Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Never Say You Can't

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been waiting for the right moment—and then I heard the Bruno Mars song “Never Say U Can’t” and I was inspired to write.

It’s such a beautiful song about living and learning—about triumph, perseverance and support. And I think there’s a lot to learn from it.

We live in tough times. There are a lot of people out there who are struggling to get by—who knows, maybe you’re one of them. The song is an important reminder that no matter how dark and dreary life may seem, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel—things always get better.

If you always believe “Yes, I can,” then there is no stopping you. As soon as we say the words, “I can’t,” we cast a shadow of doubt on ourselves and become defeated—we become victims. The last time I checked, victims don’t win—they don’t get up and fight to survive.

My good friend Nick Maslow told me once, “Stop being a victim and become a victor.” Those words have stuck with me for years—they’ve given me power and strength even in the toughest of situations.

Again, this is about perspective—being a victor is a choice. Sometimes it’s a choice that requires much sacrifice, but it’s still a choice nonetheless.

And you’re never alone. For every person who loves you and cares deeply for you, there are a dozen others who just haven’t said it. Make sure the people for whom you care know it. At the very least, you’ll brighten his or her day—at the most, you could save someone’s life.

Conversely, if you’re enduring a hard time, reach out to someone—anyone. People are a lot more understanding than you may think. Sometimes we all need someone to just say, “It’s all going to be okay.” In the darkest moments there is always hope.

I can’t help but think of the recent string of suicides among gay youth. It’s so sad. It’s a poignant reminder that life is fragile—we can’t take one second for granted. We get so caught up in the day-to-day frustrations that we forget that it could all fall apart in just a second. Bills, groceries, emails, laundry… they are mundane and sometimes stressful. But what would the sweet be without the sour?

Mother Theresa said, "Life is a challenge, meet it." I challenge you to be a victor and not a victim. Laugh at life’s absurdities. Appreciate the highs and lows—we are better people for having endured both.

[Photo via heylauren’s tumblr]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Missed Steps, Not Missteps

I’m an acrophobe—I despise heights and everything associated with them. I can never go near the edge at rooftop parties in Manhattan because I’m afraid that I’ll fall.

But, in addition to my degree in Advertising, I also have a degree in Psychology. So, I understand that this fear is irrational and can talk myself through the process of breathing and taking a few sips of Bacardi to compensate.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way. Things happen—life happens—and we can’t predict them—or it. Sometimes we let ourselves fall, but most of the time we fall without ever realizing.

This weekend reminded me of that.

While leaving a party with a friend, he tripped and flew down half of a flight of steps and ended up in the hospital. One missed step—a simple mistake that anyone can make—and now he is left with a jaw that’s broken in three places and no front teeth.

I was shocked and shaken, trying to maintain my composure on the phone with the 911 operator while the blood gushed from his mouth at an ungodly rate.

He’s lucky to be alive. Concrete is not forgiving—and his wounds certainly show that fact. But he’s going to be okay nonetheless; he survived his fall.

I want to make several points here:
• Life can change at the drop of a dime; don’t take anything for granted
• Slow down and be grateful to just be alive
• Never skip a chance to tell someone that you love them
Don’t sweat the small stuff—and it’s all small stuff
• We fall when we least expect it, but it’s our friends and family who pick us up and bring us back to homeostasis—to normalcy

We can defend against falling in a physical sense—but not in a metaphorical one. Life is full of lots of tripping, stumbling and falling. Some of the falls are drastic, massive and life-altering while others are small, simple and silly. But no matter the size of the fall, the outcome is what’s most important. We have to learn from our failures—our falls.

I know he did. And I did too. Sometimes we need to be shocked to be reminded of what’s most important—not money or time, but experiences, memories, feelings and the learnings that come with them.

Do you know someone who’s fallen recently? Were you there for them? Perhaps you were the one who fell—were there others who were there for you? These are the types of life experiences that show us who truly cares—who our true friends are. I had lost sight of that fact because I had become complacent… distracted… easily accepting.

The truth is: we will never be able to predict our falls. What we can control is how we get back up—how much stronger we return from our embarrassment, shame, heartbreak and other missed steps (NOT missteps—we must look at these as learning opportunities and nothing more or less).

As Aaliyah said, “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” Amen to that, sistah!

Keep falling and getting back up. You’re not alone.

["The Edge And I Are Close Friends" photo via Tayrawr Fortune on Flickr]

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's All A Matter of Perspective

I have a theory—and it’s really simple: no matter what the situation is, you can come out on top if you simply evaluate it in the right way. Now, you may be thinking, “That’s so esoteric, how can you make that tangible?” But just hear me out.

I’ve said it before, but I’m repeating it here: life is a series of choices. How you make those choices is up to you. But, what I’m offering you in this blog post is a new lease on life.

At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of perspective.

All of it? Every last bit of it.

Any sports fanatic knows that 90% of any match is mental, not physical. That means having the right strategy, the right game plan—the right perspective.

But what exactly does that mean? Perspective is defined as: “[The] choice of a context or a reference (or the result of this choice) from which to sense, categorize, measure or codify experience, cohesively forming a coherent belief, typically for comparing with another.”

Huh?! It’s how you look at the world—and what you choose to compare it to; in essence, your experiences and previous choices determine how you interpret future events and circumstances.

But lately I’ve heard so many people whine and complain about a variety of different life circumstances. I’m here to give them an important message: wake up! Life doesn’t always happen the way you predicted it would. Sometimes, you just have to learn to work through it and have faith—and change it instead of accepting the status quo.

So, look at every problem—every challenge—as an opportunity instead of a setback. Don’t give up; don’t count yourself out too soon. Half the battle is believing, “Yes I can.”

Not to mention, perspective plays a huge role in building resilience. Of the 10 ways The American Psychological Association lists to build resistance, many of them have to do with using your perspective to approach life in a positive, can-do way.

Here are the 10 ways for your reference:
1. Maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others;
2. Avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems;
3. Accept circumstances that cannot be changed;
4. Develop realistic goals and move towards them;
5. Take decisive actions in adverse situations;
6. Look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss;
7. Develop self-confidence;
8. Keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context;
9. Maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished;
10. Take care of one's mind and body, exercising regularly, paying attention to one's own needs and feelings and engaging in relaxing activities that one enjoys.

