Monday, May 31, 2010

My own C'ville Goodbye Tour

In my last post I wrote about wanting to show my parents around C’ville and all the places I hung out at during my two years here. Last week, we did just that and then some more. I took my parents to eat at some of my favorite joints here, showed them the sights and sounds of some places that were almost second home to me and then also took them to a few places I hadn’t been to for lack of time. From favorite restaurants to hole-in-the-wall crepe joints to the vineyards and the caverns... it's been a week full of picture taking and playing the tour guide!

In addition to showing them around, I have also been doing a few goodbye lunches/dinners/coffees/breakfasts when I can, which has been difficult with them around but I still try. I think the one ritual I will really absolutely miss in “the real world” would be my Sunday brunch/breakfasts (not so much Sunday after school, since everyday has been Sunday!). Just like this morning, I had a wonderful brunch with Oren and some of my other favorite Darden ppl and I tried to stay in denial that I won’t get that again – unless we all turned up reunion (in which case, Oren, can we go to Blue Glass Grill please?) which is a year from now.

I always knew I was lucky to be here in this beautiful town but more importantly among these wonderful people… in fact, I have never found myself among so many like-minded, likable people and as Prof. John Colley told us on our last day of GMTA class, it doesn’t get any better than this. And as I show my parents around and try to relive my out-of-class experiences from the two years, I feel like this is my own personal goodbye tour of C’ville.

My parents leave for California in a week’s time after which I begin my own process of moving there, selling my stuff and emptying out my apartment into my two suitcases and a backpack. I want to keep everything, yet I know I can’t. I am yet to de-Dardenize my laptop – archive emails and documents – and honestly, I’m just procrastinating.

Here’s a picture of breakfast this morning before the Roots left C’ville – that's right, Mimosas with breakfast, because we can!

Monday, May 24, 2010


The view from the day after

600 cases, 8 quarters, countless cold calls, late nights and TNDCs later I am finally an MBA.
Yesterday the Full Time MBA Class of 2010 at Darden graduated, under the encouraging gaze of Thomas Jefferson’s statue at Flagler Courtyard and under a blue-gray sky that threatened to spill over any moment.

First we had the main graduation ceremony at The Lawn in Central Grounds (UVA) where the whole university’s graduating class (ie from all departments) gathered to take their degrees. After a lot of balloon-flying, clapping and hooting, we were finally allowed to shift our tassels from the right side (no degree) to the left (degree bestowed). It was a great feeling to be sitting in that historic place and to know that I will forever be an alumnus of this beautiful and historically and intellectually rich university. From there on, it was on to Darden for our ceremony and to receive the diploma. As I sat there and clapped for all my classmates getting their degrees and later walked up to take my own, it dawned on me that the umbilical cord was finally being cut, and we were free to go out into the world to do everything we dreamt of when we came here.

We went to the grand staircase outside Saunders Hall right after the ceremony to take our picture and then it was pictures time with the family, friends and whoever we could find. One last grand Darden bagged lunch later, I was home.

After a lot of confusion on rain or not, I was so happy that the rain decided to wait until after the ceremony. In fact, as we finished our pictures at the grand staircase, the first big drops of rain started to fall and by the time my family and I made it back to Ivy, it was pouring in earnest, as it can do only in Charlottesville.

I’ve had a night to sleep over this new status as an MBA and Darden alumnus. Somehow it refuses to sink in. I woke up this morning expecting to feel different, but I was disappointed. I was the same person, still unable to function without my morning tea, still basking in the wonder of having a United States driver’s license and still very much in love with Arch’s FroYo! Somewhere inside me I know I’m now different, much better than the person I came here as, two years ago. On the outside I am still me, cringing that yet another goodbye is here, wondering when the stability I have craved for but always avoided will come to my life.

This morning I earnestly missed my Darden friends, wished I had another day of trudging through the school for a class, yearned to call some folks for coffee at our favorite coffee shop at Barracks Road and as I type this out, I’d rather be hanging out at Italian Villa cracking jokes with the gang than in my room going to bed before midnight. Real life calls, but I will always treasure the friendships and adventures this place has allowed me to have.

This morning, as I drove my parents around my favorite places in C’ville, I couldn’t help but think about all the people in my life that made this incredible journey possible. From support, to essay reviews, to just their time on the phone/messenger/person when I needed it. The list is too long, but this roll of paper that is my diploma would not have been possible without their support.

Dear Darden, you will be missed, but I will cherish the title of being a Darden alumnus for as long as I live.

Beach Week at the OBX*

*post backlog - late post
I spent the last 5 days of my Darden life at the Outer Banks in North Carolina on the Darden week-before-graduation tradition known as Beach Week. The whole class heads down to Nags Head and rents houses by the beach. It’s a week of relaxing, partying, hanging out with classmates for perhaps the last time. It’s the last week of the crazy lifestyle that business school has been. And it didn’t disappoint. After the mad pace of the last two years, my five days at OBX were just the opposite, from early morning tea on the patio gazing at the sea, to late night movies and wine with breakfast!

