Monday, January 30, 2012

Poor in New York: Peanut Butter

Peanut butter, oh peanut butter. Where do we even begin? I have a certain love hate relationship with you that began nearly a year and a half ago...

Mom rarely packed us PBJs in our lunches. We had turkey, ham, bologna - even more exotic treats like pimento cheese or egg salad.

So it's safe to say, when I moved to the city, my affair with this nutty spread was untarnished. Peanut butter was a luxury addition to apples and bananas. Not a staple to my diet.

But this ideology soon changed. Buying groceries for one is just as much of an art as buying groceries for five - particularly when your budget is about $25 for two or three weeks at a time. You learn how to shop the deals, to dig through the two-for-one sales, and slowly begin to understand what should and shouldn't be bought in mass quantities.

Peanut butter is one of those items I got used to picking up every few trips to C-Town (which is the New York version of The Food Kitty, The Sh*ty Kitty, or maybe best known as The Food Lion). Think about this: I have to pack lunch four to five days a week. That's 10 pieces of bread. Together the P and the J part of a sandwich consist of less than $5. Two loafs of wheat bread is also right around $5. So the grand total for 1.5 weeks worth of lunches? $10 bucks. Buy a $3 dollar bag of apples with a $2.50 box of Chex Mix and you're golden for nearly eight meals!

There is, of course, a problem. Sometime between July and August of this year, I had a running count of about 25 PBJ lunches in a row (excluding weekends). On that 26th day, my stomach revolted. It literally said, “No. Give me one more PBJ… just try… and I’ll make a mess out of you.”

I obeyed my stomach and splurged on a $7 salad (Argh! The cost of my meals for a week, spent in one day!).

Ahhh, but it was so worth it.

The reason I am writing about my peanut butter fixation today is because today is the first Monday in nearly a month where I’ve once again brought this classic lunch to work.

So cheers, my friends.
To soggy bread and nutty spread!

Let’s get this over with.

No. I don't buy the healthy, organic kind.
Sorry. Some things just can't be compromised.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ode to New York's Winter Nights

It really is such a pity
if you’ve never seen the lights of the city.
Sometimes I feel the most awake
when the sun’s gone down, and night escapes.

The shadows crawl over the walls,
and the light of daytime slowly falls.
A certain thrill attacks the night air
maybe because, you never know what’s truly there.

Walking down the darkened streets,
My heart takes on entirely new beats.
The pulse of the city drums in my ears
And quickly vanquishes any unsettling fears. 

Our town’s lights flicker, twinkle, and flash
And somewhere, a late commuter does a dash.
He’s only trying to “make it” home…
The one place in the city you can almost call your own.

But our collective spirit is alive,
and while individualistic, concurrently we thrive.
There’s a web of intricate pieces and tales
And only simultaneously our story prevails.

Don’t forget that cold, deceptive night breeze.
Take in this place; take it all in please.
A city too blasé certainly dies.
So WAKE UP, and open your disenchanted eyes.

The contrasting dark night
with the harsh, bright light
may certainly bestow quite a great fright.
But for me (and for you)… oh what sheer delight.

For the city’s energy fills our weary appetite. 

While this post is intended to speak to the hearts of New Yorkers, I'm sure these words could be applied to any city with that unstoppable sort of rhythm and addicting nighttime air. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Day at HarperCollins

“So when I release the elevator doors, you guys are gonna have to run outta there. Uh… pretty quickly.”

Par-don? Did you say run?

I am now staring in horror at the man next to me, who is staring at the man next to him, who is staring at the intercom. “Um. Okay…?” He said as calmly as one can in a situation like this.

I should have seen it coming.
I should have known the day would not go as planned.
Because, let’s be honest – it never does.
(Insert flashback music.)

The morning hadn’t started out great. Bad hair day. Lost sock. One piece of bread. But despite all these little annoyances, I’d managed to make it to my new place of employment by 9AM sharp. I walked into the HarperCollins building on 53rd, and boarded the elevator headed towards Human Resources.

It was my first day! I was going to smile, and be on time, and be triumphant! And I was going to… scrrreeetch.

I was not going to do anything for about 20 minutes.

We had made it to the 23rd floor (or at least close to it) before our metal cage stopped. The elevator now hung in the air, silent and unmoving. Nervous glances ensued. Surely we weren’t stuck. I mean who gets stuck in an elevator on their first day of work? What are the chances? No, no… we were going to move momentarily.

