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The Queen of Forest Hills

February 21, 2014
tags: , ,

A lot of my early blogging adventures featured my Grandma Flo.

A few from the archives:

But a few years ago, it started to become obvious that any new stories about my grandma were less in the “infuriating, but relatively harmless” category and started to fall into the “she’s a danger to herself and others” bucket. An increased descent into unchecked alcoholism, dementia and a refusal to give up driving and accept adequate help meant that our relationship deteriorated from strained at best to almost total estrangement. Out of respect to my family, I decided not to share even the less-horrific adventures — but rest assured, there were plenty.

On Wednesday night, grandma passed away.

I’m okay. It’s unfortunately a mixture of relief and sadness. She was very unhappy for a long time, and clearly not making great decisions for herself. Both short and long-term prognosis was pretty grim. And yet, because we had been called to her bedside to say goodbye several times over the last few years — I am still somewhat in shock that she is truly gone. She was that much of a force in our lives.

And while I feel completely at peace with my decision in these past few years to cut ties to her, I have some really wonderful, warm memories of my grandma when I was a little girl. The woman has been gone for years, and I’ve finished mourning her — but knowing that it’s really all over? It’s jarring.

In an effort to help my mom and aunt make sense of the apartment that grandma has been living in (renting!) for about 50 years, my sister and I started cleaning out some drawers and organizing paperwork. One of my grandma’s greatest achievements was that for the better part of 30 years, she was a truly beloved teacher. She had saved dozens of truly heartfelt notes from both parents and students about her incredible impact. I believe every word. There was one class that clearly stuck out for her – and a star pupil she kept in touch with for years and years. She even saved a handwritten “playbill” from their annual production of The King and I.

playbill

Marisa and I were placing it in the appropriate pile, and the name of the “King” stuck out to her. Billy Eichner — it didn’t really ring a bell for me, but as soon as she told me who he was —  I was shocked! I love this guy! I googled to find out if he was from Forest Hills, and lo and behold, he definitely was.

I am not sure if Grandma knew one of her students was a giant success, but I know that if she did — we would have never heard the end of it. She would be so proud.

I tweeted him the pic, and he quickly replied and couldn’t be more gracious.

I’ll be sending him the original.

Rest in Peace, Grandma.

Tiny Bubbles

February 10, 2014

In my head, I’m the girl you bring to the back room of the poker game. The girl that doesn’t cough in a haze of cigar smoke, and can has never heard a dirty joke or story she couldn’t match with her own. She drinks scotch and knows who is playing this weekend. She never has to make funny noises to explain to a mechanic what’s wrong with her car, and never complains that she’s too cold or it’s too dirty to have a good time. That doesn’t mean she’s not feminine. It just means being tough as nails and being able to hold her own, gender lines be damned.

A “Robin” if you will.

robin

And sometimes, I am. Not the mechanic thing, and I hate cigars and I still don’t understand poker. But generally — I can hold my own. And even when I can’t? I really, really want to. Because somehow, all of those things translate to “confidence” in my mind. Never being cowed by anyone — taking a seat at the table, even if the table is covered in beer.

But scotch? Man, I tried. I tried bourbon, I tried whiskey, I tried scotch. I tried all manner of manly drinks that come in tumblers or that get ordered dirty or neat.

And they’re all fine. I can handle the burning, and I can taste the smoky, vanilla-ish notes. It’s all good. But do I like it?

Hell no.

And finally, one day — out with friends, everyone was ordering a glass of wine at a cute bar downtown. They all had opinions on buttery chardonnays, versus full-bodied malbecs and god knows what else. And I was just so tired of faking it. These were my friends, and I was already pretty drunk. You know what I wanted?

pink-champagne

That’s right. The sparkly, pink champagne.

And I got it. Because you know what’s sexier than a woman who knows what she wants, even if what she wants generally comes with fruit floating in it and enough sugar to go into a diabetic coma?

Nothing.

Housekeeping

October 17, 2013

Ever notice that lately, most of my posts on here are “Here’s why I don’t post lately.”

Yeah, me too.

It stinks.

I worry I’ve run out of steam with this blog. I still have so much I want to say, but … this just doesn’t feel like the right place to say it. I’ve always been a big fan of “If you are on the internet, there’s no point in being anonymous.” And I stand by it — but sometimes this blog feels more like a liability than a sounding board.

