Occupational Hazard

Recently for work, I was selected (along with a bunch of other editors) to film 30-second videos for a client. We shot the videos in our office over two days, including an interview segment and a B-roll “real life action” portion.

The last time I experienced anything remotely like this was when I was in Glamour a zillion years ago, and before that when I would occasionally appear on camera for a wedding website I worked for.

So aside from that handful of times, I am not accustomed to anything even in the same realm as a life of fame. In all these cases, though, I can tell you immediately the best part: Having someone else do my hair and makeup.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. But there’s something about being able to completely put the stress of looking a certain way in someone else’s hands that puts a girl at ease.

Here are three beauty lessons I learned whilst being a star*:

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Let’s all take a minute to acknowledge how perfect my hair looks. That stylist was gooooood.

1. It is really nice having someone else fluff your hair for you.
I like big hair, and I cannot lie. Unfortunately, while I have enough hair to knit you a sweater with (what?), it is so painfully straight that volume is always a bit of a struggle.

BUT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW THAT IN THIS VIDEO. And do you know why? Because a professional hairstylist made a point of fluffing and smoothing between almost every take. So, basically, it looked perfect every second.

A girl could get used to that.

2. It is really nice having someone else do your ponytail.
I know what you’re thinking: “Justine, isn’t the ponytail like the easiest hairstyle to do ever?”

Uh, yeah, sure. If you want to look like an amateur. The angle of your pony combined with the proper combing and backcombing to get the required amount of height and bounce is anything but child’s play.

But when you have a pro armed with (what else?) a Mason Pearson Boar-Bristle Brush? Instant magic.

3. It is really nice having someone else monitor how shiny your face is and correct it regularly.
Real talk: I have an oily T-zone. This is something I am moderately insecure about, and by the end of the day, if I haven’t taken very careful precautions, you could borrow my forehead the next time your slip-and-slide tears on a hidden rock.

The point is, at least a couple times a day I’m either re-powdering may face or, at the very least, dabbing it with a napkin or piece of toilet paper to soak up any slickness. But when you have a professional makeup artist keeping watch? I get those seconds of my life BACK, you guys. And I don’t even need to think twice about shine.

So basically, yeah, I could get used to this.

And before you even ask (family), I MIGHT share the videos when they’re done. Unless I look/sound stupid. So, what I’m saying is, no promises.

*Bahahahahahaaaaaaa yeah right.

Obviously I couldn’t blog about this right when it happened, but I thought it would be fun to share an anecdote from my job hunting experience.

All in all, I probably went in about 9-10 interviews this time around. Many of those were at the same places — I actually made it to the third round of interviews at two different companies. (Though I didn’t get either of those jobs.)

One of those third-rounders was probably the worst interview I’ve ever been on.

The company was one that organizes sporting events (like dodgeball and softball games) for adults in the city to network and meet new people. I had already survived an initial meeting with their HR recruiter; it went well and we both seemed to get along. A good sign, in my book.

The second round, I was required to write an entire 3-month social media strategy, including a step-by-step list of the first three things I would do if I got the job.

Pause for a second (Zack Morris-style).

Can we just discuss how messed up that is? I mean, my ability to create a social strategy and help a brand define their digital voice is what I do for a living. That is my intellectual property. It’s what, you know, I get paid for.

And now I was forced to basically hand it over with zero promise of a return. (And since you already know I didn’t get this job, I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you this company ended up with my entire strategy, step-by-step tactics, and sample social posts. And I ended up with…well, you’ll see.)

The second interview went okay. The two guys I met with we’re a tiny bit bro-y, but nice enough. They kept up their poker faces the entire time, and, to be perfectly honest, I felt a little but judged for wearing heels and curling my hair. It could have been in my head, but it wasn’t in my head that this was not a girlie-girl setting.

Regardless, I thought I handled myself well. I was prepared for all of their questions, and my strategy even preemptively answered most of them. I felt I came across as capable, organized, and enthusiastic.

About a day later, I had an email setting up my final interview with the CEO and founder of the company. I assumed the second interview must have gone well.

When I arrived for my final interview, I was quickly ushered into a conference room with the CEO. He was an unassuming man from Long Island in his fifties, barely taller than me. He had a teasing sense of humor that I couldn’t quite get a handle on because it was a little, well, condescending.

