…just a little badass

November 17, 2010 § 4 Comments

Defeat might be wafting in the air, but when victories come however small  – it is important to celebrate them equally. Today (finally) my case study group and I received our feedback for our presentation and report. You may remember me having mentioned this… we were given a chunk of some international qualitative data on chocolate and were asked to write a report of our findings and then present to “management” in the form of our professor, 35 classmates and Why5 Qual Research expert Tom Meere. When we were given the assignment, I remember specifically thinking this is probably my only chance to prove something if anything about why I’m here… having at least done this before. If I couldn’t do this then well, it was time to go home.

Our group consisted of 6 people and like I had mentioned before, there was a bit tension surrounding everything… and of course, being somewhat buttheaded as I am, I really tried to push for things to be done my way – no matter how much resistance I seemed to get. I fought for a better model, a better way… my way, made all the slides and eventually was handed over the presentation portion of things. I presented in front of the class with another girl and the rest of the crew focused on writing up the report. Of course there quite a few errors scattered throughout, but I figured as long as it follows my general preso structure, it’ll do… i made sure it did.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when it came to grading – I figured most everyone will get a pretty good score. It was only on the way to our consultation today that I was informed that a 14/20 would be an expected good score in Belgium and that no one gets anywhere close to 100% here as that’s not how it’s taught. A part of me was still hoping for having achieved some of what I thought I could back then… but I’m totally disoriented by now by how different everything is here so my only consolation was that whatever happens happens to 6 of us – somehow that feels better than getting an independent outcome.

When we walked into the classroom, the professor asked us to sit down and began to question us about how we thought we did. He says – so… there were 6 groups presenting that day, how do you think you compare to them all? First of all, can we just pause for a sec to discuss what a strange question that is… I mean yes, we all want to be mindful and better than the next guy, but I can’t remember the last time it was ok to say that out-loud.  “Maybe, in the middle – one of the Belgians says”.. ‘oh, I don’t think so’… says the professor… ‘Number one, I would say” he adds.

And, what’s more… and of course not to let this get to my head, but right now, i’ll take a self-esteem boost in any way shape or form… … all of the things that he mentioned that won us this title had been in large part due to me (presentation, model, health built into model – (which they so fought me on, and I added it last minute anyway), brand position from a consumers point of view, even Q&A…   and the few negatives mentioned had nothing to do with me – nice.

Another weird thing about how things are done here, the paper was not yet graded… the professor stopped talking after a while, opened the report, looked up at us and said… this is really excellent work he says as he jots down 16/20  … he must have seen my face afterward, because as he looked up he began to explain that in Belgium this is considered to be an exceptional score… he then paused for a second, crossed out the 16 and wrote 17 instead. ‘yes, perhaps this demonstrates that even better’ he says… ‘now go’.

And so there it is. 17/20 – best preso out of 6 – setting the curve, you could say… for old times sake. This will be a very short lived victory indeed, but you gotta admit it’s a little badass.

Dear Market Research, it may indeed be that we’re meant to spend our lives together.  Someday.


From Pages of Brothers Grimm

November 15, 2010 § 3 Comments


Today I awoke late with terrible headache – still sick. Damn, I thought, here goes another day. I should stay inside an rest, but how tired I am of doing just that. I’m finally getting to this place where I just want to be out… even if I’m just studying, let me do it in a place other than the one I’ve been cooped up in for the past two months. As much as I adore my flat… i want to come home to it every day, not be locked up in it like a prisoner.

Still on Paris time and quite relaxed, studying far far from my mind. The girls and I (the russian mafia as they call us here… affectionately of course, and mostly due to an absurd data set about Mafia profits that we were working with in SQL)  were originally going to go to a sauna, but most of us being sick and all.. and lazy… we decided to postpone this venture until later in the week. So instead, I texted Katja and suggested we meet for tea.