There’s just so much … baggage. Am I an advice column? A lifestyle blog? A personal blog? How does this reflect on my career as a social media marketer? Do I have to make sure I have everything totally up to snuff, otherwise my career is DOOMED? Does it matter?

But then I get re-inspired. Someone (usually a friend of a friend) will read my old posts, and I’ll get all sorts of emails telling me how brilliant and funny I am. I should write a book! Star in a sitcom!

They’re right! I totally should. But … with a looming $200 hosting fee, I think I need to give up the ghost. I’ll still write for YouShouldOnlyKnow.com, but I made the switch away from self-hosting. This means totally nothing to you, the reader. But to me, it’s kind of admitting that this blog isn’t my primary hobby any more.

Maybe it will be be once again, when things with my family calm down (but really — I mean, you’ve read the blog. That’s not likely to happen!), or maybe when I don’t have a million other competitions on my time, or when I think there’s something worth saying whose story doesn’t rely on me telling someone else’s story.

Either way, I’m still here. And I hope that by reducing the pressure on myself, you’ll see more of me! But I also hope that some of you will follow me to a personal finance blog that I’ve been writing in my head (and hasn’t been named yet — suggestions welcome!), and maybe on my journey to actually be published other places that aren’t here.

Who knows! But thanks for believing in me. I’ll be funny again one day. Maybe.

Someone Else’s Two Pink Lines

July 20, 2013

Proving once again that I even more awkward in real life than I am on the internet.

babysnatcherThere I was, finishing up some consulting work with a new client. I had some one-on-one time with the young and talented community manager that I’ll be working with, and we were informally chatting and wrapping up. She expressed some concern that her primary market — mommy bloggers — would be upset or react negatively upon finding out that she was young, queer, and childless. I reassured her that as long as she was open and transparent, this wouldn’t be the case, and I used myself as an example.

I explained that the entire marketing department at our mom-focused company was currently without children. Then, in the oppressive heat of the NYC evening, I casually placed my hand closer to my body, to pick my too-tight dress away from my sweaty body, I remarked that, that was changing soon, and we were expecting our first child shortly.

She looked confused, and congratulated me. I thanked her.

I of course, was referring to our first department baby. A colleague is pregnant and due within a few weeks. But that’s totally not what I just said. I just told someone I was expecting a child, the implication clear that it was my own. And I didn’t really know how to fix it. I pulled my hand away from my stomach, and made some sort of mumbling comment about being really excited for her. And I tried to change the subject. Maybe I didn’t really say what I think I said?

But I totally did. I inadvertently claimed someone else’s child. And after some debate, and fear that I would eventually be once again called out as pregnant when I wasn’t, I wrote the most awkward email ever, telling a professional contact that I wasn’t, in fact, pregnant.

… this is why I work online.

What A Day!

June 27, 2013

Today has been pretty much non-stop. In no particular order of importance — the high (and low) lights of my day. I cried at about a good half of these bullets. Some of them happy tears.

  • For the first time ever, the dog woke me up at 5am and needed to go out NOW. She was super sick. I have been up since 5am, and have taken her on a billion walks since then, called the vet, etc. She’s fine now — probably just ate something gross. I cooked her chicken and rice. I now fear she will fake tummy aches.
  • I learned that you can’t just “eyeball” rice. Measurements exist for a reason.
  • The SCOTUS overturned parts of DOMA! Marriage equality takes some GIANT leaps forward. Big happy tears here.
  • Visited a medical nutritionist. For a few reasons, but the general gist of the whole thing — I’m going to go Gluten Free. And try to break my sugar addiction, but I think that’s probably tied in to gluten free. I’m optimistic about this, but … I feel like I just became a statistic of some sort. This also probably means I need to really hone those cooking skills and … learn to measure.
  • Learned that the world has one less adorable, beloved dog in it. A good friend of mine had to say goodbye to his best friend, and it’s just heartbreaking. More big tears here, and none of them happy.
  • I got a totally out of the blue email from a beloved former professor of mine, asking questions about an archaeology exhibit I helped put together almost 9 years ago. Just did a double take at the sender and subject line.
  • Got some wonderful advice from another friend of mine — kind of a kick in the butt I need to really double down on my career, and get my name and face out there.
  • Received two pairs of Crocs I purchased. I somehow feel the need to come clean about this.
  • I blogged. Yay!

Just a very long, strange day. Such extreme highs and sad lows.

