Vomiting Feels

This will be painstakingly long. After reading this post, I most likely will not be friends with you, nor will I possibly be friends with myself.

Anyway, my reign of terror at Gotham is ending today as three new, clearly inferior interns take my and Catherine’s places. Message to the new interns: run away when you see an opening. But actually, you’re about to have the most awesome office experience imaginable with a bunch of lovable whackadoos who actually care about what you think and don’t subjugate you to typical I’m-gonna-make-you-my-personal-bitch-get-my-coffee-you-pleb intern hell territory.

But let’s talk about me! Better yet, let’s talk about me with me! I am now going to conduct an interview with myself:

Justin: I laud you for your survival tactics, being the last intern standing, enduring the hellish wrath of the Gotham staff. 

Justin: Thanks. I laud myself, too. Yeah, it was difficult getting to the end, but, alas, I am not dead. Rather, I feel quite alive right now. I’ll probably buy myself a pink lemonade Monster Rehab and blood orange Chobani to celebrate.

Justin: Justin, I can’t keep up with this Gotham-was-hell facade any longer. It’s…it’s morally compromising. You had a great time. You learned a lot.

Justin: Never! It was oppressively small and everyone is evil!

Justin: (gives Justin the mental side-eye)

Justin: Oh, all right. I…as much as it pains me to say this…had an absolutely fantastic summer. Being surrounded by passionate, quirky, intelligent positively insane captors…I mean coworkers!…has shaped me profoundly.

Justin: Better, better. Now what did you learn?

Justin: (deep breath) I learned that even the smallest contributions and projects can yield substantial impacts. Even though the Nuyorican hasn’t answered me yet, I know that taking that initiative has the potential to bring about something far greater and, even if it doesn’t. a thought can go a long way. Corporate writing sucks, but I’m learning to cut back the quirky bits I find interesting and would want to read in others’ letters. Additionally, yoga is awesome. Dana’s yoga class is top notch and has elucidated the physical and mental benefits of yogic practice, which is something I plan to keep up with in school. Can I stop yet? I’m choking on my own sincerity.

Justin: Yes, you can stop. That was beautiful, Justin. Just beautiful.

\(^.^\) \(^.^)/ (/^.^)/

Time for the shout-outs! Woo! This post is about to be a virtual yearbook (even though my co-workers all signed a yellow felt cowboy hat, which is a memento I shall treasure 5eva) and all the feels are coming up – I feel sick. I’m having emotional indigestion, a sentimental noro virus. It’s coming…it tastes terrible…BLEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH:

J the Elder: I can never unhear the Beauty and the Beast story. The offensiveness! The inappropriate shameful hilarity! You’re a funny dude (especially when reciting that thing you recite with Britt) and Willow is the cutest little creature I’ve seen in a while. I wish I saw your show, but your fangirling upon realizing that Lily Tomlin is gay was a pretty good show to watch. It’ll be difficult to just be “Street” rather than “Big J” or “J the Elder,” but I think you’ll survive (barely, but still).

(Not Ryan) Britt: Oh, how I shall miss the doobiest of skirts! Even though you shamed my family, your omniscient knowledge of cultural references is something to be commended (or the subject of mockery, depending on if your critic has a life or not). I really am thankful for your immediate and unwavering support of my slam poetry endeavor – shockingly, I’ve never read any of your work, which should change. Your personal stories, whether hilarious or tragic, are always entertaining and greatly affected the office ambiance in the best, gayest and doobiest ways possible. Oh, and thanks for the Macbeth tickets! Alan Cumming is da b0$$.

Kelly Caldwell AKA Ramona Havoc: Even though Catherine bested you in the prestigious “Bitch Contest,” don’t let that take away from your self worth! As Piper said, “bitches gots to learn,” and you are very learned, thus you are not a bitch. Knowledge > bitchiness. You’re easily one of the most magnanimous people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Thanks for encouraging me with my playwriting promotion project – stay evil!

