Sunday, June 30, 2013

Avoiding the "Bed Guy" Approach to Life

I live across the street from a guy who never leaves his bed.

Before you report me for stalking and peeping tomfoolery, please note that I only know this because he doesn’t own blinds. He does, however, have a seemingly endless supply of potato chips, two big screen televisions that stream endlessly and a mounting pile of unfolded laundry on his couch. He doesn’t, dare I say, have a girlfriend (there’s no room for her on the couch and she wouldn’t let him keep such an untidy existence), but the television characters seem to keep him company as he munches and crunches while sprawling across his bed, illuminated by the blue glow of the screen.

Peering into the life of "bed guy" has become an unintentional habit. His apartment is directly across from mine, so I get a view into his static world every time I look out the window. Day in and day out, he lounges about his unkempt studio apartment, sometimes adding another empty wine bottle to the collection on his windowsill.  

Meanwhile, on my own side of the street, I am also finding myself falling into a routine in my New York life. I know that every day at Ladies’ Home Journal will bring more reader mail that requires personalized responses, more free books sent into the office that will need to be logged into a spreadsheet, more stories to research, interviews to transcribe and health blogs to write. By week four, I know it will take me approximately 13 minutes to sort and distribute said mail and 90 seconds to sneak in an extra cup of coffee.

I could simply follow the "bed guy" approach to life and the workplace — doing enough to get by, but never more than is necessary.

But every morning, my neighbor is a reminder of what not to do and who not to be. He reminds me, as he reaches for the remote, that I could always be doing more. Pitching. Researching. Writing.

So I do. I wake up with a glance out the window and the instant motivation to do better. To learn as much as I can and to use each day to become a little more integrated into the LHJ staff.

Of course, I’m not immune from the bed guy syndrome in every aspect. I’m not always on top of my laundry, and I do enjoy a good snack of chips and Trader Joe's spicy salsa after work.

But I’m trying. I’m getting better. Every day I’m doing more than the last.

And, if nothing else, I’m getting out of bed.

By Allison Pohle, University of Missouri-Columbia, Ladies' Home Journal
Edited by Mary Clare Fischer, University of Maryland, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Friday, June 28, 2013

Living in Martha's World

The room is pungent with the smell of cheese by the time I walk in. Stacked beside wedges of Colby and Camembert are bottles of wine and flaky baguettes, champagne grapes spilling out of glass bowls. I am in one of Martha Stewart Living’s in-house photo studios, and today we are photographing cheese plates.

Like everything in the Living offices, the scene is like something off a Pinterest board. We have amassed wooden bowls and tiny tea forks, cheese knives and table runners, each prop helping to tell a story about elegant entertaining. And although I am far from my desk in the editorial row, today is inarguably about storytelling.

Our Style Director, Ayesha Patel, is standing with her arms folded across her chest, eyes fixed on the spread of pretty platters and cheeses beneath the photographer’s camera suspended overhead. I watch her carefully as she works, moving a dainty fork just an inch to the left and adding a haphazardly broken piece of chocolate. Her work is at once delicate and deliberate: shifting a piece just a centimeter to the left, she has transformed the entire scene.

Working for Living has been unlike any other editorial internship I’ve experienced. Rather than bound to my desk with researching and fact checking tasks, I spend most days traveling between the various worlds that exist within the walls of our office — and occasionally, outside of them. Last week, I ventured to the Flatiron flower market with our Gardening Editor to select the leafy greens and vibrant bouquets that would fill the September issue. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in the test kitchen, bouncing ideas off of our Food Editors for my newly launched Living blog series. Today, I am a stylist extraordinaire, spooning ricotta into a decorative bowl and immersing myself in the world of aesthetic arrangement.

The various departments at Living are so integrated it is impossible not to move between them — and as an intern, my editorial passport boasts stamps from nearly all. Watching my editors engage in the magazine’s content beyond the writing has inspired me to learn more about design, art, photography, and styling. After all, magazines demand so much beyond mere words.

