Summer in New York, Take Two

This picture has nothing to do with anything in this post, but it's awesome so I threw it in just for kicks.

Tonight, I’ll hop on a plane and head for New York City. It’s the same flight I took a year ago en route to my internship in the corporate communications department at Rodale, but this year I’m heading to the Big Apple to work in the communications department at Sports Illustrated.

After an amazing year at the University of Oregon (how did it go by so quickly?), I’m stoked to begin this next adventure and have the chance to combine my passions for PR and sports while learning more about how PR is done in the real world. With one summer in New York under my belt, I feel more confident about living in the city (yeah, I can hail a cab all by myself) but know I still have a lot to learn.

I’ll be blogging here about my experiences, from the fun to the embarrassing to the Liz Lemon-esque. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to follow along and read/comment if you’d like. (Also, if you feel so inclined, please send money. Kidding. Sort of.)

Thanks for reading my blog and – if you’re in Oregon – I’ll see you in August!

Goodbye, Best Summer Ever

Most college students have already purchased new books, started new classes and heck, maybe even taken a midterm. But because we’re on the quarter system (I’ll spare you the details), classes at the University of Oregon begin tomorrow. It didn’t even hit me until I was out for a run this afternoon that today is the last day of summer vacation.

I can say with certainty that this was the best summer of my life. Why? Because I…

  • Completed the most amazing internship in the most amazing city. I worked in New York City and interned at Rodale publishing, specifically with Bicycling magazine, one of Rodale’s titles. I had the chance to do so much fun work and apply my PR skills in a real work setting. (You can read more about my summer here and here.)
  • Met my baseball-announcing hero, Jon Miller, in a spontaneous encounter on the streets of Manhattan. Got his autograph.
  • Saw a game at Fenway Park with my family on a beautiful Boston evening.
  • Successfully learned how to navigate the New York City subway system.
  • Secured season tickets to Oregon Ducks football games.

Of course, a lot more happened than that, but those were the highlights.

It’s my goal to follow up the best summer ever with the best school year ever. Bright and early tomorrow, I’ll be settling into my new class schedule and starting a new routine. It’s going to busy, but I’m determined to not let anything slip through the cracks (including this blog).

ESPN’s College GameDay is actually helping me make this a great year, as they announced this morning that they’ll be broadcasting from Eugene on Saturday and featuring Oregon v. Stanford as their game of the week.

Duck fans try to get their signs shown TV during GameDay's trip to Eugene last year.

I’m already brainstorming poster ideas, and you can bet I’ll be there, decked out in my green and yellow. Can’t think of a better way to spend the first weekend of what I plan to make the best school year ever.

Wrapping It Up

It seems like every post I’ve made in the past few months has begun with some sort of reflection on how quickly time is moving and how I can’t believe my internship is half over or what have you.

Even though it’s unoriginal, I’m starting this post the same way. I cannot believe I’m no longer writing from New York City. Instead, I’m sitting in my bedroom in Portland, amidst half-unpacked suitcases, magazines, shoes or boxes that my family left in here while I was away.

It’s good to be home, but it’s been an interesting transition. At times, it seems like my ten weeks in the Big Apple were just a dream.

Obviously, though, they weren’t a dream. And while I am way behind on blogging about my trip, I’m using this post as a way to “wrap up.” Below are a few photos, with some description, that summarize my final few weeks in New York.

Before I get to the photos, though, I just have to give an ENORMOUS “thank you” to everyone I met and worked with in New York City, especially those at Rodale, Inc., the publishing firm where I interned. The people I worked with (the PR teams at Rodale’s corporate level, Bicycling magazine and Organic Gardening magazines) were nothing short of amazing: they were willing to give me real responsibility, constructive criticism, support and encouragement.

It sounds cheesy, but my ten weeks at Rodale (and in New York in general) taught me so much about the working world, the public relations and publishing industries and myself that I can honestly say I’m a much different person today than I was at the beginning of June. This experience forced me to seriously consider what I want out of my life and career, and where I plan on going (literally and figuratively) in the next two years and when I graduate. I don’t want to get too deep here, but you get the idea.

