.

My most innovative dome selfie to date.

The idyllic setting for an afternoon glass of vino.

My future summer chateau.

Of course - family.

Allez le bleu!!





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Woes of Moving

Orientation is over, and I almost went the whole week without telling a boob story. But then high school nicknames arose. Not once, but twice! I refrained the first time, but the second, I had to tell the story of Nips Navs. I didn't drink any tequila, though, so I think I managed to maintain a small level of mystique.

Because I was focused on orientation, I failed to lament over the laborious process of moving. No worries, though, I haven't forgotten the pain.

If ever there is a time I 1) despise being independent and 2) wish I had a personal assistant, Johan, it is when moving. I have moved four times, and each time, my fifty year old mother and I are hauling boxes from apartment to apartment. Granted, she is in phenomenal shape, but hauling boxes across four states was a bit much to ask, so I hired movers. It was the best two grand I have ever spent; however, I still hate moving.

First, there is the packing process, during which I continuously ask myself how I accumulated so many clothes and kitchen appliances in two years. And whether or not I really need to save my college diploma. Of course, I need to save that red dress I wore to homecoming senior year, because there's a chance my thighs will one day return to their pre-squat girth. I use an entire week's worth of newspaper to ensure my two dollar plastic cup doesn't crack in transit and five rolls of packing tape to ensure not even the Rock could open my box.*

The moving men eased the pain of lifting boxes. In retrospect, I should have gone out to breakfast during the two hours they were packing, because I didn't know what to do with myself. After realizing that I was hindering any loading process more than helping, I just sat on the floor in my kitchen and pondered life.*

When we arrived in Ann Arbor, the unloading process was just as smooth, but this time, I could occupy myself by unpacking. A picture, of efficiency, I unpacked all boxes and even hung relatively level pictures within the first week. Assembling furniture is another story.

I bought a cheap patio set from Wayfair. The review read: "it took my husband five minutes to put it together." Not all of us have husbands to put it together in five minutes. My legs are currently strewn about the floor and the over/under on the assembly of the table is one month. I get intimidated by screws, and I imagine I will eventually acquiesce the help of others in exchange for food and drink.

The most frustrating part of any move for me is logistics. I don't know how I would have survived before the Internet, because every time I have to call an automated system, I end up yelling at the operator. After taking care of gas and electric, I called Comcast and got suckered into the cable package for $69. Then I decided I didn't need to pay for cable. Afterall, everyone tells me I'm going to have zero free time come September. I call Comcast, and our conversation goes something like this:

I would like to cancel my cable.

Why?

I don't want to pay for it.

Okay, Well, if you only have Internet, it will cost you the same. Actually, I can knock ten dollars off your current package and only charge you $59.

You confuse me. But okay.

For all the complaining I do about Comcast, I have had very good interactions with them. They were scheduled to come between 8:30 and 10:30. They arrived at 9 and were done within an hour - probably because I had already figured out the other wiring on my TV, one thing I have mastered in my independence. They also set up my WiFi username and password so I don't have to enter the ridiculous default. I wanted to tip them, but remembered I haven't had an income in months, so I just offered them some coffee.

Of course the process was not without caveat. My outlets are only two prong. It's okay, though, because I had to run to Target to pick up hooks for the new shower curtain because apparently buying a shower curtain requires three separate purchases - the curtain, the liner, and hooks. I quickly learned a surge protector with a two prong outlet and three prong inputs doesn't exist, so I need to purchase a cheat outlet, which is not available at Target.

But none of this compares to my general frustration with the bureau of motor vehicles, an entity with which I have not had to interact in my previous three moves.

Dear Presidential candidates: If one of you could nationalize the DMV/BMV, I will vote for you, regardless of your stance on other issues. If you could throw in a speed limit of 70 on all interstate highways, I will join the campaign trail.

My registration in Virginia expired July 31st. In order to renew again, I will need an eCheck from Virginia. I don't plan on taking my car back to Virginia any time soon, so I looked into getting Michigan plates, which requires me to transfer my title, insurance, and driver's license.* I don't know where my title is. Who knows where their title is? Of course, I need to transfer my license so I can register to vote in Michigan, but since neither of the candidates are promising to nationalize the system of motor vehicles, I may not vote, anyways. And my driving record transfers to Michigan, which is most annoying of all. What is the point of getting a new driver's license if the points remain? I may just risk being pulled over - I've been working on my "woo cops and get out of infractions" game, and I think it's getting stronger. If that fails, I'll get Geeves to take care of it.

* Perfect place for sexual innuendo, but I am refraining. I just want to acknowledge that I see the opportunity.
* As you can imagine, my thoughts were deep. Mostly, I thought about how the Olympic village was going to use 450,000, because I find that number to be absolutely fascinating.
* I also need to provide my birth certificate, social security card, and three people who can vouch for my legitimacy as a human.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Anna Preps for B School

Shortly after my first day at RKG, I was talking with a coworker, Brian. He said of meeting me: "At first I thought, 'man, she seems really classy - then you sent that email ranting about Cleveland sports.'"

