On Virality

Last week, during a gchat conversation with a friend, I admitted my financial goals: I would like to make a salary higher than my student loan total. I was mostly joking, but with student loans into the 6-figure range, a salary to match is something to aspire to.

I tossed the idea in my head for a while. I tweeted it. It went viral.

Before we continue, I have to confess that we’re talking about virality as it pertains to my history online. The tweet generated 200+ retweets and 170+ favorites. Is that ground-breaking for global Twitter standards? No. Is that the closest I’ve come to virality? By a long shot.

I watched the tweet go viral from the minute I posted it at 3:38pm PT (6:36pm ET). Very familiar with unfair debt-to-salary, two friends retweeted it to their sizeable follower-base. The time may have had something to do with it, since people were getting home from work and winding down on the East Coast. If you’re going to go viral (and you’ll never be able to time or control it), I recommend doing it at 6:36pm ET.

I received retweets from people I’d never engaged with on Twitter and received a few responses. There were the responses in agreement (“Especially for those of us with 100K+ debt!”), the responses that missed the point (“It’s only fair if you have to repay it”), and then the trolls (“Dumb as fuck”). I didn’t feel the need to respond to any of them; the tweet wasn’t a discussion, just a thought. Also, online community rule 1: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS.

The most shocking thing was how little it all mattered. I’d always assumed there was a positive correlation between the engagement (e.g., retweets, favorites, mentions, etc.) of a tweet and the original poster’s follower-base. There isn’t. Twitter is a series of half-baked thoughts and fleeting moments. Your timeline is filled with polarizing thoughts that you either engage (respond, retweet, etc) or ignore. Seeing or missing an interesting tweet depends entirely on whether you checked your Twitter before or after you called your mother. In that way, virality is almost serendipitous: right place, right time, right audience. Or wrong everything if you happen to tweet something terrible or misinformed.

My life hasn’t changed since the tweet, though my brother did tell me he was proud of my “social media progress”. There wasn’t a large influx of followers, my tweet didn’t brand me, and worst of all, Sallie Mae didn’t tweet saying the next 10-grand was on them. Though, what did happen is that I put words to a feeling that a lot of people my generation are experiencing.

I am smart, with a promising career, and too many loans to logically pursue an underpaid passion project.

I’m not the voice of my generation, but I am here and I matter. I am smart, with a promising career, and too many loans to logically pursue an underpaid passion project. I am doing well and supporting myself, but have a huge debt cloud over my head. Thinking about my journey out of debt is depressing and something I reserve for days when I have an emergency bottle of wine handy. Though, if there’s one thing that I’m pleased about, it’s that this tweet went viral. I’m happy the tweet was representative of my truest feelings…and that there wasn’t a typo. That’s really important to me, too.

.a year ago and a month from now

Today, January 16, 2012, is an important countdown day for me. A year ago today, @kevinternets and I were returning from a vacation Miami, Key West, and Bahamas. Vacationing during the winter was the best decision ever. There’s something rewarding about sunbathing while your neighbors are plowing snow. That is a pleasant memory. As for the future,


a month from today – on February 16, 2012 – @kevinternets and I will be landing at Galeão International Airport in RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL just in time for carnival 2012!!! We booked the plane tickets, finalized the hotel reservations, saved up spending money and submitted our visa applications (which is one hell of  process, btw). Now, we just wait…and try not to start packing to early.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/158421043260817408″]

It will be my first time back to Brazil since I studied abroad there in 2008. Reminiscing on my time abroad lead me to the electronic journal I kept to keep my family and friends in the loop. I realized that:

  1. I blogged a lot more than I remember.
  2. There are a lot of experiences that I forgot about.
  3. I am beside myself excited to return to such a beautiful country.
Check out “Viva Brasil“!

With a (huge, great big, excited, thankful) smile,


.twitter, helpful followers & mta save the day

I lost it. On day 5 of 30, I lost my unlimited metro card. I don’t even have to describe how awful it feels to lose something you were prepared to spend much more time with. That’s like finding out the season of Mad Men, True Blood, Gossip Girl or Glee is 6 episodes shorter. I wasn’t prepared and didn’t do a very good job recovering.

When I finally accepted the fact that I made a signature noob move by losing my Metro card, I tweeted my defeat.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/157125024321519617″]

Prepared to shell out another $104 for a new monthly pass, I received extremely helpful tweets from @a_y_a and @akahn (two of my coworkers @paperlesspost). Not only did they relieve my face-palm mood, they described how to replace my Metro card and offered helpful website links!

