Thursday, March 30, 2006

Twentysomething Oblivion

Tonight, I missed a reading that I wanted to attend because I had to stay at work late. I was planning on having a quiet dinner alone at a restaurant on the Upper West Side beforehand, too -- maybe a small Italian place with votive candles on the tables. Needless to say, when I finally left the office, I was in a foul mood.

Before I did, though, a freelancer I manage stopped me for a chat in the ladies' room. In the course of our conversation, I told her how old I was, and she nearly doubled over in disbelief that I was so young. She said it wasn't that I looked old (oh, of course not), but it was that I act so mature for my young age and have a position of rank (on paper, anyway). "You're a baby!" she half-yelled. "You're so impressive!"

I'm surprised over and over again at this dichotomy:
The way things LOOK versus the way they FEEL.

Objectively, my resume looks pretty good, I have to say. But it's the inadequacies, fueled by the city and its inhabitants and my own insecurities, that whisper to me during the day. I don't have a book deal, a sitcom in the works, a "wildly successful" website, a publicist, or even a freaking notion of what, exactly, is going to be my passion and the thing I stick with throughout life. I always wanted to have a "big career." But every day, I read about people like this, or this, or this, and every time I do, it makes my dreams seem that much further away, that the clock hands have moved another millimeter, and that I am not getting any younger. And in New York, those people are everywhere: Signing their books in the corner bookstore, on the front page of the newspaper, linked to on the gossip sites, talking to you at parties. It is hard, here, to be noticed unless you are extraordinary.

And, as Nicole-Kidman-in-To Die For as this sounds, I want very badly to be extraordinary.

Update: I just Googled "I want to be extraordinary," and a whole bunch of teenage girls' MySpace profiles, bodybuilding sites, and the Suicide Girls' website came up. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hipsters Need to Stop It. At Once.

I read this article yesterday, and although there's not a clear conclusion reached in the story, I have reached several conclusions of my own:

1. Hipsters and grups need to go away. No one likes you but your own kind. No one "gets" you but your own kind, and not in that "they don't get me because I'm too cool for them" kind of way. It's more like a "why is that 39-year-old dressed like me in junior high?" kind of way.

2. Okay, maybe I am sort of jealous that I can't afford a $600 messenger bag and that although I know what Arcade Fire are, I probably couldn't pick their song out of a lineup that includes Hot Hot Heat, the Walkmen, and Interpol.

3. Adam Sternbergh sure tried his damnedest to make this a good story. My favorite quote, about a hipster dad beating his own ideals into his children's heads before they're old enough to speak:
Sorry, son. No more Thomas the Tank Engine for you. Thomas sucks. Stop crying. Daddy's helping you develop an aesthetic.
4. Hipsters and grups are everything I find distasteful about my ex-boyfriend, Manhattan nightclubs, and the gossip queens in my high school rolled into one: They're loud and messianic about their music, they're unjustifiably exclusive when it comes to who to let into their circle, and they snark about what everyone else is doing in New York, America, and the world but put their friends on tall, tall pedestals that are beyond the reach of criticism.

5. I'd like to do something I'm passionate about, too. Except I have rent to pay and no trust fund.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Help Me Choose My Underwear

This morning, I heard what no girl ever wants to hear from her boyfriend: that my underwear is "not sexy," that it's "falling apart," and that I "have had it for years." "Like right now," the Boyf said, walking up to me before I put my work pants on and gesturing to the underthings I was wearing. "You can't wear stripper underwear with a plain bra." Now, let the record show that not only is the Boyf right on the first three descriptors of my underpants, but he's also right about my underwear combo for the day: black thong with hot-pink stitching paired with a nude-colored T-shirt bra. Also, just so we're clear that he's not a total jerk, the Boyf is rarely critical of anything I wear; he's most often full of compliments. So I think I should humor him and break down and buy some new underwear.

It's difficult, though, because I have three issues with underwear:

First, most of my sexy underwear is from my senior year in high school, during which I repeatedly scared boys away (with my attitude, not my underwear). I thought that I'd harness my untapped feminine energy by buying lacy teal bra-and-panty sets, black-lace bikini underwear, and lots and lots of satin. P.S. I wore business suits to school for no reason. Did I mention no one liked me? I was also the girl who gave black lace panties to her girlfriends -- and her mother, ugh -- for their birthdays, with a note attached that read "Every woman should have a pair of black lace underwear." Apparently, I fancied myself the high-school version of Dr. Ruth...despite not having much experience on the subject. At all.

