Interviews

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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Can Americans Retire?

Union support for pensions is broad, but defined benefit plans don’t have a lot of other organizational defenders. I wanted to learn more on the organization’s perspective, so I chatted with Diane Oakley, NIRS’ executive director.

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How David Shapiro, Creator of Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, Does Money

David Shapiro is the pen name of a writer who created a Tumblr blog called Pitchfork Reviews Reviews. He then wrote a novel (You’re Not Much Use to Anyone, out now) about a character named David who created a Tumblr blog called Pitchfork Reviews Reviews. We talked about his career and his money.

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Talking to Alan Lastufka About Starting DFTBA Records With Hank and John Green and What’s Next

While you might have heard of John or Hank Green, you may not have heard of DFTBA Records’ other original co-founder, Alan Lastufka. When he announced in June that he was selling his stake and leaving DFTBA (an initialism for “Don’t forget to be awesome”), I asked him if we could talk about his work with the record label as well as some of the financial lessons he learned while going from “artist and YouTuber” to “President of a successful business.”

So, readers of The Billfold (and Nerdfighters!), consider this a special treat. A conversation with Alan Lastufka about his work on DFTBA Records, from co-founding the record label in 2008 to selling his stake in 2014.

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An Interview with Sara Knox Hunter on Founding and Funding a Discussion Residency

In 2011, Sara Knox Hunter founded Summer Forum, which takes the model of an artists’ residency and uses it to support reading and conversation. Each Summer Forum residency has a broad theme, assigned texts, invited guests, and a carefully chosen location, all of which serve as starting points for discussion. This year’s residency will take place from July 6 to 13 in Joshua Tree, California. The 34 residents (chosen from a pool of about 100 applicants) will sleep, eat, and attend the program for $350—one-third of the actual cost per person. Sara (who just moved to New York from Richmond, Virginia) and I (who live in Chicago) talked about Summer Forum over Skype.

What led to your starting Summer Forum?

Originally I was planning to finish my terminal master’s degree and then apply for a Ph.D. program in comparative literature. On my way to doing that, instead of picking a more traditional thesis focus, I started to look more at the institution and examined this specific publication called Profession [the Modern Language Association’s "journal about the fields of modern languages and literatures as a profession"].

I started looking at articles from the mid- to late-1970s and compared them with the academic articles that were coming out and all the mainstream press that academia was getting after 2008, and the issues were so similar: education is too expensive, we hire way too many adjuncts, we’re losing full-time faculty positions, we’re accepting too many Ph.D. students so that there are too many unemployed Ph.D.s once they graduate. It was pretty depressing to me. We keep talking about a crisis in education, but it’s really this ongoing slow drag.

So how did you come out of your thesis research thinking about something like Summer Forum?

At the same time, my partner, Michael Hunter, was going to different artists’ residencies. And a lot of my close friends are artists, and they would all go away for the summer. I was like, maybe there’s some way to create something discussion-oriented that utilizes that model, where you don’t have to be in grad school, you don’t have to commit to five-plus years for a Ph.D., you don’t have to pay for a terminal master’s program, but you can still have these opportunities for intense study and commitment with a group of people who are all curious and interested in discussing ideas and willing to commit a smaller amount of time and a smaller amount of money. That was my starting point.

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