Saturday, January 26, 2013

Amazing Race Casting Call: Bring Out the Wacky!

Wednesday night, partner in crime, Tara, and I headed south in Adorable Truck to Aurora, CO to sit in a cold parking lot and change our futures.

Our mission: In 60-seconds, convince the producers of Amazing Race to at least call us back for a second interview in L.A., all via video tape.  We never actually saw a producer, that we knew of.

Tara is a dear friend from Peace Corps, and the lady who convinced me to come out to Fort Collins in the first place.  She is also a complete badass who runs marathons off the couch, recently ran the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim, and lived in one of the hottest spots in Benin during our PC service.  Sure, she's got a competitive a few years ago when it took her 20-something miles to drop out of an ultra-marathon because of hypothermia...and then kicked its ass the next year.  In summary, we'd at least be in shape if we were to get a call back for the show because I can't think of many worse fates than answering to her if we lost a challenge because I couldn't hack it.  And so we planned our attack.

Showed up at midnight, auditions at 10am.
I have no idea what I can say about our 1-minute spiel because the waiver explicitly says that we are not to breathe a WORD to anyone about what we said on camera.  I do feel comfortable saying that in spite of the fact that we were running on 30-minutes of sleep, we don't think it could have gone any better.  We were the second team in a line of over 200 people.  And thank god for that because once the ball got rolling, everyone was crowding the door to get a glimpse of the competition.  The filming was at the Aurora Sports Authority (I have never been to a weirder strip mall town) and they ran two cameras at once to really circulate teams through.  We fully utilized our props and gave them our story.

Before 200 more people showed up
Though we'd read rumors of numbered tickets being issued...and had high hopes of spending hours in the nearby coffeeshop, the news crews showed up to film around 5am and the organizer explained that  we should fully expect to be in line until 10am.  The store did open at 8 for bathrooms.  If traveling has instilled anything in me, it's a deep appreciation for a private place to potty.  Bless you Sports Authority.

Waiting in line for 6-hours in Colorado in January = sleeping bags and lots o coffee!
When we left my truck to actually line up at 4:30am, we were equipped with coffee, sleeping bags, a cooler of snacks, and lots of hope.  In front of us in the #1 slot, was a team of ladies trying to raise money for Alzheimer's.  Certainly a noble cause, however the ringleader of that duo spent the entire 6-hours conversati-ng and in the end just plain invading my personal space because she was so damned jazzed she couldn't control it!  Yes, a 50+ woman was two-stepping around (to someone's blaring iphone) and punctuating her moves by waving jazz hands in my face and commanding me to perk up.  Some of you may know how awesomely perky I am at 5am.

This, after a very sweet fellow applicant bought about 60 breakfast burritos and handed them out down the line. Jazz-Hands watched me eat and exclaimed "Whoa girl!  You're a scarf-er, you'll do great on the show!"  Of course, it didn't help that during the 5:48am CBS Live interview, Tara couldn't control her verbal vomit and in the middle of a sentence, blurted out "SHE"LL EAT ANYTHING!"  The link to said clip is below.  

On our other side in spot #3, was a married couple so deeply in love, they were just whispering their script to each other in a manner reminiscent of a forbidden romance on Downton Abbey.  Despite this, these folks were actually pretty amazing. They'd offered to do a taco run at 1am for the early birds in the parking lot and provided dry humor throughout the morning.  They also had a very comical dachshund, who's little legs couldn't follow them around the parking lot fast enough.  

But perhaps most entertaining were the two early 20-something ladies who had driven through the night from Salt Lake City.  They were skinny as rails, slept under a mountain of blankets on a bouldering crash pad and did not have a mean bone in their bodies.  Simply adorable.  When they overheard that our names were Rachael and Tara, they perked up and erupted with "Our names are Rachel and LARA!  They knowingly provided an immense amount of entertainment and we are grateful for them.

Ready for the L.A. interview!!!