Second, because I'm laundry OCD, I've put several years of cold-washing and hang-drying into these nine-year-old thongs. Do I want to throw away all of my hard work?

Third, the Boyf and I have been dating for quite some time, which may explain why I care so little in this department. We've been together for years; the mystery is pretty much over; he knows what he's getting. It's kind of like breaking out the fine china to eat the same meatloaf you've had every day for as long as you can remember. (So I guess that makes me meatloaf...hmmm, not flattering.)

But enough about me. What underwear should I buy? In New York, I'm sure all the well-heeled girls go to Agent Provocateur or La Perla when they want something that won't repulse their boyfriends, but me? Because I'm neither the daughter of a CEO nor the mistress of a hedge-fund manager, I'm left with more plebeian options:

A. Victoria's Secret

So is this sexy? Or is going to look kind of dumb on me considering that, well, I'm not Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen? Plus, at a grand total of about $55 a set, stocking up for only Monday through Friday is going to run me $275. Ouch.

2. Bloomingdale's

What about this? This is from the Elle MacPherson collection at Bloomingdale's -- only $88 (yikes) for the discriminating upper-end department store customer, but I'm thinking I could find a pretty good knockoff at H&M. But there's maybe something too...dainty about this. Like I'd be a china doll, not a sultry dame there for the lovin'.

C. Macy's

No, right? Yeah. Definitely no.

D. Frederick's of Hollywood

Ahem. So, considering I was embarrassed just looking at this website, I'm thinking this one is pretty impractical. I could never wear this under a T-shirt. Plus, what if the sides come untied at the office? Very impractical. But at $26 for the whole set, maybe I'll keep this one in mind for a special occasion. Or my Maxim cover shoot.

E. Macy's gets another shot

Ooh, this one's on sale this week. Calvin Klein. About $40 a set. It's basic. Standard. But is it too standard? What if I got it in black...?

Now go vote for your favorite via the comments section. Hurry! It's just like Idol.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Words only hurt if you read them. Don't play their game."

I skipped a night of food, music, and general debauchery at a Russian restaurant way south in Brooklyn to read for one of my freelance assignments. I've somehow positioned myself as literary expert in certain genres through what I can only determine is the grace of God, who must have heard my prayer about not wanting to appear entirely vapid to my work colleagues when they ask what I do in my spare time.

That said, I got to thinking about required reading: The books I read for school, the ones I didn't, and all the nights of homework I skipped in favor of watching "Beverly Hills, 90210" and writing in my diary. And that made me want to cry, as I'm convinced I could have been an astrophysicist/political correspondent/hedge-fund manager if I'd only done my &*#! homework like the rest of the smart girls...who ended up married with two kids in the Midwest at age 25. Wait a minute....

In that spirit, let's make some abbreviated lists (Um, I've read more books than these, just so you know.):

Required-reading books I read the first four chapters of but managed to make sense of the themes therein during class discussions:
- Lord of the Flies
- Faust
- Flowers for Algernon
- The Scarlet Letter
- The Metamorphosis
- Paradise Lost

Required-reading books I read and loved:
- Emma
- The Stranger
- Candide
- The assigned parts of Welcome to the Monkey House
- 1984
- The Chosen
- Animal Farm

Required-reading books I read and hated with a fiery, fiery passion:
- My Antonia

Regular books I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't read:
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- The DaVinci Code
- The Tipping Point
- Great Expectations
- Any Ernest Hemingway
- Any Tom Wolfe
- Any John Grisham
- Any Stephen King

Regular books I'm embarrassed to admit I have read:
- Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining by Judge Judy
- Stop the Insanity! by Susan Powter
- The Anderson Files: The Unauthorized Biography of Gillian Anderson
- Star by Danielle Steel
- He's Just Not That Into You
- A Week in the Zone

Regular books that are sitting in my room that I totally plan to read:
- Fast Food Nation
- Fear of Flying
- Eats, Shoots and Leaves
- A Million Little Pieces
...well, on second thought...
- Henry and June
- Freakonomics

Books I've been halfway through for three years:
- Down and Out in Paris and London

And last but not least...

