Monday, April 7, 2014

The Incomplete Guide to Subway Etiquette

Now, you may read this title and think to yourself, why would someone write an incomplete guide to anything? Isn’t that a little bit of an oxymoron? Yes, but I’ll tell you why the title: undoubtedly, when I get on the subway again tomorrow morning, fighting with the other Stuyvesant Town residents for the handful of spots on the L train, I will run into a dozen or so people who are doing something to piss me off and wish I’d added it to my guide. Unfortunately, that’s life in NYC. People can always find one hundred ways to annoy you on public transportation. But if you follow this guide, you’ll be a little less annoying on your morning commute.

Recognize you’re not in more of a hurry than anyone else
I mention this pointer first because it is the one I fall victim to most frequently. I just want to push past everyone and scream, “I’m kind of in a hurry here!” But at 9am on a Monday morning, chances are good that I’m not the only one rushing to work. Be patient with the slow walkers and tourist gawkers. They all have somewhere to be and they’d like to be there sooner rather than later.

Stay in your “lane”
I understand that some people are slow. I resent you for it, but I understand your plight. However, if you’re going to meander your way down into the subway, please don’t do so in the middle of the stairs with a hand on both railings. Move to the right, the slow lane, and take up as little space as possible. I’ll hate you less for being slow if you’re not in my way.

Let people off before you get on
Look, I know that you don’t want to miss this train because God knows when the next one will come, but if you don’t let me off first, there won’t be any room for you. Before elbowing your way into that tiny space in the middle of the car, take a step to the side and let people out. It’ll be an easier process for everyone.

Share your seat
Bad                  --                    Good
There are many rules to the subway seats, but I’ll share with you the most important. First, and probably most obvious, always give your seat to pregnant women or the elderly. I know your feet are tired, but come on, have some decency. Secondly, if you get on a packed train and a seat magically opens up, leave it alone. The people who have been standing on that train long before you deserve to rest their feet for a second. And lastly, be cognizant of your belongings. If you have a clutch and someone comes on the train with bags literally hanging off of them, let them sit. But, if you’re the one with a plethora of bags, you still have to keep them to one seat. Put them on your lap, under your feet, on your head, for all I care. It doesn’t matter who you are, you get one seat. End of story.

Turn down/off your volume
I turn off the volume even when I play Candy Crush, so I really don’t want to hear you playing it. Even if you’re wearing headphones to listen to music or game sound, it still might be audible to everyone in your car, so just keep it down. Not everyone likes your tunes as much as you do, pal.

Consider a cab
I know, I know, cabs are expensive. Why spend $20 to get somewhere when $2.50 will do just fine? But there is nothing worse than trying to squeeze onto my train when I’m running late from work only to realize that someone’s oversize suitcase is taking up a space I could have had. I grumble at the tourists who slowly meander out of the open doors only to stop dead and consult their map to figure out what train to take next. If you’ve got the means, stop being so stingy. Just take a damn cab and get out of my way.

Don’t be so cranky
This, again, is a little piece of advice I think I could be a bit more cognizant of as well. I know that the seemingly endless morning subway voyage may feel like the worst part of your day, but that doesn’t mean you need to ruin everyone else’s day by pushing, shoving, cursing, or yelling. Just take a deep breath and realize that everyone else is hating this experience just as much as you are and we’re all trying to get from point A to point B.

Next time you ride the subway, consider these etiquette rules. Know of one I forgot? Mention it below! There are an infinite number of ways to piss people off on the subway, so try to avoid as many as you can.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Impress at a Job Interview

This past week was a big week in the life of Nicole Gartside: I attended my first real-life job interviews. I know, scary. But having interviewed for several intern positions throughout my short lifetime (and receiving the highest score for interview during my pageant days. Not that I’m bragging…), I felt totally prepared. It turns out that I wasn’t. It took me a few interviews and a lot of advice to get myself in the swing of things, but I now come to you with my advice for big kid job interviews.

Have good questions ready
I was always the kind of person who researched a company or publication before I interviewed there. However, because of my extensive research, I’d usually answered my own questions before even arriving. I was always proud to say no when companies asked if I had any questions for them. Turns out that’s a BAD IDEA. Companies want you to ask good questions, to be curious about the direction they’re going and to interview them as thoroughly as they’re interviewing you. Obviously you shouldn’t be asking a question you could find the answer to on their website, but think of some things you’re actually curious to know about their company.

