I am so cleansed…

Today marks the last day of my seven-day cleanse. That’s right, in my zest and zeal for the New Year, my friend Michelle and I undertook cleansing our bodies of impurities and kick-starting our weight loss.

How did this begin? Quite simply, really. I’m a rampant skeptic by nature and have never gone for these sort of “fasts” or “detox diets” (Skeptic…or I like food too much). But as we were sitting around post-Christmas, my dear friend Michelle brought up this idea and I suggested I could do it with her. I wasn’t sure I was serious or not until my mother rolled her eyes and my own boyfriend laughed at me.

Game on.

I left it to Michelle’s expertise and she came back with “Cleanse-pocaplse” – fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning with whey protein, brown rice and veg with protein for lunch, fruit and veg for snacks, then brown rice and veg for dinner. And the kicker – “No: sugar, alcohol, gluten, unnecessary starch (potatoes), added salt, added fat, food after 8pm or anything remotely fun. Oh and no caffeine.” And workout of course, sweating is important.

Painful. But honestly, food has always been my greatest weakness. Now, it’s my greatest test of will.

Day One – I already want to punch brown rice in the face, sad to see it’s not possible.

Day Two – My whole body hurts. I yearn for caffeine and salt. Try having stir fry for four straight meals with no soy sauce – no sauce at all. The blandness!

Day Three – My sadistic editor brings in delicious chocolates to share with the office. Jerk. I am dismayed that after two whole days of diet and exercise I haven’t lost a single pound. Imagine that.

Day Four – It’s the weekend, and I realize how limited my life is without eating out or drinking. Living large New York style, it’s a night in with my good pal Netflix. I am just constantly exhausted at this point. I dream of burgers.

Day Five – Now every time I see food on TV or a billboard, I insist on having it Wednesday no matter how gross. That has so far consisted of a 7-11 donut, a White Castle burger, Starbucks coffee, a Taco Bell burrito and Hooters hot wings. Should make for an interesting meal.

Day Six – Home stretch and things are looking up. Out of nowhere, I feel amazing. I’m not tired or cranky, just full of good feelings. Except toward brown rice – it can go straight to hell for all I care.

Day Seven – Good feelings persist and I have a productive day of job-searching and finally take down the Christmas decorations. I celebrate the last day of fascist eating by ordering out to our favorite gluten-free restaurant for more of – you guessed it – brown rice and vegetables. Good feelings growing knowing I’ll get to eat disgusting food in less than 24 hours.

Curse you, brown rice! Why do you have to be such a good source of fiber and magnesium?

With just a few hours left, I call this a win.

My reflections on all this? It’s kind of crap. Sure, I feel pretty good, and my clothes fit better (David was kind enough to say I look less “wobbly”). Apparently that’s what happens when you eat healthy food and exercise.

As for the whole “cleanse” idea? Celebrities seem pretty keen on it, and they seem to know what’s what. The whole idea is to detox or cleanse the body of toxins and harmful things through restrictive diet and sweating it out (you don’t have to even exercise, you can just steam). There is a very successful industry based around this very notion.

However, doctors are not sold on the idea (I’m sorry Oprah!). As Dr. Paul Illing, chartered scientist and registered toxicologist, wrote in Sense About Science: Detox Diets:

“Detox diets and products may not do harm, except, perhaps, to your wallet, but neither do they do you much good. Your natural bodily functions are effective at clearing out harmful substances and there is little you can do to enhance these.”

While what I did was much more sensible than most cleanse or detox diets out there, the whole underlying idea is still no good. You can’t really cleanse your body, just eat well enough, exercise and drink plenty of water, the only real cleanser for your body. It’s lovely to think you can purify your system, but at the end of the day, it’s really just a marketing gimmick.

Still, I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve started off the year right and got my resolution going, even if it was based on crap science. I accomplished something that seemed impossible. Told you I could, mom.

What have I learned from this? If I really wanted to lose weight, I would drive myself crazy with total denial and it would lead to ultimate failure.

Eating healthy is great, but chocolate is better.

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Resolution for 2011 – Be Better

That’s right folks, I’m back at the blog! I had given up when I failed to come up with anything interesting to say and thought no one would notice. Lo and behold, at least five people have asked me about it in the last few months. If that isn’t a mandate from the masses, I don’t know what is.

In the spirit of the new year, let’s talk about why every magazine cover is discussing weight loss. That’s right, the New Year’s resolution.

Now I’m self-involved enough to love personal growth, but rather cynical about the resolution idea. It’s essentially just a tradition of setting yourself up for disappointment.

To back me up, here’s a fun tidbit on the subject from our friends at Wikipedia –

Recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals. A separate study in 2007 by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol showed that 78% of those who set New Year resolutions fail.

Sad, no? That’s why some years ago, I decided the only way to take on this tradition is by setting the bar low. For many years now, my resolution has been – “Buy more socks.” I never seemed to have enough, so it was a necessary, practical and achievable step toward self-improvement.

