Friday, August 29, 2008

DIY business card organizer--so necessary!

One thing I've learned about job hunting is that every person you meet along the way has a business card, and that those business cards are eventual tickets to success. After all, they hold all the contact info that editors just love to keep secret. With this pile of info, I've kept in touch with many of my interviewers, and some of them are finally letting me pitch my ideas and considering my work for their publications. It's nice to know that the many rejections haven't come along with dead ends.

But about those business cards. I've been trying to find a cheap and efficient way to organize my little stack, especially because I'd hate to lose them as I move this weekend. There's valuable information in there, and I need to protect it. Real Simple (a mag I *wish* was represented in my stack) proposes this cute idea: use a 3x5 photo album and stick two cards in each page. It fits in your purse, looks way cuter than a Rolodex, and gets the job done.

And just so y'all know--my internet won't be installed at the new place until next Wednesday, so eatmywords will take its first ever hiatus next Monday and Tuesday. Until then!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Big Discounts for Tiny Budgets

It's been a very foodie week here at eatmywords. But that's not stopping me from sharing the latest secret that I've discovered.

A good friend of mine has always sworn by, a website where you can buy gift certificates to different restaurants around the country at a discount price. For $10, you get a $25 gift certificate; for $20, you get $50, and so on. On 08/08/08, they did a crazy promotion where everything was 80% off, so a $25 certificate suddenly cost $2. I would have shared this then, but the servers were so lagged that it took me more than three hours to process my order.

However, is offering 60% off for all of their certificates until Labor Day, and though my trusty source did not provide me with the discount code, I cleverly guessed it myself! At checkout, type in "labor" to receive the discount. Now, this is how you eat on a budget! Bon appetit!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dragons and Lions and Soup, Oh My!

I've officially turned down the first full-time offer I've received. Funny how things work out, huh? But when you stack a F/T job that pays minimum wage next to a P/T job that pays more than triple the amount, the numbers speak for themselves. No, it's not all about money--it can't be about money in this industry--but you have to pay the rent at the end of the day. And you have to eat.

Speaking of eating (how about that transition?), my Chinese roommate took me to an incredible restaurant in Chinatown for dinner last night.

Please forgive the unoriginal photography--I left my camera at home last night and kicked myself for it at least ten times throughout the evening.

Anyway, Joe's Shanghai specializes in soup dumplings. You might expect soup dumplings to be dumplings served in soup, but they are quite the opposite (and are far tastier than wontons). Instead, these tasty little packages are filled with soup and meat, so you eat them out of a soup spoon rather than with chopsticks alone.

Making soup dumplings seems impossibly difficult, but eating them is an art of its own. I wish I'd had this illustrated tutorial by Robert Zimmerman before I started, because it took a little while to perfect the technique.

Since the text is small, here's the rundown. To avoid an explosion of steam in your mouth, you put the dumpling on a spoon, take a small bite to release the soup and steam, let it all cool down, and then eat.

Luckily, figured much of this out on my own (and of course, with the roommate's help). Aside from the dumplings (which I learned are also improperly translated, as they're really called "little dragon buns" in Chinese), we shared a wonderful side of water spinach and an entree of stewed pork meatballs called "Lion's Head," named for its large, fluffy shape. The meatballs were particularly impressive--the cooking temperature must remain perfectly even so that they stay soft enough to melt in your mouth but firm enough to eat with chopsticks. Like the soup dumplings, they're very difficult to make and it's rare to find good ones.

Joe's Shanghai has become popular with Americans because its menu features traditional dishes such as these alongside americanized staples like General Tso's and Sesame Chicken. The people we shared our table with ordered fried rice and lo mein, and we looked over in disapproval. Promise me, faithful readers, that ye will never commit such a sin if I give you the address to this wonderful Chinatown gem.

Joe's Shanghai, 9 Pell St., off of Mott St.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Step at a Time

So far on this blog, we've learned a lot about the perils of job hunting in the magazine industry.

We've groaned about how jobs never open up, unless someone gets fired (unusual), quits (rare), or dies (not altogether common).

