My Queens Extravaganza

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The station where it happened

As I stated last week, things have been going pretty well for me at work. I don’t leave past 8pm these days because, for various reasons that have added up, I’ve become integral to the department. But overall, everything right now is good! But, as I have also stated on this blog, things have not always been this great — this was particularly true right before I left for Christmas vacation last year, when I had royally screwed up on something. It was a one off mistake, but it was a very large one, and I was feeling awful about it.

This is an important detail, because when I am feeling insecure at work, I feel insecure in pretty much everything else I do. Which brings us to a Saturday in December, the weekend before Sara and I left for Australia, where our story starts.

My friend Jackson Bird was hosting his annual holiday party at his place in Queens. This is probably the only time when I ever get to Queens throughout the year because it is quite far from Hoboken. The journey on this cold christmasy weekend was made even longer because the only trains that could take us to Manhattan from Hoboken were downtown near the World Train Center, making our journey approximately an hour and a half long. Yay for public transit! So Sara, and our friends Taekia and Megan got our shit together and trekked out to Astoria.

The party itself was awesome. Jackson is a great host and there was wine and good food and company. We also had a fantastic conversation with the other party guests about how awesome the Fast and the Furious franchise is. Everything was going so well!

Did this last? Of course not! By the time we decided to leave, it was around 1am and I was pretty drunk. White wine will do that to you. While at Jackson’s I remember grabbing my purse and jacket and getting to the train station. But at this point, everything starts blur. I remember arriving at the 30th Ave station and waiting for the train, but after that, nothing. It wasn’t until we got to the World Train Center that I started to get my shit together — and realized that my purse was no where to be found.

I immediately started to panic. I had lost all my possesstions because I was drunk and dumb! I was a terrible human being that no one should trust!  I was drunk yelling this all to Sara (who was appropriately alarmed) as I walked through the train trying to see if I had left my purse there (instead of finding it, a homeless man yelled at me, apologizing for his vomit – welcome to New York). It soon became clear that I had not left my purse on the train, and that it was either back at Jackson’s, at the 30 Ave station subway stop, or in the ether. And I got really mad at myself. I thought about all the shit I would have to go through if my purse was really stolen or gone. I felt like shit. I luckily still had my phone, but all my cards and keys and everything would be lost forever. I sobbed about how I couldn’t do anything right, not my job or in my personal life. Being drunk will do that to you.

Megan, who was traveling with Sara and I, offered me her metro card and then promptly left (as she should have!) while Sara tried to calm me down. As it was 2:30 in the morning, she was very much in the camp of me going home and trying to figure out what happened to my purse the next day. But I was adamant. I needed to at least try to find my purse and damn it! no one was going to stop me. I was gonna fix this. So Sara let me go, making me promise I would keep her in the loop.

So I got an uber (It was truly a #blessing that I hadn’t lost my phone) and went all the way back to Queens. Though I was still kinda drunk, I was focused and was able to find my way back to the 30th Ave station. I went down and had a look, but no luck — my purse was no where to be found. So I went to the station manager’s window, just to see if someone had picked it up (knowing my luck was minimal). She offered to make a few calls, so I waited.

The next moment is when everything started turning around for me. The station manager called me over — my purse had been found! It was in a police station in Briarwood, Queens and I could pick it up that night. Halle-fucking-lujah. Briarwood was another 7 stops away on the F train, so I hauled my ass to the boonies of Queens in search of salvation. I arrived at the police station and explained my situation. They went into the back and pulled out purse! I almost cried I was so happy! This never happens! Surely this means God loves me!

At this point my phone was at 6% battery but I called Sara (who was playing along at home) to tell her of my success (I also put her on speaker phone so the entire station could hear our conversation — I think I was the the cutest drunk girl the police had encountered that night). At this point, it was about 4 in the morning. I established that nothing had been taken from my purse, signed a piece of paper saying I had picked it up, and then asked when the next F train to Manhattan (seeing as an uber from Queens to Hoboken would’ve cost me like a thousand dollars). The policeman who was helping me, looked at the schedule and said, “actually there’s one arriving now.” I grabbed my purse and ran and caught the train. I got out around 50th street in Manhattan and immediately got an uber. $50 dollars later, at approximately 5 in the morning, I walked into my room in Hoboken and collapsed on my bed.

