Monday, May 30, 2005


Found a place to live 5 minutes away from campus. Rent: $340. That's right, folks. I'll be sharing a newly renovated, fully furnished 2-bedroom apartment with air conditioning, high-speed internet access, laundry in building, etc., for $340 per month.

Why is this exciting? Because rent on my apartment in San Francisco is around the $2,000 mark. Of course, my apartment here is GORGEOUS, with 360-degree views of the city, two enormous decks, vaulted ceilings in the living room, a fireplace, a washer and dryer in unit, and covered parking.

I don't think my apartment in New Haven will compare to what I'm leaving behind. (I took the place sight unseen.) But for $340 per month, who cares?!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

C'est Non!

Today, the French voted to reject the EU constitution.

What struck me was not the vote itself, but the comments from some of the people who voted against it. Their rationale seemed . . . well . . . questionable.

"There is no more constitution," said Philippe de Villiers, a leading opponent. "It is necessary to reconstruct Europe on other foundations that don't currently exist." What do you mean by "other foundations that don't currently exist"?! Does that mean that they could exist in the future? Or does that mean that you have no idea what they are or what they would even look like?

"I voted 'no' because the text is very difficult to understand. Also, I'm afraid for democracy. The way the EU functions is very opaque. Many people there are not directly elected," said Emmanuel Zelez, 32, a film editor. Could you have made more of an effort to understand the text? Why bother voting at all if you don't understand what you are voting for/against?

"If you look at every sentence, every turn of phrase, practically every article has a mention of (financial) markets," Anne-Marie Latremoliere, a 57-year-old graphic designer. "We want Europe to be a beautiful place," she said, "and this is certainly not it." Does "making Europe beautiful" belong in the consititution? Perhaps you are you referring to environmental issues? Cultural issues?

Of course, these quotes have been taken out of context. It could very well be that all of these voters had studied the constitution, weighing the interests of Europe against the interests of France and coming to their conclusions in a logic manner. Somehow, though, I doubt it. It seems to me that voters there are generally* as un/mis-informed and lazy as many of the voters here.

Still, I believe that the French did not really say "Non!" More like, "Pas encore." I'm interested to see how the vote goes in the Netherlands.

*I know I'm making a sweeping generalization based upon three quotes - hardly a significant sample. My ex was always fond of saying, "Voting is an irresponsible act." I believe it's irresponsible to vote if you haven't made an effort to educate yourself. Many people don't. This appears to be true in other countries, not just our own. We are more alike than different.


Isn’t it strange? One minute, you’re in a rut. The next, your whole life has changed.

Three weeks ago, I was a gainfully employed professional with hopes of going to business school and the “other half” of a successful relationship. Life was routine, even boring. Today, I am trying to decide when I want my last day in the office to be so that I can move to the east coast to become a student again – without my partner of the last five years, from whom I have separated.

So much has happened in such a short time, it’s almost surreal. The acceptance, the scholarship, the separation (painful but necessary when certain information about my partner was brought to my attention - in the most unusual of ways, I might add), the extra money that came out of no where yesterday. Everything in a neat little sequence. Too perfectly timed to be coincidence.

This may sound ridiculous, but I feel as though there’s a hand on my back, pushing me toward something. It's giving me every reason to go - including the means - and no reason to stay.

I'm not fatalistic, but recent events have made me question how much control I really have.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Financial Concerns

The reality of my situation has finally set in - I need MONEY!

The scholarship I received and a federal loan will cover my tuition. Thank God! Now all I have to worry about is the money I will need for textbooks, rent, food, and health insurance.

I contemplated working on a contractual basis, doing design work for the company I am with now. My reasoning was that I could surely devote at least 10 hours per week to work, especially since I would be able to pick and choose projects and work whenever I had the time. As long as I met the company's deadlines, I would be able to manage it. Plus, I could charge a high hourly rate for my expertise. This meant minimum effort, maximum profit, and no additional debt.

After asking around, I came to the conclusion that this was a bad idea. As a co-worker of mine put it: "It's not as though you'll be coming home from class and thinking to yourself, 'Okay. I can take a nap or I can read that case study.' You'll be coming home and thinking, 'Okay. I can read that case study, finish that cover letter, write that thank you letter, do my statistics homework, or attend that networking event.'"

I have been assured that the second year is much easier than the first. Unfortunately, that's little consolation when resigning yourself to an additional $22,000 of debt, not including interest.