So, take your life into your own hands. Wake up every day ready to seize the moment. Open up to new possibilities. Welcome challenges as a way to grow and learn.

Because even in a torrential downpour, if you think it’s sunny, it really is.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Less Talking, More Walking

We’ve all heard the phrase before. You know, the whole, “You can talk the talk, but you can’t walk the walk” bit. But most of the time we hear it in a joking, flirty manner. Tonight, I challenge you to think differently.

You see, we’re all guilty of it: committing to something and then failing to follow the commitment through to completion. But, think about it long and hard: life isn’t characterized by how many times we said we were going to do something—it’s made up of how many times we followed through.

Because, at the end of the day, our actions speak louder than our words. Nobody likes someone who says one thing and does another. It’s the doing that matters; consistency is king.

As of late, I’ve noticed so many complainers. Hell, I’ve probably been one of them And I’m tired of it. My friend Sarah even noticed it in herself.

But as long as we can spot it, we can change it. In doing so, I’m making more commitments to myself. For example, today I tweeted: “I promise that I will not settle for mediocrity in any aspect of my life. I deserve the best.” We all do. Obviously “the best” is completely relative and subjective—but figure out what that means to you.

Because you need to be doing your best to deserve the best in return. It’s personal karma. It’s healthy. It’s cyclical. It’s just the way that life works.

This may all seem extremely lofty or out-of-touch, but it’s so damn true. We all become complacent and comfortable—or perhaps too busy for our own good—far too easily. It’s important to stay focused on the walking as opposed to the talking.

Personally, I’m finding it helpful to make more lists and to plan better. Organization is the key to any well-oiled machine, and so I’ve devised a plan to get my credit card paid off and get caught up with my student loan payments. I’ve made lists of items I need to purchase and have planned when I will be able to afford them. I’ve also made more general rules like, “less drinks, more books” and “bigger lunches, smaller dinners” in an effort to be healthier and diversify what I do in my spare time.

Honestly, I’m tired of saying “Oh, I think I’m gonna rest up this weekend, maybe go to the park or a museum—perhaps finally explore Brooklyn or go to Fire Island for the first time.” And then never following through. I get pissed at myself because I always go to the same clubs, drink the same expensive drinks that I shouldn’t buy, waste my days away recovering from the nights prior. It’s such an exhausting routine. I’m putting myself through my own version of rehab and forcing myself to stay in and watch movies, catch up on TV shows and live within my means.

A few days ago, I looked at my list of New Year’s Resolutions from early January. I’ve accomplished none of my goals. None of them. How’s that for following through? Yeah, extremely poor. Talk about a personal fail!

So I’m holding myself more accountable—mentally, professionally, financially. It’s time for some forced personal growth. It’s time to branch out. It’s time to start doing.

But it all starts with saying it (hence, this post) and recognizing that the choice is there to be made.

I’m duct-taping my Nike’s to my feet. They’re gonna be getting a lot of mileage here soon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Independence Has Its Price

I was inspired to write by the July 4th holiday this year. We’re so quick to wish our friends a happy Independence Day each year, but do we really understand what independence means? I think I do.

It’s not often I get really, truly introspective. I mean, I think it’s safe to say that I’m “self-aware,” but I don’t consider myself the type of person who stops at every step along to way to recount what’s happened. For some reason, though, yesterday and today I felt the need to do just that—reevaluate where I am in my life and how far I’ve come.

I don’t typically broadcast intimate details of my life to everyone. Hell, “The Next Big Thing” really hasn’t been centered on my hardships or perseverance. But I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned anyway, because I think it’s relevant in discussing independence and how costly it can be.

This year, Independence Day reminded me of my long journey to get here: my parent’s divorce at age 2, being raised by a single parent my whole life, coming out of the closet at just 14 years old, the disability of both of my parents while in high school, the financial instability that ensued, the academic success that came as a result of hard work and distraction from my personal life, putting myself through college, my mom’s death in 2005, running one of the best college publications of 2009, being selected as the standout student for UMiami’s School of Communication, moving to NYC during one of the worst recessions our country has ever seen, struggling to make it by holding two internships and a retail job, being recruited for a watershed position at a prestigious firm.

As you can see, my life has been characterized by two parallel stories—the first story of personal tragedy and heartbreak, and the second of academic and professional success.

Now, you may be saying to yourself “Wow, this kid has been through a lot and must be really messed up!” The former would be right, the latter would be wrong. Somehow, I’ve persevered through my hardships with little to no bruises—and emerged with a positive and optimistic outlook on life.

How did I accomplish this? I have no idea. My double-major in psychology wants to tell you something about resilience and how nature can overpower nurture in certain instances—or how nurture activates certain aspects of our nature and fails to activate others. Honestly, that’s psycho-babble bullshit.

At the end of the day, I’ve always maintained that happiness and success are a matter of choice. I choose to be happy and I’ve chosen—and will continue to choose—to be successful. I’m not saying they are easy choices to make—they are not. But they are there to be made, nonetheless.

Being independent has its price, though. Lately, I’ve felt the weight of debt from putting myself through school and loneliness from lack of personal time and romantic attention. I’ve also just felt “lost” in general, like I don’t know what the next step in my life is going to be—or how to get there.

These are the costs of independence: uncertainty and fear. But they must be dealt with. And so I’m going on record here to say that I promise myself that I will do whatever it takes to maintain my independence and that no matter how hard the choice to be happy and successful may be, I will make it.

Part of that promise involves learning how to say “no.”

Earlier, I tweeted, “I've forgotten how to say no—to myself and to others. That changes starting today.” And I mean it. “No” is an extremely powerful word—and a lot of times it’s equally as difficult to say to oneself as it is to others. But it’s necessary. My second promise to myself is to say “no” as often as I can. If it’s not in my best interest—financial, social or otherwise—the answer is “no.” And those who respect that answer will stay in my life—those who don’t, won’t.

It’s as simple as that.

Independence is not easy—the fourth of July reminded me of that this year. But I’ll be damned if it’s not worth every hurdle, obstacle and roadblock. You owe it to yourself to believe the same.

Because if you don’t pay the price for your own freedom, then who will?

