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Farewell Student Life

July 14, 2013

ImageAs of Friday afternoon, I am officially an alumni of New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute. I have a shiny certificate to prove it. The program that I talked about doing for over a year is behind me now. So, what now? That’s a great question. Even after I graduated from Susquehanna, I knew that I had a few short weeks of post grad life before I moved to New York. And, during that time…I went to Disney World. Tough life, I know. There’s no upcoming obligations anymore; I have nothing planned. Well, I do have one plan: FIND A JOB. During the next four weeks that I have my dorm room, I will be racing the clock to try and find a position in the city. As I have in the past seven weeks, I’ll be mixing in some fun with the job hunt. 

The past two weeks since my last post have been filled with visits from friends, a final presentation, and a holiday in the city. Here are some highlights! 

ImageFourth of July at Chelsea Piers. I joined over 10,000 New Yorkers at Chelsea Piers to watch the Macy’s firework show. During the twenty minute light show, I heard the faint echos of the concert going on at the end of the piers, featuring Taylor Swift, Usher, and others. It was crowded and muggy, but well worth it. Who knows if I’ll ever have the opportunity to watch the country’s biggest fourth of July celebration again.  

SPI Finale. Last Thursday the groups presented their imprint launches to a panel of industry professionals. I didn’t have to speak during my group’s presentation, so I wasn’t as nervous as I was during the magazine presentations. My group didn’t end up winning any of the awards, but once again, I was proud of the work that we’d done on the project. After we were dismissed from the presentations (and everyone began cheering that we were done), my roommates and I went to lunch at our favorite dinner across the street one last time to celebrate. We all agreed that SPI was some of the fastest weeks of our lives! 

ImageFriends, Friends, Friends. My friend Gabi accepted a position as an intern in the city, so I’ll be seeing her lots! Friday was her first day, and we met up for happy hour after she got off. She’ll be commuting into the city a few times a week, giving us plenty of opportunities to hang out. Her office is right by Madison Square Park-next visit, Shake Shack. This past week I also got the opportunity to reconnect with an old high school friend, Ryan. We hadn’t seen each other in almost four years, but we were able to pick up our friendship right where we left off! We got dinner and then went to his neighborhood in Brooklyn so I could scope out some real estate options (in case I’m in need of an apartment). 

Other than those occasions, I’ve stuck to my new routine in the city. I’ve gotten used to the constant bustle and always being on the go. I’ve had incredible food, seen incredible sights, all while keeping up with the errands of life like grocery shopping and laundry. I’m trying not to turn on auto pilot. My friend Meredith and I talked about how lucky we are to have gotten to New York City. She reminded me of how many people dream of coming here, whether it’s to start a career, to find out more about themselves, or to begin again. Not everyone makes it. Let me tell you, though, if you find a way to get here you won’t be disappointed. Things might not pan out the way you dreamt it up, but I promise, this city will teach you everything it knows if you’re willing to listen. 

How to Become a Local

July 1, 2013

ImageSomehow it’s July. That means I’ve been living in the city for a little over a month. It seems so much longer and shorter than that at the same time. I feel like I’m repeating myself each post when I say it’s been another busy week…but it really has! The book section of SPI is in full swing, I had more friends come visit over the weekend, and I started actively planning for a future in New York. Oh, and did I mention I saw another Broadway show and got dinner in Little Italy?? There’s a lot to catch you up on. 

Last Monday was the start of the book lectures and group imprint projects. I am the Executive Editor for the romance genre. I took off my publisher business hat, and put on my slightly more worn and literary editor hat. It’s been a lot of fun brainstorming romance book ideas, let me tell you. I’m not a personal romance reader, but I’m beginning to understand the appeal of escaping into a book filled with love and fast plots. Overall, I feel more at home in the book section. I appreciated the magazine lectures and group work, but now, I know that this is the side of publishing I’m more excited about. Tomorrow we go on industry visits. I’ll be touring the HarperCollins office! 

