Dazed and Chartreuse

28 Aug

Hej snygga människor,

*there is a lot of senseless punctuation coming your way, and I am not sorry about it Flaherty.

I hope this message finds you well while sitting/standing on your phone/tablet/laptop. I’m guessing the desktop users represent a small enough percentage as to not qualify for a mention.

I am currently acting as cool as I can in one of the “hippest” areas in the world – a brunch coffee shop in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. I’m wearing an off-color flannel, exposing my tattoos, and am considering ordering avocado toast. Add on the fact I’m on a Windows computer, which everyone knows is the new Mac, and I’m on the cusp of fitting in.


I was hoping to write a face-muscle-tiring update bursting with joyful wit, but two weeks of traveling has taken its toll. I’m light-headed enough that the subtext of this writing will be less “try hard comedy” and more “Meandering stream of Consciousness”, but then again, I believe we are all used to that by now.  What really sucks about a UTI is the feeling you’re going to shoot stuff out both one and two at all times. Just goddamn discomfort every second, throw in a dash of public embarrassment and a pinch of inaccessible bathroom and POW, you got a stew going. That’s an Arrested Development reference not a literal description of what’s going on in my Levi’s.
Okay…so, you’ve been traveling for 2 weeks?

Yeah narrator Thomas, after an extremely interesting and knowledge solidifying internship at Medtronic this summer, I have been turning up the travel knob. I start my second year of MBA school at the Carlson School of Management next Tuesday. Thusly, I wanted to get out and do a little living before that final push to recruiting into a full-time job happening this fall.

Facilitating my travel is the new wheelchair I purchased a few weeks ago, only made possible through your deep generosity, thank you so much. Not only is this wheelchair super badass in a subtle yet confident cobalt blue, but I was also able to purchase a Freewheel extension allowing me to Offroad anywhere – especially in the ancient roads of Northern Europe where I’ll be studying this spring – as well as a power assist device called a smartDrive. The smartDrive acts as a cruise control for my manual chair helping me move alkmost anywhere, including the ungodly Steep and carpeted ramp leading to my summer office cafeteria. These three instruments combine to make me as capable as any human being in my situation could hope. You are all responsible for helping me to get to that place, and I’m forever indebted to you.  Thank you. I promise I use that equipment to do things that push my boundaries and in doing so hopefully help others who may not have had the opportunities I have to see what is possible. So I’ve been trying to pay it forward as best I can, as someone recently said to me, “I’m sick of all your hero posts on Instagram, I’m forced to like all of them.” That’s the best comment I’ve ever heard but the only way I am able to travel on my own or do anything really was by seeing other people do it, hence the hero post. And I’m trying to grow my brand, obviously.


Wow tight jean and semi-ironic twins hat wearing Thomas, what a poorly structured digression. Can we format that a little better for clarity?

Sure voice in my head born from a vigorous infection.

MBA school/internship: one year ago this week I began the pursuit of a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. It has been absolutely fantastic, though I always thought business classes were kind of b*******. After a first semester strategy class reading cases with real stakes I finally give some Credence to this whole “let’s think about what we do before we do it to be successful” thing. Throughout the year I was able to do many quite awesome things. Highlights include a Net Impact (a professional group for social and environmental responsibility) conference in Philly, placing second in a nationwide case competition for said Net Impact org and winning some pretty hard and clean cash (the 1st place team had a spread of European accents, we never had a chance), then taking that cash and spending a larger percentage of it in Aspen while shredding on a bi-unique ski in Breckenridge for a weekend. Skiing was mind-blowing, simply put – everything that I used to do is now incredibly frustrating and shitty because my body is so dumb. But skiing on Breck and absolutely shredding the mountain was the most enjoyable physical activity I have done post-injury. Jason Curry and I ripped that mountain into pieces and I now am addicted.

My first MBA year (of a 2 year program) culminated with the all-important summer internship. I was lucky enough to land a highly competitive internship at Medtronic, a massive medical device company based in Minneapolis. I was alongside some pretty dang smart people from Top Business Schools all of whom were sweet and provided for a fun summer. I was working in an Upstream marketing role within the neural stimulation business. Which, by intention, is the same business that creates the devices researches are using to restore function to peeps w/ spinal cord injury. I was able to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of the business and technology of therapies that will hopefully help people all f***** up like me. On top of that, my experience this summer crystallized a lot of the information I learned in school. My manager was awesome, everyone I worked with was rad, and it would have been a perfect summer, except…. Medtronic kind of kicked our intern class in the nethers and cancelled the full-time development program into which the internship was supposed to lead. Going into the internship I knew that if I performed well I would have been extended an offer by the end of the summer into a rotational program where I could have lived abroad for a year and then come back to the US for another 18 months in a different location. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect and that opportunity no longer exists. So as school begins next week I am back on the wagon identifying, reaching out to, and hopefully successfully interviewing with companies I find interesting. I hope to be at a midsize medical Tech firm working with meaningful devices or therapies while also having touch with Physicians and patients. Hopefully in 5 months when I write you again I’ll have good news that I’m working for a exciting and well-paying 200 person Healthcare data and device company in the Bay Area as a business development director. That’s totally going to happen.


