Interviews

A Fractured Skull, a Lost Sense of Smell, and a New Job

This summer, my friend Rachel Bailey was working as a waitress in Athens, Ga., doing social media for some restaurants, writing when she could, but not as much as she wanted—just scraping by in a town where it’s easy, sometimes even fun, to just scrape by. But she wasn’t having fun. She’d been out of college a few years and had imagined something more for her 20s. She was feeling anxious, stagnant and just generally crappy about life. And then she hit her head in a piggybacking accident and almost died. And then things got better.

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Life After Shoe College: Interview With a Cordwainer

Part Two in a series of interviews with people who have found hands-on, creative work through doing an apprenticeship.

Shoemaking, or cordwaining (the official term), is a craft that has been largely erased from mainstream shoe production over the past 30 years. Only 2% of the US shoe market is produced domestically, and as of 2011, there are only 1,460 shoe repairers and shoemakers practicing in Canada.

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How to Make Your Own Shoe Line

In my quest to become MacGyver (the short, Asian female version), I plunged into the shoemaking world a few years ago and took classes in the New York City area. I made some very nice shoes: black leather mules, brown boots for the hubby, summer toe ring sandals for me, and black dress shoes for the hubby again. These really nice dress shoes made me puff up in pride as many Facebook friends liked photos of the finished product—shoes I made with my tired, sore, little hands in a hot, dusty studio in Brooklyn.

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Tales from the #NightShift

These “Humans of New York“-style vignettes – excerpts from #NightShift, an Instagram essay —  are killer. Here’s one in its entirety:

“My mother was the night baker before me,” she says. Kelly’s 27. She started baking donuts when she was seven. It was a punishment. “My mom was the night baker,” she says again. “If I was, you know, ‘naughty,’ she took me with her.” If Kelly was naughty, she went to work with her mom and made donuts. She did that for years. She quit. She came back. She’s been working here a year-and-a-half. Night baker, like her mom. She takes her smoke breaks out front, because there’s no camera out back. “We’ve been robbed before,” she says. Man walked in the back door. Emptied the safe. Kelly wasn’t working. “I’m just lucky,” she says. She’s quitting again in two weeks. She’s going to be a security guard. “Fifteen dollars an hour.” The sum makes her marvel. She won’t mind the hours. She doesn’t really like people who work days. “The night shift, I’m wired for it,” she says. She’s a natural. She’ll come back for coffee, but she doesn’t eat donuts anymore.

Other professions represented include Taco Bell manager, road-worker, CVS employee. As the author/artist says, “I saw these people, and I wanted you to see them, too.”

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An Interview With a Friend Who Got Bedbugs The First (And Last) Time She Used VRBO

So, what have you been up to?

I went to Big Bear Lake, California for a bachelorette party. Twelve of us stayed atThe Moose Lodge at 209 Elgin Road, which another friend had found on VRBO. It looked great—cute cabin, moose stuff everywhere, very rustic, close to the lake… And full of bedbugs.

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Life After Art School: Interview With a Bookbinder

The idea of making a bunch of things that you can sell easily, that are cheaper to make… something about that is relaxing to me.

I think it’s good to be working in craft after going to art school, because it’s still creative and it’s still working with your hands. It doesn’t require you to be vulnerable like art, which I also found really exhausting. Not that you have to be, but that’s how I tend to do it, so it was great to do a lot of crafting and stuff that is more visual.

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Need an Action Figure of a Dead Loved One? Meet Jeff Staab

When it comes to grief, what’s meaningful and what’s creepy is often a matter of largely unpredictable personal preference. I recently came across a website selling 12-inch poseable action figures that are customizable to resemble a dead loved one, whose ashes you can also get sealed inside. After an initial reaction that was something along the lines of “oh HELL no” and a swift x-ing out of the browser window, a minute later I found myself back on the page, scrolling through all of the options: “Trendy Male,” “Casual Female,” “Male Grey Suit,” “Nice Nurse,” “Karate Male/Female.”

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

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.

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How a Medical Resident Does Money

Dr. Dee: I’m 27 years old, based in Toronto, Ontario, and I’m a medical resident. Also, my side hustle is that I’m a med school admissions consultant. Basically I provide med school hopefuls advice and guidance throughout their application and interview process

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Can Americans Retire? (Part II)

In part one of my interview with National Institute on Retirement Security Director Diane Oakley, I mentioned that the Obama administration is endorsing an automatic IRA. The plan would mandate employers who do not already offer savings plans to provide a government-approved private alternative, with automatic enrollment.

This is in many ways similar to the Affordable Care Act, also proposed in part by the conservative Heritage Foundation, and is a compromise from a more government-involved and subsidized proposal from the Clinton era. It’s now mostly opposed by conservatives and industry groups.

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From Counting Pennies to Letting Things Slide

When I was first starting out and making very little money, I thought carefully about every single dollar and made sure I always got my exact change. I was also careful about never getting charged ATM fees, because when every dollar matters, paying to take out your own money hurts. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore, and perhaps that is a sign of success.

“I have decided that I am a person of means, a wealthy person,” I told Ester yesterday. “Because although my bank gave me my money back, I still have $10 in ATM fees from the fraudulent withdrawals, and don’t feel like calling them to have that $10 credited back to me.”

She laughed.

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