Friday, September 30, 2011

Job and Seattle update

So I'm at the end of my first two weeks of work. It's going well so far, though I'm at that early stage where I don't really have enough work to do. I'm sure I'll be missing this stage very very soon. Perhaps as soon as next week when I am slated to have 43 hours of billable work across two projects.

The other change for me is that this office, or maybe its a West coast thing, seems to be a lot more flexible in terms of work hours. People come in between 8:30-9:30 and leave between 4:30-5:30. This is crazy to me! But I think people are given the flexibility to work out or do whatever family things they need to do, then they work a bit in the evening.

I fly back to Chicago tonight, though I'll be back here on Monday for another two week stint until the 14th. I will probably try to nail down an apartment here next weekend, the weekend of the 7th. I'm looking to get an apartment within this neighborhood that would be a 20 minute walk to the office. How awesome is it going to be that I can walk to the office?

When I get back here next week I definitely need to make a trip to Trader Joes because the constant eating out is getting to me. I'm also trying to balance wearing more sensible shoes, especially with the hills in the downtown area. It reminds me of the 4 months I lived in San Francisco and how I was in the best shape of my life when I lived there. Perhaps I can get back to that again...

But despite the hills, you just can't take the shoe addict out of me. Thus, I have gotten so many compliments on these pair of really cute heels:


Finally my condo officially went on the market last week and has had 6 showings, with another one scheduled for tomorrow. I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11



Reposting my 9/11 story here so my friends can read it. Picture above is from a dinner cruise I took around the city just about a month before 9/11.

In the fall of 2001, I was living in New York, in my last semester of my first grad program. I was living in a student apartment on Columbia's Health Science campus up on 168th and Broadway where my program was located. Half of my classes that semester were during the day and the other half were at night. Thus, I was also working part time where I had interned the previous summer. This office of a public NYC agency was located downtown, about 8 blocks from the WTC towers. I used to go down in front of the towers quite a bit while I worked there, because my favorite department store, Century 21 faced the towers.

The three years I lived in New York I was pretty crazy about shoes. I used to wear 3-4 inch high heels or strappy sandals all the time. That Tuesday morning, I walked out of my place and headed to the elevator. While I was waiting for the elevator, I was kind of shifting my feet in place, because my feet were still a bit sore from the previous day's beautiful, but killer pair of sandals. The elevator came and the doors opened up, and I thought to myself, "You know what? I can't do this again today. I have to wear some sensible shoes today". While typically I would have just stuck with the shoes I had chosen to wear, that morning I actually walked back into my place to change into a really comfortable pair of flat sandals.

Once I changed my shoes, I got myself back out the door and onto the subway to head downtown. I got off the train at the Chambers St station and headed up the flight of stairs that I always walked out of, a flight of stairs that opened up to a clear straight on view of the WTC towers. Now as I'm heading up the stairs, I see and hear a woman wailing and crying at the top of the stairs. My typical NYC thought? "Oh gosh, there goes another crazy person". When I got to the top of the stairs, I quickly realized she wasn't just a crazy person. It was about 8:50 am and the first tower had just been hit.

I stood there confused, wondering what was going on along with everyone else near me. I asked some one else what had just happened. What? A plane? How could this have happened? The mood in the group of people I was standing with was one of confusion and shock. As we were standing there, talking to each other, trying to grasp the reality of what we were seeing 7 blocks away, we heard a very very loud sound. People ducked or whipped their heads, the sound was so loud and felt so close to us. I then saw first hand the second plane hit.

The mood in the group quickly turned to fear and panic as people quickly realized this wasn't an accident. People started screaming and running. I headed into my work building to touch base with my boss and the office director. I was told that because our building was a federal building, it was being immediately evacuated. My boss told me that I should probably get right back on the subway and head back uptown because she was certain that the subways would quickly be shut down. We left the building and I said goodbye to my boss and director, who both immediately got on the subways to head home.

But I couldn't leave. I'm not sure exactly why. I'm not sure if it was curiosity, wanting to know what was going on, or seeing if I could help somehow. But I just couldn't get myself to leave. Instead I got a cup of coffee from my steady every day coffee cart guy, and walked back south, to an open area about 6 blocks from the towers. I found myself back in a crowd of people who perhaps also couldn't get themselves to leave.

We stood there watching a scene that my eyes told me was real, but my brain told me had to be a movie. We stood there discussing how this could have happened, who could have done this. We stood there sharing information, as someone with a radio was telling us the Pentagon was just hit. We stood there feeling helpless as from that distance we could clearly see people hanging out of the windows waving their hands, some piece of cloth, their clothes, anything to try to ask for help. We stood there in horror with hands over our mouths as we saw multiple people make the decision to jump.

While I was in this crowd, I struggled with the decision of whether I could do anything. At the time I had an active EMT certification, and while I hadn't practiced in a year and a half, I knew that I could perform basic functions. So I would start walking closer to the towers, thinking that perhaps I could help. But then I would look up at the magnitude of what was going on and wonder how much I could really do when I knew there were emergency personnel all across the city already responding. Since 9 am you heard constant sirens heading south. So then I would walk back north to the open area I was standing in before. But then I would see the people desperately waving from the windows, and I would start walking south again.

I probably did this back and forth two times or so and had returned to the open area. What I heard next is something I will never forget. It was this low guttural rumbling sound. It started out really softly at first, like a whisper. It was such an unfamiliar sound that everyone was looking around trying to see where it was coming from. I then looked up to see that it was the sound of the first tower collapsing. Since we were about 6 blocks away, people really started to panic, some were screaming, and most were running north.

Thinking back, one thing I learned about myself is that I am pretty calm in the most stressful situations. People were screaming and running around me, but my thought process was more like "Oh, maybe I should walk north now?". Or maybe I wasn't calm, maybe I was just dense? I don't know, but I stood there for a bit looking at the huge smoke cloud that was now rising from where the first tower stood, looking at a smoke cloud that was starting to expand out. It took a police officer waving his arms and frantically yelling at us to head north for me to put some speed to my walk.

On my walk north, I stopped at Canal Street and remember looking to the left and right, to see an incredible stream of thousands of people pouring into the streets and sidewalks, all heading north. I also distinctly remember seeing one woman who was so distraught that she was sitting on the sidewalk, hysterically crying. It was comforting to see two strangers tell her that she had to keep walking, help her back up, and give her a bottle of water.

During my walk, there were incredible lines at the few pay phones since all the cell phones were down. I remember seeing 30-40 people in line at some pay phones. I stood in one of the lines for a little bit, but then quickly decided it wasn't worth it and kept walking north. This was about when I marveled at the fact that I had made the unlikely decision to change my shoes that morning. There was no way I would have been able to walk so far if I had my original shoes on. There were tons of women around me who were walking barefoot with their cute shoes in their hands. Some manicure/pedicure places along the way were giving out those foam flip flops you get when you get a pedicure and a number of women were wearing those.

I got to midtown around 12:30 pm, and headed for the place where I had interned the previous fall. My cell phone was still not working, and mainly I wanted to get hold of a land line so I could call my family. I stepped into my old office and called my dad's office. I knew that my mom and sister would gather there with my dad to wait for me to contact them. Now I mentioned before how I had been pretty calm this whole entire time. While I teared up as I saw people in the windows of the towers cry for help or jump out, I hadn't really cried yet. But talking to my family, I guess I could just let it all go, and I just totally broke down.