Anyway, sappiness aside, I have one more thing on my mind: It’s my goal to write a series of posts about what I learned at my internship (basically from a public relations perspective), and I’d also like to start taking my blog more seriously during the school year.

To do so, I’d like to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and my own domain name, along with a theme that’s a cut above the basic, generic themes.

If you have any knowledge in that area, I’d appreciate your advice, especially when it comes to purchasing a domain name, transferring a WP.com blog to WP.org and finding a good theme.

Thanks for sticking with me. Here are a few final photos from my New York adventure:

come fly away

I saw "Come Fly Away" on Broadway during my last weekend in NYC. It was a fantastic combination of Twyla Tharp choreography and Frank Sinatra music.

st patricks cathedral

The majestic inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral

liz lemon tshirts

Ridiculously awesome Liz Lemon quote t-shirts from the NBC Experience Store. "What the what?!"

wall street george washington statue

Not the best photo, but I love this statue of George Washington on Wall Street. This is where Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. It's a gorgeous building and statue with historical significance.

morningside park

The beautiful view from a lookout at Morningside Park, on the Upper West Side near Columbia University. In addition to my Park Slope, Brooklyn obsession, I also love the UWS.

Five photos don’t even come close to summarizing everything I did in my final weeks, but hopefully it gives you a little taste. Since time was dwindling, I was fearless about exploring anything and everything in the city – from downtown to the Upper West Side, I tried to see it all.

Thank you for reading the posts about my trip; an especially big thanks to those who commented. I really appreciate the time you took to check in with my Big Apple adventures. I can’t promise that Portland and Eugene will be as exciting, but I’ll see what I can do. Thanks again!

A Post About Food

There is a running joke in my family that all of my clearest memories in life are tied to the foods I was eating during important events. While this may or may not be true (decide for yourself), it is true that I love food.

I’ve eaten a lot of great food over the past few weeks and have suddenly become obsessed with hunting down great places to eat more. Here is a sampling of some of the best I’ve had thus far:

Magnolia Bakery

Saint Cupcake, it’s been a great few years. My favorite cupcake shop in Portland has been dethroned by the magnificent Magnolia Bakery, a popular NYC destination. Everything about it is delightful, especially the “Grand Central” cupcake they serve exclusively at their Grand Central Station store. Their Grand Central Station store has its own Grand Central cupcake – a chocolate/vanilla marble cake with delicious buttercream frosting and a chocolate on top. Observe:

grand central cupcake

The Grand Central Cupcake, kept in one of Magnolia's genius upside-down plastic cup containers.

magnolia grand central

The spread of cupcakes at Magnolia Grand Central

S’MAC

S’mac is short for Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese, and “most amazing random food restaurant ever.” At S’MAC, you can choose from a bunch of different mac & cheese combos and then have it served to you on a skillet. I recommend the “Garden Lite” – mac & cheese with lite cheddar, parmesan, roasted cauliflower and portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, broccoli and scallions. Of course, that’s all I’ve tried, but it was pretty dang good.

mac n cheese from smac

Ignore the fact that I look really tired, and focus on the amazingness of that mac & cheese.

Street Meat

The street vendor/food cart craze is sweeping the nation, and you can bet NYC is no exception. Eating on the street is an art form these days, especially during summer weekends when street fairs pop up all over town. While on my way to a street fair in the East Village, I came upon one right in my own neighborhood (East Midtown). And while my best purchase of the day was probably Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium record ($7! Vinyl!), the second best was this lunch:

$1 lemonade + $5 chicken satay and pad Thai = $6 = the NYC equivalent of free

Even though I didn’t take pictures of all of my food, like some of my Rodale colleagues suggested I do during my first week (seriously – they were right; I should have), here are a few other places I’ve tried and loved:

Lombardi’s Pizza in NoLita (North of Little Italy) – can’t go wrong in a restaurant where you only pay $8 for two enormous pizza slices AND where they play Frank Sinatra music.

16 Handles – world’s most delicious self-serve frozen yogurt

William Greenberg Desserts – according to New York magazine a couple of years ago, they have the best black and white cookies in the city; those are a New York tradition

To me, a discussion of food isn’t complete without a little homage to my hero Liz Lemon, who loves food just as much as I do. So, while it really has nothing to do with anything I’ve said above, take 30 seconds to appreciate Liz and her food obsession. As always, thanks for reading!

