Thursday, February 26, 2009
Went to a meeting tonight for work. There was a lot of networking. And a lot of pink bubbly. And a lot of talk about new media (which was to be expected since so many newspapers seem to be falling apart left and right, forcing all of us PR folks to wonder who or what we will be pitching to in the future and if the failure of print media will eventually lead to the demise of PR jobs).
People kept bringing up blogging and Facebook and Twitter. "The wave of the future," they said.
And they kept talking about "authentic" communication that doesn't rely on "messaging" or "talking points."
And they kept saying what a "risk" this was and how hard it is to blog because you have to respond to people's comments.
Sometimes, the PR stuff is too much for me.
Blogging and Facebook and Twitter are not the future. They are the present. Any 15-year-old can tell you that. And by the way, creating a Facebook page for your winery doesn't mean that anyone is actually going to look at it. (I know -- I tried this.) You've got to be better than that.
And blogging doesn't have to be scary. Yes, it is sort of strange to think that you are writing something and sending it out there to be read by a bunch of strangers. But this is only if you're lucky -- you can't just create a blog and automatically expect a million people to read it! I know because -- surprise! -- no one reads this blog except maybe the five people who know it exists! (Also, you can't create a blog and not update it regularly, or else those few people who read it will stop reading it, which probably is part of the reason no one reads this blog. I am not the best updater.)
Also: What is so scary about responding to people's comments? (I get excited when anyone comments on my posts because, as I said, I probably have a total of five readers.) Yes, sure, someone out there is going to disagree with you, but wouldn't you rather have that opportunity for discourse? Wouldn't you rather know what the criticism is than live in a bubble world where you mistakenly think everyone loves you?
Sometimes I think us PR folks would all fare so much better if we thought more like normal people instead of like PR folks.
Monday, February 23, 2009
At work, I sit next to the women who run the wine club. Every day, I hear them on the phone. They take orders from club members, give advice on when to open a bottle and help people navigate our country's complex and very annoying wine shipping laws.
I also hear them when a club member cancels a membership and when a member's credit card has expired and they have to call the person repeatedly to get the new information so they can send the next shipment of wines.
These co-workers get pretty sad when a member leaves and pretty frustrated when they can't update someone's account.
Which makes me feel like an asshole.
Because this is exactly what I have been doing for the past year to one of the wine clubs to which I supposedly belong. My card expired awhile ago, and the poor club manager has been calling me since last July to get the new numbers.
I should know better. I do know better. I should quit being so passive-aggressive and just call the winery and tell them that I am getting married / I already have too much wine (see the photo above -- that's not even half of it) / my cat had diarrhea recently, which resulted in an unexpected vet bill and therefore I need to put my club membership on hold.
And yet I can't bring myself to pick up the phone. I think this is because I'm afraid I'll feel guilty for not supporting said winery (they are small, they are family-owned, they don't have much three-tier distribution) and end up forking over the credit card digits.
Damn these tough economic times.
Friday, February 20, 2009
It is the time of year when restaurateurs and retailers descend upon Napa for a weekend of drinking, eating and bidding.
I love this time of year.
This love is a new realization. I used to equate this time of year with exhaustion: Waking up way too early to stand for hours and hours in uncomfortable shoes and smile a lot and stalk wine writers and make them try barrel samples and hopefully get them to say nice things about the wine. And I would dread the actual auction because I would have to sit there and wait for the lot to come up and it would never go for what I wanted it to go for and then I would feel bad. And I would go home wondering what I could possibly do to get people to respond better next year.
But this year, I am not so concerned about the barrel sample and the auction lot. This year, it has become about connecting people -- running into people I haven't seen in awhile, making sure my winemakers get face time with the media, trying to get to know my new co-workers better. I spent the afternoon working at an open house at one of the properties, and it was great -- good company, good food and of course, good wine.
And the Valley itself is absolutely gorgeous right now -- the mustard is in bloom and everything is green from the recent rain.
And afterwards, I met a friend at Bottega tonight and crossed one off my New Year's list. We had some Cab and some burrata and some molten chocolate lava cake. And we promised ourselves, Let's do this more often, let's make this a regular thing.
Cheers to that!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The shoe is the hard part.
First of all, I do not want to spend every single weekend at malls, outlet stores, Loehmann's (although god knows I adore Loehmann's and could lose myself in there for hours), boutiques, etc., looking for the perfect shoe. I would rather be eating burritos. Or signing up for more races. Or trimming my cats' claws.
Also, I hate the hideous white satin dyeables and basically anything that is billed as a "bridal shoe." (Who designs this stuff? Do they really think that just because you are getting married, you have no sense of style? Are brides that idiotic? Shoot me now.) But unfortunately, I can't choose my beloved stiletto because the wedding will be on grass, which means I will sink into the lawn and possibly get stuck and possibly fall and possibly make a complete fool out of myself. I also can't pick leather or satin because the grass will ruin it. And I tried going with flip-flops, but my mom freaked out.
This leaves me with few options (wedge? platform? go-go boots?) and tough logistics to navigate: I have to choose the right shoe without actually being able to try it on with the dress. In fact, by the time I get to try on the dress, the shoe needs to be finalized so the seamstress can alter the dress to fit the height of the shoe. (Why does this seem sort of ridiculous and backwards to me? Shouldn't they let you try on the dress to refresh your memory and then look for the shoe and then try on the dress again once you have everything you're supposed to have? Why is the wedding industry so frustrating?)
So I am conducting my shoe search in the most reasonable way I can think of: By ordering mass quantities of shoes in my size from online retailers that have free return shipping and a 365-day return policy, so that I can bring all of the shoes to the dress fitting and try them on with the dress and return anything that doesn't work/doesn't fit/looks ugly. (Oh, the bridal salon is going to love me. And my mailman will love me. And those online retailers will love me.)
