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Posts Tagged ‘self-actualization’

snailsDrive drive drive (S 402km) :: fields of sunflowers on all sides – all facing the same way :: dinner for five at the brand extension of a Michelin starred bistro. food is lacking but the bathrooms are fancy :: an INSEAD classmate is at a table next to ours. small world :: the city itself is gorgeous. i find myself wondering if i could live here :: 12:30AM :: drive drive drive (S 229km) :: staying awake by having ‘cultural exchange’ with travel companion whose parents mortgaged their house so he could attend INSEAD. he insists on the importance of Dean’s List. for him, this is a high stakes gamble. i wonder whether or not I should be taking myself a little more seriously as well :: 3AM. night guard at shitty hostel won’t let me park car inside the gate (his logic goes like this: “What is everyone who came in at 3AM wanted to park inside the gate?” Um… I guess you could do your job and open the gate for them too?) :: under the scorching sun set about discovering the alleyways of a medieval fortified city of the popes :: quaint, lovely. my parents were here just a few years ago. wonder if we noticed the same things :: soft serve for lunch – cassis melon swirl :: a visit to Les Halles makes me wonder if i could live here too :: drive drive drive (SE 260km) to try to make it to a hotel that won’t take reservations. we don’t make it but realize that we hate the town we’re in :: regroup, rebook, retrace steps :: get takeout lunch and sit on the beach :: drive drive drive (W 77km) :: check into adorable hotel on top of a hill overlooking the sea :: discover that the town has two streets and no one is serving food. beer and olives for dinner it is. the kids next to us are wasted – keep saying, “we love you, English.” we don’t contradict. their drinks are bright green. they tell us it’s called Jet (written Get) :: sleep like a rock :: the town is weird in the daytime. packed with old people. i keep thinking they know something. some big event is happening just on the outskirts of town, but no one is telling us. there’s a tiny circus in town. the cage with a plaster gorilla on top has a dog in it. :: drive (S 5km) :: beach is scorching hot. lots of topless old ladies :: drive (E 22km) :: soft serve break – Cola flavor. might be my new favorite. the rest of the trip is spent searching for it, to no avail :: I’m on a boat! Boat’s fun until it slows to a crawl in front of rich people’s villas so that the guide can fill us in on the gossip :: guide keeps making tacky comments at me, telling me which of the villa owners is single. the presumption of course is that i could never possibly do anything worthwhile enough to earn enough money to buy a fancy villa of my own – or at the very least rent one for 40K/week. he clearly hasn’t seen our NBV business plan :: a sunset walk through the vineyard and world’s biggest salad for dinner. rosé. mmm… :: hit the town and get some Get of our own (tastes just as foul as it looks – Mouthwash and ToiletDuck) :: more beach :: drive drive (NW 121km) :: bum around another old French town. they’re all starting to blur :: major strike out on both lunch and soft-serve :: drive drive drive (N 154km) :: sunflowers, lavender, windmills :: check into a hotel in a weird, nearly deserted town. there’s a brand new nuclear power plant on the outskirts of town, and the town is seemingly filled with single men who work at the plant. there are no women in town, so the attention we get will hopefully tide us over until P4 :: giant sundae to celebrate fourth of July. we say the pledge of allegiance to our sundae. a car backfires on the street and we jump, thinking the town is having fireworks. return to the hotel and watch the Boston Pops on YouTube as consolation. i’m crushed when i find out that Keith Lockhart divorced Lucia Lin (2 years ago). sing along with the Star Spangled Banner and call it a night :: at check-out have completely ridiculous argument over 4 EUR parking charge when told parking was free the night before (“Sir, why would we lie to you about this?” Full body shrug. “Perhaps you’re trying to gain 4 EUR”) we can’t decide if what transpired was very French of if this man’s brain is addled from living too close to the nuclear power plant :: drive drive drive drive (N545 km). time flies as my travel companion tells hilarious dating disaster stories and we compare notes on a certain classmate (closeted gay v doesn’t-know-what-he-wants debate continues) :: at home, i find my roommate gone, my visa still not here :: write blog entry :: resume existential crisis.