We've whined about the stability of promises made post-internships (or blatant lack thereof).

We've gone through what feel like hundreds of interviews and thousands of cover letters, and realized that we're far more prone to making typographical errors as a subconscious way of self-sabotage when we really don't care about particular jobs.

Finally, we score some sweet freelance work.

Then, we score a part-time job that pays the bills. At a well-known national magazine, no less!

The next step?

A full-time offer, of course!

And have we finally reached it? It seems like we have!

But wait, there's a caveat... obviously.

The offer that's scheduled to come in today, according to the Editor with whom I interviewed, is a strange position that functions as entry-level editorial but pays like an internship. It's a great publication at one of the world's biggest publishing houses, and I'm sure it would open up lots of doors. Unlike an internship, it's full-time. Like an internship, it won't even cover my rent. With pay at less than half of what I'm making at my part-time job, it just doesn't seem feasible, unless I can wing some crazy negotiation.

So we're probably going to be forced to say "no, thanks," and move on. And the hunt for the perfect job continues...

Monday, August 25, 2008

For the Love of Olive Oil

The last few days seem like a crazy blur, so much was going on around here. On Friday, I had my training day at work, and it was a lot of fun and I acclimated quite well! As easy as it is to roll your eyes at celebrity magazines, I have to say that working for them sure is a hoot--I'm getting paid to read about Miley Cyrus' birthday bash and Hayden Panettiere's love for whales... seriously.

But this weekend was filled with lots of excitement in addition to that. Most notably, the wonderful boyfriend came in for the weekend, and with great timing! I won a raffle for a free olive oil tasting party at the Olive Oil & Co. store in the West Village, and, knowing that the boy's family has been collecting olive oil for decades, I planned the event around his visit.

We learned about the production of olive oil, and were surprised to hear that there's a huge problem with olive oil fraud in the states. Believe it or not, the cheap bottles you see in the supermarket are oftentimes filled with mostly canola oil! According to our super-cool olive oil professor, the profits of fake olive oil trade are equal to (or even exceed!) that of the cocaine market!

We tasted a variety of olive oils and learned about the different tasting notes to look for, which was really unusual and fun! Then we learned about balsamic vinegar, and were equally surprised to hear that it's not really balsamic unless it's certified by the Modena Council (in Modena, Italy). As it seems, balsamic isn't balsamic unless is comes from Modena (much like Champagne and Parmesan are specific to their own regions) and it must be aged in a very specific way as it reduces down to its wonderful, syrupy goodness. Who knew?

After so much learning (and tasting!), we got a chance to eat appetizers made with store products, such as wonderful goat cheese crostini topped with mandarin olive oil and parmesan cheese with cherry-infused balsamic.

I immediately felt inspired and imagined baking a chocolate cake with mandarin olive oil or grilling thai shrimp skewers with chili-infused oil--despite the logical impulse to not spend money on such luxury goods, I ended up bringing both home.

But strangely, what I may have loved most was this clever and beautiful oil lamp... it's a little bit Judah Macabee, but I'm a huge fan!

Friday, August 22, 2008

at work!

You'll forgive me for a short post today, but the computer at work doesn't work nicely with blogspot and it's a little un-prof to blog from the office! I'll be back with updates either later tonight or on Monday morning! Have a great weekend, everyone :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Return of the Job Hunt, Sort Of

Whenever things look smooth, some bump comes and screws with your mind a little. I haven't applied to any new jobs since scoring my M/F research position--mostly out of courtesy, and also because it's an opportunity to wait for the Big Company I worked for last year to scour the market and find a place for me.

Funny how when I stop applying for jobs, though, I get responses from places I thought were already out of the question. And suddenly they seem quite interested. But I'm somewhat committed. At least I haven't signed any paperwork?

Today, the newest prospective employers asked for references.

One bump in the road becomes two.

