When to Back Down as Told by Mean Girls

We’ve covered this before, but I reiterate: there’s a time to stand your ground, and there’s a time to back down gracefully. It’s a simple task for most to know the difference…but I mean, don’t ever be this girl.

Thankfully, the majority of my office (which lately has been a reality show) has not only taken this tidbit into consideration but carried it out on a personal level. Professionalism is key; however, there’s always that one person that not only crosses the line but consistently stampedes through it.

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Everyone also watches that person from behind their computer screen, notepad and massive iced coffees knowing they will inevitably crash and burn.

Today, we did just that. It looked a little like this.

Helpful tips:

Know better than to get on a conference call seemingly hammered.

Also know better than to yell into the phone on said call and make inappropriate comments regarding your professional (and personal) achievements.

When your boss then asks you to give something up, relinquish it. He owns the damn company.

Try not to flip out at said boss when he makes this request.

Try to at least show up for work the next day.

Cause/ Effect

Cause: Being a Diva

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Effect: Having your boss send your interns home, refuse your entry to the office and effectively remove you. Oops. Lesson learned for the culprit.

Fun for Work and Running Achievements

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I’d like to announce that I ran the farthest I’ve done yet this morning (2.4…don’t laugh) with a 9:02 minute mile. Let’s just say this is a lot better than I was doing two months ago, and I’m really proud of myself for the improvement. I’m also kicking my boyfriend’s ass in our goal to run 35 miles before this upcoming wedding weekend with our buddies. Suck it!

If someone asked me a year ago whether I’d consider 6:15am an acceptable hour for existing/functioning, I would have laughed. Now I’m up around then (well, catapulting out of bed into workout clothes) and finishing a run before 7am…eating breakfast (also something I’ve never been into)…playing on Pinterest…all before the hour of 8am. It’s a miracle…this must be adulthood.

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Also, some fun things to be said for work the past few weeks (yes, all work):

-       Previewed a Ferretti Yacht

-       Tried on fun jewelry at SoHo’s Bauble Bar popup with Godiva

-       Tasted $2,500 Hennesy Cognac (I’m in the sweet photo above)

-       Going to G-Shock’s private NYC event with Eminem in a top secret location tomorrow ;)

Not so terrible.

A Travelin’ Girl Needs Space

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There’s something horribly unsettling (maybe I’m spoiled) about curling up on a public bus wondering if the person sitting next to you made that awful smell or if they are going to sleep on your shoulder or if they are the next zodiac killer…these are all things that run through my head.

My frequent trips to D.C. (yes ladies and gents, 4.5 hours on a stuffy, stinky bus) have been worth it, there’s no doubt. Yet, there’s something so idyllic about the comfort of a seat in your own car…your couch…your recliner…YOU DON’T NEED TO SHARE WITH STRANGERS. Well, unless you want to.

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Here are some tips and tricks to give yourself the most possible space and ward off the seat hogs, droolers and the like.

  1. Cough. Cough so horribly that people can’t help but think you’re going to give them swine flu. For effect, announce to your neighbor that you’ve just gotten over the WORST cold. It was SO awful.
  2. Phone a Friend. “No. You’re skinnier. Stop. STOP! You’re, like, the skinniest. NO. You are SO much prettier.”
  3. Starfish. Flail your arms and legs out like the little sea creature we know and love, noodling your limbs into the seat next to you. If anyone debates sitting down, flail further.
  4. Bus Buddies! Make BEST friends and talk about your entire day!
  5. Take the armrest. The middle one. Lean on it. You know you want to.

Dusting Blog Cobwebs

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I suppose I haven’t blogged in a while. I suppose I haven’t done a lot of other things, either….like sleep, do my laundry, eat froyo (lies…definitely got some yesterday). I accepted a job in publishing in February, and life has been pretty busy every since. I guess I should have announced that on here at some point, but writing tons of blogs and press releases every day for others sort of sucks the fun out of doing it when you get home. Is it glamorous? Nope. Pays well? No, not really. Worth it? Definitely.

