Last week, I awoke to find Aaron with me. He was sitting next to my bed, grinning his cheekiest grin, holding my hand.
For a few minutes, I savored a sweet uncertainty: Were the last few weeks all a nightmare, and Aaron was still with me? Or was I awaking inside a dream state, and in the real…
Aaron died one month ago this past Monday. This week I was intending to post a big update about all the various campaigns and policy changes we’re fighting for in the aftermath of Aaron’s death. I still will, but I haven’t been able to work up the energy to finish it yet.
Instead, I’ve been…
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see Frightened Rabbit live, you know the best part of the concert is the energy. Not just by frontman Scott Hutchison and the rest of the extremely-talented five-piece band, but by the audience. They’re transfixed, a mixed group of equal parts young(ish) men & women who have heard their music, obsessed over the lyrics and made a sometimes-lengthy trek to be in the presence of their favorite band. And not only do Frightened Rabbit not disappoint, but they enthrall.
With this latest release, Pedestrian Verse, Frightened Rabbit bring back the painfully raw (and hauntingly authentic) lyrics that made Midnight Organ Fight a standard for any breakup on both continents, but also that energy that fans have come to expect in person. It marries the best parts of this group and does so with aplomb. The third word in the first sentence of the first song is a curse word; the sentence continues and immediately draws you into the story that nearly every song explores. These latest songs are sure to perform well in concert, but until you can get to that packed, sweaty venue that sells out within minutes to hear them live, this is a solid substitute to capture your attention, and if history repeats itself, obsession.
It’s December 3rd. It’s clearly, firmly, winter in NYC, and I’m sleeping with my windows on and the Air Conditioning running at full blast. It’s environmentally atrocious, that I know, but you see, I don’t have control over the heat in my building. And even with the radiators turned off, temperatures rise to the mid 80’s without this global warming-inducing – not to mention, costly – tactic. And this tactic is common here in Manhattan.
It’s one of many things that you do here, that you get used to, because that’s just how it is. That you have virtually no control (and zero leverage with crazy landords) over things like your living conditions, or at least the temperature within. Or your transportation. Subway delays? Yep. Hope you charged your Kindle and have a sympathetic boss. Freak snowstorms, or hurricanes. A city where your dog searches for the lone patch of grass in a four-block radius just so they don’t have to pee on the sidewalk. We do these things, us New Yorkers, because the payoff is worth it. And – in some ways – because we quickly become immune to it. Our skin, it becomes thicker. It has to, and not just to survive the winter.
When people asked me why I moved here, I’ve had a hard time articulating it. What I kept coming back to was that I needed life to be harder. I couldn’t explain well what that meant, or at least not in a way that didn’t make me sound like an entitled asshole. I think it still does. But I read an article tonight that helped me understand my reasoning, why I’d shed the security and comforts that I was so lucky to have for a place where many of them were now gone, or at least out of my price range. Please take a second to read it; it’s beautifully written, and describes a mother & wife’s decision to move out of the city, because it’s the life they want to lead and the future they want to provide for their son. It describes her fear of making the wrong decision and abandoning what she knows, scared of the potential mediocrity in contrast to their current life in NYC. And it discusses how she was raised, likely in a way that I and many of my friends were, that we had choices and were in many ways in control of our lives. She writes:
“It is, it’s a wonderful thing – a privilege – to feel that you can do anything…but it also makes it really hard to finally choose what you want to do. Why should I marry this amazing guy when I’ve never even been to Asia yet? My even-more-perfect man might be waiting there for me. Why should I accept this pretty cool job offer when I haven’t even tested the waters in these five other career paths? I might like something else better. Why should I move to this one town, when there are so many other places in the world that might make the perfect home?”
It was that paragraph that made me understand my choice. And it might sound backwards or broken or ungrateful or jaded – basically, choose your judgmental adjective – but I realized the reason I moved here wasn’t for it to be harder, it was so I could appreciate what I’ve had. The fact that I was able to buy a home at a younger age. That I’ve had the ability to have some amazing jobs and travel and meet friends and the experiences…I have had the opportunity to meet some phenomenal people and see some once-in-a-lifetime things. I am grateful for these every single day, and I have worked very, very hard for all of them. I am thankful.
