Making a Beeline


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On Newark. Part 2 (or infinity…whatever)

First. A lot of what I’m going to say is predicated on this response from Coolhand Luke on 38thnotes.com about the fatal shooting during First Friday in Oakland last night. It saddens me, like all Oaklanders, that the violence continues in our city. Oakland is still my home, and I want the violence to stop.

But.

I live in Newark. Where there was a rash of armed robberies for 3 weeks before Newark Police finally started working with the campus security teams of the local universities (students were being robbed). Where there’s an army of dealers and users who insist on using Newark Penn and its environs as their personal trading post. Eau de crackhead was fine in the train station, but when the gauntlet moved down the street where someone has decided to use an empty suite in a nearby building as an office, I have to draw the line. 

I live in Newark now. And the violence that happened in Oakland last night, while not a freak instance in the strictest sense, was unusual in its placement and timing because First Friday is such a celebration of all that is Oakland and everyone in it. The shooting is special because there’s usually not shooting during First Friday. It’s supposed to be the one time that all of Oakland - the hipsters, the buppies, the yuppies, the hippies, the bangers, the artists, the indies, and everyone in between - comes together. It’s also because there can now be 20,000 people safely gathering in Oakland celebrating that they live there. 

I live in Newark now. Where the only time you can see 18,711 people gathered is if there’s a sold-out crowd at the Prudential Center. And they can’t wait to get out of town the moment their show or game is over. 

I live in Newark. Where our mayor can’t get out soon enough. Nine miles from NYC where Mayor Ed Koch is being eulogized. Now, he was long before my time, but from what I’ve heard, his commitment to his city couldn’t be questioned. In fact, I heard he lost the election for governor because of his unwavering commitment to the City versus upstate interests.

And here’s the deal. I can’t wait to get out of Newark either. Me. The Mayor. and the 18,711 at The Rock Center. We can’t wait to get the heck out of this city. 

And it shouldn’t be that way. I’ve never been dispassionate about where I live. I loved where I grew up in Indiana. I loved DC. I loved Chevy Chase. I loved Oakland. And I’m…meh…whatever about Newark. And we should have a mayor who didn’t cynically choose to govern because it’s a good stepping stone to be a hero in Newark. We should have a mayor who chose to govern because he wants to fix this city. We should have a mayor who wants to have 20,000 people filling the streets (monthly!) excited to live here. We should have a mayor who is so committed to the issues in this city that it may damage the possibility for the next office - but executes a plan to fix the issues so well that he gets elected for whatever he wants next. 

But.

We’re Newark. And me, the mayor, and the 18,711 people at the Prudential Center can’t wait to get out of here soon enough.  

Even Superman is Human

On Monday, my state and region were hit hard by “Superstorm Sandy.” The death toll is at 93, houses are gone, and millions of people are without power.

Including me.

Everything shut off just after 7pm. And I have a detailed and humorous post about the various thoughts and emotions that go through my head when going through now 120 hours (and counting) without power.

But first…a word about my mayor.

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I’m looking at a disappointing score report from my GMAT test yesterday.

640

That is lower than all but two of my practice tests, and far lower than my expectations.

So it’s back to the grind. Like always.

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This is really happening…

In 5 days, I take the GMAT.

Like. For real.

You see, I have a hard time with the shift from theoretical to real. There are a million reasons why I’m wonderful at planning and fantastic at executing at work, but have struggled in my own life. Going to B-School has long been an idea. It’s been delayed a few years. I’ve started and stopped prepping for the GMAT more than a couple times.

But now.

This is really happening. I’m really taking the GMAT. I’ve really paid for it. I’ve really talked to an admissions consultant. I’m really doing this. I’ll save what I’ve had to overcome to get to this point for my essays, but I get chills thinking about how real this seems now. All of “this.” From living in NJ, to being engaged to the greatest man ever, to finally, actually moving towards going to business school (next year!), my life, as it is today, is completely different than my life 6 years ago when I moved to California on a wing and a prayer. I have done so much so far to gethere. And now, I’m really doing this. I’ve prepared for this.

I’m ready. Which is good because this is really happening.

Time flies

I’ve lived in New Jersey for a year. Officially. Like nearly to the hour.

