About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

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101 in 1,001 – The Results

For the past 1,000 days, I participated in Day Zero’s 101 Day Project, a unique challenge that inspires you to set and achieve your personal goals in life. My friend Caitlin had started one, and I was intrigued. At that point, I had been in five years’ remission from cancer and was basically a lump when it came to goal setting. The diagnosis had resulted in my having a hard time looking in the future, as I got in the mindset of “Well, anything can change quickly.” I thought that starting the list would be better than a so-called bucket list in inspiring me to look forward again. (And I’d just beaten cancer… why would I want to think about kicking the bucket?)

The challenge runs 1,001 days—I started September 12, 2010 and ended today, June 9, 2013. To count, tasks must be specific with a defined result that represents some amount of work on my part. Here’s a summary of my first list and what happened. Bolded items are ones that were completed. Not bad for my first try, with 54 of 101 goals achieved. I start Part II tomorrow, and will aim for 75 next.

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Our First NYC Easter Parade!

Easter is a holiday usually spent with family, but this year was a bit different. Mom decided to spend Easter in Florida with my brother, who moved down there last year. Alex and I were left to our own devices, so we thought we’d do something we’ve never done before: the NYC Easter Parade.

It was a goal on my 101 in 1,001 list to participate in a parade, and I was originally supposed to march with Fordham University in NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year. But it snowed and rained that day, so in order to fulfill that goal, it was the Easter Parade or nothing.  So bonnets it was. (At least it wouldn’t be as complicated as the time we built reefed subway cars for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in 2008.)

Of course, we don’t like to be normal, so it couldn’t be straw hats and fake flowers. We thought it should be something NYC themed, like the subway cars. Since we already did those, Alex thought that perhaps we should do buses. At some point, we came up with the idea of doing Staten Island Ferries… but instead of a normal boat, it would have bunny ears and and a tail. As an appreciator of all puns good and bad, the “Staten Island Furries” were born.

As we planned for our bonnets, we were discussing the other way to Staten Island—the Verrazano Bridge. Mom joked that was one way to “passover” to the borough. So, of course, we had to make the bridge hat. But we needed a third person. And who better than our friend Deena from Fireball Network!

The hats turned out to be a lot more complicated that we originally thought they’d be—I’d say they took about 15 hours in total, not counting trips to Michael’s and waiting for paint to dry. Using a combination of old Priority Mail boxes, a panko bread crumb container, plastic bowls from Panera Bread, fuzzy fabric, pipe cleaners, felt, glitter, brads, and a LOT of Mod Podge, we finally finished the hats:


Here I am with both hats (Alex and I wore similar Furry hats) and the sign Deena held with another pun: EZ Passover Accepted in All Lanes. (As she joked, if her people had as good directions back when, they wouldn’t have wandered the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.) It certainly took some posturing and alterations to keep the bonnets on our heads—not to mention it later got windy, and even mini Staten Island Ferries and the Verrazano Bridge sway a lot in the breeze.

“On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us, and you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure!”

We certainly weren’t expecting the reaction we got, especially since we were among so many creative bonnets! We couldn’t walk more than two feet without someone stopping us and then multiple people taking our picture. Not just folks on smartphones, but even press photographers. It will be fun to see what comes out in the news and Flickr over the next few days. So far, Deena and I have made Easter Parade coverage in the NY Daily News and all three of us appear on Whom You Know, Examiner.com , and Xinuhanet coverage. We must’ve gotten at least 300 photos taken of us, if not more. Real Staten Islanders were particularly amused (and somewhat disappointed that the three of us didn’t actually hail from their borough).

One memorable moment was someone smacking me hard on the butt. I turned around and it was a little boy, no more than two or three. “Picture!” he demanded. His mother was mortified, but I obliged.

Here’s another shot of us that was taken by David Handschuh from the NY Daily News:



I particularly enjoyed this tweet from a disgruntled parade-goer. Twitter name redacted to protect the moody teenager who was dragged to this awful parade by Mommy:

just saw a woman wearing a homemade easter bonnet shaped like the “Staten Island Furry” rabbit thing god what a freak TAKE ME HOME

Glad to be of service!

We wrapped up the day with some Potbelly Sandwich Shop then dessert at my brother-in-law’s family gathering (does that make them my in-law in-laws?)

Neither Alex nor I can walk anymore, and my legs feel like iron weights are attached to them. Even though two miles wasn’t a lot to walk (Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal to the parade route of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 57th streets), the constant stopping and posing took its toll.

More photos (and a post from Deena on what we learned at the parade) soon!



