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As of this past Sunday I’m officially finished with graduate school!  It is blowing my mind that it is all over. Two long, strenuous years of work and now I’m off to real world again.  I’m not completely sure I’m ready. Eep!

Graduation weekend began with my (incredibly stressful) final presentation.  I was given ten minutes to speak freely about my time at Stanford, which was slightly too broad… There were 12 people in my class and we all interpreted the prompt a bit differently. I ended up speaking about the different elements of my life that have helped me to become a more skilled designer.  Really profound stuff like – do what you love and play well with others. Here’s hoping my future career will involve these aspects as well.

A friend took this from the back of the packed auditorium

A friend took this from the back of the packed auditorium

While it was entirely too nerve wracking for me to handle, I think I was able to do a coherent job. Of course the audience had no choice but to sit back and watch, so I can’t really determine how successful I was… At one point, toward the end, I found myself a bit emotional. Best way to recover? Make a joke about drinking. I believe I said – “I apologize, the whiskey hasn’t kicked in quite yet.”  Thankfully my wise crack was perfectly timed, the audience laughed for long enough for me to regain composure (momentarily). Phew.

Once that was over we celebrated! Seriously, what else can one do after surviving a presentation in front of several hundred people? Of course it wasn’t over then as I still had to cross a stage and pick up my overpriced fancy piece of paper. So the next morning I woke up bright and early to sit in the painful heat (dressed in all black) to listen to Michael Bloomberg. The president deemed us graduates, we cheered, and then scuttled off to our private ceremonies.

With my proud big brother

With my proud big brother

After a few more hours of sitting, it was my turn to cross the stage. I walked tall knowing that this was it, the final moments of my graduate career. Snapped a photo with one of my favorite professors before I ran back to celebrate with the last of my class. We did it! We’ll all be going off in different directions this next year, but I am so grateful for each and every member of my (often dysfunctional) class.

You have no idea how much coordination it takes to get everyone looking at the same camera

You have no idea how much coordination it takes to get everyone looking at the same camera…

Now I’m “relaxing” on a short trip with my family. (Honestly, is vacation with family ever relaxing?!) Earlier this week we went to Yosemite for some great scenery and today I find myself in Napa. It is amazing, I’ve lived so close for two years and never actually made it up here. I do believe it is about time I start wine tasting!

Next week I’ll be in Long Beach for a few days before heading north to Fitbloggin. I couldn’t be more excited. Looking forward to meeting some other great bloggers, getting in a few intense workouts (I’m doing every single one, are you  in?), and sight seeing all of Portland. Let me know if you care to join me at the hash (a scavenger hunt for beer) on Wednesday or Thursday night.  :)

NYC Marathon, here I come!

On November 4th, I will be traversing the five boroughs along with 40,000 of my closest running friends. New York is a city I have known and loved for years; it is where my parents were born and where I spent many of my weekends with my grandparents.  I knew that I wanted to do this race and hopped at the opportunity to run it this year.

Although I missed the lottery, I was invited to run as a member of the Blue Card team.  A bit about the Blue Card: the fund was established in 1934 in Germany to assist families who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the Nazi regime.  In 1939, the original founders of The Blue Card reestablished the organization in the United States to help those individuals who survived the Holocaust to start over their lives in the new country.  Today the Blue Card is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing direct financial assistance to needy Holocaust survivors who live at or near the Federal poverty level. For more information about The Blue Card including description of programs, testimonials and articles, please visit

As you may have realized at this point, I am a proud (and loud) Jewess. But what you may not know is that I am the granddaughter of two wonderful and brave Holocaust survivors. It was their strength and perseverance that paved the way for my family. They are by far two of the most influential individuals in my life. It will be an honor to run in their memory and to help support others who survived.

To guarantee my entry into the race I am required to fundraise at least $1800.  I recognize that there are many worthy causes out there, but I appreciate every donation that you amazing folks can provide. I am also hoping to have a blogger bake sale and a super bad ass raffle to help me raise money.*  More information to come.

In other news, things in my part of the world are going well.  Classes are almost over for the quarter which means I am officially half way through with my program (as long as I finish my research proposal).  Being a bit foolish, I decided I wanted to start my internship almost immediately, so I won’t have any time off between the end of classes and work, but I couldn’t be more excited for this summer.  I’ll be moving into San Francisco for three months and plan to spend as much time outdoors as possible.  May all your summers be sunny and beautiful!

What are you running these days?

*If you would like to help support me in the bake sale or have an item that you would be willing to add to my raffle, please let me know.  All offers will be greatly appreciated

Thankful Thursday

I realize that a lot of my previous posts have been rather negative or down on my luck, but for my 100th post I’ve decided to be thankful (a week early). Here is a list of the things in my life that I’m horribly grateful for.