My favorite books, no matter what anyone says (there are more of these I'm forgetting, I know):
- The Frog King
- Possessing the Secret of Joy
- The Best of Everything
- Dry
- Me Talk Pretty One Day
- The Beauty Myth

Am I Living Here?

Tonight, I went to dinner at Lotus and ate, talked, and laughed with two impossibly gorgeous female models -- one blond and one brunette -- who swore they'd be my best friends and take me out on the town in exactly two weeks.

If you've ever written a "thesis statement" in high school, that would be mine for this post.

It's nights like these that I don't believe that I'm living here, experiencing this. On nights like these, twentysomething-year-old Newbie tries to make witty, modern conversation despite the fact that she's wearing a turtleneck she bought from the Express at Manhattan Mall two and a half years ago, but 9-year-old Newbie just wants to be silent, look at everything around her, and marvel at the fact she's really living here.

My friend Red is a talent agent, which means she occasionally gets to do really cool things for free. And sometimes she takes me. Tonight, we say this play at UCB, and I can honestly say I've never laughed so consistently throughout an entire performance. Trust me when I say it will be worth a Lincoln to see it. Plus, the female lead does VH1's "Best Week Ever" now and then and is also in that weird cooking show/salad Wendy's commercial. Star power, for what it's worth.

Afterward, we went to a dinner at Lotus I had no business being at. I'm 5'4", my face is round and long, my looks are an acquired taste, and my clothes are entirely unfashionable, even according to the Boyf, who lets his mother buy his dress shirts. I went to Lotus a year ago, but I was so tipsy I remember very little of it, aside from the fact I was somehow fed grapefruit juice out of a carafe by someone who said he owned B Bar. I think we can leave it at that.

Tonight, the glasses on the table reflected yellow sun-colored light, all the women at the neverending table looked as though they had glitter for skin, and I just tried to savor the moment and pretend I wasn't wearing a cable-knit turtleneck. Across the table were two real models: A standoffish brunette from Dublin, and a flippy blonde from Greenwich, Connecticut. Thanks to Red, a wannabe entertainer and born socialite, we became fast friends with the models -- models! -- who promised us we'd all go out soon. Whether or not we do is really beside the point. Because as Red wove stories of college, of New York, of our shared ex-boyfriend (more on that later), I just stared: at the dinner I couldn't afford if it weren't being comped; at the sublime, sharp, angular faces of these models I could have sworn I knew from films (the blonde was Michelle Pfieffer with a little Jaime Pressly-ish insecurity mixed in, the brunette was Gisele and Demi in one); and the baby-oil smell of the African-American actor who slid his card into my hand and told me that he'd take me dancing whenever I'd like, no questions asked. It was all so surreal, so glazed to a fine finish, that part of me didn't want to leave.

I got home at 12:30, I saw a letter from my hometown: My dad had sent me a card with a picture of a wolf amidst a cluster of daisies on the front. My Midwest voter registration card and a postcard for ordering a collector's postage-stamp catalog was inside. "We were at a wedding at church this afternoon," my dad's slender Sharpie scrawl read. "Nothing like spoiling a good [garden] work afternoon just to shower and get redressed again."

And it was true, and real, and what I needed after tonight. The point. What's Lotus when you can plant your own flowers?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


One recommendation:

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2004

It's about 20 bucks in your average wine store, so — considering that slightly steep price — make sure you're drinking it with someone special or, if you're alone, that you don't end the night crying and/or puking. (No shame or judgment on that one, trust me.)

This is all you need to know. Go forth and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I have a health issue that upsets me sometimes. "Sometimes" isn't really the word. It's always there. A baseline heartbeat that gets louder once every week or two. It's loud tonight, and I feel myself sliding into tears, into "what ifs," and into anger. So instead of indulging that, I'm going to find something positive in my day today and then work on my freelance work for an hour.

Positive thing about today:

I found out that a Cadbury Creme Egg only has 175 calories, compared to your usual 250 or 270 calories of a chocolate candy bar. I'd been abstaining from Easter candy so as not to blow my every minute on the elliptical -- until now. Every Duane Reade in a mile radius seems to be sold out of the eggs, but mark my words: As soon as I find one of those f*ckers, I'm housing it in two bites.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Little New York

Top Three Heartwarming Things That Happened to Me in NYC This Past Week:

1. I resent the Laundromat
for taking up time from my precious weekends and evenings. But, really, it's all my fault because I'm the Type-A laundry-doer who has to follow the instructions on each tag to a T rather than sending my laundry out like everyone else in the city. (Trust me, this is the only thing I'm anal about. I can't remember the last time I used Pledge, got a pedicure, or checked my bank statement for errors.) But last weekend, I threw my loads in the Laundromat washers, dropped off two shirts for dry-cleaning, gave them my name and phone number to put at the top the carbon-copy slip, and went back to reading my book, glancing at the clock every five minutes, and nearly dying of impatience.

