Inking my summer vacation

Arthur and I are bound for Europe tomorrow, to enjoy two and a half weeks of burning hot Mediterranean sun; explaining our vegetarianism in broken Italian, Polish, Czech, and Hungarian; and attending the weddings of two lovely and sophisticated women we do not know well.

I’ve been nose to the grindstone for the past few weeks preparing to basically shut down my freelance biz for the better part of August. Woo! I also tasked myself with the related duty of finishing my last journal and buying a new one to start on the trip. Last Friday, I done did it!

Goodbye, old friend; hello, new... friend

Goodbye, old friend; hello, new… friend

I always feel way too smugly satisfied when I retire a finished journal (do you know how much genius is in there??), but then I’m always proportionately humbled when I realize how daunted I feel when faced with all those brand-new, blank pages.

I guess parts of Europe are at least marginally inspiring. So here’s to jump-starting the new spiral guy with quotes overheard at smoky outdoor cafes, stories about making out in the shadows of really old churches, and old-school overnight train tickets pressed between the pages.

Join my networking cult?

A couple of months ago, I got an invite from a friend-of-a-friend who was interested in forming a new North Brooklyn chapter of the business networking organization BNI. I had heard of BNI, but had (quite luckily and happily) always been too busy working to check it out.

However, this personal invitation grabbed me. I’d be founding a new group (fun professional development activity), with this friend-of-a-friend who I totally hit it off with (fun social activity), and would almost certainly gain some new business connections (fun $$$).

Ladies of BNI

The photo of our founding members I’m sending out with all my email invites. Who wouldn’t want to join us?!

But it turns out it’s a pretty long and involved process to get a group started, and as we go through the paces, I admit I’m experiencing bouts of cold feet.

Here’s a plusses and minuses rundown—maybe you can help me decide if I should continue?


  • BNI has been around for 30ish years, is based on the who-could-argue-with-that? premise “Givers Gain,” and bazillions of business owners and sole proprietors around the world seem to swear by it.
  • Chapter groups’ weekly meetings are usually held in hilarious old-school diners (around here, anyway), so members can look forward to a hearty breakfast and bottomless cuppa joe with their fellows as they sharpen their elevator pitches and swap referrals.
  • There’s a whole lotta small business going on in North Brooklyn these days, with an especially hot injection of “creatives” in recent years. Business-swapping opportunities abound!


  • Meetings are every week at 7:00 am. ’nuff said.
  • There are dues, to the tune of about $100 a month, all told.
  • Nine out of ten times I tell someone about BNI, they ask, “Is this a cult?”

So, dear readers, what do you think? Have you heard of BNI? What’s your impression? Had any experiences with it yourself? If you were me, what would you do?

When clients go to Mexico

My dear friend and longtime client Elena is leaving NYC on a pre-dawn flight to Mexico tomorrow to embark on the 10-day silent meditation retreat that will usher in a bold new “oh-my-god-what-is-happening??” chapter of her life. I would say congratulations and good luck, but I don’t want to trip up her whole not-speaking thing.

Since we met a decade ago, I’ve known Elena by turns as a diligent, fair-minded, and hardworking coworker, partner in shenanigans, and small business proprietor. She thinks about almost everything deeply. She makes sumptuous vegetarian meals on the fly. Over the years, she’s handed down a grip of her classy clothing to me, which I hope made beautiful space in her closet with the same proportions as it filled the ghastly gaps in mine.


Recently, Elena decided to take an indefinite break from her glamorous Upper West Side life: she parked her baby blue Piaggio scooter in storage, sold most of her other belongings, and put her successful nutrition coaching practice on hiatus. Tomorrow, she’ll touch down in Mexico, and after that, it’s off to work on a veganic farm in the southwest. After that? I’m pretty sure she’d say your guess is as good as hers.

The fact that I realized today that I should probably retire Elena’s testimonial from my website (for now) is the least important part of this story, but it did make me want to tell it, so that’s cool.

Godspeed, Elena! You’ve got chutzpah, and I love ya. Just remember: Wild Women Don’t Sing the Blues.

And the cube goes to…

Last week, I had the super-pleasure of attending the Urban Green Council‘s fourth annual EBie Awards (pronounced EE-bee!). These “Oscars of Existing Buildings” recognize improved environmental performance: measures that reduce energy consumption, efficiently use storm water runoff, improve indoor environmental quality to promote better human health, etc.

Please proceed to GOOD TIMES

I was there as a guest of the terrific designer (and my good friend) Claire Hansen and her equally inimitable husband Russell Unger, executive director of Urban Green, so the conversation over dinner was guaranteed to be good. But, to my delight, the merriment didn’t stop there.

The evening combined all the great things about classic awards shows—Broadway numbers, presenters ribbing presenters, and an open bar—with not-so-common actual importance: these people were being celebrated for saving millions of kilowatts of electricity, saving even more millions of gallons of water, and educating building owners, tenants, and visitors about their life-saving best practices. I’ll raise a Super Sap cube to that!

I covered the EBies for Urban Green’s blog, and I’m happy to report their communications crew was just as nice and fun to work with as I’d imagined. They organize and host great events all the time; I hope to hang out at and write about many more of them!