Faith, Hope and Love

It's midterm time here at Harvard Business School, which means that many of my days over the past week have been spent at review sessions preparing for my accounting, TOM and LEAD exams. It's tough to fight distractions when you're studying debits and credits for hours on end, and the beautiful fall leaves and cool weather keep beckoning from my 3rd story window. I've managed to keep my concentration (mostly), save for three things that have managed to pull me away from my studies: faith, hope and love -- in the form of a movie, a book and a political campaign.
  • Faith: As I was waiting in the Boston airport last weekend for my flight home to Florida, I stopped into the bookstore to find a good read to occupy my time. Initially, I went for the new Phillipa Gregory book, that is until I saw the $30 price tag (it's a new release in hardcover) and was starting to feel discouraged when "Eat, Pray, Love" caught my eye from the bottom corner of the bookshelf. I remembered hearing a colleague tell me about the book when I first started HBS and although the tagline didn't grab my attention necessarily (I truly am on a historical fiction kick. The last four books I've read have been about Katherine of Aragon, Johannes Vermeer, Anne Boleyn and Josephine Boneparte), I decided to trust her judgment and I picked up the book. I'm so glad I did! The story follows a woman on a year-long journey of self discovery through Italy, India and Indonesia. It's written in a way that is so humorous you find yourself laughing out loud, but the humor doesn't detract from the life lessons she dispenses throughout. Much of the book is about faith and finding G-d, but the author doesn't ever preach or suggest a religious right to the reader. Rather she explains how she found inner peace through G-d and how it changed her life. A great read that I'd definitely recommend!
  • Hope: Two days ago I mailed in my absentee ballot, proudly voting for John McCain. I've literally been called three times in the last four days by the McCain campaign asking if I'm still voting for him and did I mail my ballot. Boy are these folks worried, and with good reason. Although I become more and more of a staunch Republican as I get older (and a person who is unafraid to admit her conservative beliefs despite unpopularity among most peers), I'm not sure McCain will be able to pull this one off. I've watched each of the three debates, and even though I think McCain won the third and final one, he just can't compare to Obama when it comes to command and presence. Next to this robust, well-spoken younger man McCain looks old, fragile and weak -- and this reminds the American people too much of Bush, who is universally disliked. However, I must continue to hope that some miracle comes along in the next two and a half weeks that propels him to the forefront of people's minds -- and ballots.
  • Love: This afternoon I took a study break and jetted over to the movie theater to see "The Duchess" a historical drama based on the life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and starring Keira Knightley. It was a fanstasic film that made me cry -- it's those darn swelling orchestral refrains that get me every time! The story (without revealing too much detail for those who might still go see it) is about her loveless marriage to the Duke of Devonshire, her love affair with a commoner and the sacrifices she had to make in life -- one of which is giving up her greatest love. It struck such a chord in me because I can't imagine every living in a loveless marriage and feeling a passion outside of my marriage that I knew I could never tap into. What a horrible, imprisoning life that would be! Regardless, I found her story very captivating -- a great reprieve from accounting and a chance to let out some pent-up stress through the tears the movie brought out. Seriously folks, this is why I love entertainment. How often do you have the chance to absorb yourself in another world and allow yourself to emotionally connect without real life causality or effect. Brilliant!
With that said, I must get back to studying (unfortunately I'll be doing this all day tomorrow as well). Next weekend is my section's retreat (we're going to Stratton, VT for two nights) so I'll have lots of exciting stuff to blog about (plus some fun pictures!) when I return from that trip. Have a great week!

Clubs at HBS

A few weeks ago HBS hosted its annual club fair where all of the campus organizations get together to recruit members. There were tens of clubs there representing every possible social, academic or career-oriented interest that one might have. My problem was that I wanted to join 8 clubs -- way too many for a schedule as busy as mine -- and I knew I'd need to narrow it down somehow. In the end I wound up officially joining 6, with plans to only be super involved in two.