[Image via quick5pnt0 on Flickr]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Seven Musings on Social Media

Despite the fact that I’m technically a social media “professional,” I highly dislike it when people refer to me as a “guru” or “expert.” How is it possible for anyone to be an “expert” in a field still in its infancy? Hell, we’ve all been using social media—the same social networking sites—for the same amount of time. On the other hand, though, there are those who “get” social media and those who don’t. I believe that there are plenty of insightful minds that have a unique perspective to offer regarding the social media space—and I include myself as one of them. But I will always correct someone who refers to me as an authority in the digital space because I still learn something new every day. Here are just some of my recent musings in regards to the social media movement:

1. Social media is not your savior.
Social media is a tool—a platform—to connect with others like never before. Too many people out there think of social media as an end rather than a means to reach an end. The truth is: social media by itself isn’t going to save anyone—it’s how the medium is used that has brought so many personal and professional brands success and direct access to their enthusiasts. Just remember: simply being involved in social media is not good enough—doing something with that presence and maintaining a strategy that allows you to be original and fun is what will take your brand to the next level. And even beyond that, unless your brand is consistent and delivers a quality product or service, social media—no matter how it is used—will not hide your flaws.

2. Participate for yourself first.
In this case, it’s okay to be selfish. Social media, while inherently about conversations and connections, must add value and utility to your life, or brand, in order for it to be worthwhile. Thus, you must receive some added benefit from your participation or else there’s simply no point. While building your brand in the social space and engaging with others, don’t lose sight of why you’re there—to express your thoughts and ideas. Connecting with others is just a part of the process. “News” is no longer simply about political unrest, natural disasters or economic uncertainty—our lives revolve around the social “news” of our friends and various circles of social influence. At the center of all those circles, though, is the self. Remember that.

3. Be a persona.
Take the mundane and make it your own. Chop it up, mix it in your mind and serve it to others in a fun and creative manner. The brands that succeed best in the social space are those who personify their name and who demonstrate understanding of pop culture and “hip” trends. Be yourself but put yourself out there and kick your personality into high gear. This, of course, doesn’t work for everyone. But, from my experience, establishing your niche and being creative are never hurtful in establishing a connection with others and leaving a memorable brand impression as well.

4. Social media is not your megaphone.
My biggest problem with some people in social media—and especially on Twitter—are those individuals and companies who utilize the platform not for engagement or adding value to the lives of followers, but rather as a megaphone for their agenda. I’m sorry, but that’s not what social media is all about. Just like any other marketing medium—know your audience and cater your messages to them. At the same time, know your brand and stay true to it. Never, ever ask your followers to re-tweet what you share. That’s just absurd. As my good friend Amanda says: “I realize that I have that option, thanks.”

5. Always question the obvious.
This point isn’t necessarily particular to social media, but it’s still extremely relevant. Why? Because there’s a lot of hype and exaggeration in social media. Take everything with a grain of salt and reckon it with what you already know. Be skeptical of “news,” question sources and always dig for your own truth. Learn how to cut through all of the junk and get to the valuable grains of information and entertainment that you seek.

6. Be honest, open and vulnerable.
One of the aspects I love most about social media is its candidness—the requirement of disclosure and openness. People know that nobody is perfect. In the social space it’s vital to show your imperfections and connect with others who are enduring the same hardships—or successes—as you. Because the truth is: when you open yourself up to others, they’ll open up to you. And that’s what being social is all about. (P.S. No “corporate speak" allowed!)

7. If you think you shouldn’t post it, do it anyway.
Don’t hold back, dive in headfirst and take chances. Laugh, cry and over-share. Be witty and original. Bottom line: don’t question yourself. People will understand your brand more if you say what’s on your mind. Granted, there are some topics and posts that are not appropriate for social media—think racism, stereotyping and other offensive content. But the overall point is to interact with others who either agree or disagree with your views. This sharing process allows us to learn and connect with our peers.

What are your thoughts on social media? Would you add to or take away from anything on this list? Why or why not?

Speak up—tell me what you think!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Those Other Three Little Words

Today’s post is not about any one discrete event, person or situation—but rather a phenomenon I’ve noticed for a while but have been unable to articulate. And I’ve been itching to write another blog on relationships since the last one was so well-received…

You see, there are very few absolutes in life—and little, if any of them, apply to relationships. However, in my opinion, it’s time for people to stop being so damn fake.

Fake?! Yes, fake.

Oh, yes, I just went there. Honestly, it’s not meant as an attack on anyone—this is more about a cultural and societal issue of not being upfront with others. And it happens so often in dating and relationships that we must call ourselves out and stop this nonsense.

So, how do we do that? Well, it’s easy! You see, we all need to learn those other three words that are so vital to being honest with others—and ourselves. We all need to learn how to say, “I’m not interested.”

Oh, boy: the age-old question of, “Does (s)he like me?” It’s a toughie. And there’s never a 100%-assured answer. Oh, unrequited love, how you torture us!

But, to be honest, things would be a lot easier—and we could all live much more fulfilling and transparent lives—if everyone could just be, well, more honest.

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard that go like this: X meets Y. X and Y go on a date. X likes Y, but is unsure if Y likes X in return. X and Y hang out several more times and everything seems to be going great. Then, Y disappears or becomes some other form of “shady.” Well, what the hell happened? Did Z get jealous of the alphabet action and decide to jump in? (Ha!) But, for real, this is a scenario that happens all the time. I like to call it “being phased-out.”

It really makes sense if you think about it. Something had to happen with Y to all of a sudden become disinterested or unavailable. And it’s not necessarily important what happened; however, it is critical that all of us Y’s out there learn how to communicate with the X’s (no pun intended) and tell them “I’m not interested.” Conversely, all of us X’s must learn to adapt to the situation and not over-react too early on in the game, or be clingy.

Because nothing is more unattractive than desperation.

At the same time, though, we all deserve a little clarity—some reassurance that our investment into the connection is a worthwhile one. This is where the honesty comes into play. Guys and girls out there: learn how to be more in touch with your emotions and communicate them with others. Life is too short to play games or get hung up about letting someone down or being let down.

And all of us Y’s out there need to learn to stop letting the X’s down easy. What’s the purpose? Us X’s don’t want to hear any of the following:

1. “You’re a great person, but…”
2. “It’s me, it’s not you.”
3. “I still want to be friends.”
4. “I don’t deserve you.”
5. “One day you’ll find someone who will love you like you deserve.”