“Say, is it getting a bit stuffy in here?” I thought to myself. There are seven of us. We aren’t that heavy. Why are we stuck? Are we actually stuck!? It’s been about 3 minutes. What’s the deal? Suddenly I’m very warm. I feel a little claustrophobic.

Scarf must…come…off…now.
Off my neck with you!
Are you trying to CHOKE me, scarf!?

Hum. Okay. Chill. Stare at a spot on the wall and don’t think about anything else but the spot. It’s been about 5 minutes. We’ve now pushed the alarm button, and are waiting for instructions. At least I’d taken off that freaking scarf.

“So when I release the elevator doors, you guys are gonna have to run outta there. Uh… pretty quickly.”

I am the only girl. I am the only one under 35. I am the only one who will die on her first day!

Okay, okay maybe that’s a tad dramatic. But this thought might have crossed my mind (and if you are living in New York, you know why…). With recent elevator accidents, the last place I want to be is trapped inside of one, 23 floors up, with six slightly sweaty men.

“Okay. So it looks like the doors are jammed. I can’t open them. So we’re going to try and reset the elevator and bring it down to the first floor.”

I’m staring at spot on the wall.
No one could distract me now. 

But after another 5 minutes or so passes, we simply aren’t moving. I relinquish the spot and glance at my counterparts. We are an eclectic bunch. Never the less, we all currently wear the same pinched expression.

“You know after what happened with that lady a few weeks ago…” says one man. “Ehhh.” “Oh come on.” “Heeey now.” The rest of us simultaneously grumble our disagreement with his choice of words.

Rule Number One of being stuck in an elevator: You don’t talk about being stuck in an elevator… particularly because of several unfortunate events in the not so distant past. The jerk shut his mouth, and we all went back to an uncomfortable silence.

“So. We can’t reset the elevator,” our faceless narrator says over the intercom. “Don’t worry; just hang tight. We’ve called the mechanic, and he’s on his way up there now.”

Hang tight. 
Hannng tight!?
I hope no pun was intended. 

Meanwhile, I’m trying to email the HR woman from my phone, apologizing for such an odd absence. She knows I’m in the building because I was buzzed up through security. She probably also believes I’m lost and have been wondering around for 20 minutes. 

At least first impressions aren’t everything…?

Finally a thin metal bar separates the elevator doors. The mechanic then pushes them apart with his hands, revealing we are about 3 inches from the 23rd floor. Everyone hopped out quickly, breathing a sigh of relief.

To wrap this tale up properly: The nice HR lady knew I was stuck in the elevator. My first day was an interesting dive into ebooks, and I loved seeing the behind-the-scenes process of creating this type of technology. I’ll be working in HarperCollins ebook department for the next several months, and so far everything is going well.

Although… I should mention a fire drill occurred immediately after I got settled into my area. And can you guess whose desk is the meeting spot for an emergency? Yes. You are correct. I sat down, and was suddenly surrounded by nameless employees.

Well. That, my friends, is when you just look up and smile.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Change It Up

So this isn't a real blog post. 
No actual story included here.
I'm sorry... and rather exhausted. 

I promise to write about the new job this weekend, but somehow time has escaped me yet again. Please note when this post was uploaded...3ish I believe? Yes, it has become apparent I may never correctly adapt to the 9 to 5 world and could possible follow a college sleep schedule for life.

Then again... that's fine with me. 
Greetings from Queens! 
And happy Friday.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And On To Something New: Last Day at Parents Magazine

I’ve been delaying the post. Procrastination at its finest.

I’m not quite sure how to wrap up the last 9 months without sounding cliché, but I’ll try to keep this as light as possible. However, you should be aware, under all these words I’m both sad and content in my final decision.

For those of you who don’t know, I will be leaving Parents magazine at 5:30pm today, and not returning tomorrow. Another job has presented itself, and while I’m very excited to begin my next adventure, I can’t help but feel as though I’m leaving behind something a little bit great.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

The first day of my internship I was in a fluster, slightly late and slightly lost (as you might remember). My confidence in the 7 train had been overestimated, as well as my ability in recalling where exactly Parents magazine’s offices were located.

I ran over to one of the Editorial Assistant’s desks once I’d finally found the correct department. “I am so sorry I’m late.” While I was less than ten minutes behind, you just don’t do that on your first day.

CJB looked up at me, matter-of-factly. “Your fine.” There was beat… a momentary pause where I couldn’t decide if she cared or not. No smile yet. I just sat standing there awkwardly.

“Let me show you where your desk is.”

And then BAM. She gave me a dazzling smile. I was reassured by this very gesture that no - she didn’t hate me, and that yes - I could do this internship.

