Four years ago, I applied for the assistant editor job at The Washington Post's Sunday Source. It was a tremendously hard application process -- once my resume was picked as a candidate, I had to go through a year's worth of Sources and write an analysis. I had a journalism class in college that was exactly the same, but this analysis was harder; they wanted applicants to cover lots of issues. The turn-around time was fast. I was a dedicated Source reader, so I knew the section backwards and forwards, but it still took days to do. I didn't think it'd go anywhere; I'd applied for jobs at the Post before. It's an institution. You have to be seriously A-game. But to my surprise, I passed that first round. And a fairly strenuous second round. And then an interview at a buzzed-about D.C. restaurant (o taste of the Post sweet life!) and then a tricky third round. And then an interview at an established-institution restaurant, and then interviews with all the Post features managing editors -- including an interview with one of my idols, then-Style editor Eugene Robinson. (Try not making an idiot of yourself when being interviewed by one of your idols, and then you'll see how ON I was ... although I did ask him a lot of questions about his career and he said, "Wait, I'm supposed to be interviewing YOU.") I was doing well. I was handling the trickiest interviews of my life with aplomb. I was starting to believe. I was starting to think I could maybe get the job. As I was leaving the round-o'-interviews, the boss-to-be called me back to her and asked what salary I would want if I got the job. I named a figure that was $5,000 over my current salary (which I thought was a pretty awesome salary for a journalist), and she laughed and said, "Oh yeah, we could certainly do that!" in a way that indicated my astronomical figure was low, very low, for the Post. For the first time ever, I walked away from an interview thinking, "Oh my god, I just aced that." I was going to be offered a job at my beloved hometown paper, one of the most prestigious papers in the nation, and I was going to be making six figures in a year or two and I was going to occasionally be taken out to sweet restaurants by upper management and best of all I was finally going to be doing the features I loved and not war war military war performance reviews war.
And two days later they told me they hired the other finalist -- Suzanne D'Amato, who was the fashion news editor at Teen Vogue. TEEN VOGUE. What, did her in-depth article on prom fashion get her the job? I was blown away. I had tasted a pinnacle of success in my field and then had it snatched away by some chick from a KIDS magazine. I hated her.
I tried to hate her passionately. But she had good style. And she became deputy editor at Source and added some good stuff to the section. Soon I was starting to wish I'd bump into her some day, so I could tell her how I tried to hate her but her sartorial additions to Source won me over. Plus, I figured maybe things worked for the best -- there was some management upheaval at Source that maybe I wouldn't have survived, and then I had Harper and left newspaper management. And, buried deeper in me: Maybe it was okay to try for the top and not make it, that it wasn't necessarily failure but rather fate.
Then, two weeks ago, there was a note from Ms. D'Amato in Source. It was a farewell. She was leaving Source to become features editor at Domino magazine. I love Domino. It's one of my favorite magazines. It's such a fabulous job. I'm extremely jealous. Yeah, NYC wasn't ever going to be in my future, but STILL. I think I'm going to hate Suzanne D'Amato for awhile again. Or at least envy her career. I know envy is a deadly sin, but isn't a little bit of deadly sin OK when you're feeling old and fat and the only excitement coming up in your life is potty training? Answer: Yes. (Hey, at least I get to make the rules now.)