This is from a point in the book after Nyela’s layoff from an urban entertainment magazine. She finds herself scrambling for freelance gigs, one of those being a new gig at Regality magazine, the hottest Black women’s magazine around.
I wanted to cringe as I walked through Regality magazine’s lobby. I didn’t really have a good feeling about this place, but I reminded myself to deal with it by remembering that this gig was going to help keep me out of my parents’ pockets, and that it was an iconic place that would look good on my résumé. How bad could it be, right? Never mind, I knew what industry I was in. The biggest lesson I have learned in my career thus far was that perception was a motherfucker. I’d already experienced one of the most iconic publications in pop culture history, but I’d also seen and heard enough from friends to know that when it came to the companies that we all worshipped as kids and that seemed to have everything all together, how they really operated vs. how they appeared to operate were two different concepts. I often questioned my sanity for moving forward with this industry for as long as I had.
I would love to be my own boss full time one day, but one of the frustrating things about being an entrepreneur was, you just didn’t make ends meet fast enough in the beginning so you’d still get caught up in working for others to make a living. I was lucky that my blog was starting to bring in some decent chunks of money enough to at least cover my cable, electric, and cellphone bill, but it was my script that I really needed to focus on, and I’ve been scheduling my time better since meeting with Nero so that I could finally get it ready.
I was a pretty determined person. I got that trait from both of my entrepreneurial parents. I’d watched them manage and operate their respective businesses my entire life. They were both lucky enough to still be in business for decades, and now it was my turn. Honestly, I was afraid to work on changing my situation, and also of subjecting myself to the kind of scrutiny that came with artistry and entrepreneurship, but it was time to stop with fear and excuses and be more positive, so I decided to end the self-doubt and deprecation session for now. In the meantime, I’d fantasize about Olu and pretend that the stories I’d heard about this place being a mean girl sorority house weren’t true.
“Nyela, follow me please.”
Tina’s curt greeting snapped me out of my thoughts.
I stood up and extended my hand for a shake. “Hi, Tina.”
She grabbed the tip of my four fingers and gave me a limp shake as if she could care less, and it made me want to slap her. I hated shaking hands too, but at least I pretended to be into it for the sake of business pretenses, and at the very least simply being cordial. She looked me up and down and cracked a slight smile.
“Nice dress,” she said, seemingly through gritted teeth. “Demestiks NYC?”
It looked like it hurt her to at least pretend to be remotely friendly, but I was still impressed with and also disturbed by her ability to call out labels so easily. I don’t think that fact would ever get old to me! I’ve had this dress for so long that even I forgot that it was Demestiks NYC.
“Yeah,” I replied, trying to keep up with her rapid pace as we headed to my workspace.
She was so type A.
She led me to a cubicle big enough for two people, with one side already occupied. I assumed the empty space was mine and put my bag down. Based on the fact that the other girl didn’t even turn around to greet me, I started to get the vibe that this place was going to be déjà vu, but with a bunch of passive aggressive women in fly clothes, instead of petulant man-children.
“Nyela, meet Kimmie. She’s our online fashionista and celebrity gossip girl,” Tina said.
Kimmie finally spun her chair toward me and extended her hand. “Hi,” she said, also looking me up and down.
Her handshake at least had some effort behind it.
“Looks like we picked the same in-office day,” I said, realizing how pointless my comment was when her facial expression changed from apathy to judgment.
“Is that Demestiks NYC?” she said.
What the fuck!
“Yes,” I replied, forcing a smile.
Tina was too busy with whatever was going on in her phone to be concerned with our exchange.
I started getting settled at my desk and when Tina finished with her phone, she handed me my building ID.
“So, I gotta run to a meeting but I forgot to tell you, you don’t just cover film anymore. Given your background at Spark, we’ve decided to make music your beat too,” she said before dashing off.
“But what happened to the music girl you were going to hire?” I yelled after her, as she got halfway down the hall.
She disappeared around a corner.
“Budget cuts?” I repeated out loud rhetorically.
“That’s how they do it around here,” Kimmie said. “Prepare for the grind, but if this is what you really want then you’ll do it and be happy. I mean this is Regality. Tons of women would love to be in your shoes, but they chose you, so work it out.”
I imagined myself asking her who the fuck asked for her unsolicited sanctimonious mini speech. I’m not a 22-year-old naïve fucking assistant! However, instead of being rude, I kept my face neutral and eeked out the only reply I could think of that didn’t involve the words: nobody, asked and you.
I noticed she was on TMZ right before I decided to mind my own business and get my desk area together. It made no sense to decorate, but I could at least know where my office supplies were, especially my trusty Post-its, so I started searching the drawers.
“HOLD UP!” Kimmie shouted.
I turned around to see what the drama was about just in time to see her yanking her headphones out of the jack and swiveling her chair around to face me.
“Did you know about this?”
Confused, I pulled my chair up to her desk and noticed she was now on a popular gossip and entertainment site that wasn’t Chatty Abernathy, for once.
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