Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not Exactly An Offer Yet, But An Opportunity on the Table

I don't know why New York just works really well for some people and others just can't catch a break - that is what the VP of Internet Advertising Sales said to me a couple of weeks ago. And now she might be the one who changes my New Yorker experience from just "going well" to "going really well."

This morning, she told me that she would really like to consider me for a permanent position within her department. She called me into her office, asking me to shut the door and have a seat. We had a brief conversation with regard to my career goals, which ended with her inviting me to apply for two of her open advertising sales positions. One of the positions has an event planning component in addition to advertising sales support, which I told her obviously attracts me more (because of my event planning background), but I'd love to be considered for either position. I will still have to go through the interview process with the other applicants, but I feel like I have a pretty good chance in securing a permanent position since I already have somewhat of an "in" with the company. She also said she'd go ahead and investigate the necessary steps in buying out my contract with the staffing agency in the event that I am the best candidate for one of the positions.

The initial misunderstanding about my assignment was that the staffing agency thought that I would be assisting the Internet Ad Sales department of this company in an event planning capacity, which was somewhat true as there was the roofdeck ad sales social event during my first week of employment. However, the dates of the contract continued through the end of September so the staffing agency assumed that the event was nearer the end of the contract. Thus, I thought I'd be assisting with a big event at the end of September, which is why I accepted the contract. However, after the event came and went, it was still just mid-August and I was subsequently thrown into an advertising sales role. With no true marketing or advertising background, I began to fear that I was in over my head. But according to the VP of Internet Ad Sales, I've apparently learned their sales systems really quickly, I get what they're trying to do there ... and suprisingly enough, the-Devil-wears-Prada "boss" even gave the VP her seal of approval in inviting me to apply.

I thought about it, but I didn't have to think long. I would like to work there permanently (for at least a minimum of a year) for several reasons: (1) the VP is fabulous. How many times can I say that in one blog? Working under her would be an invaluable learning experience. (2) As much as I often feel incompetent around the-Devil-wears-Prada "boss," I am a lot like her in a lot of little ways. Having the opportunity to continue to observe her in a high-stress, high-power environment will only benefit me. Plus, I am beginning to believe that if I can work with her, I can work with anybody in this city. (3) The building, in which this company occupies 3-4 floors, is directly adjacent to Bryant Park. It is a prime location right in between Grand Central Station and Times Square. Not bad for a girl who just arrived in New York City, fresh out of the South, from North Carolina one month ago.

This evening, I left work at seven o'clock - the earliest I've left the office since the middle of last week, and walked to a gym on 50th Street, where Tokii and I have just activated memberships. On my way there, I passed by Radio City Music Hall and saw some of the barricades standing-by for tomorrow night's MTV Music Awards. I took a picture on my phone and sent it to a friend of mine. We sort of have a running contest going to see who can send better pictures to each other throughout the week. I'm definitely winning. Now if only I can just score this job.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

NYTimes View of Asheville Teens

Last Sunday, The New York Times featured recent times in Asheville, North Carolina (the first non-military affiliated place I lived after my dad retired from the Navy when I was 16 years old).

It's interesting to see that not much has changed since the times when I was in high school.

8 Cylinder Teenage Mating Dance -

Monday, August 28, 2006

My New Matthew McConaughey

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Those who know me well - or even just a little bit - know that I am obsessed with Matthew McConaughey, the 5'11 3/4" Texan, born on November 4, 1969, whose curious quirk is assigning nicknames. He receives fanmail at P.O. Box 596, Zachary, CA 70791. Though I've never actually sent him any mail, I've memorized the address - maybe because I like to recite it, along with my other Matt Facts, to make myself sound more obsessed with him than I actually am ... maybe I'll start sending him postcards from New York.

My decade-long obsession, conceived when I first saw him in A Time to Kill, may soon be running a close second to a recent (and rare) celebrity crush, affectionately dubbed My New Matthew. His name is Wentworth Earl Miller - one look at him and you'll instantly forgive his parents for the name.

Ladies, you may have heard of him ... or seen him on the latest cover of Details magazine. Born June 2, 1972, in England, My New Matthew is of African-American, Jamaican, English, German, French, Dutch, Syrian and Lebanese decent, is a graduate of Princeton, and is 100% hot (using "hot" to reference an attractive man makes me feel like I'm 18 again). I first saw him in Mariah Carey's music video, We Belong Together, but only recently heard that he is the star of FOX's Prison Break, which I raced back to Tokii's apartment after another late evening at work to watch. Thanks to two of my new coworkers, Gloria and Julie, I was a fan before I even saw the show for the first time tonight. And he did not disappoint.

Move over, Matthew McConaughey! But don't go too far ...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Kudos for Halle Berry

Halle Berry is really a phenomenal actress, especially when pushed to her artistic limits. Even when often widely regarded as too beautiful to play certain roles, her Oscar for her role in Monster's Ball served as confirmation of her talent.

So what is my point? Monster's Ball was on television today, and I happened to flip across it just as it was beginning. I saw it once years ago when it first came to DVD, and I remember being impressed with Halle's performance. But I never really got her character. I mean, I understood that she was sad - having lost her husband on death row and her son in a hit-and-run accident. I got that. She was sad. Ok. Good job being sad, Halle.