I stayed at that office for a while, as everyone I used to work with wanted to hear what I had seen. They also wanted to make sure I was ok and that I got something to eat. I left around 2 pm, and headed for the subway which was running again. I remember getting on the good old A train and seeing folks in my subway car who were covered in gray dust. I also realized that I still heard sirens in my head, which I had heard constantly since 9 am. I knew that I couldn't be hearing sirens down in the subway, and I was a little concerned about that, but hoped it would go away.

When I got back on campus, the word had spread that they were calling for volunteers. At this time, we all figured that there would be thousands of injured people. Because there was a medical, dental, nursing, and public health school on campus, along with the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, everyone mobilized to help out. I went to sign up and list my skills as well as my cell phone number. I remember seeing how long the list of volunteers were. Little did we know how few survivors there would be.

Now that semester, I had class every Tuesday night. I figured oh, given everything that had happened, it must be canceled right? NYU, other colleges across the city, colleges all across the country ended up canceling classes that day and many the next day as well. Nope, not Columbia. I had class that Tuesday night. I remember sitting there in my Epidemiology class not listening to a word, replaying everything from that day in my head.

Soon after class let out, the phone calls started. That first night, my closest friends were finally able to get their calls through. The next day, it was friends and relatives who I didn't talk to as often who called, followed up the subsequent day by long lost friends and international relatives who I hadn't spoken to in forever. It blew my mind how many people ended up contacting me, and I realized then how big this was and how much it touched everyone.

That night I lay in my bed in the dark, watching the constant TV coverage. It was difficult not to just start sobbing. It was strange to see on TV what I had seen first hand, and I started to wonder what I had seen first hand vs what I had seen on TV. I finally realized around 2 am that I needed to stop and that I should go to bed. As I was trying to fall asleep, I could still hear the sirens in my head. I thought to myself, "Seriously? Am I going crazy? This better go away tomorrow!". Luckily the sirens did leave my head the next morning. About two days later I was meeting up with friends for dinner and I freaked out because I heard sirens again, even though I didn't see anything. I turned to grab my friend's arm and asked, "Oh my gosh please tell me you hear that too", then two seconds later an ambulance passed by on the street. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Starting that morning and for days afterwards, there were military fighter jets flying over the city. After seeing the first one, you knew the military jets were there. But every time I heard another one fly by, I'd tense up and remember what it was like to hear and see the second plane hit. The reaction was instinctive. Seeing the fighter jets protecting the city was quite a vision. This wasn't some air show. It was real. We were in a war zone of sorts. Also for months afterwards there were military personnel with automatic weapons all over the city, especially in the subways.

No one was allowed south of Houston Street for a while afterwards. Houston St became a spontaneous memorial of sorts.







My co-workers and I had to work in a temporary office in midtown. When we were allowed to go back to our offices about three weeks later, I remember tasting a metal taste at the back of my throat from the air. My eyes, which are pretty sensitive, were itchy. People who worked downtown were then allowed south of Houston Street to gather stuff from our offices. This was when I had the chance then to walk down to the site, which was still a complete disaster area. I remember looking into the storefront window of a jewelry store that faced the WTC towers and seeing a display case that was completely empty except for a thick layer of dust. Realizing what that dust was, I cried.



The other thing I remember immediately after 9/11 was the thousands of flyers posted all over the city, from people looking for their loved ones. These were people holding out hope that their loved ones were one of the very few who had somehow made it out alive and were in a hospital somewhere. It was heartbreaking to see these flyers all over the city. It was difficult not to tear up.

Typically the 9/11 stories you get from the media are those who lost loved ones. I think about those who lost loved ones. I was so incredibly lucky that no one I knew died that day. Soon after 9/11 the New York times started running a new section called Portraits of Grief. It gave a face, a story, a history to the number declared dead. I read these portraits religiously, eventually buying the book when it was compiled.

When I think about the families, I think about not only how devastating it must be to first have lost someone, but how excruciatingly difficult it must be to have lost your loved one on such a public tragedy, one that gets so much media coverage. To be haunted by the constant images of the towers being hit and collapsing, knowing that you are watching your loved ones die... I can't even imagine.

I especially think a lot about seeing the 5 or 6 people who were forced to jump from the smoke and the heat and I wonder who they were. What were their stories? Where were they from? Who did they leave behind? I've also mentioned several times hearing constant sirens heading south that morning. I've wondered how many of those emergency personnel I saw made it out alive. How many of those fire fighters and police personnel I saw driving south were in the towers when they fell?

9/11 was such a historical event, that everyone has a story. Everyone remembers where they were that day. I've verbally told a condensed version of my story many times when people talk about where they were that day. Recalling all of these details and writing my story down, it's almost like I can feel again my emotions from that day and the subsequent weeks. I can hear the constant sirens from that day. I can see the billowing cloud of smoke as the first tower fell. I can remember the smell of the burning metal and how it tasted in the back of my throat. I close my eyes and I'm right there again, ten years later. I wonder if it'll still be as vivid in another 10 years.

There is no way I could ever forget. For me that day is the closest that I have been to that much death, pain, and evil. But if there's anything I take from it, and what I also remember each 9/11, is to be grateful for what you have and to try to live your life fully.

Pictures below are from Ground Zero about 3 weeks after 9/11











Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So...



It's been about two full months since I posted on here, much to the chagrin of a certain someone, I know. So why didn't I blog on here for a while? Well I think for a while there a lot of what was going on revolved around the job in Seattle and honestly a part of me didn't want to jinx it by talking too much about it.

So going back to the interview at the end of July. It's kind of hard to look back on it objectively now knowing that I got the offer. An offer I somehow got despite screwing up on the written case. So during the interview day I spoke with 4 or 5 consultants, had lunch with the lead partner, then had two cases.

There was an excel case with several tabs of data and 10 questions that I had to either answer or manipulate the data. Then there was a written case where you were presented with a problem and related data. You then had to analyze the data the way you saw fit, then write some conclusions that you've made as well as discuss what additional questions that you'd want to ask.

The written case took about 90 minutes or so and it wasn't until the last 15 minutes when I was reviewing it that I realized I had completely misunderstood a major assumption of the main data set. Basically I had written my entire case off a wrong assumption. Sigh. Anyways, all's well that ends well I guess.

The pic above is from when I was there during my interview. After dinner on Friday night I spent some time walking around the downtown area and walked down to market place. It's difficult to explain clearly and sounds kind of cheesy now, but as I was walking around I just quietly knew, very deep down inside, that I was going to end up here. That I belonged here... that it was going to end up being home. I think its the same intuition that led me to turn down the offer from the Chicago firm for the opportunity to interview in Seattle.

There is still a ton that I don't know yet... such as whether I'll be able to sell my place, where I'll live in Seattle etc etc. If I really think about all I have to do, it freaks me out a little. Well, a lot. But same intuition is telling me everything is going to work out.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Going with your gut

Wednesday was my interview with the Chicago firm. It was an interesting interview because I definitely went into it with the mindset that I was already getting the job because of the two people there that I already know. But I think that mindset put me at ease, lessened any anxiety, and ultimately made me more confident, which probably helped make a good impression with the two new people I met. I need to remember this for the Seattle interview.

Oh so funny story about the interview. After interviewing with these two guys, the three of us went out to lunch to continue a more casual conversation and just to get to know each other. We went to this restaurant in downtown Chicago that is a pretty big business lunch place. We walked in and I was surrounded by men in suits.