ImageI had a great week inside and out of SPI. On Tuesday, my roommates and I celebrated our one month anniversary by a visit to Shake Shack. If you’re keeping tabs, yes, that was my second trip to Shake Shack in one week. I couldn’t resist! I promise to take a break from the simple perfection of burgers and shakes. The good eats continued with a trip to Little Italy on Wednesday to celebrate my friend Taylor’s birthday. I ordered a mixed pasta plate, which had penne, tortellini, and stuffed shells (half of it is waiting in my freezer, ready to be indulged in at a later date).

I went to see my second Broadway show on Thursday with Andrew. This time we got tickets to Annie. Our student rush tickets placed us in the first row, but not in seats next to each other. We smiled at each other all during the show, remembering when we were in the Imagemusicaltogether in high school. Andrew played Rooster and I was Miss Hannigan. After the show, we reminisced about our favorite parts, and compared our performances to the professionals. Jane Lynch played Miss Hannigan, and I was eager to give her props for her stellar rendition of my favorite theater role. We grabbed dinner at the chinese restaurant we went to after Jersey Boys two weeks before. The waitress remembered us, so we decided it would be our traditional post show spot. 

Friday two of my best friends from college, Meghan and Emily, came to visit! I could hardly contain my excitement meeting them on the block of my building. It was so surreal. The last time I saw them was at our friend Molly’s graduation party; the day before I left for the city. They joked about how I left super early in the morning, still needing to pack to move. Hey, maybe I procrastinated then, but it all worked out! That night, we went to a bar named McGee’s that was used as inspiration for the bar in How I Met Your Mother. We got some great happy hour drink prices and split a few appetizers. 

ImageSaturday we grabbed breakfast at ‘Pick a Bagel’ before traveling to Central Park. Emily had never been to the park, so it was on our list of musts. We sat by the lake updating each other on our post grad lives, trying to figure out how the time had led us here so fast. Mike was back in the city, and called us asking to meet up, pulling us away from the park. We walked to Saks Fifth Avenue to meet him (casual), and then made our way to the street fair. It was so nice having so many friends together at once. Emily and Meghan were also with me during my semester in London, so it really almost seemed like old times.

The rest of the weekend was a mixture of good friends and food. Sunday was Emily’s birthday so we were on the mission to find a place for brunch. We ended up at a restaurant a few blocks from my place called Friend of a Farmer. The restaurant was modeled like an old country home, making it feel like we’d stepped outside the city for an hour. I got fantastic fresh brewed coffee, and a country styled omelette. We walked off our food coma and headed to Chelsea. I wanted to share one of my first favorite city finds, The High Line park. We may have also checked out the Chelsea Market and indulged in some gelato later that afternoon. Wow, this post is making me realize I may have overdone it with the food this week. I’ll take a moment and remind myself I’m not on a cruise vacation, this is real life. 

ImageLater on Sunday I put Emily and Meghan in a cab and wished them farewell. Mike came over to hang out a little after they left, and then I was saying goodbye to him again after I walked him to the subway. It was strange going from a weekend with familiar faces to being alone again. I was so happy everyone was able to visit. It gave me the opportunity to feel like a local for the first time. I’m growing more and more comfortable with the city as time goes on, while still finding new places to explore and experiences to have. 

I’ve extended my stay in my dorm until August 10th. After SPI ends next Friday, I’ll have a month with no obligations other than job hunting. It’s scary but exciting to think of my future here. For the first time in my life, I don’t know where I’ll be come August 11th. I can’t wait to see where the next chapter takes me. 

 

An Island Tour

June 23, 2013

ImageIt’s about 9:30 on Sunday night, and my eyelids are super heavy. I feel like I haven’t had a moment to sit and reflect since Wednesday. Between my magazine launch presentation and two friends visiting the city, I’ve had my hands full. As tired as I may be now, it was all so worth it.

Thursday the groups presented their magazine brand launches to a panel of three judges. There were eleven groups…it was a long day. My group was the eighth to present, giving us the luxury of getting used to  the judges’ comments and questions. When it was time for me to present, I was nervous as per usual. My roommates told me I came off as professional and calm though. I was relieved when it was time for me to leave the podium and rejoin the audience. My team didn’t end up winning any of the awards, but I was still proud of all of our hard work. STRONG for life!

