Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oh The Places You'll Go

One of the things I love about travel is that it changes me.  It makes me think of what I really love in life, and where I really want to go.  The answer, a resounding ~ my own backyard.  Business travel, even on a generous expense account, is anything but glamorous.  I'm learning about a new agoraphobic side of myself, one that eschews crowds, and is even sick of fine dining. 

The view from the Michigan Avenue Westin is of Lake Michigan, one of the best views in the city probably, in a beautifully appointed luxury hotel, but I'm alone.  Have been alone for a week, and five more days to go before my husband joins me here.  I miss him.  The small things, watching House Hunters together in the warm comfort of our living room while the winter wind wages war outside our windows, making healthy and delicious meals in my kitchen with my equipment, going to bed with my best friend.  But, it's important for me to travel and realize this.  It is too easy for me to grow complacent in my job, my life, and wish for bigger and better things.  But the truth is, I'm pretty happy in Wyoming.  Sure, my job could be a bit more exciting, the winter could be a bit shorter, but if I need to go someplace, I jump in my giant SUV and poof, there I am, no traffic, no lines, no hassle.  I lament the lack of restaurants where we live.  The truth - I love to cook, and I would rather eat my cooking than any fine dining, any day.  But if you don't travel, you don't know this.  If you don't face loneliness among crowds, you don't appreciate that you get to live and work and play and laugh with your best friend. 

Shocking news this week brings the loss of a co-worker, for greener pastures.  I have not once counseled him to stay if this is a better deal.  It will be a bummer of a spring/summer/fall for me as we find and train another person, but I am happy for him, it's where he wants to be.  Then it hit me, I trained him, I developed him, so seeing him succeed is pretty darn cool for me.  It will suck to not work with him, to not vent to him, brainstorm with him, but people come and go in your life for reasons.  A quote from the Outsiders, "Nothing gold can stay." 

So I spend a week in Chicago by myself, to be joined by my husband for a few days of play.  It's all good.  I never dreamed I would have this much opportunity to experience the world.  I don't intend to take it for granted. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Business Travel

The perfect storm of business travel hit me yesterday.  I like to travel for work.  I like to get away from the office and the scrutiny that it seems like I am constantly under these days.  So on Monday, I start my American-City Tour - Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, nearly three weeks - 18 days - away from Wyoming.  How exciting is that?  Of course, I can't really brag to many people, because who wouldn't want to spend three weeks on the road on the company dime?  And well, I guess some people just aren't happy for me.  I'm used to it. 

I will miss my husband, who patiently understands the wanderlust within, he has it too.  I will miss the people at work who I continuously bounce ideas off of.  I will miss cooking, and the comfort of my own living room, my own bed.  But it's an opportunity to explore my state of mind.  I love traveling alone.  The introvert in me that I shoved clear down to the depths of my soul comes out at last.  I love eating in a new restaurant alone.  I really don't care if people feel sorry for me or not, but I can concentrate on the food, the flavors, the atmosphere, and I don't have to make excruciating small talk when I want to eat and drink fine wine.  I love wandering the city, walking for miles and just getting lost in my own thoughts.  I love the quiet calm of a hotel room with no responsibility except relaxation.  Sure, I'll work in the evenings, but I can pamper myself, as well.

My husband is joining me over Easter in Chicago.  We're going to a Cubs game, we're going to eat great food, and we're going to explore the city together.  I can't think of a better way to spend a long weekend.  I know I will definitely come back with a renewed love affair towards the West, but Eastern/Southern cities are so damn fun to visit! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Queen Bee Syndrome

Have you heard of it?  I researched it a bit last year when I first endeavored this PhD journey.  I keep abandoning women's studies, but why?  My blood boils - but that's the stuff of revolutions, right?  So, in case you don't know (which I didn't before last year), the Queen Bee Syndrome happens when women reach the "top" (be it middle-management or higher, just any position of power really), and they steadfastly refuse to help other women do the same.  The rationale?  I had to face hardship, so should you. Or ... I am so superior that only I belong in this man's world.  I refuse to let this movement gain more steam.  In the past couple of weeks, I've found myself in an almost-uncomfortable role of mentor or role model.  I say uncomfortable because I'm not used to being a role model.  My life choices have sometimes been less than stellar, yet still I persevere, I succeed.  Last week, I thought long and hard (I will resist the joke), and realized that men have helped elevate my career, not women. 

Then I came to the sad realization that I have no role models.  Is this the Gen X prototype coming out?  Perhaps.  I wasn't ever a latch-key kid, being the product of parents who are still married to each other today and a mom who never had a career outside of her family.  But I've forged my own way.  I've defined my own success.  I've met a few - and I stress few - maybe 3 or 4 women in the last several years who have encouraged me to move ahead, but unfortunately, I don't have as much contact with these fabulous women as I'd like.  So I make my own way.  I thrive on the men in my life who cheer me on, starting from my grandpa, to my dad, to my husband, and the men I am fortunate enough to work with every day.  I've become a champion for women, even though I have limited power to help some of them.  I find it awkward to be a role model, because I myself don't have one.  But I am flattered nonetheless, and want to do everything I can to help my women friends be successful.  They don't threaten me, in fact, they lift me up, they make me a better person.