Beforehand I had some time to get ready, put on my sexy boot-boots which I’ve been wearing now for two days and run to the mall to get some inserts. The brown boots are a tad large, so I wanted to get something soft and filling for the bottom… In the US this would be miserable task… I know cause I’ve tried to do this before – getting inserts for shoes that is. But here, a total breeze… 10 minute walk to the shoe stand… yes, that’s right, you heard me… a stand where a guy repairs, fixes and polishes shoes… and the inserts he sells aren’t those retarded flimsy sticky things you have to cut yourself cause they’re a one size fits all… no, no… these are real boot inserts… no sticky goo required, lamb wool laced, precisely sized to my needs – oooh and they feel good. Lamb wool, I kid you not.

Afterward I spotted Katja on her bike outside and came out to greet her. The next few hours we spent walking around Ghent, in the beautiful sun which finally decided to peek out today ….and together we marveled at our indescribable luck. …Can you friggin believe we’re here? …I know, Can you?

Maria had mentioned to us a good cafe not too far from where we were, so we set out to go there. Katja immediately assessed it to be a hippie place…  Maybe it was the dreadlocks and tattoos that gave it away, but c’mon this place had nothing on Berkeley. Actually, it was very nice… we sat outside in the sun… overlooking wonderful Ghent buildings, with their quirky rooftops and historic cobblestones… not to mention of course the canal and adorable bridge. Yeah, you could say I’m living in a tiny world of paradise, straight from the pages of a brothers grimm fairy tale. Who needs Paris.

Well actually, Paris had its own charm… the canals are much wider, the streets massive and of course is just a lot grander on every level. But honestly, my favorite part about Paris was the numerous fall oakleaves pasted across the wet side walk… in every color imaginable, but washed away with puddles of rain – not just romantic I would say, simply introspective. One look around and it’s as if you’ve suddenly stumbled upon the meaning of life, even if only for a brief moment.

But anyway, while I was at the restroom Katja looked over the menu and made her selection first… mint tea and something with the world apple. I thought, ok… I’m not really hungry, but when do I ever say no to a turnover… I’ll have one too please. Then a few minutes go by and our waiter arrives with two mint teas, a bowl of cheese we had ordered to share and two shot glasses of liquor. EHhh.? I say.  Katja doesn’t look surpsied. Did you order a drink I asked her? Yes, she replies with a tad of confusion – so did you! I did?  The waiter looks unsure – I tell him, I thought it was dessert. He laughs, not dessert at all – much better. now you have to drink. And what a good drink it was.

On our way back, we stopped by the lab to pick up some books – having not studied much all weekend I was starting to a) enjoy myself and b) forget what I’m really here for. Until of course we stumbled onto a room full of classmates – studying away. And we’re back – to crazy town.  When I got home, I had a wonderful email from Kat about how nice it was to get out… and how for just a brief second she felt happy again… unlike the insane studying madness she felt before.  Me too.

Mission: Parisian Fuck-Me-Boots

November 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

omg. I’m back… talk about a hiatus.  That was the longest that I had gone without writing  since I got to Ghent. Won’t happen again.

First of all I have to say thank you to everyone for being so amazingly thoughtful… the messages, the emails, the everything… were just what I needed to put life in perspective. …although I must admit, I was starting to lose my bearings there for a bit… No worries though – with a little help from you, my new friends, a few nights of a heavy drinking – not to mention,  a spontaneous sprint across the borders for a bit of Parisian soul searching in the form of fuck-me-boots, just the boots so far, and I’m back on track.

But in order to tell you how I got here, I suppose I should start from the very beginning…  that is, the day I wrote my last post. It was the day of our SQL exam, and lets just say a lot of people, not excluding myself, were in a bit of a shock. So much so, that we couldn’t bare the thought of studying for anything else… let alone our SAS exam which was swiftly approaching. So, instead we took our dazed minds out for a drink.

As I was walking over to our agreed upon meeting place, in the rain, in the dark… after having failed and then proceeded to not study all day for the next thing. I thought to myself, what on EARTH am I doing…  I don’t even like drinking. And how relived I was to hear my friend say the same thing… only she says it more hilariously, in Russian, always pushing my vocabulary to its limits – “Kat’, Shto za chush – kuda yedish?’ she says. Seriously, shto za chush.

