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Friday, August 17, 2012

How this blog landed me and my story on making friends after 40 in the pages of the New York Times!

This summer has been awesome! And I hope you are having an awesome summer too.

The months of July and August have been filled with vacations, visitors, a new apartment and a three week respite from parenting. I’m not making excuses for posting only three things in August on this blog, but I’ve been busy having fun this summer and much of the fun centers around falling farther in love with Evanston.

If anyone is looking for a city to relocate to, relocate to Evanston! Really. Upcoming blog entries to prove my love for Evanston include; “Evanston’s Walkability, what’s between me and the train I commute to work on”, “Lisa D. Food Wars – who makes better guacamole? Little Mexican Café or Café Diablo?” and “100 Reasons my parents are so happy for me and my family having moved to Evanston”.

As you know, I’ve been using the Evanston Newbie blog to track my family’s move to Evanston last summer. Blog topics include; discovering new stores, missing old friends, building new traditions, choosing a school, and especially making new friends and building a new social life.

No one likes to start over but I find starting over socially to be one of the most taxing projects of all – mainly because I am a very social creature, demand lots of love from friends and strangers alike and need to feel as though EVERYONE wants me at the party. So imagine the pain and anxiety I felt moving to a new city where I knew ONE person!

Adding to the anxiety was the message that everyone had been sending my way “don’t plan on making any new friends as no one makes friends after 40”. I was turning 40 only a year after moving to Evanston! Would I make no new friends? Would I be floating on an ice berg of isolation while people roamed the streets in laughing packs around me?

I found making new friends in Evanston not taxing or impossible at all! In fact, I found so many people who I really liked that I found myself dealing with the pressures of choosing who to like. But all around, it has socially been a really positive experience so of course I blogged about it and then Tweeted up my blog post – “40 Lessons Learned Moving from El Paso, TX to Evanston, IL.”

Several days later I received an email from a writer who was working on an article on making friends after the age of 40 asking if I would like to be interviewed for the article. Turning down the chance to talk about myself is NOT in my nature, so I said “yes” and even gave my cell.

Then the call came from Alex Williams of the New York Times Style section and I just about died! I really enjoy Williams’ work, always read him in the Sunday Times and couldn’t believe I was going to be a source for one of his stories. For a follow up to a previous article on “How to break up with friends” he was writing an article on the difficulties of making friends after 40. He saw my Tweet, read my blog and like a real journalist, reached out to me.

Of course after several phone calls and emails with Williams’ to discuss my experiences making friends after 40, I wasn’t 100% sure A. the article would run or B. I would make the cut as one of the sources. But when the call came from the New York Times photo editor to book a portrait session with photographer Sally Ryan, I was 75% sure they would use me.

Several weeks (more than 8) went by and nothing. I was hesitant to tell anyone about the chance that I might be in the Sunday New York Times (besides my poor husband) because what if it didn’t run? That would be awkward to brag and then be cut from the story.

About two weeks before the story was slotted to run, Williams’ called to say it would run in two weeks and that I would be in it for sure. Now the worry over the photo. What if it looked terrible what if it didn’t run at all? In two Sundays all my worries were over and the story ran with an awesome photo by Sally Ryan and a smart perspective by Alex Williams. More than 400 readers commented on the story and NPR did a news story on it.

That is how this blog landed me in the pages of the New York Times! Alex Williams, a journalist, was using Twitter to do research on a topic he was interested in and found me. It’s really that simple and that awesome. (My Twitter handle is @TheLisaDShow)

You can still believe in journalism and you can believe me when I say that making new friends is easy as long you continue to find people you like and by 40, we’ve met such a small amount of people on this planet, the odds are really in your favor!

Click here to read “Friends of a Certain Age. Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?” by Alex Williams.

Fact checking corrections; I am 40 not 39, I moved to Chicago from El Paso, TX, and I am a Project Manager for an educational fundraising office.

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