Momma D: If Bradley Whitford is the commencement speaker at Wes, expect a call. Thank you for exposing me to the yoga mat and, more importantly, thank you for supporting my endeavors, listening to my ideas and shaping this internship experience to be the best summer job (or maybe summer) I’ve had. It astounds me how you do the work of twelve people and simultaneously maintain such an upbeat and positive demeanor. Thanks for making my time at Gotham a possibility – it really means a lot. Oh, let me know what you think of the playlist!

Birthday Boy: I’m glad you don’t want me to die. I don’t want me to die, either. Here’s a song. Imagine me singing it. It took me a while to understand your terrible, terrible humor, but now I do and I love that it complements my terrible, terrible humor. Thank you for making this possible – you weren’t a terrible boss, I guess. Stay bourgie; pop mollies.

To everyone: I’m actually going to miss you all. That means I developed an emotional attachment to each of you in some way, which means I have a soul, which means my life is a lie. I guess I’m thankful for this identity crisis.

Remember, it’s all about that


Stay classy.


Be explosive.


Read Buzzfeed and think of me.

And now I depart. C u at da xmas partay!!!! ~~

Bye x 3

Love and dragons,

‘lil J

Since this began with a Batman quote, it should end with a Batman quote.

Rottelli: What’s with that stupid grin?

The Joker: Life’s been good to me.

Gotham’s been very, very good to me. Again, thanks for everything.


See ‘ya Later, Gotham!

Today is my last day as a Gotham intern, but it doesn’t feel like it. Today feels like every other day. I’m at the intern desk, with the intern MacBook, next to the intern phone. I’m typing up a blog post while music plays and people talk. A few one-day intensives are going on. In an hour or so, I’ll probably order lunch. Today feels like a normal day.

When my day ends and I’m free to catch the train back to the good ol’ Garden State, today will still feel absolutely normal. In fact, this whole weekend will probably feel like any other. It probably won’t be until Monday when I wake up at my usual time when I’ll realize my time as a Gotham intern is over.

I imagine this Monday-morning Catherine will feel sad. She’ll probably feel kind of weird not being in the office. That being said, she probably won’t be too sad. After today, I won’t be a Gotham intern, but that doesn’t mean I won’t still be a part of Gotham! I’m already signed up to help with future registrations, Write-Ins, and other Gotham festivities. One of the perks of going to college in the city is being close to the Gotham offices.

Moral of the story for any aspiring Gotham interns: once you’re Gotham, you’re always Gotham!

On a very related note: big thanks to Gotham for this amazing experience!

Brooklyn. Lots of Brooklyn.

After a little more than a week brooding about how I hate all of you reading this, I realized that, as terrible as you people are, I really do care about you all (woah, rare moment of sentimentality!). Accordingly, I decided to forgive you all for not reading this blog as much as you should, as staving you out isn’t helping my narcissistic quest for fame (isn’t Gotham a wonderful vessel for this pursuit? I live for the applause-plause.).

Anyway, I went to Brooklyn today. Momma Dana and Poppa Alex were like, “lil’ J, you are ready to spread your wings and promote Gotham alone. Go to Williamsburg and make us proud (it was really my idea to go out, but I’m in the mood for a bildungsroman.).” So, with my backpack filled with postcards, I set out for the subways.

Being navigationally inept, this was slightly terrifying. I had to prove myself to my self – I was determined to kick ass and, with such focus, no ass would go unkicked.

