Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quality over Quantity

I am not so vain as to not realize that my following is minimal. I have a handful of people who actually read this blog; fewer than 400 Facebook friends; and fewer than that on my Twitter roster. I've never been one to strive to increase my following on any of my personal accounts, as I dont really feel the need to feed my ego that much. After all, I am not *that* interesting. When I blog, it's usually when I have something so pressing on the brain, that I need an outlet to express myself. I approach my tweets and posts with a similar mindset: sometimes I have a lot to say, sometimes I dont. I never post anything simply for the sake of posting.

All that being said, I do manage several business-related social networking accounts, and there it is a little different. I strive to increase our following in all those virtual places to further promote those projects. I look for ways to entice people to Follow and Like us. I attend workshops, mixers and conferences, all for the sake of increasing our fanbase. However, I still believe that Quality of the Content I am putting out there is of the utmost importance. Crappy content is still just that - crappy. I hold myself, and the others I work with, to a very high bar with respect to the product and content we put out into the ether as it is a reflection of who we are.

More and more, I am noticing some "influential tweeters" (or ITs as I call them) are relying on the assistance of Tweetbots: software programs designed to not only troll for new followers, but actually tweet "motivational quotes" on their behalf - 3 times every hour, 24 hours a day.

Wow. That's, like, the very definition of lazy.

Here's how it works:

Say you have an IT with 200,000 followers on Twitter, but her Facebook fan page only has about 300 fans. As Twitter allows Tweetbots to seek out accounts based on keyword searches and auto follow them, and the IT has the Auto-Tweet program installed, the increased and consistent content with exponentially increase the number of possible hits for the bots and Bam! Her following skyrockets overnight! Facebook does not allow for that. A user has to manually seek out and "Like" the fan page. By my calculations in this scenario, allowing for a percentage of Twitter followers actually interested in reading motivational quotes 3 times every hour, this IT only has about 500 people who take her seriously and actually care about what she have to say.

Frankly it's a little bit insulting. These ITs point to their following as an achievement, when they really havent done anything to earn that recognition. As someone working at a grassroots level, building a community and trying to inspire those around them to take the high road while keeping the quality high in the process, watching these virtual chirpers gain recognition for their large followings is deflating.

The Internet is a wonderful invention that educates, informs and unites us together. However, it has also cursed us with an inability to tell what's real from what is fake. I encourage the few of you who are actually reading this blog to take stock of what you put out there. It's a representation of who you are as a person, and if all you are doing is quoting other people and relying on software programs to define your legacy, then how real is your contribution?

Monday, September 5, 2011


In Seattle, the very mention of Pioneer Square (“P2”) for some people conjures up images of needle exchanges and homeless men lined up outside the many missions that call the neighborhood home. For hipsters and art appreciators, the numerous galleries and antique shops in this area of town comprises an artistic hamlet-within-a-city, with one of the most vibrant art districts in the country. History buffs like the area for the not-so-distant past role it played in the Alaska Gold Rush. For sports fans, P2 is a gateway to our city’s three major sports teams, with the Clink and Safeco Field mere steps away; it also serves as an after-party venue for those wishing to celebrate or, more often than not in Seattle, drown their sorrows after a game.

In any event, I have come to regard P2 as a colorful and quirky, culturally significant place I call home. I’m comfortable here. Even with all the homeless and the tweekers, I have rarely felt my safety to be compromised and feel absolutely fine walking around after dark with my dog. But I’m also constantly on my guard when walking after daylight hours as there is still that seedy element that populates any urban area. And lest I forget and let my guard down, I am continuously reminded of the existence of the dark side that will occasionally rear its ugly head and demand attention.

The most recent reminder happened on Friday night: Seahawks Pre-Season Game Night. Because of the neighborhood’s proximity to the Stadiums, I’ve learned to tolerate the presence of the Sports Fans. Seahawks fans though, are particularly challenging. They do dumb stuff – like have tailgate parties at 7AM, and then leave their trash for the seagulls to pick through. They dump there extinguished charcoal briskets in the weeds where the neighborhood dogs go to take care of business, forcing owners to walk over ash. They get drunk early in the day, and then spend the rest of the time terrorizing an otherwise peaceful area with their wild debauchery. Not that I’m opposed to debauchery; I just prefer my debauchery be done in the dark confines of seedy bars and not out on the street in the light of day.