Ohhhhh, We’re Halfway There…

….ohhhh, livin’ on a prayer!

Okay, that was lame, but it fit so perfectly. It has hit me that my time in New York is halfway over.

Time flies when you’re in the big city, so without being too sappy or cynical, here are the five main lessons I’ve learned, about the city, the public relations industry, and myself since I’ve been in New York:

  1. It’s okay to do things alone. For some reason, I have this idea in my head that if I’m not doing something with other people (running errands, having lunch, seeing a show), I am a friendless loser. You’re in a city of eight million people and you’re alone? That can’t be right – that’s what the voices say. Sometimes, I’ve forced myself to do things alone because my other option, the option that would involve being around people, would put me in situations I wouldn’t want to be in. New York can be lonely, but I am learning that it’s better to go solo than do something contrary to your values.
  2. New York really is the coolest city on earth. Granted, I have not been to every city on earth, but I’m pretty sure New York is the coolest. It is amazing/awesome/thrilling/enormous/challenging/busy, and if you’re lonely or sad or upset, you’re still in New York and that’s enough. The mix of people, cultures, buildings and industries here really does make it the place to be. I’m not saying it’s the place to be forever, but I am grateful for the chance to see it as more than a tourist.

    Not even the best New York skyline picture, but still amazing...how do you compete with that?

  3. PR jobs are not the same as PR classes. Let me qualify this by saying that my internship is not a real job and that I haven’t taken every PR class my school offers. But, the working world is totally different from college. You don’t do public relations in the real world by consulting a theory in your textbook – you do it by understanding the task at hand and what you want to accomplish in that unique situation. That’s not to say that college is worthless, but it’s really only worth it if you understand how to apply it to real-world tasks, situations and strategies.
  4. You have to be fearless. Recently, I had coffee with a PR industry veteran who works at Rodale. She dispensed a lot of valuable advice, the best piece of which was to be fearless. Whether it’s picking up the phone to call a reporter even though you’re terrified of talking on the phone (that’s me, at times), or asking to meet with a professional to talk about their work. Work through your weaknesses and become stronger and better at your work in the process.
  5. Learn from and be grateful for everything that happens to you. (Warning: this one’s a little sappy.) Be grateful that you’re scrubbing the toilet, because even though it’s a toilet, it’s in the coolest city on earth. Be grateful that you get to talk to your little sister on Skype, because it’s not everyone who gets to hear about his or her sister playing Louis Armstrong in a summer camp play. Be grateful that you get to talk with a lady from the Bronx on the subway, even if you’re packed in on the train like sardines. Be grateful that you are where you are, because you’re there for a reason.

Even though the last lesson was a little sappy, it’s still true. I think I’ve learned more about myself in the last month than I did in the previous nineteen years (more or less).

Thanks for reading over these past few weeks – feel free to drop a comment and say “hi!” Here’s to the next five weeks!

Mannequins and Manhattan Driving

Some days throw you curveballs. Others throw you the keys to an SUV in Manhattan.

Today was one of the latter. Let me explain.

I went into work at 7:30 this morning to help Bicycling magazine prep for a segment on Good Morning America Health that was being filmed at a bike store in Chelsea, Sid’s Bikes.

The segment would feature the editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine showcasing and discussing triathlon gear. We (and by “we” I mean myself and Bicycling’s head of PR) had to take several different props and pieces of gear to the shop. To transport it across town from Rodale to Sid’s, we took a Honda CRV Zipcar.

Three bags of gear, two naked mannequins and a partridge in a pear tree.

While waiting for the car to arrive, I stood outside the building with all of our props, guarding them until they could be loaded. This setup included a rolling table, two unclothed mannequins and a few bags stuffed with assorted triathlon necessities. If you haven’t laughed yet today, hopefully the image of me standing next to this (see left) on a New York City street will get you started.

When we arrived at Sid’s, we parked on the street but eventually needed to move the car. Guess who was handed the keys?

I wasn’t afraid of driving but I was afraid of driving in Manhattan. This wasn’t my car and this wasn’t my city so I was uncertain. Really, it wasn’t bad at all; I only had to drive around the block to a parking garage so I wasn’t in the car for long. Now, I have the privilege of saying I have driven safely in New York City.

