Who’s Taking Care of Your Baby?

As I passed by him he shouted something else that I didn’t quite hear. I turned around, said, “What?” “Who’s watching your BABY?!” he repeated, laughing a little.

I spun around to make eye contact with him. “My HUSBAND!” I said and spun back around and crossed the street.


Latina Working for the Grey Lady Tells All

Awesome excerpts are available in Salon from Daisy Hernandez’s upcoming book about working at the New York Times. Spoiler alert: she did not have a great time. The hardest part was trying to negotiate a White Male workspace. “Black boys consistently do badly in school,” her editor told her at one point, when she pitched a story about racism. “It’s like it’s genetic!” 

Still, for a long time, getting her dream job meant independence, career advancement, and the kind of financial security her parents desperately wanted for her.

At the Times, people spend their days writing and then get paid every two weeks. It happens even if you disagree with Mr. Flaco or if you write a bad piece that needs tons of editing. You still get paid. So, convinced that this life can’t be mine, I insist on taking my intern paycheck to the bank every two weeks and cashing it. Each time the black teller hands me the stack of hundred dollar bills, I feel that I am real and that this is really happening to me. It is a lesson I learned from my mother.

On Fridays, if she had been paid at the factory, Tía Chuchi would take my sister and me to meet my mother at the bank, where she would be waiting on line with a check, that precious slip of paper in her hand. She would take the money from the bank teller in one swift move, as if someone was going to steal it from her, and then she would move over to the side and count the bills, slipping them into a small envelope the way she would place a pillow in a pillowcase. Those dollars were freedom. We could afford an evening meal at McDonald’s and pasteles, too.


Read This Guide to Interview Clothes And Feel A Modicum of Control Over Your Destiny

Omg, there is a Fast Company article has a guide to what color clothes you should wear to a job interview. Ahh! It’s kind of hilarious and I give it as much credence as I would any pop psychology business book.

Green is a color often associated with a sense of calm and wellbeing, as well as wealth and prosperity. Davidson says it’s a good choice for an accent color as it will not only put the interviewer at ease, it will send a message of possibility and growth.

For more creative environments, Davidson suggests wearing a color that pops such as purple or yellow: “Purple sends a message of being artistic and unique, while yellow signifies optimism and creativity,” she says.

Orange, however, topped the CareerBuilder list for the worst color, with 25% of employers saying it was the color most likely to be associated with someone who is unprofessional.

I just met with someone about my writing future and I wore a black dress and an “oatmeal”-colored cardigan. This was not my ideal color palette but um, I just had a baby and will not be attending any professional engagements in anything except for all black. I know I should buy new clothes that fit me and wear color and I will feel better but should should should, I’M WEARING BLACK. I’m mourning the loss of my life.


“What Does Your Father Do?”

Over at Slate, John Swansburg has written a thought-provoking essay about the American myth of the “self-made man,” how we’re fixated on this idea that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps like some of our favorite rich people once did, despite the fact that no one has bootstraps anymore or even would be able to pick bootstraps out of a line up with girdles and spats.

In the intro, he delves into how his own father got started in business:

Mostly, though, my father made his money in real estate. Specifically, he bought and sold buildings he affectionately refers to as “pigs”: big, ugly industrial spaces. Buildings with saw-tooth roofs and wrinkle-tin sides. Buildings that housed sheet metal shops, produce-industry middle-men, discount-furniture-store distribution hubs. In his late 20s and early 30s, the years before he bought the Hilltop, he built a small empire in the hardscrabble ring around Boston: in Charlestown, Everett, the precincts of Cambridge that Harvard and MIT students studiously avoid, and in Chelsea, where his first roofing shop had been. I once asked my father how he knew when a pig was a good investment, since aesthetics, and even location, seemed not to factor into his calculus. “When I’m looking at a building,” he said, “I drive up to it. If my balls tingle, I buy it. Otherwise, I don’t.”

Origin stories! So cool. My dad wanted to be an English professor but it was war time. So as not to get drafted to go fight in Vietnam, he ducked into law school at the advice of a prof, and ended up a lawyer, and that was it for the rest of his life. These things so often happen by chance. Except in America we don’t believe in chance. We believe in Hard Work:


Career Advice for Those Considering the Artistic Life

All of which is to say, don’t quit your day job, or if you do, don’t join a 20-person brass band.


Job of the Day: Barista For The CIA Starbucks

The CIA Starbucks looks just like regular Starbuckses, except there is no writing names on cups and if someone questions the baristas too much they’re supposed to report it. Also there is a very long line since employees aren’t exactly running in and out and going for walks to ‘grab a coffee’ off the premises.


An Interview With David Melito, Hollywood Production Accountant

I met David Melito a few weeks ago when I was on vacation in Los Angeles. We were talking about our shared interest in money, mine because—well, you’re reading The Billfold right now, aren’t you?—and his because he’s a production accountant in the film industry.


My Summer As a Housekeeper

The summer I was 18, I worked at an amusement park hotel as a housekeeper. The system worked something like this: every morning, we picked up our clipboards from the front desk with our list of rooms for the day, color-coded by what kind of service they needed. Pink was for occupied rooms that just needed a little spiffing, or “makes,” and green for just-vacated rooms that had to be cleaned for guests the following day, or “turnovers”.


What It’s Like To Work For The U.S. Postal Service

Jess Stoner’s essay in The Morning News about working as a contract worker — “city carrier assistant” — for the U.S. Postal Service (“YOU EXIST TO REDUCE OVERTIME” as her boss screamed at her) is revelatory and maddening and great. Stoner was hired at $15.13 an hour, earning $1000 every two weeks. As she outlines, though, it’s much more complicated than that.


Job of the Day: Obituary Writer

Once more with feeling! I’ve written about Margalit Fox before, she of the amazing name and amazing-er job, writing obits for the NYT. This time, she’s interviewed in the Paris ReviewA [DAILY] and I want to quote a million things from it:


Ditch the “To Do” List & Other Productivity Tips

Productivity: You’re doing it wrong. At least according to this article on The Week, which insists that you can be an efficient, impressive worker and still get home to watch the local news, if that’s what you want.

Cal’s five big tips:

  1. To-do lists are evil. Schedule everything.
  2. Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
  3. Make a plan for the entire week.
  4. Do very few things, but be awesome at them.
  5. Do less shallow work — focus on the deep stuff.

Makes sense to me. Entirely by coincidence, I started cursing the tyranny of To Do lists and experimenting with scheduling instead right before I read the article, so I feel weirdly validated. As we’ve discussed here, in addition to Billfold work, I’m freelance, meaning my days are lacking in structure but packed with assignments. At any given point, I never know how many to accept.

Up til now, I’ve done okay with a To Do list separated out into four quadrants {Urgent & Important / Urgent but Unimportant / Not Urgent but Important / Not Urgent & Not Important} which apparently originates with Eisenhower??