Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cogitare, Agere, Esse

Last weekend, Mr. J and I flew back to CT to attend my 10 year high school reunion. It coincided with the school's final events for its 100 year celebration, so Alumnae Weekend was a lot bigger and fancier than usual. The weekend ran all day Friday and ended with a Sunday brunch. It even included a black tie optional gala underneath a beautiful tent that covered the soccer field on Saturday night. Needless to say, it was pretty darn special in my opinion.

See the picture above? Well, campus certainly didn't look like that 10 years ago. The school now has an athletic center as well as a performing arts center that was not there before. Despite its age, the school continues to age like fine wine.

Anyway, I felt a little bad since I planned poorly and didn't attend any of the Friday events. That meant missing out on a class gathering on Friday evening. My graduating class was only 45 or so, and 22 of us came back to catch up last weekend. I barely had a chance to speak with half of us there and now I am sad. I guess that's what Facebook is good for, right?

Instead of attending the Friday and early Saturday festivities, I decided to go with Mr. J to visit his parents, grandmother, and aunt before heading to my high school to eat lunch and hang out with my friends. We arrived on campus right in time for my class to take our 10 year reunion photo. Well, my old roommie actually convinced everyone to push back the time until I arrived. Apparently, I was notoriously late for everything in high school and some things never change. SMH. I hope to get my hands on a copy of that class photo soon.

Besides the class photo, I was able to attend a panel discussion entitled "Women in Business and Finance." How fitting. The panelists were all distinguished alumnae in their 40s and 50s and they discussed the trials and tribulations of being a woman in the industry. I asked the panel how each managed work and home life balance, especially children. The best advice I heard was to "keep in mind that not everything has to happen in the same decade." Food for thought and a topic for a totally different post. Oh yeah. Also, another alumna mentioned to just "own your choices" and roll with the punches. Interesting.

After the panel discussion was the gala. Boy was that all sorts of fun. One of my besties helped my wedding caterer, Emily's Catering, land the job for our high school's Centennial events. The food was delicious as expected and the drinks certainly flowed freely. I took a ton of pics, but here are some that will hopefully provide a decent summary of the evening.

And drum roll please...the only pic I deemed safe enough to be on the interwebz yet can still accurately depict what was taking place at that moment. lol.
On Sunday, Mr. J flew back to FL without me. You see, my junior year roommate, who currently lives in Australia with her fiance, actually decided to attend our reunion a mere two weeks before the event. Needless to say, I HAD to change my plans to spend some more time with her. This meant hanging out with a few of my high school besties at brunch on Sunday. It also meant that I shopped it up at Woodbury Commons (my fav outlet mall) in NY with my roommie. I even had a chance to hang out with some friends and former co-workers in NYC before heading back to FL.

A pic from Sunday brunch with a few classmates (forgive the sleepy looks):

A pic of some of my beloved friends / two of my favorite former co-workers in "our" bar where everyone still knows our name in NYC on Monday night. All three of us worked as a team in investment banking years ago. Alas, only the guy in the suit still works in that world while us two women are trying to get back into the game.

Cogitare, Agere, Esse. To think, to do, to be. That is my high school's motto, and I strive every day to live by these words. I spent 4 years trying so hard to escape my alma mater yet I am thankful for the experiences, the friendships, and the opportunities that my high school awarded me. I just can't believe it's already been 10 years since I graduated!

Friday, April 16, 2010

My first charity event was a hit!

On April 10th, I acted as the Silent Auction Chair for the local Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary during their annual Fashion Show, Silent Auction and Luncheon. I had no clue what was I doing but it turned out to be a great success.

From the last report from the treasurer, we were able to raise the same amount of money as last year's Silent Auction. That's a great help since overall attendance was down 15%. The Silent Auction helped make up for the difference and total monies raised was only down 7%. That's not bad at all in this economy, especially considering the other major fundraiser for the local Salvation Army raised 30% less than last year's amount.

Can I just brag about my wonderful ladies who helped me from the Women's Auxiliary as well? They all volunteer so much of their time and made it so easy by helping me solicit from local businesses. They also helped me put together baskets to auction off. Needless to say, I was more than impressed when these same ladies also helped me prepare bid sheets, create displays for gift certificates, and decorate, set up, and execute the entire auction. Talk about a mouthful!

As soon as I get some pics, I will post. Rumor has it that the event will be featured in several local publications. Yay!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I've been tagged!

Fellow finance chick Traubulous tagged me on her blog and I'm so excited! I've never done this before, so hopefully it will work.

1. Who is your style icon?
This is so darn easy for me, yet I don't think I own much that will scream her name.
I wish I could look half as good as the always chic, always classic, always beautiful Jackie O.

2. What is your favorite Socialite Lit. book?
Um, I had to look at Mrs.T's entry as well as the one who tagged her, The Crazy Bunny Lady, to understand the question. lol.

This book got me hooked onto a new genre of books, historical fiction.

3. Favorite Party Theme
This one is tough for me since I haven't been to many parties with dress up themes. The last one Mr. LLL and I went to was back in 2006! Seriously, it seemed like it was just a year or two ago. Man, I hate feeling old.
4. Go to Halloween costume?
I will be lame and point to the same picture listed in #3. We never dress up for Halloween.

