Sunday, December 6, 2009

Back Home

I spent Thanksgiving week between Dallas, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana, my two hometowns. My mom and her parents live in Shreveport, which is where I spent most of my childhood. My dad is in Dallas, where my younger brother and I visited every other weekend, Thanksgiving, Christmas and half of summer vacation growing up and where I eventually went to college at SMU. So I have pretty strong ties to both cities and, even though both of my parents were awesome enough to come visit me up here, by the time Thanksgiving rolled around I hadn’t been to either home in six months. It was beginning to get rough.

I’d started craning my neck to follow lone sets of cowboy boots spotted in the Times Square tourist crowd, hanging around bad New York barbeque restaurants just to taste the smell, and gulping down New York’s rare and awful version of “Sweet Tea” which, for the sweet tea connoisseurs in the room, is made all wrong. I’m pretty sure they don’t even boil the sugar in with the tea bag. I know. I was in a bad place. Call it Southern withdrawal, or whatever you want. It wasn’t pretty.

I had a much-needed great time in Texas with my Dad and my college friends. I loved having the chance to see their new off-campus apartments and new off-campus lives as well. It’s nuts how fast the time has flown, as cliché as that is to say. Sometimes the truth’s a little cliché.

I also finally had the chance to get my haircut in Dallas, which I hadn’t done the whole six months I’d been in New York. I know what you’re thinking—don’t they have hairdressers in New York? Well, I wouldn’t know, I haven’t looked for any, because they for sure don't have Sharin. People in Dallas following my blog should seriously give her a call (972-898-3656). In addition to being an amazingly talented hairdresser who sometimes styles for photo shoots (nbd…), she’s super fun and very cool. She’s been cutting my hair for four years now and I won’t go anywhere else, which may seem silly now that I live on the East coast but, I’ll make it work. Even if I get a once a year haircut at Thanksgiving. Worth it.

But, I digress.

To get to my mom's for Thanksgiving, I drove the 3 hour trip from Dallas to Shreveport with my 20 (nearly 21!) year old brother that we’ve driven more times than I can remember.We got to do the whole big Thanksgiving family thing with my mom, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. It was great to see everyone, and just to be in the city I grew up in and drive on the streets I learned to drive on, past my old elementary, middle, and high schools and to pick up a Humphrey Yogurt from Counter Culture, something I can’t get anywhere else in the country… mmm.

Major nostalgia ensued and I was worried that it would stay with me on my trip back to New York and beyond into my life up here, but thankfully, it hasn’t. Nostalgia is best in small doses. Too much is a dangerous cocktail that can only end in ill-advised phone calls or a treacherous trip down “What if” Lane.

As great as it was to have time at home, I’m glad to be back in the city. Just signed another six-month lease with my landlady so, officially here to stay.

And today I took a walk to Strawberry Fields in Central Park in hopes of hanging with the hippies, but I think it was too cold for them because all I saw were a bunch of open mouthed tourists and an unofficial-looking group collecting money with a sign that said “end poverty.” I suspect that the only poverty they were ending was their own.

Still, it was a gorgeous day and the lack of hippies and presence of vague and questionable charities couldn’t stop me from enjoying the new book I’m reading, Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames. Hilarious. Pick up a copy if you get the chance.

Hope everyone else’s Thanksgiving was fantastic!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

H&M Partners with Jimmy Choo... really?

The consequences of refusing to pay a monthly cable bill and only getting media through the internet have finally caught up with me. Today, on a whim, I moseyed down to my local H&M on 5th Ave. and 51st St. in search of some cheap knits and possibly a cute new pair of flats— completely emotionally unprepared for what I was about to walk into.

Today is the launch of the apparently long awaited Jimmy Choo for H&M clothing line. And everyone in New York City but me knew about it and was out for blood.

My first thought when I walked in, “Is that a spotlight?” It was. A theater style spotlight circled the room erratically, and I’m sure it was meant to make the launch that much more glam, but when it fell on me I couldn’t help but feel like a prisoner caught trying to escape.

The first floor looked as if someone had vomited black and purple all over it, a person who had also eaten a ton of sequins (probably the cause of all the vomiting). The world was all leather, suede, zippers, sequins, and studs. And people. People everywhere grabbing sequined tops and dresses like they might never see clothes again.

