Tag Archives: employed!

in which I have bookseller adventures

As you may or may not know, I am currently funding my extravagant Bostonian lifestyle by working as a bookseller in the children’s room of the Harvard Coop Bookstore. The Harvard Coop is, to use a technical industry term, a big-ass bookstore. It is four floors of books. Four grand, Harvardian floors of books, complete with a sweeping spiral staircase, shelf-lined galleries, and a well-read, articulate staff.

….so we’re basically just a glorified Barnes and Noble. But still. Harvard.

Now if you have never worked in a bookstore, particularly the children’s room of a bookstore, you may think that the job involves primarily handing out books to tiny people and their accompanying adults. You may think booksellers do little more than talk about the books they love to their similarly polite and well-read customers and then read covertly behind the counter while sipping tea and waiting for the next customer to chat them up about Tolstoy or the derivative nature of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

Oh contraire, my friends. Oh contraire.

Being a bookseller is hard. There is a lot of carrying books up and down those four sweeping staircases. There is a lot of fielding ridiculous questions and impossible requests1. There is a lot of talking to people who don’t know a darn thing about books (or in my case books for children), which is why they’re talking to me. There is a lot of putting things back where they belong because most patrons seem incapable of it. In the children’s room there is, on top of all that, clean up of snacks, reading at storytime2 and making really excellent crafts3 that the kids can then duplicate.

Today, the job also involved some light spelunking.

When I returned to the floor after lunch, I found the children’s room empty and the Boss behind the counter, grinning her most maniacal grin at me.

Boss: Why hello there4.
Me: …Hello?
Boss: Did you have a good lunch?
Me: I am very suspicious of this conversation.
Boss: So something happened while you were gone.
Me: Did it?
Boss: And now we have to fix it.
Me: So long as it does not involve me carrying the 160 copies of Panic by Lauren Oliver back down the stairs after already carrying them upstairs this morning5 then I am okay with just about anything.
Boss: I’m glad you said that.

So here’s what happened: while I was at lunch, the Boss made a classic rookie mistake. She gave the bathroom key to a small child and her nanny and told them to bring it back instead of walking them to the bathroom and unlocking it for them herself as she has told the rest of us time and time again we are supposed to do. It was a rather lazy and pathetic move on her part6. A few minutes later, the nanny returned rather sheepish and informed the Boss that while they were in the bathroom, the laws of physics had stopped, resulting in the key becoming nonsensically and impossibly wedged inside of the fold-out diaper changing table.

“No trouble,” thought the boss. “I got this.”

But she did not “got this.” Not even close. We discovered rather quickly that the key had fallen at such an angle that our adult-sized hands could not reach it7. It took a good half hour, a pipe cleaner, two straws, a dowel, a beehive of packing tape, and some very creative maneuvering before she and I working as a single until managed to chopstick that son of a bitch out from the interior of the diaper changing table and into our waiting palm. We both touched a fair amount of unmentionable things in the process, dug out some crayons that had also fallen victim to this strange black hole, and dropped enough McGyver references to last a lifetime.

But at last, with a small plop, the tiny silver key, now a bit tarnished and smelly, fell into the Boss’s hand. We cheered in unison. There might also have been some high fiving and victory dancing.

And then the Boss, still riding the high of successfully conquering the bathroom changing table, threw all our now soiled tools in the trash can and reflexively threw the newly-rescued key in after them. I let her fish it out of there.

We then returned to the desk and disinfected ourselves.

Friends, today was One of those Days. The sort of day where you find yourself stretched like a gymnast across a unisex bathroom while trying to prop the door open with your foot and simultaneously root around shoulder-deep in a diaper changing station with straws clutched like chopsticks fishing helplessly to get a key out from between the hinges of a collapsible diaper changing station, all the while cursing loudly and with great relish. It was One of those Days.

Being a bookseller is not a very glamours life. We’re not all the bespectacled, cardigan wearing do gooders you see in films8. So do me a favor–go thank your bookseller today.

Or bring them chocolate. I have it on good authority that booksellers love chocolate.

