Monthly Archives: August 2010

It’s a metaphor for a crap movie

Before anything else is said, I have to say something to all of you. I cannot believe how wonderful and supportive my friends and family are. The many comments I received on my last blog meant so much to me, thank you all. Although if you’re all that interested, that means I better step up and make something happen. And so, on to my post….

I’m sure my weekly blog was sorely missed while I was away, but now I’ve returned from beautiful, sunny England to enrich your lives once again.

First of all, what a fantastic week I had with subjects of the Queen. We visited the boyfriend’s family and friends, all of whom were lovely, gracious, and hopefully future apartment guests here in New York. I don’t like to generalize based on race, but the English put us Americans to shame in courtesy and several counts of awesomeness. You may have lost the empire, U.K., but you’ve still got it.

I have to say, one of my favorite things about living in New York came up while overseas. When I used to visit a foreign country and someone made small talk, it would go something like this:

Where are you from?

I’m from a place called Wisconsin/Minnesota

(blank stare)

It’s near Chicago.

Oh (vague recognition of a city they’ve heard of and my location being “somewhere in the middle”)

My conversation recently with a bartender:

So where are you from?

New York.

Done. They recall the city from Friends where out-of-work actors and waitresses afford spacious, upper west side apartments. No explanation needed.

Suffice to say, great trip. And something else happened while I was away, something related to my previous post. Remember that internship that I finally got offered after months of waiting, the one that would put me in Anne Hathaway’s shoes and transform me to a Manhattan fashionista? Well, I turned it down.

Excuse me? Colleen! Have you lost what little sense you’ve had? After all this agonizing over not getting a job, you turn down a great offer? Sounds like someone needs their head examined.

Slow down, there is a reason. It really comes down to this; The Devil Wears Prada is a terrible film.

I hate you, film. Although, no matter what happens, you are still absolutely fabulous, Meryl Streep.

As some of you may recall, my last blog centered around this film; a wannabe journalist is down on her luck in the big city and grabs a fashion internship to launch her career. Now, I hadn’t actually seen this film in a while and remembered not really thinking much of it, but I thought that was my usual over-thinking, fun-ruining attitude towards movies that led to my conclusion. So when I was on a plane over the Atlantic, rather than watching Russell Crowe try and fail as Robin Hood, I decided to give this movie another shot.

I know chick flicks shouldn’t be judged based on believability, but come on (insert over-the-top eye roll). So we’re supposed to believe that the main character Andy (Hathaway)  was editor of her college newspaper at Northwestern, has impeccable (apparently) writing skills, has won several national journalism awards and can’t get one single interview with any publication? Oh, except for a super awesome job that hundreds of girls want that turns out to be her only option.

There are many other leaps of logic here, like her giving away her stupid expensive clothes while underpaid and living in a very large lower east side apartment (yes, I’m obsessed with unreal real estate now). I haven’t been this angry since How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

The point is, I blame this movie and not my own judgement in the slightest when it came to my hasty excitement and acceptance of this job. I really thought that it was next to impossible to get a communications internship, especially in writing. I was sure that I couldn’t compete with sheer number of brilliant students willing to work for nothing. I thought, how could I possibly do better than that? Well, what I guess I just forgot how awesome I am.

Okay, not really. But the truth is, I have an okay resume, and maybe there just aren’t enough super-smart, qualified ivy leaguers to fill every single internship. In the past two weeks, I’ve gotten eight requests for interviews, all of which involve writing, something I actually want to do, and are not full-time and unpaid, something I don’t want to do.

Side note: I’ve gotten some rather funny interviews for magazines (which I would be grateful to work at, don’t get me wrong): a teen celebrity gossip rag, a company that writes in-flight magazines, the grandmother’s favorite Family Circle and of course, Good Housekeeping.

The point is, although it might not be the most sensible thing to do, I’m taking a risk. I’m betting that in a city of thousands upon thousands of publications, someone will want to exploit me for free labor with more reasonable time demands, someone who I will want to learn under.

