Monthly Archives: February 2013






Can I be a hermit for some time? Feeling quite overwhelmed these days…

Plus…what the f&*@# is it with me and my fixation with this one guy who, apart from being polite, is quite inexistent in my life?

Is it an obsession? Is it boredom? Is it a momentary escape?

I don’t know! But I need to stop it!

This is not funny or cute anymore!


My solo adventures in the far far west!

This is way better than the “paddle and stripper” story <need to tell you this story later>
I went to Las Vegas for my company’s national meeting last week. I had been there once for a friend’s wedding. I stayed for exactly 1 day, and that was enough for me. Not my cup of tea with its sensory overload, recycled air, and fabricated atmosphere.
I’ve been travelling a lot for work, and whenever possible and interesting I have tried to squeeze in 1 or 2 days of sightseeing the area.
I researched and picked the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon West, AZ. Exciting!
The conference was done Thursday, and I got up early on Friday to get my rental car.
The Hoover Dam was simply awesome. I actually had goose bumps as I walked through the very tight tunnels in the dam. Side note —> not suited for the claustrophobic. I tried to wrap my head around how that engineering marvel was made possible in the 1930’s! Of course I engaged in some daydreaming…
I planned my trip so that I would leave the Hoover Dam early enough to drive in daylight to the Grand Canyon West (Hualapai Ranch), where I was staying overnight. The drive was about 3 hours, including 10 miles of dirt road which led up to the ranch. I’m courageous and all, but I was not about to drive by myself through the Mojave desert, with no sign of civilization for miles on end, on a dirt road, in my cheap ass, egg shell, vespa engine rental car.
I entered the address on my GPS, as it showed on the website. I took me to a completely different place. I get there and the woman told me that I still had a 3-hour drive to my destination.  She asked me if I used my GPS…hummmmm….YES! Then proceeded to pull out a map and showed me a shortcut. She said “I must say, this part of the drive is about 50 miles and feels strange because you don’t see any houses or sign of human life. I was there a few weeks ago and it was definitely a bit weird. But I usually recommend this way for people. It’s paved, don’t worry.”
I sucked it up and made an executive decision to take the shortcut. I could’ve done without her information about the “no sign of human life”.  On the bright side I got to drive for about 2 hours on historic Route 66.
It was 5pm and the sun was shyly making its journey behind the Canyons in the distance.
I gased up and off I went!
I was driving at 40 mph on a 35 mph-speed limit small stretch of the road, and for the first time in SEVERAL years I was pulled over. I couldn’t understand what the state police guy was saying. He talked way too fast and with a very distinct accent. I asked how much the ticket was, and he said “you’ll have to read through all of that”…What? I haven’t had the courage to look through it, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the three-digit area.
I carefully respected the speed limit on my long and lone drive. I was greeted by some slow moving, big, free ranging cows as they crossed the road.
The landscape was beautiful! As the sun finally hid itself behind the Canyons, I still had another 1 1/2 hour to drive.
I finally made it to the dirt road. It was a very windy, 10-mile stretch of pitch darkness adventure. NOT! It felt slippery as the treads of the tires fought with the gravel and rocks.
All I can say is that I’m glad I brought my i-Pod, because without the encouraging music, I don’t think I would’ve done it! 🙂
I spotted a ranch off the dirt road, and eagerly pulled in. Yes, I’m here! Finally! I got out of the car to get my clothes in the trunk. I heard some “moos” in the distance. The smell of horse poo in the air. All in a PITCH BLACK ambience.
The “moos” were approaching, but I figured the cows were contained in a shed. A few seconds later, I turn around and there is the big black cow with its stary eyes. It was close enough that my hair strands could’ve moved with her “moo”. My heart jumped out…and I jumped into my car like I was diving in the ocean! OH MY!!!!!!!!!!
I waited for my friend to move away. She couldn’t care less for my existence. I obviously felt different.
I spotted some lights in the distance which I assumed were the cabins. I aimed at it and sprinting I went. When I crossed the front door, still pitch dark, another friend of mine…a horse…greeted me with his whinny nickering, which I later found was his way of saying “hello”.
It was warp speed at this point! 🙂
I’m safe now. I walked into the cabin. A nostalgic scent of wood burning in the fireplace. The room was warm and cozy. Some people were sitting in a very rustic side room eating dinner. I greeted the woman behind a simple counter and proceeded to check in.
Hummm….wait! What do you mean this is not the ranch I’m looking for? What? I have another 40 minutes until I get there?
At that point, I was pretty shaken by my recent encounters, in absolute darkness, with stary-eyed animals, and neighing creatures. I had also heard something about rattlesnakes being common dwellers in the Mojave Desert. I wasn’t sure if I was more anxious about driving another 40 minutes on the dirt road, or if I still had it in me to sprint back to my car now that I knew all the risks!
I must have pressed the car key buttons a million times on my endless run towards it. I needed a sure escape.
I drove another 40 minutes….got to the Hualapai Ranch…was greeted by a very nice fellow “Marvin”, who checked me in.
He asked me if my boyfriend was still on his way from the car. Hummm….”I’m here by myself…” I didn’t really want to clearly state I was there alone, but at that point it was obvious. He seemed very surprised that I drove all by myself. And I….well…I was proud of my courage!
I told him “Sir! I am starving! I haven’t had anything to eat. Please tell me there is something to eat…I’m begging. A slice of bread will do. Anything!”. In a calm voice and with a smile he said…”I’m sorry, but we stopped serving at 8pm, and it’s 8:30pm. Let’s walk over to the cafeteria and see if we can find something.”
We got there, and another very nice man was finishing with his kitchen clean up. I greeted him, asked his name, engaged in conversation, and told him I was starving. “Marcelo” was awesomely nice and fixed me something to eat. What a nice, nice man! I ate it like it was the best food on Earth, when I probably would’ve hesitated under different circumstances.
Before Marvin left, he said “I’ll be by the fire outside, making s’mores and telling stories…join us later.”
And so I did…
I met a couple from Indiana, and a man from Australia while sitting by the fire.
I stayed for a bit but really needed a shower. It was pretty cold that night. I got in the shower and was very unpleasantly surprised to find that the water was barely lukewarm. I turned the knob left and right hoping that I’d find that perfect spot where the water would magically get warmer. It didn’t happen. To make things worse, the water pressure was very low. So you can imagine how wonderful my shower was. Perfect end to my adventurous day.
I got up at 6:40am, in time for breakfast, and the BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE. I figured…i saw the sunrise from the Haleakala volcano crater…now it’s time to see it in the Canyons.
The same seemingly shy sun from the day before slowly rose from a refreshing slumber and peaked behind the Canyons. It stretched its majestic rays into infinity, perfectly accompanied by the colorful backdrop of the endless sky. Never, never, never gets old. Truly BEAUTIFUL.
After the sunrise, I spoke to some cowboys who worked at the ranch. Got a ride on a horsecar throught the desert, and then took off for my hike towards the Grand Canyon West. (I will have to write about this on another post.)
It goes without saying that the Canyons were as beautiful as the sunrise. At times, my brain was actually overwhelmed by the vastness and grandiosity of what my eyes were seeing. I would stare at it for a long time, and sometimes think to myself…”it’s a painting…wait, it’s not…”, then I’d take my eyes away and then look again, and think “it so looks like a beautiful painting! It’s both beautiful and scary. C’mon Sassi the Spider, you’re here, it’s real.”
It made me PHYSICALLY feel in every cell of my body just how small and insignificant we are in the face of Nature. I truly respect it. Very humbling and surreal
Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

