Saturday, April 30, 2011

Memories of a Time Long Gone

My parents are moving in less than two months.

You may not care about that, but since I will not be heading home until after they move, it meant a Skype date with my sister as she held up every single possession of mine that is in my parents' home to ask whether I would like to keep it, trash it, or sell it at a garage sale.

Some items were no-brainers - books that had no sentimental value, a bottomless pit of office supplies, and a couple of laundry baskets that wouldn't be worth shipping down to Boston.

What was hard to throw away were all the little knick knacks I'd collected over the years. I mean, who really needs a Veggie Tales eraser? (Bob the Cucumber and Larry the Tomato, anyone?) What about the pack of mints I bought at Hoover Dam? (Best Dam Mints) Or the San Francisco key chain with my name on it?

As I went through all of these items, it struck me how much my identity used to be tied up in the things I chose to like. There was a lot of penguin, Veggie Tales, and travel paraphernalia. I had huge posters of my favourite band (Switchfoot ;-) ) and collages of special seasons of my life.

Though I didn't have to do the physical throwing away (thank you Becky!), it was still hard to let these things go. In fact, I took screen shots so I could remember. But the reality is that I no longer have any use for my "I Hate Cuddling" button or my "Boys Are Smelly" grape-flavoured candies. Not only do they not represent who I am any longer (though don't get any ideas about invading my personal space), I have also moved on to someone who keeps the mementos to a minimum. Perhaps that is the function of being about to head to live in my third city in as many years.

I'd also like to think that as I mature, that my identity is found less in my "Chicks Rule" key chain and more in the way that I carry myself and interact with others. Of course, despite all these thoughts, the truth is that I'm glad is was my sister and my I who had to throw away all of that stuff!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Storms, Lilacs and Transitions

There's something hanging in the air, and it's not just the scent of lilacs wafting through the courtyard or the feel of rain waiting to pour.

It's the impending feeling of Change. Life chugs along normally as I sit in classes and prep for them, head out for coffee and attend regular meetings. Yet despite this normalcy, the underlying current of knowing that all of this will essentially be over in two weeks hovers relentlessly. Conversations stray toward trying to figure out whether we are excited or disappointed about moving on, and I think I find myself with a mix of both. I have spent much of my life living in and planning for the future, and this period is no exception as I read the Lonely Planet guides to Iceland and the UK and spend hours checking out Boston apartments.

At the same time, I am keenly aware that this phase of life is a huge gift. I am focused on learning and am surrounded by amazing people. The weather couldn't be more amazing (despite the two tornado warnings we've had in the last few weeks - okay, i guess the weather could be more amazing) and the spring flora in Cville is beautiful. And so I find myself challenged not to stress over the logistics of moving or start focusing too much on the walk score of various Boston apartments. Instead it's time to forget about how limited my remaining time is here and just relax and enjoy it. It's been a crazy ride over the last year and a half, and now it's time to enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why Thank You!

As it turns out, I've been nominated for an award.

Well, not ME, my blog... but since I write my blog, it equates to about the same thing as me being nominated for an award.

Every year, Clear Admit (an MBA admissions website) runs a "best of blogging" competition to determine the best MBA applicant and student blogs. I have been nominated, along with a whole host of other Darden student bloggers. (I think there were about six or seven of us nominated.)

If you are a ClearAdmit fan and wish to vote: follow this link for details.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pure Bliss

This quarter, I'm taking two reading classes, so the bulk of my class preparation consists of reading two books before Monday every week. For my literature class in particular, the books are acutely enjoyable.

Spring has finally decided to make an appearance in Charlottesville, so I'm sitting outside on my balcony reading The Imperfectionists.

My friend and I were discussing the "good seasons" in the places we've lived and dream of living. While I can't handle the summer heat or the winter grey/brown down in VA, spring and fall are undoubtedly seasons that top most seasons anywhere else I've lived. (which is really just the Canadian Prairies, which all has a similar climate) If you don't live in Cville, I would recommend heading down to Virginia at some point in the fall or spring. I am treated daily with the slow unveiling of flowered trees and my favorite flower - lilacs. The weather at this time of year is around my optimal 70F (22C) and life is just generally blissful.

It doesn't hurt my enjoyment at this moment to know that, as per Facebook status updates, it has snowed back home in Edmonton...

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Second Year, Q4

The end is near.

It's a dramatic way to say it, but graduation is a mere six weeks from tomorrow.

There's been a fundamental shift from the beginning of first year to this fourth quarter we've found ourselves in. Everyone has shifted from being hopeful, eager, stressed-out students and job hunters to calm, relaxed golfers, hikers, fitness freaks, you name it. While I don't mean to diminish the plight of my classmates who are still on the hunt for full-time positions, the collective tension in the air has relaxed.

We now participate in class because we genuinely feel we have something to contribute, not because we feel the desperate need to get a participation "point" for the day. Our relationship with professors has become much more like friendship than like the typical teacher-student relationship. It doesn't hurt that two of my classes are taught my guest lecturers and not by the professors, and that we join the professors for lunch after class. On Monday night, my literature class group (yes! literature class - I just finished reading The White Tiger) will be joining our professor and his family for dinner.

This last quarter is a lot about tying up loose ends. While my reading classes offer the opportunity to think philosophically on success and great leadership, the speaker classes I am taking tie together everything we've learned in a tactical manner. Rather than discussing in broad generalizations what it's like to deal with a union, speakers will say "okay, let's have that conversation. When are you going to have it? What are you going to say?" It puts a lot more reality on the business world we will be entering in just a few short months.

In addition to finishing up my academics, my focus has turned toward preparing for my upcoming move to Boston. I'm in the process of setting up appointments with realtors and building managers while trying to figure out exactly what my summer will look like so I can book some plane tickets. Many classmates are doing the same and, as can be expected, I've heard of many exciting plans for the next few months.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Happy Steak

If you've ever read Omnivore's Dilemma or seen Food Inc., you've heard of Polyface Farm. Without getting into all of the details, Polyface is essentially a farm that seeks to produce food in a sustainable way that heals the land, and just generally produces healthier food. As a quick example, most of the beef produced in the US comes from large "concentrated animal feeding organizations" (CAFOs) which feed cows corn and, well, other cows. Corn-fed beef is less healthy for a variety of reasons, the most important being that cows are supposed to digest grass... and all of the complications that come from attempting to feed cows corn produce less than healthy beef. Basically, the idyllic picture of cows standing in the grass is really just an old image in the US. Unless, that is, you go to a farm like Polyface, which seeks to raise animals the way they were meant to be raised.

Anyway... Saturday was a crazy busy day, but when the opportunity to visit Polyface Farm came up, I knew that I had to take it before heading away from Charlottesville. While there, I got to see where they have the chickens and the pigs and the cows... and spent a bunch of money on delicious grass-fed beef and piggy bacon. I've included some pictures for your viewing pleasure. Most of them are self-explanatory (chicken, pig, cow), but the last is part of the "Egg-mobile," which is part of the plan to move chickens around behind the cows so they can eat up the insects that come from having cows in the area and start to churn up the grass so it can re-grow.