Wow.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full year since the fiancé and I rolled into town with our car loaded with nearly all of our belongings (and the rest in a storage unit that arrived just a few minutes later). At the same time, we’ve had so much going on - getting engaged, finishing the first year of law school, surviving a tough first few months at a new job - that it kinda feels like longer.

Of course, I still yearn for all things Oakland - our friends, our charming little apartment (but not the parking), my car, the weather - all of it. It’s less of an acute ache as I make more friends, as the work situation improves, and as I generally find my footing in this new place and space.

It’s hard imagine what the next year will bring. There will definitely be challenges for me: I’ll be applying to business school and turning 30. We’ll hopefully get more settled in our lives. Things are on the up-swing at work, and I’m hopeful that this year will be without the turmoil I had last year. Everyone says that year 2 of law school is the “busiest” as “they [the school} work you”.

I’m tempted to make resolutions for the next year. But we all know how good I am at that. They would go something like: ace the GMAT, get into several great B-schools (and decide where to go), keep the house tidier, lose weight. So instead, I’m just going to enjoy the moment, continue this journey, and appreciate the adventure.

Listening to my own advice

As my sole regular reader reminded me recently (and by recently, I mean 2 weeks ago), I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ve been stuck in the world of “I have nothing to say” (in a whiny tone) which really means: I have nothing intelligent/thoughtful/inspiring/creative to say. And heaven forbid I bore this singular regular reader, with whom I speak everyday, with a blog post about something dull. So I haven’t posted in a while.

And I wish that this lack of drive and energy was only relative to blogging, but it’s not. Like most people, I started out the year with a great deal of energy and focus about my key goals and objectives for the year: lose weight, start planning the wedding and enjoy being a bride, ace the GMAT, apply for b-school, be the best me possible. I’ve had a great start, but I’ve plateued with my weightloss, got bored and frustrated with wedding planning, left the Manhattan GMAT books, languishing in a corner, and been a whiny, mopey mess on more than a few occasions.

I’m tempted to say that I just need a break. Come on - in the last year, I’ve had a lot going on. You know, the whole quitting my awesome job, leaving my friends, moving cross country, starting new in a new city and new job, trying to find new friends and reconnect with old contacts, and ending the year with getting engaged thing is a LOT. It’s not entirely unreasonable for me to want to turn off my brain, go on autopilot, and just be fine with less than ideal commitment to getting stuff done.

Then last week, one of my favorite bloggers, Meg Keane from A Practical Wedding  posted about wanting to be a little bored for a while. Trying to be helpful, I posted about Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art and how he talks about just getting past and over ”Resistance”. Of course, I needed to be saying it to myself.

Again this morning, a friend posted to our group Facebook wall about not feeling like she’s getting enough done. Sure enough, I was filled with advice for her. Advice about not beating yourself up about not getting everything done. Advice about doing what can be done and being fine with the decision to not make some things a priority given what’s on my plate at any given time. Advice from my favorite article from all time “How to be a Productivity Unicorn" from The Gloss about how "Unicorns do what comes naturally and sparkles fly everywhere". Really great advice.

But why can’t I give that advice to myself? Or remember it when I’m disappointed that I haven’t been blogging? Or ashamed about the money spent on Manhattan GMAT only for it to sit on the floor in our office? Or a wee-bit jealous of friends who are more recently engaged but already finished with grad school and therefore able to plan their weddings, complete gift registries, and select vendors without seeming insane? Or be okay that because I’ve technically been working 2 jobs, working out is a little hard to fit in?

I don’t know. But it’s hit me today. And magically, today, I am able to forgive myself for the several month-long hiatus here and resolve to just get through it. All of it. The GMAT. The learning Cantonese. The working out. The calorie counting. It’s time for me to do what comes naturally, let some sparkles fly, overcome Resistance, and get (the) stuff (that matters) done. And hopefully, that will result in something to say.

So I’m really a bride…right?

As I’ve already shared, the fiancé and I are going to have a long engagement. Like 4 years long. 