Status Update

May 24, 2005

Mr. Jerry Blank

We have received your enrollment confirmation and have reserved your place in the Yale SOM Class of 2007.

Welcome to Yale.

Friday, May 20, 2005

THE Photo

Today, I tried to have the photo taken. You know the one. It's the picture of you that strangers will see when they open up the facebook for your business school. It's the image of you that will appear on your student id card. It's the photo that you will see everyday for the next two years of your life. Usually, you don't even know how these all-important photos turn out until it is far too late to do anything about them. The Department of Motor Vehicles doesn't allow you to bring in a photo that you can be proud of, so you end up with a picture on your driver's license that makes you launch into excuses whenever a friend asks to see it. "Oh, I was really tired that day." - or - "Oh, I hadn't been out of my apartment in, like, fifteen years. That's why I'm really pale and wearing a paisley mock-turtleneck." Other organizations are equally unsympathetic when it comes to how you look in your photo. Chances are, your employer doesn't allow you to sit for multiple photographs then pick and choose the acceptable ones when it comes to getting your building access badge. Did your undergraduate institution or gym give you any flexibility when it came to how you looked on your id cards? Of course not.

When I found out that Yale used the passport-sized photos we sent in for the facebook and student id card, I heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, I will be able to produce for inspection a form of identification that doesn't make me feel like some horribly deformed freak everytime I look at it. The rub? If you don't photograph well, you can spend the better part of a day trying to eliminate this as a variable.

I left the house this morning determined to work with a single photographer. After doing some research, I decided on a place downtown that advertised a better passport photo. I sat for two different photos. I looked terrible in both of them. "Why does my right ear look like it's trying to detach itself from my head?" "Where is my upper lip in this photo?" "Why do I look pickled in this one?" I walked out the photographer's "studio" frustrated and without the perfect photo.

I tried several other photographers. Every picture seemed worse than the one before it.

After spending the entire morning and early afternoon trying to take the perfect picture, I opted instead to Photoshop a photo I had taken six months ago. I spent six hours erasing the background, adding fill layers, changing the blending options, adjusting the brightness, increasing the contrast, blurring and sharpening to get just the right look. By the time I finished, it occured to me that the final image looked almost nothing like me. And it was then that I realized that that was probably what I was going for all day. Epiphany! So that's why nobody could get it right?!

I printed the picture on some photo paper, trimmed it, and mailed it out along with my enrollment verification and deposit check. I hope my classmates recognize me from the facebook. LOL! Hey, at least I'll have a student id that I can display with pride.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Congrats! . . .

. . . to all the bloggers who were recognized by Clear Admit for their most excellent blogs. I'm glad to see many of the bloggers I voted for appear on the list of winners.

I do, however, have a few observations about these awards: All of the winners show up on the League of MBA Bloggers website in the MBA Feeds "Applicant Blogs: Recent Entries" section whenever a new post is created. To get your posts to appear on this part of the website, you have to go through Wharton Adcom. As Drifting Life pointed out, Wharton led the pack in terms of honors. Clear Admit is run by a Wharton alum. And one of the judges was none other than Alex Brown, most recently a valued member of Wharton's adcom. Do you think that means that the odds were stacked against many of us?

No sour grapes, just observations. When I become as funny as bskwel or as informative as brit-chick, I'll have earned the right to rant. Right now, I'm pleased to see the winning individuals recognized for their contributions.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Light Housekeeping & The Start Of "To-Do's"

Today, I went through all of the MBA brochures that I had collected over the last two years and threw them away. Those I requested: Stanford, Oxford, Haas, and Ivey - and those that arrived unsolicited: Hult, Smurfit, Katz, and Duke - are now in the recycling bin, awaiting a new life.

I have started to focus my attention on everything that has to be done within the next few months, including: Filing my FASFA, preparing my profile for the Yale facebook (including getting some passport photos done), finding housing around New Haven, getting an on-campus parking pass, sending medical records to Yale, hiring movers, etc.

I have to get myself organized and motivated pretty quickly here, as I would like to have (most) everything in place by the beginning of July. On second thought, that may be a little optimistic. We'll see.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

More Great News & Lesson Learned

My offer letter went online yesterday. I was convinced my eyes were deceiving me when I first read that I would also be receiving a scholarship from Yale that would cover half of my tuition for each of the two years. When I finally accepted that 1) I was reading this correctly, and 2) Yale hadn’t made a mistake by giving me someone else’s letter, a wave of emotion washed over me. I leapt out of my chair - determined, I guess, to stand my ground lest my feelings completely overtake me.