An hour later, when the loads were finally all dried and folded and tucked elegantly into a giant Hefty bag to haul back to my apartment, I lugged the whole mess out the door, waving goodbye to the desk girl who had taken my dry-cleaning. Her happy voice rang out with a slight accent: "Goodbye, Newbie! Have a good weekend!" (Of course my name isn't Newbie, but bear with me for these purposes.) She remembered my name. And sometimes? That's enough to put you in a good mood for the rest of the afternoon, wasted laundry time or not.

2. There is only one bagel place in NYC worth going to, and I would totally tell you if I didn't think it would give away to the universe where I live. But if anyone wants to know it that badly, e-mail me, and we'll work something out. I was at said bagel place this morning, and I rattled off my usual all-grain-with-butter order. The guy behind the counter made it and brought it to me. Sometimes he likes to be cute and pretend he got it wrong. So this morning he said, "Sesame with cream cheese?" I gave him a big smile. Jokesters like to be humored, even when it's 9 a.m. and one hasn't had one's coffee yet. "Someday," I said, "you're really going to fool me." He replied, "You're the only customer who understands me. Everyone else says, 'No, I didn't order that.'" And I sort of loved that: My bagel guy, like a postmodern artist, just wants to be understood. And I'm the patron who gets it.

3. I went to a birthday party at a hipster bar for a friend of the Boyf's (who I guess is my friend, too...? Never sure how to categorize these people) on Saturday, and a friend of mine, T, was there. He had brought a friend of HIS, K, and so while T was ordering a drink, I kept K company. Over the timespan of however long T took to snag a beverage from the busy bar, which I'm estimating to be about 10 minutes, K and I had covered what he did for a living, where he went to school, how old we both were, how old our significant others were, whether either of us had talked about marriage, why we did what we did for a living, what we thought of bloggers, and how we should totally find a cute girl for T to hit on tonight. When T finally came back, K looked at T and said, "She's so nice." T replied, "Isn't she?" And I felt proud.

And that's one thing that I hope I never lose in Manhattan: friendliness. Sometimes I have trouble speaking up in meetings, trusting my gut, stabbing people in the back, gossiping, clawing my way to the top however I can, and being otherwise cold. I trust too soon, like people too much, and don't always see the grit in life. And maybe I'll lose in my career because of it. God knows I've lost in relationships because of it. But I firmly believe that there's something to be said for civility, for smiling, for laughing at others' jokes, and otherwise making the person you're conversing with feel good, no matter what his or her job or what he or she can do for you. I would want the same in return. If being nice is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

I Like the Sound of That

I have decided that I am going to be myself with this blog. I won't be overly snarky. I won't be airheaded. I will be me. People have liked my writing in the past, and people have hated it. Either way, they read it. And this blog should be no different. Especially because it's anonymous.

That segues nicely into what I've been worried about lately. I'm worried that I've made decisions in my life based on what it sounds like rather than whether I'd really enjoy it, whether it would really be me. My publishing career. My city. My relationships. The way I spend my free time. For example, I was talking with my friend from out of town about the (minimal) free schwag I've scored at my job.

Me: "I liked the Pretty Girls Make Graves CD I got two weeks ago. I haven't listened to it, but..."
Him: (Mocking me.) "But you like the thought of it. 'I like the idea of it.' "

How many things do we do every day because they look good, because they sound good, not because we really like them. I wonder all the time why I'm in this industry doing what I do (not writing) when all I really want to do is write. That's all I've ever wanted to do. That's what I did at nine years old. Those stupid career tip stories always ask you what the one thing is you do that you can lose yourself in -- that when you look up, three hours have gone by and it's only seemed like 15 minutes. Writing is the only thing I've ever taken pride in. It's the only thing I've broken out to show my grandparents: My byline in my college newspaper. Then regular newspapers. Then magazines. But I'm stagnant now. I've pushed it away. I want it back. Badly.

