Monday, June 29, 2009

Memory Lane Monday: Surprise Potty

The first hotel that hired me was, uh, modest. I mean, to me it was the freaking Plaza, but looking back it wasn't that fab. Luckily, I knew nothing about hotels at that point, so I was totally convinced that I was selling the best product imaginable. I was like the love child of a crackhead cheerleader and an ADD kid sans Ritalin about that place.

In my eagerness and excitement about the (tiny but who knew) bonus I was earning, I volunteered to lead a tour of extremely important people through the hotel. I can't exactly remember who they were - there were, like, eleven or twelve of them - but I do remember that we planned the tour for weeks. We had meetings involving all the departments, and we staged staff members at every turn of the tour to delight our guests with their cheerful attitudes and helpful happiness. There were special shuttles arranged, delicious foods prepared, and even a champagne toast planned for the end of the experience.

We met them in the lobby and proceeded to our first stop. We saw the restaurant, the lounge, the ballroom, and the five meeting rooms. We visited the pool, the fitness center, the gift shop, and the hair salon. We talked about the jogging trail, the shopping center, and the nearby creek. And finally, finally we headed up to look at guestrooms -- our most important commodity, the thing we had planned the best. First we saw a room with two beds - a double/double. Next we looked at a king room. And last, we went to the top floor to our best suite.

I slipped the key card into the lock, chattering all along about the last movie I had seen. I faced the corridor, pushing the door open with my shoulder. My guests were gathered around, hanging on my every word, laughing, thoroughly charmed. I led them in. And there, to our left, with the door wide open, was an Asian man noisily - nay, angrily - dropping every kid in China off at the pool.
photo credit: davefigley via creativecommons

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Three Lessons for the Red & Green Ball Skirt Crowd

When I started out in business, I was much younger than most of my colleagues. Rather than take advantage of that by playing it up, asking for help, and thus developing life-long mentors, I just pretended like I knew everything and then worked my a$$ off trying to figure it out. This strategy was flawed for a number of reasons that you can guess, including the fact that I wasted tons of time in my twenties at work, when I should have been having adventures and discovering new hobbies and drinking beer. So that you, Fair Reader, don't make the same mistake, here are some suggestions:

Let your personality show. I was so nervous about being taken seriously that I acted like a 60-year-old British librarian with a back brace in my first interview. I even wore my hair in a bun. I later found out that I almost didn't get the job because the woman interviewing me thought I wouldn't fit in with the light-hearted team. Trust me: no one is fooled into thinking that you are older and more experienced than you are. When you are young, you're getting hired because you are enthusiastic, smart, and cheap -- not because your employer thinks you're the most seasoned candidate. Go with it.

Correct trumps creative. When it comes to the dress code, that is. So many younger women are fooled by chick lit and Glamour into thinking that their weekend wardrobes can be mixed in with business attire to create funky new looks. Seriously, you are not skilled enough to pull this off. It is much better to have five boring neutral suits that you wear every day and know that you're OK than it is to try to mix it up and cross your fingers. My favorite example of this was Billie, who worked for me when she was about 23. A selection of her ensembles included: a wrinkled, Oxford-cloth shirt tucked in (tucked IN!) to the bodice of a strapless dress; a satin, red and green plaid ball skirt (which touched the floor!) with a black suit jacket; fuzzy purple knock-off Uggs with a knee-length skirt; and a black leather cheerleader-esque pleated (I know!) skirt. Horrific. Please note, you should totally push the envelope when you are a little more established; just don't do it before anyone can tell if you have a clue or not.

Don't leave last. It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but everyone loves those early work happy hours when you're getting to know your boss and co-workers. You look forward to them when you're young because there's a good chance your boss will both pay for your drinks and spill some juicy gossip. I am a big believer in bonding over booze, but don't let yourself be the last one to leave. No matter what. Even if you are having SO MUCH FUN!!! and bonding with everyone or even falling in love. Be among the first third of the departures. This ensures that you get the points and cred for being there without any of the scandal and humiliation of being there too long (or leaving with the other last person there - ewww).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Surprise Bonus Post!