“I’m not worthy!” was all I could think yesterday. Today, I feel blessed. What a gift! Last week, I was in waitlist purgatory. Now I’m in “admitted, with scholarship” heaven. About an hour after receiving the letter yesterday, I began to imagine what might have happened to produce the turnaround. I entertained several thoughts before putting a stop to the madness. It was then that I was able to synthesize my thoughts and articulate what I must have figured out some time ago.

I never really knew why the admissions committee waitlisted me. Most applicants don’t. Does the committee have to be in unanimous agreement on your candidacy before an offer of admission is made? If so, it could be that there’s one person on the committee who's not quite sure about you. Does the committee have doubts about your reasons for wanting to attend the school, your level of commitment to attending the school, your ability to “fit” once you get to the school? Maybe the committee admitted too many people from your geographic area, or with a similar professional profile.

You can only address the committee’s concerns as they have been explained to you. So, do what you can do. If you’re going to make any one assumption, let it always be that you do not have the whole story. You can not know what the underlying issues are with your candidacy. Trust that the committee knows what it's doing, when it's doing it, and why.

Lesson learned.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Yale Acceptance

Wow! I am still in shock. It hasn't seemed to sink in quite yet.

This morning, I was working on a project for a store opening when I heard the phone ring. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest when I saw area code 203 on my caller id. I answered the phone in my usual manner, just in case it was a customer. The next thing I know, I was listening to Lindsay say the words that I have wanted to hear since I began this process almost two years ago, "We would like to welcome you to the class of 2007." She gave me some information - when my offer letter would appear online, that I should expect materials to arrive in the mail, and that if I wanted to take another course before the first term that Micro-Economics would be the school's recommendation. She then wrapped up the call. I managed to exclaim, "Awesome!" before the call was finished. I simply couldn't believe it.

Within minutes, everyone in my office was at my desk congratulating me.

What a journey! I learned a lot about myself going through this process. I expect to learn a great deal more from my classmates and class work in New Haven this fall.

I don't intend to post on my experiences taking the GMAT, selecting schools, applying, etc. A good number of bloggers have already covered these bases. (And I don't feel as though I have earned the right to consider myself an expert!) I have one tip on essay writing that I have not yet seen in a blog; and many tips on the waitlist process, which is the one post I will write.

Tomorrow, it will probably hit me: Everything that needs to happen so that I am happily settled in New Haven come August 15th. Right now, I am blissfully content. Euphoric. I haven't felt this way in a long, long time.

Just Got The Call

I'm in at Yale!

I'm shaking with excitement. Can barely type. More later.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Diversity In Leadership

Today, my manager called me into her office to ask me if I considered myself a member of one of my company's Diverse Growth segments. Specifically, she wanted to know if I considered myself Latino. The long answer follows.

My father is Peruvian. Growing up, I witnessed my father being discriminated against and even heard the ugly words of racism directed at me on many occassions. When my parents divorced, I lived with my father and his sisters. I grew up in a Peruvian house, speaking Spanish, eating Peruvian food, suffering through CCD, and playing with other Peruvian children - mostly cousins. So, yes, I consider myself Latino.

My mother, on the other hand, is of Scottish extraction. My father gave me his body type, but not his skin tone. My mother is the palest person on the planet. I rank a close second. Spending summers with my mother as a child, I lived in an American house, speaking English, eating American food, suffering through sermons, and playing with other white children - mostly neighborhood ne'er-do-wells. So, I also consider myself white.

I have long-since reconciled myself to the fact that I will never be completely embraced by either population. I'm too white-looking to have any credibility with Latinos, even though I grew up as one. I tried approaching several Latino academic and social organizations in my freshman year of college, only to be brutally rebuffed. White people tend to look at me differently. Sure, I appear to be one of them, and they usually assume that my last name is Greek or Italian, not Spanish. It isn't long, however, before they realize that I do not have the same attitudes that they do. I am referring (very generally) here not only to the sense of entitlement that most white Americans seem to possess, but also to their views on religion, politics, history, etc.

