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Well, it is the day after the elections and I am still feeling pretty numb over the outcome. But, this numbness has been qualified by a disappointment I honestly didn’t expect.

I am disappointed in many of those who voted for Clinton with me.

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve read so many posts and overheard so many conversations that have reduced Trump supporters to racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQA, white xenophobes. Is there an element of the Trump political movement that represents each and every one of these characteristics? Absolutely. But, were these qualities alone the fuel that propelled so many to vote Trump and hand him the presidency? I’m not convinced.

The reality is many Trump supporters are angry, feel disenfranchised, and have been ignored by our political system. I think too many of Clinton’s shocked supporters (and I include myself in this) never reached across the aisle to dig beneath the Trump-supporter stereotype and find some empathy and understanding for the more moderate Trump supporter’s perspective.

To be fair, I don’t think many Trump supporters reached across the aisle to us, but (as we all learned in Kindergarten) two wrongs don’t make a right.

Both halves of this country have been living in echo chambers. All the shouting and outrage we’re individually exposed to exactly aligns with our own views. We never engage in true civic discourse. We never ask why someone else might disagree. We never try to get to know each other.

Today I decided to break this cycle for myself. I invited those in my MMM program and beyond who voted for Trump to explain to me why (and I promised to be respectful and listen). I heard some interesting and often very personal stories.

Who would you vote for if your family lost their home and your father their job in the Great Recession, yet no Wall Street bankers were punished and then these very institutions supported the opposing candidate?

Who would you vote for if the jump in your insurance premiums over the last year due to Obamacare made an important, life-changing surgery prohibitively expensive for you?

Who would you vote for if your friends back home all recently lost their factory jobs because new technologies could automate their work?

Now, I’m not saying I agree with the choices these few ultimately made, but I think I understand a little bit more why Clinton might not have been their obvious pick. When I pushed these few on the very disturbing things Trump has said about Muslims and women and Hispanic Americans and on and on, those I spoke with said the rhetoric troubled them too, but ultimately they thought it was just that, rhetoric.

While my biases as a Jew tell me that rhetoric is always where tragedies start, I found it difficult to argue with the real pain that these individuals and their families were feeling.

So, here are my hopes:

+ We all try a little harder to empathize with one another

+ We actively engage in constructive conversation with those who do not agree with us

+ We be informed enough to explain our perspective effectively and clearly

+ We respect that Trump won

And finally, though I have plenty of doubts, we now judge Trump by his actions as President, good or bad, giving him the credit should he prove so many of us wrong, but also holding him accountable should he prove so many of us right.

Though today was admittedly a difficult day, I still love America, my country. I still care about the Trump supporters in my life that I cared about 24 hours ago. I still have hope for our country over these next four years.

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February 11 – March 9

The last month has been very recovery focused.

BUT first, Ryan’s parents came up for the weekend and we spent Valentines Day / our one year anniversary (O_O) with them. Maybe this is embarrassing to admit given my age, but I actually have never ‘met the parents’ before. Luckily, Ry’s parents were pretty chill even if they seemed slightly underwhelmed by our ‘big V-day plans’ (aka staying in to avoid crowds …).

Soon after Ry’s parents left, I had my knee surgery. The doctor was supposed to repair the tear in my meniscus. The chance of a full recovery was about 60%. After surgery, she told me she instead removed all the torn parts of my meniscus. This would offer the chance of a full recovery. A bit confusing, but I’ll take it! My doctor was Dr. Deborah Faryniarz. I definitely recommend (although hopefully unnecessarily so — surgery sucks!)

After surgery I felt GREAT. Man, surgical pain medication is effective. Right after my surgery, I was walking around, wolfing down Chipotle, kicking my mom’s butt in scrabble …. then the heavy duty stuff wore off and I was essentially bed-ridden for a week. And, in crazy pain. Slowly I have weaned myself off of oxycodone, but recovery is moving at a glacier-like pace (although everyone says I am on-track).

