Mary Kate Nyland
|Employee||Catherine Peterson, Marketing Manager|
|Supervisor||Kyle Jacobs, VP of Content Acquisition|
|What skills do you think Catherine brings to the table? |
Catherine brings a real enthusiasm to her work. She is highly skilled at giving presentations. She is not easily flustered, even and especially during important meetings.
To be honest with you, I hadn’t thought much of Catherine before the call with Frank Leonard. I just mean I wasn’t attracted to her from the outset. Not that I’d tell her that now.
During her interview, I remember thinking she was a little odd looking. Sort of fish-like. She had a small mouth and these big, bulging eyes. Her head seemed to follow them so when she nodded, I got the impression that her eyes were nodding first. Come to think of it, she looked a bit like God was messing around in Photoshop.
Still, she was qualified as all hell so I hired her.
The call with Frank Leonard was her first real shot. We were presenting Frank with the marketing plan for his crappy little passion project, Suddenly, Something. He’d kicked the pilot around to just about every streamer and network until he landed with us. We were scrambling for content at the time after our ratings turned from dismal to disastrous.
The show was terrible, but Catherine’s presentation was solid. Frank was out in LA so she had to do it over the phone. Take it from someone who knows; it’s way easier to be mean over the phone than in person. Frank had a reputation. We were nervous.
But we didn’t need to be. Catherine sailed through it. She talked slowly, confidently. She was funny, she was insightful. Frank didn’t interrupt once. Everyone in the room was exchanging impressed glances.
Then came slide 36, out-of-home media buys.
I think I noticed it before she did; a thin red line coming from her nose, dripping towards her mouth. Our offices were so bland. Everything was in shades of black and gray, then, all of a sudden, red. Wet, shiny red coming from Catherine’s nose. I pushed a tissue box towards her and rubbed the space above my lip as the room shifted around uncomfortably.
Without missing a beat, I mean seriously, without pausing for even a moment, she stuffed a tissue up her nostril and carried on. Curt Schilling in ‘04. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She talked for another twenty-five minutes, methodically switching out a new tissue every time one soaked through.
By the time she reached the last slide, she’d amassed a neat pile of bloody tissues.
“That about brings us to the end, Frank, so we can open it up to questions or comments.”
“Well, I have to say I’m impressed, Catherine. I think you guys really understand the spirit of the show.”
She looked at me — she looked at me — and the self-satisfaction in her enormous fucking eyes knocked me out. They were worlds, planets, wheels I couldn’t get off of if I tried.
After the meeting, people filed out and offered her their congratulations. She stood up and collected her things, smirking.
“I think that went pretty well.”
Then she picked up a trash can and slid her hand across the table, wiping away the memory of her bloody achievement. After she left, I fished out a tissue and pocketed it.
|How does Catherine contribute to a positive work environment? |
Everyone that meets Catherine is impressed by her. She is friendly, candid, and authentic. She sets a strong example for how to go the extra mile.
It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when.
The handicapped bathroom of the Rainbow Room, four gin and tonics in, ended up being our when. But really it started much earlier.
I took to walking home from work those days, relishing the forty blocks and four avenues, remembering the notes, the looks. I wasn’t fantasizing as much as I was analyzing. Studying. I knew we’d boil over eventually but for a while I was content to simmer. Arriving home, I’d take a deep breath before opening the door, sure that Aaron would recognize the dampness on my forehead for what it was.
The Rainbow Room. It was upfront season and the network was feeling pleased with itself. We’d managed to convince a few streaming showrunners to join the dark side by handing them a blank check. There was an atmosphere of revenge in the room.
I was more interested in the open bar. And him.
He circled all night, loudly laughing and schmoozing, eyes darting around the party to meet mine. I smiled and nodded my way through office gossip with the other middle management nobodies, without listening to a word. It was a game. A game that ended with his hand in mine, leading me to the bathroom as if we’d scripted it.
Inside, standing closer than we’d ever previously been allowed, I looked at the hair on Kyle’s face, fresh and razor sharp. He put his hand over his chin, wiping away a drop of whiskey. The friction of it made a sound, like peeling velcro.
