Thursday, May 27, 2004

Sometimes obstacles prevent us from choosing the wrong course.

This week has been incredibly stressful. On Tuesday I contacted my landlord at my existing apartment to see about breaking my lease. She told me someone needed the apartment immediately and that if I could get out by June 1, they would release me from the lease. I was excited (but stressed) and contacted the new apartment about moving this weekend. The new apartment leasing agent (after a day of my calling her every hour) said that would be doable, but they had to check my credit still (which I assumed they had already done since they were nagging me about moving in by June 15).

Now my credit isn't stellar. I made a series of BAD financial decisions in college that sent me deep into debt. My credit still has pock marks on it because of stuff I did 6 or 7 years ago. Despite this I wasn't to worried. My last check of my credit wasn't too bad. I have a high % of debt but everything was current. And even if there was a problem, my parents said they could co-sign, and the company's website said they allowed co-signers. So I wasn't too worried. But I had a lot to do to be able to pull off a move in less than a week.

Well I didn't get the apartment. And frankly I'm surprised and a little embarrassed. I think the combination of less than perfect credit, my impending student status, and the fact that I'm breaking my lease (after 5.5 years mind you) may have done me in. I even asked if I could provide a co-signer and was told, "not on that apartment." I'm still surprised - the rent was totally affordable.

So the apartment search continues. I guess the one good thing is I do have a place to stay in the area if all apartment management companies find me undesirable. It would SUCK having to commute to Wharton though. The trains/buses to the suburbs are not that frequent at night. For example, the other night, I just missed catching the 8 PM train and I didn't get home until 10:15 because I had to wait an hour for the train.

I guess its for the best that I'm not moving yet.. The management company was not very responsive. Getting the apartment/lease/credit check was an absolute nightmare. I am sad about losing the apartment. It was so cute - I really liked it. C'est la vie, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I put down the deposit on the apartment this weekend. I made several errors during this process. I've only lived in two apartments in my life and the first one, my parents negotiated my lease. So I did some dumb things this weekend, like put down the deposit without seeing the lease. I just didn't think about it. And now I think I'm screwed.

The leasing agent called me yesterday, and asked, "When did you want to move in?" I said July. She said, "I can't hold it that long. The latest I can hold it is June 15." June 15 as in 3 weeks from today. I told her no one told me that I would have to move in within three weeks and that when I came to look at the apartments I told them I wanted to move in July or August. I have to call her today to see what I can negotiate. So much for a contract being mutually beneficial.

I received a big package from Wharton this weekend. It included a couple of action items in it. I have to take a self assessment test, I think by the end of June to determine what classes I should take during pre-term. I don't think I'll waive any classes, but I may try to place in the turbo accounting class. No need to spend an entire semester reviewing what a debit and a credit is. The packet also had forms for your doctor to fill out your immunization/ disease record. I've had dozens of doctors - do they all have my entire medical record or do I need to track all that down? My mom is a nurse and she has all the records so maybe she can fill it out.

I need a master check off/ to-do list for all the stuff that needs to be done to matriculate. I have this nagging feeling that I've done things out of order or I've forgotten something. The Wharton Matriculation Checklist said to do Entrance Counseling for the loans and to sign the Master Promissory Note before the end of the month. So I did. I just don't know if I was supposed to or if I did it out of order. I'm not sure what I have to do next. I'm so confused!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The weather today in Philadelphia is absolutely gorgeous. The sun is shining, it's about 75 degrees F, and there is very little humidity. I love days like this. If I could find a place that had days like this 200-300 days out of the year I would make it my new home!

My office is located on the edge of the historic district, right next to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. As I was walking around at lunch, I felt pretty lucky to work in a cool area. It's nice to be amongst all the history. I intend to take advantage of it all while I still can.

