Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chin Up, Working Girls

As I have mentioned numerous times before, I really enjoy reading Working Girl’s blog. I’m not exactly in their target demographic but they really have a good thing going and I read as much to try and duplicate their success as I do out of interest in their topics. I’ll admit it, I shake my head at some of their posts but there is a generational gap between us. When they discuss the drama from the most recent episode of The Hills or the quality of Britney Spears’ new album I want to vomit. They are still the best bloggers on the net though, in my humble opinion.
But the Working Girls are sad this week. Working Girl Two has relocated and Working Girl One’s spirits are down. Separation anxiety sucks. While I know that WG1 is happy for her colleague, she still will miss having her near. While I can offer her no solace, I can give her a little reminder of her friend.
A couple of months ago I was brainstorming for ideas to increase my readership and the best idea I came up with was having a weekly guest blogger. The Working Girls were my first target. If I could get them to write an entry for me discussing the successes, failures, and aspirations for their blog, it would be a major accomplishment. So I emailed them and, for a couple of weeks, got no response. Just when I had given up hope that they would do me the honor of writing a blog for me, WG2 contacted me and said she would do it.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I said.
We traded emails discussing topics and deadlines and then one day, there it was: my own personalized WG2 blog entry. Problem was, aside from WG2, only one of my other guest bloggers had responded. I put the feelers out to campus clubs and other bloggers and only Working Girl and Two Minutes for Blogging had replied.
So I stashed the entries away. I honestly figured I would never have the opportunity to use either. Then I read WG1’s post yesterday. She’s got the blues over WG2’s relocation and can only find comfort in her boyfriend’s “nook.” I don’t want to know. So I thought that maybe a trip down memory lane would help. A little reminder of WG2. Kind of like a lost episode of The Hills or Cashmere Mafia.
So here you are WG1, chin up! And WG2, out there in the Windy City, congratulations and thanks again………

I have to first point out that when the Invisible Student asked WG1 and I to guest post on his blog that we were ecstatic. I mean, this is our very first guest blog post (how exciting is that!). And then he asked us to write about our success with Working Girl. Which is still weird for me to say. We are successful. We have a successful blog. When we started the blog, I thought we could get our friends and family to read it for sure. But beyond that, I don't know if I had that many expectations. For you to fully understand, I think we need to start at the beginning.

Working Girl One and I met in college. And I don't think if you had met either one of us when we were little, wide-eyed freshman that either of us could have guessed where we would be 5 years from then. That we would have a blog about women in the workplace. In fact, I think if you had met us on our first day of classes back in 2003 that you would have been surprised if we would be able to graduate much less had been able to pull this blog together.

As fate would have it, WG1 and I had two classes together first semester of freshman year – religion and French. I remember seeing WG1 on our first day of classes and thinking that she must have been one of those girls in high school that was so popular and cool (little did I know that she was a huge nerd bomb). Being the bold little freshman I was, I asked WG1 to sit with me in religion class one day. Unfortunately, I had sat in the front row. And forevermore we had to sit in the front row of that class. I'm not lying when I say we both fell asleep in it (since it was at 9 AM and really, really, really boring).
From that day on, we became best "class friends". So much so that in French class, our professor could barely tell us apart. But we thankfully snagged back row seats in that class (because after many beer bongs, my brain capacity had shrunk to that of a pea and the only words I knew were 'oui' and 'vrai'). WG1 and I hung out with different groups of friends, but we always managed to connect somehow. Since we had different majors, we didn't have many classes together anymore, but we did like dorky activities like being tour guides, campus activities like going to see the Knicks, and eventually we ended up being editors at our university's newspaper.

The idea for Working Girl actually stemmed out of an idea we had for a magazine for young women between the ages of 18 and 25 – a market we thought hadn't really been tapped into. See girls in their teens and tweens have Seventeen. And girls in their 20's and 30's have Cosmopolitan. But there is really no in-between magazine. Something that caters to girls who need guidance with college, their career, finding internships, etc. But since we are only in our early 20's, we didn't really have the resources (or experience) to start our own print magazine and voila Working Girl was born.

