Monday, April 30, 2007

That's All, Folks!

How fitting that my 300th post would be about graduation...

Ladies and gentlemen, it's true. I have officially graduated from IESE Business School. No more cases, no more exams, no more classes, no more BOWs (wellll.... maybe). All that's left is the Olympics and then it's really and truly over. I didn't want to write any of this until I actually had documented proof that I had indeed graduated and now, with diploma in hand, I can call myself an IESE Alum.

Here we are getting ready for our class photo in the (luckily) scorching sun. It rained at noon, but by 3pm the sun was out again. Our priestly robes were incredibly heavy and warm, so we all got a bit ripe during the photo session...
After the photo but before the ceremony, we were ushered into the auditorium of the new building, where we were given our extremely complicated instructions. We had one partner to enter with, a different one to collect our diplomas with, and another to supposedly exit with. We had to know which pair was collecting ahead of us so we'd stand up at the right time. And each row had a particular person at each end so we'd know whether we were supposed to go down the center or outside aisles.

Chris studied the chart very carefully.

There was even a fancy powerpoint presentation to explain everything. And still, we were confused.

Except David. He seemed to get it.

Finally we all knew what we were doing more or less and it was just a matter of waiting our turn to go outside.

Chris & Ian

Chris, Ian, and Francis. (There was plenty of time for photos while we waited.)

Me with Francis

Unfortunately something went wrong. Unlike the charts we were given, which showed we were to sit in 6 rows of chairs, there were only 4 rows. If your last name started with R thru Z, you were kind of out of luck. So those of us at the end of the alphabet stood in the aisle for a while, then we stood behind the last row, and then some chairs magically appeared (taken from guests... whoops!). No matter, the rest of the celebration went so smoothly that few of us remembered what had happened at the beginning.

Especially because cava was served afterward....

George, Me, Marco, and Huy

With Marco, Atsh, Jill, and George

With Lamberto

With Marco, Chris, Jan-Kees, Hein, George, and Lamberto

"Blue Steel" with George and Huy

The Calatrava Guapos: Marco, Atsh, me, George

Ceylan and AndersThe Dining Room

Before dinner with Lamberto, George, Abanis, and Paul

With Ceylan

And with George!

My beloved A6 team leader and paella chef extraordinaire, Fede.

And, of course, my family, who traveled all the way from California!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Graduation Day

Well this is it. The day we've worked toward for a year and a half. Today we graduate. My parents are here, my sister, and my uncle and aunt. We have had beautiful sunny weather until an hour ago, when the rain started. Our ceremony is the first to be held on the terrace of the new building, overlooking all of Barcelona. When I was there this morning to check it out I didn't see any tent or other sort of rain contingency planning.... So I guess we just have to hope the rain stops!

Yesterday evening we had a small barbecue on the Calatrava terrace for the flatmates and families and a few friends. It was a very different from our usual festivities, but nice nonetheless. Last night I couldn't sleep. I guess I have a lot on my mind with graduation, job, and long-term life thoughts. It's strange for all of this to be ending and to have to think for myself again... no more attendance or classes or assignments. It's all very strange.

Well I guess I'd better get ready. We have to be back at school to pick up our caps and gowns (or, in IESE lingo, our "togas") by 3pm. Graduation is at 5:30, dinner at 7:30, and then ... that's it! We are alumni!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Comment of the Month...

... goes to Bertrand. When, open-mouthed, after the first four members of the Scissor Sisters appeared on stage, he said, "My god! They are all gay!" HAHAHAHA. He proceeded to look rather shocked and perplexed for the next half hour. Somehow he had been listening to this group for months without ever having seen them in photos or videos.

But seriously, this was one of the best concerts I've ever been to. The band itself is excellent, their outfits were second only to Erasure, and there was no air conditioning so I think I lost about three pounds in sweat. Bonus!

My experience last night made me think about my favorite concerts ever. And so I present, in no particular order, my top ten. My only hope is that this list will change in the coming months and years as I see more concerts!

1. The Cure, San Diego Sports Arena, 1991. My first concert ever. I was 11 or 12 and my friend Lisa Padowitz got tickets and invited me. My parents wouldn't let me go but then caved in... only if they could go too. Fine. So they got crappy seats way up in the nosebleed area and Lisa and I were up close, surrounded by people in eyeliner and black and white striped socks. I fell in love with Robert Smith. At the entrance, the people who frisked everyone were surprised by my parents. After my mom entered, one security guard said, "Wow, I think that's the oldest person here." And the guy who had just frisked my dad pointed back at him and said, "No, that guy is." My dad couldn't handle the noise and waited in the car after 15 minutes.

