When it comes to life change and upheaval, I felt like I can officially call myself a professional. In the past five years, I have lived in six towns in four different states, eight apartments, and worked in three insanely variant career fields. For the past two years, however, I have been in a field I’m finally excited about and working for a great company. The previous two years have been one of slowly stepping into fulfilling some of my dreams. I moved to New York City after dreaming of it since I was in high school. I began taking steps towards a career in publishing by working for an indie publishing house as a paid intern and then stepping into an assistant editing position. I want to have my own work published one day as well, but I love to be able to work with current and upcoming writers as they traveled their own path on the shared journey. The best way to improve my own writing is to read more and more, and the more creative minds I can delve into, the more inspiration it brings me.
Life in New York hasn’t always been easy, in fact, even two years later it still isn’t and there are still quite a few rough days. All of my family is still in the same hometown I was born in. Many of my friends are spread out across the country and therefore, only FaceTime and texting is used to keep up with many of them. I hadn't had much time to visit any of them because work has kept me busy from day one. I get a day, two if I’m lucky, off a week but even then many days I’m reading submitted work, making edits and suggestions, and notes for my boss. My work ethic was what had gotten me the promotion. Therefore, when the promotion came around, the workload didn't increase much, a fact I know was a miracle in itself. However, traveling was involved, so many times I’m out of town two weekends and ten additional weekdays out of each month, recruiting, meeting with prospective clients, while checking out different writing conventions all over the country.
Thanks to my schedule, I don’t have the chance to sit around in my loneliness that often, but it doesn’t mean I don’t ever experience it. Amid my travels, I often see couples, families, or a group of friends waiting for their flights, off on another adventure and I envy them to my very core. Yet every time the green monster hits my bloodstream, the part of me that I wish was bigger, whispers to me:
You're living your dreams, girl! You're getting paid to travel! You're getting paid to read and write stuff that actually interests you!
After that gentle reminder, no matter how many times it occurred, a smile immediately forms on my face and I sit in glee for a few moments, surely looking like an insane person to any strangers who are attentive enough to notice. Regardless, I keep my head up. I enjoy most of my coworkers, while they are few in number, and make it a point to hang out with them when invited, which are a few nights here and there throughout the month.
All of this gave a reason as to why I was hesitant to apply for the opening that appeared unexpectedly with Macmillan Publishers. I love my job, where I work, and the people I get to work with, but Macmillan was big-time and if I’m going to really step into this field for the long-haul, I know that I want, and need, to take another step forward. I love Macmillan for a few reasons and often think of them when I pass their building, my favorite building in all the city, the Flatiron. St. Martin's Press, the NY locale for Macmillan, is well-known and well-sought after by writers and their agents, just another factor that frightens me. Unlike the house I currently work for, authors can’t send in their work, Macmillan does all of its own solicitings. Sure, writers can send in their work but most of the time, from what I’ve heard, it gets dumped in recycling. The search for talent, instead of having it fall into my lap, is something I already do on a weekly basis so that isn’t that scary, but I love getting submissions that I don’t see coming. I feel it opens the door for more creativity.
Despite these, what I consider to be, snags in the job I know that the pay would be better and that is something I desperately need. Living in New York, something I can’t afford to do yet, is no joke expense-wise. I have an hour and a half commute in and out of the city every single day and it makes the days excruciatingly long. With this job, I could more easily afford a place in the city, albeit a minuscule and probably crappy apartment, but it'd save time, something I could always seem to use more of. All of this is what brought me to this exact moment, 8:51 a.m., on this late summer morning to the Flatiron.
I sat on the bench, nerves running rampant. I have always hated job interviews, granted, most people do, but I loathe them with every fiber of my being. Luckily, my interview skills have improved throughout the years and especially in the past couple of weeks as my boss volunteered her time to help me prepare for the interview.
Man, do I really want to leave that place, I thought. They're so good to me. Almost as if in response, I yawned and thought immediately of that commute. I sat up a little straighter, pulled my resumé closer to chest, and put on my bravest smile. While lost in thought, a man had sat two seats down without my noticing.
"Where did you get that confidence?" He asked. I looked over at him after a second too long, finally being pulled from my thoughts.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bother you. I noticed you all of sudden seemed to have a burst of confidence. I saw your entire posture and look change. I could use some confidence myself," he finished quietly with a small smile.
"Oh, you didn't bother me. I was just lost in my thoughts and didn't even notice you sit down. You caught me off guard is all." He nodded in thought, seeming to search for his next words.
"What brings you here?"
"I have an interview at nine with Mrs. Fischer. What about you?"
"Oh, me too, but my appointment is at 9:30. What's your work about?" I looked at him, confusion apparent on my face so he continued. "Mine is a book of poems. Poems about all types of things and people. There's little organization to it, really," he trailed off, concern crossing his features.
"Oh, I'm here for a job interview. Sorry; I wasn't clear about that."