As I watched the movie today, I joked with Tokii that this was the perfect movie to watch if you ever want to feel better about your own life. "Wow," I said, "I really feel depressed." But as the movie ends, Halle's character realizes that there is a connection between her executed husband, Billy Bob's character, both of their dead sons, and her. After an emotional outburst, of which Billy Bob Thorton is unaware because he is out making a midnight run for ice cream, he returns to his home to find Halle bewildered and subdued. He leads her outside to sit on the back stoop and eat the ice cream he had bought. And when he feeds her a small spoonful of ice cream, there is a look in her eyes that I instantly recognized beyond the point of empathy.

At the risk of sounding corny and borderline psycho, I totally got her character in a way that I didn't get it when I first saw the movie years ago. I knew the exact feeling that Halle is trying to convey. The relief her character feels.

She was disconnected from Diddy's character by prison. I had been disconnected from Rickey by our break-up the previous year, our struggling attempts to figure out how to be just friends, and elements that would eventually lead to his death. Terrence was like Billy Bob Thorton's character after Rickey died. And Halle was able to sum up in one brief look over a spoon of ice cream, the relief that a desperate mourner - in the months following a tragic loss - feels like they will never have. It's a struggle for relief that only one who has been in a similar situation knows. I distinctly remember the moments in which Terrence provided me with similar relief by just a touch of the hand or a kiss on the forehead - even as close loved ones wondered if I was allowing Terrence to temporarily fill the void left by Rickey's sudden, tragic death.

The relief wasn't a replacement for Rickey and it never will be. There is a part of me that will always hold tight to him - just like all of us hold onto elements of our past that influence and impact who we are and who we become. And the relationship that developed out of my friendship with Terrence was not falsely predicated on a temporary need to fill a void because our closeness has grown beyond the long, hard year following August 2003.

I don't know much about Halle's personal life or about the emotions on which she drew inspiration for that role, but my point is that that's a good actor when he or she can not only project feelings with which others might be able to empathize - but within a minor expression - can portray feelings that others actually know and immediately recognize beyond just common empathy. It's even more impressive if that actor has never actually felt those feelings in real life for themselves.

I don't know if the connection between me, Terrence and Rickey has any symbolic value like the connection uncovered in Monster's Ball. And though art often tries to imitate life, I am not quick to fall for "everything happens for a reason" whims. I am more of a "shit happens" kind of girl. But shit happened at the right place and time for my friendship with Terrence. I like to feel like Rickey had something to do with that.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Power Players & the Glorified Homeless of Manhattan

I found out this week that the big "boss" - the VP of Internet Ad Sales - is a pretty big deal in advertising. Apparently she is pretty well known in the industry. I already knew she was fabulous, but I am even more excited to know that I'm learning about corporate NYC from one of the best in a highly-competitive industry. Her husband is also successful in advertising sales (she told me the story of how they met in advertising). They're quite the power couple, which I really admire. I've always sort of pictured myself as being one half of an ambitious duo. Ambition in the opposite sex is one of the characteristics I deem highly attractive. I guess the big "boss" breaks the mold with regard to a recent article in Forbes magazine entitled "Don't Marry Career Women."

I also learned that all-right-with-me "boss," whose title was periodically reverted back to the-Devil-wears-Prada "boss" throughout the week, is half Filipina and half White - just like me (though I would have guessed she was half Chinese). I don't know if my view of her has continued to soften throughout the week because we share the same mixed heritage or because I am starting to understand her management style and the stress of her job. I think it is more of the latter because I am not unlike her in a lot of ways ... aggressive, meticulous, detail-oriented, a bit obsessive. She hasn't seen that side of me though because I've taken to a more submissive demeanor - not only as a temp, but for the simple fact that I am treading blindly in advertising.

After a week containing three 10+ hour workdays, I welcomed Saturday morning by looking at the clock and then rolling over and pulling the covers over my head. I slept until 11 a.m. and then went to meet a broker in Queens with whom I had an appointment to view an apartment. Just like the last dozen or so, it was a negative. Apartment-hunting in New York City is extremely stressful, but thanks to a wonderful best friend and her accepting, easy-going roommate, I am not "on the clock" like so many other apartment seekers. The big "boss" left a copy of a recent article from The New York Times on my keyboard at work on Thursday. The article, "The Housing Virgins of Manhattan," described in almost mirrored detail the current housing situation that is my life. I completely empathize with Lani Fortier, one of the glorified homeless featured in the article. Glorified homeless is a term I use to define myself, which is essentially what thousands of New Yorkers are right now.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cockroaches Not Welcome Here

Last night, Tokii and I had an all-out war with one of the biggest cockroaches either of us have ever seen. It was the two humans-on-one bug showdown of the year. We spent the better part of 20 minutes chasing a swift, invincible, super roach with a shoe, hairspray and a bottle of 409 degreaser from the hallway to the hall closet, back down the hallway, into Candice's room, behind her bureau, into her closet, and it finally ended with a fatal squish. Not suprisingly, no one came knocking on our door or called the police to investigate the 20-some-odd minutes of terrified shrieks, charging battle roars and frustrated screams from Tokii's apartment. Today, while I was at work, Tokii set off a bug bomb in the apartment. This weekend, I'm buying a can of Raid roach spray.