I suppose there have been many silver-linings to this unexpected surgical hiccup:

  1. I really really appreciate the use of my legs. My days of extreme exercise are over
  2. I have great friends. Special shout out to Arif who is letting me stay with him while I do Dev Bootcamp
  3. I have had more time to write (short stories and maybe a new novel!) as well as query agents with Sandwatcher
  4. Ryan and I have had more time to iron out our single point of tension in the relationship. I think we are moving in a direction I am more comfortable with, but I suppose time will tell.

One more exciting bit of news to report: Beginning Sunday, I will be in Boston for Startup Lockdown — a 5 day / 5 person / 5 startup hackathon at HBS. The opportunity landed really unexpectedly in my lap (thanks Andrea!), but I jumped at the chance to participate. It is going to be intense (and right before DBC too), but I know I’ll learn a lot. My team has our kickoff tonight, so will definitely have more to report next time I check-in.

 

November 11 – December 6

Yeah yeah … I am the worst at blogging.

BUT, to be fair to me, a lot has happened.

Well, first I had my pitstop in Singapore for a bschool interview. Besides the fact that Singapore is generally awesome (see life-size x-wing from their airport below as further evidence), I also ended up running into an old friend from a 2010 internship I did in Cleveland, Mississippi (!?!?). It was great to catch up and unreal that we ran back into each other in Singapore!

My big takeaway from this trip was pretty surprising though: I don’t think I want to go to business school. It is ironic that I came to this conclusion at the b-school’s mixer for candidates they held the night of my interview. The more and more I talked to other students and alum, the more I realized how unclear I have been on why I want to go back to school. One alum in particular I talked with (another ex-McK BA) really really encouraged arriving at b-school with a clear idea of what you want to get out of it. He said that if I was unsure, b-school would do nothing to clarify my thinking. This makes me feel like I need to do more exploring in the real world by working at more places before considering b-school. Oops. Oh well … better to have figured this out after applying than after attending (and paying tuition! yikes!)

IMG_3533

Back to China!

My last two weeks in Shanghai were busy (some ways good, some ways bad). I FINISHED my book! Yay! I have since started revisions and will be ready to share before the end of the year (goal = achieved!). I also, sadly, tweeked my knee while crossfitting and was miss-limpy for my last few days in the country. This, my need for good internet for Dev Bootcamp, and a general homesickness spurred me to bag my last stop in Thailand and opt instead to go home (USA).

Which I did (Orlando anyway) for my birthday 12/1 😉

IMG_3559 IMG_3586

IMG_3600 IMG_3614

And GOOD NEWS: My knee injury does NOT require surgery (I tore my meniscus, but the doctor says it is in an area that gets a lot of blood flow — he thinks it will heal on its own in 4-6 weeks :D).

Now I am back in the Bay Area, starting Dev Bootcamp (the remote portion — I *know* basic git now!), and finishing Sandwatcher. Yay!

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Traveling was wonderful. I learned a lot about myself, the world, and what I want out of life. I met some incredible people and saw some incredible places. Through it all I’ve come to not only appreciate home more, but also to appreciate the my privilege more. After DBC, I will be looking for work again (probably in the Bay to stay near friends, boyfriend, and the tech industry) and hope to find a job that not only is in tech, but has something to do with making tech accessible to more people (no matter their income, race, or location worldwide) – see ‘privilege’ thing earlier.

Want to know more about backpacking through asia? writing a novel? living cheaply without income? the benefits and costs of quitting your job at 25 to do something crazy? Hit me up! Srossmanreich@gmail.com

Otherwise, I’ll probably keep this blog up and running while I do Dev Bootcamp (why not?) and after while I look for a job ….. Also I will try to be a better blogger (maybe calendar reminders would help ? :P)

 

Time for some real-talk

I was re-reading some of my blog posts over the past few months and came to the conclusion I needed to make a special post (a break from our normal programming).

This time traveling and writing and learning to code etc. has been amazing and I am so glad I decided to take this journey, but my time away has not been perfect. Sometimes I find that friends or family who post overly positive, make-the-internet-jealous accounts of their amazing adventures are actually, in-person, some of the most miserable, unhappy, dissatisfied people. I always find it ironic that their online presence neglects the challenges and struggles that are sometimes core to their day-to-day.