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This time one year ago, a June weekend might have looked like this:  I probably woke up late on a Saturday, grabbed a New Yorker or a Gourmet magazine, and whiled the morning away over a huge coffee and a spinach, egg and cheese muffin at the bakery down the street.  Then I wandered into town for an afternoon of Swedish modernist home decor shopping, or for another giant coffee with a friend, or for a walk along the esplanade.  In the evening, I probably hosted a dinner, met friends in town, let one of the guys I’ve dumped (but insisted in keeping on as friends for reasons of flattery – wasn’t that fun, Danny?  I thought so…) make me dinner or went to the theater or the Symphony (often by myself).  On Sunday morning I read the NYTimes from cover to cover (okay, just the arts and style sections), spent some time torturing the piano, and thought about cleaning the apartment.   Or I hosted a fabulous brunch that involved strawberries and Chantilly or deep-fried poached eggs.  Then I dragged a group of friends to the beach for lobster, or to a clam shack out of town, or to climb a mountain.  This led my boss to point out that I seem to be having a lot more fun on the weekends than during the week in the office.  Yeah, no kidding.

This year’s June weekends look like this:  this morning I got up and checked facebook to see what I missed by not going out the night before.  There was a BBQ that looked like fun, but also described by my neighbor as, “just like every BBQ you’ve been to this year.”  Saw more pictures posted of the Monty Ball – was tempted to go just to get a picture of myself being decadent and wearing an 18th century wig, but decided to sleep instead.  Lame, I know.  Then I cranked on a scenario planning exercise for International Political Analysis, calculated some multiples for a Mergers and Acquisitions case, trying hard to force myself to care about the wave of acquisitions in the fine chemicals industry, and read three cases for my (really awesome) Enviro Management class.  Then I wrote an e-mail to my condo tenants back in the States to assure them that their A/C would get fixed just as soon as I could get the delinquent building manager to respond to my phone calls.   Then I checked the exchange rate for the 10th time this week – damn, no shopping therapy for me this year.  Then I wrote another angry e-mail to the idiots (mis)handling my visa.  Then I came to school for group work.  Had an unexpected, but really quality heart-to-heart with one of my groupmates.  It’s nice when you feel like you’ve gotten past the fronting and the keeping-it-together with someone – that they’ll still like you if you’re in a bad mood, if you’re stressed out, homesick, cranky.  Seriously, when is the last time you talked about what’s important to you?  Felt really inspired?  Admitted to someone that you’re worried that the thing you say you want to do with your life is not truly the thing that you want to do with your life?  It’s been a while.

But this is starting to sound like one of Vantan’s insufferable posts.  I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to say with this comparison.  I don’t wish that I was still back in my condo, reading my Gourmet and showing up to the office on Monday to while away the week before I had another inspiring fulfilling weekend.  But I do miss some of the comforts of that life: trips to Whole Foods, finding time to read, $10 lobster, an income, friends I’ve known for 10 years living down the street, having one of the world’s top symphony orchestras a 30 minute walk from my house, not feeling like I’m missing out if I don’t make it to every social gathering, being an hour’s flight from my parents.  Essayist André Aciman describes mnemonic arbitrage as the act of thinking about yourself in the future remembering the moment that you are experiencing.  The meta-ness of this concept is a bit dizzying, but it’s exactly what I’m doing these days: looking at my world from the point of view of my future self.  Whether it’s the future self that is experiencing the moment while composing a blog post about that moment in my head, or the future self that looks back on this experience years from now and wonders if she did it right, made the right choices, made the most of her time.            

A couple of things threw me for a loop this week.  Part of the funk is due to some self-inflicted “matters of the heart.” But also, I went to a talk earlier this week.  One of the guys giving the talk worked for a direct competitor of my old firm.  The other guy had recently joined my dream firm – the company I’ve been stalking for months before finally applying for an internship and getting rejected by HR with a generic ‘we’ll keep your resume on file’ e-mail.  

– But… but… but… we were made for each other!  Wait, don’t leave!  

