Monday, August 29, 2011

One of the Guys

I wish there was a way to know how our readership shapes up gender wise. How many guys read this blog versus girls. My guess would be this. It is probably mostly female. Men, please correct me if I am wrong. But based on the fact that our office is entirely female, and I write mostly about girly stuff, I would say that any boys who were reading this blog jumped ship a long time ago.

Which allows me to write this next post with complete confidence that everyone reading it will appreciate it. Last night, I became one of the guys. I played with the boys. And it wasn't terrible. My husband and his friends have a fantasy football draft every year. Basically this is when a group of guys gets together and fantasizes about their ideal football team by electronically drafting actual NFL players to their franchise stored in cyber space. Then these imaginary teams are pitted against each other over the course of the actual real life football season and then, based on how the players perform in the actual games, the fake teams get points. And then at the end there is a winner.

Now I am what most guys would consider to be a cool girl. I have one brother, no sisters. So growing up, I played with Legos and action figures and my fair share of video games. I learned to like Power Rangers and horror movies and the cool factor associated with blowing things up. To this day I follow all the college athletics and all the professional golf and I have yet to be beat by any boys I know in Guitar Hero. I can hang with the boys. But I can tell you for sure that I have zero interest in creating a made up pro football team and pitting it against my friends' made up pro football teams and then saying to them, "Yo dude man I rocked you last week. I crushed you, you suck, don't even try to play in my house. Who's house? MY HOUSE!!!!"

So you can imagine my disappointment when I learned that this year's fantasy football draft would be held at my house. Who's house? MY HOUSE!!!! Don't get my wrong. I love my husband's friends. I have been close with all of them since college, we were even neighbors our senior year. I was more than excited to see them and have them over. However, I understood that my spending time with them would be limited to the two hours before the draft started, after which I would be sent to my room to be quiet and watch "chick shows" until it was all over. Bummer for Aislinn.

However, there was a slight change of plans. At the last minute, one of the guys got free tickets to a Durham Bulls baseball game and had to cancel. But he still needed someone to pick his team for him. Who do you think got recruited to do that?

That's right, at about 6:49, eleven minutes before the draft was set to start, I was being plopped on the couch and given a crash course in nominating and bidding for players. I was told not to worry, that they would help me, and that we could have mozzarella sticks after it was over. Score.

Now remember, I am a cool girl. I know who is good and who is bad in football. Anybody that I have ever heard of before has to be good, since I spend approximately one minute a week listening to ESPN or anything else NFL related. Anybody who has ever dated a Kardashian has to be good. Anybody who has ever played for Carolina (Tar Heels, not Panthers) has to be good. So I jumped right in, molding my team to these specifications.

But don't forget the girl part of cool girl. I wasn't going to let these boys use me as just a warm body to fill their friend's place. No sir. I was going to get the best team and I was going to play dirty if I had to. And who knows better how to be manipulative and sneaky than a girl. So when my husband started to go after a player I wanted, cue pitiful pout face. "But babe, let me get just one guy, please." Which was followed by all the boys saying, "Dude, that's your wife. Let her get one." And before they knew it my team was awesome, not because I did ten hours of research before hand, but because I am a girl. A cool girl.

It was a small triumph, but one that I am proud of nonetheless. They even told me that next year, if I want, I can have my very own team. I think I will name it, "Girls Rule, Boys Drool."

*To hear about more of my adventures, follow my new blog, 100 Books!*

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Greensboro Weekend

As many of you know, I recently became an official resident of this lovely city we call Greensboro. Now I am not completely new to the area - I grew up in High Point - but it is a very different experience living in a city than living next to a city. I've had to find a new pharmacy, a new grocery store, a new Target. But most importantly, I have had to find new things to do.

My friend Alex, who also just moved here, told me this week, "I don't want to be passive here. I don't want to miss out on a community experience." At the time, it seemed like kind of a weird thing to say. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much harder it is NOT to be passive at this stage in our lives. When you are younger, your parents sign you up for clubs and classes and take you to play dates, so without even trying you are involved in a social experience. Then in high school and college, the school provides activities for you like sporting events and volunteer opportunities, so again, you don't even have to try to make yourself an active member of the community. You can be passive.

Then, once you become an adult and you make your own decisions and you aren't being force-fed things to do, it becomes harder and harder to be a part of anything besides your couch. You have to be active and seek out opportunities to participate in your community. And this is what Alex was trying to say. I don't want to be passive here. I don't want to let the chance to experience my new life in my new town pass me by.

And I have really started to agree with her. So this weekend I took a stance and decided to be an active Greensboro resident and appreciate all this town has to offer. Friday night I went to Center City Cinema, a free movie in Center City Park. There were a lot of people there to meet and see and it was a good chance to eat ice cream. Plus, this movie was no joke. It wasn't just shown on the side of a building or something. They have a legit big screen and everything.

Then Saturday my husband went to the Wyndham Championship, Greensboro's own PGA tour event. Although I didn't go, I did spend the afternoon watching it on TV and honestly I was impressed by how many big names I saw on the leaderboard. It wasn't just some little no-name round of golf. But more than that, I read up on the tournament and got the feel for what a historic and important event the Wyndham is for our town. There is an excellent article about it in the new O. Henry Magazine, which I highly recommend reading. You can find it (and several other fascinating articles about GSO) here.