Lucky enough, it was one of those miraculous internships that led to an even more desirable position: a job. I had put in my two weeks notice at Bloomingdale's before July was over, and the 60+ hour workweeks slowly slipped away until I was only involved in magazines.

I became a fulltime EA.

Me. Editorial Assistant for your Tablet department? No… stop it… but really, yes? Are you Sure? Maybe I shouldn’t ask if you’re sure… Yes.  Yes, I want this job! Wait, what exactly is this job? Oh it doesn’t even matter at this point… just thank you for the job – ANY job!

But here's the thing... It wasn’t just any editorial job.

I feel as though my experience was a rarity in magazines – not to mention in New York City.

It should be noted: Not all companies will treat you with a respect that is not only expected, but in fact, the standard. Even as an intern, I was not just an intern. My work was relevant, and while not always enjoyable, it was important. A sense of value and appreciation is difficult to come across in any position, so to nurture even the volunteer workers is truly going above the norm.

It should also be noted: Many stumble into a job hoping to discover mentors who can guide them through the basic practices of business. My magazine was an open environment, and I was astonished to find editors bending over backwards to explain guidelines and conduct. When I asked, people answered – and not because they were under any obligation.

Finally, it should be noted: These people were enjoyable. These people were genuine. These people were mothers, fathers, wives, and husbands. These people were friends. These people watched out for one another. These people affected me in both big and little ways.

Your first real job in the business you desire to be a part of is an unforgettable experience, and I sincerely thank the staff of Parents for making my time at the magazine more than gratifying. Between toy closets, iPad testing, lineups, and tablet meetings, I saw the world of print and digital colliding from a position I couldn’t have fathomed a year ago when I moved to the city with a few bags of clothes and a mattress.

So thank you, thank you, thank you. You’ve given me the tools – now I must finish the job. Here’s to leaping into the next thing… eyes closed.

And we jump.

A look back through the last year:

My first assignment: Call in hundreds of books from publishing houses. Well, you know how well that went... but I got by with a little help from my friends.

Toy testing. I liked this toy quite a lot. 

My Lorax that guarded the cubicles. If ever we were in a pinch or stressed out, we would hug the Lorax for comfort. A few weeks ago, after the Christmas holiday, there was a lot of hugging. 

Desk decorations.

Something I will miss: free food from press events. 

I met Mo Willems at the launch party of his new book app. 

And I played with cardboard boxes. 

Ah! I will truly miss this! Goodbye Bagel Wednesdays. You were good to me. 

I had the privilege of interviewing Jeremiah Brent and meeting Rachel Zoe at a press event.

Office view.

My cubicle when we had just moved into our new office. 

CJB's drawing about when I got the EA job at Parents. PS - I was not a little devil and she knew it. 

The ONE thing I would buy for lunch in summertime with the other interns. The rest of the time... you know it! PB&J. 

On the way to my interview.

So many tablet computers... this was in the middle of sending out magazines into the digital world. My desk housed a crazy amount of chargers, cords, and cases. 

Corporate coffee. 

The last few things to do before walking out of the office for good...  

... and beginning all over again tomorrow. 
But don't you love the word tomorrow? 
Ah, such a good word.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Weekends: Sounds and Beats

In New York's wintertime, Saturdays are more increasingly spent indoors and a certain mellow sound encompasses the afternoon. Evening is too quick in its approach, but then again, "the city that never sleeps" is not frightened by January's abrupt darkness. 

So as I sip my coffee and read, taking in the stillness (all but forgotten during the week), I play my music of this particular season. 
And once winter's fickle sun has set, with dinner done... 
New York wakes up for all its fun. 

Enjoy the sounds of a lazy afternoon. 

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

5 Things Not to Do on the Subway

1) Do not pee in the subway car. In fact, it is best if you do not urinate anywhere in public. But subway cars are particularly smothering, so this is particularly cruel.

2) Do not get into domestic disputes in the subway car. This is awkward. And I’m not talking about a little tiff. I’m simply asking you refrain from shouting, scratching, or yanking hair. It makes for a stressful journey home.

3) Do not pop your gum incessantly in the subway car.  Or ever.

4) Do not think we want to hear your music in the subway car. Headphones were invented for a reason. Please invest in some. Once you have bought said headphones, do try to remember that when you sing loudly we can still hear you (even though, oddly enough, you can’t hear yourself). And we don’t really like it.

