New Year, New Job, New Subway Commute

The New Year began with one big change for me: I started a new job at the Rachael Ray Show as its Publicity Coordinator. Wednesday was my first day, and while I’m still getting the hang of things, I can tell it’s going to be a fulfilling experience. I already feel very lucky to be part of that team.

After working as a temp in Sports Illustrated‘s communications department for four months, it became clear that there might not be a chance for longer-term employment there – not for any bad reason, but just because that’s how things go sometimes in a down economy. But, I felt encouraged and grateful for the support of my bosses, who assured me they were in my corner as I looked for a new position. One of them had a connection to the show, knew they needed a new Publicity Coordinator, and I was lucky enough to get the job.

Aside from the work being rooted in public relations and social media, nearly everything about it is different from previous positions I’ve held. After thinking for most of college that I wanted to work in sports, I’m really enjoying the shift to the entertainment industry (if I’ve learned anything since graduating from college, it’s that you shouldn’t be surprised if your idea of a perfect career radically changes). My passion for sports – as a fan – has not dulled, and I’m not ruling out a return to the field somewhere down the road, but having a new focus is refreshing.

I’m also in a new part of the city. My new office is in Chelsea – a departure from the fast pace of Midtown. It’s a painless commute, although a bit longer, but that just means I’m finishing three to five more pages of Team of Rivals each morning.

And while everything about the challenge and promise of a new job is great, there’s another benefit: This is a full-time, real-person, big-kid position. I’m no longer a temp or an intern. It gives some degree of permanence to my time in New York City and a bit of an accomplished feeling, in that I landed a job in my dream city and desired field. Obviously, I still have a lot to prove, but I’m proud of having taken the first step.

Not much else is new for me in the new year, but the job change and a wonderful week home in Portland for Christmas have me looking at NYC in a different light. It’s only January 5, but 2013 is already giving me a lot to love. I hope it’s doing the same for you.

Brief P.S.: I typically can’t keep a New Year’s Resolution past the third week of January, but I’m seriously resolved to write more in 2013. So many thoughts pop in and out of my head on a daily basis, and I’d like to develop many of them more fully right here. We’ll see how it goes.

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A Brief Summary of the Last Two Months

Last week, when Twitter unveiled its new profile design, it dawned on me that I hadn’t posted here in nearly two months. As of yesterday, it has officially been two months, and while last week was the “wake-up call” – if I voluntarily share this URL with the entire internet, I should probably keep it current – I’ve honestly started and and abandoned at least ten drafts since I last posted.

Each time I tried to write something, I told myself the post was too detailed, too emotional, too this, too that. I didn’t want it to be a photo album of my summer in New York, and I didn’t want it to be twenty paragraphs on how much my life has changed since I last posted. So now, it’s this awkward “my blog is still here!” post. That’s what I get for being inconsistent.

Anyway, without being too photo-album-y and too emotional, I’ll make it a little of both and share a brief summary of what the last two months have held – if only so I can get past all that information and free myself to write with a fresh start.

When I last blogged, Ichiro had just become a Yankee. I remain traumatized.

Since then:

  • The biggest change over the past two months has been switching jobs. I could go on and on and on about how much I loved and learned from my experience as a Mets media relations intern (and in a later post, I might), but in mid-August, I accepted a temporary position with Sports Illustrated’s communications team. It was the right fit at the right time, and while it was difficult to say goodbye to an awesome group of co-workers and a press-box view for Mets games, I love where I’m at right now. I do a mix of traditional media relations work and social media promotion for the magazine and SI.com. (Shameless plug: Follow us here and here.)
  • Another big move: My roommate and I signed a one-year lease on our apartment. It was probably the most real-life-adult thing I’ve ever done, and it feels great to be settled. It sounds cheesy, but in my mind, signing that lease meant I really made it in New York. Of course, not much about my current situation is guaranteed to last forever, but there was enough permanence about the move to make me feel like I accomplished a big part of my longtime goal to live and work in NYC.
  • I’ve been a little homesick. (Disclaimer: This is the emotional section!) At first, I felt guilty for being homesick. I thought, I’m in the coolest city in the world! Even the worst day here should be better than the best day somewhere else. That’s a pretty stupid way to think, because sometimes it stinks to be relatively alone (compared to the big community I found in college) and away from all that had been familiar for the previous 21 years. I’m feeling more comfortable with New York life each day, but going through some tough bouts of homesickness shifted my perspective on several aspects of living and working in the city.
  • In the past month, I’ve seen my sister quite a bit. She’s in her second year at the United States Military Academy at West Point, located 80 minutes up the Hudson River from NYC, so it’s been nice to visit her and have her come into the city, especially with the rest of our family so far away.
  • What else? Oh, college football season started. The Ducks are 4-0 and #2 in the nation. Enough said.