Yet another radical thing, and I realize how lucky I am that I’m able to have multiple radical things going on, is my study abroad program in Stockholm, Sweden coming up this winter.  I’ll be studying at the Stockholm School of Economics from January to March and taking an epic trip through Iceland and Copenhagen on my way East to Stockholm. I’ll make sure to invite all of you who leave comments on my posts to my future wife Helga’s and my (that is correct grammar) wedding this summer. Helga comes from a Royal bloodline in Sweden but is super down-to-earth and into bald, fat, crippled guys. It’s going to be magical. Then I will return home in April and graduate May. By that time I hope to have a job offer that I would likely start in August after visiting Russia for some of the World Cup in June and July. But a few things need to happen between then and now, so keep your fingers crossed. Because I can’t cross my fingers. Well I can but I have to use my teeth and I’m in public right now.

Summer trips: as denim shirt and yerba mate sipping hipster-Thomas mentioned, I have been on a few righteous trips the past few weeks. Three weeks ago, I celebrated my main man Steve Stone’s upcoming nuptials at a bachelor party in Cabo. Only one thing needs to be said about that trip, infinity pool. The only challenge was the meeting us interns had with the CEO the day after I returned and the hour-long presentation I gave to my team three days after that. Fortunately, my years at CU prepared me to party epically and then Crush responsibly. My internship ended very well, but as the Whole Foods and J crew hating Thomas mentioned, that didn’t really matter because the full-time program was cancelled. A few days after returning from Cabo I headed out on a pretty serious Adventure up to the Canadian border in The Boundary Waters Wilderness canoe area. Me and 5 of my homies, one a paraplegic, manned up and sent it in three canoes for three nights and four days. There is a super badass dude from Rochester, Minnesota that makes equipment allowing me to sit upright in a canoe and grip a paddle to actually contribute to the transferring of energy from my shoulders through the paddle then back down my torso and into the boat.


The heroes of the trip are my friends who: carried my gimp ass on piggyback for a third of a mile over a pretty gnarly canoe Portage, baby carried me up the root terrorized path to our campsite, and helped me not explode in a campsite where the latrine was up what can be conservatively qualified as a JP1-level jungle pathway. The icing on the donut was our moose friend who came next to our campsite to bathe nightly. At one point she was diving down and doing her thing as a beaver swam past her, an eagle flew overhead, and a loon called out. It is the second most Minnesotan thing I’ve ever experienced. I was also able to tip the canoe. The quarter bottle of whiskey I drank may have given me the nerves but it was a great test to prove that if we do tip I’ll be totally okay. TomTom is going to become a big-time camping guy. Another shout-out to Sam, Nick, Alex, and Eric for allowing me to take on the BWCA.


Finally, as I’m sure you put together at this point, I am currently in New York City, New York, USA. Ostensibly I am here to catch a day session of the US Open tomorrow, but deep down I come to New York every year to get slices. Slices on slices. I got here Friday, two days after returning from The Boundary Waters, and have packed in as much fun as a relatively light headed and flat-tire-having-gimp can do. Comedy shows, a tremendously badass hip hop Festival in Brooklyn, and rooftop cocktails. Every time I come to New York my belief it is the greatest city in the world is further supported. At least top five.  So many different people and languages, and unlike most mid-westerners, who are very nice and I love, New Yorkers won’t force their way into helping you unless its a dire situation. Nobody’s going to stop in the middle of the road, get out of their car and grab my chair to “help” me get up the incline. I think the threshold is visible blood from the shoulders and above whilst lying on the ground. And that’s just the way it should be.


I wouldn’t be able to love and enjoy the city this much without the help of my sister, Eclo. From tracking down a tube to fix my flat to helping me pick out which slim fit short-sleeve button-up I should wear, her help is invaluable and she’s pretty fun to hang around. So thank you sister.  Also my cousin Jordan a.k.a. J$ is gracious af for letting my nasty ass crash at his place and for telling me where to go – thanks cuz.

Miscellaneous: I think those are the major stones on the wall of Thomas, my only hope is that an ice dragon doesn’t come by and melt/freeze-burn it down with blue fire. Life is good, though it still really really really really really sucks being injured like this. As always, the more you put yourself out there the more you realize what you can’t do. But the motto I tell people I say whenever I struggle, when in reality I never remember to, is it will always be easier the second time #hero. And that is one of the only things I know is always true. Be it sitting in a jerry-rigged adaptive canoe with a paddle I’ve never touched while pushing out into a Boundary Waters remote lake with wind in our face to trying to get onto Jordans freaking 6 ft High bed when I only have 20 minutes to get changed, it’s always easier the second time. I can’t even imagine what the 15th time will be like. I’m still dedicated to helping find a means to restore function (GUSU helped increase the MN grant program for SCI/TBI from $1M to $6M this session. I have stepped down my participation with GUSU but there are far more capable and talented people helping the org grow to be even more successful. My plan is to develop business skills necessary to bring an SCI therapy to Market. When it comes across in the next 10 years I can help deliver it to our tiny and not financially attractive population. That is unless I get a job at HBO as lead show water. Cuz I might take that career deviation for a few years for the greater good you know?

So I hope you all are well. I still need to finish my local dairy cow yogurt, sliced cantaloupe, honey from bees that receive positive affirmations every 10 minutes and walnuts grown with goat’s urine, so I must now go. Always remember this – Chaos is a ladder – unless your enemies are omnipotent. Game of Thrones reference.

Until next time

Peace out


One Response to “Dazed and Chartreuse”

  1. Auntie Nancy August 30, 2017 at 1:03 am #

    You consistently AMAZE me, Thomas. You’re making me exhausted (lol) with all you have going on, and I have nothing but the utmost admiration for all that you’re doing. Love U so much! (Uncle Mark, too)

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