I didn't leave the office tonight until after 10 o'clock. On the subway back to the Bronx, I tried to discretely read the Newcomer's Handbook to Moving to New York City in my lap. I felt like one of those tourists you see in Times Square with an overpriced visitor's guide, a giant folding map, and that ever-so-inquisitive "which way is the Empire State Building" look. Some natives may scoff at the idea of trying to learn this city from a book, but Belden Merims 19th edition is well-written, informative and hugely insightful - no matter how dorky I feel reading it in public, carefully positioning the book in my lap to conceal the cover and spine so as to not subliminally broadcast my new, unfamiliarity to the city. My cousin "in-law-but-not-really" gave the book to me as a welcome gift to the Big Apple. It arrived in the mail yesterday and I began reading it almost immediately. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband (the son of my aunt's new husband) and their son. I hope to meet them when they get back from vacation this week or next.

Interesting Meaningless Information of the Week: Two guys broke the record yesterday for riding the entire metro system - every line through all 600+ miles - in less than 25 hours, the previous record.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bryant Park by Day & Night

Bryant Park is easily one of my favorite places in the city so far. I've gotten in the habit of riding the 7 train one stop from Grand Central (just a few blocks) because I love emerging from the subway along the row of trees on 42nd Street. As you arise from the concrete tunnels, the skyscrapers part to reveal tree-lined sidewalks, a sparkling fountain and adorable brick walkways that frame the manicured lawn and are sprinkled with cafe tables, chairs and benches along the entire perimeter of the park.

In the mornings, New Yorkers stroll about the park sipping their lattes, scan the tables for coworkers they might be meeting for breakfast, sit on scattered chairs or benches reading The New York Post or The Times, or race across the park as a short-cut between 41st and 42nd Street. On Friday at approximately 8:30 a.m., Good Morning America hosts their "Friday Morning Summer Concert Series." You can catch Beyonce or Mariah Carey on stage before dipping into the office.

In the afternoon, the park is dappled with blankets and folding chairs. The air smells of grilled chicken and cobb salad. Business men and women with their laptops, Trios, and Sidekicks. Mothers and baby carriages. Interns on cell phones. Veteran chess players. Tourists with cameras. All around you are chattering cliques, solitary readers or napping suits and ties.

In the evenings, coworkers and friends are meeting for drinks at the Bryant Park Cafe. On Monday nights, a classic movie is featured on a giant screen on one end of the lawn.

Today on my lunch break, I drifted throughout the park, snacking on a piece of pita bread from Cosi and watching life. People-watching has become a new hobby of mine. In the South, I never really took the time to pause and observe what was happening around me. And I mean really observe situations or circumstances that did not concern me whatsoever. I did not take much notice in what other people were doing unless it directly or indirectly affected me somehow. I was so wrapped up in my own little worlds [family and friends and high school, then college and later my job(s)]. I don't mean that I was oblivious, but there is a difference between knowing what is going on and actually paying attention.

How ironic? I moved to one of the fastest cities in the world before I finally figured out how to slow down.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Subway Entertainers

One of the most annoying interruptions on the subway, second only to announcements that the train is being held momentarily due to train traffic ahead, are the rehearsed speeches of random individuals (usually scam artists) that often begin like this ...

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the interruption. My name is ..." followed by an elaborate description of recent hardships related to being unemployed, homeless or (one particularly heartless and infuriating scam) being sick due to supposed duties performed on September 11 in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Yesterday, there was a particular subway-ride interruption that was the rare exception. It went something like this ...

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am sorry for the interruption, but if I could have your attention. They call me "The Bronx Entertainer" [or something like that], and I'd like to take a few moments to provide you with some entertainment ..." He said a few more words before he turned around and pressed play on his boom box.

What followed was the most creative hustle on a train that I have yet to see in New York City. The dude, who calls himself "The Bronx [something-or-other]," danced all over the train, swinging around the vertical poles with the agility of a professional stripper and flipping from the horizontal bars. Further adding to the allure of his performance was the fact that every seat in this car was full, and a few people (myself included) were standing by the doors, yet he never kicked anyone in the face - though he startled quite a few with a particularly impressive stunt that ended with him hanging upside down. He wasn't a small guy either. He was an inch or so taller than me, which would put him at approximately 5'7" or 5'8", and though he wasn't over weight, he had on baggy clothes.

I briefly imagined him riding the train late at night when most of the cars were empty, practicing his routine and reciting the closing speech to follow-up his performance: "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you enjoyed the entertainment. I appreciate any donations and do accept cash, check, certified money order and all major credit cards. If any of you are wondering - yes, ladies, I am single so if you are looking for a guy with talent, a sense of humor and ... who is self-employed [he popped his collar] ... (that got a hardy laugh from the passengers) ..."

In a few short weeks, I have become immune to the mournful glances and verbal attempts to tug at my heart strings (and wallet), but I had to give this guy a dollar.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Literary Commutes and All Right

I love how the subway is often like a book club, especially during the early morning commute. We all crowd onto the train. Some listen to ipods, some stare off into space, but most of us are reading. Newspapers. Magazines. Books. I am finally finishing up "Stormy Weather" by Carl Hiassen. Subway commutes are the perfect way to catch up on some reading and it makes the distance between the Bronx and Grand Central seem shorter.

