Crazy Crunch

Senior winter semester. NOTHING about this is easy… Not to say it isn’t fulfilling. I am learning a lot and having a blast, but busy doesn’t even begin to COVER my scheduling. I am booked tight day after day– this week is vacation so things are a little less hectic. I am, however, still working on my thesis, reading and writing for my Roman Empire course, memorizing lines for my independent study that goes up in March, and applying for JOBS! Whew, that doesn’t sound too relaxing, then, does it?

I am really loving writing my one semester thesis though. I’ve been given free reign to research whatever I wanted– and in this project I’ve synthesized my favorite time periods of American literature (late 19th century and today) and my interest in reproductive rights and contraception through the lens of cultural studies. Though it’s a lot of work– and I’m learning more every day– it’s been so rewarding so far. I’m really loving all the research I’m doing, but the writing is a little bit difficult.

Stay tuned for more updates on my progressing project, and whether I can triumph over the business of the semester!

Southern Jaunt

Last week I spent a few days visiting a friend in her home town of New Orleans, Louisiana. It was essentially my summer vacation– I finished my internship and packed my bags for a couple of fun days down south with a fellow batesie that I hadn’t seen in over 8 months! I made a similar trek last summer but this year it was bigger and BETTER! We did the touristy thing, ate incredible food, explored the nightlife and a lot of other things! The one downside was that this year was much hotter than my last trip– being outside felt about 117 degrees! That hindered our plans a little bit. But it was still lots of fun! Here are some photos.

Schuyler and I ready for a fancy dinner with her parents at Patois— yum yum! Not to be confused with this picture from last year.

We went to the zoo! I love zoos (and aquariums, too!)

Schuyler is READY for the zoo– we even parked next to the ZOO MOBILE!

Check that bird!

Who was hotter, that black bear or me?

Ducks roamed freely– as did peacocks

I was being really silly. There are LOTS of monkeys at this zoo, however, because of the heat, they were all napping in the back of their cages. I was forced to improvise…

I thought that this picture of me and an elephant’s butt was really important.

Clearly a big fan of statues…

Schuyler was too!

And last but not least, we found a bobcat. Go bates college!!

After a long day of walking around the zoo, we stopped for lunch at an incredible restaurant called Couchon. BBQ with a hip, fresh flare. Guess what I had? ALLIGATOR. Guess what it tasted like? Chicken.

Later that night, Schuy and I sampled local cuisine. We got milkshakes…

Which was not the only milkshake I consumed — in fact, the next day we breakfast at Slim Goodies Diner  and I had a delicious vanilla milkshake too! Look how serene I am…

We tried walking the french quarter– through the market and bourbon street, etc, but it was just too hot. We attempted to cool ourselves down with cold drinks, but it wasn’t doing the trick.

It was hot hot hot, but then again what can you expect from N’awlins in August? It was a great trip — other highlights included lunch at La Petite Grocery , sampling ceviche and rubbing elbows with the elite of NOLA at Cure, and apparnetly barely escaping food poisoning at Nacho Mama’s (unfortunately, our companion Taimur was not so lucky…).

New Orleans is just such a fascinating city. There’s so much to see, so much to do, so much to eat, to drink, to learn. It’s definitely a place I would like to keep visiting; each time I go, I experience completely new things!

And it’s back to Bates on Friday!

The End of an Era

And by era, I mean… internship? A ten week internship at the Castle Group. Not that long, but looking back, it seems like a huge expanse of time. And now it’s over! Woah.

I have learned so many things in the past ten weeks; if I wrote them all out, item by item, one by one, it would be a longer document than all my status reports, all my instruction sheets to the next intern, all my email correspondence put together. There is nothing greater than experience– no better way to learn than jumping into the middle of something where you don’t know what you’re doing. And, to anyone who has read a blog of mine before, I am a nervous person and so for me to say this now, sans any fear, is incredible. Looking back on my first day (my first week, even!) when I was miserable and lonely and feeling like an idiot, I see someone with a lot of learning coming her way. And yes, at times it was really difficult and I really did feel totally useless, but now, at the end, I’m beginning to feel..well, almost like an integral part to my office machine.

I made phone calls to people who didn’t want to talk to me with less fear than I’d ever imagined I could; I sent out daily emails to my entire office with a client coverage that I put together; I wrote, edited, sent and followed up on pitches; made lists of media outlets relevant to a given release or pitch; did research on publications, awards and clients. And a lot of other things. Whew!

But another side of what I’ve learned is how to interact professionally with a group of people while still building meaningful personal relationships. Bam! I love meaningful personal relationships. I’m all about social contact and learning about the people I spend my days with is really important to me.