Long story short, I paid about $75 worth in ubers and a whole night of my time to get my purse back so I wouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by canceling cards and getting new keys. I felt something had finally gone my way and that the universe was willing to be nice to me, as long as I was willing to cough up the goods. Was it worth it? Sure, why not.

Wanted: A Millennial who knows what the f*ck she’s doing

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I talk (write?) a lot about my job on this blog and how hard it was to get where I am today (currently on my bed, watching bob’s burgers, in a blanket burrito). But it’s not like I spent my childhood dreaming of being an agent’s assistant, or even working in publishing. My quote-unquote dream job changed fairly often as I was growing up and they all spanned a multitude of subjects.

When I was very little I wanted to be an illustrator. I always loved drawing, requesting sketch pads and crayons every Christmas. I remember one weekend, where my sister and I sat at my grandmother’s dining room table using water colors to paint, thinking that my sister was going to write books, and I was going to draw things for them. But I soon realized that my talents were never going to get any better than my third grade hand.

Once I realized this, I shifted focus. Dolphins had recently become my favorite animal and getting to spend days splashing around with them sounded like absolute bliss (reminder this was a pre blackfish world we were living in). This desire to train sea animals lasted throughout most of middle school until one day my mom took me to the Baltimore Aquarium to see an actual dolphin show (to help support my interests – thanks mom!). During the performance, one of the trainers talked about how one becomes a trainer, and listed the many books and courses one would have to read and take – and though I’m not proud of this, the  thought of all that work just to play with dolphins soured the whole process. So naturally I switched to a much more manageable career.

Not. Around the end of middle school/early high school I was reading a lot of non-fiction and was also getting into my family history. Not to mention, my immediate family and I were always into shows like The West Wing and NCIS. All of this contributed to my desire to be a spy for the CIA. My maternal grandfather had worked for the CIA and I was intrigued by international travel and the excitement of a high stakes environment. So, to once again foster support for my budding interests, my mom took me to the International Spy Museum in DC and bought me a memoir written by a former agent. But after this and my own extensive research it became apparent that a life of a spy was much harder and a lot more boring than I originally had thought. And I was slowly becoming much more interested in talking to “interesting people” than actually being an “interesting person” myself.

This was the beginning of a hope for a career in journalism. In high school I got super into music and subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine. I loved how the editors covered any topic under the sun and weren’t afraid to tout controversial ideas (this was about ten years ago when legalized weed was still a pretty controversial issue). I learned all about the history of music and politics and Hunter S. Thompson. I found new and interesting people to follow on budding social media websites. And this interest eventually led me to other quirky outlets such as McSweeny’s Quarterly Concern. All of this showed me that anything can be a story if you tell it interestingly enough. And it seemed like all the writers in these magazines got to sit down with the “most interesting people in the world” and ask them questions about why they do what they do. Nothing sounded more fascinating to me.

To this day I am still fascinated by it. Though my focus in college shifted from journalism to history, I still wanted to write and talk about interesting people and social trends. But what changed is the kinds of stories that I wanted to tell. In college I realized that I didn’t just want to be a mouth piece for something or someone else. I wanted to create something new – by myself, for myself. Once I realized I wasn’t going to pursue a journalism career, I started looking at avenues that would allow me to think about and work on stories every day. Thus when I graduated, I started to look for jobs in publishing.

Today I still don’t necessarily know what my passion is or “what I want to be when I grow up.” I know that I have always wanted to perform and draw and act and express my self visually. And I know that I have the skills and connections to navigate an industry that can be unrelenting. But I wish I wasn’t so timid about expressing my passions no matter what they are. Sometimes I am afraid that my lack commitment to any career or idea, will result in me never finding something that truly fills my soul.

