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Graduated!

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.  :)

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Wordless Wednesday – Recent Adventures

I’m incredibly fortunate to have ridiculous friends that drag me on outlandish outings. In the past month and a half I’ve taken part in some fantastic events. Here are a few picture highlights!

Showing our support by rockin' out to 90s music

Showing our support by rockin’ out to 90s music

Riding a bull in the middle of Ragnar, disregard the ridiculous face...

Riding a bull in the middle of Ragnar, disregard the ridiculous face…

Preparing to rock the Tough Mudder

Preparing to rock the Tough Mudder

First things first, hop into this pool of ice!

First things first, hop into this pool of ice!

And of course the chaos that was our Red Dress Run

And of course the chaos that was our Red Dress Run

What are some of your recent adventures?

Down in the Big Easy

This past weekend I spent a few days in New Orleans with some great family friends and my two best friends. It was seriously amazing. I’ve been to New Orleans several times in the past, but I can never get enough of the place. This time of year the weather is perfect, the crawfish are in season, and everyone is a bit too friendly.

Face PaintWe started off the weekend the right way, with drive thru daiquiris, face painting, and a parade. Who knew that New Orleans was so into St. Patrick’s day? It was a rather tame night (I needed my rest), but we tasted some delicious seafood, imbibed a few beers, and got into the N’awlins spirit.

The next day we started off late, as my friends like their sleep, and had a full southern breakfast. Dear goodness I could get used to grits topped with an egg and sprinkled with bacon. Of course our host, Glenn, wouldn’t allow us to leave the house without sampling some crawfish. Breakfast dessert? I don’t see why not! We taught Anastasia how to crack ’em open and downed a few pounds before leaving the house.Kiss at Parade

Our first parade consisted of hundreds of drunkards throwing random items at us. And then there were the lengths of men that gave out flowers with a kiss. At first I didn’t understand the concept, but then we got into it. By the end I had a full bouquet, several new garters, and even a few dollars that were slid into them. Twas quite amusing, but we were starting to get restless and decided to go into the French Quarter.

The evening began with one of the best restaurants in the city, Jacques Imo’s, with some of A’s friends. If you are ever in the area, I suggest checking it out. We were stuffed and oh-so-pleased by the time we left. That night was a mixture of people watching (what else is Bourbon Street for?), great jazz, and some late night munchies. We left the city at 3am (the latest I’ve been up in a while) and were all ready for a rest.

Stirring The PotSunday brought yet another parade. We didn’t spend much time watching as there was no need for beads, but we did devour a few too many pounds of crawfish. They had a forty pound pot going when we arrived. I’d estimate that the three of us consumed at least ten pounds (if not more). It was so spicy that I was constantly wiping my brow, yet that wasn’t enough to keep me away. I don’t know how I lived my life so long without a proper crawfish boil.

Lisa feeding crawfish

We wound up in the French Quarter yet again that night. Had a few drinks at Pat O’Brien’s, a New Orleans staple, before getting the courage to sing karaoke. Right as we stepped on stage, Kenlie walked in to support us. It was great to hang out with her all night. We hopped from one bar to the next, which isn’t tough as they are right on top of each other, and danced our faces off along the way.

With Kenlie

It was a weekend I won’t soon forget. In fact, I’m currently detoxing from all of the amazing eats I had. (It is a rule that you have to try all the delicious food while you are there!) Was great in the moment, but I need to get it out of my system and get back on track. If you haven’t been, I demand that you put it on your list. There are few US cities I would urge you to visit and New Orleans is in the top five.

Have you been to New Orleans? What would you do if you went?

Spring Break Goals

When people hear the words “Spring Break” they typically think of college girls doing inappropriate things on the beach, but (un)fortunately that is not me this year. While I’m a large fan of traveling and doing foolish things*, I’m going to be spending this break focused on my future. To keep myself on track, I’ve set some goals for the next two weeks:

  1. Prepare at least three home cooked, healthy meals – I haven’t been cooking much in the past few months and I sure as hell haven’t been eating as well as I should. I made the decision that this week I’ll get back into the habit of preparing food at home. This morning I spent an hour at the grocery store picking up some healthy items, then this afternoon I managed to cook two great recipes (with only one major flub, hurrah).
    Major thanks to Laura for her delicious bulgur pilaf recipe and to Pinky for getting me hooked on these honey mustard burgers (seriously addictive). I had forgotten how tough it is to make several things in parallel, but it was worth it. Now I’ve got healthy meals for the next few days. Hopefully this is a habit that will last past these two weeks.
  2. Run three times each week – My running has been slacking since I returned from my races Phoenix. I have a half marathon this Sunday (with the lovely Maggie) and I need my body to be prepared. This morning I was able to get in a short run and I’m scheduling another two into this week. Thursday morning I’ll complete at least five miles and Friday is for speed training. Next week I’m hoping I can get four solid runs in so I can get back to my regular pace.
  3. Update my portfolio – As a designer, I need to have a portfolio of the substantial work I’ve done. I have started an online portfolio, which needs to be completely updated, and then I need to create a hard copy. This means I need to take some high quality photos of my work, edit them with Photoshop, and create an attractive layout in Illustrator. All in all it is quite an undertaking. Probably why I haven’t gotten to it yet. But the time is now and it will save me a lot of work in the future.
  4. Look for jobs – The most nerve-wracking of all my tasks. This will require me to scour the internet for positions in the Bay Area. At this point I’m uncertain what type of company I’m interested in working for, but I do know where I want to be. I’m setting a solid goal of finding three viable options and applying before the end of the week. I’ve also come to terms with the fact that it is tough to get a company’s attention through an online application, so I am going to do my best to connect directly with an employee. And of course this means some serious networking…
  5. Network and continue informational interviewing – I have two great connections in the area and I need to set up times that I can meet with both. Hopefully they will be able to guide me. But I also need to find people I’m less familiar with that could assist me in my job search. This means I need to buck up and attend events in the area rather than staying within my comfort zone. I’m incredibly nervous about going to these events, but recognize that it is necessary.