But, as anyone could have predicted, a few beers in (Roomer to be exact – a special Ghent drink made out of flowers that float magically at the bottom of the glass)  and a few hours later…  a much needed break and new, albeit temporary, leash on life.

The next few days after that were spent locked up in our computer lab trying to absorb as much SAS nonsense as possible. By Monday, a day before the test, I was on the verge of getting sick and knew that pushing myself even a bit more would only lead me to having to take the test lying down, brain off. So I spent the entire day and night sleeping, in hope of awakening with at least the slightest ability to concentrate and even half the information absorbed –  i did lose 12 hours of studying time though, so that sucks. By Tuesday morning, I seemed to have slept it off and came to the test at least with my brain in tact. Four hours later, we handed in our exams and sighed deeply as we passed one another in the halls. No words required. Well, actually it went better than SQL… but that’s like saying death by hanging is preferable to the electric chair.

That day was also Amador’s birthday, so we all went out to celebrate and shake off the stooper. I didn’t get home until after 4, but managed to get myself up for class at 9.

Then we went out for chinese food and as I was sitting there thinking about what to do over the weekend… the first chunk of time I can remember having where there doesn’t seem to be an urgency to study… yes there’s a test in less than 2 weeks and hundreds of pages of reading… but no reason I thought, I couldn’t be doing this reading on a train, …or in coffee shop in Paris, eating a croissant perhaps … or tart?.. or french salad…? ( no worries, I had all three! 🙂


That night I had company at my place for the first time… tea and waffles, to be precise, so I didn’t get to sleep until very very late (or early depending on how you look at it), on top of which i woke up and realized… ah, I AM getting sick … but I wasn’t about to waste this precious weekend, being sick at home. Heck no. I packed nothing… just my backpack and a book, and headed to Paris on a one way ticket. Indefinitely.

Of course, I knew I was coming back.. i just didn’t know if waking up to a croissant would do it, or if I would want to stick around for a french dinner, or another morning – a walk to the eiffel tower perhaps, or a french haircut? Maybe a tattoo… I was keeping my options open. I needed this trip to cure everything and I just wasn’t sure what it would take… only that I needed to feel alive again, with a purpose… moving…  thinking… feeling.

How long did it take you ask? It took 3 days and two nights… after-which I arrived back at St. Pieter’s station in Gent (after a few train mishaps) welcomed by none other than hundreds and hundreds of rowdy drunk college students standing in line for the city organized I<3TECHNO Tram 21 (I guess I won’t be taking that one home…)  and dozens and dozens of police officers and their dogs guarding this howling mayhem…  the slight but constant drizzle of Belgian rain, my feet tired from three days of non-stop trekking, the air warm but dark… buses re-scheduled again (where is the one I need??? i’m tired.), drunk drivers everywhere, there isn’t a weekend where this doesn’t happen – almost got knocked over  within 5 minutes of getting back… when I finally made it onto a bus, safe and sound, I peeked outside the window and there it was… Saturday night, in my precious Ghent. I just wanted to give it a big big hug. I am home.

Oh, and I needed boots and an Umbrella. Having not ventured out of my apartment for a few weeks now, and never at night – it all of a sudden dawned on me on my way to our Chinese dinner that it’s almost friggin winter!!… like BRRR cold… and like… holy cow, wet and slippery. And how these Belgians and Russians love to make fun of Miss California girl who only owns sandals. So at least, I left for Paris with a mission… go to Paris, clear my head, buy boots – come back when you know what you’re coming back for.

I will probably write more about this later, as surly it will be on my mind for many days to come. But here’s a quick few things of what I learned in Paris.

Standing in front of the Eiffel is a good reminder of this…

The best lesson you can learn in life – one that came to me much too late, but which I welcomed open-arms on this trip – is that there’s only one thing, and one thing only, that you can be 100% sure of in this life – you exist ALWAYS.  …regardless of where or how or what you’re doing. YOU, are the constant.

I know that seems like a silly thing to even mention, especially since most people mention this as a negative – as in, you can’t get away from yourself. But the truth is, it’s the best and most positive thing there is about our lives – the one thing that takes fear out of anything and defuses all pressure of any what-ifs. What if… you say? The answer is simple… you’re still there.

