Curation Coordinator — Yes, It’s a Real Job

 

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My team has an ongoing joke that no matter how hard we try we can never explain our jobs. Family members, friends, people we meet at a bars — when the inevitable question is popped, we either divert attention by running away or give a vague answer like “professionally consume all of Google’s free food.”

Seriously, the other day I almost proposed to a coworker because they told me my job — my actual real job which they understood — was cool.

So, on paper I’m a Curation Coordinator for YouTube. Spark Notes version: A video curator.

(I counter the fancy title by “borrowing” a lot of pens from the office and positioning my desk under a portrait of a cat riding a unicorn.)

For me, I see my job as one-part trend forecaster, one-part YouTube culture detective, and one-part anthropologist. With a team of engineers, I help curate and contextualize the platform’s biggest trends and general YouTube culture for the #PopularonYouTube page and now, YouTube’s new trending tab!

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The trending tab and I have been together for about a year now. It wasn’t love at first site, but over the months I’ve grown to appreciate and admire its ever changing nature. The tab is a place where people can find today’s 100 top trending videos. My job is to feed the list and write titles/descriptions to explain why this video is important. Is it the start of a trend? What does it say about the people watching? Why are people watching? Coupled with writing, organizing playlists, meetings, outside projects, and Rewind — this is my typical YouTube day.

(A Rewind fangirl getting to actually work on Rewind, it was too much!)

In this job, I’ve watched digital media change the way we view mental illness, women in STEM, racial representation in media, romantic relationships, coming out, social movements, and the next generations’ definition of “celebrity.” YouTube has changed the way we connect, are educated, establish mentors, and see outside of our own bubble. In many monumental ways, it has changed the world for the better.

YouTube has given me a depth to curation that I previously believed I wasn’t smart enough to understand. Tools for coding, interpreting data — learning new ways to incorporate science and tech into my creative process has only given more weight to my projects and often, arguments.

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Last Wednesday was the launch day for both Rewind and the trending tab. The tab was the original project to get me this job and seeing it actually launch was emotional. Below the excitement and nervousness on how it was going to be perceived, I spent the day overwhelmed with pride and humbled that I had played even the tiniest part in launching a product with Google.

It took me a long time to have the confidence enough to stop questioning why I’d gotten this job. Everyday I’m surrounded by some of the smartest people in tech; people who have gone to ivy leagues, been hired right out of college, and followed a career path I’d label as “the golden path to success.” So as someone who never had a perfect GPA, who struggled juggling jobs they hated to pursue their unorthodox passion for writing, this launch felt like even more of a win. For me, it was both a celebration of a product and taking my own path.

New York isn’t always easy. I miss my family and friends, the stability, and comfort in having a community. But even in my stormiest NYC moments when the train is 45 minutes late or an ice tea costs $4, I feel so grateful that someone (*cough* Kevin Allocca) took a chance on me, gave me a job, and in the process made my 12 year dream of living in NYC come true.

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Life Lately According to my iPhone

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^^ Starting this post with anything other than a cat photo just seems wrong. ^^

All year I’ve attempted and failed to predict the weather. Flannels when it’s sunny, a skirt when there is an obvious rain storm headed this way, and recently, I haven’t felt bothered to carry around a jacket despite it reaching the 40s at night. So while Fall seems to be taking its final bow, I’m still not convinced winter is around the corner.

The great thing about fall is that it makes me feel that time is simultaneously slowing down and speeding up. There is a collective drive to spend as much time outside as possible before the city’s permanent plus one becomes a snow jacket, and in witnessing my first fall foliage, I can’t help but reflect on this adventurous, amazing year. How has it almost been a year since I touched down here? All that at a later time.

But as for right now, life is:

Writing for NBC, nerding out at Google, freelance pitches, dealing with burnout, and finishing a five week essay class with an NYC professor that is THE most New York person I’ve ever met.

Visits to Columbia to see M in her grad student habitat promptly followed by visits to Thai food and beer.

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Rainy days walking through Bryant Park on my way to GenSex. Snug under my umbrella, this felt like a rare moment of solitude in a city where every minute I’m surrounded by hundreds of people.