Hey, Y’s: you don’t mean these things when you say them, so why do you even bother? You’re not helping out the X’s by letting them down easy. Actually, you may not realize it but you’re making it more confusing for the X’s because you’re not being honest. Muster up some courage and self-respect and start admitting how you really feel:

1. “You aren’t the right person for me.”
2. “It’s definitely you and not me.”
3. “The connection just isn’t there.”
4. “I don’t think you deserve to be with me. (Duh, I’m dumping you!)”
5. “Good luck! I’ve got another date after this awkward breakup.”

Because you’re not doing anyone any good by being fake. And we’re all guilty of it. We’ve all been an X and we’ve all been a Y. If you’re an X more often than a Y, try seeing the situation from the latter’s perspective—if the opposite is true, then vice versa. Hopefully, then, once we see that we’ve all been there, we can be honest enough with ourselves to fully open up to others.

So, learn those other three words—and prevent yourself from saying those cliché lines that are so transparent. Why “phase someone out” when you can cut them out? You don’t really want to be friends anyway! Isn’t it about time you start telling people that? Hell, if GaGa can admit it, can’t you?

Monday, April 5, 2010

4 Ways to Land Your Dream Job

I have a dream job, I really do. Who would’ve imagined that an obsession with social media—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, etc.—could lead to a career? It’s amazing. And I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

But things weren’t always this rosy.

Unfortunately for me, I graduated during one of the worst economic periods in our country’s history. It took nine months and a lot of sacrifice to reach where I am, and I learned a lot along the way.

Here are some general lessons that will help guide you along the journey to landing your dream job.

Do what you love.
What are you good at? Seriously, what can you spend hours doing without ever realizing it? There’s got to be something that you enjoy more than anything else. Find it and focus on it. At the end of the day, your happiness is what matters most. The only way to reach that happiness is to take what you love and turn it into a career. Your parents may want to kill you—and will probably give you lectures about medical benefits and saving for retirement—but throw caution to the wind and go for it, even if you have to be a “starving artist” for a while.

Specialize in something – but be good at everything.
Find your niche. If you’re interested in graphic design, which type? Do you enjoy publication design? Branding? Illustration? Pattern making? If you want to be a photographer, what type? Do you like runway photography? Catalogue shoots? Prop styling?

At the same time, though, you need to be a chameleon. Your boss would love nothing more than to hear, “I can do that, too!” Always remember to stay true to your personality and brand, but know when to adapt. Your style comes second to what your client wants or boss demands.

Networking is not about first-degree connections.
Think of your network as a web: you’re at the center and your immediate connections surround you. You can try all you want to get a job or internship through those first-degree connections, but chances are that they have the same connections as you! The further removed a connection is, the wider “net” you can cast in your search. It’s not about whom you know—it’s about whom those key second, third and even fourth-degree connections know. Most likely, their connections won’t be in your network—and that’s a good thing! Nurture these relationships and be ready to tell them all about what you specialize in and what you have to offer.

Have a destination in mind.
Where do you want to be in a year? How about five years? Where do you want to end up? These are questions you must ask yourself in order to guide your journey to your dream job. Without a final destination—a goal—you’re blind and powerless. Would you travel cross-country without a destination address? Exactly. Have a plan—it’s okay to stray from it as long as you know you can still get to where you want to go.

These are extremely simple, I know. But it’s the simple things in life we forget.

Have any other time-tested truths to landing a dream job? Share them in the comments! Then send this to a friend. Good advice never gets old (hey, I can toot my own horn a little bit, right?).

Photo via Veronica Sharon. (She's my roommate and an awesome photog, check her out!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Take Time For Yourself

After a busy day at work—and a fun, yet not-so-restful weekend—it was nice to come home tonight and do nothing. Literally nothing—I just ate and watched TV.

I know you’ve come to expect long, detailed and essay-like blogs from me, but I’m not so long-winded all of the time. Tonight’s message is simple:

Love yourself first. Take time out for yourself that you can call your own. Don’t feel pressured to live a fast-paced lifestyle all of the time. It’s okay to turn your phone off for a night and just think.

Stop to enjoy life in its simplicity—happiness doesn’t require a whole lot; it truly is the little things that matter.

Are you paying enough attention to them—to yourself? Do it! It makes everything else so much more worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Five Reasons You Must Be On Twitter

So, as most of you already know, I've literally made a career out of tweeting. Honestly, I never planned for things to be this way. Hell, I didn't even have a Twitter until April of 2009. (My Twitterversary is coming up, yay!)

But there are a lot of people out there who are skeptical of Twitter - and social media in general. In my conversations with others who aren't on Twitter, I inevitably have to ask, "So, why don't you tweet?"

You may or not be surprised at how predictable the responses are. There are three primary reasons:

1. I don't know what to tweet about!

2. I don't want to hear about what people are doing at every second of the day!


3. I already have Gmail, AIM, Facebook and LinkedIn. Do I really need another site to maintain?

Have you heard any other reasons? Please share them in the comments.

Here are my comebacks:
1. You do have something important to say! What are the random thoughts that pop into your head? What do you think about that new ad campaign? Did last night's episode of Lost really suck?

2. Don't follow people who just tweet "eating a sandwich" or "about to go grocery shopping" - follow people who share interesting stories, links and ideas, and be sure to avoid talking about the mundane as well. Feel free to talk about whatever's happening in your daily life, but put a humorous spin on it! Here's an example: instead of saying "worst commute ever!" say "Chris + hangover + screaming children + packed train = NOT HAPPY."


3. I agree--another site kinda sucks. BUT - the added value you'll receive by taking part in the Twitter community will far outweigh the time and energy you have to put in. Because as long as you are sharing relevant, interesting content, people will follow you and you will grow your personal "brand."

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're an artist, architect or assassin, the truth is: you can't afford to NOT be on Twitter. Here are the 5 reasons:

1. Information
Twitter is an amazing resource for news and information. Links are shared, ideas spread and topics trend. Every major media outlet has a Twitter feed. Often, news breaks on Twitter before anywhere else. It's worth the investment to be connected, which leads me to my next point...

2. Connections
In the realm of "social networking," Twitter is the easiest and most open platform to network with others. Wanna find people who share similar interests with you? Just search for specific keywords or hashtags and follow them. Start a conversation with them and BOOM, you have a connection! But, at the end of the day, Twitter has so much more to offer. Unlike any other closed network (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Brazen Careerist, etc.), Twitter allows you to send a tweet to literally anyone - a celebrity, a newscaster and even the President. How is this relevant to you? Well, if you're a freelance photographer and really like that shot in V magazine, you can look up the photographer on Twitter and say, "I really admire your work" or "How can I be as good as you?" or "Are you looking for an intern?" You can literally apply this situation to any profession. Wanna message that editor but don't know his or her email or phone number? No problem - tweet them! Twitter has flattened our world more than any other social media platform - and that's an amazing resource. Are you really willing to pass that up?

