The Cost of Missing Your Flight

airplane wing

I spent a week in Seattle recently – my sister had a wedding to attend, and I tagged along to shop and explore the city. The wedding was on a Saturday night. Our flight home was booked for the following day, connecting through O’Hare, and we were scheduled to arrive home just in time for her to get a full night’s sleep before her nursing shift early Monday morning.

We ended up missing our connection because we were stupid enough to think we had enough time between flights to go to the bathroom and get something to eat without running through O’Hare like romantic comedy heroines chasing after Chris Pine or whatever. We showed up at the gate two minutes after our plane finished boarding, and we knew it was the last flight home to Montreal that day.

So, here’s what it costs to be an idiot and miss your flight:

$30.70 USD: a turkey sandwich for me that ended up being cold and bland, and a lemonade and soup for my hung-over sister. Luckily her soup wasn’t as bad as my sandwich. Price includes tax and a tip for the slowest airport food service employee I have ever seen. (In hindsight, I shouldn’t have left a tip. Sometimes I’m too polite.)

$47.82 CAD: my phone bill for the roaming minutes included in my travel pack and overage charges, covering phone calls to our airline’s rebooking hotline, who ultimately couldn’t do anything for us, then to another airline, who was experiencing a high volume of calls and kept me on hold while we rushed through the terminal (or multiple terminals, I didn’t even know anymore at that point) trying to find a service desk for said airline or really, anyone who could help, and wondered why airports don’t have general customer service desks so that you would know where to find what you’re looking for. More roaming minutes were used to call our parents, the hospital where my sister works to let them know she’d miss her shift the next day, and then finally to a hotel booking hotline after we found some very helpful airline employees who took pity on two stupid, weary, very polite travelers, transferred us to the first flight home the next morning, and gave us the number of a hotline to call for discounted rates on airport hotels. (They were incredible. By some miracle,we weren’t charged to re-book the flight, and I would gladly send them a bottle of wine if I could. Instead, I wrote the airline a very grateful email.) READ MORE


Our Money Daydreams: Huge Apartments and Bustling Hometowns

Jane T. writes:

I find a door in my apartment that leads to a new wing of my very expensive, very small Manhattan apartment. Suddenly, my expensive apartment is a total steal, quite large, and big enough to actually stay forever, whereas currently we joke about eventually putting a baby in a closet.

New Wing



$900 Craigslist Ticket to Lena Dunham’s NYC Book Reading Still Available


Now that Ask Polly has moved from The Awl to The Cut, I guess I’ve started reading The Cut.

Which is how I found out that there’s a man on Craigslist selling one ticket to Lena Dunham’s October 21 book reading at the Brooklyn Academy of Music… for $900.

Let’s back that up. Lena Dunham’s book Not That Kind of A Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” releases on September 30. The book tour—which The Cut described as “sort of a combination Q&A, concert, and episode of Girls“—is essentially sold out. As Gawker notes, there is “a thriving market for Dunham tickets across the country,” including this gentleman who is selling his $38 ticket to Dunham’s NYC performance for the hoped-for price of $900.

It gets better.



The Best Time I Was A Child Con Artist


My family has many unwritten rules. The second most important is: do not open the door if the doorbell rings only once. In our family, if the doorbell only rings once, you were either a salesperson or a canvasser. And salespersons and canvassers are liars and thieves.

My mother came to this conclusion shortly after she first immigrated to Canada; two scam artists pretending to work for the government tried to enter our home. Looking back, this is probably why I couldn’t make it as a (sort of) con artist, selling chocolates on the mean streets of southwestern Ontario. READ MORE


Overdrafting With Simple

big is simple, that movie star woman is ChaseI have a checking account with Simple, and now that we’ve combined finances it is my “fun money” account. My tagline for them is basically, “Simple: not as bad as most banks, but still a bank, ok?”

We haven’t had much room in our budget for fun recently, so when I got stuck in an insane loop trying to link our main, Chase account to my Simple account (“No accounts linked.” “That account has already been linked.”) I gave up.

I could send money TO Chase but I couldn’t send money FROM Chase to Simple. She can reach me, but I can’t get to her.