What happens when one of your references still wants you to work for her but has no jobs and might not want to refer you to a competitor? And what happens when one reference isn't usable because she can't know you're still pseudo-job hunting? And what about, in an entirely different referencing scheme, you put your future editor as your to-be employer instead of your temp agent, making the management company for your apartment very, very confused?

The road suddenly gets bumpier.

But editors are forgiving, and they understand when you explain that the first line asked for your boss's name and that the second clearly marked your start date to be in the future. They'll forgive the creditors at the management company for their strange phone call, and things will only be a little bit awkward on day one.

And the unusable reference will be replaced with another--thank goodness for having a bunch of employers. She'll only find out about the pseudo-job hunt if something comes up, in which case I'll find a way to keep everyone happy. Because that's what I do. Or try to do. Or something like that.

And the competing former boss will send me a short and sweet email indicating that she's not thrilled to see me going other places before she can snag me herself, but will do what's in my best interest rather than hers.

So we return to smooth patch of road and walk along... knowing we'll stumble upon another fork soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let There Be Light... Or Not?

My roommate and I finally signed an apartment yesterday, and that means I'm officially allowed to think about decorating. Obviously, we're on as restricted a budget as ever, because the start-up costs of Manhattan apartments exceed your typical shopping spree at Tiffany's. Well, almost.

Though we're leaving the village, we're doing it in style. Our new, Upper East Side apartment is a beautiful 2 bed/2 bath duplex with a private patio, and we're hoping to throw our housewarming party in our gorgeous outdoor space. But just thinking about it, I feel like I've made one big mistake. Don't worry--it has nothing to do with the apartment itself. But if you flash back to early June, that's when the mistake happened.

My wonderful boyfriend and I were traveling in Morocco when I stumbled upon the most beautiful lanterns. They dotted the patios of our hotels and lit up shops in the souks with their stained glass panels and cut-out designs.

I was tempted--so tempted--but I resisted. Where will I ever put these, I thought?

Ah, if only I'd known I'd be throwing a garden party in my own patio a short three months later.

These babies are available online, but unlike in the souks, they'll cost you a pretty penny to buy and ship. Check The Moroccan Bazaar and Casbah Decor for prices if you feel so inclined!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Let's Call it a Tie

It's a hectic week around here. I'll start working at this new job on Friday, but until then, I'm finalizing my apartment hunt and interviewing for internships to fill my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Not to mention guests coming in on Thursday and Friday.

With all that on the menu, it's nice to walk outside and have the comforts of a vibrant neighborhood to distract me from the craziness everywhere else. Since last week, there's been a guy showing an art installation right around the corner, and it's almost like a mini-museum on my doorstep.

He's done something that I really admire--taking something everyday and entirely ordinary and turning it into art. There are some connections in that idea to blogging, and maybe that's part of why I really liked his installation. However, I also like that he's using ties. These are the one main mode of self-expression for menswear, and I think it's interesting to use a statement piece like a tie and turn it into a statement piece like installation art. Anyway, I leave you with some photos as I return to my overwhelmingly hectic day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Indulging My Sweet Tooth, Street Cart Style

This weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting a friend of mine who I hardly ever get to see. Since her time in the city was limited, we crammed in a lot of inexpensive fun to maximize our productivity. With that mindset, I took her to one of my favorite spots: Dessert Truck.

Generally, I like foods that come out of trucks. They're made with heart, and they have to be fresh because there's nowhere to store uneaten goods in a truck. Street carts usually serve things like tacos or Halal food, but Dessert Truck was one of the first carts to one-up standard street food by spinning it gourmet-style.

Jerome Chang, the chef behind Dessert Truck--and a former pastry chef at Le Cirque--really knows what he's doing, and he'll serve you quality desserts for $5 a piece out of his cute little truck. The chocolate bread pudding is a sure-fire winner, but I decided to be daring this weekend and try the goat cheese cheesecake that's been received mixed attention from DT fans.

To be honest, I found it far too goat-y and not sufficiently cake-y, but I appreciated the attempt regardless. Savory desserts are tough to pull off, so I was glad that we also ordered the Molten Chocolate Cake. A much more successful pairing of savory and sweet, this dessert is topped with a sprinkle of sea salt and pistachios to contrast the richness of the oozing chocolate.

