Thursday, July 31, 2008

Passion-ate About Cupcakes...

My apologies for keeping you loyal readers on baited breath so late into the evening...

It's just that with big interviews, you need to do major studying. It pays off when you learn all the nitty gritty details about a mag, and I'm glad to say that it did today! To celebrate a successful interview, I grabbed a reliable pal and made my way to Bryant Park.

I've mentioned my sweet tooth on the blog before, and I guess most of you have realized my lack of control when it comes to cupcakes after my post on Sweet Revenge. That's why you shouldn't be surprised about what happened next.

Peeking into the tiny (and packed!) Crumbs location in the Grace building, I spotted something I'd never seen before. It wasn't the raspberry cupcake in the corner--I knew those are special for the summer, but being a regular I'd had them many times around this time of year. No, it was something even more exciting--it was yellow with matching sprinkles around its rim and a dollop of something delicious plopped right in the middle.

The sign read: Passion Fruit Pineapple.

What I haven't revealed on this blog is my love for all things passion fruit. The cupcake had my name written on it just like the job I'd interviewed for did. I ate a raspberry cupcake in the park, but my special yellow friend came home with me. All so that I could share it with you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Craigslist's Redemption

Yesterday we learned that Craigslist can be sketchy, sketchy, sketchy.

Today, we learn that it can also be a gold mine for anyone willing to take a chance!

As I board my trusty Bolt Bus to head back to the city, a 212 number pops up on my cell phone, which rings to the tune of "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" and makes everyone look up and laugh.

I answer, expecting someone from my temp agency, or perhaps from my freelance workplace, but hear a man's unfamiliar voice instead. He's calling from a big magazine at Hearst. One that fits really well with my interests. Scratch that--it's not a good fit, it's practically perfect.

But I didn't apply to a job there... or did I? It's so hard to keep track. But I would've remembered that one...

And then I remember that somewhat sketchy ad on Craigslist: "Big Hearst magazine looking for editorial assistant"

I'd wondered if it was legit, and why it wasn't on their careers website. I figured it was a scam--too good to be true.

But I was wrong. Behind all the scams and money laundering ads, there are little golden nuggets that are tucked in the depths of Craigslist--and I've just found one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

blAHHgging from bAHHston

I was afraid that coming to Boston would imply little progress on the job hunt. But with little to no movement on the job boards, I don't feel like I'm missing much. On the contrary, with a few applications sent and the first two sections of my copywriting project done, I'm probably being just as productive here as I'd be in New York.

And there have been updates on the job front! Check this out.

After replying to an ad for an assisting position at an Interior Design firm, I get word that I've been
"picked as one of our possible candidate to be our Account Receivable Manager." My eyebrows tilt with confusion, but anyone who's willing to give me a shot gets my attention for the span of an email.

I read on:

"Your First Primary task (Collection of Payments)

1. Receive payment from our Customers or Clients.

2. Cash Payment at your Bank or any cashing facilities near you.

3. Deduct 10 % which will be your percentage/pay on Payment processed

4. Forward balance after deduction of percentage/pay to any of the offices you will be contacted to send payment to, you'll have a lot of free time doing another job, because this job is part time, you'll get good income .But this job is very challenging and you should understand it. We are considering your application because you satisfy our requirements and we are sure you will be an earnest assistant till we start running our branch office in your state.

5. You must respond to email and phone calls when you get the payment for proper instruction"

Ahh, I see. So money laundering I am qualified for! Good to know. Maybe I'll try the mafia next.

PS. I immediately wrote back saying I wasn't interested. The next day I woke up with pink eye. Does anyone smell a conspiracy theory here?

Monday, July 28, 2008

From The Land of Chowder and Lobster

I've always been too caught up in the glory of New York to let myself escape the city and explore the Northeast. My mistake. But now I have an excuse to frequent Boston, and that excuse takes the shape of a 6'3 ex-rower with a big nose and an adorable smile. Let's not forget his even taller father, whose appetite is about three times the size of mine--and that's saying something! Intent on reliving the good ol' days when he lived in Boston, he took us out to the one and only Legal Sea Foods. The original. Not the Long Island knock-off.

