BRB

My last day as a Gotham intern began with my first butterfly spotting in the city of New York. 

As I hustled to work through the bustling intersection of Midtown Manhattan in which Gotham is located (true story: I once saw a woman in full costume and tap shoes applying makeup in the bathroom of a coffee shop in this area), I was expecting the usual sights – the big ol’ New York Times building, the hordes of tourists strolling along e-x-c-r-u-c-i-a-t-i-n-g-l-y slowly, the people in business casual trying to get to the office. What I didn’t expect was a beautiful, huge, black and yellow butterfly. I think it was a tiger swallowtail. 

I’m trying to figure out how to make this butterfly into the perfect metaphor. How this internship was a gestation period after which I emerged as – you guessed it – a beautiful butterfly. In some ways, this is so perfect. I came in having never been an intern anywhere before, and I could not have asked for a kinder, more welcoming introduction into the professional world (I use the term ‘professional’ lightly *big wink*). 

But the metaphor of Gotham-as-chrysalis is not quite perfect. Chrysalises are too static. And Gotham is razzle-dazzle (see: last post on cheese). It’s been a wild ride. I’ve learned a lot about Gotham, about writing schools, about brainstorming and problem solving. I’ve learned that Britt is passionate about poetry and compassion; that Kelly dispels the myth that super knowledgeable people can’t also be the nicest; that Alex loves the type of humor and sarcasm that terrifies you on your first day until you realize he’s very kind and therefore must be joking; that Street is unendingly hilarious; that Dana always has your back and is a good model for treating people like people on the phone even when you’d rather get as far as possible from the conversation. I’ve learned that baristas in coffee shops are generally pretty open to leaving Gotham postcards out for their customers. I’ve learned that in a level one Gotham class you can have a journalist from Brazil, a primary care doctor, an editor of an online women’s journal, a 21-year-old, figuratively dimple-cheeked college student from the Midwest (that’s me!) and more. I’ve learned that sometimes a person can get a little bold from the free wine at Write-Ins and start telling everyone about themselves based on their astrological signs (all I got was: “Gemini, eh? Interesting …”). And on, and on.

The point is, I don’t know if butterflies miss their chrysalises, but I’ll definitely miss Gotham. I’m happy to continue the last-intern-blog-post tradition of pointing out that once you’re a part of Gotham, you’re always a part of Gotham. Thanks for the good times. I’ll be back

Until then,

Big hugs,

Phoebe

P.S. Just off the phone. That was the most times a person has ever asked my name. It was literally this. I’ll miss you, Gotham callers. 

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August Rush

Today I had the privelege of adding the new fall classes to the website. They are live! Check them out! And if there’s a mistake, then that’s a COMPUTER ERROR and definitely, certainly, not A MISTAKE I MADE. Right. Glad that’s clear. 

Update from the office: entire staff is discussing how the gorgonzola cheese tastes in terms of which actor it would be punching them in the face. For example, “I wish it was a Chuck Norris punching me in the face taste, but it’s really more of a John C. Reilly punching me in the face cheese.” Update in the update: I have just been propositioned to try the cheese and figure out which D-list celebrity it is that is punching us. Apply for an internship with Gotham here!

Needless to say, it’s a weird time. There’s a good quote that I can’t locate about the singular sensation of a whiff of autumn coming in on a still August day. The idleness of the dog days mixes with a sense of coming change to create a peculiar blend of urgency and langour. This sensation puts me on edge, and not being able to pinpoint why means the feeling lingers, running under my day-to-day. 

I know my time at Gotham and in New York is coming quickly to a close. As a result, I’ve filled every evening this week with an obligation. Class, catching up with a friend one final time, meeting my mom’s old friend, finally using that gift card my brother got me for my birthday. All enjoyable and pleasant – but that urgency, that urgency. 

And here in the office, there’s certainly silliness, but there’s also a new semester of classes just around the corner. Registration calls are going to start flying in, and all the other meticulous details that go into making Gotham classes brilliant have to be paid attention to. There’s so much to get done. The last days of summer are on their way, to be enjoyed in all their lazy wonder. At the same time, fall is persistently, inevitably knocking.

Last night it rained. Today it’s rainy. There’s definite motion going on atmospherically. For me, it’s just making the approaching autumn all the more imminent. And it’s pulling me, gently, from the langour. Time hurries on, and I’ve got to keep moving, too. 