This year, however, with a full sock drawer, I’m rejecting my usual. Not to mention, there are some things that need doing.

Here they are, my goals for 2011 –

  1. Find a job. My wonderful internship is coming to a close and I’ve finally got my college degree. Now, instead of begging people to hire me temporarily to work for nothing, I need to beg for salary and benefits on a more permanent basis. Daunting? Yes. Impossible? No! Improbable? Well, maybe.
  2. Lose weight. I know what you’re thinking; that’s the mother of all predictable resolutions doomed to fail. But truth be told, I’ve overindulged a bit here and there. Delicious food is perhaps my favorite thing about New York and my possible undoing. I’ll start off with crazy dieting and hopefully establish some sort of fitness routine to offset my ice cream addiction.
  3. Make friends. I keep telling myself it will be easier when I have a job/salary (can afford to go out, make friends with co-workers), but this is getting sad. Don’t get me wrong, my manfriend is top-notch, but his interest in Glee and footwear is half-hearted at best. By the way, It would really save me the trouble if my friends just moved here. Come on guys, you know you want to!
  4. Be more awesome. Basically, I want to look back in December at old January Colleen and think, “Wow, I am way more awesome than that chick.” No specifics necessary.

Why am I sharing all this with you? Well, there was more to that Wikipedia entry –

Women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

And there we are. Now if I fail in these resolutions, it won’t be for lack of accountability. Happy New Year, all!

 

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. It means ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot.’ Does that mean we that should forget old acquaintances or does it mean that if we should happen to forget them, we should remember them which is not possible because we already forgot?”

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Hello friends, me again

It’s been two weeks since my last post, and I’ll tell you why – I’m once again stuck on subject matter. My life, while exciting and everything Hollywood promised it would be, has become fairly routine. No complaints, it’s just become rather normal and un-blog worthy.

Already?! But Colleen, you’ve barely begun!

Too true. Perhaps someday I’ll get the hang of this blog nonsense, just be patient with me folks. In the meantime, let me tell you a long, rambling tale of life with an Empire State of Mind.

I often get asked from folks back home, how is New York? I always say, with breathless excitement, something like “wonderful,” “amazing” and “well, it’s okay I guess [and then we share a laugh because with sarcasm, I’m inferring it couldn’t be anything but awesome].”

But of course,  I don’t usually into detail. I truly don’t want to become obnoxious just yet. But with the close bond that comes with post-writer and reader, I feel like I can tell you the truth in proper cliche form – the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

I’ve already droned on and on to anyone who will pretend to listen about my internship. Still, with the good, I have to note that it’s still the tops. I’ve had an article published with more to come. I get to go to cool events where I meet psuedo-celebrities no one has heard of (nothing says disappointment like, “You won’t believe it, I just met so-and-so!” met with “Who the hell is that?”). Having a job that doesn’t pay anything doesn’t get to me so much anymore, just further preparation for a career in journalism.

As for New York, it still wows me now and again, but perhaps the shine is wearing off. Not that I don’t still love it here, I do, but I don’t really spend my days in Central Park or trolling museums or living out the exciting NYC night-life. While this may sound dull or even sad that routine has set in, it’s kind of wonderful. It feels comfortable here, I might stay a while.

Sidenote – Speaking of how I actually spend my time, I recently got into the show Mad Men. It’s a great 60s timepiece without being in-your-face about it, very clever without being unwatchable and staring Jon Hamm, with his Disney prince good looks, means it’s fun for everybody. So yeah, I lead a pretty full life.

Oh Jon Hamm, so handsome.

I probably shouldn’t gush too much, but I should give a shout-out to my roommate who makes all this possible. I have an incredibly understanding and supportive boyfriend. Seriously, I didn’t know what to expect going from long-distance to suffocating distance, but I’m not worried anymore. End of sappiness.

The Bad

There is a reason not everyone lives in New York. I recently ran across an Onion article called 8.4 Million New Yorkers Suddenly Realize New York City A Horrible Place To Live about the entire population simultaneously realizing their surroundings and moving out:

Incidents that prompted citizens to pick up and leave included the sight of garbage bags stacked 5 feet high on the sidewalk; the realization that being alone among millions of anonymous people is actually quite horrifying; a blaring siren that droned on and f***ing on; muddy, refuse-filled puddles that have inexplicably not dried in three years; the thought of growing into a person whose meanness and cynicism is cloaked in a kind of holier-than-thou brand of sarcasm that the rest of the world finds nauseating; and all the goddamn people.

In addition, 3 million New Yorkers reportedly left the city because they realized the phrase “Only in New York” is actually just a defense mechanism used to convince themselves that seeing a naked man take a s*** on a park bench is somehow endearing, or part of some shared cultural experience.