It’s a practical decision. 1) He’s currently a full-time student until 2014. 2) I will be a full-time student (hopefully) next year until 2015. And as full-time students, we wouldn’t be able to afford the massive (HUGE) (TREMENDOUS) (AMAZING) extravaganza that we (okay, I) want. We both want as many of our friends and family there to celebrate, and while I’m sure it’s “possible” to do a “budget” version of our dream wedding, that’s not really what we want. Because if we’re only doing this once (and that’s the plan), then darnit, we’re going to do it right. And do it our way - with great food, lots of fun, lots of crafting, all of our family, most of our friends, several wardrobe changes, and a seamless blending of our Chinese and African-American cultures. And all of that is not cheap.

But because of that long engagement, I’ve tried to keep my excitement to a “reasonable” level. So maybe I did start a Google Doc spreadsheet with the fiancé to track possible venues. And there’s a list of things we hate and will not have anywhere near our wedding (cheesy engagement pictures, bad food) and a list of things that we really want (good food, a disco ball — no judging, I like them). A Pinterest board was created. And wedding blogs were added to the Google Reader.

But you can’t really plan a wedding 4 years out.

Do you know how many times I will change my mind by then? I really tried, for about a week, to just absorb random weddingness. But it pulled me in. So last week, I, feeling guilty, gave in and kinda started really reading the wedding blogs, really taking things to heart, and seriously looking at venues with a critical and thoughtful mind (as in: yes, the Green Building is amazing, but logistically difficult to manage getting 180+ out of town guests there. Or, the Kimpton Hotels in Chicago are affordable, nice, have generally good food, and mean that out of town guests don’t have to get to a new location if they also stay there).

But I wouldn’t dare let myself buy a magazine. Or, *gasp* a book. Or *heaven forbid* attend a “wedding” or “bridal” event. Because the wedding is 4 years, or approximately 1,645 days, away according to Project Wedding. And it’s just wasteful and impractical to buy the WInter 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings even though it says in big, capital letters “YOU’RE ENGAGED! 511 Brilliant Ideas for your day” on the cover. Because, really, 33% of people get engaged between Thanksgiving and New Years. The Winter 2013, —14, —15 and —16 issues will probably say the same thing.

But I bought it today.

And I went to a talk/book signing of Meg Keane who wrote A Practical Wedding and created the blog of the same name. And I bought the book. And had it signed. And was indulged by the fiancé with several hours of wedding related talk. And it’s exciting and impractical. And I finally feel like maybe, one day, I’ll be a bride. I feel guilty and naughty about the impracticality of it. But It’s a big deal to me that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. I want to start planning the party that kicks that off. I don’t want to be practical about spending $6 on a magazine.

So, after today, I’m giving myself full license to thoroughly and completely research, process, and enjoy planning our wedding. Other girls only get a year (or more or less). I get 4. Lucky me! I get to be leisurely about decisions. I get to practice crafting Christmas cards in the style of our eventual invitations. 

So long engagement be damned. I’m planning a wedding!

Would you have a drink with you?

This is not my first foray into blogging. I’ve tried before. A couple times. And I’ll be honest, I get all amped up about the blog and then I’ll stop, so don’t expect me to stick around here for too long.

That said, one of my friends who actually reads this blog asked me if I was going to post today. I wasn’t sure because I honestly have nothing to say, and I can’t imagine that too many people want to read me rambling for no good reason. Anyway, she asked me how personal I was willing to go, and I shared that I had another blog years ago that was pretty personal.

So I sent her the link and decided to take a trip down memory lane.

Wow.

It’s amazing to read your thoughts, rantings, ramblings from years ago. I remember my life then. Vaguely. Distantly. I read it now, and I’m amused and saddened by this person. And inspired by her strength.

The person who wrote that other blog was completely willing to put the madness out there for the world to see. She didn’t edit. She didn’t worry about her personal brand. OK - maybe she edited a bit to protect innocent and not-so-innocent. Names are redacted or changed. But the point is that she faced down all of her crazy and owned up to it. The person who wrote that blog talked about being broken hearted, lonely, and depressed. And she wrote about falling in love, being independent, and taking charge. I find it amazing that I used to be that in touch with exactly how I felt at any moment.

I also find it amazing how certain I was that the sky was falling every.single.week. Wow, I was so melodramatic. So certain that I was going to spend my life alone. Barren. Doing a job I hate.  

It makes me think of the new Stoli ads: would you have a drink with you? Cause I would love to have a drink with that version of me.

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