  1. Example of a real question I had: “I’m looking for a book. I don’t know the title but the cover has writing on it.”
  2. And doing the librarian hold until your arm starts to cramp.
  3. An example of one of my best, but ultimately rejected, ideas:IMG_0997
  4. She may have actually swiveled around in her chair while stroking a white cat and wearing an eye patch. Details blur together.
  5. True story.
  6. I can say this, because I know she is reading and because at the end of our harrowing adventure she said, “You should put this on your blog! But I don’t want to be named.” Careful what you wish for, Boss.
  7. And we both ended up with gouged knuckles to prove it.
  8. Though it should be noted that at this moment I am both bespectacled and cardiganed
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in which I bid farewell to the Friend

Before we begin, don’t forget to read the Four Book Friday Wrap Up and enter my very first GIVEAWAY where you could win one of the Four Book Friday books and a $10 gift card! Click here to enter. 

As of last Tuesday, I am back in BOSTON!

It’s taken me a while to get this news on the blog because I have been occupied by the actual act of moving to Boston and getting things in order here. But I’m officially back on the east coast and excited to be here.

But before we talk about the return to Boston, we have to talk about what happened before the move back to Boston.

So you may remember about five months ago, I posted my “big news” about getting an internship with The Friend Mormon children’s magazine. And if you’ve been hanging around the blog at all this summer, I’ve told a few stories about working there. A few, but not too many. When I was first offered the internship, I was pretty excited, mainly because it meant I could save money while living at home and not have to cook for myself all summer, and I wouldn’t have to battle the humidity in Boston. That’s it. Sure, it would be cool working on a magazine, but I’m not a super churchy person, so I wasn’t excited about that. Honestly, I didn’t think working for the Friend would be particularly different than my other internships I had—a few months of some interesting work that doesn’t leave much of an impression. I especially didn’t think it would be life changing.

Surprise—it was.


Part 1 of the amazing parting gift the staff made me–a fake copy of the magazine with my picture on the cover!

Working for the Friend ended up being the most all-around amazing thing I’ve ever done. I got to do real work—not just usual intern work that could be screwed up with minimal consequences. Every day I got to throw myself into projects that directly contributed to the on-time publication of a magazine with over one million readers worldwide1. And I got to work on them with the most talented group of people I have ever worked with. I was in daily awe of these people, and equally amazed by their intelligence and their dedication to quality children’s literature.

I did not have a bad day at the Friend. I hardly had a bad moment. I had four months of hard work and happiness that I would never have guessed were coming my way on that rainy night five months ago when I got a phone call from Salt Lake City.

friend 2

Part 2 of amazing parting gift–the back cover!

I’ve been staring at this open Word document for like ten minutes because it really is just impossible to put into words my experience at the Friend. All you have to know is that when it was all finished, I went home and just cried for a while. I’m crying a little bit now as I write this because a part of my heart is still back in the corner cubicle on the 24th floor. The Friend gave me so many things, some of which are too personal to write about here, but mostly confidence in myself and my work, validation that I am in the correct field, and an arsenal of people on my side to which I wish I could offer some eloquent gratitude, but the only thing I can think to say is “I’ll eat you up I love you so.” And I think they’ll recognize what that means coming from me.

Thank you to the Friend and its marvelous staff for an outstanding summer, for letting me work on things I was passionate about and allowing me to bask in your brilliance. Here’s hoping some of it rubbed off on me.


  1. I also got to spend a fair amount of time on Pinterest and read a lot of picture books. Seriously, dream job.
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in which I adopt a plant

Today was plant day at the Church Office Building. They apparently take the whole “going green” thing really literally here, because on the third Wednesday of every month, anyone can go down to the floral department in the basement and adopt a plant.

Really. It’s called plant adoption.

So naturally, I went, because I’m always up for doing weird things that will someday make a good story. And as a result, I am now the proud parent of this little guy.


Aw. Iddin he cute? He is tall and crazy, so he suits me.

His name is Mycroft. I’m going to feed him and water him1 and love him and he will live forever2. It has only been five hours, and I am already very attached to Mycroft. But I get attached to things really easily. Far more easily than I get attached to people.

I am a week and two days into my employment with the LDS Church. And so far, I really could not be happier. This is basically my dream job, and I enjoy immensely every task that has been thrown at me3. Working here has only served to further emphasize just how much I love children’s literature, and how passionate I am about writing for children.

One of my many assignments today was to go through the September issue of the magazine and change the names of any protagonists with overused or boring names4. Easy peasy, I thought, but as soon as I tried to think of names, my mind immediately went totally blank. Because that’s the way the world works. The same thing happens when someone asks me my favorite book, and I immediately forget every book I’ve ever read. So I turned for inspiration to the facebook. I logged on, wrote down the first names of about six friends who had recently posted, and turned it in.

