Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things I'll miss about Boston (part I of what I'm sure will be many)

I've been so caught up in preparing to move to Virginia and go back to school that I haven't really spent much time thinking about (or appreciating) everything in Boston lately. However, on Thursday, I went to go see the Boston Pops. I assume you've all seen the whole "Pops Goes the Fourth" thing on CBS on 4th of July each year, because really, it's soooo much better than the broadcast from DC (plus it's super cool to go camp out on the Esplanade for the day to see the thing live), but for those of you who are neither patriotic nor orchestral buffs, an overview of the Pops is here. The guest conductor for the performance on Thursday was John Williams (you know, he's the guy who wrote the music for Star Wars, ET, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Superman, Schindler's List, Jaws, the Sunday Night Football theme, the music for the Olympics that NBC always plays, that Air & Simple Gifts song played at the Obama inauguration, etc.). Sorry, I think I may have gotten a little carried away with the links there. But the man is a legend, and I think everyone should appreciate that. Humph. Anywho...the concert was amazing; Williams was conducting the Pops through a Film Night program that featured music from several of the movie scores he's done, so it was music that even folks who don't generally go to the symphony or Pops concerts or anything of that ilk would appreciate. Stanley Donen, former choreographer and musical director at MGM was also a special guest (I didn't know this either, but he's the "King of the Hollywood Musical," i.e., the guy who directed folks like Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain and Fred Astaire in the famous dancing on the ceiling scene in Royal Wedding.) Donen is literally the most adorable, scrappy little old man I have ever seen, and he and Williams and the Pops did this really cool thing in which Donen and Williams would talk about a particular scene in a movie musical, and then they would play a clip from the film on a big screen so the audience could see it, and then as the film clip showed the actors and the dancing, Williams would conduct the orchestra to play the "background music" to the film. It was SO COOL because he was so spot-on in conducting the live music exactly in time with the movie. And I doubt that was an easy feat given the dancing and all that...maybe it sounds easy to read the description, but it was really amazing in person, and you could tell it was meant to be impressive. Even Donen seemed ridiculously impressed. But again, like I said, Williams is a legend.

So, clearly I loved the performance. But I also realized a couple things while I was on the T (Boston public transportation) back home (because naturally, that was an hour-long process to go 3 miles, and it gave me plenty of time to think). First, it was exactly 10 years ago that I visited Boston for the first time, on the annual "8th Grade Boston Trip" that my grade school did every year in May. It was during that trip that I decided I wanted to live in Boston when I grew up. I'm not quite sure why I had that epiphany, but it clearly stands out in my mind. I think I recognized that Boston was a "big" city that didn't feel too big, that seemed "friendly," and that offered a good blend of history and contemporary culture (remember, I grew up in teensy tiny Delaware, I think NYC is too big/busy/dirty/crowded for me, and I have always generally disliked Philadelphia, for a variety of reasons, most related to the attitudes and behaviors of the people who inhabit the area). Whatever the reason, I distinctly remember thinking, "I could live here," and that wasn't a thought that I'd ever had before about a place that wasn't already "home." I've since had that feeling about a couple other places (e.g., Providence, Charlottesville, London), not all of which I've lived in yet, but as a kid, this was a big thing for me. Now, don't go thinking that I set about the rest of my life with a mission to end up in Boston, but when I finished college a semester early and needed to decide what to do with myself while I was still tied to Providence due to my lease and the fact that almost all of my friends were still in school, Boston seemed a logical place to start looking for work. So, when I found a sweet job in Boston, to which I could easily commute from Providence until graduation and my lease ran out, that's where I ended up. Since then, I've really enjoyed Boston, and it's nice (for lack of a better word right now) to feel that I've come full-circle...even down to the John Williams thing. See, as part of the 8th Grade Boston Trip, we went to go see the Boston Pops, and, unbeknownst to those of us who were expecting the "standard" Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, John Williams was scheduled to guest conduct that evening, too (even better, the guest artist was Itzhak Perlman. So cool.). Funny how the world works sometimes, ain't it?

