Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Oath of the Comm Intern Brethren

Congratulations. You, the reader, have proven worthy of entry into an ancient and honorable line of interns: that of Jay’s Right Hand. Take this responsibility and run with it, for only then shall the Gods of a real job smile at you. Some succeed in this endeavor; others fail. Your destiny rests solely upon your own two shoulders, so don’t let yourself down.

Now, you will repeat after me.

I, ______________ (your name), promise to:

1) Log into my email account ( every morning before arriving at the office and check my Google Alerts folder for any news items worthy of the media report that I will then write. For my convenience, a copy of a standard-looking media report can be found here. I will then send this media report to

2) When I arrive at the office, I will say hello to Manuel at the reception desk downstairs because he is nice and aged.

3) When I arrive at my desk, I will log into the Online Ticket Request System (OTRS) here and parse through the spam/media requests that have popped up overnight. My login credentials are username: aevert and password: wikione. I will respond and forward and forge templates.

4) I will take the news stories I deemed significant enough for the Media Report and turn them into PDF files using this converter, and then I will upload these PDF files into the Dropbox folder titled ‘Coverage 2011’. My credentials for accessing dropbox are my email ( and my password (w******).

4) I will update the WMF Global Press Contact List here with any new information Jay sends my way, making sure to keep it super nice and orderly.

5) I will maintain the organization of the Merchandise closet, the Merchandise archive, and the poster/craft area, for even though I likely will not hang much on the walls, those who came before me did and it is a time-honored tradition that must be respected.

6) If I prove myself worthwhile, I will assist Jay with any writing / editing responsibilities or projects that he assigns me, even if it’s really nice outside, for special projects are my area to shine and prove my worth. This being said, I will be wary of becoming the office bitch for anyone else. My devotion lies with Jay and Jay alone, unless I am legitimately interested in someone else’s work.

7) I will use my free time to create a personal Wikipedia username and edit actual Wiki articles, for this is how I will come to appreciate and respect the community.

8) If fate ever crosses my path with a former Comm Intern, I will show deference.

I am ready to learn the New Way. I will go forth and work hard. But not too hard.

(commence sacrificial lamb slaughtering)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Leaving Wiki

If there’s one thing my time spent here at the Wikimedia Foundation has taught me, it’s that nerds have no shame about taking the loudest, nastiest-sounding shits I’ve ever encountered. Nine out of ten who relieve themselves in the stall next to the one with the big window that I habitually lay claim over at approximately 11:13 every morning do so with a near-epic level of accompanying flatulence and splatter sound effects. I’ve seen residual toilet bowl streaks every color of the rainbow, and I can’t believe these people who take such abnormal poops don’t wait after they flush to make sure any embarrassing remnant has washed away. It’s baffling.

Of course, there does lurk below this observation another concern, which is: why am I so secretive and dignified about something that doesn’t really deserve a huge amount of discretion? If everyone is taking horrific craps, shouldn’t I be down with following suit? Is anyone sitting in the stall next to me ever thinking “now there’s a guy who poops silently. Hot damn.”

Troubling, to be sure. Let’s blame it on St. Francis again.

But back to Wiki. I can recall a morning in February when I stumbled into this place an eager, wide-eyed naif. I aimed to prove myself and land a job, and while I earned Jay’s favor, the job part didn’t work out. I can’t much help the fact that I’m not willing to move to India or Brazil for a Communications position - never mind that I don’t even speak the languages. And so I sat here and wrote. And edited. And organized and efficiencized and used the label maker to a near-extreme degree. Large photos hang on the wall where I wanted them to hang, and banners ban where I wanted them to ban. The entire merchandising system runs the way it does because I was all “oh no you didn’t!” when I saw how it worked previously, and 2011’s forthcoming Annual Report is going to read extra delightfully in certain segments because I’ve proved trustworthy enough to pen entire 200-word segments of the document. Yay for me.

What I think I’m getting at here is that this internship experience has primarily functioned to make me confident in my ability to walk around a legitimate work setting and actively contribute to its output. With Apple, the system was set up such that a monkey could do my job - and the monkey could probably do it better because I don’t think monkeys feel shame to quite such an acute degree as humans.

Plus I really enjoy feeling guiltless about the work I contribute to. Spreading free knowledge to the entire population of the globe? Yes, please.

I’ll miss it all, that’s for sure. Part of me feels like this is one of the final bastions shielding my young-adult existence from the epic reality of full-on adult life. God knows they’ve got enough M&Ms and free pop around here.

