Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Tired Self

Oh, have I gotten sloppy over the summer. I had suspicions all along, but they have only been confirmed over the last few days as I've been up nights working until 12am or 1. This is the start of our fiscal year at work, and the planning work is taking up so much more time than expected-- it feels like I'm back in class, but class hasn't even begun! Maybe this is my "on deck" moment for class, getting me sufficiently tired and conditioned for the months of solitary late-night endeavor that surely lie ahead. Regardless, I can tell it's time to start brewing a second pot of coffee each morning!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Remember those childhood dreams about school? The ones where you imagine yourself coming to school on the morning of finals and not being able to remember your locker combination? For me, these dreams (which still happen about twice a year for me) have always involved skipping an entire semester's worth of classes (something I never would have done) and then showing up scared to death on the day of finals.

It must be a sign that MBA season is about to begin again, because I'm having a whole new set of classroom-panic dreams, this time involving my MBA classes. It started almost a week ago, and I've had three of them so far, all equally detailed and terrifying. Last night's dream involved an open-book exam for a class (I think it was Strategy or Marketing) that involved a childhood book about Clifford the Dog. No I am not making this up-- you needed a copy of Clifford the Dog to take one section of the exam. I had brought all of my traditional materials with me to class- the textbook, my notes, and all handouts. But apparently I missed the part on the syllabus where I needed to also read a copy of Clifford. The dream ended with me scurrying around the classroom trying to bum a copy from one of my classmates; none of them could help me.

Clearly I'm not getting enough sleep. Either that, or I need to start reading something else to my kids.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Has it really been almost two months since I posted to this blog? Isn't that how most blogs go? ("omigod has that much time really passed?")

In fact it has been a whirlwind summer, most of it spent blissfully unaware of things like weighted average cost of capital, the "four P's", and balance sheets. We just returned from a weeklong trip with the kids to Wisconsin and Illinois, and we've had fun events, kids camps, sleepovers, movie nights, and all the other fun things that make a summer a summer.

At the same time, as I think I hinted at in my last post, I have really been missing the rigor, intellectual engagement, and quite honestly the sheer insanity of being in school while also juggling (or at least trying to) all these other aspects of my life. So sitting here at my computer, perched on the edge of summer, I can also say I am ready and eager to resume the madness. Does that make me somehow mad myself? Very likely so.

One of my most vivid memories of last year was at the September 2007 residency, at an executive center just outside Minneapolis, where we all had gathered after two weeks in class to really dig in. We were still getting to know each other then, and I remember looking upon the second year students with a kind of awe and reverence. They were learned. They were experienced. They had survived. What would it feel like to be in their shoes? I wondered.

Well, now I am in their shoes. Somewhere out there are 60-75 nervous adults like me, all with at least seven years' work experience, getting ready to head into a classroom environment that scares the hell out of them, even if they are already experienced and even if they already have their PhD. Because no matter how old or experienced you are, no matter how many times you've rounded the ol' academic bend, walking into a new program still makes you a little sick to your stomach.

In just under four weeks' time, we (the now-proud second years) will greet these scared newbies, and they will wonder what it feels like to be in our shoes. I can tell you it feels nice to know (or at least to believe) that the worst of it is behind us, that second year won't be as difficult as the first. And I can say at least it feels good to know something about what the bone-crushing rhythm of it all will be like-- if you know the process will crush your bones, at least you can put on shoulder pads, right?

All in all, I am very excited to see my classmates (indeed, my friends) again, to pick up the books and fire up the financial calculator, to gather at obscene hours in the morning every other Friday and Saturday, eat little sandwiches and drink Coke Zero, and be pushed beyond my limits.

Because, truth be told, that's really the only place it's any fun to hang out anyway.