Here’s to hoping your Labor Day plans don’t look like how my travel plans went the other day….
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m just a liiiiittle obsessed with taking quizzes. I especially love the Buzzfeed ones. Don’t judge.
A while back I saw the Buzzfeed quiz “Who Would Play Your Mom In The Movie Version of Your Life?” Of course I had to take it. I’ve spent some time daydreaming what actors might play my family in a film adaptation of my memoir. I took the quiz and it revealed Sofia Vergara (from “Modern Family”) should play my mom! Well that made good sense to me. My mom is one hot mama!
So when I saw they now had a quiz called “Who Would Play Your Dad in the Movie Version of Your Life?” I took it immediately. I had always thought Kelsey Grammer (you know, Frasier) would be a good fit for my dad. Buzzfeed thought otherwise. They picked Samuel L. Jackson!
Pause just a moment to picture a family with Sofia Vergara as the mother and Samuel L. Jackson as the father. …Are you picturing it? Welcome to the family!
Read any career advice book, and one thing is clear: getting the job of your dreams is all about who you know. The key to success, as you’ve heard countless times before, is networking, networking, networking.
But what if the mere mention of networking sends shivers down your spine as you conjure up memories of limp handshakes and boring conversations? What if the idea of trying to infiltrate a circle of insiders at a cocktail party sounds more difficult than actually giving the keynote speech at your company?
Then Eventsy’s Speed Networking events are for you! Eventsy is changing the way you look at networking. Through “interactive events with a purpose,” New York’s comprehensive social networking club is making it easy and fun to make worthwhile connections.
Last week I attended the first-ever Speed Networking event hosted by Eventsy, and I can honestly tell you that I walked away having made some of the most genuine connections I’ve ever made at a networking event. Let me say upfront that I was invited to cover the event. I therefore did not go into it all geared up to network and pitch myself and my writing, but rather to observe. The gonzo journalist side of me kicked in, though, and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to try my hand at networking.
The first part of the night was open, free-form networking, and I felt like I often do at networking cocktail events: awkward. There’s nothing easy about walking up to strangers and trying to insert yourself into a conversation they’re already having. It feels like you’re interrupting a private, impassioned conversation for no good reason other than to have someone—anyone—to talk to so you’re not standing by yourself like an idiot. Fortunately, I overheard a woman nervously tell the event hosts that she was also attending solo, so I quickly introduced myself. It gave us both an immediate connection, and we worked the buddy system throughout the evening, occasionally checking in on each other even after we’d braved our way into other conversations. Even though this part of the evening was the most nerve-racking to my introverted self, it was actually the point where I made a valuable connection with someone I did not end up meeting during the more formal speed networking portion of the evening. Lessons learned:
- Warm up to networking by reaching out to others who have come alone or are on the outskirts of a conversation. Networking ability does not necessarily indicate position at a company.
- Use the buddy system. Once you’ve met one person, you can take turns introducing each other to new people. This makes introductions much more natural.
- Fake it ’til you make it. Just because you don’t feel like a natural at networking doesn’t mean you can’t do it or that others will even notice.
- Talk to everyone and really get to know them. The valuable connection I made was with someone whom I at first thought had no bearing at all on my career objectives, and it was only at the very tail end of our conversation that we both realized we could potentially meet each other’s needs for an aspect of our businesses that we weren’t there pitching.
The main course of the Eventsy networking event was the speed networking. I’d done speed networking three times before, and I joked with one of the other attendees that although it had never landed me a job before I had gotten a relationship out of it once. Hey, you can make all sorts of connections through speed networking! I really like the format of speed networking. If you’ve never done it before, let me quickly explain how it was done at Eventsy: Half of us lined up on one side and the other half lined up across from us so that each of us were facing one other person. Then we were given five minutes to talk to each other.