Angry "boss" has been redubbed all-right-with-me "boss." Not only has she been nicer lately, I am confident that she no longer views me as an idiot. I didn't get out of the office this evening until 7:30 p.m. trying to finish up several projects that the big "boss" - the VP of Internet Ad Sales - had given to me. I wanted to finish them up tonight so I could get started on something new tomorrow. I've already been prepped on the other projects waiting on the wings. I am excited that so many duties and responsibilities have been entrusted to me. I have no experience in Internet ad sales - much less within a major media company - and I've been dealing with a bit of a learning curve. But now that last week's event is behind us, I've been receiving a crash course in online advertising from my three bosses.

Anyway, all-right-with-me "boss" and I were the only two left in the office late this evening so we left together, took an elevator to the lobby, crossed 42nd Street and chatted in Bryant Park before she continued toward 41st Street and I descended the stairs of the subway to catch the 7 to Grand Central - with my book ready. [I could easily walk to Grand Central or to Times Square (as the office building is dead center between the two famous landmarks), but with all the temptation of clothing stores and shoe boutiques, it is safer for my credit card if I get below ground as soon as possible after work.]

I have to admit that I was certain that all-right-with-me boss would indefinitely view me as highly incompetent due to last week's shipping miscommunication. She is aggressive, meticulous and a little bit of a micromanager, but you also have to hand it to her because she gets shit done. And when it comes down to it, I'd rather work for someone who is difficult to work for but always has her staff prepared and sharp than work for an easy-going manager whose product is always sloppy. The balance between the two extremes would be the VP of Internet Ad Sales; like I said before, she is fabulous. But all-right-with-me "boss" has been a lot easier to work with since the stress of last week's event is behind her, and she is very helpful in teaching me the ropes of advertising. She even offered some encouraging advice on apartment hunting, and joked that if she ever finally moves to L.A. that she'd let me take over her Soho apartment that she occupies in a rent-stabilized building. It's still over $2000/month, but it's on the cheap end for 3-bedrooms in that upscale area. If only she were not joking. You know those "Let's get together sometime" dates that both of you know you'll never keep?

L.A. to her, I learned tonight, is what New York is to me. I was surprised that she was even interested in what brought me to the Big Apple. When I relayed my story, making every effort to give her the Reader's Digest version just in case she was only asking to be polite, she commented on how scary and exciting this time in my life must be.

Scary - a little. Exciting - absolutely. My life - exactly.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Apartment Hunting, Scrabble & Two Drifters

On Saturday, following an afternoon of apartment hunting in Queens, I went to David's apartment on the Upper West Side for drinks before an Upper East Side party that he wanted to attend. When I arrived, I met David's live-in boyfriend Chris and a lesbian couple, who are both gorgeous. One works for a prestigious Manhattan university; the other is a personal trainer at a fitness center. When I met the latter, my immediate side thought was, I want her arms.

We ended up getting comfortably tipsy off of Cabernet Sauvignon and collectively decided that we would rather hang out at David's and play Scrabble. David called a liquor store and ordered another bottle of cabernet for delivery and warmed up some left-over pizza. The Scrabble game had a $5 anti and I walked away with the $20 pot at the end of the game, thanks mostly to a double word score on the word "whiz."

By 2 a.m., the girls headed back to their apartments in Chelsea and the Village, and David insisted that I could not go back to the Bronx at that hour and after several glasses of wine. He made a bed for me on the couch and kissed me good night. I set the alarm on my cell phone and told him I'd be sneaking out early in the morning because I had more appointments with real estate brokers.

When I awoke at 8:45 this morning, I quietly folded up the blanket, rearranged the pillows on the couch and wrote a quick thank-you note, which I place under one of the candles on the coffee table and tip-toed out of the apartment. Walking along the tree-lined streets of the Upper West Side amidst the early morning joggers and baby carriages, I had never felt so hungry for Manhattan. To call it home.

Suddenly, the melody to "Moon River" from Audrey Hepburn's Breakfast at Tiffany's drifted through my mind. I half smiled then rolled my eyes at the corny, flighty notion and trotted down the steps of the 86th Street station and disappeared below the city.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Week Recap & Michael Kors Highlight

Just like the many different buildings throughout the grids of Manhattan, New York City is all about highs and lows. Good days can be really good and bad days can be really bad. I had a mixture of both this week. I was talking today with the VP of digital adverting sales, who I assist at the media company, and she mentioned that New York is funny like that; she isn't really sure why New York just works for some people yet other people just can't catch a break. No real super lows for me this week fortunately ... and fortunately I had some super highs. Here's the recap.