ImageAfter the hours of presentations finally came to a close, I ventured to Brooklyn to meet up with my college friend, Gabi. She had had an interview that afternoon and decided to stay in the city for the evening to see me and a friend from home named Danny. It was my first trip to Brooklyn. Danny showed us around his neighborhood before we went to a thai restaurant for dinner. We got a great happy hour deal (two beers for $6) and awesome pad thai. Gabi took the train back to Manhattan with me to see my apartment before she headed back to Jersey. We both agreed that it felt right for us to be hanging out in the city.

Friday marked the half way point of SPI. I can’t decide if the time has seemed to go by faster or slower than three weeks. No matter my opinion of the speed of time, the magazine half of the program is over, and tomorrow we start the book publishing portion. After we were dismissed from lecture Friday it was time to celebrate our monumental time mark. A few of the girls and I went to happy hour at a nearby pub for drinks and appetizers. I came back early to greet my friend Mike, who was visiting for the weekend, when his train arrived. I gave him the quick tour of my apartment before we walked to a bar in the Flat Iron district. Mike was staying the whole weekend, so we opted to get a good night’s rest before our two jammed pack days of exploring.

ImageJammed packed is the best description of my weekend. I don’t know if I’ve ever walked that much in two days. Mike and I did it all. We made an appearance in all of Manhattan’s major neighborhoods, saw several trademark NYC landmarks, and got wonderful food and drinks. Our first stop was Lower Manhattan and the financial district. I had an HTML computer class that morning, so it made sense to start our island tour nearby my class building.  Before class, we grabbed breakfast and ate in City Hall Park. Then, we walked the Brooklyn Bridge. Talk about a great view.

After I got out of class, we went to the pier to catch the Ikea Ferry. As Mike said, “the ferry is exactly what it sounds like.” You can catch a (free) ride to Ikea in Brooklyn from Pier 11. We looped around the river on the boat, deciding there wasn’t anything we really needed from Ikea. The boat ride allowed us to continue the trend of amazing views, including a ride by the Statue of Liberty. Once we returned to the pier, it was time for lunch. Mike wanted to go ‘The Meatball Shop,’ a place with, you guessed it, meatballs. After a walk through China Town and SoHo, we were rewarded with meatball sandwiches. To make things even sweeter, we shared a cookie ice cream sandwich, with mint ice cream a chocolate chip and brownie walnut cookie as shells.

ImageThe rest of the afternoon we slowly walked back to my apartment. There was a pit stop at an old fashioned bar, where you could order either a “light” or “dark” beer. Once we got back to my apartment we were both ready to crash. The power nap did us well, and we were awake and lively to go out for mexican food and margaritas with my roommates. The energy didn’t last much longer, as we were home and ready to sleep before midnight.

The next day was another whirlwind of activities. In the morning, we met Andrew to get smoothies from Jamba Juice. Then, we took the subway to the Upper West Side. We waited in the long line for Shake Shack burgers (so worth it) and walked to Central Park to eat. As if smoothies and burgers wasn’t enough, we also picked up cookies at Levain Bakery to indulge in later. Mike mentioned that the bakery was listed included on Oprah’s favorite things, and I was sold. Now, flash forward to twenty minutes ago, when I finished my chocolate chip walnut cookie that was as thick as a scone. Delicious. After our stay in Central Park, we spent some time window shopping in Bloomingdale’s before traveling back to my apartment. Then it was time for Mike to catch his train back to PA. I was sad to see him go, but was happy to have some Sunday lounge time. Plus, he’ll be back up in the city next weekend with family, so I’ll see him then!

ImageBefore he left, we decided we should try our hand at writing travel books. We recounted all of the cities we’d explored together since we’d met a year and a half ago: London, Prague, Edinburgh, Brussels, and now New York City. It was one of those conversations that reminded me how lucky I am. Not only have I had the opportunity to see so many great places, but I’ve been able to share those experiences with a friend. Even with a weekend free of SPI assignments, I’m still learning all the wonderful things this time of my life has to offer. Here’s to the next three weeks of SPI and the accompanying weekend adventures.