In case you're wondering why I'm posting about Dessert Truck and not any of the other great things that caught my eye this weekend, I bear some interesting news. Starting today, Dessert Truck is operating during daytime hours in Midtown East, parking at Park Ave somewhere between 51st and 53rd streets. For all you Midtown-ers, this is huge news! Now you can get award-winning sweets whenever the office stress warrants sugar therapy (and don't deny that it happens all the time!). Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008


My roommate and I are both celebrating this week--not only did I get a job offer, but so did she! And to top things off, we're on the verge of signing a new apartment!

Both of us are really excited about finally furnishing our own space, and we've been exercising our creative drive in anticipation of the Sept. 1 move-in date.

After finding these gold doilies in the 99-cent bin at Gristedes, we knew we'd find some good purpose for them eventually. Here's a great DIY project that my roomie came up with: Doily Placemats!

1. Cut doilies into halves or shapes that you think look cool.
2. Glue them onto heavy-duty paper (any size works!)
3. Round the edges (if desired) to form a nice, chic shape.
4. Laminate!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Onto Chapter Two...

Good news!

After almost 10 weeks of trying, I've finally gotten my first real magazine job! Starting next Friday, I'll be a Research Editor for one of those crazy celebrity gossip magazines... looking into whether or not Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie actually hate each other and deciding whether it's too damaging to report that Lindsay Lohan has been seen drinking "too much Red Bull" again. It's not the New Yorker, but it's going to be tons of fun.

The Pros: Great pay, health benefits through my freelance company, a chill boss, and will give me exposure to things other than food. Definitely a resume builder!

The Cons: Only two days a week (M/F), still freelance, and a far commute.

The Pros to the Cons? Perhaps I can take an internship that will lead to a full time position eventually. With money to pay the bills, I now know I can work for free on some days.

Hence, the life of a girl breaking into magazines Part 1 has ended.

Part 2--moving from PT to FT and from gossip to substance, has yet to come.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stress toys 2.0

It's been a hectic week, to say the least. Both my freelance jobs have sprung massive amounts of work on me, and my deadlines are fast approaching. I haven't been this swamped in a long time, and it's easy for me to forget I'm unemployed! Honestly, with this much work and this many interviews, I haven't had time to send out a job application all week. To make things worse, I'm apartment hunting, and I've never had so many things on my plate all at once. Good thing I handle stress pretty well.

But since even I'm getting ready to explode already, I've found something to make everything better.

Meet Sweety, the newest de-stressing gadget by Yanko Design.

Yanko does all sorts of cool stuff, like weights that double as water bottles, or flying alarm clocks that can't easily be snoozed.

Sweety has got to be their coolest gadget to date though. He (she?) sits on your desk and listens to you vent about your troubles, analyzes your worries and decides on graphic patterns that will best soothe you depending on what you've shared. Sometimes, it will even invite you to play interactive games. But if you need more than pretty colors and games, Yanko says you can "squeeze and beat the hell out of it." That's my kind of stress toy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to the beginning, sort of.

Those of you who've been reading from the start may remember the reason why I got stuck in this job-hunting predicament: the lack of openings at the wonderful company where I'd interned and been basically promised a job. It's been exactly two months since I got that blow of bad news, and it seems fitting that today is the day I go back for an interview.

Oh no, it's not exactly what you'd expect.

See, nobody helped me score this interview--I did it on my own. I've used none of my HR strings, as HR had nothing to do with hiring for this job. It's proof of one thing I've learned about myself--I like knowing that I am getting what I want for the right reason. I didn't want to play up my minority status applying to college because I wanted to be accepted for me and not my ethnicity. Similarly, getting snubbed for jobs that first time has let me figure out what I'm worth on my own accord. It's a valuable lesson and I've been happy to learn it.

So, that interview.