I could hear of lot of things happening down on the street Friday night, but due to the angle of my apartment, I wasn’t able to see much. Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, so I decided to take my dog for a walk. Sure enough, the streets were littered with trash, empty bottles and the subsequent vomit.


But that was actually not the most disturbing sight I saw. I happened across an abandoned purse in a lot under the Viaduct. The bag was innocuous enough, sitting in a mess of broken glass as it clearly had been the unwitting victim in a smash-and-grab altercation. Upon closer inspection I realized this purse had been violated – raped and pillaged; forced to give up its most valuable possession. The discarded bits – a novel by Nicolas Sparks, makeup, receipts, grocery lists – were strewn about with little regard for the value they held for the rightful owner. Gone, of course, was the wallet and any identifying information it presumeably contained.

I felt a sense of mourning for the demise of the bag. Or rather what the bag represented – a life lived by a woman who maintained neatly-written grocery lists of chicken, eggs, granola and cottage cheese. A woman who likes to read real-books. A woman who keeps old receipts forever and a day for no particular reason. A woman who carried a faux-Juicy bag because she was too frugal for the real-deal.

A woman kind of like me – minus the faux-Juicy.

For me, it was a reminder that no one is immune from the bad things in life. It can strike at any point and leave you sprawled out on the streets with your entrails hanging out for the world to see. You just have to be prepared to pick up the pieces when it happens.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lesson Learned


Everyone has their limit: the threshold they personally set for how much they will tolerate, and how far they will let others take advantage before they start pushing back and reacting in anger to a situation in which they placed themselves. For some of us, that threshold is very high, which potentially puts us in a situation where we can be taken advantage of by our colleagues and peers. For me personally, the result of this higher threshold has meant many a sleepless night and worrisome hours. But up until now, that’s been my albatross to bear; a burden I felt I could shoulder because it was just easier than tackling the underlying confidence issues that have plagued me since I was a child. That is until two days ago when I got hit where it really counted: my pocketbook.

After meeting with my new manager, I was concerned about my review score – a score which was advocated for by my old manager. I went back to the source and was told in no uncertain terms I needed to reduce the friction between myself and my co-worker if I wanted to move up.

WHAT?? Are you KIDDING ME, Boss Man?? It takes two to tango, buddy, and I am not leading this dance!

He assured me he provided the same feedback to her, and that she had a lot she needed to work on related to her interpersonal relationships within the team as well. But *I* really needed to evaluate my role in our relationship, and learn to take the high road. He’d seen me do it with other people…why couldn’t I do it with her?

OK – FINE! I guess he is right.

As I was contemplating the feedback, I began to realize this situation could have been avoided had I simply set the appropriate boundaries with this person, and then stood my ground and not allow her to cross into that emotional dangerzone where I allowed her to get the best of me. I’m a feisty Irish-Italian-American with a festering temper; by allowing her to cross those lines that should have been reinforced with emotional barbed wire, I enabled her to trip the landmine and let my distaste and impatience of her annoying little personality quirks get the best of me, and be put on display for the world to see. And now I have to pay the price. Literally.

At 40, I’ve been in the professional workforce for 18 years. I really should know better. And believe me – the message has been received loud and clear. My unwillingness to take the high road here cost me about $4K in bonus money. That’s a tangible amount…and a proverbial brick wall that I hit going 60MPH. I guess it’s time to buckle up (or down, as the case may be) and learn how to cut people like that off at the pass. To not do so, would be doing only myself a disservice, and frankly, that’s too heavy a burden to carry.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

25 Things You Didn't Know About Me

Since I started back at the gym, I've been reading the trashy magazines people leave behind to make the time go faster while on the treadmill. One of these rags has a regular column entitled "25 Things You Didnt Know About Me", featuring a different celebrity revealing previously unknown facts about themselves every week. For lack of anything else to write, I thought I would give it a go. Here's my take:

1. I went to 14 schools before finally graduating from James Pace High School in Brownsville, TX.

2. I lived on four continents before I was 21, including Asia, Central America, Africa and North America.

3. I am the eldest daughter in a family of five.

4. I'm a proud Irish-English-Italian-Dutch American.

5. I suffered from chronic insomnia and the occasional migraine while in my last job. I quit that job after having to go to the ER.