But perhaps, I won’t ever need to figure that out. Barring some lack of inherent talent, I knew that if I worked hard enough, I would be capable of pursuing every career listed above – and maybe that’s all that matters.

How I got my dentist to pay me for cavities

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First look at this adorable baby

Hi everyone! We’re back! Kind of…we’re certainly trying. We had to take a break because we got busy and the world got super depressing. The orange man was elected and is fucking shit up, Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water, and society is constantly on edge, making sure we don’t take one step too far over the ledge. I don’t have to tell you how exhausting all that is. So instead, please read this story about how I managed to get paid to have cavities.

Our story begins about a year ago. I had finally gotten my shit together and made a dentist appointment after a year or so of avoiding it. I couldn’t bear my father’s disappointment (again) so one Tuesday afternoon I found myself in my least favorite place. I got a cleaning done and was told I had four cavities, which sucked but isn’t the worst thing to ever happen at a dentist office to a Danver (ask Sara about how she once had 12 cavities…).

After the cleaning, I didn’t want to waste anymore of my afternoon so I told the dentist I would reschedule to have the cavities filled another time and asked for a quote on what the fillings would cost. I had recently found out my insurance didn’t cover fillings, (which is a whole other problem) so I was a bit wary of what the cost might be. According to the office, the four fillings would come to roughly $1,100.

My jaw dropped. I DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF MONEY! I HAVE LOANS AND I OCCASIONALLY LIKE TO EAT.

Once I stopped laughing I left the dentist’s office and went back to work and cried like a baby to my parents. They agreed to help me financially in whatever way I needed but suggested I start looking elsewhere for dental hygiene. They suggested I look at NYU dental school because students are adorable and cheap. I thought why the hell not, so I called and made an introductory appointment.

The thing about dental students is that they have to work very slowly, as every stage of their work has to be checked by an actual professor. I was okay with this, as long as no mistakes we made, plus it meant more time out of the office – so far this situation was a win win. As my student dentist, Robert, was checking my x-rays at this first visit, he focused on two specific cavities.

“Those are textbook cavities,” he said.

“What does that mean?” I replied.

“It means they’re beautiful. These cavities deserve the greatest treatment possible – to be put on a pedestal.” As he said this, he placed a single hand on the monitor, a tear rolling down his cheek.

ANYWAYS, to make long story short he asked me if we could wait to fill those cavities for his dental boards, the equivalent of the dental school final exam. And in exchange for this, he said he would pay me. As a broke, pretend adult, my immediate reaction was of course, where do I sign. So over the last few months, my student dentist Robert has filled my other two cavities and at one point even threw in a free cleaning. He also prescribed me some prescription toothpaste so that these two cavities wouldn’t turn into root canals.

So after a year of slowly filling in cavities and making random appointments, tomorrow at 8am I will be walking into the NYU dental center to spend 4-5 hours getting two cavities filled while multiple dental professors and students stare into my mouth my long periods of time. I will walk away with some spare change, clean teeth, and the knowledge that I helped a dental student achieve his dreams.

There are worse ways to spend a Saturday.

An Education

Sara and I recently started a collaborative playlist on Spotify called EDUCATION. It’s where we put music that we are super into for whatever reason. This is another why for us to get in each other’s brains while finding awesome new music.

In that vain, here are ten songs that are currently rocking my world and should probably also rock yours.

Nicola La / Ruby and the RabbitFoot / Divorce Party

 

Underdressed / VÉRITÉ / Underdressed

 

Dark Days / Local Natives / Sunlit Youth

 

Friends (feat. Bon Iver / Francis and the Lights / Single

 

Girls Your Age / Transviolet / Girls Your Age

 

We Don’t Talk Anymore (feat. Selena Gomez) / Charlie Puth / Nine Track Mind

 

Killing Me / Ofelia K / Killing Me

 

Blue Boss / Sampa the Great / Blue Boss

 

Get Low / James Vincent McMorrow / Get Low

 

Tropicana / Topaz Jones / Tropicana

Maybe you’re an idiot, but I am also an idiot

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Yesterday I got into an argument on Facebook. Which is never a promising way to start any sentence. This particular argument was related to the current election and I wasn’t the only one engaging with our adversary, but I was the only one to call this person an idiot.