Monday: Monday wasn't a super low, but it was definitely not the best day out of the week. I assist a sales manager and her sales associate at the media company and the VP of Digital Ad Sales, to whom I shall herein refer as the "boss." Last Friday, I was given directions by one the sales associate to ship some boxes from the 42nd Street office to the company's West Side building on the Hudson River. The boxes contained items for Tuesday night's upcoming event. So Monday morning, without confirming that the shipment orders still stood, I went ahead and shipped the boxes. Well, the sales manager and her associate had not really communicated with each other very well regarding the shipment, which had later been determined should not ship until Monday afternoon. The change of plans had not been relayed to me by Monday morning and I proceeded with Friday's orders. Who know there were dire consequences for not confirming the shipping plans after the weekend and prior to the interoffice shipment? The sales manager commenced to telling me what a bad job I had done on the shipment and scolded me about never second guessing her, even though it was her associate who had given me distinct orders. The rest of the day, I tried my best to look and be positive, though internally I was lamenting over the fact that I should probably kiss any possibility of a contract extension (or a permanent position) good-bye. The associate never came to my rescue or explained that I had sent the boxes in keeping with his request, and I did not want to put him on the spot nor did I want to initiate a he said, she said battle within our corporate trio so I just sucked it up, took the blame and tried to apologize for misunderstanding. Plus, she had already scolded him for a lack of attention to detail, and I could see that he was stressed out enough. As embarrassing as it was standing there while she made countless phone calls to the other building, inquiring about the shipment to which she adamantly referred as "the boxes that Katie was not supposed to send," I accepted full responsibility for the erroneous shipment for the simple fact that I am experienced in event planning and I know that details can change at the drop of a hat. And knowing that they can certainly change over a weekend, I should have called the sales rep on Monday morning to confirm the shipping orders. My determination to be viewed as quick and efficient by completing my to-do list before everyone got into the office later that morning had hindered my accuracy and attention to detail. After several hours of periodic condescending comments from the angry sales manager and random reminders eluding to my incompetence, I sat at my desk for a few moments staring at my computer screen thinking to myself, "Oh my God, I am Anne Hathaway, she is Meryl Streep, and I am in the Devil Wears Prada (without the fashion perks)," except there was no empathetic movie audience with whom I could share my degrading experience. And I suddenly felt very alone in this huge city.

Tuesday: I didn't lose sleep over the previous day's incident. Instead, on the subway ride back to the Bronx after work on Monday, I focused on my resilience and reminded myself that I am smart and not as incompetent as I had felt that afternoon. Everyone makes mistakes. All I could do was learn from it, bounce back, be professional and be ready to work hard the next day. And that is what I did. I returned to the office Tuesday morning without allowing myself to whittle a chip on my shoulder and continued assisting with the set-up for that night's event. I am not the kind of worker who needs a pat on the back, a gold star and continuous verbal praise, but it did hurt my ego a little to ruin an opportunity for a good first impression. Ah well. Got over it. I spent the entire afternoon at the West Side building on the Hudson River, where I had been the night before until 10:30 with the sales associate helping with set-up. At the event that evening, I assisted with registration and check-in of the guests and directed them down the corridor to the roofdeck, where an impressive spread of fine food, beer and wine were being served and where the CEO waited to greet and mingle with the Internet ad clients. That is where I met my new favorite person in New York City. His name is David, he is an executive assistant to a big wig within the media company, and he is adorabely gay. How cliche is it for a twenty-something woman in New York City to have a flamboyantly gay friend? It is as cliche as reiterating Frank Sinatra's famous statement, "If you can make it in the New York City, you can make it anywhere." During a break, I went up to the rooftop and had a beer while I watched the Hudson River turn orange in the dusk, and the guests of the exclusive business party mingled with the sophisticated signature style that is characteristic of New York City. Following the event, David invited me to have drinks with two other coworkers. We went to a trendy bar, where David proposed a toast to my successful relocation to New York from North Carolina. Immediately afterward, I leaned over and said to him, "That was my first toast in NYC." He smiled and replied, "I love it."

Wednesday: The week continued to get better over Hump Day. I assisted with event breakdown at the West Side building and conducted inventory of left-overs from Tuesday night's event, met the "boss" for the first time - the VP of Digital Ad Sales who I learned I was also assisting and decided almost immediately that I adored her. She is not only stylish and fabulous (which her salary certainly helps), but she is business savvy and very sharp. Got to leave work at 5 p.m. since the sales manager and her associate had an evening meeting and there was nothing else I could do for them that night. I went to 23rd and 7th, where I had my first-ever New York City pedicure at an over-priced spa. What the hell, I thought. Might as well go all out for my first pedicure.

Thursday: The highlight of my week came when an excited woman came rushing into our office to announce that Michael Kors was having a sample sale in his offices on the 20th floor of our building. The women in our office made a stampede for the doors and crowded onto the elevators as if we were in Grand Central at rush hour. The sale was exclusive to building employees as a pass is required to even enter one of the 18 elevators. I was excited to learn that a sample sale is a more than just 10% off of extremely expensive designer collections. He was selling gorgeous left-over samples from his winter 2005 and summer 2006 lines for less than $30 and as the afternoon began to wind down so did the prices. I went back to our office with two bags full of Michael Kors clothing - 32 items for a grand total of $60. I also learned that day that other famous companies' offices reside in the 42nd Street building, including Valentino - who also has sample sales for the building about every six months. And Hugo Boss has a floor in the West Side building on the Hudson River. After work, I went to David's house for a small cocktail and wine get-together among coworkers at his apartment on the Upper West Side. The apartment that he and his boyfriend share is in a fabulous location (at the Manhattan price of $2500/month for less than 1000 square feet) and gorgeously decorated with the trendy decor that is only typical of a gay man or a contemporary, stylish woman. Around 10 p.m., I returned to the Bronx, where I presented Tokii with her own large bag stuffed to the brim with clothing that was practically courtesy of Michael Kors.

Friday: I headed down to Manhattan early, stopped by Starbucks on the corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street and then crossed over 42nd and entered Bryant Park to watch Christina Aguilera perform live with the Good Morning America "Friday Morning Summer Concert Series" before reporting to work at 9 a.m. At about 8:55 a.m., following three songs performed live by the former Mouseketeer herself, I crossed back over 42nd Street and entered the office building as Robin Roberts and Bill Weir were telling the nation to have a good morning.