PhD Interview #1 done! yay! (January 29th, 2013)

Dudes and Dudettes! 🙂

It’s like…like…I kinda, like, had my first formal PhD interview yesterday. I’ve heard it’s pretty good news when you get an interview. They probably select an average of 20 interviewees out of 120 or so applicants! Wow!

By far, one of the most nerve wrecking interviews I’ve had in my life so far! I’ve only been thinking and deciding to go for a PhD over the past 2 years.

Over the last 6 months it’s been back to back craziness from preparing for the GRE, taking the GRE, completing applications galore, going through major internal journeys as I wrote statements of purpose for the programs, lots of money in application fees, meeting professors, researchers, stakeholders…while travelling like crazy for work.

I am just a bit exhausted…but so energized! Is that possible?

The interview went really well. Two professors, including the director of the program, interviewed me. Yin and Yang forces. I identified more with one of them, definitely an alpha personality, very intelligent, but personable. But I guess my affinity was more  because of her approach to health policy research and its practical application. The other one…hummm…let’s just say he is the embodiment of what a PhD program is. An academic, a scholar, undoubtedly brilliant, and whose role was to make me seriously question myself! <he actually didn’t shake my hand because he was getting over a cold>.

He was mostly quiet, but had a skeptical and inquisitive stance to him. He must have asked the same questions in different ways several times as if he were looking for a very specific answer… “What do you think the PhD program can offer you? Be specific! I’m not sure this will be your best fit. I want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

Meanwhile, his complementary force respectfully rolled her eyes playfully, in a big sister way, as if she had seen that several times before. In the same time, she probably understood what I was thinking as he vehemently insisted that the Doctor of Public Health program might be a better fit because of my practice-based approach.

After some back and forth, during a very pleasant triangular interaction, I said something that finally helped him understand why the PhD. Ok…now we could move on.

We comfortably talked a bit more…

…then the fully-bearded, white haired, wearing small frame glasses, very intelligent man turned to me, very seriously, looked into my eyes and said (something like this) “Great! You’ve explained better what you think the PhD can add to your skills, but…what’s your experience writing grant proposals? You know…the COMMUNITY is not going to write your grants! The COMMUNITY is not going to help you with proposals!” As he intently started into my eyes.

I looked at him just as intently, respectfully, and a graceful “little sister” smile suddenly flooded my face. Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure if he was serious or joking…or stating the obvious, all I knew is that I was not about to get Ms. Smarty Pants with him. I mean, the man is the director of the program! I respect all the work he put in to be there.

I’m not sure exactly what I said to follow up. But it was something that impacted the man. In a very positive way. And his “big sister” just smiled as if she was seeing a younger version of herself.

Ok! The interview was over. They told me I had to write 1 to 2 paragraphs in 15 minutes just to prove that I could actually write.

We did the usual “thanks for meeting with me. I really appreciate your time. I really hope to hear from you soon.” Shook hands…

As they were stepping out of the room, the MAN 🙂 left first, and his “big sister” quickly followed behind him. When she knew she was out of his peripheral sight she turned around to her “little sister”, and in a very hush hush tone said “Don’t worry! You’re good you are all set.”

So awesome!