I am back home from SXSW. I don't know how that happened, but apparently it did. DUDEESSS, I was so friggen exhausted yesterday on a physical and emotional level. It was GREAT, I had literally the best time ever, but being on your feet all day hustling, to then doing it all night as well networking at parties is really exhausting.
Anywho, enough beyotching ... lemme get a song to go with the post. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't listening to this right now ...
It came on my 90s pandora station while I was at sxsw. I blame them!!! BLAME PANDORA!!!!
So, first up, if you guys didn't know last week I went to SXSW (a big music/ tech/ and film conference in Austin). How did I get the opportunity to go to SXSW you ask? Through AT&T of course!
See, they were looking for brand ambassadors to hand out some sch-wag to the loverly conference attendees and because of this rockin community, and all that jazz I actually got picked and asked to help 'em out.
It's freaking GREAT especially since all I do at conferences is meet up with you peeps, so it all made sense for this merging to occur.
I left on Thursday, and when we got down to Austin AT&T hooked us up with this MAASSIIIVVVVEEEEE mansion just 3 miles from the convention center.
Look at this place!!
There were 4 of us in a 4,000 sq foot pad. SUH-WEET and not bad for a chick that the last time went to SXSW slept in a car and showered at a friend from YouTube's pad.
Thursday we got settled, got our passes, went to dinner and then just called it a night. On Friday, the show began so I started checking in places and inviting people to find me on via the site, twitter and foursquare.
It was GREAT!! I quickly got mobbed and loved loved loved meeting so many of you.
Oh yeah and did I mention that I was giving away a Galaxy Note each day of the conference? I mean that MIGGHHTTT have been why they were looking for me, but I'm not quite sure ... you mean you didn't just find me for a HUG?? SHEESH!!!!
Then, on Friday I got invited to this TechStars event and as I was standing outside waiting to go in this dude stopped me, and was all - who are you?? up in my grill.
<tangent> That was totes the pick up line of SXSW btw. I love tech boys, they're just so direct and to the point. No, hi my name is ... blah blah blah ... it's I NEED TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE. GIVE ME YOUR NAME NOW. </tangent>
He was super hot, and had incredibly intense energy, so I said hello and that my name was Jen Friel, and I ran the site Talk Nerdy To Me, Lover.
He laughed at the name of the site, and then got called by his friends. I'm throwing a house party tomorrow, you should totally come - I'd like to see you again. He then handed me his card, and got in the car with his friends.
I took a look at it, and had actually heard of his startup. Hotness might have opened the door in this scenario, but I also genuinely wanted to talk to the dude about some shizzy shiznat, so everything in this entire situation was a win.
I then stored away his card, and got my drink on with my buddy Alf who is big in the Sunset Strip twitter scene.
SUPER FREAKING GREAT GUY - and hella smart.
We talked about life, love, and all things nerd.
Alf is also a comic, so it was fascinating to get to talk to him about how comics respond to social media. See, comedians are grass rooters. They understand how to just get shit done, and to get butts in the audience you have to hustle and be social. Dudes, you need that mentality to build anything in social media!! I built my freaking following one "thank you" at a time; I talk to people, hang out with 'em, this isn't just a website to me it's my reason for freaking BEING ALIVE ... so of COURSE I thank people and genuinely WANT to kick it. Comics share that same passion, and drive - it's so rad.
So, that happened.
Then Saturday was more of the handing out AT&T phones and goodies during the day, but by around 6, I realized I desperately needed a nap. I then popped into a cab and headed back to the house where I finally got to rest.
SLEEP! = super important at conferences.
Then at around 8, I remembered the startup guy and his house party.
House party though, I thought? I had visions of about 20 people playing Settlers of Catan drinking sponsored Coconut Water ... WHICH btw, I'm totes not mad at, but I kinda wanted to get my drink and networking on.
Whatever, I thought - I can go there for an hour, see this dude, talk to him about his startup and then bounce.
I then got ready, called a cab and waited the 20 minutes for the thing to arrive.
See, I was only staying LITERALLY three miles from the convention center, but I was kinda in the boonies by being on this little mansion row. ::insert world's smallest violin, I know, I know::
I waited the 20 minutes, still with no cab. Not a problem, I called the cab co back - and they told me to wait another 15.