It only took me a moment to realize that I was in some bizarre, alternate universe where my tried and true provider of cheap clothing merchandise, H&M, had partnered with the impossibly expensive, completely inaccessible, hopelessly coveted designer brand Jimmy Choo. In short, this was hell.

I could have walked right out the door, and almost did. But my curiosity got the better of me. I also couldn’t shake a nagging sense of indignation. I had come to this store in the expectation of inexpensive winter wear and I was going to leave with said inexpensive winter wear! This influx of designer junkies looking for a cheap (by their standards) fix would not stop me from shopping in my store previously marketed to people like me who couldn’t afford to blow $100 on a coin purse.

So I browsed. The Jimmy Choo merchandise was everywhere. I quickly assessed that none of it was under $80 and most of it was over $150. I did not even look at the shoes. Ok, I tried, but it was impossible. The entire area was roped off like a mine field and women were lined up to the front of the store to wait for an opportunity to enter the restricted area for a maximum of 20 minutes to shop. Every few minutes or so I could hear someone yell over the music blasting on the speakers, “8 more minutes ladies!”

Accepting the reality that I could not afford a single item displayed on the first floor for the line launch, I went up the escalator to the next floor where they’d shoved their regular merchandise. As usual, H&M’s ability to provide cute clothing for ridiculously low prices did not disappoint.

At the checkout my total came to less than $45 for two sweaters and a bra. A feat in purchasing women’s wear by anybody’s standards. But the victory was not as sweet as I’d remembered in the past.

I’d come to H&M with a goal, and left more than accomplishing it, so why did I feel so unsatisfied clutching my plastic H&M bag next to those suckers with their bright purple Jimmy Choo by H&M eco-friendly paper bags?

In truth, I didn’t even like any of the Jimmy Choo merch they were selling. I thought it was a little ugly, never having been a fan of see-through silk, leather with studs, and too-large zippers that serve no real purpose.

Ok, I’m not being fair. From what I could see over the eager line of women, the shoes, true to their reputation, were lovely.

They were also clearly spring and summer shoes. No winter boots or booties. No close toed pumps. Nothing I could wear for at least six months.

So in short, there was nothing there for me to even covet. I wouldn’t have wanted to buy anything even if I had the money. I knew this, and yet the nagging, undefined disappointment persisted.

I pinpointed what was bothering me on my walk home in the rain (it’s really been raining all day, I’m not just adding this for dramatic effect… although it kind of works, right?)

H&M is a place I come to shop when I want basic staples. Sweaters. Shirts. Sweatpants. It’s not where I go when I want designer jeans, or a good purse. Then I go to a consignment shop or Fileman’s Basement or Marshall’s or Century 21 or any number of discount stores.

But anywhere I go, I avoid the source of these designer duds like the plague. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than walking around in a nearly empty store looking at clothes I can’t afford while the sales person glares at me like I’m about to take a $300 dress and stuff it in my pocket. For me, entering a designer store is a little like subjecting myself to emotional assault.

And today, H&M lured me in like the wolf in grandma’s clothing and ate me whole!

Ok, overly dramatic strange fairy tale metaphors aside, I went to H&M and was confronted with exactly the lifestyle I shop there to avoid. And this Jimmy Choo madness seems there to stay.

Now where will I go to shop comfortably in my poverty?

Tsk tsk, H&M. Tsk tsk.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Catch a Thief

The first month I lived in New York I was robbed. Don’t get too excited. The theft didn’t involve my purse, wallet, cell phone, or anything half so valuable or even as inconvenient. No, the item stolen from me was a plastic drawer. I guess if you want to get technical about it, it was a plastic drawer with a set of bed lifts inside it.

On a shopping trip for my new apartment, I bought the plastic drawers (there were two initially) from a Bed Bath and Beyond on 6th Avenue and 18th Street along with a set of bed lifts. My plan was to maximize the space in my 9x4 sq ft bedroom by using the bed lifts to raise the bed so the drawers fit underneath for extra storage.