I've decided which apartment I want. Despite worries about the management, I'm going with my favorite 1-bedroom. The place is only 2 years old, so I don't expect to many problems. The other apartment, the loft, was $150 more per month, for slightly less space. One of my friends pointed out that it wasn't worth $150 per month to just to have management call you back immediately. I just might have to call them a couple times to get stuff taken care of. I'll put the deposit down tomorrow or Friday. Cross your fingers for me that no one else snaps it up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I read on the Wharton Admit board today that Kroll, the company that is doing the background checks, was being bought by Marsh and McLennan. Not exciting except for this quote from the article about the purchase,

"Kroll, which helped find former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein's hidden assets, will help Marsh & McLennan meet clients' increasing concern about security since the September 2001 terrorist attacks."

The company doing our background checks found friggin Saddam Hussein's assets.

All I have to say is I pity the fool who lied on their Wharton application.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

As y'all know, I'm a big fan of the Reality TV genre. One of my guiltier pleasures is the "Real World-Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno." Yesterday they had a flashback episode of the season. I've decided that I need to integrate a phrase from the forthright Coral. "I don't wrestle; I beat bitches up." I need to find a way to use that one.

Oh and did you hear? The Apprentice part deux has started shooting. Apparently, there are 3 Wharton grads in the bunch of Apprentice Wannabes. Trump is such a "Ra-Ra Wharton" man, that I wouldn't be surprised if one of them comes out on top.

There's also this (in my opinion kind of evil) show called Superstar USA. It's this hoax where they con these poor unsuspecting horrible, tuneless singers into believing they can actually sing. This seems a little too mean - and hell, we may end up with a slew of William Hungs crooning "She Bangs" if we aren't careful!

I'm looking forward to the Casino, which follows two dot.com millionaires who buy a casino in Vegas and run it. My hotelie roots make me extremely interested in this one. There's also a search for an action movie actor on the Next Action Star.

And there's the old standbys - The Amazing Race and Big Brother (which I think may still be casting - all you people taking an extended vaca before school this may be your calling!) Ohhh and For Love or Money is back.

Ah - this is going to be a great summer for the mindless drivel of reality TV. I LOVE IT!!

Friday, May 14, 2004

It's official. I got my Toigo ding yesterday. I'm surprisingly calm about the ding. I guess I wasn't looking forward to rescinding my other fellowships. And I knew I didn't click with the HBS/Toigo alum. He pushed me on a couple of issues. I don't think he was impressed with me. Oh well, c'est la vie. You win some, you lose some.

I think Brad (oh, sage one...) and my mother may be right. I'm a little wary about signing a lease with the company that manages my dream 1 bed room apartment. Not only don't they call you back within 24 (or even 48) hours, they also are not willing to negotiate. I asked about signing a two year lease (which the other leasing agents were excited about - they offered at least a 1/2 month to 1 month off), and the leasing agent didn't budge. I still like the apartment - it has all the amenities I want, and its $800 for a 1 bedroom. And it's nice. I'm going to call my second favorite place and see how much wiggle room is there.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Wharton verification process is a bit more intense than I assumed it would be. I got a call from one of my recommenders and she said they asked her about my strengths and weakness and other specific things on the recc. Apparently when my recommender was talking about a weakness, the verification person said, "So she can only work on one thing at a time?" Of course my recommender clarified. I'm a little surprised about the process. I expected it to be more like, "did you write a recc for FMG? What's your title?" etc. This process requires recommenders to remember specific details about what they wrote 6 months ago! I'm not worried, but I am surprised.

I'm trying to secure one of the dozen or so apartments that I've seen over the last few weeks. The rental office is a tad unresponsive, which is annoying. But I have questions that need to be answered before I send any checks their way. I hate it when people don't call you back promptly. I don't want to write too much about the apartment because I REALLY like it and I don't want to jinx it. Cross your fingers for me!

Good Luck to all the Wharton R3s and Waitlisters!! T-minus 26 minutes... It's not too late for an emergency run to the shoe store.

