Wednesday, May 30

An uncomfortable family dinner

My stepdad reviewed his credit card slip as my mom and I chatted, ending a pleasant dinner out.

"Well, what did you think of the service?" He asked us.

I was torn between pretending not to hear and demanding why the hell he was asking us. I ended up just staring at him.

"What?" My mom asked.

My stepdad repeated his question.

"I thought it was great," I offered in a voice tinged with anger. My parents always criticize the wait staff, no matter where we go. They once bitched in the car after a dinner at a four star restaurant because somebody cleared the dessert plate before a strawberry had been gnawed to the stem.

My mom, surprisingly, backed me up. Stepdad, however, looked unconvinced; he needed elaboration. "She didn't come over and bother us too much," I reasoned, wondering if he thought she had been too absent. (He also hates it when waiters are too overbearing. Go figure.)

"Yeah and she was really accommodating about TAB's substitutions," Mom reminded him.

He didn't look satisfied, but he did look away. I sneaked a peek as he tipped her nearly 20% and then raised an eyebrow at my mom, who shrugged. Why do people need everyone else's advice about tipping when they're the ones paying? Does it make them feel better to tip poorly just because other people at the table agree with you?

I remember once when my parents came to the restaurant I worked at and tipped me less than 15%. Since then, I have never raised a word against a waiter in their presence.

Tuesday, May 29

The new job, limbo

After the drug test, I had a tension-filled week at work.

On Tuesday, I was training with a bunch of different people. Chillboss approached with some papers in his hands, and I looked up nervously. Come to my cube, he's going to say. And then he's going to ask me why I wasted their time. Crap.

"Here's some info for you, your email address and login and password and all that." He handed me the papers.

"Awesome, thanks!" I said shakily.

On Wednesday, HR guy came upstairs and wandered toward my desk. I looked up and smiled a little, screaming inside. Don't look at him, keep your eyes on your computer... Because... uh, not looking up means he won't come over here and fire me? Right...

HR guy sauntered past and talked to someone in the office past mine. I felt bad for not actually saying hello to the man who was probably not plotting my demise.

On Thursday, I figured it was my last day to worry. I was optimistic, having made it past two whole days without a dreadful meeting in HR lady's office. Or worse, an on-the-spot firing at my desk in front of everyone. I pushed those fears to the back of my mind and presented my direct deposit form to HR lady with a flourish.

Later that afternoon, she came upstairs and I felt a little queasy as she approached. She looks friendly but I still wonder how deep her smiles really go. She came over, I tried to type extra-fast and look concentrated before she pulled me away from my work.

"Here's your employee handbook," She said with her usual heart-chilling smile.

"Oh, great! Thanks so much," I chattered like a cokehead, then laughed uncomfortably. "See you."

On Friday, I felt pretty much safe. But then, I thought I remembered hearing somewhere that Fridays are the most favored days for management to fire people. Around noon, however, I found out that HR lady (who would probably have done the firing) was out for the day.

It seems that success is mine! For the mere price of some frown lines, a few gray hairs, and a $38 cleansing drink. Whew.

Friday, May 25

The new job

I am a planner. I like to know exactly what food I have in the cabinet at any given time. I like knowing where my dress socks are and exactly which order I should hang the shirts in my closet.

I am also a worrier. I worry that people won't like me, or that I won't get somewhere on time. Perhaps I am a worrier because I am a planner (I worry about plans going wrong?).

Either way, this combination makes me very uneasy every year come March when I have two months of school left before a summer break that hasn't been filled. Where will I live? Where will I work? What will I do? Who will I see?

I begin obsessively watching craigslist in early spring to find out if I can snag an early summer job or internship. This year I applied to any job in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, or North Carolina that lasted all summer and kept my fingers crossed. By late March, I had a job lined up in the Seattle area.

They called me again to change my job description to something even better than it had originally been. The Thursday before I started, I called my supervisor to confirm my first day and ask a couple questions.

"Okay, so you can come in on Friday, sign your offer letter, take your test, and then start work on Monday."

I stopped pacing. "What's the test?" I asked. I had to take a personality test when I applied; maybe she was talking about that?

"Your drug test," she replied cheerfully.

"Oh, right... how long does that take? I'm going to be driving from a ways away and want to make sure I get there in time."

"Well, if you want, you can just do all that on Monday and start training with ChillBoss when you're done."

"Yeah, that sounds better," I said cheerfully. We hung up and I stormed into The ex-Ex's bedroom, where he was napping. I opened my Internet browser and began frantically searching for ways to pass a drug test. The ex-Ex woke up after a couple minutes and I told him the news agitatedly.

