Flying Over The Ocean in Economy Class


Mike: Meaghan, when is the last time you flew on an international flight?

Meaghan: Oh man, a LONG time ago, if Mexico doesn’t count. 2004! Wow. ALITALIA.

Mike: Obviously, mine was like, yesterday, but I’m still kind of astounded each time? Free movies, free booze. Enough bathrooms? That hot towel they give you. Oh, also meals with real silverware. And it’s all included in the ticket.

Meaghan: The silverware is crazy. Were there knives? Wait and hot towels? The last time I did this I was 21 so I only remember the wine.

Mike: Yeah, there was a knife for like, slicing your bread roll, and spreading butter on it! And also your block of brie, if you wanted (lol).

Meaghan: BRIE? Hahahaha. So international flights have somehow preserved the fanciness feeling that flying “used to have,” or whatever, when people wore suits to fly. Wait, I feel like you might dress up to fly. DO YOU?

Mike: Well, I don’t dress down. I essentially wear the same button-down and jeans I would normally wear. I don’t revert to sweatpants. But yes, it does seem people on international flights don’t really revert to sweatpants like they do domestically? They are sitting there and reading the Financial Times! READ MORE


Putting Your Money Where Your Apology Is

i-carried-a-watermelonIt is as tricky to apologize right as it is easy to make a mistake. (She said ruefully.) I’m not alone, tho! Mallory Ortberg apologized recently as did Dan Kois on Slate’s Mom & Dad Are Fighting podcast. It was a big week for digging yourself out of a hole.

Now, more and more, to prove they’re sincere, famous fuck-ups have upped the ante and started donating to relevant causes. Words are wind, right? But nothing speaks louder than cold hard cash.

Daniel Handler, aka children’s book author “Lemony Snicket,” made a series of racist jokes the other night when he hosted the National Book Awards. Now he is trying to make amends.

After his initial apology on Twitter, Handler further apologized and has pledged to match donations to We Need Diverse Books for 24 hours up to $100,000.



Things I’ve Learned, and What I Got Paid For Them


Music Theory, Music Composition, Music Performance: I was all ready to say $20,000 and counting, but then I remembered that I’m still in debt from my music career and I lose money on many shows I play. At this point, probably -$2,000.

Postmodernism: Despite the fact that my postmodernism “final project” was an interpretive dance (no, seriously, I put on my leggings and my poofy shirt and did a dance), I’d argue that postmodernism and poststructuralism have done as much, if not more, to help me think critically about what and why we signify than anything else. This is an essential skill when you’re trying to break apart an Atlantic or ThinkProgress article in 15 minutes so you can write about it for The Billfold. I’m going to generously say $10,000.

Introductions to Chemistry and Physics: Sorry, nope. Haven’t earned (or used?) anything from this.

Introductions to French: Le nope.



What Makes Us Feel Better When We’re Sad?

BH_5001_0Everyone has a favourite activity for when they’re mildly depressed. For some, it’s huddling in bed with a comforter pulled up around their ears to shield against this cruel world; for others, it’s donning neon underwear and blasting “Deceptacon” for an impromptu bedroom dancing party.

My own ministrations involve watching old episodes of Freaks and Geeks I’ve already seen at least four times, soothing myself with the familiarity. (If I need a quick hit of joy, it’s straight to Youtube to watch a 47-second clip of Bill Haverchuck stutter “You cut me off mid funk!”) When that’s not working, I go watch videos of Michael Clark. For the unitiated who may not share my interest in post-punk and wacky outfits—Michael Clark is the apotheosis of the two combined. He was the enfant terrible of 1980s contemporary dance and you can watch old videos of him leaping gracefully along to the jagged guitar screeches of The Fall in ass-baring leotards or polka dot face paint. And now that it’s November, I’ll surrender to the sweeping melancholy of the Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs and let the music seep into my listless limbs.

The point is, no one is immune to getting the mean reds, the SADs, the abject paralyzing fear of continuing to live your own life. No matter what you want to call it we all have our own unique ways of coping with the world when everything turns to shit, and I’ve made it my mission to collect some of the “sadness routines” of some of my favourite people on the Internet and IRL.