A lot of the time, when fear holds us back… from opportunities, from whatever… we find ourselves fearful of change, of not being able to ‘do it’ of having a hard time imagining our lives without something… or imaging our lives with something, or somewhere… like Paris … and then it happens, and we realize that in fact nothing is that big of a change… we are in both scenarios. we are the one constant – the one thing that doesn’t change – the one thing we can rely on and the one thing we won’t get away from. And what does this mean? It means, you need find yourself –  understand yourself, love yourself and realize, in all seriousness, there is no life without you – so get that right, and everything else will follow… So whether you’re in Paris, or Belgium, or San Francisco, or Pakistan or someday- Africa. You, are still you – albeit with a two pairs of amazing Parisian fuck me boots and a parapluie from an ACTUAL umbrella store and a french hat… but of course.

And, what did this mean for me? It made me realize I don’t need to go all that far, to find something that’s actually inside me. Next time I go anywhere, it will be to find someone or something else. But I dearly thank Paris, for reminding me that what I love about traveling should never be confused with what I love about getting away. More on this another time.

Also –  French men in black trench coats are scrumptiously dangerous and a VERY good reason not to live Paris. Serioulsly, it maybe confusing here to know where you need to speak which language… ( i spent the first few hours in Paris, kicking myself for speaking Dutch, then finally switching to Bounjours and Mercis … then back to Dutch, only to realize I was still in Wallonia.. f7ck, I mean Merci – Dank u… shit. Whatever, I’m American, it’s true.. HI.) But, French/Belgian border can be defined much more simply if you just look at the men.. just a quick glance and you’ll know what country you’re in. And if you’re me and staring a frechman in a black p-coat, no words come anyway…   so no worries about the language barrier.

Ok, so mabye they’re not all so scrumptious… at least not the few I had the pleasure of being chatted up by – I am not that lucky. But this morning, I watched the most entertaining pick-up I’d ever seen in my entire life… here’s how it went down. I noticed the woman first… she was walking in front of me… her jacket bright blue, her sweater peeking from underneath it’s rim… yes, I was studying it closely as there was something about the way she walked that captured my attention. I didn’t see her face – her hood was on – only because I was watching her did I realize what was about to happen. An absoltely gorgeous young guy starts walking along side her – tilted towards her – and extends his hand… he is smiley, cheerful and charming… he asks her if she knows french and keeps up the pace… something about the weather and possibly where she’s going… I was right behind them and waiting for her to give him the boot – certainly I would have.

Of course, he was cute,  but I wouldn’t have wanted him until I’d seen him from this angle… she wanted him. She took off her hood – she’s asian –  and they walked giggling for about a minute, then he took her hand in his and clutched it warmly. Surly, I thought, she will tell him to go to hell now. But instead, she played along. If i didn’t know better, I would have thought they surly knew eachother…. they walked, hand in hand, rubbing shoulders… smiling… fast-paced – oh how I wanted to know how this story ends. But then they turned down a strange alley, and I thought maybe I don’t…  But here’s the funny part. If it had happened to me, I surly would have been uninterested… I point blank declined an invitation just a day before that, and the one before that as well… But watching this girl enjoy his company (ok.. and also lets be honest, he was HAWT… but I really don’t know if that would have made a difference for me)… and not shooting him down off the bat, gave me something to think about… something to strive for, perhaps… assuming of course she wasn’t an asian hooker (shame on me!)  I think it maybe time I soften around the edges a bit. Yes, Paris taught me that.

Paris taught me a lot more, but I think it’s time for bed…  I will say this though, I really really loved it… it is everything that everyone says it is… beautiful, grand, so french… just gorgeous on every level … and damn, those men in black p-coats. Oy.

But who would have thought that I missed school and studying and my precious Ghent… dorky Belgian boys and all.

For Bliss or Money: A Life Dilemma

November 4, 2010 § 4 Comments


Based on the kind of mood that I’m in, I can warn you upfront that is going to be a pretty raw, revealing look at myself… one which for better of worse, probably belongs more in a private journal, but will have the utter bald-aciousness to show up on a public blog.

