Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Year in Review - Personal

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To pay respect to 2009, I wanted to write a blog post reflecting back on the year from a personal perspective. I will also write a reflective blog post from a professional perspective (though some of these will overlap). I think it is best to post as a list.

  • I spent a lot more time with my dad. Even more than usual (I normally see him once, I now spend about 2-3 days a week hanging out with the old man. I work from his office about once a week and in this time, I realized, he is hilarious. More hilarious than I previously could have imagined.
  • I was able to take an amazing trip to Thailand and Turkey this year. I always wanted to visit Thailand (wish I could have stayed more than one week) so it was a nice dream trip come true. I visited a gay bar in Chiang Mai where I was instantly crowned a princess and given a Tiara.
  • princess in a gay bar in Chiang Mai

  • While in Turkey, I was able to meet my cousin's daughter for the first time. I was also able to make some nice connections with the W Hotel in Istanbul and the brand new Four Season's in Istanbul
  • Four Seasons, Bosphorus

  • I met my web pen pal of thirteen years, Vivek, in person. We met in 1996 in a Duran Duran chat room and we chatted nearly every night after. Vivek was able to come to the US in 2009 and stayed with me for one week in Chicago.
  • I became more heavily engrossed in Sunday Morning Soliloquy and started to take it more seriously. I went to multiple blogging conferences, I printed business cards for my blog (weird for me at first but people love them - or they secretly mock me - in either case - whatever). I was able to build a presence for this blog, a blog that talks about nothing in specific and everything in general. What's the point? I like to contribute useful information on Social Media Marketing. It helps contribute to my personal brand and it actually gives me a better understanding of how online marketing works in various capacities. Plus, I have a place to sound off, and, I like learnin'.
  • I grasped the idea of creating a Personal Brand and worked to develop that persona. It is a notion I am uncomfortable with because I am a horrible self promoter but it is a necessary evil when you work in marketing, (especially when you're out on your own like me).
  • I had some nice "wins" and some really nice "near wins" in business. I was given the opportunity to pitch some really nice pieces of business, some of the best ones I did not get but I was happy enough to be considered a viable enough candidate.
  • I went to Vegas a couple of times (I love Vegas). One of those trips was for BlogWorld, which was great!
  • Since we're on the subject, I also went to Blogher
  • I dated a "dude" for a few months. It was like the movie 50 First Dates, we dated for four months but each time I felt like I was meeting him for the first time. He was so one dimensional, he bored me to tears. Oh, that's a good post, the worst dates of 2009!
  • My grandmother died. She was really old and suffered from dementia so it was for the best. It was really difficult on my mom and I wish I had supported her better though the whole thing.
  • Had an incredible time at Lollapalooza and covered all three days on my blog
  • I made Twitter my whole life. Yes, I am serious. In 2009, my life started to revolve around Twitter and I am proud to say it! I made so many new connections thanks to Twitter - some of the best professionals I've met in a long time. It is the best networking tool I have ever stumbled upon. Speaking of, I created a StumbleUpon account along with every other social bookmarking site.
  • I met Chris Brogan and Chad Vader - that's not an accomplishment, I'm just sayin'
  • I met Amanda Chapel - now that IS an accomplishment
  • I got into a big fight with an angry mob of Mommy Bloggers That one hurt a little, they're mean!
  • I quit drinking for a month (but I do this a lot, I like to test my will power)
  • I finally discovered Pandora
  • I got a Mac
  • I coined the term "Lostafarian" - a LOST reference. If you love Lost as much as I do, you're a Lostafarian.
  • I would say the best part of '09 has been realizing what is most important in my life (and it is not the material things). I had less in '09 than I did in '99 but it is the happiest I have been in a long time. I never allowed myself to get upset by the economy or my economic situation. Instead, I stayed very positive and put my energy into picking up new skills. I have wonderful friends, I feel good about the ones I kicked off the Island and the new ones I've brought onto the Island.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mistakes I've Made in Social Media

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This past year, I have learned a lot about this little thing called "social media". First of all, I learned what social media is/means. I also learned the impact it can make on business, especially small business. I also made some horrible mistakes along the way. Here is a list of some of my all time favorites...

