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Life Lesson: Never Tell My Mother She’s “Privileged”

Next week I am leaving everything I know to spend ten days completely disconnected from the world, to sit silently and meditate in a room full of hippies … er … people.  My friend Ann went on this retreat several months ago and so did her friend Bob (a woman). After hearing about their respective experiences there I looked into it myself and signed up for one. For a while, I put it out of my mind. I was positive that something would come up and prevent me from going, but as time passed it finally sunk in and I realized I was really gonna go.

I will have to relinquish my computer and cell phone. I won’t even be able to have a book to read or a journal to write in. I won’t even be speaking. For ten days I will wake up at 4 am and spend 10 hours a day doing nothing but meditating (well there’ll be some eating and walking around so as I don’t starve or go crazy). I am both nervous and excited. My friends are all quite surprised that I’m doing this. Some of them have been supportive. I’m pretty sure the rest have set up a betting pool of how long I’ll last in silence.

Since I won’t have my computer or phone with me there is only one way of getting in touch with me which is calling the retreat center, though this is only reserved for emergencies. As such, a couple weeks ago I emailed my roommate and my mother the emergency contact phone number. In the email I said, “You two have the privilege of being the only two people who have the contact information of my retreat.” I should have known better than to tell my mother that she was “privileged.” She will remind me that she’s the reason I am even alive.

This is her email reply:

I wish to thank the Academy, I mean, Biana, for this privilege. I’m honored to receive this award. I want to thank Baba Asia for helping me raise her  [Editor’s Note: my grandmother & nanny & cleaner upper of all my messes. Also, her name is NOT pronounced like the continent.]. I also want to thank from the bottom of my heart her brother David, who paved the way for such a beautiful human being [We had a good devil child/angel child thing going for a while. I was the angel obviously. More on this later.]. I also want to thank her stepfather Vov who bravely changed her diet and saved her stomach [You wouldn’t know it by looking at me today, but I was a scrawny, and possibly underweight, kid with a terrible addiction to Chips Ahoy! cookies. At one point I was up to a sleeve per day. My stepfather is to thank for breaking me from this habit. I mean the man pretty much saved my life and taught me everything I know, but that’s another story for another day. Now I am an overweight adult with not much of a sweet tooth. Go figure!] Most of all I want to thank my uterus and my vagina for giving birth to her. [Mind you, she had me via C-section. I know because she once showed me her scar. I am now scared for life.] I’ll be forever grateful for this privilege. -Mom

My mother ladies & gentlemen.

I shall have a full report about the retreat when I get back. For now, I have lots of work to finish up and packing to do so I bid you all adieu.


P.S. Hi Mom! Love you!


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A Look Back at SXSW 2011

While trying to recover from a terrible case of South by Sars, I’ve been reflecting on my trip. A lot happened during this SXSW and there’s a lot for me to mull over, but there’s really only one moment I want to talk about right now. It’s my favorite moment from this year’s SXSWi and one that I’ll remember long after I forget all the parties I went to and business cards I collected.

There are rare moments in life when you’re doing exactly what you should be doing, with the people you should be doing it with and the rest of the world just falls away for a split second. It’s extremely hard for me to be in the moment since I spend most of my life obsessing over what happened yesterday or predicting the doom that tomorrow brings. Yet somehow in these rare instances I know instinctively that this moment is a special one and I just sit back and cherish it.

The first time this happened to me was one summer night maybe before we all left for college or maybe after our freshman year, I don’t quite remember. I do remember that I was with my closest childhood friends hanging out on Amanda’s trampoline. I got sick of jumping so I just laid back, looked at the stars and listened to the gabbing going on around me. I knew this moment was epic and that soon we’d be too old to spend summer nights jumping around on a trampoline. We’ve spent lots of time together since that night, but nothing has been quite as carefree since then.

Now fast forward a few years. When the epic moment of epicness happened at South By, I wasn’t quite dressed for the occasion. When I picked up Devin and Kristen from their dinner I was wearing the black dress and wedge sandals that I had on for a client event earlier that evening. On our way to the evening’s festivities, we stumbled upon the Carousolar, a solar powered carousel courtesy of GE. We had all walked by it before, but none of us had tried it out yet. So like little kids we skipped over to the Carousolar and queued up for our turn to ride. When I was little I rode carousels all the time snuggled up next to my grandfather in the carriage so they have a special place in my heart, but I haven’t been on one in years.