Now for my lunch I ended up getting this pretty yummy salad. It comes to the table, and I start on my salad. I had had a couple of bites, when I see this little black spot on one corner of the plate. I'm like huh... what is that? I look closer, and I kid you not, it was this tiny tiny bug. I was surprised and kinda grossed out, but I was more freaked out that the two other guys would find out. I could have made a scene and called the waiter over and sent it back, but that would have made these two guys really uncomfortable. There they are trying to take a prospective hire out to lunch, and they find a bug in their food?

So I told myself, nope, I don't need to put them in that situation. No need. They would have been really embarrassed, needlessly, and it would have taken away from the conversation we were already having. So I kinda shoved the little bug down underneath the salad on that corner of the plate and then proceeded to eat about half the salad, on the opposite side of the plate. Maybe I ate another bug or two, but eh, I could always use more protein. :)

Anyways. So yesterday I am out to lunch with a friend who I hadn't seen in a while. And I'm telling her all about the interview and the circumstances with the Chicago firm. And I kid you not, as we're talking about the firm and my relationship with this partner, my phone lights up and this partner's name comes across the screen.

When I saw her name, I was glad but also filled with dread. Because I knew exactly what she was calling for. I knew that she was calling to give me an offer, but that she was not going to allow me to wait a month to interview with Seattle. I know this partner pretty well and know how she handles things. She is a business woman who knows what she wants and is not scared to go after it.

So I listen to the voicemail and she's telling me what I already knew... that she'd love for me to come join them etc etc. Then she says something to the effect of, 'I would like for you to come work with us and I need to know what I need to do to make that happen'. Yeah. Whoa. She doesn't mess around. It did get me thinking about what kinda crazy salary I could demand! :)

When I called her back, she told me pretty much what I already knew. That she can't wait for me to decide if I like the Seattle firm or if the Seattle firm likes me. That she is turning away work now and needs someone now. She said that I should think about where I want to be compensation wise and that she'd give me a week to make a decision. She also said that she can't guarantee that there would still be a need whenever I finish up the process with Seattle. But that if there was, she would still be open to that.

After talking to her, I spoke with two former colleagues, one at the Chicago firm and the other at the Seattle firm. My issue was that my gut was very strongly telling me that I needed to go through the interview process with Seattle. I wanted to make the best decision possible, and not feel like I was pressured to pick one firm. And yes, there is no guarantee that I would even get an offer from Seattle. My greatest fear is that that might happen, and that the Chicago firm would feel pissed or hold a grudge, feeling like I put them at second place, and not want to take me in 6 weeks.

My former coach at the Seattle firm told me that if she does hold a grudge, would I really want to work for someone like that? And that while the Chicago firm has an immediate staffing need right now, this is a big career decision for me. I am looking to be at my next firm for a while, so I have to feel comfortable with making the decision.

I knew what I needed to do, but knowing that I needed to call this partner today filled me with dread. This morning I did what I typically do when I am faced with a tough decision, consulting the I Ching. And as always, it was right, telling me what I already sensed... that everything has its proper time and that this is not the right time right now. That I need to trust that everything is as it should be and that everything is being prepared to achieve what is in my best interests. And that I just need to trust in that and be still and relaxed and confident.

So I called the partner shortly afterwards, explaining to her how I don't take her offer lightly and that I really do respect her. And because I respect her, that I want to be completely honest and tell her where I am. I told her that I want to maintain a good relationship not only with her, but the other person I know at the Chicago firm and the person I know at the Seattle firm.

I explained that its not really the case that I'm preferring Seattle over Chicago... that its two very different firms and opportunities that would put me in two different circumstances, circumstances that would affect my personal life very differently. I said that I do want to finish out the interview process with Seattle.

I finished up by saying that I don't know how things are going to end up, but I would hope that she would still be open to hiring me if she still has the work and the staffing need, not just in 6 weeks but in the future as well since I see myself in consulting for a while.

I think the conversation went as well as it could have, and she said she did appreciate me telling her so they didn't have to go through the work of putting together an offer. I don't know if she really means it when she says she would hire me again if they still had a staffing need, but I can't really worry about that at this point. She did say to keep her updated on how things go and perhaps in 6-8 weeks the Chicago firm may become more attractive to me. I kind of took her saying that to mean that she really does feel that I'm putting her firm as a second choice. Oh well.

I then talked to the other guy I know well at this firm and explained my decision and the conversation I had with the partner. He told me that they had actually had dinner last night and discussed this a bit, and that she knew that I had called him to talk about this yesterday as well. He said that she told him that she hoped that I did not get a bad impression of her from how forward she was with the offer and saying that she can't wait for a month. So that's a good sign, I think.

He told me that he really does anticipate that the work is only going to increase. While they are now going to hire this other guy, their second choice, that he feels that they would definitely still hire me in another 6-8 weeks if I was interested. He told me that I need to do what is right for me, and that he believes in the quality of my work so much that they would rather wait a bit than not have me at all. I have to hope that he would help advocate for me if I needed it.

So all in all, after a drama filled day yesterday, I think things worked out for the best. I still have no clue what will happen with Seattle. I may not like them, or they may not like me. And by then I may end up not being offered a position with the Chicago firm. Isn't there a saying like this? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? But anyways, that is the chance that I have decided to take. I can't make a decision because I feel forced into it. If I had accepted the offer, I would have always wondered about Seattle.

And something in my gut is strongly telling me that I need to at least interview with Seattle. So we'll see what happens!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Interview update

I've finally gotten the two interviews scheduled! The Chicago firm is at the end of June. They're making it a very condensed interview process because I already know the lead partner and another managing director in the practice.

In terms of the Seattle firm, I ended up having to take this online personality test of sorts. It basically gives you many screens to rank how you would describe yourself. Each screen had four adjectives or phrases and you'd rank 1-4 which were most apt to describe how you work.

I didn't really think I'd "fail" the test, given I have been consulting for four years. But basically they look for people who are going push and drive people to results instead of just being a people person. So when you're looking at a list of adjectives, you'd think that words like sociable or gets along with people are important. And they are. But they aren't as important as driving to a deadline or pushing to an end goal.

Other traits that I think are important for consultants are those who are calm in stressful situations because we often come into locations where not everyone wants us there. It's also important to be comfortable with ambiguity. If you want to know exactly how things are going to work, it just doesn't happen that way. You have to be comfortable working with the unknown, not having every single detail planned out. Then you just adjust as things happen.

Finally I think one of the most important traits for consultants is to be comfortable with change. Things change all the time. Not just in work a work setting, but in travel. Remember how a week and a half ago I ended up not going home? Well things like that happen. And you just have to deal with it. You can complain and bitch a bit, but deal with it.

Anyways, slight side track there. So yes, I "passed" the personality test. But unfortunately given my work and personal travel plans, as well as the those of the lead partner, we weren't able to get a date for me to fly out to Seattle until the end of July. One exact month after I interview with the Chicago firm. Boo. I had really wanted to get them close together. Oh well.

I was talking to my mom over the weekend about how I feel about these two firms. And really how I'm not really stressing over them. I really do think that whatever happens will be the right opportunity. I think back to being disappointed with not getting that offer from that firm in Atlanta last fall. And honestly these two firms are a better opportunity than that Atlanta firm. So even though it sucked a bit for me last fall, it was all meant to be.

The only really tough thing is going to be if I get both offers. I'd almost rather just get one so the decision making is done for me. Hard decisions are hard!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Crazy day

So I had a 11 am flight this morning from RDU back to O'hare. Emphasis on the word had. I get to RDU and shortly thereafter, they cancelled the flight. They initially said they couldn't get me on a flight until tomorrow, but then they were able to get me on a flight that left at 6 pm that would get me into Chicago at 7:30.