While I have not experienced anything quite so culturally illuminating, there are some experiences I’m sure will lose its charm in time. I’m not going to go into every little thing that can annoy, I’ll just mention a couple I’ve been exposed to recently.

One that is normally not terrible until it is: walking everywhere. As I ran errands for my boss all over lower Manhattan yesterday, I was reminded that there is no way to avoid complete exposure to the elements. In this case, a day of rain and non-weather treated shoes led to one wet and miserable Midwesterner longing for the days when driving everywhere meant you could go days without spending more than five minutes outside. Good times.

I hate to mention the painfully obvious one, but there’s much left to be desired being poor in an expensive city. True, it’s actually not so bad for day-to-day, especially when you know where to go. But when it comes to things like hitting the town, the pocket book suffers. It’s hard to see why the bars are open until four when you can easily blow a week’s budget in an hour, but I digress.

The one that gets to me the most is how lonely a big city can be. I’m very lucky that I have company, but when you’re practically falling over people in a crowded place, it’s surprising how hard it is to make friends. Most of all (ready for the sappy), I do miss my friends and family. It’s a sad Glee night when there’s only one overly-excitable person in the room.

The Ugly

Aside from missing people, there is one thing I hate most about New York, so much so that it deserves its own category. You see, it’s a dirty city. Remarkably clean given what it’s up against, but dirty nonetheless. This I don’t mind so much; what I mind is when it comes home.

I’m talking pests. Cockroaches and mice have both made appearances in my kitchen. I thought I was a composed, mature adult. As it turns out, a two-inch mouse turns me into a screaming little girl. My fearful reaction to a mouse or cockroach is probably similar to my reaction to a looming terrorist attack.

I’ve been informed that this comes with the territory. No matter where you live in New York, it’s bound to happen. I could just conquer my fear and realize that short of a new plague, these things can’t actually hurt me. Or I could just avoid the lower level of the apartment and let my fear own me. Stay tuned.

I know I’m very lucky, I’m not trying to be a complainy Janey. I just want people to know I’m happy and well without being smug about it. How did I do?

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New job, new lease on life

I started my new job Thursday (of course I use the word “job” loosely as I don’t get any pay or benefits, but you get the idea). How do I like it, you may ask? Well, even if you wouldn’t ask, I’ll tell you; it was meant to be.

My first day was essentially baptism by fire, but in a good way. Much of it was spent collecting news and learning how to update the website (my forte, naturally), but then on my very first day, I was assigned a story!  Well, sort of. I was given a flip video and a camera and told to “see what I could get” at this event.

The event, by the way, was a candlelight vigil Friday in support of the community center near Ground Zero (if you don’t know what that’s about, read the news once in a while, man!). It was moving, touching and had several semi-prominent speakers, including a Minnesota State Representative (jealous?). Alright, it dragged a bit near the end, but I was too busy trying to figure out how to film and take pictures of the same thing.

This is an AP photo from the event. Recognize anyone?

In fact, I had several challenges. One, outside of one photojournalism class, I’m not a photographer. Two, I had a dinky point-and-shoot digital camera.  Now, in order to get good photos, you really have to get in people’s way. Be obnoxious, but not so obnoxious you piss people off. Imagine a twenty-something redhead with said dinky camera and zero press credentials getting up close to strangers and taking multiple pictures. Sounds weird you say? It was.

There was an especially odd moment where I thought a little girl standing next to her father with a candle would make a great photo. It did, incidentally, but after weaving around the crowd to get the shot and taking many due to poor lighting, I really thought her dad was going to call over a police officer.

Also, what the hell do you take pictures of if you’re putting together a slide show? Crowd picture, someone speaking picture. Up-close crowd picture, unusual crowd picture, zoom-in on speaker. And then? Photography is not my calling.

But I digress, back to the job. It’s fantastic, did I mention that? The women who work there are all extremely nice while still devilishly smart. I get to meet cool people and do cool (at least my definition of cool) things. Last night, I went to a book signing with several prominent New York feminists. I swear they must have partied with Gloria Steinem.

And today, I got to file my first story. It was covering a Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting entitled “Rape in the United States: The Chronic Failure to Report and Investigate Rape Cases.” I know what you’re thinking – fun!

So don’t you worry about ol’ Colleen, she is doing just fine.

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Finally

It turns out that finding the perfect internship isn’t impossible to find. Starting Thursday, I’ll be working for Women’s eNews, a a non-profit, independent news service specializing in issues of importance to women.

As nerdy as this may sound, I’m pretty damn excited. It’s been a long, drawn-out process that somehow turned out alright in the end. And this isn’t like the last blog where I said I had a job; I’m actually going to work at this one.

In order to celebrate this joyous occasion, David and I are treating ourselves to Sangria, an insane pizza (have you ever heard of jalapeño pesto?) and Star Trek, good times. While my excitement is off the charts, I actually have very little to write about. But I swear, before the week is out, there will be more to come that may actually entertain someone.

And so….

KHAN!!!

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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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