Let's put it this way: I've been a subscriber to nearly all of this company's magazines at some point or another. But there are three whose issues I've never been able to toss. Consequently, I lug a big box of magazines from one apartment to the next whenever I move, and someone (usually the person carrying the box) gives me grief about it. But I can't help it--I can't part from these issues, I love them too much! They're too filled with useful information! They're so pretty to look at!

And so I have a strange relationship with my favorite magazines. And some people laugh at me. And others--their editors--invite me for interviews.

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 11, 2008

White Coats Galore

Today is a very exciting day, because it is the day that the wonderful boyfriend officially starts medical school! The first day involves standard orientation activities and getting-to-know-you's, but it also includes something far more exciting: the White Coat ceremony, where he will receive his crisp new medical jacket emblazoned with his name and school crest. It's a moment I know he's been waiting for forever, and I'm so proud of him for reaching it.

In honor of today's white coat ceremony, which I sadly could not attend, I've decided to bring you a White Coat roundup just in time for the fall season. It might take the scientific edge off of the thing, but none of you readers were really interested in that anyway... or were you?

I think white coats are actually a wonderful transitional trend, pairing the ubiquitous summer color with a chic look for fall. This 3/4 sleeve version from Victoria's Secret is especially summery, but with a rich brown belt, it would pair beautifully with knee-high boots way into next season.

I'm also loving this lightweight trench by Bloomingdale's. I never realized the value of a trench until I finally caved and bought a wonderful sage green one two years ago, but trench coats in bright colors always work well for fall and spring.
Finally, I found this beautiful jacket by Milly--although it's a total splurge item that I could never afford, the boucle ruffle trim and round neckline make it so sophisticated, unique, and stylish that I can't resist including it here.

But please, remember, none of these are meant to be worn into the operating room!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Homage to the Olympics, and my favorite Asian friend :)

Before I begin looking forward to the interesting things on my calendar next week, I've got to pay homage to one of the world's most exciting traditions: the Olympics.

But here's the thing: as much as I love watching the sports, my commentary on them would be worth diddly-squat. So instead, I bring you my favorite Chinese food in honor of the Beijing summer games...

steamed pork buns!

These delicacies are really quite common in Chinese kitchens, but that doesn't mean they're easy to make. A recipe in Bon Appetit a few months ago sprawled over two pages, to give you a general idea. These cloud-like buns are filled with a sweet-meets-savory BBQ pork filling that's equal parts chunky and saucy. And as much of a BBQ fan as I am, it's really the dough that makes these so special. It's not too fluffy, not too dense, melts in your mouth, and offsets the BBQ sweetness just perfectly.

But don't go just anywhere for your pork buns. If you're going to do it, do it right. If you want to sit down, Golden Unicorn is my most reliable dim sum spot and has the most fantastic pork buns--in both the steamed and glazed varieties. But it's not quite easy to find.

The English sign is hard to see, but Golden Unicorn is located at 18 E. Broadway in the eastern side of Chinatown.

If you're looking for a quick fix though, Fay Da Bakery on Canal St. has a reliable variety of buns--pork and otherwise--for a shockingly inexpensive 95-cents apiece. Check them out at 327 Canal for a real treat.

Until Monday, go Team USA!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Too Good For My Own Good

When I found out that I didn't get the Big Job yesterday, my first impulse was to send back an email to the Editors.

No, no, not a nasty one reprimanding them for their poor decisions.

I wanted to thank them for considering me, see if we could work out some freelance writing assignments, and figure out what I'd have to do to get a "yes" next time around.

I got my answers a few minutes ago:

1. freelance writing is a total possibility (yay!)


2. With all my "phenomenal experience," "it seems that you might be better suited for an even 'bigger' entry-level position"

Well. That's sweet. Does anyone know how this feedback can be applied to future prospective job opportunities? Because I'm certainly, certainly at a loss. Sigh.

Oy vey? Oyaji!

What a roller coaster ride this week has been!

After so much waiting and anticipation, I found out that I didn't get the Big Job. I've been bummed out pretty badly, but the one thing that makes me feel better is that, coincidentally, a friend got the job. I guess that the more of us that make it out of the water, the more people to help the rest of us onto shore.