I have now lived in New York City for two weeks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Corporate Monday

Just got off work a little before 11 p.m. following an almost 14-hour day. Took a cab home (my first New York cab ride). Thankfully I can expense the company for late-night cabfare resulting from late-night work. Today was a bad day, but more about that later ... I have to start getting ready for another long run in about six hours. The Internet ad sales event, with which I have been assisting since I began work just last Friday, is tomorrow night. It is being hosted on the rooftop deck of the company's signature office overlooking the Hudson River. How fabulous is that?

Friday, August 11, 2006

First Day of Work

Today was my first day working in New York City. Even though it's just a short-term assignment through the end of September, I went to work with 8 million other New Yorkers, and it felt great. But the no. 4 train at 8 a.m. is no joke. I waited for a second train before just squeezing myself inside the closing doors and standing face-to-face with half a dozen random people all the way to Grand Central.

As I exited the subway station and walked down 42nd Street, I could hear the music from Good Morning America's Friday morning "Summer Concert Series" in Bryant Park. The department of the media company I am working for has an office on several floors of a building adjacent to the park. Apparently Carrie Underwood was performing. I could see the stage from across the street, but I did not have time to stop because I had to be upstairs by 9 a.m. and I wanted to be a little early. It's pretty cool to have live entertainment on your way to work. Next week, Christina Aguilera will be there. Maybe I'll try to get to 42nd Street early and watch her perform in Bryant Park while I eat breakfast. That is definitely not a sentence you can often type about your life anywhere else in the world! (Reason #33,076 that I love New York City)

Too bad Terrence and I didn't think about checking out the GMA free Friday morning summer concert last week. Pharrell and Kanye West performed on August 4. Lionel Richie performs on August 25, and then the summer concerts are over for 2006. Guess I'll have to catch some in 2007!

At work, I assisted with preparation for next week's event. The Internet segment of the media company is having a social event for their Internet ad clients on the rooftop of one of their Manhattan skyrises, and as is usually the case with major events, everything is a little bit behind schedule and the peddle is really to the metal. I rolled T-shirts and tied them with ribbon for the gift baskets we are going to assemble on Monday. When we unexpectedly ran out of ribbon, I offered to run the errand to buy more. The ribbon store on 38th Street, where the company has a credit account, didn't have any more of the ribbon we needed so I had to run around trying to find a close-enough match. By the time I found a suitable replacement, I had already been out 45 minutes. I didn't really get a lunch break, which I expected - being experienced myself in the run-up to events and knowing that lunches are often few and far between in the days before an event. My "break" was me running down 5th Avenue past the New York City Public Library thanking God I had chosen wide-heeled shoes this morning - a hotdog from a corner stand in one hand, a bag of ribbons in the other.

I spent the afternoon organizing files, taking inventory of goodies (mighty nice goodies, I might add) for the gift bags, packing boxes to ship to the event site on Monday, arranging back issues of one of the company's magazines and other busy work. The nine hours went by pretty fast today, but it helped that I like event planning, the employees are really nice and didn't make me feel like an invisible temp, and ... of course ... I'm working in New York City!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Working 9 to 5 ... well, 6

I visited another staffing agency today (per Eileen's experienced suggestion), and they hooked me up with a temporary assignment at THE leading provider of "how-to" information! It's an assistant, do-whatever-the-hell-they-tell-me-to-do position, but I have an opportunity to work with a huge New York City-based company for a month and a half. The assignment runs through the end of September. Nothing permanent or prestigious, but it's definitely not bad after just one week in NYC and for someone who pictured herself working in the Gap for the first couple of months (NOT that retail sales with the Gap is any way an ignonimious line of work, but just in comparison to this opportunity). The pay is decent - a little more per hour than what I made at the university, but by no means lavish by New York standards. I am just really excited about the assignment and am looking forward to the next few weeks of work. I start tomorrow.

The box fan that my former coworker Fairley mailed from North Carolina arrived this afternoon. So did the rain. The air feels fresher.

Side thought of the day: I really like peeking into Yankee Stadium as the 4 passes by the gap in the wall at the 161st Street/Yankee Stadium stop.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One Week Completed

I have survived one week in New York City! And even though I do not have an apartment, a job or a car, I feel like I have accomplished a major feat in just moving here and getting through an entire week without crying! Not that I cry all the much or that easily, but I can see how a naive newcomer could cry a lot and easily here.

I don't pride myself in being naive to a lot of things up here, and I wouldn't describe myself as an innocent Southern Bell in the big, sinful city, but I really have felt more naive than usual throughout the past week. That was expected and it just comes with being new in a different environment. But I don't feel as confident as I usually do. I'm a little overwhelmed. A little anxious. I'm unsure of a lot. And I don't know most of the time. But it's so exciting!

For the first time ever, I have absolutely no idea what my life will be like next week or even tomorrow. Even when we moved from base to base as a military brat, I could still sort of predict the environment. When my dad retired to Asheville, NC, and we joined civilian life, there weren't any huge surprises. When I left for college, I kind of knew what to expect. Immediately after I graduated, I had a job in my own university's admissions office. And then I decided to make this huge, random move ... it's only been a week, but so far there are no regrets. The one thing I am sure of is that there will be no regrets regarding my decision to come here. As I said in a previous entry, I'd rather regret failing in New York than regret never trying to live there.

I love NYC!!!