Feelingly,

phoebe

P.S. If you’ve thought that I seem to have become obsessed with hyperlinks, ewe arrrh correct. Blame Sara, she gave me positive feedback. 

The Last Cookie

Loneliness. It happens. Now I’m sharing my loneliness with the world wide web, because it’s better than being lonely alone, right?

Sara & Nell are gone. Luckily Sarah-with-an-h came in today, so I was not the only intern in existence. But in the back of my mind I know that they ended their internships. I also know that because yesterday we all got bright yellow cowgirl hats from the staff here with kind notes written all over them as a parting gift. They ruled (the hats and the people). 

So even though it’s normally just Sarah and me on Thursdays, it still feels weird. I’m ready to answer ALL OF THE CALLS! But I’ll miss the friendship and shared laughter at the office silliness or interesting telephone calls.

So take care, fellow-interns-turned-citizens-of-the-world, I’ll miss you. You still read the intern blog, right?

Linkedly,

Phoebe

Goodbye for Now

This week marks my very last at Gotham! I can barely believe it – it feels like I only just started, and truthfully, it was only a few weeks ago that I did. I’m actually leaving earlier than originally planned because I’ve accepted a full-time position that is only two floors down from Gotham’s own office. How weird is that?

I feel a little out of the loop on the Gotham goings-on because I was out of the office almost all of last week (a work retreat for the new gig) and was sick yesterday. So, this week I’m only here for today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday). And then it’s all over…too fast and too soon!

So, what have I learned in the last few weeks of being here? Gotham offers lots of classes in about any genre you could possibly be interested in; the office is kept quite cold and I often regret not bringing a sweater; there are always yummy extra snacks from Write Ins that get eaten pretty quickly and sneakily (or not so sneakily); how to enter a Groupon code; how to refill a water cooler (Britt demonstrated, I have yet to do it myself); I’ve installed a nifty Gotham specific app on my phone that allows me to check in students for their classes; and so, so much more.

Sara and I have the same last day, and in celebration of our time at Gotham, all of us (the interns: me, Sara, Phoebe – though I’ve been told there’s fourth intern, I guess I won’t meet her this summer!) were taken to lunch by the rest of the office. We went to Tavola, an Italian restaurant just around the corner, and split three delicious pizzas and a salad. Because I had class this morning and we went to lunch, I’ll only be in the office for the next three hours, which feels, honestly, very strange. I don’t feel so much as I’m leaving something behind – I’m still enrolled in a class and will work only two floors below – but that I had the perfect summer internship. As someone who’s in love with writing, it was really nice to be surrounded by like-minded people, in a fun, easy-going, office.

I was workshopped today. And I was incredibly nervous – hands shaking, sweat gathering kind of nerves, even though I’ve been in about a thousand and one workshops so far (not really, but it feels like it at times). I love it and hate it. Sharing such a personal piece of yourself to a room full of mostly, kinda still but maybe not forever strangers, is difficult, but oh so rewarding. I was worried about my piece – not only because it covers more mature themes, and seemed in direct contrast with some of the more domestic pieces we’ve read so far – but that it felt flat to me, like who really cares about these characters and what do they really want anyway? In a way, it’s sort of the antithesis of my experience at Gotham, which has been anything but flat.

But it actually went well – everyone seemed to really like it, with obviously some suggestions, but it was really good to hear people respond to my work in a positive way. I worried that because of the age difference – being the youngest and uninitiated (at least at first) in the Gotham circle – that my fellow students wouldn’t get me, or my writing. But they got it, and mostly loved it and it felt really great.

I’m sad to leave Gotham – prematurely it feels – but I’ve really enjoyed my experience here. We interns are not at the bottom of any totem pole, or out fetching coffee, or cleaning the fridge, we work in the office, we learn here, we write here, we grow here. And I’m just sad it’s over so soon.

Thank you Gotham for a wonderful (short, but sweet) summer here. And if the Gotham Mafia rumor is true, then I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m here again.

Nell

 

A Farewell Address

My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man…”

Ok, I probably lost you at the old man part… that might, or might not (hint: it is), be Lincoln’s 1861 Farewell Address, but it expresses the same sentiment I’m going for here. As I sit here at the intern desk, for the last time, I give you my own farewell address, of sorts.