For Bliss or Money… that is the question today… which is it that we should all be vying after? I have to tell you that I am extremely proud and amazed of how my life has turned out in the last few months. I couldn’t be happier being exactly who and where I am. On my walk home today, as the flurry of yellow leaves danced along with me to the slow shuffle of my defeat, yes complete defeat… still, I couldn’t not think of a single place, year,  or moment, on earth where I would rather be. This place, this season, this year of mine… it is true magic, even if not at all what I expected.

Yet, I can tell you this much… failing, no matter how much you can reason with yourself… doesn’t feel good. It packs a sting… that painfully jolts you into reatlity – maybe this is not the place for me.

Of course, whenever you think along those lines… or rather, whenever I think along those lines, I can’t help but feel that somehow that would make a quitter… as if this is somehow a deep seated pattern inside, that only lets me get so far… before I ditch things all together for a brand new start. But honestly, sometimes I feel like quitting is not a bad thing… it is more about being able to more closely define for yourself what it is you’re in search of. For me, the question comes down to two very simple things… which should I live for, for Bliss or Money?

If I were to live for Bliss, I would not for a second spend any more time chasing after something that actually is not my thing at all. Don’t get me wrong… I do love a challenge, and I love what SQL does… or SAS or even SPSS… I have no problem with the subject and/or the learning… School is just about the most amazing thing there is. But, in all honesty, there isn’t anything here that I intend to do for the rest of my life. I just have no interested in spending 10 hour days in front of a computer, … I need to be out and about. I really really do.

But then there’s the question of Money.. I guess it’s kind of important. But honestly… and I can’t even believe I”m about to write this, it is only important in so long that I’m single… a dual income solves everything. And a dual income household bringing in two minimum wages, spells, enough to live on, time to enjoy and someone to love on… basically, a pretty damn good place to be. So, it’s not like I”m even saying that money is not important as long as you have a rich boyfriend, in fact I’m just saying… money is not important at all. The only life scenario in which I see myself caring about whether or not I have money is if I decide to raise a kid by myself… then yes. But surly, I am not busting my ass in this program for that plan. I assure you, landing a boyfriend would be much easier than that.

So then, why am I here… More and more this question begins to haunt me… I don’t want to be a quitter, but that is no reason to live life in fear of making difficult choices.  Whenever faced with such life dilemmas, I try always ask myself what I would do if I only had one more year to live… then I do that.

So if I only had one more year to live, would I choose to spend it inside my apartment, without a second to spare, still failing every test there is….  I probably should back up and explain, the test we were given this afternoon was pretty funny actually… , if it weren’t so tragic… each question probably would have taken qt least two hours, to solve EACH… alas there were 7. I assure you it wasn’t just hard, not even just impossible… the level of the questions was so complex, that knowing or not knowing is beyond irrelvent. I really could have spent a good 10+ hours trying and would have still not gotten it right. In fact, the amount of code it would take to answer everything, would probably take well over 30 minutes… JUST to type up, … yes, if you were just copying it .. let alone, understanding it… let alone… processing it… let alone …ah, writing it.

My classmates and I were in beyond shock…. Sort of a strange life daze, that all of a sudden makes you wonder what the next move is. Of course you can try, try, try… but then you… I… will have wasted all my savings, living abroad without having seen a thing and gaining knowledge that I am excited to learn, but not really all that keen on using. I’m sure it will come in handy, but a part of me just wants to take a language course, travel around a bit and find a traveling consulting gig. I know, doesn’t taht just sounds like a much more awesome plan… one that might actually breathe life into me, instead of out…?

Perhaps some of you have some life wisdom to offer up here. What is the best course of action…. How would you suggest striking a balance between Bliss and Money…. there is no such thing as both… at least not when it comes to the polar opposite things that I’m attracted to.

My favorite guy, Richard Carlson, actually quit law school at one point to follow his passion for psychology… he says sometimes knowing when to walk away is just as important as knowing when not to. I will wait a bit longer, but know that this is on my mind… and is being seriously considered. I am very keen on keeping happy… it is the one thing that I have worked hard to deserve and not allowed myself to do too much of in the past few years. If this will not do it, the next thing will…

I can count on ONE hand the amount of times I’ve been outside in the past 2 months (not counting my most favorite morning walks to school… ONE hand.