There are countless other experiences I haven’t mentioned – amazing meals, great talks with old friends, making new friends, exploring the city – that aren’t necessarily landmarks, but moments composing an unforgettable time of transition in my life. I wish I had time to do them all justice with a few more sentences, but there’s too much happening right now to dwell on the past. That’s a big part of why I wanted to write this all down. The past is in the past, and I’m eager to move forward while writing about the people, places, ideas and obsessions I encounter along the way.

Joe Posnanski Leaves Sports Illustrated (and the Fangirl Emerges)

No, Joe Posanski did not die, and I highly doubt his move from Sports Illustrated to USA Today/MLB Advanced Media means he’ll never write again. However, I’m still sad he’s leaving my favorite magazine, so I’m using his departure as an excuse to re-read what I think are the greatest pieces he wrote for SI and over-analyze why I think they’re so great.

I’m not sure exactly when I determined he was my favorite writer – probably a year and a half ago – but I steadily realized I hadn’t read many other works that made me care so much about the topic at hand. Last summer, I interned in the communications/PR department at SI, and I sort of couldn’t believe Joe Posnanski and I were getting paychecks from the same company. Anyway, history of my fangirl-ness aside, here are a few of my favorites from his time at SI:

Baseball Night In AmericaPosnanski’s post following that crazy final day of the 2011 regular season is the greatest piece of writing (by any author) I’ve read in the last year. I actually cut out the last three paragraphs and taped them above my desk as a reminder of how brilliant writing can be (and yeah, I know that probably makes me sound crazy).

Why is it so great? You have to be a baseball fan to understand. Baseball fans have heard their friends say, “it’s so boring” or “I like going to baseball games, but could never watch it on TV.” I’m the first to admit that I’d rather watch an Oregon football game over a late-August contest between two cellar-dwellers, but on the whole, there’s no comparison. Football games are exciting without fail; you don’t have to work for the entertainment. With baseball, on the other hand – actually, never mind. Just read the last three paragraphs of that story and you’ll see what he means.

Thoughts in a Bookstore -This post from last February is especially meaningful if you’ve read “The Soul of Baseball,” the book he wrote after traveling the country with Buck O’Neil. But either way, it’s a relevant commentary on the decline of print media and one of those satisfying stories that goes in several different directions, but ties them together perfectly in the final paragraph

Before weaving the Buck O’Neil story, he provides hilariously true commentary on bookstore staff recommendations:

I love the section of “Staff Recommendations.” I remember someone in the business once telling me that the big bookstores will fake those recommendations — that they will tell staffers which books to pick. I’ve since been told that this isn’t true. I don’t have an leaning on the subject. I have noticed that the staff recommendations at bookstores across the country tend to be very similar. The recommendations always seem to include one Toni Morrison book, one classic by Steinbeck or Fitzgerald, a Bukowski, Burroughs or Palahniuk (recommended by the store rebel), a recent translation, and an Oprah book club selection. This doesn’t have to be planned. This could be because people who work in bookstores tend to have similar tastes.

I remember at one bookstore — in Arizona, I’m pretty sure –someone on the staff recommended The Bible. I thought that was great, and I wondered if anyone saw that and thought: “Well, I haven’t heard too much about this book, but I’ll buy it based on the recommendation.”

Funny, right? Yes. Now go read the rest.

The Poscast with Bob Costas – Written on the heels of recording his podcast/Poscast with Bob Costas, this post contains a quote I loved enough to put in my “Favorite Quotations” section on Facebook (which, in my world, is a sign of admiration):

The world, I believe, is best enjoyed and most affected by those people who believe in possibility, who strive for it, who shake off the doubters and their own self doubt, who laugh with the critics and keep moving forward, who follow their own curiosities until they are filled, who see themselves accomplishing the best they can imagine.