I’ve been interning at Gotham since the beginning of April…and it’s now August. Coming to the office every week since then has become a routine, and tomorrow, when I don’t have to run like a lunatic out of my house to catch a train, it’s going to feel… weird. A bad kind of weird. An empty kind of weird. As previous interns have said, I feel like I’m a part of the Gotham family now. There are rumors floating around that Gotham is like the mafia—once you’re in, you can’t leave. That’s partially true. I’ve seen old interns in the office visiting, as well as working at Gotham events. So all I’m doing, really, is leaving the intern desk and relinquishing my post at the intern phone, intern email and teen twitter. As I leave the comfort and coziness of the intern desk, I will be embarking on a new adventure—college.

Interning at Gotham has taught me so much—I’ve gained valuable job experiences, learning about the business world, advertising, customer service, and tons about writers and writing. I’ve got so many new experiences and skills to add to my figurative, handy-dandy skill-toolbelt that will help me in college and beyond.

I’m going to miss every one here, as well as the familiarity and the daily rhythm of the office (aka Street and Alex making hilarious comments, Dana rolling her eyes at these comments, Britt finding the cutest pictures of dogs, Kelly being the nicest person ever, Charlie with his fashionable taped glasses, and of course, my fellow interns, Nell and Phoebe, who have always got my back when I have questions or random thoughts I just need to share (so thanks for listening, guys.)

I leave the blog, and Gotham, with a Muppets quote (who doesn’t love the Muppets??)

Somehow I know we’ll meet again. Not sure quite where and I don’t know just when. You’re in my heart, so until then it’s time for saying goodbye.”

Farewell, Gotham.

Keep it real, #Gothamistherealest #IggyAzaleaProblems

Sara

The End of the World

This morning in the Gotham offices… I feel like I should launch into a description of newly created anti-villainy devices. Alas, that’s not what this blog post is about (and if we were creating anti-villainy devices that would be top secret, thankyouverymuch). It is about a story Street just got done telling about an inexplicable situation he found himself in while driving with his family. There was ear-splitting noise and parked cars in the middle of the road. Was the city under attack? The anxiety was real. As it turned out, it was a drag race that had taken over the road. Still exciting, but not quite the end of the world.

Hearing the story made me consider how our minds jump to the worst possible scenario. In this example, it was a pretty logical jump considering the situation, but I’ve had premonitions in less threatening situations. I vividly remember one plane I got on and had the strongest feeling that something was going to go wrong. But I had to take that plane; I didn’t have the money nor the confidence in my intuition to reschedule. And I survived. Nothing happened. 

I don’t really know what to make of situations like that. Is the point that things aren’t as bad as we think they are? Am I just lucky? Or just overly anxious? 

I think that I, at least, sometimes assume the worst (intentionally and subconsciously) because it means that I won’t be as disappointed. Either I accepted the worst already, so when I get the bad news it doesn’t come as a shock, or I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I do it with movies, job interviews, everything. When a movie comes out to rave reviews, I’ll tell myself that it’s overhyped and it probably will be boring and predictable. When a trailer for 50 Shades of Gray or Sharknado 2 comes out, I get excited and try to convince all my friends to go see it with me. “Either it will be awful, and we’ll get to eat popcorn and laugh at it, or it will exceed our rock-bottom expectations a little bit and we’ll remember it as kind of good.” Flawless logic. 

But this type of thinking must inhibit my intuition, if I ever had any. When I feel good about an interview, for example, I’ll tell myself not to get excited because if I get excited and don’t get it, that will hurt. So I make plans to cushion the blow, pile up fluffy “It wasn’t that great of an opportunity,” and “Think of all the other things I can do now!” And so, in an effort to prevent myself from being proven wrong, from feeling foolish for thinking I did well on something only to learn it didn’t pay off, I think I’m confusing my intuition. 

I don’t know if I’ll change my movie-watching strategy, but I think I will be a little bit more risky with my expectations, especially in regards to my writing. Instead of telling myself, “This is probably bad, don’t be surprised if nobody likes it,” I’ll allow myself to be proud of what I’ve written, and hopefully with time I’ll be better able to tell what writing I’m willing to defend and what writing should be tossed or reworked. 

Psychically,

Phoebe

P.S. An updated list of misinterpretations of my name on the phone: Stevie, Bebe, Dede, and Baby. Yes, Baby.  