When I do leave, a week or two or whenever from now, it’s going to be a proud departure. Because this is one opportunity I took maximum advantage of here in SF, and it’s largely kept me afloat.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

VIP Nonsense

My good friend Edlyn - she of the naturally optimistic outlook on life and perpetually singsongy cadence - somehow got me to agree to attend San Francisco's first annual Masquerotica event last night. The conversation went something like this:

- "AJ! What are you doing tomorrow night?"
- "Whatever it is, I hope to not be sitting and staring into space. Like I am now."
- "Come to Masquerotica with me and my boyfriend! I'll get you a VIP ticket and you can pay me back."
- (internal monologue: Just do it, AJ. No regrets, remember? Live, pussy boy. Live!) "OK!"

Turns out "VIP" meant shelling over $120 plus a surcharge fee in exchange for such extravagances as a special coat check, meet-and-greet with the fetish masters, nonexistent light food fare, and two drink coupons that gained me access to the least satisfying vodka cranberries I've ever chugged. Basically, $65 over the standard ticket price = a shot of liquor.

But it wasn't all bad! The whole thing positively oozed an intense Halloween atmosphere, and I couldn't help but think, as I watched two bound Asian women struggle to balance lit candles both in their mouths and in the delicate pocket that the smalls of their backs created, that if my mom could see me now, she'd quite literally shit her pants.

Lots of costumes were funny in a that-person-is-so-fat-and-hairy-he-should-really-have-more-on kind of way, while others were super elaborate. I also got a kick out of a humongous bed that comfortably fit thirty lounging people, plus a few waiters who crawled around feeding everyone strawberries and chocolate. I know, I know, it kinda just sounds like one big disgusting sex orgy, but the lights were actually turned up pretty bright and the decor was colorful and festive, and it really came across as more of a PG-13 porn bash than anything truly hardcore.

Plus there was the dance hall that seemed exclusively devoted to gay men in jockstraps and football pants (I'm sure those pants have a more technical name), but all that happened there was my deciding I needed to leave. Something about so many gays all hopped up and dressed in the same slutty costume makes me feel straight-up empty inside. I ditched out on Edlyn and her BF and managed to hail a cab pretty quickly - an act that always temporarily renders my life quite adult-like in a Sex and the City kind of way.

The cabbie was from Russia (I think), smoked a cigarette as he careened through yellow/red lights, and kept asking me about "all the naked womens at the party." I told him I'm gay, and then we didn't talk much. Cathleen showed up back at our apartment around 1:45 and made me a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, which I scarfed. And that was that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

All Those Wasted Hours

There's a reason I haven't posted since February (missed you guys and gals), and that reason has since come and gone. I could dwell on my time at Apple, and how I messed up and let 1 Stockton Street take the rest of my life down with it... or I could choose to focus only on the few exceptionally fun times had with the few exceptionally cool friends I made there. Instead of either, though, I'm opting for the route where I suppress all emotions toward it until there's enough distance between it and me (read: like three years or something) that all I remember is the gold. Adult of me? I thought so, too.

What I can say at the present moment (which, as this super-cool new blog font, titled "Luckiest Guy", reminds us is October 21, 2011 [?!]) is that I have seen the bottom, my friends, (or, as close to the bottom as I can see, what with being 24 and super privileged and all) and it's no place I'm eager to return to. I mean, I actually hadn't written a blog post in over eight months because I didn't want to have to face the state of my life by typing it all out again. And that's no good. No good at all, I say I say. I now present a brief list of lessons learned since my last posting:

- No retail. Ever again.
- Don't settle for anything that feels deeply unsatisfactory longer than six months. After six months, it stops functioning as a learning experience and instead starts eating away at dreams and self confidence and such.
- Writing is therapy. Don't stop writing. Even if it's mindless and not for profit.
- For the majority of their users, Apple products are a status symbol and nothing more.

That last one was starting to get a little harsh, and here I am breaking my own self-imposed rule from three paragraphs up. I'll instead continue with a fantastic quote that I carry around with me for times just such as this:
“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.”
Thanks, Wendell Berry! Basically, what I'm getting at here is that, now that I'm finished with this past experience, a lot of options have presented themselves. Many of them would be easy, safe choices, and would allow me to return to the comfortable lifestyle I'm used to in the best state on the West Coast with the friends and family who have always been totally awesome and there for me and will continue to be/do so. OR, I could carry on with what's hard and challenging and continues day by day to shape me into a more self-reliant, confident individual. Whatever that might be.

I'll say again that my dad's heart situation, which began almost a year ago to the day, has put a lot of perspective on the decisions I make. It's easy to declare my intention to push forward and challenge myself and truly approach every situation with the goal of being as genuine as I can, but it's quite a bit more difficult to actually live that way.

So here's to the decisions we make that lead us down the paths of self discovery. And here's to giving everything we care about, or knew we once cared about, every effort to work out the way our once more optimistic selves intended. I'm here in the present moment and it's all stretching out before me, and I'll be damned if the Unknown isn't scaring and inspiring me in equal parts.