Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: April 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Friends Are Awesome - No, Really, They Are

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I was thinking about how awesome my friends are, and how much they do as entrepreneurs, and how much they give back to the community...

I thought it was worth writing about!

In the past few years, nearly all of the friends I have made are entrepreneurs, or have some sort of entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs are intoxicating people who are full of energy and life and I love their spirit. They also have a strong desire to give back, so I thought I would take a moment to share some of their profiles and some of their efforts with you.

Here are some of my awesome friends and what they're up to....
I shall start in no particular order, other than what was easy for me to post!

Jeff Ringgenberg aka @JeffreyRyanWho is a partner at Evolyte. We met on Twitter around the time I was planning the Urban Hunt. Jeff is an overall good guy (and he's super cute, despite the nerdy pic below). Jeff lost his mother to Brain Cancer in 2009, and in support of the cause, Jeff is trying to get the word out about a great event - Harley Helping Hands on April 29th at Galleria Marchetti. The not-for-profit organization helps provide financial support for adults with brain cancer.

April Rose aka @TweetAprilRose is a spokesperson and model. She works for Maxim Magazine and we became friends because we both work for (April is in front of the camera, and I am as far away from the camera as possible). Meeting April was intimidating at first because I made the quick assumption that April would be really full of herself - boy did she prove me wrong. April is a giant sweetheart, very funny and a caring person. April is supporting Angela Rose (no relation) who was abducted at knife point at the age of 17 and now advocates the prevention of sexual abuse. Story From a New Friend event is at Rockit this Thursday, April 21st.

Dominic Pesoli aka @8_Count or as I like to call him "The Amazing Dominic!" I met Dominic many years ago because his wife is my best friend. Many of you have noticed her outlandish (yet hysterical) posts on my Facebook wall. Well, this is her husband, The Amazing Dominic - who also happens to be a boxing promoter in Chicago. Dominic has been an entrepreneur promoting boxing events in Chicago since 1997 with his company 8 Count Productionss. His next event Windy City Fight Night is May 20th at the UIC Pavilion (Andrzej Fonfara vs Anthony Russell)

Tim McDonald aka @Tamcdonald is a friend I met about two years ago through SMC Chicago and Twitter. Tim is the Director of Communications for the Social Media Club in Chicago, he is a huge supporter of all of my efforts and a lot of other small business efforts in the Chicagoland area. Another great guy who is knowledgeable as much as he is helpful. Tim is bringing the Twitter documentary Twittamentary to Chicago on May 4th. And you can find details on the Eventbrite page here.

Shannon Downey aka @shannondowney I randomly found on Facebook around the time I was starting my business. Because our backgrounds were similar (we both create events and manage marketing communications / social media), I reached out to Shannon and wanted to get to know her better. Since that time, Shannon and I have been in touch and supported each others work. She was also a participant in the Urban Hunt last year and made a pretty killer YouTube video. Shannon's upcoming event is Growing Home on April 28th at the Cultural Center - an event honoring Kathy Dickhut, Deputy Commissioner of Department of Housing and Economic Development with a keynote address by Bill Curtis. Shannon's kind of a big deal.

Suzanne Ko aka @skofit I met when she sponsored (yes, you guessed it) the Urban Hunt. I swear, this is not a conspiracy, I have just managed to stay in close touch with all these people. Sko-fit is Suzanne's fitness consulting company and she is a vivacious fitness instructor who is formerly an architect. On April 24th, Suzanne is hosting another Eatin'-fit Tweetup called Rampbunctious.

Tatiana Abramova aka @GourmetRambler is a bon vivant extraordinaire and a big supporter of her dear friend Mike Stashwick. I met Tatiana and Mike on Twitter, our love for food and the art of dining out brought us together in a virtual world (she was also a participant in the aforementioned event her partner was Tim McDonald). Tatiana is one of the few non-expert winos who knows her stuff like a pro. Her breadth of knowledge on food, wine and spirits is impressive. Tatiana is supporting the Share Our Strength Great American Bake Sale to end child hunger on Saturday, May 7th. The goal is to make the Chicago bake sale the largest grossing in the nation.