At least I really, really hope so.

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My “The Devil Wears Prada” Experience

After months of searching and what feels like hundreds of applications sent out, I’m finally at my first interview. Here I am, waiting to interview for a PR/fashion internship at a Milan couture fashion line, flipping through the in-house magazine that I can’t read as it’s all in Italian.

Finally, I’m called in to meet with my interviewer. Her face hardly moves as she glances down my résumé, frozen in a stern, judging look accentuated by her pulled back hair. She doesn’t seem to approve at my attempt at high fashion, an Ann Taylor vest, a Gap skirt and TJ Max black heels. She is dressed to the nines in a black suit fit snuggly around her size two waist and her strappy heels that may have cost more than a month’s rent.

Finally, she speaks. She fires one question after another, wondering what I know about public relations in the fashion world. As she slowly discovers I know next to nothing, and what’s left of my confidence slowly drains, she puts the final nail in the coffin with an oh-so-cool, Meryl Streep-like demeanor.

“I’m sorry, we need the best. Perhaps fashion isn’t for you. Thanks for coming in,” and with a wave of her perfectly manicured hand, I’m dismissed.

At least, this was the scene that played over and over in my head while I read that Italian magazine. I really shouldn’t have arrived so early.

Here’s what really happened. A young (and I mean young, perhaps younger than me) woman in sandals, a lovely floral top and skirt came out to greet me. This was, in fact, my interviewer. I was caught off guard by her beaming smile and disarmingly adorable southern accent. She introduces herself and motions me to follow.

“Why don’t you just come on back? Sorry about the mess, it’s just been hectic today.” She leads me into what I can only describe as a very large closet with a table in the center. Another girl is there, same youth and same cute manner. Their fall collection is lining the walls and, let me tell you, it is a sight to see.

The interview begins, and I can’t help but feel totally at ease. These girls are lovely, and it feels more like a friendly chat than an interview. Most of the time, I ask questions myself and volunteer facts about why they should hire me. Then I get the question I feared all along. As the second girl eyes my résumé of completely unrelated experience, she asks the obvious question: why do you want to work in fashion?

Answer I gave:

Two reason really. First, I’ve wanted to get involved in communications related to culture and lifestyle ever since I interned at a daily in Minnesota and found that was one of my favorite things to write about and my interest was sparked there. My second reason is I saw how high fashion was not so much about marketing and self-promotion as it was about branding and networking. It’s almost as if it’s an entire industry based on successful public relations. Not to mention, I’d really like to work for an international company to see how entirely different national markets communicate with one another.

Probably not a direct quote, but you get the picture. My real answer:

I need a job. Really, really badly.

To be fair, I didn’t lie. I do like writing about culture and lifestyle, I am a nerd about communications, I would find it intensely interesting and I would be grateful for this internship that is for a big name and would be so out of my element that I couldn’t help but learn. Still, I can’t help but feel slightly guilty that until they had contacted me for an interview, I never thought much about a career in fashion.

Although, there was one thing running through my mind much of the interview; don’t mention The Devil Wears Prada. I just couldn’t stop myself; a journalism major fresh out of school, looking for a job with little luck and turns up interviewing for an unlikely yet highly coveted job. I know that in the film she was working for a magazine, but the bizarre world of fashion seems tightly knight, and the high demands of these low-paying (or no-paying in my case) jobs are very real, but very resume-useful no matter where you want to go. Still, not sure they would appreciate the comparison.

Me, pretty much.

The interview continues to go swimmingly. I was once again made comfortable when I learned that the first girl was from North Carolina (hence the sweet accent), the second girl was from Jacksonville, Florida, and another girls who worked there was from Nebraska. That reminded me even if I do sometimes feel somewhat insecure because I’m from the Midwest, I can always tell myself this gem: At least I’m not from Nebraska.

