Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows Eve

I remember carving pumpkins on my porch with my father when I was a little girl. We would go to the local patch, seek out the biggest pumpkin we could find and then paint a ridiculously complicated face on him and spend all day slicing and spilling and laughing. 

By the end, I would be covered in sticky pumpkin juice, the seeds would be baking in the oven, and a masterpiece remained on display by our front doors- it was the pride and joy of the Witkin household- for a day at least. I miss carving pumpkins. I miss my dad. We don’t really speak anymore…I wonder if he is still carving
 pumpkins, even if its just for himself.

When I was little, Halloween was centered around trick-or-treating, costumes, and candy consumption. The themes of my world changed during these days. In preparation of, and through Halloween, everything was covered in orange and black, artificial cobwebs with plastic spiders hung from the ceilings of my classrooms, and the neighborhood’s foliage was adorned with ghosts and ghouls and goblins. My mom finally stocked our cupboards with chocolate, which was rare in our healthy household. Bags and bags of caramel, buttermilk, candy corns, and gooey sweet substances were always “hidden” under the kitchen sink in order to be distributed to the trick-or-treaters come Halloween night. It was fall, and the air smelled exactly as it was meant to smell- as it always did in late October- Fresh with the chill of impending winter, but symbolizing the comfort of falling leaves in the remaining autumn sun. 

To me, Halloween always signified the commencement of the holiday season- after the lull of spring’s melting and long summer nights. First came Halloween, and before I knew it- Thanksgiving was upon us, then Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and finally my birthday. “My Holiday Season” and how it worked itself out in my mind. 
It still does.

Halloween has maintained its status as my favorite holiday for this very reason. Contrary to what one would assume, my love for the holiday has nothing to do with scary movies and fake blood- although I’m not opposed. My early Halloweens were the opening ceremonies to everything I held dear…time with my family, the ability to be a child-and nothing else, and a joint feeling of well being and warmth. The holidays- as best as I can describe them- were safe times. It wasn’t summer when I was off on a plane to a summer camp for two months, or sent to a foreign country to learn a new language. It wasn’t early fall when school began anew and our carpools dropped us off and left us in the hands of teachers- and school systems- and girl scout meetings- and piano lessons from dusk till dawn.

The holidays were when I was picked up early from school because someone special had arrived in town, or when we went shopping for new sweaters because our yearly ski trip was approaching- or when I knew that within a few days, I would be sitting in the kitchen with both my cooking grandmothers chopping and frying and slicing- during their annual latke making competition- when my grandpa would be outside smoking cigars with my dad and uncles- and my sister and I would be whispering to each other and laughing quietly in the next room as we made up dance routines to the latest Whitney Houston C.D. 

This was a time when everything was good- everyone was happy and healthy- this was life. We were living it and there was no future. There was only then- all of us there together with a shared understanding that time had stopped- if only for that evening. No one thought of the pain we might bear in the coming years, the losses we would all endure, the changes we would undergo. There were no flailing economies, MBA anxieties, illnesses, worries of global warming. There was just us- and our pumpkins and smiles and innate and true love for one another. Maybe this is how childhood is defined- or maybe it is specific to my childhood- whichever the case, I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

Every Halloween, my mother would take my sister and I to the costume store- and every year, without fail, I would become so overwhelmed with the approaching choice I knew I would have to make. This still happens to me- it’s why I can’t shop in large department stores- and why I must choose my flavor before I enter the ice cream shop.

I would look forward to costume shopping for days, and inevitably- upon entering the store, I would lose focus- wander away- and spend hours fingering anything with sequins or brightly colored feathers. Every year, in the end- I would dress up as a devil because I never made my choice in the allotted time. Devil was my default. 

So guess what I’m dressing as this year? 
A devil. 
Of course… 

Ask my friend Sebastiaan, who accompanied me on my Halloween shopping excursion yesterday…same thing happened. 20 years later and nothing has changed. I should have warned him before he accepted my invite to come along with me.

More than costumes though, Halloween was about the candy. The excessive consumption of sweet substances- sugar highs- sugar lows- and stomach aches. Moreover, it was about the competition for candy. Who is the best trick-or-treater? Who can get the most out of the plastic jack-o-lantern? I loved competition and I loved candy and I loved being able to stay out past dark- even if I had to be accompanied by someone’s mom. What could be any better? And even though I was a shy child, I was in a costume so I could easily step out of my comfort zone and ring the doorbells of strangers, while begging for miniature colorful packages of the chocolates I was deprived of the rest of the year. And then once it was all over, when our feet were tired and the makeup had run from our cheeks to our chins, and the sequins had fallen off our leotards and dresses- we would go home. I would sit myself on the floor, in the middle of the living room, and dump out my findings- separating and calculating my earnings for hours on end, while eating as much as I could without vomiting. 

