Friday, August 29, 2008

Every New Beginning (Or New Pair of Shoes) ...

If you leave work after a harrowing day in what has become an increasingly tense office, and halfway down the block, your super-cute-but-blister-causing flip-flops break, you clearly have to buy new shoes. Because, after all, you cannot walk the streets--or subways--of New York City barefoot.

But if you are a copy editor and perhaps one who stayed late to kiss up, not much is open by the time you leave work. And keep in mind, one of your feet is coming into direct contact with a New York City sidewalk with each and every step you take.

(Something that someone once jokingly suggested to me could give you gonorrhea, which is, um, unlikely but probably only slightly melodramatic. The NY Times did say this summer that walking even on NYC grass was inadvisable. Though I should note that I had no qualms about walking barefoot in D.C.)

In said situation, you might be forced to buy shoes you didn't really need. Forced, I tell you. So, good-bye butterfly flip-flops (the blister scars won't let me forget you), and hello silver flats.

A co-worker mentioned the next day that I probably could have found some semblance of cheap flip-flops at one of the ubiquitous Duane Reades, but alas I was not that smart -- and have a new pair of shoes to show for it. I can live with that.

Just Gettin' By

"[M]aybe the truth is there's a little bit of loser in all of us, ya know? Being happy isn't having everything in your life be perfect. Maybe it's about stringing together all the little things like wearing these pants or getting to a new level of Dragon's Lair -- making those count for more than the bad stuff. Maybe we just get through it ... and that's all we can ask for."

More than one person recently told me that one of the things they admire most about me is my ability to get through things. (Which is not to say that I have had tons of really awful things to go through. As a friend told me when I said I just wished life were easy for once, "Your life has not always been hard," which is more than legit.)

I guess it's true, though. I do always just get through things. I am not the sort of person that breaks down and cries and recovers only after copious amounts of ice cream (though ice cream does always help).

Even when I feel like I am falling apart, when I feel unmoored and unsure and on edge, I am still put together, though it may take more caffeine and more sleep (the same thing?) to get there. And I may grind my teeth into oblivion.

I am the sort of person who does whatever's gotta get done with the help of lots of coffee and collapses afterward, hopefully too tired to think. Hopefully.

But I wonder if I lose something in that "just get through it" attitude. Because just getting through it isn't really ever enough, is it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Editing Quote of the Day

"Copy editors might be the only people who can discuss, cheerfully and seriously and on their own time, when to hyphenate a compound adjective. Normal people, I have found, deeply do not care."

True that.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gee Brain, What Do You Want to Do Tonight?

The Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world.

My sister's observation after a few hours of Risk in which we basically ended up back where we started with no clear front-runner: "Maybe the point of Risk is that it's supposed to be nearly impossible to win to show that world domination is inadvisable."

Let the Celebrations Begin

A week until my birthday and thus far I have received: a fantastic custom-made photo calendar, a computer version of Scrabble, a flip-flop rug, a night shirt that says "One good book deserves another" (which would be more useful if I slept in night shirts, but whatever), a flip-flop cake (not quite like the one above but pretty close), Post-It notes that say "Dew knot trussed yore spell chequer two fined awl yore mistakes," and a whole bunch of very unhelpful clues about coffee.

A friend told me she googled "presents for nerds" in search of a present for me. The above list fits that category pretty well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Deep Thoughts: The Spilled Coffee Edition

  • Is it a sign that the day is going to get better or worse if you spill coffee on someone else on the subway?
  • Getting a free drink on the street--excellent. Not knowing if the hechsher is good--less excellent. Also, it says on the bottle that it "may contain juice sediment," which is definitely less than excellent. (Also, the drink, called Mash, has no Web site. How ridiculous is that?)
  • I like this quote: "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all -- in which case, you fail by default." (From J.K. Rowling's commencement address at Harvard.)
  • How bad is it that I needed to bring a folding chair into my room to sit at my desk because my desk chair is piled so high with stuff that unearthing it would be a major project? Also, I really want this desk.
  • If, hypothetically, two of my sisters were at my apartment for Shabbos and we all needed hooded sweatshirts because it was raining, then it is possible that we might have all ended up in different variations of Columbia sweatshirts because, um, those are the only sweatshirts I have. (And, yes, I have totally lost my ability to use tenses correctly.) I offered my sister who went to Brovender's my Michlala sweatshirt. She declined the offer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Statements

"I'm all out of faith/ This is how I feel/ I'm wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn"

I am a good copy editor. I love copy editing. I do not love my job. I hate that I do not love my job. I am too young to settle for a job I do not love. I also don't have very many choices. (As someone I know said recently, "they don't give journalism jobs away like halloween candy.")

I have fabulous friends, who all, unfortunately, seem not to be in this city or even this state.

I have an almost-dead computer, which is not old enough to die. I am tempted to get a shiny new Mac. I should be backing up said computer this second.

I have a pile of five books next to my pillow and am not reading any of them.

I am almost 24 years old, which is so old and so young and so ridiculously confusing.

I have been stressed out for a year straight. I like having direction. I need to know what I want and where I am going. I feel like I don't know anything. I want things to make sense.