Matthew Crawford is extra smart and cool. I love him. Buy his book!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Matthew Crawford
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Seven Ways to Tell You're Ready to Quit Your Job

1. You start carrying a knife to work in case you have to cut someone.
2. You consider selling your arm on eBay.
3. Your employees tell you that "you seem really laid back lately."
4. You've become a file mule.
5. Metabolife, Amway, and Mormonism all seem like viable career options.
6. You refer to the bottle of Two Buck Chuck in the fridge as "my medicine."
7. Your work wardrobe includes something you wore to bed last night.

RIP Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Beauty Products

Almond oil is a miracle product. It smells good and can be used a bunch of different ways. When you’re self-employed, multi-functional items are oh so important. It's not cheap, but it is cheaper than most beauty products. When you factor in the environmental costs of using chemicals and plastic tubs versus all-natural almond oil, it comes out the clear winner. Here are some recipes for home-made beauty products using almond oil.

Almond Sugar Scrub:

Put one-third of a cup of sugar in a bowl. Pour almond oil over the sugar, mixing together. In the shower, scoop some out and rub it on your skin. Presto - exfoliating, moisturizing body scrub. You can do the same thing with salt, if that's what you have.

Almond Mint Shampoo:

Fill a clean jar with a half cup of castile soap (Dr. Bronner's is the most famous, available at Kroger, Publix, and other fine grocers; and Trader Joe's makes a store version). Add a tablespoon of almond oil. Sprinkle in a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Shake like hell. Voila, shampoo. The peppermint adds a cooling tingle and refreshing scent, which makes this shampoo my favorite for the sweltering summer heat. Feel free to leave out the mint or substitute another essential oil for a different fragrance.

Bath Oil:

Pour some almond oil into your bath for a moisturizing dip. You can also put it directly on your skin as a moisturizer, which I usually do in the shower during the winter.

Deep Conditioning Treatment:

Wet your hair but don't wash it. Squeeze out all of the excess water, and pull hair back in a bun or ponytail (or comb back short hair). Starting at the hairline, massage a small amount of almond oil at a time into your scalp, covering the whole head. Then, pour a teaspoon or so into your hands and rub them together. Smooth your oil-covered hands over your hair, paying particular attention to the ends. Wrap in a scarf or towel, and let sit for at least two hours and preferably overnight.

Caution: Keep almond oil in the refrigerator.

Photo by Rune T

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Latest Article for eHotelier

This article is about how hotels can make their Facebook fan pages more engaging, and it came out today. You can see it in its original format here (including one annoying typo), or read the copied in text below.
10 Ways for Hotels to Engage Facebook Fans

After you’ve set up a Facebook fan page, you still have to have something to say! As you build your community of fans, keep in mind that relentless pitching will get you laughed off the virtual stage. Remember, today’s fans just might turn into tomorrow’s customers, or, even better, your unpaid word-of-mouth sales force. Make sure that you’re talking about what they want to hear.

1. Set up comprehensive Google Alerts to deliver the latest news to your inbox. Try topics like “business travel tips,” or “things to do in [your city.]” Everything you get won’t be wort posting, but you’ll get some tidbits that will interest your fans.

2. Use an aggregator site like AllTop. This site pulls together tons of resources on tons of topics, and it lets you build a page of content feeds that interest you.

3. Encourage fan photos, videos, and stories. It’s often illuminating to see your property through someone else’s eyes, and people love to tell their own stories. Think about a free night for the best photo or story featuring your hotel.

4. Put yourself in your fan’s shoes. Don’t post something that you would be annoyed to read from your least-favorite business, much less your most-favorite. More than a couple of posts per day, and more than a couple of sales pitches per week, and you will get ignored.

5. Schedule 30 minutes a week for content brainstorming. Put it on your calendar, and spend the time writing down as many things as you can come up with to post about. Take notes in your Blackberry when you think of things, and ask your co-workers to help.

6. Use your page for value-added promotions. Don’t just ask your followers to visit your new website; give them an exclusive discount rate code to use for upcoming soft dates. Your fans should benefit from paying attention to you – with first dibs on news, offers, and events.

