Q&A with an Irish immigrant

Fun fact of the day: Very few people who live in New York are actually from New York. Some residents, like me, have gravitated here from other states. Some are here on a travel or student visa, and some are here illegally. For my Writing & Reporting class, we each interviewed someone who’s immigrated to New York. I chose Peter Doherty, a bartender and bar owner from Tyrone, Ireland. This is the finished product.

In a dark, dingy, crowded bar on a rowdy Thursday night, owner Pete Doherty isn’t slurping his usual whisky. Tonight his drink of choice is a strawberry milkshake from McDonalds. One of his employees slapped it onto the low table in front of him a few minutes ago, and he hasn’t put it down. Since arriving here from Ireland 14 years ago, Pete has developed an affinity for the distinctly American treat—his employees know him well. And, more important, they like him enough to spoil him.

It’s easy to like Pete. He’s the tireless owner. The bartender who never gets it wrong. Your best friend, even if he’s meeting you for the first time that night. His short, stocky figure motors around the floor of the Grisly Pear on MacDougal Street, which he owns with two of his friends. His hair is starting to grey, but his good-natured basset-hound eyes sparkle. Like a lucky few Irishmen, he’s a little bit immortal.

Pete doesn’t really think of himself as an immigrant anymore. He met his wife at a bar he owned on Sullivan Street, and they have two American children. He takes trips to visit his family, but his life and his business are here now. New to the city myself, I ask how long someone has to live here before they can call themselves a New Yorker. Ten years is a good guideline, he says. Or, in his case, after he spent his first night on a park bench off 5th Avenue. He’s come a long way since then.

Why did you first come to the U.S.?

I came here just for the summer to work the Jersey shore, Seaside Heights, on the boardwalk. A lot of my friends had done it before and there were a lot of us; like ten of us had come over that summer and we all shared a house. I only stayed there for like two weeks because it sucked. I was like, ‘New York City is 90 minutes away. Why am I still here?’ I had a friend who was in New York City, so for the first couple weeks I stayed with him. But he was actually staying with a friend, so his friend let me move in as well. But then he and his friend fell out, so [the friend] kicked both of us out. That’s how I ended up on the park bench.

Which park was it?

On 5th Avenue there’s a little park on the corner of 27th. There’s an office tower and there’s a little park with a couple of benches. Me and my buddy both slept there. It wasn’t that we didn’t have money or didn’t live anywhere; we just couldn’t find anywhere [to stay]. We had no references.

After you left the Jersey Shore, where did you work in the city?

I got a bartending job. It was uptown. I bartended my way through college, so it was just an easy next step.

Where did you go to college?

The University of Ulster. I got a degree in sociology. It’s a dosser’s degree, we called it. It means it’s not hard. It’s studying pop culture, so it’s not very difficult. I never really thought it through. I just thought, ‘I’ll go to college.’ You’re guaranteed to get in if you pick an easy subject. It’s state-run so I didn’t have to pay much for my tuition at all, but I got student loans for living expenses. I’ve got thousands of dollars of student loans back in Ireland.

Are you working toward paying them off?

(Laughs, shakes his head) No!

Have you been back to Ireland since coming here that summer?

Oh yeah, I went home after that summer. I was here with a J1 visa, I went home just before Christmas at the end of November, and then I was home for six months. I’d just finished college and I was like, ‘What am I going to do with myself?’ And I thought you know what, I’ll go back to America. So I moved back here.

Was it difficult to get another visa?

No, it was pretty simple. You see this is pre-September 11, so it was way easier then. Now I don’t even know how you would go about it. Before September 11 they loved Irish people! Everyone in America did, so they were handing them out like candy. There were a lot of different programs back in Ireland that you could apply to and you were guaranteed a visa. That was back then. Now it doesn’t exist anymore. They’ve stopped all that and tightened up the borders.

Tell me how you went from working in bars to owning them.

It’s’ a natural progression, right? I just fell into it. I went out on a limb for myself. Every place is different, but you save money and once you have enough money saved you buy someplace, or you find an empty space and you build in it. I’ve built a bar before, but the guys who had this place before me went out of business. It was vacant, so I took it over. I just had to paint it and fix it up a little. It was nothing too crazy.