I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of not being good enough. I am afraid of never figuring it out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

'Work Is the Curse of the Drinking Classes'

My sister: That phone message was you on crack. I have no idea what you said.


Co-worker: Do you drink?
Me: No.
Co-worker: I suggest you start.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


When I was a copy editor at my college paper, I would wake up every morning afraid to look at the newspaper and find the mistakes I made the previous night. (I also had nightmares about what mistakes I made, but that is probably not something I should admit in public.) But I love finding mistakes in other newspapers.

A special place is reserved in my heart for mocking the Washington Square News (the paper that belongs to NYU, or as someone once called it "that homeless shelter" because "they'll take anyone"), which once ran an entire article about a strike happening, which is fine -- except that the strike didn't actually happen.

But finding mistakes in good papers is particularly rewarding. To be able to say "I knew better than the NY Times' copydesk" is one of the most satisfying experiences out there.

Reading the corrections is a similar, though not quite as satisfying, way to feel good about the fact that some other newspaper is not so good. Especially when the corrections read like the ones in today's NY Times (emphasis mine):

A listing of credits on April 28, 1960, with a theater review of "West Side Story" on its return to the Winter Garden theater, misstated the surname of the actor who played Action. He is George Liker, not Johnson. (Mr. Liker, who hopes to audition for a role in a Broadway revival of the show planned for February, brought the error to The Times's attention last month. )


An article on Sunday about Senator John McCain's campaign management style described his role as a Navy pilot in Vietnam incorrectly. He flew bombing missions as an attack aircraft pilot, but he was not a "fighter pilot." (The error has appeared in numerous other Times articles the past dozen years, most recently on April 9 and on Dec. 15, 2007.)

Hat tip: Gawker

For more fabulous corrections, check here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Free From the Vulgar Desire for Public Recognition

"The 'make the copy desk do it' mind-set seems to be outliving the concept of actually having a copy desk." --Bill Walsh

A reporter bashes copy editors (called sub-editors in England) because an editor took "a" out of his article. That's right--one word. And by bashing I mean all sorts of foul language and ridiculous complaints. When all is bleak, I can just be happy I don't have to edit his work.

Editors respond:

If you could only see the state of some of the raw copy we have to knock into shape. It's badly structured, poorly spelt, appallingly punctuated, lazily researched. We're not saying your writing falls into that category ... Never having worked on your copy, we can only take your word for it that it is beyond improvement in its pre-published state. Strange as it may seem, many writers do not possess your grasp of language; indeed it is sometimes difficult to believe that English is their mother tongue, and they don't give a damn about what they produce because they know that a good, often highly educated sub-editor will correct it, check it and turn it into readable prose.

And with that, have a good Shabbos and a [insert your own appropriately positive adjective here] fast.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Life, Explained

The reason my family does not go on family vacations.

Bookshelf Lust, Take Two

A reading list to go with the beautiful bookcase:

  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin(Currently in my bag. It's like 750 pages, so my shoulder is currently sore, but it is excellent thus far.)
  • Deciding What's News by Herbert J. Gans (On my bookshelf. This one is so I can convince ridiculously selective grad schools to take me.)
  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (Because I've never read Rushdie, but should.)
  • Devil in the White City (On my bed, but unopened.)
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Started this like two years ago and then got distracted. Also, the Russian names trip me up.)
  • Leaves of Faith by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein (Currently reading, but slowly. Reading takes much longer when you need to really think--and look up words in the dictionary.)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (On my shelf. Started it and never finished. I think I just don't like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but I wish I did.)
  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Left over from a previous reading list. Should get on that)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Ditto.)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (This has been on my mental to-read list for forever.)
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (My grandmother keeps telling me this is the most fantastic book ever. My aunt says it's the most depressing book ever. I should read it and take a side.)

Books you should read if you haven't yet:
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (Selected as the best book of the past 25 years by the NY Times.)
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (I received it as a gift from two wonderful friends. Probably the best book I read in the last year.)
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
  • Oracle Night by Paul Aster
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers
  • All the President's Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Just because.)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Deep Thoughts: Proud to Be an American Edition

  • I am glad I do not live in Russia. (Money quote: "'If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children,' the judge ruled.")
  • Scrabulous via e-mail is some consolation, but it's just not the same as on Facebook.
  • I thought I was the best sister ever for going home to visit my sister, but then one of my other sisters one-upped me by going to see our brothers at camp for visiting day. (Also, warning the sister whose room I sleep in that I was coming home for Shabbos might have been a nice gesture. Oops.)
  • Gchat is fabulous, but there are some things--like deeply personal revelations--that should just not be shared via instant messaging. Though it does make that awkward silence when you are standing there shell-shocked thinking "whoa" a little a less awkward.
  • Ecards from friends are fantastic, even especially if they say things like "Just a heads up that I have no intention of stabbing you 23 times on the Ides of March."
  • Reason #572 that I love copy editing: Questions like, "If the article says 'The doctor was later found with cocaine in his underwear,' does that mean he was in his underwear or the cocaine was in his underwear?"