Halloween, as most things in life, has its phases. Like growing up- the transition from childhood to adulthood was pretty abrupt. One day, I’m trick-or-treating in peace, and the next? I am told that I’m too old to be a trick-or-treater. I have to admit- I was gutted. It broke my little heart. I think the hardest part about all that, and one of the first lessons of age inequality, was when I was forced to watch my little sister get dressed and go out trick-or-treating with her friends.

But not all was lost. As it never is. A few years later began the new phase of Halloween. I could sugarcoat (literally. Candy corns and all) the essence of teenage/young-adult Halloween, but instead- I’ll be honest. Halloween is now, and has been for the last ten years, about dressing in as few clothes as is legally possible and getting drunk. 
Maybe my mom should have let me trick-or-treat a little deeper into my developmental phase, after all. 

So tonight, in keeping with the tradition that has remained ever since I was too old to knock on strangers’ doors and beg for candy, I am attending a large party. Yes, even in Spain- we manage to capitalize on the American tradition of All Hallows Eve. This evening will be a combination of hundreds of intoxicated MBA students from different programs around Barcelona, friends, local partygoers, and a bunch of random individuals who care enough to share this wonderful American tradition of dressing inappropriately and drinking excessively. 

And as an homage to my childhood- I’m dressing as a devil. Halloween 2008 will undoubtedly be fun- of this I am sure- but it wont hold a candle to pumpkin carving in all my innocence and peace. I miss those afternoons on the porch, and the holidays that came after. And I will continue to miss them, because 
Halloween will carry on, year after year- but those days- the pumpkin carving days- I will never have them back.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The A, B, C's...revisited

In my anxiety and distress, I have been reaching out to anyone within corporeal distance. I’ve been grasping for some local sense of security, or advice, or maybe even a bit of sympathy. Of the latter, there is an abundance- and if not sympathy, then it is empathy- and considerable amounts of commiseration. I’m actually getting sick of wallowing in my own self-pity, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m beginning to irritate those on the receiving end as well.

Therefore, when I heard back from my friend Andreu, who has accomplished everything in his life that I hope to accomplish myself one day, I took his advice a bit more seriously than that of other students or friends- with biased or subjective opinions.
Andreu wasn’t sympathetic…which was perfectly fine.
Sympathy is overrated.
What he did do though, is give me a framework within which I am meant to assess and organize my thoughts and pretty much, my daily life.

I cannot say that I will be able to follow this advice, but it was excellent nonetheless. Maybe it will be of aid to individuals in my similar position (i.e. MBA students, mid-20 somethings attempting to combine their dreams with their realities, and anyone else just a little bit lost).
Actually, I have no doubt that it will be of use to someone, somewhere.

He wrote:

“ Write down your goal on a piece of paper, frame it and put it somewhere in your bedroom, in front of your desk, or anywhere where you will see it often.
All the things that you do in life are in one of these three categories:

A) Things that are basic needs for living (i.e. eating well , sleeping, washing, defecating and a few others)

B) Things that will help you reach your goal (attending classes at ESADE, studying, reading The Economist, going to the library, planning your studying time, spending time working with people who are focused on the same goal, etc…)

C) Things that are irrelevant to reach your goal (going to parties, traveling to Rome, drinking alcohol, answering e-mails from friends, browsing irrelevant web pages on the internet, talking about irrelevant things with others, and a million of other things we all do in our lives….you know what I am talking about…)

Every time that your do something think in which one of these three categories you are and do the following:

If you are in C then you are not focusing. Stop doing C and go to B.
If you are in B you are focusing, stay in B and persist.
If you are in A, finish soon and move to B.

Spend your time, or better said, invest your time in things that are in the B category. And from time to time take a break to do some things on the A category.
The more time you invest on things that belong to the B category, the closer you will be to your goal.

Easy… isn´t it? But not so easy to implement. 
Especially for a woman full of heavy duty artillery like you who adores life and has an inner power to enjoy everything, do everything, meet everyone, etc..

Don´t you agree?”