We started with oysters and mussels for the table, though I don't eat oysters (they're too squishy and slimy for my taste). Instead, I ordered a bowl of New England Clam Chowder--the one that's been served at the last three presidential inaugurations, to be exact. Tasty as all the starters were, they were no preparation for what was to come...

That's right. A three-pound lobster.
And to make things better...

A platter of fried seafood. Served atop french fries, just in case your arteries need a little more of a push.

But you want to hear the kicker?

My boyfriend doesn't eat seafood. Oh no, he ordered steak. Please, point and laugh.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poo Poo Paper

I have a rule where if things are going awry, it's okay to be totally bummed out for one day. But that's all you get. One day to sort through everything that's making you feel craptastic, and then it's done.

That was yesterday.

So how have we progressed today? Easy. By continuing to broaden my options and by remembering that when you've got a pile of poo on your desk, someone else can turn it into paper. And paper just asks for writing. And writing is what I'm looking for!

What, you ask? Oh, right. Some clarification.

I hereby introduce you to Poo Poo Paper, where elephant poo goes to become adorable stationery! Ta-da!

Next week, I'll be blogging from Boston, where I'll be helping the boyfriend move into his new apartment and get settled in for med school. Look out for some extra-special food coverage from good old Beantown on Monday!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The weird gray area in between

Last week, I applied for a job fact-checking a big magazine's special Winter issue. Within an hour I got an enthusiastic reply, and the interview was set for Monday.

Monday came and went, and the interview was the most fun I'd had in a pressure situation. We browsed through racks of dresses, talked about boys, and found each other strikingly familiar...

And then the email came. The usual. "You're fantastic!" and "It was so great to meet you!" and then of course, "we hired someone else."

But then, again, "Do you want to freelance and do some reporting for us?"

It's obvious that I'm doing something right--otherwise they wouldn't try to keep my around. But what on earth am I doing wrong that I'm not getting part-time fact-checking jobs?

I think back to my boyfriend's med school hunt, and remember how he got rejected from schools because he was too good for them. Maybe my experience is beyond fact-checking to certain recruiters? Or am I just finding ways to make myself feel better? I don't know. But I'm fairly sure that the reason I haven't heard back from Sur La Table isn't because I'm not qualified to sell kitchen goods.

The conundrum is this: if you're "too good" to work the lower end part-time/retail jobs, and just a few hairs away from being able to score the entry-level jobs, where do you fall? And what do you do to propel yourself forward if you're stuck in the gray in-between?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ten Bells and Six Glasses

Last night, a good friend took me out for belated birthday wine. She told me to meet her at Ten Bells, a little wine bar tucked somewhere between Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

I walked up and down Broome St. a few times looking for the elusive 247 Broome, and nothing. My third time around, I noticed a small entry into an old, perfect, oh-so-New-York building.

Once inside, I took a seat with my friend--another friend tending to us from behind the bar. The lighting was nothing more than a warm glow, accentuating the rich textures of the tiles on the ceiling and walls.

Even on a Tuesday, it's fairly full, but the noise level is just low enough to sustain conversation. And every staff member greets you with a kiss on each cheek. There's no denying you're in New York, but everyone here is from France. Except Jose.

Let's put aside the comprehensive selection of organic wine--that's definitely an integral component of the wine bar, but it's not the main thing. Let's put aside the fact that you can get a great glass of wine for just $5. And the fact that the tapas and cheese selection is praised by big chefs around the city. These are all huge draws, but I found something here that I've never found at a bar before: a sense of family.

It's that whole knowing-every-customer-by-first-name thing, and a group of regulars has obviously formed because of it. But even the new faces are treated like old friends--it's the friendliest service I've ever seen at a bar. And let's not lie, when it results in a couple of free glasses of Gruner, I'm especially excited about it.

NYMag, please forgive me for not having a camera last night and deferring to your beautiful pics. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

tempted by the dark side

I've had high standards for my job hunt, I won't lie.

I know what I want: I want to work for a magazine.

I know what jobs will help me get there: fact-checking, copyediting, copywriting, online work, and so on.

And I know what I refuse to do: waitress, bartend, retail, slave labor, etc.