5) Fighting back or defending yourself online. I am a Yelper. When I first started using Yelp, I really enjoyed reviewing restaurants and I gave my honest, opinion in my usual "snooty-ish" yet comical persona. One day, I received an email from a friend with a link to a thread on Yelp. It was about 8 days of posts in the "Talk" section of Yelp. I had not even heard of the "Talk" section. Yelpers decided to haze my reviews and went on to mock me publicly. Many participated in this public crucifixion of my reviews, the thread went on for pages.

When I first read what others were saying about me, my writing, my personality it was incredibly painful. I was so sad to see so many people mock my writing and my personal opinion. So naturally, I did what I always do when I get hurt, I came out swinging. I decided I would take on that online mob hiding behind their computer screen. I started to defend my opinion, stood up for myself - the result? They came after me even harder, it was like trying to fighting my way out of quicksand. The more I posted, defending my position, the worse it got. With every typed response I was simply fueling the fire.

The thing to know about crowds online is that they have safety in numbers and they are hide behind their computers. They are anonymous mobs of people who behave in ways they would never do "in real life". Most of these people are likely meek, quiet, or regular people but give them some anonymity and they will do and say anything! My best advice - forget it. Drop it. Do not do anything. If you decide to get into the mix you will satisfy their need to make you hurt and they will not stop.

By the way, this was not the last time I made the mistake of defending myself to the masses. I also had an incident with Mommy Bloggers last year that is still too painful to discuss.

4) Divulging too much public information online. I have been blogging for a long time and using just about every single social media site known to mankind, so I learned this a LONG TIME AGO. What you say or post is not only public information but the photos you share can be downloaded and be photoshopped, etc. Chances are this won't happen but just know that it can happen. If you're online as much as I am, you will eventually be recognized from the web - that is when it gets weird.

I will use a "facebook friend" as an example. I have two contacts from my past who are getting divorced (from their spouses). They post every detail of their personal lives in their status updates. I imagine they think this is "OK" because their profiles are private and they only share this information with their "friends". Guess what, just because I knew you for five minutes in 1987 does not make us friends and there is no reason for you to tell me about your soon-to-be ex-husband and his drinking problem (or whatever). Keep your private information - PRIVATE.

3) Keep it PG. Actually, I take that back, keep it G. People get offended and they get offended very, very, very easily. I have over 2000 followers on Twitter - I cannot possibly know what is going to set one of them off.

My lesson on this one came from a former client. Late night on Twitter, I will have conversations with my tweeps - I always say that I talk to my "late night tweeters". There is a small group of us who have become friends on Twitter and we keep later hours so we chat. I once said the 4 letter version of the word "poo" and a former client blocked me. My friend who worked for the company sent me a note and said, "Hey just wanted to let you know my boss blocked you on Twitter." I was so angry because it felt senseless to me, but then, a friend put is into very simple terms. My friend said, "So, just don't say swear words on Twitter, what's the big deal?" He was right. I am fully capable of expressing myself without using profanity.

2) You want a lot of friends? Keep it light and friendly. It sounds so wishy-washy, and it is, but the people who have a lot of "web friends" aren't necessarily people pleasers but they know what builds a good presence. It is sort of like office politics (though I was never very good at office politics either). The friendly people online share links, they help promote their friends and they give away a lot of information.

When I first started tweeting, I thought "I am going to be myself." My abrasive "self", the one I use in my Yelp persona. When I tell stories I don't have a filter, I can be sarcastic and rude and sometimes vulgar. When that translates online, sometimes it didn't work out so well. I have found that people do not want to read what a negative Nelly has to say all day long. It can be fun to read a comical feed of someone sarcastic but it is difficult to build an online relationship with a character. There is a perfect balance between your personality or persona and maintaining a positive image online. I cannot tell you what that balance is, you need to find it on your own.

1) Drunk Blogging. As a Communications major in college, I took an Interpersonal Communications class, from that class I recall ONE very important lesson - "Communication is irreversible". When you put something out into the world, especially in written form, you cannot take it back.

One morning I woke up with a strong guilty feeling and a bit of a hangover. I asked myself, "Self, what did you do last night? Which ex did you drunk text?" So I instantly grabbed my phone and looked at my texts - there was nothing there. Still not convinced, I jumped onto the computer and checked Facebook to ensure that no silly status updates were written in my intoxicated state. Again, nothing. Checked email and all my other electronic communication devices - and NOTHING. Though I was not fully convinced that I was in the clear, I thought I had covered all my basis.

