Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Donuts For Thought

While I eagerly await a response from a local independent bakery (run-on sentence warning: I emailed the founders asking if they'd like to spend an hour giving sage advice poor soul like me, looking to start a new life and a new small business in donut-making), I thought I'd delve a bit more into the ideas I'm cooking up.

from www.usc.salvationarmy.org

Donuts used to make me think of America. An American treat that was handed out by a famous Salvation Army girl to new immigrants, dispensed to our soldiers during WWII,  dunked in our Maxwell House coffee while listening to a Yankees game. Super Americana. Who knows why I thought this. In reality, the fried treat has many borrowed roots (as does the coffee, but that's another volume of books right there) from a variety of cultures from all over the world, and some of the roots go back thousands of years.

For example, there are malasadas. Originally from Portugal, these round, sugar-dusted fried pieces of heaven (I imagine) are now associated with Hawaii, where they flourished. Common flavors also have a tropical influence, like guava and mango. Seriously, can you think of anything better to do than lie on the beach and eat these suckers?

from the famous Leonard's Bakery: www.leonardshawaii.com

Then there are loukoumades, what I used to describe as the Greek "donut-holes" I used to get at the summer Greek Festival in Oakland. If you haven't been to this Festival, by the way, what have you been doing with yourself? Get thee to Oakland. These little round things come out of the fryer, are drizzled with honey, and then sprinkled with nuts. Hot nuts and balls, people. With gooey honey!

Also, when you're in Oakland, be sure to go to Brown Sugar Kitchen for fresh, hot beignets! Yes, another donut precursor, perhaps. Also pillow-shaped, covered in powdered sugar. Thank you, Creole cooking from New Orleans!

This is just a few of the more well-known donut-like-things. I'm eagerly combing cookbooks and the interwebs for more...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here's My Next Process

The one thing I think I remembered from my first business school class was being instructed not to seek to find a solution, just present a scenario. I believe the ideology behind this was similar to what we called in my dance choreography courses, the creative process.

Process. I love this word. Steps being made, tracks being laid out, constant forward motion, and an endless road stretching into the horizon (sort of like those perspective drawings they make you practice in beginning drawing classes, where the end of the road becomes a little dot) come to my mind. I've always believed that most of the learning you gain from an experience, a project, collaboration, or any life landmark comes from the process of getting there, not necessarily in the end result. It is very common that we forget this in our deadline-driven, data-overloaded, Monday to Friday world. Always relish and be present for the process.

So, with this in mind, I'm not hurriedly applying to new programs or new jobs. I want to know exactly what it takes to make a person say, "fuck it, I can do better by myself." As one of my mentors (and business superwoman told me), sometimes you learn more by just doing than sitting in a classroom.  What better way to be inspired, connect, and directly gain wisdom about what saying "fuck it" cost and what it gained?

I'm going to go directly to the sources: entrepeneurs, grassroots organizations, co-ops, and local small businesses. I'm going to talk with some of the key players or even the founders, and ask them why they said "fuck it" and how they feel about it now. And hopefully, I'll get a sense of how it is that they're making their new choice work.

Choice. That's another great word.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How I Dropped Out

I'm so sorry, Student ID. I barely used thee.

Yes, I did it. I got excited. I planned my route to graduate school for 3 years. I scrounged up funds, I nervously wrote and rewrote draft after draft of my resume and application essay, I gathered references and ancient transcripts, I prayed, I was accepted, I cried.

Fast forward a few months. I bought books. I bought textbooks. I bought notebooks, or my main man did when I was too exhausted and stressed to bring myself to acquire them myself. I fretted. I twisted my stomach into knots. I put a halt on my life after August 25th. I attempted to rearrange my priorities to welcome this new, screaming baby we call business school into my life.

This was supposedly one of those "work while you educate yourself silly" programs. I will not reveal its name nor the school that is hosting it, just out of respect for the institution. Yes, even I am surprised that I still have a shred of respect for this institution. I reasoned that I could cut down my work hours a bit to accommodate the course work load, and that the brilliant thing about this program was that I only had to come to campus for actual classes one weekend a month! Okay, that's Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but okay! I'll be so inspired and excited and I'll love this work so much, it won't feel like work, I told myself.

Fast fast forward to the actual start of the semester. Oh. My. No. That's right: no. My body screamed no, my heart screamed no, and my gut screamed no.

Four days into the first week of classes, my body threw in the towel for me. It no longer wanted to play the "let's pretend we can do this" game. Five days later I was hunched over my 2-year old MacBook in bed with a fever and an epically runny nose. My fingers were frozen on the keypad as I wondered if I was truly strong enough. Was I not strong enough to go through this ordeal and get a degree? Was I strong enough to say no? Have I grown soft when it comes to change, or is this really not right for me?

Or am I just fucking fine, as is? Yes.

I navigated to the "Withdrawal from course/(Name of Liberal Arts) School" tab from the program's website.  Done. Tuition reimbursement in the mail, explanations owed to friends and family, thoughts for the new plan in the works.

I can honestly say now that I've quit, something big, better, and to me, so much more exciting, is coming down the pike. In fact, my real education can finally begin.