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By Lou Lou Taylor

I had managed to emerge as a "hitter" (a favorable and endearing term amongst investment bankers.) Sexy "live" deals were thrown at my voracious appetite. And, to my fortune, our clients had headquarters in "happening" cities. While my colleagues were stuck in the office crunching numbers, I was flying on a private jet to hot spots like South Beach, Los Angeles, and Mexico City. Ordering overpriced continental breakfasts from room service and ravaging the mini bars at five-star hotels became my favorite pastime on these business trips. Seeing the "closed" deal printed in the Wall Street Journal was the ultimate grandeur of my embellished ego.

The dangerous dichotomy of success elevated me to such an enviable spotlight amongst my female friends while simultaneously planting an embryo of self-loathing that slowly simmered into my self-esteem. My pugnacious spirits, while illuminating respect from my financial mentors, exploded into a volcano of alienation amongst my family members. Evidently, my parents would never be able to relate to the demanding lifestyle of a young rising investment banker. Wall Street was an unforgiving ally to humanity, a quality that my parents successfully implemented in their small world of Midwest suburbia. I cholerically disregarded my parents' reactions to simplistic ignorance and plunged forward with my self-defined altruistic stoicism.

Within a short time, the young blooming finance graduate had transformed to a petulant "big shot" and burned-out young twenty-something woman. The spotlight on my high-strung behavior illuminated the queues at nearby department stores and my local grocery stores. "Did you find everything you were looking for?" the cashier checker sweetly asked.

"No, no I didn't, but it's too late now! Look, I'm in a hurry. Yes, just give me plastic!" as I hastily left the store.

One would think that my spoiled behavior would alter this woman's sunny demeanor. But, in fact, the ruder I became, the more genuinely sincere she became. What was she so happy about? What a boring simplistic job she has, day in and day out! I could not understand how some people could live their daily life without any high aspirations. A cashier at a grocery store would never really make a mark on society.

My tumultuous public persona continually bestowed immediate results to my materialistic desires, yet all the while I was unmistakably left with a vacuous longing for something more lucid. Tantamount to my confusion, my once treasured "la dolce vita" adventurous weekends in the Hamptons eventually reaped haplessness. Even buying the latest Jimmy Choo shoes quickly lost its splendor. Maintaining the polished young female executive that I had strived to be, became a burdensome chore. Candidly, the mirror revealed aging bags under my eyes, and my skin looked and felt ten years my senior. Goodbye Starbucks and Warnaco Stock! The riches that the stock market had bestowed upon me were now feverishly invested into elite facials and pampering eye treatments, with the hopes of a high return in my social life. I knew my rate in return in life would decrease if my attractiveness began to deplete. It is true that beauty is fleeting, but it has been statistically proven by many female-driven magazines that an intelligent and beautiful woman leaps bounds over the social progress of an unattractive intelligent woman. To my misfortune, the ramped beauty treatments produced only short-term results. I began to see that stress was a stronger opponent than I had anticipated, and it quickly humbled the egotistical image that I had created. Stress continually weighed me down, until one day I woke up dejectedly realizing that I had been beaten. My once steadfast future ambitions slowly transformed into a haze of cloudy uncertainty. With the end of the financial analyst program looming towards me, I knew that I had to somehow recapture the young woman from the Midwest. How I was going to do that still remained unclear to my perturbed mind.

While my colleagues found their sanctuary at the local bars in Greenwich Village, I found myself spending more and more of what little free time I had at my local gourmet grocery store. After a long hard day at work, I found it refreshing to peruse the aisles of gourmet delicacies in this surreal "Pleasantville." Briccani's Gourmet Grocery Store became my detoxifying oasis from Wall Street's hanging noose of profanity.

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