The second thing I realized on my long T ride was that I am really going to miss all of the cultural stuff that has been so available to me while I've lived here. I work in the Back Bay, and that means that museums, historical sites, ice skating on the Frog Pond, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and Pops, and various theatres have been literally within short walking distance of me every day. I've enjoyed being able to leave work and go to a performance or show (my sister, an undergrad at Boston University (BU) and I had season tickets to the touring Broadway shows that come into town, and I have had season tickets to the BSO each year, plus the random one-off stuff I've done by myself or with friends). I love getting tickets to the Red Sox through work or other sources and walking over to Fenway. I love hitting up restaurants in the North End and stopping for pastries at Modern or Mike's on the way back down Hanover Street, I love summer Sunday brunches on the patio of a restaurant on Newbury Street, I love finding fun new bars in Allston and Brookline, I love cheering on friends at the finish line to the Boston Marathon, etc. Most of all, I love knowing that there's so much to do around town, whether or not I take advantage of it. Now, I'm sure I won't be wallowing on my couch in Charlottesville bemoaning the fact that there's nothing to do during my copious free time, but I'm pretty sure that will be more because I don't have free time than because there's soooo much to do. I'm sure I will find plenty to do, like visit Monticello/Williamsburg, hit up the amazing wineries (um...where do I sign up, and who's coming with?), hike (riiiiight...I'll have to work on this one), and find new favorite dining establishments....but I still suspect that I'll miss the abundance of everything that is available in Boston. :-( I guess it's time for a new adventure....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In which our heroine very nearly becomes overwhelmed by business school before she even gets to Charlottesville...

***Warning: the below is a rant. If that's going to bother you, stop reading now.***

As I mentioned yesterday, part of my blog delinquency has been due to the heinously ridiculous amount of stuff I need to do before I move to Charlottesville* on August 1. "What heinously ridiculous stuff?" you may ask. Well, aren't you going to be sorry you asked...

1.) Moving. Moving may be my single least favorite activity/event EVER. Do I hate moving more than I hate, say, eating brussels sprouts? YES. Do I hate it more than scrubbing bathroom toilets? YES. Go ahead and pick any other activity, and I promise you that I hate moving more. Now, why exactly do I hate moving so much? Well, for starters, I have a lot of crap, and moving it is a pain in the derriere. Secondly, moving offends my sense of order and reason. In the process of packing things up, you find yourself unable to find critical things that you need before you move, AND you can't walk around your apartment because of the bazillions of packing boxes in various states of being filled. When I was in college, I used to start packing for the end of the spring semester by Spring Break, and back then I had a lot less stuff. On the bright side, my friend Sam from work did just give me a whole bunch of boxes (Sam just moved) yesterday, so he has definitely saved me $$ and mucho time/effort. But back on the dark side, now I actually have to start packing, which is a process rendered far more frustrating by the fact that my sister is currently living with me (THAT is a story for another day and a less public forum), and my poor little one bedroom simply cannot hold, her, me, my stuff, her stuff AND boxes. Just ain't no way. Le sigh.

2.) Logistics. This topic sort of falls under the "Moving" heading, but I really think that logistics are their own separate problem. By logistics I mean finding movers, renting a moving truck, figuring out how I'm going to park a 26-foot moving truck in front of my apartment in Brighton(read: I need to figure out a.) how to get Boston street permits without paying a fortune to bond myself/my mother/our rented Penske truck and b.) how to ensure that nobody actually parks in the spots for which I've obtained the aforementioned permits on the day that I have the permitted right to reserve them), getting out of my Boston lease early (my landlord actually rented the apartment out from under me yesterday - I can't tell you how many times I said, "I am moving out August 1; you can rent the apartment any time starting August 2," but apparently, he didn't catch the fact that I WILL BE LIVING IN MY CURRENT APARTMENT ON AUGUST 1 UNTIL I GET MY STUFF OUT OF IT), getting utilities set up in Charlottesville ( there a reason Charlottesville, VA has no cable competition and Comcast thinks it's OK to charge a 25% premium over their rates anywhere else in the country?), etc., etc., etc. Maybe what this has taught me is that I do not have a calling to work in Operations.