Most people use this time to give their “elevator pitch”—their spiel on what they do or their pitch for what they could do, told in the time it would take to ride with someone from the ground floor to the executive suite in an office building. We weren’t given any formal instructions on giving our elevator pitch or what we should say during these five minutes, so it was pretty informal but in a good way. It felt like a real conversation in which we talked about what we did, why we came to the Eventsy Networking Event, what we were hoping to achieve from it, and how we could help each other. Seriously, that last question was key because it got to the crux of how the event could benefit us much more than a summary of our work experience would. Lessons here:
- Listen more than you talk. Ask questions to find out not just what someone does day-to-day but what they are hoping to do next and why they are networking. Maybe they can fill an opening at your company, which even if it’s not in your department is still an asset.
- Keep the focus on the other person, but in the back of your mind think about yourself so that when it comes time to talk about yourself you can tailor your skills to their needs. It’s easier to get a job—whether it’s a full-time position or freelance work—if you do the hard work of establishing how you can help solve their needs through what you do.
Most of us were not even remotely in the same field. I met bankers, real-estate brokers, lawyers, photographers, fashion designers, and job hunters. If this sounds like it would result in a bunch of futile connections, think again:
- If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you know that I regularly attend publishing cocktail parties and readings. I love attending those events, but guess what? They’re saturated with people who have the same skill sets as me. At Eventsy Speed Networking event, I was the only writer and editor, which meant that if anyone there was looking for a writer or editor I might be the only one they now know, making me the top—okay, only—candidate. Diversification is key.
- As Maria Pardalis—Eventy’s founder—said, maybe the person you’re talking to has nothing to do with your industry, but maybe her roommate just so happens to be in your field. Your network is larger than your immediate circle.
- Our lives are about more than just the minutiae of our daily jobs. We need all kinds of people in our lives to help us achieve our dreams. If we want to manage our income, we need to know financial advisers. If we want a roof over our head, it helps to know a good broker. If we give readings, we might need to hire a photographer to take photos of our events. And, of course we could all use a fashion designer in our lives to help us look our best, whether we’re headed to our next networking event, a job interview, or accepting the Pulitzer Prize.
Ready to try your hand at networking? Check out these upcoming Eventsy events:
Tomorrow (3/19/14): Monthly Young Professionals Networking Happy Hour Event
Come network and mingle at Eventsy’s Monthly Young Professionals Business Networking Happy Hour Events at NYC hotspot the Sky Room!
Meet other Young Professionals at the city’s highest rooftop lounge and get transported to a high energy oasis with amazing 360 degree views of Manhattan.
All guests will enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and $5 drink specials all night long. Bring your business cards for a chance to win several fabulous prizes.
DJ Erika Hamilton will also be onsite spinning the night away!
Event is FREE and open to all so if you have any friends who are interested invite them along.
Don’t forget to bring your business cards, as always, Eventsy will be giving away some fabulous prizes!
FMI and registration here.
March 31, 2014: New York City Job Fair
Eventsy Members looking for new employment opportunities are invited to attend the New York Job Fair.
Dozen’s of local hiring companies will be meeting with attendees one-on-one at the New York Job Fair on March 31st, 2014. Please ensure you bring hard copies of your resumes, business cards and dress in professional attire.
REMEMBER – always dress for the job you wish to attain!
To receive the complete company list and register for the fair Click HERE
Meet face-to-face with local recruiters in your area. Attendance is FREE for all job seekers!
FMI and registration here.
April 17, 2014: Monthly NYC Professinals Networking Happy Hour Event
Come network, mingle and meet new people at Eventsy’s Monthly NYC Professionals Business Networking Happy Hour at NYC hotspot the Sky Room!
Meet other NYC Professionals at the city’s highest rooftop lounge and get transported to a high energy oasis with amazing 360 degree views of Manhattan. All guests will enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and Happy Hour pricing with $5 beers and $7 mixed drinks.
Bring your business cards for a chance to win several fabulous prizes.
DJ Erika Hamilton will also be onsite spinning the night away!
Event is FREE and open to all so if you have any friends who are interested invite them along.
Don’t forget your BUSINESS CARDS!