Sheets were kind of pricey at BB&B, so I decided to take a look at what the TJ Maxx one floor up had to offer. I purchased the drawers and immediately regretted my decision to buy them first. They were bulky had to be carried by makeshift rope handles the guy at the door made for me and the other idiots who didn’t shop for such things online and have them delivered to their apartments like the rest of New York.

It was an amateur shopper’s mistake, like purchasing shoes before clothes and realizing you have to lug the heavy shoe boxes around the mall all day or make an extra trip back to your car. Having no choice at this point, I carried the drawers up the escalator and toward the back of TJ Maxx where they keep the bedding.

Then I made a second amateur shoppers mistake. I set them down to browse.

Periodically, I checked back to see that my plastic drawers had not wandered off on their own accord. To be honest, it was completely inconceivable to me that anyone would take one. They were pretty cumbersome. (And plastic drawers!)

After a few minutes, I guess I became engrossed in queen size thread counts. Then I couldn’t decide on the sky blue or spring green. I was still mulling it over when I looked up and noticed, one of my drawers was gone.

At first I wasn’t worried. Some shopper had moved over it to fit her cart through the narrow isle, probably. But a quick search behind the shelves told me that wasn’t what had happened. Then I thought, maybe one of the workers saw it and decided it was a bomb threat. This is New York, after all. You can’t just leave unsecured packages in public places. They’re a security violation.

So I asked one of the employees.

“A plastic drawer?” she asked. I’m sure she thought she must have misheard me.

“Yeah, like this one.” I gestured to the remaining twin.

“Nuh uh. Haven’t seen it.”

“Well, will you let me know if you do?”

“Uh huh,” and she went back to sticking price labels on duvet covers. I felt less than reassured.

At this point I was pretty much convinced the drawer had vanished into thin air. That was the only conceivably plausible explanation for what had happened. Like so many socks in the dryer, my drawer was just gone. Not knowing what else to do, I went back and got the sheets. Spring green.

The line at TJ Maxx, like the line of every place you go in New York, was horrendous. I think I waited fifteen to twenty minutes to buy those sheets. I’ve as long to buy toothpaste at the pharmacy. Sometimes groceries take half an hour, and I wonder if maybe I’m actually in communist Russia, but I digress. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, I’ve purchased my sheets and head back down the escalator carrying my lone drawer and feeling more than a little bewildered.

Should I go buy another drawer? Should I make do with one? What about the bed lifts—now those were gone, too. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow to call the store. Surely they will have found it by then…

It was at that moment standing at the bottom of the escalator and trying to decide whether or not to go back into BB&B, that I saw her.

Riding from the same TJ Maxx at the top of the escalator was very nice looking woman. She was wearing heels and expensive looking clothes. She was in her early to mid thirties, she was average height, brunette, white, and she was carrying my drawer!

Ok, at this point, I wasn’t 100% that this was really my drawer. In fact, I was pretty sure this was going to be one of those situations where I make a rash judgment call and end up feeling pretty dumb about it later, like in the movies when someone sees her boyfriend out at dinner with another woman, runs up and throws alcoholic beverages at them only to find out it’s his sister or cousin or oddly young looking mother.

At the same time, I had to know! Was this nice looking lady was secretly a low-down drawer thief?

“Excuse me,” I stopped her to talk a few feet in front of the escalator. She paused impatiently and looked at me a way I’d seen many New Yorkers look. Like I was about to ask her for directions and she was going to give them to me, but refused to be happy about it.


At that moment, I almost lost my nerve. I had very little to begin with. I mean, what were the odds that this woman had really stolen my drawer? She didn’t look the type. She was in heels, for one thing, which meant she cabbed it a lot of places. That, and judging by the labels on her clothes, I could tell she definitely wasn’t hurting for drawer money.

I was just about to mumble a “Never mind” when I glanced down and saw…. My bed lifts. The bed lifts I’d purchased with the drawer and stuck inside because they’d be easier to carry that way.

True, there was a chance that this woman also had need of a plastic drawer and also purchased said plastic drawer at BB&B and also heading to TJ Maxx afterward in about the same time frame as I. But there was less of a chance that she ALSO purchased some bed lifts and stuck them inside said drawer. This was definitely MY PLASTIC DRAWER!

What happened afterwards was truly one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.

I asked to see her receipt.