So, I straddle two cultures, identifying with both in part but neither in full. Having spent most of my life confused and "left out," I some time ago came to realize just how fortunate I was. I may not be easy to define, but I have a much wider view of the world than many of the people I grew up envying.

After giving my manager a much shorter version of the above explanation, she explained that the EVP of Marketing had nominated me for a "Diversity in Leadership" program that would fast-track me into the upper-echelons of management at my company. I am one of two finalists, and I am competing against another self-identified Latino. And then I remembered: When I filled out the employment application at my company, it didn't have a box that I could check for bi- or multi-racial, so I selected the Latino box. When my manager found out about my nomination (which happened earlier the same day!), she replied to the EVP that she didn't think I identified as Latino, which caused a rapid exchange of emails that led to her calling me into her office.

So, how would this end? If selected, I would be the "Marketing" Latino on a team full of Latinos. Would they question my right to be on the team? That is, would they feel as though I took the spot away from someone more deserving? Some, most, or all of them would, certainly.

I look forward to a day when "Diversity in Leadership" need only refer to diversity of experience, not "race" - an antiquated construct that has yet to prove itself of any value to humanity. But that day, unfortunately, isn't likely to come within the next week or so, and I now have an opportunity to compete for a position that would catapult my career. Given how difficult it is to rise through the ranks of my company, this program is very attractive.

Well, whatever happens, it really is an honor to have made it this far in the selection process.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Statistics Final

Well, it's over. I can only guess as to how well I did. You see, my professor is a sadist. He piles on the problems that take a long time to solve. So I ended up spending hours working on Analysis of Variance problems, you know: state the null and alternative hypotheses; select the distribution to use (F, duh); determine the rejection and non-rejection regions; and then, the time-consuming piece, calculate the value of the test statistic: SSB, SSW, MSB, MSW, and F. I could have spent less time on these problems had I chosen to sacrifice accuracy/legibility for speed, as the majority of my classmates did. But, alas. I did not. So I ended up with precious little time by the end of the exam to solve other types of problems.

What's frustrating is that, on this exam, I really knew everything. Nothing threw me for a loop, as some of the questions on previous exams had done. So, why am I more likely to wind up with a lower grade on this exam than on either of my previous two? Because when I sit down to do a math problem, I turn into a perfectionist. Every step has to be described. Every notation legible. I want my answers to look better than the answers given in textbooks. I don't know why, but that's the way I am. (Even the notes I take in class are miniature works of perfection!) The problem - previously mentioned - is speed. I can't do the problems fast enough, even though I know how to do them. It's the same problem I had when taking the GMAT. It's why I had to take this class in the first place!

I'll know my grade soon enough - on Sunday night, most likely. I think I would rather go straight from Saturday to Monday and never know how I did. I feel as though so much - maybe too much - is riding on this grade. Oh, well. At least I learned a lot. And, now that the course is over, I get my Thursday nights and weekends back!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Pretty sure I'm a borderline case. However, I work with many people who have an acute case of this condition.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Yale California Alumni Gala

Last night, I attended the Yale California Alumni Gala at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. Before I am accused of being presumptuous, I actually had a legitimate reason for being there. (What that reason is, I would rather not say, as it would easily enable any school to which I applied to identify me. And, while I know that any school with a mind to do so could figure out who I am using the clues that are scattered throughout this blog, I would rather not make it too easy for anyone. :-)

I met an incredible number of SOM alums. What an amazing group of people! Almost all of them were doing something really unique with their MBAs. I love that kind of diversity! There were also a number of Yale College grads there, as well as alums from other schools at Yale. So many people just came up and talked to me. I couldn't believe how friendly and open they were. I kind of expected to feel out-of-place, given that I am not an alum. I should have known that I would meet people for whom networking was second-nature.

Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland was the Keynote Speaker. He was hilarious. I am good friend's with his brother's daughter, and she has the same sense of humor. In fact, almost everyone I've met in that family has the kind of loopy humor/twisted logic that only truly brilliant people seem to possess. I really enjoyed his speech, even though his politics are not always to my liking.

The evening was something of blur. So many people, so little time to converse with anyone in-depth. So I spent much of my time trying to get to know the SOMers. When I told them that I was on the waitlist at Yale SOM, each of them offered to help me. And I got the impression that the they were being sincere. I managed to exchange information with some of them. In some cases, because we had friends in common. In others, because we had similar professional interests.

Overall, I had a blast. Hopefully, I'll get to attend this event in the future.