Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Please Call Me Back: Part #1


The email button lit up again on my work computer. Sweat was beginning to form on my forehead as I scooted closer to the screen. What I read did not help my current rate of perspiration.

The message said something along the lines of “We need those books by the end of tomorrow.”

Crap. I had one afternoon to call in 14 some books from large publishing companies, and yet possessed absolutely no contacts. Have you ever tried calling a publishing company? They're not exactly inviting, probably because of the number of crazy peoples' manuscripts the reject daily. Now how the heck was I going to swing this one?

Let’s back track…

My first day at the internship, I had been given a list of books to “call in” for a photo shoot. Instead of buying publications, most magazines contact a publicity department and get the books compensated, as well as delivered, directly from the publisher. We receive them at no cost; they obtain free press. Everyone is happy.

Except this little, worried intern.

Rule One: Never have faith in only one contact. An editor had emailed me the name and cell phone number of someone involved in a powerful industry-related company. Supposedly she could get us every book, and I wouldn’t need to play the telephone game all around town with separate (and hard to reach) publishing companies.

Do you think this worked? Do you think the book-drug lord of all contacts came through?

Well now, we wouldn’t have a blog post if she did, would we?

I grabbed a cup of coffee and forfeited my plan of going to the park for lunch. Lunch? Who can even eat lunch when you are about to fail as an intern! Had this ever happened before?

Just as my stomach was about to flip into that horrible knot, previously caused by public speaking, math test, and long plane rides, an ex-intern walked over to my desk. “Hi Britney!” she said, greeting me with a smile I didn’t think I deserved.
She probably never had such a problem getting hold of contacts.
“How’s the internship going?”
“Oh yeah, you know… It’s really great so far. I’m just, uh, trying to call in these books,” I said slowly - then added in a much more rushed tone, “But of course no one is answering or emailing me back.” It was hard to hide the traces of panic slipping into my expression.

“Oh don’t worry. You’ll get used to that,” she said, continuing to explain that these things happen and how quick deadlines arise constantly, but that you learn to complete the task at hand.

After thanking her for the bits of wisdom, I starred down at my coffee and then back to the computer screen. The knot subsided ever so slightly.

I had conquered public speaking! I was a Communications Major and university tour guide. I had conquered long plane rides! My Ireland trip was 7 hours on a plane by myself. I had conquered math test! Well, actually
no, I hadn’t really… but I graduated so you know…

Another email. “Have you heard anything about the books yet?”

Nope. Guess it was time to really get started. This project was not going to be some failed math test, and these companies were most certainly going to call me back. Check out "The Why" again tomorrow to see how it all plays out...

Worried face. This was actually taken after I ate someone's sandwich at a bar. Turned out it was the leftovers from the couple who sat at the table before us... not a person from our party. Ew. But so good.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Day as "Parents" Intern

Meredith Corporation's headquarters are located on the corner of Lexington and Park Avenue. Situated right next to Grand Central Terminal, this billion-dollar business is quite literally in the heart of Manhattan.

“Better Homes and Gardens,” “Ladies Home Journal,” “Family Circle,” and of course “Parents Magazine” all resided in the looming structure before me. I stopped and stared at the offices piled high on top of one another, taking in the final moment before the experience began.

Sometimes that’s the best moment.

As I approached the revolving glass doors, my speed increased to a near jog. Unlike my first day at Martha Stewart Living, I wasn’t 30 minutes early but in fact almost 5 minutes late. This is untypical Britney behavior, but I just had to get that cup of coffee in Astoria… and who knew “train traffic” could be so bad during peak hours?

That’s right – I’m officially apart of the “rat race” in the city with the most rats. Every morning I run to my coffee shop with most of my makeup done, then hop onto a crowed subway train and search (in vain) for a seat. Exiting at Grand Central is, well…grand, and running my swipe card through a turnstile to enter 375 Lex can be slightly thrilling.
Plus they’ve given me a voicemail, and a computer, and a work email, and a DESK, and it comes with DRAWERS!?

Yes, there is one problem though…that whole thing about not getting paid? Ehh, soon enough my friends. One day this internship lifestyle will result in something we call a
real job.

Anyways – back to Day One. Slightly late but only a little ruffled, I find my office and the editorial assistant who’s ready to get me started. After going on the grand tour of “Parents Magazine”, I’m put to work. Fixing email problems, copying papers, opening reader mail (some of which was hilarious PS) to calling in book orders and working on research projects; I felt like on my first day I’d done so much. Yet there was still more to do and projects left incomplete – I even considered doing some of it at home. Don’t worry; I didn’t.

But what a good a feeling.

Already there is a sense that my contributions are important, even with the first week still in progress. More to come…. And stayed tuned because Day Three was a doozy.