Not only did I agree, but Andreu’s final words proved that he really does know me- and get me- and after all that, still speaks with me! “Heavy duty artillery”..,love it…had to include it. In fact, maybe that’s why I liked the advice so much.

However, there is something to be said for this plan. And then, there is something to be said about how incongruous (as stated) this agenda is based in view of the context (context being me).

I responded frankly, quickly (because responding to e-mails from friends is in category C), and bluntly with:

“I like this advice, although it is going to be quite difficult for me to follow it.
I have to all makes perfect sense.
Here’s my problem: sometimes I can’t see beyond B. I know where I want to be...but I have a problem when it comes to "living for the future". To me- come siempre- it has always been about the NOW aspect of my life. Today is where I focus. Not tomorrow and definitely not yesterday.

I couldn’t care less about the A's....because they get done regardless of our desires. The C's are where I reside- and the Bs? I have a hard time visualizing the advantages of surrendering the C’s.

I do know what I want, I have a relatively good idea of where I want to be, and I sort of know how to get there…but I often question whether I will ever get “there”- so I inadvertently choose to focus on the Cs and hope that the Bs will come- naturally. By default. Everyday, I hope for the theoretical result of living by the B’s while concocting some type of formula of the necessary A’s, a few B’s, and an abundance of C’s.
With that said. I love the Cs....I live a C-focused life. I was born to be a C.
Now, how does one convert to B?
and yes, being someone like me- this theory is exactly that, great in theory...but implementation may cause a few problems.

What about defining my goal? What is my goal?
There is SO MUCH…too much for a plaque on my wall or an inscription atop a notebook. Maybe I want so much that subconsciously, I know it will never happen and then the B’s become immaterial. So why waste my time?”

It’s funny. In elementary school, during the very first part our preliminary educations- we learn the “A, B, C’s.” As we were learning them, as best as I can remember, we feel a bit burdened. It’s exasperating- protracted- but once we have them down-pat, and with a perfect understanding of their usage, they become imperative in everything else we do- the basis for the remainder of our educations. We never forget these lessons- no matter how difficult they were to accept or appreciate.
And now, Andreu has outlined an entirely new series of “A, B, C’s”- The basic groupings of our daily activities- the actions that fill our days and define our futures- where we will end up. Maybe its best to bring it back to basics- everything in life is cyclical right? Accept these new A, B, C’s as universal truths- common understandings that we need to regulate and classify with a necessity for acceptance in order to succeed.

And like our first ever A,B,C’s, these new A,B,C’s will become the basis on which everything else lies…and sorting through them in our minds- and defining the framework for ourselves, will be the way in which we operate within the world- and more immediately, within the MBA.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vision Versions

In ESADE’s hopes of turning us MBA students into great leaders, we have all found ourselves in the midst of a “Leadership Assessment and Development Program." As described by the school, “The Leadership Assessment and Development Programme (LEAD) is personalized and provides each students with the tools he needs to improve his leadership abilities and to incorporate new competencies during his career. The programme detects those skills that individual students particularly need to enhance. After completing the training and evaluating the results through group activities, coaching sessions, and teamwork, participants are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, helping them develop the skills that will be vital in their chosen careers.”

One of the first assignments, amongst a number of evaluations, questionnaires and presentations in the past few weeks- was to write a “Personal Vision” statement of around 10 pages. The first draft was due a week ago (final draft to be handed in by the end of the month) and from what I observed, the deadline created more anxiety amongst students than any one of our four-hour finals.
Ah, the irony!
Either way, in this “Personal Vision” statement, we were meant to define where we see ourselves in the future- taking into account all we have encountered in the course thus far- our learning styles, values, and so on and so forth. 

My written response, of course, danced around the question with shapes and figures rarely present in the context of an MBA- it was a waltz- an unintentional waltz, but a waltz nonetheless. If my “coach” manages to extract anything of use from the ten pages of adjectives and metaphors I finally handed in, she’s a certifiable genius. 
I wish her luck.

On the other hand, one of my closest friends in the program sent me her first line and I absolutely had to blog about it…seeing as though it would be wrong to plagiarize. She revealed that she is writing her personal vision, “In the hope that I can sort out some of the noise that fills my head and organize the brilliant yet sporadic moments of truth that come and go often too soon and sometimes too late.”

Now this is truth. This- I love. This is where I am coming from. 
She is so right, not just in the context of the MBA- but in life. There exist these moments of truth- of recognition…and if we are lucky enough, they don’t pass us by. Because as she mentions, “they” come too quickly and oftentimes, a bit too late. 