Kelly Sutton aka @myPoshJeans - once again I met Kelly on Twitter, but, she did NOT participate in the Urban Hunt! I met her late last year at a #ChiGirlBrunch and the first thing I noticed was her striking blonde hair. Look at how pretty Kelly is, she is like a real life Barbie Doll :) She writes a fashion blog called My Posh Jeans (named in honor of Posh Spice) and works for The Ocean Agency. Kelly is championing a cause very close to her heart next month. Kelly's mother was diagnosed with MS in 2007, she will be hosting Cocktails for a Causes at the Drake Hotel on May 25th and donating the proceeds to the MS Society.

Here are some other noteworthy events (sorry, I just couldn't write bios and add photos for everyone without this post taking ALL DAY!)

Thanks for reading.  Here are some related posts:

Monday, April 18, 2011

2.5 Hour and $250 at Whole Foods

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My 74 year old father has declared he is turning into a vegetarian....2.5 hours and $250 later, he is on his way

A short and boring medical history of my family

My father is 74 and a type 2 diabetic. He has been a type 2 diabetic my entire adult life. My paternal grandmother was a type 2 diabetic who died in her mid 60s due to complications of diabetes. Both my father siblings are/were type 2 diabetics - my uncle passed away a few years ago. As long as I've been old enough to understand what the word "sick" meant, I've been closely related to someone with type 2 diabetes.

My greatest memories of my grandmother are of the two of us sneaking into the kitchen, after everyone had gone to bed, and stealing sweets from the refrigerator. As we sat in the dark at the kitchen table, she would make me promise not to tell anyone as we finished all the desserts. She loved to eat and desserts were her weakness.

My father is not much better, in fact, when my brothers and I were little, we nicknamed him "The Human Garbage Disposal". My dad has never taken good care of himself, especially not with his diet. In addition to his diabetes, he has a heart condition and has suffered multiple heart attacks over the past decade (one of the heart attacks was while he was riding a hot streak at the casino, he then drove himself from Indiana to Northwestern Hospital - but that's a different blog post). He currently lives with about 7 stents in his veins.

Yet, given my father's medical history, he tends to ignore all of the advice given to him by his doctors (and me) and continues to eat whatever he wants and refuses to exercise. So why? Why now, all of a sudden has my father decided that diet is important? Well, recently my father's diabetes escalated to the point where he had to start giving himself insulin shots regularly.

You would think that a series of heart attacks would scare the man into taking better care of himself, but no, I believe the insulin is what did it for him. You see, my grandmother died only a short time after having to start on insulin - so I THINK my father's fear of mortality has finally kicked in.

The less boring part... about my shopping experience today

Last week, my father phones me up, and with strong conviction he states, "I am now a vegetarian". I sometimes liken my father to an educated, Turkish version of Homer Simpson; therefore, I take his declaration lightly, yet I am completely amused, and I plead with him to continue on with his story.

Apparently, my father found a book, written by a doctor, that makes all sorts of claims on how one can lower their sugar levels significantly by following a vegetarian diet. I think it may also be vegan - because there was not any cheese or milk on his shopping list today.

My father tells me that it is impossible for him to shop on his own for these items because he has no clue what the majority of the shopping list is/means. He then asks for me to go online, to this doctor's website, and create a shopping list for him. I oblige. Reluctantly.

Sunday morning, he phones me and asks if I will accompany him to Whole Foods. I was really looking forward to this experience, so I get dressed, and we head to the big Whole Foods. (Sidebar - you should also know that my dad LOVES Whole Foods, he thinks everyone is so nice and helpful.)

My father pulls out a four page shopping list filled with the most absurd items. (Another sidebar, I was a vegetarian for five years - I didn't eat meat from 16 to 21 - so I am well versed in vegetarian shopping lists). Looking at the list, I chuckle and we start our two-and-a-half hour journey on a SUNDAY afternoon in Whole Foods.

I will start with the bulk aisle - considering we spent at least twenty minutes here. My father had four different types of FLOUR on his list, three different types of oats, two types of barley, two types of rice, along all of the usual suspects any vegetarian would have: dried split peas, lentils, quinoa - and so on...and so on.