Please leave a comment with: your favorite easy-to-make healthy meal that doesn’t involve gluten, some support for my love of Crocs, your own high point of the day, proof that you’ve hugged a furry friend and/or offering me the opportunity to write or speak about social media, integrated marketing, digital strategy or community management.

 

Social Media: You’re doing it right

March 24, 2013

Social Media is one of these super weird disciplines where – if you’re at the right company? It’s awesome. It’s creative, nimble, respected and is intelligently integrated into an overall marketing strategy with concrete, deliverable goals. When it’s not done well? Well, it’s the worst.

This? This is done very, very well.

OreoKitKatTwitter

What I Love About It:

1. It’s orchestrated without being TOO scripted. The timestamps show a delay in responses, so it’s possible whomever did this had to get approval for it. This may have gone through some upper-level admin (legal, brand managers, etc.?)  but it didn’t try to get the full, complete tagline in there, or include a coupon offer.

2. It’s to a real person, who presumably was caught unaware. No celebrity promo here. Just someone mentioning their favorite treats.

3. Whomever found the tweet and decided to respond obviously had the ear of not only whomever had to approve it, but also creative resources. Whether they were edited, or given free reign – this was done by a trusted marketing professional, on both sides. This is likely not an intern who is give some vague objective to “get more followers.”

4. It’s win-win-win. Sure, it looks like Oreo took this round, but Kit-Kat gets major points for the first volley, and for playfulness. And LauraEllen is a minor internet celebrity for all the right reasons. And — I bet you she gets some free chocolate! (a girl can dream…)

 

 

Adult Report Cards

March 7, 2013

school-report-cardsI know this will come as a shock, but I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. I’m also a little insecure (I know, I should have warned you to sit down before all of these revelations…), so one of my favorite things as a kid was … report card time!

A few times a year, I got feedback. I got to read, in black and white, what someone of authority thought of me. I got to see if my strengths and weaknesses were recognized, and best of all? There was always a comment section. Someone had to think and write, usually positive things, what they thought about me. Even just thinking about it now makes me giddy.

Some of the joy came from being a quiet, shy, book-smart nerd and knowing that most of it was going to be positive and that teachers loved me. My grades were generally good – so nothing on the report card was ever a shock, and even when I did poorly – my low grade was expected (I’m looking at you, 11th grade pre-cal).

But once you graduate school (and really – elementary school ….) that kind of feedback falls off. Sure, you still get grades, but those handwritten notes about how lovely it was to have me in the class, and the common refrain of wishing I’d work to my full potential — became a thing of the past.

So, what’s a nerdy, insecure adult to do? What clear-as-day metric can do look forward to?

Performance Evaluations! YAY!!!

I’ve been lucky that,,with one major exception, to always have had good or great managers. I have frequent check ins, and just like that 4th grader – I generally know where I stand. But damn if I’m not still addicted to the report card.

I just had my first performance evaluation at the new job, and it was heaven. I expected it to be positive, and it was, but what I really enjoyed was the perfect mix of a great boss, actual “letter” grades and a copious amount of “Erica masterfully does X, Y, Z” and “Erica is a creative thinker who has already contributed A, B, C” — it was just what I needed.

Even the parts that weren’t so positive were expected (because I have a great boss), and I have a clear path to improvement. Just the way it should be.

So, in between official performance evaluations, and subtle begging for positive, written feedback, I’ll have to content myself with hoping that people are inspired to write me an endorsement on LinkedIn (does anyone else love those as much as I do? God, I’m such a narcissist…), and reading my dog’s daily report card from the dog-sitter.*

Do you love performance evals and report cards as much as I do?

*Yes, I seriously check it every single day. I’m such a proud and pathetic dog mom.

 

Consumption versus Contribution

March 6, 2013

I started my new job about 5 months ago. I absolutely love it – and it’s been literally years since I’ve been able to say that, and it just feels so good. But one of the side effects of my new job is that I’m insanely busy. All those little chores that I would do during the day (making doc appointments, etc.) and things I did at work that I wasn’t supposed to do (plan a wedding, dinner reservations, look for better jobs) have all been replaced with 9ish solid hours of honest-to-god, actual work. That also means that my “lunchtime blogging” has to be done at night, and that catching up on my Google Reader on the couch, or while waiting for a bus (my god, unsubscribing from wedding blogs alone has freed up hours of virtual brain space.)