Finally, and this might seem silly, I joined the Greensboro Public Library. It might not seem like a big deal to you, but to me it was a pretty big step in making my residence here permanent. My whole life, I have only ever belonged to one library. For the same reason that I always wrote my High Point address on everything, I always just had my High Point Public Library membership. Everywhere that I lived besides High Point was temporary. I knew I was eventually going to move away from my college town, and out of my apartment after that. So what was the point in getting my mail sent there or racking up fees at that library? I didn't really see one. So the fact that I went into the Greensboro Public Library this weekend with proof of address and got that card, meant that I was essentially saying, I live here and I plan on staying a while. And it was a good feeling.

Hopefully if there is anyone reading this that is also new to this city, you are now encouraged to take part in all that this town has to offer. And perhaps, if you are reading this and you have been living here for a while, you feel inspired to reconnect with this city you call home. Either way, take Alex's words to heart.

I don't want to be passive here.

Want another way to be involved? Check out my new blog, 100 Books!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fun Fourth Make-Over

Next year is going to be a year of changes for the Fun Fourth. We've been putting on this festival in some shape or form for over 30 years, and recently we've been thinking of ways we can give it a bit of a face lift. Although she looks good for being 36 years old, we've found that Fun Fourth might not be as cool and hip as she once was. So we are looking to you, our loyal followers for suggestions. After all, the Fun Fourth Festival is, more than anything, a service provided to the citizens of Greensboro for you to enjoy!

It seems, based on our discussions with various volunteers, participants, and employees, that our biggest area for improvement is the kick-off block party. For one reason or another, it doesn't appear to be as popular as it used to be. So why is that? We need to know. Here are a few topics that we have been discussing that we'd love for you to consider.

1. What if the block party was held at a different time of year? The block party is mainly a fundraiser for the Fun Fourth, so it does not necessarily have to be held the night before the Festival as it has been in years past. If we were to hold a similar party in the spring in order to raise funds for the festival, would you be more likely to come? Do you usually go out of town for the Fourth, so you can't make it to the block party? Is it too hot for you that time of year? We want to know any and all date related conflicts that you have with the block party, so we can consider the option of holding it on a different date next year. OR, if you absolutely love it when it is, and wouldn't be able to make it any other time of year, we need to know that too. All points of view are being considered in this process.

2. What if the block party had a different theme? Typically, the music at the block party is very rock oriented. But what if we made the night themed around country music, or beach music? Would you be more likely to come if the genre was more your taste? If so, what type if music would you want to hear?

3. What if the entrance fee was a different price? This has been the most, for the lack of a better word, controversial, topic surrounding this make-over. First, keep these things in mind. The block party is a fundraiser. It might be a little more pricey than going to a bar or some of the free concerts in the area, but its goal is to make money so we can provide all the fun and exciting elements of the festival. Also, it costs money to throw the block party itself. So if you want awesome bands you are going to have to shell out a little cash to help us pay for them. Therefore, the concert is never going to be free or $1 or anything like that unless we jack the prices of beer way up. That being said, I noticed a lot of people turning away at the gate as soon as they heard it was going to cost $10. In this economy, we recognize that the price may be a little steep, so help us come up with a fair way to work this out. What is the max amount of money you would pay to come to the block party? If we still charged $10, but gave you a ticket for a free beer, would you come? If we lowered the price to $5, but then raised the price of beer, how would you feel about that? Or if there is any other combination of give and take you can think of that would make the party more appealing price wise, let us know!

4. What if the band was your favorite band ever? Something we have noticed about all this outdoor concert stuff is that people will go anywhere to see a band they like for free. But if you get that same band and start charging an entrance fee, people suddenly aren't interested. So, this kind of goes hand in hand with topic number three. Obviously we are never going to be able to afford Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Katy Perry, or any other Top 40 artist. So locally - meaning the Southeast region of the country - is there a band that you would pay top dollar to see if we could get them? This question is really important, because it seems that every time we really think we have a crowd pleaser, we don't, which means that we don't really know what it is that you guys want to listen to. So it can be any band in any genre that performs relatively family friendly music that you know isn't going to cost us a million bucks to get. Hopefully with your help we can figure out who it is exactly that people will pay $10 to see.

5. What if the block party wasn't a block party? The last option we have really considered is that maybe people are sort of burned out on the outdoor concert type party. As more and more of these types of events come up, ours seems less and less unique and exciting. So maybe you think, "Why would I go to that, I can do that any time." The question then is, if you aren't into the block party concept, what would you want to do? Suggestions that have been made thus far are a second chance prom, a new year's eve party, a disco, etc. So if the basic things stayed the same ($10 at the door, beer, wine and food for sale inside) what kind of activity would you want it to be? Dance party? Costume party? Karaoke night? It can be most anywhere or anything as long as it is something you would really, really like to do. This likely won't be an immediate change...we will probably let the block party run its course for a few more years and see if any of your other ideas help us get more people to come. But in the mean time we really need an idea for something else that we can have ready if and when we decide to change the block party completely.

Thanks for taking the time to think about how we can improve the festival for you. I am really excited to see what kind of ideas you come up with! You can leave a comment here or email me at