The list of locations I was given comprised some pretty disaprate locations in Brooklyn, ranging from DUMBO to Park Slope to Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The goal was to tackle each one train by train: get on, get off, get in, get on the next one. Pathetically enough, I can’t recall the subways I took as well as I should be able to (for so much intra-city travel, one would think my internal compass would align properly; I remember something of taking the A to DUMBO, the A to Park Slope, the L from Park Slope transferring to the G at Hoyt-Schemerhorn to get to da ‘Burg, but this can be and likely is full of error.).
I’ll spare you the over-detailed synopsis of me going store by store, coated in sweat under an oppressive sun, getting lost due to my geographical ineptitude, getting back on course, sweating, groveling, succeeding, making it rain postcards, doing some shots: the typical minutiae. So here are the takeaway points:
Williamsburg and Greenpoint are absolutely brimming with hipster havens that would readily take our postcards (yes, plural! We have two now – a general one and one for the Brooklyn write-ins – and they’re beautiful.). I wish I had brought more with me, but Park Slope had some new-to-me locations of what I didn’t know were franchises that we had advertised in (Connecticut Muffin, La Bagel Delight).
I stuck postcards in nine new places, in addition to four listed locations (that’s a total of thirteen asses kicked).
I had a random encounter with a classmate of mine from my advanced fiction class (she apparently manages the South Oxford Space where we hold many events) and met Britt’s predecessor, Melissa, who owns an adorable thrift shop where I could easily see myself bartering my soul for hand-me-downs.
The most fulfilling part of this day-long endeavor (four hours of playing hipster or Hasid), was that it was unprompted. I suggested it. I went alone. I did awesomely. As I grow increasingly ancient, I love seizing opportunities without coercion, crafting and acting upon my own ideas, which I have increasing faith in. It makes this kid feel “adult,” which is a nice power realm to access. Plus, I like making Momma and Poppa Gotham proud because I’m a loyal, dare I say saintly, child.

The Gotham Intern Bucket List

Yesterday, a Barnes and Noble box came in the mail with my name on it, aka the best box I can ever get in the mail. True to my book lover self, I dashed to grab the scissors, tore right through the tape, and-

Saw books for school. Yeah, that’s happening soon, meaning my departure from Gotham is soon.

As of now, I’m still kind of in denial about that, so instead of a farewell post (which will come later) this is a Gotham bucket list for all the future interns out there. In no particular order:

1. Go to a Write-In…and try to share.

I know, I know, sharing isn’t easy. Like many writers, I consider my writing to be my baby, and I don’t always feel comfortable putting it out there all vulnerable and what not. However, future interns, you’ll soon learn that a Write-In is the best place for sharing. Only positive feedback is allowed and food is involved. It’s a win-win! If you’re lucky that really good guacamole will be there…

2. Take your Gotham class seriously- and try to take one risk with your writing.

Take advantage of your Gotham class. For me, my Gotham class has been an invaluable opportunity to take risks with my writing that I wouldn’t have taken otherwise. This week I’m in the booth (once again) and I submitted something totally different than what I usually write because how many times in my life will I have a risk-free chance to have my work critiqued by people who aren’t relatives/friends/other biased people? Not many.

3. Try office yoga!

I’m a private tutor and 99% of the time I end up tutoring on Thursday evenings, but I did make it to Dana’s yoga class once and it was amazing- and totally out of my comfort zone (which is part of the reason it was amazing). So even if you think you’re unathletic and klutzy, just give it a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose!

4. Remember students you talk to ‘cuz they’re awesome. 

I don’t mean memorize every name on every roster. I mean remember a call that made you smile. Remember the enthusiastic people you meet in your class, in Write-Ins, and at registrations. Remember, future interns, that Gotham students are pretty cool people.

5. Talk to teachers. They’re awesome, too. 

Gotham teachers are interesting and friendly people. Strike up conversation with the ones you meet!

6. Get to know the people you work with. 

The people who work at the Gotham office are smart, funny, and some of the most approachable people you can ever, ever meet. Don’t ever be afraid to share a joke, tell a story, or spout a random idea. We’re like a mini family here at Gotham, so don’t waste your time being fully absorbed in your computer screen.

And lucky number seven:

7. Do something that scares you.

This summer I’ve shared my writing with strangers, made business deals (more specifically, talked with hotel sales departments..not something I’ve had experience with before), and took a Dialogue one-day intensive because it was something I wasn’t sure I’d be good in. I wasn’t forced to do any of that, but I did, because when you have the opportunity to be a Gotham intern, a million other opportunities come your way, and I wasn’t going to let them all pass me by, Grab those opportunities, future interns, no matter how much they may scare you. Scary can be good (for instance, this post is scary long, but I think it’s pretty good).