3. Simplicity
Twitter is simple: you have 140 characters and that's it! Who would've thought that a character limit could spur creativity? Well, I guess the same principle applies to time crunches and deadlines, but I digress. The point is: Twitter is not a complex array of features like Facebook or LinkedIn. You share your thoughts, period. No frills, no overly-complicated platform.

4. Soundboard
Twitter, even more so than Facebook, has an amazing way of answering the questions it is asked. Want feedback on your project or blog? Ask your Twitter followers - they'll tell you! Want to ask what others thought of the big game? They'll tell you! What about ideas on an upcoming product or a controversial issue? Yup, you guessed it: they'll tell you! See what I mean? Ask and you shall receive! Can your LinkedIn do that?

5. Word-of-mouth
There's no doubt that Twitter is the best thing for spreading messages since email or Facebook. Twitter's inherent "re-tweet" nature has a viral quality to it that is unmatched by any other digital social resource - that's what'll help you get noticed! In this regard, Twitter has a "Wikipedia-like" aspect, where a common knowledge can only benefit you - i.e. the "water cooler" talk in the morning.

So - can you really afford to decline to take part in the conversation? Honestly, what do you have to lose? You do have important thoughts and ideas to share, I know it! You don't have to bore yourself with mundane topics - just don't follow those types of people! That's the beauty of Twitter - it really is what you make of it.

How much longer will you resist? If for nothing else, join so you can see what the fuss is about. You'll only make your personal brand more marketable in the process. Especially if you follow me.

Happy tweeting!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Soundtrack of Your Life

What are your favorite songs of all time? Seriously, what are they? Don’t gimme that whole spiel about “Oh, I couldn’t possibly pick one or even five!” – you have your favorites, just check your iTunes play counts! And if you change your mind all the time, what are the five songs that really pull at your heartstrings – and not just in a sad way?

When you hear those songs, do they take you back to a specific time period and place? Can you feel the same emotions now that you did then? I’d honestly be surprised if you answered “no” to those questions.

Music is such an integral and powerful part of our lives. All of our senses are unique in their own right, and all of them have a distinct impact on our memory, but our auditory sense has an especially acute ability to bring us back to particular moments in our lives.

Hell, whenever I hear “Achy-Breaky Heart” I’m instantly taken back to when I was four years old, dancing in a white t-shirt and tighty-whities around the living room while singing into the TV remote.

And then there’s Mariah, of course. As most of you already know, I have a slight obsession with Mimi – she’s my favorite musical artist. It only takes a short, two-second clip of any of her songs and I’m immediately feelin’ emotions higher than I ever dreamed of – pun intended.

My favorite song of all time is probably “Honey” by Mariah. Every time I listen to it, I get butterflies in the best way possible – and I become giddy and optimistic. Why? Who knows! Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been dancing around to that song for over a decade. Or maybe it’s because I imagine myself back on the beach in Miami whenever I hear it. Whatever the reason, that song will forever have strange powers over me.

I’m a music freak. Some people grow out of it – my Dad sure as hell did – but I don’t think I ever will. I follow music blogs like Musicboxmix (shout out to Louie!), constantly download new music and never turn off my iPod. I’d rather have it this way.

So what are your favorite songs? Tell me in the comments! If I don’t already have the song, I’ll download it. Nothin’ like sharin’ a lil’ musical love, right? Mhm.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let's Play A Love Game

I’m no love guru – hell, I’ve never even been in love, and my relationships have been far from rosy – but this Shecky’s blog by Kellene McCaffrey really got me in the mood to give amorous advice.

In the blog, Kellene discusses the classic “Disney deception” case – that, as children watching Disney movies, we are engrained with a faulty formula for finding love: boy and girl have a chance encounter, live completely different lives but fall madly in love and then somehow live, as they say, “happily ever after.”

Ironically, coming across this blog was perfect timing for me. Not only have I just recently passed a huge benchmark in my love life – I’ve been single for four years now – but yesterday was the first time I saw the romantic comedy The Holiday with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. Yes, I cried.

Back to the point – after the movie yesterday, I became deeply introspective about relationships and what makes them tick. Here’s what Disney taught us:

Our dream guys are:
1. Busy being “dreamy” – in other words, they have a job that keeps them out of trouble.
2. Ready to meet the right person for them.
3. Just as vulnerable and hurt as we are.
4. Active and in-shape, perhaps even part of a sports team or fitness organization.
5. Open and inviting.

Our dream guys are not:
1. Dancing with their shirts off and tweaking on cocaine and ecstasy at the club.
2. Shady and inattentive.
3. Vindictive, misogynistic assholes.
4. Lazy, unhealthy couch potatoes.
5. Judgmental or jaded.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Okay, those lists are great, but I could’ve made those myself.” And, if you did say that, you’d be perfectly right. But, let’s face it; you weren’t going to sit down and make those lists yourself, were you? Right, that’s what I thought.

Okay, moving on. There are some protective measures we must all keep in the back of our minds as we meet new people and explore our boundaries with them.

Protective measures:
1. He’s just not that into you – you’re not the exception and he won’t change for you. Quit tolerating his bullshit excuses and wake up!
2. Guys enjoy a pursuit, so let them chase you – don’t text him incessantly just to let him know you’re thinking about him.
3. Don’t tell your friends about him – the more you talk about him, the more you feed your “hope baby,” (a term coined by my dear friend Noel - do you have a blog so I can link back to it, boo?) the idea in your mind that this guy is Mr. Right.

So what’s the bottom line? Be nonchalant. Like Chuck Klosterman says in Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs, "Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less." So, be the one that cares less – at least in the beginning when the situation is unclear.

How do you care less? Enjoy being single! Think about the perks of being a bachelor or bachelorette:

Advantages of being single:
1. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.
2. You can do whomever you want, whenever you want.
3. Your only obligation is to yourself, your friends and your family.
4. Time to learn and grow.

