Emo in the City & the Country

Life from the Big Apple to the Lone Star State

Finding Fun Old Lists on my Computer

Previously, I gave little sister access to this blog to add her own posts.  She started two and never finished them.  Guess what I found in my drafts folder?🙂
I think the posts are great, and so here we are, posts written about 2 years ago, published today!

things i have always wanted to do:

1. throw a drink in a guy’s face (with good reason)

2. learn how to pop the cork off a champagne bottle with a knife

3. learn to surf [editor’s note – this one has been accomplished and is now a favorite hobby!!  hooray!]

4. be able to say “ooh-rah” convincingly

5. learn to pick a lock

6. learn to shoot a gun

7. be able to wink attractively

8. be able to play guitar well enough so i can dance around while doing it

9. be able to run up a wall and do a backflip without dying

10. be allowed to say “that’s classified” when i don’t want to answer a question


Brand Building: Don’t Make It Difficult for Me to Be a Repeat Customer

Where has the effort to retain good customers gone?

In Texas, we have a LOT of choices for electric service providers and it is fairly easy to change, keeping competition high. Before moving into our house, I had to set up electricity, and since I had been happy with my apartment provider I planned to continue with them.

Strike 1: Their website was down all morning as I was trying to do my final research and sign up online
Strike 2: Although setting up new service or transferring/changing service is fairly easy to do online, this was a little more difficult since I need to keep my current apartment service AND start service at the new house, overlapping for a few months. So I had to call customer service.

The rep was very nice, but it was confusing & complicated to set up a second address for me, and the energy plans she could offer were much more expensive than the plan I have now or the plans I found online. Also, an important feature for us is the renewable content, and none of the plans available over the phone had high renewable energy content.

Strike Three.

Long story short, I found it was easier, cheaper, and preferable to set up my new service with a new company rather than remain a loyal customer with my current provider.

Unfortunate, right? Customers like me prefer to handle business online when possible, but if phone customer service is necessary, your in-person teams should have the same or at least comparable plans to offer your customers.  Their best solution was for me to call back the next day to speak with another supervisor.

After my 28 minute phone call, I signed up for a comparable plan from another company in about 5 minutes.

If you are going to keep and grow current business, you not only have to provide great service, you have to make sure it is easy, convenient, and cost-effective for your current customers to stay loyal to you.

And now for a completely unrelated picture…  In honor of St. Patrick’s day.  This was taken last year, of my favorite building in my favorite city.

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Boston Terriers! In Sweaters?

This girl has a similar story to mine.

Growing up, my mom was allergic to dogs & cats, and basically any animal with fur, so we had fish as pets.  I loved my zebra-striped fish, but once we moved into our house and had a yard, J and I couldn’t wait to get a dog.  Well, to be honest, I was scared since I never had a puppy before and didn’t want him/her to eat all of our new furniture.  But as a Boston University graduate, where our mascot is a Boston Terrier, I just think this supermodel pup is too cute!  Especially in the little knitted hat!

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Why I Should Blog More

I’m not a long-term traveler. More accurately, I’m the one who stays home with the crazy puppy while my husband travels the world weekly. However, this post really spoke to me because it gets to the core of why I wanted to start my blog in the first place. And why I should keep up with it better than I do.
#1 (Keep in touch) was my original reason for starting the blog. I had moved to New York City, and everyone was asking about how it was. Instead of sending mass emails, or the same email over and over again, I thought if I kept my fun stories on the blog, it would give everyone an opportunity to keep in touch with what I was doing. But somehow, I got too busy doing what I was doing and never felt I had enough time to write about it.
#5 (Make your mark) also connects, especially recently. there are hundreds of wedding resources and blogs out there, but when trying to plan a Milwaukee wedding while living in NYC, I had a lot of trouble finding information online. So, I blogged some of my Milwaukee wedding planning experiences. And, recently, met another couple in a similar situation, planning a Milwaukee wedding from NYC, and I was able to share some of the research I did during all of my planning. If I can pass something on and help someone else with what I learned, that makes it so much more worthwhile to me!

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Working From Home

How I wish I worked from home:
http://instagr.am/p/noKdg/ (aliciakeys – Instagram)

How I currently work from home:

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Updates: Where Do I Start?

With a list! Where else?
1. My previous WordPress background/theme is being discontinued, so I had to pick a new theme. I didn’t realize I would be so picky about the theme conveying the right mood for the blog. In my normal indecisive fashion, I looked through all of them and decided on a temporary one for the season.
2. I’m going to start posting more! I was too busy enjoying NYC to post enough about our adventures there. Maybe I’ll do better with new Texas adventures and other random thoughts.
3. I had a few posts about the wedding, then got crazy with all the planning and those dropped off too. However, it’s not over! More wedding updates to come.
4. I made a huge move this summer and am no longer in the city, so I think my blog needs a new name. It has a new temporary name, but since I didn’t come up with the original name, I’m open to suggestions!🙂
5. My recent posts have been lacking in the image department, and pictures make them much more fun to read, so here’s my recent favorite from our honeymoon.  I have this as my desktop during the day because just looking at it calms me and takes me to my happy place.

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Who Does it Well

Following up on my last post of what I’d like to see more of from wedding vendors, here’s who I thought was doing it well.

Chef Jack’s (http://www.chefjacks.com/flashindex.html#/?section=Event%20Locations): This is a caterer in Milwaukee that has better pictures & descriptions of many Milwaukee venues than the venues do.  It’s a great place to start when, like me, you have no idea what venue you want.  I did not use them for catering, but their website was super helpful.