Let me start by saying I don't know why classiness and ranting about Cleveland sports are mutually exclusive. Now...

Tomorrow is the first day of orientation. Alas, the late fall/winter/spring/most of summer of Anna is drawing to a close. Don't panic, I still have a bike trip through French wine country before the reality of grad school hits (which I still don't think will be a harsh reality).

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. Orientation. A chance to revamp my persona and define myself however I please. I could be the savvy, calculating tycoon. I could be the edgy chick with the leather coat and distant look in her eyes. I could be the quietly intelligent woman oozing sophistication. Guys - I could have mystique!*

What are the steps of preparation for such a pivotal point, the beginning of my MBA journey? We are all told to read inspirational books, map our strengths and weaknesses, write a statement of purpose, but there's so much more.

1. Wardrobe. You may not know this, but I won best dressed in high school. Of course, the organizer of senior superlatives was also in the running for the award and came in a distant (I assume) second. She decided that both first and second should be in the superlative pictures, clearly losing the essence of the word superlative, and conveniently forgot to tell me - and only me - the day of pictures. I was wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Joke's on her, though, because I rocked those sweatpants ironically and have clearly moved past the injustice.

Working as the only female at a tech company took a toll on my fashion output, so I reassessed my closet and added a few token pieces, including a blazer, a red dress, a couple pencil skirts and blouses that don't reveal pit stains, casually chic tanks, and a hot pink mini skirt because why not. No pants suits. I do not and will never believe in them.

2. Hair color. My hues have spanned the spectrum: auburn, bleach blonde, natural (for about a month when I was experimenting with fiscal responsibility), brunette, deep brunette, warm golden highlights. For years I have adhered to the theory that people take me more seriously as a brunette because the combination of the blonde and my laugh make for an overwhelming impression. However, I think I've reached a point in my career where I have proven my intellect beyond the color of my hair, and I've reached a point in my life where the perception of others is less burdensome. So the question becomes, in what color do I feel most like myself? Is there really any contest? Blonde. Bright, glorious blonde.

3. My part. Perhaps a bigger decision than the color of my hair was the decision to switch the part from right to left. My brother-in-law, Will, made me aware of valid research that concludes the side on which one parts his/her hair has the power to impact success. I've come this far with my hair parted on the wrong side - imagine the power and prestige that lies ahead!

Emanating power.

4. Phase defining scent. Another scientific theory. Smells trigger memory. Angel takes me back to the high school gym. Happy takes me back to summers teaching tennis. What will harken memories of grad school years from now?

This decision is not one to be taken lightly, and I have literally spent hours seeking phase defining scents with my sister, Lydia, who first introduced me to their importance. Unfortunately, when I walked into the Nordstrom fragrance section, the scents were behind counters, meaning my quest was dictated by another. Were these women capable of leading me to a scent that frolicked upon my nostrils, one that was neither too sweet nor too floral, nor too MBA*? I had no choice but to believe they were.

Twenty minutes and ten perfumes later, between which I profusely apologized for taking so long and secretly wished I could try fifty more, I had narrowed the choice to two. From there, I had to employ bipartisan expertise. I spritzed one on each arm, picked up two mascaras so I could get Lancome's free gift, and sought my mother and sister for a dual arm sniff test. They were torn. While the first had a better initial scent, the second lingered. In the end, I went with my gut and chose the "elegant" fragrance, apparently also just chosen by a woman who was about to get married. I don't know why the salesperson thought it necessary to tell me this, but I suppose that sounds more appealing than if it had been chosen by a woman who was about to work the street corner. When I asked the price, it was obviously the most expensive, but I plan to recoup those costs with whatever job this degree lands me. Clearly, this is an investment in my future.

5. Locate Crossfit, tennis courts, and radio presets. I'm about to encounter a lot of change. For starters, I have to wake up tomorrow at a specific time. I will need an aggressive, athletic outlet for any buildup of angst, and of course, I will need to be able to jam out in the car. Thankfully, there is no shortage of athletes in Ann Arbor, and since it's a Midwest town near Detroit, there is no shortage of country or hip hop radio stations. There's even a station dedicated to throw back tunes, playing Juvenile and NWA all day. Done and done.

6. Set some social ground rules. 1) Don't bring up embarrassing stories about bodily functions or boobs for at least six weeks. 2) Obey rule number one. Even if the story is really funny. 3. No tequila. Just. No. 4. Obey rule number three. Even if the tequila is really good and lime and salt are involved. 5. Smile.

I'm pretty confident I have covered all my bases. Now if you'll excuse me, I think have to read some case study for tomorrow.

*Or I could be the one giggling when the professor says, "The British currency has been falling since the Brexit. How do they get it up again?" because she definitely could have said that.

*my mother told me she didn't want me to get a scent that was too MBA, which Julie and I determined must mean musky.