The past few months have contained a lot of firsts. First apartment, first time living in New York, first time holding a full-timer in publishing, first time living with Miss T.R. Wallace, first time having an intern, first time getting yelled at in all caps via e-mail…repeatedly, first time assembling an Ikea couch….that might be the best one. Stick figure instructions? NOT HELPFUL.

However, the bottle of wine consumed during assembly did wonders…they should really include that in the box.

The fact that this blog isn’t (and was never really) anonymous encourages me to hold my tongue about a lot of things (including some great inside scoop), but there’s plenty to be shared nonetheless.

For starters, there’s a time to state your case at work, and there’s a time to roll over. Sometimes a little nugget or misread email becomes WWIII, and it’s just not worth engaging. Don’t worry…privately, you never have to relinquish the fact that you’re still right.

Enjoy the free coffee. Drinking it will save you the $15 per-week (at LEAST) you spend at Starbuck’s or that little hipster café every morning. Stop it.

Be pleasant. It always serves you well. Until you have to be a bitch…then own it.

creative balance.

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Like stories and narrative voices, writers embody different extremes. For some, the focus is the current project and the motivator is the next deadline (or, depending on your boss, the chiding voice that accompanies error). Thankfully, I never make mistakes. Kidding…no one is perfect (coming from someone who has been referred to as “impractically imperfect,” not a misquote). Anyway, there are also many writers who do not write to make a living and write purely from the soul, and then there are writers who do not write to make a living and can’t write from the soul…writers that have no soul…you get it.

Writing and editing for a living can cause you to slide into some really intellectually lazy behavior. Personally, I find myself making excuses to avoid my own creative work in favor of the goals that my employers deem immediate and relevant…and they are so convincing!

During work hours, yes! Go above and beyond! Work late and work hard, but don’t let the stress of completing an assignment for someone else translate to the neglect of your personal goals. Balance is everything. Yesterday, this is how it went down:

“I finished that article today. That was creative. That counts.” dgo asleep in food bowl

COMMENCE NAP ———>

In a later moment of clarity, I promptly “punished” myself for self-neglect with three pages of creative work. Also interesting. Shouldn’t I be rewarding myself with creative work instead of punishing myself with it? Yes, I was creative in my work for others, but whose goals were actually fulfilled?

The creative beast is a sneaky, fat, lazy animal of the subconscious when coupled with stress and sleep depravation.

I guess what I’m getting at is that while writers earn the right to make a living at what they do, it’s important to identify those moments when you might be making excuses for yourself and deviating from the challenges and goals you’ve set for yourself in your own writing and creativity. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t (or can’t) be creative in work for others, but don’t forget yourself in what you do.

Also, do yoga. I have to say that starting up again is making my body scream, but it’s worth it for the calm, the clarity, and literal/metaphorical balance.

Oh, Alice!

Have I told you lately how hard it is for me to maintain a blog? In the midst of multiple Imageinterviews up and down the East Coast, freezing temperatures, and wondering how it is that my best friends are doing all over the world, apprehension is the easiest and most sincere feeling. Something about winter is terribly gloomy, and unlike some of my snowbunny buddies who worship those glittering flakes (you freaks know who you are), I’m really happy that Connecticut has yet to be entrenched in feet of snow. Snow is beautiful, but snow is brutal. I prefer looking at it from the window with a book, snuggled inside a wool blankie!

I’ve finished Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and the differences between my recent impressions of these stories and those of my blessed childhood are glaringly different. This is a freaky, freaky book, and Lewis Carroll is tricky, tricky writer. It dawned on me that Alice’s experience of this seemingly backward universe, rendering her as “ignorant,” demonstrates two parallel truths: Alice’s truth of childhood and the absurdity of adulthood from a child’s perspective, and adult conventions rendering the truth of childhood both absurd and irrelevant. I really should have read this earlier and banked a great essay for Sociology & Anthropology or Postmodernism…

As you grow older, some people lose that lens, that absurdity and creativity. I’m glad to be in a field where a certain level of “absurdity” is almost required. Yes, it is absolutely necessary for you to go through six chains of command in the office only to end up where you’ve started on a project…off with your head (we’ve all been there)! In comparison, for those of you that have read this book, why is it that when you walk away from a little house for hours you don’t end up remotely where you started? Oh, Alice.