I went about my day, yet I was haunted by the thought that something was horribly wrong. Finally, it dawned on me - MY BLOG! The moment I got home I checked my blog and sure enough there was a post. A drunken blog post written as if it had been ripped out of the pages of a sixteen year old Leyla's diary. I took it down immediately and hoped against hope that no one read it in the 12 hours of its existence.

Related Posts:
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Friday, December 18, 2009

My Review of the Ear Irrigator

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Ear Irrigator

I belong to a program where they send me product to try and review. I recently received the Ear Irrigator in the mail - it is supposed to "clean ears" and "help prevent wax build up". Read on for my thoughts on the Ear Irrigator...

I was a little excited when I first opened the box and saw some sort of ear cleaning solution. I am slightly obsessed with cleaning my ears, I use Q Tips daily. I also recently tried a product where I get to rinse my nose and clean out my sinuses and that went well. This product was similar in functionality and the contents of the solution.

The product indicated that one should NOT use this product if they've had perforated ear drum or if they had tubes in their ears. I perforated my ear drum when I was 18 but I believe it has healed so I went ahead and used the product.

I held the bottle up to my ear and squeezed it into my right ear. It felt very strange, very strange, at first. Shocking almost. The fluid is cold as it rushes into your ear and I found myself jumping back and shaking my head. The fluid then rushes out of your ear and all over the floor. So be sure to do it in the bathroom. My second ear was not nearly as shocking as I knew what to expect.

My plan was to try the product several times before writing this post so that I could see what repeated use was like. The bottle says it takes a few times until the ears are cleaned out. Unfortunately, I did not try it again.

The day after I tried the Ear Irrigator, I woke up with a tingle in my right ear. That all-too-familiar tingle that I get when I am about to have an ear infection. I stopped using the Ear Irrigator immediately. I believe that due to my chronic ear problems with my right ear, I am not the appropriate person to test this product.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stars I Have Met More Than Once

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I am sitting at Starbucks writing an article for a stupid website I have been trying to develop for a million years. I finally gave myself a deadline of Valentine's Day but my attention span has hit the wall. I am just too thorough, I have to look up every detail when I write, so I am taking a break.

I was just thinking, I always want to brag about the stars I have coincidentally met more than once. What better way to brag than write a blog post. Blogs are mostly about the ego afterall - right?

Nicolas Cage. I had dinner with him twice. Once when I was in Dallas, Texas. Nic Cage was then married to Lisa Marie Presley and I was in Dallas for the Paul McCartney concert. I was staying at The Mansion and having dinner at the restaurant. Nic Cage & his wife, Lisa Marie Preseley, they sat at the table next to me.

I had dinner with Nic Cage a second time in Chicago. This was before he married the Asian waitress. I was having dinner at Gibson's in Chicago and he was seated a few tables over with about seven others. He kept going into the kitchen to talk on the phone. That was the second time I had dinner with Nicolas Cage. Clearly, I never actually met Nicolas Cage, I just happened to be having dinner less than 10 ft. away from him two times in two years. I have not seen Nic Cage since he got married to that Asian waitress - coincidence? I think not.

Wayne Newton. The first time I met Wayne Newton was in Las Vegas - surprising? Probably not. I was in Vegas (with my boyfriend at the time) on a Monday or Tuesday. We were up all night playing craps and it must have been early in the morning. We were heading back up to our room from the craps tables and all of a sudden, there was Wayne Newton. He was in the lobby of our hotel filming the movie "Las Vegas Vacation".

The next time I met Wayne Newton was at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. My grandmother was admitted to the hospital because she had a stroke. At the hospital they gave her ambian to which she had a CRAZY reaction and attacked the nurses. My family had to be by my grandmother's side constantly so she wouldn't do anything too nutso (she was also suffering from dementia). During that hysteria was when I met Wayne Newtwon the second time.

I took a break from my grandma's side and took a walk in the halls. Wayne Newton's daughter (I believe it was his daughter) was in the room down the hall from my grandma and he was taking a walk with his daughter. He is very, very tall in real life & has really black hair. Oh, and one other thing, judging by what he looked like in daylight - Wayne Newton could probably kick your ass.

