Playground Games

When the shout came from behind, it was deafening: “GET HER!”

It was an order, and it was not to be questioned. Spurred on by the taller boy’s screamed encouragement, the shorter came pelting after me. I turned and ran onto the playground.

My kindergarten class got an hour of recess every day which, when it comes to kindergarteners, is pretty inspired. Tire them out so they can’t misbehave in the classroom. Make a mess of the playground instead of the teacher’s desk. Throw soft, spongy dodge balls at each other instead of wooden blocks or dollhouse furniture.

I hated recess. I hated the sweat and the running around and how there was always a line for the swings. I’d race the others to the swing set (just because I hated to run didn’t mean I was slow) and, if someone got there before me, would find a quiet patch in the shade and build fairy houses in the dirt instead.

That day, Preston Sherer and Ben Jones sent me running for a different reason. Preston was the leader; he was tall, popular, and charismatic. The other boys thought he was cool because he made loud, rude farting noises in class and brought in the best toys from home. Ben was shorter, slighter, and needed a belt to cinch his hand-me-down shorts around his waist. He was quieter than Preston, but unquestionably his minion. Both boys had bowl haircuts. After all, this was the 90’s.

Both boys were also fast. Preston was faster, but he wasn’t running. Instead, he watched Ben’s progress and sauntered lazily some yards behind, still shouting. Ben tore after me as I ran like a hunted animal across the woodchips, through the swings, around the tires, up the stairs, and onto the bridge of the jungle gym. I thought I was safe there because if he came up one side, I’d go down the other.

He watched me up there for a minute, catching his breath. I smiled and waved, my courage restored from my vantage point. Then Preston caught up and manned the second set of stairs. I was trapped.

I made a snap decision. Quick as a lynx I bounded down from the bridge and leapt to the ground only inches in front of Ben’s surprised face. The chase was on again. I ran around a soccer field, over a small creek, through a wooded area that was technically off-limits, and across the basketball court before he caught me.

In the dirt yard just in front of the silver double doors that spit us screaming and squealing outside each day, Ben made a grab for my red skirt. I refused to wear pants in those days—only skirts and dresses—and this was my undoing. He caught the hem and brought me tumbling down into the dust. He fell across my extended legs. We were both panting. I’d scraped a knee and could feel the tears behind my eyes welling up, about to spill over.

Preston came ambling up behind us completely at ease. He looked down at our pile of tangled, dusty, bloodied limbs and laughed. At his approach Ben sat up. I struggled away from him but ended up on my back, pinned down by Ben’s knees on my skirt and his hands on my wrists. I looked up, terrified. They’d caught their prey. What would they do with it?

Preston looked at us there in the dirt. Maybe our pose recalled some illicit movie scene he’d watched with his older brother Trevor (another sandbox bully), or maybe he just wanted, childishly, to test forbidden waters for the thrill. Whatever the reason, he gave Ben a simple instruction.

“Kiss her.”

My fate was sealed. My eyes widened. I struggled, but it was no use. For a moment Ben looked uncertain. Kiss me? Here on my back in the dust in broad daylight? Maybe it seemed an odd climax to the chase. But he was six years old, so he did what he was told.

His lips came toward me and I struggled harder, like a washed-up fish flopping on land. I turned my head a fraction of a second too late—his lips found mine. They were hard, puckered, and chapped. He smelled like goldfish and tasted like dust.

In half a second it was over. Ben got up, blushing, and wiped the playground dirt off his too-big shorts. I scampered to my feet, too upset to cry, and fled for the safety of trees. There I crouched, back to a fence, waving a stick in case they should come after me again.

They didn’t. They left me alone, a scared animal in hiding.

The kiss part didn’t seem as threatening to me then as it does now. Sure, it was gross—every six-year-old girl knows about cooties. And anything is unpleasant when it’s done against your will. But Ben was nice enough, and I liked his blonde hair and watery blue eyes. Preston was a pig, but Ben was all right.

But at age six I didn’t understand their motivation. Why had the chase ended in a coerced kiss? Why had Preston chosen that as his ultimate punishment? Even at that age, the two boys felt a surge of confidence from overpowering me. I had no choice, and it thrilled them. They didn’t know why it thrilled them any more than I did—maybe it was imitation, or maybe it was instinct.