But I was complacent. Was I appreciating them enough? Was I – in the moment, or afterwards – realizing that I was in so very, very many ways the exception? That this life I was living was a privilege? Maybe. But maybe not. Perhaps if I took away some of my creature comforts or made my day-to-day a bit more difficult, I’d be able to place the value where it should lie. And that wasn’t with physical possessions – I’ve gotten rid of so many of them – or even physical space in my home, but with people. With those experiences. With the opportunity to go to work on something I love WITH people I love and respect and want to be around. I wanted it to be harder so I could know what was important.
And I think – I hope – I do. This weekend, some new(er), dear friends who have become my New York family convened at a friend’s house for a potluck dinner. Mind you, this doesn’t happen much here, namely because our kitchens fit two people at most and dishwashers? Our two hands under scalding water. I had spent Thanksgiving with many of these people, hosting them at my home and simply enjoying each other’s company. Sure, we could have eaten out; there was talk of going out of town. And on Saturday night? There were a ton of events happening. It certainly wasn’t the house or the space or the possessions or even the food (while delectable) that drew us together. It was the people. And that’s what I’ve found to matter here. Until that changes, New York City is my home, hurricanes, sweltering summers, sweaty subway rides, dodgy bodegas and all. Harder suits me only because for the things that actually matter, they’re easier to recognize.
We’ve long been expounding the virtues of Sailthru – albeit, we’re a bit biased – so it means even more when we’re recognized for the hard work we’re doing here. So we’re thrilled to have been chosen by Crunched as one of the “Top 26 Startups to Sell For”. The competition was vigorous, with…
AWW YEAH. Here’s the full text about Sailthru:
If you want your customer to feel that you’re talking to each of them individually about their preferences, their interests and the like, Sailthru should be your go-to product. The coolest thing about the product? Their ability to marry two marketing essentials – exceptional email delivery and behavior targeting. Oh, and they know neat things like people spend an average of 28 days on email a year. Now they’ve checked off the great product, the tons of money they’ve raised and their coolness quotient is high considering fun things they know that could empower companies, but what about their employee culture? Well. They call themselves a quirky company, and maybe it’s because their booze to caffeine ratio is 3:5, or maybe it’s because they give you unlimited vacation days. Whatever it is that makes them quirky, we like. We’re big fans of their policy to give autonomy to employees, conducting mandatory beer cruises and their SoHo home. Are you feeling the wind in your sails yet? ‘Coz we certainly are.
How do you communicate to a two-sided market?
This is a particularly challenging question in the startup world, as many tech companies serve two sets of customers. For…
Outstanding post on the challenges of creating your company’s messaging, especially when it serves various audiences. See also: what keeps me up at night (well, besides those other things like pets & other more welcomed activities…)
I consider myself a pretty self-sufficient person. I own two houses. I help run a company. I financially & emotionally support a parent. Basically, for the most part, I like to think that I pretty much have my shit together. And then, like that, I find myself in a situation where, hell, I SO DO NOT. And it’s humbling and enlightening and disconcerting and life-altering. And it’s a good thing.
When Hurricane Sandy hit, I listened to & heeded the warnings from the Mayor’s Office. We stocked up on food…three times. We prepped the house, prepped our lives, getting ready for the power to inevitably go out and us to likely be stranded with minimal transportation. I’m a producer; I contingency planned the contingency plan. If anything, we were over-prepared.
The storm hit on Monday night; my building is located in Union Square, and my specific apartment faces the back, blocked by three large buildings so the sound of the wind and the impact of the rain was quite minimal. In fact, we finally just shut one of our windows this morning, and that was because it was getting chilly in the house. The power went out on Monday night around 9pm; we laid on the couch, in the candlelight resulting from every Yankee Candle Christmas present my Mom has given me for the last 5 years, feeling lucky and pretty calm. We weathered the storm relatively unscathed.
Yet then there was the aftermath. Walking my dog on Tuesday morning felt post-apocalyptic. People wandering around, looking at the damage; was pretty minimal on my street. Power was out everywhere, and I was getting sporadic internet on my phone via Verizon; my friend’s iPhone on AT&T was completely out. But, we were in good spirits; [he] cooked an incredible breakfast (gas was still working) and headed out to explore the city. We hunkered down at a hotel, ran into friends, and came home last night to another home-cooked meal, probably a bit stir-crazy but again, safe. Others had it much, much worse. I was grateful.