My Dad In The Dry Goods Aisle at Whole Foods

My father had to make his declaration at least three times to random strangers (and any Whole Foods employees who would stop to listen) that he was NOW a vegetarian. And once, he had to clear up any confusion that the random stranger may have had, by qualifying his statement with - "But, it is not for religious reasons." Just in case, random stranger in Whole Foods might have confused my father for an old man converting to Hinduism or becoming a Sikh.

The fun continued as I tried to substitute items on my father's four page list for anything other than what was specifically written down on the piece of paper. My curiosity was piqued when he started to purchase bags and bags of frozen berries. I asked, "Why all the berries dad?" He straightforwardly replies, "I make smoothies." First of all, I had no clue my father KNEW what a smoothie was. My bad, he not only knows what a smoothie is but also knows how to make them.

Finally, after we hit the meat substitute aisle and the soy/tofu aisle, we picked up some "white miso" (not really sure what he plans to do with that) and we headed to the frozen foods aisle. This was where my dad felt most comfortable. He started to load up his cart with pre-made, frozen vegetarian dinners. He fancied a particular Mushroom Barley soup and asked that I throw about four of them in his cart. I thought it was a bit excessive and he said, "But it is much easier for me this way." He then went onto tell me, "Forget one hour to cook all this stuff, the other day, it took me one hour just to READ the recipe."The image of my dad sitting at his dining room table trying to understand what the difference between rolled oats, thick cut oats and instant oats were was something I found comical.

Once our 2.5 hour journey was over and we were heading home, my dad asked if he could take his groceries up before dropping me off at my apartment (we live two blocks away from each other). I said, "Sure." We take his bags upstairs and he drives me home and as I am getting out of the car he says, "Thanks Lulu (he calls me Lulu)....I hope you find a husband!" Totally not related, totally not necessary and yet he is always consistent with throwing the husband thing in there at any given opportunity, even if it is not an opportunity, he makes it one!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Famous People I've Been Told I Resemble - And My Thoughts On That

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I'm often told I look like famous people, sometimes it is due to looks, and other times, it is due to personality.

Let's Start With Looks - this will be part 1 of a 2 part blog post. I bet you cannot wait for part 2!

In high school and college, I used to be likened to Winona Ryder. We both have brown hair, fair skin and big brown eyes. Naturally, people would think I looked like her. I say "naturally" because whomever the pale, brunette actress with big eyebrows of the moment is, people tell me I look like her.

Here is Winona Ryder

Here Is Leyla Arsan

Marisa Tomei won the Oscar for My Cousin Vinnie when I was in college. The day after the Oscar's I went to my job in the bookstore and had about 100 people tell me that I looked like the girl who won the Oscar last night.

Personally, I don't think I look anything like Marisa Tomei (maybe more now than I did back then) but we had the pale, brunette actress with big eyebrow thing going on again. The other thing we have in common, we both have bags under our eyes.

Driving home from U2 in '92

These days, I get a lot of Anne Hathaway. Now, I realize she is about a decade younger than me, but once again, we have that dark hair, big eyebrows, pale skin thing going on. It happens. The funny part is, I don't wear my hair curly anymore, but if I did, people would likely comment more.  Anne is on the left and I am on the right. I picked an older picture of me, when I was about the age she is today.

New Year's Eve 2001

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Where Are You Going With This?

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I Often Wonder...Where am I going with Sunday Morning Soliloquy?

Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to the blog Man Repellent with the comment - "I think this girl is your long lost sister (in terms of her hilarious writing)." I click on the link, and sure enough, there she is in Christian Louboutin Purple Suede Fringe Pumps looking all cute and young. I go on to read the blog and investigate further.

The woman behind Man Repellent writes a lifestyle blog about fashion, she posts large photos of herself and peppers in affiliate links. Very much like I do here on Sunday Morning Soliloquy - like this Host Unlimited Domains - 1 Account $6.95 Per Month

Leyla A
P.S. I no longer smoke!

She has a post about getting her hair, hello, I did that last year with the Hair Straigtening Post. There were posts about her finger nail polish, about being single, about being an urbanite and pretty much her whole life. But, there was a significant difference between Man Repellent and Sunday Morning Soliloquy.

