Monday, March 4, 2013

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 10

Vivian did not contact me again after her last, markedly short, email.

At first, I didn't know what to think about this. I believed that if she needed me to come into the office, she would reach out to me. When she didn't, I told myself it was because she didn't need me (... or want me...). I thought this meant her office was better off without me -- after all, she didn't have to pay me anymore! And she still had Edith and Erica to take care of things, after all they had pretty much taken care of everything even while I was still working there.

And, hang on, she would contact me if she needed me, right? That's what I told her to do.

I let weeks go by. I started to let myself believe that this is what Vivian and I both wanted -- an easy out. No hard conversations, no bad feelings, just two people who need to go in different directions. My grandmother had given us both the perfect excuse: it's not you, it's the situation.

Even if all the while we were both thinking, "but actually.... It's you."

I may have been slightly worried about this for a while. What did it mean that Vivian hadn't reached out to me again? Was I supposed to contact her? Was I, though? Really? Because her last email hadn't invited much of a response. Shouldn't I wait for her to contact me? She would let me know if she needed me, right? Isn't this just better for both of us?

Because to be perfectly honest, this ending suited my current needs and I truly believed she felt the same way. I needed to be at home; she needed to not be paying me anymore.... And we both had a lot of other concerns. I needed to be at the hospital caring for my grandmother and my family, I needed to be at Elizabeth's caring for her children, I needed to be recovering and caring for myself. She needed to be running her business.

So I let it go. I let weeks pass with ease. I took on more and more babysitting hours, and my grandmother finally started to get better. April became May became June...

I should have known better.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 9

After Elizabeth was fired, I didn't quit my job in the same hour -- which would have been my impulse. In fact, I ended up sticking around for a few more weeks. I had an untried reputation to worry about, and I didn't want Vivian to think I was taking sides against her (though, in my heart, I completely already had).

But, as it turned out, the end of my working relationship with Vivian sort of... took care of itself, without my having to worry about it or put any work into it.

In March, Vivian went on a vacation to Florida for a week, thus missing the beginning of my family crisis. On the day she returned, I wasn't supposed to come into the office (it was one of my days off), so the other girls filled her in on what happened in my family.

That day, I received an email from her saying something to the effect of, "I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother! Please don't worry about coming in this week -- you should be with your family and taking care of yourself. However, we are having a party at my house this Saturday to celebrate my company's anniversary!! I would love for you to come! Please let me know if you can come! I know Jillian and Ben would love to see you!"

I didn't write her back right away. I KNOW -- MISTAKE. But I was already off until Wednesday, that was my schedule, and it was only Monday. I figured if I wrote her back on Tuesday... no one would be the wiser!


I got an email from her on Tuesday morning. It was very short. All it said was, "Jane - did you get my email?" Now, it can be kind of hard to tell what people are thinking over email. But you know, sometimes it's not that hard.

I wrote her back right away, something to the effect of: "Yes! I got your email. Thank you for being so understanding. However, I am happy to come into the office this week, and next. Please let me know when you need me and I will be there. Unfortunately, I can't come to your party this weekend, I have family obligations. But I will be there in spirit! But please do let me know if you need me to come into the office. Thank you again, Jane."

The email I got back was very short. Very, very short. Awkwardly short, you might say. All it said was, "We are all good here, just take care of yourself."

I wasn't quite sure what to think when I read it. The delusionally hopeful side of me piped up, "Maybe she does just want you to take care of yourself..." The realistic side of me reasoned.... probably not.... but I decided to ignore that side. After all, I had a lot of other things to worry about.

And I TOLD her to let me know if she needed me.... So, she will.

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 8

All at once, shit started hitting the fan.

First, I noticed a marked change in Vivian's attitude towards me once my hours were costing her money. No longer was I just "that adorable, young intern" she wanted to take under her wing. No, now that she was paying me, my worth to her company was in question.

I should have realized my mistake. I admit I was pretty naive about this sort of thing at the time. SO, NOTE TO SELF: if you are already wondering about your position in a company and whether or not you have anything to contribute... THAT PROBABLY ISN'T THE BEST TIME TO ASK FOR A RAISE. Lesson learned.

Second, I was babysitting more and more for Elizabeth. Her children loved me and I loved them. Furthermore, Elizabeth appreciated me -- a lot -- and as a result, she paid me very well. Basically, I was rich! The only problem I had at all with the arrangement is that I was tired from working two jobs.

Third, at the beginning of March, my grandmother began suffering serious heart problems and was placed in the hospital for an extended period of time. Suddenly, I was very much needed at home, with my family.

And all together, the relaxing semester at home I had imagined was rapidly becoming stressful and exhausting. My time was a valuable commodity. Everybody needed a lot of it and no one was getting enough of it, especially me. It wasn't long before I was wondering which of my obligations I could give up, which of my jobs I could quit... And the answer was obvious.

I loved working for Elizabeth, and felt that she relied on me. Plus... it was very lucrative. I definitely wanted to keep that job.

I knew my family needed my help caring for my grandmother, that was a given. In fact, they already needed way more help than I was able to give them.

So what was left? Vivian. Well, she hardly needed me at all! She would probably be grateful if I left and stopped costing her an outrageous $100 a week.

But what about working towards my future? I insisted to myself that I couldn't give in to the urge to leave, I had to hold onto this job so that she would help me get my next one. But then, oh why was she acting more and more like she liked me less and less?

And then Vivian did something that made it so I could never look at her the same way again. After a mere two months, she unceremoniously fired my friend, Elizabeth.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 7

The longer I worked in Vivian's *new* office, the more I came to like Elizabeth. Of all the new people, she was by far the most similar to me -- even compared to the girls in my own age group. We just... clicked. Sometimes these things can't be explained.