You didn’t have to knock any walls down?

No. Although I can knock walls down, I’m not very good at picking them back up (laughs).

What do you like about bartending?

It’s just fun. It’s a lot of fun.

Do you have any feelings about the recent vote for Scottish independence?

Oh, yeah! I’m really disappointed. I think they should’ve taken the vote and become an independent country. It has a huge amount of implications for Ireland; they would have to then give the Irish people the same vote because we’re a British colony. It would’ve made a huge difference. I might’ve even seen a united Ireland in my lifetime. When someone’s country is stolen from them by another, that’s something people are passionate about. So I like the idea of it, but I’m not really that proactive.

Where in Ireland are you from originally?

I’m from the north—Tyrone. I also lived in Belfast for like six years. But I’m from a really small place of about 3,000 people.

What makes Ireland, or Tyrone in particular, different from New York?

Everything’s different. Back home we have [a sense of] community, and you don’t really have that here. The food tastes better, the meat tastes better, everything tastes better in Ireland. Animals are fed what they’re meant to be fed. Everything is different. You should visit.

Would you ever move back?

Not to live, if that’s what you mean. I don’t think I could ever live there again. I think New York gets a hold of people and there’s an energy and a pulse about New York. It’s hard to leave.

Q&A with an Irish immigrant

Behind the Lens: The photographers of NYFW

For our writing and reporting seminar, we grad students were assigned a #NYFW story. We could cover any aspect of Fashion Week, as long as we spoke to people involved in it. I hung around outside Lincoln Center one afternoon and noticed the throngs of photographers–many more than there were fashion divas. I grew interested in their backstories. This is the result.

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The scene outside Lincoln Center on day three of New York Fashion Week.

Without photographers, the fashion industry would not exist. Designers’ work would never reach the masses and trends would fall flat if no one captured and spread them. Even fashion novices know that there would be no “America’s Next Top Model” without Nigel Barker to immortalize every aspiring pout and “smize.

Fashion and photography have played off of one another since Condé Nast hired German photographer Baron Adolph de Meyer to shoot portraits for “Vogue.” In the 1980’s and ‘90’s, photographer Richard Avedon shot Versace campaigns that shaped and defined the brand. Bruce Weber did the same for Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren—neither brand would be the same today without Weber’s influence. The evolution of photography has changed the shape of the fashion industry time and time again.

New York Fashion Week brings fashion’s reliance on photos into sharp focus. Go anywhere near Lincoln Center and you’ll see flocks of camera-toting photographers clamoring to capture the best runway or street style looks. Some have credentials and some are novices. Some are at work and others are there for the spectacle and the experience. All derive energy from the high-fashion culture that surrounds them as they jockey for a shot.

“It’s kind of crazy,” says Morgan Beye eying the surrounding crowd outside of Lincoln Center. Beye is the director of photography for Schiffer Fashion Press in Philadelphia. This fall the company will produce a look book with photos from every runway show in Fashion Week—all 277 of them.

Beye is in charge of a six-person photography team. It’s her job to corral the group and to send them out on assignment as needed. She’s an integral part of that group and comes with a few NYFW horror stories of her own.

“In the runways there’s a pit for photographers, and they shove like 200 grown men in there,” she told me. “You fight for a spot and you don’t want to lose it. Once I was pushed over and my spot was taken; I was on the ground and [the guy] stood there staring at me.”

Although her hand was bleeding and her expensive equipment lay scattered everywhere, Beye got back up and tried to focus on the shoot. In her words, “the show must go on.”

Today she’s armed and ready with a heavy camera bag on one shoulder and a clipboard clutched in the other hand. A press pass dangles against her stylish striped crop top and brushes the waistline of her black skater skirt. Her strappy heels are planted wide and firm. The next show is starting—she’s going in.

