Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11/01 Ten Years Later

September 11th, 2001:  I was a freshman at Kent State University, just coming off of my 19th birthday.  I had early classes that semester--7:45am start time.  The teacher let us out early at 8:30am that day, so I hopped on a campus bus back to my dorm.  I estimated that by the time the second tower hit, I was stepping off at my stop. 

As was my usual routine following an early class, I went straight back to bed for a nap before my next one.  I didn't wake up until 11:20, and when I went down the hall to the bathroom, I noticed that everyone's door's were open and televisions were on.  I heard one girl who was clearly upset telling some others that nobody could get a hold of her sister in New York.  Something seemed off, so when I went back to my room, I got on the computer and saw an IM from my friend Kris.  "Do you know if classes are cancelled today?" she said.

"Uh, why would classes be cancelled today?" I asked.

"Turn on your tv."

The television stayed on for the rest of the day after that.  At some point, I started a group chat on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) with a bunch of my friends from high school, and I saved it to capture the snapshot in history.  Here's an excerpt:

RiaLucia: Where exactly were YOU when you heard?
Lucy1530: hmm... just out of bed
FunkmastaBSB: I was in my first class at 9:30
Ditzy127: my dad called me a little after 9 this morning...right after the first one hit, and then i turned on 
Ditzy127: the TV and watched the second one live
RiaLucia: omg
RiaLucia: Live?!?
Lucy1530: ahhhhhh!
FunkmastaBSB: Then ironically I has my US history and we talked about it
Ditzy127: yeah, they were just talking about why/how the plane ran into the building (if it was out of control..
FunkmastaBSB: I was thinking how scary it would be to see that second one
Ditzy127: etc...) when it happened
RiaLucia: Well I had a class at 7:45 as per usual, and my teacher let us out early, like around 8:30. 
RiaLucia: I came back to my room and took a long nap until about 11:20 and then when I got up and went to...
RiaLucia: ...the bathroom I heard that girl talk about her sis in NYC and I got on the computer and one of my...
RiaLucia: ...friends told me. So I turned on the TV and it stayed on alllllllll day
Ditzy127: mine too, lol...
FunkmastaBSB: yep, I've been pretty much glued to the TV
Lucy1530: yeah, mine too, although I wasn't here all the time
Ditzy127: so, what do you guys think will happen?
RiaLucia: Jerica and I even fell asleep watching it.
RiaLucia: I don't think this is an isolated incident. I think there's more to follow from them as well as us.
FunkmastaBSB: I have no idea
FunkmastaBSB: it's really complicated
COOLVETLADY: Heck ya to what ria said
FunkmastaBSB: It would be so much easier if it were from a country
Lucy1530: I'm afraid of what's going to happen. I hope it doesn't cause a war.
Ditzy127: i think we'll finally know who it was...but find out in a few months...then bomb them and that's it...
FunkmastaBSB: At least then we could just bomb the hell out of 'em
Ditzy127: i don't think it will cause a major war...probably just a short one like Desert Storm
RiaLucia: But I'm afraid of escalation
lilone0330: yeah right. like it'll be that easy...
FunkmastaBSB: hopefully

Crazy, right?  That was what was going through the minds of a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds.  My roommate and I watched the news all day; we even fell asleep to it.  The next day, when we had enough, we jumped into her Oldsmobile and went to Wal-mart, I think.  By then, American flags were starting to appear in windows everywhere, so we wanted to pick something up to put into ours.  Every store had run out of flags, so we found a plastic flag plate and propped it up in our dorm window for the next several weeks.  I think I'm the one who ended up with it after she moved out during spring semester, come to think of it. 

But that was my experience.  Uneasy, hurt, crying off and on for an entire afternoon as I watched coverage of the wreckage and listened to people call in to tell the world about the people they lost.

Life goes on, but we will always remember.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My (First) 29th Birthday*

So I celebrated my 29th birthday today, and I couldn't feel more blessed by the outpouring of well wishes from family and friends.  One might say that the party started at 3pm yesterday when it turned midnight in Germany and I got a birthday cheers over Skype. ;-)  Then it rolled into today where I excitedly woke up at 6:45 (yeah, on a Saturday) and saw an inbox full of Facebook notices.  I ran around running errands all morning as soon as the stores opened, for this year I decided to have a little get together at my favorite beach and in my infinite wisdom, I waited until today to shop for it.  In my defense, I haven't thrown a party in years, so I'm rusty with the logistics!