5. Extravagance you can't live without.
I think this is all subjective b/c we all have different spending priorities. I don't think we live extravagant lives, but try telling that to someone who lives in a third world country.

Anyway, I tried to live without this and it didn't work out too well.

6. Living person you admire.
Mr. LLL is top of my short list. He's accomplished so much yet he remains humble, sincere, and much more compassionate than anyone I know.

Our parents, for everything that they have done and continue to do despite the obstacles in their way.
Our beautiful First Lady, Michelle Obama. She is an amazing mom, wife, and lawyer. I want to be able to juggle it all, just like her.

7. Greatest Fear?
I can't find a pic for this, but my greatest fear is losing loved ones unexpectedly. It's pretty morbid and I try not to think about it too much.

8. Trait(s) you deplore in yourself.
Oh man, where do I begin? I think I take procrastination to another level, so I will list that.
9. What talent would you most like to have?
I love music but I can't carry a tune to save my life. I love her voice since she has such an amazing range, but she dresses too slutty these days. What else is new though, right?

10. What is your greatest achievement?
I feel like I will always work towards a goal. Mr. LLL and I have been together for over 11 years now, which I am very proud of since we started dating when I was only 16. I am looking forward to our future and whatever that may bring.

Professionally, I have been very blessed with rare positions that gave me lots of responsibilities for someone my age and I hope these will translate into something amazing in the near future.

On to the next one:
1. Bella
2. Stacy A
3. TheMrs
4. A
5. MelissaJane

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Family Cruise in the Eastern Caribbean on the Norwegian Pearl

Some highlights from the cruise:

Day 1: Board the ship in Miami

The sailaway party:

Day 2: At sea

Bingo in one of the lounges. Gotta keep ourselves occupied.
70s Disco Party. Poor cruise staff, they made them dress up like the Village People. Ha.

Day 3: Samana, Dominican Republic
View of our ship anchored next to another one off the port of Samana:
2-for-1 Martinis during Happy Hour. The bartenders loved to perform.

Day 4: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Walking around Main Street with Mr. J. For those that don't know, the prices for jewelry and liquor are amazing in St. Thomas. There were plenty of great bargains. No, I didn't buy anything this trip but I will keep the island in mind for future purchases. Luxury brands were 30% off of US retail prices AND it's duty free. You can't beat that.

View from the port of St. Thomas (look at that beautiful water!)
Breathtaking sunset in St. Thomas

Day 5: Tortola, British Virgin Islands

View from our balcony
Our ship was parked right next to one from Europe. Pretty cool to walk between them.
Day 6: At sea again, forgot to take pics. lol. Just picture lots of food and nap time.

Day 7: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

This is the cruise line's private island, so not much to do but hang out and be beach bums or eat at the BBQ.
Ah, the buffet line.
The "reggae" band that played on the island was pretty cool.
Our "take a pic on our own" pose:
Day 8: Miami again

Mr. J and I in the back of the minivan on the roadtrip back to Tampa

Craziness always happens right before vacation

I meant to post right before we left for vacation, but things got out of control a few days before. The good news is that I took the GMAT and did a lot better than my practice test results showed. I went into the test knowing that I would take it again at least once, and that helped my nerves a lot. I am hoping to take it again by the end of May so that I have time to just practice, practice, practice. At this point, it's about fixing my verbal since I did surprisingly better on the quant. Who knew? I used to be much better in verbal until I started working in finance. Ha!

So yeah, Thursday, March 25th I took the GMAT. Then, right after the test, my poor mother calls to tell me that Southwest bumped her off of her direct flight from Raleigh to Ft. Lauderdale b/c they were overbooked. How rude, right? Well, they sent her to Tampa to then proceed to Ft. Lauderdale. It would have been fine but she checked in luggage so she was committed to following the route that Southwest sent her on. After hours of waiting in the Tampa airport, it turns out that the next flight was also overbooked. So, mom had to fly to Jacksonville before finally reaching her destination. Man, I am never flying Southwest again if I can help it.

Friday, March 26th, I headed to the Salvation Army Worship Center to get some things done for the upcoming Silent Auction. I was glad that some ladies showed up to help me plan out some things like decor. Hopefully, I can still remember what I need to do so that I can get everything done these last few days before the event!

Right after my meeting, my poor sister-in-law (forever known going forward as Big Sis) called to let me know that she and her best friend waited hours at the Dulles airport only to be rerouted to Tampa instead of Miami. The original plan was for everyone to meet in Miami, where our cruise was leaving from. Mr. J and I were going to drive down to the seaport since it was cheaper than hopping on a 45-minute plane ride. Then, my in-laws discovered that it was cheaper to fly to Tampa and drive down to Miami. All great since it was planned ahead. However, now we had two extra people we weren't expecting the day before the cruise. We have some great relatives since a cousin hooked us up with a rental car discount at the last minute. We rented a minivan as soon as everyone arrived at the airport on Friday.

Saturday, March 27th, at 4:30am, we all packed into the minivan and headed to Miami. Everything else was smooth sailing and our family cruise began with a great bang!

Lesson learned though: expect the unexpected, especially right before a family vacation!