Finding the Balance

June 19, 2013

ImageHappy magazine launch eve! After two and a half weeks of lectures, strategy workshops, and late nights, my team is ready to present our original magazine brand, Strong, to the judges and SPI class tomorrow. We have binders filled with beautiful editorial, design, business, marketing, and social media strategies that we printed and compiled today. In a few short hours, we’ll hand those binders over to professional industry judges. I’m confident and proud of the work that we’re presenting, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less anxious to learn what the judges think. Speaking of anxieties…I’m one of the group members pitching our brand to the class and judges. Yikes. 

I’m sure you’re beginning to understand why I haven’t blogged in over a week. With the project and presentation, how can I have time for any fun, blog worthy activities? As I said before, it’s all about balance. Unfortunately, there are factors that are more powerful than an individual’s drive for equilibrium: sickness. Over the past week, I had a terrible string of migraines. I actually had to miss out on a day of SPI. My team was very understanding of my absence, but I still felt awful. Between losing a work day, my pain and symptoms, and being alone in my apartment all day, I thought I was going to lose it. When I wasn’t sleeping, my mom stayed on the phone with me and calmed me down. No matter how old you are, I think you always crave home when you’re sick. Being able to talk to her made it better. 

I kept it easy on Friday. I worked on my individual assignment for the project. And when I finished my strategy write-up, I rewarded myself with some frozen yogurt. Saturday I continued work on my project and attended a class on InDesign. That night I was ready to hit the town again, so a few of my roommates and I decided to go on a pub crawl. If you read my previous posts from my time abroad last spring…you’ll find that I’m a big fan of pub crawls. You get to go to so many neat places in one night, and you meet interesting people from all over the world. We spent the evening hopping bars in the East Village. It was one of the first times several of the roomies were able to go out together, so I was happy! 

Sunday I met Andrew for brunch near Union Square after a morning Photoshop class. There’s a good example of keeping the balance. Andrew and I both have a lot of responsibilities, but we’ve made sure to catch up at least once a week! I think we’re adapting well to a fast paced city friendship. It’s certainly different than our usual lazy summers in Odenton together. 

ImageTuesday I went on my first industry visit to the AOL and Huffington Post office. I’ve spent my fair share of time in office settings from my internships and time at Nordstrom; those offices were ant size compared to AOL/Huffington Post. I walked through several newsrooms, a recording studio, and modern employee lounges. My favorite office feature was the NapQuest rooms. Yes, it’s what it sounds like: rooms for employees to take power naps in. Some even had massage chairs. I’m hoping this catches on in offices all over the world. 

Now, I’m going to go back to finalizing my notes for tomorrow’s presentation. Wish me luck! Another person who needs good wishes is my friend Gabi. She has an interview in the city tomorrow. We’re going to try and meet up after the awards are handed out for the magazine session. The visits from friends continue into the weekend! My friend Mike is heading up Friday night. He’s more of a NYC pro than I am, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of the city sites. It so should be a relaxing and celebratory weekend, as I end the first half of the SPI program.   

 

 

Tell it to the Rain

June 10, 2013

ImageIt’s a rainy Monday evening, and I just finished reading How to Love by Katie Cotugno. It was one of the many advanced books I picked up at BEA. For the book portion of SPI I will be launching a romance imprint, so I figured I’d get into the genre mindset a little early. The plot was simple, but you know, who isn’t a sucker for a happy ending? Next, I think I’ll try Wally Lamb’s new novel We Are Water. Like She’s Come Undone, it looks like Lamb is trying to tackle a female narrative. I’ll let you know if he’s as successful this time as he was with writing from Dolores’ point of view. 

I’ve been busy with things other than reading since my last post. First, and most impressive in my opinion, I survived my first week of SPI. It was a long, challenging week. By Friday I felt like I’d always lived and breathed magazine publishing. Honestly, I was pretty ignorant about that industry prior to this past week. I had no idea of the editorial and business collaboration that is necessary to make a magazine brand successful. SPI has given me the greatest backstage pass, and I have come to appreciate the glamour of magazines even more because of that pass. 

