Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tips for Magazine Interns to Know

I’ve had a few questions recently (and I love questions, so thank you!) about what I wish I’d known before becoming an intern, particularly within the magazine industry.

So here’s a little list for you hardworking, word-loving-go-getters. The quoted statements in yellow were my confused thoughts during the early days of my internship, while the text that follows each statement explains what I learned.

1) “People always be talking ‘bout them heds and deks.”

Heds and deks (aka Heads and Decks) are the same as “headlines” and “subheads.” The hed is obviously the title of the story. The dek is a blurb or tease that makes someone want to continue reading an article. You may also see some publications call the first sentence of a story the “lede” (aka the Lead sentence).

2) “What in the world is a “deskside” and why am I sitting in on one?”

Typically PR companies are happy to pitch stories and products to your magazine, based on the type of publication. For example, at Parents Magazine we have tons of baby toys come through our doors. If an editor asks you to “cover a deskside” for them, they are asking you to listen in on a PR pitch. These sometimes take place right at your desk (ahh… the name…) but can also occur in meeting spaces or conference rooms throughout your office. Grab a pen, takes notes, and ask a question or two – that’s all you’re expected to do.

3) “Why are the prices TK and the editors TK and the dates TK?”

When looking over layouts still in progress, chances are you’ll find a few “TK’s” throughout the page. This is the intentional misspelling of “to come” as in “more information to come.” Most likely, parts of the story are still missing or haven’t happened yet. Many believe that TK looks odd and is easier to spot than the words “to come” which could easily be a phrase within an article.

I’ll try and update this post when I think of more terms or instances of confusion If you have any questions, feel free to email me at: thewhyblogger (at) or comment below!

And now I’m going back to work…


Monday, July 25, 2011

Flappers & Foreshadowing: A Glimpse of Coney Island

The train lurched into the station with a final exhale of steam. As the doors slid open, tourist and locals spilled from the cramped subway cars onto a semi-deserted platform. People immediately ran for the exits, clogging stairwells and blocking off ramps with strollers, beach bags, and any other number of important summer items.

July 4th at Coney Island.

Ivy and I wriggled between slowly paced families, dodging umbrellas along the way. We wanted to see that glorious sun… and the hot dog-eating contest, of course.

We found a spot close to the stage and waited for about 40 minutes before any real festivities began. Soon enough, contestants were called up and introduced to the audience as a man shouted some of their disgusting past feats. Once prompted, the food cramming commenced as hot dog were thrown into water – bun and all – then gulped down.

The site of drippy bread as it was flung onto the faces of men and women was… less than appetizing. But the experience was certainly memorable and even a bit exciting as contenders’ boards were flipped for each dog consumed.

After winners were announced, we swiveled away from the hubbub surrounding Nathan’s food stand and opted for an exploration of Coney Island before returning to Manhattan.

The culture of this place has always intrigued me.

There’s something dark and gritty about Coney Island’s atmosphere, only slightly masked by the florescent layers of chipping paint from years gone by. A menacing clown-like face with a Cheshire cat smile grins down on patrons of the park and odd carousel music beats eerily in the background.

But in the background….

Far, far away - in that place between background noise and a dream – you can hear the chuckle of a woman. She dons a white 1920s style hat that drapes around her face. It clashes beautifully with her dark hair and dark eyes, accentuated by more makeup than her mother would allow. She’s young and has a charming face, soft and sharp in all the right places.

Strolling to her side is a dapper man, well known in New York’s more elite circles. He’s a handsome fellow, for sure, though some might say his eyes were too shrewd – a trait surely inherited from his father. His thin mustache makes him look more like a businessman, while a stylish straw hat tilted to the left suggested otherwise.

She laughs and smiles, nearly prancing with joy down Shore Avenue. He gives her a small grin and grabs her hand tightly… maybe too tightly. The sea breeze rustles her skirts and she laughs once more, glancing at his face. But even when shielding her vision from the sun, she can’t quite make out his eyes. She can’t quite tell what he’s thinking. She doesn’t quite know if…


“Sorry! Sorry.” I say twice, as if that makes it any better. Bumping into people in New York is pretty constant, but running smack into someone’s back is downright embarrassing - particularly when I'm just lost in my own mind.