Elizabeth lived in the same area of the city as me, and she had two children, aged 6 and 10. Now, not to toot my own horn, but I am good with kids. I love them, they love me - it just works. Vivian had seen this first hand when she brought her own children into the office. It wasn't long before she was suggesting to Elizabeth that Elizabeth might like to use me as a babysitter one or two evenings a week, you know, since we lived so near each other. Before the words were even all the way out of her mouth, Elizabeth was nodding her head in agreement. It seemed a natural progression to our working relationship.

When I told my mom later that day she was adamantly against the idea. "Jane," she said, "Obviously you're not a mom so you can't completely get this, but women are crazy about their babysitters." She tried to impress upon me that women become possessive of the babysitters that their children adore. She had seen it on the playground when she was raising my sister and me. And, if we're being completely honest, maybe she was one of the crazy women herself. Actually, forget maybe. She definitely was one.

But I had an easy solution to this problem! I would make sure Vivian knew that I still cared about her children as well as Elizabeth's. I would babysit for both of them. This was easier said than done: Elizabeth lived in the city, but Vivian lived out in the suburbs -- not nearly as convenient a commute. But still, I was willing to do it, and Vivian was eager to have me spend time with her children. I carefully arranged with her a date during the week when I would drive all the way out to the boonies and spend an afternoon looking after her kids.

And so I did. I borrowed my mom's car, plugged her address into my GPS, and drove an hour out of my way to pick her children up from school and make them dinner. Granted, I DO love spending time with children, and her children are awesome. So this wasn't necessarily the most horrendous chore in the world. In fact, Vivian's daughter reminded me a bit of myself as a preteen, and I had fun talking to her about her adorable boy problems, and friend problems, and general drama. And the rest of the afternoon was spent watching her and her brother show me tricks on their trampoline, helping with homework, and figuring out what the heck to make for dinner.

Vivian came home from her tennis lesson around 8 o'clock that night -- not late, especially for a babysitting gig, but I did still have to drive home. I let her know I should probably be getting along soon-ish, if she didn't mind. She looked at her watch and said, "Oh! Yes! Of course, we don't want you to get home too late." Then she turned to her kids, "Jillian! Ben! Did you thank Jane for visiting? Please say thank you to Jane for coming all the way out here and visiting you!" They both mumbled their "thank yous" in that 'someone else is making me do it' awkward way. I smiled encouragingly at them and then turned expectantly to Vivian.

"Well," She said, "I better go take a shower! Thank you again for visiting, Jane! Can you see yourself out?"

"What??? OH! Yes, yes of course. Anytime guys! Thanks!" I tried to sound absolutely as neutral as possible, and not at all surprised, while I grabbed my coat and made my way to my car.

Once I was seated behind the wheel, I sat still for a moment, a little stunned, and then I started laughing. What a fool I am! I had just babysat for free! FOR FREE!!! Even now, I still don't know how I could have handled that situation better. Obviously I wasn't about to say what I wanted to say: "Wait!! What about, uh... compensation for my hours of labor?" I couldn't do it just like that, to her face, in front of her kids. But. On the other hand. Oh my God! Who doesn't pay her babysitter?!

Maybe it was my own fault, I reasoned with myself as I drove home. I hadn't solidified an hourly wage with her beforehand. I hadn't been 100% clear with her that I considered this a job, and that I wouldn't normally drive an hour out of my way simply to "hang out" with children half my age.

But it was also becoming increasingly clear that, with Vivian, money was going to be a bit of an issue. After all, I HAD been, in my eyes, VERY blunt and aggressive in my attempt to get paid for my internship -- almost awkwardly so -- and yet I was still waiting on my first paycheck.

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 6

Over the course of the previous summer and my January internship, I had considered Vivian a very kind and gracious woman. She had, after all, offered me the opportunity to work for her, and then work for her again. And when I returned in the winter much less healthy than I had been, she encouraged me many times to take better care of myself. I still have on a shelf somewhere the book she gave me, called something to the effect of: "Taking Better Care of Yourself." Yes, she seemed genuinely concerned. Maternal even.

However, as time continued to pass and winter became spring, a few things happened that began to change my perception of her dramatically.

The first was something I discovered while talking to the two other girls about my age, Edith and Erica. They both had the same title as me, "Intern," but over the course of our conversation I learned that they were PAID interns, whereas I was working for free.


I decided that, since I was staying on past January, I should get paid as well. I remember fretfully attempting to compose an email, both my parents sitting over my shoulder (helicopter parenting for the WIN!), and trying to find a way to say, "I would like to be earning wages, please," that didn't sound.. pushy? Aggressive? Obnoxious and entitled? It was a fine line. Razor fine. When I had finally written something to my liking, I still had to close my eyes when I hit send. It was, for me, THE MOMENT OF TRUTH.

However, things worked out better than I could have hoped! The very next day, Vivian called me into her office and agreed that I should be paid for my time, like the other girls. Though, she said, perhaps a little less than them because they were a year older than me. Whatever! I said. That sounds reasonable!! It was all well an good as far as I was concerned. I had succeeded! I had stood up for myself and it had worked! Achievement.

It took a few more weeks (Yes. Weeks.) for me to realize that.... Yes, she had said she was willing to pay me, but somehow that hadn't materialized into actual payment. Another night of fretful email writing ensued. How do I find a way a casual and light way to say, "So... Uh........ About that payment?" Is it even possible to be casual and light about that sort of thing? I tried to make it seem like I just hadn't gotten the tax forms yet, so if I could just grab those from her the next time I was in the office, I could have them filled out in a jiffy! No problem.