Don’t get companies confused
If you’re like me, scrambling to find a job post-graduation and spending hours a day either applying or interviewing for jobs, it’s easy to get small details scrambled. For instance, while in Austin this past week, I interviewed with three companies that represented themselves as “tech marketing.” After hours researching the companies, the finer details started to blend together. Which one had a strong social media approach? Which one focused on “clean tech?” I had no idea. That’s why  made flash cards. The cards had the interviewer’s name, important details about the company, and the questions I wanted to ask. That way, I could do a quick review to make sure I had my head on straight before I walked into each interview.

Research the dress code
I’m very fond of my traditional interview outfit; fancy blouse, pencil skirt, high heels, and some fabulous accessories. But when I sent a picture to my mother, her response was, isn’t that too dressy? Too dressy?? How dare you! I’ve worn a variation of that same outfit to nearly every interview since high school and it has worked well so far. However, I grudgingly took the advice of my mom’s friends working in Austin and dressed down my outfit to a casual blouse, pants, and low heels (I couldn’t go all the way to the floor. I just couldn’t). And thank God I did. When I arrived to my interviews, nearly every interviewer was in jeans and some were in T-shirts. Had I gone with my original outfit, I would have looked absolutely out of place in the dressed-down atmosphere of Austin. When prepping for an interview, figure out what the office environment is like then take it up a notch. That’s how I like to show I’d fit in, but that I’m professional enough to take the “office look” to the next level, at least for the interview.

Tell a story
When meeting with a PR agent in Austin, he asked me what my story was. So I told him about my background, my jobs, etc. No, he said, what’s your story? Your story, he explained to me, is why you majored in what you did, how your experiences shaped you into a great employee, and why you are a better fit for a job than every other person they’re interviewing. Whatever your story is, be passionate and confident about it. Figure out why the path you’ve taken makes you unique and how companies can use that to their advantage. I’m still perfecting mine every day.

I hope my little words of wisdom from experience have helped. But most importantly, be confident in yourself! You deserve a job that makes you happy and you’ll get it with a little hard work and a great attitude.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Make a Mini-Vacation

I don’t know about you, but I’m over this cold weather. I’m ready to break out my sandals, a colorful maxi dress, and read a book out in the sun rather than sitting at my desk. But unfortunately, I cannot simply will the weather warmer. And, with my Spring Break turning into “Job Interview Season,” there’s not much free time to look forward to there either. That’s why I wanted to find a way to give myself a mini-vacation right at home. Try these tricks to get the stress-relief of time off during your hectic week:

Stop and smell the flowers 
Fresh flowers not only brighten up a room, but they have been scientifically proven to brighten your mood as well. Recent research shows that individuals who kept flowers in their rooms woke up feeling a little more perky and positive. So if you can’t actually stop and smell the flowers in a tropical location, get some of your own

Go out on a weeknight
Now I’m not saying to get wild on a Wednesday and miss work or class the next day, but don’t be afraid to go out to dinner with a friend or see a movie with a date sometime during the week. Having something to look forward to at the end of your workday rather than your workweek will make the prize more immediate and decrease the mid-week doldrums. You don’t have to confine the fun to the weekend.

Make your background blue 
I’m not ashamed to admit that currently, my background is a French bulldog lounging in a ring floatie in the pool. I chose it because it always makes me smile. But what I didn’t know was that the blue pool water in the picture could actually help me de-stress. Blue has been proven to be the most calming color and looking at blue images can have an immediately calming effect. Choose your ocean scene or a pretty blue flower for your background to let that imaginary vacation destination perk you up.

Treat yo’self

You would never diet or resist temptation on vacation, so cut yourself a break every once in a while. If you’re totally craving a Frappuccino, just get it. If carrying your briefcase every day is killing your back, get a massage. Obviously treating yourself every day makes the act no longer a treat, but every once in a while, let yourself indulge in something you really want.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Making Feminism Sexy with Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

          Women’s issues are hotly debated, often controversial, and…sexy? “Feminism is sexy in a really general way,” says Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. “It can make your life fun, it can make your life better. The ultimate goal is to be free to be yourself.” As the co-founder of, co-author of Sexy Feminism, and free-lance journalist, Armstrong has immersed herself in the political and cultural world of feminism. She tackles everything from women’s reproductive rights to Tina Fey. “It’s nice to be able to go between Beyonce and lip gloss and Hillary Clinton,” Armstrong says. If there’s anything you ever wanted to know about the political sphere of feminism, Armstrong’s probably written about it, telling the straightforward facts with a “sexy” twist.
          But Armstrong didn’t always consider herself a feminist. While attending Northwestern University, Armstrong says she took women’s literature courses and dabbled in feminist tendencies just like most female college students. But upon graduation, though still taken with feminist topics, she soon found she had to write about whatever topics would pay the bills. “You get excited about it and then life happens,” Armstrong says. After school, Armstrong became a reporter in Southern California for a few years before returning back to Chicago. But after some time there, she knew she wanted to move onto bigger and better things. “I had always wanted to come to New York to pursue a bigger magazine-type career,” she says. And that’s exactly what she got.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The (Appropriate) Way to Be Obsessed