Furthermore, these points of reference are fleeting. Whether it be sitting in class and finally understanding a new concept before it evades me once again- or like last Friday night, on a private boat- sailing at 1:00 a.m. in the eye of a storm leaving from Sorrento to Capri, amongst some of the people that make me happiest in the world- there is truth. It lies in these moments- we see it, and feel it- for a split second, and then it is gone. And with these momentary sparks that dart in and out of our lives, we are meant to decipher our hopes and aspirations- our “personal visions.” 
Now, can someone tell me how to do that? 

Because these moments are rare- and disorganized- and in dire need of not only order and regulation, but of longevity. If only we could take one of these instances- and make it permanent- prolong its existence for enough time to understand it. If only I could bottle these moments- and keep them on a shelf- just to know that they are there- that I had them once. Then again, maybe doing just that that would kill them. 
Like fireflies. 

When I was little, in summertime, the yard would be full of fireflies- the enchanting nocturnal bugs that intermittently light up and shine just for half of a second to let you know that they are there. I tried to catch fireflies once and put them in a jar- because I wanted them to shine in my room as I slept…and by the time I woke up in the morning, I had killed them.
Maybe that was a lesson, not only as a lesson then in losing something you love, or being kind to nature- but a lesson for later in life. In that- sometimes things will exist and then they are gone- and that’s just the nature of what they are- that’s what makes them special. 

So now its up to me, and people like me in this MBA- to take the shadows and echoes of these moments- once the light has already flickered and died- and turn them into something concrete…a future, a plan, a vision.

Now as for my "personal vision," after ten pages of words and theories and disjointed thoughts of potential goals, I concluded with;

“I hope to be challenged everyday- to find myself on a career path where I am confident in my skills. I never want to question my capacity to do my job and to lead others. I hope to make a difference. I hope to leave a mark. I hope to be surrounded by people who both stimulate me and appreciate the stimulation I provide them. 

I must be passionate about what I am doing. I want to use my creativity but at the same time, I want to know that whatever it is I do daily- is actually making an impact. 

I want enough time to pursue my passions but at the same time, I want my job to include my passions. I want to fuse that which I love and that which is lucrative. Again, if I knew what that was- I wouldn’t be here now…I’d be doing it. I don’t need all the money in the world, but I want enough to allow for comfort. I never want to worry. I don’t plan on a family at the moment, but if and when I do have one, I never want my children to be in want of anything.

I hope to travel- and most likely, to live internationally. I hope to work with many people from many cultures- and spend significant amounts of time in different parts of the world. I hope to constantly be learning- not only a propos the subject matter of my job, but exterior things as well. I hope to have people around me that can constantly teach me- teach me about themselves, about the world, and ultimately- about myself. I don’t want to be forever shifting, but I don’t want to ever feel stuck- maybe I will be in a few places long enough to call them home.

I hope to be a leader. I hope to be adept enough- at whatever it is I am doing- to be in a position of leadership. I hope to not only direct, but also to guide. I hope that people who work for, or under me, will gain something- will be inspired by me. I don’t expect to change people’s lives, but I intend to make an impact. I hope to one day impart some of the wisdom that I have gained through my many experiences in friendships, jobs, and in life. 

I hope for enough freedom so that I never feel trapped, but enough security so that I never feel unsafe or unsure. I like the unknown. I never want to find myself in a career where I am 100% sure that I will be in the same seat, doing the same thing years down the road. I want to always be challenged, and it is not important to me if I don’t exactly know what is around the corner- as long as I know there is something awaiting me there. 

I want to work hard, but I don’t want it to be for naught. I want to see results- changes. I never want to race against those I work with- only with competitors. If I work in a team, I will do my best to make it cohesive. I hope that everyone will seek the greater good of the group- and not the individuals. 

I hope to learn something everyday- but I also hope to teach someone something everyday. I hope to be respected- I hope to interact with others, to understand them and to help them understand me.

I don’t have any strong desire to change- but there are a few qualities in myself that I would like to tone down or build up. I hope that after this MBA, I will be more patient- with everything- with myself and with others. I hope I can learn to be a bit more selfless- a bit less judgmental. I see the good in others- but I have to learn how to better extract that good and apply it to my own growth. I hope that I can learn to be a bit more diplomatic- less candid- less aggressive. I hope that one day, I will be more organized, more direct. I hope to learn to prioritize in order of importance- as opposed to prioritizing in order of desires. I have many flaws- but I also know that these flaws can sometimes be assets- so in a way, part of my “ideal vision” is to find a career where the things that have held me back, can actually push me forward. 

