My Freshman Year Of Life

I just wanted to take a moment to give a huge shout out to Nathalie Cazeau over from the amazing website, My Freshman Year Of Life. Earlier today, she reached out to me with the most heartwarming LinkedIn message I've ever received, which was prompted by my post from a couple days ago.

Seriously, I was on the verge of tears myself after reading this! So I took a look through her website, and saw what an incredible resource it is for those of you who are still on your journey to figuring out post-college life/your career paths (a.k.a. the dreaded quarter-life crisis). As she says in her About section:

This blog focuses on embracing the journey to your success. Whether you are pursuing your dream career, trying to build a business, or relocating to a new city, the first couple of months out of college are not easy. In fact, they can be downright unbearable. But don’t fret! The highs and lows of life make you stronger and they make the journey all the more memorable.

It's definitely worth following, no matter if you're unemployed or have already established a career path. There's always room to grow, and to be inspired by what other people are doing in life. I dunno about you guys, but oftentimes when I hear about extremely successful people who are at the top of their field, I feel completely intimidated; like I'm personally not capable of achieving that level of success.

What sets My Freshman Year Of Life apart from other career-focused blogs, and what excites me the most, is that it's all about being transparent about the struggles you have to endure to become successful, while simultaneously giving intelligent and manageable solutions to work through those struggles.

And to end this on a semi-unrelated note, I was listening to Porter Robinson while reading her message so I thought it'd be fitting to dedicate "Fresh Static Snow" to My Freshman Year Of Life :)


Tweeted from the bottom now I'm here

 4 years ago today, I sent a tweet that would become the defining point of my career.

But before I get to that story, I need to give you some context. It was early 2011, and I was an unemployed 24 year old living in my mom's house in Santa Clara, California. This was the house I had lived in throughout most of my high school years, and the room hadn't changed one bit since then -- the walls were still painted a splotchy shade of turquoise, decorated with set lists peeled off of the stages of San Francisco's concert venues and signed by obscure indie bands.

I had just moved back after spending a year and a half in London, where I did an MA degree in International Broadcast Journalism at Westminster University. After the initial excitement of catching up with family, friends, and getting thoroughly reacquainted with proper Mexican food, the dreaded quarter-life crisis came in like a wrecking ball. My student loan money was nearly all spent, and I had no job prospects.

At this point, a typical day was something like:

10am: Eat a bowl of cereal while transfixed by games of Plinko on "The Price Is Right."

Afternoon: Halfheartedly scour job sites, anticipating rejection before even writing a cover letter because the job market was so grim.

Evening: Crap, dinner time already? Guess it's time to get out of pajamas and take a shower...

Late night: Distract myself from thoughts of, "what's wrong with you? Why haven't you found a job yet? You had a stable job before, why did you have to give it up for London? Look at you now, you unemployed slacker!" by reading books, watching TV shows/movies, and browsing the internet until passing out.

So wasn't one of the happiest periods in my life. Luckily, the power of Craigslist and my mom's instinct joined forces to get me out of this funk. She was also unemployed at the time and, while on her own search for work, came across a Craigslist posting that she thought I should take a look at. It was at a small startup in Mountain View, and they were looking for a summer music writing intern. Because I had been doing music journalism since I was 18, she thought it would be right up my alley.

Initially, I dismissed the posting because I thought that with a Master's degree, I deserved a job way beyond internship level. Besides, it wasn't supposed to start until summer and it was only early February. What would I do until then, even if I applied and managed to get the internship? But after taking the time to thoroughly read through the posting, everything that was written in it resonated with me. I remember feeling physically tingly with excitement while reading the tasks this internship would require. At this point, I decided it was worth it to dig a little deeper and to find out everything I could about this company, 955 Dreams. Mostly to make sure it wasn't really a phone sex hotline ("for a good time, dial 955-DREAMS").

In actuality, they had just built this cool iPad app called The History of Jazz, which was an interactive timeline of jazz history.