In its early stages, Working Girl was really just the two of us writing and our dads reading it. But I think what I really attribute our success to getting the word out. Being two girls in the marketing world, we both know how important word of mouth is! When we started the blog, we sent around an e-mail to all our friends and family asking them to read it on a daily basis. We started a Facebook group dedicated to our blog. We started a MySpace page (which is embarrassing sparse).

As more and more people began to read our blog, which we tracked by using Google Analytics, we decided we needed a professional designer to take on our website. WG1 worked closely with Delicious Design Studio and really, I don't think we would be as successful as we are today without Jess's design. Because without her design, I doubt that we would have been chosen as a Blog of Note. Or been featured in a South African magazine Chew, or gotten any of our blogger appointed awards!

Putting on a professional face while promoting our blog is what I really attribute to our success – that and our commitment to really wanting to reach out to an audience we think gets overlooked – the girls who are about to graduate from college and the twenty-something's out there in the trenches working the daily grind.

Our goal with Working Girl has been the same since the beginning. Of course we want to moan and groan about work, but we also want to help others. We like answering questions that our readers have about work and co-workers and horrible bosses. We like being able to bring knowledge and tidbits of information that you might not be able to find anywhere else.

When the Invisible Student asked us to write this post, he also asked us as if we saw ourselves as role models. Do I think of myself as a role model? Not yet. But it is something I would love to add to my resume.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Hear You Talking, but You Are Not Saying Anything

Is there a better topic than the useless art of small talk to make my triumphant return to the blogosphere? I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks due to the lack of anything relevant enough to say. Sure, I could have made up some quasi interesting topic, like politics or the weather, to talk about but who cares, right?
Nothing drives me crazier than people who talk just for the sake of talking. Please have something to say. Weather, days of the week and neighborhood, family or celebrity gossip are not things that need to be discussed. If I need to see what the weather is like I will look out the damn window. I hate when people tell me that it’s nice outside or that it’s raining. Really, is that what that water falling from the sky is? I had no idea. Thanks for filling me in.
What’s even better is when I’m wearing a coat and gloves because it’s winter and someone comes along and says, “It’s cold!”
Are you serious? It’s cold? I’m glad I have this coat and these gloves on because I would have been screwed otherwise. I really hate it when people state the obvious. Can you tell?
My mother is the queen of reminding me what day it is. I could set my watch to her “Tomorrow is ____day” each night before she goes to bed. If that isn’t bad enough, each morning she reminds me that, “Today is another day.”
Thanks for the pearls of wisdom, Mom.
My stepfather is another one. Each day when I arrive home from school he tells me, “You made it home.”
Is that where I am? That would explain me having a key to the door and all my stuff being here. I know what you are thinking, that he’s just welcoming me. I would like to think that but the tone in his voice is an informative one. It’s as if he believes that unless he tells me where I am, I’ll never figure it out.
I will admit that I am not the easiest person to talk to. Small talk just irks me to death, I don’t have a ton of friends (shocker, right?), and my parents and I just have different interests and I’m too impatient to slow down and explain things to them. When they try to engage me in subjects I will discuss, my impatience leads to me blowing them off. I guess that makes me the asshole. That is probably why they keep trying small talk. They probably think that if they fire enough topics at me, eventually I will respond. But how do you respond to “Today is another day.”?
That just doesn’t lend itself to in-depth conversation. My default response is, “Yes it is, let’s hope it’s a good one.”
Once again, not exactly riveting, edge of your seat conversation.
I know I’m probably in the minority when it comes to this. Most people a far more social than I. It’s funny, I usually blame my parents’ lack of conversational skills on the fact that they really don’t interact with anyone other than themselves. Perhaps if they got out of the house every now and then they might pick up some better chat habits.
Maybe I should follow my own advice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stereotypes: HaHa or Hurtful?