There’s no telling where I’ll find myself tomorrow, but I am on board for five more exciting weeks of living in Martha's wonderful world.

By Arielle Pardes, University of Pennsylvania, Martha Stewart Living
Edited by Lucy Feldman, Brown University, Vanity Fair

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Now That's a View

My days at BRIDES are unpredictable. Yes, I’m writing daily etiquette posts for the web and have ongoing projects in the features department, but it’s the last minute tasks and meetings that are really exciting. Yesterday, when I arrived at 10 a.m., I found a paper bag next to my keyboard. I peeked inside. A white three-ring binder with empty clear folders? Interesting. I knew a message was waiting in my inbox to tell me what the package was about. With a quick double-read of the email and a click on my destination’s location pin, I was back in the elevator, heading downtown.

When I packed boxes with a year’s worth of magazines the afternoon before, I proudly wrote “SOHO HOUSE” on the BRIDES label with a smile. I felt official, but I didn’t know where the magazines were going. I asked a messenger to help me with that. Today, I was the messenger.

For my delivery, I opted for a 26-minute walk over a 20-minute subway ride. I’d already spent 20 minutes crammed inside a subway car. The walk ended up being a little longer than expected, but I enjoyed walking through Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. It was rather steamy outside, though—and I’m from the South.

I had no trouble finding the address. Catherine, the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief, made sure of that. She’s a rock star dressed in beautiful stilettos. Lucky for me, I get to admire her style and composure. I also get to see firsthand how she makes it all happen. Even for my smallest tasks—like picking up a protein box from Starbucks or checking on a package downstairs, she gives me all the information I need with a forwarded email or a snapshot.

When I finally found Soho House, which was barely marked, I planned on handing my package to the receptionist and running out the door. Instead, she told me to go to the 6th floor of the building and deliver it myself. Once on the "Club" level, I spotted the group of BRIDES editors at a table in the back corner, surrounded by mounds of bridal magazines for research. After I passed over the small brown shopping bag, I wished them luck with their off-site meeting and was already weaving through the groups of club chairs when I heard my name. The EIC was calling my name. "Anna, Anna," she said.  Our managing editor (who has a much louder voice) had to chime in before I realized that they were talking to me. (I've given up on explaining my double name in the workplace, but it hasn't quite clicked that I'm only "Anna" up here.) With that, I quickly ran back to the table, eager for my next task. Instead, she said, "Anna, I want you to explore the building. There's a rooftop upstairs. Go up, take your time and admire the view."

What a pleasant surprise! Honestly, I get giddy inside each time my EIC calls me by name and now she was sending me to the roof just to "admire the view?" I couldn't help but smile with glee. When the elevator doors opened to a rooftop overlooking the Hudson River, I knew I was absolutely in "Intern Heaven."

Right now, I’m totally lucky to get a glimpse of life at the top. But I'm already saying, "Forget reaching for the stars." I know I’m reaching for the rooftop. And, maybe, the penthouse. And the corner office, too. Who knows, maybe one day I'll make an intern smile just by calling her name?

P.S. Here's a beautiful view from my weekend. One of my friends is living in a penthouse here. (Yes, someone is letting three 21-year-old boys live in a PENTHOUSE. Crazy notion, right?) So, on Sunday morning, I watched the sun rise over Central Park with a group of my closest friends from Alabama. I'm certain I could live with this view forever! And, yes, it's pretty fun pushing the "PH" button on the elevator.

By Anna Price Olson, The University of Alabama, BRIDES
Edited by Hannah Dreyfus, Yeshiva University, Parade Magazine 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Move over T. Swift, Michela Tindera is Fearless

Michela Tindera is fearless. It says so right there in silver letters on two BCBG bracelets she loops around her wrist everyday. 

If you want proof, just ask the Cincinnati native about the time she ran out in front of a moving bus on the streets of Sevilla during her post study-abroad trip last summer.

Or ask her about her in-depth reporting class where, as a sophomore at Indiana University, she sat face-to-face with a teary-eyed father whose 18-month-old daughter was coming off proton treatment for brain tumors.