“I’m sorry?”

“Your receipt. You stole that from me.”

Of course, she said she didn’t know what I was talking about. I gestured to my remaining drawer and showed her my receipt which said I’d purchased two drawers and the bed lifts, the same ones that were in her drawer. Now if this was really her drawer, where was HER receipt? This is where it gets weird.

She didn’t have a receipt. Because this drawer wasn’t hers. It was her cousin’s. She was just holding it for her cousin. Her cousin bought a drawer but there must have been a mix-up and her cousin must have grabbed mine by mistake. Gee, she wondered what happened to her cousin’s drawer.

“I don’t believe you.” I wasn’t sure who was speaking at this point, because it didn’t feel or sound like me.

“No, really, my cousin—“

“Look, security’s up at the top of the escalator. Do I have to call them?”

“Ok, fine. But still I don’t know what happened to my cousin’s drawer.”

In the cab back to my place, I was shaking. Not really in fear, just, the adrenaline and the ridiculousness of the thing.

I mean, the lady was batshit crazy. And I’d just tried to reason with her. A part of me wondered if that made me crazy, too.

She had the gall to take a drawer and not only that, but to walk around the same store with it for twenty minutes while I bought my sheets, just browsing… Then to lie the way she did. Completely straight faced.

It’s unnerving when people lie to you even though you both know, beyond any doubt, the truth of the situation. It’s disorienting. By the time she left I was half convinced her cousin had asked her to hold onto it for her! Looking back, I know that’s ridiculous, but the look on her face… I’m almost sure that by the end of our conversation she nearly believed it herself.

In a city this big, it’s a mix. You have your good people – I saw a guy once lunge forward savior-style to toss a woman her dropped glasses through the subway door right before they closed. But then again, you also have your crazy kleptomaniacs that’ll steal a plastic drawer from under your nose.

And finally, you have the guy dressed in an Elmo suit in Times Square that falls somewhere in between…

Monday, October 5, 2009

Apparently Employment Wasn't Just a Myth

So, I got a job. A real one. With benefits. And vacation days. In other words, a big person job!

I won’t go into too much detail here just to be safe, but it’s with a book publishing house and my title is Production Assistant. I started October 1st and have been too busy dancing on rainbows of happiness to write an update until now.

Don’t worry. I’m not obnoxious enough to go off on a tangent with advice for people still searching— I know it’s a crapshoot. We’re all doing the same things. All I can say is, best of luck to anyone still hunting!

And, to those of you who think this means I’ll stop spamming you with fb notifications about new posts… Ha.

My job is very entry level and as such pays very little, especially when compared to the cost of living here. So, I am still poor and in New York, shamelessly self-promoting my writing. It turns out book production has very little to do with that, unless you count handwriting labels on file tabs.

Coming soon: stories about the Union Square sk8ter boyz, Central Park celebrity sightings and how I’m going to survive The Coldest Winter in a Decade in my H&M pea coat.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Interviews: a necessary evil.

Last week I had an interview for an Editorial Assistant position with a magazine—my first. Over the course of three months in NYC I’ve had several informational interviews with magazine companies (more for networking than securing an actual job), a handful of real interviews with textbook publishers, and an interview for a PRish magazine job which, after taking a look at my resume full of editorial internships, my interviewer decided I did not really want.

“Your passion appears to be editing,” my interviewer concluded. “No,” I wanted to tell her, “Actually, my passion is securing financial stability.”

Needless to say, I did not get any of those jobs.

But this interview was different from the rest. It was both a job I really wanted and knew I could do well. The position was a full-time, temporary with the possibility of becoming full-time permanent. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but in an industry where the main publishers are all on hiring freezes, well, I was salivating for it.

I went into the interview feeling nervous, but still, pretty confident. The editor I interviewed with knew my internship supervisor from last summer. I spent most of the interview telling her about what an awesome job I did with HOME, hoping my old boss would later back me up on it. Walking out, I felt like it had gone pretty well… until I got halfway down the hallway, heard the door shut behind me and lock automatically, and realized I’d left my purse in her office.

My first reaction? Leave it. Just. Go.