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GenSex and talking about consent until people’s ears bleed! This fall I’ve had the chance to be a facilitator for an anti-oppression, gender and sexuality focused workshop in the city. With our small group (that’s my talented co-fac with me), we spend each week discussing how the many parts of our identities intersect — race, gender, sexuality, relationships, sex, communication and consent. It’s a pretty incredible space that our participants have defined with honesty and intelligence, and quenched my homesickness for feminist/ activism projects. It has also ignited a fire under me to get my act together with Voices, something I simultaneously love and am overwhelmingly intimidated by.

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Obviously getting matching shirts with my boss. Should this need further clarification, here’s one of this year’s biggest videos to help.

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While at home last month, I had the pleasure of seeing this love. He didn’t even judge me when I asked for a side of hash browns AND bacon to accompany my breakfast burrito and so I told him if he ever got sick and his hair fell out, I’d shave my head in solidarity. Because that’s friendship. His response, “What is wrong with you?!” #friendshiptakework

Halloween came and Halloween went. YouTube was entertained by our very own Jeff Rubin holding a presentation in his Batman costume and I spent a low key night with my friend Jimmy listening to a soul/R&B band in Redhook. Halloween has never been my favorite holiday (ask my mum for more details on that, it involves 4-year-old Carly hiding behind a couch) so having a lowkey, dance till you drop night was all I could have asked for. Plus that same weekend, got to meet the Rohani clan and suddenly everything about Maria made sense.

And finally, just an adult at an adult dinner party. After a long day at work, I came home to find my house filled with Mrs. Rohani’s Persian food, incredible company, and cheesecake. It say it was the best is an understatement.

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Until next time, over and out from Brooklyn.

 

Life Lately According to My iPhone

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There is a kind of magic that accompanies New York City summers that even the humidity, and crowded, sweaty subway platforms can’t outweigh. (And this being said by someone who loves fall so much that her entire closet is just sweaters.)

Lately, it’s been a challenge to stay focused while working indoors. I start to get restless at even the thought of missing a minute of sunshine, and find myself even more appreciative after enduring a winter that turned the streets of NYC into the Hunger Games of survival. While Maria keeps reminding me that winter will be back in a matter of months, my brain — due to what I’m calling post traumatic blizzard syndrome — is in full denial. And when you get to spend your days reading in Prospect Park or enjoying every meal on a restaurant’s outdoor patio, it seems impossible that puffy snow jackets and frostbite exist!

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A few weeks ago, I decided to venture into the city to finish walking the Highline, (I can FINALLY cross that off my bucket list) and after enjoying the sites of the West Coast Highway and Midtown, found myself in the midst of a rain storm and for the first time, able to walk through Time Square without being driven mad by overwhelming crowds. It was so momentous that it deserved a posted photo over the incredible red velvet cookie I was consuming at the same time.

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Right before traveling home to LA, I received my first visitors and enjoyed a little YouTube Nation reunion. Lucky for me, that red bearded beauty is actually moving here at the end of the month! Earnest was in town for work giving me the perfect chance to bombard him with my friendship for four straight days. It was glorious. Seeing him in person reminded me of how lucky I am to not only work with such an intelligent, caring mentor but also have him as a friend who will spend twenty minutes cracking the nerdiest YouTube jokes with me. Since starting at YouTube, I’ve begun keeping a log of my favorite Earnest Pettie quotes that will be available come Christmas should you be in need of a gift for your loved ones.

New York is a hard city that at times, despite my deep love for the palpable energy, makes me feel microscope, lost, and a million miles from home. But what New York has treated me to is building a wonderful relationship with these ladies above. I feel lucky to play a part in their New York story and after years of hanging around groups of guys, find myself giggling at all the girl talk, nail painting, and sangria I’m frequently surrounded by. Sangria I’m finding is the nectar of summer and lucky enough for me, my roommate makes some bomb ass white wine sangria. Couple it with my new air conditioning and whew! I am living THE. DREAM.

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Due to the demands of a project I’m working on at Google, I work Saturdays instead of Thursdays leaving me with an entire weekday to enjoy the attractions of NYC without the fear of weekend crowds. This Thursday, with time to kill before a work volunteer event, I visited the Whitney Museum to see contemporary art from 1910 to the present (Yeah, I read the program and retained something!). The museum set up has you start from the top in 1910 and gradually work your way forward in time by descending from patio to patio, enjoying a bird’s eye view of the city in between exhibits. While “art history novice” seems even too generous a title for my knowledge level, I did really enjoy learning about the social, political, and culture movements that influenced each of the art installations, particularly the “America is Hard to See” which examined the changing image of Black America in the 1920s.