I realized while looking back at what I’ve posted, that I’ve neglected to talk a lot about my own challenges and struggles. I do not for a second regret leaving my job to take this time, but it has not been all fairies and rainbows (or maybe in my case monkeys, ramen, and wild deer).

1) Hostel-living is hard
Yes, it is cool to meet new people from all over the world and have super cheap accommodations sometimes in incredible parts of the city you’re in. But, staying in hostels for months is pretty tiring. The beds are hard (in Japan tatami mats over wooden bunks), the rooms are very small usually without soundproofing, and guests (other hostel-travelers) can range from kind, caring, and generous to loud, disrespectful of the rules, and utterly abhorrent. I recently had to move out of a hostel early (forfeiting some money) because a group staying there four nights in a row cranked up the tv in the living room (only separated from the bedroom by a curtain), took loud, on-speaker phone calls in the bedroom, and had rowdy conversations all past 1 AM (sometimes 2 AM) in the morning. I had asked nicely for them to be respectful of the mandatory quiet hours (poorly enforced, from 10 PM – 8 AM), but was ignored. And, even when I have met incredible individuals, usually their plans are so firm and they are just as transient as me, that our time together has been too short and we haven’t been able to develop deep friendships. Which brings me to …

2) Traveling is lonely
I am an introvert (yeah yeah I know you don’t think so, but I am and you’re wrong :P). This means I enjoy being alone and find it energizing. Still, in some places where there are few english speakers, I’ll go a whole day without saying more than 5 words out loud. And those times I have made friends, conversation has stayed pretty much on the surface (where are you going, what places have you been, what is there to do, etc.). I miss my family, boyfriend, and friends a lot. I miss hugs.

3) Taking time off is both rewarding and costly
Again, I made the right decision for me in doing this (I am learning a lot and doing what I love), but there are costs to taking significant time away from traditional work. I am so fortunate to have friends and family that support me, but most folks I talk to outside of those two camps and who are on the more standard, professional paths have been pretty critical of my decision-making. I don’t know what taking this time will cost me yet when I return home and look for work (I am hoping not much), but I do have a feeling it is adversely affecting my b-school admission chances given some of the results that have already started to trickle back in.

Hostel Bed

Right now my life is good, but it is far from perfect. Anyone who paints a picture of long-term backpack style travel as being only amazing and awesome and their-life-is-so-perfect, in my opinion, probably isn’t sharing the whole truth of their situation.

And that’s actually too bad because facing challenges and struggling and making mistakes shouldn’t be dirty little secrets we hide from the world and each other. These moments, especially how we deal with and rise through them, are what make an experience worthwhile, teach us new lessons, and help us grow. As for me, I’ve grown up so much in the last few months more from what has sucked about traveling than from what has rocked. I am excited to see what I will face next and eager to see how I’ll push myself through it.

July 22 – August 1 – Last week in Bali!

Well, our time in Bali is about to end. Tis bittersweet …

I am excited to explore more of Asia, but I learned a lot about myself in Bali and I will always be grateful, particularly to the community in Ubud, for incubating the changes in myself I’ve experienced over my 2+ months here.

In the spirit of reflection, here are some ways I’ve really grown since coming to Bali:

  • I will never have a life without balance again. I know I’ve said this before, but now I truly understand what not having balance can cost you. I sleep a full night every night (most days not even setting an alarm). I exercise regularly. I eat because I am hungry (not because I am stressed). And, speaking of stress, I’ve learned to control it rather than letting it control me
  • I will continue to travel. Honestly, I was a bit nervous to travel across the globe, but, guess what everyone?, traveling is not so hard. AND it really opens your mind to how big and diverse our planet is (and even how similar we all are). You can find a community anywhere. Don’t wait (seriously DO NOT WAIT). Travel while you’re young. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll sometimes spend too much, you’ll not always be comfortable, but you will grow. I guarantee it.
  • I am an introvert. I know I seem extroverted and am often times yeah-yeah’d every time I say otherwise, but this is who I am. And, you know what? I am okay with that. No! More than okay with it. I get my energy from time spent with myself and I cannot build a life without this space.
  • I want to learn how to code. And I will. I am planning to cut my travels short in winter and go to a developer bootcamp (I’ll apply to a couple and see what sticks). I don’t want to always be advising or helping someone work towards their vision. I want to build. I want to serve my own passions. I’ll learn how to code to do this.
  • I’ll stop apologizing, asking permission, and saying what I don’t exactly mean. It’s time I stopped being the scared little girl trying to fit in with the big bad boys. I am going to learn how to be confident in my own abilities and project this in my behavior. I think business school may be a way for me to work on this more, but I certainly plan to try to develop these habits on my own.