... Which reminds me, I still need to buy one of those t-shirts.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here I Go On My Own

Terrence flew out of La Guardia Airport this morning and back to Atlanta. We shared overpriced hotdogs and nachos at the little food-spot-place-thing outside of the secured area. The food court is only for ticketed passengers. And then he was on his way. And now I am on mine.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Converse High Heels, Cocaine, Central Park & Superman Wears Prada

It took me six days to see something truly weird in New York. I guess you could count the presumably homeless man taking a dump in the park across the street, but Terrence saw that happen; not me.

On the 4 headed to Grand Central, Terrence and I encountered a fairly odd individual. She was a very tanned white woman, perhaps in her mid- to late-thirties wearing a red and white patterned dress and red high heel Converse shoes. Her hair was in a high side ponytail, which was twisted and held in place just behind her right ear by a large jaw clip. Her bangs resembled a greasy attempt of an 80's swoop. She stood next to Terrence and me in the center of the subway car, and I noticed that she kept smelling her fingers, dabbing her upper lip with a tissue and scratching at something on the side of her head that didn't really seem to be there.

I typed the following text message on my phone, but as there is typically no service down in the tunnels (at least on my phone), I just showed it to him: "Doesn't she know that it's either a ponytail OR a hair clip?" He just shrugged. Later as we walked to the Times Square shuttle, I asked Terrence, "Did you notice that she kept smelling her fingers?" T shook his head, "She wasn't smelling her fingers. She was checking to make sure her nose wasn't bleeding."

Oh. Riiiiiight. Lil', ol' naive me in the middle of big New York City.

In addition to that brief encounter, we also explored more of Times Square and had a romantic $13 lunch for two at McDonalds, walked through about seven square blocks of Central Park (zig-zagging back and forth from the West Side to the East), checked out Lincoln Center and caught another movie at the AMC theater near Times Square. Afterward, we almost had a caricature drawn of us but then I remembered that I don't have a wall to hang it on yet. So we saved that for another time.

Just returned to the Bronx. Terrence leaves tomorrow and I have to get started on whatever life I am going to have up here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

First Weekend Recap

Saturday: Slept in. Woke up around noon when my aunt called. Cleaned a little around Tokii and Candice's apartment. Not that it was all that messy. Just trying to earn my keep a little since they're letting me stay here free (I plan to give them something toward this month's rent though). Met my aunts (two of my mother's sisters and a sister-in-law who live in Queens) at Applebee's off of Times Square. Terrence and I could not believe (well, we could believe) that all of the same menu items were twice as much as the prices in the South ... or any other Applebee's in the world. Hey, it's Times Square. We were also amazed by the sheer volume of random things that my Tita Connie had in her bag. She was like the Filipina Mary Poppins, but it's one of the things that makes her so cute. We laughed a lot and had a good time. Afterward, we strolled around a little. Saw Samuel L. Jackson - or his wax replica (I'm not sure which, it looked so real) - outside of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Stopped by Cold Stone, but didn't buy any ice cream; the lines were too long. My Tita Marie relayed the following story to Terrence and I (paraphrased the best I can remember):

"One evening, I was walking through Times Square on my way to that store over there, and it was so crowded. And I kept wondering to myself, why is it so crowded? And why is everyone looking up? I finally made my way into the store, bought whatever I was trying to buy, and when I came out, they were blocking the streets. And I was wondering why. And then I remembered, it was New Year's Eve."

Later, my aunts left Terrence and I at the Loews movie theater. We went to see Miami Vice, which was my treat to thank him (again) for all of his help this past week. It was a hard-to-follow, seemingly plotless movie but entertaining enough. Then, we returned to the Bronx.

Sunday: Slept in again. Woke up around noon. Went to the grocery store on the corner. Hung out around the apartment. Watched The Constant Gardener on my laptop. Candice texted to let us know she'd be back soon (she's a flight attendant and has been out since Friday). My resilient, little plant that I brought up from North Carolina (dubbed "Sasha") has sunburn on her leaves. I put her in direct sunlight on the window sill and I guess she didn't like it. Tomorrow Terrence and I are going to go to Manhattan and be tourists. Then he leaves for La Guardia Airport very early on Tuesday morning. And I have to figure out what the heck I am going to do with my life here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

View from Lexington & E 40th

I woke up this morning/yesterday (it's 1:20 a.m. on Saturday so was Friday yesterday or today if I haven't gone to sleep yet?) in a pool of my own sweat, took an ice cold shower and tried to style my hair while my sweat kept gluing it to my neck, back and arms. I walked to the train with my Diet Mountain Dew in hand and trying to think of what to say when I arrived in the temp agency looking like I had just gone for a swim.

But when I got on the train, I noticed that everyone - businessmen and women, grandmothers, children, students - were all sweating as much as I was so I felt a little better. My visit to the staffing agency was more helpful than I expected. A staffing counselor had seen my resume on last week and called me to see if I'd be interested in meeting with her. I agreed even though Eileen (dubbed "My First New York Friend") has already recommended another agency that was really good to her when she was first seeking employment in the city. I plan to meet with the agency she used early next week. I don't expect to find my dream job or to be doing anything remotely close to what I like, but it'll pay bills.

I went to Home Depot, several Duane Reades, a Rite Aid and a PC Richards. No box fans. Still sold-out. At a corner store near the apartment I found a box fan for $27.99 and decided I'd rather sweat.