But still, I woke up this morning in a total, complete state of anxiety. Without internet, I hadn’t been able to get basically any work done yesterday, and as the person leading communications for a company that RUNS communications for other businesses, this was immensely stressful. There is no time frame on when the power will return. I was slated to speak at a conference tomorrow, and leave for the West Coast on Sunday. Basically, I woke up to a feeling of helplessness, fear, anxiety and no visibility when this situation would change. I was completely & totally outside of my comfort zone. I was – and am – scared.
And that feeling felt pathetic. Weak. I should be able to get through this – we’re safe! We’re doing what we can do! We have food and water and ok, no power and no showers but again, it could be much worse. But I couldn’t shake it. The thought of sleeping by myself at my apartment tonight in the pitch dark – Yankee Candles be damned – petrified me. I had to ask for help. Which isn’t something I do particularly well.
Yet I did. And my friend Jessey who’s been staying with me this entire week is a serious saint; he’s been amazing, taking care of someone who doesn’t particularly let people take care of her. But I recognized that I needed it, and I’m immensely grateful for him. I then needed a place to work…my friend Rick came through immediately with a coworking space to get some work done. My friend Chrysi offered a place to shower (behold! The power of hot water and freshly-washed hair!). There are countless people that have helped here; this is the true spirit of New Yorkers, offering warmth and space and water and power and more than all of that, comfort, when everything is physically and emotionally uncomfortable.
So I’m saying Thank You. I’m saying it publicly on this blog, saying it on Twitter using the hashtag #ThankYou, and showing my gratitude for friends (and some strangers) who are helping us all get through this challenging time where our very basic creature comforts are missing. I’m safe, I’m ok, but I’m getting by with a LOT of help from my friends.
We’re hiring. (Taken with Instagram)
(the number one question asked in my anon box tonight was to inquire why they were still single. Why somebody didn’t call. Why somebody didn’t like them. Why they were alone. How to find somebody. This is my best answer.)
You are not single because of the way your hair looked on September 8th, 2012. You are not single because you snort laugh in public, or because you forgot to shave your legs last Friday. You are not single because you got home last weekend and realized the little black dress you wore was unflattering to your butt, or because your hips are larger than Kate Hudson’s or your best friend’s. You are not single because you are a messy eater or a loud talker or your nose is pointy. You are not single because you think you are fat.
Erase it. This is wrong.
You are not alone because you told somebody how you felt or you texted too much. You are not alone because you came on too fast or slept with somebody too soon or didn’t play hard to get. You are not alone because somebody’s ex-girlfriend exists. You are not alone because you are not as pretty as that ex-girlfriend. You are not alone because you have had sex with a lot of other people. You are not alone because you are haven’t had sex in a long time. You are not alone because of anywhere you have put your legs. You are not alone because somebody has called you a slut. You are not alone because a book tells you you are not going to bars enough. You are not alone because your friends accuse you of not putting yourself out there.
Erase that too. It is wrong.
You are not single because you want it so bad or you know how important love could be. You are not single because you are enlightened on the depths of love. You are not single because you watch good television or good movies. You are not single because you are special. You are not single because you believe you are better than people in relationships. You are not single because other people put pictures of themselves kissing on Facebook. You are not single because everybody out there is taken.
You are not alone because you miss somebody. You are not alone because you remember what it was like to love somebody and can’t imagine doing that again. You are not alone because it makes you sad. You are not alone because the guy who texts you doesn’t love you. You are not alone because the guy who stopped calling you has stopped calling you. You are not alone because a lot of people are assholes.
You are single because of two reasons.
You are single because you deserve to be happy in many other ways—to love yourself, to like yourself, to discover what you love and what you want. You are single because you should try out things, to explore and to learn all of the things you are when you are single. You are single because you can be a good friend to yourself. You are single because you deserve to be your own best friend. You are single because you deserve to understand yourself before somebody else can. To get acquainted with all the wonderful moments you experience in solitude. You are single because you deserve to know your potential for somebody else and for you. You are single because they are coming. You are single because you are not ready for them yet.
You are alone because somebody who will love all those things that you arehasn’t shown up. They are not late. They will be exactly on time, no matter how much you curl up in a ball and cry and think they won’t show. You are alone because great big things don’t happen everyday and so they don’t just pop up for a snack. You are alone because you have been wrong about who you thought somebody was and that is okay. You are alone and this is not pathetic it is just true. You are alone because love comes in waves. You are alone because there is somebody who will make this easy for you and you will be excited and go “THERE THE FUCK YOOU ARE” and it will be nice and give it a SECOND. You are alone because you have put a lot of stock into somebody you don’t know yet. You are alone because it’s not your time to be not alone yet.