Half Way Check In

When it comes to my Fiction I class, I like to log in to see the new lecture on Tuesday, respond to some Booth submissions, and then start brainstorming for my notebook exercise. However, I didn’t get a chance to do much more than just log in Tuesday, so I postponed my reading until yesterday (a perk of being in an online class). While I was reading I noticed my class is up to week five, meaning we’re already half way through. I definitely don’t remember that happening…

Since 50% of my first Gotham workshop is already done, I thought I’d do a quick recap on what has happened during my writing journey with Gotham so far:

1. Gotham Diversity: I’ve always loved how different Gotham students can be and with an online class I’ve had the good fortune to write with people across the nation! I still can’t get over how someone who lives in New Jersey and works in New York can be in a writing class with people from the West coast. How cool is that?!

2. Writing Exercises are awesome: When I first saw that writing exercises were a part of the course, I was kind of indifferent towards them. I was way, way more excited for the critiquing in the Booth. However, now I love the writing exercises! They always open up my creativity and let me apply each week’s lesson to my writing. Those things have made my writing so much better!

3. The Booth: As I mentioned in an earlier post, I love the Booth. I get an equal balance of encouragement and awesome critiquing- each equally important to writers!

So far I’m really enjoying my Gotham class! Logging into my class during work is such a temptation…some people have Facebook, and I have my Gotham class. #writerproblems

Have you ever taken a Gotham class and loved it as much as I love mine? Or do you have a Gotham class in mind that you’re dying to take? Tell us in comments!

Do You Want to be Us?

With Justin and I weeks away from leaving, we need more interns.

If you’re looking for a position for our fall term, consider Gotham! If you’re new to our awesome intern blog, then here’s a review of what we do:

We work in the office: We perform administrative tasks, constantly talk to students, and get the chance to talk to teachers (aka, working writers). We help host Gotham’s Write-Ins and help out during registration. Our water cooler talk is about books and movies, and we’re constantly called upon for our opinions and leadership skills (how many other interns can say that?). Yeah, our office is pretty awesome.

We work outside the office: Ever want the chance to explore the streets of NYC? We do that all the time with our publicity work. So far this summer we’ve been to virtually every neighborhood in Manhattan as well as a few in Brooklyn, giving us plenty of time to check out local sights and restaurants.

We have fun! So far this summer we got free tickets to Macbeth, have made and updated our own blog, and, as our compensation, are taking  free 10 week Gotham workshops with some one-day intensives.

If you love writing and love to talk about it, then send a creative cover letter and a resume to our awesome boss Dana at dana@write.org (she’s nice, we promise).

Skills in customer service and computers are a plus. Being enthusiastic is a must- show us how much you’d love to work here!

If you have any questions for us, the interns, leave it in comments (and feel free to be anonymous)!

I got boothed. It happens.

It was inevitable, really, having handed my copies out two weeks ago. I was one of four slated to get their works slathered in blood, with the occasional compliment thrown in (normally, it’d be three, but I’m going to Montreal and my instructor is lovely and accommodating.). I’m strange when it comes to criticism in that I’m a complete masochist – I love scathing critiques so long as they will help me overall. Break me down to build me up; be blunt, straddling on cruelty, but don’t be cruel without good reason. This segues in to one reason why my advanced fiction instructor, Hasie, is awesome. She’s brutally honest, but only presses her students out of belief that they have the faculty to advance their work accordingly. One of the more interesting boothing sessions came in the form of one student’s lesbian fantasy piece, which was essentially a harlequin romance. Rather than degrade the student, Hasie turned the possible verbal beat down into the form of a lecture on the difference between erotica and pornography, why writing sex scenes is the same stratum of difficulty as food writing, because they both are best expressed by experience rather than through language.

But let’s talk about me. I’m pretty confident in my writing and am aware of my weaknesses, so I was expecting the typical array of critiques – great use of language as music and atmosphere, less great story development. I was pretty accurate: people lauded my lingual rhythm, debated whether my character was on drugs and one person called the piece “too high-concept for his liking or understanding.” Things were mostly complimentary. This is actually the story of my life.