Louisa Wells has just come out. She’s riding the tide of people leaving the Song Jung Wan show at the Lincoln Center Pavilion. When she makes it to the front of the crowd, she adjusts her position, bends a knee and starts snapping photos.

Wells just moved here from Nashville, where she worked for local lifestyle magazines, and a few fashion bloggers reached out to her to take their Fashion Week photos. She’s also working with a friend on a “Bravo” piece, which gets her backstage access.

I ask what backstage is like. She laughs, then gives a familiar answer: “It’s crazy!” Hair and makeup are constantly going on around her. The stage lights burn with the heat of a Sahara sun. But through all the commotion, Wells focuses on capturing intimate moments.

“I was on the High Line earlier and I caught a little moment of a couple holding hands,” she says. “It was really cute. Stuff like that is my favorite.”

But she admits that “the pit,” as they call it, can be trying.

“There’s a pecking order for sure,” she says. “WWD [Women’s Wear Daily], Vogue, they all have top priority and everyone else fills in. It’s a matter of making sure people’s arms and legs aren’t bumping into your view. But it’s really cool because everyone starts to get to know each other.”

Photographers can be intimidating, especially in close quarters, Wells says. There’s a certain amount of judgment based on who shoots from a reserved spot and who boasts the loftiest credentials. Ultimately, though, photography is a democratic field. If your photo is good, it gets published. If it’s not, it doesn’t. In theory skill will out.

Sixteen-year-old fashion blogger Rachel Leiner certainly believes so. She runs a personal style blog with her friend in Long Island, but her passion is photography. She’s at Fashion Week to get some practice and to improve her technique.

“I’m still learning,” she freely admits. “Here everyone walks around with these huge lenses and I just have my little 50mm lens, but I think it really works for me and I get a lot of great feedback from what I do.”

The small lens matches her small frame, which is clad for the occasion in a simple black dress and chic Jeffry Campbell ankle boots. Unlike Wells and Beye, Leiner has no press pass around her neck. She won’t see a single runway this season, and that’s fine with her.

She wants to pursue photography, but doesn’t know if it will be her profession. She might want to do fashion shoots, but isn’t keen on studio settings. She represents Beye six years ago, and Wells three.

I ask who her favorite photographers are, and she answers: “I really like Richard Avedon.” She describes a famous photo of his: A black-and-white shot of a model between two elephants. Her face alive with enthusiasm, she sketches the shapes of their trunks in the air.

Perhaps she, like Avedon, will be the next to shape and define a brand. Perhaps she is the next stage of fashion photography’s evolution.

Behind the Lens: The photographers of NYFW

New York so far

I’m sitting at a new table in a new kitchen. (A small miracle in itself–to fit it through my new door I had to forcibly detach its new legs from its new top with my new flathead screwdriver.)

A new cat is trying to reach my keyboard with its nose. Conversations of restaurant-goers drift through my new open window framed in new red curtains. My new cat jumps down from my lap to lap some new water from its new bowl.

Sometimes the newness is overwhelming. Mostly, though, I’m carried away by what’s happening now, unable to consider past or future. Or maybe I don’t want either to catch up.

Like all new things, New York took some breaking inIt’s taking some breaking in still. Mild discomfort lingers, but I’ve reached the point at which I no longer need to fear blisters and bleeding.

But it’s all happening at an overwhelming pace. So here is a post about me trying to make sense of my life–of the things that have changed. I’m taking inventory of the new.

1. New digs

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My building on 6th Avenue.

My ‘hood is the best. I live in Soho, which is in south-central Manhattan. My apartment is a 10-minute walk to Washington Square Park and a 20-minute walk to my classes in the j-school. It’s a 26-minute ride on the C train to Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It’s a 45-minute subway ride to 110th street.

I live above a restaurant that serves good coffee and better wine. On the other side is a shop that sells salvaged furniture and art. An old man with a white beard runs the shop. I like him because he owns a long-haired cat, and because he is reading “The Book Thief,” but hides the book if a customer approaches.

There’s a bodega on the corner run by an Asian woman and her husband. She’s curt and quick to calculate the change, but smiled at me when I told her I live alone. I complimented her apron with the teddy bears on it.