6. I had seven operations on my ears by the time I was 12; the last operation nearly killed me as I had an allergic reaction to the anethesia and stopped breathing.

7. I was born in New Hampshire but do not consider in home even though my extended family lives there.

8. I have a tattoo of a phoenix on my lower back and will soon have a Celtic cross between my shoulder blades (once I can find someone to hold my hand!).

9. I love my nieces and nephews to pieces even if they drive me mad with their unstoppable energy!

10. I was a closet Menudo fan when I was in high school actually met my favorite Menudo member two years ago and hung out with him in his bedroom!

11. I am very close to my siblings (and sibling-in-law).

12. I majored in poli sci and minored in Art History (even tho I now wish it was the other way around).

13. I tried to be a vegetarian once and discovered an unfortunate intolerance to soy products.

14. I am passionate about protecting the rights of the illegal, tired, poor and hungry masses.

15. I didn’t really kiss a boy until I was 18, nor did I hold a boy's hand until I was 17. I was a late bloomer.

16. I *heart* Peanut Butter M&Ms and Cherry Twizzlers.

17. I didn’t go to my senior prom because I had chicken pox.

18. I love brown-rice sushi.

19. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be London. I fantasize about living among the Brits.

20. I am a closet pop princess. I secretly envy Christina and Pink. I pity Britney.

21. I am a hopeless romantic, in spite of my "bitterness". In Sex and the City terms, I am 80% Miranda, 20% Carrie - bitter and neurotic! A truly happy combination indeed!

22. I published my first magazine article two years ago and my first guest blog this year.

23. I love the smell of maple sugar boiling over an open wood fire, outside in the New England frost. Even though I don't want to live there.

24. I accidentally locked my cat in the refrigerator for 8 hours when he was a kitten!

25. I love the dark.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Earth, Baby Oh, Baby!

Life is funny. It takes you down a long, windy path and occasionally leads you off-course by forcing you to take a detour you didn’t anticipate, but that could lead you to a happy surprise. Kinda like the detour I took a month ago when I signed up to help a friend manage his two - yes TWO - companies in addition to my (very full-)time day job at Wonderland. Albeit, this is a decision I made with both eyes open, knowing full well what I was getting into. Still - having three full-time gigs is for the birds. Then again, I like birds. Such tenacious creatures, always plucking at breadcrumbs and mocking my poor dog from the telephone wires.

I digress.

It was on this detour that I found myself last week in a crowded bar, mixing and mingling with others in my assumed career field, attempting to evangelize my company(ies) so we can make money. This is done all in the vain hope that I can one day quit my day job and become a Music Mogul. It was in this crowded bar that I made the acquaintance of D, a quiet and observant fellow sitting across the table from me.

He smiled at me; I smiled at him.

I may have noticed his lovely blue-green eyes.

Or not.

OK, fine...I did!


We attempted to make conversation above the noisy din, but had a few false starts as neither of us appeared to be adept at reading lips. As the evening wore on and it quieted down to a dull roar, we talked about many things including his career as an archeologist-slash-musician-slash-artist, and my pathetic quest to become E. Diddy.

When he found out the latter, D was really keen to tell me about his brother's band - Earth, Baby. Now - I’ve found in my one month of Music Moguling that I can expect this to happen a lot. People I know for 10 minutes want to tell me all about their favorite band and why they are the best band in the world! But D is kinda cute and, more importantly - he seemed to have a brain - so I listened with genuine interest. After all, we are in scouting mode for our label, so why not? I gave D my card and asked him to get in touch with me if he wanted to pass on the band’s CD. Which he did. With this, I was most impressed as most people dont typically bother with the follow-through.