This week I am thankful that I was able to complete a 19 mile run with minimal training. Not my fastest run, but I also happened to run up a large hill for eight miles. It was great training for my marathon (CIM in less than three weeks, eep!) and it was great to feel like I’m ready for this race.

I’m also grateful that I was able to complete all of my work this week without becoming a complete and utter stress case.  On Monday I submitted a piece of work that my professor loved, Tuesday I welded (I weld, isn’t that somewhat impressive?) together a piece for a final project in one of my classes, and yesterday I gave a huge presentation. Although I am swamped by work I am getting things accomplished and that is a fantastic feeling.

I’m overjoyed that I will be spending the entirety of Saturday with some fantastic folks from my program being social and not remotely thinking about work. The plan is to spend the day tailgating and celebrating Stanford’s win against Cal (just so ya know, they are going to win). Hopefully we’ll have the energy to go out dancing afterward, I feel it is about time I got my groove on. (Bring on the cute boys!)

More importantly I am excited to go home and spend a week with my dogs. Oh, and my family as well. On Sunday I will be flying back to Philadelphia to spend Thanksgiving with my entire family. The best friends and I will be running a 5k on Thanksgiving day and then we’ll have a family reunion (that would be 10 people, my family is tiny). I’m looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation (with some intense Black Friday shopping) before the last few weeks of term.

What are you grateful for this week? How is everyone spending their Thanksgiving?

Settling In

As I’ve mentioned a few too many times, I’ve finally moved to California! Surprisingly this entire process was easier than I had expected.

On Friday my friend picked me up from the airport and shlepped me and my heavy luggage back to campus where I was given my room assignment. Entering my apartment I realized my roommate had been living there for quite some time. It was messy. After a slight nervous breakdown I came to terms with the situation and began unpacking. Even though I purged a good amount of clothing before I arrived, there is little room in this place for all my crap. Oh well.

Saturday began with a quick 4.75 mile run around my area. I have to note, it is gorgeous here. Most of the paths are flat and there are plenty of routes to choose from. Unfortunately without sustenance for before, during, or after my run so my body wouldn’t let me push much further. Initially I had planned to go food shopping in the afternoon so that I didn’t have to scour campus for something to eat (no food in apartment = famished Michelle).

That plan quickly changed when Courtney convinced me to take the train into San Francisco. She and Beth were at the farmer’s market and happy to meet up with Renee and me at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. They gave me a great tour of the city and filled me in on some fantastic places to see and visit in the area. It was quite the impromptu blogger meetup, but those ladies are fantastic. I’m hoping that one day I have the opportunity to run behind with them. If you live in the area, make sure to contact Courtney about the huge October blogger meetup.

Returning to my apartment I found that I had nothing to consume but chocolate covered espresso beans. Not the dinner of champions. Sunday I was determined to make it to the supermarket.  So after a coastal drive (man is it gorgeous) and strawberry picking expedition, I made sure to get to Safeway and Whole Foods. I have to thank everyone who contributed to my healthy shopping list. My pantry and refrigerator are now stocked with healthy food options. Hopefully that this will jump-start my healthy lifestyle…

How was your weekend? Did you explore anything new?

Please check out Jessica’s bake sale this Friday to help raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. A very good friend of mine was deeply affected by colitis, so this cause is near and dear to my heart.

Time to get a move on…

Today is the day! Later this afternoon I’ll officially be settling in to my new home in Palo Alto. Eep! I may have a slight spaz attack in the near future (don’t fret, I promise it won’t be too embarrassing).

Saying good-bye to my family and friends has been quite awkward. Although we went out to a “going-away” dinner, nothing felt different about our family gathering. Dinner was quick and then it was back to the house to be attacked by our pups. Same as usual. Honestly I think my best friend’s mother made the biggest deal about my moving away (the woman hugged me four times).

And to say this morning was hectic is an understatement. I didn’t realize how many small items I hadn’t packed. I filled my backpack with random items, shoved my toiletries into my checked luggage, and tried to pack a snack for my extended flight. Six hours with no free food? That seems wrong.

My father was polite to note that my luggage weighs a ton. That is when I started to get more nervous(er). Sidling up to the bag drop I was praying that the scale was similar to the one in my house. My first bag was under the limit but my second bag managed to be 1.5 pounds over. I’m pretty sure the attendant saw the fear in my eyes so she let me slide…

So now I’m waiting anxiously at the gate. As luck would have it, they asked that people “volunteer” to check their roller boards. Thank jeebus! Now I won’t be that obnoxious passenger that attempts to shove an oversize bag in the overhead. And I didn’t have to pay the $125 fee, phew. Things seem to be going my way today, hopefully this keeps up.

California here we come!

Tell me about a new adventure you are embarking on in your life!