I turned to face him, and he lifted a piece of paper that I assume had the questions he wanted to ask me on the side facing him. What he didn’t realize was that the side facing me had some writing on it too.

Notes. About me.

I know it was about me because it said Justine LoMonaco at the top.

And under that it said:

Not that into sports
Not funny or creative

There have only been a few moments in my life that I would describe as punches to the gut. This was one of them.

(Obviously, I’m talking about the second sentence. Anyone who knows me knows I make no pretenses about having a passion for sports.)(And this.)(And this.)(AND THIS.)

Let me be clear: I have no delusions that I’m the funniest or smartest person out there. But these are two specific adjectives that people use to describe me all the time. I mean, I’m a classic late-bloomer — sense of humor and personality carried me for years, folks. I work with people who literally will not schedule a brainstorming session unless I can attend. Funniness and creativity are just not things I am insecure about.

And then…suddenly everything changed.

I’m one of those people that if you really want to push my buttons, accuse of something that is just patently untrue. It’s like my brain can’t even process what you’re saying and I become simultaneously dumber and less eloquent. My cerebrum is all, “Wait…you mean…but the-what? SKY IS GREEN AND GRASS IS BLUE AND NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE.”

Obviously, this is not a good mental state to be in for, oh, let’s say a job interview.

Suddenly I found myself incapable of coming up with a single intelligent thing to say. I was trying to be funnier, which everyone knows rarely works out. And, honestly, I was on the brink of tears for most of the half hour.

The interview wrapped up quickly (clearly I hadn’t impressed), and I hesitated for just a second, wondering if I should address these two accusations against me. In the end, I said nothing (though I did stand up for myself a bit in my “thank you” email). If I had known I wouldn’t get the job anyway, I would have been bolder. Hindsight, amiright?

Instead I shuffled dejectedly to the subway, still fighting back tears, and called my friend to unload what had happened. When I got home and started telling Joey about it, I broke down.

Remember when I wrote this? That was right around the time I found out I didn’t get that job. (Or the other job that I had made it to the third round of interviews for.) I was so frustrated, and my confidence was at a low. Now I was confronted with the possibility that maybe I was just stuck where I was — and not funny or creative on top of it.

That’s a lot for anyone to take.

But wait! This isn’t a sad story. Because, in the end, I realized that I probably didn’t want to work with people who don’t share my sense of humor anyway. I don’t want to work for people who judge me the moment I walk in. I don’t want to work for hypocritical people who claim their business model supports one thing while their actions prove they don’t.

And the job I ended up getting? I’m a million times more excited for it than I was for the other one anyway.

So things work out how they’re supposed to. And the experience also showed me what a great support system I have when I can’t pick myself back up right away. Ironically, when I got my new job, they told me the people I had interviewed loved how “funny and creative” I was. As if that coffin needed one more nail, right?

Anyone else have a job interview story to top mine? Leave it in a comment so we can commiserate together (and laugh about how, in the end, it was their loss).

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There are few things in life more awkward than job hunting whilst gainfully employed.

For one, job hunting is a veritable job in and of itself. It takes time to scour job boards, craft memorable cover letters, and go on interviews.

And those interviews? They are definitely the most awkward part. After all, you can only have so many doctor appointments, family emergencies, illnesses, burst pipes, etc. before people start to suspect. (Or at least think you are just a disaster of a human being.) And I’m a terrible liar. I hate doing it.

I tend to get stressed out by phony doctor appointments (the rushing to get there on time, the rushing to get back to the office at a reasonable time…it’s too much) and will often just take a day off, especially if I have more than one interview. The problem is, eventually you burn through 3-4 vacation days, which is fine if you get the job. Not so much if you don’t.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about job hunting while having a full-time job:

1. Timing is everything. Schedule interviews either first thing in the morning (ideal, because there are a myriad of excuses that can happen in the morning…late train, dishwasher overflowed, husband got sick and needs me to pick up a prescription, dog ran away, car broke down, etc.) or last thing in the afternoon (“I need to jet out of here a little early tomorrow evening, but I’ll be in early to make up for any missed work.”). If all else fails, lunchtime is doable. (“My cousin is in town just for the afternoon and asked if I could meet for lunch — is that okay?”)