One of Maria and my greatest talents is eating. It’s truly an art we’ve perfected over time because eating in New York City is absolutely no joke. With unlimited choices, trying to decide between fusion or traditional, Chinese noodles or a meat and cheese plate, a favorite restaurant or that new place that just opened down the street, each decision is shadowed by the doubt of FOMO (fear of missing out) that you’ve overlooked the best food item from around the corner.

In the largest food quest of our New York lives, M and I took to Smorgasbord — the Brooklyn food fair with over 50 vendors — like red pandas take to snow. This fair has everything — chicken parm, deep friend donuts, freeze squeezed lemonade — and an hour later, the two of us had successfully eaten our way through pork buns (I still dream of those guys), watermelon juice, ice tea, Filipino rolls, noodles, whoopie pies, and a spicy mango. We quickly spread out on the neighboring soccer field and looking upon the New York skyline, both couldn’t believe we actually get to live in New York City. When and how did that happen?!

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Things not pictured that are kind of a big deal: Found three pairs of shorts that actually fit, now own an air conditioning unit, lots of new yoga pants, daily walks through the West Village, lessons in coding, reunions with college friends, Father’s Day celebrated over Facetime, finding a new favorite bar on Dean Street, dinner parties,”Luther” binge watching sessions with the cats, Fitz taking it upon himself to be my personal 5am alarm clock, book devouring, and new heart patterned tennis shoes.

Forget Where You ‘Should Be’ And Be Where You Are Now

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^^ Great company, pie, $20 bottles of wine, and a semi-spring themed outfit; this picture perfectly captured all the happiness I felt at this exact moment. ^^

Sometimes life feels like a battle between the ‘should be’ and present moment. I should be writing, I should be pitching to more freelance magazines, I should be working out or blogging or calling home more or going to bars with friends every weekend night or going on dates or learning to use makeup or excelling more in my career or be saving up to buy property. 

The catch 22 of being an ambitious human is that I have a hard time just sitting (and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one). No emails, no social media, no stress; just me, a book, and two cats spending the day with no other goal than finding unlimited happiness. Getting out of my head and into the world is something I’ve been making a priority this year; especially after realizing how often I was obsessively focusing on all the things I wasn’t accomplishing instead any of the things I was. While I was able to celebrate my friend’s tiniest accomplishments, I was demanding such perfection of myself — all the unattainable ‘should be’ goals — that I completely forgot to be my own cheerleader. And that’s just not going to work.

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New York has been one of the first times in my life where I feel like I’m in the exact place I need to be at the exact right moment. The last couple months I’ve made it a priority to take in this dream that I made happen for myself. There are definitely still moments when I feel like I should be doing all the freelance articles or going to clubs or running marathons, but then I take a breath (and usually get a sweet reminder from my parents and Maria to ‘calm the hell down’) and recalibrate. I hope that you’re able to do the same because it’s lovely and you deserve it.

For me, life is in a continual cycle of growing, self evaluating, changing directions, trying new things, learning how to ask for help, staying confident, finding a routine, breaking that routine, and celebrating the extraordinary ordinariness of daily life.

So here’s to uninviting all the “should be” thoughts from our parties and celebrating the here and now. As for me, this is where I am right now:

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Hello!

Life lately is six yoga classes a week, a weekly column with the Daily Dot, internet chats with Earnest about trending YouTube videos, video chats with my family planning their next NYC trips, Friday morning muffins from Bergen bagels, infinite cups of ice tea, X-Files reruns, raids of the Google cookie jars, visits to my local comic book store, cat alarms at 5:30am, dates with Imali, and curation projections with YouTube.

In cat heaven.

It’s the little moments, like when Fitz tells me all about his day right before he knocks out for his 15th nap or when Hem snuggles up on my lap when I’m reading. And we can all agree that Maria is a gem for letting us all crash into her life and leave cat hair all around the living room.

Adventures around NYC with this kid.