Of course there are a few other items I need to work on as well, like that hair cut I’ve put off for months and doing laundry, but I see these as minor in comparison with the other items. So here is to accomplishing all of the goals on my list and then some! (Wish me luck, I’ll probably need it…)

What are your goals this month? How did you get started on your job search?

*Okay, I got in a few nights of debauchery in New Orleans this past weekend. More information and a few too many photos to follow.

Chasing Tail!

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to run the Ragnar Relay with 11 lovely Dinosaurs. 202 miles of pure ridiculousness in 35 hours. This past December a friend of mine reached out to me to fill a spot in her team, and I’m so glad I nabbed it. I only knew one member of the team, but I didn’t let that stop me from joining in on the fun.

It all began Thursday when I flew into the airport to be greeted by the brontosaurus. We rushed around to get provisions for the vans before getting to the hotel at 11pm. Van 1 finally got to sleep a bit after midnight. And then we woke up at 2:30am to make it to the start line. Yeah, nothing like starting a race on less than three hours of sleep!

It was frigid out and we were all jumping around for energy at the start line. Our terrordactyl was out on leg one by 5am and we were off to cheer her on. The course was filled with runners and we did our best to scream encouragement to them all. After she came in, we sent off a few more gals to enjoy the dark running environment. By the time my first leg started the sun had finally come up, thank goodness, and I was able to run without any issues.

In Van

I must admit that I was incredibly nervous about the pace I’d be able to hold for the entire race. I initially put myself in for a goal pace, but when race day came I didn’t think I could sustain. Well, I went out for my 6.7 miler and tried to remain steady. After getting passed by an older woman in the first half mile, I decided to latch on to her and maintain her pace. By the last half mile I was able to pass her and saw that my pace was 30 seconds faster per mile than I had expected. Absolutely best feeling in the world.

When we all completed our first legs we decided it was best to have some lunch. And what better place than Cracker Barrel? Dear goodness we stuffed ourselves. Heading back to the exchange point, we took a quick van nap before waiting for our last runner to get in. By the time she arrived we were back in the dark for our second legs. Sadly our first runner never had the chance to run in the sun, fortunately she was an east coaster who was used to the weather.

Waiting for Kate

We were all a bit drained by the time we headed out again, but we didn’t let that stop us. We were consistently cheering every runner on (unlike many of the other teams who just cheered on their own people). For a while I was running ahead of people telling them to “chase some tail” because I’m creative like that.  :)

And then it was my turn. By 1opm, when I went off for my second leg, I was exhausted from the running, lack of sleep, and obnoxious cheering. The leg was tougher, but again I found someone going my perfect pace and was able to use them for support. For the second time of the race I surpassed my pace goal and surprised myself (but who can complain about that?!).

By midnight we were huddling in a community center, hoping for a few more hours of shut-eye. I can’t say that I was able to sleep, but it was nice to be still for a while. Yet, before any of us had expected, we were roused and had to get on the road again. Around 5am our third legs began and we were on our way to the finish line. Bleary eyed and delirious, we each set out on our final leg.

Although my third leg was the shortest, it was also the hilliest that I’d have to endure. At times I wanted to slow down (read: walk), but I knew that my team would be cheering for me on the crest of the hill so I pushed harder. For the third time I surpassed my expectations and maintained a quicker pace. It was an amazing feeling when I passed off the slap bracelet to the next runner. I was finished and I was ecstatic. After the first van finished, we grabbed some real food before heading to the finish line for some more cheering and celebration. Check out our crazy crew of dinos

Team Photo 3

Ragnar reminded me how much I absolutely love running and it taught me a lot about myself. I now realize that I can push even harder than I had expected. If I can maintain a quicker pace when I’ve gotten barely any sleep and have to conquer hills, then there is no reason I can’t push myself day to day. I also realized that being cheered on by five random individuals can do amazing things for your self esteem. I’ve fallen in love with all of my teammates and hope to run with them again in the near future. Ragnar, you’ve got a new fan!

And if completing Ragnar wasn’t enough, we decided to do Tough Mudder the following day. Woke up this morning with a fun new set of bruises all over my body. Twas amazing, yet I don’t know if I’ll be doing that again… But that is a story for another time.

What is the most insane race you’ve done? Have you ever tried a relay race?