December 2010. One Year Later.

December 17, 2010


It’s officially been a year since my adventures as Zippy the Elf.  I thought it was about time I updated the world as to how things eventually worked out.

I’m employed!  And have been since February 1, 2010!  Just as I predicted, if I was able to survive December 09’ I’d be able to look forward to a bright new year.  And boy, did I ever…

As soon as I wrapped up my Elf days and took on the New Year, I dived straight into interview after interview until I received an official job offer on January 28th.  I was shaking.  I went by myself to the Mexican restaurant across the street from my apartment and ordered the biggest margarita I could. For the past 10 months I have been employed by a fabulous network where the motto is “Live Out Loud.”  I’m proud. I’m thankful. I’m happy.

I was unemployed for 8 long months filled with uncertainty and doubt.  Looking back I think the thing that I am most bitter about is that I really lost myself in there.  For 8 months I was crippled with despair, heartbreak, and grew far too familiar with rejection.  You never think it’s going to happen to you and then it does.  Out of nowhere your world is completely rocked.  I let unemployment control me. I let it define me.  Until I had the genius idea of dancing around as an elf the 12th month of the year to get my mind off things.  And it helped.

I needed Zippy.  She had a blast.  She’d dance to Christmas songs standing atop huge wrapped gifts on display, direct people through the build-a-bear-forest, chit-chat about reindeer games with her fellow elves, pose for hundreds, possibly thousands of pictures with complete strangers, have babies thrust in her arms, have heart-to-hearts with Santa, eat dozens of cookies backstage when she had a moment off, take pictures of families with the big guy, and really, really found a way to soak up the Christmas spirit.  Unemployment definitely affected me negatively.  But it wasn’t going to take Christmas away from me!

Get your mind off being unemployed.  You are your own worst enemy and your own mind can and will drive you insane. Do something that makes you feel like YOU. If you aren’t able to dress up like Christmas threw up all over you and act like a crazy nut at Macy’s, take a class, volunteer, become a gym addict, get away for a few weeks. Just get out there and remember that you are sooooo much more than unemployment. Don’t let it define you.  Don’t lose yourself.

So yeah…

There IS a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s SO BRIGHT! It’s blinding!  Just breathe. People used to tell me this and I’d tell them to F off.  You don’t want to hear it because it seems unfathomable to think you’ll ever make it out alive. You just…you gotta know that everything is going to be all right.

Stop by Santaland on 34th.  Tell St. Nick you want a job. (Tons of people did – including myself)
Fall down 7 times, get up 8.


This too shall pass.




PS:  I’ve received a bunch of really sweet emails and would love to continue to hear from you – especially if you are looking for advice, or have suggestions on other things I can write about!  Keep your head up!


A Christmas Angel

December 28, 2009


The few days that preceded Christmas 2009 my family was undergoing the tragic loss of our sweet little cousin.

While I did continue to Elf through the upsetting news, I didn’t have the heart to post about my adventures.  It felt silly to be writing about how to cope through the holidays while unemployed when my family was coping with the loss of our dear 15-year-old Kristin. A death like this puts everything else into perspective.

What I did realize was that no matter what you are dealing with in life, family, friends, and love are all you need to get by.

Kristin would have gotten a kick out of my stories of being an Elf – I know she would have smiled and laughed at my tales of little kids, crazy parents, and conversations with Santa.

I will update soon with some final thoughts on this month-long adventure as Zippy The Elf.

Love, actually, is all around

Hug your loved ones close … you never know.


Snowed In

December 20, 2009

Very cold, snowy night here in NYC…

Biggest snow storm I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing since moving here!  The streets are gorgeous and I adore the Christmas lights  fighting to glow from nearby apartments.   It’s a true white-out and couldn’t be more beautiful. Very content – nestled by my Christmas tree, watching Christmas movies, eating Christmas cookies, coupled with some interview prep.

Lots going on in the outside world…some very hard things to cope with, but snow….the first fresh blanket of the year….brings peace.  Take a minute to feel it!

Hope wherever you are, you are warm.

Last few days of starring as “Zippy The Elf” begin tomorrow.  Be sure to get a visit in!


What would you like to know about Elfing?

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Checklist for the Unemployed!