When I was next in the office, Vivian wasn't there. It was one of her "work from home" days. But! There was an 1-9 and a W-4 sitting on my desk with a post-it that said to scan and send to the accountant when I was finished with them.

So... Mission accomplished! I hoped.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 5

When I arrived for the first day of my January internship, it was to a completely different office from the one I had left behind. Savannah, my friend and coworker, had left New York and returned home to Arizona. With her went the team dynamic we had cultivated, a dynamic that only once it was gone did I realize had a huge impact on how I felt about work.

Of course, there was a new girl in Savannah's place, Erica, but I would never work as well with her or like her nearly as much. In fact, there were several new people in the office. Another girl, Edith, was solely responsible for producing the PowerPoint presentations Vivian needed for her Training Programs. And, the most important new addition, Vivian had taken a bold step and hired a partner-figure, Elizabeth. Like Vivian, Elizabeth had worked as a Recruiting Director at several large, well-known law firms, and had signed on to help Vivian grow her business.

And so it was a hectic and confusing first week back as I tried to grapple with so many new people and such a different office environment. I found myself longing for the days of the summer when I had understood my place in the team. Now I felt insecure and uncertain about where, if anywhere, I belonged.

Erica managed the administrative duties: phones, calendar, email, expense reports.

Edith did the training programs and special projects.

Elizabeth worked with Vivian on business development and company strategy.

Even though Vivian had welcomed and encouraged my return, by the end of my first day I was wondering if there was anything left over for me to actually do.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, my mom was trying to convince me to take a semester off from school. After such a disastrous fall, I still wasn't completely 100% well, and my mom felt that going back to school again so quickly would further damage my still-fragile health. I brushed off her suggestions for the most part. I didn't want to postpone my college graduation; it didn't sit well with me to put it off.

But then something unexpected happened that changed my life again. On a snowy night in the middle of January, I slipped on the sidewalk and broke two of my front teeth. I cannot stress enough how traumatic this was for me. All of my previous injuries from the past few months seemed impermanent in comparison. My surgery wounds? They healed eventually. The infection went away and the rash faded. But my tooth? My tooth would never be the same.

I would also like to add, as an aside, that I have extremely large and prominent front teeth and I have always been rather fond of them. Even before I broke my teeth, I would have said that breaking a tooth topped my list of "worst possible fears." And then I broke a tooth! And as it turned out, the reality was just as bad as I'd imagined.

Ok, perhaps that last sentence is a big of an exaggeration. After all, five dental surgeries later and you would never know the difference. My dentist was so thorough that he even managed to get the slight discoloration at the bottom of my fake front teeth to match the real ones. However, the breaking of my teeth, the culmination of what can only be described as a Series of Unfortunate Events, was also, as they say, the straw that broke the camel's back. Shortly after it happened, I determined that I was not yet emotionally or physically ready to return to college. My mom was right after all. I would take a semester off from school.

After I had made my decision, I told Vivian that I would be sticking around for the following few months and would love to keep working for her, if possible. She said she would be delighted to have me stay on at the office, part time. Again I was relieved. I felt that, if I needed to take time off from finishing my college degree, at least I would be working toward a successful future.

And so the winter began thawing into spring.

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 4

After a remarkably pleasant and easy summer, the fall of 2010 was unexpectedly difficult for me. Ok, that might be an understatement. In fact, that might be an ENORMOUS understatement. I don't want to go into too much detail about it right now because that's not what this story is about, so I'll try to sum up quickly:

1. In September, my boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me (we're back together now).
2. In October, I got appendicitis and had emergency surgery (I'm only 90% sure there's no correlation between that and the break up).
3. A week or so later, one of my incisions became infected.
4. I got a prescription for antibiotics that I didn't know I was allergic to. I proceeded to get a horrible rash covering my entire body, from the shells of my ears to the palms of my hands to the soles of my feet and everywhere in between.
5. I was given a prescription for steroids, to combate the reaction, which made me absolutely hysterical. If someone so much as said "hi" to me, I would start sobbing.
6. My suite, which I shared with three other girls, got bed bugs. At this point, I was basically living in the health center so I didn't mind too terribly much, but it was still a problem.
7. My friends and suite-mates turned against me. This is probably because I became totally self-concerned over the course of my many illnesses.
8. And! In the background: more boy drama, friend drama, general college drama. SO MUCH RIDICULOUS DRAMA. It all seems just a little bit absurd in retrospect.

Honestly, I am still 150% amazed that I managed to claw my way over the finish line of that semester. My mom begged me to come home on multiple occasions. The nurse at the health center, who had become one of my BFFs, assured me I could take incompletes in my courses, I could finish at home on my own time, I should be relaxing and taking care of myself above everything else. She let me know several times that she would personally sign off on my medical leave. Please. Just go. But I ignored all of that. I was determined to get this semester done, over with, behind me. I wanted nothing more than to come home for Christmas without another worry in the world.

Also, I still had my internship to look forward to. I had cleared it with my college, which meant I would get credit for JanPlan AND be able to stay in New York City for the month of January (readers of my blog will know how much this meant to me). I just had to get through the last few weeks of school, and my path would be clear. I wasn't going to let anything get in the way of that.

