I think I can pin point the exact moment that put me on the path that has left me where I am today. It was September 2003, and I was a senior at the University of Kansas. Bud Hirsch (R.I.P.) was my advisor in the English department at KU. He had worked there for ages, and he was probably one of the most well-respected men at the University. How he became my advisor, I have no idea. On this day, I was sitting in Bud's office trying to figure out how to graduate on time without having to put in much effort.
Bud suggested that I apply for an internship, and as luck would have it, he knew of an opening and could call in a few favors and get me the job. It was unpaid, but I didn't really care. I really just needed the course credit I would be awarded for completion of the internship, and that was my only concern. Bud then proceeded to make a few phone calls, and BAM! I was the newest publicity intern at Andrew's McMeel Publishing. I remember not being excited. I had interest in neither publicity nor publishing. I figured that my love of literature and reading would be enough to make it doable.
Wellllllllllllllllllllllll..."literature" is a bit of a stretch. Andrews McMeel is known for their comics publishing, such as the Far Side and Dilbert. However, they also publish the type of books you see while waiting in the check-out line at Barnes & Noble. You know what I'm talking about - those books entitled "10 Life Lessons You'll Learn From Your Dog" and "How a Kitten can Put a Smile on Your Face." They also published the work of Anne Geddes, which might be the only person to successfully turn the idea of having a baby into something I would liken to the film Rosemary's Baby.
If you aren't familar with Anne Geddes' work, I think you might be the smartest person alive. Hell, you might be part of a human sub-species that has evovled faster than the rest of us due to your ability to block out the Anne Geddes onslaught you'll experience from walking into any Hallmark Cards store in the world. For the rest of us that haven't developed a tail or an extra set of fingers, Anne Geddes is the woman that puts babies in pea pods, flower pots, coconuts, gigantic flowers and various other usually normal objects. Some people might say that she is responsible for the creepiest cheap art work in the world. And when I write "some people," I mean me. I would also go one step further than describing her as "creepy" and say that the baby that we never actually get to see in the Roman Polanski classic "Rosmary's Baby" is less scary than a group of babies dressed up in a giant pea pod. And keep in mind that Rosemary's baby is a result of Satan raping Mia Farrow. I'll take the Satan baby any day versus a newborn dressed up like a sunflower.
Luckily, my interaction with the Geddes' material was kept to managing my dry heaves as I entered the stock room for other less notable books. And it was for these books that I was tasked with writing news releases for.
Let me set the scene: Me sitting at a Dell computer doing my best to dress "office casual." Now imagine someone telling me that I have to include words like "precious" and "snuggly" in my news release. Now imagine someone reciting the National Anthem to me in Spanish. Yeah, you're right - I would have the same blank stare on my face. Now imagine someone saying "You could really take this to the next level by adding paw print graphics along the top of this release." What was that reader? You don't believe anyone could say such a thing? What? You think paw print graphics are retarded? What was that? You want to blow your brains out just knowing that someone would suggest the addition of puppy footprints to a professional document? All I have to say is this: Welcome to my hell.
Reader, your next question may be, if you are still thinking logically after the Anne Geddes info, is this: So why did you pursue a career in public relations/publicity if learned how weird a profession it could be?
My answer? I don't have one. Maybe it was the constant lecture of an English major never being able to get a job, so I double majored and chose Strategic Communications as the "degree that make me some money. The practical degree!" Perhaps PR had a vendetta and wanted to take me down. But right now, I'm homeless in a foreign country and I can just hear that damn paw print graphic laughing at me. Not long ago, I saw the book "10 Life Lessons You'll Learn From Your Dog" in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble. I pointed it out to my friend that had joined me for the afternoon and made an off the cuff remark about how I did the publicity for that particular book i.e. the paw print press release. I believe my exact words were "I think this book has a seat right next to Satan in hell." And now I realize that an inanimate object does in fact have the ability to perform voo doo and completely fuck up your life.