Wednesday, September 30, 2009

UPDATE: Self-Promotion Rules

First of all, self-promotion is awesome. I'm up to 21 followers and tons of suggestions coming in for the "Project 29 to 30!" Why haven't I been doing it along?

It's always extra special when a fellow blogger gives you a shout out, too, so when my new friend Julie gave me props on her blog and her facebook page, I felt like I was really welcome in the blogosphere. There is nothing like a seasoned professional promoting you, so I'm gonna return the favor. Julie is confronting her intense hatred of vegetables head-on by trying new produce every week. She's also hilarious and you should all check in with her as well:

Julie and I are going to try to get together some time this week to eat beets. Because she's pretty sure she hates them and I've never tried them. Bloggers unite!

DAY THREE: Music Solo

So, I was all set to try and tackle the NY Times crossword puzzle as the thing that I've never done before for Day #3. That was, until one of those "unexpected things" presented itself to me and I decided to go for it.

An out of town friend recently told me about this band that he was really into. He sent me one of the band's CDs, which I listened to and liked, and he insisted that whenever they came to my city, I should see them live. "Sure!" I said, pretty confident that when they came to town would be some date in the distant future.

Out of town friend called me last night and said, "Dr. Dog is playing tonight in Atlanta. You should go. By yourself. And write about it."

Reluctantly, I admitted that it was something I had never done before. It was a band I knew little about. And they were performing at a venue I'd never been to.

So I went. To the Loft. To see Dr. Dog. Solo.

That's right, friends, Day #3 thing I've never done before is go to a concert alone.

In general, doing things by myself doesn't freak me out. I've been to movies alone, dined alone countless times, and I've lived alone for almost five years. I consider myself to be fiercely independent, almost to a fault, and have, over the years, learned to be my own best friend.

And music, especially live music, is currently my one and only true love. Since seeing my first concert, Hootie and the Blowfish at age 14 at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina, I have spent a great deal of money and a great deal of time buying music and traveling to see live music. My investment has certainly paid off, as some of my happiest memories in life happened at concerts.

Like when Michael Stipe took the stage with Coldplay to sing my favorite REM song "Nightswimming," I looked up at my then-boyfriend with tears in my eyes and whispered dramatically,"this is my favorite song." Beautiful.

Or when Band of Horses covered Hall n' Oates' "You Make my Dreams Come True" amidst my friends and I shouting from the crowd, "Irmo High School rules!" Hilarious.

And after years of seeing Widespread Panic finally hearing them play my favorite song "Wondering." My friend Greg looked at me, high-fived me and said, "This is it, Steph!" Awesome.

As cheesy as they may be, these are examples of unforgettable musical moments that alone were incredible. But what made them so important to me were that they happened alongside the great people in my life. Live music for me is just as much about the people that I get to see it with as it is about the music itself. The fellowship of friends seeing a great band. Nothing beats that. So, with the social aspect taken out of it, would I even enjoy seeing music live? It was time to find out.

Suddenly two things that by themselves DON'T freak me out, being alone and seeing live music, started to scare me.

There was the safety concern... relatively young girl out at night by herself, walking to and from her car. What if I ordered a drink and someone tries to roofie it?

But honestly, these concerns paled in comparison to the bigger issues here: What were people going to think? Would I look stupid at a concert by myself? How would I be able to have fun alone?

I stalled leaving work, postponing what I was sure was going to be an incredibly awkward evening. The friend who convinced me to go sent me a message, "Why haven't you left yet?" I knew I could stall no more.

I showed up, parked in a well-lit parking garage (for those of you concerned), and walked in behind a group of young concert-goers. I wondered, self-centeredly, if they were wondering why I was there alone or if they assumed I was meeting someone.

Once there, I got a beer (in the bottle and roofie-free) and picked a place in the middle to stand and enjoy the music. I know that I was scanning the crowd to see if I recognized anyone or to see if anyone recognized me (so obnoxious). Not long into my arrival, I had to laugh at myself for thinking that ANYONE cared about me and who I was there with. They were all there for Dr. Dog. Right on, then, so was I.

There were a few times when I liked what was happening in the show and almost turned to the person next to me to nod and smile in approval. And then I remembered I was flying solo and there were probably not going to be any high-fives or spontaneous “boogeying” going on this time around. When the guy in front of me was head-banging to a slow song, it would've been nice to have a friend there to laugh about it with. But being there alone allowed me to focus on the music and form an opinion about it completely free of anyone else's.