So here I am. The last day of waking up at 6:30 and leaving the house before 7:30. Arriving back (on foot, no less) around 6:30 pm, another day over and done with. No, I didn’t get any pay checks (and my train tickets came in just under $300) but I have certainly gained a lot, that, as cheesy as it sounds, I deem “priceless.” (Wow, i’m the star of my own mastercard commercial).

I don’t have any revolutionary final thoughts and reflections, I’m just really happy with my decision to not return to camp in favor of getting some experience in the real world. I can only imagine how scared I would be if, upon graduation, I literally had nothing on my resume that resembled office work. And, after proving to myself that I can have a good summer while not at camp (though I certainly missed it) I feel like I went cold-turkey enough to not necessarily need it next summer. Weird.

Now, time to look forward: next week I’m going to New Orleans to visit my friend Schuyler! After that I have a few short weeks and then head up to school for senior year. I’m incredibly excited to use my newly gained PR skills to pump up my job as publicity director of WRBC!

Some PR High Points

I am a person that likes results. I like to be able to point to something, right there, look, I produced that. Concrete end products are endlessly satisfying to me. I’m all for toiling hour after hour, day after day, working hard– but I love seeing how far I’ve come, everything culminating in something that can measure success and progress.

So obviously, I do not live in a fairy land so I know that seeing results and getting credit and all that junk isn’t always possible OR appropriate but it doesn’t mean I like it any less. Perhaps it even makes me crave it more! Anyways, PR is a lot of behind the scenes moving and shaking. You seek out reporters to try and interest them in a client, you answer requests for those searching for experts on a specific topic, you help craft their responses and images to be something, well, worth what they paid for. This is something I’m getting used to– and yet still finding ways to point to exciting results that I had something to do with.

Here are two things that I’ve personally had quite a lot to do with, including but not limited to: contacting the outlets, editing and assisting with the piece itself, sending and confirming with the outlet, and trying to get the pieces well publicized. I hope you like them! I’m pretty proud that after 8 weeks of making lists, sending emails, doing research and writing drafts of things that don’t necessarily go anywhere, I have some real results to look at (and boast about).

Huffington Post: What Massachusetts Alimony Reform Really Means
She Thinks: A Perspective from the East Coast 

There are, of course, countless other things that I’ve had something to do with, be it a press release sent out and later covered, an opportunity to get a client quoted in a publication, making massive charts about who and when something should be sent out, etc. But these I feel very personally connected to, in my own “i’m pointing at this! it’s an end result! I made something happen!” way.

Anyway, I only have two weeks left of my internship! I’ve learned a lot so far, and gained a lot of good experience. But now I’m getting excited to head back to school, though before I’ll be heading down to visit my friend Schuyler in New Orleans for a few days!! That’s the update for now.

Calling Israel

That’s what I did this morning. Seriously. And I now think it works as a good analogy for the progress I’ve made working at the Castle Group so far this summer. Let me explain..

Back at the beginning, when I was still scared and sad and had no clue what I was doing, I was asked to call Israel. It was my second day. I will be the first to admit that I am a phone-aphobe. Well, only in situations where I don’t know the person I’m calling or don’t know everything about the situation. I KNOW, I KNOW, grown ups (especially grown ups in the PR industry) cannot be phone-aphobes. Chill out, I’m working on it. I was terrified. The mission was to contact an Israeli business newspaper that is translated and posted online for the English speaking community. We needed an email address for an editor to send an idea to– so could have talked to anyone, as long as they could list the email address of their boss.

I googled “how to call israel from US.” I cross-checked how to make outgoing calls from my office phone. I wrote out a faux script of what I would say. And then..I dialed their switchboard. And… nothing. There was a busy signal. As the reality of the situation set in and the tone pulsated in my ear, I realized, hey, maybe I did all I could do! Maybe I got out of this!

My boss then told me to call every phone number on their contact page. Each last digit I punched in to the phone was accompanied by mumbles of “please don’t work please don’t work” and those mumbles must have worked. None of the calls went through. Whew.

About a week later, I was asked to give it another try. This time, instead of using the specific client billing code for the long distance call, I should just use the general one, because the codes had been acting up lately. Oh no. I proceeded with caution. And when I dialed? REALLY FAST WORDS SPOKEN IN HEBREW THAT I COULDN’T UNDERSTAND!!!!  So the call had gone through! But unfortunately, hebrew is not listed on my CV and therefore I was unable to move forward with the matter.