Considering my preference for the carriage (even though I had no one to cuddle with this time) and the likelihood of a wardrobe malfunction (high heels + short skirt + carousel horse + my clumsiness = bad news), I was going to play it safe and just sit in the carriage by myself. But for some reason at the last minute I figured “Screw it!” and just climbed up on a carousel horse, short skirt, high heels, multiple bags of swag and all. Once the carousel started rotating, the horses began galloping and the music came on, I truly felt like a little kid again. Even though we were checking in and videotaping and twitpicing all the while (you can put a girl on a carousel horse, but you can’t take the tech geek out of the girl), it was a moment of sheer bliss. Somehow despite being and adult and knowing the mechanics behind a carousel and the lesson being imparted with a solar carousel, the magic of riding a fake horse around in circles is still strong.

And when the carousel stopped spinning and the music went off, I managed to get down off the horse without hurting myself or flashing anyone else. Devin even commented that I was quite graceful. As soon as my feet hit the ground the moment was over and I was back to being a grown up.

Post-SXSW coverage always focuses on the best panel or next big startup, which are all very valid discussions and important ones to have, but for me the best moments of SXSW will always be the times I spent with friends. Singing Backstreet Boys or Lady Gaga in the back of a Chevy, falling asleep in the Hilton lobby while being poked incessantly to ensure I don’t actually fall asleep, riding a carousel horse, walking down the street while singing along to “Whip My Hair” and whipping our hair; this is what I love most about the annual migration to Austin.

Where you at SXSW this year? What was your favorite moment?


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25 Things for My 25th Year

Inspired by my awesome friend Gradon Tripp, cool kid and fellow Aquarian, who wrote a “34 Things for my 34th Year” post, I’ve decided to write one for my birthday as well.

I was born 25 years ago on February 5th in a hospital in Livingston, NJ and a few days later was taken home to a tiny apartment in Elizabeth, NJ. My parents were scraping together just enough money to sustain our little nuclear family — my mom, my dad, my older brother and me. To say we were poor would be an understatement, but thanks to our huge extended family it never felt that way. My mother was 24 when I was born and would be turning 25 on April 8th of that year, which means she was at the age I am now when she had me.  I’m not sure how she did this because I couldn’t fathom having a child to support right now, but boy am I glad she did.

By some miracle, I’ve reached a quarter century of being upon this earth. I’m supposed to be having a quarter life crisis about now, but unless you count the panic attack I had in the wet sauna at Spa Castle yesterday (lemme tell you…it’s hard to breathe in there and my body did not like that at all!) there is no cause for crisis in my life right now. So, in no particular order, here are the 25 things I’ve got to look forward to this year:

1. Calming the EFF down! Seriously, no 24/25 year old should have as much stress as I create for myself and it needs to stop.

2. Eating less.

3. Moving more.

4. Going skydiving.

5. Biking in NYC somewhere. The thought of biking as a form of commuting still scares the bejesus out of me, but I live in New York and I enjoy biking and I’d like to combine those two somehow even if it just means I rent a bike to ride through Prospect Park for a few hours.

6. Traveling more. London and South Africa are top on the list of places to visit.

7. Pampering myself more often.

8. Running a half marathon.

9. Finding someone to love and being loved by them in return. (Okay so this is kind of out of the realm of things I have control over, but the first step is putting it out there into the universe. Law of attraction and all that stuff…)

10. Writing/blogging/tumbling more.

11. Achieving the  monthly and yearly income goals I’ve set for myself.

12. Improving my Russian.

13. Being more patient with my grandmother (my mom’s mom). I’m hoping #12 will help me with that.

14. Spending more time with my other grandmother (my dad’s mom).

15. Spending more time taking in all of the amazing cultural institutions packed into this fine city of ours.

16. Buying myself a new phone and a new computer.

17. Continuing to tell my friends that I love them. I don’t think people say this to each other enough.

18. Ending this hermit/hibernation mode that I’ve been in and going out more so I can spend time with those friends I love so much.

19. Getting myself some health insurance and actually making use of it.

20. Coming to terms with my designation of “entrepreneur.”

21. Being more assertive and tooting my own horn more often because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me!

22. Flexing my (currently non-existent) photography skills more and seeing lots of beautiful sites worth photographing.

23. Doing some self-inflicted career development whether it’s taking a small business seminar or finally learning more about SEO or caving in and signing up for Quora.

24.  Not underestimating my abilities and giving myself credit for my achievements. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with #21.

