So I sorta missed that my post about rosé was my 1000th blog post. And yes, somewhere in June, I celebrated seven years of blogging. SEVEN YEARS. From two continents. Wow.
I think this somewhat deserves a bit of a think and a pause-to-reflect. If you don’t mind. (I’m not even going to get into the London vs. Chicago thing.) So here it goes.
Some of you might know this already, but for the rest of you…a primer…I started blogging in early 2004 because…
1. I’ve always enjoyed writing. Despite my lack of adjectives.
2. Shortly after I arrived in London in 2004, I read an article in the New York Times that said blogging was the NEXT BIG THING. I can’t find the article any longer, but it must have been around March or April of that year because I still have the Typepad email confirming my subscription, and I’m pretty sure there was a free trial involved.
3. As a newly-minted American expat in London, I was more than a little homesick — a stranger in a strange land — and I had a lot of time on my hands. So I was, um, eating out a lot.
Best thing I ever did on my blog over the last seven years…
Writing about bloggers who accept freebies (or solicit freebies) and don’t very clearly disclose. 52 comments and counting. Chicago is still a little behind London in this respect — the blogging community doesn’t seem as developed (or well, if it is, I’m not on the mailing list!) — so this topic just isn’t ever going to die. And I’m glad for it.
Best freebie ever…(hah!)
Dinner with my friend Kyra at onesixty blue when I moved back to Chicago. This “invite to review” made a most-needed catch-up with a mom-of-two possible. Sure, we probably could have gone to Starbucks for a $2 buck cup of Joe, but this was so much more enjoyable. Yup. Not perfect, am I.
Best thing I’ve ever done in life…
Move to Munich in 2003. Move to London in 2004.
How much I’ve earned in advertising dollars since I started accepting ads nearly exactly a year ago…
$1,994.50 USD. No kidding. Have I sold my soul? Yes, a little bit. But am I kinda happy with $2000 bucks? You betcha. Check out my new sofa…
(And seriously, if you have any questions about putting ads on your blog, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m happy to answer any and all questions about this. I waited six years to do it and thought hard about it given all the conflicts and ethics, etc. But when I added up my expenses — scroll to the bottom of my Advertising page for the deets — I just had to do it.)
Favorite experiences related to my blog…
- So many new friends in so many places. (And particularly given the international nature of London and the diaspora of the expat, they’re in even more places now.)
- Solo-dining. I would of course much rather dine with someone else, but if anything, my blog has made me stop waiting around. If I want to go someplace, I ask my friends, and if the schedules don’t align, I just go. I remember being in Australia for work for six weeks in 2002 and I think I ate out twice by myself (Sailor Thai, and the Chinese place right outside the opera house). The rest of the time, I ordered room service or went to Burger King. Sad. So I’ve come a long way. (OK, not so sad because I was staying at The Regent Sydney, which is now the Four Seasons. You know…right at the entrance to The Rocks. Yes. Thank the exchange rate.)
- My first London blog meet-up ever in 2006 at Salt Yard with Ben & Howard, Jess, and Nick. I was sooo nervous but we had the loveliest time.
- The amazing sherry tasting with Heston Blumenthal at Shoreditch House in London
- Lunch at Le Gavroche in London with Ben & Howard and more drinks and food afterwards (like we needed it) at The Providores, where we admired the use of nouns on the menu.
- Hanging out in Tokyo with Melinda from Tokyo Through the Drinking Glass and hitting all her sake recs after.
- Meeting Roba from And Far Away in Amman, Jordan and checking out so many great places around Amman.
- Going to one of the first Loft nights by Nuno Mendes in London along with Mr. Chilango. Ms. Marmite Lover was there too. We all got very drunk in the happiest of ways and told some crazy stories. My face hurt for days afterwards from laughing so hard. I did not want the night to end.
- The Wines of South Africa night at Kew Gardens during the World Cup. Especially when the gate officials demanded our Wines of South Africa vuvuzelas upon departure, and my friend Jen and I stuck them up the back of our dresses to prevent confiscation.
- Aubergine Night with Mathilde’s Cuisine, in the hopes of convincing Meemalee to like eggplant. Mathilde made this aubergine casserole — that’s not the right word — that was just so very beautiful.
Sad experiences related to my blog…
- When I met someone from Chowhound for the first time over lunch at that fantastic Lebanese place by Harvey Nicks and she looked at me, looked away, and pronounced, “You’re not nearly as sophisticated as I thought you’d be.” (I debated using that as my blog tag line for a while. Wisely not.)
- When Chowhound started deleting my board posts because they contained links to my blog. I was an enthusiastic and long-term user. That being said, when they did contact me about the links, their emails were very kind and acknowledged my many contributions over the years. But still, I just didn’t agree with their policy in my particular case; what I did wasn’t that bad. Just links to photos, which I wasn’t going to repost again on Chowhound.
- When I went on that date at the old Burrito Beach in Soho where that guy told me that with each passing day, my ovaries are dying. As my friend Eugene reminded me later in the evening, “Ovary age is never an acceptable topic of conversation with someone you’ve never met before.”