Every day I walk past a new coffee shop or book store or cafe I want to visit. I could get used to this whole ‘never getting bored’ thing.

2. New job

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On my first day at Levo League, we took a lobster boat cruise on the Hudson River.

This is the part where I shout-out Madison Feller for telling me to apply for Levo League’s editorial internship. I did, they wanted me, and I kid you not when I say that it’s where I belong.

Levo League’s mission is to promote women in the working world. Its employees (all women who work with drive and passion and dress very chicly) accomplish this by posting constructive site content, offering job matching services, and hosting live events. The office is in Union Square overlooking the park. Everything is white and fresh mod and full of possibility.

I’m in charge of posting Levo’s partner content, coming up with posts of my own, and providing input for all things editorial. There are meetings and g-chats and company emails and stats and Luna bars and a Keurig and visiting dogs, sometimes. Working for a startup is the most exciting, energetic thing I’ve ever done. You should all try it.

3. New feline

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This is Eve. She likes to stare fixedly at things.

We all saw this coming. Her name (after an agonizing day of brainstorming which produced 27 total options) is Eve. She is eight months old and black as my soul with green eyes. She had a cold and sneezed a lot, so I took her on the subway to see the vet. Now, she’s better.

She likes to do whatever I am doing, which means I don’t get anything done. Right now she’s surprisingly well behaved. She’s keeping my right thigh warm while I type. She just moved–she knows I’m talking about her.

4. New love

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I took this photo on top of a building in Manhattan at sunset. No filter was used in the creation of this brilliant array of colors.

Believe it or not, I know how it feels to be in love. The requited kind, I mean. (But of course I know what the other kind feels like, too.) The giddiness, the inexplicable grin that you try to suppress, the feeling that every song speaks to you, that you might just float off the sidewalk.

I love New York, and it loves me back.

Walking down University Avenue to the Levo offices a few mornings ago, it hit me. Since childhood I’ve fantasized about living and working in New York. Now, I’m doing it. I am living my childhood dreams. And it feels right.

New York so far

It’s a wonderful town

You stupid fuck, what are you doing?
My neighbor’s screen flies open. His whole head leans out, cell phone angled away from right ear, face screwed up, livid.

I’m sitting on the fire escape reading a book.

You scared the shit out of me! Fuck, I had no idea you were out there…
He’s still going. He’s talking to the person on the phone, right?

They’ll give you a huge fine if they fucking catch you out there. Fuck.
No, he’s talking to me.

Little Girl Claire is deader than ever
as I stare into the face of my new neighbor.

My first celeb sighting, my first rat,
my first New Yorker.

It’s a wonderful town

#FreeWriteFriday – Ghosts of Toyota past

Most of the tears sunk into your matted fabric seats with one too many
cigarette burns (I don’t smoke, really)
are mine.

Dual service: vehicle and incubator of
anguish.
Tint the windows, lock the doors. 
Muffle sobs and animal sounds in heavy metal.

I can’t count the number of times you listened to me play shit music and ran me away.

But once, you chased a sunset to see if you could catch it.
Sure, your acceleration sounded like the contents of a hardware shop dumped into a magic bullet but god, you tried so hard. 

When it faded you’d taken us to the river
which was just as good.

#FreeWriteFriday – Ghosts of Toyota past

How I became a feminist

I was not born a feminist. I was not even raised a feminist. I did not become a feminist by proxy in my tender early college years. It took me a while to learn what feminism was. Now that I know, I embrace it.

Stage One – Ignorance

…Is not actually bliss.

Freshman year of college was rough because of: distance from home, demographic transition, half-hearted emergence from my timid shell in an effort to make friends. It was also rough because I was a journalism major, but had never written what could be called an article. My first was for “The Maneater,” a campus publication at Mizzou. When I got a column for “Move,” its accompanying magazine, I was thrilled.

The column’s angle was “a fresh take on classic literature.” I’d take one of my favorite books from high school English lit—“The Picture of Dorian Grey” or “The Great Gatsby,”—and compare it to college life. Dorian joined a fraternity. Gatsby’s parties went 21st century.