“I try to use the bracelets as a reminder in a lot of aspects of my life,” says Michela. “I actually used to be deathly afraid of talking to strangers. But I guess you could say my love of writing forced me to get over that.”

Most recently, Michela, 20, is busy being fearless in New York City, where she landed an ASME internship in the articles department of Family Circle. There’s been no running in front of moving vehicles yet, but the summer is still young.

Michela (it’s pronounced with a short e sound, by the way) was, however, able to pitch story ideas her first week on the job and is now tackling an article on finance. It’s not a subject she’s well-versed in, but that doesn’t scare her.

“I’m most excited to report on topics I don’t necessarily know much about, because I feel like I’m learning more,” says Michela as she runs her fingers through the underside of her long hair, revealing a faded streak of purple. “The things I research for health and family sections I otherwise never would have known about.”
But there are many things Michela does know well: pies, for example. In the past year, Michela won first place in her county fair for her apple pie (despite never having made one before).

“I made probably 10 pies in two weeks to get it right,” says Michela. “People there were surprised to learn that I’m not a 50-year-old woman.”

There’s dance, too. The former ballerina has landed small roles in the Cincinnati Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Though she doesn’t perform on stage anymore, Michela still loves dancing whenever she can—well, just not to Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” which she associates with one nerve-racking solo. (More up her musical alley would be 2000s hip-hop; she could listen to Ja-Rule or Ashanti anytime.)

It’s journalism, though, in which Michela really excels. She became editor-in-chief at her college magazine, INside by the time she was a junior.

“Michela is one of those visionary leaders,” says friend and INside co-worker Dianne Osland. “She had a good idea of what she wanted the magazine to look like and was able to convey that to her staff.”

This fall the rising senior will take on an internship at Indianapolis Monthly Magazine. She’ll also put to use her handy concentration in Informatics—something like computer science—as she transitions into her new role as web editor at INside.

For such a technology-savvy position, it’s somehow ironic that Michela owned a flip phone until about a month ago.

“It was just a personality trait of hers,” Dianne says of Michela’s outdated phone. “So much so that if you stuck around long enough, you were bound to see a video of her cat, Fritz, pop up on screen.”

Cats are also another self-proclaimed passion for Michela, who once headed the development of a full spread on cats in the Indiana Daily Student newspaper that went viral online, complete with a timeline of cats through the ages. Grumpy Cat would be proud, no doubt.

Often preferring to be punchy in her work, Michela has a style that translates into her witty personality.

“She’s funny, but I don’t think she knows,” says Dianne. “Regardless, she’s one of those people that if I’m hanging out with her, I know I’m going to have a great time. I know she’ll succeed in anything she sets goals for.”

In five years, Michela sees herself definitely in New York, hopefully pioneering the next big web frontier for digital magazines. Nothing is set in stone, though, for the fearless student who admits she likes to deviate from routines as often as she can.

“I prefer to mix things up for anything I’m doing,” says Michela. “Even here, you can easily take the same route home from work, but if I can, I always turn onto a different street to explore.”

No matter what street she ventures down next, magazine journalism is one bus you better believe Michela isn’t going to let drive away without her.

By Kayla Becker, Florida State University, This Old House Magazine
Edited by Leah De Graaf, Iowa State University, Real Simple

5 Internship-Inspired Tunes for Your Summer Playlist

Halfway through my fourth week (and fifth issue) at People, I couldn’t be happier—or busier. The editors at People really encourage interns to dive in head first, and I’ve done—or at least hope I've done—just that. Since starting, I’ve transcribed, fact checked, reported, written photo captions, interviewed celebs, and even picked up a few bylines along the way.

Writing is one of my passions; pop music is another. For my first post, I thought I’d mix the two. So with that, I present five waiting-to-happen summer hits—all inspired by my work at People—that are perfect for your next roadtrip, barbecue, commute, or night out.

