Guest Blog with Aliza Sherman-Risdahl

Today we have a special guest blog from Aliza Sherman-Risdahl, author of The Everything Blogging Book which came out July 31 and features When Tara Met Blog. Yup, I’m in the book. Anyway, back to Aliza, she is a Web pioneer, online marketing expert, published author, blogger and was named by Newsweek as one of the "Top 50 People Who Matter Most on the Internet." She has spoken around the world about the Internet, entrepreneurship, and women's empowerment. Go her!

So I had asked her to share some of her memories of living in the City when she was just starting out. In an honest slice of life recap Aliza graciously wrote about some of her best and worst memories from that time and the relationships along the way:

I moved to New York City from North Carolina in 1987 with a shiny new job in the music business (a major international booking agency), an innocent mind, and tender lungs that seized up the minute I walked outside and inhaled the concentrated exhaust fumes of city living. I had a hacking cough my first six months in Manhattan, and then I got used to it. Like the way you quickly adapt to walking in the city – resisting the natural urge to look up in awe at the skyscrapers and instead, looking ahead deliberately, with determination and intent, and with your purse in a locked position under your arm.

My first years in the City were full of parties, nightclubs and drinking copious amounts of alcohol where most nights blurred into days and days into nights, and I retained only slide-show memories of what had transpired in any given timeframe. Being in the music business meant being on the VIP guest list wherever I went, and to stretch already tight budgets, my girlfriends and I would hit the clubs early during happy hour when the open bar was flowing and two-fisted drinking was our way of making the most of the perk. Other perks included rubbing elbows with rock star wannabes and rock stars of the time, from Kip Winger to Sebastian Bach to the guys from Def Leppard and Metallica and getting to watch concerts from the stage.

One of my worst memories came after a dubiously successful two-fister evening where all I could remember was the cool white tile of the club bathroom floor, a bouncer carrying me to a cab, a friend helping me up the stairs to my apartment, and waking up still wearing my red mini skirt and crumpled top. Luckily, someone had been kind enough to remove my puke-splattered black cowboy boots and place them standing up beside my bed. And like every other hungover morning, I'd step out into the cruel, glaring sunlight to the shock of a million people streaming by my door and a million cars honking their horns. I'd press my sunglasses a little closer to my face and crawl down into the subway station for relief.

One of my best memories was coming home just a little tipsy one night, the hot streets steaming from a summer rain, streetlights bouncing off of puddles and the only sound the hiss of an occasional cab. The neighborhood was quiet every night after the throngs of shoppers and commuters went home and the stores all closed. As I found the keyhole in the downstairs door to enter the small brownstone building, I heard a CLOP, CLOP sound and turned to look down Seventh Avenue toward 34th Street. Horses, maybe? And there, right before my eyes, walking through the mist, were elephants. Elephants! They were walking at a slow clip, trunk to tail, heading west toward Madison Square Gardens. I held my breath and watched them disappear down the street

For me, love in the city was fleeting, often a series of little flings that never quite progressed to full-fledged relationships, until the day I was pursued by a waiter…

I was having lunch at the Hard Rock Café with a woman I knew who managed bands. After we left, she called me up to say our waiter had told her that he thought I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and that he wanted to ask me out. Sure, I said, thinking that a waiter would sure beat all the music business wonks and superstar wannabes that I had wasted precious time on. It turned out when not waiting tables; he was the lead singer in a pop band that had just signed a major record deal.

We began to date, and he lavished me with adoration, something that seemed in short supply with the men I had been meeting. During that relationship, I had one of those television commercial moments walking across 57th Street one afternoon and I swear every head turned to watch me walk by. Was it my outfit? My hair? Was my makeup applied particularly well that day? Was it my perfume?

"You look like you are so happy!" exclaimed a bike messenger who had literally pulled over to the curb to watch me walk by. "You look like you're in love!"

Well, not love really, and the relationship soon ended in an abrupt and unceremonious way. Actually, he forgot to break up with me but told his band members and manager (the woman I knew) that he had given me the boot. Me, not privy to his claims, continued to call him, visit him, oblivious to the concerned looks from his entourage. Finally, his manager sat me down.

"You really need to leave him alone," she said bluntly.

"What do you mean? What's wrong?" I asked.

She told me that I needed to stop stalking her singer, and that I should just accept the break up. I had no idea what she was talking about and within minutes, she realized that he had actually chickened out of telling me he wanted to break up with me months earlier. No wonder they thought I was a stalker!

I thought I had learned my lesson about dating troubled musicians, and then there was the guitarist from one of the seminal underground (that era's term for "alternative") bands out of San Francisco who spotted me at a Maggie's Dream show in a small club (band of Robby Rosa, former member of Menudo). I left the club with a girlfriend for a small dessert café in the Village, and this guitarist stood outside the plate glass windows smiling at me. He joined us, and we began dating.

He was the only man (until my husband) to ask me to marry him. He did it on a Christmas card at his parents' home in New Jersey, with a message on the card to stick my tongue out if I agreed to his marriage proposal. I stuck out my tongue. He told me he had loose ends to tie up back in San Francisco and left for a few days. He never returned.

I finally tracked him down about 10 years later. When I asked him why he had asked me to marry him but then disappeared, he told me about his relapse into a dark drug addiction and depression that he had only recently escaped. I finally had closure to one of the biggest mysteries of my so-called love life.

True love continued to be elusive while I remained in New York City. I eventually left Manhattan permanently after September 11th and started a new life in Wyoming. A year later, I met the man I would soon marry. He was from Montana. I look back at my crazy years in the City and see how different my life is today. I had been living in a high-energy vortex that kept me spinning at top speed. Now I live at a pace that would be considered comatose by New York City standards. But I've finally shifted out of "survival mode," a prerequisite for big city life, into "living mode." And I like it.

# # #