You have to read the whole post to fully understand where that’s coming from, but he tells a terrific story of an encounter he had with Bob Costas during his early days as a writer.

Happy Pi DayThis was written just a couple weeks ago, on Pi Day/March 14. I love it for the quirky perspective it offers on baseball stats (MLB pitchers whose career ERAs were 3.14), but its true greatness lies in the brief aside about repetitive acronyms. As a proud corrector of friends and family who say “ATM machine,” I felt some small measure of validation knowing that Joe Posnanski recognized the error, as well.

Others worth a read:

The Jeter School of Acting, 9/16/10

Game Six, 10/28/11

Lessons of the Fight Game, from the March 7, 2011 issue of SI

RIP Bob Feller, 12/16/10

If you’re also willing to admit to Posnanski fandom, I’d love to know what your favorite pieces are.

Words That Let Game Six Live On

For the past five minutes, I’ve tried to write an introductory paragraph that would do some justice to Joe Posnanski’s perfect post-Game 6 piece. He’s hands-down my favorite sportswriter, who was blessed with some insane ability to write eight thousand times more profoundly than anyone else.

But I can’t even begin to do it justice. So I’ll let his own words do the talking:

Freese hit the home run that won the game, hit it to straight away center field, a blast that will make every drink free in St. Louis for the rest of his life. And the 10-year-old in me was still shaking with joy. That 10-year-old always believed in comebacks, always, even after I had seen a thousand of them thwarted and smothered. “Next time,” I have always thought because that’s the wonder of sports. And then came this imperfect game, bloated with mistakes and brain-lock and baffling choices, and then, absurdly, miraculously, it became the most wonderful game I can remember.

He describes Game 6 of the World Series in depth, recounting every lead change, the comical fielding errors, the David Freese walk-off heroics.

His piece was equal parts game recap and reflection on the larger-than-life nature of baseball. It was a confirmation that all the heroics of last night really were significant. What we watched was real.

I took the newspaper out of its plastic wrap this morning and found that last night’s epic game had been relegated to a small headline on the top of the front page. Something like “Freese, Cardinals Force Game 7. Sports, C1.” That’s it? All those high-on-baseball tweets last night (many of which were coming from people who normally tweeted about football or the NBA lockout – that’s how you know it’s big) had been boiled down into a sterile headline.

But then we’re reminded of how awesome it was, thanks to pieces like Posnanski’s.

And thanks to pictures like this, of Freese’s teammates preparing to mob him as he reached home in the bottom of the 11th:

This image was the main picture on SI.com directly after the game last night.

And thanks to baseball fans everywhere – some who just became baseball fans last night – who know tonight’s game can’t come soon enough.

(Bonus: It’s a month old by now, but Posnanski’s piece on Day 162 of the 2011 baseball season was maybe the best thing I’ve read all year. Give it a whirl if you have a few minutes.)

Feeling the Birthday Love

If there ever was a day to remind you how blessed you are, it’s your birthday. My 21st was on Friday, and it began with the opening of a box my mom gave me when I saw her the previous weekend. She had commanded me not to open it until my birthday, and I was proud of myself for waiting. Inside, I found 21 little birthday presents – one for each year I’ve been alive. It was perfect, and such a thoughtful gift, including everything from a Starbucks card to a bag of dry roasted edamame, the greatest snack in the whole world.

These are the unwrapped versions but my mom actually took the time to individually wrap each of the gifts.

The day was also special because my friend Miranda, who lived across the hall from me at school this year, sent me an edible bouquet of chocolate-covered strawberries. The fact that she sent me food, not flowers, and filled the card with 30 Rock references is probably a good indicator of why we are friends.

There was also a pink princess balloon attached; Miranda later told me that she wanted it to include a Disney princess balloon, but apparently Edible Arrangements only supports generic-brand royalty.

I received one more special delivery; this one, a non-edible bouquet of flowers from my parents (it should be noted that they are now in full bloom and look even more gorgeous than they do here):

Since I know you were wondering, the #1 way to put a smile on my face would be to send me flowers. The smile will be bigger if you also send coffee.

While Friday was the “official” day, Thursday was also filled with some birthday action. We Sports Illustrated PR interns didn’t have to work on Friday, so on Thursday afternoon, one of my co-workers asked me to walk with him to another department on our floor to pick up some magazines. Our final destination wasn’t magazines, but a small conference room where everyone else on the PR team sat waiting with cupcakes, a balloon and a birthday card. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness, especially because I’ve only been there a few weeks.