So, I bet you’re wondering: “If you know all of this, Chris, then why are you still single?” Well, I’m wondering the same thing. Hell, who doesn’t want companionship? Who would turn down a truly devoted boyfriend who will challenge you and from whom you can learn? It makes me wonder: does the above advice keep one guarded a little too much? Because, at the end of the day, love is being oneself and putting it all out there, right? Sort of.

Let’s take the gay world for example: 20% of heterosexual couples meet online, as opposed to 61% of homosexual couples who facilitated their relationship via the Internet. That’s a pretty staggering difference between sexual orientations, wouldn’t you say? Yeah.

On gay personals sites, nothing is left to the imagination anymore – the days of taking the time to get to know someone have been replaced with interview-like messages and scripts of conversations that detail stats and sexual positions. And don’t forget the sexting and x-rated photographs before you even meet that person on the other side of the wireless connection. It really is all put out there upfront.

Are we really naïve enough to think that complete and immediate self-disclosure will create an exciting and fruitful relationship? Connections take time to develop – spilling your guts and deepest, darkest secrets to someone that you just started messaging thirty minutes prior is probably not the best idea. Think about it!

And then I think about Sarah M. and Julie S., two friends from high school with whom I’ve recently reconnected via Twitter, and whose blogs I read all the time. Sarah M. is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate, an amazing artist and writer and a cute, active blonde. Julie S. is in seminary, remains true to her principles and is a charming, sophisticated young woman. Now, how is it that two intelligent and respectable young ladies have remained single for so long? Honestly, I don’t know. All I can say is that there’s something wrong with a world where people like us aren’t snatched off the market.

So, is the key to put yourself out there or to remain guarded? Honestly, like the blog I wrote about being yourself 100% of the time, I can’t say that you shouldn’t put yourself out there. Life is about taking risks and pushing the limits; however, at the same time, those risks must be calculated and, as such, we must calculate the amount of ourselves we should reveal at any given time. The point is: find your personal balance. What are you willing to tell someone that you’ve only known for thirty minutes? How about 30 hours? And 30 days?

Love takes time. I’ve tweeted this several times, but love doesn’t just come around like Keri Hilson says it does. It takes effort and commitment and mutual self-disclosure that is spread over time in a healthy, non-chat-room-like manner.

And, if none of that works, you know the relationship wasn’t meant to be. Because the person you’ll end up with – the guy with whom you will share your “happily ever after” – won’t lie to, cheat on or judge you. That doesn’t make them a prince; it makes them your faithful counterpart. Monarchies died hundreds of years ago – and so did horses as the primary means of transportation – so why are you still acting like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella? Your desperation isn’t getting you anywhere – smarten and toughen up and play the game just as well as the guys do. Maybe then they’ll respect you enough to let you in.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Magazines Aren't Coffee - And That's A Good Thing

"Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Coffee Kill Coffee?"

That’s one of the slogans about to be used in an ad campaign aimed at proving the worth of the magazine publishing industry.

Where are these ads to be placed, you ask? That’s right – in front-of-book magazine pages. If you don’t already know, those pages are prime real estate in the glossy publishing world – pages for which advertisers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get noticed.

So, just to make sure we’re all on the same page (no pun intended): magazines are about to forego millions of dollars in advertising in an effort to validate their own existence.

The campaign, work of powerhouse agency Young and Rubicam, is laughable at best. Yes, I’m extremely critical of these forthcoming ads – here’s why:


The analogy made is a flawed one. I’ll give them credit – instant coffee and traditional bean brews have managed to coexist, and traditional coffee has even made a comeback…

But to compare instant coffee to the Internet is foolish.

The Internet has revolutionized our culture so completely – so thoroughly – that we’ll never be the same again. Digital integration and increasing connectivity are in no way comparable to instant coffee since coffee is such a miniscule part of our lives. When it comes to communication and personal relationships, the Internet has irrevocably changed our society, for better or for worse. The fact that if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, speaks volumes to the swift and irreversible changes we’ve undergone.

Not to mention a huge flaw in this comparison: while instant coffee is a much more convenient and budget-conscious option to the traditional kind, both cost money and are based on the same consumption model – that you go to Starbucks (or another coffee shop) and/or the grocery store and purchase your preference.

That’s not the case with the Internet, which provides information free-of-charge. I refresh my Twitter in the morning and I am instantly aware of what’s going on in the World. I visit the websites of my favorite publications and read full-length articles for free. What’s the point of me going out to buy the same material?


These ads are merely patchwork – cover-up – for a much deeper problem: the fact that magazines reflect an outdated way of storytelling – one that, despite all the gimmicks in the print version, completely denies the ADD, time-compressed nature of our society.

When I talk to my friends – most of whom are recent college grads or still in school, and thus completely engrossed in social media – they all bring up the same point: why can’t we create an interactive magazine where photos come alive and designs flesh themselves out on our screens? Is this an impossible dream for the industry?

As the line between video and digital cameras becomes increasingly blurred, and as print and digital media merge into one, magazines need to adapt in order to survive. I firmly believe that magazines – as they stand right now – cannot and will not continue in the same form they have for decades.


My biggest qualm with the campaign is that it so desperately seeks to stabilize the status quo instead of challenging the industry to reinvent itself. An industry should never have to prove its own worth – magazines should be working feverishly to provide top-notch, refreshing and engaging content in an interactive, succinct and social media-friendly format.

The main question upon which the industry should focus as it reorganizes and redefines itself is this: as our society and culture change, what do magazines offer in the digital realm? Do they really add value to our lives that cannot be gained elsewhere?

Right now, there’s little to no leadership in the effort to revive magazines as cutting-edge distributors of original content. The only major magazine that’s tried switching things up is Esquire. With their striking covers, Augmented Reality issue and continued use of code boxes to unlock content online, Esquire has at least attempted new and exciting endeavors. Can you think of any others? I can’t.


So, is the iPad the answer, or is it a magazine that comes to life online? And how do dwindling advertising numbers factor into all of this? Oh, and what about that new phenomenon… what’s it called? Oh, yeah – social media?! And how could we forget the dilemma of sweeping layoffs yet starved digital staffs?

All extremely important questions – and ones that must be answered quickly and utilized as driving factors in reshaping a glorious industry that has so much potential.

At the end of the day, though, we’re all human. And, who’s to say the magazines aren’t trying to stay relevant? If this campaign shows us nothing else, it’s that this is a desperate attempt to convince others that magazines still matter. Magazine journalists work tirelessly to do what they do – and long hours on deadline are never easy.

