February 17, 2004

Red? Green?

I take back whatever I said before. I've decided that copyeditors are in fact like the main character in Gogol's "The Overcoat". They are so caught up in the littlest details that they completely forget everything else. They are a collection of precise and correct marks without any awareness that there could be an underlying meaning.

The class never really goes anywhere because people are too intent on asking which color pencil is really the best color for correcting mistakes--really one color must be better than another, and what sort of eraser should you use? Will anything really completely erase a stray mark? No, really what color pencil is preferred? What do copyeditors usually use? Red? Blue? Green?

The thing is, it's not like class really has anywhere to go anyway. It's just like Driver's Ed. Not enough material to fill all the hours, so there are lots of dull silent moments when it seems like the teacher is expecting one of us to jump up and take over the teaching, because she sure as hell has run out of things to mumble on about. The good news is we always get out early. I have the feeling that, for me, it will turn out just like Driver's Ed did, completely fruitless.

Posted by at 10:33 PM

February 3, 2004

Little Devils

The other day I had a very fascinating anthropological lunch hour. I work around the west villiage where it's almost impossible to find a grilled cheese or a run of the mill tuna sandwich, every lunch place is all roasted vegetables and goat cheese with sundried tomatoes.

One such sandwich shop is located right next door to a private school. All the rich little New York kids invade this place around noon. On Monday there was a row of 6th grade girls eating by the window. They all had long brown hair were chattering at a startilingly high pitch, they kept yelling back and forth, saying things like "Is cancer contagious?"
"No, it's not contagioius."
"Aids is contagious."
"No it isn't!"
"But it's a sexually transmitted disease, you can give it to someone else by having sex with them!"
"Yeah, but it isn't contagious, you can't get it from sharing a drink!"

After a few minutes a hunched over girl wearing an oversized pink jacket, carrying a book in hand shuffled in. She put her money up on the counter without saying a word. The man handed her a blueberry muffin and she sat down at the same table as the girls, she remained completely silent and the other girls didn't seem to acknowledge her presence. She opened her book and began to read while absently munching on the muffin.

I noticed that she was reading a Sammy Keyes book. It's a mystery series about a tomboyish 12 year old detective. Unfortunately it's a horribly written series, nothing like the fabulous Harriett the Spy. It was very interesting watching these girls. They are one of our target demographics, we spend all day working on books for these kids, but we never see the kids themselves.

Eventually the girls had to get back to class. They all left except for the odd girl and two others. One of the brown haired girls who had a particularly squeaky voice said "I want another cookie" and she handed her friend a dollar. The other girl went up to the counter. "Here!" she said, flinging the money at the counter man. "You want a cookie?" He asked.
"No, two cookies." she shouted.
"Two, then I need another dollar from you."
"No, I already gave it to you!"
"Before!" The man thought about this for a minute.
"No you didn't," he said, meanwhile the other girl was trying to sneak behind the counter, "hey, get out of there" he exclaimed.
"I did, I did, I put it in there," the first girl said gesturing toward the tip jar. At this point the counterman didn't really know what to do, so he just gave in and let the girl have two cookies. The odd girl finally stopped reading, she tentatively approached one of the brown haired girls. "Hi Melissa," she said, "how are you."
"Hi Jenny," the brown haired girl yelled back quickly turning away and sort of leaning into her friend. The brown haired girls continued to figet around and chatter as their cookies were being heated up in the microwave. The odd girl stood nearby, not saying anything more, just waiting in case someone got the unexpected urge to say something to her. Frankly it was painful to watch.

Although I hate to admit it I can sympathize with this odd girl. I once had a very similar experience at one of lunch meetings for assistants. Occasionally they have workshops on various elements of the company and they serve pizza. After the workshop ended a few assistants stayed on finishing eating. No one was left at my end of the table, so I made a half assed attempt to join the conversation a few girls were having. I knew one of them, so I figured she would at least say hello.

I moved down a few chairs and gave a little half wave. They continued talking as if they didn't see me. I didn't know what to do, so I just sat there, a few seats away silently eating pizza while they chatted. I kept trying to find that little conversational in, but nothing was coming to me. The closest I got was to join their giggiling with a few awkward, uninvited chuckles. They pretended not to hear. We all finished at the same time and I ended up trailing behind them down the hall as I returned to my desk. It's moments like this I miss Sarah Lawrence.