Except that I had already had a ticket booked to turn right back around and fly from Chicago back to Charlotte on Sunday. So what... I would have been in Chicago for 36 hours? I said forget it, and decided to cancel my return leg today and my initial leg on Sunday.

But this now left me at RDU with a rental car reservation to pick up from Charlotte's airport on Sunday. So I ended up changing that reservation to pick up today, but then had to rent a car from RDU to drive to Charlotte to pick up this car. Given that I was going to have this Charlotte car for two weeks, picking up from RDU and returning to Charlotte would have been crazy expensive because when you return it to a different location, they add a charge per mile.

Long story short, I got to RDU at 9 am today. I got a rental car at 11 am and drove the 2.5 hours to Charlotte. I picked up another car in Charlotte and drove back to Chapel Hill. I did stop on the way back to Chapel Hill at an outlet mall and did some de-stressing by buying some cute tops. Hey, I couldn't let today just be the day that I dealt with travel for 10 hours!

This now means that I am back in Chapel Hill this weekend, and next (as planned for Father's Day). And it means that I left Chicago on May 30 and will not return until June 24. Craziness.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The rental car game

A certain someone in New Mexico who shall remain unnamed told me to keep the blog posts coming. So I shall entertain!

Anyways, one of the little games I always play while traveling is "What rental car will I get this week"? I've had everything from sports cars that are super low to the ground to the point that I have issues getting in and out of the car... to Lincoln Navigators with wood paneling in the inside where I feel like I should be picking up my social security check and going to the 4:30 early bird special.

The Avis at Charlotte airport has been hooking me up lately, giving me much higher class cars than I am paying for. Last week I had a Mercury Mariner SUV which was a nice car. Not as nice as my Honda CRV at home, but nice nonetheless.

This week I have a hot red VW Jetta. I've never driven a VW before. I told a friend (who I already knew drives a VW) that I feel like I should be wearing birkenstocks, drinking a chai soy latte, and listening to NPR while driving around in the Pacific Northwest. I'm not sure why I have this notion of VW drivers.

Anyways, I'll have this Jetta for two weeks since I'm driving it to Chapel Hill and back this weekend!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More flying and traveling info

Given that I fly so much right now, a couple of tips food wise to share.

First, water. My gosh, a bottle of water is so expensive at most airports. But you know what I do? I buy it at McDonald's. Not only is the bottle of Dasani water about $1.50 (I believe), but it's also a regular sized bottle, not the huge ass bottle that you don't need that is sold everywhere else. Thus I often will go to McDonald's just to get a reasonable sized bottle of water for a reasonable price.

Next, let's stay with McDonald's for a bit. My favorite healthy breakfast at the airport? The oatmeal at McDonald's. Starbucks also has a good oatmeal option, but its at least $2 more expensive. The McDonald's is really pretty good, healthy, and filling.

It amuses me that I am still so cheap when I travel on business, but given that I am on per diems right now, the less I spend on food, the more money I keep in my pocket. I am given $48/day for food right now. It's nice because I never spend that much and just get to keep the extra money.

I am getting so so so sick of eating on the road though. I cringe at the end of the day when I know I have to think about what I'm going to get. Sigh. At least I can break it up with mom's cooking as I am going to Chapel Hill this weekend. I'll be meeting with a certain old roomie in Chapel Hill on Sunday which will be fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rebelling!

I flew into Winston Salem on Sunday night. And at O'hare now, its pretty much a given that you will have to go through the X-Ray scanner thing. And you know what? I refused.

It's always a funny thing when you go against the norm. The other passengers look at you in half surprise and half awe. The TSA folks get quite unhappy and give you nasty looks for causing them more work. But unless I am running late, I am going to request a pat down and refuse to go through the scanner.

I'm less concerned about the invasion of privacy issues, but really more concerned from a health standpoint. I do not need to be exposed to whole body radiation twice a week. I just don't.

I think I read an article where radiologists were saying that they refuse the scanner when they fly. And if MDs are refusing, who am I to argue? If I were to fly once in a while, sure I wouldn't refuse. But twice a week? Hell no.

Anyways when I refused on Sunday, the TSA guy made me wait unnecessarily before calling out for a female patdown. I think he wanted to delay me so that perhaps I wouldn't refuse in the future. He also gave me exasperated looks. Unfortunately this guy didn't know that you can't beat me in an angry staring contest.

I will stare you down, buddy! They don't call me angry asian girl for nothing!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bit of craziness

This is my second week on site here in Winston Salem. There are a lot of things on this project that would ordinarily drive me crazy. And if I knew that I was really going to be here for the life of the project (which would be until August 2013), I would probably be a bit unhappy right now. Or a lot unhappy.

But knowing that I hope to be at another firm by August of this year, well you can take anything if you see the light at the end of the tunnel. So I will do what I need to do each week, earn my airline miles and hotel points, and keep my mouth shut.

On the job front I was contacted by a recruiter at another consulting firm, that one I've mentioned that has two past colleagues. My past colleague who I spoke with about two weeks ago gave me the impression that they were not really ready to bring anyone on board just yet. So when this recruiter called me, I figured he was calling just to introduce himself and to give me the same kind of information.

Instead he was asking me questions like how comfortable I would feel about giving 2 weeks notice to my current firm. Questions like the status of my non compete with my current firm. It was just strange because it seemed like I was going to bypass the typical interview process given that this Managing Director and Principal already know me.

But that call kind of freaked me out because I want to make an informed decision, not feel pressured to take this offer (which would honestly be the easy route). So after I got off the phone with the recruiter, I called my past colleague at this other firm based in Seattle. I told her that I was going to submit my resume and start the process with this firm.

I submitted that stuff this morning and said that I would be open to moving to Seattle or DC. I've toyed with this thought for a while now, but now that I've said it on paper to this firm, its real! Yikes. Moving would suck yes, but I really need to look at the best possible job opportunity for me. Though yes, there is the other side of trying to think of moving to a new city as something new and exciting.

Perhaps I can even stagger things so that I could take a month off between jobs? :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Off to Winston!

I got a call out of the blue yesterday morning saying that I was going to be put on a project at Wake Forest in Winston Salem, NC. It was quite unexpected as I thought I would be starting another project. This is the first time in almost 4 years of consulting that I have gotten a project in NC.

It's going to be fun because one of my closest friends from high school lives in Winston Salem. We chatted on the phone last night and will try to meet up for dinner at least once a week. Winston Salem is also only about an hour drive from Chapel Hill. So I have actually arranged to fly from Chicago into Raleigh Durham this Sunday, spend Sunday night, Mother's Day, at my parent's house and drive into Winston on Monday morning.

I will then be driving back to Chapel Hill on Thursday evening to spend the weekend until I drive back to Winston on the following Monday. It worked out nicely because my sister is also home next weekend for a friend's wedding. And I won't fly back to Chicago until May 19.

This is going to be an interesting project because I do not have the technical expertise that the other team members do. My role is really to manage this project as a project manager, and help them make sure that everything is on task. But as it is with any other project, there will be quite a bit of orientation in the beginning.

Orientation not only to the project, but to your coworkers and the client, along with all the little things like how to get around.... where the good restaurants are by your project or hotel... where to find good coffee. All the things you have to learn and get acclimated to when you start a new job, we have to do it for every new engagement.