My first disastrous failure was a column about “Jane Eyre.” The subtitle was “Prude and proud.” (Looking back I am not, in fact, proud. It literally pained me to copy and paste the link. The things we do in the name of transparency.) In the column, I talk at length about hemlines and heels. The post was meant to suggest that more conservative women could still capture and hold the attention of men.

(Full disclosure: I had a major crush on a fraternity man at the time. He preferred the flocks of decked-out freshman that swarmed his house every weekend to me. I was jealous. I don’t think he even read the column.)

When the column was published, “Move” was flooded with negative feedback. I was attacked and so was my editor (sorry about that, Brandon). The consensus was that I was a female-hating slut-shamer. Me? I didn’t even know what slut shaming was.

I didn’t bother to find out, either. I tried to shut it out. Instead of educating myself, I retreated as far from the issue as possible.

Stage Two – Education

I can’t remember where I first heard about feminism. At the time the article came out, I had only just followed Jezebel on twitter. I think it must have been my friend Hanna Jacunski who first introduced me to the concept of feminism—its basic principles via assertions that women should be proud of their bodies, that there’s no such thing as a slut, that inequality is inherent in the system. These concepts made sense to me.

Then came Kari Paul. She was another of my first editors, and I thought she was the coolest. I followed her on twitter too, and started reading the articles she tweeted. I guess twitter was instrumental to my education.

I met Hilary Weaver shortly afterward—another feminist role model. She invited me to Mizzou’s Vagina Monologues, and I learned about the struggles of women and the battles we (and our bodies) encounter every day.

Along the way I read stats, learned about Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s street art project, and about artists such as Judy Chicago and Frida Kahlo in art history class. I formed my own ideas about street harassment when it happened to me for the first time. I took my first gender studies class abroad, and learned about the skewed representation of women in media.

I met Alicia Tan, Celia Ampel and Mary Kay Blakely. I read this article about motherhood, and this article about the term ‘feminism,’ and this one about abortion clinics closing in Texas. I listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s entire TED Talk when that one Beyoncé song came out. As I got older, women’s issues became real to me; this is our lives they’re talking about.

By the time I registered for the Women’s Leadership Conference at Mizzou, I was educated enough to contribute to discussions. Subjects such as the wage gap and sexual harassment at work were talked about openly, and so were their possible solutions. Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow were guest speakers there. Afterward, I spent hours online creeping their work.

I was inspired. The conference was my shining moment of realization—my pivotal point. My climax.

Stage Three – Transformation

Now, I am a feminist.

A few months ago, shortly before my college graduation, I looked up the “Jane Eyre” article. I read it and cringed. God. I can’t believe I wrote that.

But I’m living proof that the difference between damaging ignorance and productive activism is education.

Yesterday, I got a call from my friend Katie*, who’s an intern at a consulting firm. A few weeks ago, she missed a deadline. She’d agreed to go to a fellow intern’s house for dinner. She worked in her hotel room until it was time to leave, popped over to the friend’s house for a quick bite, and was back at her computer two hours later, but the next day her report was late.

Her manager called her into his office to express his displeasure that she’d chosen to “hang out with her friend, go on a shopping spree and have a sleepover” instead of getting shit done. He falsely assumed, based on his internalized female stereotypes, that she’d wasted the entire evening gossiping and chirping with another woman.

He could use some education.

On 4th of July weekend, I floated the Guadalupe River with some friends. My dear friend Megan* worried out loud that her swimsuit was “too slutty.” I told her that ‘slutty’ was a term coined by men to make women uncomfortable with their sexuality. Nothing was ‘slutty,’ and the only thing that mattered about her suit was whether or not she felt good in it.

The guys with us looked bemused. “Wait,” they said, “there’s no such thing as a slut?” No, I told them. They gaped. I laughed.

They could use some education.

Plenty of people start where I did freshman year. Plenty of people are ignorant. I hope there are too many resources out in The Universe for them to remain so for long.

‘Cause we should probably all be feminists.