FMI and registration here.
April 29, 2014: Eventy’s Monthly Speed Networking Event
Join other NYC Professionals for our exciting and extremely beneficial Monthly Speed Networking Events!
In today’s fast-paced world, networking is critical whether you are an intern or a CEO. You will make over 30 new business connections during our fun Speed Networking session and during the unstructured networking happy hour time which will take place throughout the evening.
6pm to 6:30pm – Registration & Reception
6:30pm to 6:45pm – Introductions
6:45pm to 8:00pm – Speed Networking Sessions
8:00pm to 9:00pm – Follow-up Conversations & Cocktails (Optional)
Complimentary Hors d’Oeuvres & Drink Specials
$4 Domestic Draft Beer: Budweiser, Bud Light, Shock Top, Brooklyn Lager
$5 House Wine: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot
$6 Well Mixed Drinks
Seating is Very Limited – Register Now to Guarantee Your Spot!
Business Cards are Essential!
Speed Networking is a new and fresh way to quickly build your business and contact list in a time efficient matter.
What is Speed Networking?
Speed Networking is a fun and highly effective mechanism for generating new business contacts in a small period of time. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, young in your career or experienced – you will enjoy meeting people in this type of format. Eventsy is a firm believer in putting people face-to-face to facilitate direct conversation.
Each participant will have the opportunity for over 16 face-to-face sessions with other like-minded NYC professionals. After the end of each session, participants will quickly alternate their seating arrangements to pair up with their next networking opportunity. This process will continue until all participants have interacted with each other.
In just a few minutes, participants will share business cards, history and offer new contacts with valuable information about their business and/or profession. After the official Speed Networking sessions are over, participants are encouraged to continue networking throughout the evening.
FMI and registration here.
“[O]ne’s life were like a museum in which all the portraits from one period have a family look about them, a single tonality….”
~Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, translated by Lydia Davis
Pravda ran a Surrealist and Experimental film night series over the summer, and although I’m terribly late in posting about it, my friend and I had such a great time that I figured better late than never. One night of Surrealism can lead to many more!
Pravda is a subterranean Russian speakeasy in Soho, near two of my favorite bookstores, Housing Works and McNally Jackson. They serve delicious food and have a fantastic vodka selection. I cannot recommend the horseradish-infused vodka enough.
Occasionally they host special events, such as Salon Dinners, Roaring Twenties Parties, and Surrealist & Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 30s. The film nights are such a treat! The films are actually silent, and they hire a musician to play live piano music!! I was enthralled. Inspired. They showed films by Man Ray, whom I’d studied at Scripps College, as well as other artists.
A little background::: Surrealism developed out of Dada during World War I in Paris. André Breton is the key player here. Using Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic methods on soldiers, the French poet worked at a neurological hospital. In 1924, he wrote the Surrealist Manifesto, a work that defined the cultural revolution:
“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”
While Surrealism affected all the arts, I want to pause right here to focus on the connections between Surrealist literature and the Beat Generation. The idea of Surrealist automatism is key here. Automatism is the practice of writing without self-censorship. The Oxford University Press defines it as:
Term appropriated by the Surrealists from physiology and psychiatry and later applied to techniques of spontaneous writing, drawing and painting.
“Spontaneous writing.” Sound familiar? Jack Kerouac wrote a writing manifesto called “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose.” In it, Kerouac wrote, for example:
Not “selectivity” of expression but following free deviation (association) of mind into limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought….
I haven’t yet done any extensive research into this to see if the connections are accurate, but there is a cultural connection to Kerouac and automatism. On Wikipedia (obviously not a true source to go by, but one that can be a launching pad for actual informed research) I read:
The notion of Automatism is also rooted in the artistic movement of the same name founded by Montreal artist Paul-Emile Borduas in 1942; himself influenced by the Dadaist movement as well as André Breton. He, as well as a dozen other artists from Quebec’s artistic scene, very much under restrictive and authoritarian rule in that period, signed the Global Refusal manifesto, in which the artists called upon North American society (specifically in the culturally unique environment of Quebec), to take notice and act upon the societal evolution projected by these new cultural paradigms opened by the Automatist movement as well as other influences in the 1940s.