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A One-Week Tour Guide

It’s another beautiful day in my neighborhood. There are men wearing bravely short cutoffs, a copy of The Onion and Village Voice on every corner, and everyone carrying groceries in tote bags. There’s no place like home.

To start, sorry to my loyal audience, I promise I won’t make a habit of lazy posting. For those new to the blog, I normally try to write a post every Tuesday. Clearly, I’ve overshot this one. Strange considering my unwelcome unemployment, but I’ve found ways to keep myself stressfully occupied.

As a welcome break from soul-sucking, unsuccessful job-hunting, this week I had the pleasure of my very first house guest. My dear cousin, in a layover flying home from Oman (where else?), made a two-day stop in my new home. As I am now a bona fide New Yorker, it was my job to show her the sights of this vibrant city. O-man, what a week this will be (yes, that does get funnier with repetition.

No problem! After all, I have lived here a whole ten days when she arrived. Where do I start? What, of the many places and things I know, do I show her first?

Luckily for me, she was exhausted, though not as exhausted as Middle East jet lag should be. Her first night here, joined briefly by a friend, we set out. In alphabet city, we found a fantastic hole-in-the-wall pizzeria in Alphabet City (never been, we just wandered indecisively until the pizza smell got the better of us). Then, we wandered over to Washington Square park where the famous archway (When Harry Met Sally anyone? It’s in the scene when she and Harry first get to New York after driving from Chicago). There, we saw an acrobatic duo jump over four people, but not before making several incredibly racist jokes (funny though).

Just like in the movies!

After a good 13-hour night’s sleep, my cousin was ready to take on the day. I thought I’d take her down to the financial district where we’d see the usual tourists sites like Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I had lived stayed there briefly before and wandered around the entire southern tip of the island because while it may be a world center of commerce, there is NOTHING to do past five o’clock.

First lesson: if you have  a guidebook that was not published in the last year, it’s outdated. We thought we’d get some discount tickets for the theatre at a ticket booth down there; a friendly hot dog vendor informed me it no longer existed.

Second lesson: for those used to the sedentary lifestyle of the Midwest (as I still am) combined with a fun heat wave means that even the person not recovering from an eight-hour time change gets tired quickly.

So we saw the end of Wall Street (the waterfront was nice, what’s there to see anyway?) and decided to skip on seeing the statue and such (two-hour wait was just not worth it, even with steel drums to serenade us). We made it to the end of Manhattan, or Battery Park, or small area of grass crowded with tourists and men selling reasonably priced Prada and Gucci bags. We decided to take the Staten Island Ferry for the lovely price of free, and we sailed across the bay. It was magical, although the Staten Island pretzels were less than fantastic.

After this, we decided to head for home. Lunch and shopping at my favorite little village boutique (actually a large clothing chain with prices so cheap they had to be made by children in a third world country), and then back to the flat for an exciting, New York experience of watching TV, doing laundry and napping. I rock at this.

That night, we set out once again to pick up some fun food (spelt sushi for her, greasy Belgian fries for me), and my dear cousin evaded death when she almost got brained by a falling beer bottle. While scary, I’m sure this gave her an exciting new leash on life.

Fast forward to the next day, her last day, and so many options. We decide to hit the true star of You’ve Got Mail (after AOL and Starbucks) and took the subway to the upper west side. It’s kind of like the East Village, except the opposite. Lots more old people, beautiful buildings and museums but no cool or funky places to hang out, and gorgeous parks with no history of gang or drug violence; I already miss home.

We decide to go to the natural history museum, but what we thought was a free outing (see lesson one) turned out to be quite expensive. So we took stock of the lovely lobby and Teddy Roosevelt statue and headed on our way.

Our man Teddy and his best pal the Native American.