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 3

The summer went by in a flash. I worked for Vivian five days a week, 9am to 5pm. I found that I didn't mind working in an office at all, though I also discovered that a lot of the work we did was relatively boring and mindless (especially compared to my academically challenging school work). But I loved my coworker, Savannah,* and as the only two people working in the office, I got to know her fairly well very quickly. We were a dynamic team. Example A: Vivian gives a lot of talks around the city (she calls them "training programs"), and we would bang out PowerPoint presentation after PowerPoint presentation like a well-oiled machine. We had a system: I did all the writing/editing, and Savannah did all the formatting/detail work. Together we were the whole package, and we had that office running like a hamster on a wheel.

Vivian herself only came in to the city three days a week. On the days that she was in the office, we would work non-stop on various projects. The phone would be ringing off the hook and people would be coming in throughout the day for interviews and meetings.

But on the days she didn't come in, the phone was usually dead silent. Savannah and I would work for a couple of hours and then chill out for many more. We would talk, go on facebook, check our personal emails. Somedays I would even bring a book -- it was that awesome.

I found myself thinking often that, if this was the real world, I could definitely handle it. I might even like it better than college.

And so the summer ended much too quickly. On my last day of work, Vivian called me into her office and thanked me for all the work I had done over the past few months. Then she, quite unexpectedly, gave me a check for $500. Given that I had signed on as an unpaid intern, I was ecstatic. I knew this meant she thought I had exceeded expectations.

At the end of our conversation, I told her that my school has a *thing* called JanPlan, a month outside of the semester system in which you take only one course, or do an internship, or go abroad for four weeks. I asked her if she would be willing to take me back, if I could come work for her again. She agreed immediately, telling me she'd love to have me intern again. I was thrilled, and somewhat relieved. I knew then that I had passed the first challenge on the path to getting a job and a career.

When I left for my senior year of college, I felt as though my future was more secure than it had ever been. I felt almost... maybe... ready to become an adult.

*Let's just get this out of the way, all the names in this story have been changed.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 2

As soon as I got home from Rachel's office, I looked up the name she had given me to contact. Vivian Warren.* I found that she had previously been the Director of Legal Recruiting at two top-ranked international law firms and that she currently owned her own recruiting agency, named after herself. This definitely sounded like a woman I needed to meet.

I composed an email that emphasized my eagerness and enthusiasm to learn more about her industry, and my hope that she would at least schedule an informational interview with me. And, ok, yes, I dropped in the name of my dad's firm and the fact that I had met Rachel. This was mostly to let her knew that I already knew something about the law firm world. Later I would learn from her only employee (who became my good friend) that that was pretty much the sole reason she arranged to meet with me......... Score!

Unfortunately for me, I had decided that law firm recruiting was my life calling at about EXACTLY the same moment that the economy took a turn for the very bad. I was angling to get an internship in the summer of 2010, which was one year after almost every law firm in the city stopped hiring anyone. Anyone at all. Summer classes at the biggest and best known firms went from about 70 people to about 10 people. Recruiting departments were cut in half. No one would even consider taking on an intern, they were all too busy watching their own backs. And that's even though I was willing to work for free!

During a winter break from college, I met with Vivian and she let me know how bad the industry currently was. She told me it was unlikely that an opportunity in an actual law firm would open up at all. BUT! She did mention that SHE might be willing to take me on, out of the goodness of her enormous heart. When I left her office that day, I held onto the dream that she would let me intern for her that summer. That afternoon, I composed a long and thoughtful thank you email that I hoped would secure my place in her heart.

I was in my college dorm room when she called to let me know that she had decided to offer me an internship. My excitement was palpable, even over the phone. I remember how effusive and enthusiastic I was: "This is so amazing! Thank you, thank you!!! I can't wait! Thank you so much! I am so happy!!"

I was determined that I would do the best job possible, be the most amazing intern ever, and leave her office with a gold plated reference.

Four months later, I would officially join her team as Summer Intern Extraordinaire.

*Name also changed.

Jane Gets a Job, Episode 1

I know, I've been gone for a very long time. But my absence can be explained! You see, I have been in such an advanced state of anxiety for the entire month of February that I have barely been able to function, let alone compose anything remotely entertaining.

Job hunting. Is. The worst. It's just, it's truly the pits. It's the pits of an enormous and extremely sweaty giant. And that's where I've been sitting for the past twenty four days.

But then suddenly, this past Friday, my life changed and changed again. I got an offer for a job. And not just any offer for any job -- I got an offer for the job I've wanted for the past four years. The job I was actually supposed to get almost exactly a year ago. The job of my dreams.

Where does this story even start? I guess technically it begins with a party my family hosted the summer after my sophomore year in college. Ancient history, I know. But in order to get to the end of this story in a way that is utterly satisfactory, I feel that we must begin all the way at the very, very, very beginning.

My dad is a lawyer at a big law firm in New York, and the long-ago-party in question happened to be for the summer associates at his firm. I love those parties -- they are all about meeting new and interesting people and eating good food. After 23 years of being me, if there is one thing I know for sure about myself it is this: I am an extrovert. Also, I love food. So I guess I know two things for sure about myself.

Anyway, I was at this party, meeting the people, eating the food, and all of the sudden my mom grabs my arm, saying, "There's someone you have to meet!" And she pulls me across the room to meet a girl, a few years older than me, very pretty, and she says, "This is Rachel,* the legal recruiting assistant at the law firm! She was just telling me about her job and I seriously think it would be perfect for you!" I turned to Rachel and said, "uh.. cool! Ok! So... what do you do?"

Legal Recruiting Assistant. I had never even heard of such a thing. But once I learned about it, I knew I had to do it. Not only do they get to plan events and a summer program, but they do campus recruiting, branding, career development. They plan the strategy for how many offers you give out to get the right number of associates; they figure out how to market the firm so that it stands out from all the others; and all the while, a core part of their job is meeting a lot of people and encouraging them to pick their particular firm. That part, at least, I knew I could do.