The Bartolotta Catering Company (http://bartolottacatering.com/pier/): This was the exclusive caterer at my venue, and this website was most helpful to me for the floorplans and photos, since we had different options of areas within the venue for the ceremony & reception.  The photos were helpful because I love seeing how other couples chose to lay out and decorate the same venue.  My venue coordinator, Julie, was also so responsive to all my questions, either by email or phone, and secured my confidence in her skills & organization.  Thanks to her service, I didn’t have to hire a wedding planner.

m three studio (http://mthreestudio.com/): This is one of the photographers we considered.  She had the style we were looking for, a very fun website with video transitions, and a blog I still enjoy reading months after our wedding.  She writes romantic stories about each of her couples, and her personality shines through her posts.

Valo Photography (http://www.valophotography.com/index_new.php): These are the photographers we chose for our wedding.  The company is a team of two guys, and each has his own blog to show his style.  The one challenge I have to note is that it seems their business is a little more focused on senior pictures (which they rock at) than weddings.  When we were waiting to hear back about our wedding DVDs and albums, we were frustrated seeing constant blog posts about senior pictures.  However, their wedding posts prior to our event made us excited to have them shoot our event.  We chose them based on our in-person meeting (we met with our 3 favorites) and after watching them in action at a friend’s wedding, but it was their online information, portfolios and blogs that got them on our favorites list in the first place.

We had a hard time researching florists, and have to admit we went with a woman who came very highly recommended but has no website.  I had more luck going to websites of high-end florists who specialized in individual arrangements rather than events for good inspiration photos to bring to my florist meetings.

freshdesign flowers (http://freshdesignflowers.com/portfolio2) was one of my favorites in the process.  Their website is clean, modern, and easy-to-use.

The City Bride Blog (http://thecitybrideblog.com/): I believe I found this blog through another local vendor, and although it hasn’t been updated lately, it was one of my favorites.  It has friendly, down-to-earth advice, and when I was really struggling to find an officiant, I emailed the author, Meghan, for advice and recommendations and she happily and promptly helped, although I wasn’t a client.  So yes, she didn’t receive business from me, but she would be at the top of my list of planners for a friend to contact.

Keep in mind that even if you’re not getting business with each new client contact, you are building your brand.  There are photographers I researched and did not choose for my wedding, but still have in mind for future pictures with my husband, or possibly future family photos.  Maybe you weren’t the right florist or event planner for my wedding, but if you impressed me, I’ll remember you in the future for an anniversary party, corporate party, or other event.  If you weren’t right for me, but had a good business, I will recommend you to friends when they ask.

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Dear Wedding Vendors

Things I learned planning a wedding long-distance:

1. More and more brides (like me) are getting married out of town.  And we are women of technology.  We research & plan online – on computers and on our phones, because we’re busy.

2. Have a good website!!  I was shocked at how many vendors in Wisconsin did not have useful websites.  I want as many details as possible – it will save both you and me time!  Sample packages, options, some idea of price range, contact info and a contact form, and PICTURES.

3. On the subject of pictures, make them easy to scroll through.  Don’t make me watch a slideshow I can’t control, and don’t have a page of thumbnails where each picture opens in a new window.  A slideshow I can easily scroll through is easiest for me.  Make sure the pictures actually show what you’re offering!  If you’re a venue, officiant or planner, pictures of brides & grooms tell me nothing.  I want to see what you brought to the wedding!  Florists and photographers are usually best, but if you make it difficult for me to look through your photos, I won’t.

4. A blog can also be good to help me get to know you.  I subscribed to the blogs of the photographers I was interested in to get a good look at their different events over a period of time.

5. We depend on recommendations, and while word-of-mouth is still the most powerful, having a presence and actual reviews on wedding sites and local review sites will help me feel more comfortable with your business.

6. Check your email multiple times a day and respond within 24 hours to requests or questions.


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Six words

Over the years, I’ve seen explanations in six words popping up in a lot of places.  I found it so interesting, and once it was in the back of my mind, I found it more often than I would have expected.  This was supposedly sparked by a legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words.  His story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Amazing what kind of emotion you can invoke in 6 words.

There are even a few books by the same writing pair around this concept:
It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure

I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure

Here’s mine: I am never that brief.  Seriously.

As for some other fun results:
Create a motto for the United States of America in six words (Freakonomics Blog):

Very Short Stories – more creative takes on the concept (Wired)
And their awesome graphic interpretations: http://www.wired.com/culture/design/multimedia/2006/11/sixwords?currentPage=1&slideView=5

Describe religion in six words: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spiritual-shorthand/

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10 Years Ago

As a Boston University journalism undergrad, I was terrible at remembering to read the newspaper headlines before class.
I remembered that day.
NYT had a very short blurb about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Seemed like a strange accident, but no more details were available and I had to leave for class.
My advertising professor hadn’t heard any news and dismissed questions about it, carrying on as usual. Just like every other Tuesday, I had to go straight to my next class, but my usually punctual news writing professor (and middle east expert) was late. He arrived silently except for the radio in his hand providing live updates. The blood was gone from his face. He sat down, bewildered, and together we listened for what felt like eternity. He declared we couldn’t hold class at a time like this, and sent us home to watch history unfold.
Only then did I realize the enormity of this situation. It wasn’t just a freak accident. It was planned.
I returned to the dorm and more housemates joined to watch the news coverage together.
Even being so close, I don’t think I processed what it meant to NY and the world. In the years following, I watched friends go off to Iraq and, thankfully, return safely.
Later I became a New Yorker myself and only then understood the deep personal connection people have to that city. I’m more emotional about it now than I was 10 years ago. This will define our generation.
NYC, you are resilient. We will never forget.

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