I am a the point now where I’m up to date with most of my Google Reader, but a good chunk of my email that actually requires a thoughtful response gets marked as “read later” and is then abandoned, since I never actually set up a productivity system for that since I never needed one. And I keep up with all of this on my iPhone and iPad – always consuming, but never creating.

I miss blogging. And contributing to comments and conversations on blogs, and truly being a part of the community. Part of it is lack of time, and partly its the tools I have access to – they’re great at getting lots of info at my fingertips, but are hard to write on. And the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit at my desk to type. But I also think part of it is so much of that free time is dedicated to consuming that I lost my ability to prioritize contributing.

I’m typing and posting this from an iPad, which is massively annoying, but I think I have to prove to myself it can be done. I want back in!

Sunday Brain Dump

January 27, 2013

For the past few months, I’ve wanted to write. I have ideas for posts, I semi-draft them on my phone and I promise myself they’ll make an appearance. Last week I actually even took the time to start “drafts” for each of the ideas, hoping that they would eventually magically prompt me into writing them.

It hasn’t happened. Why? I’m not sure. Part of it is feeling overwhelmed, and so far behind and that my next post has to  be something big. And the other part of it is that well — this was a “lunchtime” blog and … I’m really, really busy at work. Lunchtime just doesn’t happen. And by the time I get home? The last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer again. But, Frank just got me an awesome iPad, so maybe that will help?

In any case, instead of these half-formed thoughts sitting in drafts waiting for their Big Moment, here’s a brain dump about what I’m thinking about this week – in no particular order, some of them to be fleshed out later, some to be totally forgotten about..

  • Mom’s awesome recovery from a total left-side hip replacement.
  • A lot about personal finance. My own, and an interesting upcoming project in which I will likely have another blogging project to neglect/obsess/feel guilt over.
  • Designing the above-mentioned blog, and redesigning this one – hopefully with the help of the talented Carolann from Wonderpug.
  • Pinterest – my aspirational soul laid bare.
  • My forays into the world of slow cooking.
  • What I’m going to make for a vegetarian, Valentine’s Day-themed potluck lunch for 6 co-workers for lunch. Suggestions welcome!
  • How I became a somewhat confused and begrudging pro-gun ally and supporter. And why I am so, so, so tired of the whole debate. Both sides. Any sides. Please everyone, please stop.
  • The hypocrisy of outrage resulting from a transgender teacher who was fired from a Catholic school. (The church is against gay marriage and .. being gay in general – but y’all thought they’d be totally cool with someone who is transgender? Pfft.)
  • Is LASIK right for me, or am I giant wuss?
  • I want to make an “Escape from NY/Before I evetually/likely leave/What I take for granted” bucket list.
  • Professor Erica? I’m thinking about finding some sort of conference or even continuing ed program where I can teach social media marketing to beginners/older people/small business owners.
  • The wedding. I want to organize pictures, make an album for myself, an album for mom and an online album. And put something up on the blog!

Okay. Open thread! What’s on your mind?

Suggestible Eating

November 13, 2012
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I don’t know how normal people figure out what to eat each day, but I know that no matter what I had planned, no matter how virtuous or delicious — all I have to do is read about something — and it all changes. A description of an apple, or someone describing a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, or even a character eating some McDonald’s … it triggers a craving that could last for days. Sadly,  I read a lot more about cookies, pies and fast food than I do about grilled salmon and steamed veggies. I should probably read more fitness magazines, but knowing me, my food craving would be triggered more by the “before” food instead of the “healthy makeover version.”

Anyway, I’ve just finished a pretty good book called The Last Chinese Chef. I don’t know if I loved the book, but I did love the detailed descriptions of authentic Chinese banquets. And one thing they keep stressing is that American Chinese food is nothing like it. Which of course, I knew. But man, it’s killing me. Especially knowing I live in NYC – subway stops away from Chinatown, which has to at least have a close approximation, and yet — I fear that without a Chinese friend guiding me, I’ll never have the experience I crave. The closest I can think of to the kinds of food they describe in the book is a Vegetarian Dim Sum place that I love. So, I’ll go there but … I really need to expand my social circle.

Any suggestions? If you were a white chick trying to order semi-authentic food at a Chinese restaurant and knew you were going to get a watered-down American version anyway — what would you order? Any NYC foodies with a recommendation for a restaurant or want to go for dinner?

 

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