When I started this blog, I had no direction. I knew I wanted to write about my life and that I wanted to put a lot of information out there in a cheeky way. I wanted this to be a visual roadmap of how terribly exciting I am. I quickly learned that the more candid I allowed myself to be, the more my posts were read. I also learned that people like pictures of half-naked girls.

leyla on drums
I don't play drums

At first, I used this blog to talk about my life in the way that I wanted, and then, this blog started to go all over the place. I would write about: food, travel, my life, things I love, sometimes fashion, I'd rant, I'd rave and I would even write about work. Most of it was intentional, this blog was my friend and I wanted to use it as a platform to say stupid things, smart things or funny things whenever I wanted.

I did not have a "professional blog" when I started writing this, and for that reason, this blog started to contain a lot of information on digital marketing, social media, event marketing and other types of marketing information I wanted to share. This was the downfall of Sunday Morning Soliloquy. You just cannot mix business and pleasure.

I am bringing this blog back!

From now on, I am writing more posts where I reveal more and post more pictures. If I want to discuss work-related things, I have a different blog for that Lotus Marketing Blog. And, if I want to write about events or travel - I have and I have my travel blog. If these events or travel strictly pertain to my life, well, maybe I can do that here too.

Sunday Morning Soliloquy will be dedicated to me, music, my travels (presented in a non-professional, and highly opinionated, and subjective way), shopping, DesignerShoes, the Louis Vuitton "Neverfull" bag, other luxury items, fine dining, casual dining and whatever other things I fancy. Even if that is as simple as Jelly Bellies

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Friday, April 8, 2011 Videos

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Working with

I've talked about this site in the is a site where traders (forex traders and other traders) can access market news delivered by hot models. Here is Ashley Johnson (@Ashley_rants) giving the you an intro to the real news delivered by April Rose (@TweetAprilRose). Today, I am playing around with the embed code of the videos making them "shareable". Here is my test video, I needed to drop it in somewhere to ensure that the embed code worked. And it does!

Forex Platform - Get up to $1,000 Free Bonus and start Trading!

If you want to follow on Twitter go to @TheFoxyForex
And on Facebook you can go to

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's My Birthday...Today

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Today is my birthday. April 4th.

Happy Birthday Leyla

I spent my morning procrastinating and trying to eject myself from my bed, the physical act of making myself vertical seemed like such a tremendous chore. Recovering from my birthday weekend with Monica Samuels was a two-day process (actually, more like one and a half).

After watching the news this morning (all the awesome things going on in Afghanistan, Japan, Libya, the fact that my email address was compromised three or four times over due to the Epsilon madness and that BP may start drilling again in the Gulf) I finally decided it was a good time to start moving. I've been working all day at Wormhole cafe trying to finish up my entry form for a Bronze Quill.

As I take this short break from writing my entry form, let me take you on a brief, visual tour of my birthday weekend.

Chicken Wings from Chicago Q
Chicken Wings


Oysters from Girl and the Goat

Caviar and Potato Chips with Creme Fraische from Lush Wine Store on Chicago Avenue
Caviar and Potato Chips

Pasta from Avec
Pasta Galore

And finally, I leave you with the lyrics to the song "OLD" from Paul Simon. It was just sent to me by someone I heart very much. How sweet, sending someone song lyrics on their birthday.

The first time I heard “Peggy Sue”
I was twelve years old
Russians up in rocket ships
And the war was cold
Now many wars have come and gone
Genocide still goes on
Buddy Holly still goes on
But his catalog was sold
First time I smoked
Guess what? Paranoid.
First time I heard “Satisfaction”
I was young and unemployed
Down the decades every year
Summer leaves and my birthday’s here
And all my friends stand up and cheer
And say, “Man, you’re old”
Getting old
You’re getting old
We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day
And Buddha found nirvana along the lotus way
About 1,500 years ago the messenger Mohammed spoke
And his wisdom like a river flowed
Through hills of gold
Wisdom is old
The Koran is old
The Bible is old
Greatest story ever told
Work ‘em out
The human race has walked the earth for 2.7 million
And we estimate the universe at 13–14 billion
When all these numbers tumble into your imagination
Consider that the Lord was there before creation
God is old
We’re not old
God is old
He made the mold
Take your clothes off
Adam and Eve

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My trip to Las Vegas Last Year For My Birthday