*Names have been changed

How I became a feminist

8 things no one tells you about adulthood

Tidbits inspired by the post-grad life.

1. Making friends happens more than once.

It happens multiple times, in fact. And, every time you move to a new city, you have to start from scratch. Prepare for some friendless weeks, a whirlwind of socializing and a few friendship flops. If you’re lucky, you will eventually find people who share your interests and whom you can text to hang out without feeling like a nuisance. But mentally prepare for a dull period of loner looserhood.

2. There is no better feeling than clean sheets.

Seriously. None. Need a pick-me-up? Change your sheets. (Bonus points if, at the end of a long day, you snuggle into sheets that are still warm from the drier. Best feeling.)

3. Shit’s expensive.

Things cost money, and they usually cost more money than you expect. Food, clothes, entertainment, rent, insurance, medical appointments, utilities, pets, travel, phone plans… it adds up. At times you will feel penniless. At times you will be penniless.

4. Cooking nice meals is a matter of self-respect.

If you want to be kind to yourself, buy/make food that is both healthy and delicious. You’ll be in a better mood and will have more energy than if you eat lots of processed, micro-heat food. The occasional pack of Oreos doesn’t hurt, but overall stick to things with a short, natural ingredient list. And, contrary to popular belief, eating healthy is not expensive. Shop in the produce section.

5. Social media is a farce.

If you really want to stay in touch with someone, call them. Text them. Send them a letter. You don’t need a constant stream of communication to keep someone in your life — occasional contact will do, provided that contact is meaningful and concerns matters of substance.

6. You don’t actually need most of your stuff. 

Getting rid of unnecessary things is, second to clean sheets, the other best feeling in the world. If you don’t wear it, get rid of it. If you haven’t used it in years, throw it out. Or donate it. Or sell it. Purge.

7. Self-motivation is crucial.

No one will tell you what to do or when to get it done. If you never want to be a productive human again, you really don’t have to. If you do, though, it’s good to learn how to self-motivate. This can be tricky. Find out when you’re most productive, and make a list of things to do during that time period. Set deadlines for yourself. Tell other people about them so they can hold you accountable.

8. Be nice to yourself.

Things won’t always go your way, and that’s okay. You’re allowed to sulk, but not forever. If something goes wrong, give yourself some time to pout, and then get over it.

8 things no one tells you about adulthood

Talking to Sage

Children amaze me — they cut to the heart of social pressures they see in the world around them. They have no filter, and they fear no judgment. Some conversations I have with the 7-year-old girl I babysit are gut-wrenching. Although her name begins with ‘S,’ it isn’t Sage. Given her 7-year-old wisdom, though, it fits.

S: Do you have a boyfriend?

Me: Nope.

S: Why not?

Me: Because I don’t want one. I had one, but we broke up.

S: Why did you break up?

Me: It’s complicated.

S: Well, why don’t you try to get a new one?

Me: Because I don’t really want one right now. Sometimes, boys are the worst.

S: Yeah, I know, because sometimes mommy and daddy argue, and daddy yells and makes mommy cry.

***

S: Holding her short hair behind her head in a ponytail I would look better like this. If my hair was long enough for a ponytail, I mean.

Me: You think so? I think short hair looks cute on you.

S: Thanks. Pause. I wish I looked like you.

Me: What do you mean?

S: I wish I had light skin like you. This dark skin makes me look dumb. And I wish my hair was blonde like yours.

***

S: Do you want to be a singer?

Me: Not really. I was a singer for a little bit, but I stopped.

S: What did you sing?

Me: Opera stuff, mostly. Usually in Italian.

S: Sing one for me. I comply. S listens with wide eyes. That was good. I want to grow up to be a singer, but I don’t know if it will work out. I don’t really like myself. But we’ll see.

 

Talking to Sage

#FreeWriteFriday – Things fall apart

8:54 a.m.

Scientifically speaking, we are never together. We lose thousands of skin cells every minute — they slough off as we ride the bus and walk to the office and sit in a cubicle. They fall through the cracks of the keyboards and remain there in caked layers of whitish dust.