This is something that I am neither proud of nor ashamed of. This person was in fact, being an idiot – they disregarded facts, did not listen to or acknowledge any points based on facts, and effectively said that EL James’ 50 Shades of Grey did not represent an abusive relationship because it was a best seller. There are many people I know who would say I was perfectly within my right to call this person an idiot. And I must say, it felt good.

But as good as it felt, if there’s one thing I think we call all agree on as a species, it’s that getting called stupid or an idiot or whatever really sucks. Instead of making us look at our life and look at our choices, being called an idiot usually makes us retreat further into our schools of thought, making us stew in self-righteous anger, being all moody and misunderstood.

No matter my feelings in the moment, I should probably have spent more time imagining this person complexly. Who knows exactly how they came to their way of thinking, but that doesn’t really matter. They are perfectly entitled to their opinion. And if I truly believe that they are fundamentally wrong, there are better ways to change people’s minds.

One of the most interesting pieces I read in 2015 was an article in The New Yorker about a women, Megan Phelps-Roper, who was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church and ran social media for the church, and how that lead to her questioning her beliefs and everything Westboro stands. While she spent her time tweeting things that made people cringe, she eventually came in contact with a Jewish web-developer named David Abitbol, who goes by the twitter handle @jewlicious. Though they would spend hours debating online, they enjoyed their back and forth, Roper-Phelps even admitting she liked that he was friendly.

Abitbol says in the article that he learned that relating to hateful people on a human level was the best way to deal with them. As Roper-Phelps continued to tweet her views, Abitbol politely countered her them, making himself as approachable as possible in order to humanize himself to her. His plan worked and he eventually changed her mind on some of Westboro’s most important doctrines. Her interactions with him led to her meeting others online who challenged her ways of thinking and eventually she left the church.

Now this of course took years. Roper-Phelps wasn’t convinced her previous way of thinking was wrong after just one interaction online. She had to chip away at it and she had to be open enough to believe there were other people out there that were good and held different opinions than hers. But without the compassion that some of her adversaries had for her, she may never have changed her mind.

I’m not saying that there was ever a way I could’ve reasoned with this person, especially on Facebook. And not everyone can change their minds. But it was a good reminder that change starts at the bottom, and it starts with us treating each other as people. Maybe not good people…but people nonetheless. It’s what this election is all about; the complexity of our systems and the complexity of ourselves.

So on November 8th, no matter what you think or believe, you should vote. Because people died to give you the right to vote and that goes for all of us idiots too.

If you’re interested in reading the article I mentioned, you can find it here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/23/conversion-via-twitter-westboro-baptist-church-megan-phelps-roper

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/6262122778

How to Date your Interviewer

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I save a lot of notes on my phone;they’re usually jokes I come up with or trains of thought I don’t want to lose. I was scrolling through a few of them the other day and came across an old attempt at a cover letter. It went a little something like this…”Working for both print and digital organizations, I’ve gotten to tweet and post about thing that I love. Not to mention I’m pretty much always on the internet. I’m like the lorax, I never leave I just warn people about internet trolls and give advice.”

Yeah I know it’s pretty rough. Except for the line about being the lorax (I’m hilarious). But this is a good example of the balance I was trying (and am sometimes still trying) to achieve in my cover letters and interviews.

When I was job hunting, I was called in for a lot of interviews. And when I say a lot, it was probably over 50 in a 6 month period. I won’t say this made me good at being interviewed – if I had improved at interviewing over that time, it probably wouldn’t have taken me so long to find a job. But I did learn a lot about the dynamics of relationships as well as the odd ritual of meeting strangers for 30 minutes, telling them all your hopes, dreams, and failures, all with the knowledge and fear that they alone hold your future in their hands hanging over your head.

