Kyo, not his real name, is a young black man in his mid 20s currently living in transitional housing for the homeless in Northern New Jersey. I have known him since he was 18. I had met Kyo during my former job as a reporter with The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper.
It’s hard to talk about money. It’s also hard to talk about death. And it’s really hard to talk about all the ways money and death seem to tangle themselves together. But since The Billfold was already down with one of these notoriously gnarly subjects, I figured the other might not be such a hard sell.
We’re Valerie and Katie, the founders of Rice Paper Scissors, a Vietnamese restaurant based in San Francisco.
Spring is in the air, and as Alfred, Lord Tennyson famously said, it’s the time when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Truly, this is an optimistic moment: buds are bursting through frost, fans of lousy baseball teams feel improvident hope, and in all matters romantic, we cannot help but think of the good things yet to come—the spark of new attraction, the idyllic domesticity of a shared apartment, the stomach-flutteringly massive notion of getting married. So let me bring you down to earth: There’s a good chance you’re going to get divorced, by which time you may have kids, and on top of all the other heartbreaks, you may embark on a lifetime of difficult conversations about money. Let’s talk about this.
Melissa Gira Grant is a writer and freelance journalist covering sex, politics, and the internet. In past lives she has worked at a feminist foundation, been a member of the Exotic Dancers’ Union, and co-edited a book with me back in 2010. Her latest book, Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, is not a juicy memoir, and it is not a debate about whether sex work should or shouldn’t exist. Instead it challenges the myths we perpetuate about sex work, and examines how our ‘feelings talk’ and theoretical debate can be a distraction from the more immediate labor and human rights issues that sex workers are actually dealing with, and dying from, all the time.
Matthew is a 24-year-old freelance illustrator and a former professional “sensory panelist” for a frozen foods company. We recently talked about his experience eating french fries and other frozen fried foods for four hours a day, three days a week over the course of eight months. “I’d come home with huge blisters in my mouth from the salt,” Matthew said. He earned $4,200.
I met Emily Reese when we worked together at Kickstarter. At the time, Emily, 24 and newly out of grad school, was working on the support team and struggling to find what she was great at and excited about doing. Then a few months I heard that Emily moved to the product team and was hired as a full-time engineer. WHAT. Luckily, Emily agreed to talk to me about she managed to teach herself programming on nights and weekends and then change her career without leaving the company.
In 2012, Jenn Woodward and Gary A. Hanson started a papermaking studio. Based out of Portland, Ore., Pulp and Deckle manufactures paper and gives workshops and classes about the process. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with Jenn about her studio.
In a paperless world, you’re making paper. What was the impetus to start such a business? A lot if it came from living here in Portland. There’s a vibrant small business culture, and there’s such an emphasis on “green.” The types of papermaking we’re doing (recycled paper, plant-based paper) is a slow, sustainable art form.
For me, a major part of the appeal is having a connection to how something is made. It transforms your understanding of it. When you go to the farmers market, or go to a woodworker’s furniture store, you’re voting with your dollars to say you want to connect with your food or your furnishings on a deeper level. You want to know who planted it, who carved it, etc. That’s what we’re all about.
I think papermaking is kind of magical. It’s one of those art forms that not many know about. I like showing people that something they take for granted in their everyday environment can be special and imbibed with meaning, beauty and purpose.
How’d you get into papermaking in the first place? I first learned about papermaking while getting my MFA at the Museum School in Boston. I was doing a lot of drawing and mixed media work and got interested in making my own surfaces to work on. I got really into making onionskin papyrus…
My friend Emily and I first met while preparing to study abroad in Barcelona in 2003. Some of the first things I learned about her were that she loved ice hockey and sailing. After we graduated, Emily took a summer job as the seasonal program director of a yacht club. She took it again the following year, and the year after that.
Initially, Roose thought about going undercover as a banker, but as an English major who dropped an economics class after three weeks and a name that was easily Google-able, he switched gears and decided to shadow young bankers for three years as they left college and started their careers on Wall Street. His book, Young Money, is about what it’s like to work as a junior banker in the largest financial institutions in the world, and how Wall Street’s culture and recruiting efforts have shifted in the post-crisis era. I spoke to Roose while he was in town this week promoting his book.
I spoke with Justine Mertz, a 28-year-old from New Jersey who earns a living entertaining over 200,000 subscribers with over 18 million views under the pseudonym JPMetz to find out more about the hustle of a professional YouTube creator.
A few months ago we talked about the things we learn about work from our parents, and the ways it can shape our views on work and the kind of life we pursue (or try not to!). When copywriter and Billfold reader Lily Hudson suggested we do a series on the subject, she was an obvious first candidate. Lily’s parents made a living in a pretty unconventional way when she was growing up, which left her, as she mentioned in her first comment, with “no idea of what a ‘career’ was or how to have one.” Let our series of psychoanalyzing begin!