I met Rachel at her office the following week for my first ever "informational interview." She was extremely friendly and approachable -- not surprising, really, as I think you have to be to be a recruiter. When I spoke with her, she mentioned that she also had not known anything about the Legal Recruiting industry before she fell into it. During her job search she had met with a number of external recruiting agencies, and one in particular which specialized in law firm positions. "If you are really interested in pursuing this field," she said, "you should definitely contact this woman." She wrote a name down on her card, "she helped me get this job and I'm sure she could help you find an internship or something for next summer." I thanked Rachel profusely and determined that I would reach out to her contact later that same day. I was on a mission.

I left her office feeling as though I had struck gold.

*Name changed

Friday, February 1, 2013

Things that really happened

I have been interviewing for new jobs a lot recently. I know I play it up on this here blog like pretty much all I do is lie around reading Harry Potter and painting my fingernails. But to be honest, I only spend about 80% of my time reading Harry Potter and 2% of my time painting my finger nails. The other 18% of my time is spend job hunting and interviewing. What did you take me for, a slacker!?

So, recently, I was invited to interview for a recruiting position at a very formal and fancy law firm in New York. The firm in question has an excellent reputation, full of prestige and grandeur -- very snooty patooty, as they say. Naturally, I was anxious to impress.

On the day in question, I arrived, early, in a reception area full of dark wood paneling and stuffy arm chairs, all facing expansive windows with a clear view of the Statue of Liberty. It was just the littlest bit intimidating.

In true interview form, I was wearing a full suit, a button down shirt, and a jacket (it is winter after all). Just before I sat down in a stuffy arm chair, the receptionist indicated a coat closet off to the side where I could hang my jacket -- which was a very business-y black wool. I did so, because I knew right off the bat that this interview was expected to take hours and hours and I didn't want to be hot. There would be tests -- Excel, Word, grammar. There would be a structured interview with HR. And, after all that, there would be a meeting with the Recruiting Manager. Hanging up my coat was practically necessary.

Then I had the tests, which I had prepared for in advance (over-achieving for the win!), the structured interview, which was pure torture and probably my weakest event ("What are your greatest strengths? What are your greatest weaknesses? How do you overcome a challenge?" Blah blah blah barf), and finally a meeting with the Recruiting Manager, which was a more casual conversation that, I hoped, went well. All in all, I was there for almost 3 hours.

Afterwards, I walked back to reception in a daze, my brain starting to crumble under the strain it had just endured. I walked, practically cross-eyed, to the coat room, grabbed my black-wool coat, paused at reception awkwardly before realizing that I had nothing to say to them, waved good bye, and got in the elevator to head home.

Thankfully, the 2/3, which is my (most favorite in the world) subway line, comes directly into the office building of the law firm. I made my winding way down the stairs, still frazzled, and finally arrived at the platform edge to wait for my train. I absentmindedly put my hand in my coat pocket and it was then I noticed for the first time that --

-- wait. These pockets feel nothing like my pockets.

Hang on, I don't have a hat, what is this hat doing here in this pocket?

Wait. Hang on. Hang on a second.

This isn't my coat.

And now that you mention it, Brain, it feels nothing like my coat. It is way to big and sitting awkwardly on my shoulders. How could I possibly not have noticed before?

I felt panic grip me as the realization struck. What if I had gotten on that train? I don't even like to think about it. What if someone noticed that their coat was missing? I couldn't let that happen. I had to get back upstairs as quickly as possible.

I raced and raced back through the windy subway maze to the lobby of the building, pausing impatiently to re-announce myself at the security desk ("ALL VISITORS MUST BE ANNOUNCED!!!!"). "I TOOK THE WRONG COAT AND I JUST NEED TO GET UPSTAIRS AND EXCHANGE IT!" I practically screamed at the guy standing behind the desk. He just stared at me blankly and, with about as much urgency as a turtle, printed another visitor's pass.

The receptionist was just a little surprised to see me when I practically fell through the glass doors of reception and announced, "THERE'S BEEN A TERRIBLE MISTAKE."

I stumbled towards her, "I took the wrong coat by accident, can you even believe this?!" Thankfully, she started laughing and assured me that no one had come in to claim that particular coat while I was gone. So, phew, it could have been worse! Maybe I would yet manage to survive this with some of my dignity intact.

In the coat closet, I found my coat almost immediately. It was carefully lined up with all the other black-wool coats that apparently everyone in the office had decided to wear that day. But still, I double checked the label at least fifteen times. I needed to be very, very sure. I couldn't make that mistake again.

When I left for the second time the receptionist was still laughing at me.

I'm gonna go ahead and say that I'm pretty sure I didn't get that job.

But I'm OK with it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just finished a run!

Now where is my medal?

The Gym

The gym is my fickle friend. Right now I am sitting on my bed, in my gym clothes, contemplating the long, five minute walk to my gym, and I'm wondering... Will I actually be able to make myself go today... or will the mental work out of trying to convince myself to go be exercise enough... ?

Leaning towards the second one.

I hate exercise. But I love the way I feel AFTER I exercise. It's such a dilemma. 35 endlessly long minutes, feeling like I want to die, or maybe that I am dying and this is what death feels like, and all I get for it afterwards is a seemingly short runner's high and that giddy "I can eat whatever I want" feeling.

AND THEN I EAT WHATEVER I WANT. I mean really, what was the point of going to the gym in the first place?