"Well, when was the last time you smoked?" He asked me.

"Monday," I said in despair.

"Oh... yeah, you're fucked."

"Thanks," I replied, then kept searching online for an answer.

After some discussion, The ex-Ex decided I might not be fucked after all. "I passed a test after a week before, you might be fine."

Over the weekend, I:

- Drank a shitton of water
- Took Niacin pills
- Drank cranberry juice
- Didn't wear deodorant (y'know... to sweat it out)
- Exercised
- Bought a $38 drink from a head shop that supposedly cleans THC out of your system

On Monday, I came in and signed my offer letter, then a consent form for the drug test. This is ridiculous, I thought. I'm not only unsure I'll pass, but I'm agreeing to let them take it? After I signed, HR guy said "So do you want to go ahead and take it now?"

I didn't understand what he meant. "Now, as opposed to...?" I couldn't tell what his facial expression meant, but I was pretty sure he wasn't offering to give me another week before taking the test. "I'll just do it now."

I already had to pee, but I couldn't decide if it would be suspicious to pee right before taking my test, which I desperately wanted to do because I had heard that the first two pees after waking up are the most impure. But, the wimp that I am, I drove to the clinic, sat there and waited.

I returned from the drug test, feeling like I was betraying every person I smiled to. Fooling them all into thinking I belonged there. Well, I knew I'd get at least a day's work there. The next three days were all I had to worry about.

Tuesday, May 22

Sorry for wearing blue, officer

As I drove home from my brand-new job today, I heard a story on NPR.

The city council in Sunnyside, Washington passed an ordinance based on California legislation that makes it illegal to be a gang member. The law allows police to stop and question anybody they suspect to be part of a gang.

Officials thus discourage people from wearing "gang clothes" or making "gang gestures" and warn that based on such signals, they are entitled to stop and question you.

I don't know what the gang colors are in Sunnyside, but in the past I've heard any number of signals about gangs. Like wearing a red bandana. Or a blue shirt.

Thank goodness the police can now stop me for making a secret handshake in public! I mean, if I was in a gang last Thursday, I'd like to find out about it. I keep forgetting which one it was, too.

Sunday, May 20

Competing for Approval, part 5 and done!

I didn't think I would ever get tired of not writing real posts, but I did. So this Part 5 is going to be hella long (the rest of the story/paper) and then we'll get back to our original programming (cruel commentary on other peoples' lives as well as my own). Lovely.

"Look What I Can Do!" - Competing for Approval part 5
(Read parts 1, 2, 3, and 4)

I wondered why my personal satisfaction wasn’t enough to please me. I kept reminding myself that I was putting a lot into this internship: taking an hour and a half long commute (each way) to come to an unpaid internship where I entered data and made copies of DVDs. I stayed later than most people in the office, did more than my share of the work, and I had specifically refused to reduce my workload at school by taking an independent study. I knew I was working hard. But I never knew if [Supervisor] noticed. If he wanted more from me he never let on, and I was exhausted from trying to figure out what else I could offer.

I couldn’t tell how much of the competition between [Willa] and I was fabricated: was she consciously trying to undermine me, or was it possible that her attitude was actually genuine and I was competing with a ghost? The rivalry seemed real enough, yet though her emails always felt a little off to me, they never actually contained hostile words. Still, undermining coworkers can be done in deliberate yet indirect ways, such as through failing to transmit important information. [Willa] could always defend herself by calling her behavior inadvertent, and nobody could prove otherwise. There was no way I could know her intentions.

I felt marginalized again when [Willa] arrived at the office on a Thursday, her day off. “What’s going on?” I asked, shocked to see her.

“I’m here for the Women’s panel for the [Company] conference,” she explained. I hadn’t heard of it. [Willa] poked her head out of the dub room door and saw [Supervisor]’s empty desk. “Do you know where [Supervisor] is?”

“No. Is he going, too?” I asked, hoping I had effectively hidden the edge behind my voice.

“Yeah, we’re going together.” She showed me the email with the panel description.

“Cool.” I felt rejected. It sounded as though this had been [Willa]’s idea, and had she been going alone I wouldn’t have cared all that much. But she had planned to go with [Supervisor], on a day they both knew I would be in the office. Even if [Willa] disliked me, which she had never blatantly let on, [Supervisor] could have invited me.

“Let me see if I can register,” I said, hoping I sounded cheerful.