It's interesting because I've really learned to be comfortable with change and uncertainty and not knowing anything. I've learned to relish the steep learning curve of a new project and client even when that comes with some stress. It's why I continue to be a consultant I guess.

Am I still looking for another job though? Yes. My coach is leaving for a firm that I am really really interested in. But the job would require relocation to Seattle. The prospect is exciting yet scary at the same time. So I think I might give her a couple weeks to learn the ropes at this new firm, and let me know how she likes it. Then perhaps I will apply.

But I also got a call mid week this week from some past colleagues who are at another consulting firm. They talked about how they really wanted to bring me on board, yet they can't do it just yet. They have to sell a couple more projects before they can justify bringing me on board. But the call was to tell me that they were interested and that I should not accept any other offers without talking to them first.

I then still have two other past colleagues at two other firms who also have my resumes and are working on things for me on the inside. So that's 4 past colleagues at 4 separate firms. When I started as a healthcare consultant, I often heard that the world of healthcare consulting is quite small. I don't think I quite realized how small until now.

I'm really curious how things are going to end up...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Week off

I took a week off from blog writing and reading, though it seems longer than that. Things with work are the same, meaning I am still looking at other firms via past coworkers who are working there. The process is just much slower than I would like, which is frustrating. I am trying to say one of my favorite and grounding phrases to myself, "that everything is as it should be". Whatever happens, wherever I go, it will all work out.

I did find out on Thursday that I am being put on another project. The data request was submitted to the organization late last week, so I don't expect that to come back until later this week. I don't know yet whether I have to travel or not. If I do, I think it'll be back to Kansas City, Missouri, where I went once or twice back last fall.

This project will be a bit different from the last several projects that I've had in that it is going to be very data intensive. We're talking 10,000 line Excel files again, and creating financial models. Geez, I hope I remember how to do this. It's been a very very long time since I've done a pure analytical type project.

So it looks like this will be my last week of pure yoga pants vacation while still getting paid type living. Sigh. But I do think it'll be good to get back to working again!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's a good thing I'm not looking to get married in the 1930s



Some of the parts are just amusing, like "seams in hose often crooked" or "wears red nail polish" or "dresses for breakfast". I'll tell you what though, the "never goes to bed angry, always makes up first" part I would fail. Real hard.

I was recently talking about this to someone, but I am probably one of the most stubborn hard headed people around. It's often too important to me to be right, and I already know that I have a tendency to fight dirty. Meaning I know exactly what to say to someone at the exact right time to hurt someone to the point where they can't even fight back.

I learned all of this from the almost 5 years with my ex and I hope that I've learned from it. I think knowing how I am (or hopefully was) can help me try to be better. As my ex asked me once, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?". I actually paused a bit when he asked me that, to which he was like "Seriously?!?!" :p

As an amusing counterpart, the husband's rating chart:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Amazing video

A beautiful video from Japan. I find it absolutely amazing this was created for a Japanese cell phone ad.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The story of Henrietta Lacks

Have you heard the story of Henrietta Lacks? There was a very popular book that came out last year called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Amazon link here). I came across this story last weekend.

Henrietta Lacks was a poor tobacco farmer who died very painfully from cervical cancer at the age of 31 in 1951. Henrietta lived in Baltimore and thus went to Johns Hopkins for cancer treatment. During two of her visits to Johns Hopkins, samples were taken from her tumor without her knowledge, and one of those samples started what is known today as the HeLa (after her name... Henrietta Lacks) cell line.

At the time scientists had been trying for decades to grow cells in labs in order to conduct various research experiments. While all previous attempts failed, Henrietta's cells were found to be the first cells to ever survive in cell culture. They were found to be incredibly durable and her cells divided every 24 hours (compared to 36 hours for most humans). Her cells could also divide continuously. For most people, once a cell divides, a chromosome shortens, meaning that the cells can only divide a certain number of times before it dies. But Henrietta's cells did not experience chromosome shortening, meaning they could divide and thus live forever.

HeLa cells were used to develop the polio vaccine and have been invaluable in so many areas, including cancer and AIDS research, Parkinsons, the development of in vitro fertilization, as well as genetic mapping, the kind of research my dad does. I asked my dad this past weekend if he had heard of HeLa cells, and he gave me this crazy look with an answer to the effect of "Of course silly... any self respecting scientist knows HeLa cells".

I actually did skin cancer research myself back as an undergrad, growing cell cultures in a lab. I don't remember exactly what cells those were... I wonder if they were HeLa cells. Its pretty crazy to think that Henrietta cells, first taken back in 1951 are still making such big contributions to science. To date scientists have grown some 20 tons, yes TONS, of her cells.

Now here's the sad part. Henrietta died in 1951 amidst so much incredible pain due to the cancer spreading all over her body (not surprising knowing her durable her cells are and how fast they divide). Her autopsy found cancer in her chest cavity, lungs, liver and kidney and her bladder appeared to be one solid tumor. At her death, her family could not afford a tombstone for her. Her family actually didn't even find out what had happened with her cells until a scientist contacted them in 1976.

When the story of HeLa cells started coming out, apparently some scientists wanted to cover up the fact that they came from a poor black tobacco farmer. A scientist tried to hide this fact by saying the cells came from a white woman named Helen Lake. I wonder what some of the racist crazies in the past (and unfortunately today) think of the fact that this poor black woman has probably saved their lives or the lives of their loved ones.

Henrietta's family still lives quite poor in the Baltimore area. Her sons and grandchildren can't afford health insurance. I'm not sure how you can even begin to try to quantify Henrietta's contributions to science and who exactly should help this family. Whether that is universities... or the government... or private companies, I hope her family gets some help. But I think its just as important for people to know this story. It was interesting for me to tell my dad the story behind the HeLa cells that he has conducted genetic research on.

Whether her family gets some compensation or not, by telling her story, her life, as difficult as it was on earth, has truly become immortal.

Some more links to her story here, here, and here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Some of my favorite songs and artists

I don't really watch Grey's Anatomy too much anymore, but I heard that Thursday night was their musical episode. One of the songs featured on the episode was Brandi Carlile's The Story. When someone once tried to describe my musical taste, it was described as "the kind of music they play on Grey's Anatomy". So its funny that this song ended up on the show as Brandi Carlile has long been a favorite of mine.

Not heard of her? Here is her powerful song The Story:



I love these lines from the song as a good way to think about getting older:

"All of these lines across my face

Tell you the story of who I am

So many stories of where I've been

And how I got to where I am"


Some other favorite artists I'm listening to a lot lately are Josh Ritter, with The Girl in the War below:



And Joshua Radin, whose beautiful yet kind of depressing song 'What if You' I believe was on an old episode of Grey's. Unfortunately no official music video for this song.



Continuing with the sad yet beautiful is James Morrison's The Pieces Don't Fit Anymore:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Chapel Hill for a week!

I flew into Chapel Hill last night and am here for another week. I figured I'd be here for my mom's birthday on Thursday, plus in the small chance that my basketball team was playing in the Final Four this weekend (though unfortunately that is not the case). Today happens to be my sister's birthday, her 28th.. which is just insane to me. Its insane that she is nearing 30.... and scary that it means that I am 6 years older than her.

Insanely cute pics from Jason Lee of his daughters:





Anyways, for the most part I don't really recognize or realize how old I am. It is interesting though how I notice time passing more when I come home and see my parents. I probably see my parents about 4-5 times a year and on some trips home, it just strikes me how much older they are getting. I guess I still think of them somehow in their 50s, when in fact they are 66 and 67. My mom is retiring this July, but she said that my dad is going to work until I get married. Sigh... the guilt.

