Online Life and Free Stuff -- Blogger Prom and Gap Edition

I've been blogging in various ways since October 2005. Not very long compared to some, longer than a lot of others. But only in the last six months to a year has my online life really started to be more than just me writing down what I'm feeling or doing. This comes with the whole "Social Media" boom of Facebook going uber mainstream (not just for college kids) and Twitter exploding all over the place.


Lots of people who are not online as much as I am might think it is a lonely place to be. One person in front of a monitor and keyboard, silently typing away into the virtual ether. Wrong and wrong. If you interact on Facebook and Twitter and comment often on people's blogs and websites, you start making friends fast. And with new friends come unexpected benefits. 

I started my book blog in 2005. I start this blog in the summer of 2006 while in Mexico City (oh that's why it's called what it is). In 2006 I also started living on line in earnest, reading blogs and websites with great regularity and commenting often. One of those sites was LA Metblogs and when they said they were looking for new writers in 2007, I applied and was asked to join up! Through Metblogs I've met an amazing array of brilliant funny people. I started the Classic Eats series last fall and have met even more fun people in real life as we eat our way across LA. One person I met was Caroline on Crack and because of her, I got invited to Blogger Prom earlier this summer. 

With Twitter going great guns, I met new friends there, online, many of whom were also going to Blogger Prom. So the night of the great event, I ended up meeting The Slack Mistresses, Be The Boy, Lisa of 1 Good Foot, and Kim Prince of House of Prince in real life! And OMG what a great time we all had. Plus Blogger Prom was a completely free event -- free food, free cocktails and tons of give aways, plus a huge goody bag full of great stuff. All FREE.

Not long after that glorious evening, I got an invite from Nina, aka The Slack Mistress, to come to a Gap Jeans Born To Fit party. I wasn't exactly sure what this was all about, but I was told I would get a free pair of jeans and who says no to a free pair of jeans or to Nina? Not me. Plus it would be chance to meet more online peeps. 

The party was at the Gap Pop Up Store on Robertson (it's open until Sept. 27, read more about it here.) and was completely private to our group. There was free valet parking, to start (nice!) and when you walked in a Gap representative greeted you with a coupon for your free jeans and other info about their pop up store. Then a guy offered me cocktails so I said yes to Sangria, thanks! And another gentleman offered lovely pu-pus. This was already great! While I was talking to Lisa (of 1 Good Foot), I saw a woman walk in and I recognized her instantly -- GINA! Holy cow. We'd been twitter friends and there she was. FUN.

Then it was time to browse the jeans. I think there were only about 15 women there to try on jeans and three or four Gap sales people to help you find your perfect fit. I worked with a nice young gentleman who knew his jeanery and suggested a few different styles to try. I went into the fitting room with a few pairs and settled on the Long and Lean style in a size 14. But the 14 was a touch big (yay) so the nice young gentleman suggested the 12s. I was unsure but gave it a go. I put the 12s on and they seemed a skosh small, but when I walked out, a couple of the ladies who were there said, "oh yes, they look great!" and I was still a bit unsure. The nice guy helping me also said he thought they looked perfect. I hemmed and hawed a little, asking are you sure? He said, and I quote: 



I changed back to my clothes and poked around, trying on a few shirts and sweaters then put a purple t-shirt on my to-go pile. Then we all socialized a bit more, having a few more drinks and snacks. When it was time to go, I paid for my shirt, got my bag of clothes and hugged and kissed my new friends good-bye and left. Total cost for the evening? $22. I got cocktails, dinner, new jeans, new shirt and free parking for $22. If I hadn't have bought the shirt, it would have been $2 total. NICE!

Nina got to host this awesome shindig because she was contacted by a Gap representative who found her through her blog. ONLINE.

Am I getting through to you yet about life online? How about this: Remember that Sarah was on the Oprah Winfrey show because a producer found her Mar Vista Mom blog and she and three neighbors got rooms redesigned by Nate Berkus for free. 

Good. I'm going to finish my little story about bloggy life and free stuff in the next post. Stay tuned!

The Internet Is A Super Cool Place

Within the last few weeks many fun things have happened to me or people I know, owing completely to the the series of tubes, the internest, the interspaces, the information superhighway, the interwebs, well, you get the idea, and it just made me so pleased that I spend time online and what a warm, friendly place it can be.

Someone I met recently described the internet as a cold place. She was complaining that her experiences online had not been very good and so she was skipping the internet and really just wanting to meet people in real life. Boy is she short sighted. Here are a few example of how the internet has personally been so fun and exciting for me and people I know. 