Each moment, we fall apart.

It’s interesting, I think, to notice flaws that make people human: a bra strap sticking out, a wrinkle in a trouser that’s perpendicular to the seam, one sock pulled inches higher than the other. ‘Put together’ is the goal, but detail trips us up.

None of us is perfect.

I stroll down the street in the image of a corporate world: pumps click, tailored skirt swishes, red lipstick stains my latte. My curls bounce; my mascara does not smudge.

Then, the straw splits down the middle. It knicks the edge of my lip. Red lipstick turns to blood.

Were my outward appearance a reflection of within, my hair would be a snarl, to start. I’d struggle to keep my shirt tucked, and every three steps one shoe would slip off at the heel. Coffee would stain my blouse front and my skirt would have a tear. I’d be sobbing one minute and singing the next —  natural responses to thoughts and memories too strong or sweet or bitter to repress.

Scientifically speaking, we jump to conclusions. The amygdala and the posterior cingulate cortex absorb details about behavior and appearance to make snap judgements.

They presume too much. Sometimes, they are wrong.

9:15 a.m.

#FreeWriteFriday – Things fall apart

Texas Monthly on the daily

It’s not uncommon here to open the blinds to a rain-streaked window. Most mornings are grey, but by mid-afternoon the day heats up to hot, soupy humidity. I kind of love it.

I take the bus to Congress Avenue. (For more on bus people, see this previous post.) I get off, walk to the formidable marble-fronted skyscraper that houses Texas Monthly, and take the elevator to the 17th floor. It’s usually filled with commuters who get on and off at various floors — the ones who ride from 1 to 2 are the worst. I am usually the youngest. I am sometimes the most casually dressed.

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Our view from the Texas Monthly offices on the 17th floor.

Floor 17 is a breath of cool air and a long, white corridor with a giant red “TM” at one end. I walk through the maze of an office (it takes up the entire floor) to my cubicle space. I am always early.

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The Texas Monthly logo that greets me every morning when I arrive and every afternoon when I leave. Nothing says ‘bold’ like red and white.

Post-commute hair repair is a daily routine because Texas is moist. The coffee is free, so I take some. Annie arrives, and our workday begins.

Texas Monthly is an amazing place to work. Today, there was half an apple pie in the kitchen up for grabs. World Cup games are always on in there, and there’s an oatmeal assembly area. Posters and printed pictures line cubicle walls — no office was ever less boring. Then there are the people. Yesterday, Francesca Mari bought me a chai tea latte to thank me for transcribing some of her interviews (read: doing my job). For the rest of the day, I walked on air. Every time John Spong walks past our editorial intern workspace, he greets us with a, “‘Sup, children?” Today his button-up was pink and polka-dotted and had teeny white buttons.

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Most of the hallways are lined with covers of old issues of Texas Monthly. They date back to when the magazine started; it’s interesting to see how times have changed.

Every week brings a new task. For the first few weeks I transcribed interviews for Pat Sharpe, renowned food editor and restaurant critic who’s also Texas Monthly staple. The week after that I worked on a conversation that Francesca had with a woman who spoke only Spanish — I knew that minor would come in handy.

I’ve attended a monthly editorial meeting in the intimidating glass-walled conference room, delivered batches of cookies to the communal kitchen, and had the opportunity to speak to Nate Blakeslee about “An Isolated Incident,” a long form story he wrote about an SMU student’s drug overdose. Tomorrow, Brian Sweany is giving us a tour of the Texas Capitol building. Next week we’ll discuss John’s story, “The Good Book and the Bad Book.” We can ask him anything we like.

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The walls surrounding the central kitchen are covered in quote decals from old TM stories. The quote in the middle is one of my favorites.

In short, I love it here. I am surrounded by people who love what they do, and who are some of the best in the business at it. My fellow editorial interns are some of the most driven and talented people I’ve met — they push me to excel. I’m reading and absorbing more than I ever have, and learning plenty along the way.

And yes, I’m still working toward that byline.

Texas Monthly on the daily