7. Ask questions. The fans of your hotel want to help you determine your next steps. Ask them to help you choose which charity you’ll support this quarter. Take a poll about what time the pool should close. And, PS, actually care about the answers.

8. Don’t be afraid to court controversy. Take an issue that inspires passion – like resort fees or early departure charges – and ask your fans what they think. Create a space where people can debate – just try to keep yourself above the fray.

9. Be funny. Everyone appreciates a mental rest stop. Post occasional links to diversionary sites that you like, or tell crazy stories about the hotel – there’s no shortage. Don’t be afraid to court hoteliers as fans with inside jokes, either; every time a front desk clerk comments on your posts, they get spread to people you might never reach.

10. Don’t fake it. Your fans can tell whether you are sincere about being part of their online community. Social media is at its best when it lifts the curtain to show the human side of a business. Cut the corporate speak, and connect.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Holy crap. I have been on three vacations in the last seven weeks. I spent one week in Florida, one very long weekend camping way down upon the Suwanee River, and a week plus in Martha's Vineyard. Thankfully, the grand total cost of all three trips was less than I used to spend on a single outfit for work, so I'm not tripping toward debtor's prison yet. What I do owe, though, are some blog posts. Sorry for being slack. It hurts me more than it hurts you, I promise, and I also promise that I'll get back on track this week. In the meantime, enjoy a sneak preview of my new project: This hasn't been officially launched yet, so there's still time to change the image, color scheme, etc. I would love to get your thoughts, and I'll be back here with mine soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Memory Lane Monday - On Memory

I have a really good memory. I think it’s because I sleep so much. I can remember what I wore on the first day of school in 1992. I know exactly what the air felt like when my mother shocked the hell out of us by jumping into a swimming pool and doing laps, when we thought she didn’t know how to swim at all. I cannot be beat at 60s-70s-80s music trivia, and almost everything I’ve ever read is lodged firmly in my head and won’t go away (no matter how much I want it to). And most especially, I remember everything embarrassing that has ever happened, including the heat of my cheeks and the dizzying, nails-in-your-palms shame of doing something stupid.
List of Stupid Things I Have Done Regarding Numbers:
1. Celebrated the birthday of someone on my staff on the wrong date, six days prior to her actual birthday. She didn’t want me to feel bad, so she didn’t tell me. I can’t remember how I found out, but I was mortified. And I thought it was hilarious.
2. Printed the wrong zip code on the business cards for the hotel I opened in Arlington.
3. Ordered a cell phone with an area code from the wrong state. Emphatically, as though I absolutely had to have that area code.
4. Printed the wrong phone number on a brochure that was supposedly being distributed to 2,000 people. Interestingly, no one ever noticed it but my boss. I have a feeling that the purported sales calls for which the brochures were printed never took place.
5. Initiated a celebration for a close colleague of the wrong birthday, just a week or so before we opened a hotel. This included involving a group of about 50 people to get her a cake, sing her a song, and just generally make merry in honor of her special day. In my defense, her birthday was wrong on Facebook, and my heart was in the right place – I didn’t want her birthday to get lost in the shuffle of opening madness. Ha.
Designing My Own New Logo
Six weeks ago, when I started my business, I really wanted to design my own new logo. I love graphic design (despite knowing nothing about it, technically-speaking), and I thought creating my logo would be symbolic of what I wanted to do with my business and my life. I drew a sketch and picked out a font, then spent hours trying to figure out how to draw it. Despite downloading many free trials of many software programs, I struggled to iterate what I wanted. Finally, I used autoshapes in Microsoft Word, and I actually came up with something pretty awesome. Or, at least, it was exactly what I wanted. Once the logo was set, I designed business cards and an email signature. I even gave myself a trumped up new title (Queen Bee). So proud and pleased, I set about sending out prospecting emails and trying to drum up business.
I sent every email from May 1 to June 11 with the wrong phone number on my email signature. I sent out probably 40 emails a day, begging people to hire me. Using the phone number of a guy who works as a framer. Proving that, while I will never forget the embarrassment of having done something so incredibly stupid, my memory is clearly not what I think it is. I hope that the framer’s business is booming.