"Oh, that's awesome! I thought you meant you were presenting your work to her. I thought I was nervous. You're probably even more nervous than me."
"Yes, that whole 'confidence' you spoke of earlier is definitely not real. Fake it 'til you make it, right?"
"That's right!" He grinned, his eyes softening. "It's my life motto," he added.
"Ms. (y/l/n), Mrs. Fischer will see you now," the floor receptionist alerted me, as she stood and began to lead me to the editor's office.
"Good luck, Ms. (y/l/n)," the stranger called after. I turned, smiled, and waved, mouthing a thank you to him and then turned back to enter the office.
The interview seemed to go wonderfully. Mrs. Fischer seemed to be a tough cookie and a hard-nosed boss but I could tell it was because she took her job seriously and wanted to be as productive as possible and that was a fact I can appreciate. She got straight to the point, leaving very little room for formalities until she read some work from my portfolio. Some of her stiff exterior seemed to melt away as she read over a few pieces and I hoped it was a good thing.
"Well, Ms. (y/l/n), I've always said that you can't truly do a great job in the editing and publishing profession if you can't create your own solid work. You fit that bill, thankfully. I've yet to meet one candidate who has fit that yet. I've still got quite a few interviews lined up." She stood. "You'll be hearing from my office soon one way or another. Have a great day." I shook her hand and thanked her quickly upon her dismissal.
As I exited the office, I saw the stranger was still sitting there, waiting on his appointment. He looked up and a wide grin spread across his face. "How'd it-"
"Mr. Stan, Mrs. Fischer will see you now," the receptionist cut him off. They didn't play around here, that was for sure.
"Good luck, Mr. Stan," I said his name almost teasingly. "You've got this," I added more seriously. He passed with a smile and a small word of gratitude then got ready to step into the office. I left, a little on a high, hopped on the subway and headed for Brooklyn.
I arrived in about 30 minutes as Johanna, my boss, had expected and she met me at the door.
"How'd it go? Tell me all about it!" She practically squealed pulling me into her office. We had become close over my time here, both as coworkers and as friends, despite the age difference.
"I actually think it went really well. She liked my work, which still blows my mind."
"I don't know why," she said, sitting down in one of the chairs in the reading corner of her office, motioning me to sit beside her on the other, "I've been trying to tell you how impressive your work is for how long now?"
"I know, I know," I conceded. "I appreciate it; I really do."
"Did she say what she liked?"
"Not really. She wasn't very chatty, straight to the point, really. Granted, there was a guy there to discuss his work that had an appointment at 9:30 so she was working on a tight schedule as it was. I think that's a part of her work persona, though. It reminded me of you when we first met. I quickly learned different, though,” I smiled slyly at her before she cackled.
"Well, you know as well as I do, how hard we women have to work to be taken seriously in this industry."
"Yeah, I do, which is why it didn't really bother me as it normally would elsewhere in another field."
We continued talking as she demanded to hear every little aspect of the interview down to the inflection of our voices. By the end, she was sure the job was as good as mine. I wouldn’t let my hopes jump up from the ground just yet, however. After the chat, I rose and headed to my small office and began working, drowning my mind and thoughts with work that wasn't my own in order to detach until I heard more.
For the next two weeks, I dove into work like never before. Nerves seemed to grow exponentially after that first week of silence. I figured as quickly as they had moved the day of the interview, I would have heard something before a week had passed. However, that didn't happen, and when it didn't I was sure I hadn't gotten it, despite Johanna's persistent encouragements and pep talks.
On Tuesday, two weeks later, one of two days off that week, I awoke to my phone serenading me with Marissa Jaret Winokur's version of "Good Morning Baltimore." I attempted to keep myself on a decent sleep schedule on my days off so I awoke only an hour later than normal. I headed to a local coffee shop I loved after I got ready for some me time. Me time these days meant I worked on my writing or binged Netflix, but mostly consisted of working on my writing. After a few hours, my music halted and my screen flashed an incoming call from the city.
"Hello, this is (y/n)."
"Good morning, Ms. (y/l/n), this is Mrs. Fischer from St. Martin's Press calling about the assistant editor position you interviewed for a few weeks ago."
My blood seemed to speed up and come to a complete stop simultaneously. My stomach dropped and my whole body seemed to shake as if it was one enormous nerve. Surely if Mrs. Fischer was calling, it was good news, right? Luckily I didn't have to wait long as she continued.
"We'd like to offer you the position. I see you're still working for Akashic, correct?"
"Well, we'll work with whatever schedule we can get if you still want the job. It'd be helpful if you can start three weeks from now, the Tuesday after the holiday."
"Yes, I'd love the job. I should be able to make that work, but I will check with my supervisor to make sure and I will let you know for sure."
"That's wonderful news, Ms. (y/l/n), I'll let Sarah know to be looking for your call. She will set you up with all orientation information when you call back so please do so as quickly as possible. I'm already beginning a stack of work for you after we end this call."