1. MILEY CYRUS—“We Can’t Stop”
On her first solo single in three years, Miley moves from partying in the U.S.A. to a more hardcore venue where she’s “dancing with Molly” and “trying to get a line in the bathroom.” The mid-tempo beat, catchy “La La Di Da Di” chorus, and Ke$ha lite-meets-Rihanna reggae sound is Top 40 gold.

Step aside, JT. R&B god, Robin Thicke is bringin’ sexy back on his latest funk-infused, Pharrell and T.I.-assisted jam. With seductive—and simultaneously suggestive—lyrics (“I feel so lucky / You wanna hug me / What rhymes with ‘hug me’?”) and producer Pharrell’s disco-tinged beats, “Lines” is one of the best dance tunes of the year.

Why: After covering my first red carpet, I got access to the philanthropic gala inside, where Thicke performed this tune.

3. DEMI LOVATO—“Made in the USA”
Demi crushes it on her second single—part patriotic anthem, part love song—from her latest, eponymous album. The chart-topper’s vocals will hook you in, and the sing-along chorus will keep you pressing repeat.

Why: I attended a taping of The X Factor, where Demi returns to the judging panel for season three, on Long Island and interviewed the vocalist at a press conference afterward.

With both electronic and disco nuances, Daft Punk’s latest, much-hyped single is as futuristic as it is throwback. An entrancing base line and Rogers’s bubbly guitar beat complement the vocal harmonies, resulting in a song that can only be described as smooth.

Why: Soon after I was accepted into the ASME program and placed at People, I picked up a 6/03 newsstand copy to prep for my new internship, and Daft Punk’s new album, Random Access Memories, was reviewed.

5. FERGIE, Q-TIP & GOONROCK—“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)”
On this ’20s-inspired club banger from The Great Gatsby soundtrack, Fergie campily croons over LMFAO producer GoonRock’s throbbing synths. The former BEP leading lady’s over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek vocals—plus her party rocking counterpart’s production—may make for the summer’s best ode to debauchery.

Why: Last week People held its annual employee Summer BBQ. The DJ may not have spun this tune, but the occasion’s savory eats and—more importantly—refreshing sips brought it to mind as we partied in the name of pop culture on The Empire Hotel rooftop.

By Jeff Nelson, Drake University, People.
Edited By Leah De Graaf, Iowa State University, Real Simple.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Learning to Hit the Curve

At this level, everyone knows how to hit a fastball.

We've spent three years in the minors perfecting our craft. We can see a fastball when it leaves the editor's hand, whether it's fact-checking, organizing or writing a short blog post. Our swings are mindless and effective.

The curveballs are the problem.

I grew up with peanuts, cracker jacks and cups of coffee. Not the kind of coffee I guzzle down in the morning before I hop the 4 train to midtown, but white-pant-wearing, home-team-cheering, twenty-two-year-old cups of coffee. A "cup of coffee" in the majors is a player who was in the big leagues only long enough to have a cup of coffee before being shipped back down to the minors.

Like everyone else in this program, I am a home run hitter in the minor leagues. We all work for regional publications and school papers, and some people have been up to the big leagues before.

This summer is an opportunity. I can stay in the minors and contently return to the heart of Texas, or I can learn to hit the curve.

Every summer game I spent sweating with my father in the Ranger's baseball field we call "The Temple," he would point out the cups of coffee. They didn't play much or make themselves irreplaceable. They could hit long fly-balls in batting practice with graceful swings that looked and sounded effortless, but in a game they flopped.

So far, the fastballs have been easy to spot. I can sort incoming books, organize file cabinets and even write blurbs for slideshows. Honestly, everyone in this program can.

At Reader's Digest, the curve balls come in meetings. At the end of the table in a slick high pony tail and a killer pair of heels is Liz Vaccariello, our editor-in-chief. She takes notes, asks questions and reads every pitch for the magazine and the website. In a nutshell, she manages every piece of content that has the Reader's Digest name on it.

She leans over the table, her eyes on mine.

"What do you think about all this?" she asks.