Postcard Routes and Popsicle Meetings

My week here at Gotham is coming to a close. It’s FRIIIIDAY! (cue Rebecca Black. Just kidding. Please don’t.)

Today, new intern, Sarah, and I went on a post card route in order to publicize our AWESOME writing classes and to celebrate the gorgeous, non-humid weather. NOTE: Post card routes do not mean we stand on street corners and shove post cards in passer-byers faces. No, Gotham interns are somewhat classier and a lot less pushy. On post card routes, we go to certain areas within the city (West Village, Greenwich Village, etc.) and go into stores and ask if we can put out a stack of some of our post cards that advertise our classes. Street gives us guidance, by printing out a handy-dandy list of stores that previous interns have gone to and have deemed post-card friendly. We also venture into new stores and add them to the list if they are willing to take our cards.

Sarah and I walked down to Chelsea and spread some Gotham love to the stores down there. It’s a great experience–we get to see areas of the city we might not normally get to see. We may have walked around in circles a bit (I suck and navigating, and yes, I know the city is a grid. It’s sad.) There are so many cute storefronts and coffee shops. As someone who lives in the suburbs, I’m not used to the wealth of indie, non-chain brand places.

As I was on the route, I got a text from my friend who wanted to know if the area I work in is “safe.” Of course it’s safe– I responded. But of course, I spoke too soon:

As Sarah and I were moseying back to Gotham HQ, we were walking past the busy, tourist-packed Penn Station when I felt an elbow knock into my shoulder. Disgruntled, I looked backwards, slightly annoyed, but I brushed it off because it happens. We’re in NYC. 20 seconds later, a lady comes up from behind me and steps 5 inches from my face and yells at me, in a shakey-likely-drunk voice, for bumping into her and making her spill her coffee “all over her shirt.” (I will not deny that I could have bumped into her. I don’t know. But to be honest, I thought she bumped into me. Who cares.) Also her shirt was very clean for having coffee “all over it.” But I digress. So this woman is standing there glaring at me, saying, in her drunken, unsteady voice, “you messed with the wrong woman,” and “you don’t know what I could do to you right now.” Meanwhile, I’m standing there bracing for knuckle impact, apologizing up the wazoo (Is that still a phrase?). Then a scared man, presumably her boyfriend, comes over and I’m shaking in my boots. He glares at her, she glares at me, I glare at pedestrians giving them telepathic “HELP ME” vibes. Then they walked away. Both Sara and Sarah came out of this unharmed (maybe not emotionally… Sorry Sarah.) But don’t be scared, fans, future interns, blog-lovers. This is a rare occurrence on our postcard routes.

On a more positive note, Alex and Street have just announced that they are going to have a “popsicle meeting.” Only at Gotham, folks.

TGIF,

Sara

Finding a Voice

I‘m in a class full of smart kids. 

That’s what our teacher says, at least. And they aren’t kids, per se. In fact, they all seem so sure of themselves. They seem to have opinions and vocations and reasonably set lives, whereas I am cruising through this summer as if it were a test drive, and I might not buy the car, in which case this is the only time I get to drive it. And when the ride is over, I’ll be back to my old, lovely, 10-speed bike. What I’m attempting to say with this extended simile is that I feel different from my fellow students, and I feel like I have a lot to learn. I don’t feel inferior, because I know I have worthwhile thoughts and opinions and that I’m a passable writer. But, I can hopefully say without being too presumptuous, I definitely feel like I’m at a different point in my life than my classmates. 

In terms of what that point is, for me, I have to quote Ira Glass: 

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

 

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase.

I‘ve had this thought in my class and in the Write-In I attended at Gotham. When I hear somebody else’s writing that seems so cohesive and witty and natural, and I wonder why I can’t effortlessly create that type of writing when I can effortlessly appreciate it. And I think I have to just learn to be comfortable with producing something that I don’t feel is perfect, or even great. It doesn’t mean that I’m being sloppy or lazy, necessarily, but that at a certain point, I need to create and finish a project. 

I‘ll always keep honing my taste, with each new thing I read. It’s time to focus on honing my writing, regardless of how messy the process is. 

Pensively,

Phoebe

(which is, incidentally, not short for Stephanie, as someone asked me yesterday)

Good Reads

The first workshop is always exciting and nerve-wracking, even if it’s not my turn. I love listening to other’s reactions to the same piece – what they liked, what they thought needed work – and really thinking about the narrative and the desires, or motivations, of its characters. We spent about half an hour discussing each work and it felt really nice to be in a workshop environment again. I’ve missed it since graduating.