They also rejected a friend of mine that I thought was a shoo-in for the job.  So, like the men at INSEAD (okay, women too), they just don’t know what they want.  

The topic of the talk was precisely in the intersection of the two firms’ activities that are interesting to me.  Two things happened:  [one] It made me really miss my old job and [two] It made me realize that dream company does some really boring stuff.  While they think about interesting stuff, their main product appears to be slick-looking reports.  Snoooozzzz. 

– So, there, I wasn’t interested anyways!

Yes, my capacity for self-justification is amazing:  I can convince myself that every outcome that transpires is my getting my way/a blessing in disguise/a thing happening for a reason.  

I best go summon those powers of self-justification to try to feel less homesick.

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I recently stopped by the old office.  I almost cancelled at the last moment, because it’s a huge pain in the ass to get to now that I don’t have a car, but mostly because I had conflicted feelings about going there again.  I gave notice nearly 2 months before I had heard from INSEAD; it was review time and I just didn’t want to go through the motions of setting goals for the following year.  My goals would have included something like, ‘quit job,’ ‘see the world’ which wouldn’t have been in line with what the company wanted to do.    

I needed a way to ensure that I would not stay in my job if I had gotten rejected by the school.  So I bought a one-way plane ticket.  

The idea came from my then four-time-ex (now maybe-no-longer-an-ex-but-I’m-not-sure-what-we-are-but-will-be-traveling-to-visit-to-see-next-week).  He told me of a company started by some of his friends.  https://www.stickk.com//

You join the site and commit a certain amount of money to a personal goal.  Like, $500 to quit smoking – something I highly advise to all my future European classmates – and you set a deadline.  If you don’t accomplish this goal, your credit card gets charged and you get to donate the money to charity.  I didn’t delve too deeply into it – I imagine the whole thing works (if it does) on the honor system.  In the event that you did not accomplish your goal, your money goes to a good cause.  It’s a little ass backwards that the charity is funded only if you fail.  But it’s a cute idea.  That was the rationale behind buying the ticket – I would purchase the airline ticket and if I didn’t get into INSEAD, I would still quit my job to use the ticket.      

While trying to find available dates on frequent flyer miles, the guy on the other end of the phone offered to come with me, promising delightful company. 

The joke around the old office was that I “give good phone.”  When talking to our company’s vendors or suppliers on the phone, I would inevitably invite some kind of personal digression.  A couple of times I even received gifts along with a product sample I requested – a laser pointer/pen, some candy – small, creepy mementos from lonely sales reps in rural Ohio [read: real America].         

When writing my good-bye e-mail, I still did not know whether I would be attending business school after I returned from my travels.   By then I had had a disappointing interview (only one, whereas everyone I had met had two) with a woman who barely gave me an hour of her time and seemed incredibly bored to be telling me about the “best year of her life.” So I was not feeling very confident that I would get in.  I was also too scared to re-read my application essays that I had written over the course of a week while nursing a 102 degree fever.  

It’s sort of a tradition at our office to write a good-bye e-mail long before you actually leave.  This way, for your last month, you get to be the center of attention as you talk about the exciting next thing you’re doing to everyone who is staying behind working for that jackass client on that project that just won’t end.  As I’ve no doubt established here, I’m a huge attention whore.  (Thus, I’m not feeling confident that I’ll be able to keep this blog anonymous.)  

Somehow, during my absence, the word had gotten around that I was moving to France.  But in the interoffice game of broken telephone, I was now moving to France to go to culinary school.  I was known in the office as a giant gastroslut and thus, culinary school probably went along with that image better than an MBA.

When I came back to correct this notion, people looked almost disappointed.  When I was leaving, jumping into the void, behind the admiration and support of my coworkers, I could see their thinly veiled amusement that I had gone nuts.  Now, MBA seemed like such a normal, rational thing to do (even if I am moving to such an unlikely place to do it).  So, fear not my friends with desk jobs, I’m already calculating the earliest I could pay off my loans so that I can quit my life again.  These days, I have an itch to move to Buenas Aires and dance tango all night.

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