"Thank you very much, Mrs. Fischer, I will make contact with Sarah later this afternoon. I look forward to working with you."
"You too, have a good day."
"Thank you, you too."
The line went dead and it took everything within me not to jump on top of the table in a full-blown RENT "La Vie Bohéme" moment. I just got one step closer to my dream job and I couldn't quite believe it. I packed up my things quickly and headed home so that I could squeal, jump around, and dance throughout my apartment without the public eye thinking I had gone clinically insane.
After I had calmed down, I called Johanna and let her know. We decided to go out for drinks after she got off of work in celebration and she insisted I stay with her and her family to avoid the commute to work in the morning. It was an extravagant night, most of my coworkers came to celebrate and once we arrived at her condo, her husband congratulated me, and helped get Johanna to bed as I crashed on the couch. The following morning, I awoke to the kids jumping on me in excitement and I thought for a moment I may puke but it passed quickly.
The next two weeks were bittersweet and man, did they fly by. I had to finish a few projects more quickly than I would have liked but Johanna assured me, after my insistence upon it, that an intern would review it again just to be safe. I was glad, however, to have about a week in between jobs. Typically, I would have insisted to stay for the money, but Ibrahim, knowing how hard I worked for the two years I had been there, insisted to issue my Christmas bonus early so that would hold me over for the two weeks without pay and it would also help me put down something on a new apartment.
I used the week to search the city for a place to live. You looked all over and what was funny was that the best-priced apartments I found ended up only being blocks away from Akashic. I was glad to find this because it meant I could stop in and see my second family anytime I wanted. I put down all the cash requested, dipping into savings just a touch on that Tuesday and I began moving my stuff over, with the help of your coworkers on Friday evening. Luckily, when I moved to NY, I decided to move with very little and had purchased very little since moving, intending to move into the city one day. By Sunday brunch, everything had been moved and we all went out to Colonie to enjoy all the breakfast foods.
After the holiday, I headed, as requested, to work on that Tuesday morning, glad to have gotten all paperwork and orientation out of the way amid packing the previous week. I received a text to grab coffee on the way into work from Sarah because the intern was out sick. I gladly did since my 30-minute commute via subway was profusely better than the hour and a half I was used to. I stepped off the subway, headed above ground and into the Flatiron and towards Argo Tea, by request of Mrs. Fischer. I still arrived upstairs 10 minutes prior to my reporting time and walked around figuring out who received what beverage and snack before handing the receipt to Sarah for reimbursement on payday. She led the way to my new office, across from Mrs. Fischer and I about fell over, taking in the size of it. I immediately put on my poker face.
"Your work is sitting in this bin. If you have any questions, see me. Mrs. Fischer is in meetings all day today and is not to be bothered for any reason." She paused long enough to see if I had any questions.
"Sounds great. Thank you, Sarah." She nodded.
"I'll let you get to it."
The following days slipped into weeks and melted into a month. I was busy every single day with no downtime from the moment I entered the building to the moment I left, mostly hours after the assigned time, and it had left me with little to no time to get together with any friends or even take time to work on my own things. However, after a month, my first weekend off came across the schedule and I couldn't have been more thrilled. I worked even later that week to ensure I didn't have to work on a single thing that weekend. I made plans to go out with Johanna and a couple of friends from my previous job. We spent most of Saturday going around the city, taking in the local artists and musicians and stopping for a little beverage, some alcohol-based and some not, throughout the entirety of the day. By nightfall, we settled on attending the Midsummer Night Swing. Entering the venue just in time for the lessons, we laughed and danced, and attempted to follow along with the instructor and those around us. As the evening progressed we sat back and enjoyed people-watching in between conversations about what life had been like and what was coming up on the horizon for each of us. At one point, the group on stage announced there would be an extra dance set because it was the last night of the event for the year. They encouraged everyone to head to the dance floor for the remainder of the night and the final set. We decided to comply. As we danced and laughed, I got into the music more than I should have and accidentally barged into a stranger and grabbed at them to steady myself.
"Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry," I exclaimed loudly towards the figure in an attempt to be heard over the music.
"It's no problem," the figure began, "I have two left feet." He paused. "Hey, don't I know you?" I looked up at him now. It took a moment but it began coming back to me. "You're Ms. (y/l/n), right?" He seemed embarrassed, "I'm sorry, I never got your first name. I feel like I'm interviewing you for something." I laughed at his blushed cheeks.
"No, it's fine, Mr..." I paused, taking a moment to recall his name, "Stan. Right?"
"You've got it..." he trailed off and while I was unsure of why initially, soon enough I realized he was waiting for my first name.
"(Y/n). My name is (y/n)."
"It's great to finally put a first name with a face, (y/n). I'm Sebastian." He grinned down at me. During this exchange, the music had slowed without my noticing. "Can I have this dance?"