So here’s to buying an entire box of Hallowe’en candy for yourself and eating it while watching The Craft. Here’s to buying overpriced essential oils and pouring them in the bath. Here’s to putting your socks in the microwave to warm your feet. And most of all, here’s to allowing ourselves to wallow and assuage our guilt with the knowledge that hopefully soon we’ll feel temporarily a little bit better. READ MORE


Here Is Your Open Thread

— Companies that provide their employees with perks like catered lunches and workout classes have also created a role for people to manage those perks. The WSJ has a profile of one of the people in that role: Jen Nguyen, the “head of workplace” at Pinterest.


If You Buy Your Wife a Mansion

a house in franceThe holiday season is upon us, and I know what some of you are thinking. “I’d love to buy my wife a house without asking her if she wants it.”

“But, Meaghan, I’m a woman, as are the majority of your readers.” Sssh, you sit this one out. Take the time to practice your ‘I’m not vexed this is just what my face looks like’ face.

Anyway, if you are a man married to a woman, a woman who I guess conveniently has no opinions and desires to give no input on where she spends her life, here is a gift guide for you, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Faith Zelenko ’s husband, Cliff, called her at work one day to tell her there was something he wanted to show her. That night, he took her to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “Cliff opens the door and says, ‘This is your new home,’ ” recalled Ms. Zelenko. “I was, like, are you kidding me? You’re joking, right?”

Then, she burst into tears.



So You Want to Be a Pilot: What It Costs And How Much You’ll Make

flight-denzel-washington pilot

Every time I sit next to anyone on a plane that isn’t a baby, a religious nut, or an obnoxious gum smacker, I remind myself to be grateful. I should count myself especially lucky to have taken the window seat next to Mike, a pilot for a Delta connection carrier, who was deadheading from RDU to JFK.

I was headed to the Binders Full of Women Writers conference (#bindercon), and he was just trying to get home. I was in rough shape, nursing the beginnings of a cold and the dregs of a hangover, and he was crisp, well dressed, and wide awake. Usually, those people are annoying; he was not. Taxiing down the runway, lifting off into flight, we spoke briefly about his job, but it wasn’t until he mentioned that some beginning pilots make $20,000 a year that I got really worked up. What? Am I the only one who thought pilots made enough to afford an occasional trip to Paris, what with their lavish salaries and their buddy passes?

He showed me a picture of his adorable kids, talked about the best stops on his East Coast route (Quebec City, if you’re wondering), and tried to explain piloting to me. My expressions of disbelief began to sound like a broken record. Before falling into a dead, narcoleptic sleep, I got Mike’s contact info, and a few weeks later, I caught up with him on the phone about the finances of flying and what he’s got lined up next.

Linnie Greene: Let’s catch readers up to speed. We talked a little bit about this on the plane, but tell me what a beginning pilot can expect to make, as a salary, and what the options are for different types of jobs. 

Mike: It kind of just depends on what that job is. You could probably make $30,000 a year as a flight instructor from flight school. The problem with going to the airlines is that after you – let me back it up. So you want to be a pilot. You go through your training, and there are different certificates that you have to get. It starts out with a private pilot license that costs about $8,000 dollars, then you get your instrument rating, so that you can fly into clouds, and that’s another five or six grand.  READ MORE


How Wizards Do Money: Blaise Zabini

blaise zabini gif“I’d like to start using they pronouns,” Blaise said.

Blaise’s boss didn’t know what to say. He covered for it by not saying anything.

“This means that instead of using he and him, you use they,” Blaise explained. “So it would be something like “This is Blaise Zabini, they are the manager’s assistant.”

“But there’s only one of you,” Blaise’s boss said. “Are you planning to use Polyjuice Potion to double yourself? That’s illegal, you know, in the workplace.”

“No,” Blaise said. “I’m still the same person.”