Serendipitously, I received an email today that really puts this entire blog into perspective. It was a message from Al Gore that was distributed to members of a “green” community called Repower America. The email started:

Dear Chris,

Winston Churchill said, "Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required."

Now is that time.

Although he was talking about climate change, the same quote is applicable to the current dilemma in restoring the magazine industry.

We should see the beauty and potential in the challenges we face, instead of denying the problems at hand. Self-criticism is such a powerful way to bring about change (a la Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”), so let’s do it!

Because if we’re going to make an absurd connection between magazines and coffee, we should burn our own brew to perfect it, right? Right.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Find Your Crazy

"I'm gonna work at the top of that building someday. I'm gonna run the whole thing!" I said. I was 8 years old and foolish. Or was I?

Maybe I was (am?) a genius. Hell, there's a damn fine line between crazy and genius, right? I mean, c'mon, think about Einstein. Some of the greatest discoveries he made - relativity, E=MC^2, etc. - were all before he turned 30. Crazy - or genius?

Today, a friend's mom sent me a text message to ask how I'm doing. (Hi, Nena!) In response, I said, "I'm okay! Never satisfied - always aiming for higher and better. It's the best and worst part of life." Funny how a character limit can force you to have an epiphany.

But it's so true!

At what point can I be satisfied - content - with my life? The more I ponder that question, the firmer I believe that life is a permanent struggle - always learning, pushing, reaching, striving for more, for... everything.

It all boils down to the fact that I'm a perfectionist. "Good" simply isn't good enough. And it never will be.

It's the reason why, when I meet guys who are genuine and kind-spirited but who don't challenge me or encourage me to take risks, I become disinterested. It's also why, after I finish a project, let it sit for some time and return to re-evaluate it, I become critical and... disgusted.

And my writing? Yeah, I perfect that too - line by line until it reads like my words echoing over the phone or in a car on the way to the club.

But life is not a blog post or a project - it's a journey. An imperfect, messy journey. And the farther along we travel. the crazier it gets. And that's okay. It's okay to falter.

Never stop being crazy - reaching for the stars and saying, "I'm gonna run the whole thing!" 'Cause if you don't aim for the sky, well... then you just aren't crazy enough to reach it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Matter What, Be Yourself

Who are you? No, really, who are you?

Are you shy or outgoing? Independent or needy? Neurotic or laid-back? Assertive or passive?

What it all boils down to is: how well do you really know yourself? The only way to gauge your own character is through failures and successes – experiences that shape who we are as individuals, which inevitably takes a considerable amount of time and a whole hell-of-a lot of trial and error.

It’s never easy – but it is always rewarding.

I’m far from perfect. Sometimes, I just don’t know when to stop talking or how to not wear my heart on my sleeve. I tend to push the limits – to put it all out there without always fully thinking through the consequences of my speech or actions. But that’s just me, and it’s taken me quite a long time to realize who I am as a person and how I tick. Without testing my boundaries, how would I know my comfort zones?

But through it all – ups and downs, highs and lows, bitches and hoes – one lesson reigns true: if someone isn’t willing to accept you for who you really are, they aren’t worth your time.

It’s that old Dr. Seuss saying all over again. You know the one: “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

If you know me in “real life,” you know that I’m bubbly, witty and goofy – I’m always going up to random strangers and asking them intimate questions. Sometimes there’s alcohol involved and other times just water – but nonetheless, I’ve always had an innate passion for getting to know someone on a deep level. At the same time, though, I’ve learned how to self-disclose and remain “cool” simultaneously.

The entire process is usually exciting and thrilling and fun. And then there are the times where I meet someone and they turn out to be completely different than I thought. And it sucks.

Maybe it’s me getting ahead of myself or making myself too available, but more often than not, this happens with guys from clubs. I know, I know – how cliché, right? I meet a guy, “click” with him and all signals lead to “optimistic.” And then I find out who he really is – Douche-y McDoucherson. It’s only downhill from there.

I’ve deleted so many numbers, told so many guys where they can shove it – and for what? Self-preservation. Because, at the end of the day, I know who I am; I know what I want and I know exactly how to get it. The truth is: I always have!

It’s an amazing feeling to finally be totally comfortable in my own skin – regardless of my daily mood or appearance. I have “ugly” days too – but all the while I still know that I’m attractive inside and out and that I am a good “catch.”

When the right guy comes along who can trust, support and love me for being me –not who he wants me to become, but who I truly am – my life will be complete.

Don’t get the wrong impression, though. I’ve been single for four years, but I’m in no rush to devote myself to a guy who’s not entirely worth my time and energy. My cardinal rule is to never settle and I don’t intend on going back on that now.

The only way to move is forward along my journey in life, wishing and hoping that the right guy will come along (if he exists).

But if he doesn’t, at least I’m content with myself and confident enough to know that I’ll feel more fulfilled as an accomplished single man than as a used, jaded, broken-hearted, relationship-plagued attached one.

I’m not apologetic for who I am – and you shouldn’t be, either. Because if you aren’t yourself 100% of the time, then who are you?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love Is Not Reserved For Valentine's Day

February 14th sneaks up on me each and every year. It's like remembering I have a dentist's appointment or finding out that I bounced a check. Yeah, that bad.

But this year I'm trying to take a different approach. Key word: trying. I mean, it really is just another day. The holiday has no astronomical significance - and even if it did, would it matter? It's all arbitrary, really.

I was inspired to write by something that KarenSnyderDuke posted on Twitter. She said, "Resist hating Valentine's Day. If anything, it should be a simple reminder to love people every day—and tell them that you do."

And it really stuck with me.

If you think about it, we have several days - Father's and Mother's Days among them - where the whole point is to acknowledge your appreciation for a specific someone. For Valentine's Day, that specific someone just happens to be a significant other.

Whether you're married, widowed or single, V-Day represents so much more than cards and candy - it's about stopping for one day to pay attention to the people in our lives who add value and positivity.

Because as our lives become increasingly time-compressed, stress-filled and digitally-driven, we take the little treasures for granted.

The point is: tell someone you love them - or remind someone you've already told. Smile at a stranger. Say "please," "excuse me" and "thank you." Tell someone who's struggling "it's all going to be okay." And, most importantly, tell yourself that life is not about possessions and vanity, but rather about the journey upon which we are all so fortunate to embark.