Thank you everyone who has supported my move to Bali! Next we are off to Malaysia (where I’ll be staying with Ravi and Arif’s family — Wahoo!!!! SO excited!!).

Now for the images from our last week in Bali ….

Amazing dragonfruit (get it, cut it, scoop it, go to fruit heaven):

Dragonfruit

My one true love, crepes, and the magical restaurant in Bali that made them for me (with only a dash of judgement!):

Crepes

Final Galungan parade:

Galungan1 Galungan2

The newest in internet cafes:

Internet

A hip new restaurant owned and run by a single man (Restaurant Abels):

Abels

AND, hands-down, the BEST RESTAURANT IN BALI (Locavore — seriously at the same level as Lazy Bear in San Francisco — this place had innovative, stylish, surprising courses for half the price of any place in NYC or SF at the same level. A seven course tasting menu amounted to literally more than 15 actual courses —- best are NOT pictured below unfortunately, because I ate them too quickly. Reserve a month in advance):

Tomato Sorbet Salad?
Shrimp Salad Fish
Mashed Potatoes Steak Tartare
Pork Mackeral
Icecream Chocolate
Donuts Chocolate
Cookies

Well — we’re off. Will let y’all know how Malaysia is!

May 31: Phoney

This morning I said goodbye to Adi House and moved right next door to Banana Homestay.

As if to honor my new location, my last “breakfast” at Adi House was deep-fried banana and then immediately upon moving to Banana Homestay, I received four mini bananas as a welcome gift. Okay then.

Rooms, pricing, breakfast, etc. are apparently exactly the same. I can dig! And Buda, my new landlord, is Koming’s cousin. Old room / new room below:

Old Room New Room

I spent most of the morning trying to find a place that would sell me a local SIM card for my phone, but, as it’s Sunday, everywhere was closed. So I went to Hubud, where I was 100% unproductive. Joel discovered there is a major Food Festival in Ubud in a week or so, thus I spent the late-morning looking at all the events, picking which ones I wanted to attend, and buying tickets. We then went to lunch at Seniman Coffee (one of Joel’s favs) where we had breakfast for lunch (yay!)

We then sat and planned a vacation. We want to go to Komodo National Park, but need to balance awesome and cheap. We think we found a great 3day / 2night deal (but more on this later if it comes through).

Afterwards we split, Joel heading back to Hubud, and me going to pick up my laundry. The laundry place was closed and on the walk back I decided to not do yoga today in favor of a more productive afternoon.

Ran into an OPEN SIM card store on the way home and decided to try my luck at getting a local phone. Unfortunately the SIM card didn’t work in my phone (AT&T must not have unlocked it EVEN. THOUGH. THEY. PROMISED. THEY. HAD. UGH!) Anyway, the guy offered to actually just sell me a cheap phone + local SIM for 350.000 IDR or ~$28 USD. Didn’t seem like a bad deal (was going to pay ~$12 for the SIM alone anyway) so I said yes. Meet Phoney:

Phone

And before you say, “not cool,” check out this old friend:

Snake

My snake score is already >3000. Try not to be too jealous. AND, if you are in Indonesia, call me at 0812-3791-2698 (country code +62).