2. Be cautious about dressing too professional if you have to go back to work. Unless you show up every day in a blazer and heels, wear an outfit you can dress up for the interview and down for your office. Nothing tips people off like you showing up late and in a suit.

3. Be respectful of your current employer’s time. 3 pm is not the right time to troll LinkedIn job boards. It’s also not the right time to update your resume. You are still an employee, and you want to leave on good terms regardless of the situation. (If possible.) Save your job hunting for after-hours (and answer emails/phone calls on your lunch break) to avoid leaving anyone with bad thoughts about you after you’re gone.

You’re probably wondering why I’m being so candid about my job hunting process. Well…you guessed it; I got a new job recently. My last day at my current company is next Wednesday. Then it’s off to Paris, and then I start the new gig when I get back.

The long-time readers among you will probably feel like you have déjà vu, but in my defense, I’ve been at my current job for almost two years. That’s a lifetime in the media world. Plus, I’m super excited about the new opportunity.

I’ve got a good feeling about 2014, you guys.

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I’m going to start this story at the end and work my way back. Everyone ready? Here’s how it ends:

I saw a 3-inch cockroach in the ladies’ room at work on Tuesday. On the sink.

Now, I know you’re probably busy and may have read that quickly without really think about it, so I’m going to need you to back up for a second and really dwell. A cockroach. The size of a deck of cards.

On the bathroom sink that you use multiple times a day and have done so for almost nine months.

Is your face contorted in disgust and horror? Ok, now we can proceed.

I’ve mentioned before that cockroaches are my greatest phobia, but I feel like you probably thought I was kidding around. I mean, sure, no one loves cockroaches or spiders or camel crickets or what have you. It’s not that big of a deal.

You guys. It’s a very big deal.

It had been a long time since I’d seen a roach, and I’d kind of started to think I was a little bit over it. I would mentally imagine what I would do when I found one, and I would genuinely think, “Ok, it would suck. But you would handle it. I mean, you handled the centipedes. You would figure it out.”

Well, if Tuesday’s experience taught me anything, it’s that I am not equipped to handle it.

I literally froze and gasped when I first saw the semi-sized bug crawling near the faucet. Then I simply fled. I may have blacked out for a second.

As I made my shaky way to two of my coworkers, one of them went, “You look really rattled, are you okay?”

Nope. No, I was not.

I explained what happened the best I could, but I could barely put the words together. They heard “cockroach that is three inches long,” though, and quickly jumped into action.

I kept trying to explain why I was freaking out so much, but then promptly burst into tears. While still laughing about it at the same time.

If I’d committed a crime right then, I’m pretty sure I could have gotten of with an insanity plea.

Anyway. My coworkers apparently got someone I take care of it. I left work partly because it was about time to go, and partly because there was no way I was getting anything accomplished at that point.

Now I just can’t use that bathroom without feeling deeply uncomfortable and trying to check every corner, surface, nook and cranny while simultaneously, you know, using the bathroom. (I tried yesterday…it didn’t go we’ll.)

When I got home from work, I told Joey the worst thing in the world had happened to me that day.

Without missing a beat, he went, “Oh, you saw a cockroach?”

That’s why I love him.

So there you have it. I am not over it. And I may actually have to burn my apartment to the ground if I ever find a cockroach in it.

Please tell me you also have bizarre phobias I make myself feel better?

Welp. I survived Alt Summit.

Don’t get me wrong — it was pretty awesome. Loads of nice, fun, creative people. Colorful decor. Parties. Loads and loads of parties.

Obviously, I’m a little exhausted. But my Instagram feed has never looked more exciting, so I can’t complain too much.

And besides a pretty cool new group of friends and a handful of photo booth strips, I also walked away with a couple of lessons that I’m going to start incorporating into my real life.

Y’all ready for this?

1. “Having guts always works out for me.”

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I have never and will never say no to a photo booth.

New York-based designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister was one of the (and quite possibly my favorite) keynote speakers at Alt. Besides a host of other inspiring projects, he’s working on a film based on one of his personal maxims, “Having guts always works out for me.” (Click here for a clip and then just TRY to tell me you don’t want to see this.) The gist is that by living a braver life, one will experience greater happiness.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my phobia of embarrassment, so this talk and concept really resonated with me. I can speak first-handedly about the fact that when I put aside my fears and just do the thing I’m really agonizing over, I experience greater joy than when I let the fear win.