photo credit: gkjarvis via creative commons

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Four Ways to Avoid Spoiled Vacation Food

S and I are headed to points north for a week, and we want to make sure none of our hard-won (some by purchasing, some by being the last people to leave the camp site) food goes to waste. We have devised some fool-proof ways to make sure that doesn't happen.
Way One: Eat it before you leave. We had leftover steak, ground beef, and assorted vegetables. We ate cheese steaks with onions and peppers on day one; ground beef nachos with tomatoes and lettuce on day two; and cheese-steak-nacho-casserole-surprise on day three. Delish.

Way Two: Freeze it. Duh, right? But did you know that you can freeze cheese and cheesecake? About the only thing you can't freeze is sour cream.

Way Three: Cook it down. We have six pears that are getting the Fruit Rescue treatment as we speak. We will then apply Way One (see above).

Way Four: Grind it up. Vegetables that would be weird to freeze, such as asparagus, are fine if you puree them first. Save the puree to make soup or sauce later.
Presto - more food for your belly and less for the compost bin.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rhythm of the Neighborhood

My office is really hot in the morning, and I face a window through which streams the bright morning sun. The woman across the street is running an informal (illegal?) daycare business. At regular intervals, her customers appear to drop off and pick up little children. Every time she sees me observing this, she glances furtively around and throws me a shy little wave.
There is an elderly lady who walks slowly from her house to the bus stop at odd times. I’m not sure where she’s going. She doesn’t seem to be gone very long. I feel like she is too old to have a job, but I can’t imagine what else would have her taking these small, shuffle-y steps up and down the street in the hot sun.
Our neighbors in the two houses across the street from us are defensively picking the wild blackberries that grow on the edges of their yards, to keep me away from them. Fine by me – I’ve found a huge patch a few streets over that no one pays attention to, anyway. It’s in between two vacant houses that have been for sale for months. I guess the owners can’t get the yard cleaned up.
The mail gets delivered mid-morning during the week and late afternoon on the weekends. I’m wondering if the mail carrier likes to sleep in on Saturdays. I’m always excited when the mail comes these days, and I love putting up the flag when I have some outgoing mail, which is a lot more often than it used to be.
An older man walks a long distance, past our house and down our street and down another street. He is always dressed in white, but it doesn’t look like a uniform. I see him day and night making this treck. Once, our dog chased him down the street at 2am. I can’t figure out what he’s doing, but I know it isn’t something fun. His walk is slow and measured, and he carries a bag that looks really heavy. His back is bent over as he makes his way deliberately up the hills of the streets around my house.
When we walk in the morning, I see the unwanted items people set out on the sidewalk for the trash or trash-picking neighbors. Even when it’s something I don’t want, I find myself itching to take it. I guess some people aren’t feeling the recession as much as others. Or maybe they just don’t know how not to consume – maybe they have to unlearn the idea that everything they have can and should be replaced on a regular basis. I know that I have only recently stopped feeling the overwhelming urge to buy things to fill up the rooms in my house. I started feeling more full when I started working for myself, stopped needing to fill the spaces with the rewards of commerce. I think I’m full from drinking in the rhythm of the people working on my street, these people trying to make their way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm Published!

I decided to write an article about taking advantage of social networking sites for a hotel launch for two reasons. First, I wanted to up my credibility quotient with a few of the clients I'm trying to land. And second, I wanted to write about the hotel business before my experience becomes obsolete. I sent it out on Monday, heard back on Tuesday, and it was published Wednesday. Gotta love these crazy Internets. I was so excited that I decided to post it here, too. Here's the link: Ten reasons to use social media for launching a hotel News Archives (posted using ShareThis), and here's the actual article:

Been hearing the buzz about social media but not sure how to make it work for you? New construction, conversion, or reflagging hotels can make great use of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and other social media tools. Here are a few ways to do it.
1. To Replace the Boring Old Newsletter. Rather than sending out a monthly newsletter to update your clients, create a Facebook Fan Page for your new hotel. Use the status update tool to do just that – update your fans about the status of the hotel’s construction or conversion. No detail is too minute – people really are interested in the hand-woven wall covering – but don’t overwhelm. Once a day is plenty.
2. To Compound the Power of People. Whether you like it or not, your staff is using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and everything else. Rather than fight the inevitable, put the power of their connections to good use. When you hire new employees, send out announcements to your fans and followers. Then, have your new hires invite their friends to become fans of the hotel.
3. To Record History Painlessly. Post photos of construction progress to Flickr or a photoblog. While you wait for corporate to approve your official images, direct potential clients to these shots so they can start to visualize the finished product with you. Take and post pictures of clients on site tours, then email the link as a follow-up. When you’re ready to put together the opening day slide show for the staff, you’ll have lots of images to use.
4. To Supplement (or Replace) Printed Brochures. Even the most beautiful artist’s renderings of your ballroom are useless after opening day. Save money and paper by uploading your latest PowerPoint to a service like SlideShare. You can point interested parties there with a link and make real-time changes. Bonus: you avoid storing, and then throwing away, boxes of outdated rack cards later.
5. To Establish Your Hotel as an Expert. Is your hotel positioned to corner the market on weddings? Begin to establish your credibility before you open by posting wedding planning tips. Link to vendors who do great work, and post pictures of their cakes and bouquets. In short, be a part of the conversation, and contribute valuable information – not just sales pitches.
6. To Get Customer Feedback Before You Mess Up. Many, many policy decisions are made by two people drinking coffee on no sleep three weeks before opening. Rather than waffle or deal with backlash later, open the discussion to your fans. You may not follow their advice (no, I don’t think we’ll allow beer sales to 13-year-olds), but you will get some interesting perspective.
7. To Find Out What Your Clients Care About. Lots of new hotels partner with a local charity to make contacts and generate buzz (in addition to giving back). Ask your local tweeps (followers on Twitter) for ideas so you can gauge how well your support will impact your strategic goals.
8. To Set Yourself Apart. Regardless of the supposed ubiquity of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for business, most hotels either don’t do social media or don’t do it well. You have to be a part of the conversation rather than spitting out a sales pitch with every status update. If you get it right, you will be one of the few.
9. To Crack Yourself, and Your Fans, Up. Everyone appreciates a mental rest stop. There are zillions of hospitality-focused diversionary websites out there. Post an occasional link to one of them. Even if you’re the only one laughing, you’ll still be laughing, and you can use as much of that as you can get while opening a hotel.
10. To Humanize Your Business. The point of using social media for your new hotel is to humanize the business and create an emotional connection with your fans. Trying to create a “template” for social media is like building a snowflake factory – at best, you’re boring, and at worst, you fall apart before you even hit the ground. Be real. Really.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Memory Lane Monday: Camping