[Willa] came closer and leaned over the back of my chair at the computer monitor. “I don’t know if they’ll still let you in.”

“It says to just click here…” I clicked the hyperlink and was thanked for my reservation via Internet Explorer.

We went to the conference together, and I stayed alone for a few minutes afterward to grab a cookie from the snack table. [Willa] was in the office when I returned to gather my things.

“So, have you applied to any jobs?” I asked, curious to hear what her post-grad plans were.


“What kinds of places?”

“Oh, you know. Tons.” [Willa] appeared to be focused on checking her email. I hadn’t been that curious, but I still felt a little shut down. I waited for [Willa] to get off the computer so I could email her a file before I left, and we eventually started talking about our last days. “[Supervisor] told me that your last day was the third,” [Willa] said as she gathered her belongings.

“Really? Maybe I’ll ask him about that; I was planning on staying until the tenth, but I really could use a break.” A couple minutes later, [Willa] mentioned the summer interns. “When do they start?” I asked.

“Sometime in mid-June, I think.”

“That’s weird. I’d probably start whenever [Supervisor] asked me to.”

[Willa] turned around to face me, in the hall outside the dub room. “Why?” She sounded defensive. “It’s supposed to follow your school schedule.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know, I guess I’d just start whenever they wanted me. I don’t really care when my school schedule is; I’d just try to be available when they needed me.”

[Willa] crossed her arms and said, condescendingly, “You know, that’s kind of hypocritical of you.”

I was a little confused by her use of a word that I found to be rather rude. “Why do you say that?” I asked, resisting the urge to say something inappropriate in return.

“You just said you were going to ask to leave early, but then you said you would come early if you were a summer intern.”

“That doesn’t make me hypocritical.”

[Willa] started to walk away. “I’m just saying, I’ve had like a million internships, and my way has always worked for me.”

I didn’t appreciate her bringing up past experience as some sort of wand of authority. “Okay, well I’ve had five internships, and my way has worked for me, too. I don’t think it matters, I was just saying what I would do.” I followed her at a distance, noticing that a couple of the assistants were watching us from their cubicles. As she rounded the corner to leave, I stayed in place.

“Are you staying here?” She asked, looking reluctant to wait any longer.

“Yeah, just to put my things together; you can go.” I wanted to avoid taking the elevator with her.

I struggled for the next few days to make sense of what had happened. Was this event a confirmation of my beliefs that [Willa] disliked me? If she disliked me, was it necessarily because she was competing with me or undermining me at work? Or had I been unwelcoming after miscalculating her intentions and pressured her to become competitive? If I had a more positive evaluation of myself and my abilities, perhaps I wouldn’t feel the need for [Supervisor]’s approval or interpret my interactions with [Willa] as antagonistic.

Yet there were structural factors in the internship that encouraged competition rather than collaboration. Finding out that I had been [Supervisor]’s first choice before I started made me feel as though the position was more rightfully mine than [Willa]’s; what would have happened if my schedule had been different? She would have been replaced by someone with a more flexible schedule. Starting us weeks apart gave [Willa] the advantage of learning her tasks, meeting [Supervisor], and establishing the dub room before I arrived, which immediately made me feel as though [Willa] was thought of as the primary intern.

Poor communication was another result of the internship’s structure: since [Willa] and I worked on opposite schedules, we were very rarely able to interact in person. Our relationship was mediated almost entirely by phone and written word. Furthermore, we had no shared experiences; we were unable to joke about what [Supervisor] said in the development meeting, or go to lunch together. Such disconnection made it much easier to view [Willa] as an enemy or an agent fulfilling a role, and made miscommunications more frequent as we were unable to clarify opinions that may have been misinterpreted.

Competition could also have been enhanced because we were expected to perform the same tasks; if the pitch log was my sole responsibility, I never would have resented [Willa] for neglecting the stack of pitches. Had our responsibilities been divided differently, we may have been encouraged to measure success in terms of self improvement, rather than our ability to one-up each other. Focusing on our achievement rather than our desire to see coworkers fail would likely increase productivity; though competition may foster excellence in some environments, I found that it increased my desire to spend time manipulating people into giving me the approval I wanted. [Willa] successfully gained approval while being minimally productive. I became more invested in appearing to be a serious, hard-working intern than I was with learning about television development. Also, since [Willa] and I were competing with each other, it was unlikely that we would be able to collaborate effectively or develop a supportive, trusting relationship.