I was in a five bedroom house with a few other people. We had a large living room, fully equipped kitchen, a pool, hot tub and plenty of great views of the ocean. We spent our time between the various houses, cooking and eating and hanging out by the water… One day we went to explore some sand dunes but for the most part we lay by the waters (pool, hot tub, beach) and hung out in other ppl’s houses playing board games or cooking/eating.

While the first few days were cloudy, rainy and gloomy – best way to enjoy a seriously dangerous LASA party – the last two days were beautifully sunny and going by the tan I returned with, we really made full use of those days. By the last night at OBX, my housemates and I decided to skip the last official Darden party at the Pit, and stayed home for a pyjamas and movie night.

We drove back via Richmond late on Thursday and stopped for dinner at the Capital Ale House – a place I highly recommend for their large variety of beers. We also decided to surprise a friend’s boyfriend at the airport.

My folks get in town Friday night, just as graduation festivities begin at Darden. Graduation! Can you believe it? I can’t!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pearl Jammed!

In what has been a fantastic year – musically – for me, I managed to get another item checked on my wishlist! Yesterday I - along with regular concert goer and friend Nacho and a Peruvian exchange student - went to watch one of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam, live in concert as part of their Backspacer Tour at Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavilion) at Bristow VA.

Expensive ticket rates and a quickly falling cash balance had me wavering on the decision to attend this concert. Back in undergrad – which seems like a whole different era ago – I’d sworn to a friend that if either of us ever had the opportunity to attend a Pearl Jam concert the person would make it and send the other a picture of the ticket stub! While I have been out of touch with that friend, the temptation to experience something like this was too tempting. SO I gave up, asked the voice of good sense to shut it, and bought my ticket to go; and it was the best decision I could have made!

Eddie Vedder and his lead guitarist, Mike McCready, were on a roll yesterday. They played a lot of songs from the Ten album, which made me and the crowd really happy, in addition to some of my favorite tracks from the avocado album. Eddie Vedder talked about Haiti, Sean Penn, Goldman Sachs and aeroplanes in between the power packed performances. I think Mike McCready clearly stole the show with the awesome guitar solos. My favorite moments were when he played the guitar solo for one of the songs holding the guitar behind his neck… and the 8-minute rendition of Black.

I have to also touch upon the arena and the overall experience. It was the atmosphere I had read about and watched on tv. Tailgating before and after the concert, lots of colored hair, lots of alcohol (and some funky smelling cigarette-things too) and general rock-spirit. Although older now since my days of wanting to do this, it was great to just watch all of this first hand. The arena was smaller, with plenty of parking and vast expanses of grass.

The music enthusiast Pearl Jam fan in me was very very happy yesterday!

Set List: Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, World Wide Suicide, Got Some, Brain Of J, Save You, Given To Fly, Present Tense, Down, Unthought Known, Insignificance, Even Flow, Comatose, Faithfull, All Those Yesterdays, Black, The Fixer, Do The Evolution.
Encore 1: The End, Just Breathe, Garden, Why Go, Wasted Reprise, Life Wasted, Blood / Atomic Dog.
Encore 2: Better Man / Save it for Later, Spin The Black Circle, Alive, Sonic Reducer, Yellow Ledbetter.

Red to Green

The importance of being idle.
It's been nearly a fortnight since I’ve been done with school. Last Monday I turned in all my papers and projects and finals. Last Monday, for the first time in two years, I turned my GTalk chat status to green. And that’s significant. You see, after being busy for two years, with always something or the other to look forward to, it is really weird to see nothing on my outlook calendar now (except golf lessons and social engagements).

I spent the first few days of freedom not knowing what to do and just really getting annoying with the slow pace of the clock ticking! A group of us have begun golf lessons but the rains have been ruining our plans for the last three days now. Several brunches, dinners, coffees later, I see my cash reserves depleting faster than I can control. I have also been trying to make sense of all the stuff I have collected over my two years here, all the way from the four foot stack of cases and course packs, to tee shirts to magazines and a bunch of other odds and ends. It’s unbelievable how much stuff I’ve accumulated. I discovered things in my closet that I had forgotten I had. Darden’s last Outreach program of the year was the clothes and food drive and I managed to give away a bunch of gently used shirts and sweaters away – I figured if I had not worn them in the last year, I probably was not going to miss them either!

This week a classmate organized what he called the Charlottesville Goodbye Tour – a week of dining at restaurants in the town that we have not been to in the last two years (mostly out of budget constraints). And although I couldn’t make it all the evenings, I had the opportunity to dine (maybe for the last time) at one of my favorite places at the downtown mall.

Ivy Gardens already seems quieter and lonelier, with the number of UHauls pulling up as people move. Facebook is full of people finding apartments and basically setting themselves up for the transition to the adult world. While I am looking forward to it myself – it would be great to have a paycheck – the weight of the job search and the uncertainty has been causing a good deal of stress.

The family arrives in town for graduation next week. I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with them this time around, showing them places of significance from my two glorious years here at the Ville.

The Veggie Tower dish at Bizou, Downtown Mall


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