Meredith Corp's headquarters in midtown Manhattan.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Joining Civilization

I did it.

I finally got a phone with email, and Twitter, and Facebook, and all that jazz. But most importantly, I have a phone with email. This is exciting for multiple reasons, one of which being my lack of connection throughout the day. Gone are the times of "email hours" where I play catchup with my technology after work.

Now I just have to figure out what to name the little guy...

Any suggestions? Just comment below... and keep in mind I already have a Pandora, Christopher, and Petunia.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Internship: Exposed

So remember when I couldn’t tell you much of anything about my MS Living internship? Well I still can’t talk about what will be in the upcoming August issue, but check out the link below for a little insider information….


And to all you interns out there: Definitely check out the 3 points I learned from my experience and some of the other postings on this website. Pace University’s publishing blog is a great tool for contacts, advice, and links to the business world.

June iPad issue, courtesy of MarthaStewart.com.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

And the Next Post?

If you can't find me, it's because I'm on holiday in Virginia. I may or may not post throughout the week, but there certainly isn't going to be a schedule. It's vaca!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Trendspotting for Spring 2011


Lots of new albums are dropping just in time for summer! Check out some of my favorite artists’ work:

Manchester Orchestra – “Simple Math” – May 10th
Okkervil River – “I am Very Far” – May 10th
Lady Gaga – “Born This Way” - May 23rd
Death Cab For Cutie – “Codes and Keys” – May 31st
My Morning Jacket – “Circuital” – May 31st

And don’t for get Fleet Foxes new album came out early this May. Sample their work on my New York Morning Playlist. And download a free My Morning Jacket single here.

Disc cover from the new Fleet Foxes album, out May 3rd.


If you liked “The Devil in the White City,” then try Erik Larson’s new novel “In the Garden of Beasts.” If you enjoy funny women memoirs, check out Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” or Betty White’s “If You Ask Me.” And if you want another “Girl With the Dragoon Tattoo,” try this new Swedish crime fiction writer: Camilla Lackberg’s novels “The Ice Princess” and “The Preacher” have both scored notable reviews.

Meg Cabot fan? She just released “Abandon,” which is the retelling of a Greek myth in a more modern setting. Nonfiction kind of reader? Look for “Lost in Shangri-La” about three military men during the end of WWII.

And of course don’t forget that summer movies were first summer reads. Check out Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants” now available in mass market print or Emily Giffin’s “Something Borrowed.” I met her at a book signing and she was incredibly sweet – plus she said she liked my dress!

Emily Giffin at a book signing near 23rd street.


Floral prints, wedge shoes, and white – its what Bloomindales and other shopping outlets have been pushing as the “trends of the season.” And something I have loved my entire life is finally “stylish” – that’s right! FLOPPY HATS. Is it practical in the city? Not entirely. But maybe men will start wearing top hats again. Oh, could we also develop British accents? No? Okay… whatever. A girl can dream.

Also, if you are in the New York area, don’t forget to check out Alexander McQueen’s exhibit at the MET. Not only were all of the stories behind the avant-garde outfits fascinating, but the museum itself setup an astonishing display space.

One of McQueen's electric fashion pieces shown at the MET.


Monday, May 9, 2011

The Occasional Flowers of Newark

It was a beautiful day in the city, with the sun finally making a more permanent appearance. I had just shipped a box of bagels to my mom for Mother’s Day (apparently my whole family shares a similar obsession with these circles of doughy deliciousness) and was walking down 30th Ave towards the subway. Newark, NJ was my faraway destination.

As I was crossing the street WAM! I was hit – not by a car, a bike, or even a person. I was struck by a small spec of dirt.

Unfortunately, the results were devastating.

After several hours of rapid blinking, painful attempts at flushing out the mysterious partial, and a few unintentional, watery tears, I decided my swollen eye was indeed the one ailment I didn’t want to deal with: a scratched cornea. My sister had somehow accomplished 2 or 3 of these little devils before she was 16, so I knew the symptoms and the annoying procedure to heal the ripped wound.

But let’s flashback to another epiphany I had during the searing cornea pain.

I sat on the PATH train with a watery stare as I traveled to Newark and then walked 20 minutes to Trinity Church. The after school program I have come to know and love over the past 5 years was about to begin its usual chaos, and I was excited to have a day off to partake in the madness.

Though I looked like a fool (or looked high) with one red eyeball, a small happiness crept up inside of me. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t cold, and the sky was a brilliant blue instead of that despicable gray I’ve come to loathe. No coat was necessary as I strolled down the concrete streets, with greenery and splashes of colorful flowers bowing their heads towards the sun.

And yes, believe it or not, there IS the occasional flower in Newark.