2. U2, Madison Square Garden, NYC, October 22, 2001. I had already seen them twice, once at the LA Coliseum for the PopMart tour, and again just months before at Madison Square Garden. But when they came back just a month after Sept 11 for a benefit concert for the victims of the WTC attack, they played almost exactly the same songs, but with a completely different meaning. Not a dry eye in the house.

3. Pink Floyd, Palau St. Jordi, Barcelona, July 1995. I snuck out of my hotel room while on a tour of Spain with my symphony to catch this group I'd never heard of. Hey, I was young, sorry. I got in even more trouble than I'd been in the night before for getting stuck in an elevator in our hotel (we had 8 people in a 3 person elevator) but it was totally worth it. I had to be chaperoned for the rest of the trip. Hahaha. I heard they're coming back this summer, and I will most certainly be there. MONEY!

4. Erasure, Irving Plaza, NYC, April 17, 2005. I had a long-running Erasure joke with a colleague from Rockstar and couldn't believe it when that colleague (who works in Scotland) and Erasure (who stopped touring years ago) were both in NYC the same week. So of course I had to get tickets. Two guys and a synth, like one million gay-tastic outfits (some of which might not actually be considered "outfits" at all... more like "nudity"), half of the aging gay population of NYC, some of the greatest songs (arguably) of the 80s... what more do you want? To see them again the next night, of course! And I must admit, I was tempted. Now I wish I had.

5. The Killers, Los Angeles, E3 Video Game Conference Opening Party, May 2005. This was amazing because very few people from E3 seemed to realize that this band was playing the opening party. And, as a result, I was in the front row getting my ribs smashed against the stage, as one of my favorite bands rocked out to a VERY small crowd. Tickets to see them in NYC would've been impossible to come by, so I consider myself blessed.

6. Royksopp, Razzmatazz Barcelona, November 2005. Huy and I caught this dial-twirling duo from Norway at our favorite dirty, packed club in Barcelona. Their music means a lot to me personally, and it was amazing to hear it all live, smooshed between some of the most spectacular (and smelly) mullets I've ever seen. Also, if you've never seen Huy's dance moves... phenomenal.

7. Cake, La Paloma, Barcelona, November 2005. Yes, In one week I saw three concerts. (The third was Coldplay.) It happened immediately after realizing I hadn't failed my first term midterms, and so a week of celebration was required. Obviously. La Paloma is an old ballroom that, in it's heyday, must have been amazing. Now it's sort of cheezy. But I can only imagine the kind of parties you could have in a place like that... wow. Anyway Cake was great, and another band that would've been impossible to get tickets to see in the US. We spent most of the concert yelling, "We like your beard!" and "Wow! You're really tall!" They liked it. Or pretended to, anyway.

8. Prince, Madison Square Garden, NYC, March 2003. I bought these tickets from someone on Craigslist for an unreasonable sum. Wait, no, totally reasonable for the following reasons: I LOVE Prince, the concert was amazing and lasted nearly 3 hours, Nicole and I had an incredible time singing along to every song, and back then I wasn't a student, but a well-paid producer. Peanuts! Prince played an hour with his band (of which every member is ridiculously talented) and then disappeared for about 15 minutes, only to emerge through the floor on a stool BY HIMSELF with an acoustic guitar and play another hour of his hits completely alone. Unreal. Of course, followed by 2 encores with the band. Sweaty, sore-throated goodness.

9. Blink, SOMA, San Diego, 1995-1996. Back when Blink-182 was still just "Blink" and when they were still a San Diego secret, my friends and I went to see them at this dingy little dive four or five times, always with different opening bands: Pennywise, Circle Jerks, Rocket from the Crypt. I think my favorite concert was the one where someone decided to do a stage dive off a massive speaker and landed right on my head. I thought I broke my neck for a few minutes. At that same concert my friend Diana Fakrai got too close to the mosh pit and took a fist to the nose... broken! Nosebleed! THAT'S ROCK AND ROLL, SUCKAS!!!

10. Scissor Sisters, Espacio Movistar, Barcelona, April 25, 2007. So I've already mentioned the spectacular outfits (the lead singer stripped down to sparkly golden panties by the end of the show), the fantastic songs, and the sweaty goodness. But don't forget the broken Spanglish ("Ella es muy bonita... y SUCIO!") and the sight of Bertrand and Francesc boogie-ing down with what appeared to be all the members of the Village People immediately behind them. Stellar.

11. Guns N Roses & Metallica, San Diego, 1993. Every top 10 list needs an 11. How could I have forgotten this concert? My first year of high school... seemed like EVERYONE from my school went. They totally rocked, especially when they accidentally set the curtains on fire! And what's more, this concert took place only 2 years after my first one, but I managed to get there without my parents even knowing because I went with some friends who were juniors (oooh!) and had a car. So they will only know of my attendance at this concert when they read my blog. And THAT is ..... ROCK AND ROLLLLLLLLL!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Scissor Sisters!!!