Coffee, street fairs, flea markets, museums, yoga classes, the Highline — one of the things I love most about Maria is her enthusiasm for the city. That and the fact that she encourages me to grow, be courageous, take time for self care, and always ALWAYS order the second glass of wine.

Taking time to get to know NYC.

It’s been a lot of growing pains getting to know NYC, and while I wouldn’t yet call it home, I find new things to love about it everyday. I’m constantly blown away that I get to live here. Here, the city I dreamed about since I was 11! At this moment in time, I’m still obsessed with walking everywhere, find myself yelping bakeries more than anything else, and keep adding to my NYC bucket list so that it’s now going to take me about 84 years to complete.

IMG_1728Unbelievably happy.

So in this moment, I hope to continue being courageous in work, life, and relationships; staying present; taking more time to read; cuddling all the kittens; staying invested in my loved ones’ lives; taking advantage of all NYC’s opportunities; and choosing daily happiness. And while I may not be exactly where I ‘should be,’ I’m much much happier in the place I am right now.

 

Life Lately According to My Yoga Mat

11205938_107245792940305_1621518951_n^^ Funny story about this poster, I ruined the first one so they made another. ^^

Last week was a rough one that, like a horrible hangover, stuck around for days, jumping out from around corners when I thought I’d finally lost it. It was a culmination of many things piling on top of each other — work, writing, asking myself those existential questions every 24 year old asks themselves right before their 25th birthday. But mostly, I just deeply missed home.

In the five months I’ve been in New York, I’ve truly fallen in love with this city. Especially now that it is spring — Game changer! It’s like the minute the weather starts getting warm and I can wear sunglasses, I immediately forget the sleeting rain and snow piles the winter put me through. I plan to just have amnesia about it until next year when I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of snow clothes I already own. The city is constantly inspiring me to be a better writer, a stronger person, a lover of art and culture, a curator of experiences, someone who isn’t afraid to step outside of their comfort zones, and at the above all else, a connoisseur of bagels. It’s a place that has a life force all its own and most days, I’m enamored with it.

And then there are other days when the city is just hard and seens like it’s going out of its way to make you feel like the tiniest human in the world. I always joke with my family that by moving to New York City I went from being in one long distance relationship to being in 47 long distance relationships which is a balancing act I have yet to master. And while NYC is definitely the place I know I need to be now, it does not make my longing for LA any less vibrant.

For instance, when you’re craving an In n Out burger, good luck to you! You’re just going to carry that craving for eternity because there is nothing here to fill it. Don’t even argue with me about Shake Shack, your comparison is embarrassing to you and your family.

But a lot of my frustration comes from missing out on the big and little moment’s that make up my loved ones’ lives. I hate that two of my best friends are graduating from college and I won’t be there to see them throw their caps into the air. Or that I can only see my grandma a few times a year. I miss being able to just drive to my parent’s house after an awful day and hide out from the world with tacos, beer, and an unparallelled support system. I miss space and hiking and not getting weird looks for asking for an ice tea and not having to carry my groceries around like a pack mule. Oh New York, you’re definitely all about experience over quality of life, I’ll tell you that much.

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So I decided the best course of action was to take it to my yoga mat, hence the 25 day yoga challenge I’m currently knee deep within. I do believe bad weeks deserve their moments in the spotlight, where I sit and really feel them, have a good cry, and then wipe the slate clean. It’s one of the hardest lessons to learn, but it’s okay to not always be okay. It’s actually impossible to be 100 percent happy every single moment of the day! But what really matters is how you handle the moments after the ones that make you want to curl up in a ball and give up.

For me, yoga has been amazing at giving me the space to grow and be present. I’ve learned to get lost in the movements and yes, at times, I do imagine that I am Iron Man or Black Widow shooting my powers out into the world. When after months of trying a certain pose to no avail, there is nothing cooler than finally nailing it and thinking, I’m doing it! I can do anything! I’m a superhero! Look, LOOK AT ME! Just balancing on their arms like it’s nothing in the world even though my body doesn’t really know what to do now since I’ve never actually achieved this position before. At times, it can be hard not to get frustrated with the slowness of change, but just like the quest to find a home in New York, the best things take time. I imagine by the end of this month I’ll be able to carry a fridge above my head so I’ll keep you updated.

And until then, there are always a Cat-ptain America shirts to be worn and ice teas to be consumed. Fight on superheroes!

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