In my research, I found the company's Twitter handle and saw that they only had a couple hundred followers. At this point in my job hunt, I was so jaded that I just had a "meh...I kinda don't give a shit about anything right now" attitude. So instead of just sending a cover letter and resume like any sane person would do, I impulsively decided to tweet at them, "You can take down your internship posting now." To my surprise, just a couple of minutes later I received the following DM:

First tweet
First tweet

The next thing I knew, I was invited to their History of Jazz launch party, where I had to meet all of the founders and their closest friends, family members, and professional acquaintances before going through the formal interview process. Luckily my decision to stick to a two drink maximum (while encouraging other party-goers to imbibe more...) meant that I made it through the party without embarrassing myself, and I was invited in the following Monday for the interview. I was given an assignment to pick an up-and-coming band and write a short review on their music, so I wrote this review of The Vaccines self-titled EP. 

Shortly after, I was given an official offer and I became the company's first hire.

Welcome to the family
Welcome to the family

Four years later, I'm now the most senior woman in the company, singlehandedly running our music discovery app Band of the Day. I'd like to think that my geeky inner 17 year-old Strokes/indie band fangirl would be proud if she could see me now.

It's been an incredible learning experience, peppered with a heavy hand of surreal moments like judging a Battle of the Bands competition in the Bahamas, speaking on a music tech panel in Spain, and putting on a showcase during SXSW that resulted in tens of thousands of people wanting to get in.

Needless to say, I'm excited to see what this next year at Applauze (a necessary name change!) will have in store. Like any other tech startup, we've gone through our fair share of ups and downs, but I think our strength lies in how we've used the downs as learning experiences, and so that's how we've managed to prevail.

I'm not sure if anyone besides my mom and the spambots reads this blog, but if you've somehow stumbled over here, feel free to leave a comment. Or, y'know, just tweet me.

Megabus Musings

An exercise in stream-of-consciousness writing while taking a Megabus from London to Bristol

**September 24th, 2010**


I'm on Megabus right now, headed to Bristol. I've been chewing on the same piece of peppermint Orbit gum for at least an hour now. It's starting to feel sharp and bitter inside my mouth. When did I start chewing primarily on my left side? My boots kind of pinch my toes, but they're better for walking in the rain than my flimsy Primark flats. I'm in an extremely creative mood today. It's probably my mind's self-defense mechanism for avoiding thinking about the inevitable awkwardness that's to come. The further we speed along down the road, the heavier my chest and stomach feels. Although that could be the leftover tuna-zucchini-cheese-tomato pasta I had for breakfast. 

It's been over three years now. Time heals all wounds, right? Let's hope so. 

My legs are too long for the limited seating space, but at least I have a whole row to myself. I often wonder what people around me are thinking. Not necessarily if they're passing any thoughts on me, but just curious about how different everyone's inner monologues are. Do people talk to themselves in the third person? Or are there songs constantly playing in the background? Or are they thinking about food and sex? Reminiscing on nostalgic moments? Trying to surpress negative thoughts? Carefully filtering their true thoughts from the words that actually escape their lips, like a whale filters food from ocean water? I just caught the eye of a girl sitting in front of me, as she adjusted in her seat. A moment so brief and meaningless, it will soon be forgotten.

Being on the left side of the road now only feels weird at night. My eyes are not used to the mirror image of white and red lights. It hurts, slightly, but it doesn't mean it's wrong. It's just something to get used to. This is the first time in a very long time that I've allowed myself to run with my thoughts, without burying them with stupid reality shows or movies online. It's too easy and comfortable to ignore the mind, to push away thoughts, to avoid making decisions because they're too hard to face. And so the days roll by, the months change, the lines between different weeks become blurred. 

I find comfort in the fact that we're all lost right now, not having a fucking (that's for emphasis, not anger!) clue what we'll be doing in a week's, month's, or year's time. Not even knowing where we'll be living, or if we'll be working. It's only a bad thing if/when the money runs out. I love having money, but I hate money. It can turn people into monsters. It can be worse on a relationship than infidelity. People become obsessed with it, and lose sight of the things that really matter in life. Like connections with other human beings. Because, really, the connections that we make are what make life worth living. "All you need is love." "If you've lost your faith in love and music, the end won't be long." Too true. I haven't lost mine. I may be lost in life right now, sailing along without a specific final destination in mind, but the experiences that I've had over the past year have been incredible. The new places I've been to, the new skills I've learned, and, most importantly, the new people that have come into my life. I believe there's a reason why everything's played out the way it has, and I feel that even better things are about to happen. It's all bubbling under the surface, ready to erupt. And, finally, the puzzle will start to make sense. Form the edges first, then fill in the rest.