And maybe, one day, I will learn to not speak so generally. About everything. But for now- it works.”

I suppose we will soon find out what kind of leader they will make out of me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Blue Ocean

Often I find myself having a hard time relating what happens inside the MBA with what happens to be inside my head. Those who know me, will understand immediately what I mean by this. But for those readers who don’t- let me just say that when I decided to do an MBA, my friends/family/coworkers/and pretty much anyone who has ever come into contact with me- were quite surprised (to say the least) that this is the path I willingly chose to go down. It deviates from everything I stand for- everything I have done- and everything I have wanted to do. 
Bold statement, yes. But a true statement.

This lack of association has nothing to do with my capacity to understand the material or my interest in everything an MBA entails. (there’s my disclaimer). In fact, I am beginning to find the material not only interesting, but entirely appealing. Nevertheless, when it comes to writing- I am having trouble with the “disconnect.” 

I’m accustomed to taking my life- my feelings- and putting everything I feel and do into words. For this though, I don’t yet have the words- because I’m still in the process of defining how each hour of the day relates to me- as an individual comprised of everything I currently am- and that’s not simply speaking as “an MBA student”- because THAT, the “MBA student” thing- I could write about- I could define. But it wouldn’t mean anything to me. 

With that said, I feel the need to point out that there exist those rare flashes of recognition deep within the right side of my brain buried under the layers of the devastatingly long hours of classes and texts and cases and discussions. 

One of these flashes occurred two weeks ago during “Introduction to General Management and Strategy” where in the course of being presented with about a million unfamiliar and foreign concepts, the “Blue Ocean” strategy appeared in front of me like a beacon of light. 

Of course, it took a bit of extraction to get what I desired out of it, but this “Blue Ocean” thing was something I could understand. In MY terms. 

In the terms of approach to business, the “Blue Ocean” strategy “aims to create ‘Blue Oceans’ by discovering and exposing uncontested market space and essentially, making the competition irrelevant.”

The strategy, in written terms, is full of metaphors: blue oceans- bloody red oceans- all of which comprise the market universe. Blue oceans, as one would infer, are the unchartered waters of the global marketplace. 

I could go on and on defining Blue Oceans in strategy context but the book has already been written. Literally. What I felt however, when presented with this concept, was probably quite different from what was the expected response.

I took this blue ocean and saw it, not only as unexplored market space- an opportunity- but as myself. As an MBA student- as any one of us sitting in that classroom on that given day. 

We are all blue oceans- all unchartered- all currently sorting through the refuse of what we have done- accomplished- and who we have been. And now with this MBA- with all this knowledge, all these new experiences that I encounter everyday- who I am becoming, I’m moving into this blue space. At least I am trying to. And what is left behind me- what I am leaving behind me- are the bloodied waters of what which has already been touched and oftentimes tainted. Everything I have already felt. 

As with the blue ocean theory in business, this new “me” may work, it may not. That’s the risk I take with exploring the unknown. I may leave this program, leave this MBA, and have lost who I am- there’s the concealed prospect of being unhappy with what this has made me.
But I doubt it- because if anything, I’ll know that I tried. And what I tried is more important than where it will lead me- because no one else has ever tried it before…my personal Blue Ocean. My unknown- taking what I know, and pushing that knowledge into an indefinite space- a space where I hope to exist and prosper.

The “Blue Ocean Strategy” makes “The Competition Irrelevant.” So maybe that is what I have been hoping for the entire time. And maybe that’s what this MBA is doing for me…making the competition irrelevant so that when I graduate, I will be a soft-skilled, writing, dreamer with an international MBA in my pocket. And I don’t think there are too many of those… not yet at least.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Ever since I was little, my life has been filled with lists. I suppose this is of my mother’s doing. My mother, as wonderful as she is, a fanatical list-maker, list-hoarder, and devout believer in lists.

Firstly, the ubiquitous “To Do” lists. They were everywhere…folded up and shoved conspicuously in my brown paper lunch bag, post its covering the fridge, stacks of paper by the phone.