Any of you having this sort of experience with childhood book as an “adult?”

The Hunt

I forgot to mention…one of the biggest components of job hunting is submitting yourself to perpetual trial and error, building a resistance against feeling like a failure when your resume falls into the endless black-pit vortex of Mediabistro, and re-assuring yourself that no, it’s not a tiny error you missed in your resume that has disqualified you from the hundreds of jobs you’ve applied to in publishing. Patience, patience. Instead of running around like a crazy person then dramatically scrabbling around in a corner whining and eating macaroni and cheese, try telling yourself that it’s OK.

Kraken, my boyfriend’s tailless cat with a limp that has clawed, bitten, and maimed his way into my heart, reminds me daily that patience, commitment and lack of sleep can all be great fuel for writing heartfelt cover letters, and that this tolerance can also translate into the long days we will all be working when we get our entry-level jobs in editorial. As this vengeful kitty reminds me via hunting my face at 3am, 5am, 6am, and then finally at 7am when I can no longer resist the urge to drop-kick his furry butt, there is always tomorrow, be patient, and enduring a certain level of abuse is normal in getting where you need to go. Also, don’t get a cat :)

A Little Smile Goes a Long Way

I crossed the street this morning and a wild-looking giggling grandpa covered in electric pink paint blew by me on his bike wearing only a loincloth and a foam Statue of Liberty headband. This guy literally made my commute with his smile and his positive attitude…so what if he’s a little crazy?

You don’t have to be crazy approach your day, your week, and others with a smile. It sounds pretty corny, but people notice, and they feed off of it. When you smile at someone, they almost always smile back (unless he/she is just straight-up rude and dead-panning you on purpose). Smiling makes you more approachable. It’s even suggested that smiling boosts your own level of happiness!

I met a speaker from Simon & Schuster who gave me some great advice, and I think you all should take note. I’m generally a pretty smiley person anyway (I got gold star superlatives and awards like “Miss Smiles-a-Lot,” and “Miss Approachable – Highest Client Satisfaction” in high school classes and college jobs (LOL…really?), but I never thought to share the role a smile can play in an interview, or the difference it can make when meeting a professional in the field you are looking to enter.

As this great Editorial Assistant emphatically explained, “You should be smiling at least four blocks away from the place you want to work. When you’re already working there, do it anyway. Your higher-ups may not know you personally, but you never know who you’ll hold the door for or who you’ll pass in the lobby that morning.”

Awesome!

Just for fun, here are some smiles that may not send the right message:

     

The Party behind the Publisher

Walking through the doors of larger publishing companies, absorbing the grandeur, the machine, I started to wonder (and I’m sure I’m not alone) where it was that the creativity was hiding. The lobby spaces were large, intimidating,Image and particularly closed off…not so reflective of what you think these companies stand for. Even our name tags read, in bold lettering, “Unannounced Guest.”

Don’t let the façade fool you. Think of a big publishing house as one of those Nerds Gumballs (my favorite, even now). The traditional outer shell is no reflection of the flavor and creative, awesome nerds that are hiding inside!

I’ll say it again. I’ve found my people. Here are some words of wisdom from various professionals that absolutely made my day:

“Write drunk; edit sober.”

“Don’t set your trash can on fire first week on the job.”

“Fail!”

“Hire your boss.”

Below is an actual exercise we did…hysterical! I’d love to hear your comments.

Exercise:

X Publishing company would like to hire three new Editorial Assistants, but these hires depend on the acquisition of one of the following three books that would be hugely profitable:

1. A book by a hateful religious extremist

2. A book by a self-justifying felon who caused the financial crisis

3. A book by Justin Bieber endorsing crystal meth and promiscuous sex for minors

What would you choose, and why?

Happy 4th!

Hi Wendy!

If you haven’t seen this, you need to check it out. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than some functional, wacky modern art. This beast not only helps to neutralize pollution, houses a DJ booth, and spritzes overheated concert guests, but it looks AWESOME.

http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/news/artnetnews/pollution-fighting-sculpture-moma-ps1.asp

I’m also pleased that this is a student project…it’s great when older institutions invite wild, large-scale innovation and support imaginative youth.