My First Time Going Viral

I’m a big fan of Buzzfeed and its lists. So on February 11, I decided to try my hand at making my own Buzzfeed, which apparently not many people realized you could do.

Inspired by my friend Meg’s discussion about glitter roll-ons that were popular when I was in high school, I decided to focus on the typical day of a teenage girl in the late ’90s. The result: a 23-point list of how we spent our days, from morning to night, drawing on mine and my friends’ experiences in high school.

I had no clue how big this Buzzfeed article was about to blow up.

It was merely an experiment for me, to see how far a Buzzfeed article would go just by my promoting it a few times on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Buzzfeed gave it a nod and a bump, and suddenly the hits started pouring in. I was elated that 500 people looked at my article.

Then at 11:56, I got an email ding on my phone. Buzzfeed sent an email that I had won a 1,000 views award. I was awed and crowed about it on Facebook. 1,000 views—take that! My friends congratulated me on my accomplishment. I then went to sleep.

The next morning, I was awoken by another ding on my phone. The 10,000 views award. In only six hours! Later that day—at 81,000 views—I received an email from a PR exec I work with out of Pennsylvania. “There was a Buzzfeed link being passed around our office this afternoon on being a teenage girl in the 90s. And then I saw your picture and byline on the article. There are many jealous PR girls that want your job right now (and it has to be more fun than writing for real estate) J,” she wrote. And then I received another email from a women I know in Florida. It was getting around!

I started seeing friends posting it on both Facebook and Twitter, not realizing that I’d written it. One of the best reactions was from my best friend Karen (one who didn’t realize) commenting how #22 was her life—she’d been my inspiration for that very bullet point!

By the end of the day, I had shot into the Top 10 of Buzzfeed community contributors, and my article had gone viral on Facebook and Reddit. The following day, it went viral on Tumblr. I was receiving emails, tweets, and Facebook messages galore about how I hit the nail on the head and it was like I was spying on people’s lives. (I only really needed to spy on my own to write it… no matter how many of us thought we were beautiful, unique snowflakes back then, we were for the most part—as the Buzzfeed reactions prove—the same.) By the 15th, it had hit 1 million views, and as I write this today, it’s well over 1.7 million views.

None of the subsequent articles I wrote for Buzzfeed gained the same sort of traction, although 15 Smells That Take You Back To Elementary School did fairly well. It was nothing like my first time, though. Every few days I get a tweet or email about the Typical Day article, with people adding their memories or noting what I forgot (I still refuse to acknowledge Tamagotchis).

What a trip—who knew high school days would hit such a good nerve?

Is It 1998 Again?

Today, I tried watching a video on a news website, and was met with a message I haven’t seen since I switched from dial-up eons ago—”buffering.”

Buffering? Was I in 1998 again, watching a video that took ages to load on my RealPlayer?

Feeling slightly nostalgic, I decided to listen to the old AOL dial-up sound on YouTube:

It amazes me how much computers and the Internet have changed over the past 15 years. My smart phone is more powerful than the first Gateway I owned! That YouTube video above would have likely taken me two hours to download. I remember tying up the phone lines for eight—yes, eight—hours overnight to download a video of Journey’s “Separate Ways.” Which now can be viewed in an instant.

I wonder what the Internet’s going to look like in another 15 years? Will today’s high-speed, instant connections look like buffering?

The Cheapest Concert I’ve Been To?

Today, I bought my best Groupon to date—$15 tickets to see Heart in concert at Jones Beach Amphitheater on July 27.

Besides shows I’ve seen for free (like Gregg Rolie and Steve Augeri), I don’t ever think I’ve purchased concert tickets this cheaply for a well-known act!

In my opinion, it’s what concert tickets should cost. I’ve been to many concerts since 1998 (when I started going to shows with my friends), and tickets are astronomical to the point where half of the concert venue is empty. It’s sort of depressing to see the upper tier of Jones Beach empty when there’s such a great show.

In 2001, when I attended my first Journey show (whom I’ve seen 17 more times since), tickets were $40—and I got third-row tickets at Jones Beach to boot. As Journey surged in popularity again, tickets for those type of seats have swelled to VIP packages costing hundreds to get the same experience.

That’s not what music is about, and it’s discouraging that artists don’t speak up more about this. The high cost of tickets and merchandise—with service fees and sometimes even parking thrown in—have made me think twice about going to other shows.

But $15 is amazing. I’ve never seen Heart live and it’s a band I’ve always wanted to see. I have no clue where my seats are yet—and I presume they’ll be nosebleed, which are normally selling for $25—but this price is a start. I hope more artists jump on this cheap-ticket bandwagon and fill venues once more.