Also not to be forgotten are the decorations/gifts from my wonderful suitemates. I went out to dinner on Thursday night and returned to find this at my door:

The birthday surprise from my suitemates: custom-made birthday poster, sweets from Dylan's Candy Bar and "21" spelled out in Dove chocolates.

On Friday night, I went out for dinner and drinks with a group of about 10 people. I can’t even begin to describe how lucky I feel, knowing that after only a month in the city, I have that many people who want to celebrate with me. We had a fantastic night – dinner at Hill Country and drinks at a couple places near our building in Midtown. (Don’t get your hopes up; I’m pretty much the least exciting person to go out with in history. I remember every minute of the night, and my drink total only came to 1.25 drinks.)

The birthday crew at Hill Country.

Thanks to everyone who helped me celebrate in person or left me a note via Facebook or Twitter. Here’s to making it a great year!

(Almost) One Week Down and Loving It

So much has happened between my last post on Saturday and tonight that I don’t even know where to begin. Eugene, school and finals seem like an eternity ago, but I absolutely love this second go-round in NYC.

I arrived early Saturday morning after taking that trusty JetBlue redeye from PDX. Since I couldn’t get into my building until 8 a.m. (or at least, didn’t want to wake up the RAs before 8), I stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts near baggage claim  (sorry for two parentheses in the same sentence, but I’m positive it’s the same one my dad and I stopped at when we arrived last summer) and sat for an hour with iced coffee and a copy of the New York Daily News.

On the cab ride into the city, I was pleasantly surprised to find that BOTH of my biggest celebrity crushes, Brian Williams and Jimmy Fallon, currently star in Taxi TV segments.

Sunday was for getting settled, meeting my roommates and timing the walk from my building to the Time-Life Building, where Sports Illustrated’s offices are housed. It takes roughly twenty minutes, not counting my ritual Starbucks stop.

Entrance to the Sports Illustrated office.

My internship began on Monday. I was led to my cubicle on the 33rd floor. On my desk when I arrived: MLB’s 2011 Media Guide (so, yeah, all you MLB beat reporters and PR people – I’m going to start following you on Twitter), a copy of the most recent SI (the Jim Tressel cover at the time), a new notebook, plenty of office supplies and several papers and packets detailing everything I’d need to know as a communications intern at Sports Illustrated. Awesome.

There are six full-time employees on the communications staff, and three interns including me.

My cube. This was taken before I added some pictures and Duck décor.

On Tuesday, I had the thrill of actually sending a tweet from the official Sports Illustrated Twitter account. (Side note – again, sorry for all of the parentheses – SI’s Twitter handle was recently changed from @SI_24Seven to @SInow.) It might not sound like a big deal, but having the chance to combine my passions for social media and sports was very exciting. Now, I’m crafting a few tweets each day to send out based on SI.com content and photos from SI’s Google Chrome app, Sports Illustrated Snapshot.

Speaking of snapshots: this is just a phone picture, but I took it from the room where our Time Inc. intern orientation was held on Monday. There's something very New York-ish about working across from Radio City Music Hall.

Every morning, I attend an SI.com editorial meeting. Most of the editors for SI.com’s departments – everything from MLB to boxing/MMA – meet for a quick rundown of what will appear on the site that day. It’s my job to listen for particular stories or features that would appeal to SI’s Twitter followers, and think of ways to uniquely position the content. We don’t want to just post story after story, but provide a new perspective and ask followers what they think. (And on a major nerd note, one of the hosts of a college football podcast I listen to is at those editorial meetings.)

From a PR standpoint, it’s not only fun to tweet, but also fascinating to see how each tweet is intentionally designed to spark some sort of conversation or plug a certain article on the site.

Other than tweeting, I’ve been spending a lot of time with a program called Critical Mention, which tracks mentions of Sports Illustrated on TV shows. I also track some statistics related to SI’s Twitter engagement and today, I put together an Excel spreadsheet filled with info about various golf blogs.

I’m only four days in, but each day has been busy, fulfilling and fun. Next on my agenda: get out and explore more of New York this weekend.

Since I’m feeling rather deprived of anything but sports news, what’s up in your world?

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!