With a few interesting things on the horizon, I'm slowly getting back to my normal self.

I thought I'd share a few "cheer up" products to stick with my mood today, and these little critters just made me crack up. They're unexpected and silly, and while completely unnecessary, they certainly brought a smile to my face!

They're called oyaji, and they're drunk old man dolls that can be linked to your cell phone. Why? I'm not sure, but they're so lovably ridiculous. If you're curious, you can find them here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Big Job, little job

Believe it or not, I still don't know about the Big Job.

After a follow-up email, I've learned that my resume is still on the table. I've also learned that I'm supposed to hear soon. But what soon means, I cannot say!

I did, however, score a little job overnight!

It seems that a big part of being unemployed (and keeping your dignity) is piecing together as many odd writing jobs as you can juggle. Keeping true to that style, here's official odd job #3: writing job descriptions.

Oh, the irony.

But I'm not complaining--it's easy work and good money, so I'll happily do it.

I'm just still crossing my fingers that it becomes something else to supplement a full-time income--and soon!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ways to Speed Up Time, Part 2

More than 24 hours later, I'm still waiting to hear back.

The lack of punctuality reminds me of the days way back when, when I competed on the speech and debate circuit. No matter what, we knew that every round of the tournament would be at least one hour late in starting. Still, we made it on time every weekend, just in case the odds worked against us. They never did. They still don't, apparently.

So I wait, and I pass time. And I buy things online that I don't need but can't resist, like these gorgeous candlesticks from Red Envelope that I'd been eying for months.

Discounted to $6 a piece, I couldn't say no!

Keep those fingers crossed...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ways to Speed Up Time, Part 1

It's a crazy morning.

The boyfriend is making his way to the city by bus today, and he'll stay all week. It's a good thing, because no matter what happens today, he'll be there for me. See, today's the day that I hear back from the Big Job. And yes, that really does deserve big capital letters.

I know my odds are fairly decent--I'm one of only six people being considered.

I know I played my cards well and aced the interview. I also sent in a brilliant recommendation. So there's nothing more I could have done. It's all up to fate.

But fate is freaking slow! So I've compiled a few ways that I could pass the time a bit more quickly today...

First up, a soothing bath. Or, since my bathtub is actually kind of gross, I'll just dream about this:

Honestly, it relaxes me just to look at this bathroom! A girl can dream, right?

When that gets old, maybe I'll get some use out of the latest gift from the boy:

Laugh all you want, but the detail in this book means full commitment, and that means no thinking about stressful jobs! Plus, whatever I color becomes a study guide for him later--really, it's a genius gift.

But if all else fails and I simply can't wait any longer without exploding, I have another plan.

I'll go to London! They're a few hours ahead, right? If I was in their time zone, I'd probably already know. So there.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed that my next update bears good news!

Until then....

Friday, August 1, 2008

A not-so-much vacation

I can't explain how happy I am to know that it's Friday.

I may not be waking up early, going to work, and living in a particularly tiring routine, but being unemployed is far more exhausting than you'd think!

First, there's the fact that I'm juggling a million job applications at once, trying to manage communications with tons of people. It's a lot to keep track of, and it's all equally urgent. It's good training for being someone's assistant, I suppose!

Then there are my freelance jobs. I love both of them--but in totally different ways. One is comfortable, familiar, fun, cozy, and pretty darn easy. The other is exciting, high-profile, and really challenging. They're polar opposites, and switching gears between the two has helped me appreciate both of them a lot. Then again, as an EA I would be switching gears between lots of easy tasks and some really important, challenging tasks, so it's equally good prep work.

But then there's the sheer fact that I never turn off. I may not have much work left for the day--or the week--but scouring job boards and worrying about responses is a full-time job in itself. Especially when there's one to be excited about coming up!

So keep your fingers crossed that I get a job to relieve me of this vacation! I have a feeling I'll be reversing all those words eventually...