And it began.
|What challenges has Catherine faced this year? |
There’s a tough learning curve around here and Catherine has faced that obstacle with resilience and patience. She has earned the trust and respect of those around her.
For a long time, Aaron was more of an idea than a reality.
Catherine and I were careful. We used Signal to text, we went out in obscure neighborhoods, we paid in cash. Besides the matter of evading him, Aaron didn’t really come up much.
Then, one evening in late July, I was hailing a cab outside the office when I spotted Catherine walking towards a man. She smiled at him, all soft and tired, draped herself around his shoulders, and kissed him. He gently guided her left arm to his waist and they walked like that towards the subway.
It was so, I don’t know. Public.
Bumping around in the back of the cab, I watched the scene over and over in my head. There were boring but agonizing questions to be asked. Did she see me? Does she still love him? What am I to her? Are they still fucking? The trailer for Suddenly, Something played on a loop on the small TV screen between me and the driver. It almost made it look good.
I couldn’t bring myself to go home to my empty apartment.
Divorce suited me, honestly. I liked living alone. But I couldn’t stand the symbolism of it that night. Instead, I went to my neighborhood watering hole and drank six whiskeys in sixty minutes. I woke up the next morning to a laundry list of regrets, the first one being that I used iMessage to text her.
— Hey… what re you doing?
Another hour passed without a response. I tried Signal.
— cat can we talk? I need to hear your voice…
She typed for a while, which I watched. She’s an unbelievable texter, Catherine. She could write books.
— Not tonight. At dinner with Aaron’s family. See you tomorrow?
I remember slumping off the bar stool a little. I remember ordering another drink. Then I woke up in my bed with all my clothes on. I picked up my phone to inspect the damage, instinctively aware of what I’d done. 37 unanswered outgoing calls. A string of humiliating messages I actually can’t bear repeating.
I took a sick day.
|What can Catherine do to improve next year? |
While Catherine’s performance has been excellent, there is room for improvement when it comes to collaboration. She should work on being more open-minded to other people’s ideas and delegating more tasks to her team who are anxious to learn.
The early reviews of Suddenly, Something were abysmal but if we don’t host a premiere, then the showrunners blame bad ratings on bad promotion. So we threw Frank Leonard a shitty Hollywood party for his shitty soon-to-be-canceled show.
I needed the break, anyways. Aaron had grown prickly. He waited until I was halfway out of the apartment, Uber waiting, plane tickets in hand, to say something about it.
“I hope you two have fun in LA together.”
That was new.
“Two? There’s a bunch of us going.”
“Should be fun.”
“I’ll text you when I land.”
“No need. I have your location, remember?”
His face was smug and knowing when I looked back at him. A bloated moment passed between us and we just stood there, smiling mildly at each other. Then I left.
Kyle’s hotel room was far nicer than mine. The wall to wall windows looked out over the Hollywood Hills, not that I ever saw more than a glimpse of them. As I walked in, he closed the curtains shut and they stayed that way the whole week. We were our own world. A bunker, a secret place.
After the premiere, basking in the quiet, I laid on Kyle’s stomach; our outstretched bodies forming a sideways T over the king-size bed.
“I wish I could’ve been in the room when Frank pitched this show.”
“Oh yeah, what would you have said?”
“I would have said, thanks for stopping by, Frank. It was good to see you.”
“Variety said it’s experimental.”
“Failed experiment, I think, is what they said.”
I sat up.
“I’m going to be in those rooms one day, you know. Where the decisions are made.” “I have no doubt.”
I allowed myself a moment to imagine it before sinking my face into his stomach. His skin, warm and smooth against my cheek, dulled the sharper parts of my mind. Quieted it. I had the distinct feeling that I was in exactly the right place.
|Is Catherine ready for a higher-level role? |
While Catherine shows real promise and clearly has ambitious personal goals, I do not feel she is prepared for a promotion at this time. She has much more to learn before taking on that responsibility.
Mary Kate Nyland is an Irish American writer, currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing from UCD. Her work has been published in The Waxed Lemon, The Madrigal, and Neon Door. She was once told she lacked grace during a performance review. Twitter: @mknyland