3.) Healthcare. By healthcare I mean getting required immunizations, seeing every doctor possible before I lose my sweet, sweet health insurance coverage through the consulting-firm-that-shall-not-be-named, and finding new health insurance that will not result in me paying a bloody fortune to see an endocrinologist and keep my insulin pump (but chronic diseases are also another story for another day). Right now, I can't lift my left arm (seriously, John McCain-style) thanks to the tetanus (TDaP, actually, because nobody wants diptheria or pertussis, either) shot I got yesterday, and apparently, a simple tuberculosis test (that's the one where they inject stuff that stings like hell into your forearm, and it sits there in this gross-looking blob under your skin for while, and than you have to go back in two days for them to confirm that no, you don't have tuberculosis) now requires no less than four - count 'em, FOUR - trips to the doctor's office, because the FDA or somebody decided that one test isn't good enough so you have to do the whole thing twice to confirm that you're healthy. Again, le sigh. I don't even have the energy to discuss the insurance issues in any further detail.

4.) Money. It is no surprise that business school (or any pre-professional school, really) is expensive. I think everyone is fairly cognizant going into it that business school=debt, unless you are independently wealthy, or you worked on Wall Street and horded your money, or you live in South Dakota and just won Powerball. I am not independently wealthy, I am a paralegal, and Massachusetts is the only state in the country that doesn't have Powerball. So, like most other people, I plan to take out a bazillion dollars in loans to pay for my JD/MBA. However, loan checks don't get disbursed out to students until mid-September or something like that, and before orientation even starts, I need to buy a car, car insurance, parking (these transportation-related things are things I've been saving for and which would not be covered by loan funds in any event, but I'm listing them here anyway), a new computer, health insurance, renter's insurance, books (Darden charges a fee for all of your cases for the whole year, but you have to pay by August 15 apparently), etc. Not quite sure where all the money for that stuff is going to come from. In case the powers that be missed this fact, students need LOANS to pay for school-related stuff, so it's a wee bit challenging to pay for this stuff BEFORE we get our LOAN MONEY. Grumble.

5.) Actual academic preparation for classes. In the form of pre-enrollment modules and recommended reading. Frankly, the thought of this just exhausts me so much that I'm going to have to talk about this topic on another day. Same goes for the topic of wrapping up my current job (and remind me also to discuss the ridiculous expectation that entering MBA students can just take the whole summer off to prepare for school....riiiight. Again, not independently wealthy here. And in need of health insurance. Thanks for the consideration.). And I also need to write a post in response to Julie's comment on my earlier post about acceptances as to why I chose Darden. I promise I'll do that eventually, too....

*Note: None of my aggravation here is really specifically connected to Darden; I know I'd be equally frustrated right about now if I were going to school anywhere else, too. Just a disclaimer.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shoe update

When I started this blog, I did honestly intend to post more frequently than oh, every two weeks or so. Clearly, though, I've been slacking in the blog department. Before I jump into an update about why I haven't had time for blogging, I wanted to update everyone about the shoes. Apparently, everyone (What, not you? Well, everyone else but you, then.) was intrigued by the concept, but some folks were skeptical that I'd actually wear them with enough regularity to make them worth the investment. Trust me, I hear you all on that.

Now, given my shoe addiction, I have purchased many, many pairs of shoes in my life. I would say that the average amount I spend on a single pair of shoes is somewhere around $24.99, since I am a master shoe sale shopper (I double-dog dare you to try shoe sale shopping with me if you haven't already; my motto is "it's a marathon, not a sprint"). I also figure that, in the first month that I own any single pair of particularly-cute-but-not-necessarily-highly-practical shoes, I wear each pair on average two or three times, bringing the average cost per wear in the first month to somewhere around $10. So, in order to average the same cost per wear for my spiffy, wooden, lace-your-own sandals and make them "worth the investment," I needed to wear them 12 times between the day I got them (May 9) and a month from that date (June 9). Maybe the math and logic there is questionable...but they'll teach me math at Darden and logic at UVA Law, right? Anywho...