  1. Entertainment & Media Club: This is by far my number one priority when it comes to extracurriculars because the opportunities are endless. I know for sure that I want to work in the entertainment industry, and this club not only takes yearly treks to Hollywood and New York to meet with big shot business execs, but also brings in entertainment-related speakers and hosts an Entertainment and Media conference in the spring. I've applied to be one of the organization's Co-VPs of Marketing & Communications and will probably hear shortly if I've been selected for the role. It's truly perfect for me: entertainment and marketing combined equals golden opportunity!
  2. Marketing & CPG Club: For non-business folks, CPG stands for consumer packaged goods, a segment that offers a majority of the marketing jobs (think Procter & Gamble, FritoLay, Coca-Cola, Loreal, etc). For the first time this year, the previously separate Marketing and CPG clubs combined since their memberships overlapped by 80%. So although my interest in learning about the CPG industry is minimal, I'm still excited to get involved and see what marketing networking and skills I can gain. Here I've applied to be the Assistant Vice President in charge of Marketing & Social.
  3. Women's Student Association: The best part of the WSA is that it's one of the only clubs on campus that a) doesn't charge dues and b) makes you an automatic member as a woman of the Harvard community. I don't plan to take on any leadership roles within this organization, but I have already attended several of their events including the RC Duck Tour and the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business conference (where I volunteered last weekend). They also have a lot of great women-focused, empowering workshops, like one coming up called "What They Don't Teach You at HBS" hosted by women alumnae.
  4. HBS Show: I am SO SO SO excited about this club. Basically, every year a group of students get together to write, produce, direct and star in a two-act musical comedy that plays for four nights at the end of the spring semester. Although I only plan to act, sing or dance in the musical (which limits my involvement to the spring term once the show is written and ready to be cast), I'm thrilled to have the chance to reconnect with my theater roots. I miss showtunes and tap shoes!
  5. Jewish Student Association: Even though I'm basically Jewish only by heritage (it's been years since I've actually celebrated a holiday), I thought it would be good to join this organization since I do plan to go on a Birthright Israel trip this winter and would like to learn more about my religion. Tomorrow night I'm going to a break-the-fast Yom Kippur dinner on campus (although I'm still deciding whether or not I should actually fast, so it may just be a dinner with friends rather than a break of the fast).
  6. Dance Club: I will probably be least involved in this, my final club, but I figured that the dues were so cheap, why not? Students in the club put on dance classes throughout the year and members can get involved in some dance shows throughout the semester.

I originally had intended to try out for the SHE-E-O's, a female a cappella group, and had wanted to join the Republican Club, but had to draw the line somewhere. Overall, it's very exciting and will certainly keep my ever-busy schedule as hopping as its been!

Crazy Antics of the Week

This has been a truly zany week. Case in point:

1) On Wednesday I finally ventured to Shad (the gym) for a Personal Fitness Assessment. I walk into the weight room, go up to the desk and ask for Darlene (my trainer) and the guy responds, "Sorry ma'am but emergencies come first." Puzzled, I look to my right and see a young man keeled over with a blood-soaked towel pressed against his head -- whoa! Turns out this guy was doing a reverse crunch exercise on a reclining chair with a 25 pound dumbbell balancing between his feet. The story continues as the dumbbell slips from his feet and falls on his head caushing two huge gashes (and can you imagine how much that must have hurt? A 25 pound weight is damn heavy)! At first I'm like, okay this is just like real life Grey's Anatomy -- lots of blood and an outrageously unbelievable emergency. But then I start to feel faint. Faint as in the room is blacking out, my hearing is going fuzzy and I feel like I may pass out. I sit down on the floor and the woman behind the desk says to tell her if I start to feel the cold sweats. Lo and behold, I'm sweaty and cold so she runs to get a cold compress for my head so I don't faint. So here's this guy bleeding waiting for the EMTs and here I am sitting on the floor 3 feet from him almost passing out. I guess it's a good thing I didn't go into medicine! (Postscript: Luckily, I did not pass out and the gentleman was taken to the hospital under non-life threatening conditions).

2) Also on Wednesday night, I joined my sectionmates for a night of karaoke at a local Irish Pub called Tommy Doyle's. The night was a ton of fun and I decided to open a bar tab around 11, so I handed the bartender my debit card and went along my merry way. About an hour later, I left with a bunch of friends to walk home and forgot to close out my tab and get my credit card. By the time I realized I had forgotten it, I was in bed, it was 1 a.m. and there was no way I was heading back for it alone that evening. I didn't think twice about it when I went to the bar the next afternoon to pick up my card, but my heart started to pound a little when the card could not be found. According to the bartender, when he realized I had forgotten my card, he closed out my tab, wrapped the receipt around it and left it in a plastic cup behind the bar. Now the cup was gone and the card was nowhere to be found. The manager assured me that they would continue looking, that perhaps it had fallen somewhere and he would get back to me later that afternoon. About an hour later I get an e-mail from Bank of America alerting me to the irregular credit card activity on my debit card and asking me to verify the charges or call the bank immediately. Now I got freaking scared. I checked my account and someone had fraudulently charged $600 on my card that day. To make a long story short, that evening was ruined as I now had to file a fraud report with the bank, file a police report with the Cambridge police, have my account closed down and re-opened and contact the owner of the bar to alert him to the situation. What makes things worse is the fact that the card was likely stolen by an employee of the bar since it was in an area that customers don't have access to. The case is not yet closed -- both the police and the owner of the bar are conducting investigations to find out who made these charges -- and because they charged more than $500 on my card, it's considered a felony and the person will be arrested when they're caught!

Crazy, just plain crazy.

On a positive note, the first signs of fall are starting to appear around Boston. Check out the first red tree of the season on the HBS campus:

Also stay tuned for several blog posts over the next few days. I plan to do a summary and review of my classes so far, an introduction to the clubs I've joined and a summary of some of the awesome events I've participated in during the last two weeks. For now I'm off to a local dive to celebrate a friend's birthday! Gnite!