I quickly realized that plan would never work. She’d see my ID in my wallet and it would be game over. So, I did the only thing I could do. I waited for someone to exit so I could get through the door. Thankfully, I remembered the way back to her office. I knocked, entered when she answered, and made a joke about it. Silly me, forgot my purse, so yeah, that responsibility thing I was telling you I’m so good with…ha.ha.ha.

I felt like I might die by the time I made it outside the building.

But I didn’t. Instead, I went home and wrote her a thank you email, certain I’d never get a response. To my amazement, almost instantly I received a message via blackberry telling me it was nice to have met with me to and, to my interviewer’s credit, containing no mention whatsoever of the forgotten purse.

Heartened (I’ve always wanted an excuse to use that word!), that weekend I completed an Edit Test for the job. It required I pitch six story ideas for two specific sections of the magazine, write two 150 word articles on my chosen topics, write an example blog post for their website and edit a terrible 500 word article. So, a lot of work.

She responded to my edit test with a request for two references. I listed my supervisors from HOME, and felt, as I always do at this stage of the interviewing process, that I very nearly had it in the bag.

Over the course of the next few days, however, I became less and less certain. She told me she would let me know her decision by Friday. Still, I checked my email obsessively the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday prior. When I didn’t hear from her by 6 pm Friday (apparently you can’t will an email into your inbox with mind bullets, no matter how many times you click the “refresh” button and think, be there) feeling something like a girl whose date’s just blown her off for the senior prom day of, I decided to give it a rest over the weekend. In the back of my mind, I thought, just maybe, I’d wake up to my offer email Monday morning and, in the style of grand lovers’ quarrels, all would be forgiven in the end.

When Monday came and the only email I’d received all weekend was some warning from my former college about an outbreak of swine flu on campus, I sent her a message just to see what the status was. Again to her credit, she responded immediately.

Hi Leigh,

Thanks for checking back. I’ve actually just offered the job to a former intern and she has accepted. Thank you for taking the time to interview and for doing such a nice job on the edit test. Best of luck finding a job you love.


Leigh’s Interviewer

I thought I’d write a little about this experience just to present a view of what it’s like looking for jobs up here. That was my fifth interview in New York and the experience is always the same: hellish. It’s nerve wracking. There are moments of both extreme hope and doubt. And the market is nearly impossible.

Still, I’m hopeful and currently have two jobs that, combined, pay the bills. And the weather’s pretty rockin’ up here now—a cool 65 degrees. Could be worse.

How are things going with the job hunt where you guys are? Any terrible interviews? Or great ones? Drop me a line and let me know what’s up!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sherry Was a Waitress

When my initial plan to immediately find a full-time job in New York didn’t work out, I decided to try waiting tables. Going door-to-door I came to a Mexican restaurant in World Wide Plaza called Blockheads with a sock monkey as its mascot and $3 margaritas all day, every day. The hostesses were having what looked like a very important conversation with one another, but I eventually got one’s attention and, ignoring her glare, asked to speak to a manager. What for? She wanted to know. I told her I wanted to ask about job opportunities, and she pointed and said “Alex is in there.”

So, I walked into the restaurant looking for anyone I thought could pass for my imagined version of Alex, or, preferably, a man holding a sign saying “Alex”. In the back of the room stood an older, Hispanic looking man. Unfortunately he was not holding a sign but, taking I guess, I approached him.

“Alex?” Yes. What did I want? “Are you hiring?” Without replying he handed me an application, which I sat down to fill out.

Here’s where I should probably note that I had absolutely no previous experience waiting tables. What I had was three publishing internships and two years working at Chic-fil-a in high school, a restaurant that only exists up here in the NYU dining hall (trust me, I’ve checked). When I handed back the application I’d listed all of those things and, as with every other restaurant I’d applied for, was certain I wouldn’t get the job.

Alex sat down and took what can hardly be called a glance at my application, then asked “So, how’s your experience.”

Except that’s not what I heard. Don’t ask me how or why, but through his accent, which, in my defense, is pretty thick, what I heard was “So, how’s your Spanish?”

“Well, I’m from Texas so I guess I know a little Spanish. Como estas? Hola. You know, the basics."

He stared.