So of course instead of calling some damned Chase representative to resolve this, whenever we’ve had some extra money, I just write myself a check and deposit it in my Simple account using my phone. It worked fine. READ MORE


Sometimes You Earn $0, Sometimes You Earn $10K: How an Actor Does Money

Less Than 50 Percent

Gianmarco Soresi is an actor, writer, and stand-up comedian living in New York City. He’s the writer, producer, and lead of a show called <50%, a romantic comedy that just played at the New York International Fringe Festival and was one of only 21 shows chosen to have an encore run Off-Broadway. He’s the creator and star of a web series, An Actor Unprepared. And he has a regular gig in an Off-Broadway show called Clown Bar.

I recently talked with Gianmarco about the New York hustle, commercial work, BFA programs, and “making it.”

You’re working on so many awesome projects. By all outward appearances, you’re having a lot of success. I’m curious, though: Are these projects what enable you to get by financially? Or do you have a day job?

No. It’s manifold. First of all, when I first moved to New York two years ago, it was the hardest. Moving to New York as an actor, you really have zero, nothing. I mean, no one needs an actor really—especially a slightly awkward, tall, white guy in his twenties. I mean, there’s like a billion of me. So in the beginning I had my parents’ help. And I cannot stress enough that without that financial boost in the very beginning, I would be nowhere near where I am today, because half of the game is about being available. I mean, right now, those three projects—balancing the marketing, the writing, the acting, the producing of all of those things—that’s a full job. I don’t go out. I work all the time. So balancing that with a nine-to-five would be impossible.

On top of that, my first year in New York was really about making connections in the industry. And one very popular way to do that is to attend casting director workshops. They’re very contentious within the community because some say you’re paying for an audition and that’s unethical, but others argue that workshops give people an opportunity to introduce themselves to people whom they would meet under no other circumstances. But for my first year, I spent over $8,000 meeting casting directors.

That’s a lot of money. Did that lead to anything?

Well, I was on the TV show Blue Bloods twice. That’s because I met a casting director in a workshop and she liked my work. She brought me in for an audition, and I was lucky enough to book it. But out of 120 casting directors that I met, only 10 of them have brought me in directly for auditions. Still, a lot of it is about creating this web so that when one agent is interested in you, you have three casting directors with whom you have a good relationship who will reach out to that agent and recommend you. I mean, it all works together. But yes, that amount of money is huge.

Eventually, I got lucky enough to sign with a very good commercial agency and a legitimate talent agency, and that led to getting a manager. But it took a year to get that professional team that could get me moneymaking opportunities.

What have some of those money-making opportunities been?

I randomly booked a commercial for the German advertising campaign of a Swedish lemonade-soda called Rivella. The agent got me the appointment, I booked it, and then I made over $10,000 for a week’s worth of work.



Beauty Products Will Destroy You, & Not Just Financially

nailed itBecause apparently we’ve gone from Feminist Socialist Revolutionaries around here, with Mike gone, to a Blog About Shoes, Dresses, and Cosmetics, here’s some delightful news: nail salons are germ-factories and lipsticks are full of lead.

It’s not just lead we’re slathering on our mouths, either. According to Mother Jones, a variety of lip-products tested contained all sorts of elements from the Periodic Table:

In a small study out last week, researchers asked a group of teenage girls to hand over their lipsticks and glosses and tested them for toxic metals, including lead and cadmium. Though metal content varied widely from brand to brand, they found that women who apply lipstick two to three times daily can ingest a significant amount—20 percent of the daily amount that’s considered safe in drinking water or more—of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese. Depending on the lipstick, in some cases women who slathered it on (14 times a day or more) were meeting or surpassing the daily recommended exposure to chromium, aluminum, and manganese. Lead, a metal that humans should avoid exposure to entirely, was detected in 75 percent of the samples.

Mother Jones, it goes without saying, doesn’t wear makeup. If you must, though: “The FDA’s 2012 test found less than one part per million of lead in Wet n’ Wild, Bobbi Brown, and Shiseido brand lipsticks.”