I rarely considered the ways in which class, gender, race, sexual orientation, or class ranking affected the interactions between [Willa] and me. [Willa] may have felt pressured to compete with me because she was a senior and viewed the internship as a potential means to obtain a job at [Network] (she did apply for one, and was not selected). Perhaps her family or peers, past experiences with sports or work have encouraged her to compete with her peers. In the future, I hope to avoid work environments where structural factors are likely to encourage competition. I would seek out settings which encourage personal achievement, collaboration, and positive relationships with coworkers. I would personally like to reduce my dependency on approval from superiors as a basis for satisfaction and emotional well-being.
* * *

Monday, May 14

Competing for Approval, part 4

In case you think this post is "slacking off," I'll have you know that replacing everyone's names in this story is almost more work than writing a real post. But not quite.

"Look What I Can Do!" - Competing for Approval part 4
(Read parts 1, 2, and 3)

* * *

Another Thursday in late February, [Claire] ran into the dub room and stage-whispered, "Did you see the competitive coverage report?" At a lot of TV networks, someone in the office puts out a report of different shows that played during the week, mostly "notable" programming like season premieres, specials, etc. so that people can stay current without actually watching all those shows. Everyone at [Network] can submit a review for the report, and everybody who submits gets in.

I opened the report and [Claire] directed me to [Willa]’s review of E!’s Grammy coverage:

“I have to point out that in the middle of the show there was a shot of Jo and Slade taking pictures in front of the step and repeat, which for any of the Orange County fan there will be no guessing for what will happen to the couple this season. Usually The red carpet show with E! this season have been fairly boring but something was in the air...or their drink pre-show because Sunday night Ryan Seacrest and his fellow hosts were not going to hold back with any gossip and fashion opinions. It was nice that the show was live too because it added to the some what unorganized events on the red carpet, typical for the red carpet and entertaining for the people at home. All in all it was a great start to the beginning.”

I was actually stunned. I couldn’t tell what she was trying to say, or if there were any actual opinions about the content of the show. [Claire] and I read the rest of the reviews [Willa] had written (about six) and giggled. Had she not been the enemy, I would have felt bad for her. Instead, I was relieved. This was all the evidence I needed to prove that I was smarter (so, hopefully, better) than [Willa].

For a while, the tension I had felt dissipated. My frustration that I seemed to log most of the pitches was stale; I had gotten used to it. Everything [Willa] did that bothered me was a minor irritation. In April, she asked me to work on a project that had been specifically given to her: we had to call contestants from a show to get their contact information. I had just finished a huge pile of pitches, so I tried to help her with a few of the contestants. “Just write the information down next to their names and I’ll put it into the spreadsheet,” she wrote on a post-it. I looked at the sheet. There was no way all the contact information could fit on the paper next to their names. Why didn’t she just send me the stupid spreadsheet, or save it on a shared folder so we could both access it? I thought angrily. Did she just want to have more control over the project than me? To feel like I was reporting to her? Or did she think she was actually doing me a favor? I made a new spreadsheet and added the information. If you’re going to ask someone a favor, don’t make them do twice as much work.

A couple days later, I talked to [Claire] again. “What does [Supervisor] say about [Willa] and me?” I asked.

“Ooooooh, it’s so weird,” She said with amusement. “He’s really impressed with [Willa]. He thinks she’s great. He’s always saying “That [Willa], she’s a real go-getter.” He loves that she’s always making spreadsheets and all that.”

I was astonished. “He seriously thinks she’s that great?”

“I guess so.”

“Well, what does he say about me?”

“He doesn’t say much about you. I know he thinks you’re great too. I think he’s just surprised by [Willa], because he had already expected you to do well but he wasn’t sure about [Willa].”

Maybe contributing to those competitive coverage reports had actually impressed him? But admiring her for the spreadsheet was ridiculous, especially when she had to get my help to do the project. And when I do all of the work we’re supposed to be doing. Still, I tried to think: Did I do anything above and beyond? I usually stayed at the office until after seven o’clock, when we were only instructed to stay until six. I asked to sit in on pitches, and I asked for those DVDs: initiative. When I reorganized [Number 2]’s DVD collection, I labeled the 1/8 inch spine of every DVD (over a hundred of them) by printing the titles on labels and cutting them into tiny strips. I logged most of the pass pitches and did most of the tasks [Supervisor] asked of us without much contribution from [Willa].

What did [Willa] do all day that I was always the one logging pass pitches? Was she overwhelmed when people handed her DVDs to dub? Did label-making take more than five minutes for her? Did she simply look busier than I did? Most significantly, though: Did [Supervisor] notice that I did more of our duties than [Willa]? He must not, if he was so impressed with her. How could I find out what he thought of me without asking him? It didn’t seem as though he had mentioned anything to [Claire], who was my only source of information.