It might seem silly, but it's about my dignity and my own happiness. I won't work for anyone or anything that isn't going to benefit me in the long run or propel me into a better position. I won't take a job for the sake of taking a job. I'll find other ways to pay the rent. Thank goodness for steady freelance work.

Despite being so stubborn, I've lowered the bar from top publishing companies to independent magazines to celebrity rags. I'll work for anything that can be in some way, shape, or form, be considered a magazine, whether it be 3x3 inches large or a national glossy. I don't care. Just give me some edit work and an opportunity to write every now and then.

But how far can I keep stretching the possibilities before things become too abstract, too unrelated? What about jobs in PR or advertising? They sound fun, and they're interested in me, and they'll use my writing skills. My head wants the stability; my heart wants glossy paper. For now, I'll let them keep debating.

And interviewing, and sending resumes, and pitching stories. And keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

cheesecake bonbons and girls' nights in

This weekend, I had a long-awaited girls' night that involved BBQ ribs (my favorite food ever), vacation planning, tasty desserts, excellent company, and the best movie ever, Cool Runnings. Laugh all you want, it's totally on my top 5 movies of all time list.

My contribution to the party was quite the production, if I may say so myself: chocolate cheesecake bonbons. At first, they were meant to be heart-shaped, but then I realized that my silicone ice cube tray was not entirely silicone and therefore couldn't go in the oven. Too bad I realized this 15 minutes after putting it in the oven... oh well, the ice cube tray lives on, even if it is in somewhat slumpy form.

Chocolate Cheesecake Bonbons:

8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus one yolk
a dash of vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup frozen raspberries (optional)
12 oz. dark chocolate

(Makes about 30 pieces)

Allow cream cheese to soften by leaving it out for about an hour before you're ready to start baking. Then combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and zest in a large mixing bowl. Blend together with an electric mixer (this can be done by hand but it kind of sucks), and then begin adding the eggs and yolk one at a time, blending thoroughly in between each. Gently mash the raspberries so that you have a bunch of small raspberry segments, and lightly flour them so that they are evenly distributed in the batter (rather than clumping at the bottom). Blend these into the batter, and pour it into an 8x8 baking pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 375F, or until a knife goes into the batter and comes out clean. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into small squares that look like this:

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and dip each piece of cheesecake individually, flipping with a spoon and occasionally spreading the chocolate with a spatula if necessary. Set the pieces on a sheet of foil and put them in the freezer to harden. 15 minutes later, you have gorgeous looking chocolate cheesecake bonbons!

Friday, July 18, 2008

things are not always what they seem...

This week's lesson (aside from that of confidence=money) is that informational interviews are never entirely informational.

Of two "informational" interviews this week, both have now offered potential opportunities for freelance work. Just because they're not hiring full-time doesn't mean that you can't work for 'em!

So today's interview was with the craft-themed magazine I'd mentioned on Monday. The woman I interviewed with was possibly the coolest editor I've met with to date, and we connected really well. I told her about the craft scene in Fes, Morocco, where I was just traveling, and about how artisan methods haven't changed there in over 800 years. Her interest perked, and I told her I had plenty of artisan contacts within reach. Her interest perked some more. It's a pitch in the making!

That, combined with the fact that I scored three separate interviews for next week earlier today, left me feeling a bit festive. As I walked through Soho on my way home, sale signs caught my eye and what happened next was the most dangerous thing that can ever happen to an unemployed girl--I went shopping. With so many interviews, I have an excuse, right?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sweet Revenge

When life hands you lemons... look for something sweeter around the corner.

Maybe on Cornelia and Bedford.

Maybe in the shape of a cupcake.

On days like today, when there are zero job postings and nothing even minutely hope-inducing, I am so grateful that the lovely Marlo has brought cupcakes to the village. But what about Magnolia, you ask? Magnolia is over-rated. Let's forget Magnolia exists. Please.

Sweet Revenge doesn't have lines of tourists out its door. It just opened this past week, and I'm already a dedicated fan. The cupcakes are quite good--though perhaps a tiny bit on the dry side--and come wrapped in artfully folded parchment paper. It's an adult twist, as is the Mayan cinnamon mixed into the chocolate cupcakes and the raspberry swirl in the red velvet. And let's not forget about the icing--a perfect texture and dolloped in hearty doses, they're even serving it on its own in the form of "icing shots." How clever is that??