But yet there was a time, a long, long time ago, before I became a working girl, that I worked out a lot. Like, FIVE DAYS A WEEK a lot. It was a phase that I went through, I guess, I can't explain it. And you know, I was really fit. I like to look back on that time, that brief, golden age, and brag about it to all my friends. Because yeah. Yeah I could run six miles and barely break a sweat. Yeah I got my mile time down to under 7 minutes. Yeah, I was a beast. I. Was. A. Freaking. Beast.

My friends are like, "uhh, no one cares?"

But I have to brag because I think we all know I'll never see those days again. I even knew it at the time. I remember, almost exactly a year ago, going on a long and pleasantly pleasant run, and saying to myself, "Hey Jane? Enjoy this. This is the fittest you will ever be, you lazy, lazy couch potato."

And I was so right about myself. I mean, here I am a year later, couching it up. I couldn't run six miles right now if you paid me $1000. I couldn't run a seven minute mile without collapsing and possibly having a heart attack. It's sad, how far I've fallen. Very, very sad.

And that means I should go, right? To the gym? I should go right now and relive my former glory? I should push myself to the limit? I should feel the burn in my every limb?

I will, I've decided. I will go right now. I'm putting my shoes on. Or, ok, I will be putting my shoes on momentarily. As soon as I finish this post.

Ok. I'm going.


Right now.


are you still there?

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Winter. Is. Here.

I am sure I've mentioned this before, but I used to think winter was my favorite season. Why!?!? you ask, incredulous. I don't know. I must have been out of my mind.

Part of it, I can only imagine, is that winter in the city isn't too terrible most of the time. The coldest days, which are rare, tend to settle around 20 degrees, pretty bad but not unbearable. Snow was also reserved for delightfully special occasions. If we did get some, 98% of the time it didn't stick. It just floated like confetti through the city streets, making everything seem slightly magical, and then melted away in the heat of our drain pipes. I thought I loved snow.

But the very best of all is that winter in the city ends. It is reserved for a three month period between the middle of December and the middle of March, and then, like clockwork, on March 15 you wake up and suddenly you can smell spring coming. In the air. I can't make this up. It smells wet.

Basically what I'm saying is, I didn't really know Winter, with a capital W, until I got to Maine. And then it was ruined for me forever.

First there is the cold. The endless cold. Temperatures in the single digits are pretty typical. There was one winter during which we basically couldn't go outside for the entire month of January. Friends turned against friends. Enemies punched enemies in the face. We ate each other alive.

Then there is the snow.  The endless snow. One year the mountainous snow piles grew to nine feet high and refused to melt. There were entire stairs wells on campus that I completely forgot existed.  Pathways at the school became icy death traps. Driving was a nightmare: first you dig your car out and try not to get hypothermia, then you clean your car off and your hands die from hypothermia, then by the time you actually get in the car to go somewhere you're starting to wonder if anything you could possibly need is worth risking your life on the icy road. Nine time out of ten the answer is...  Probably not. Too bad you already sacrificed your hands.

But the absolute worst thing about winter in Maine is that spring never comes. I would wake up on March 15 feeling all hopeful and expectant only to find that... It was definitely still winter. The same held true all the way into April. My soul became more beaten with each passing day. There were times that I legitimately feared it would be WINTER. FOREVER. APOCALYPSE NOW.

By the end of my first Maine March, winter had become my interminable foe and spring my long awaited savior. Summer was my new favorite season. Even now, two years later, I will take the hottest day over the coldest day ANY day. I'd rather swelter than freeze. In fact, I kind of love sweltering.

Basically my point in writing all this is to let you know that the city is uncharacteristically cold today, hovering around 15 degrees.  As a result I have avoided the outdoors like the plague. In fact, I think I will now retire to my bed which is where I will be hiding until March 15. And YOU BETTER NOT LET ME DOWN THIS TIME, Spring. You better show up right on time.

Or else.

Or else I'll move to Orlando. AND DON'T YOU TEST ME.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I used to think I was an optimistic person. This is largely because my demeanor leans heavily towards "upbeat" and "bubbly." Also because my life is quite calamitous and yet it never diminished my ability to put a smile on my face (aren't I annoyingly cheerful).

Well, it turns out that smile is only skin deep and unemployment brings out ALL my jaded cynicism. This past month has convinced me that I have actually been a pessimist this whole time, but with an ironically sunny disposition.

I'm pretty sure an optimist sees all the potential and possibility of life. Every failure is an opportunity, right? Every time God closes a door he opens a window?

In my head, things work a little differently. Every failure convinces me that I'll probably never ever get another job as long as I live, ever. Every door that closes sends me into a panic thinking that I'll probably die homeless in a box on the street after a thoroughly unsuccessful life.

My friends and family are like, "dude. Chill."

But I can't! Chill! I am going to be homeless! IN A BOX! No one will visit.

I need help. And a meditation cushion. And a recording that I can put on repeat that tells me I'm only 23 and my life is going to be OK.

(But then again, WHAT IF IT ISN'T??)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Let me level with you for a minute

I left my job. My job left me. It was a mutual decision. I wanted one thing for myself and my boss wanted another thing for his company and the two just weren't lining up anymore. I am being completely honest when I say that it was 100% amicable. I hope my boss and I will still know each other in the years to come.