Rod Stewart. This one is not really fair because he was staying in Chicago for a week and I ran into him multiple times in that week. I bring it up because there is a funny story that goes with my Rod encounter. It was the late 90s and I was going out on the town a lot. My friend Burton and I had been to several bars and restaurants over the course of that week and ran into Rod Stewart. Finally, after running into Rod Stewart for the fourth time, we were at The Whiskey on Rush Street. Rod Stewart walked into the establishment. Right as Rod walked past our table, my friend Burton (who had a bit of a drug habit in the 90s) stood up out of his chair and yelled "WHY IS ROD STEWART FOLLOWING ME?!?" It was really funny. A true Burton moment. I could write a whole blog on Burton, so many Burton moments.

Other famous people I met once in passing:
  • Liz Phair - the coat check at The Metro for a Dogstar show. I whispered "You Rock" in her ear. Sounds totally creepy but I loved her so much but didn't want to be weirdo star stalker - so instead, I was just a weirdo.

  • Billy Murray at Pops for Champagne, he was drunk & hysterical. Totally hanging out with people in the bar. I so badly wanted to ditch my lame date and hang with Bill Murray

  • Norm MacDonald at a diner in Chicago. I didn't know it was him and I said "You know, you look just like Norm MacDonald". He said, "hi, what's your name?" I became thorougly annoyed and then after five minutes realized I was talking to THE ACTUAL Norm MacDonald. Then I got all weird and said "I love Artie Lange" because I didn't know what else to say.

  • I am listening to:

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    True Pimp Story

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    My True Pimp Story 

    I recently noticed that my readership has gone down and I know why. People like my stories and I have not been dishing out the stories. So to remedy the situation, I'm sharing my true pimp story with you.

    I stayed in tonight and watched A Clockwork Orange and Scent of a Woman. After a few glasses of wine, I began to think, I need a good story for my blog. Then I started watching a documentary, American Pimp. That's when it dawned on me... I'll share MY pimp story.

    Rapper Pimp C
    Photo credit

    Back in the mid 90s, the stretch of North Avenue near the river was once famous for street hookers. Where you now shop for fancy fancy groceries at Whole Foods, you could once shop for sex. Ladies (and lady-boys) walked up and down North Avenue trying to make a buck - in rain or shine and in sleet or snow. Cars would stop and girls would walk up to the window, like in the movies. Everyone knew about it, cops knew about it, even my mom knew about it - it was just the way that it was.

    After I graduated college (no, I did not have a pimp) I worked as a bartender for a few years. I was about 23 when I started dating a guy who owned a bar in Chicago. His bar was located on that same stretch of North Avenue.

    at maddog
    Dancing at a Chicago Nightclub circa 1996-1997
    That's my curly black hair (I'm wearing a slip I purchased 2nd hand as a dress)

    Although my then boyfriend's bar was in the thick of where the hookers stood, for some reason the girls never went inside the bar. I don't know if the ladies were afraid of the patrons or if they were too busy working the street? Whatever the reason, they never set foot inside the bar and they rarely caused trouble unless you messed with them first.

    One night, my boyfriend calls me and says he has a problem and doesn't know what to do. This was a guy who always knew what to do, so when I got a call like that, it couldn't be good. Turned out his problem was a pimp.

    I really like this picture

    The bar opened at 8 o'clock every night. One of the pimps started coming inside when the bar opened to have drink while his girls worked outside. He did nothing wrong, he bothered nobody but every night, right at 8 o'clock, he came in and sat at the bar.

    This took place over a decade ago, so I don't remember it well and I only saw the pimp once, but he always wore a suit and a clear shower cap. I can't be certain about the details of his hair, all I know is that he wore a shower cap with a suit and sat in the middle of the bar and sipped his drink. It was clear that he was a pimp.

    My then boyfriend was concerned because the pimp was freaking out his staff and he was freaking out customers. But because the pimp was not doing anything wrong, he had no reason to ask him to leave.

    On the pimp's fourth or the fifth visit, my then boyfriend approached him. He politely asked the pimp to finish his drink and exit the bar. The pimp made no refusal. He finished his drink, left the bar quietly and never came back. I guess when you're in the pimp business, you understand when businesses don't want your business.

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