Stefan actually showed us a little cartoon that explained how our brains (specifically, the amygdala) are hard-wired to allow fear to register in our bodies (through adrenaline and such) faster than any other emotion, the idea being that it will help keep us alive. You know, instead of just preventing us from speaking up during that department meeting or telling our crush how we feel about them.

It was really reassuring watching that little cartoon. I’m not a scaredy-cat freak. I’m just human.

But the fact remains that sometimes I let my fear impede my happiness. So the first lesson I learned at Alt Summit is that I need to buck up. Embrace the fear and know that by ignoring it, I’ll ultimately achieve greater happiness. I’m going to work on this.

2. I don’t really want to be a famous blogger anymore.

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My version of Alt style. (Yes, it’s a thing.)

Yup, I’ve decided. I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly which presentation it was that I realized this is something I’ve got to do, but by the end of the week, the idea had solidified in my brain. (I think it really stuck during a presentation from Tiffany Brown, Content Strategist at Pinterest.)

Here’s the thing: For most of my adult life, I wanted to be a journalist. But for literally my entire life, as far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. That was my thing. It is, arguably, the thing I am best at in the entire world.

You know, I was just going to add a joke to make that statement sound less “blah blah look at me blah blah”, but I don’t really want to apologize for feeling that I’m good at something. So…deal with it.

The point is, being in a room full of people who wanted to turn their blogs into their livelihood, I realized that I don’t. Sure, when I wasn’t fulfilled by my work, I thought maybe making money off my blog would bring me happiness.

But looking at it as the reality it is for (a few) professional bloggers, I realized that I just don’t have any interest in that anymore.

What I do really want to do? I want to write fiction. I want to write a novel. Preferably several, but I’m starting with the one. And I figure the more I put that idea out into the universe, the more likely it is that it will actually happen.

Phew. It’s kind of scary putting big dreams out into the universe, right? But I’m facing my fears and all, so I guess it’s a logical next step.

3. Someday I should probably retire to a small, beautiful town in the middle of nowhere.

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Fact: Bloggers make the prettiest business cards.

After strolling through Salt Lake City and Park City for a while, I can definitely say I harbor a few secret fantasies of living the simple life. While I think, to a degree, I like a certain amount of stress in my life, it is pretty tempting at times to give it all up and settle in a quiet suburb.

Plus, everyone is so nice. And the rent would be so much cheaper.

Not any time soon. But, you know, someday.

So…yeah. I sort of think I didn’t learn any of the right lessons Alt was supposed to teach me. (Except maybe the first one.) But life’s about making your own way, right?

Besides everything I wrote above, I am pleased to report that I met a lot of really cool people, including a handful of gals I can honestly say I think I’ll stay friends with. And if that’s the only thing I can say for sure, I think I’m okay with that.

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Steph of Modern Parents Messy Kids, Carly (not a blogger), Jordan of Jordan McBride Wedding Design, and me being awkward.

So I’ve got a pretty big couple of weeks ahead of me.

This morning (bright and early), I’m flying to California for a tour/meeting at the Facebook headquarters. Actually, by the time you read this, I’ll probably already be in the air if I’m not already in California. (Yes, I am extremely excited.)

Wednesday morning, I’m hopping another plane to Salt Lake City for Alt Summit, which is basically a workshop/conference of the top design/DIY bloggers around. It’s supposed to be awesome. (Yup, I’m excited about that one too.)

I get back to New York on Saturday, and then it’s just a short six days before I head to Las Vegas to meet up with two of my oldest, dearest friends, Annie and Becca.

Seriously, I love those ladies. And I really love this photo of them, poached from the post linked above:

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How could you not love those faces?

Anyway. Then things calm down (ish) for a while. (Though we may be taking an impromptu trip to Colorado at the end of February…fair warning.)

I just wanted to warn you in case I go AWOL for a bit. I promise to come back with loads of fun stories. Loads. And hopefully even a photo or two. (Who are we kidding? There will be photos. I promise to be discerning in which ones I use to blow up your Instagram feed.)(Assuming you’re following me…)(@justinelorelle)

I think that’s everything you need to know…oh! Also. I cut my hair. And I was going to write a post about it, but then I went, “UGH. Not again. No one cares.” So on the off-chance you do care, I give you this photo:

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Voila.

Hope everyone has a great week!