I do my best listening in my car, driving to and from work, or heading out on errands. I find I can concentrate mostly on the music when I don’t have any other distractions…well, that is except for ensuring the 18-wheeler coasting a little too close to my car doesn’t clip me and put me in a tailspin at 80mph!

So...there I was in my car coming back from the lovely little town of Arlington (don’t ask) and listening to the Earth, Baby CD - Yellow House - trying to place the familiar sound. I don’t usually like drawing comparisons between bands as that always feels like I am somehow devaluing one band's original compositions. But on the other hand, there is something to be said for drawing inspiration from those who influence your formative years. At one point, while listening to Track 7 (sorry – my car is old and doesn’t have the fancy sound system that tells you the name of song you are listening to), it came to me! Earth, Baby is like this modern-day hybrid of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and Blink-182 - all rolled into one happy little package! Yellow House is a really fun album and very well produced. There aren’t many bands that can bridge a generation gap, but I really think Earth, Baby can potentially have a wide appeal across many demographics. Their shtick is young and fresh but with a developed, full sound that clearly draws inspiration from pop legends that came before them, and served as their teachers and virtual mentors.

If you want to know of what I speak, there's a really cool video on YouTube. Note the gratuitous booty shot at 23 seconds.

All that being said, I'd really like to hear what their next offering sounds like. I want to know how they have grown in the two years since releasing Yellow House. D tells me they are coming out with a new album soon and I, for one, am waiting in anticipation.

Monday, May 16, 2011


When he left 6 years ago, I was happy. It had been a rough year – trying to adjust to living with someone who didn’t live the same way I did. The disorganization, the mess…the constant struggle to stay on top of it all. We got along great, but there were challenges as we struggled to figure things out and get used to each other. But I loved him with all my heart. And he loved me. I know he loved me. That being said, when the time came for us to fish or cut bait, we cut the line.

In spite of the years and the physical distance between us, I still kept him close in my heart. He was supposed to be the one that, when all was said and done, I could run back to. I realize now that none other was good enough to fill that space he left. And just when I was getting ready to reach out to him after all those years and tell him so, I realized I was too late. He is gone. Forever. And he will never know how I really felt...

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Poem

Fact - we spend most of our waking hours at work. It stands to reason we become attached to our co-workers as an extension of our families. A former boss is leaving the company - someone with whom I - and many others - have a love/hate relationship. Naturally, when I heard the news she was leaving I thought back on 11 years of working with/near her. Many trials and tribulations were had in addition to even many more successes and achievements. At the end of the day, I am a much better person for having known her. Thank you, Lydia. This one's for you!

Moving On

They say:
“Don’t cry because it’s over
Smile because it happened”

Rejoice in our together time,
For there has been much.
Days and nights of chaos!
But you were always there.

Putting out fires.
And stirring the pot.
Never backing down once
From challenges and such.

You were my mentor.
You were my guide.
You taught me well, dear friend.
But now we must say “goodbye”

In collective heart you reside,
In shared mind we recall,
The laughter and tears
Of success and defeat.

But is it really goodbye?
Maybe not for long…
A temporary state.
For our time’s not yet done.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thoughts on Solitude

Solitude – noun - the state of being or living alone; seclusion: to enjoy one's solitude.

Alone. Can one really enjoy being alone?

I believe the more apropos question is: does one really want to be alone? I have to think on this a bit. If you had asked me 10, 5, 2 or even 1 year ago I would have replied with an emphatic “NO!” The older I get though, the more I realize that being alone really isn’t so bad; it does have certain advantages, as well as disadvantages. At a minimum, it’s at least more tolerable now than it was 10 years ago.

Anne Boleyn’s husband chopped her head off when she couldn’t produce an heir to the thrown and in response her daughter, Elizabeth I, vowed never to marry a man but instead wedded herself to a country. In this day and age, such action would seem extreme but the sentiment is certainly attractive. Although I have no desire to marry a municipality, I see value in staying true to one’s own values and not putting yourself in a situation where you may potentially have to compromise those values to accommodate a partner.