When Blaise was a young Hogwarts student, many classmates automatically assumed Blaise was female. Blaise at that time identified as male, although they identified as male primarily because nobody had presented any other option. Sometimes Blaise wondered if they were female as well; if there was some kind of way to be both. This was all when Blaise was younger, when their life still felt like something to be explored rather than something to be survived. It was easy to play hopeful games like “this candy will make me a boy and a girl!” when Blaise was younger, when there wasn’t a war.

It took the internet, first cadged off Draco’s iPhone (Draco being the first of the former Slytherin classmates to get an iPhone, naturally) and then later, in depth, on the used laptop Blaise bought off a Muggle and charmed into working, to provide context and vocabulary. It took the internet to give Blaise words like genderqueer and non-binary. It took the internet for Blaise to understand that the wizards who “changed” their genders hadn’t really changed anything; they had always been who they were the entire time. That Blaise, also, had been who they were the entire time.



Good Enough Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $475,000

everyone loves an old house Tara Gone With the WindIt is pretty illustrative to see, via this week’s Great Homes & Destinations, what two million dollars would get you outside of major metropolitan centers. For example, this house in Missouri will make your head spin on your neck like a carousel:

Both the interior and exterior are paneled in redwood, while walls of glass throughout face woods and valley. Thirteen doors open the house to the grounds, drawing outside in. Floors are black speckled terrazzo, and ceilings are pitched throughout. Several rooms also have built-in furniture and space-age-style chrome light fixtures, all original. Most of the walls are wood-paneled, though some are exposed limestone.

Common areas include a family room with a checkered concrete floor, and an open-plan living and dining area with a built-in stone bench and a stained-glass panel. Both the bench and the stained glass were designed by Siegfried Reinhardt, an artist with work in the Vatican Museum’s permanent collection. The kitchen is paneled in white birch. Cabinets are suspended over the center island and one of the counters; they seem to be floating.

I feel like I’m floating too. Let’s get back to earth with what we can get for $475,000. chimney



What Do You Do All Day?

at work

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.

But, it turns out that my brain is like a sieve and I remember little of the factual, subject-based information I learned in high school and college (and probably even grad school), and little of it is useful in my day-to-day work. With the benefit of a decade of hindsight, I wonder if perhaps I mistook the fundamental point of it all.

School trains us to think by subject. Classes are divided by topic, where history is different from literature, and science is separate from art. We are forced to pick favorites at an early age when we pick electives and majors and when adults ask, “what is your favorite subject in school?”

I had a hard time picking a major in college. There were lots of things that I liked, yet I had no idea how they translated into a career. After trying to reason it out, I picked biology in part because I thought studying a “hard science” would be helpful to get a job working on environmental issues. I now use none of the information I learned, and have come to realize that my interest in biology was a desire to understand how things work and to interact with it in a hands-on way. I loved the lab work, especially when we were out in the field. READ MORE


Teach Your Children Well

the wire season 4 classroomSeveral successful politicians ran on platforms that included “universal Pre-K” this fall. So did lots of unsuccessful politicians, for that matter. Still, the issue — getting more kids into education earlier on to give them a better shot in life –seems to be one about which people generally agree. This is Pre-K, mind you, as distinct from “preschool,” and not “daycare” or “kindergarten” either. Confused? Sure, why wouldn’t you be. The Atlantic explains. 

Less than half of all 3- and 4-year-olds across the country are enrolled in any sort of early education, largely because of how pricey these programs can be. That’s a shame, advocates argue, considering the research showing the positive, long-term impact a quality early-education experience can have on a child’s life—all the more so if that child comes from a low-income family. In particular, these advocates want every child to have the opportunity to attend prekindergarten. …

In edu-speak, pre-k typically refers to a specific category of early learning that focuses on ensuring kids are prepared for kindergarten. The premise is that a child’s readiness for kindergarten can put that student significantly ahead of one who isn’t ready. This is what causes the achievement gap, and that gap only widens over time. …

Other sectors have joined the cause, too, including business leaders and big-box corporations that say pre-k is key to developing a skilled workforce and stimulating the country’s economy. Moreover, pre-k is seen as an economic investment because it’s believed to reduce the chances a kid will drop out of school, get arrested, and rely on social services, as well as significantly increase that person’s earning potential.