It turns out, Dr. Dog puts on a pretty rocking show. Sometimes they were a little too loud for my taste, but their fans are cool and fun. I'd go again if they came back to Atlanta.

I can't deny that some of my best times with friends have been at concerts. And some of my best times at concerts have been with friends. But seeing live music alone is pretty alright too. Oh, and an 18-year old Indie rocker said, "You're pretty," to me as I was walking out, so I consider the night a success.

Check out the venue from last night:
Check out the band that I saw last night:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So, driving home from work last night, I thought I was going to get to add "Run out of Gas" to my list of Things I've never Done Before, and then I remembered that sadly, I've run out of gas before. More than once.

It did make me wonder how many of these things that I will engage in over the next year will be ones that I set out to accomplish, or ones that will randomly happen to me.

Let's hope the "unexpected" things that I haven't done before are more of the "win the lottery" and "get asked out by a tall and handsome stranger" variety and less of the "get punched in the face by a co-worker" or "get fired from my job" variety.

Monday, September 28, 2009

DAY TWO: Check Out How Awesome I Am!

What's that phrase, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" Couldn't the same thing be said about keeping a blog, "If you write a blog and no one knows about it or reads it, are you really a blogger?"

I don't know. But I'm not taking any chances.

So Day #2 thing I've never done before: Self-promotion

If you're reading this right now, you've fallen prey to the shameless self-promotion of my blog.

The plan here is to tell enough people about the blog that there is no way I won't keep up with it. I've used this tactic before and I find it to be the most effective motivator when trying to achieve a personal goal. When I was in college I told anyone that would listen to me that I was running a half-marathon over Thanksgiving break. I hardly trained at all and as the week of the race approached I considered backing out. Fearful that I would return from the holiday to a barrage of questions about how the race went, I forced myself to run it. It hurt, but telling people that I didn't go through with the run would've hurt more.

So I decided a variation of this approach was the way to go. This time around, though, it had to be bigger than just telling a few college friends. I had to blast this blog into the world wide web. So I did what an natural social media user would do.

I posted it on the breeding ground for self-promoters: Facebook.

Since joining Facebook a couple of years ago, I've been amazed at how unabashedly people throw up links to their band's website, invitations to their company's group or a link to an article they've written. I mean this is the future of public relations and marketing, I get it. I just haven't yet been ready to participate. I still think that I'm going to get discovered cruising through an airport terminal, so maybe it's time I change my way of thinking and put it all out there.

Don't get me wrong, I willingly set up a Facebook account and have had fun catching up with old friends...all 600+ of them. But put it all out there? It's a challenge for me. I tried to sell concert tickets via Facebook over the summer and had a Category 5 freakout that all of my Facebook friends would know what kind of music I listen to. It's so nerve-racking. And sure enough, the comments immediately followed.

"Steph, Phish? Really?"

It's not that I disagree with sharing one's successes with a larger audience. Maybe we all need a little bit more of that in life? I mean the economy may be in the crapper, but at least Robin's kids learned to swim today and Johnny's performing comedy tonight at The Laugh Factory. Let's all support him! I just haven't had anything "post-worthy" to put out there . . . until now. Let's be honest, "Stephanie showed up to work on time!" and "Stephanie will be attending her 7th wedding of the summer and will likely demonstrate her stellar moves on the dance floor!" are not as cool as "Stephanie has her very own blog now. Check it out."

So I posted it. And immediately started sweating. Then I started hitting refresh and watching the comments start pouring in.

"Very inspirational"
Thanks so much!

"Great idea, Steph!"
'Preciate it!

"You should set up a fan page on Facebook so that I can follow you daily."
What? I don't know what that is. But, ok?

"Steph, You're crazy."
I know. I was always crazy. Now I'm just blogging about it.

The responses, for the most part, have been extremely encouraging. It still makes me feel very vulnerable to have it out there for the whole world to see. And I'm sure my family will shake their head in disagreement about what I'm about to say, but it IS hard for me to talk about myself in this way, and talk about something that I'M doing. I'll tell stories all day long, but promote myself and outwardly be proud of something I've done? Totally different story. The insecure 13-year old in me still wonders if people are sitting back laughing at me thinking that this idea is ridiculous.

Facebook, check!

Then, it was off to the Twittersphere, a place that I still don't completely get or agree with, but I have an account so I went for it. I've been a big fan of "re-tweeting" other people's tweets. For those of you unfamiliar with the Twitter talk (congratulations, by the way, on that), re-tweeting is essentially like an email forward. You are sending on someone else's tweet. This time, though, it was all me.