Now I felt like I was competing again; this time with a little more bitterness. My golden opportunity to prove myself the better intern came in the form of a list. [Supervisor] gave [Willa] and I a printed excel spreadsheet filled with pitch information. “We’re supposed to check that it’s in the log, add the information if it’s not. Initial next to the ones you do so we’ll know where we left off,” [Willa] explained.

It was a long list, and it took me about a week to complete (most of the information was not in the log). In that time, [Willa] finished two pages and I finished fourteen. She stopped after the first day. The moment I finished the list, I delivered it to [Supervisor]’s desk. He was away, so I wrote a note that said “Completed” on it. If he looked at the initials, he would be able to see that I had done virtually all of the work. As I set the list down, I realized that I actually felt angry. I wanted to know why nobody had once told me with sincerity that they thought I was doing well. Not a comparison with [Willa]; a progress report for me. I was most angry because I recognized that I was actively trying to undermine [Willa]. I felt guilty, but mostly upset with [Supervisor] for failing to encourage me and make me feel valued. If I had been getting positive feedback from him, I didn’t think I would feel the need to throw my initials onto his desk. I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t mention the completed packet.
* * *

Tuesday, May 8

Competing for Approval, part 3

The week is so long. I am almost free. And so tired. So... tired...

"Look What I Can Do!" - Competing for Approval part 3
(Catch up: read parts 1 and 2)

* * *

When [Supervisor] returned, the phone calls from [Willa] stopped. We emailed each other, but things seemed to calm down. I focused on my work: there was a stack of pitches about two feet high that had been accumulating since December, and it was nagging me. I spent a nine-hour day logging as many pitches as I could into the database, and noticed that the To Do pile was right where I had left off when I returned two days later. I finished them and awaited a cry of surprise or approval from [Supervisor], but none came. Eighteen hours of tedious work and he doesn’t say a word? I supposed I couldn’t fault him for expecting me to do my job, though.

Every day I arrived at the office, I would open my email to find a note from [Willa]. The majority of them sounded like demands, because I couldn’t tell what she was doing all day. “I just thought I’d let you know, [Supervisor] said he’s getting a little nervous about the pile of pitches. I didn’t get a chance to get to them, but I thought you should know.” I looked at the basket; there were about five (thirty minutes of work).

One Thursday in early February, [Claire] joined me in the dub room to watch an episode of one of our new series. As we watched, we talked about our lives, Grey’s Anatomy, office gossip. I told [Claire] that I felt like [Willa] would impress [Supervisor] more because she was constantly trying to delegate to me.

“No way,” [Claire] consoled me with a smirk. “She’s not that great. And I know for a fact that [Supervisor] likes you better.”

“Really? How?”

“Because he told me when he picked his interns, ‘I picked two interns. One of them is fabulous, she’s awesome. The other one, I’m not so sure about.’”

I was horrified. “How do you know he wasn’t talking about [Willa]? He totally was. Shit.”

“No, he was talking about you! He didn’t say your name, but he told me the good one was getting surgery.” Whew! “And remember how you had him send you those DVDs?”

When I first got the internship, I had asked [Supervisor] if he could send me some seasons of [Network]’s shows so that I could familiarize myself with the network. I truly wanted to watch them, but knew I was taking a gamble: I could come off as either enthusiastic or demanding.

"Well he loved that!"


"Totally. He told me about it; he said it was great how excited you were to learn about [Network]. He told everyone in the office that you had asked for them."

After this conversation, I felt like I had a friend on my side of the battle wills I had created. I liked confiding in [Claire], but I had to wonder what went on when she and [Willa] worked together on Wednesdays. Was [Claire] just as gossipy? Did she tell [Willa] that I complain about her? She wouldn’t do that! I insisted. Still, how could I know? Maybe I should be more careful what I told [Claire], I thought. I felt like I could trust her, but I still didn’t trust [Willa]. Still, I was relieved to have a friend I could share my feelings with.

[Claire]’s revelation made me feel a little better, but I still felt as though I had to prove to [Supervisor] that I was better than [Willa]. Only when [Supervisor] praised me (and complained about [Willa]) I would feel secure.

Yet it never happened. Occasional compliments were shrouded by humor: when I filed away a stack of pitches I had just logged, [Supervisor] said in a silly voice “You’re so fast, [TAB]! It’s like magic!” More often, however, he said nothing. Instead, he preferred to give me strange, quizzical looks – complete with a raised eyebrow – when I asked him questions that he apparently deemed too silly for a polite response.