BUT THAT SAID, the transition from working 40+ hours a week to working... 0 hours a week... has been interesting. I had definitely gotten used to working a lot and being tired all the time and generally having an excuse to not get anything else done. Take my dry cleaning to the cleaners? I HAD TO WORK TODAY. Go grocery shopping? DOES SERIOUSLY NO ONE CARE ABOUT HOW HARD IT IS THAT I HAVE TO WORK ALL DAY? Take a weekend trip to a museum? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I ONLY GET TWO DAYS A WEEK TO RELAX. (And by "relax" I of course mean "Spend and entire afternoon lying around in my sweat pants like a bum." Sigh).

Well, now it's like everyday is Saturday. This should mean I get a lot accomplished, right? Like, my clothes are always clean and my refrigerator well-stocked. If I'm being honest with myself, it should also mean that I write a whole lot more often on this blog. And yet.... Somehow.... I still end up spending whole days in my sweatpants like a bum.

All the time in the world, and yet nothing ever gets done. It's kind of incredible. And by "incredible," I of course mean that I have lost all sense of purpose.

I think what I need is structure... a schedule.... Right now my schedule looks like this:

1. Get up whenever my body feels like it, which is typically around noon.
2. Eat a leisurely bowl of cereal.
3. Read the news and catch up on my correspondences (my friends always make fun of me when I say that but it's true! That's what I do).
4. What's that? It's dinnertime?
5. ....

Ok, ok. I might be exaggerating a little. I do SOME other things. And STUFF. In fact, if I wrote it all down here it would probably sound like a lot of stuff. Apply for jobs, go on interviews, run, write, sleep.

And yet my day still feels remarkably empty.

I think what I need right now are some good, self-implemented goals. And I think my first goal will be, "Get up around 9am tomorrow and put on some real pants." Everyone has to start somewhere right?

I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Growing up in NYC

I took growing up in the city for granted. I guess everyone feels the same about his or her hometown -- for the first 18 years (or so, on average) of your life it's where you live. It's all you know. It's regular. It's everyday. It's .... blah.

But this week, for some unknown reason, I have had two people on separate occasions say to me, "I always find it so funny to meet real city kids, kids who spent their childhood in the city. What was it like??" I always laugh awkwardly at this and say something like, "haha, yeah well, you know, to me it is exactly like wherever you're from is to you -- it's just home. I don't know what it would be like to be raised anywhere else."

That being said, as a kid I definitely romanticized country life. I told my parents countless times that I wished I had been raised on a farm in the country instead of in an apartment in the city. I told them that when I grew up, I was going to move out west and have that rural experience I always wanted -- with wide open fields and space as far as the eye could see. My neighbors would live miles away and "town" would be the one general store and a post office. My dad loves to tell me this story now so he can point and laugh and say, "I told you so."

But oh, he told me so. I went to college in a rural town (totally chosen on purpose for it's delightfully quaint rural-ness) and QUICKLY realized how wrong I was about myself. I am a city girl, through and through. The city hath spoiled me forever.

First of all, I don't know why I didn't realize this would be a problem (probably because I grew up in a city) but I didn't have a driver's license my first year in college. I know that suburban and country kids wait for that moment with baited breath, but I watched my sixteenth birthday come and go without any desire to get myself to the DMV. I thought, "What a hassle to get one of those license things," and "... It's not like I'm getting a car."

It was only after I moved to the country for college that I realized the extent of my city freedom. Did I want to the movies with friends? I don't need to wait for my mom to take me or pick me up -- I can take myself whenever I want via taxi or subway or walking.  How about visiting a friend's house? No one has to drive me, I can get myself there. Not to mention that drunk driving was never, ever an issue at my high school. We just didn't drive. Period. (The drinking on the other hand...). 

But, the point is, I had a remarkable amount of independence growing up. Independence that I completely took for granted until I got to college and realized I couldn't go anywhere unless someone else was willing to take me there in their automobile. So, of course, when I came home for the summer after Freshman year, I immediately got a license and a car. I need to be free. And I had finally learned what it means to associate freedom with the ability to drive. 

Another thing: this is probably unique to me, but during my first year in college I would get ridiculous food cravings and not be able to satisfy them. In the city, I had always been able to order Chinese food whenever the feeling struck me. In New York, I can get takeout at 8pm or midnight or at 4am. This was NOT true in Waterville, ME, where not only was there no decent Chinese food anyway, but ALSO the restaurants closed at 9pm. 9pm!? That's when dinner in the city is just getting started. 

Or how about if I suddenly realize I need tissues at 11pm? Thank goodness the corner store three blocks away from my house in NY is open 24 hours. In Maine, I would be completely out of luck. 

One last thing: I didn't know how much this would bother me, but in college I met a lot of people and one of the first questions we'd ask each other was, "oh where are you from?" A LOT of people would say to me, "Boston" and then I'd be like, "oh cool, where in Boston?" And they'd say, "Well, 30 minutes outside of Boston in a suburb called _______." This became a huge pet peeve of mine. If you are not actually from the city do not say you're from the city. Just. No. The kids who actually grew up in the city had a completely different experience from your "30 minutes outside the city" suburban experience. The two should not be grouped together, even if you think you lived "close enough" on a map. 

I don't know why that bothers me so much, but it does. Be proud of where you're from, whether it be the city or the country or the suburbs in between.

The End.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Guess where I went...!

Disney world. Damn straight. I probably shouldn't admit my passionate and abiding love for Disney World to the public, especially now that I am a 23 year old person... But, uhm, I just can't keep it in any longer.

I love you, Disney World.

I try to go at least once a year. Yeah, that's right. I have gone almost exactly once a year since I was six years old. That's 17 times over the course of my life. How sad do I sound right now?

Hang on, let me rephrase that question.

How awesome do I sound right now? Totally awesome.