It's now May 27, and I've already worn the shoes 7 times. I posted the first two "lacing styles" earlier, and now I'll share the other ones I've worn.
As you can see, some are cuter than others. But remember also that these were just initial attempts. I'll keep you all posted on how the future "shoe styling" adventures go...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem...

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an addiction to cute shoes. I'd like to say it's only a minor addiction, but if I'm honest, I have to admit that I know that's not true - it's a serious shoe addiction. I love having shoes that perfectly match an outfit, and I just love cute shoes. I've recently found the perfect shoes, because they go with everything!

Now, I hope you've all clicked on the link and checked out the site for yourselves, but since I know not everyone will do that, I'll explain. Basically, there's this wonderful woman, Annie Mohaupt, who lives in Chicago, and she hand-makes shoes using environmentally friendly materials (sustainably-sourced wood and recycled rubber), which is, in and of itself, pretty neat. But the best part is that each pair of Mohop shoes is potentially hundreds of "pairs" of shoes, because you can lace them in a bunch of different ways using ribbons and string and whatever else suits your fancy. There are a bunch of base styles from which you can choose (wedge or bent plywood, various heel heights, different toe styles, etc.), and each pair of shoe bases comes with a set of 5 ribbons for you to start lacing. Or, you can do what I've done, and go hit up a craft store for a bunch of ribbons and doo-dads and create a whole bunch of awesome designs.

For those of you who are more at the forefront of fashion than I am, you may have read about these shoes in Lucky or US Weekly last year. I first heard about them from one of the Darden Student Bloggers (Mandy), and I happened to do so right after the consulting-firm-that-shall-not-be-named paid me my very much appreciated, hard-earned bonus. So, I broke down and spent far more on these shoes than I have ever spent on a pair of shoes before (if shoes are to me like nicotine is to smokers, shoes-on-sale are like crack*). BUT, I think it is totally worth it....because these are really like dozens of pairs of shoes, right? So, really, I actually probably spent LESS on these shoes than I have on any others, didn't I? AND, I'm helping support sustainability, American small businesses, and woman-owned enterprises. During a recession, no less. Ha! Take that! (Yes, I know rationalizing my addiction isn't helping matters).

Anywho...the shoes came yesterday, and I already wore them out for Mother's Day brunch today. They came with these ribbons already laced (I don't know if this is normal or was part of the sorry-these-are-late extra ribbons and such that Annie very kindly included for me. Also, I swear my feet don't usually look this weird...I think trying to take pictures of your own feet is just bound to turn out kinda poorly. Really, I swear I don't have cankles. I think the depth perspective is just really off given the angles). Regardless, the shoes looked like this when I got 'em:

And I laced up these cute ones (using new grosgrain ribbon from AC Moore at $.99 a roll...) to wear with a green top and white skirt to brunch:

So much fun!! I am really looking forward to wearing these all summer...and into the fall, since Charlottesville is warm much longer than Boston!
*Note that I am not trying to belittle those who are addicted to nicotine or crack. I think smoking is gross, but I recognize that cigarettes are addictive, and I largely fault the marketing tactics used to sell cigarettes more than the young people who start smoking and get hooked. And I'm certainly not trying to undermine the real problems faced by those addicted to stronger drugs. There are all sorts of socioeconomic issues there. Plus other mental health debates related to "addictions." But I think those are issues for another day...I just wanted to make a disclaimer in the event that I've managed to inadvertently offend someone.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Can a law school have commitment issues?

