Category Archives: Publishing

I work in publishing.

Commodities

There’s a scene in the movie Office Space where our hero shows up to work late, only to flop a giant fish on his desk and begin to gut it.

Believe me when I tell you that I replay that scene in my head frequently, relishing his calm, easy where-with-all to debone that fucker on his pile of reports.

I thought about that scene today twice, reminding myself that the futility of life should not be determined by the frustration of your work. Work angst is such a spoiled, fucked up problem of the well-abled. It is practically a commodity, nearly a good as silver, almost as semi-precious as a gutted fish when you’re hungry.

Overwhelming

Chest pain like this isn’t normal but neither is my career history. Six different positions in six different years. The shortest, a handful of months at a famous fashion magazine, may have been the best. The longest, two and a half years at a lesser-known weekly indie rag, may have been just as good, but I was too underpaid and resentful to know it at the time.

The resentment is usually what causes my chest pain. The overwhelming fury paired with raw, youthful frustration.

I also developed an ache in my jaw, and a stiffness in my neck.

My boss — my most current of the lot — told me the other day I come off like a know-it-all. He said I don’t have to prove myself in meeting. I already got the job, he told me. Sometimes it’s more important to listen.

He’s right. Of course he’s right. I’m bitter, but I’m no idiot. If I was an idiot I wouldn’t let the anger creep up my throat. I wouldn’t pick at my fingernail beds in meetings, trying to shut myself up, trying to remind myself it’s just a job.

It is, after all, just a job. And the economy is rumored to be miserable for the unemployed. Which makes me, what, overemployed? Overpaid? Overwhelmed? Overfed? It’s just a job, don’t forget. I tell myself that over, and over again, smiling and nodding, willing the heat in my cheeks to fade, waiting for that pain in my chest to give.

Another thing.

And another thing, she said, a hand skimming slowly down her nylons, everyone is waiting for you to fuck up.

I quit.

My job, that is. I quit my job. Again. This time, for the perils of an ad agency and all the money and glory that comes when you watch too many episodes of Mad Men and the magazine publishers don’t—they really don’t—know how to paying a living wage. I’d like some Ikea furniture by the end of the year. I’d like to afford my drinking habit. Six months at a job isn’t so long, is it? It felt like ages. It felt bad. I’m in the business of ripping off band-aids. I’m retired from babysitting.

You Shouldn’t Always Get What You Want

The archetype of the ungettable man emerged in pop culture as the smoldering, cigarette-smoking Bad Boy on a bike who broke as many hymens as he did hearts. Eventually, he evolved into an emotionally unavailable man-child with the looks of Brad Pitt but the integrity of Adam Sandler. Most romantic comedies leave women with two options: tame the Bad Boy, or realize that the Nice Guy was there all along. The studios continue to make these movies because women continue to watch them. And women watch them because they are—in a small, over-romanticized way—fairly accurate depictions of desire.

[from my pseudonymous column at The Gloss]

Calendar Girls

“I have an idea,” he said, motioning for me to follow him into the bedroom. I sat next to him in front of the computer. “See, I can set it up so you can see my Google Calendar.”

I squinted at the screen. “Why would you want to show me your calendar?”

“Because, this way you’ll always know if I’m busy. And if you share with me, I’ll know if you were planning on making dinner. This way you won’t wait for me and I won’t upset you if I have other plans.”

I shook my head. This was all happening so fast.

[from my pseudonymous column at The Gloss]

The 12 Phases of Relationship Lies

The first date: You can tell him about your suspicions about your roommate’s alcoholism. Better to say this before you knock back your fourth or fifth cocktail. Of course you have a high tolerance — you’ve been living with a drunk for the last two years! Why else would your apartment look so messy? It’s not you! It’s the intoxicated train wreck in the back bedroom! God. Don’t you wish someone could just take you away from all that?

The third date: You can admit you lied on your profile and no, you never read Infinite Jest— but you did read half of that lobster essay and that was really, really life-changing. What’s that? Oh, yeah. You still eat lobster. It’s delicious. Please.

[from my pseudonymous column at The Gloss]