But the real adult twist is at the bar. That's right. The bar. Sweet Revenge is featuring awesome wine and beer cocktails, like their vino granita made with white wine, mango puree, and shaved ice.

Annnnd, I'm hungry again. Darn.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

a lesson on negotiation...

About two weeks ago, I lined up a great copywriting gig with this super cool marketing company. But everything was pretty vague, much of it to-be-determined, and all of it ultra-confidential.

Finally, I got an email this morning saying that things were coming together, but I'd need to get the scoop on what was needed from me and come up with a project estimate by the end of the day. I knew it was coming, and I'm definitely ready to start writing, but I wasn't so sure about the whole negotiating-my-pay thing.

So I prepared to ask for a high figure and negotiate my way down, playing out the conversation in my head:

Me: This is what I was hoping for...
Her: As a recent grad, really??

I got a little nervous. Do people realize you're high-balling when you do something like that? Or will they actually just think you're greedy? I don't want to come off as greedy! But that's totally not what happened. Instead....

Me: So what is your normal pay range?
Her: Well, it depends on the project.
Me (confidently): So what if I ask for this much?
Her (after some consideration): You could probably ask for a bit more.

And that's when I did a happy dance. Inside, of course. The happy dance must always be kept inside.

Lesson learned: Confident individuals make more money. Simple as that. And who knows, maybe my skills are worth more than I'd have guessed!

Now to draft that estimate...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

head's up!

For anyone in the city searching for entertainment tonight, the NY Philharmonic is playing a free concert in central park! It's the last one of the summer, and it's an amazing lineup:

Concerts in the Parks - Great Lawn in Central Park, Manhattan
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 8 PM

Alan Gilbert, Conductor | Lang Lang, Piano
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Beethoven: Symphony No. 4
Sibelius: Finlandia

Hope to see y'all there!

the price is right, but technology is not.

Having set apart my morning to do freelance work, I didn't expect to be posting until later this afternoon. But when technology rebels, it's a little hard to get work done. So while my online database gets reset, I'm here, watching Price is Right and reporting to you.

The latest on the job hunt, live from New York:
I'm meeting with a boutique restaurant PR company today that I worked with while serving as Food Editor of my school's paper. Apparently they're expanding the firm, so it's a semi-informational interview with possibilities around the corner. It's not a magazine job, nor is it editorial, but I'm keeping my mind open.
And after stumbling on a great guest blog on Design*Sponge this week, I decided to make some cold calls to editors at craft magazines, landing another informational on Friday. Not bad, eh?

Side note: it's so painful when people spin the wheel on Price is Right and hit the 100 on their second try! My heart goes out to you, contestant-whose-name-I-did-not-see.

Monday, July 14, 2008

on doing your research

A girl on ed2010 (a networking resource for budding magazine professionals) recently posted on the message board asking about local magazines in Philly.

One response: "it kind of aggravates me when people who are just starting out and looking to intern come onto this site and say 'I know about the two biggest publications, but are there any others?' No, you want to get into journalism, then DO YOUR RESEARCH!"

It's a legit point, but it also sums up the entire purpose of this project. When it comes to journalism jobs, there aren't many resources. We're journalists, and that inherently means that we shouldn't need resources. By proving that we can dig through websites and mastheads galore to find the info we're looking for, we're also proving that we'll be sweet research assistants, fact-checkers, and go-getters. Finding the listings and discovering the process is all part of the test, so we jump through some hoops.

But we should be able to support each other, too. And that's the idea here. It's not about full disclosure. It's not about sharing my address book and contacts and leads. It's about sharing a little-documented experience, and all the ridiculousness that comes along with that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

a half-way offer

You always know that it's a bad sign when you get emails instead of phone calls. Nobody offers a job via email, right? Well I guess I wouldn't know. But rejection--ahh, rejection loves to come in written form. Even when it's only half-way rejection.

A few weeks ago, at the very start of my job hunt, I applied to an EA job with a set of magazines that covers NYC arts. For those of you not in the industry, EA=editorial assistant, and it's the entry-level magazine editing job that's entirely coveted and entirely un-glamorous. And we want one so badly!