Then, 15 minutes later ... still no cab, so I called back ... and back ... and back ... to now TWO HOURS LATER, I am still at the house with no ride, and no cab in sight.
FUCKIDY FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK, I thought!! I HAVE TO GET BACK TO THE CONVENTION CENTER!!!
I then popped on twitter tweeting out my problem. The responses were friggen GREAT btw!! From Uber, to Zaarly, you guys came up with some very creative solutions - however, LITERALLY. NOTHING. was available at that moment.
I then got a DM from my buddy Chris aka @rocknrollgeek and he offered me a ride.
For the love of sweet jeebus and everything holy YESSSS!! AND THANK YOU!!! I replied back in massively huge caps.
It was so ridiculous - I was only THREE MILES away, but a cab was obviously not going to come, and I couldn't walk since it was CRAZY desolate. See, I'm not scared of people when I'm walking around in random cities (which you would think after you've taken a brick to your head you would be ... but no), I'm scared of animals. I'm not at all familiar with the wildlife in Texas and while you can reason with another human being by offering them money, or your body - this was a horse of a different color and being eaten alive at this conference was not something I was willing to do.
Yes, it would tell a good story ... but no.
Chris and my other buddy Derek then came and picked me up, and about 100,000 THANK YOUS later, we got to the house and they dropped me off.
I'll give you guys a call in an hour, I said. I don't think this is going to be a big deal, I just wanted to say what's up to this dude and talk to him for a bit.
I then hopped out of the car and around the corner to the house address, and to my surprise there was an actual LINE to get into the house.
Oh dear god, I thought, Settlers of Catan this is not.
I then texted the duderino, and moments later he got me in.
I'm so glad you're here, he said. Enjoy the party!!
Party, I thought, yes, small. house. party. Fuck, everything really is bigger in Texas.
I then got inside the house, and HOLY CRAP!! There were so many people - literally HUNDREDS. The entire house was PACKED and there was an outside area that was tented and raved up.
This. place. was. nuts.
I then started to bump into a whole bunch of peeps I knew ... like my buddy Shina ...
Who I met off of Craigslist last summer, then bumped into Chicago last August, and now Austin in March.
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!?!
Really rad chica.
Then a few minutes into the fiesta, this guy with a unicorn came up to me and said, "I can put you on a brown bus faster than you can say sparkle pony princess."
Wait, what did you just say to me? I replied back.
He then introduced himself, and asked if I wanted to go on an adventure.
I am ALWAYS on an adventure, I replied back. Where are you from?
I live all over, he replied. I've been nomadic for a while now.
Of FREAKING COURSE, I thought. I've been at this party for LITERALLY 10 minutes and of COURSE I would meet someone with my same mindset; even in massive crowds, like energy will attract.
We then started to kick it, and he asked for a kiss on the cheek and a picture with his pony, to which I happily obliged ...
Then, as I was walking through the crowd I spotted a familiar face.
Wait, is that - no, it can't be, I thought as I continued to walk.
I then saw my buddy J, so I copped a squat with him and his friends for a second. As I approached the group, the first words out of his mouth were, DID YOU JUST SEE MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY!!
Wow, that was him - I guess. I had no friggen idea he lived in Texas!! I mean I knew hew as FROM here, but not actually currently living. Who knew!
I then danced around a bit more, even getting glow sticks for my Chucks to blend in a bit better ...
Then, around 1 I was getting tired, so I peaced back to the Hilton to grab a cab. See, Austin's cab system is THE WORST EVER!! You can't just hail a cab like in NY or LA, so I wanted to at least get in a cab line to save myself some time and energy in looking for one.
Not 5 minutes into standing in line, my buddy and fellow AT&T brand ambassador Melodie walked up. Crazy because we hadn't talked that night, AND we both weren't even at the Hilton, we both just knew we would stack our odds higher by being at a hotel and both just happened to pick that one.
Nerds think alike!!
We then waited over an hour for a cab and were told that at the earliest it would be at least another 60 minutes. But if you have cash, you can take a limo, said the bellhop.
Melodie and I looked at each other, pooled our cash, and realized we had JUST enough to make it the 3 miles home.
YES YES YES YES YES!! This is amazing, and what are the odds, we both thought.
We then got into the limo with the nicest driver ever. For reals, good peeps! And I asked him to turn on the radio. Anything top 40 please.