I was concerned at first because it was so overcast in the morning, but by the time my party rolled around, the weather became gorgeous--not too hot or too chilly and nice scattered clouds.  I spent a lovely afternoon cavorting at Moonlight Beach with people from all areas of my life: local pals, family who drove down from LA, friends from school, ladies from the dance was a really fantastic way to spend a birthday.  I am so thankful for everything that I have been blessed with.

And now I move into the final act of the evening--which is watching The Office while I eat Ben & Jerry's "Fair Goodness Cake"--I shall leave you with this photo of me and my party's special guest, Popsing.  Long story/historical family inside joke, but it made me positively silly with happiness when my Uncle Henry showed up with it.

Popsing is happy to attend my birthday bash!

*The official word is that I will definitely celebrate the big 3-0 next year, and then roll it back to 29.  ;-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

The MBA Project: Team Work

Teamwork is the cornerstone of any MBA program.  That may seem counter-intuitive at first, given the competitive nature of the free market business world, but the reality is that even people who are going to go off and become the sole proprietors of a small business still need to know how to work effectively with others.  You have to learn how to engage with other people from varying backgrounds, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, etc.  In many business school courses, team projects are a significant portion of your grade.

For me, team work is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, I generally enjoy working on solo projects that go at my own pace and that do not depend on the contributions (and therefore hinderances) of others.  On the other hand, working in teams is often more efficient and it forces you to consider alternative options and perspectives. Not to mention you tend to learn something from the other person--be it a skill or just a valuable lesson--and let's not forget the social camaraderie!  My team has already been out for a 2 margarita lunch together. ;-)

Our cohort was divided into teams by the MBA administration, so as to maximize diversity and simulate conditions in the real world working environment.  There are six teams with about 6-7 people each.

My team has 6 people, and we are awesome.  I will respectfully decline to name and profile everyone individually for privacy reasons, but here is a quick rundown:  I am one of two women on the team, and we have backgrounds in engineering, small business ownership, financial advisory, retail management, etc.  One of my teammates is from Saudi Arabia.  He and his family are here for 2 years while he earns his MBA here and runs his real estate firm back home.  How cool is that?

So we are all "stuck together", as it were, for the first semester of class.  Since after that everyone in the evening MBA program tends to accelerate or decelerate to finish at their own pace, we aren't expected to remain a unit after this.  During the orientation week, we had breakout sessions with team assignments pretty much every day, and the first big test of our ability to get something accomplished was last Saturday, the final day of Orientation Week.

It was a contest between all 6 teams to build a sand castle at Coronado Island with a 2 hour time limit.  We had to plan and execute a sand castle with about 3 days notice, and we were judged by random people that the professor rounded up on the beach that morning.  The criteria was height, stability, and beauty.  There were some pretty impressive creations from this; one team built a pyramid mountain of sand that was easily 6 or 7 feet tall!  Another team made a really great looking VW bug and they even dug out a little road in front of it, and their pitch to the judges was about how the MBA would give them the drive to continue down the roads of their career...or something...another team had a village seated at the base of a volcano, and said village featured a hot tub.

So anyway, you know those Mayan pyramids, like at Chichen Itza?

Well check this bad boy out.


I have a confession to make...this project started out as a 3 tier cake.  About an hour into it, we realized that it just wasn't happening.  It's a real bear to keep that much sand moist and packed, and as we built it, the sides took a natural slant shape.  So we modified the design a bit, added some stairs and a temple entrance on top, and *BAM*!  Mayan pyramid.  I may have pitched it to the judges as a temple of wisdom, built on front of a pool of knowledge, leading to burning flames, blah blah blah....then one of my teammates also threw in the International element and how it ties into our group and the USD mission etc etc etc...

...anyway, we WON!

It wasn't the tallest creation and the VW bug was arguably more beautiful, but it was definitely very solid and really had the overall package.  Not to mention we all worked well together and made quick decisions to implement changes when something wasn't working.  I feel like with this win, we're off to a really good start this semester.  We have a lot more work to do together in the months ahead and I am looking forward to seeing how our group dynamic strengthens and takes shape.

Yeah, Team 3!