Today marks both the six month anniversary of the date I submitted my law school application to Stanford and the day that I received the letter notifying me that the Stanford AdCom still hasn't really made a decision about my qualifications but has instead decided to waitlist me. OK, technically the letter was delivered yesterday and dated April 28, but I didn't check my mail until this I'm sticking with the "six months to avoid making a decision" theme. If ever there was a law school with commitment issues, Stanford would be it. Even Harvard took less than six months to notify me that they, too, were refusing to make an actual decision and were placing me on their waitlist. Yale's AdCom, on the other hand, was pleasantly expedient (comparatively, at least) in telling me that they had decided me unworthy of admission to their law school: they let me know within 90 days, which seems pretty reasonable, on the whole. Note that I didn't actually have any reasonable expectations of getting into HYS [note to people who haven't applied to law school or spent hours combing through the message boards, HYS is common shorthand for the Harvard/Yale/Stanford, or the trifecta of top law schools], that I do firmly believe that I would be relatively miserable at Harvard, that if I'm honest with myself I'll admit I had no real intention of moving across the country to Palo Alto, and that New Haven and I are not really BFF's either, but it's one of those things where if I hadn't applied, I always would have wondered, "Could I have gotten in?" Harvard and Stanford are clearly going to leave me hanging, since I need to refuse spots on their waitlists in order to file my request for a deferral at UVA (so that I can start at Darden in August). BUT, the good news is that finally, FINALLY, my admissions process is complete! For anyone who cares or is curious (I suspect that some folks viewing this blog as they contemplate applying themselves will be), here are the final results:

Admissions Decisions
Harvard Law School (HLS)
Harvard Bus. Sch. (HBS)
Stanford Law School (SLS)
Grad. Sch. of Bus. (GSB)
Yale Law School (YLS)
Yale Sch. of Mgmt.(SOM)
Accepted (merit scholarship)
University of Pennsylvania
Penn Law School
Northwestern School of Law
Accepted/Deferred Admission
Accepted/Deferred Admission
University of Virginia
UVA School of Law
Accepted (merit scholarship & fellowship)
Boston University
BU School of Law
BU Grad. Sch. of Management
Accepted (merit scholarship)
Accepted (merit scholarship)
Boston College
BC Law School
Carroll Sch. of Management
Accepted (merit scholarship/assistantship)

Isn't that a snazzy table? Apparently I've got mad html skillz I didn't even know I had! :-)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New city, new apartment, new school, new Kindle?

Exciting news (at least in my opinion)! Darden has been selected to pilot Amazon's Kindle DX to access textbooks, cases, etc.! See the BusinessWeek article, the Darden announcement, and the FAQs. There's not much information available yet about how this may impact me and my classmates, but I am super excited and already trying to figure out how I can volunteer myself to test it out. I hate, hate, hate dragging around copious amounts of papers and books and other school-related paraphernalia, so if this means that I might have even one less thing in my ginormous shoulder bag, I'm all for it. Plus, it's definitely more green than printing a bunch of stuff out all of the time. And possibly cheaper? I guess we'll see. More information to follow, I hope...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ta-da!! It's a blog!

Welcome to my blog! While it doesn't look like much yet, this blog will (I hope) ultimately serve several key functions:

  • Enable me to update my friends/family/etc. regarding goings-on in my life as I go through grad school. I don't anticipate having a ton of free time over the next four years, and while I love all my friends dearly, I don't love phone tag. Really, I don't love the phone at all. Unless I can use it to email someone. But talking on the phone is over-rated. Plus, this way, you all have the option of hearing/reading about my life when it's convenient to you....or when you want to procrastinate at work....
  • Provide some first-hand reports of life as a JD/MBA student at the University of Virginia School of Law and the Darden School of Business. When I was applying to school, I combed through the "interwebs" to see what information was available regarding the experience of obtaining both degrees, largely to no avail. It was wholly impossible to get the perspective of an early-career woman trying to do it at two top schools. If this blog can help one other person who is considering pursuing a JD/MBA but just wants more information, then I think it's worth my time.
  • Provide an outlet for me to vent on occasion. While not everyone reading this blog will know me personally, those of you who do also know that sometimes, I just need to rant. And I can't always do so in the form of a nasty-gram to my landlord (I felt it my personal obligation to notify him of just how many provisions of the Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Act he was in violation), AAA (no, waiting for a tow truck for 4 hours is NOT acceptable) or the Danvers Sheraton (just FYI, Massachusetts law does not require that you be 21+ to rent a hotel room). Much as I love the intermittent nasty-gram, I think this may be a better forum. See also above re: my dislike of the telephone.
So, as I begin my JD/MBA journey and move to Charlottesville, VA, I'm planning to post relatively regularly here. Those of you who care to read and/or comment are welcome to do so...I guess we'll see how it goes...