He then turns on the top 40 station, and out blasts Taylor Swift.
Well, I got what I asked for, I said to Melodie.
Do you not like this, asked the driver?
Oh hell no I do not like this, I replied back.
He then switched the channel to Lil John, and we YEAH-ED the entire way back to the house.
The next morning, I couldn't stop laughing at the randomness of the evening prior. Who does this shit happen to, I thought?!?! WHO!!?!?!
I then proceeded to hand out some more awesome mcawesome sauce prizes throughout the day, and around 6 decided to call it a day and grab some brewskies.
I was over by the Marriott at that point, and because of all the water I had been drinking, needed to grab a restroom.
I walked into the hotel's lobby, found the restroom, and RIIGGHHHHTTT as I walk in, who do I see?
My buddy Shina. AGAIN!
We can't get away from each other, I said - so let's grab a beer!
We then headed over to 6th street, and after unsuccessfully trying to get into this bar called Parish, we instead rested our tired feet next door at Bikinis. (The name comes from the fact that all of the servers are dressed in bikinis ... literally.)
Shina wanted to see if she could catch one of the Chevy cars that had been going around offering free rides, so we sat in the very front near the door so she could not only see the traffic, but also hail the car if needed.
She went up to this table of three locals, and asked if they were interested in some company.
Sure! They all replied in unison, so me and Shina sat down, followed by a few minutes later a few more friends.
We were gabbing, having a good time ... and after a few rounds of Corona, I was feeling pretty good and re-energized.
Then, the table started to slim out, as I noticed that our new found local friends were beginning to call it a night.
Not a problem, but because we were sitting at their table I noticed that their bill had yet to be paid.
The final chica then asked me if she could grab her dog (who had been on a leash next to me the entire time), and she finished up her drink and walked out the door.
WAIT, I screamed to her as she walked outside - YOU DIDN'T PAY YOUR BILL!!
I saw her crack a smile, realizing that she heard me, and also that they totally just hustled us.
I quickly grabbed our server and said, DUDE THEY JUST LEFT WITHOUT PAYING!!
Our server, Kelly, then RANNNNNNNNN out the door, IN HER FREAKING BIKINI and chased them down on 6th street.
Moments later she comes back, their credit card in hand.
<tangent> Mind you too, the bill was only $30. Even when I was STAARRRVIINNNNGGG bartering social media to live for ONE YEAR, I never ... EVER ... stole from anyone. What lame geese!!! And I SWEAR they are lucky I don't have a picture of them, or I would have ZERO problem calling them out on this site. </tangent>
We all started cheering at that point, and I even took a picture tweeting out how awesome our server was!
Good for her, man. I've been a server for years and years and you work SO FREAKING HARD for every dollar. Can't believe those people tried dipping out - so lame, and SUCH bad karma.
I then went to some more parties, and around midnight called it another night. Then, on Sunday my buddy @justjon hit me up and asked if I wanted to go to the Jay Z concert that evening.
Wait, WHAAATTTTT, I said? The, like, biggest concert at SXSW you have a ticket to? And you want to take me??
And just like that, we were at the show with FRIGGEN FRONT ROW TICKETS!!!
Here's the actual front row ...
AND THERE HE IS!!!
The full concert isn't posted yet, but it was HANDS DOWN THE GREATEST CONCERT I HAVE EVER BEEN TO!!
If you would have told me growing up that I'd have front row tickets to Jay Z within 365 days of dancing on stage with Prince, I'd call your bluff ... but oh no, it totally happened.
I completely get why Jay Z is such a superstar, btw. The dude COMMANDS the stage, and has this ... air, and presence to him. Such a friggen talent!!! GREAT GREAT SHOW!!
Then, at the end of the show the dude in front of me turned around, and I TOTALLY recognized him from twitter & facebook - it was my buddy Nick!!
I then tapped him on the shoulder introducing myself, and saying how weird it was considering there were THIS MANY PEOPLE AT THE SHOW ...
Just a few ...
I then thanked Jon for the ticket, and we all bounced and went our merry ways. Before continuing my evening I needed to charge my Droid, and I also needed some alone time to recharge my energy. (Oh bless being a loner!)
I then went about 6 blocks down from the show, and found this little sandwich shop where I grabbed a coke and a charge. (Bad form to not buy something, btw when you're charging.)