I gave my surroundings one more futile glance, longing to perhaps witness two imaginary characters walking arm-in-arm… Or maybe my flapper had escaped the questionable dandy? But no, instead I saw Ivy talking on the phone near a hot dog stand.

An eerie feeling descended on me and despite the heat, I felt goose bumps rise up my arms in movie-like fashion.
Coney Island is an enjoyable place to visit with fascinating history and certainly a story to be told...

But I could never quite shake the feeling that something terrible had happened on those carnival grounds. Or maybe the truly tragic situation is that this amusement park is no longer amusing to most, and already forgotten by everyone else. Housing projects surround the area, and I couldn’t get disturbing scenes from “Requiem for a Dream” out of my head.

The carousel music still plays in the background, but no one – imaginary or real – is riding a single painted horse.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baby Steps in High Heels

I woke up early, wanting to prepare myself. Leaving my apartment in a rush is one thing. Leaving my apartment in rush today? That just wasn’t a smart idea.

Grand Central Station was buzzing at 9:10 as my 7 Train neared the platform. I was twenty minutes ahead of schedule, and had almost an hour before my actual interview.

Good. This was the plan.

Being perpetually early to interviews is my coping mechanism for nerves, and I’ve come to accept that fact. Does anyone remember when I interviewed for Martha Stewart? I sat for thirty minutes in the frozen air, too early to go inside but too late to grab a coffee 4 blocks up. At least here I already have a desk…

Click click up the escalator. Clip clop up the stairs. Dodge a heavy woman in heels, two steps to the left to avoid the man with a bag. “Extra, extra” and we’re on the street. Beep beep; the orange hand says “stop.” A whistle tells me to go – but I’m already going.

One last buzz, and I’m in the building. With a polite “ding” I’m on the 10th floor. After two “hellos” I’m at my desk. And now it’s truly time to focus…
I want this.
I really want this.

The next two hours are a blur of questions and smiles. I had printed out my resume, updated my cover letter, and dragged the good ol’ portfolio from home. I explained my thesis and discussed iPad technology with some of the top editors at Parents Magazine.

An Editorial Assistant job was opening for a 6 to 7 month period. Sure it wasn’t stable – but everyone needs a little risk! Yes, I’ll be looking for the next job in about 5 months – and probably blogging about it too.

Let me explain why the job is so appealing:

First, I already work here. It would be a seamless transition, with a slight change in daily tasks. Second, it easier to look for the next EA job when you’re already an EA. Instead of saying “Oh I interned here...” I can confidently go to an interview and pronounce I worked at a national magazine.

And finally…

I would actually be getting paid to do what I love. No one has ever paid me to write or work within the literary and publishing worlds.

But now they will.
Because I got the job.

Big girl shoes for big girl interviews.

After work, I celebrated with my friend Maurene, who coincidentally just made Harvard Law Review. Dang! How she's that smart and still capable of holding regular conversation is beyond me. Let just say, July 18th was a fabulous day.

So we toasted Champagne in a fancy Soho hotel, decorated with breath-taking crystal chandeliers. And we both ordered the fish. And we both smiled.

Yes, we both smiled a lot.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Day My Childhood Ended

Today is the day my childhood ends.

Me and my friends from the past will officially finish our stories
together tonight.

I remember staying up late with them, huddled under covers or crammed in my closet, trying to squeeze in as much time as possible before “lights out.”

I remember sitting on my kitchen table screaming my friends’ stories to my mother as she made dinner. Occasionally the tales would get too exciting, and she would stop the production of her meal just to finish their great narratives.

I remember lying out on the beach with these same companions of mine. I would spend hours with them on the sand, in the hot tub, on the balcony before dinner… We didn’t really hang out in the water together – but I would have had that been plausible.