I want a book. I want more bylines. I just wish it didn't seem like the time for that was dwindling so quickly, in favor of 401(k)s and talk of marriage and homesickness and job security and health insurance and gym-going and time that always has to be split. I am going to try harder.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

ABC: Always Be Crying

It's officially lame that I'm posting twice in a row about television, but anyway: There are few things in life that make me feel more manipulated than crying at television programs. The ABC network has officially cornered the market on three-hankie TV programs. Case in point: ABC's "Exteme Makeover: Home Edition". Now, if memory serves me right, this show started out being, essentially, "Trading Spaces" with a bigger budget. But not anymore. Show me a dry eye in the viewing audience as Ty Pennington presents a brand-new zillion-dollar house to an overly kind family with disabled children, no money, but one heck of a zest for life and perservering through its difficulties, and I'll show you someone with no soul.

Tonight, I checked out the first half of ABC's "American Inventor," thinking maybe I'd get to see some cool robots, but I was totally pissed at the network when I found myself crying TWICE when some dude's shovel/dustpan contraption made the cut. I blame the manipulative music. In fact, I think ABC must have hired a Manipulative Music Director solely to produce tears in the eyes of the average American viewer during their reality shows.

With all of this talk of manipulative music, I'm reminded of one of the worst movies ever: Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. In fact, let's make a Top Seven list:

Top Seven Worst Chick Flicks Ever (which may or may not include manipulative music, but just go with me on this thought thread):
1. Maid in Manhattan
(Not that I have no love for J to the L-O, but Ralph Fiennes? Ralph Fiennes?!)
2. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(Even McConaughey couldn't save this plot.)
3. Notting Hill
(I only need to quote one line: "I'm just a girl, standing in front of..." I can't go on. Next.)
4. Runaway Bride
(Pretty Woman: good. Stop there. Please.)
5. You've Got Mail
(Sleepless in Seattle: good. Stop there. Please.)
6. Little Black Book
(Is this a send-up of talk-show television or a crappy chick flick? Apparently, both.)
7. Titanic (Oh, yeah, I said it.)
(For all of you who remember watching it 37 times back in 1998, I challenge you to watch it again, as a real, live adult. Couldn't get through the first 20 minutes? Me either.)

If any of y'all are reading this and agreeing (or disagreeing), please post your lists of the Top Seven Worst Chick Flicks Ever to the comments section. We'll get a debate going on.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Unless by "Lamest" They Meant "Coolest"

Despite what the writers of FOX's (sub-par) new sitcom "The Loop" might feel, Annie Lennox's "Walking on Broken Glass" is most definitely NOT the "lamest song ever." Just look at the songs in Annie's repertoire: "No More I Love Yous," "Why" -- do I even need to go on? The woman is a goddess. Anyone who can get John Malkovich to be in her music video is okay in my book. And no one can top Annie in karaoke. I've tried. Many times.

But on to "The Loop." The show is clearly trying to be "The Office"-esque, but at its best it just ended up of reminding me of "Undeclared," and at its worse, that old Fred Savage show "Working" that everyone said ripped off "Dilbert." The male lead is good enough, but the surrounding characters are one cliche after another. The love interest is weak and annoying, and of course she has a jerk boyfriend. And, I'm sorry, it might be hilarious to the writers that Mimi Rogers' VP character sexually harrasses the main character, but I find reverse sexual harrassment just as inappropriate and uncomfortable to watch as the traditional kind.

To the show's credit, though? Karaoke on a JumboTron is an awesome idea, and if my friends ever did that for me, well, the stadium groundskeepers would pretty much have to drag me off the field the next morning when the baseball players arrived for spring training.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

And...I'm Five Years Old

Like many Manhattanites, I try to temper my love of cupcakes, happy hour, and (5) Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (in a row) with some quality gym time.

Today, I went to the Boot Camp class. Now, as a co-worker pointed out to me today, I seem to have an affinity for any exercise class involving violence. Kickboxing is another fave. I don't do yoga class. I don't do stretching class. I don't do abs class. But give me something to kick or punch, and I am SO there:

Co-worker: What other classes do you go to? "Kill, Die"?
Me: "Kill, Die" is a class I'd definitely be interested in.