Remember that Kerouac’s parents were from Quebec, and he and his family used to travel back and forth to visit relatives. The Automatism of Quebec happened in 1942, when Kerouac was already an adult, having graduated from high school and moved to New York by that time. Still, it’s possible that the seeds were planted in both Kerouac and Borduas around the same time and place, in at least the small point that they spoke French, the language of Surrealism.
In “Earwitness Testimony: Sound and Sense, Word and Void in Jack Kerouac’s Old Angel Midnight” for Empty Mirror, Gregory Stephenson makes the claim:
Indeed, in method and intention, Old Angel Midnight could be said to be closer to the sound poetry of the dadaists, Hugo Ball and Kurt Schwitters, and to the automatic writing practiced by the surrealists, André Breton and Philippe Soupault, in their book-length exercise in textual autogenesis, The Magnetic Fields, originally published in 1919.
There’s much more to be said about Surrealism, Automatic Writing, Spontaneous Prose, and Surrealist Film, and the evening at Pravda whet my appetite.
I’m kind of a sucker for personality quizzes, so naturally I took Buzzfeed’s “Which Decade Do You Actually Belong In?” quiz.
Anyone who knew me in high school would probably venture to say I should’ve been around in the ’60s. I became obsessed with The Beatles early on in high school, listening to all their greatest hits, watching their movies, learning how to play their songs on my guitar, and reading book after book about them. I wore bellbottoms and parted my hair down the middle. I thought Mary Quant was a genius. I hosted my own Woodstock party.
On top of my cultural tastes, I had what many East Coasters deemed to be a low-key, chill vibe that seemed to gel with the hippie mentality. I wouldn’t say I was all peace, love, and happiness. I was a teenager, after all, and my mother will gladly tell you I was moody. But, even so, if I was left alone I could easily just lay in the grass outside and ponder life.
But I didn’t get the 1960s; I got the 1950s.
I’d say maybe all reading and studying of Jack Kerouac rubbed off on me, but check out what Buzzfeed had to say about the person who belongs in the ’50s:
You yearn for a simpler time when people were polite, curt, and followed the rules. Maybe people say you’re a conformist, but you know you just like things to stay a certain way. Home is where the heart is.
Yep. That sounds about right. I’m a rule follower through and through and crave stability. Maybe that’s why I’ve always been so drawn to so-called counter-cultural movements and people who rebel against expectations. It’s escapism for me. I admire people who march to the beat of their own drum. I want to be like that. But I’m a cross your “t”s and dot your “i”s type of person. Literally. My career is founded upon anal-retentive attention to detail and to making texts conform to style.
But there is another part of me that does defy rules and expectations. I’ve always been sure of who I am and been true to myself in the greater scheme of life. Tell me I have to participate in class to get ahead, and I will stubbornly keep my mouth because I don’t want to play by society’s rules of social behavior. Expect me to be flaky in business matters because I’m an artist, and I’ll get all type A on you because I really care about my art and understand I have to treat it like a business.
We’re all like that deep down. Complex and individualistic. Not tethered to labels. The same goes for the so-called Beat Generation. Cultural critics argue that Beat writers eroded the pleasantries of the 1950s, but if you really look at the decade and if you really read their works you’ll see it was much more complex than that. The 1950s weren’t all separate twin beds for married couples and Leave It to Beaver childhoods. Jack Kerouac didn’t desire an aimless life on the road; he yearned for a ranch and family life.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to get all philosophical and literary over a Buzzfeed quiz! Anyway, I still think that if I could go back in time I’d want to go back to the 1960s.
What decade did you get? Which decade would you want to live in?