It seems that almost everywhere I look these days people are in unhappy or unsatisfying relationships that came about out of initial lust for their partner that slowly died off over time, or were simply out of habit or sense of duty. They got married because they felt it was the right thing to do, or it was expected of them. Reflecting on my own relationship history, I can easily see those times where I could have fallen into that same hole of acquiescence with society’s view of how I should be living my life. However, never having been one to fully conform to the system, I find myself now – at age 40 – single and alone.

And for the most part I don’t mind. I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. I can go where I want, with whom I want and not have to check in with someone else before, during and after doing so.

That being said, I freely admit there are times like today – a cold, windy rainy day – where I would like nothing but to play hooky from work and snuggle under a down comforter with my beloved, keeping each other warm.

As I sit here alone, pondering my past, present and future as a singleton, I find that I am neither sad nor happy about this state of mine. This leads me to believe that acceptance of solitude is not yet forthcoming, and perhaps there is still a little glimmer of hope.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Go Fish!

During a recent conversation with a friend, I am reminded of a comment that another friend of mine made a couple years back in reference to someone who had a habit of chasing pretty boys that were all cast from the same mold and who did not reciprocate her affections. This other friend was not a conventional beauty and most people would probably consider her on the fair side of average. The comment "she should just fish in her own pond" was both superficial and profound at the same time.

On the surface, some may think that comment unfair and catty. I mostly agree with that sentiment but can't help thinking there is a thread of truth to it. Human beings will often judge first on external appearances and draw incorrect conclusions simply because we are programmed to believe that we see it, therefore it must be true. An example would be my prior relationship with a man who was about 5 inches shorter than I (I'm 5'9"). The relationship ended due to other factors that had nothing to do with difference in stature. However, come to find out later that another friend of mine was routinely going around and making comments to other people in my circle: "How does THAT work?" (Need some Meow Mix, Fluffy?!) How that "worked" was completely moot and not relevant. In his mind, the two pieces of the puzzle were not physically compatible and therefore could not work out in the long-term.

The same principle holds true for people involved in a seemingly mismatched relationship. If the so-called "weaker party" does not have a strong sense of self, they may be inclined to consciously or subconsciously sabotage the relationship in order to avoid the potential embarrassment of being judged by others. In any relationship, it takes two to tango; if both parties are not completely onboard the boat to relationship bliss, there is a risk they will sink into the abyss. (HEY! That rhymes!)

With respect to fishing in one's own pond, I personally feel that can be limiting and potentially unsatisfying. My friend is always telling me I need to open myself up for the possibility of love. That doesn't mean that if the homeless guy on the corner hits on me, I need to take him up on his offer. The way I interpret that is when someone is presented to you by the cosmos as a possible love interest, you should just jump in feet first with arms wide open, embracing the possibility. Cast your net wide…you never know what you are going to pull in – an old smelly boot or a rare yet beautiful specimen.

Just don't fall in and drown.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

He's Anxious, Baby!

Although I consider myself a fan of all music, I will be the first to tell you I am a neophyte when it comes to dissecting and analyzing the nuances and intricacies of rap. I find much of mainstream rap to be trite and overprocessed much like their counterparts, the cheesy pop songs that frequently top the iTunes charts. It's a sad state of affairs in the music business these days, that's for sure. As someone who prides herself on gravitating towards music that is a little left of center (to borrow a phrase from Suzanne Vega), I find myself turning more and more to indie and small label bands as I find the end product tends to be more organic and entertaining.

Anxious first tumbled onto my radar screen after seeing him in a few youtube videos where he appeared with his buddy, Jonny 5 from the Flobots. I was immediately taken in by his effervescent personality and infectious grin. With a smile that creeps up to his eyes and out the top of his head, he came across as genuinely exultant. I couldn’t help wondering what he was about. Clearly a talented rapper from the short clips I viewed, I was excited when I discovered he had released a new EP, Spittin Fire.

I've often said that indie musicians are modern day orators to be revered for their talent and bravery in putting forth their voice in such a static filled, auto-tuned world. Indie and small-label rap artists are no exception. Anxious is a powerful example of the tenacity required to be successful as an artist.