“How’s your experience,” he asked again, enunciating the last word as if he were teaching it to a two year old hearing it for the first time. I looked for a trace, a hint, of a smile to cling to like some sort of life raft. His mouth was set in a straight, straight line.

“I worked in a fast food restaurant for a couple of years.”

He wrote something down on my application and asked someone for a piece of paper. Then, to my complete and utter amazement, he wrote down an address where I could go to fill out payroll paperwork and told me to show up the next day at 4pm wearing all black.

When I did, I met him upstairs to put my name in the system and there was my application on his desk. He left me for a minute to get something and I had a chance to read what he’d written on top. It said, “Good?”

I’ve worked at Blockheads for nearly three months now and while I’ve had my hiccups (ripped my pants on a chair the first day – HIGH on the thigh--… I may or may not have spilled sangria all over a customer’s white skirt, and I’ve broken my fair share of beer bottles) with a 22% tip average, I think it’s safe to say that I passed the test. Despite what some of my coworkers say, I am not the worst waitress ever. Which, I feel, is something of an accomplishment.

Waiting tables is not an easy job. I’d never realized before how annoying people can be. A few tips for some of you restaurant frequenters out there—if you want water, ask for it with your drink, not after I’ve already brought drinks to the table, because that’s an extra trip for me and I have shit to do.

Also, I don’t mind if people order four shots of Tequila, just so long as they make sure that they can handle it because at the end of the night when I bring their bill they’d better not forget that’s how many shots they ordered. I can’t tell you the number of times I get a table saying “Oh, there’s no way we ordered that many drinks” Oh, yes there is. Because if you ordered them, I put them in the computer, and if I put them in the computer, they made them at the bar, and if they made them at the bar, I brought them out to your table, and if I brought them out to your table, you drank them. You did. Nobody else.

Ok, I’ll step down off my soap box now and admit there is one thing about my job I love—the people I work with. They’re pretty amazing. Everyone there has a dream he (or she)’s striving for so I work with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met. When we’re slow they sometimes put on mini Broadway shows or tell me about the latest screen play they’ve written or about the incredibly cool place they had their last job interview (Forbes Magazine, MTV, The Observer, etc.) I count myself as extremely lucky to have had the chance to meet these people and honestly at times they’re what keep me going.

So, parting words of advice: always tip your wait staff because even if they maybe didn’t give you your third diet coke refill, they work hard and oftentimes live entirely on shift meals, Starbucks and shots of Jameson.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Landladies and Handymen

My living situation in New York is unusual by Dallas standards. Most of my fellow graduate friends have gotten their own places or moved in with significant others. I, in the style of a college freshman, share a kitchen and bathroom with strangers.

I found my roommates on craigslist. They are both male and software engineers. They have things like health insurance and regular hours. I think I puzzle them.

But the place is great – it’s a half block from Times Square and came fully furnished with a bed, desk and a bookshelf. Granted the kitchen is missing a spatula and more than half of the dishware has some sort of chip or crack… but generally, it’s charming. And my roommates are hardly ever there. When they are, they’re very nice.

...then there’s my landlady. Let’s call her Laurie. And Laurie’s dad -- we’ll call him Laurie’s Dad the Handyman.

Laurie thinks it’s alright to drop by the apartment unannounced and pick up mail. Annoying? Yes. Unlivable? No. She usually comes by in the early afternoon. The only reason I know she’s been there is that her mail’s gone and sometimes my bedroom door is open? So I’ve started locking it. Problem solved.

Laurie’s Dad the Handyman, however, likes to drop by unannounced around 10 pm and just start fixing shit. Granted, the things he’s fixing are usually broken, but they aren’t things I’ve requested be fixed and I don’t see the need to fix them at night, when people are trying to watch trashy reality TV shows in peace.

Here’s the scene: I’m sitting in my room, watching The Bachelorette, drinking a glass of cheap Cabernet and eating a grilled cheese sandwich. So, loving life, when I hear a single knock followed immediately by the sound of someone unlocking the door.

I open my bedroom door to check, but I already know. It's Laurie’s Dad the Handyman.


“Oh. Hi. I thought you wouldn’t be home.”

He always says this, no matter what time of day it is. Then he surveys the door and says, “You guys have three locks on this door?”

That's incorrect. We have two. I tell him this and he nods and looks very concentrated.