So, back to Boot Camp: Our new instructor is a woman all of five feet two inches, she has crazy tats all over her shoulders, and her hair is cropped in a pixie cut. But she's super-sweet. Think a less scary version of Susan Powter. (Not that there's anything wrong with Susan. Stop the Insanity was actually an entertaining read. Did you know Susan is a former stripper?) Class consisted of a lot of simple, basic cardio with tons of reps: jumping jacks, lunges, tapping our toes on the plyo box. And I noticed myself doing jumping jacks and smiling. Prancing on and off the plyo box and smiling. Generally making a fool of myself and smiling. And I realized: How often do we, as adults, just get to jump up and down for a while to blow off steam? It's sort of fun. Next time I get yelled at at work, by my roommate, or by the Boyf, I'm just going to start prancing...and then wait for the men in white coats to knock on my door.

Maybe I should start looking at this as a possible health trend. This just in: Stress levels relieved by hula-hooping, brushing Barbies' hair, beaning other people with big rubber balls, and/or constructing elaborate battle scenes using green Army men.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I Blame it on Fake Axl

On Friday night, after about four glasses of good wine and twenty-odd good songs on the Boyf's iTunes cache (Journey, mostly), I decided it would be a great idea for the Boyf and I to join two other couples and attend a Guns 'n' Roses cover band show in Times Square. Now, as a teenager, I was what people consider "uncool," so my knowledge of Guns 'n' Roses is limited to the following two facts: 1.) the lead singer of "G and R" is named Axl Rose and 2.) he does a dance called the Snake, but ever since he gained weight, he can't really do it anymore.

"Are they going to play 'Pour Some Sugar on Me'?" I asked the Boyf in the cab ride there.
"Ummmm...," the Boyf said.
"Wait, that was Def Leppard," I said.
"Yep," the Boyf said.
"Damn," I said.

And so they played. And I drank several beers. Out of the twenty-odd songs they played, I recognized four. But that didn't stop me from giving the horns sign and head-banging to "Paradise City." Hell. Yeah.

But I think my crowning achievement of the night was when, as I was deep in my booze-fueled haze, some frattish dude clocked me -- hard -- in the right arm as he and his girl were shoving their way to the front. So I did something I have never, ever done before: I fought back.

"HEY!" I screamed at what felt like 100-decibel-level volume in Frattish Dude's ear.
He turned around, stunned (or so I remember, anyway). "What?" he said.
"An 'EXCUSE ME' would have been nice," I shouted at him.
Now, what happened next is a little hazy, but I do remember he leaned in toward me and said, "It's a little early to..."
And I ignored him and looked away.
"What was that guy's problem?" the Boyf asked, as he was standing right there.
"Just some douchebag," I said. And I continued drinking.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am probably more proud of myself than I ever have been for actually calling out bad behavior rather than being too stunned to say anything and thinking of 30 different comebacks an hour later while standing at Duane Reade drugstore looking for shampoo. But I am flummoxed as to what, at 1 a.m., he thought it was too early for me to be doing. Yelling? Starting altercations? Drinking god-knows-what's-in-it B.B. King beer? Despite that snag in the story, though, I think it's important to recognize this:

Drunk out of my mind, I started a fight at a Guns 'n' Roses concert.

Some might call it worrisome or, if you will, "alcoholism." But for this well-mannered Midwestern girl, this experience is something to f*cking celebrate.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I sent another e-mail to another editor today. Another resume pasted at the bottom. And for possibly the first time in my life, the thought, What, exactly, am I doing this for? crossed my mind. Usually, my thought process is more like, OMG, this is going to be the best thing EVER if I get this job! or, Wow, I really, really have to get out of my current soul-sucking job ASAP.

But now, I'm beginning to get the first taste of cubicle complacency: nice title, nice salary, nice company, entirely performable duties. Why move? Oh, yeah, that "personal fulfillment" thing. The feeling of having actually accomplished something in eight hours. Or, in my case, 10 to 12.

When I think about my career, all I can think about is the next best thing. The next big freelance project, the next big publication to work for. The novel I know I have in me. Success has importance in several different facets of life, but when does it start to boil down to vanity? Impressing people at parties. Impressing people back home. Impressing myself. I can't believe I'm about to quote the Counting Crows, but bear with me: "We all wanna be big stars, but we've got different reasons for that." I think my reason right now is to build my self-esteem resume, which I should have done a long time ago.