And there it is: the curve.

"Breathe through your eyelids," I hear my father say. It means nothing; it means don't over-think, just react. I try and respond eloquently and calmly. I try not to let her hear my heart beat coming through my pink blazer.

Honesty is a highly valued currency at Reader's Digest, so I don't sugarcoat my answer. I tell her my thoughts, and I hope for the best.

I have a lot of goals for this summer. I want to get bylines, to be helpful and to make connections. But ultimately, I just want to learn to hit the curves because this summer I am a coffee cup whether I like it or not. In August, I will go back to Austin, Texas, to play in the minors.

But if I can learn to hit the curves, I won't have to stay there for long.

By Kelsey McKinney, The University of Texas at Austin, Reader's Digest
Edited by Colleen Connolly, DePaul University, Smithsonian

Ana Rocha: Family, Friends & Food

Ana Rocha hates bacon.

Yes, the salty, fatty, delicious slices of pig that most people would eat by the pound if it weren’t so bad for you. To Ana, all she thinks about when she sees or smells bacon though, is the one morning her daily drink of milk turned sour as a child.

“I had to drink a glass of milk everyday so that I would grow big and tall like my dad—which clearly didn’t happen—but I only drank milk if it was warmed up, and one day the milk smelled like bacon and it tasted awful and I just hate bacon now,” explained Ana.

Despite her disdain for bacon, Ana is a huge foodie, which is why she was so elated when she found out she would be interning at Food Network Magazine this summer.

Having grown up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ana was surrounded by a culture that emphasizes family and the importance of gathering together, especially around food.

“Every Sunday we would have lunch at my grandma’s in the city neighborhood Leblon,” said Ana.

With her subtle southern accent, you would never guess that she is 100 percent Brazilian. Ana, her parents and younger sister Alice, lived in a small 2-bedroom apartment on the top of a very steep hill in the Botanical Gardens area of the city, with a 150-year-old fig tree out front that she worried would fall through her window.

“The road was cobblestone—which is very rare in Rio—so cab drivers would refuse to take us up it because it was so awful to drive on,” laughed Ana as she reflected on her childhood.

It was because of her dad’s job with Allstate, that Ana and her family relocated to the United States, to Wheeling, Illinois when she was seven.

Even though her entire family was in Rio, Ana was excited to move into a “real house,” and experience snow for the first time, which she thought fell from the sky in big round globs like they did in the Charlie Brown Christmas movie.

Ana’s parents had only panned on living in the United States for two or three years, but two moves later—to Ramsey, N.J., then Fairfield, Conn.—it was clear that they would make their stay permanent.

Now a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ana studies Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in multimedia as well as Global Studies with a concentration in Latin America and Politics.

Ana claims she “doesn’t like a lot of things” and “never had a real hobby,” but when iterating her expansive list of activities, that’s very difficult to believe.

She is the University Editor for her campus magazine Blue & White, co-president of the UNC’s chapter of Ed2010 The Carolina Association of Future Magazine Editors (CAFME), and has had multiple internships in addition to studying abroad in Spain last year.
Ana in Ronda, Spain—her favorite place she visited abroad.

“Ana is very on top of everything,” said Courtney Lindstrand, Ana’s editor in chief at Blue & White and co-president of CAFME. “She is driven and motivated and a great writer and awesome editor. She always knows how to get to the point and really transforms her writers.”

But Ana’s talents go beyond her impressive journalism resume. Most people shy away from the questions that may reveal hidden truths, but Ana had no problem delving into discussing facts no one knows about her.

“I can touch my nose with my tongue. I can do a headstand in yoga—which is my pride and joy—I love olive and mayo sandwiches, and I raised a guide dog name Fagan,” said Ana grinning with pride.

As for her future, Ana sees herself writing or editing for a food or women’s magazine. After she graduates she plans to move back home, go to the World Cup in Brazil and start her search for a job.