Today in class we discussed an aspect of craft: point of view. We were all asked to choose our favorite POV and explain why. I enjoy third-person limited more than any other, or at least I find myself writing that way most often. First-person feels more difficult in some ways because you’re stuck with one character – having to make their interior feel real, it seems the harder POV to pull off, especially because it’s the “I” and so intimate, close.

Monday was definitely a busier day at the office: my fellow intern Phoebe (one of, Sara was gone Monday!) and I made our way down to the East Village to distribute postcards and find new places that might display our signs. It was an exercise in careful navigational manipulation – I am not the most directionally astute – so I was very happy that I didn’t totally get us lost. As a native, I’m embarrassed to admit my navigation-woes, but with the advent of smart phones, I’ve definitely been able to keep it more under wraps. We returned to the office, sweatier and hungrier than before, but happy with the handful of places we’d added to our postcard route.

This morning I just started Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – something I’ve been meaning to read since high school, but have only just gotten to. My copy is my friend’s copy (for keeps, she had two) – so I keep stumbling upon her little inked notes and suggestions and it’s like we’re reading it together. It makes me love reading even more, those moments where you feel so connected with another person: the writer, a character, or your friend who lent you the book.

The list of things I want to read keeps growing – every Wednesday my teacher mentions a new essay or short story or novel – and I can’t imagine if I’ll get to it all. The slush pile grows deeper every week, but I’m happy to have the list: so many good reads!

All for now,

Nell

 

On Structure

My week feels a little shorter at Gotham this time around, as on Monday I had to leave the office early to help my mom take our cats to the vet. Cats who were not particularly happy to go the vet: growling, scratching, one even peed in the carrier not five minutes into the trip. It was a rough way to end my afternoon; I would have much rather been coolly ensconced in my office chair at Gotham’s main office, tweeting, typing, answering phones, trolling the internet for cool twitter-related links, brainstorming ideas for class enrollment, check-ins, etc. etc.

I thought that once I graduated from college I’d be done with homework forever. Not so for my Fiction II writing class this term. I have assigned reading! And writing exercises! Which I’m actually excited about, truth be told. This week we’re reading Claire Keegan’s “Foster.” (If I’m being honest, I haven’t read it yet but it’s only Tuesday afternoon and I have all night to get to it). One of my favorite things about writing classes, besides the actual writing and critiquing, is the chance to read new writers (my fellow classmates included) and experience new styles, new genres, new everything.

Finally it’s Wednesday. It’s the afternoon now, so I’ve already had my class. Today we talked about the importance of Plot (or Freytag’s Triangle) versus Character. Although I feel like I have a good grasp of writing fundamentals, I don’t really know how to talk about different kinds of narrative, like dramatic or episodic, or what exactly that entails for the writing process, or the mechanics of plot. When I write, I just sit down and write from end to end, and while that’s my own style, it is important to understand the structure(s) behind the story itself. We talked about our assigned reading for the last 3 quarters of the class: the subtlety of Keegan’s writing, the “risky” (or at least unique, rule-breaking choice to use the present tense), the use of dialogue to convey subtext.

The class’s discussion about how we even begin to tell stories (chronologically? logically? in media res?) made me think about structure: its purpose, uses, ways it can be manipulated for the benefit of the writer. I remembered an essay I read earlier this spring, John McPhee’s “Structure,” and how he used physical notecards to manipulate the timelines of his essays. I write these blog posts, most often, in chronological order, because that seems simplest, most natural, to telling this blog (and possible readers?) my experiences as a Gotham Intern. Maybe it’s the way our work days are outlined: in at 10:30am, out by 5pm, that lends itself to that approach, or maybe it’s just the way the days flow into one another: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. My days seem to fly here – it’s already mid-July!

My next writing assignment is to take a headline from a tabloid (see National Enquirer, Daily Mail, etc.) and write a story that somehow incorporates the story behind the headline. I’ve never had that kind of prompt before, so I’m excited to see where I can take it, or how weird I can make it. Perhaps, I’ll think about the structure of my piece, the way the events bleed into one another, the craft of starting at one point and ending in an another, unexpected place. 

Until next week!

Nell