I know I said earlier, just WANT…. so hear me say this… i DO. I want very much to be happy and to be able to see more of this world and feel happy while I still can. And while getting this degree would surly help, there is no reason for it to hurt it. It is not that important… what is important is that with or without it, I couldn’t be more happy to be here…  but I think I might be ready to finally enjoy it.  What to do…



The Big Split and Other Forks in the Road…

October 29, 2010 § 1 Comment

Way back in the day, in college, while studying cognitive dissonance in one of our many psych classes, we were asked to analyze something pertaining to cognitive dissonance in our own lives and report back on our findings. I mention this, because while rather simple and probably trivial in essence, the paper became a very important turning point for me in my evolution into adulthood. I agonized for weeks about what to write … keep in mind, at that point I was merely 21 and had much fewer choices at hand. If I were to do this now for example, well hey…   you could say there’s been quite an array of happenings in the last 7 years that could be explored. But, back then, I guess things were a little simpler, although when you don’t know better, things seem just as hard…  *note to self, you don’t better… it most certainly only gets harder, enjoy while you can.

In particular, at 21 my life was mostly defined by three major factors:

The big move,

The not so big betrayal,

And The big split.

Amazing isn’t it, that your life can be boiled down to a just a few flag poles, that mark along their way those glaring forks in the road you left behind – you are here, go right.

I think the best thing about thinking of life in map-format is that you’ll never find yourself wishing for a different route… because, lets face it, the road you’re on is your road… it’s who. you. are. … and the fork is how you got here,  … so, why on earth would you want to have traveled another way… only to not know yourself.  Know yourself.

But, if you were to have a map like this, it would at least help point you in the next direction. *Here I veered left, perhaps now it’s time to head right… *

Seriously, I think charting a life map could come quite handy…  in fact, I think I just created a whole new business concept…  Life analyzed in visual form. Brilliant. Seriously, why is there not an app for this yet.

Anyway, so the short short version of all this (life until 21)  is that The Big Move came with some academic challenges, and to compensate for lacking in all other capacities in a foreign country (specifically – socially, academically and financially), I plowed on with music. Until of course, the no so big betrayal that unfortunately cost me a friend but gained me an entire life… one that suddenly involved anything but music. And I was grateful.

But, the truth is, with leaving music behind came an entirely new challenge of figuring out who I was without it. I think it was similar to what retired people go through when they finally stop working ….and realize that all these years they’ve been a shitty partner to their loved one, a crappy parent to their children and no one at work misses them in the least. And, when someone asks them what they do or who they are, the only word that comes to mind is ‘retired’. For me, it was yet another new beginning. A move into the unknown – no violin as my crutch, no answer for my hobbies, no identity (or so it seemed) beyond my name.

As far as I was concerned, studying is what other people did – ya know, those people that go to school because they are there to learn, not because Ms. France told them to.  I on the other hand was just starting to learn how to write and read… it was only a few short years before that, that I didn’t know how… so the idea of school being a place to learn, had somewhat of a foreign notion… I was just there to survive and oh yeah, music.

So when I finally quit, it was a big deal. It was my first real break up… one that has probably scarred me much more than  any other break up has. If you follow the rule of two on how long it takes to get over a break up, well then I guess I’m about half way there. So, maybe this means (12 x 2) – 10 = in about 14 years I’ll be ready to start playing again… 🙂

But, why you ask, am I writing all this. The paper I wrote in college was called ‘The Girl That Didn’t Care Enough To Try’… it really was a revealing exercise, one that astutely pointed out to me the degree to which music had affected my life and the reasons behind my choice not to pursue it… and long before then… to despise it.  I really saw it as something that stood in the way of everything else that I wanted… which was not to have to rely on it.