The first time he asked me to print a label for a VHS, I brought it back for quality assurance. [Supervisor] pursed his lips and cocked his head to the side. “Hmm, something is off here.”

“I wasn’t sure about the font size,” I explained sheepishly, trailing off.

[Supervisor] looked at me from his chair. “Well, did you use the template?” He asked, evoking a preschool teacher whose patience has worn thin.

“Yes, I used the template… it just didn’t look like it would fit, so I tried -”

[Supervisor] shot out of his chair, seemingly irritated. He showed me how to use the template and then left. Later that day, I asked somebody else when I needed to find out where we kept the staples. I can’t believe I’m afraid to ask him where staples are, I thought, frustrated. I’m not afraid; I just don’t want to deal with him right now, I reasoned.

I explained my dilemma as my roommate’s dad drove us to campus after work that day. “You can’t let people like him get to you,” he said. “You have no control over his responses. Try to think about yourself: you’re there to learn, so just do whatever you can to get the most out of your internship. You don’t need him to like you.”

I nodded, but I was still troubled. Maybe I could ignore [Supervisor]’s strange facial expressions, but I still needed his praise. Why does it matter? Why can’t you just accept that you do your best and forget what he thinks? I wondered, troubled. Perhaps it was because at an unpaid internship, approval and appreciation were my only forms of compensation.
* * *

Monday, May 7

Competing for Approval, part 2

It's still finals week. So here's a quick quiz for you.

One of the following is false. Can you guess which?

A. Ate an entire bag of mini carrots in 30 minutes
B. Slept a total of 6 hours in 3 days
C. Accidentally fell asleep at my desk on top of my laptop
D. Skipped the 2 hour Grey's Anatomy special to write a paper
E. Researched and wrote a 20 page paper in under 13 hours

Now, back to my story...

"Look What I Can Do!" - Competing for Approval part 2
(Catch up: read part 1)

* * *
On Tuesday, I got my bearings. I sat at [Supervisor]'s computer, set up meetings for [Head Honcho] and [Number 2], answered the phone. It was pretty straightforward.

The next morning, I was awakened by a phone call from [Willa].

“What is with this DVD on the desk?” She asked. DVD? I vaguely remembered a disc in a case that had been sitting on [Supervisor]'s desk when I arrived on Tuesday.

“I don’t know… it was there when I came in yesterday; I didn’t know it was anything out of the ordinary.” This wouldn’t have happened, of course, if I had sat at [Supervisor]’s desk on Monday. I refrained from mentioning this.

[Willa] asked me more questions, all in a very concerned – frantic, maybe? – tone of voice, before getting off the phone. I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong, and her questions were pretty reasonable, but they felt almost like accusations. I kept imagining the way our call sounded to the people who might have been listening: The new intern had left a mess for [Willa] to clean up. Did [Willa] sigh and roll her eyes, share a moment of frustration with someone when she got off the phone? I hoped not.

The next day, I arrived at [Supervisor]'s desk to find a page-long typed note from [Willa]. She had printed it off and left it right in front of his computer. As I read it, every mini paragraph (there were nine) brought me a wave of resentment: She wrote that I was doing something wrong to the [Website] computer, confusing the program? Why couldn’t she have just said “It turns out the program doesn’t accept symbols in the clip title”? Was her appeal for me to CC her on meeting requests a veiled complaint? I certainly hadn’t complained at having to search through deleted emails the day before. Why couldn’t she have written “I think we should start cc-ing each other on meeting requests” instead of “Can you cc: me”?

There was really nothing that awful about the content of the note, I realized after I had calmed down. What bothered me was that she had left it out for anyone to read. Reading it while thinking about how public she had made it, it had seemed like a list of demands or grievances. Was her word choice intentional? Was she just trying to be helpful? It was impossible to tell from the words on the page.

In the afternoon, [Willa] called to “check in.” She may have been making an effort to open communication between us, but I didn’t consider that. Instead, I felt as though she was monitoring me unnecessarily. Why is she calling me on her day off? I wondered. Does she think I’m incompetent? I felt like [Willa] was being condescending; she may have been working at [Network] longer than I had, but we had the same title. I shouldn’t have to report to her. I was resourceful; if I ran into a problem, I could easily ask another assistant to help me, or re-read the part of her note that read “Feel free to call me with a question if you need to.”