Posted by at 10:50 PM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2004

The Armpit of America: Not So Bad

On the way to New Jersey yesterday my co-workers and I recgonized that it is not the most choice place to go. My boss said that she and her ex-husband taught their 5 year old son to claim he'd never been if anyone should ask.

I think it surprised us all a bit when it turned out to be a pretty fun. We arrived at 4 and figured we'd be leaving around 6, but we all stayed on till midnight. We cooked and played a board game and drank lots of white wine.

Beforehand the senior editor said she'd pictured it being like The Big Chill, and it sort of was. The group of us cooking and sipping wine and wearing sweaters while oldies played. Normally such a situation would make me scoff at the the yuppie scum they were turning me into, but it was actually pretty quant. Mostly I gained some real insight into the lives of my co-workers without anyone resorting to any of those uncomfortable prying questions that I hate so much.

I think that when I go back to work on Monday I won't feel quite so out of place anymore.

Posted by at 1:44 PM

January 24, 2004

New Jersey Adventure

Lately I've really been neglecting my blog due to my computer problems. I just remembered that the last time it was working I spilled a glass of water and some splashed on the computer, lots splashed on the keyboard. I dried it off and figured it was fine, because it showed no signs of injury. I guess I was wrong.

I'm about leave for a little trip into the wild of New Jersey with my co-workers. Yes, I see them all week and now on a Saturday too, somehow I feel ok about it though. It's been a while since I took a road trip and I guess I'm itching to go anywhere, besides it's a chance to see the home of my boss and the associate editor. I'm very curious.

Posted by at 2:02 PM

January 10, 2004

Dr. Z

Well, I didnít write while I was at work today, because I was super busy all the way until 7:30. Iíve discovered that in the corporate universe a standard way to make youíre superiors pity you is to act like you are so stressed out and you could crack at any moment. They probably wonít lessen youíre work load much, but when they ask you to do things they will be very very cautious about it. "I know how much work there is, but if you get a second, and don't stress about this, but when you have a spare moment could you?"

Posted by at 1:13 AM

January 6, 2004

Good Night

Today was the most stressful day ever and involved having to go out to buy $50 worth of Hersheyís kisses for my job from the most excessivly trendy candy store ever. It wasnít even that many Hersheyís kisses and it made me tense and depressed even though it wasnít my money. I had a good night though. I cooked and ate ice cream and sang along to songs Amanda made up on the guitar. I really canít say anything more than that because I must sleep.

Posted by at 12:15 AM | Comments (1)

December 19, 2003

Xmas Feasting

Yesterday was the greatest workday ever. My whole department left at 2:30 in the afternoon to go see The Lord of the Rings and have dinner. The best part was that it was all on the company charge! Rather than having a company wide Christmas party the various departments go out on their own and the company pays for it.

Unfortunately I was incredibly bored by the movie, And yes, Iíve seen all three, and yes I think Legolos is hot, but itís a reluctant attraction formulated as a result of the lack of any other even remotely good looking boy characters. I actually found myself thinking that if Brad Pitt were in the movie I might be entertainedóthatís how bored I was.

Through much of it I found myself fretting over a phone call I forgot to make before leaving work, my attention would drift back to the movie and Iíd be momentarily confused before remembering that there really are no twists to the plot: the freaky deformed guys are bad and the freaky not-deformed guys are good, after overcoming innumberable and somewhat repetitive obsticals the freaky not-deformed guys win.

The annoying thing is I'm probably going to get tons of hateful comments for that little rant.

Our dinner was the really amazing part. We went to City Crab and I ordered the special with monk fish over mushroom risotto. It was delicious. Iíve never had monk fish before, though, and the huge bone in the middle was a little creepy to my mostly vegetarian sensibilities. I also had two beers and salad. We ordered desert too, I had crŤme brulee with rice pudding and honey. It was so good, afterward I felt the sort of pleasant euphoria that can only come from an intensely satisfying meal.

