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The Tale of the Wanderer

Shhh...It's Storytime

Come closer 'round the fire,

Lend me your eyes and center your mind.

On a woman, you may want to hire.

Let me tell you a tale you cannot easily find.

There once was born a small child named Natalie. From a young age, she could often be found in her room so deep in a book that she couldn't hear you calling her name, no matter how loud you yelled. Her parents used to half-jokingly try to bribe her to go outside and play with other children. But she was a solitary soul, riding through the hills of Rohan, strolling through the halls of Hogwarts, and off fighting dragons in Damar. Very little could tear her away from her books, except for the great halls of knowledge at her local schools. While books remained her closest companions, the pursuit of knowledge became her career as she strove to be the very best, like no one ever was. She studied math, science, Spanish, English, and History by day, training in the renowned arts of Reining and the soothing sounds of the Tenor Saxophone by night. Staunchly she defended herself from the flighty temptresses of skipping classes, partying, and having a normal high school social life to maintain her 4.0 GPA. But alas, the femme fatale, Honors Chemistry, prevented Natalie from achieving her goal of becoming valedictorian. Wounded, but not yet defeated, she charged ahead towards high school graduation and won the great Battle of College Admissions to attend the University of Washington.

In Seattle, on her own for the first time, she was lured into the entrancing lingua d'amore, with Italian 101 and in the blink of an eye applied to travel and study in Italy, mere weeks after arriving in the Emerald City. She was the only Freshman to venture on the trip designed for Juniors and Seniors. Undeterred by her youth and inexperience, she jetted off to Italy to live in the city of love, Roma. Wandering down the cobblestoned streets, she felt the weight of history with every step, knowing Caesar once walked on the same stones. Day by day, she discovered the secrets of the ancient city, which unfolded for her like an evening primrose. She learned that the Trevi Fountain was best viewed at 3 AM when all of the tourists were tucked into their beds. She found that the best gelato in the city could be found in the shadow of the walls of the Vatican at a tiny shop named Old Bridge Gelato. She learned that the best time to visit the Pantheon was when it was pouring rain where it pours through the holed dome like a waterfall. Few secrets were safe from her wanderings through the land of pasta and wine. Upon returning home, she endeavored to become fluent in Italian so she could return again someday to that wondrous land. At the same time, she took a chance on an unknown course in the enigmatic field, the Comparative History of Ideas. There she discovered an enthusiasm for continental philosophy and human rights, which she brought to bear on her studies of Italy as well.

Three years pass by in this fashion, as she studies away by day and makes lifelong friends by night. She adopted a tiny dire wolf in need of a home with her consort. As graduation rapidly approaches, she frantically searched for her next step. As her 18-year pursuit of knowledge drew to a close, she was wracked with anxiety attacks and nightmares of living in a box on the side of the road with only her shiny new Italian & Comparative History degrees to her name. But the universe works in mysterious ways, and through a confluence of the stars, she managed to get an interview with the most well-renowned merchant in the Emerald City, Microsoft. They sought an Italian speaker, of which she was now one. Clutching her shiny degree, she entered the halls of the great giant to learn all there was to know about the content moderation of apps and games for the Italian market. Unbeknownst to her, this job was tailor-made for gamers who spoke foreign languages, of which she was one, for games are just books made into an interactive format. Day in and day out she reviewed apps and played games, and learned the secret ways of pulling data and analyzing metrics for those apps and games. But soon she heard a whisper in her ear. "There is still so much more to learn," the whisper said, as academia called her name again. She felt the pull so strongly she could not resist and waged war once more in the Battle of Graduate School Admissions. The battle was long and hard fought for many months. Through many days of blood, sweat, and tears, she doubted herself and the path she had chosen. There is no greater villain towards one's self-esteem, than that of college admissions. After months of self-doubt, she felt herself giving up, but her paramour and her dire wolf urged her on. When it seemed like there was no hope left, she suddenly heard a sweet chime from her inbox. "Please click on this link to view your decision letter", it said. She shakingly clicked on the link and logged into the account. She took a deep breath and opened the decision letter. "Congratulations!" it sang out victoriously. She had won the war and been granted entrance to the prestigious old ivy-decked halls of the University of Chicago to study International Relations.

In a whirlwind, she sold all of her things, kissed her family goodbye, packed up the car, and she, her paramour, and her dire wolf drove off to the Windy City in the Land of Lincoln. Living on the South Side of Chicago was quite the culture shock for their little family, but they braved the harsh winter and high crime rates so she could pursue her master's degree. The nine-month program flew by in a haze as she furiously read hundreds of pages of academic texts per week, wrote countless papers, and seemingly endlessly researched her M.A. Thesis on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Just nine months later, she was finished with classes but ready to jump back into the outside world but now focused on politics and business. They decided to move to the futuristic land of Silicon Valley to explore the realm of tech and honey. Again they sold all of their things, packed up the car, hugged their new friends' goodbye and off they went, journeying back to the west coast. Upon arrival, they had no home to speak of and she had interviews but had not yet landed a job. Kindly friends took them in for a few weeks until they could find an apartment, and Natalie focused all of her efforts at obtaining a job at the renowned think tank, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Through the Hoover Institution, she combined her love of technology and new knowledge of international relations by becoming their Product Marketing Manager to promote the great ideas of some of the brightest minds of our generation.

Thus the saga of Natalie, the Wanderer, ends for now, as the rest of the tale has yet to be written. Only time will tell where her story goes.