Anyways, last Saturday night I went out with some girlfriends and we ended up at this bar. It was amusing because 3 of the girls (who are white) were talking about how they have a thing for asian men. And the other 3 of us are asian or half asian. I told the girls that they can have the asian guys or at least my allotment, since I have never dated an asian man beyond going out on a couple of first dates.

Mmmm is it strange that I don't date within my own race? It's not necessarily that I'm against it... its just that I tend to be attracted to caucasian men and they are the ones who have approached me in my past. Honestly this sentiment is reciprocal though because asian guys just tend not to be attracted to me. So while I'm ok with this, its important to me that I find someone who already has or develops a strong appreciation for my Korean culture. Meaning he has to be able to eat a lot of Korean food... especially the spicy stuff.

Anyways, I was sharing my online dating woes with these girls and they told me that I need to now be the one being more proactive and reaching out to people I find intriguing. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So this is dating?

I am done with my four weeks of traveling to Baltimore for work. Huzzah! Actually last week ended up being really stressful and crazy and I feel like I'm still recovering. I probably worked 14 hour days on Monday through Wednesday to get everything done for the final deliverable due on Thursday. But now I effectively have two weeks off! I am in Chicago this week, then I am flying home to Chapel Hill next Monday to be there for a week since its my mom's birthday as well. I'm liking this "work 4 weeks, take 2 weeks off" bit. It rocks. =)

Anyways, I told Sara about this but shortly before I started traveling to Baltimore I did finally join match and e-harmony. I haven't really done too much with it since I've been traveling and kinda crazy. Meaning I haven't really searched or reached out to anyone, and have just seen what comes back to me. And what has come back to me has been interesting. Let's just recount some, shall we?

First we have the guys who are way too old for me. I put on my profile that I am looking for 30-40. Even 30 is pushing it given that I am 34. But come on, what the heck with all these guys 45-49 contacting me? WTF? On the other side we have the guys who are way too young for me. Um, I'm sorry but I'm looking to date someone not babysit someone. Hahaha... just kidding, I kid! But really... 25, 26 is way too young for me. 30 is my absolute lower limit. I would maybe go for someone who was 29 but they'd have to be super hot. =) Ah... I crack myself up.

I wonder where the guys are in their mid 30s? I mean, are they going after girls who are in their mid 20s? Is this how this works? Anyways, of those guys who are in my age range, I've had the really nice guy who in his profile listed that he was 5'4". Um. Hmmm. Look, I'm short, I know this. I'm not one of those weird short girls who say their date has to be 6'0"+. You know what, 5'6"...5'7"...5'8"... is fine. But 5'4"? I don't know... I just can't.

Then there was the guy who looked pretty cute and had a nice body, but his main profile picture was one with his shirt off. I'm sorry, but I don't care how good looking you are. If that is your main profile picture, I am going to judge you. And I am going to judge that you are a total douchebag. End of story. Then yes, there really was the 36 year old guy contacting me saying he would date girls 18-36 in his profile. I'm sorry, but what the heck is a 36 year old man (and I use this word loosely) going to do with a girl half his freakin' age? Douchebag!

And then the rest of the guys are guys who seemed "normal" enough but they either send me as a first point of contact this long ass email detailing their entire life story and how much he thought we'd be a fit (sorry too much too soon and slightly stalker-ish) or I look at their pics and I just am not physically attracted. It's not really even so much that these guys aren't "my type". Because I don't think I necessarily have a type. It's just that I don't see a physical attraction at all.

I was relating all of this to Sara and I think we decided that yes, internet dating sucks, but that there is probably a part of me that is being a huge judgy-mcjudgypants. The only thing I could try to be more open minded about is the physical attraction bit. But I guess I find it hard to think that I'd take the time to go out and meet someone when I'm not sure about the physical attraction. But maybe I need to, just to see. I don't know.

Maybe I am being so judgmental because I'm not really ready or wanting to do this. I don't know. But when I find something wrong with every single guy? Isn't that saying something? The other avenue I could pursue is actually searching and reaching out to guys myself. But that would take some effort. Sigh. Mmmm...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sendai

I've watched a lot of news since the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan on Friday. Sendai was the closest large city. It's insane to be reading and watching all this news coverage on Sendai, a city that most people outside of Japan have never heard of.

Incidentally, Sendai is my birthplace. My parents moved from Korea to Sendai about a year before I was born because my dad was doing a PhD at Tohoku University there. We lived there until I was about 5 and a half after which we moved to Madison, Wisconsin.

What is sort of interesting about this fact is that Japan and Korea has had a long, often contentious history, given that Korea was occupied by Japan for 35 years from 1910 to 1945. There is a lot of bad history there, with everything from the Korean queen was assassinated by the Japanese to Korean women being kidnapped to be "comfort women" to Japanese soldiers and a lot more stuff in between.

While I don't think that younger Koreans of my generation feel this contention, there are those of my parents and definitely of my grandparents generation that still hold the pain and anger from Japanese occupation. While the relationship has gotten better over time, back when when my family moved to Japan it was still sort of a surprising thing. Thus, I am glad to see on Korean news outlets the level of aid and support that the Korean government and NGOs are sending over to Japan.

I was talking to my mom over the weekend and she said that while we were living in Sendai, there was a 6.2 earthquake. She clearly remembers how terrified she was from "just" a 6.2 and can't imagine what a 8.9 would be like. She remembers running to my preschool/day care center from work to make sure I was ok. I don't remember this earthquake specifically but I do remember doing earthquake practice drills in my preschool.

My mom and I also talked about watching the coverage of the survivors on TV and we both remarked about the extreme politeness and sense of order of the Japanese people. News outlets have talked about how looting would never really happen in Japan, even in an incredible crisis of this sort.

You see these long orderly lines for food and water. Heck, if it was South Korea or China, people would be shoving and yelling and doing whatever they could do survive. But not the Japanese. It just isn't their way. They have an incredible sense of dignity... politeness... order. Its really quite remarkable.



Anyways, I had always thought that I would go back to visit Sendai one day. And I still hold that hope. But it's really sad to know that I will never be able see Sendai as it was when my family lived there.

While I am definitely "more Korean", Japanese is the first language I ever spoke and Japanese culture (especially the food) was always strongly ingrained in my family. And while I only lived in Sendai until I was 5 years old, its hard not to feel an attachment to Sendai.

Some images from the many news stories that touched me. Notes from those looking for family members at a information center in Sendai. This reminds me so much of what I saw in NYC post 9/11.



This one absolutely broke my heart because the caption said: "Parents looked at the body of their daughter, whom they found in the vehicle of a driving school in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture".



All I can say is thoughts and prayers. I know that Japan is a relatively developed and prosperous country. But I hope that people and countries recognize the scale of this disaster and still help.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Still working!

This is the end of my second week here in Maryland. I am definitely back next week, and there is a chance that I may be back here for 3 weeks after next week as well. We'll see. I wouldn't mind going back to my routine of waking up late and lounging around in yoga pants all day...