After going through a slew of questions, [Willa] asked me if I had heard from [Supervisor]. “It’s weird, he didn’t call me at all yesterday. He doesn’t pick up when I call him and he hasn’t listened to any of the messages I left him.”

How many could you have left in one day? I wondered. “Yeah, it’s almost like he’s on vacation or something!” I laughed.

“Oh, well, actually he is,” [Willa] replied in a helpful voice.

There was a pause. I frowned. Really? How could that not have been a joke? “I know,” I finally answered.

“Oh.” She sounded annoyed. “Well it’s hard to tell when you’re being sarcastic.”

We got off the phone, and I felt even more irritated. I knew that sarcasm wasn’t always the best social lubricant, but that joke had seemed pretty straightforward. Still, I hadn’t enjoyed that interaction, so I decided I would try to keep my jokes to myself with [Willa]. Just business.

The problem with relationships that are “just business” is that they prevent people from becoming comfortable with each other. Had [Willa] and I chatted more the first day we met, we might have felt more at-ease with each other. Since we worked on alternate days, we almost never got the chance to interact in person, when small talk and the benefit of visual cues (facial expressions, gestures) might help us better understand each other.

Instead of getting to know [Willa] and think of her as an ally, she increasingly became an enemy to me. Since I barely ever saw her in the flesh, it was easy to think of her in an impersonal way. In fact, it was a struggle not to think of her as my competition: all I knew about her was that she called me far too much, sent me excessively long emails telling me what to do, and didn’t understand my sense of humor. We had the same responsibilities, the same office space, boss, and similar career goals. And here I was, learning her system for the pitch log and being harassed by phone calls on my days off.

One day I arrived to find that she had printed a label of my name and stuck it on my folder. She had decorated my property? What could that possibly mean? It felt like a violation of my personal space; some symbol of ownership over me. “My folder has a printed label with my name on it, and so should yours,” I could hear her saying to herself. What if I didn’t want the label?
* * *

Please help me understand...

When you've dated a few people, you end up with a small collection of songs that will forever remind you of an ex. For a while, those songs may make you upset or maybe regretful or nostalgic.

But is it weird that, after 4 years, I'm still annoyed that an ex boyfriend ruined a song that I love? Especially since I don't have bad feelings toward him now?

Saturday, May 5

Party in my stomach

I just drank down a whole bunch of pills.

Multivitamin, painkillers, antibiotic (still...), allergy meds, caffeine, adderall, glucosamine supplement (for my hip)...

I wonder if my body ever gets confused when I do this.

Friday, May 4

College student - part 1

When I write in my blog, I like to pretend that I'm not a college student. "Good writers aren't this young and inexperienced," I think to myself. So I like to pretend I'm not young and inexperienced, because I don't like to think I'm not a good writer. I try to write thought-provoking posts that are hopefully humorous. Or maybe more often humorous posts that are hopefully thought-provoking. But I usually stay away from posts that are purely academic. I hate those blogs. I read for entertainment, not learning! (As if learning can't be entertaining, too. How sad.)

But, I'm going to come out and say it: I'm a college student.

See? I knew you'd still love me.

So, it's finals week. At my school, finals week means anything from actual finals (1) to screenplays (1) to oral exams (1) to 20-page papers (1). And no, "oral exams" does not mean giving oral sex for a grade. Though we all know what grade I'd get.* ;-)

So, technically I'll be posting about my life, since my life is paper-writing. I'm going to post the memoir I wrote about my internship. I'll do it in segments so you can take naps in between reading.

* An incomplete - I've never given any of you head!

"Look What I Can Do!" - Competing for Approval - part 1

Getting the internship itself was a competitive process. Each year, several thousand hopeful students email their resumes to [Company]. On [Company]’s website, there are 74 intern positions listed in the New York area. There is only one East Coast internship in entertainment development.

During my interview, [Supervisor] told me that I was their eighth and final candidate. I left after a quick tour of the office in a rush of nervous energy. There were going to be two development interns, so I had 1/4 chance of getting the internship. “We really like the fact that you’ve already worked at [Company],” [Supervisor] had said. That had to be a good sign.

When I got the phone call offering me the internship, I asked [Supervisor] about my schedule. “Let us know what days you can come in; we’ll select the second intern based on your availability.” Apparently, I was their first choice. I was ecstatic.