The first shipment of shoes arrived yesterday. It was like Christmas all over again -- so many lovely boxes to unwrap! There were three pairs: Pewter peep-toe with a Cuban heel (so lovely and retro-looking and no sinking into the grass!), purple peep-toe (ended up being too big with too skinny a heel) and blue chunky closed-toe shoe (showed too much toe cleavage and wasn't dressy enough).
So far, pewter is winning. The other two will be going back.
(P.S. If you are still reading this and haven't hung yourself yet, I commend you.)
Monday, February 16, 2009
Yesterday I turned down the opportunity to see Lance Armstrong race through Santa Rosa so I could go to a cat show instead.
Before you mock me, let me explain. I like cats. I like people who like to talk about cats. I like kitschy cat paraphernalia. (Once, my esthetician told me her mother-in-law gave her a cat nativity scene for Christmas -- complete with cat baby Jesus -- and I was insanely jealous.) If I weren't getting married, I would probably live in a studio apartment with 40 cats.
Also -- and perhaps a more important point -- I do not like standing in the rain and shivering while waiting for men in spandex to ride their bikes past me really fast. I do not care how much alcohol and barbecue are involved. I still do not find being cold and damp fun. (It has been raining non-stop since Friday.)
Therefore, the cat show was a wise choice. Also, at the show, I got a good deal on the super-high end cat food that the kids eat. And I saw a bunch of bizarre cat breeds -- hairless cats, Persians so fluffy they barely had faces, Bengals, Egyptian Maus, etc. -- and their owners, who set up little pastel-colored "cat tents" (yes, this is exactly what it sounds like -- picture a cross between a dollhouse and a tent and add a litterbox and there you have it) for them. And I witnessed the cat judging process, which involved holding the prize-winning cats in the air in awkward positions and commenting on coat color, length of torso, etc.
And I wondered a lot about these fancy-pants cats and how much they must cost (they had purebred kittens for sale at the show) and what kind of life they live when they leave the show. (Do they eat sushi the way our cats do? Do their owners cook for them the way I do? Do they get to sleep with their owners every night the way Mari does with me?)
And I wondered about the not-so-fancy-pants cats that fill up shelters every spring and summer during kitten season. (By the way, if you live in the Bay Area and want a cat, consider adopting from Lake County, which is forced to euthanize animals because there are too many unwanted ones.)
The experience made me very happy to come home to Meep and Mari (who are about 2-3 times bigger than any of the show cats I saw, spoiled out of their little cat minds and would never in a million years put up with anyone holding them in the air in front of a crowd while discussing their torsos). I am so glad we were able to rescue them and give them a good life and plenty of love.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Somewhere, beneath the layer of corn chips and the layer of cheese and the layer of green onions and the layer of broccoli and the layer of mushrooms and the two layers of chili, lies a baked potato.
And this baked potato is a great thing to come home to. A perfect thing, actually. Especially when it is raining and things are crazy at work and the new Netflix just arrived in the mail.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
In short: It was awesome. It was challenging. And I'll do it again. (In fact, I've already signed up for the next one.)
In detail: I woke up at 4 a.m., worried that I was going to start too fast and my pace would be off and I wouldn't have enough stamina to finish, worried that maybe I had eaten too much fiber and would be running to the port-a-potty instead of on the course, worried that I might fall back to sleep and then sleep through my alarm and then miss the entire race. Basically, I lay in bed worrying until 5 a.m., which was when my alarm went off.
We left the house at 6:30 a.m. Halfway to SF, I realized my nerves were taking a toll on my bladder, and we had to stop at a gas station. (This turned out to be a very good thing -- the bathroom lines at the race were insanely long, and people were peeing in the bushes.)
I was at the start by 7:30. Sort of emotional at this point because there were so many people (almost 6,000!) and I was overcome by the fact that I had even made it to this point. (Who would've dreamed, right?) Thankfully, Jessa -- who looked like a pro in her Boston Marathon jacket -- was there for moral support. She calmed me down and cheered me on and held my outer layers for me while I was running. She was awesome.
The race started at 8, and it took me about 4-5 minutes to cross the start line because of the sheer number of people. The first six miles were pretty easy -- I kept an eye on my watch and was careful to stick to the pace I wanted. But as soon as the course dumped me out on the Great Highway, I started to get tired. That stretch was just so damn long. And it got hot. I had to grab a cup at every water station. (I need to practice this; most of the water ended up on my shirt instead of in my mouth -- not easy to drink and run!) And I started to wonder if the race would ever end or if I was just going to have to keep running down the stupid highway forever.
(By the way, I've come to the conclusion that running is just one major mindfuck. It's so easy to get totally distracted or overwhelmed by what everyone else is doing and then completely freak yourself out. Every time I saw someone bonk or pull to the side to stretch out a potential injury, I would find myself stressing over whether I was next. And listening to other people's conversations was bizarre, too. One woman talked on and on about every single article of clothing she was wearing. Someone else was checking out all the male runners and picking out who she wanted to hit on -- she actually referred to one guy as "cut ebony." Other people were vowing they would never run this race again. See? Mindfuck.)
Miles 10-12 were sort of brutal because I was getting tired and so were all the people around me. Every time someone stopped running, I was tempted to stop too. But once I got around to the last mile, I realized I still had strength and was able to sprint up the hill to the finish. My time was faster than I had hoped -- 2:23:03 -- about a 10:55 average pace. Not bad for my first race ever.
And now I'm hooked.