So the interview came and went--and it went really well! An edit test interfered with my birthday weekend, but we felt really confident about it, and then we waited for a week... and another week.

Until the email came. She's impressed with my credentials. Everyone seems to tell me this! And she hired someone else. Well, she's only the second one to tell me this. But still.

And then the email turns around a little bit. "In the meantime, please let me know if you'd be at all interested in taking on assignments for us as a freelance writer," she writes. Well, hell yes I'm interested. At least my foot's in the door, right?

I guess half-way offers don't qualify for the phone, but I'll take my glass half full today, thank-you-very-much.

birthdays and slurpees, oh my!

Today is an eventful day. First, it's my boyfriend's birthday! But he is in the Midwest (he may not think so, but Ohio totally qualifies for Midwest) and I am in the city. So how are we to celebrate together? Perhaps by taking a trip to our respective 7-11s and getting free slurpees!

Apparently 7-11 is giving out free slurpees today, 7/11, from 7am-11pm, in 7.11 ounce containers. Surprisingly, they're giving out 1,000 free slurpees at each participating location--is it just me, or would 711 gone better with the theme?

Happy birthday, love!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's not eating the amazing meal that's the problem...'s paying for it. But good thing I didn't have to tonight.

See, I have this sweet job. It's one of the part-time ones that started in college, and the only one to keep going and going and going. It's also the only thing helping me pay my rent right now, but we don't have to go there. Basically, I grade and edit students' practice SAT essays so that they can rock the supposed-biggest-test-of-their-lives. But once in a while, my boss comes in to the city and takes out her favorite editors.

Usually, she takes my word for restaurant suggestions.

Sometimes, I book the tables myself.

Now, you must realize that a foodie living in the West Village with no salary is the worst kind of temptation that there is. Murray's Cheese is right below me--as is Risotteria, Rocco's bakery, and a slew of exquisite food shoppes--and I'm still shopping at freaking Gristedes. I won't lie, their 99-cent bin is my new best friend, but I'd rather buy lamb from Ottomanelli's.

That's why it was so exciting that tonight, my boss (and the company's expense account) came to visit. Finally, the restaurant that tempts me every time I walk to the stupid Gristedes was mine to savor--Perilla. It's not the it-restaurant of the moment; it's not the new big thing. It is, however, Harold Dieterle's restaurant, and Harold Dieterle is the first winner of Top Chef. We love Harold Dieterle (we're not yet on a first-name basis).

And so our meal began with the nightly special--a beautiful foie gras terrine with a gooseberry compote. Alongside it, we had duck meatballs with a tiny little quail egg cracked delicately over them. What a rich, wonderful start to a meal... anything with runny egg yolk makes my heart melt. Mmmm, runny egg yolk.

My entree, a grilled hanger steak with a sunchoke creamed spinach and shallot puree, totally lived up to Bruni's review so long ago. And the desserts, which had been touted as either hit or miss, were hits tonight. Lemon verbena-scented donuts with vanilla sauce and chocolate ganache, a chocolate tasting platter, and a red velvet cake did not survive long on our table... and that's an understatement.

Ah, but the night was young. And that's when our waitress suggested we go back to the kitchen. Yes, we could meet Harold Dieterle. Yes, we could take pictures together. And better yet, we could call him Harold.

Now if only we could afford the meal on our own...

Welcome--hope you're here to stay!

It's my 50th day in the real world. 50 days ago, I graduated from an Ivy League university and celebrated like wild--after four years of papers, exams, internships, and part-time jobs, I was ready to join corporate America. And how! But first, a trip was in order, and beautiful Morocco came and went, along with the first twenty days of my "real world" existence.

With suitcases unpacked and internet set up in my West Village summer sublet, I set out to contact the former boss who'd been promising me a job for the last year. And it wasn't just any job--if everything worked out as planned, I'd have a dream job at one of the world's most prominent magazine publishing companies. But alas, the headlines don't lie--the economy is craptastic, and so is the job market. There were no openings, and little red was thrown out of her dream life and into the real world--no kidding this time.

It's been thirty days since then, but who's counting? We're job hunting, and it's not the best time or place. But we're also determined, and we're bringing you along for the ride. So, what do you say? Are you in?