On my first day at the office, [Supervisor] gave me a tour. My “office” was the dub room, which housed two computers, three TV monitors, two DVD burners (or dub machines), and other equipment that transferred DVDs to VHS, VHS to VHS, and so on. [Supervisor]’s desk was just outside the door of the dub room, in a group of four workstations with green partitions on three sides. At these cubicle-like groupings sat the assistants; lining the walls around them were actual offices occupied by [Network] executives. Down a hallway and in a corner office was [Supervisor]’s boss, [Head Honcho]. The vice-president of development, [Head Honcho]’s space came complete with a couch, two armchairs, and a tiny wire frame table that looked purely ornamental. The office next to hers was occupied by [Number 2], whose Director title made him one rung down the executive ladder. [Supervisor] reported to both [Number 2] and [Head Honcho].

Back in the dub room, [Supervisor] talked me through my regular duties: I would be maintaining the DVD library, which consisted of five large binders filled with episodes of all of [Network]’s current series; I would be uploading video files to a website called [Website], where people could watch clips from the comfort of the Internet; I would be dubbing DVDs as requested; and I would be entering information from pass pitches into the computer. Pass pitches were proposals for new shows submitted to [Network]’s development department that had been turned down, and the database I used was called the pitch log.

“I’ll show you how to do [Website] today,” [Supervisor] explained, “But I’ll let [Willa] explain the pitch log to you on Monday; she has a system.”

I was disappointed to find out that I had started working a whole three weeks after the other development intern started. She already had a system? I felt a little behind. I’ll catch up, I shrugged. Still, it stung a bit: [Willa] already had seniority.

The instant [Supervisor] left the dub room, busy preparing for his two week vacation, a young woman entered.

“Hi, I’m [Claire],” She said right away, offering her hand. I shook it. “Would you mind helping me with an errand?”

We left the building on a mission to Staples. On the way there and back, [Claire] mapped out the office for me in a way that seemed comically similar to Cady’s orientation to high school in Mean Girls, where her newfound friends explain which tables the cool kids occupied in the cafeteria.

[Claire] was a fellow intern, but worked for [Tim], who was the executive assistant to the network president. She had been [Supervisor]’s intern last summer, so she knew exactly what I would be doing and who I was working with. Even if it was a bit of a stereotypical welcome, it was great luck that I was getting along with someone so well on my first day.

On Monday morning I arrived at the office and had to call [Willa] from the elevator bank to let me in, as I still hadn’t received my ID badge. I watched through the glass doors as a shorter, slightly overweight, pimply Chinese-American girl greeted me.

“Hi, you must be [TAB]. I’m [Willa].” She sounded perky and kind.

[Willa] and I walked to [Supervisor]’s desk, and she guided me through a checklist that had been printed: “While [Supervisor] It Out,” it was titled. However, I soon became less annoyed by the typo than [Willa]’s guidance: she was reading me duties that [Supervisor] had explained the week before. I tried to tell her that I had already gone over the responsibilities with [Supervisor], but she continued anyway, “Just in case”.

After a few polite questions (“What college do you go to?” “What year are you?”), [Willa] and I stood speechless at [Supervisor]’s desk. What now?

“Where do you want to sit?” [Willa] asked.

[Supervisor]’s desk was the obvious choice: it was out in the open, had a better version of Windows, a flat-screen monitor, and the great responsibility of filling his shoes. Don’t be bossy, I chided myself. “I don’t really mind, either way,” I countered in an agreeable voice. “Where do you want to sit?”

“I’ll sit at [Supervisor]’s desk today,” [Willa] replied cheerfully, as though she were doing me a favor.

Well, you didn’t say anything, I grumbled to myself as I carried my coat and purse into the dub room. It would have made sense to sit there, so that I could be more prepared to fill in for [Supervisor] alone the next day. Too late now. Next time don’t be polite.
* * *

Stay tuned for... backstabbing, catfights. Possible nudity.

Tuesday, May 1

My favorite subway musician

I never give change (or bills, either) to people playing music or otherwise panhandling in the subway. "I can't afford to," I insist to myself. It always seems to make much more sense to spend $3.80 on a Chai latte from Starbucks, the cup half filled with ice. See how that works? Makes much more sense.

I even have a favorite subway musician. This guy used to play all the time in the passageway when I transferred from the 7 to the BDFV. He had a guitar and he sang, and the music was actually good. I didn't recognize any of the songs, but I really liked his voice and his style.

I actually thought about him a couple weeks ago, when I passed by the flutist who only plays "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. "Where is the awesome guitarist guy?" I wondered. "I haven't seen him in a while. I hope he's okay."

Then, last week, he was there. I couldn't keep the smile off my face: my favorite subway musician was still around! And yet, I didn't give him any money.