And Good Luck to everyone waiting on R3 and R4 decisions.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

What's that I hear lurking in the near future? I believe it will be a lovely DING for my Toigo fellowship application. I haven't heard anything, and based on others past experiences, no news is bad news. Oh well.

The Toigo Fellowship is a small scholarship and mentorship program for minority (and not just underrepresented) students interested in finance. Since I currently work in community development finance, and I hope to return to this field within 5 years of b-school, I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring. The cool thing about Toigo isn't the money. Toigo has a phenomenal network and mentor system. They offer 50 fellowships every year. This year, the fellowship included a $5,000 scholarship (although in years past it was $10,000 with a match from the school). There are 17 schools currently involved with the Toigo program.

If you are invited for an interview, you interview in New York or San Francisco on Super Saturday, which was May 8 this year. I had a morning interview slot, so I had to be in NYC at 8:30 AM. There were about 100 people interviewing at the NY location all day.

First we were ushered into this break room and told to mingle with the other applicants while we waited for the interview. The people I met were all very cool - it was nice to in room with others who were as tired and nervous as I was. I also ran into a few people I've met during the application process. I had heard from a current fellow, that in year's past the room had spies who were current fellows who acted like applicants to see how you interact. So I tried to be on my best behavior.

Everyone is interviewed twice. My first interview was with a company sponsor and with a Toigo alum. They asked a few situational questions about leadership, teamwork, ethical dilemmas, etc. They also asked the standard "Why should we give you this fellowship?" question. I'm not sure, but I sensed a bit of good cop/bad cop going, which I had been warned about. The Toigo alum (who happened to be an HBS grad, go figure) really pushed me on the ethical question. I basically told about a situation where someone decided to pay people less because of their nationality and ethnicity. Of course I had a problem with that and the HBS grad was like "What's wrong with that? As long as the wage isn't illegal what's the problem?" I was a little floored by that one. I stood my ground but I'm not sure if he was pushing to see if I would change my mind or if he was pushing because he was an ass. I have chosen to assume the former.

My second interview was with a corporate sponsor. It was actually with the contact for one of the other fellowships I applied for. It was a nice conversation. I felt like I expressed myself well. And I felt like we connected. But the interviewer does this kind of stuff all the time, so he's probably mastered the skill of making people feel at ease during an interview.

One thing he told me that I find disturbing, was that Toigo requires you to rescind all other fellowships to take the Toigo fellowship. So if I was awarded the Toigo fellowship, and decided to take it, I would have to take myself out of the running for his company's fellowship. Students who have received the consortium fellowships (which is full tuition) have to rescind that to take the Toigo $5,000 fellowship. Some schools, like Michigan, have said they will make sure you have enough grants and scholarships to fill the gap if you go with Toigo instead of the Consortium. But I think that's pretty bold to ask people to give up other funds. I guess it's an attempt to spread the wealth. Had I known that requirement up front, I'm not certain I would have applied.

After the interview, I headed to Church St to catch a cab to Penn Station. I had no idea that the building I was interviewing in was right next to the World Trade Center site. So I headed over there to pay my respects. It was the first time I'd been to the WTC since before 9/11. It was very solemn and quiet there, as well it should be I suppose. I kept thinking of what those who lost their lives were doing on the day of the tragedy. It was sad, but I'm glad I went.

Anyway, Toigo decisions come out pretty quickly, within the week after Super Saturday. I've heard that most people who are getting the fellowship hear on Sunday and Monday, so since it's Wednesday I assuming that means I'm out. Oh well, everything happens for a reason.

On a potentially happier note, Good Luck to all the Wharton R3s and Waitlisters (Yogi!). Tomorrow is the big decision day. Wharton usually holds an all night chat the day before the decision, so maybe I'll see some of you there. Don't forget to go shoe shopping!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I love personality tests. This one is very quick and dirty.

I'm an INFP - although I used to be an ENFP. Maybe having a somewhat jealous boyfriend turned me from and E to and I. Maybe I'll be an E again now that I'm single.