“Got to fix the lock.”

In retrospect, I probably should have been more concerned with the fact that the man fixing my door lock couldn’t tell the number of locks in front of him, but Jillian Harris was about to divvy up roses in the other room, so I didn’t take much note.

I settle back into my room with my grilled cheese. Less than five minutes later, there’s a knock on the door that is NOT immediately followed by someone unlocking it. Realizing that Laurie’s Dad the Handyman has made the mistake of locking oneself out while trying to fix a lock, I pause my show, take a sip of wine, and head toward the door to let him in.

“One second,” I yell through the wood while I turn the lock. But it doesn’t turn.

“Can you turn the lock?”

I tell him I’m trying, but I can’t.

“You can’t?”

No, I tell him. I can’t; it’s not moving.

“Did you try turning the lock?” he asks a third time. I want to cry and laugh at the same time.

Yes. I’ve tried turning the lock. It’s not turning.

“Well,” he says, “that’s not good.”

And it dawns on me that Laurie’s Dad the Handyman has locked me in my own apartment. A feeling like panic sets in, but then quickly, and strangely, turns to curiosity. Taking away the uninteresting concluding solution to the problem – that Laurie’s Dad the Handyman calls a locksmith to let me out – what would I do if I were locked in my apartment for an indefinite amount of time? A series of questions run through my mind.

How much food do I have? About a week’s worth of grilled cheese and cereal. But only one bottle of wine.

What would I tell people at work? I could never tell them the truth. I’d have to go with something more believable, like a case of the chicken pox. Adult chicken pox would buy me at least two weeks.

Can I climb out the window? No. I’m seven stories up and not MacGyver.

Then panic sets back in and with it more questions.

How long will it take a locksmith to get here? Is that what he's doing on the other side of the door now, calling a locksmith? I don't hear him on the phone. Do locksmiths come at 10 o'clock at night or just crazy landladies' dads? What is he doing over there? Is he DOING anything?

Suddenly, Laurie's Dad the Handyman has an idea!

“Do you have any pliers?” A flash of brilliance.

Laurie keeps a tool box under the sink. I open it and on top is a shiny pair of pliers. Using the magic pliers of freedom I manhandle the lock until, yes, at last, it turns. Laurie’s Dad the Handyman enters without so much as an apology and proceeds to continue his work.

You’d think that after all that maybe Laurie’s Dad the Handyman would be discouraged, maybe call a locksmith to come fix the lock, but not him.

And you’d think that I, the near victim of house arrest, would take the opportunity to leave my apartment while I had the chance, breath in the New York night air and do something more exciting with my night than reheat my grilled cheese and finish my show. Not so.

I spent the rest of the evening in my room listening to Laurie’s Dad the Handy Man pitter around outside with the lock until he left. When I woke up the next day and tried the door, it worked perfectly. And a part of me was disappointed.

Parting question to you all:

If locked in your apartment/house/box/place of dwelling and unable to phone a locksmith, what’s your plan B?

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Economy Monster

Two and a half months ago I moved from Texas to New York with a BA in English and a pocket full of dreams. My master plan:

1) Get a job in publishing

2) Find my own place using the money made from recently acquired job in publishing

3) Write a Pulitzer Prize winning novel

4) Smile. Life is complete.

I know. Quite the cliché and more than a little naïve. But when I heard people talking about the “recession” second semester senior year, the word appeared just like that, in air quotes. It seemed as make believe as the monster under your bed or in your closet. Several interviews and no job later... I'm willing to consider the possibility of an Economy Monster.

So, in this blog I'm recording my story as a writer struggling to make it in New York (said with a fist-pump in the air!) Entries will range from laments about my continued failed efforts in this job market to crazy happenstances like my landlord locking me in my apartment. True story. Details TC.

Additionally, I’m shamelessly self-promoting in hopes of landing an online gig-- the only area in publishing not going down on a leaden ship. If for no other reason than to up my readership (no pun intended), it would be awesome if people made an effort to at least click on my new posts. Maybe a few hundred times, even. For funsies.

Oh, and if you leave a comment I will bake you a cookie. A virtual cookie, of course. Baked in a virtual stove. It will be virtually delicious :)