ImageYes, I was living and breathing magazines last week (and continue to do so for the next two weeks), but I made some time for fun, too. On Thursday Andrew and I went to see Jersey Boys. I literally ran from SPI to the theater and made it to the show with two minutes to spare. Between getting locked out of the subway gate and switching trains, my commute from Lower Manhattan to the Theater District was my greatest transportation test thus far. The show was worth the hassle though! I had one of my oh my god, I’m actually in New York moments as I watched the Tony Award winning actor portray Frankie Valli. After the show, Andrew and I got dinner at a chinese restaurant near Times Square. We toasted to many more show and dinner dates in the future weeks. 

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Friday was another rainy day. A few girls and I braved the weather to go to a pizza pub a block away from our dorm for dinner and drinks. I was a little soggy by the time I got inside, but the five dollar pizza slice and beer deal made up for it. We stayed local for the rest of the night and celebrated our first week of hard work. 

With clearer skies on Saturday, I ventured to the Upper East Side to explore Central Park. I took pictures of the park map before I left and decided on a route. I’d heard how intimidating the park could be size wise, so I picked a few key trails in the southern half of the park to walk. Three hours later, I’d looped the bottom half of Central Park. I went through the Strawberry Fields, dedicated to John Lennon, walked the Literary Mall, and strolled along the perimeter of the center lake. I rewarded my noble hike with an ice cream cone before I took the subway back to my dorm, exhausted. Even though it was a tiring trip, I’m excited to go back and see the rest of the park. Maybe I’ll even pack a picnic. 

ImageI’m enjoying this balancing act of tourism and work. When I was abroad in London I didn’t have to put too much effort into my academics, making city adventures easy. That’s not the case with SPI. On top of all the technical knowledge I’m learning how to organize and compartmentalize my life. For the first time I’m truly understanding the value of a weekend. It’s not all work with SPI though. Tomorrow night we have our alumni party and media talk. We have a half day of conferences and then the whole afternoon to get ready for the party. Between wearing a pretty dress and mingling with people that can give me real insight into the journey I’ve just began, I’m sure it’ll be a magical night. 

My Week in a New York Minute

June 5, 2013

High Line ParkHappy Wednesday! I’m relaxing this evening after my third day of the Summer Publishing Institute (SPI). I got home around six, made a spectacular grilled cheese and tomato sandwich with my panini press (thanks, Mom!) and caught up on laundry. The weight of my domestic obligations have been lifted off my shoulders. It has been a busy week since my last post, so I’ll compile this blog with the best hits. 

Last Wednesday I explored the Chelsea Borough with a few girls. First, we went to the Chelsea Food Market. It was smaller than the London Borough market, but still offered a wide variety of food produce and restaurants. We walked through the interior of the market and got some delicious tacos for lunch. Afterwards, we walked the High Line Park. The High Line is an elevated park, built along an old railroad track. I loved the unique city view I got from the park, along with the chance to walk within some greenery. 

ImageThursday, Friday, and Saturday I volunteered for the Book Expo America (BEA). I had access to the full convention and got to take home free books! One day I worked the author stage, helping the presenters set up for their presentations. The other two days I worked the autograph lines. People showed up mega early to get in line to see their favorite author. The Neil Gaiman line started around seven AM, and the Sarah Dessen was snaked around a large portion of the conference building. There were so many amazing writers and publishers at BEA, and I was so happy I got the opportunity to be a part of the excitement this early in my publishing journey. 

Sunday my parents came up to deliver the rest of my belongings. I’m so spoiled. My mom brought up tons of food and cooking materials. I complained at how expensive cheese was in the city (and I LOVE cheese), so my mom brought a cooler with three different types of cheese. We went out to lunch and toured the 9/11 Memorial. The two memorial pools, which filter into the foundation of the twin towers was breathtaking. Names of all those lost in the terrorist attacks that day were etched into the perimeter of the pool. It was difficult to believe that it has been almost twelve years since the attacks. Like most, I can remember the day vividly, getting taken out of school and watching the news coverage with my family, unable to understand what and why this could have happened. Overall, it was a somber and powerful experience. 