5) Do not think too much about the subway car. “I’m squished.” “That person is touching me.” “Who was sitting here last?” “Why is the train not moving?” No, no, no. Do not ponder such grievances when commuting. Your wondering thoughts will inevitably become catalysts for a mental breakdown, or possibly lead to a cause of arrest.

Click here for a visual example of what happens when

Elaine from Seinfeld experiences emotions any New Yorker on a crowed train understands. 


Friday, January 6, 2012

I Regret to Inform You...

Dear Darlings,

It is with my utmost regret that I shall not be blogging today 
or tomorrow due to an immense amount of laundry from the 
last three months... er, weeks. 

Two fair sisters also arrived to this fine city Thursday evening,
thus I simply must entertain. Please do check back in the forthcoming week for a new posting.

Yours truly,

PS - This letter was meant to be read in a British accent. If you did not comply with this direction, please reread the above text in the specified dialect for full effectiveness. If you are positively brilliant, and did read the above text with the Queen's English... well then, cheers. 


Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Why Blog 2011: A Year in Review

A lot happened in 2011.

It was my first full year living in New York City, and it was the first full year the class of 2010 was officially out of college. Here’s a look at what else happened throughout 2011, with links to blog posts from that event. And if you don’t want to read the blah blah blah, scroll down for the “Top Ten Posts” list at the bottom of this entry. Enjoy the journey through time…

January began the year with a Snowpocalypse of sorts through New York and much of the east coast. While overall inches of snow accumulation weren’t as high as 2010, I was grounded in VA for 2 extra days after Christmas. With the airports still out of commission, my high school friend Alice and I Chinatown bussed it up here. Though there were huge highlights to January (Martha Stewart Living internship, brunching at the Plaza, etc.), I must admit: It was a miserably cold month. You could walk outside and get a brain freeze… or simply slip on ice.

February wasn’t much better weather-wise, but the sun did grace us with his presence on occasion. While we sat shivering in New York, Egyptian protests were beginning to heat up. Tahrir Square held millions of demonstrators, and the “Arab Spring” was set in motion.

March led to my bold statement, the term "code blue," as well as one of your favorite “Thursdays Things New Yorkers Say” posts, according to blog statistics. I was balancing time between grad school, the magazine internship, and working at Bloomingdales while Charlie Sheen seemed to be publicly losing his mind.

April was gray, gray, gray everyday. But the column “Poor in New York” was born, and my friends and I spotted Robert De Niro filming in Astoria. I also scored the next internship at Parents Magazine, increasing my magazine business network. Oh, and we had one sunny day at the end of the month that saved all of NY from insanity.

May was beautiful. Whatever was irking Mother Nature in April had been vanquished and the city was in full summer mode. While skipping spring isn’t ideal, I was simply happy for long days and late nights. Which they were – I was working at least 20 hours at Bloomies and 40 hours at Parents. But do you remember what else was vanquished that month? That’s right – Osama bin Landen was assassinated May 2, 2011.

June was exceedingly busy, but led to my first national byline at Parents Magazine. I also had an unexpected visitor in my room, and a little freak out via poem on the blog. But you guys didn’t seem to mind – thanks for that.

July was sunny, hot, sweaty, and marvelous. We watched fire works, visited Coney Island, and explored the city in the summer. My childhood ended mid-month, the NBA lockout began, and the News of the World phone hacking affair erupted.

August is my birthday month! And was also apparently the end of the world. We had an earthquake up and down the east coast, as well as a violent hurricane only a week later. But I was officially hired at Parents Magazine, and resigned from my retail job. Meanwhile, the US debt ceiling was on the rise, and the London riots were heating up across the pond.

September was intense. My roommate was moving out, another needed to be found, loans had to go through for school, and I just couldn’t seem to find the time to sleep. Occupy Wall Street was in its infancy and Facebook “Timelines” were popping up all over the internet.

October led to one of my favorite posts about commuting, random Halloween snow, and a trip to see what was happening on Wall Street. Everyone working on their thesis began to sweat a little bit, and the global population reached 7 billion (22.2 million of which inhabit New York City + boroughs).

November brought holidays, which also led to a view surprises. NYC’s weather remained relatively mild, and Rockefeller Center was decorated for the annual Christmas extravaganza.

December was quick and homework-filled. In fact, I’m so glad the holiday decorations stay up through the New Year because I feel as though I missed them entirely before Christmas. Friends came to visit our festive city, and we students finally turned in our thesis projects!

Top Ten Post of 2011:
9) I Lied

Alright... So we’ve got a lot to contend with for making 2012 simply superb. Happy New Year one last time my friends.