Ana’s best friend Chloe Dougherty says five years from now, she “sees Ana with a killer apartment in Manhattan working for a magazine, newly engaged and enjoying life.” In 10 years, she “sees her sipping martinis on a yacht in the French Riviera.”

As for now, Ana is just enjoying soaking up all of the experiences she’s having this summer, making 5 a.m. runs for cronuts and building shelves, but especially learning the ins and outs of a major magazine.

“I really have no idea where I’ll be a year from now. All I know is that I have to take a science class with a lab next year, and I’m not looking forward to it… it’s going to be hell.” 

by Andrea Baumgartner, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Good Housekeeping 
edited by Adam Pincus, University of Florida, Field and Stream Magazine

Monday, June 24, 2013

Becoming Allison

Legs crossed, arms folded, and head tilted to the side, she laughs. It starts as a giggle, then bubbles upwards, building into a boisterous sound that demands a second look. Asked about career aspirations, she smiles bashfully at a memory before letting me in on the secret.

“The doctor told me I’d never be tall enough,” she says. “I cried. It was my whole life goal.”

Allison Pohle will never be a Radio City Rockette.

Dreams dashed as a young girl, it wasn’t until high school that she discovered a new calling: storytelling. Encouraged by others who told her she was a good writer, Pohle enrolled in a journalism course her junior year of high school and the spark ignited.

“I liked writing about people, hearing their stories,” Pohle explains.

Now a rising senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she will graduate in May with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and an emphasis in Arts and Culture. Pohle’s most recent credentials involve an internship with TNT Magazine, based in London, England where she spent the past semester.

Pohle worked mainly for the magazine’s travel and lifestyle sections as well as creating daily news updates. The petite staff size offered her opportunities to write, research and conduct interviews with civilians on the street. She was also able to indulge in the national pastime.

“They took lots of tea breaks,” Pohle says. “Three times a day.”

A self-described anglophile (lover of all things British), she had set lofty expectations for her time abroad and immersed herself beyond just high tea. Part of Pohle's obsession with England stems from her unabashed love for the author Jane Austen.

Pohle’s love of Austen began when she read Pride and Prejudice, which became both her favorite book and movie. She describes the story as the “epitome of British culture” and says Austen portrays the world “as it was” and not as people wanted it to be.

Once, during her time across the pond, Pohle left her flatmates and the city behind to explore both Austen’s country home in Alton and the estate on which Mr. Darcy’s dashing character is based.
Allison, experiencing Jane Austen first hand.
“I went by myself,” Pohle says, straightening in her chair. “I spent the entire day there. I sat and I wrote and it truly felt like the England I’d been waiting for.”

Stateside, Pohle enjoyed time with her family in her hometown of Solon, Ohio before relocating to New York City for the summer. She is currently an editorial intern at Meredith’s Ladies Home Journal and a participant of the American Society of Magazine Editor’s (ASME) internship program.

Splitting her time chiefly between the health and entertainment sections, Pohle is motivated by the same goals that guide her hectic collegiate life back at Mizzou. Friend and fellow journalism student, Bethany Christo, describes Allison as a natural storyteller.

“She’s courteous, charming, and very wise,” says Christo. “I know she’s going to be an awesome journalist because she finds the greatest stories.”

Christo recalls one particular feature Pohle wrote on unschooling, a type of child-led learning where the students determine their course of study without guidance from their parents, in homes around Missouri. The story, uncovered by Pohle, was published in Inside Columbia, a local magazine.

“Parents were afraid about how they would be portrayed,” says Christo. “Allison made them feel completely comfortable and put them at ease.”

Now, in Manhattan, sitting back in her chair with her wide eyes focused and tawny hair pulled over her shoulders, it’s not hard to see how.

“I’ve always been told I’m a good listener and I listen more than I talk,” Pohle says. “I want people to feel like they can be heard, to know that they are noticed and important.”

As she muses, she speaks of common human experiences and how people can relate to shared moments, feeling connected across time and space, linked together through the words of an article or finding solace from a complete stranger. The power of the written word. She is so drawn to the art of storytelling that although she she has now grown to the full height of a Radio City Rockette (her doctor was wrong about her height projections), she cannot imagine being anything but a journalist.

