I just got back from New York City, where I went last week to attend the 2011 Shorty Awards ceremony at the Times Center. I took a redeye flight on Sunday night and arrived bright and early Monday morning. I was so excited for this day - finally - after months of campaigning for votes and shameless self promotion, the day had finally come. We had inched our way from #28 all the way into first place in just two weeks, and Project DOG was ready to make a big splash.
I arrived at the Times Center aroud 6:15pm, and the place was completely packed, so crowded you could literally hardly move. I didn't even bother getting in the drink line because it spanned the entire length of the room (and they ran out anyway), so unfortunately I didn't have a Shorty Awards cocktail nor any food, boo. Havilah, my mom and my sister also came along to support me which was really great.
We went into the auditorium around 7pm and got seats. I was so incredibly nervous I was shaking really bad with clammy hands (so gross and weird)... they announced the winners in a random order, and the Art category was about 1/3 of the way through. I had figured out that I hadn't won before the winners were announced because they had projected each winner's acceptance speech on the big screen as the winner approached the podium, and since I had never been asked to submit a speech, I realized the "Real-Time Academy" (judges) did not choose Project DOG as the winner in Art. It was very heartbreaking and disappointing to sit there and wait for the host to announce someone else's name, considering the amount of the time, heart and energy that I had poured into continuously campaigning and promoting the Shorty Awards for 3 long months, the obsessive crafting of my 140 character interview answers to illustrate fun, creativity and social impact, and the obvious success that Project DOG has had so far because of using Twitter - the primary vehicle in promoting this project.
I was so frustrated that Project DOG was not chosen that I could not even think straight and did not take any photos during the ceremony... I should have but I did not, and I apologize. I even missed taking a picture of Project DOG's logo projected on the big screen. To be honest, I spent most of the time tweeting and reacting to Project DOG's twitter followers' surprise and consolement that we didn't win. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who was sad about it. Eventually I got over it... I mean, my day could not have really gotten much worse considering my grandmother had passed away that morning... I am very thankful though for everyone who supported Project DOG in the nominations and who logged on to watch the ceremony live on the webcast. It's an amazing feeling to know that there are people out there who really support the mission of Project DOG and who were rooting for us. I understand that judging was pretty much 100% subjective in nature, and I am still very honored to have been in the Top 6, as it is quite an accomplishment. But if I would have known that Project DOG would have had the same chance of winning being the #2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 as the #1 nominee, I'm not sure I would have approached the campaigning effort with such vigor (I probably would have anyway because I'm OCD about being at the top, hehe). The "Academy" supposedly chose the winner considering the final ranking, interview questions and twitter performance. Most of the actual winners at the Shorty Awards were not the #1 nominee... and did not seem to be based on actual Twitter engagement/performance, and there was a countless number of ties, so it really left me baffled and disappointed, this was the Twitter awards wasn't it? They could have made the Art category a tie... just sayin'.
The root of the reason why I was so frustrated was because Project DOG is about dogs and for dogs. This award would have been dedicated to ALL dogs and to all the people out there who work tirelessly to help improve the lives of shelter dogs and educate people about responsible dog ownership. This award, symbolically, would have really shown the world that there are creative ways to express a positive movement that benefits the well being of dogs. It wasn't about ME, it was about THEM, and I wanted so much to be able to help move the dog world in a more positive direction. It really has brought people together - over 14,000 of them. It would have been so powerful to accept an award on behalf of dogs - voting for Project DOG and supporting animals would have really shown a lot of heart.
Oh well. I am so proud of Project DOG - last year at this time it was just an idea that barely existed, and now it is something. This is a project for and from DOG people, and without Twitter it would be nothing. It IS about Art - creative art (photography) as well as the art of bringing people together - the art of engaging people to converse about new topics, the idea that all dogs are a work of art. I started this whole thing based on Twitter, and the idea to reach people directly, immediate, one on one engagement with users who love dogs. So whatever, maybe we'll try again next year.
As I mentioned earlier, my trip was extended at the last minute because my grandmother passed away. When I found out I immediately changed my flight so that I could go to her services. It actually worked out nicely because I was already on the east coast, and I then had a few extra days to spend with my family.
I did have a really great time in NYC though. I hadn't been there in 2 years. We did some touristy things too because Hav had never really seen the "sights"... we even went to the top of the Empire State Building! This pic was taken on the 86th floor. We went up to the 102nd floor as well but it is completely enclosed and was too crowded which posed too much of a challenge to take a good pic... sorry. The security guard on the 86th floor really got a kick out of seeing you there with me!
We also went to Doughnut Plant in the lower east side. Ever hear of it? Do you LOVE donuts like I do? ...HOPE SO!! We saw this place on TV, on "Best Thing I Ever Ate" show on the Food Network, they featured the Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jelly donut. I just had to have one!! So we went there and IT WAS AMAZING.
This is my favorite photo from the trip... the donut guy said "Can I be in the pic? I LOVE Ellen!" I forgot to ask him his name, but I gave him an "i love dogs" button and a card. If he ever emails me I'll send him the pic. He was so nice, love him!!
Here's the donut:
Doesn't that look A-MAZING?! What I liked about this donut is that
a) it's square
b) it is covered in real peanut bits and the peanut butter glaze was not overpowering
c) there is the perfect amount of jelly. Although it doesn't look like there is that much jelly, there actually is. This donut did not explode with jelly, it was all neatly contained, and each bite offered the perfect amount of jelly.
d) it's light and not too cakey. The peanut butter glaze was sweet and savory. This was the BEST donut I've ever had. I wish I lived in NYC so I could try ALL of the flavors... It was seriously amazing, and I highly recommend going to Doughnut Plant if you are ever in NYC!!
The trip had a very happy ending nonetheless. On Friday, the BayList announced the winners of the 2011 BayList Awards... and I was in the running for Best Pet Photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last year I finished in 2nd place, remember? Well after all of these years, and after all my hard work, I WON!! OMG, so that was just amazing and I am so happy - it's a great thing for my business and it's an even better thing for Project DOG. Here's a screenshot!
Well hope you are having a great week, I'll ttys!