I could have sold baby clothes at Gymboree in any mall in the country forever and been perfectly happy. Not that selling baby clothes is a bad job. This was before the recession, before any job was a good job. I started in 1995 and I was 17. I had just gotten a car and a license and I needed a job. When I thought about my job job, when I was a real adult, I knew I just wanted to write, but I also knew I was not the starving artist type. Even then, I knew.
I have hosted Thanksgiving at my apartment for the past three years, mostly because I intensely dislike the idea of sitting on a crowded Metro-North train for two hours the Wednesday before, hiding behind magazines in order to avoid the people on the train I haven’t seen since high school. We are not a Christmas family. Thanksgiving, with its food and its revelry and the easy familiarity of drinking a nice glass of red wine around 3 p.m. with people I haven’t seen in a year is our tradition.
My husband and I are expecting our first child next February. To mark this rite of passage, as well as the white hot second when we considered cloth diapers, we decided to order our very first washer and dryer. Since every conversation around raising a child in New York City ends with nervous laughter about financial ruin, I went online to SearsOutlet.com. There, if you don’t mind a few dings on a former floor model, or a returned Maytag Maxima XL, they’ll offer “20%-75% off regular retail prices on appliances and more!”
The dream job with the major airlines is very competitive. They want you to have experience flying in the airlines, so what you have to do is get all of the commuter airlines. They pay anywhere from sixteen to $20,000 your first year.
I have always been very concerned with becoming a respectable job candidate, even before I really knew what I wanted to do. I’d thought the goal was to master information that would set me up for a successful career. I took school seriously and got good grades, and I believed that doing well on tests was a good indication that I was doing well, that I would be successful in life.
I know how to balance a checkbook because my mother taught me how the day I opened my first checking account in the spring of 2003.
Nothing feels as good as the free thing. Leaving your apartment and stumbling across a box of free books, or kitchenware, or a sofa that you find on the street that is hopefully not full of bed bugs is like finding treasure when you were just trying to go to the grocery store. I stop and look at every single dresser, or chair, or mirror that’s left out on the street, pausing and envisioning how it could fit in my room at home. “I need one of these,” I tell myself. “Who can help me carry this home,” I wonder, as I scroll thru the texts on my phone.
I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t in love with the apartment. The living room space was nice in theory, but difficult to appreciate under its permanent cover of the other girls’ stuff and clutter. My bedroom was at the end of a long, narrow hallway, with one high, small north-facing window that provided dingy light in the mornings, and none at all by noon. There was no built-in storage, and the ancient stove ran cold, with one reliable burner and two that never worked at all. The backyard, which had seemed charmingly ramshackle when I first saw it on a nighttime tour, turned out to be brown and barren, and the front porch was filthy with years’ worth of dust and dog hair.
Dear Meghan and her Dad,
Hope you’re both well. I’m a 26-year-old woman with an MA in art history. Before graduating in May of 2013 I had a job lined up, and it sounded like a dream job at the time. So for the last year I’ve been working as a researcher at the art museum in my home city, part-time, no benefits, doing what I care about despite its relative unimportance in the big picture. I had a second (retail) job for several months to make ends meet, and then two months in my boyfriend moved in and I quit the other job, because the two of us combined made enough money, and also because the retail job was exactly what you’d expect it to be like.
In many respects, the skills that we learn in school are not very good preparation for work. Success at work often doesn’t involve being obedient, following instructions, or even necessarily completing assignments on time (all the abilities that school achievement is built on). There is one way, though, in which being in school and being in the working world are quite similar: having to collaborate and work closely with different, sometimes non-compatible, personalities.