I’d all but forgotten about Israel when this morning, after finishing my daily scan of news relating to our clients that I send out to the company, my boss sent me an email with a subject line “Israel…” Here I am, six and a half weeks later, and all I needed was the number and a quick reminder of the dialing procedures before I jumped on the phone. Though the call was not answered in English, I began right away with my intro speech and she caught on and began transferring me around. And in the end, I got an email address. As I hung up the call, my boss was walking by and asked, in disbelief “wait, did you get through? Was that actually Israel?”

I was so proud to say “yep” as I hung the phone up with a satisfying crack. So, like I said, this little anecdote has the potential to represent the progress I’ve made so far. Something that was an unsurpassable barrier, a giant behemoth in the way of my success and made my heart beat fast out of anxiety– taken care of before 9:30 am with ease.  I’m making progress!

I mean, come on! When was the last time you called Israel?

And when was the last time your walk to work looked like this?

A return to childhood

And by that I mean, to babysitting. Who knew, that after a probable 4 year hiatus, I’m back in the saddle and the saddle is childcare.

So clearly, my summer camp job last summer and the summer before lends itself to childcare, but there’s something so high school to me about taking a night in on someone else’s couch, playing board games and reading goodnight stories; changing diapers and combating tantrums. Sometimes, though, when you’re an unpaid intern and your savings account is dwindling, your affinity to small children can really come in handy.

Since I’ve been away at school, a new family moved into my neighborhood. With young children. The ease of just walking thirty seconds up the driveway makes committing to babysit that much easier– and when there’s two adorable blonde kids waiting for me to play “librarian” or polly pocket, it’s not such a bad night. Here, exhibit A: Will and Sadie

Though it’s certainly an adjustment to spend my evening hours putting on a one woman show to inspire eating dinner, I can’t say I mind. It’s an easy way to make cash and I get a dose of playing with children that I miss because I’m working in an office.

I have changed a little, since high school, I’d like to think though. As the babysitting fees have skyrocketed (clueless me, I thought that the going rate was still $10 an hour??) my interest in being a couch potato has declined. I don’t even know how to turn Sadie & Will’s TV on. Instead, I’m reading a lot. Right now I’m in the middle of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. Whew. Heavy but incredible stuff! Makes the time pass quickly and is a great excuse to spend a long while just reading.

Tomorrow night I’m babysitting for another neighbor’s grandkids, who I’ve been sitting for since they were born. It’s been at least 4 years though! The 5 year old is a sweetheart though– look at that face!

Hope you all are staying cool in these hazy days of summer!

Fading into Deep Summer

July. 90 degrees. Undeniably summertime. And, accordingly, my life has slowly acclimated itself to a slow-paced but jam-packed lifestyle that keeps me awake just long enough to toss and turn a little in the hot Boston nights. Did that make sense? It might not have. But here’s the basics: I’m pretty much in a routine, but repeating things each day doesn’t necessarily make it easier to find more energy and go forth and adventure more. Sounds boring right? It is– but I’m pretty okay with it.

My internship has continued at a steady pace. As predicted, the more I learn, the more comfortable I am and the more enjoyable the experience can be. But there’s still something incredibly exhausting about leaving my house at 7:30 AM to catch a train to get into Boston, and then walking for 25 minutes to my office where I will sit for 8 and a half hours before heading back to the train station and, eventually home. I arrive on my doorstep around 6:30, 11 hours after I left. Some nights, if I’m feeling particularly courageous, I will head to the gym and then by the time I get home again, it’s 8 pm, and I eat some dinner before passing out. Writing that makes my life sound a lot more monotonous and depressing than it actually is; this summer is a lesson in growing up. And it’s a lesson that I picked out for myself. Each morning, when I join the mass of people exiting the trains at North Station, I feel anonymous though strangely part of a very large whole– I’m a commuter— going to work in the city— aside tall women with umbrellas, short men with lunch bags, young people, old people, people I know, strangers… The small satisfaction that comes from recognizing strangers who share mysame routine is perhaps odd– but never fails to merit a smile. In this case, each day is so much the same: it starts the same, it ends the same, I sit in the same chair all day typing on the same keyboard looking periodically out the same window. So it is in the tiny variations from routine that I perk up and out of my summer haze. Some days one of my best friends catches the same train as me going home– we always try to find seats next to each other and joke about how boring we are and corporate lunches and recount stories from high school that at that junction seem so far away we cant help but laugh and shiver a little at the thought of senior year approaching.

For honesty’s sake: this post was inspired by a creeping feeling of sadness after my beloved and now departed camp job started yesterday– without me. I knew it would happen, but it’s been harder for me to move on than I anticipated and yesterday I had so many moments where, while typing away at my desk or making phone calls, I would think to myself “I wonder how camp is going?” But, as I’ve said a million times before and will continue to echo until it actually sinks in: I have to grow up, no matter how scary and unpleasant it is.