Little Girl, Big City

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Manhattan as seen from Brooklyn

I’ve started thinking about this blog of mine as a book, or maybe a film series. No, I’m not trying to say that my life is exciting enough to constitute a bestseller or a film adaptation. What I am trying to say is there are distinct “movements” in my life at this point in time and there are lulls between them. Chapter 1 was freshman year, chapter 2 was sophomore year (and one of those lulls), and now I’ve gotten to chapter 3: summer in New York City. Whereas I had a specific goal for chapter 1 (document my freshman experience), I have a few specific goals for my blog this summer. As cliche as it might be, if my life were actually a film series, “Little Girl, Big City” would definitely be my title of choice.

My intentions for the next few months are:

  1. To keep family and friends updated on my life and to ensure them that I am alive and well.
  2. To share what I learn about the publishing industry and write about my specific experiences.
  3. To share what I learn about the city itself: living in it, eating in it, shopping in it.

This post will be my first written from the city, so fittingly enough, it’ll recap my first impressions upon arriving. Though I’m no stranger to Manhattan, I’ve never spent more than two weeks in the NYC area, and Brooklyn is almost completely new to me. I anticipate there will be new and exciting things to encounter everyday. Like it is for many of us students who take internships away from home, summer is like the beta version of adulthood. A test trial for living alone, and specifically in NYC.

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On the water at Smorgasburg!

My very first stop in the city was, of course, the apartment I’m sharing with KD sisters, including Ali (my roommate of the past two years) and Rachel (our matriarch llama and second mom). It’s located in Williamsburg, which, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the reputation, is a neighborhood being rapidly gentrified and, as such, teeming with hipsters and yuppies. And I have to say, our building is the epitome of gentrification. We are not in a totally new-and-shiny part of Williamsburg, so perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that we are the seeds of gentrification. The hallway lights are bright green (it’s like a nightclub except all the time), there are two vintage bulbs hanging from single strings above our kitchen, and the apartment is set up like a loft, with Ali and my bedroom being the only one upstairs. Everything is white and sleek, and the rooftop offers a great (if somewhat distant) view of the Manhattan skyline. Though I’m sleeping on an air mattress for the duration of the summer, it’s a really awesome apartment, made even better because I’m sharing it with great friends. Besides, the air mattress is one of those fancy ones anyhow.

After settling in and such, Ali and I made a trip to Smorgasburg, a giant food fest. There are artists and vendors selling homemade goods/crafts too, but the food is the real star of the show and reason for going. We made a round of the booths to check out our options: Ramen burgers, gourmet ice creams, fried Teriyaki balls, Po-boys, vegan sandwiches, really good-looking fries. Basically anything you can dream up, but fancier. Both of us ended up getting sandwiches from a Venetian-style sandwich booth called Tramezzini and we ate by the water, staring straight ahead toward Manhattan. The food is predictably overpriced, but totally worth it, if you ask me.

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This really beats a cubicle

On Monday, I started work. My official gig is Editorial Intern for Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, owned by the Big Five Publisher, Macmillan. I showed up early, took an obligatory picture of the Flatiron before heading inside, worried vaguely about orientation with the other interns. Sidenote: it occurred to me in the bathroom yesterday just how cool it’ll be to take my kids and grandkids to the city, point to the Flatiron, and say “I worked in there one summer.” We got a quick briefing with some general instructions. Then they turned us loose! I went to my floor, met my boss, and set my things down in my office (though I played it cool, my internal reaction was as follows: I get my own office???). It’s high up enough for a cool view, and the lovely city sounds are quiet enough to be comforting white noise rather than distracting. And most importantly, for the time being, it’s “mine”! I met a few other people in the imprint, then got straight to work typing up some handwritten manuscript notes. Throughout the day, I learned how to do a few more little things, but there really is no training process to speak of–I’m definitely learning on the job.

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And even though it hasn’t been a whole week yet, I’m already learning so much about the industry and what it’s like working for a publishing house (a major one, at that). Not only do I get to see what goes on before books reach shelves and dig for information on books, authors, agents, and editors. What’s equally as useful as concrete experience is simply being in the office. I get to hear about/do things for current projects, but I also catch bits of conversations about all the different things that come up. I’m adding publishing jargon to my vocabulary as well as hearing about what’s going on with certain books, or even in the industry at large. Simply being immersed in the workplace is good experience in itself, even if I’m just sitting at my desk waiting for a task.

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Business casual or bust

So all in all, I’m really enjoying myself so far. It’s been six days since I got here, and I’m looking forward to another three months of make-believe adult life in which I have a 9-5 (8:45-5:30 if you want to get nitty-gritty with the details), an unlimited MetroCard, a hipster apartment with my two of my best friends, an office in the Flatiron Building, and complete responsibility for feeding myself. It’s going to be one hell of a summer.

~Natalie

Disclaimer: If I fail to write regularly, it would not be the first time that I set goals for myself and promptly forgot about them, or ditched them for a greater cause. Still, I really want to record the details of my summer for family, friends, and (most importantly) future me, so I believe this commitment should stick. One of those goals gone astray was journaling: being optimistic, I buy pretty new journals all the time and fill just a few pages. This blog, irregular as it may be sometimes, is nothing more than an online journal, right? Perhaps the goal hasn’t gone completely astray yet. That doesn’t fix my pile of empty journals, but that’s another problem entirely.

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