Having spent last weekend camping at Wanee, today's Memory Lane Monday is about camping. A couple of years ago, S and I took a weekend trip to Warren Haynes' annual Mountain Jam festival. It took place on Hunter Mountain, a ski resort in New York. Our camp site was on a ski slope, resulting in a strange sliding sensation while we were sleeping - which turned out to be us sliding down the mountain and waking up crumpled in a heap in the corner of our tent. Many delightful things happened on that trip, including non-stop pouring rain and a blow-out on the New Jersey turnpike, but this is about how the camping trip caused me to once again embarrass myself at work.
When I woke up on Sunday in a pile at the bottom of our piece of the mountain, my stomach was itching like crazy. I figured I had a couple of bug bites - we were sleeping outside, after all. We packed up our stuff in the downpour and made our slow and laborious way off Hunter Mountain. When I changed into dry clothes in the car, I noticed that my stomach was covered with little red bumps. I held onto the bug bite theory but started getting nervous.
We got home about 944 hours later. I went to take a shower. There were bites all over my body - torso, thighs, inner arms, everywhere. I'm squirmy just thinking about it.
I went to work the next morning, still itchy and scratchy, but certain that I was just the victim of hungry bugs attacking in the tent. That is, until my head started itching. Like crazy. Like I wanted to rip out my hair and run the tines of a fork across my scalp. As I scratched my head, it dawned on me that I had lice. I had gotten lice while camping in the woods on the side of a mountain and brought it with me to work. My staff was going to have to shave their heads, and lice would spread to the guestrooms of the hotel, causing us to get terrible reviews on TripAdvisor and go out of business. I ran into my GM's office and made up something - I can't remember what - I think I told her I had a terrible rash. Went to the drug store, bought two lice kits, showered, de-loused, showered, de-loused, washed all items in house, showered, and de-loused again.
Woke up in the morning. Bumps were worse. S went on the Interwebs to diagnose me, and came back with this: I had gotten scabies from the dirty East Coast hippies at the show, and now they were burrowing around under my skin, making babies and offal. [Insert horrified scream here.] I had to go to the doctor's office, where I presumed that they would, like, burn off my skin and then pour bleach all over me. But worse than that, I had to call in to work with scabies. Yep, that's right, I had to call in dirty.
At which point my boss said something like, "Was this a Woodstock-type festival?"
Turns out, I only had hives, and I will thank Warren Haynes for that for the rest of my life. Eww, my head itches.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Social Media Mayhem

Once upon a time, a girl I know had just moved to a new city and didn’t know a soul. She was single and ready to date. Many of her girl friends were experimenting with online dating sites, but she was reticent to try because she was afraid someone would recognize her picture and laugh at her. A friend suggested that she get her feet wet with an anonymous site like Craigslist, just to see if it would be worth making the leap into or eharmony. So, this girl I knew did it. She wrote a hilarious profile and put it up. She set up a free email account just for this experiment, so she couldn’t be traced. And she got tons of emails from tons of guys. She traded pictures with some, exchanged messages back and forth, and began to narrow the pool. It was fun, much more fun than she expected, and it was a great diversion as she got to know the new city.
Finally, she had communicated with one Craigslist fellow for long enough that the move to phone calls was in order. They began to talk, and she began to think that this guy, B, might be pretty cool. They made a date for dinner. He got lost on the way to pick her up but showed up with a bouquet of flowers so she excused his tardiness. After dinner, they decided to have a drink. Driving around, this girl I know began to wonder why a police officer was following them so closely. She asked B if his tag was expired (having been familiar with that state of affairs), and he said no. He made a left turn, then a right, and the police car stayed right there. After a moment, the lights and sirens went on. They pulled over. Another police car pulled up. Then another.
So of course this girl I knew was freaking out, while B was being questioned and handcuffed and searched. One of the cops came around to the passenger side and said, “He told me this is your first date. He hasn’t done anything really wrong. He has an outstanding warrant for a traffic violation.” She laughed and shook her head. She asked if she could leave. Officer Cop said, “Well, we’re taking him to jail. Can you drive his car home?”
Needless to say, she never saw him again. But she still started a social media business. Goes to show you – the harder you work to control an outcome, the less likely it is that you will control it. And don’t go on blind dates, dude.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Fruit Rescue

I feel so guilty when fruit goes bad. Like, how is it even possible that delicious organic and/or locally-grown fruit that costs a million dollars but is totally worth it is allowed to get mushy and gross? How could I be such an a-hole?
But wait! Stop hating yourself! You can save that fruit!!!
Here's what you do:
Take your spoiling fruit and peel/pit/de-stem/etc. it.
Put it in a saucepan on medium heat.
Squeeze in some lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit - whatever you have. If you don't have fresh citrus, try some juice. If you don't have juice, seriously, you may want to consider vitamin. But you can use a little white wine or champagne or even Sprite or gingerale, you scurvy-ridden drunkard.
Add a little sugar or agave syrup if you want. You don't have to. Be sparing because it will be good without much sweetener.
Stir a bunch until it looks and smells good. Pour over ice cream or spread on toast. Or just eat with a spoon.
Presto - fruit rescue!
PS - Not a good plan for bananas.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