I remember deeply discussing these childhood friends’ sagas with my family and my neighbors. We could talk for hours about why my friends did this or why my friends did that.

I remember rushing to the store to greet my friends. And then, when we got bigger, I remember rushing to the movie theaters to meet them again. Every year we were a little bit older, a little bit wiser. But we always had another year together…

Until now.

Because today is the day I will view my very last Harry Potter movie.

I know, I know – you can laugh at me. I give you full permission. It’s a little bit odd to love book characters so much, isn’t it?

But the truth is… when Harry Potter was 11, I was 11. When Harry Potter was 14, I was 14. We grew up together! I don’t know all the spells and I would probably fail at intense Harry Potter trivia. Never the less, the series certainly means something to me.

In middle school, my family would sit around the kitchen or gather in bed and read these books aloud. At that age, it was the ONLY book in my recollection we ever read aloud (besides the Bible and The Night Before Christmas, which are two very hefty literary references).

Most of my generation, as well as every other age group, loves these books. The pages are full of adventure, a hint of romance, and provide vast worlds to jump into with an ever-present good vs. evil spin. You get to know the characters as if they were actual pals that age with you over a seven-year timeline. And reading the books as they were released was true excitement.

So today is bittersweet.

I have tickets to see the advanced screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in Union Square at 7pm. My roommate scored the passes from work and generously invited me!

That also means my longest running series if officially at its end. Harry, Ron, Hermione and a slew of others will forever part ways with us tonight. That’s a lot for a fan to take in. What if I cry? Dang that’d be embarrassing.

But luckily, my own story will go on, and more great friends shall be found. This epic narrative will not be forgotten, though some celebrated tales have yet to be discovered. My childhood… my last remaining strings of adolescents… might be over.

"But to live will be an awfully great adventure."

Did I just quote Peter Pan?



Monday, July 11, 2011

July in New York City

Guys, I know it’s been a while. I haven’t forgotten about you and there are still hundreds of stories to tell. But lately I’ve been…



I don’t quite understand when it happened, but these last few weeks have been filled to the brim with work and (let’s be honest) maybe a little fun. Throw in the 4th of July as well as a quick beach trip, and you’ve got one unavailable writer.

Speaking of the beach… can I just tell you how burned I am as I type this? Then again I suppose that’s the final outcome of a redhead going to the shore with a Dominican and a Filipino.
May I simply update you on the goings-on’s in NYC and then give it to you in story format later? Because I’ve really got some people who want me to upload Facebook pics and a cover letter that needs revamping…

First, the 4th of July was fabulous. I explored Coney Island with Ivy, watched the annual hotdog-eating contest (as seen on ESPN) and then hopped back over to Manhattan for a late afternoon picnic with the Jersey boys and a posse of people. We stayed late into the evening, witnessing fireworks sprinkle across the Hudson’s sky.

My first beach trip of the season – I know, how horrible it’s only the first? – was a little piece of heaven. None of us could stop saying how happy we were to be near water, soaking up sun, and just relaxing. I don’t even think I cracked my book; I just wanted to sit and swim.
Of course, as mentioned before, my back looks ridiculous and this morning I woke up slightly sick and dehydrated. Never the less, it was worth every lazy moment.

In between these little occasions, I’ve been working away. Bloomies had back-to-back sales, and the magazine was buzzing as editors pieced together final layouts for shipping. I ran around the office like a crazy person with product call-ins and toy manuals coming out of my ears.

Too bad I loved every minute of it.

Enough chitchat. Promise I’ll tell you a story soon. Here are some pics to go along the narrative of the last several days…

Hotdog-eating contest at Coney Island.

On the beach near the rides. Crazy crowded.

Classic carnival.

July 4th picnic on the pier.

Jersey boys in the city.

Waiting for the fireworks.We had to get there 5 hours early to guarantee a seat!

Totally worth it. Hudson fireworks, on the westside of the island.

Long Beach one hot Sunday.

The pier and such. Most aspects of Long Beach were similar to Virginia Beach.

Ending the night with some ice cream.