I got a curious phone call Friday. We have direct dial at work, and someone called me asking for the human resources department. I said we didn't have a human resources department, and asked if I could help the person. She (rather curtly) asked for the payroll department. I transferred her to the payroll person and noted the number on the caller ID. The number was in the 615 area code, and since Kroll (the company doing the Wharton background checks) is in the 615 area code, I think they have started verifying my application. Cool.

My Toigo Interview went well, I think. I had a hard time tracking down information about the Toigo Interview so, I'll write more later about it later. Decisions come out this week - how's that for a quick turn around? One of the current Toigo fellows I spoke with last week said positive decisions came out on Sunday and Monday after the interviews last year. I haven't heard anything so, things are looking grim. If I don't get this fellowship though, it may be for the best. If awarded a Toigo fellowship you have to rescind your other fellowships. If you ask me that blows, especially since Toigo is only $5,000. I just wish they were upfront about that - I would have saved the application fee.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Just in case you didn't know, Friends had it's last show last night. If you didn't know, it's understandable; it's not like the media paid any attention to the series finale.

OMG!! Can you believe the crazy amounts of coverage this got? I'm somewhat dismayed that the Friends Finale got more airtime than the burgeoning Iraqi prison scandal. Ahh, life in America - where priorities are often screwed up!

I received my preliminary financial aid award letter yesterday. It's official - I'm poor!! I qualified for a Perkins Loan. I'm not really shocked. I'm always saying I don't have any money. Now I have something that backs me up! Got to love what working at a nonprofit for a few years does to a person's financial well being.

I have an interview tomorrow morning for one of the fellowships I applied for. I have to be in New York by 8:30 AM, which means I need to catch a 6 AM train, which means I'm getting up before the butt crack of dawn tomorrow. The fellowship is from the Toigo Foundation, and according to my sources, the interview is a bit intense. I haven't prepared very much for the interview, so I know what I'll be doing tonight!

More apartment shopping in Old City today. The leasing agent for the apartments I'm seeing today kind of had an attitude when I called to set up an appointment. She kept sighing like I was getting on her nerves, and all I did was ask to see the apartments. What is up with these leasing people? I just don't get the attitude. If you don't like showing apartments, then get another freakin' job. Hopefully I just caught her on a bad day. Cranky people who work in customer service fields really chap my hide!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Yesterday I had to go to the dentist, and my dentist is located at the U Penn Dental School. So after my rather painful dentist appointment, I took a stroll down Locust Walk. WWW aside, yesterday was the first day in a long time I walked around on a college campus. The students looked the same as when I went to school, but everyone was talking on cell phones. It was weird to see bummy students in flip flops talking on cell phones.

Penn's campus is actually pretty nice; lots of big old trees, plenty of green spaces. It's like this little oasis in urban Philadelphia.

I didn't like the apartment I saw yesterday. The quality of the construction reminded me of extended stay motels in the south. The interiors were redone two years ago, and the walls reminded me of a dorm hallway they were banged up so badly. The apartments were alright. But the character wasn't there. I wouldn't pay $900 -$1100 to live there. The neighborhood was very nice though. The apartment is in Old City, and many of the streets I walked on were cobblestone. It's really charming in that part of the city. Oh, and I walked by the Real World house, but nothing was going on.

The leasing office of the apartment I like the most is very difficult to get in touch with. When I call inquiring about deposits and applications, this idiot says, "Kathy handles the leasing of that building, could you call back in 10, 15 minutes?" I've gotten this response on three occasions. I guess their office doesn't have message pads. I've never had to work so hard to try to fill out a rental application. But I think this may be a sign of the responsiveness of the management. The leasing person at second place I saw was much more professional. I also think she'll be open to coming down on the price, since I said I wanted to sign a 2 year lease. She mentioned she may be able to match the rent of another building. She said, "Don't sign another lease without talking to me first. I'm sure we'll be able to match whatever you find." This building is brand new construction, which is nice. No one will have funked up the bathroom before I move in!