So while she may never strut down 6th Avenue in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, high stepping at Radio City Music Hall, Allison Pohle will always be the Lizzy Bennet of ASME, summer 2013.

By: Carlos J. Anchondo, Trinity University, Sports Illustrated
Edited by: Arielle Pardes, University of Pennsylvania, Martha Stewart Living

Money Talk


Money is a foreign language.  And, as with all languages, it is best learned through immersion.

Immersed I am.

I have called Morningstar, an investment resource, to find the one and four year returns for the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBMFX) starting in 1994.  I have been on the phone with several CEOs of groups specializing in financial literacy and the Bloomberg Terminal, our stock price reporting system, remains my formidable foe.

When I conduct phone interviews, it is as though the questions I need to ask are given to me in Mandarin, and the most I can do is write down the answer phonetically, asking follow up questions few and far between.

But in this land where they only speak Money, I am learning so much.  Annualized returns, liquidity and dreams of early retirement are old hat now.  So much so that I have started lecturing my unfortunate friends on how important early participation in a company sponsored 401k is.

“It’s free money!” I helplessly bleat, while the talk turns to the J. Crew sample sale.

There has been a learning curve during my three weeks at MONEY Magazine, but along the way I've been helped by so many people, who, from day one, reassured me that it took them years to become fluent in the language I am slowly learning.

Whenever I venture out of my office with questions, I find many writers and even more editors who are more than willing to walk me through the finer points and potential benefits of aggressively managed stock portfolios.

After work, I emerge from the 18th floor of the Time-Life Building into a very big city, where I am ecstatic to be a part of such a large group of people who are so similar to me. Only four weeks in, I have met 27 people whom I can say with confidence will someday do grand things, no matter where they choose to go. 

In the meantime, my vocabulary grows daily, but my accent identifies me as an outsider.  Perhaps it will fade over time and my friends, who already ask me regularly for financial advice, will get better tips than, “Start investing as soon as you can.”

-Stefan Malmsten is an intern at MONEY Magazine.  He attends Ohio University.

-This post was edited by Andrew Chow, an intern at TV Guide.  He attends Harvard University. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Right Here On the Ocean Floor

Clad in seashells, the girl with the magenta tail waved energetically as crowds cheered her on. A seahorse and two jellyfish followed soon after, eager to escape the blazing sun.

Meanwhile, my group perched upon a railing, sipping water and peering ahead to the upcoming baton twirler.

We had just taken the train with a few mermaids, so a few other aquatic organisms weren’t a shock.

We weren’t in an aquarium, nor had we taken a dive into the ocean (that happened a little later). We were at Coney Island, watching The Mermaid Parade.

I was a tad surprised when I first heard of the annual event. I
couldn’t understand it – what was it celebrating? Who had declared, “We Shall Have Mermaids”? It was definitely a New York ‘thing,’ (which I’ve taken to be an all-encompassing definition), but I wasn’t sure if I’d feel like an outsider, oblivious and agog.

People have described New York as a hostile place, where people will run over you without a second glance, a place overflowing with humans of all descriptions. 

I think it’s all a lie. The city has been overwhelmingly friendly to me, from the Italian barista who explained the art of a latte, to the businesswoman who adjusted my sweater as I ran out of the train station. I don’t feel anxious – I feel comfortable, relaxed.

As we rode to the parade I thought of this, of how I could find a home here. As the Ferris wheel came into view, I realized it wasn’t just the city that had welcomed me, but the friends I had made here – friends who were excited to share the mythological mayhem.

My straw hat fluttered to the ground, blown by an ocean breeze. I leapt off the ironwork and snagged the hat from the small tree it had landed on.

Andrea turned to me. “Next summer, I want to be a mermaid.”

“Me too.” 

By Em Maier, University of Pittsburgh, Inc. 
Edited by April Castillo, SUNY New Paltz, Woman's Day