Driving hasn’t been the only fun I’ve had. I had a great weekend exploring Greenwich Village and Coney Island, going to a great church and enjoying a lazy afternoon in Central Park with a new friend.

Central Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Now that it’s officially summer, I plan to do a lot more of that. Spending an afternoon in Central Park is now my idea of an ideal summer afternoon; few things sound better than joining the New Yorkers who go there to play Frisbee, enjoy a picnic, read a book or get a tan. It’s a nice change of pace from driving an SUV.

A few more pictures from the last few days, since they’re worth more words than I have time to write:

nathan's coney island

At Nathan's Hot Dogs on Coney Island; notice the countdown to the 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.

larry tate pizza

Larry Tate pizza, which you could purchase at a pizza place my suitemate and I ate at on Friday night. I gave myself bonus points for randomly remembering that Larry Tate is the boss from the TV show "Bewitched."

Yes, this sign made sense to me, too.

empire state building

Last but not least...how could you ever get tired of looking at that?

Trips to Heaven, Lessons in Humility and Dates with Duane Reade

Well, the first week at Rodale is done! So far, it’s been wonderful. I have already begun real public relations work and work with some cool people. Making the transition from student life to working world is difficult to say the least, but I’m getting there.

The week fit nicely into three sections:

1)    Trips to Heaven

Okay, so not real heaven, but it was as close to heaven as you can get: the Rodale office supply closet. On Friday morning, I got to go “shopping” for office supplies to keep at my desk. I may as well have been a kid in a candy store looking at all of those staplers, binders, paper clips, folders and Sharpies in one place.

Here’s a little snapshot of what I picked up on my shopping trip:

With dry erase markers, I can now utilize my white board!

Another cool trip I got to take was to the Museum of Arts and Design, where an exhibit called “Bespoke” is currently on display. The exhibit features some pretty amazing custom-designed bicycles. You couldn’t take pictures, but the detail that went into creating those bikes was obvious. I went with two other PR people from Rodale because the museum was hosting a panel discussion that night about bikes as a form of urban transportation and the editor of Bicycling magazine (a Rodale publication that I’m doing a lot of PR work for) was moderating.

My admission ticket for the Museum of Arts and Design; please note the very official-looking "Landsem, Paige" e-mail printout above the ticket.

2)    Lessons in Humility

The combination of being in a huge new city and starting a (semi) real job forces you to learn a lot of lessons right off the bat.

A lot of these lessons could have been learned the easy way if I had just sucked it up and whipped out a map; I am trying so hard to be one of the locals, who always knows where she is going. But, I’m not a local and I don’t know where I’m going. So, I get lost. I go the wrong way on the subway.

More than once this week, I was forced to stop and ask for directions and be the helpless idiot from out of town who can’t find her MTA subway card buried in her wallet.

Thankfully, I haven’t made any really bad mistakes that have permanently damaged my pride or reputation (although I did write “devise” where I meant to write “device”, which was pretty embarrassing). But, I have learned that it’s important to take a step back and remember that you still have a lot to learn – and plenty of time in which to learn. You don’t have to be a local or a smart PR person right away. You just have to be humble and willing to learn.

3)    Dates with Duane Reade

If you haven’t been to New York City, Duane Reade is the convenience store on every corner. It’s basically Rite-Aid or Walgreens, only it’s called Duane Reade. I can honestly say that I have purchased something at Duane Reade every day so far except for Friday. That may be sad, but it’s the truth.

And aside from Duane Reade, I’ve also had dates with some other local restaurants; it’s been fun exploring the lunch spots around the Rodale office. While I’ll start bringing my lunch to work, I’ve been able to try out a deli right next to the office, a great little Japanese/bento place in the building and a nice Italian restaurant just a few blocks away. All were great – now it’s just a matter of keeping myself away from Five Guys Burgers and Fries down the street.

That’s about it for now. I’ll leave you with this picture of the top of the Chrysler Building at night, which, while taken with a lame cell phone camera picture, is still kind of cool.

The Chrysler Building at night, along with the steady stream of cabs.

Thanks for reading!