25. Getting my first tattoo.


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Damas Falafel House

Our refrigerator has been fairly empty the past few days in anticipation for the CSA on Saturday and Thanksgiving coming up. So this means I’ve been on the look out for take out. I had a 10% discount to Seamless Web so I checked it out to order dinner a couple nights ago. After spending a solid half hour trying to figure out where I wanted to order from and what I wanted to get I finally settled on a two meat (I got beef & lamb, chicken was the other option) sandwich from this place called Falafel House and I ordered a falafel sandwich for Emily. My experience with restaurants from Seamless has been very hit or miss. However, the sandwich was delicious, but I was also starving mind you. Emily got home a while later and thoroughly enjoyed her food.

I decided to order from there again to be sure and got the veggie combo this time, so I could partake in the fried falafel goodness. The platter comes with stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, baba ganoush, hummus, feta, bean salad, green salad and of course, falafel. I also ordered tzatiki to meet the minimum delivery requirement.  It totally hit the spot and I foresee it becoming a recurring favorite. This is great news for my taste buds and my stomach, but not so much for my hips and wallet. Such is life.

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I had a meeting to discuss ArtsTech tonight with my friend Topher who luckily was too lazy to leave the neighborhood so we ended up meeting at a local bar instead of schlepping into the Midtown like we had planned. Then Patrice swung by and dragged me to the comedy show I was hoping I had squirmed my way out of. I was really hoping to just get home and go to sleep early, but instead I got to watch bad comedy called “Tickle Me Brooklyn.” I had to suffer through mediocre comedy so you have to suffer through this mediocre blog post so I can just hit publish and go to bed. Night Ya’ll!


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So Sunday after a wonderful dinner with my friend Anna and my roomie Emily we walked by Shoe Mania, which I pass by often and always successfully avoid. Anna wanted to go in and since I hadn’t actually been inside the store in a while I thought why not.

So the three of us are walking around the store and I see this pair of awesome platform boots that were to die for. I take them off the shelf, admire them, promptly put them back on the shelf and keep it moving. We later saw a similar looking pair, but Anna and Emily confirmed that they didn’t quite have the same oomph of the first ones. We kept walking around the store until we got to the “decent looking, but really just made to be comfortable” section. Some unknown force pulls me back to the “gorgeous looking, but really meant to be torture devices for your feet” section and then makes me take the boots back off the shelf and place them into the hands of the sales associate who kindly brought them up from the back room in a size 7 please.

The second these shoes got on my feet I knew I couldn’t not buy them. They were perfect. I left them with the sales associate to go find Anna & Emily to confirm that I wasn’t delusional and that these shoes and I were indeed destined to be together. I rounded the first floor of the store and couldn’t find them so instead I went to search for the second pair of shoes to complete the Shoe Mania “Blowout Sale” buy one get one 1/2 off deal, which really isn’t that much of a deal IMO.

When I finally found Anna & Emily again and wrangled the shoes back from the sales associate, I tried them on again for the girls to witness. They confirmed my suspicions.

In the end I purchased these gorgeous boots and these black pumps to accompany them.

I wore them to the Community Managers Meetup yesterday, which thankfully involved a lot of sitting. I only tripped in them once and didn’t do any permanent damage to my body when it collapsed on the concrete sidewalk. I consider this a victory. I think once I get some cushioning insoles in these they’ll be perfect. The things we do in the name of fashion…

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Why Running

***Please note this was my post from yesterday 11/16, but Emily just informed me that it didn’t publish so here you go. It totally still counts TUVM!***

Remember that book about running I talked about the other day? The one that made my heart flutter? Well I’ve been devouring it as fast as I can and I came upon a really great passage that explains why I’m so excited about running.

“It is something that is unique to running. You see it somewhat in other individual sports, but particularly in running because it is so measurable,” says Diane Palmason, who holds age-group records in distances ranging from 200 meters to 50 miles for women over the age of 60. “When you accomplish something in running, it is so obvious that it is you and you alone who accomplished it. In other areas of our life, there is rarely an obvious measure. In running, when you achieve a quantifiable goal, you have every right to feel good about yourself.”

I am always the last person to give myself credit for anything I do in my life. I am convinced that projects I work on succeed despite my contribution, not because of it and when something doesn’t work I take all the blame upon myself. With running, when I succeed (failure is not an option) the success is entirely my own and there’s no way I can pawn it off as someone else’s accomplishment. I hope this is a step toward me taking the credit I deserve in other areas of my life as well.

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