I am certain this will not be an isolated incident. Meaning over the next year, many of you who are friends with me on the facebook may be featured5 in a Mormon children’s magazine. Pays to have friends in moderately high-ish places, doesn’t it?

On that note, if you have any stories from your childhood that you think would make a great story for The Friend, please send them my way! I’d also love any stories from your family history. I have made my project here to put more stories in the Friend that are historical in nature but NOT about pioneers. There are too many of those, and they make those of us without pioneer ancestors feel left out. So if your grandparents handed out Book of Mormons to Nazis or something equally as exciting, please feel free to share!


  1. I have to put him right by my computer screen, where I will see him everyday, or else I guarantee I will forget.
  2. Plant resurrection! It’s a thing!
  3. Today I wrote a poem about Jesus. And enjoyed it immensely.
  4. Or what one of my editors lovingly called “Mormon Belt Names.” Because we’re going for diversity here.
  5. Albeit in an obscure, roundabout way.
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in which I start anew

If you are here from The Writer’s Voice, bless you. Also, that entry is one post down! 

In the past week, two big things changed in my life.

First, I returned to Salt Lake. On a plane that took off late, with only my Dixie cup filled with Diet Coke to soothe my aching hunger resulting from eating nothing but twelve Red Vines for both lunch and dinner. If you couldn’t tell, it was a very long flight. But I survived. I am back in the great valley of the Salt Lake. Don’t get confused, even though the blog is still called looking for Boston. I’m in Salt Lake. As in Utah. Looking for Salt Lake just doesn’t have the same ring to it, frankly. On that note, if you are also in Utah and want to party, hit me up1. I’m here until September.

Second, and the reason that I came to Salt Lake to begin with, is that I started my new job, which is writing for the LDS Church’s children’s magazine, The Friend. So far, it is awesome. The whole deal is much less churchy than I anticipated, which is actually a relief. Though we are writing about Jesus, the place still feels like a normal office. Albeit a very conservatively dressed2 office where the men all open doors for you3 and everyone is alarmingly polite and there are a lot of people in little black nametags.

But the new job seems like it’s going to be a hit. I have been treated as a bit of an exotic flower since I arrived. I am a source of fascination to both the staff and the other interns, as I am neither from BYU nor an undergrad. I am apparently interesting both because I have worked out in the big, wide world in a variety of exciting settings,and because I am not coming to work directly from Provo5.  Our managing editor is also thrilled to have an intern that is actually making the focus of her academic study writing for children6. She even wants me to give weekly presentations to the staff on things I have learned from my program. No pressure.

Overall, it’s been a full week for me with a lot of big changes. Good changes, though. I also don’t anticipate blogging as much this summer, since—spoiler alert—having a full time job sort of eats up your social calendar. But I will be here. And I will be sharing with you all the many splendors of a life inside the LDS Church7.

On a semi-related note, my blogiversary is coming up – Looking for Chicago/Boston is turning the big 1! How would you all feel if I did a giveaway to go with it? Would you enter? What would be an awesome but also shippable prize? Leave ideas in comments!

  1. And there ain’t no party like a Van Engelenhoven party cause a Van Engelenhoven party includes cookies the size of your face and everyone arrives early and then has high social anxiety the whole time.
  2. I have worn skirts to my knees and sleeves every day and I still feel myself to be the most scantily clad person there.
  3. They also always let women walk into an elevator first. I’m sure this is a courtesy thing, but it could be nefarious. Send the women in first to make sure there’s no crouching lion hidden in the blind spot.
  4. They all knew what “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” was and were jealous of Carl Kassel on my answering machine! Phew.
  5. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
  6. When I first arrived, we had a very happy conversation about Extra Yarn and Marla Frazee, and I knew I was in the right place.
  7. Unrelated—by far the greatest part of my job so far is that my cubicle has been decorated with art children have sent in that has been rejected for various reasons, mostly because of their more creative tie in to the Church. They are all hilarious and awesome and delightful, and I wish I could post them here, but I think that’s a breach of confidentiality. Ah well. You will just have to imagine how hilarious they are. Or come visit me at work.
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in which I announce my big news!

I don’t have many skills, but one of them is avoiding the thing I am supposed to be doing.

Which is right now I’m watching the 25th Anniversary Concert Edition of Les Miserables, which is conveniently on PBS, and which is the best1 of all the Les Mises2. Also, I’m blogging. Which, in reality, is just a massive avoidance of doing what I should be doing.