            I’m about to tell you something I’m sure you already know, if you know me at all or if you just happened to peruse my blog once or twice: I like French bulldogs. I know, shocker right? Most people would even say I was obsessed. And they would probably be right. But I feel I need to say something to justify myself: there’s a right way to be obsessed, and an obnoxious way to be obsessed. Now, some haters may call me the obnoxious type, and that’s ok, you are entitled to your opinion, but there is an unofficial etiquette guide for such things that you’ll get here, exclusively.  People become obsessed with all sorts of things; animals, TV shows, celebrities, you name it. But there is a fine line between obsessed and insane, and for those of you who toe that line on a daily basis (yup, that’s me), here’s a guide to proper obsession:

Artwork is always classy
      Keep it classy
You may think it’s a totally great idea to get a tattoo of your favorite movie star on your back, but in ten years, even if you are still obsessed with him, that tat is going to be saggy just like that celeb. Tattoos are a little far. So is plastering your wall with pictures of him or owning five shirts in different colors with his face. Overkill. Incorporate your obsession in subtle ways, making it an artsy addition to your life. You can still be surrounded by what you love without being crazy.

A great Frenchie gift from a friend

      (Sneakily) Get your friends involved
Do you love looking at pictures of your obsession online in your downtime? Me too. I love those squishy little faces so much. Now, if you truly are obsessed, I’m sure your friends know. So if you can key them into your obsession, without seeming crazy, they’ll pitch in with some team searching. Every time my friends find a hidden gem of a picture or a story (recently Brooklyn Frenchie proposal story. Look it up) about French bulldogs, they immediately send it to me. It’s like having my own search time on constant alert for cuteness. Saves me a lot of time and effort…

Frenchie stationary
           Make your daily incorporation subtle
If people can discover your obsession with something within five minutes of meeting you, you’re not being subtle. If you’re obsessed with a TV show, put a picture of the cast as your background, or if you can’t get enough of sloths, get some cute stationary with them to send out as thank you cards. You don’t have to shove your obsession in people’s faces. Make them search for it.

Studying up to get a dog      
      Don’t just be obsessed, go get it
Are you obsessed with Sex and the City? Go on the New York Sex and the City Tour. Can’t get enough of Kate Spade shoes? Save up your money to buy a pair. Obviously this tip doesn’t work as well if your obsession is a person, because that’s creepy, but it works for most other things, including a French bulldog. That’s why after years of obsession, I’m finally getting one. That’s the next logical step, right?

          So go on, love what you love, and don’t be ashamed. Don’t be a crazy person and don’t make people hate you for constantly talking about what you love, but if it makes you happy, then by all means, bring it into your life.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The New Way to Watch Television

            I’m not really a big fan of watching shows on TV. Waiting a week in between each episode? I’ll forget why I was excited about the show in the first place. I, like so many young adults today, am a bigger fan of what has come to be called “binge viewing.” According to an article by Emma Montgomery on, binge viewing is “perfectly suited to the on-demand, in the moment, entertainment-seeking lifestyle that millennials lead.” And it’s true. When I finish an episode of a show like Breaking Bad, I didn’t want to have to wait a week to see what happens. In fact, next week at that time, I might not have even had time. That’s why I waited until the show ended and watched it all at once.
            It seems that us millennials prefer this method of show viewing. According to a survey done by The Trending Machine, when asked how they would prefer to watch a 13-episode season of a show, 43% of responders ages 18-24 said they would want to watch it all in one day. 30% said they’d prefer to watch it over a few days. Only 10% of responders that age said they’d prefer to watch it over 13-weeks, the regular time frame for a 13-episode season. But responders who were 45-54 years old were the opposite. Only 24% would prefer to watch all in one day, and the majority, 33%, wanted to watch it over the 13-weeks.

            So why is it that millennials just can’t wait? Though I can’t speak for the rest of the world, I can say why I can’t: because I don’t have to. Cable companies and television producers are so interested in millennial habits and so quick to cater to the millennial consumer that they make nearly every show on television readily available online. In 2012, television was rated the top content preferred by millennials, over music and movies. So I don’t want to watch movie after movie on my Saturday off, nor do I want to watch just one episode of a show that I missed. I want to watch the whole show. Call me a greedy millennial, but I’ll never give up my day-long Netflix dates. Never.