So, when I finally took the plunge and went to school for school, it took quite a while for me to figure out whether or not I could even do it – be that person that doesn’t have a crutch. That is just able to succeed all on their own. And so, little by little, I replaced my crutches… one by one, abandoning each in less than a timely fashion, but creatively none-the-less,

…until finally I dropped them all and found myself standing in the middle of St. Pietersplein Square, with my books in hand…  me, myself and i – no crutches in sight. And, the feeling is of none other than having finally arrived. Not at a destination you see, but a place of solid ground. One where I am finally standing on my own two feet.

But of course, as I look at myself now, my life-map all the way up in the left hand corner there… so far from the original plan, I can’t help but see myself shortly sprinting in the opposite direction…  maybe with a few crutches in tow. Hopefully, by the end of it all, having paved for myself a spectacular journey with some of the best ups and downs that life can bring.

SELECT Rozijnen notenbrood FROM Memory WHERE Me ^= ‘Control’;

October 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Good lord, today was so much better than yesterday. And judging from my last post, the day before that as well. The thing is, it’s coming down to crunch time. We have our first 5 hour test next Thursday, then another one On Tuesday and so it goes… By December 17th, we will have had 7 tests and 2 reports and one presentation… yes, each 4-5 hours long, covering material that’s barely explained in class and spans books upon books of information, which is but the very first step in figuring out things in practice. Basicially, time is of the essance. And, is sparse.

Yesterday, it became so clear to a few of us on how poorly we’re doing, that we locked ourselves up in our private computer lab for 8 hours straight…

… subquery here… (yes, did I mention this before… our MMA group has two rooms that are JUST ours AND we got keys to the entire building so we can hang out there on weekends. WOOHOO.) ,

…..just trying to work out… oh, (some of us got farther than others) but the average was about 7 problems. So, that’s like a little over an hour on each. Good luck to us next Thursday.

I left the lab in the dark, having not eaten since early lunch time and my head in a least desirable condition. I literally couldn’t see straight. And it shouldn’t come as any surprise then, that all I dreamt about was Unions, Joins, Correlated Sub-queries and Common Table expressions…  I was starting to feel like I hadn’t been outside for days.

This morning however, I woke up with a little brighter leash on life. My head still hurt, but my mornings are my favorite time of the day – it’s the only time that I have and make sure to allow myself to worry about NOTHING. I just wake up, take a shower, get ready, east something, make some coffee and bounce about my morning stroll like the day is full of possability… I really feel like it is, until the very second I arrive to class. Then, all bets are off.

A total side note here, I was running late the other day and didn’t have time to make coffee so I innocently ordered a cup of cafe latte on my way to school from a totally cute little coffee car that’s always parked by the library. AND…  what do you know, with the coffee they serve a freshly baked Almond bread cake thing that is just to-die for. WHY OH WHY must I know this! Now I ‘ll have to look away every time I pass… or force myself to make coffee at home. *sigh*. Honestly, every time I discover a new food around here, it lodges itself onto my brain and I literally can’t undo the damage until something even more awesome comes along. Last week I discovered hazlenut -rasin bread that will just be the death of me…

ANYWAY, my brain’s not really working right now.. where was I. Yes… today I let myself walk around a bit, finally took care of some bank errands, went to my most favoritst world store… ever… and listend to some amazing music there… it was just the few minutes that I was wating for the bank to open, but it made such a difference… i just felt alive again. Then I undressed for my kinesthetist, walked WAY out of my way to get MORE hazlenut-raisin brood.. (and AMAZING pumpkin soup), then parked myself in front of SQL for another 6 hours… this time better. I think it’s finally coming together – honestly, if I wasn’t so worried about the fact that the directions are never written in english and make absolutely no logical sense, I would say that it’s starting to look like I might just have a chance with it… Lets hope this isn’t just the raisin bread talking.

Anyway, I’m deathly tired, so I’ll need to go now…

This was mostly because Ann reminded me to keep with it… 🙂 The next one will be much more interesting though, I promise…  i’ll make it juic-E.


Sinking slowly …and on being groped.