I tweeted, @sgallman: My birthday present to myself:

Not as much immediate response with Twitter, but the possibility for crazies seeing this blog just increased 1000%.

Twitter, check!

Lastly, and surprisingly MOST challenging, I composed an email, blind copied my entire address book with a brief explanation of what I was doing and sent it flying to all the people that I REALLY know and who REALLY know me. Friends, parents' friends, ex-boyfriends, people I haven't talked to in years. I suspect some hit delete without even opening the email. I immediately heard from some offering their ideas (please keep them coming) and others just sent along their encouraging words. Some have already emailed me today, demanding to know where day #2 is. Thanks for your support, but cut me some slack already! I'm a new blogger.

So, it's out there. Everyone knows and everyone can judge. Today, I promoted myself and my HUGE, AWESOME project. Yah me!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DAY ONE: Let's Get This Party Started

Today is my 29th birthday.

29. One year from NOT being in my twenties anymore.

Like all of my adult birthdays, I celebrated this one with a week-long freak out about how I'm not where I wanted to be at the age that I'm turning, followed by copious amounts of drinking, a painful hangover and enormous amounts of anxiety.

But I didn't want that to be it for the last year of my 20s. I need a change, and a challenge that will force me to make the most of this year, and keep me from focusing on what I haven't done.

So here is the challenge: Everyday for one year, I am going to try to do something I've never done before and write about it.

It's a BIG goal. In a perfect scenario, I'd take take a year off to complete this challenge, visiting all of the places I've never been and experiencing foreign cultures. Unfortunately, there isn't enough vacation time or an endless supply of cash available to me to make that a reality. My project will have to be completed in the constraints of my real life. I still have to go to work, make time with friends and family all while trying to add a new something to my daily routine. I know it will not be easy, but I've been maintaining the status quo for far too long. It's time to shake things up.

It won't be easy, this I know. But since hilarity (read: stupidity) seems to follow me wherever I go, I know the journey will be worth it.

Finding 365 things that I've never done before is going to be a huge part of the challenge too, so I need your help! If you have something you think I should try, please share it. Please remember that there is a good chance my parents will be the only people that actually read this blog, so try and keep it clean.

So Day #1, thing I've never done before: Blogging

I've read a ton of blogs, I've spent a great deal of time making fun of other people's blogs. Apparently "check out my perfect life and cute kids" blogs are a requirement for young families where I live. Since I don't have a family yet, and no one seemed interested in a blog entitled, "Awkward Moments for a Single Girl Cliche," I've held off on really writing about my life until now. Unless you count journals that I've kept over the years that if you read, you'd think that nothing good ever happened to me and that my life was full of angst and despair. I tend to only journal when life has gone south.

My first day of trying new things did not get off to a great start, as I'm pretty sure my computer has the electronic equivalent of swine flu. I imagine serious bloggers NEVER get computer viruses. I also imagine them carrying their laptops with them wherever they go. But my computer is so beat, I'm embarassed to take it anywhere. Plus it's a PC, and I think to have any sort of "street cred" in the blogging world, you have to have a Mac. I'd get laughed right out of any internet cafe with this piece. I'm really torn here, because I hate to invest anymore money into my 2005 Dell, and I really would love Mac, but the financial commitment of such a big purchase freaks me out. Regardless, I've got to do something if I plan on making this project happen.

There are also my own personal insecurities that are making this first challenge difficult. I'm pretty much an open book when you talk to me in person, but the idea that my words will be out there for people to see is very intimidating. The internet is full of crazies and what if someone finds the blog and then tries to friend me on facebook and then tries to find out where I live? Or worse, and much more likely, what if people think it's stupid? I shared my idea with friends and co-workers, all who seemed receptive, but what if the idea is better than the execution? Half the time I worry that people will read it and the other half I worry that people won't.

So, Day One...blogging...I like it. It feels good to write again. Those who make a living blogging are truely onto something. I'm in my pajamas, still in bed, sharing my thoughts with you and the only difference between real bloggers and me is that they get paid to do it. What a great gig! And so far, I think I've stayed away from anything too controversial that might spark angry tirades of people leaving hateful comments like "STEPH YOU'RE GOING DOWN!" or "Stephanie, you've proven once again why you are an idiot."

Just wait till Day #156 when the thing I haven't done before is mooning people.

Happy Blogging!