ImageMonday the magazine session of SPI began. The last three days have been filled with presentations by major industry members from editors-in-chief to advertising agents. Already, I feel like I’ve gained a more well rounded understanding of how magazines function as a brand. For this half of the program, I am the publisher for my sports magazine team. We have three weeks to do all the prep, designing, budgeting, writing, advertising for our launch. We’re early in the process, but I’m excited to see what my group can do with this opportunity. It’s not everyday that you get the chance to play pretend and create something completely new!

I know I’ve only been living in the city for the past ten days, but I feel so at home here. A large portion of that is because I feel at home in SPI. I’m more confident in my career aspirations. My time here has been far from slow paced, as expected. I wasn’t sure if I was going to fit into that pace. So many people dream of getting to this city, of making it in this city. I’d be lying if I said that was always my plan. I didn’t want to romanticize a place I’d hardly been to. I still don’t want to jump to conclusions and say this is where I want to stay for a long time. My internal jury is still deliberating. For now, I want to enjoy this experience for what it is. More than anything, I feel blessed for this opportunity. 

I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here

May 28, 2013

Gramercy Green It’s a rainy afternoon in New York City, and I forgot to pack my umbrella. So, I’m hunkered in my dorm reading and working on my pre-program homework assignments. Luckily, the weather was perfect for my first day. 

I took the train from Baltimore here early yesterday. By noon I was experiencing my first taxi ride, and checking into my new home for the next seven weeks. I rode the elevator up to the 14th floor, eager to see what my living arrangements would be like. I’m in a six person suite, similar to the dorms I was in junior and senior year at Susquehanna. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. As if the spacious suite setup wasn’t enough, I opened my bedroom door to discover a spectacular view of the city. I’m in one of the corner rooms of the building, which have floor to ceiling windows. I also found out there’s a gym in the basement. I felt like singing a rendition of “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here” from Annie. Instead of singing, I began unpacking and setting up my new room. 

ImageLater in the afternoon a few of my suitemates showed up. We walked together to get our school ID and metro cards. Then, I had plans to meet up with Andrew, a friend from home that is working as an RA for NYU this summer, after he got off at work. He met me at my dorm, and we spent a few minutes freaking out that this was reality. Yes, we would both be living in the city for the summer, just a few blocks away from each other.

Soon our excitement was replaced with hunger. We walked to Five Napkin Burger to get dinner. Between my nerves on the train and running errands all day, I had forgotten to eat. My avocado-ranch burger gave me some much needed energy. Andrew and I spent time catching up. He wanted to know about “the end of college,” which my brain hasn’t completely processed yet. Did I really graduate 16 days ago? It seems like graduation itself was so long ago, yet I wake up some mornings expecting to drive back to SU after another break. The bustling sound of the city outside reminds me graduation did happen, and I’m here about to start a grad program. After dinner Andrew walked me back to my dorm, and I called it a night. I was exhausted from all the traveling and excitement. I cuddled into bed with my Kindle and read until I fell asleep. 

This morning I woke up early and went to Starbucks with a few girls. I wanted to get an early start to the day and tackle my first trip grocery shopping. One of my suitemates, Megan, and I walked to Trader Joe’s. I was a little overwhelmed once I got into the store. I’ve been spoiled with meal plans and home cooked food. This was my first time food shopping for myself. I ended up with a cart full of random items, including mac n’ cheese and triscuits, of course. We’lll see how making my own meals go. 

ImageThis afternoon I finished my manuscript revision assignment. I’m in the first workshop group, and had to send in my comments and critique of a magazine article for The New Yorker. A senior editor for the magazine will be leading my workshop next week and reviewing my work. I was/am a little intimidated, but followed my instincts about what I thought should be edited. I did four years of critique letters at Susquehanna. I’ll pretend that the one I just turned in is like all the rest. 

I have an exciting week before I start my program on Monday. Tomorrow is completely free for any adventures I choose. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I volunteer for the Book Expo America. I’ll be working the author stage. Amy Tan, Wally Lamb and Neil Gaiman are a few of the authors that will be at the expo. Besides seeing tons of talented authors, I have access to the full conference and get to take home free books. Over the weekend my parents are driving up to deliver the rest of my stuff. I’m excited and anxious to experience everything the city has to offer me this week, and in the coming six weeks. 

 

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