Sometimes, you are alone because that person will only appear when you start wondering what you’ve done to make them go away. Mostly, you are single because you are single. It is not a bad thing. It is just a thing you have to do.
You won’t always be alone. You won’t always be single. Just remember you never have to be lonely.
I’ve been biting my tongue for twelve years. I don’t say that out of frustration, anger, or even repression. I say it because it’s true, and I am as active a participant in the situation than anyone. It’s the nature of the beast.
I work in communications. I currently head up marketing and communications for a startup I believe in so very strongly. This story is not about them, nor is it about the companies I’ve worked for in the past, at least not in the terms of who they are. It’s about where we – collectively, as a tech industry, marketing and comms in the foreground – are these days. Because I’d bet that I’m not the only one feeling this way, but maybe my thoughts will resonate with my peers. Still, that’s not why I’m sharing it.
I’m sharing it because I’ve found that my career, always thinking fifteen steps ahead, anticipating the worst, the almost-worst, and the not-nearly-as-bad-but-we’re-still-fucked, has taught me to refrain from saying what I really, truly, think about situations. In life, in love, in everything work-wise and everything but.
In college, I would declare, once a year or so, there to be a “Brutally Honest Aubrey Day”. I’d drink a few – ok, a few + a few – beers, and as we all ended up at the bar (ahem, He’s Not Here), I’d give myself the license to say all of the things I wanted to but didn’t because it would make me look uncool, make me sound needy, make that boy know that I cared more than I wanted to, make myself vulnerable. Why I wasn’t more confident than that is an exercise for forthcoming therapy, but lo, that was enlightening. To be that honest, at 18! 19! 20! (Uh, I mean, 21…), well, it taught me a lot. If anything, it taught me the power of words, that positioning is crucial, that delivery is critical, but mainly: that your feelings – good or bad – should be heard.
Fast forward 10+ years, my day-to-day involves all of this, but in many ways, it seems I’ve forgotten that lesson. Or at least sacrificed the personal for the good of the collective. I’ve spent years emphasizing: The words we choose to describe our company. The response to a negative article. The proactive discussion we elicit when it’s something within our reign. I’m careful, I’m specific, I’m intentional. Because I know the repercussions. I’m good at my job, and I’m not apologetic for it.
Previous to leading a team responsible for these decisions, I’ve been hyper-aware of the impact that employees can make at a growing company. Having been at companies like Google, Digg, & Facebook when they’re small & growing – not to mention working on the Comms team – more than anyone I knew the potential impact of my thoughts. That they might not be aligned with the “corporate narrative”. And because I cared – actually, because I still do care – I tapered them. I’ve had my hand slapped at a company for using the word “Gmail” in a Tweet (from my personal Twitter account) because they saw their product as a competitor. I’ve had my loyalty questioned for expressing apathy in a product set that was tangentially aligned with something my company was doing. And that doesn’t feel good. Whether it’s right or wrong (I have my opinion), you feel a mix of anger and embarrassment. And for me, I learned quickly, to shut up.
And yet today. I see others leaving their roles, where perhaps the constraints – be it communications or otherwise – have left them inarticulate. They’re embracing being vocal, or investing in what they want, or going on record to support things that their former companies may not necessarily agree with. Me, I feel extraordinarily lucky that I work with a team that not only doesn’t censor me, but encourages me to share what I think. It’s rare, and I’m so grateful that I found it. And yet…
My feelings were hurt last night by a friend. Nothing major, nothing relationship-breaking. Just…I was sad. And as I tried to discuss it with this person today, I went right back to what I knew. And what I knew – what I know – is corporate communications. I know about when to respond, how timing is important, how there is a strategy between the offense and the defense, and how words are innately important. I chose my response carefully, and then thought…FUCK. Where is the *me* in this response? I’m mad. I’m allowed to BE mad. I’m allowed to let this person know that they hurt my feelings, that it’s nothing major, that I understand where they’re coming from, but hey, they’d better please not do it again. And I didn’t.
I forgot: There’s power in the words not said, but that can’t compare to what could be accomplished by sharing the truth.
Because we’re so ingrained, us PR and Comms and Marketing folks, to know how to handle the most ridiculous, the most sensitive, the most pivotal of situations that often make or break a company, that we forget that there’s real life out there. And it’s ours. And it’s ours for the taking.
If we remember to take it.