nonBlog: October 2007

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All is Revealed--Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yesterday excerpts from Office Mate were flashing on AOL at regular intervals, and I am here to attest that flashing on AOL will get you very far in life. This morning Helaine and I were told that we got 1.9 million page views in the first six hours alone. Then we found out that Office Mate is going to be translated into Russian. Do they have offices in Russia?
One point nine million page views. Think of all the people reading these theories that Helaine and I put out there. I wonder what they are thinking. And what about the people who read the Times story, or the one in the NY Post? Do they think what we are saying is in poor taste? Are we just this side of inappropriate? I keep hearing my mother’s voice in my head, and with every bit of press I move a little further out of my comfort zone. As the days go by and more of the work we did goes out into the world, I feel like I really did flash on AOL.


Paparazzo—Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I got my first fan photo taken today, and I was so surprised and uncomfortable I couldn’t even look at the guy. I was at Abir with my computer, doing some prep work for an article in the NY Daily News that Helaine and I are being interviewed for this morning. A young British guy sitting next to me and an older man he was talking with asked if I was working, and the usual sequence ensued: what kind of work; what topics do you cover; books or articles; what’s the book called; what’s it about; when the story appeared. My new defense tactic to keep from hearing that woo hoo you’re writing about sex reaction is to mention the New York Times coverage, so they were asking about when the story appeared and I emailed them the link from my computer while we were talking. And the older guy said, “Cool, an actual author! I want a picture!” and took out his cell phone to take my picture. I thought, look up, smile. But I just couldn’t make myself do it. He took my photo while I looked down at my computer screen, sending off the email to the two of them.
Today an excerpt of Office Mate is running all over AOL. It has several components via various links: on Love & Sexin the Coaches section, and via the Expert & Advice directory. Click around; there are photos and quizzes and opportunities to tell your story, buy the book, and find our web sites. I guess there's a chance my morning brush with fame won't be a one-time thing. I’m going to have to smile next time.


Newsworthy—Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Helaine and I are news. I’ve never been news before. I’ve written about news that became news, like when I did stories about CEO golden coffin clauses and the imminent demise of the CD-ROM. I would write the story and then other publications would pick up what I said and report it. Sometimes they would give me credit and sometimes they wouldn’t. Once Bill Gates took an issue of Fortune in which I had written an exposé and waved it in front of an audience of 2,000 tech execs, telling them they all had to read it. But this is different. The New York Times and the New York Post broke our embargo, writing positive stories about Office Mate before it is in stores, and MSNBC, Fox News, and NPR’s Morning Edition reported on us. A book has been released saying that office romance can be good for you. News!
I could get used to this. For the year and a half Helaine and I have been working on this project, we’ve had reactions that have ranged from bemused to offended. But positive? News? Not so much. We had a hell of a time finding a publisher bold enough to give us an advance for a book about such a taboo topic. When we were reporting our pre-publication stories not four weeks ago, like the one we just handed in to my editor at the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine about Bay Area office couples, a good number of companies refused comment and some wouldn’t even return our calls. Now we’re the book the Times called “a kind of ‘The Rules’ for the office” and we are now considered clever to have captured the zeitgeist. That’s news to me.


Signs That You’ve Arrived…Somewhere—Thurs., October 11, 2007

Neighborhoodliness. Neighborhoodliness! Leave it to me to be quoted in The New York Times using a word that does not actually exist in the English language. And now I think I know why. For the interview I did with O magazine the other day I had to think about what thread runs through the essays I write. What is my brand? And I realized that since the choices I make are out of sync with those of my peers much of the time, I walk around feeling just a little bit uncomfortable and anxious roughly 24 hours a day. This state of subtle but constant unease results in some comic outcomes, including—as we now know—some unusually quotable words. Or word-like entities.
I’m not complaining. I do actually talk that way, and the article positioned Office Mate so perfectly that Helaine and I couldn’t have come up with a better slogan if we had written the story ourselves. Our book is “a kind of The Rules for the office.” In two shakes our publisher moved the pub date up by a week, to November 6th, and ordered a new cover for the second printing that will feature the Times quote. We got calls from TV producers who wanted us on their show tomorrow (our publicist asked them to wait). It was rather a banner day.
All of the above calls for a ceremonial act—something to recognize the shift in my career from scrappy obscurity to The New York Times quoting me mangling the King’s English. Cristal? Gucci? No, no, nothing so prosaic as that. I am treating myself and all six of my readers to a subscription form. Fill it out and you’ll never have to check here for an overdue blog post again. Welcome to the big time.
P.S. If you are reading this and don’t see the subscription form immediately above this entry, it’s because your browser is not re-loading the page. Click on and then click on nonBlog again. Your browser will re-load and the subscription form will appear.


Calling It a Day, Waiting to Exhale—Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The last 24 hours I’ve felt like the winning contestant on a game show for journalists. SparkPR, an incredibly hip public relations company with gorgeous high-ceilinged offices overlooking the bay on the Embarcadero, offered to host Helaine’s and my West Coast book party. Then The New York Times called to interview us for a story about the uptick in office romance that will run in the Style section this Thursday. Then O, The Oprah Magazine asked for a photo and short interview so they can put me on the contributors’ page for the January issue. We found out that our book will be taught in Sue Shapiro’s master class in journalism at Mediabistro in New York and that our book will be covered by The Boston Globe. This is what it must feel like to be a 15-year overnight success.
I recognize that this is how it’s supposed to go. You identify a goal. You work really hard. You do everything that’s up to you. But then you have to offer it up to, I don’t know, the Career Gods, and their answer is often to have a belly laugh at your expense. A lot of people do a lot of things right and don’t get a thing that’s coming to them—it’s hard not to consider that the norm. And when your mother literally asked you the question “Who do you think you are?” on a regular basis to demonstrate to you the folly of pursuing a semi-public career, you begin to wonder if what you want is downright silly. But it doesn’t feel silly today. It feels as satisfying as getting off your feet at the end of a hard day, stepping into a hot bath, taking a load off—and every other cliché about breathing out that I can fit into 300 words or less.


Now, The Major Motion…Web Site—Thursday, October 4, 2007

First Helaine and I wrote the Office Mate book. Then our publisher made dozens of Office Mate cups for thirsty folk to fill at the Office Mate watercooler at Book Expo. Today we launched the Office Mate web site. Next, the cereal. I’m thinking wheat with little pink marshmallow hearts.
I really feel sorry for Tom. Some husbands joke that they are their wives’ sex slave; Tom is simply my slave. The poor guy runs his own marketing firm and has all those headaches to deal with, but when he comes home he can’t remotely crash because he has the Tom version of a woman’s Second Shift: Stephanie Tech Support. He is my web master for and now he has built the Office Mate web site from scratch. It goes live today, complete with a subscriber form for people who want to receive updates on the wild and wooly adventures of Stephanie and Helaine as they boldly talk about office romance and get themselves in trouble on a national stage. Tom says he’ll add the same feature to my personal web site next. All six of my readers won’t have to keep checking to see if I’ve posted a new blog anymore—you’ll get a nice little ping instead.
The most fun feature of the web site is our Best Office Romance contest. We’re gathering office romance stories for a feature in the February issue of a magazine. Prizes! Details to follow. Check out the fun and frolic at


New, or Practically New

  • Fame and Fortune: Currently working on, and shocked to find I’m making headway with, the latter. Partly because of a bit of movement on the former. Perhaps endurance is the key to everything after all.