We then went to the spot where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan realized they were meant to be, Riverside Park. It was idyllic and full of kids wearing expensive clothes and spending quality times with their nannies. We even made it to the edge of the park to see its namesake, the river and its not-so-picturesque highway neighbor. After that, we went and got ourselves world-famous Grays Papaya hot dogs (delicious and cheap). After that flurry of activity, it was time to call it a day.

Only in New York would Trump adopt a highway.

Another nap, watching TV and a fantastic Cuban dinner with an actor friend of hers (of course she would have more friends in New York than me), it was time to say goodbye. The boyfriend and I accompanied her to Queens and said adieu at La Guardia. She had already experienced New York, after all, what was left?

I tell this story, dear friends, to demonstrate my capacity as a tour guide. Don’t you want to come visit now? Did I mention our luxurious, queen-size blow-up bed? And our palm that transforms this fake one-bedroom into a tropical paradise? If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

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So, I guess I’m a New Yorker now

While it still hasn’t fully sunk in, I now live in New York City. If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere (at least, so says Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z).

Here’s a little scene setting for you English major types: I’m sitting in a densely packed coffee shop on 4th Avenue in the East Village. I would worry about looking pretentious if there weren’t – I kid you not – fourteen other laptops open, many penning the next great American novel no doubt. The guy next to me is wearing a bowler hat and a lose scarf, an odd choice in 80 degree weather, singing along to the obscure, Indy rock song playing. I wish I could be that cool.

So here I sit, in my bo-ho chic clothing, sipping my espresso drink and writing a blog post. Maybe later I’ll go to the bookstore around the corner and discuss Nihilism with some NYU kids.

And I’ve only lived here three days.

In my brief time as a Manhattanite, I’ve gotten a few questions:  How is New York? How’s that internship coming along? What’s life like now that you’ve finally moved to the big city?

Well friends, I’ll tell you. It’s alright, thanks for asking.

When I flew in Saturday, my first day in New York. I had met my boyfriend at airports many times before; it was nice that this could be the last. While in the taxi, David began talking about all we had done to get here, wasn’t it incredible getting from point A to B and now we have so much more to experience. I felt it was appropriate to quote the song playing on the radio: “It’s about the climb, David.” Oh Miley, you always know just what to say.

View from the taxi on the Brooklyn Bridge.

After unpacking over pizza and champagne, the boyfriend had a pretty good plan for my first night in New York – a picnic in Central Park. Normally I’m not such a romantic, but today was an occasion for it. I hadn’t been to the park since my first time here when I was sixteen, what a place. We walked past horse-drawn carriages, a group of disco-dancing, roller bladers and a couple doing some interesting and painful looking yoga poses.

We sat on a field and drank more champagne. Interesting note, the whole not-drinking-in-public thing seems to not be so strictly enforced. A few blankets over, there were beer cans surrounding a group of very enthusiastic Jets fans who were playing boccie ball dangerously close to us.

So we sat in a field looking over the Manhattan skyline, waiting for the sun to set. There wasn’t much to see as we later realized we were facing south, but it was still sickeningly romantic.

Sunday was another whirlwind of New York magic. We went out shopping for apartment stuff at New York’s finest shops, like Bed, Bath & Beyond. We had Indian Food for dinner (a particular excitement for me) and relished in this auspicious time where it seemed everything would always be perfect. David and I couldn’t help but notice that many young couple’s relationships tend to suffer when living together. I thought about this for a moment.

“It’s alright, we’ll just be better than other couples,” I said. Problem solved, so we went back to watching yet another episode of “Breaking Bad” (great show that my brother got me hooked on, I highly recommend it).

That brings me to Monday and Tuesday. Lucky for me, I have my very own desk equipped with everything I need to assist in my internship hunt. I’ll never have to know where I would be without assorted neon color post-its and paper clips to match, thank God.

Our very kind landlord, Jose, put my name on the door today. I was pretty excited.

So this is how I will spend my days for a while, I suppose. Finding a job and adapting to my new home. Oh, and figuring out how I’m supposed to do those two things. Any ideas?

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