June 1 – 4: Tra-la-la

So nothing too exciting to report the next few days. Basically my days have been going:

    • + Breakfast at Banana House (every breakfast is bananas T_T)

 

    • + Exercise (Wild Health or Yoga) + shower

 

    • + Writing (tra-la-la)

 

    • + Lunch break

 

    • + More writing

 

    • + Reading

 

    • + Editing what I’ve written

 

    • + Taking pleasure in the pure elation of NOT EATING DINNER

 

    + Sleepytime

Food festival starts tomorrow though so maybe I’ll have more to report? Joel and I are also taking a 5 day vacation to Lombok and Komodo Island next week followed by (literally 2 days after we get back) a 3 Bali Volcanos in 24 hours overnight excursion. So hopefully more exciting things to come.

In the mean time, things on my mind:

    • + I am 95% sure I want to stay in Bali past August. Joel is 95% sure he wants to leave and go to Japan in August. This makes me sad, but I promised I would make this year about me and be selfish. Following Joel to Japan just because he is my friend and I want to hang out with him might not be a compelling enough reason. The last few days my routine has been excellent and if every day were basically like these, I think my year would be ++. Also not too thrilled to figure out living in a new place so soon. I suppose August is still a ways away so I have time to think on this more. I will also need to communicate the above to Joel at some point ….

 

    • + Writing every day is hard stuff. I didn’t realize how difficult it is to be creative so much each day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it isn’t a breeze. So far I have been having no trouble hitting my daily minimum word count goal (2000 words / day). In fact, so far the fewest words I’ve written in a single day are 2500. But, MAN, writers who have the stamina to do significantly more than this AND edit what they’ve written AND keep their creative juices high AND read a lot (actually, I think, a pretty important thing to do if you are writing) must not sleep at all. I love sleep. Man I hope my book is not shit :/

 

    + No matter what you do, no matter how many notifications you send, emails you write, calls you make, your bank will NOT remember you are traveling and freeze your account the moment you do anything abroad. Just be prepared to spend hours (HOURS) dealing with your bank and your credit card company and paypal and AT&T and just about everyone. This piece of the travel experience has seriously made me question whether or not “going off the grid” is such a bad idea. Seriously team, get with it!

Almost six months ago I turned 25. Early on my birthday, I joked with a colleague that my days of rounding down to 20 were finished and now 30 was in-sight. My friend, twisting the knife as fair punishment for my feigned age-anxiety, pointed out that, actually, I now also rounded up to 50.

By no means did this make me feel old, but I did pause and think: I am halfway to 50 …. and what have I achieved? I looked to my resume:

      + High school valedictorian

 

      + WashU undergrad with College honors

 

      + Internships at Teach For America and Goldman Sachs

 

      + Business Analyst at McKinsey with offer to return after b-school

 

      + Fellowship at Khan Academy

 

    + 760 GMAT

Great … right?

But then I thought about what wasn’t on my resume (and things that my resume could not reflect)….

      + I had never lived abroad and my travel abroad had been limited

 

      + I never finished that book I started in high school and worked on in college

 

      + My physical health and fitness never took priority

 

      + My last visit to the doctor revealed I was low on vitamin D (not enough sun, she said)

 

      + My longest romantic relationship didn’t even stretch a year

 

    + AND, I felt tired and stressed all day, all the time (with an 8+ hour night of sleep feeling like a miracle rather than a certainty)

At what point had the destination eclipsed the journey? At what point did accolades and jobs and diplomas and bragging rights become more important than personal enrichment and happiness? And, most important, what could I do to reset the scale?

A friend of mine, maybe having reached a similar impasse (?), had already chosen to make his goals and his happiness his guiding star. His plan: quit work in January, move to NY for Hacker School, then move to Bali in May and work on a project of his own.

Like a good friend, at first I felt raging jealousy at the choice he’d made. And then, like a better friend, I began to talk to him more seriously about the path that led him to his decision. Realizing that his rationale was the final evolution of how my own thinking was taking shape, I asked if (or maybe I assumed? – sorry Joel!) I could join him in May.

So here we are: < 1 week before I move to Bali. Joel is already there (championing the way!). I cannot wait to follow his lead and kickoff my next quarter-life with an adventure all about the journey, self-fulfillment, and the lines that won’t be on my resume.

Bring. It. On.