How to Disconnect?

I am ashamed to admit that on my honeymoon- yes, my HONEYMOON– I struggled to disconnect from the world…my job, social networks, incoming emails. There was no wifi in the (stunning) rooms and to connect I had to go to a small dark windowless office off the hotel lobby to log in to the resort’s guest computer.  I sat in that little room more than I would like to admit. I hate being disconnected.

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Would you choose email over this scene?

On my daily commute there is a period of my train ride, oh about 8 minutes or so long, where we are under the East River and have no cellular connection. And of course there’s no wifi on the Long Island Rail Road (one can dream that someday…).  Even for this short period of time I get anxious. Not about the thousands of pounds of water just a few feet over my head but because I can’t see what’s going on. For 8 minutes I can’t just sit and relax with my own thoughts to entertain me.

My name is Terra, and I am an addict. For real.

The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do (before kissing my sweets goodnight) is something digital. Check my email. See who pinged me on Facebook. See what tweets have come through or what breaking news is happening . While this is a great trait to find in a social media manager, it’s not perhaps very nice to be married to. Or the child of.

The reality is I love what I do, I enjoy it. I like to think I am pretty good at it too, which makes it all the more fun. So now, as the time is quickly approaching for me to shift gears for a little while to focus on the little one about to burst from my loins, I am starting to feel anxious. Yes, about the regular new-mamma stuff but also about what it will be like to not HAVE to check in to my social streams, emails and network 100 times a day for 12 whole weeks. To not have to worry about this presentation or that conference call. To not be spending my free time thinking about my projects and strategies. I think it’s going to be really hard to make that shift.

When I recently suggested to my boss that I set up a weekly call with the contractor coming in to handle my tasks while on maternity leave he quickly said, “No. Enjoy this time. You only get this opportunity once to bond with your baby. Don’t schedule any meetings.” He’s right, as usual, but immediately my heart rate went into overdrive. How will I know what’s happening? This makes me physically uncomfortable. But I am slowly realizing that this is important – the ability to disconnect with the digital and reconnect with the actual is something that I have to learn to do, and learn to enjoy. If I don’t figure out how to do that now, I may miss the good stuff. The real stuff happening right in front of my eyes.

How many days in to my maternity leave will I stop unconsciously reaching for my laptop and cell phone? Any guesses?

Picture Perfect

My days would all be happy if I could spend my office time designing promotional pieces and other creative elements. Sadly, it doesn’t happen as frequently as I like. I wasn’t hired with these types or projects in my job description, however slowly the responsibility to design all our creative pieces (and website) has crept on to my to-do list, and I couldn’t be happier about it. By no means am I a graphic designer, or even all THAT creative, but I am proud of these two projects I just completed.

The first is a banner stand for an upcoming convention we are attending. The banner is a vertical piece on a retractable stand which unfolds to a height of about 9 feet. Here is the image:

Looks much more impressive in person at its full height:

The second is a give away piece for the same show that was deigned to go in sync with the vertical banner. This is a 2 sided glossy 5×7 postcard:

Front:

Back:Hopefully more projects like this will come my way! If not, maybe I will have to quit my job and go to graphic design school.

Bah. Humbug.

I am having a hard time really getting into the Christmas spirit.

Maybe it’s because we have nary a Christmas decoration in our apartment– not a tree, not an angel, not even a display of the beautiful Christmas cards I have received (though I am so grateful of every one). Decorating the house when you aren’t actually spending Christmas in your own home somehow feels a little strange (leaving for Boston in Christmas Eve). Though I suppose we could have strung some lights to make the place festive. Is it too late? Maybe not.

Maybe it’s because I am super crazy busy at work– our busiest of the year are the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s when tourists descend like termites into New York City, running around eating up all the free space and walking all slowly on the sidewalk blocking fast walkers such as myself. But despite being so busy, I am cutting the hours of my part-time staff because it should be EVEN BUSIER this time of year. l suddenly feel nervous that I might not have a job if things continue as they are. Thinking of traveling to NYC? Boy do I have a deal for you. Hotel prices are a fraction of what they were last year.

Maybe it’s because the shortest day of the year is quickly approaching, December 21st, and the lack of sunlight is really getting to me, despite my happy light on the desk. Maybe I should have considered the prozac this winter. Definitely too late for that.