I decided to listen to the album while at the gym as a) I needed the distraction from watching the machine tick away the seconds painfully slow, while I was busting my ass in preparation to climb 1,311 steps and b) although not "mellow", I had listened to the iTunes preview and knew this album didn’t scream "get your ass moving, you have 1,311 steps to climb!". As it turned out it made for a good workout mix without giving me a heart attack in the process.

Some thoughts on each of the tracks:

"Chandelier" - Balls-to-the-Wall personal mission statement, exclaiming his presence on the scene w/ obligatory shout-outs to his hometown of Denver, CO. This is a strong opening track that makes you want to keep listening.

"When It All Comes Down" - Beautiful example of 21st Century rap which could very well be a future Top 10 hit that will set the standard for others. I love this track so much, that I keep coming back to it again and again. This is an introspective declaration of never-ending drive and bravado, which again are necessary qualities to be a successful artist in any genre. The female vocals are powerfully exquisite, and complement the gruff richness of his spoken word. "Can you see what I found in you?"

"Rooftop" - Clearly, this is a dude who's taken his licks...and is now putting the world on notice. The track has a mellow flow, in spite of hard hitting vocals that belie Anxious' youthful appearance. Left me wondering - how old is this guy, anyway?

"Beautiful Day" - Good composition that tells the tale of why he loves what he is doing...and it shows. Reminiscent of Ice Cube's "Today Was a Good Day".

"Beverly Hills Cop" - samples the title track from the movie of the same name. Fun song that calls to mind long summer days driving down the beach, with the volume up, pissing off all the old people.

"The Return" - "My name is Anxious, and I love makin' music" Ummm, yeh!...that's obvious. If I had one problem with this album it would be the one metaphor used in this song comparing his skintone to cocaine. But that's just me. Otherwise this was a cool track.

Overall, this was an amazing effort! Anxious seems to be one of those really fun, happy guys who has found his passion in life and who drives forward to achieve the riches he has coming to him. I recommend this album without reservation, even for the most neophyte of rap devotees.

Stay strong, Anxious!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


This morning, I learned of the shooting in Arizona where 14 were wounded and 6 killed by a man believed to be mentally compromised. Of particular note to me was the 9-year old girl who was shot dead in this seemingly random act of senseless violence. The article I read stated the girl was born on 9/11/01. It immediately struck me that on the most violent day in U.S. history a child was born who, a short time later, would be killed in another act of senseless violence. To me, this was the very definition of irony.

After coming in from a walk with Miss D, I happened to glance down at the Sunday paper that had been left in the lobby for one of my neighbors. The bold headline stated: Arizona Congresswoman Shot in Rampage. My first thought was that that woman was still alive; the article I read this morning had stated that fact. Then I thought of the little girl. She was not alive. She was dead. And yet, she was not worthy of a big headline in a major market newspaper simply by virtue of the fact that, in the mind of the editor who created the headline, the Congresswoman trumped her in terms of status.


Why is it that we assign priority and importance to our fellow humans, simply based on class, profession and economic standing? What makes the Congresswoman’s life more valuable than the lost life of a 9-year old girl? Is the fact that I am an educated professional making a six-figure income make me more important than the homeless guy seeking shelter in the rain in my entryway? Why, when I am at work, I often feel invisible when in a room of attorneys? Does the fact that I cannot claim Juris Doctorate make my opinions less valuable?

Logic says no; it should not matter where you come from and what you do. What should be important is how you live your life. If you are a good, kind person then that should be the only status indicator. Unfortunately, reality dictates otherwise. Superficial factors of class and money often command how you are viewed in the world. It is human nature to categorize individuals…put them in easy-to-understand compartments in order to comprehend who we are dealing with, and in turn, use that information as a means to gauge goodness and success in life.

I don’t want to pretend that I myself do not engage in this behavior. Of course I do. I am only human, as flawed as that is. But I think I would be doing a disservice to myself if I didn’t question these things.

Life is a valuable commodity, no matter who you are or what you do. If more people remembered that, then perhaps we would not have such senseless acts of violence.