As I was walking back to Grand Central Station, I found one of my new favorite views in New York City - the view of the Chrysler Building from Lexington Avenue and East 40th Street, especially if the sky is as blue as it was today. This city is a true haven of architectural beauty and many of the different views are so artistic, especially if that is how you view the world. They say that you can distinguish the New Yorkers from the tourists because the tourists are always looking up. I hope I never stop looking up.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Temperaturely Speaking ...

... I am in hell. According to news reports, I moved to New York City during the hottest week in the Big Apple's history (not hottest week since 1972 or 1848 - in history). On top of that, Terrence, Candice and I scoured the city with what few hours we had left on the rental van madly searching for box fans. Apparently there are none left in the city. Eight million people sitting in pools of their own sweat. Go figure. If any New Yorkers read this and know where we could find several box fans within a Metro ride-radius of the Bronx, I would really appreciate it.

Today, it has been three years since my former boyfriend Rickey passed away. I thought about him most of the day. And I thought about his family. I should have called, but it's hard for me to call them sometimes. I talked to his mom on his birthday back in June, and there is still something about hearing her voice that makes me feel like he's going to get on the phone, too. Like when she laughs, I remember how he used to go up behind her and tickle her in the kitchen. And then something inside of me hurts. I still have to emotionally prepare myself to talk to anyone in his family, and today has been so physically and mentally exhausting. I don't know that I can face that part of my reality head on.

Terrence and I arrived in the Bronx this morning around 9 a.m. (and about 87 degrees) after a 12-hour overnight drive, in which he drove the entire way (what a trooper) and I slept on and off (how typical). We were riding over the George Washington Bridge in the early dawn. It's a moment I'll always remember. There are no words to describe the way it felt to see the Manhattan skyline loom before us. It was a new New York City to me. It wasn't a New York City I was just visiting. It was a New York City in which I would be living.

There was not much time to revel in the bittersweet excitement, however, as we rolled in the South Bronx and assessed our next move. The elevator in Tokii and Candice's building is out-of-order so we made approximately 15 trips each - from the van parked on the curb, up four flights of stairs (in one of those old buildings with high ceilings so the stairways are extra long and steep), and no air conditioning or fans. But we didn't complain - just muttered, groaned and sighed. It really felt important that we help each other. He wanted to get my stuff upstairs as quickly as possible (given the less-than-friendly reputaton of the South Bronx), and I didn't want him to do it alone. Plus, we needed to turn in the rental van by mid-afternoon.

We piled my boxes in a corner of Tokii and Candice's living room, where they will stay until I find an apartment, and then we each took ice cold showers. Terrence later reported that from where he stood showering, looking down over the busy road and the park across the street from the bathroom window, he observed a presumably homeless man taking a dump against a tree. He said he felt really awkward about watching this normal bodily function taking place in a highly abnormal setting with cars and pedestrians passing by, but he just could not stop looking because he just could not believe his eyes. Lately he has been more preoccupied and amazed that all of the windows in Tokii and Candice's apartment are wide open, without screens, and we rarely see any mosquitoes.

It is just so hot all day and throughout the night that we don't even want to sit next to each other. Sweat causes our clothes to cling to our bodies and the backs of our legs to stick to the couch. At one point, I looked at Terrence and said, "I think we messed up. We're in New Orleans."

His response was a short sigh followed by, "Damnit."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

T minus 5, 4, 3...

In response to an email I sent yesterday to various coworkers among my three former jobs, a very good friend of mine replied, that was a very “Jackkerowackesque” letter. You should save it for your diary/journal. And so I am ...

Good Evening,

If you are receiving this email, you are on Katie’s Preferred Contact List, which really has no obvious benefits of membership, especially since I will be joining the world of the unemployed tomorrow and – minus moving expenses – will be straddling the poverty line in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. I would really like to keep in touch with you so I am providing my personal contact information at the end of this email.

For those of you who are unaware, today was my last day at Western Carolina University. I am leaving the Cullowhee area to try out New York City life. I have no lucrative job offer waiting or a sugar daddy off which to binge; I am just going. It’s not as wild and adventurous as I’d like for it to sound because there was a year's-worth of intense planning involved; however, if I do not receive a job offer soon, I just may have to begin seeking a sugar daddy. Just kidding. Maybe.

Please keep in touch with me – if nothing more than to remind me from time to time that I left the majestic beauty of the Appalachians to attempt survival in a concrete jungle. In addition to joining the ranks of the unemployed, I am still also seeking a permanent residence. In the interim, my address will be My Best Friend’s Couch, Bronx, NY 10452 … it’s going to be one of those things that I’ll be able to laugh about later, you know?

My personal email address is (omitted for the purposes of this blog entry). Email will be the best way to reach me for the next few months – maybe longer. If any of you are ever in New York City and need a place to stay (and if I have a $1200/mon, 500 sq. ft. apartment of my very own by then), please know that you are always welcome. Your feet may be in my kitchen when you lay down in my living room, but it’ll be free.

It has been a pleasure knowing and/or working with all of you in various capacities. I thank you for the opportunities and the memories. As we say at Western, “Go Cats!” As we say at the casino, “Good luck and oh yea!” And as we say at the crab shack, “Remember you got your crabs from Stoney!” And I hate to say good-bye so I’ll just say I hope to see you soon!

This is Katie. Signing off from North Carolina.