Here is something to love about Disney, or if not Disney, then Florida in the winter: warmth. Oh, the wonderful, glorious warmth. I am missing it so much right now, as I sit here in frigid New York. I am longing for the sunshine.

I didn't take too many photos of my trip. This is mostly because I already have more photos of Disney World than is socially acceptable. So many photos of Disney. What can I say? It's the most photogenic place on earth. Also the happiest place on earth. And, OK, possibly the most staged place on earth. But that's part of what I love about it.

Here is Mary Poppins. I wish I had her dress. 

Here is a beautiful piece of the new Beauty and the Beast merchandise, making it's grand debut at the new (partially open) Fantasy Land. I think I might have to get this as my wedding china. I hope you can tell when I'm being sarcastic. 

At Belle's new castle, this gargoyle suffers.

Is that Disney World...? OR the African Savanna? I know, it's prettyyy hard to tell.

How did I end up going to Disney World? I'm still not really sure. My sister and I planned this trip very spontaneously. By that I mean that we literally woke up last Thursday morning and said to each other "you know what would be fun.....?" And before we even knew what was happening we were buying plane tickets to Orlando for the following day. Yes, we planned our whole trip ONE day before we left. I am never spontaneous. I plan every minute of my life. The entire following day, when we were in Disney World, I was still completely overwhelmed by my own adventurism. Like, wait... where are we right now?? How did this happen? Did I really....? Yes.


Another weird thing is that people kept giving us their fast passes to all the best rides. The first time this happened we thought it was a fluke. But then it happened again. And again. All in all, we got four free rides -- Ariel's New Adventure, Rockn' Roller Coaster, Space and Thunder Moutains... Can someone please let me know if this has happened to them? Is it just that the people at Disney World are remarkably friendly and my hardened NYC heart can't accept this?

When we got our first fast passes we thought, "Wow, our karma must be pretty good!!" But after the fourth time we were like, "No, no, our karma is definitely not this good." Then we (I) worried that something terrible was going to happen and these tickets were our consolation prize. Then we (I) decided not to worry about it and just enjoy our amazing trip. Because it was turning out to be pretty amazing.

And, so far, nothing terrible has happened. But I've got my eyes open.

Good bye Disney World, see you again next year... 

You can never have too many pictures of a giant, sparkly, plastic castle. Am I right or what??

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Resolutions!

What do you mean it's already January 3rd? Clearly I am behind the eight ball on everything. And that is why my resolution number 1 is to, um, stop procrastinating so much.

and 2. Exerciese more.
3. Struggle to eat less. This will be immensely difficult given my admitted love of all things carb.
4. Feel good about my body (Is that even possible for a girl?)
5. Meet a girl who really, truly feels good about her body. Discover her secret.
6. Sleep.
7. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
8. Find inner peace...
9. Write more.
10. Fear the judgment of others less.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Holiday Season

The Christmas season completely snuck up on me this year. This was the first year that I didn't have a true, designated winter break -- a vacation of somewhere between ten days and two weeks to revel in the season. Instead I was forced to condense all my reveling into the weekends and evenings in between... Work.

Wait.... is this what it means to become and adult? Was that a rite of passage? If so, I'm ready to go back in time and become a joyous kid again. Elementary school, anyone?

BUT FEAR NOT! I defied the odds and still managed to enjoy myself. Occasionally.

Here are some of the things I did to celebrate:

1. Sugar cookies. I had a new old friend come over to bake with me. This is, after all, the season of new old friends. Or, in other words, it is the seasons for renewing friendships. As an added bonus, the cookies were delicious, and the batter PARTICULARLY excellent. I may have tested quite a lot of it. For poison.

The problem is: I wanted to make Christmas cookies but I don't actually own any cookie cutters.... I'm not a very "crafty" person... So I say to my friend, "Not to worry! We can use a knife to cut shapes out ourselves and it will be even MORE crafty and original than just simply using a cutter shape! The day is saved." So we rolled out the dough (I DO own a rolling pin, so that's something) and got to work.

THEN it turned out I was absolutely terrible at cutting out shapes. As I say, I lack "crafitness." (read: any artistic talent whatsoever). It didn't help my ego that my friend turned out to be an incredibly skilled cookie artiste, carving Christmas trees and snow men and snow angels with ease. Please see this cookie sheet as evidence:

I really think the two cookies in the bottom right are clear indicators of our skill levels. I drew the snow angel, of course. Not. 

2. City Bakery hot chocolate. Actually, my new old friend introduced this to me as well. Now I'm an addict. I like to refer to it as CBHC for short and drink it at least seven times a week... aka once a day. It is so thick and rich and chocolatey. Not too overwhelmingly sweet, just how I like it. In fact, I have to stop talking about it or I'll need to run across town right now this instant and get my fix (City Bakery is at 18th st. just west of fifth avenue. Go. Go now).   

I wish I had a picture of the hot chocolate to illustrate my love, but alas I can never resist drinking it long enough to take a photograph.

3. I got this tree: 

And I helped drag it home from the tree stand. Living in New York, that's more of a process than you'd think. We don't have a car to throw our tree atop of. Of course, that's why many city tree stands offer delivery...

Also, I wish I could say that I helped decorate this tree.. but I only managed about four ornaments. My mom, the decorator extraordinaire, handled the rest. The result: magnificent. Can you tell?

4. I got these presents:

OK, to be fair not all of these are for me... Some of them are from me...  But the point is: we said we weren't going to go overboard this year and then we failed miserably.

5. I got myself the best present of all. 

An iPhone 5. 

What did you think I was going to say? World peace??

Does water really taste like nothing?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.