When I tell people I write memoir, they tell me that they don’t think they could ever write memoir. Their lives are too normal. No one would want to read about their boring lives. The implication is that they think I must be pretty hot on myself if I’m writing memoir.
But that’s not what memoir is about.
In her excellent “Open letter from Dani Shapiro: ‘Dear Disillusioned Reader Who Contacted Me on Facebook‘” on Salon, Shapiro provides clarity on what memoir is and isn’t and why we read it:
Memoir is not autobiography. You did not pick up my 1998 memoir “Slow Motion” because I’m an important, influential or even controversial person. You did not pick it up because I am, say, running for office, or just won an Academy Award, or am on Death Row. No. You picked up my book because –– whether you know it or not –– you wanted to read a good story shaped out of a lived life. You wanted to sink into a narrative that redeems chaos and heartache and pain by crafting it into something that makes sense.
Read that last sentence again:
You wanted to sink into a narrative that redeems chaos and heartache and pain by crafting it into something that makes sense.
Beautiful. A lot of memoir writing and reading is about understanding ourselves and our life stories better.
She goes on to further explain that memoir tells an aspect of one’s life through a specific viewpoint:
The memoirist looks through a single window in a house full of windows. After all, we can’t look out of all the windows at once, can we? We choose a view. We pick a story to tell. We shift through the ever-changing sands of memory, and in so doing create something hopefully beautiful, by which I mean universal. We try to tell the truth – by which I do not mean the facts. Listen to me closely, because here is where I apparently have enflamed you so: it is not the job of the memoirist to present you with a dossier. If you want a dossier, go to a hall of records.
I spent a lot of my time talking about the differences between memoir and autobiography while getting my MFA, and I’ve had a lot of people ask me point blank if writing memoir means I can just make things up. Um, no. If I wanted to make things up, I’d fiction, which frankly, sounds more appealing. Who really wants to write about themselves, to open their lives up for others’ critique? No, memoir sticks to the truth, but it is not journalism. We create dialogue out of the cobwebs of our memory, not through a transcribed secret recording of our entire lives. There are things we leave out, not because we are necessarily hiding things, but because they are irrelevant to the story we are telling. The reader doesn’t need to hear about my commute, for example, unless of course something about my commute is interesting or is relevant to understanding who I am or is a metaphor.
I recommend reading Shapiro’s article in full if you’re interested in memoir as a genre. Also, check out her great blog.
image via Harvard Dialect Study
“You’re from Joisey!” all the West Coasters would exclaim when I moved out to Los Angeles for college and told them I had come from New Jersey. That’s what I said, “New Jersey.” Not “New Joisey.” Yet they hoisted the accent upon me anyway.
My finger nails may have been a tad too long and I may have grown up spending every Saturday at the Garden State Plaza, but I definitely didn’t speak like some chick who over Aqua-Net her hair. In fact, no one I knew spoke that way.
…Well, at least I thought we didn’t. No one I knew pronounced “hamburger” like “hamboiger” or anything as nails-to-the-chalkboard as that, but when I really listened to the way my friends talked, I noticed there was maybe a slight accent to a few words. Some of my friends pronounced “water” as “wooter.” I also noticed I had a certain way of crunching words. “Orange juice” became “ornch juice.” “Drawers” became “joors.”
I was always a little sensitive about the issue of accents. As an immigrant with a thick Greek accent, my father sometimes was misunderstood by waitresses at restaurants, which infuriated me because I could understand what he was saying perfectly and when others couldn’t I believed it to be deliberate xenophobia. But it wasn’t just my father who had an accent. My mother was from Minnesota, another state beleaguered by accent stereotypes. My mother did not talk like any of the characters in Fargo, but she did say “melk” for “milk” and “tall” for “towel.” That’s how my siblings and I grew up speaking, and I made a concerted effort to rectify my speech.