Bertrand, Francesc and I bought tickets to see the Scissor Sisters about 6 months ago and finally the countdown is ending because the concert is tonight!!! My parents are arriving at 5pm and yet they must take a back burner to the Sisters, I'm afraid.

The only downside of the concert is that becasue it's sold out, the other Calatrava Guapos don't have tickets. (We bought them when Marco & George were on exchange at Columbia last fall.) This is a problem because "Don't Feel Like Dancin'" has become this year's house theme song in the way that Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" was last year's. In other words, it's huge.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Life in Limbo ... feels great!

As we count down the days to graduation (only 3 more to go!) those of us who are in Barcelona have been enjoying the beautiful weather and each others' company. The fact that everything will soon truly be over hasn't really sunk in, and though I know most of us are sad to leave IESE behind, I think we're all aware it's time to move on and see what's next.

Last year, I went to NYC for a few days in June immediately after finals and then had a week here in Barcelona before moving to Romania for the summer. During that week, I had a really hard time enjoying myself. Doing nothing proved to be difficult. This year I don't seem to have any problem with it at all! I'm "busying" myself with running, catching rays, preparing for the Olympics, and ... um... that's about it. It's great!

And though it occasionally worries me that I'm finding such joy in the art of nothing, I also know that another week like this and I'd probably go nuts. And so starts the travel planning... That's right. The Noelle Summer Tour 2007 may soon be in a city near you, so be prepared!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back to the sun

10 days till graduation. 1.5 days since I returned to Barcelona. 2 days since the rain finally stopped. 3 days till the weekend, but these days I don't know the difference between Monday and Friday and I actually had to look on my calendar to know that....

Such is life in the month between the end of classes and graduation day. And yesterday, my first day back at Calatrava, I found my true calling. Yes, I had long suspected it, but it took an MBA to really realize my dream. I want to be a housewife. Yesterday I slept in, did laundry, bought groceries, watered the plants, worked on my tan, went running, edited photos from my trip, had a haircut, and went out for dinner. What an amazing way to spend the day!

Today I'm going to change it up a little, just for fun. I woke up early, THEN watered the plants, washed my Chuck Taylors (disgusting after 10 days of traveling in the rain), folded laundry (see how I'm keeping it interesting? oooh)... hmmm now I'm writing, I guess I'll go running again, have some lunch, play some soccer, and hang out again with my dad, who is back in town for a conference.

Honestly, I didn't need an MBA to know that this is the ideal job, but what the hell.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


After several days in Granada, it was time to pack up our incredible Chrysler PT Cruisers and head out of dodge. Pun absolutely intended, to the max. These cars have no pickup, which is very frustrating for our German (Huy) and Italian (George) drivers, but at least there's plenty of room for Lamberto and Matteo to take naps in the back seat.

The sun even came out for a while!
Pit Stop

On the way to Cordoba we decided to stop in a small town for a coffee, so we chose Espejo... mostly because it was one of the last towns left before Cordoba.

We were all really excited to see some sunshine.

Unfortunately, nothing was open. And I mean NOTHING. (Or as Matteo would say, Nating.) And there was no one under age 50 in the town. At one point Lamberto and I had this conversation:

Noelle: You know, this is one of those really beautiful little well-kept towns with friendly harmless old people during the day. But at night...

Lamberto: ... it's exactly the same.

Noelle: NO! It's full of zombies!

Lamberto has no imagination.

Anyway we finally arrived in Cordoba and, after quite a hairy parking attempt (the streets in Cordoba are very narrow and not made for big, ridiculous-looking American cars) we settled into our little hostel right next to the Mezquita. Oh yeah and the Mezquita is pretty amazing, by the way...

Only one night in Cordoba and we're off for Sevilla. Unfortunately during our one night it rained. Hard. But we did manage to watch the Munich / Milan Champions League match (the Italians were happy, the Germans were sad) and I coined a new international way of offending people: "fanculowski." High five!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Despite questionable weather (mostly rain with a few hours of sunshine here and there - sometimes just minutes, actually) the trip has been fun so far. Very low-key and relaxed, as I think all of us are recovering from the last month of studying and partying too much and sleeping too little. First few days were spent in Granada....

Granada by day

Granada by night
El Alhambra by night

The team in the cathedral

"My boys" outside the Capilla Real: Matteo, Marco, Huy, Lamberto, George

The boys by night in one of the small twisty streets of the Albaizin


At a "teteria" in the Albaizin: Huy & George


Put that in your pipe and smoke it, biatch!

And speaking of biatches... I'm delighted to see that some of our fabulous American terminology has made its way to the tiniest streets of Andalucia.

After several days in Granada, I was all Granada'd out and ready to move on to the next location: Cordoba!!!