December 17, 2009

Don’t wind up on the naughty list!  Here’s some tips to keep you in check during your (temporary!) unemployment!

  • NICE: Exercise!  It frees your mind and does wonders for your emotional well-being (and physical!)
  • NAUGHTY: Winding up in financial trouble due to careless budgeting
  • NICE: Spend time reading about your industry and keeping in the know about current happenings
  • NICE: Have a daily routine.  Looking for a job should be treated as one, and a routine helps keep you focused and on task
  • NAUGHTY: Surrounding yourself with negative or miserable people.  It only makes you feel worse!  Stay away
  • NICE: Perfect your resume and have people look at it!  Have different versions available which highlight specific credentials
  • NAUGHTY: Ostracizing yourself from others
  • NICE: Have a list of contacts to regularly check-in with and keep in touch with!
  • NAUGHTY: Not keeping in touch with your former contacts or following up to potential interview opportunities
  • NICE: Have a list of websites with job board postings that you check daily
  • NAUGHTY: Sleeping super late and not moving out of your bed/off the couch all day
  • NICE: Go for long walks!  Fresh air is vital, as is stepping out of your apartment
  • NAUGHTY: Not showering!
  • NICE: Keep on top of your unemployment benefits and learn how to budget efficiently
  • NICE: Meeting up with other people in your situation.  Your great friends will sympathize, but having someone to empathize with makes a huge and helpful difference.
  • NICE: Listen to fun, uplifting music!  I suggest Hanson’s Christmas Album circa 1997!
  • NAUGHTY: Expecting things to happen for you
  • NICE: Visiting Zippy in Santaland to brighten your spirits 🙂


Spirits of The Unemployed

December 16, 2009

Hello!  I’m introducing a new feature on my blog where I’ll dedicate a few postings to brief interviews with unemployed individuals whom I find admirable!

John O’Brien is my first feature profile.  John and I were in the NBC Page Program together for a few months between 2007 and 2008.  I always took note of how he never let anything get the best of him.  His sense of humor always shines through!

What are your own personal tips for keeping your spirits bright during the Holiday season?

I think it’s important to look at everything from a big picture point of view.  Sure, I’m unemployed now, and it stinks, but at the same time, it could all turn around really quickly.  Plus being unemployed leads to everyone in your family saying “Oh, you don’t need to get me present.”  Now they’ll be much more surprised when I get them something crappy.

In your opinion, what is the biggest myth about being unemployed?

There’s certainly a stigma about being unemployed.  At first I was almost embarrassed to tell people, but I’ve come around.  It is what it is.  People always assume I was fired or laid off though, and I wasn’t!  That’s the worst.

What is the best advice you would give others in your situation?

Always remain positive.  I’ve had countless interviews, informationals, etc., and sometimes it seems like nothing has come out of it.  This is not the case.  I have met people who may not have hired me, but certainly liked me and will remember me.  Every chance to meet someone in your desired field is a great opportunity, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.

What motto, phrase, or quote do you live by during these times?

My high school’s motto was “Succisa Virescit” which is Latin for “If you cut me down, I’ll grow back stronger.”  I live my life by this motto in good times and bad.

What piece of advice would you give to the friends and family of those who are unemployed?

I’m lucky enough to have a close knit family who understands that I have just hit a little bit of a bad patch.  They are not judgmental or brash in anyway.  They offer positive support and go out of their way to offer a helping hand.  It’s important to be supportive and stay positive for the sake of your loved one struggling to find a job.

Favorite Christmas Song?

I consider there to be two very different categories of Christmas tunes.  The first is the old school classics that you can hear at Christmas mass.  My favorite of these would be “Hark! The Herald Angel Sing” or “Joy to the World.”  In terms of more contemporary/poppy Christmas songs, I like The Pogues “Fairytale of New York” (despite being depressing) and Elton John’s “Step into Christmas” makes me happy.

Favorite Christmas Cookie?

Every Christmas my mom buys a contemporary twist on the classic gingerbread man.  It is two gingerbread men with vanilla ice cream in the middle.  I’m not sure it qualifies as a cookie but it’s delicious and makes me fat.

Favorite Christmas Movie?