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/a_y_a/status/157135968841900032″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/akahn/status/157125769473171456″]

I called MTA and after 15 minutes on hold (which I spent catching up on emails and browsing Pinterest), a lady answered. The exchange was remarkably simple and straightforward, even a little pleasant.

  • I explained my unique and unlikely situation.
  • She took my info: credit card used to purchase the pass, phone number, mailing address.
  • She tracked the date and location I bought the pass. (Okay, creepy. Can she also see everywhere I travel with my Metro card?)
  • She put me on hold (more Pinterest browsing).
  • She credited my credit card with the amount equal to the number of days I have left on the pass. The exchange rate is $3.46/day, so I got $83 back for the 24 days I had left on the card.
  • I celebrated. Hooray!

If you lose your card, I highly recommend you call them and get a reimbursement. Do it soon after you lose it — time is money in cases like this. The first one is free, the second costs $5 for processing and the third…well don’t let there be a third.

Catches to this convenience include: buying your pass with cash, losing a regular card with money on it and not living in New York City.

Final thoughts on this adventure:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/157490304965017600″]

With a smile,


.earl grey chocolate mousse

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/156549464113426432″] Yes, I was sick. No, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from trying the mousse.

My first attempt at Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse was nothing short of a disaster. I made it the week before my 23rd birthday as a pick-me-up because I was having a terrible week. My first (and only, really) mistake was trying to whip the egg whites without an electric mixer.

  • What the recipe said: Whip egg whites until solid peaks form.
  • What I read: Whisk eggs like you’re going to scramble them. Only a little longer.
  • What I should have read: This is not an adventure to take on without an electric mixer, let alone during your pre-birthday hell week.

The result: delicious flavor, with a subtle hint of Earl Grey tea; horrible consistency. The top half was semi-solid and resembled mousse…if you closed one eye and tilted your head. The bottom half was the consistency of watery egg whites – not appealing.

I tried to make Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse again. This time with the lime green KitchenAid hand mixer I received as a Christmas gift. See that picture. Ain’t she a beaut?! Aren’t those egg-white peaks sharp?! (Thanks for the gift, Jaime and Grandma!)

I followed this recipe, but cut the portions in half (what am I going to do with all that mousse!?) and modified the instructions a little. Check it out.

Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse

You will make: about 6 – 8 servings

You should have:

  • 1 bag bittersweet chocolate (I used 60% Cacao by Ghirardelli)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 bags of Earl
  • 4 eggs (3 yolks + 4 whites) at room temparature
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick + 1 tbsp unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Electric mixer (I can’t emphasize this enough)
You should do:
  1. Bring water and tea bags to a boil. Remove from heat. Let infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. Melt chocolate and tea-infused water in a double-boiler. (Metal bowl over pot of simmering – not boiling – water works perfectly.)
  3. Once melted, add butter until completely melted. Remove from double-boiler.
  4. Add egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract. Stir continuously until everything is blended.
  5. Add a pinch of salt to egg whites. Beat with electric mixer until solid peaks form; no less than 10 minutes. (See image above)
  6. Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until well blended.
  7. Pout into clean bowl or into individual serving cups.
  8. Chill in refrigerator overnight, for no less than 10 hours.

You should enjoy:

  • with friends
  • with whipped cream
  • often

With a smile,


.2011 book recap (part tweet)

I started recapping the books I read in 2011 (and decided to do 2010 while I was at it – the line is blurry). And then I got tired and realized I’d rather tweet about them. 140-characters is just as good as a 140-word reflection. Right?

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154683745318871040″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154645972016828418″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154646740010676224″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154686528541573120″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154648988782563328″]

Actually, Steve Jobs was a big (in impact and size) book for me worth more than a tweet. For one, carrying around that colossal hard-cover book made it obvious that I needed a Kindle. For two, I was borrowing it and had 10 days to complete it (challenge successful). For three, it was, as far as I can see, an astute, raw, no bullshit depiction of Steve Jobs’ life and times as an up-and-coming industry changer. I learned that it’s not always about being nice – oh wait, actually, I learned it’s actually never about being nice. Most importantly, I learned, that it doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters how much time you put into your craft and your ideas.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154696984761077761″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154647290081054722″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154687527595409408″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154687225332903938″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154688321304539136″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154678880412762114″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154685211085512704″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154678880412762114″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154683345844973569″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154686151494602752″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154684568832704512″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154682031673065472″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154690820870647809″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154671832337883137″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154682941174329344″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/monetspells/status/154674295124131841″]

This is another book worth a few more words. I wasn’t super surprised by the story and the ending was a little anticlimactic, but I appreciated what Stockett did for the characters and the story.

With a smile,