There is No IT Guy

When you start a business, or become a consultant, or begin to freelance, there are certain pieces of equipment that you must have – phone, printer, internet access thingie, blackberry, label maker (maybe that’s just me), and calculator.
And you need a computer. In my case, I needed the cheapest laptop I could find, because I burn through them in about 12 months no matter how much they cost. My sweet husband, the magnificent S, researched an affordable computer for me and traveled across town to pick it up so I wouldn’t have to wait. If you know S (or me, for that matter), you know that travel outside a five-mile radius is rare and irritating, so this was truly Greater Love.
Here is an abbreviated list of the things that went wrong:
1. Left my mouse at home and couldn’t get the TouchPad to work. Spent two hours researching it, only to discover that there is a hidden, secret, invisible touch sensor that turns it off and on.
2. Couldn’t connect to wireless. Picked laptop up and moved to each room in the house, as well as yard, to try to get a better signal. Tried using air card, which also wouldn’t work. Called air card company and discovered an outage in my area. Still, should be able to connect to wifi from our hub. Research, cursing, tears, cursing. Repeat. Finally discover that there is a microscopic switch on front of laptop that activates wireless card. I had switched it off in my earlier quest to turn the freaking touch pad back on.
3. Had no software. I guess the last time I bought my own computer rather than have one issued by work, it came preloaded with everything I could ask for along the lines of software, etc. Nowadays, they come with nothing. Who knew? I’m still running my business on trial versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe; hopefully I will make some money before the trials are over.
I have never loved IT folks – I’ve always found them arrogant and intimidating and condescending at best and malevolent or lazy at worst. For a while there, I thought the universe was trying to teach me a karmic lesson about appreciating IT guys. Maybe I was supposed to learn to appreciate what I had before it was gone? Then I realized, as I painstakingly figured out the solution to each of my problems on my own, that the real lesson was something else entirely. The lesson was that I really could do this. The lesson is that I really can do this. Really. I can do this.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Memory Lane Monday: High Waters

In 1999, I moved to Colorado with my then-boyfriend (and now husband) S. He had been to Denver on vacation and really wanted to move there. I had never been anywhere but really wanted to be with him. Thus: a cross-country journey in the bitch seat of a giant moving truck, pulling two cats in a Kia Sephia.

As we were loading up into the cab to depart, S asked me how much money I had saved up. I said, "$400." He started to cry. Not really, but he was horrified and shocked that I barely had enough to cover the gas. He, meanwhile, had sold his car and done all manner of other things to gather up cash. All of this to say that I was broke as a joke.

As soon as we got to Denver, I started looking for a job and did cater-waiter gigs while I interviewed. I lucked into a director-level position at a modest hotel and swiftly jumped into career-girl mode, pulling together business-appropriate outfits from my 24-year-old's wardrobe of low-cut tops and clearance rack slacks. I had a couple of suits, but I also had a couple of pissed-off cats who had spent a great deal of our first weeks in Denver rolling on and/or peeing on my nicest clothes. As we didn't have the money for dry-cleaning (see $400, above), I decided to hand-wash the soiled garments in the bathtub to prepare them for a day at the office. I soaked and scrubbed and hung up to dry one of my favorites - a navy blue Liz Claiborne pants suit that I thought was the absolute height of sophistication. Said pants suit was cut perfectly and just the right length for my 5'1" self.

Once dry, I proudly donned my fancy suit and went to the office. It felt a little snug, but maybe I just needed to cut back on the M&Ms or something. When I caught my co-workers snickering behind my back, I thought I might need to cut out M&Ms and french fries.

I should probably mention that we didn't have a full-length mirror at this time. I should also mention that the suit was made of linen. So, in my desire to save the $10 dry-cleaning charge, I had created pants just slightly longer than capris, leaving my ankles in full view. As I prepared to leave for the day, someone said, "I hope everything's OK at home." I replied, "What do you mean?" He answered, "I hope the flood is over," and everyone fell all over themselves dying with laughter at my pathetic high-waters. Needless to say, I've never worn Liz Claiborne again.