I was there for less than 10 minutes, and who walks in behind me??
None other than Nick and his friends.
WHHAAATTT are the odds, I thought.
Are you the girl from the Discovery Channel, asked one of his friends.
Eh? I replied back.
You know ... that gun show on Discovery Channel ...
No, but I run the site Talk Nerdy To Me, Lover.
He apparently thought I was this chick ...
I'm clearly not her, but I'm totes not mad at the comparison since obvi she's gorgeous, ANNNNDDD she looks like a total badass. WINNING!
The guys then invited me to dinner, and I had the GREATEST TIME EVER talking tech, and the state of social media. Everyone at that table was super accomplished in their own right and all HELLA smart. In the smallest world ever category as well, the chica that sat down next to me worked with my brother's good friend at Living Social. Remember when I beat his ass in skeeball the day I had lunch at the Pentagon? Yep! Same dude! She works with him. INSANE IN THA MEMBRANE!!
It's been one of my goals for 2012 to be more social with other entrepreneurs and involve myself more in the space. I'm a very insular being, and I don't like that about myself. I need to make more of an effort to reach out and meet more people rather than having them always come to me.
This dinner was proof in the pudding that I was doing SOMETHING right in that regard, so it excited me greatly.
Then, an hour and a whole lotta sushi later - I had to peace out to head over to this party where I had a date with a SUPPPEEEERRRRR hot SUPPEERRRRRR smart nerd. See, he lives here in LA and is ridiculously well known in the nerd scene, so obvi we both had to be at SXSW.
It's incredibly rad actually talking to someone like him and discussing healthy boundaries between the person and the persona. We had our first date a few months back, but our schedules quickly fizzled things out. THEEENNNN he hit me up a few weeks back, so I was all - alrite alrite, let's make this happen. We then went out last week and had a GREAT time. He gives me all of those funny bunny butterfly feelings (which is great since this guy is CLEARLY not emotionally unavailable. YAY FOR PERSONAL GROWTH!!), and to my surprise he actually read my FAVORITE BOOK EVER that I had told him about the week prior.
We then spent the night discussing The Alchemist, and somewhere around last call we snuck down to the river and kissed under the bridge.
It was literally the sweetest thing ever, and after having a night of Jay Z, and tech talk - that kiss made every bone in my body tingle.
He's just so friggen hot, respectful, and smart. He's crazy good at what he does, and UNBELIEVABLY successful - it's great to align with energy like his. Very inspiring.
So, that happened.
Then on only two hours of sleep I caught my flight back, and proceeded to sit in front of two 4-6 year olds who wouldn't stop kicking my seat.
Now, I love love love kids - I've been a nanny, and I've worked at a daycare and day camp. Kids and animals friggen LOVE ME!!! But this scenario? Mama no likey.
After about 5 minutes I turned around to their mother adjacent to me, and asked if she wouldn't mind telling her kids to stop.
I was SUPER polite, but also SUPER to the point.
She then stares back at me, and shoots me this look like I just punched her puppy or something.
WHY DON'T YOU TELL THEM YOURSELF, SHE SNAPS BACK.
Now, I'm not at all a reactive person. You can get all up in my grill, you can say annyytthiinnggggg to me - and it is literally next to impossible to offend me. I don't give a flying fuck, and just enjoy doing my thing.
I didn't say anything back to her, but I was genuinely confused at that point. Her kids are SO YOUNG!! I couldn't actually say something to them, are you kidding me?? It's the PARENTS fault at that point for not controlling their kids.
I wondered if this was actual protocol though - are you SUPPOSED to say something to the kids at that point? I was confused ... so I took my confusion to social media ...
Everyone agreed that I handled myself well in talking to the mother first. If they continued though based on her reaction I'd hit up the flight attendant instead.
Ugh! That entire situation was so weird. Way to suck at life lady. Here's to hoping you're the first in line for the Zombie Apocalypse.
SOOOOOOO, now I'm home. As you can see it was a pretty eventful 5 days. SUPER freaking grateful to AT&T btw, and SUPER GRATEFUL to each and every one of you to reading so I could even have this opportunity.
Now you'll have to scuse please nerderinos ... but I have some work to get caught up on!!
Have a rockin day everyone!! Hope you all had a great time at SXSW as well!!