Mostly I think I wasn’t particularly good at interviews because they are a lot like taking an oral test, and I am not a great test taker. But interviewing is also very much like dating. It’s a test of compatibility and wit and resourcefulness. It is about something more then just being good on paper. And if you don’t perform, your future is affected–maybe not majorly, but a potential life path is now closed.

Much like dating, in pretty much all the interviews I went on, I could usually tell whether my interviewer was “into me” or not. I remember leaving one particularly fast-paced meeting for a publicity assistant position with Penguin Young Readers; when my interviewer left me at the elevator bank, I caught her eyes and the look she gave me was such that I knew immediately I wasn’t getting invited back. But along the same lines, the two interviews I had for the job I currently hold were some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, no doubt resulting in my hire.

Good interviews, like good dates, are a result of a connection, and that’s hard to make when you’re a little bit terrified during the whole process. One needs to be cool, but not too laid back, focused and determined, but not over bearing– I usually just wanted to get my words out in the correct order, let alone be fabulously funny while doing so.

This of course all stems back to my desire to be liked. I always came out of those conversations a little flummoxed, a little anxious, but ultimately hopeful. And though I had my fair share of disappointments, the only way to get what I wanted was to get back on the horse, and know that my soulmate of a job could be just around the corner.

Image Source: http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/I-see-that-in-college-you-got-along-equally-well-with-the-jocks-and-the-New-Yorker-Cartoon-Prints_i8544944_.htm

Dentists

My least favorite place is the dentist. I imagine purgatory to be a dentist’s waiting room with the pungent smell of fluoride and the high hum of the drill in the background. Ominous picture right? It’s not that I have a phobia of the dentist, I just find the whole experience overwhelmingly uncomfortable. There are very few things, which aren’t food, that I want in my mouth.

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Through a series of unfortunate events, I’ve recently found myself sitting in the dentist chair, the horrible paper bib hanging by a cold chain around my neck, looking at a tray of scary looking tools and brushes. My dentist and I were going over my x-rays, and she began to interrogate me about my eating habits. “Do you eat a lot of carbs? A lot of sugars? Chocolate? Do you drink a lot of Diet Coke?” Not gonna lie, I felt personally attacked. I mean really, does it look like I have the body of someone who regulates their diet? Absolutely not.

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You see, it was just explained to me that not only do I have six cavities, but I also grind my teeth at night and will now have to start using a mouth guard. She explained how there were many more visits to her chair in the future. I don’t think you can quite understand the depths of my despair.

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I had also recently made the unfortunate discovery that my current insurance plan doesn’t cover fillings. For the past few weeks, I’ve tried to hunt down the most cost effective place to pay to have someone spend forty five minutes staring into the back of my throat, while physically assaulting me with the weapon of their choice. And along the way, I learned that a tooth has five sides (each of which can have its own individual caviety) and gums have the habit of receding like hairlines. But I found a place and resigned myself to getting stabbed with Novocain accompanied by a lecture.

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There’s nothing quite like getting a filling. You’re very aware of what’s happening to you, every twist and poke and prod, but it’s unnerving feeling nothing but the pressure of the tools.  You just feel this weird vibrating, as you’re staring up at two people, and your trying really hard to not make eye contact or make it awkward. You try closing your eyes, but then you’re forced to open them because the dentist is holding up the mirror, making you stare at your gaping tooth, saying, “No really, you really fucking damaged your teeth. See?? SEE?!”

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This of course could have been avoided had I flossed, says my dentist. She asked me if I flossed and how often; I replied maybe twice a week and gave me the most disdainful look I have ever received, saying twice a day is a goal I should aim for. I personally felt this was uncalled for considering most of us don’t floss at all, let alone everyday (don’t lie to me, and don’t lie to god).

But I can’t help but think she may have a point.