Maybe these two little boys were mimicking scenes from their own lives—Dad dominating Mom, older brothers pressuring girlfriends, images from TV, movies, or video games. It’s no secret that women are hyper sexualized in mass media, and that youth culture absorbs the concept almost without realizing it.

Whatever motivated those two boys on that playground on that particularly hot and dusty day, they couldn’t have known the consequences of their actions. They couldn’t have known that, years later, I’d still be that animal with her back against the wall, walking home with my finger on the trigger of my pepper spray, carrying a torch for them all this time.

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Playground Games

#FreeWriteFriday – Intruder

4:58 a.m.

I wake to the sound of something falling.

In my apartment, this is not unusual. I have a cat–a kitten, really. She knocks things over all the time. She isn’t at the foot of my bed, so I grope for my glasses, get up, and go into the bathroom to see what it is this time.

I flip on the light and look around, confused. There’s nothing on the floor. Then comes another noise like the first. It’s coming from behind me in the kitchen. It’s coming from my front door. It’s coming from a key inserted in the lock and turned.

I live alone, and the key is not mine.

For a minute, I doubt my instincts. Surely, I think, the noise is from across the hall. it’s the neighbor getting in. But the neighbors moved out a week ago. A construction crew descended upon their apartment, blasted out every tile in the kitchen floor, and kept me awake for a night and a half. Now I have no neighbors.

I flip the bathroom switch again and ease my way to the front door. I do not turn on the light. Shaking, I stand on the other side–so close to a person I do not know–and, with my index finger, open the catch to the peep hole. I look through.

There is a man on the other side of the door. I can hear his coughs and grunts, animal noises, so close that the door feels porous. He’s pale, an inch or so taller than the peep hole, with greying hair cropped short on the sides. Maybe it’s the fish-eye effect, but his nose is beakish and his eyes squinted. His key doesn’t turn, so he removes it from the lock. His forehead wrinkles in concentration as he peers down at an entire ring of keys–many more than average. He chooses a new one. He will try again.

The next key enters the lock. My breath catches. My hands sweat. Because it’s the only thing I can think to do, I grab the bolt with my left hand to keep it from turning if the key fits.

It doesn’t. Through the peep hole, his frown deepens. Back to the ring. Next key.

My hand starts to sweat. If the key fits, will I be able to keep the bolt from turning? Will my fingers slip? Will my small, desperate force win out against cold, mechanical steel? No.

The door, which has always seemed solid, turns to cheesecloth–an inch of wood between me and the stranger. I can see him–can almost touch him–from the other side. Surely he can hear me breathe. Surely he can hear my heart pound like a caged animal’s. Surely he knows that I am trapped, frozen, inches away.

My ferocity is gone. The fury I feel when I confront cat-callers on the street, the savagery that bubbles to the surface when I’m faced with an assailant, has deserted me. I am not fierce. I am small. I am terrified. I am vulnerable. I am in tears.

He tries another key.

Adrenaline courses through me. I unstick my thumb and forefinger from the bolt. I close the peep hole. I retreat into my bedroom, close the door, and call the police.

It’s the first time I’ve ever dialed 9-1-1.

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

I do not have an emergency. If the key fits, it will be an emergency. But he’s still outside trying key after key. He’s been there for 15 minutes.

“A man I don’t know is trying to get into my apartment.”

“Can you describe him? Where are you located? What phone number are you calling from?”

I give her the information. She assures me that officers are on their way. I thank her and hang up.

From the kitchen, the scratching continues. Next key. Immobilized, I crouch by the fire escape (a quick exit if he gets inside) and call my dad. I’m a five-year-old child afraid of the monster under the bed. This is more than I can handle. Every minute that passes is torture. The man is patient. He has a ring of keys and all the time he needs.

By the time the police arrive, the man is gone. I buzz them into the building and they do a search but cannot find him.

“He was definitely drunk,” one of the officers says. I’m standing in the doorway talking to them. In one hand I clutch my phone, and with the other clutch an enormous cardigan around me. It’s long enough to disguise the fact that I have forgotten to put on pants.

Maybe he was drunk. Maybe, as the officers leave, they chuckle at the petty fears of a terrified girl. I don’t mind. I would rather have them present and laughing than absent.

Because, if the key fits, the lock means nothing.

9:08 a.m.

#FreeWriteFriday – Intruder

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