It would have to be a tie between “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (which I still watch every year with my siblings, ages 27 and 31) and “A Christmas Story.”  There’s so many close runner ups though; “The Grinch” (cartoon of course), “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Home Alone,” and clay-mation “Rudolph.”

Have you visited Zippy in Santaland yet?


Thanks, John!  Check out his blog here:   The Hair Of The Blog That Bit You


Yes, Virginia, There is A Santa Claus

December 12, 2009

While there’s certainly a lot to chronicle about my adventures as a Macy’s Elf this season, one aspect I have not touched upon thus far is their incredible ad campaign.   If you know me personally, you are well aware of my love for “BELIEVE” – it’s been my favorite word for a long time, and obviously something I’ve repeated to myself during my unemployment.  Needless to say, it’s enlightening to work for a company who’s entire holiday motto is BELIEVE.  I am hit with the brilliant word 20 different ways from 20 different directions on my way into work each morning! Talk about good vibes!

Outside Macy's on 34th Street

Another part continuous with their believe campaign is its incorporation of the classic 1897 editorial from the New York Sun, which includes the infamous reply,  “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus.”

Read this and I dare you not to smile!

Virginia's original letter to the editor!

Macy’s has incorporated the magic of Virginia into their ad campaign and has partnered with the Make A Wish Foundation.   Everyone is encouraged to drop off a letter to Santa, and for each letter received Macy’s will donate $1 – with the mission to collect a million reason’s to believe!

Macy's Believe O' Meter!

I have a lot to say about Santa himself, but I’ll save that for another post dedicated solely to the man in red!

For now, I encourage you tune into a new animated special on CBS, “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” presented by Macy’s.  It’s on tonight, Friday the 11th @ 8:00pm!  Here’s a peak at the trailer..

Happy weekend!


O Christmas Tree!

December 11, 2009

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the ever magnificent, Christmas Tree!  The twinkling lights set in a bed of deep green is something that always makes me feel peaceful and at ease.

I was fortunate enough to split the cost of our tree with some roommates, making it an affordable holiday lift-me-up!

My  roommates and I set out for the New York City streets to choose our perfect tree!   Here are some pictures from the adventure!

We found a great place on the UWS just a few blocks up from our apartment…

Little did we know it was the same place that we went to last year for our tree!  The tree man, Francois, remembered us!  It’s not too unbelievable…who could forget five loud, enthusiastic, fun girls?

Here is Francois, with our tree he has named Pierre.  Pierre is a balsam fir and comes to us from Quebec!

Mission completed!  Here is Pierre all decorated and set in his cozy new home on the Upper West Side, bringing joy to to his fellow apartment inhabitants!

Until next time,


A little Christmas magic…

December 7, 2009

Greetings from the Upper West Side after a long and very busy day in Santaland!

Today was my first day really witnessing the swarms of bright eyed people making their way through the 8th floor of Macy’s to see Santa. Working at huge tourist attractions while tackling thousands of seasonal tourists is nothing new – it’s very reminiscent of working as an NBC Page during the holidays.  People would come to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and skating rink, and then conveniently swing by for a tour of NBC Studios.   December was a dreadful time for many pages that cringed over the long hours and overly enthusiastic jam packed tour-goers. But to me, there was just something special about working in the building that provided the backdrop for the world’s most famous Christmas tree.

And there’s something special about Santaland…

I’m only a few days into this adventure of mine, though I sincerely believe I’ve already observed enough to devote hours upon hours describing the outrageous visitors I have met, my cheery Elf friends, the most adorable babies ever, doing whatever it takes to make a screaming child smile, the art of capturing the perfect picture with Santa, and how my face has apparently not gotten used to smiling constantly and is legit sore at the end of the day. I could go on and on!  And I will, as I plan to shed light on all different aspects of my elfin experience.

For this Sunday night blog post however, I wanted to dedicate it to the Christmas magic that is Santaland.  Macys’ attracts roughly 350,000 visitors each holiday season to Santaland. I’ve already distinguished how the crowd seems to measure up.  There are the families that come year after year to take their holiday picture, the newly-weds, the teenage-couple pretending to be way too cool but secretly you catch their eyes glowing, the “Baby’s First Christmas” visit complete with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all to witness, there’s the local family from Brooklyn, the tri-state local family from Jersey, the “I will travel to 34th to street to see Santa” groups from Texas, Chicago, and abroad, the single dad, the single mom, the single person, the group of  five, fun, bubbly middle aged women, the group of college friends reuniting, the family of 10, the family of four, the twins, the babies, the babies, the babies, etc., etc., etc.   Ages and races are all intertwined throughout the abovementioned season forecast of visitors.