If we don't get a call back like the thousands of other applicants, I will rest easy (after we drown our sorrows at the breweries).  We had a blast putting our application script together and took the opportunity to sift through a zillion pictures of us from Peace Corps and since.  I can't believe it's been almost 6 years since we served!  All in all, it was a really interesting and hilarious experience.  There should definitely be a reality show about the first round of reality-tv applicants because sweet lord, the spectrum of personalities that showed up provided better people watching than the Greyhound bus station.  If anything does come of this, I probably won't even need to blog about it because you will hear us shrieking around the globe!  And even if this isn't our window of glory, I have a feeling you haven't heard the last of this formidable team.....

Check out THIS LINK to see us on CBS Denver from a 5:48am live clip....pretty ladies!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

MBA? Check. Job? Check. And Some Meaty Horizons...

I am a graduate, again.  A Master in Business, specifically in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise. On December 15, 2012, 19 of my Cohort members and myself walked ourselves across the stage with new ambitions, lessons learned, pages turned, and even a new 8-month old adorable addition to the GSSE family.  It was a haul my friends, like running a marathon at breakneck speed (not that I have any idea what running a marathon entails).  I have a feeling this experience will take a while to fully develop and reveal its impact; there is no possible way to download the last 18-months in a few thoughts or paragraphs.  I still feel this was exactly the right program for me.  Having followed my own drumbeat for a very long time, it was such a privilege to work with faculty, staff, and teammates who truly celebrated differences and helped me evolve as a professional and a person.  A hearty thanks to the village who helped make this happen!  You are some damn fine people.

Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA graduates - Cohort 5
 Fort Collins Brewery donated some space so we could celebrate in style after the big walk.  Yet another perk of getting a Colorado MBA, the microbrewery scene.  The night carried on and professors, parents, and students celebrated our accomplishments...some until 3:30 in the morning (nice one Dad).

Thanks for the support friends!
Fitting gifts for a business graduate, a pen to sign an offer letter (thanks mom and dad), a business card holder that reminds me to get out and fish, and some sound advice from a fellow Peace Corps friend.

Really doin' it!
The best part of the entire graduation experience was that my Dad was able to come out and share the glory.  College is a big deal in our family and it wasn't just me that walked across the stage when they called my name.  Cheers to the Miller Clan :)  Dad showed up at 8am for coffee and some last minute ironing and dropped me off at the door of the auditorium since it was maybe the second time I'd worn heels in years.  Ouch.
Thanks for making the trip Dad!
I'm fairly certain I sold Dad on Fort Collins, not that he needed it.  Between the breweries, Old Town, and hiking, we did the Front Range right.  Looking forward to more family and friend visits out here; talking to you Emily Turza and Kim Ranly!

Just another day in on the front range
After the dust settled and Dad flew out, I took myself up to Leadville and Ski Cooper for some much needed reconnecting with friends and mountains.  Had a lovely beer pairing at the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse and got to snowboard opening day on some fresh flakes.  Even though it's at 10,000 feet, I always breathe a little easier up there :)
Celebrating opening day at Ski Cooper with all natural snow :)
Which is why I'm excited to say that I've decided to stick around Colorado for awhile!  My last semester of school was spent working with FishChoice, a nonprofit that helps businesses source and sell sustainable seafood.  They offered me a position and after evaluating other opportunities, it really wasn't even a question that I wanted to stay right here and make this project a reality.  Much, much more to come on that but most important right now is that I'm working with fantastic people on something I truly care about, food!
Working on what I love: food!
Holidays spent back in Ohio were fantastic.  Don't know when I'm headed east again so it was nice to relax, eat mom's food, and pet my dog.  On a final note about new beginnings, our faithful beast, Zeus checked out the day after I returned to Colorado.  He'd rallied hard for the holidays but after well over a decade on Miller's Happy Acres, he was ready to go meet the other 4-legged family members who have touched our lives.  Mom wrote a great blog about him and we continue to reminisce about the years of stories he amassed. 

Animals teach us a lot; forgiveness, compassion, unrelenting focus on the things you truly care about (tennis balls), and never to settle for kibble when you can train your humans to feed you from the table.  These are much more important lessons than anything we will ever learn in a classroom and I'll be carrying them forward into my 2013.  

Happy New Year everyone, let's go do some great things!

Zeus, the wonder dog