Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Category: expectations

The School Girl in Me

It’s 75 and sunny, with a nice cool breeze outside. An anomaly for this summer, when the temperature seems to dip below 92 only when it’s raining. My sinuses are reacting as if this is the beginning of fall, and I can’t help but agree. Anthropologie is sending me emails about sweaters, magazines are advertising school supplies and my little sister is beginning her first year at college.

I’m ready for the change. Summer has always been nice — no school, pools are open for days of fun, and now, there’s no reason to make excuses when I feel like having a cocktail on a Saturday morning, especially if I’m at the beach. But the laziness tends to bore me after a while, and my pale skin tends to look better in fall clothes.

For me, Fall is about new beginnings. More so than New Years Eve or the coming of Spring. It’s a time to buy new jeans, get new notebooks, figure out this year’s signature fall color and root out that top from five years ago that suddenly seems like a good thing to wear.

Yeah, I was that little girl who couldn’t wait to go back to school. To see who I would sit next to, what my teacher would be like and whether there were any cute boys in my class. So when weather like this rolls around, I still feel a little bit of a thrill, wondering what this Fall will hold in store for me. A perfect dress, a new best friend, a promotion for me or my husband? Maybe I’ll actually join an orchestra this fall, or find a new hobby for the season. The city of New York is my limit…which of course doesn’t limit me much at all.

An Editorial Ass

I’m looking for a book about an up-and-coming health trend. It must have a strong enough hook to be on the Today Show a few weeks in a row. The author must be famous, recognized by a swarm of health nuts in his or her diet or disease community. As I said, it must be trendy, but it must not be overdone and worn out. I need a spin on something that’s in. Oh, and it cannot have been published yet.

This is my job. Sounds exciting right? Except for that little detail of me having no clue how to find these books. Every time I find a brilliant new health idea, I can’t find an author. Or I find an awesome author with an awesome idea, and I can’t manage to get my marketers to agree that people will buy it. (Add to that my normal duties of essentially managing the daily affairs of a publisher and 5 editors — the boring stuff that they don’t have time to do — and you have a real image of my job.)

They say getting a book published is hard and that’s why people are self-publishing. Let me tell you, becoming an editor has to be harder. I remember when I started in publishing and I came across Editorial Ass, I decided that I was too good to end up like that, I was too smart, too dedicated, too likable. I would get promoted because I always have.

Two and a half years later, I’ve taken a different tone. I am still smart, dedicated and friendly. When it comes to actually editing, I know what I’m doing. I know when I find the right author, the right topic… it just happens so infrequently. And I can’t help but feel that it’s my fault. If I knew the subject area a bit better, or if I read the right magazines, went to the right nutrition health stores. In short, I’m not sure I can make it in this highly competitive, New York centric business. Despite the fact that I understand balance statements, budgeting, contracts, and (gasp) I can edit.

So you out there with the brilliant health manuscript, you the person who’s always quoted in USA Today about your subject area, tell me how I can find you. Because in the meantime, Editorial Ass has been promoted. And I’m still an editorial assistant trying to prove myself as an editor.

Coffee shop mommies

I open the door and squeeze in between strollers, the smell of coffee and friendly chatter replacing the rumble of buses and cars on the street. My eyes wander across the strollers with wispy blond hair escaping from underneath blankets and hats, mothers greeting each other and other women wearing expensive looking sweatpants.

How my morning coffee spot has become the Mommy Coffee place rather than the more typical Morning Suit Coffee locale, I’m really not sure. But I’m definitely the only one wearing a pencil skirt and tights.

I nod to the owner, indicating that I’d like the usual. Coffee with milk, no sugar. And while it’s true that this is my favorite coffee in town, I’m not sure I would come here at 9 a.m. every morning if I wasn’t on my way to work.

Saturdays, vacation days, even sick days for me are an opportunity to sleep in, spend more time at home with the dog, read my Kindle on the sunny third floor. Why is it that these women leave the house? It’s cold outside, the coffee shop is packed, and while it does allow dogs and has free wi-fi, none of these women are taking advantage of those two features.

Maybe, like me, they just like good coffee. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s something that happens when women have children — that they just need to get out of the house for some adult company? Or do they want to show off their fancy strollers and the luxury of being able to wear sweatpants at 9 a.m. on a weekday, of being clearly well provided for without having to work.

The shop owner and I exchange coffee for a handful of quarters and I step back out onto the street with the suits.

Bosom Buddies

“A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really
kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.  I’ve
dreamed of meeting her all my life.  I never really supposed
I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true
all at once that perhaps this one will, too.  Do you think
it’s possible?”

-Anne of Green Gables

Jennifer and I traded secrets in the plastic playhouse in her backyard when we were seven years old, banning our younger sisters as we drank imaginary tea and pinky swore that we would be bridesmaids at each others’ weddings.

Giggling back and forth between our houses on Davis Street, we watched as our moms both grew pregnant in 1993, we looked pretty together in our little white communion dresses, I wept when her dog died and we hugged tightly when she moved across town to a new house. I had had friends before her, but she was my first best friend.

And then I moved to Kentucky, about 7 hours away.

It’s easy to make new friends, and I did. But each of them always had an older friend, a friend who had been there years before me. That friend knew her when her parents were together, cut her bangs behind the house with scissors and cried when her first dog died. That friend had always been her best friend, she couldn’t be replaced.

Jenn just got married this year. I’ve looked at the wedding photos on Facebook and wonder if we still would have been friends. I think of the girls I’ve known in Kentucky, and how many of us have grown apart in just five or six years. Would Jenn and I have possibly survived 17?

But then again, my sisters and I have survived that long. Jenn’s bridesmaids were her two sisters and three other girls. A mirror of my own bridal party in April. I’ve trusted my secrets to my two sisters for their entire lives; they are my oldest friends. They’ll be standing up there with me, just as Jenn’s sisters were, just as Jenn and I promised that we would have if we were still friends.

Sisters

Dear Martha

Dear Martha Stewart,

I’m starting to get the jitters about my wedding checklist. You see, I’ve been right on track, MORE than on track, up to now. I picked out our venues, our caterer, our photographer. I set up our wedding website, our registry, our budget. I sent out save-the-dates, booked a honeymoon in Switzerland, and helped my FH pick out tux rentals.

But now I have my invitations in hand. And I look down and see that I’m about to fly down a hill and run into that date. April 9. I really don’t want to crash into it. I’d really rather stroll. But the items on the list are just not so easy anymore. And with every month there are more and more.

Do I really need a pampering vendor? A florist? A transportation vendor? And must I pick out my bridesmaids accessories? I think they look pretty good when they pick out their own. And the DJ list…I have a first dance song, but a cake-cutting song? An anniversary dance? A last dance? I’m sorry to inform you Martha, but I don’t even have a cake!

Also, I’m pretty sure you have “Shop for undergarments” on the list twice. (Maybe that was a mistake?)

The thing is, your checklist isn’t what I’m worried about. It seems that you suddenly got me confused with someone else when you wrote out these last four months. I know there are important things to do, but is pre-wedding pampering really one of them? I feel like I’m missing something, but your list won’t tell me. So now I’m going to avoid it and try to write my own. From others’ experiences, with the help of my friends, my mom, and let’s not forget Jon.

Thanks for your help, but Martha we’re through. But don’t take offense, because our wedding wasn’t ever about you.