So in the time I've been here, I've been working closely with the employees here to try to understand their processes that we have to document and improve. Its always a funny thing coming into an organization as a consultant. I was in one meeting this week where a topic was being discussed, and someone said:

"I've been saying this for months now, but they don't listen to me. But I'm sure they will listen to you because you are the consultants and we are paying you a lot of money to tell us what we already know"

Lol. My peripheral job search does continue though. Though mainly it is continuing through the efforts and movements of higher level consultants I have worked with. My coach/mentor is interviewing today and tomorrow with a firm that asked whether she had any other consultants she could bring with her. I've mentioned this firm before, this is the one that would probably require relocation. And turns out their office locations would be Boston, DC, Seattle, or San Diego. Mmmm

Another partner's last day with my firm is tomorrow and she is making a switch to another large national firm. She would be a good person to bring me into her new firm, a firm that would probably allow me to live wherever I wanted.

While the thought of moving and trying to sell my condo gives me a headache, I don't know... maybe its time to leave Chicago. I've been there almost 8 years now. Maybe its time to move.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Working again!

I arrived in Baltimore yesterday and will be here until tomorrow night. I will be back here all week next week as well. It's strange going back to not only working again, but back to the standard consultant habit of working at night when you get back to the hotel room or getting up at 6 am to work.

So when I got here yesterday, one of the project leads pulled me into a meeting that was already going on so that I could meet some people. This included the system CFO and a couple of other directors of this huge health system. The CFO was on the phone via conference, and while this project lead was introducing me to him, he said something like "she is much better looking than I am so you'll enjoy working with her".

Um? Can I just say WTF and completely inappropriate? I was kind of embarrassed but more embarrassed for him because I think the other people in the room were thinking "huh?" as well.

The interesting thing about consulting is that you get put on a wide variety of projects with a wide variety of project directors and principals. It's an opportunity to see a wide variety of facilitation, leadership, and communication styles, both good and bad. You get to see how you should or should not run things in 5-10 years time.

I've been with several meetings now with the other project lead (not the one from yesterday), and while she is incredibly brilliant and has a wealth of information in this space, she is not very good at listening to the client. She also is not great at asking clear and direct questions. Her questions run 5 minutes where she adds in all this side information so you've forgotten what her original question even was.

So what have I learned so far? Don't comment on colleagues physical appearances, how not to communicate with clients, and that this area has good sushi. Good lessons, eh?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What day is it again?

Geez, its been a while since I posted here. When you're not working, every day kinda bleeds into the next and without even realizing it, a week passes by. Most of the time I am unsure what day of the week it is, since every day is the same.

I did find out earlier this week that I will probably be sent to Maryland a bit over the next couple of weeks for a small project. The thought of having to actually work all day and wake up early... wow do I even remember how to do that? :p

Some insightful, thought provoking, and funny quotes that I came across that each speak to me and my life right now in some way or another.










And this last one just cracks me up:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Still hanging around

So I am still not laid off. Crazy. Seriously if the leadership here really knew what the heck they were doing, we should have gone two weeks ago. I actually heard from my coach/mentor yesterday that the new person we report to even wants to do some sort of strategy session here in Chicago in the next few weeks.

Does this change anything? Not really. Just means we may have even longer to look for other jobs. I'm still trying to decide what the heck I want to do next. There is this one consulting firm that seems to have taken a interest in my coach as well as myself. They're a much smaller firm, with only like 100 healthcare consultants. The only drawback is that they would require relocation to either Boston, DC, or Seattle.

If I could pick a city just on the city itself, I would probably pick Seattle. But I'm really torn with how much further that is from my parents in North Carolina. I don't know. Also I think Seattle is much more expensive real estate wise than Chicago. I doubt I could afford the same type of condo I have now. Though perhaps salaries there would account for the higher cost of living.

Anyways, an eerie pic from after the blizzard last week. A bunch of cars ended up getting stuck and abandoned on Lake Shore Drive. Talk about the apocalypse part of snowpocalypse!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Blizzard and other things



Hahaha, this amuses me. So apparently Chicago is supposed to get a foot to two feet of snow from Tuesday evening into Wednesday. I went to Trader Joes this morning, not because of the blizzard necessarily, but because I had no food in the house, and it was madness.

Anyways, we found out on Friday that our little practice leader is leaving to start up a practice at another firm. The three of us had no idea. The partner believes there is no future for management consulting at our current firm and he wants to do strategy elsewhere. We had a conference call Friday afternoon and were pretty much talking about our plans for our job searches. The other two are really motivated and are looking now, so as to not have a lapse in employment.

We were certain that this meant we'd get laid off on Friday or at least today, but no word yet. My coach thinks they can't because they've told Wall Street that they are going to focus on the area that my little practice is focusing on. So they have to have some people doing that. If I do go to another consulting firm, I would like for it not be a public firm. The second requirement will be that they do not do healthcare IT. Healthcare IT has a tendency to cannibalize everything else.

In terms of job searches, I have looked at the website of a firm or two, but that's about it. I just can't get myself to do it. Oh yeah, probably because I'm just not sure where I want to go next. My coach is looking solely at consulting firms and she said that if she had an opportunity to bring us with her, she will do so. Maybe that should be my job search strategy... have her do all the leg work and just follow her?

No but seriously, I need to do some research and talk to people. This whole not having to work at all but receiving a full salary but being home all day rocks, don't get me wrong. But it is also hard to get yourself motivated. Every day is kinda the same thing and its easy to fall into just doing nothing. I went out last Friday night with a friend to a show and dinner afterwards and it was especially noteworthy that I put on makeup and real pants with a waistband (haha).

So maybe I should motivate this week. But oh, we're getting a snowmageddon! How can I motivate during a blizzard? Seriously, right? Maybe I shall motivate to get motivated next week?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Still here... for now

A number of folks are now asking me daily if I'm still employed. It's kinda amusing. But yes, I am still employed, but I still don't have a good feeling about this. Even if it doesn't happen this week, my intuition tells me that either it could be coming in the next couple months or that I am not meant to stay here. Probably more of the latter.

This I guess just means I need to figure out where I want to go next while I still am employed. I don't know, but I am thinking more and more that I may not go back to the exact type of consulting I've been doing. We'll see.

Some cute and insightful reminders from a blog I love, Things We Forget. The author sticks these little yellow post-its in public places.









Friday, January 21, 2011

The unknown

This past Monday three other people in the healthcare group at my firm were laid off, one who I know very very well. The little practice that I am in hasn't been affected yet, but it is very possible that the only reason we weren't laid off this week because our leading partner is on vacation in SE Asia and is unreachable. So its very possible that we will get laid off next week. Even if we don't get laid off next week, I wouldn't be surprised if it happens by the end of March. My firm is moving towards strictly doing healthcare IT work, and that's just not the kind of work I do, or even want to do.

I've took some time yesterday to take stock of all my accounts to see how long I could get by without working. Theoretically I could probably get by for a year, though I probably wouldn't want to do that (it'd also give my mom a heart attack). My friend got 8 weeks severance, which would help as well. Unlike some others I work with, I don't have a spouse or kids depending on my income. I have the luxury of being a bit more risky since its just me. So there's a part of me that would love to just take off maybe six months... maybe do some international travel during that time?

So I do need to be really thinking about what I'm going to do next. Healthcare strategy and operations is what I've been doing. Is that what I continue to do? Hmmm. Just because that is what my past education and work experience most prepare me to do, is that what I really want to do? Maybe this is the opportunity to radically change my career. I don't know... I think the fact that the possibility of getting laid off doesn't really freak me out is sort of a sign. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Madison trip and pigging out



The weekend in Madison was really fun. It was interesting to be able to see the city with adult eyes. The elementary school looked smaller than I remembered. There is also this hill right next to the school where we used to go sledding. In my mind, this hill was huge. But when we saw it, we were like really? That's not that big!