These lists- the banes of my existence, or so it seemed- were constant reminders of people to call, objects to buy, affairs to attend, and various other obligations that usually diverged greatly from what I wanted to be doing- and wherever that may have been.

These lists have remained- even two decades later- as knots in my stomach…they bring with them a degree of anxiety and unease. I say this in general terms. 
Growing up, as soon as one thing was crossed off my list- another miraculously appeared. (thanks mom). Admittedly, I don’t think I was ever capable of fully completing a to-do list. I can’t remember ever taking one of those frightful little pieces of paper, drawing lines through every item, and throwing it into the trash- where, in my opinion, it should have been from the beginning.

I deviated from lists when I moved away from home at 18. Lists were nothing more than a burden to me. I had things to do, yes…but lists only created extra stress…not only did I have to do the things I had to do, but I had to deal with the list, I had to adhere to the list, I had to follow the list.

I’d like to believe that I’ve been successful in terms of living my life until this point without regressing to the structured list-driven-environment I was raised in. I may not be the most organized person in the world, but I have always gotten everything done that needed to be done- and ultimately, that’s what lists are there for. Yet, I coped just fine without them. 
I got here didn’t I?

I managed without them until now, that is. The stringent schedule, the stress, the LISTS, the structure- of business school- are all synonymous with growing up with my mother and her agenda…she would love this place.

So here they are once more. Lists. Yet again they have appeared in my life- and taken a drivers seat in everything I do. Group lists, contact lists, course lists, class lists, company lists, lists lists lists. And more lists.

So in keeping form- because in lists- "we" like consistency, below are a few lists…the lists that happen to define my existence right now.

Term 1 course list:
-Introduction to General Management and Strategy
-Applied Quantitative Models
-Financial Analysis
-Geopolitics, Society and Culture
-Managerial Accounting
-Marketing I
-Organizational Behavior
-Languages (Español)

Things I should see in Barcelona, and haven’t yet visited list:
-Visit (as in- actually enter) Gaudi’s La Pedrera and Casa Battlô. 
-Picasso exhibition
-Caixa Forum
-Montjuic (and its magical fountain)
-Barca Football game!
-Mont Serrat
-El Bulli
-MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
-Palau de la Música

Clubs to consider joining list:
-Real Estate
-Women in Business
-Emerging Markets
-Diversity in Business
-Clean Energy
-Wine Club

Companies on Campus for Fall MBA Career Week list:
Infosys Technologies
Roland Berger
Arthur D. Little
A.T. Kearney
Oliver Wyman
Grupo Santander
Delta Partners
Grupo Celsa
Morgan Stanley

As for my “To Do” list, I’m not even going to start (and the list itself is never going to end…as far as I can tell).
So that’s that. For now. Tomorrow, surely there will be more.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Ideal World...

I’m going to be completely honest here… because that’s what I’m about. 
I could hide behind the pretext that the MBA is all-consuming (which it unquestionably is)- but I, nonetheless, have an entire life outside of this masters- a life that is collapsing in on itself, disintegrating more each class I attend, each group meeting I make it to, each reading I complete, each power point presentation I prepare.

There was a point- not too far back in the past, when I worried about what I would write- when there wasn’t enough going on that I feared posting something would make my life seem monotonous- or others- because in my case- I was happy. That never changed.

This was a time when I was in a relationship- a solid, loving, fair, and beautiful relationship. A “forever” kind of thing. A relationship that seemed like it would be forever.

If forever came tomorrow, right? Not in the case of an MBA. Now, I have no fear of posting- in fact, there is too much going on- a wealth of beguiling and exciting information to relay. So much that I don’t even have time to write. Ironic, isn’t it?

I came here with a boyfriend and soon after, I was on a break. Now, I am in the process of breaking up. For good. Forever? Well, if forever came tomorrow I would surely know how to answer this.

“How to allocate your priorities into your current work”- this is what today’s pharma industry strategy speaker spoke about when discussing R&D. I’m assuming he wasn’t referring to my personal life, but then again- its all about interpretation.

I can’t say that my life is bad right now- far from it. My life is fantastic. However, nothing is perfect. And at those imperfect moments, I can’t help but wonder what would make me just that tiny bit happier. What would complete the puzzle?

If I lived in an ideal world…

Life would be easy. It never has been easy. This is no shock- no surprise- I’ve been told this for years- I have told this to others…maybe I haven’t really believed it until now but its always been a concept…a dark cloud hovering over the happiest (easiest) of times- ready to descend. To rain on my parade.