Maybe it’s because I am dreaming of living in a place where I can invite my friends and family to join us in our home holiday spirit. But that’s not happening anytime soon. Well, not this Christmas anyway.

I don’t know. This year just feels a bit off. Maybe once I get to Boston and join my sister (TWINS TWINS TWINS!) and my Mamma, I will get a flaming shot of holiday joy. Sadly D. isn’t coming with me this year, so we’ll have our own private Christmas on a date to be determined. That’s something to definitely look forward to.

Like that’s so hard

Bravo TV, arguably my favorite channel thanks to obsessions with Top Chef and Project Runway, is hosting a new show: “First Class All the Way”.

In Bravo’s newest series, First Class All the Way, Sara Duffy, founder of SRD International, a Los Angeles based multi-million dollar travel concierge business, takes viewers inside the world of high-end luxury travel while revealing the drama of keeping demanding clients content and making extravagant dream vacations come to life.

From my own personal experience as a travel planner and sometimes concierge working with a very wide spectrum of people: this is absolutely ridiculous. Why? Pleasing people who have lots of money isn’t really that hard. If a client is willing to pay whatever it takes to have the experience they want, the travel planner is on easy street, as long as they really understand what the client wants and they are creative enough to deliver.

Want a hard challenge? Try to make people happy who don’t have an unlimited budget to spend. Especially in a city like NYC. Like a client who wants to come during the busiest weekend of the year who wants to spend less than $200 per night AND be withing walking distance to Rockefeller Center AND in a hotel that isn’t disgusting. Now THAT is a challenge.

Bravo TV should make a reality show about that. Seriously.

PS: The people this lady has hired to represent her are absolutely terrible and stab each other in the back time and again. She should fire them all, or give them more work to do so they don’t have time to be so petty.

Settling Back in

I am settling back into life since our easy breezy trip to NC. The fall and winter, especially the weeks leading up to the holidays, are my busiest at work, so I am preparing for a long few months ahead. My job is taking me further away from the actual travel side of our business and more towards web management, design and marketing. I am pretty psyched about this change since it is a totally new area for me to learn.

But, I still love the travel aspect and definitely don’t want to leave it behind completely. I helped a family who came to the city recently– I did their hotel, theatre tickets, sightseeing and dinner arrangements. Upon my return from vacation, I got this letter from the dad:

I hope you had a nice vacation! 
Just wanted to drop you a line and let you
know that we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. 
We did everything we wanted to
get done and then some.  I am convinced that
our experience would not have been as
successful without your help. 
We thank you so much. We'll be back!


That just warms my heart. I have been helping people with their travel plans, in one way or another, for many many years now and I still love knowing I made someone’s vacation (or business meeting or event) easy and memorable. That family will talk for many years to come about their great trip to New York, and knowing I had a part in that really does make all the hard work and bad pay checks worth it.

PS- Biden/Palin starts in 19 minutes. I am ready and waiting!

Just a little worried

There has been some amount of culture shock going from a huge multi-national corporation to a tiny 10-person family run start-up company. Here, there’s no employee manual, no complete job description, and no discernible politics. These are good things.

But, its scary being in a company that is rather fragile, on uneven footing. Especially in times like these. My chosen industry, hospitality and travel, is also somewhat volatile. The current economic climate is definitely playing a part in our day-to-day operation. It might make us a stronger organization in the end…. or we may be taken under with the tide. It’s too early to tell.

I know this: I do not want to be unemployed in New York City again. If I were to lose my job, I would have to wage a major campaign with Damir to move elsewhere. But where would we go?

Here are my top choices– in no particular order:

  • Chicago: My mom’s hometown and a fantastic city. But winters…. ugh.
  • Seattle or Portland: Would be nice to be close to my nieces as they get older… but its so far from Damir’s family, my parents and my sister.
  • The Carolinas: I think I am a southern girl at heart. And my parents are down in that direction.
  • Boston, or any major city in New England: give me a clam bake on any day and I am a happy girl.

Damir says he would leave NYC, but I think that would be pretty hard for him. For a long long long time before he came here, he dreamed about coming to New York. And he finally got what he wanted and loves it here. He has a huge family and cultural network all around New York, which just is irreplaceable elsewhere.

But each time we have traveled together to a new city… the Carolinas, Boston, even Texas, he looks around and says, “Yeah, I could live here too”. Maybe. I guess the thought of staying in only one city, any city or place, for the rest of my life makes me uncomfortable. I have gotten used to moving to a new place every 5 years or so. I like the exploration.