October 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

I have never studied this much, this constantly in my entire life. This is not just sad, as I really should be out feeling all Belgian and Euro-thrilled, but it’s made much worse by the fact that today in class, I was so lost, I was wondering if I was maybe in the wrong building. Nope. It was in fact, a different building than usual, but only because we had to move classrooms due to a scheduling mishap, the class on the other hand was indeed the right one, … with my class mates – most of them at least, that managed to get out of bed after a crazy week of preso-prepping and SAS/SQL homework hell…  the teacher was the same.

You really would think, it would feel like a continuation of whatever we studied in class last week, but alas, for that… you would most certainly have to be in a country that charges more than 500 euros per year –

‘Here’s an excersise… go ahead, give it a try’…  10 min later, struggling? yes, indeed… this is because there is no way to solve this, UNLESS of course… we use the WITH clause with a triple join across three tables positioned adjacent to each other on the ER diagram, capish? Yes, it’s true, it’s not in the book and this is the fist I’m mentioning of it… (I’m serious, the exercise are used as a way to teach, but you are asked to complete them before they are taught to you… it’s a strange order of things here). Now lets try this… pretend you’ve read 100 pages later and attempt exercise number  two…  So, how do we solve this, erease all the code you just frantically tried to put together, it’s wrong anyway!… there’s a format for it, it does it all – yes, this also isn’t in the book. lets take a 30 minute break now and cover the next 100 pages in a third example which you won’t even understand the directions for, because well… a marketing director won’t know what they’re asking for and you’ll need to adapt to this (and my english not so good), so do your best to read this nonsense and then use a statement which you don’t know exists. Try it and then we’ll discuss why you failed. Then, we’ll take another break.

Basically, it’s a sink or swim system. Only it’s designed so that very few swim… and the ones that do, nearly drown in the process. In fact, the program prides itself on this method, as most people who actually pass (which are few and far between, might I add) are blindly guaranteed a job… employers apparently that know the program don’t even bother interviewing anyone, you’re pretty much in if you’ve survived in any capacity.

The first test is in two weeks and is 5 hours long… apparently most people fail it completely. That’s saying a lot, as passing is 50%. Can you imagine how crazy this is if a significant # of people get LESS than 50% … OH BOY.

Anyway, talking to the others really stresses me – yes, during these amazing 30 min breaks that happen every 30 minutes it seems, after each failed exercise attempt… we all stand around, reminding each other to breath and or comparing our degree of complete and utter confusion, … so today, along with every other day, of course has been an enormous roller coaster. When I’m on my own though, I think I’m starting to come around to a much healthier view of what I’m here for. Honestly, I will do my best, but whether or not I actually pass and or do well or have anything come of this – career wise, I think is less important than the fact that I stay centered and in the moment. I hope no one judges and/or looks down on me from back home, if for whatever reason this whole trip becomes a wash. I at least know it will be a good wash if I don’t let the stress of it all, take a way the journey.

So, even though I won’t be able to see much of Europe or Belgium or anything other than the inside of my flat for a while, I think that I just need to go as far as I personally can go… and then switch gears if for whatever reason it’s not my thing. No sense in drowning. Honestly, there are still a million other things I want to do in my life and this was never meant to be the end-game. Merely an interesting, challenging pit-stop.

On a side note though, I went to a Kinesiologist (which is what they call a Physical Therapist here)  today for my pinched nerve and it was kind of a funny experience. I probably should take the time to write about it separately, but I don’t know that I’ll ever get around to it. So here’s just a brief few words. It was in a new part of town, so I had to take a bus there and figure out where it was… I was a little late, but really like no more than 10 min, but the guy made sure to tell me that I was! Anyway, his approach is very soft, not like a chiro, but I feel like it might be able to make a difference, we’ll see…  But the funny part was having to take off my pants and have him grope me for a while… and by a while, i mean like – an HOUR.

I mean, that’s longer than… well.

Keep in mind this guy was like maybe in his early thirties and while, I wasn’t quite buck naked, it was close… and there was no sheet or anything… it was just me and his marvelous magic hands HA. I’m not sure what was more intriguing, the front or the back… if I had known, I would have most certainly dressed for the occasion. Thank god I wasn’t wearing a thong or something – good lord.  And you better believe I am shaving before next time! 🙂

Anyway, back to studying now.

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