Out of all the prospects that I just mentioned, from the 85 year old grandpa to the 4 month old that may or may not have been thrust into my arms for a photo-op, the denominator is this:  Everyone Loves Santa.  Everyone loves Christmas.  I love watching everyone fall in love all over again with the magic.

People’s eyes light up when they enter the merriment and maze of wonder en route to Santa’s village.  Entertainment while waiting in line to see the big guy is provided by dancing bears, trains, dozens of gorgeously decorated Christmas trees, skating rinks, all while my spirited fellow Elves are sprinkled throughout to meet and greet passersby’s.    It’s such an incredibly humbling feeling to watch thousands of strangers face’s light up before you.  In those moments their mind isn’t on their job, or their lack of a job, or their lack of money, or loss or lack of love in their life, or whatever negative thing it is we chose to harbor on that particular day.  For those moments, it’s just about fun, and laughter, and excitement, and letting yourself be a little kid again.

In the cozy 13,000 sq. ft Santaland maze I get to experience people capturing and sharing the Christmas magic as it unfolds before them.  I feel so lucky I get to observe this!  To work in a safe haven for people to come to and feel nothing but happiness and joy.  Incredible.

As soon as they hit the outside world they risk being hit with a harsh snap back to reality.  But in those moments on the 8th floor of Macy’s Santland…it’s really something magical.

A smile crept upon my face as I recalled one of my most favorite quotes ever and how appropriate it is for one’s walk through Santaland:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”  Roald Dahl


I just like to smile! Smiling’s my favorite!

December 1, 2009

I.  Love.  Being.  An. ELF!

First two days are down and they were SO enjoyable!  I think I’m gonna like it here! (read to the tune of “I think I’m Gonna Like It Here” – Annie)

Simply put, it’s pretty amazing to work in a winter wonderland where my main duty is to provide entertainment and happiness to everyone I meet, all while decked out as a lovable Christmas elf!   My mouth is sore from smiling so much!

Wanted to post a brief update for now – I’ll craft up a fun, longer synopsis of my first few days very soon!

It’s going to be a very merry December…just the way I intended for it to be!



The best way to spread Christmas Cheer…

November 28, 2009

Welcome to The Chronicles of Zippy The Elf!  My guide to surviving the holiday season while unemployed!

With the unemployment rate in double digits, it’s a safe bet that you found my blog because you:

a.)    Are unemployed

b.)    Were once unemployed

c.)     Have a close family member or friend currently facing the same predicament

As an unemployed twenty-something, I foresaw the holiday season, (more specifically: December in NYC) as a completely wretched time to be a part of the 10.2%. A few weeks ago I craved for the 12th month to pass over quickly, as if it never happened, rather than be smacked in the face with holiday cheer each direction I attempted to move.

A very long story short, I ultimately realized that the only possible way to survive the holidays while undergoing something so personally debilitating, is tackle it full on.  Dive head first into eggnog, dance with nutcrackers, and pass through the seven layers of the Candy Cane Forest.  In other words…become a Macy’s Elf in Santaland.

My mission is to offer seasonal support by means of my seasonal adventure!  In addition to bringing you random musings as I chronicle life as an Elf, I hope to offer advice on how to keep your spirits bright this holiday season:

  • Share great articles offering advice and insight to keep you inspired during your job search
  • Interview people falling in the 10.2% and find their tips for how to survive December
  • Offer seasonal Things To Do! Attractions to visit, cookies to bake, and movies to watch!  Holiday survival – on  the   cheap!
  • Present options to keep you positive, keep your spirits lifted, and keep your mind in the present
  • Offer your family and friends advice on how to be of support during this time

Tomorrow marks my first official day as an Elf!  So excited to begin this adventure!  I hope you follow along for the ride.

Let your attitude be gratitude, have a little faith, and just believe*