Anyway. I don’t really think I am going to lose my job. Not yet, at least. But just to be as safe as possible, I am trying to make myself as indispensable as I can be.

Deadline

Sorry to be so quiet as of late. I am pushing towards a big deadline at work and haven’t had time for much else. Somehow I was given the project to create a completely brand new website for my company, including an online booking engine, which is hopefully set to launch in the first week of July. What do I know about creating websites? Well, not that much. But I have learned a heck of a lot in a very short amount of time! I am pretty excited about it, it looks waaayyyyy better than what we’ve had in the past. But still full of bugs.

I have been staring at a computer trying to write code, format pictures, update our product database, and write the site text for over 12 hours a day, so that leaves me very much NOT IN THE MOOD to then blog in the few hours a day I am not working on the site.

But soon…. very soon…. it will be done and I will have a life again.

Check it

A travel package I designed for the Algonquin Hotel was picked up by USA Today!

The historic Algonquin Hotel offers a “Girls and the City” promotion with two nights’ lodging, tickets for On Location’s Sex and the City tour, plus two seats at the Broadway show Legally Blonde and an appointment with a personal shopper. The package can be customized. Rates typically start at $699 a person, plus tax. Information: 866-406-5341; algonquinhotel.com

Fab!

Shortly

In a few minutes I am going to:

Close up shop
Trudge through the rain across Times Square
Down to 42nd Street
Jump on the 1, 2 or 3 express train to Penn Station (just one stop)
Find the 7:09 Train on Track 21 (scratch that, it’s now 7:45 and I am still in the office)…
Sit in a seat ideally that does put me in too close proximity to any of the following types of people:
– Crazy
– Smelly
– Angry
– A Loud Talker
– Or otherwise annoying

I will read my book (which I want to be loving, but just am not): The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I will read probably 50 pages on the train

I missed the express, so I will get in to my town at 7:45
Damir will be waiting in a warm car
We will go to our favorite Thai place, where we go nearly every Friday night
I think I might have a red curry. Or Pad Pirhod. And a Thai Beer.
We will go home
Maybe we’ll put on a movie, I just got TUDOR (the Showtime series) from Netflix.
And settle into the weekend,

Bliss.

The Outlook is Clear

I am very excited about 2008. I think it’s going to be one of these years I will look back on in like 2044 and muse to myself, “2008 was a f*cking fantastic year”. Yes, I plan to do a LOT of cursing in my old age. Why? Because you can. Who will tell you not to? And, for the record, I plan on grabbing lots of butts.

So anyway, why am I so excited about 2008? Well, for starters, this is the first year for me when a BUNCH of friends are getting married. This is a great excuse to travel, celebrate love and devotion with far away friends and spread good cheer. I just made my hotel reservations for Ashbloem’s wedding in Dallas in May and I am already chomping at the bit to get going.

And in addition, have I mentioned lately that I am crazy in love with the man in my life? He is perhaps the most generous and loving person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. It’s true, we struggle financially and have the whole “family stuff” to contend with, but I see those as temporary issues. We laugh, we fight, we hug strongly and kiss passionately. I am so thankful to have him by my side. The rest is just static.

It’s also a great time to be in the Interravision family, exciting projects, plans and new ventures are underfoot for everyone related to me. My father and step-mom’s recent retirement and exciting travel plans; my sister’s new career as an acupuncturist and shiny new marriage; my mom’s adventures in like, lust and love and finding her new calling; my step-sister’s completion of her PhD and starting a new job in a new city; my brother and sister-in-law’s booming new company and watching their two gorgeous little girls grow and blossom. Though far away, I hope that my unconditional love and support is tangible for each.

I have to mention work as well. Yes, I made some pretty significant sacrifices to work at this company, mostly being felt in my wallet. But, I love the people I work with and I really enjoy the work I am doing. Being part of a small company, I really do feel that my effort to advance the success of our venture is relevant. That’s pretty exciting. Plus, since I do tend to wear many hats here (part sales manager, financier, concierge, HR coordinator, copy writer, semi-graphic designer, meeting planner and gal-Friday extrodinaire), I am definitely never bored.

So, all in all, 2008 is shaping up to be a pretty eventful year and I, for one, can’t wait to see it all unfold.