As I arrived at the church, the children were already organized into their groups painting, gardening, or completing a Bible crossword puzzle with surprising meticulousness. Though I roamed between activities (blinded ever so slightly by my irritating eye), Miss Kortlyn’s gardening group was my most undeviating position.

“Miss Kortlyn what can I dooooo!?” one child said, hopping up and down like a typical ADD elementary school kid. “Ah! A worm!” another girl screamed, as she unearthed the slimy bug. An older boy simultaneously backed away from her, not afraid to admit he was in fact very afraid of the small creature.

“Look how the plant grew, Britney!” the 4th grader next to me exclaimed. I squinted at the green stem she pointed to, and nodded with excitement at the Trinity Church garden. But another thought was on my mind…

The children – my children! – were growing. The kids who I’d first worked with were no longer in the after school program and had moved on to middle or high school. Now their siblings or fresh faces replaced the first bunch of crazy ones. Are they doing okay? What was in like in high school? Could they read any better than before?

And then what… these kids would go too! They would leave the safe (well safe-ish) confines of the church and be attacked by the very real and harsh world of Newark. In fact some were already attacked by the harsh world of home. What could I do?

In all honesty? Not much. Particularly with little access to NJ, trying to hold down a job, and an internship, there is very little I feel as though I can do.

Except maybe hope.

I can hope with all my heart that these children will be like the seeds they are planting. When faced with difficult decisions in the future between what is right and what is wrong, I can hope the moral seeds from their past are deep-rooted and spring forth. And I can hope the kids will spread more loving seeds throughout their community and home. And I can hope that this garden will continue to grow until it’s bursting with vibrant and ever-lasting life.

And I can hope these kids will aspire to be the occasional flowers of Newark.




Oh and PS – My eye was fine after an emergency room visit, throwing up, a good night’s sleep, and prescription eye drops.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday's Things New Yorkers Say: Words Best Unspoken

I don’t know who reads my blog.
Professionals, parents, friends, Virginians, New Yorkers, Canadians, kids – I’m not sure of the details, but statistically I know a few hundred tune into this website over the course of a week. And I truly thank you for the support.
That is why I’m also giving your fair warning; this is probably my raciest post to date. But it’s one of those stories that just must get told. So here is your chance to pull out… no? Okay.
Then let’s start at the beginning…
First you should know that I live in a very safe neighborhood. My roommate and I have never encountered any problems, even late at night. This is why yesterday, on my walk home around 10pm, I was surprised to stumble upon a persistent heckler.
I had just gotten off the phone with my sister, who was going to call me back in a few moments. Turning on Steinway, I passed two boys (and yes, I use the term “boys” in the most belittling of senses here) who were probably between ages 20 – 22.
“Hey… hey,” the one furthest from me says. I turn my head only slightly, keeping my pace.
“Are you an angel?” he asked with a serious face.
“Oh my gosh,” I say, rolling my eyes and passing him on the sidewalk. Not original. Not cute. Not anything I want to hear on my way home from work.
“I like your boots,” he calls ahead at me. This guy really wants to be heard. “But they clash you outfit! Oh burn…” he continues. Now I’m a ways in front of him and no longer interested in this child’s whiney request for attention. And I’m hungry.
Not a good combo.
“You look like Brittany Stone! You know who that is?” he says loudly. I didn’t, although I just Googled her. Turns out he either meant a past American Idol contestant… or a porn star. You decide.
Then he went there. He really pissed me off.
“Hey. HEY! Do you want to give me ****? HEY! Umbrella!” he shouts, I’m guessing because I’m holding my large plastic umbrella – which I’m now considering using as a weapon. “HEY UMBRELLA! DO YOU WANT TO GIVE ME ****!?”
You can interpret those 4 little stars any way you please, but let’s just say he was screaming an insulting, demeaning sexual request at the top of his lungs.
Now… I’m tired. I’m starving. I’m coming home from Bloomingdales after a long evening. And presently, someone is yelling at me. So no, I did not take the high road. No, I didn’t shout, “My body is a temple!” or “Back away from me crazy devil boy!”
I swiveled abruptly on my heel and screamed:
“DUDE. Shut the F*** UP!!”
Yes, I said that. I don’t curse at people very often – but this warranted something more powerful than a “Hey, can you stop that?” I wanted the whiney devil boy to know that it is not okay to scream insults at anyone who wonders by. It is not okay for women to walk home thinking they could be verbally harassed. It is NOT OKAY because you don’t treat human beings that way. And I wanted to be very loud about the whole situation so everyone on the street would know “I. Am. Not. Okay.”
He looked like a deer caught in headlights. I pivoted back around and saw a group of 5 guys appear out of nowhere. “Hey whoa – okay, we’ll take it from here,” one of them says. Another tells me to “just keep on walking.”
I don’t look at any of them. The offenders, the defenders – they’re all behind me now. My phone rings and I continue talking to my sister, like nothing happened. Just a regular night in New York.
Could I have handled the circumstances better? Yes. My anger attacked any form of reasonable vernacular. Would I suggest my outspoken tactics? No. Though I will admit, there was something very freeing about “talking back” to a force that degrades your existence.
In fact I have an exceedingly positive feeling about standing up for my standards of respect. Maybe one day I’ll have the matching maturity to not drop the F-bomb?
Eh. Well it’s a start.
So this “Thursday’s Things” is about the time Britney cursed out someone on the street and how she was a little embarrassed and a little proud of that fact.

