Wednesday, October 04, 2006

THE UGLY BETTY TRUTH (Part II, continued)

Initially, I was hesitant about being a lowly intern considering my age (26) but I was told that having your foot in the door at Mew Lork magazine would be worth the degradation and humiliation. That being the case, in retrospect, my foot was the only part of me that benefited from the experience.

When I interviewed for the position, I was told that I would have every opportunity to pitch the magazine and then write stories. In risk of being a Jewish boy cliché, the potential of validating my career choice to my mother was exciting to me. For once, my words would appear in a reputable, mainstream magazine as opposed to the less-accessible indie press. Finally, I wouldn't have to hem-and-haw when family friends asked me whom I was writing for ("well, mostly music magazines you've unfortunately never heard of," I had to say).

On my first day, I was introduced to my mentor, an esteemed editor on staff, and she would supervise my progress and assign various projects to me. Mentor seemed cool. Mentor seemed right on. Scratch that--mentor, from that point on, ignored me with the exception of making empty promises about taking me out to lunch one day so she could dispense advice and give insight into what makes people like her tick. By the end of the summer, this impossible lunch became a punch line. Like hell freezing over.

Now years later, my mentor has been promoted as Editor In Chief of a reputable women's magazine. Naively, I wrote her an email congratulating her. This was three weeks ago. I've yet to hear back.

Anyhow, during my four months at Mew Lork, I sought out advise and mentorship (being that my mentor was actually not) but rarely found any nurturing outside of my fellow interns and editorial assistants (who I still have very fond feelings for). This internship was as unglamorous as a pimped-out photocopying machine. I researched stories that never went anywhere, sat at my desk waiting for an errand, and was the recipient of more cold shoulders than a resident of Cold Shoulder County. I showed up to work depressed at the prospect that people in the magazine industry were actually like this. My fellow interns wanted to cry. I, at the very least, compensated my gloom by taking a ton of free books from the galley bookshelves.

On the last day of my servitude, I was asked by a high-maintenance writer to transcribe his interview with Hope Davis. This editor epitomized weasel, so taking on his assignment was not my idea of an appreciative send-off. While listening to his tape, my admiration for Ms. Davis grew exponentially. I couldn't believe she sat there patronizing the dumbest questions I have ever heard ("do you like acting?"). Granted it was unprofessional, but I left some of the more unintelligent questions out because, well, I didn't want to rub it in this guy's face that he was the worst question asker ever. Like, hands down worse that Larry King.

Later, when the writer later realized my creative editing, he ranted and asked me, who I thought I was to edit his interview?

I answered, An intern on his last day here.

I left Mew York that day with a bitter taste in my mouth which, needless to say, was not from anything I had eaten during a lunch with my mentor.

[To be continued]


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