Anyways, there are some really nice trendy areas in Madison, specifically around the downtown area as well as in the Williamson St area. My friend and I were like, we don't remember all these trendy restaurants and bars. Then we realized it's probably because we were 9 and 11 years old when we left Madison. We had lunch at this place called The Old Fashioned where we had their famous cheese curds. Yes chunks of fried cheese. Only in Wisconsin, only in Wisconsin.

The stuffing our face continued when we got back to Chicago since my friend was here for two more days. Its funny that I have a list of maybe 7-10 places that I always take people when they visit me. It's like my standard repertoire. A couple of the places I took my friend included Ann Sather's for their Swedish brunch with their crazy huge cinnamon rolls, Sunshine Cafe for homestyle Japanese food (not sushi), Lou Malnati's for what I think is the best deep dish pizza in Chicago, and Cafe Iberico for really amazing tapas.

After my friend's visit, I should really be spending this entire week in the gym...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why do you have to be a bitch to get things done?

I have been dealing with a problem with some routine blood work I had done when I finally went to the doctor for the first time in a couple of years last November. I ended up getting a bill for it from the lab provider for $250 because Aetna did not cover it.

So starting in December I've been calling the physicians office as well as the lab provider. The lab provider has actually been responsive and helpful. The physicians office? Oh my freakin' gawd. Getting them to do anything and actually respond to you is impossible.

After 10 days of trying to get this resolved with the practice manager for this physicians office, I hit the roof today with her. Yes, I went very scary asian girl on her. She has had this issue on her desk for 6 weeks and doesn't do anything about it. On top of that, I've been calling every day since Monday and she does not pick up the phone, nor return my calls.

By going off on her, and explaining for the millionth time that the blood work needs to be submitted with a routine screening code, not a medical diagnosis code, I seem to finally have gotten some traction. She actually freely called me back with some more updates about half an hour after I laid into her. I think I scared her.

Why the hell does it require being a scary bitch to get this stuff done? What saddens me is that at least I have enough healthcare and some billing and coding knowledge to be able to talk to my insurance company, the lab company, and the physicians office about this intelligently.

When the practice manager first told me that well uh, it was put towards your deductible, I whipped that back around with "No, it should not be put towards the deductible because that means I have to pay for that. It should be fully paid because the lab work was of a routine screening nature". What the hell do people who can't speak healthcare terms or don't speak English or are elderly do? That makes me sad.

What I wanted to say to this idiot of an incompetent woman is that what I do for a living is assess healthcare organizations and recommend where things can be improved or where things can be cut (aka her f'in job). I did keep this to myself though. But I thought it! Damn straight I thought it!

Health Care is a mess. Top down and bottom up. This should be good for my job security, but honestly the depth of the mess in this industry makes me just plain tired.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back to Madison!

Its been a bit of a roller coaster with work this week. Its been pretty much like this:

"OMG WE HAVE TO GET ALL THIS DONE BY TUESDAY... OK WE HAVE SOME MORE TIME TIME... OH NO BUT WE HAVE TO MAKE A MILLION CHANGES.... BUT WE'RE OK THEY AREN'T DUE UNTIL THURSDAY... CRAP EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO 80 REPORTS... AACK!"

I have a semi permanent indentation on my right index finger from the track point little red ball thingie of my work Thinkpad. I wonder if I could file for workers comp?

I am definitely looking forward to this work week being over. Also because a friend of mine is staying with me this weekend. She lives in Korea but is currently in the states interviewing for residency programs. I actually grew up with her in Madison and the last time I saw her was when I was in 5th grade.

I'm looking forward to showing her around Chicago, but I am really looking forward to the fact that we are going to drive up to Madison and spend a night there! It's going to be wild to see where we grew up, the graduate student/post doc (because of our fathers) apartments we grew up in, our elementary school, the UW campus. I'm curious to see what it all looks like with our adult eyes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Resolutions and whatnot



I don't think that I've ever really said out loud that certain things were my New Years resolutions. I mean I might have thought about things that I want to do or accomplish, but they could happen at any time of the year. In actuality my New Year in terms of resolutions probably happened to me last October. So the coming around of 1/1/2011 is just sort of a continuation of that.

While I was home one of the things my mom said (and this was not the first time) was that someone who had been married before would be ok. That it may be hard for me at my age to find someone who had never been married before. The funny thing is that as horrible as it may sound in an American context, she hasn't been as naggy as she could be as a Korean mother.

I know from cousins and friends, that Korean mothers can be much much worse, given a single 34 year old Korean daughter. My aunt has actually told her that she is not nagging me enough about finding someone and getting married. The plus side to all of this is that they are going to be so glad when I do find someone that their standard for the guy is probably a lot less than when I was in my 20s. This sounds kind of bad yes, but its a positive for me! It means I don't have to bring home a super successful or educated guy... a guy that is just good on paper. I can bring someone home where the more important things matter.

The thing my mom doesn't realize is that I'm not really against someone who has been married before. I've already been with someone who was divorced. To me, it's not a deal breaker. It's more important to me to find someone I click with. I do recognize that my ex screwed me over in terms of the fact that we had this instant electric soulmate type connection, being together 24/7 pretty much after 5 days. I think I'm still trying to recognize that not all relationships start like that.

So there is my resolution of sorts for this year. Not so much to meet someone, but to just try. I think the last date I had was March or April of 2008. I was not interested in dating at all for a long time, with the last year or so consisting of just not wanting to make the effort.

Make an effort and not be too picky. Doesn't sound so hard...

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011!

Hmmmm so a two week break from blogging... which I'm sure I'm going to hear about from a certain someone in New Mexico. Anyways, hopefully I'm back to a more normal blogging schedule.

I'm still actually in Chapel Hill at my parents and am flying back to Chicago tomorrow. It's been a pretty lazy 10 days here. I've been helping my parents with moving things around, redecorating, and shopping for furniture for their remodeled house. But it's also been really nice not having to worry about cooking. Mmm mom's cooking!

I did get a bit of unexpected good news before Christmas. Back in 2004 while I was still in business school, I was involved in a business plan competition. Two classmates and I actually started the company with investors and I spent the summer of 2004 out in San Francisco starting the company. But I haven't had any involvement with the company since late 2004.

While the company is no longer really focusing on what we initially started the company for, they are planning to sell the company this year. And apparently the company had really good revenues last year and currently has 35 interested buyers. While I don't have a lot of shares since I was only involved with it for a short while, it does look like I'm going to come into some cash from this. The question is going to be how much... but hey, since I never expected anything from it, anything greater than $0 is a win for me.

In other pre Christmas news, I was approached by a hospital that I consulted for to see if I was interested in a full time in house performance improvement position. Hmmm. I have always thought that I would eventually leave consulting and go in house to a hospital one day. I'm just not sure yet if this is the time.

Consulting provides an incredible opportunity to see a wide variety of projects. Learning from the issues and concerns different hospitals have all over the country is why I am currently consulting. I've also gotten very used to the project based nature of the work. You don't like who you're working with? Well chances are, in consulting that project will be done in 12 weeks.

I also think that at my level right now, going to work for a hospital may be a slight pay cut, even though at the director and above levels, hospital salaries are in line with consulting salaries. Actually hospital VP salaries can even be higher than consulting salaries!

So I'm not sure yet if its the right time for me to leave consulting and go in house. But I guess I should explore this opportunity to see what it would entail and what kind of in house position and salary I could get right now!