If you watch television at all you have undoubtedly realized that advertisers and media buyers have product placement down to a science. Shows geared toward a male or female audience tend to feature commercials selling products that are specific for each respective gender.
If you’re a man and you watch Monday Night Football or anything on Spike, you’ve probably seen countless beer commercials for Budweiser or Miller Lite. If its instant animal attraction and a guaranteed one night stand you seek, then by now you know that Axe body spray is the product for you. Perhaps you’ve added a few extra pounds over the years and need to shed them quickly so you can squeeze back into that banana hammock you wore back in the 80‘s. If so, there are countless fat burning products as well as exercise gimmicks promising overnight six pack abs.
For the women tuning into to Oprah and Grey’s Anatomy, you’re well versed on the benefits of Tampax Pearl, winged maxis or Secret deodorant, which is strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. Women’s programming is also more likely to advertise some Nicholas Sparks tearjerker or Julia Roberts romcom than Transporter 3 or the most recent reboot of Friday the 13th. For the seniors tuning into the Hallmark channel or some Dick Van Dyke movie of the week, surely you know that AARP offers you specialized car insurance and that Wilford Brimley pronounces diabetes, “diabetus.”
But for as each commercial that is well placed and reaches it’s target audience, there is another that is born of some antiquated stereotype. Why are baby diapers and household cleaning products still advertised primarily during women’s programming? Same for men’s programming with power tools and motor oil. As I sat watching The Ultimate Fighter last Wednesday night it became painfully obvious that advertisers believe that only video gaming couch potatoes watch Spike at ten o’clock at night. One hour long broadcast featured ads for Gears of War, Call to Duty on top of numerous other wrestling and street racing games.
Watch TV during the day and you will see numerous ads for commuter colleges like Education America and ITT Tech. Apparently, if you are lazy enough to be watching television on a Wednesday afternoon in stead of working, you are too lazy to attend a four year school and get a career instead of just a job. Daytime programming is also filled with ads for check cashing services and work from home scams. Advertising executives must really think that people at home during the week are losers.
I’ve always believed that stereotypes were somewhat based in reality. If you pull up to a Camaro or Trans Am at a stoplight and there is some 80s heavy metal song blaring from the speakers, the driver is most likely a white male. Hell, its probably me. If you go to a Cher concert and see a bunch of men who aren’t being dragged along by their noses by their wives, they are probably gay. Finally, if you’re at the movie theater watching a horror flick and there is a woman screaming at the top of her lungs whenever something even remotely creepy happens, its probably a black woman. Sorry, its all true. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Stereotypes, although funny sometimes, can be offensive too. Why are cleaning products advertised to women or power tools to men? I actually do quite a bit of cleaning and laundry around the house and Tina is the Mrs. Fixit of the family. Does watching sports make me obligated to sit around and play video games? I don’t even own a gaming system. If I’m not mistaken, Logo is the name of the network for gay people. Would they be offended if pharmaceutical companies were advertising an AIDS prevention pill or Birkenstocks? I imagine so. What if every other add on BET were for a bail bondsman or overnight paternity tests? That would be highly offensive.
I guess my point is that advertisers should be careful when painting their target market with the same brush. Do women still do most of the cleaning around the house? I don’t know but my guess would be yes. Maybe it isn’t even that they do the cleaning though. Perhaps the commercials are aimed at them because they do most of the shopping. Who knows.
Either way, as fun as playing with stereotypes can be, it can be equally as offensive.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm Sick and it Sucks!

I’ve taken a few days off from posting, not for lack of something to say, but because I’ve comedown with a mild cold/flu. It started on Sunday when I just felt fatigued all day. I thought nothing of it since that is usually how I feel on days after tailgating. On Monday it was worse, no symptoms, just fatigue. When I woke up Tuesday morning though my throat was sore and my head hurt, crap. It has gotten progressively worse ever since and today I feel like microwave poo. Surprisingly I was able to drag myself to school yesterday.
I’ve got an idea for a blog entry in my head but I can’t put it down in comprehendible form with my head so stuffy. You see, my process for blogging relies on many external factors. Daily experiences and interactions make up most of my ideas. I tried to go down the political road but it just wasn’t natural for me and I felt that I was being dishonest to not only myself, but to those of you who take the time to read my musings. If you are going to show me the honor of taking the time to read my blog, the least I can do is be honest.
So with that said, I ask you to be patient with me. Hopefully I will start feeling better here soon without having to go to the doctor. I’ve got entries on stereotypes and Thanksgiving in the works as well as whatever else may pop into my mentholated brain over the next few days. Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Toilet Bowl Promises