So don't let tomorrow sneak up on you: face it head-on with a smile - not because you're pretending to be happy, but because you know that things could be worse.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Have Something Important To Say

Listen up! See, what I have to say is infinitely more important than whatever you're doing - 'cause I'm more important than you will ever be.

Like, I have this dream, and one day it's gonna come true! Have you seen my Twitter account or YouTube videos? I mean, come on! I totally deserve my own reality TV show!
Ever heard any or all of the above? Chances are, you have.

It's a sad, sad fact that so many people today have such an inflated sense of self. Let's call it the "When I Grow Up" fallacy.

It's the reason why people who legitimately CANNOT sing go on American Idol. It's also why everyday Joe's and Jane's honestly think that they're America's Next Top Model. Hell, maybe it's the same reason I started this blog - or why people write blogs in general.

We all want to feel important and well-liked, right?

Wrong, so wrong.

You see, everyone has a need for validation. It just seems to me that my generation has a dangerous - even desperate - need for it. It's why we take to our Facebook and Twitter accounts and why we text incessantly despite being surrounded by others in a crowded restaurant or club.

And in an increasingly small (a la Thomas Friedman's "flat") world where truly anything is possible, our irrational thoughts are only reinforced by the fact that there are some out there who really do "make it big."

But the reason why most of those who achieve their "15 seconds of fame" do so is because they speak and act out the loudest - not because they're actually talented. It's like Jersey Shore vs. Justin Bieber. Or a guy-who-is-escorted-off-of-American-Idol-because-he-can't-admit-the-fact-that-he -will-never-have-a-music-career vs. Kelly Clarkson.

I read this hilarious blog the other day titled, "5 Signs You're Talking To A Social Media Douchebag." It was absolutely genius. Pay special attention to point 2: They Actually Think They’re Internet Celebrities. Honestly, who do you think you are?

And I also stumbled upon this article titled "Mr. Rogers Lied To Us," which talks about how my generation was brought up to think that we're "special." It's so fascinating how people today simply don't want to work - they almost expect to become famous on YouTube, Twitter, MySpace or some other online platform.

But we feed our own addictions. People simply can't get enough of Jersey Shore. "It's like watching a train wreck, you just can't look away," some say. But by not looking away we reinforce the idea that we can make a name for ourselves by going out to clubs, getting drunk and having promiscuous sex. Last time I checked, 99.9% of Americans are NOT socialites, so STOP acting like you are one, or that you'll be one by making a fool of yourself.

The reality is: that simply isn't reality. You are NOT the exception. If you were, you'd be getting by on your talent, not your talk or outrageous actions.

I hope that, as a result of this vain rant, we can shift our attention to important matters, like rebuilding Haiti, facing the damaging truth about climate change and, of course, saving the world.

But maybe that's just it. We're too scared to face reality that we create our own alternate, glittery version where everyone's drunk and fornicating. Hell, we could all use a little vacation from our troubles... unless I'm wrong and you have something more important to say.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Miami vs. New York: The Best of Both Worlds

It's safe to say that, at heart, I am a "city boy." The extent to which that's true, I'm not really sure. I do long for open fields with sunshine and a soccer ball, but then again I never took advantage of that in Miami. And I digress...

I've taken to this blog to face an inner struggle that I've been living ever since I moved from Miami to New York. The question I've invariably been unable to answer is: Did I make the right move?

I love New York - I do. This city is beautiful and inspiring and forces you to find the strength to pursue your dreams. But am I happy? Honestly, for the first time since I moved to the city, I feel comfortable. I have a great internship that pays me well and gives me good hours and allows me to take the reigns and build a social media communications department. And I have a great apartment and a sweet, caring roommate without whom I would not be where I am. But, personally, I'm lonely. I don't really have any friends here besides those I know from UM or Details. And I don't have the time or financial resources to go out and make them.

And then there's Miami. The grass is always greener, right? As much as I couldn't wait to get out of the 305... I can't wait to go back! I'm actually headed there on January 27th to spend nearly 6 days celebrating my 23rd birthday with some amazing friends whom I miss dearly. But I digress again...

The biggest trip-up I have when I ponder my time in Miami is: do I miss Miami, or do I miss UM? Do I miss my friends, or do I miss the city? It's really both. I miss the weather - terribly. I hate winter. I still don't have a proper winter coat. I miss throwing on shorts and a t-shirt and flip-flops and heading out the door. I miss knowing that it will rain almost every day between 2:00 and 3:30 pm. I especially miss the partying in Miami - what a great time! Miami was my playground - and that's just it... New York has not been fun by any means. It's been quite a struggle.

Let's face the facts: strip away the tropical location and great clubbing and the city of Miami has little offer, especially for someone as ambitious and dedicated as I am... at least in the fields that I want to pursue. Building a media and/or publishing career in Miami just sounds strange... unless you are doing it in Spanish.

So why did I ever leave Miami for New York, you ask? I had to get away. As the stubborn, headstrong guy I am, I had to prove it to myself that I can make it here. Like Jay-Z says, "If I make it here [in New York], I can make it anywhere."

Honestly, though, it was so much more than that. First, I wanted a city that would challenge me professionally and intellectually. I didn't think Miami could do that for me, and that's just my personal opinion. Second, I wanted a city with good public transportation. New York has arguably the best in the world. And Miami's? Well, it sucks. And I don't want to buy a car and pay for gas and insurance just to waste my life sitting on US-1 or I-95 N. Oh - and I want to be green! But public transportation SUCKS! You can't rock out to your favorite songs with your friends while you roll down the windows in mid-December and take in a beautiful sunset.

It really pains me to see my good friends have absolutely AMAZING apartments and actually pay LESS per month than I do! It's crazy. But then I read articles like this one and I feel comfortable that I chose New York to start my professional career in one of the worst recessions of the last century.

My solution? As the diplomatic person I am, I want both! Wouldn't it be amazing to split my time between New York and Miami? If and when that would be possible is yet to be determined.

But home is where the heart is. And my heart isn't in New York. It's spread out in the University Center at UM, around Lake Osceola, on the computers in the Ibis office, in the back booths at Moon, on the dance floor at Buck15, in the condos of Brickell and on the sand of the beach at 12th street. And you better bet I'm going to reclaim it next week, and do some serious thinking in the process.