One of my German pen pals who I started writing to in 8th grade found me on Facebook and we have reconnected. We had written to each other for about 20 years, though mostly at christmas toward the latter part of that time. Somehow she moved or I moved or both and we lost touch. I thought of her often and sent letters to the old address but no luck. Then one day about two weeks ago, I get a nice note, asking if I were the Julia who came to visit her in Germany. It's been so nice to reconnect and find out about her family and her life. I met her twice, once in 1989 and again in 1992. I hope to get back to Germany within a few years and see her again. 

I started a series on LA Metblogs last fall called Classic Eats. Once a month I post a poll and the readers vote on where we will go next. #1 was Clifton's Cafeteria and the rotating bar at the top of the Bonaventure. CE #2 was Union Station and Phillipes, #3 was Tiki Ti and Taix and #4 was Pie 'N Burger. Each event has had at least 15 people, sometimes more. There are people I'd met before, like other Metblog writers, but also authors I'd never met. There are people who read and comment and it was nice to meet them in person. Then there are people who just come and want to be social. The first event we had a woman (who's name escapes me! Sorry!) who came on her own, she'd read about it and joined in. #4, last Saturday also had a newcomer, Diana, who had never commented, but often read and joined in. I just love that I've made new friends because they read the blog and wanted to join in the fun. 

Sarah, who writes many blogs, but is most famous for Mar Vista Mom, got a call last week from the Oprah Show. Yes, THAT Oprah. They are doing a show about re-decorating in these recessionary times and how to do it without spending anything or only very little, by swapping stuff out with your neighbors and sprucing up what you do have. They contacted her because they were looking for neighborhoods like hers where it would be a fun group activity on one block. They contacted her because she writes a blog about her neighborhood. At the moment (key phrase there, "at the moment") she some decent traffic, but she put herself out there and guess who came knocking at her door? Dude.

The internet rocks. Seriously, you should try it. Oh wait, here you are!  Enjoy.


Search Engine Referrals

I was just checking my blog stats -- how many visits and the all important referrals. (It's always cool to see where people found my blogs.) I check the stats for Safety Graphic Fun quite a bit to see if I'm linked on other people's blogs. But today I checked this blog for referrals and found a doozy!! The link was for a google search and this blog (Julia's Mexico City) came up #1. The search term?


How frakking awesome is that?

The link provided was to my post about bra shopping.

That just made my night.

Time Flies When You Work All The Time (Suddenly)

This one goes out to the Bond Sisters...

Sony Pictures Imageworks is where I spent many happy years in the 90's. I left in December of 99. A new millennium was coming, I needed a new life and took my chances in the freelance life. I love the freelance life! I don't regret leaving at all. In fact the only thing I ever missed (aside from fun people) were two things: unlimited office supplies and simply picking up the phone, calling IT and saying "My computer broke, come fix it" and someone would. I really miss those two things. Though I have PLENTY of office supplies in our house and learning how to fix 75% of my own computer problems has been quite empowering.

I got a job back at Imageworks a few weeks ago, originally just for a few weeks to help them with some extra bidding work. Clients come to a place like Imageworks and say "how much for us to do visual effects in this movie?" and hand over a script and someone like me (VFX Producer) reads it, breaks out the list of FX shots and puts a grand total on it. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes a week or more, depending. I was happy to jump in and make a few bucks. 

An aside: sometimes the producer of a movie will get in contact with a freelance FX producer like me and ask for a shot breakdown and budget as well. So I can get work from many sources. In fact, I was doing a shot breakdown last weekend for a separate producer who had called. Extra work and cash? You bet, I'll take it.

Then Imageworks asked if I could stay to produce a test for 12 weeks at a reduced rate (not a huge reduction) and reduced hours. Ummmm. YES. My hours are 10-5 (flexible as need be) and the pay is still great. I'm quite pleased. Imageworks is 5 minutes from my house (okay okay, 8) and I'm working with one of the creative supervisors I worked with at Imageworks in the 90s. Very fun. It's a good deal and I'm pleased. Plus I'm getting paid as a contractor (1099) so my whole salaray comes to me every week, no taxes removed. Yes, I have to save to pay them next year, but having that much cash is great for now. Helps to pay off the rest of the debt we have left over from last year.

But it's been busy, adjusting to the new schedule and also making my own schedule work. I've been really good about getting up early 5 or 6 to make sure I have time to write on my script and to exercise, even if it's only a 30 minute walk. Now that I have a regular schedule for the next 12 weeks, I feel really good about getting lots of writing done. 

Yes, yes, writing includes blogging, but it seems to fall by the wayside when I really want to get my script done!

So. That's what's been happening work-wise.  More to come...