Hasie echoed some of these critiques – apparently, one of my descriptions of a subway car was the most realistic she had ever heard (considering I’m navigationally inept, I felt super accomplished) – but also segued into an interesting lecture about form. I submitted a fragment of a story and a piece of flash fiction. Both of them read as incomplete and people had questions about whether they were prose poems or some inconceivable grey area hybrid monster. Hasie said that short fiction requires the “fundamental elements (plot, character development, etc.)” and flash fiction is the distillation of two or so of these elements. She commented that while my language was tight and rife with vivid sensory appeals, the lack of character progression challenged the short story of genre and, if I was endeavoring to do flash fiction, that my language wasn’t at that level of tightness. I had always thought of myself as a short story writer who occasionally dabbles in flash fiction, but this lecture evoked mental challenges – what constitutes a form? As in Asad’s religious anthropology (liberal arts is starting to get to me), things aren’t meant to be neatly categorized due to the excessive greyness inherent in everything. But there have to be boundaries between things or else everything would coalesce. While these boundaries may be subjective, they are there and possibly infinite. I don’t know where I fall on this weird formal Mobius Strip, but Hasie’s discussion made me question my place, opening my mind to playing with different creative directions. I love being provoked in the intellectual sense and intellectual provocation indicates a teacher that knows her shit.



Self-gratification and the Art of Promotion

Street promotion can be strangely gratifying. For instance, I’ll see a store, usually someplace with hipster-cred such as a vinyl shop, an indie bookstore, a garishly decorated cafe specializing in wheatgrass smoothies and obscure Peruvian coffee blends and I’m like, boom, they’re gonna take all the postcards and I walk all like


The salesperson is really lax like, yeah, bro, just put them on this bulletin board/pile of other postcards. Despite knowing they would take the cards, there’s still a feeling of victory that complements the aforementioned self-gratification quite nicely. It makes feel giddier than Bea Arthur.

Golden Girls

I have a tendency to overestimate the kindness of places and the kinds of places that will take our postcards. Sometimes, Catherine will be like oh hell no, they ain’t be takin’ any of these cards ‘cuz they’re a bike shop and they don’t want nothin’ to do with us (I feel like this happens over bike shops a lot) and then I go in and, even though the salesperson is reluctant, (s)he’ll take our cards. Victory! I’ll walk out feeling all about that


Like most people, I enjoy being right about things. I’m not perfect at gauging whether places will take our postcards (I like to think I’m perfect so I’ll just keep pretending I am. Ignore the aforementioned undermining claim)*, but, when I am right, it’s wonderful.

*Someone wise once said, “Nobody’s perfect. I gotta work it again and again ’til I get it right.” She now enjoys faux-lesbian encounters and has a penchant for #twerking, but she did have some nice maxims back in the day.

Chilling in the Booth

My class has reached it’s third week and for a level one class that means it’s time to enter the Booth!

For those who are not familiar with this Gotham feature, the Booth is the tool Gotham classes use to critique fellow classmates’ work (and for the teacher to critique as well). I’m in an online class right now, so entering the Booth means uploading a file for everyone to see and watching the comments flow in during the week. Here’s why we call it the Booth and not the table: when your work is being critiqued you cannot comment. Later, you can ask questions to clarify comments or to ask about something in your work which was not brought up, but that’s it.

Being in the Booth has been an interesting- and extremely beneficial- experience so far. As of right now I only have two comments on my work, and those comments have been super supportive, yet full of great advice. One classmate even said that I should try submitting at different places to see if it gets published!

This week I’ve also been a reader in the Booth, and it’s also been a learning experience. Reading pieces in the Booth gives me the chance to be exposed to so many different styles of writing and ideas. Plus, as a reader I gain the valuable experience of analyzing craft. Besides, who wouldn’t love reading pieces by the writers of tomorrow?

What I personally love about the Booth is that it’s an opportunity to tell other people what’s awesome about their writing and what needs to be fixed. You get to encourage people to grow and advise them on how to do that. It’s not like someone is criticizing my work without letting me know what’s not working with it; all the criticism is totally constructive.

Speaking of the Booth I have to get back and finish those comments…