Actually, the school system made a concerted effort to rectify my accent: I was put in speech therapy in elementary school. It was humiliating. I was the shyest kid in my grade—and probably the entire state—and yet the few times I opened my mouth I was punished by being singled out and removed from my normal class to have a therapist teach me how to talk “correctly.” That was enough to keep me silent throughout most of elementary school. Now, I had a real reason to fear talking and stay quiet. I was afraid that if I were to speak up, no one would be able to understand me.
In the school’s defense, I really did need speech therapy. As this eHow article on How to Speak with a New Jersey Accent teaches, I dropped all my “r”s—to the point that certain words, like “art,” became incomprehensible. My accent wasn’t just the issue though. On top of having a foreigner for a father and, let’s face it, as a Midwesterner my mom was pretty much a foreigner too, I had pretty severe hearing issues, which had impacted my speech. I had to have surgery twice as a kid to have tubes put in my ears.
I’m not sure if this was related, but a lot of what I did hear, I took literally instead of as an accent. I remember my speech therapist asking me what type of shoes I wore, and I said, “tenner shoes.” I think I knew that meant “tennis shoes,” but I remember thinking in that moment that I had definitely answered “wrong.” I felt so stupid as she questioned me if I played tennis. From then on, I knew the correct label for my shoes was “sneakers.” How could I have been so stupid as to call them tenner shoes? I taunted myself afterwards. I’d never even picked up a tennis racket. I blamed my mom. She was the one who called them that.
Worse, in 6th grade, the music teacher gave us a pop quiz on the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner.” When I got my test, it was clear she thought I was a horrible speller. I was relieved because this meant I got a better grade than I should have. I was also shocked that she thought someone could spell that poorly. Suddenly, I realized how “dumb” some of my classmates really must be, if I’d been given that much credit for my botched lyrics. In reality, I’d been misunderstanding lyrics the entire time. I thought “dawn’s early light” was “donzerly light.” I wasn’t sure of the exact definition of “donzerly,” but I pictured it as hazy white fireworks, since that’s what often accompanied the national anthem and seemed to coincide with what “bombs bursting in air” would’ve looked like.
So when that New York Times dialect quiz, based on the linguistics project Harvard Dialect Study, spread like wildfire over Facebook, I took it figuring it would identify me as having some random accent. But nope, it identified me as being from Newark/Paterson, Jersey City, and—somewhat inexplicably since it’s in northern California—Fremont.
Once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl.
What accent did you get?
Also, you might like:
- 10 Minutes from the GWB (on growing up close to NYC)
- God Has a Sense of Humor — Either That or Everything I Think I Know about Myself Is Wrong (on shyness)
- I Love Menominee: Student Speaks Endangered Language (on being silenced for speaking in one’s own language)
I’m eating my words from yesterday — today is bitter cold. The buzz word of the day is “polar vortex.” I actually caught myself subconsciously holding my breath as I walked to the subway this morning. I felt bad for the guy who had to stand outside the station handing out the free little daily newspapers, and I took one and told him to say warm! Sometimes I feel so spoiled having a desk job…. In the free AM New York I read an interesting factoid: this week MetroCard is turning 20 years old.
That made me feel kind of old. For my entire adult life, I’ve used MetroCards, but I remember actually using the old subway tokens during my teen years. Now I wonder how anyone commuting got anywhere. The idea of lugging around a bunch of coins to get to and from work seems like it would get heavy. And were there no unlimited passes at the time? I really don’t remember…. But I do remember when the transition from coins to cards was happening I thought it seemed so high-tech. It was like a mini credit card just for the Metro! Haha, oh how times have changed.
As I was thinking about the old subway tokens, Larry Closs’ Beatitude popped into my mind. The cover of the Beat-inspired novel features a cat with a subway token for an eye. I’m drawn to the graphic imagery and bold colors of the cover. It really pops.
It’s no wonder why — the cover was designed by award-winning illustrator Anthony Freda. Larry told the cover story on his blog a while back, and you can find out more about Anthony Freda and his art — I love his collages and political humor — on his website.
Now I wish I’d saved one of those tokens. The Transit Museum actually sells merch made of subway coins, but it’s not the same.