It turns out the reason my company doesnít have a big Christmas party is because of the trouble that arose last year when, for the first time in many years, they held one. They invited everyone and even bused people in from the warehouse in New Jersey. Apparently these warehouse folks decided to really tie one on and went all out at the free bar. And why shouldn't they? It's not like they'll have to face up to it at the office on Monday, they stumble back to New Jersey at the end of the night and all is forgotten. Turns out there were so many people passed out in the bathroom that the company decided to never throw a Christmas party ever again.

Instead we get a week off, which we all agree is 1000xís better anyway. Thank you warehouse folks! If they had thrown a party this year I would have been there on that bathroom floor with you.

Posted by at 5:11 PM | Comments (3)

December 12, 2003

Queen Bee

Today the company big-wigs are in the office. Weíve been forewarned that today does not count as a casual Friday. We should look presentable and neaten our desks. Everyone is to be at their stations and looking busy between 2 and 3 oíclock. The email implied that this behavior isnít exactly mandatory, but that we should all care enough to be personally concerned with the news.

The warning message was sent by the assistant to the department president: the queen bee. It is strange how there are hierarchies even among assistants. Girls like her seem like theyíve been bred for the role, like Geishas, they are masters at the simple art of service. Itís fitting that her boss looks like the old fashioned version of a company superior. He wears suspenders and his grey-streaked hair pushed back in an almost pompadour. He was a sturdy booming voice that it seems was made for announcements. When he stands up to give his quarterly report he leans back on his heals and tucks his thumbs under his suspenders, like he is feeling very successful and pleased with himself.

His assistant is youthful, pert, and immaculate. You canít help but think there might be something between them, or at least that he wants there to be. I imagine this is why the very occupation of secretary was invented. When heís got some pretty young thing trailing around after him, scribbling down his every word it automatically bolsters the illusion of a manís power.

Really and truly one of the key attributes to a good secretary is a tidy and pleasing appearance. The queen bee has a short, sophisticated blond bob, good posture, an expensive wardrobe. Her desk is decorated with a quirky yet stylish lamp. She takes notes at lightening speed.

How do you become this person? You canít work up to it. No oneís goal is to be the very best assistant. Youíve got to be predestined for such a thing. Itís like being the most popular. No matter what youíre told, it isnít something you can earn; itís something youíre born with. Same as having star quality.

Posted by at 3:46 PM

December 1, 2003

Wanting a window

I had a dream last night that my boss came into my cubicle she was frantic and distraught and said to me, "I... I just need some supplies!" I felt guilty, like when you've disappointed your mother. I thought to myself, "maybe I haven't done enough to organize the supplies." I felt bad because she's such a nice boss and asks for so little.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about working eight hours a day, forty hours a week. It seems really excessive to me. I spend a lot of time sitting in my little grey cubicle fantasizing about the day when I will have my own office with a window. It's not that I want more money or get a higher position, I'm happy where I am, especially considering I've just started. All I want is a window so that I'll have something new to stare at and an office so that no one will see me surfing the internet.

Last week this dream of a window started making me depressed. A widow. Who cares about windows? Have I already lost all my ideals? Am I just another dumb cog in the machine-- complacent and simple minded? Am I really going to sit in this chair for the rest of my life?

Sometimes at work I feel like I'm back in highschool. Like I'm that wierd girl who forgot to wash her hair and get the sleep out of her eyes. I stalk through the hallways slumped over and too bored and shy to talk to any of the other assistants. I always go to lunch alone.

But you know what? I like to eat alone. I told my friend's mom about wanting a window and she didn't think it was bad. Sometimes it's good to have simple wishes. And then I read Harriett the Spy.

It turns out Harrett the Spy is one of the greatest books ever and I never read it. I remeber picking it up when I was 10 or 11 and proptly putting it back down because the beginning is so goddamn boring. Whoever edited this classic piece of Y/A literature failed make the simpilest of revisions, chapter two clearly should have come before chapter one.

Well, it's probably all for the best because reading Harriett saved me this Sunday on my awful ride back to New York on the Chinatown bus. Harriett made me realize that it's good to be the weird girl at work, because everyone else is totally lame and spends all weekend playing bridge and manipulating their friends. I want to be just like Harriett. When her parents try to tell her that school is her job she just yells at them, No, she is a writer! Writing is her job! No one can keep her from her notebook and even in the end, when she learns empathy she doesn't stop bitching, and telling the truth, and writing it all down.

Posted by at 9:24 PM | Comments (2)