- When I introduced myself to Gary Arndt at the first Travel Bloggers’ Exchange in Chicago in 2009, and he turned around and walked away. (I had no idea who he was at the time. I turned to someone and said (somewhat British-ly), “Well, now, that was awkward.” And they had to tell me he was famous. No excuse though, right?)
- When I invited someone to my very informal going away drinks in London and they told me they couldn’t go because they didn’t get along with someone else on the To list. Ouch. Thanks.
- When Terence Carter unfollowed me while I was having breakfast in Kuwait because — given the context of our Twitter exchange — I was telling him it wasn’t impossible to visit Bahrain and Kuwait with an Israeli stamp in your passport. Terence’s point was that you shouldn’t be stupid and you of course don’t want to jeopardize your travel bookings. But in both cases, the US-consulates for both countries told me this was the most frequently asked question they get, and it’s fine. Mafi mushkila. (i.e., “no problem.”) Note the US Passport Office will easily grant you a 2nd passport — same day in some instances — if you are visiting a country in the Middle East that may take issue with an Israel passport stamp. Somewhere though, I have a photo of my boss’ Dutch passport with the Bahrain stamp (Business friendly!!) right next to the Israel stamp. Good times.
I’m probably being a bit of an ass for calling people out for certain behaviors. Sometimes I want to be more zen about things, but other times, I just want *everyone else* to be more zen about things — and at the root, where things start. I’d also like people to post fewer photos of their cats on the Internet, but I realize I will never win that one.
- Shoulda never called my blog Londonelicious. No one could spell it. I blame Eugene. Although brilliant with ovary and general dating and business advice, Eugene…not so good with the marketing.
- On the same note, I would like to remind people that my name is Krista. Not Kristain. Krista-in-chicago. (Previously krista-in-london.) Get it?
- Shoulda stuck with Typepad. WordPress (the self-hosted version) is too much for me to handle. Too many updates. (Jesus H. Christ. WordPress 3.1.4 is available. F*ck me.) (**Update: After I posted this and after I upgraded to 3.1.4, I swear to God, they rolled out WordPress 3.2.) Plus my SEO on Typepad was much better, oddly. (Probably because my site had been around for so long and was already very well-indexed. Try migrating to a new platform. Not fun.)
- Not blogging about my travels in the early years. I could have done a great series out of all the awesome stuff I ate in South Korea in 2004. And my time in Alaska and Canada in 2005. What was I thinking?
- Not singing any karaoke during more than six years in London. I do a great Pat Benatar.
- Not being much of a cook.
- Dropping the “counter-balance” because my friend Heath said it was boring. (This was when I would post how far I ran that day in relation to how much I’d eaten. I think I need to bring this back. Although I’m much more into biking than I am running nowadays.)
Advice to bloggers everywhere…
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Don’t call places up and tell them you’re a blogger and ask for anything significant in exchange for that. (Horror stories of a travel blogger from TBEX who demanded a huge suite at a well-known hotel because he/she was an “important” blogger.)
- Be kind. (But don’t be afraid to call a spade a space.)
- Who cares if you don’t get invited to what. It will all come around.
- Blog what you want to blog and when you want to blog it, but see “Be Kind” above, especially if you’re treading into the sponsorship arena.
- Give the link love. And lots of it.
- Acknowledge the successes of others.
- Have no regrets.
What I want for the future…
I want more events. More fun. I want to laugh. I want cleaner restrooms and waitstaff who don’t fill my water glass up to the rim every 90 seconds. I want nice hand products in the ladies’ and Dyson Airblades everywhere. I want London to have an iPhone app for when the next train or bus will arrive, but apparently, the Mayor of London has a problem with providing that information for free. (I personally feel that it would promote public transport AND the local economy. If I know the next bus is in 2 minutes, I wait. If I know the next bus is in 15 minutes, I have a pint at the pub behind the bus stop. As long as I know what’s happening, I can be patient.)
I want people to drink more champagne, and I want Chicago to embrace the half-pint. I’m tired of small plates; I just want a big one. I want Brandon Flowers to marry me, and I want Pandora and iTunes Genius to have a love-child that applies Pandora’s algorithm to my gazillion CDs to produce a Genius song list. I also want someone to rip all my CDs to a 1 terabyte external hard drive. I will pay minimum wage. I want calves thin enough to fit into Hunter boots (the UK standard ones) without a loss of circulation. I want a proper pub to open up in Chicago that doesn’t require a 3-hour wait to have dinner, and I want all my friends with blogs to get book deals.
I want to play more Scrabble, sing more Karaoke, ride my bike more, and grow my own basil. I want free wifi to be like food, water, and shelter, and I want the wines of Austria to set up shop in my flat. I want to buy a flat in London — just a small one — and live there every year for at least a month. I want to be fluent in German and advanced in French and Spanish. I want to make more plans, visit more countries, organize my closets, and write my own book. I want to weigh less, grow more, and chill out.
Is this too much to ask…for the next seven years, at least?