I have a couple more places to see tomorrow, and I hope to arrange to see some brownstones next week. Apartment shopping is fun!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Some people annoy me.

Like the people who are less than 10 feet away from a trash can and then they still throw the wrapper of the free candy they just got from the guy on the corner on the ground. That's triflin'

Or the guy at the leasing office who kept telling me to "call back in 15 mins" when I told him I was interested in leasing an apartment. Hello, moron! I'm trying to give your company money!!

Or the SEPTA Bus Driver, who when asked to lower the bus on a rainy day when I was still on crutches, looked at me sideways and growled, "you need to get used to being on those crutches." Well thanks for the comments from the peanut gallery, now lower the damn bus.

Oh and the lawyer on the Today Show who tried to JUSTIFY violations of the Geneva Convention when dealing with Iraqi Prisoners of War. Niiice.

And people who begin their blatantly bigoted statements with,"I'm not trying to be racist/sexist/whatever-ist but..." and then they say something straight out of the Klan Handbook. Guess what, you might not have been trying but you hit 100% on the bigot meter.

And stupid people who even though they see that the elevator call button is pushed, they think if they push the button every two seconds, the elevator will come faster. Cool your jets and relax. Your OCD is getting on my nerves.

And the woman in my office who balked because I'm bringing biscuits for the potluck baby shower in our office. Look I don't have to bring $@%#. Be glad I'm popping the pillsbury biscuits in the oven for you greedy people.

Ya. Sometimes people annoy me...

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Apartment shopping continues! The places I'm looking at are so much nicer than my current suburban digs. My apartment was built in the 70s so it has all the accoutrement that go with 70s construction, like ugly bathroom tile and dark cabinets.

The places I'm looking at are all on the historic landmark registry, and all have been converted in the last few years. So we're talking maple hardwood floors, beautiful tile, exposed brick, huge windows. Every apartment I view, I absolutely fall in love with.

And I'm starting to get the hang of the negotiation thing. The key seems to be saying, "Well, there's a couple other places that I'd like to look at before I make my decision." Then they talk about being flexible with the price. Negotiating makes me feel all grown up!!

I keep reading about people studying before classes start. I've decided, I'm not studying one bit before August 4. I figure I'll have plenty of time to study in the next two years. I'd rather waste away my summer watching absolute crap on TV, like Paradise Hotel or the Real World.

Speaking of the Real World (and oh, how ridiculous was Cameran to get pissy about Brad cheating on his girlfriend when she JUST KISSED HIM??!!! But I digress), they are currently shooting the next season in beautiful Philadelphia. In fact the apartments I'm looking at tomorrow are VERY close to the Real World House. Maybe I'll be on camera and get discovered. I'll have to don a cute outfit tomorrow in expectation of my discovery.

Monday, May 03, 2004

It's been incredibly busy this past week. I've had a couple of major things due at work. I'm also trying to get as much done as possible, since I only have 3 months (:D) left. And my boyfriend, or I guess my ex-boyfriend, moved out on Friday. I'm officially a single woman again.

I went apartment shopping over the weekend. I absolutely love one of the apartments I saw. I also plan to look at a couple of places during my lunch hour this week. I'm glad I live in the metro area where I'm headed to school. I don't have the extra stress of looking for a place remotely. Philadelphia definitely has an oversupply of apartments, but I think a lot of students get swept up in the belief that good apartments go quickly. Philadelphia is NOT New York. You don't have to go see an apartment with checkbook in hand here.

One thing I don't know how to do is negotiate a lease. I had no idea that you could negotiate the amount you pay in rent or the amenities you receive. I've always paid what the listing price is. Now I feel like a complete ass for paying full price all those years. It's like I was never taught the secret handshake, and not knowing it has cost me thousands. The more I think about it the more pissed I get. Maybe there is a secret handshake. What else am I missing out on?? Come on, tell me. I swear I won't tell (wink*wink). Mums the word...

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