If life were easy…I would be able to go to bed at three a.m., get up for school in the morning- and have somehow slept ten hours. Public transportation would be private. Traffic wouldn’t exist. Starbucks would taste the same in Europe, money would go on trees, my hair would blow itself dry, the maid would come daily, I wouldn’t have found a cucaracha in my kitchen cabinet last night. 

If life were easy- food wouldn’t ever go bad, Adderall would be OTC, cheese would be fat-free, my Spanish would be perfect.

There would be 48 hours in a day and nine days in a week, pimples wouldn’t exist after puberty, I would understand statistics inherently, spread sheets would come to me as naturally as words, and I would know how to shut my damn mouth when appropriate.

My IQ would be on a par with Einstein and my beauty be on a par with Giselle. Pain wouldn’t exist, my nose would be smaller, I would actually have time to write.

If life were easy, I would be able to pay attention in class for more than 20 minutes at a time, it would never rain, and I would have the capacity to please all people at all times- while leaving time for myself as well.

Text messages abroad would be free, my computer would be weightless, the shower would never get cold, my doorman wouldn’t make his own hours, tardiness would be admired, and I would never get sick.

My loved ones would never die, my heels would never bleed, there would be no lines in airports, brown wouldn’t be a color, my teeth would brush themselves, love would be forever.

And so, I come to my point- if life were easy…I could live my life here without ending something spectacular with of one of the people I love most in the world. 
If life were easy, I could maintain a relationship in England and maintain my life as an MBA student in Spain. 
If life were easy, I could have it all- I would have it all- I could love and be loved and still have my freedom- my wings- my independence.

If life were easy, sacrifices wouldn’t exist.

If life were easy, if it were absolutely perfect- and I lived in an ideal world- I wouldn’t be breaking the heart of my best friend- as I write this.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Roma, Barca, and one night in Paris

What can I say about Rome? It was Rome. It was Rome squared. No, quadrupled. Rome, as always, was magical- stunning, exquisite, enchanting.

I’ve always been fearful of repeating experiences- being that there have been so many that have been so good- I hate to go back. I would rather maintain the memories of my original experiences…but Rome. Rome was exactly what I needed. 

Having lived there for a year, I felt like I was going home. It was familiar. But again, it was completely new. I wish I had the words to express how it felt to be in Rome- to stand once again in front of the Trevi Fountain, tossing in coins- along with the hundreds of other tourists, wishing to one day return- as I always have and always will. 
It was magic. 
I was at peace. 
And the joy that I felt, the joy that is still whirling around in my soul, is indefinable. But for me, in Rome- I was swallowed up into an unexpected euphoria- having left every thought of Barcelona and the MBA behind me- I was delirious, caught off guard- and reminded of everything beautiful that life could be- that life is. 

I guess I can say that Rome infused me with a willingness, nay- an openness to everything that lays ahead- MBA included. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress, in the trivial daily activities- in the demanding schedule we have jumped into headfirst, hands tied behind our backs- and all that the MBA implies.

Until Rome, I had a tiny, nagging thought in the back of my mind- that I had given my life over to numerous ambiguous and fatiguing activities, planning, provisions and preparations to be someone who I don’t yet know. 

But Rome reminded me of who I am…and who I want to be. And possibly, this MBA can be my vehicle to get there. Back to Rome? Maybe. But to the place- in my mind and in my heart- that Rome reminded me of. And to Rome- to the rapture and the delight, I will return. 
Tomorrow- Paris. What can I say?

And what can I say about school? We had our pre-term exams last week. I hope I passed. We all hope we passed. They were exhausting- mentally- but at the same time, there was a sense of camaraderie amongst each and every one of us. We had all made it to Spain- made it to our first class, our second and through to the end of pre-term…a small part of the MBA that began to shape the rest of the experience. And last week- regardless of what we individually did the weekend before, or are doing the weekend after- we were all there together- walking the halls- bleary eyed, and spent. Exhausted, mystified and ready for it to be over. And Now- Over it is. 

I cant say that I am nostalgic about what we went through- but then again, Monday begins yet another, doubtlessly more difficult, part of the MBA. The illustrious “Term 1.” 

But again- we will all be in it together- and we will all get through it together (that is if we managed to pass Business Law.)

So this weekend is Paris- one night in Paris. One last hurrah- before we begin anew…and delve even further to all that is unknown. Unknown, unexpected, and absolutely unbelievable.