As I sat in the stands of FIU Stadium this past Saturday watching the Golden Panthers rally past Arkansas State, my head screamed at me for not keeping myself properly hydrated while tailgating all afternoon. It reminded me of all the nights I’ve spent hugging the toilet, cursing myself and promising God and anyone else who might be tuning in that I would never drink again.
You see, I approach college football tailgating with a vigor unlike anything else. The Xterra gets packed on Friday night and Tina and I spend most of the evening in the kitchen preparing Saturday’s feast. Usually I make my own special variety of wings in three flavors--hot, hot w/minced garlic, and extra hot--and Tina makes something fancy and healthy. For Arkansas State she made some turkey bacon club wraps and festive bean dip while I took the week off from making wings and just brought hotdogs. Of course, what tailgate would be complete without a cooler full of beer?
At my age, I’ve learned to become a smarter drinker, not only for the sake of others around me, but for my own sake as well. As I down beer after beer, I mix in a bottle of water here and there. Usually, I try to keep the ratio at a 3 beers to 1 bottle of water minimum. This not only prevents me from getting embarrassingly drunk, but it also helps to quell any potential hangover. Unfortunately, this past Saturday I forgot to keep up with the water intake.
I was fine up until halftime. Tina, our friends and I were in the student section chanting, cheering, romping and stomping. We went crazy when Paul McCall connected with T.Y. for an 84 yard catch and run play and booed when ASU scored. After the half was an entirely different story. Seeing that we’re all a bit older than the average student, we decided the atmosphere in the student section was a bit too frenzied for our taste and relocated to the visitors seating. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the ASU faithful that there was a game.
That was when the exhaustion set in. I suddenly felt like I had gone a week without sleep. My head started hurting and my legs were nowhere to be found. It wasn’t an early onset hangover, this was different. I chased down a soda vendor like he owed me money and bought a Powerade. After gulping that down I felt better, briefly. A good game was being played between two teams fighting for third place in the conference and a potential bowl game and all I could do was stare at my feet: my eyes couldn’t take the lights. I didn’t miss the wide receiver end around-fumble-option-pass to end the game, though.
I felt so bad that I couldn’t help but think back to the night that some friends and I did eight shots of Jagermeister, each. That night cost me about two days worth of toilet bowl promises, including a promise to never do Jager shots again, a promise I have kept to this day. Tina dragged me to a friend of hers divorce party once, and I proceeded to drink margaritas like a fish drinks water. There were many promises made that night, too. For my 34th birthday, when it seemed like everyone inside Buffalo Wild Wings bought me a shot, I promised myself that I would never tell my boss that I would come in on my day off again, especially when that day off falls on the day after my birthday.
Saturday night wasn’t nearly as bad as any of those times. The way I felt was caused more by exhaustion and dehydration than it was excess alcohol intake. When we made it back to the parking lot following the game I was able to down a few bottles of water and I felt better almost instantly. Although the exhaustion was still there, the headache went away once I got some H2O in me. Unfortunately I found that someone had stolen our mini-grill. There were no toilet bowl promises to be made that night though, only celebration of another Golden Panther victory, the fourth of the season so far. Not bad for a team projected as the worst in the country at the start of the season.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quality Programming