All time favorite sign - Virginia Beach, VA.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Music for Your Soul

I wake up most mornings with my hair on top of my head and a hungry stomach. Generally there are three things that will get me out of bed (and no, a warm shower is not one of them).
1. Food – more specifically a bagel and coffee.2. “The Price is Right” – but only on late mornings since it’s on at 11am.3. Music – especially a happy, epic, good-morning-kind-of playlist.

I want to leave my apartment invigorated and optimistic. Everyday I have to take on the world! You do too, right? And what better way to conquer life than by enjoying a personal playlist comparable to the score of a movie, beating continuously in the background of reality.

So today I’m sharing with you one of my more current wake up mixes. I’ve been in a “discovering” mood all week… aka I’m not working on my thesis, and instead I’m digging through online databases or twitter accounts for free music downloads.

Expect more tunes to come your way this week… thesis isn’t due till Friday.

Get a &<span class=Standalone player Get &<span class=

What songs help you wake up and conquer the world?


Monday, May 2, 2011

The News In New York: Osama's Death

The Path train skidded into the station sometime around 9:40pm. Once above ground, I briefly surveyed my surroundings. It was a quiet night at the World Trade Center on the lower side of Manhattan.

I was traveling home from Virginia, and on the last leg of my trip. From Staunton to Charlottesville with one friend, from Char- lottesville to Newark, with two other friends, from Newark to New York by the Path Train.

And finally I’d ride from the Financial District’s World Trade Center stop to Astoria, Queens by the subway’s N Train.

My rolling bag clinked loudly behind me in the calm night air. People were going one place or another, but the small groups and individuals moved in a typical hushed formation.

The light turned red. I stopped briefly at the crosswalk, noting how much colder it was here than two days ago and longing for some sort of jacket. I hugged my bare arms and swayed from side to side. Maybe if I moved around, I could warm myself up.

During one of these side-to-side motions, I caught sight of the new World Trade Center building currently under construction. How crazy to think two huge edifices used to stand here, and within a matter of 100 minutes or so… they were gone.

What if I had been here? What if my friends had been coming into NYC on the Path Train? Would they have been crushed and buried forever under debris?

I don’t think about these things. You cannot live in constant fear of the unknown, particularly in a city with this many variables. New York is filled to the brim with possibilities for locals and visitors alike, yet both optimistic and vile outcomes can arrive with such promise.

So I turned my head from the destructive hole seared into the collective psyche of many Americans. It was time to go home.

The light turned green and I moved. There was one transfer from the R to the N train, and then the 15-minute walk to my apartment. By 10:30 I was back in Astoria, and before 11pm, I had checked my email and clicked on CNN.com.

And there it was - the news many had hoped for throughout the last 10 years was printed on a yellow banner across the top of the webpage. “Osama bin Laden, rumored to be dead.”

Soon the news was official, and the White House issued a statement. Obama spoke with authority and ended his impromptu speech with the last lines of the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Meanwhile, citizens gathered outside the White House and in Times Square. Some were also embarking on late night trips down to the World Trade Center, saying they “just wanted to be with everyone else.”

I didn’t go all the way back down to the Financial District, but I watched as every local network attempted to cover the events of the evening. And of course one of the most entertaining moments of the night came from constant Twitter feeds, buzzing 4,000 tweets per second (a record high).

New Yorkers seem bittersweet. Some are happy, others saddened by the reminders of the past. The NY Times literally stopped presses last night to change the front page, while local TV channels broke into regular shows to dissect the news as it occurred. Police have already inspected a strange box left in Time Square, and the nation has been told not to travel abroad because of anti-American sentiment.

So life spins on, and the battles of yesterday will continue to haunt the present - maybe more so now than before. Increased police presence in the subways and airports are not-so-subtle reminders of what happens when 3,000 people parish on their way to work.


At least we can admit that some form of justice has been served, and hope for a future unstained by the same blemishes of our past.