Great! Now what about our nails? They / we are doomed, too, according to the New York ObserverREAD MORE


Aspiring To Be An Effortlessly Cool Woman With a $20 Flip Phone

my apt graffitti photo heh
Chiara Atik has written a very convincing ode to cool women who who eschew smart phones. They flirt without emojis and move about the world without announcing their place in it or taking photos of particularly apt graffiti.

A flip phone represents the ultimate luxury: inaccessibility. The most alluring thing about people with flip phones is the vote of confidence they are giving themselves (and their social lives) by not giving people a 24/7 way to reach them, across multiple platforms. It’s like they have an innate trust that the people who really want to talk to them will seek them out, will still want to talk to them three hours after sending an email. They can go off the radar without worrying that people will forget about them while they’re gone. And by not tweeting, Facebooking, and Foursquaring their whereabouts, they’re leaving their everyday lives open to interpretation. As if at any given moment, they’re probably doing something much cooler than we are.

By the end of this essay I was almost ready to throw my phone in the nearest sewer. I say almost because I spent the past weekend with my flip phone-carrying mother, who recently walked into a river with her iPhone in her pocket on a camping trip. Um, do you guys remember what texting with a flip phone is like — hitting every number button like 3x to get the letter you want? Tiny screen? No photos? READ MORE


MacArthur Day is the Best Day! Joy Money Recognition Joy

B-Bonus illoAround these parts, we like to poke fun sometimes at prestigious prizes that come with very little money attached. Because, like, thanks for that Pulitzer but I still gotta eat, you know? Maybe Pawn Stars will give me something for it. Gee, a Fields Medal, huh? Greaaaat. If only I could afford childcare so I could get back to the lab.

The MacArthur Foundation understands. Its “genius grants,” which it gives out once a year, are actual, substantial, maybe life-changing amounts of money ($625,000!). Best of all, they are a SURPRISE. No one applies to be a genius. They work hard and do their thing and get by and then one day someone shows up with a giant check.

Pamela Long, 71, an independent scholar based in Washington, works from home and almost never answers her phone. So when she received an e-mail from the MacArthur Foundation asking her to call, she thought it was for an interview about someone else who had been nominated. Then she was told she had won. In the days that followed, her initial reaction — shock — slowly gave way to relief.

As a historian not affiliated with a university, she never knows how she will afford to do her work — research on the science and technology of 15th- and 16th-century Europe — from year to year. So far she has supported herself through grants. “But I don’t think you can get a grant every year for the rest of your entire life,” she said on a video call from Rome, where she is studying archival material for a book tentatively titled “Engineering the Eternal City.”

SNIFF. Read about all the happily surprised winners here, including my favorite, “Genius to Watch Out For”* Alison Bechdel. Yay Alison!

Thanks for that, Bec


Producing a Beyoncé-themed Burlesque Show on a Budget: Part III


Part three of a series, wherein the author attempts to answer the question, “Can I produce a NYC burlesque show without losing my shirt?” Part one is here. Part two is here.

Turns out, people were ready for this jelly. “All the Single Ladies” sold out! My co-producer Calamity Chang and I didn’t just break even—we made some money, too. At the end of the night, I video-chatted with my boyfriend in LA to show him my wig and makeup, gently made it rain in my living room, and stumbled into bed. Within 24 hours, I was thinking the same thing I do when I turn in a piece of writing: “That was fun. Glad it’s over. What’s next?”

The Turnout:

Even on the cab ride to the show, I worried we might have 15 people in the audience. I’d received some random emails from strangers Saturday afternoon inquiring about advance tickets and seating. Still, you never know. I maintain that NYC is the flake capital of the world, and many of my friends didn’t show up for various reasons. I’d have been pissed if all these awesome strangers hadn’t come to the rescue. I don’t know how they found out about Beylesque, though some people mentioned The Billfold and one person follows my pet tortoise on Instagram. At some point in the evening, I realized that we’d run out of chairs and a few guys were standing. One friend did a headcount of 78 people! The venue’s capacity is technically 75, but no matter. Calamity and I were over the moon. READ MORE