Has there ever been a better family show than Friday Night Lights? By family show I don’t mean a show that has a happy, positive message every time and where the kids in the show always make the right decision and say “yes, sir,” and “no, ma’am” all the time. Those are unrealistic if you ask me. A family show in my mind should offer something for everyone in the family and should be somewhat based in the real world.
FNL is all of those things. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the show follows the Taylor family, made up of Eric, Tammy and Julie. Eric is the father/husband and coach of the local high school football team in a football crazy town. Tammy is the mother/wife who happens to be the principal at the high school at which her husband coaches. As you can imagine, this causes some friction. Julie is the daughter who is also a student at the high school at which her dad is the coach and mom is the principal.
Tina and I both grew up watching shows like Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. She even still likes to watch 7th Heaven. Those are all great shows will valuable lessons in making the right decisions, being nice to everybody, the power of prayer, etc. But they aren’t very realistic, in my opinion. In those shows, everything always works out in the end. Little Suzy gets healed of her mystery illness, mommy and daddy work through their problems and a mysterious stranger who turns out to be a personification of God shows up with the answer for any other issue. In the real world, every cloud does not have a silver lining.
FNL has its feet on the ground when it comes to the issues facing families today. The kids drink at their parties, have sex without the good little angel that looks a lot like Dad standing on their shoulder telling them they shouldn’t be doing it and get into all kinds of other trouble. When Buddy Garrity, the slimy football booster who is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the Panthers win, cheated on his wife with his secretary, there was no reconciliation, only divorce. In the shows very first episode Jason Street, the school’s all-world quarterback, was paralyzed making a tackle. There was no miracle cure for him. No Michael Landon, Della Reese or Roma Downey showing up with a magic tough or miracle cure.
Matt Saracen, the backup QB who was thrust into the spotlight following Street’s injury, has more on his plate then Laura Ingalls ever could have dealt with. His father is deployed in Iraq and he has an absentee mother. While holding down a job at Tasty Freeze (television’s equivalent to Dairy Queen), managing his studies and leading his team to state, he also tends to his grandmother. He has to deal with her as she goes through the early stages of Alzheimer’s. This entails consistent bickering with the insurance company over in-home care and medication costs as well as making sure she doesn’t burn the house down or wander of in the middle of the night.
Without rehashing the entire series, let me just say that if Tina and I had kids, especially teenagers, this is the show we would want them to watch on a family night, if such things even exist anymore. It truly does offer something for everyone. For the boys, there is not only the fact that the show is written around football, but the girls in the show are all gorgeous. There is also a lot of mushy teenage relationship drama for the girls, as well as some cute boys, or so Tina says. For mom and dad, there some very realistic relationship tension between Tammy and Eric Taylor. They have to deal with money worries, juggling work and a newborn child, as well as worrying about their teenage daughter dating the team’s star QB.
On top of all that stuff, the stories do not always have a happy ending, much like life itself. I think it is important for a show that deals with the issues that FNL does to show that they don’t always end with a puppy dog and cotton candy result. I encourage anyone in search of a good family program to check out Friday Night Lights. The only problem is you may have to search for it. It has fallen victim to NBC’s time slot shuffle. Its first season it was on Tuesday nights, last season it was moved to Fridays, and this season it has been moved to Wednesdays on the Direct TV channel where it will remain until January, when it will return to NBC. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Hear a Memory

Today’s post was sent to me through some act of fate. As I was driving to school today, the cheesy morning radio show I was listening to announced celebrity birthdays and among them was The Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio. Shortly after that I grew weary of the same old talk show shtick and began channeling surfing. A few scans down that proverbial dial I caught Bananarama’s hit ditty, Cruel Summer, which happened to be featured in TKK. Fate had sent me an idea.

Upon hearing the first few musical notes my mind wandered back to the summer of 84, which would have been the summer between 7th and 8th grade for me. I spent that summer hanging out at Lake Worth beach with my childhood best friend Danny, each of us trying to accumulate as many girls’ phone numbers as we could. That got me thinking about other songs from movies of that era, songs like Danger Zone from Top Gun and Glory of Love from Karate Kid Part II. Both of those movies came out in the summer of 86, when I was in New York. That was a great summer vacation. I met some great friends that summer: friends who I would keep in touch with for years. I even had my first true summer fling in the summer of 86, Lisa was her name and she was the first girl I ever French kissed.

My point is that scientists would tell you that scent is the sense that is most closely tied to memories. I beg to differ. Nothing takes me back in time like music. When I get a whiff of a familiar scent it often grabs my attention but rarely do I recall exactly where I know the scent from. A familiar song, on the other hand, takes me directly to a place or moment in time, especially when I can associate that song with something visual, like a movie.
One of the songs I have as a ring tone on my phone is Moving in Stereo by The Cars. Any guys reading this post are probably cracking a devilish smile on their faces right now. The bass line for that song immediately brings to mind the famous Phoebe Cates bikini scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Yummy. I remember being in 6th grade when that movie came out. Every guy, including me, was wearing checkerboard Vans and saying, “Hey bud, let’s party!”

Music, not smell, is the gas that fuels my time machine as it drives down memory lane. How far I go depends on the CD I choose to slide into the player. So happy birthday Ralph Macchio! Thanks for guiding today’s tour through the summer of 84. You’re the best!