…Sorry, I was captivated there for a moment watching Ramin Karimloo burst onto the stage for One Day More and I totally lost my train of thought.

What was I going to talk about? Oh yes, I remember now. The big news of last week.

It should be noted that my life is fairly uneventful and mostly boring, so the scale of “big things” is really distorted. They add a new hot beverage at the Simmons Café and that’s big news. So keep that in mind that big news in my world probably isn’t really that earth shattering to anyone else.

But the big news of last week is that I got a job. A sort of fancy new job for the summer that is well paid, in my field, and, in a surprising twist, near my family. So starting in May, I am going to be working for The Friend magazine, a publication put out by the LDS church3 that is targeted towards 4 to 12 year olds. That means that for four months, May to August, I will be leaving my life here in Boston to return to the great city of Salt Lake, my homeland. Do not worry—I will return to Boston come September to finish out my MFA. But for now—summer job! In my field! At an awesome publication! I really couldn’t be happier about this.


it’s so cute I just want to squeeze it!

Though my mother pointed out that who I worked for last summer (NPR) and who I will be working for this summer (the Mormon church) really could not be more different.

Examples, you ask? Well, don’t mind if I do4.

NPR: Known for its liberal swing.
LDS Church: Is not.

NPR: More specifically “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” is all about making fun of people.
LDS Church: All about lifting people up.

NPR: Profanity was casually tossed about.
LDS Church:  I would be casually tossed out if I used any.

NPR: I frequently wore shorts to work.
LDS Church: Requires me to dress like I’m going on a mission. So basically Edwardian standards5.

NPR: I dyed my hair pink and everyone said, “Looks awesome.”
LDS Church: Would be much less okay with that life decision.

So it’s going to be a big change. A big change that I’m really excited for. I’m also excited to get out of Boston. I’m getting a little antsy here. I think the fact that in the past four years, I haven’t lived in any one place longer than eight months has given me an unreasonable standard of what it means to live somewhere. When the scenery doesn’t change in four months, I get bored. Plus Boston and I still aren’t getting on as well as Chicago and I did, or England and I did, and I could use a break from Beantown.

So I am returning, Salt Lake. Prepare thyself.

  1. With the exception of the dead fish that is Joe Jonas. Nick Jonas? Which one is it? The Jonas brothers are all interchangeable in my opinion.
  2. What is the plural of Les Mis? Slash has anyone ever asked this question before?
  3. To which I belong, if you’re new here.
  4. I knew all my compare and contrast essays I wrote in high school would someday come in handy!
  5. Though if Downton Abbey has taught us anything, it is that Edwardian fashion can be HOT.
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in which I join the ranks of the employed

Guess what? I got a job. Actually, I got three jobs1. But I can only work one of them.

So I got a job!

Which is a relief. Grad school puts one in the very difficult position of desperately needing money to support oneself, but having not free time in which this money can be earned, and usually very few skills relevant to the sort of job they do have time to do. When I first started applying for jobs here in Lexington/Boston, I thought I was unemployable. Mostly because my work experience fit in a weird grey area typical of the post-college grad. I was under qualified for most real, 9-5 professional positions, but I simultaneously had no relevant experience that would make me a passable barista or waitress2. I felt myself under and over and not at all qualified all at once.

And yet yesterday, I still found myself in the awesome position of choosing between jobs. Let me tell you friends, there is no more empowering feeling. After interviewing and sweating and working so hard to make them like you, suddenly you’re the one that everybody wants. To quote Moriarty….actually no. Not going to quote Moriarty, because he’s a creeper, and this is a happy place3. It is very empowering, and good for a little confidence boost.

In the end, there really was no question in which job was best for me, so next Wednesday I begin work as a writer for the MIT communications department in the office of the dean for student life4. Basically, I’m writing about life at MIT and then somebody publishes it online and emails it out to all the alumni and students.

You may be saying to yourself, “But Mackenzi Lee, you don’t go to MIT!” That is true. I do not. I simply work for them now. Don’t let it confuse you – Simmons is still the superior college in every sense.

Except the Pepsi. I still can’t get over that.

  1. Not to rub that in the face of unemployed America or anything.
  2. Starbucks clearly did not know what to make of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! on my resume
  3. ….okay, the Moriarty quote I was going to use was, “Suddenly, I’m Mr. Sex.” ….yeah, that’s creepy, not going to use that.
  4. Wow, you gotta take a nap in the middle of saying that.
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