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.

Our Money Daydreams: Faith and a Truly Unlimited Bus Pass

“Sometimes, I also dream of getting a bus pass that never runs out of fares.”

Our Money Daydreams: Orlando Bloom and Big Media

Lauren E. writes:

When I was in high school, I tried to write a screenplay based on a book I liked. I fantasized frequently about casting Orlando Bloom in the movie. He and I would fall madly in love and I would never have to worry about money again!

Our Money Daydreams: Huge Apartments and Bustling Hometowns

I start a successful environmental retail/manufacturing company and set the headquarters in downtown Buffalo (where I grew up), and then buy an old brick, multi-story office building close by and converting the levels into housing for myself/my family, my parents, and my sister. Buffalo economy is revitalized!

Our Money Daydreams: Befriending Elderly Millionaires & Finding Bags of Gold

Constanza S. writes:

Sometimes I dream that I’ll meet a really wealthy old person who is ignored by their whole family and we’ll become friends and she/he will leave me all their money. I’m thinking we’ll go out to have pizza and ice cream a couple of times and old people usually LOVE ME so that’s probably all it would take.

Then they die and I’m RICH FOREVER. (and sad about losing my friend who I kind of just met but we had a really special connection)

I Want to Illustrate Your Daydreams About Money

Hey! I want to do a series of illustrations of different daydreams of unexpected financial good fortune. For example, I once met a lady who told me she was at a party where someone stepped outside for a smoke and found a paper bag full of hundred dollar bills.

An Illustrated True Saga of Costly Car Repair

At Coney Island on the last weekend of my kids’ summer vacation, we rode the Cyclone, which has been operating under electric power since 1927.

When we started our long journey home, it was on the subway, which has more than a century of electrically powered travel under its belt.

From there, we got on a Metro North commuter train, another shining example of electric locomotion. Our car was in the parking garage at the station in New Haven, waiting to carry us on the final leg of our journey.

But alas, the last bit of our electric journey was ill-fated: our little ’02 Prius, reliable in its first decade and, thereafter, in its first year with us, greeted us with a dashboard full of automotive alarm. The central feature was an icon of an exclamation point inside the silhouette of a car. Traditionally, this symbol appears as a very small light on the dashboard of gas cars and means “check tire pressure” (even though it seems like it should mean, simply, “Car!”). But in a Prius, according to our owner’s manual, it means, “Hybrid system error. TAKE CAR TO TOYOTA DEALER IMMEDIATELY.”

How Bad Does Your Landlord Have to Screw Up to Justify a Month’s Free Rent?

One Sunday evening, my elder child called to me from the shower, with apparent alarm, “Dad! It’s raining in here!” Since this was a ten-year-old and ten-year-olds are prone to goofy, physical humor, I mostly expected to find him in the shower under an umbrella, but lo and behold, the water was not running, he was toweling off, and there was a distinct sound of light rain on a tin roof coming from the bathroom ceiling.

A Modest Proposal to Reduce the Likelihood of Unjustified Shootings by Police

At this point, it is becoming evident that there is something about the way police officers are trained in this country, or about the culture that seems to pervade police departments, that needs to change. We can speculate about why this is so (or argue whether it is so). Greg Howard at Deadspin has smart things to say about the militarization of police forces (when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail). I have a lot of ideas about the general stratification of society along race and class lines, and how that plays out in policymaking, law enforcement, and perceptions of poor, minority neighborhoods. But whatever the causes, it is safe to say that black men dying unnecessarily at the hands of police is a problem, and one society cannot quickly fix. So perhaps we should consider some sort of temporary solution.

The Discreet Charm of Commuting

Commutes are nearly inescapable, mostly reviled, and scientifically proved to be bad for us. While Eric Jaffe at Citylab makes the case that no commute at all is actually a bad thing too, that is not a problem that most of us have. But are there not some hidden gems, some small pleasures in the daily trek?

For a while, I was one of the so-called mega-commuters, covering sixty miles thrice a week with a combination of bicycle and train travel. It was stupid, but because I am fundamentally an optimist, I tried to focus on the happy parts: exercise! quiet time! seeing the sun rise! At the time, I would have told you that I actually didn’t mind it, but now that I have a five-minute bicycle commute, I can say that it sucked. Still, it had its charms.

Short commute notwithstanding, in my current job I sometimes have to travel to far-flung parts of my state (you wouldn’t think Connecticut had far-flung parts, but it does). Today, needing to go from Hartford to Stamford, I chose a two-hour train ride over an hour-and-a-half drive and carried my computer so I could do work on the way. I would say it was pretty great, except that when I arrived at Stamford, I found out that one of the other lawyers involved in my case was sick and had called the court to reschedule, so I just turned around and went back to the train station. Still, the fruitless voyage got me to thinking about the little aesthetic pleasures that make even awful commutes tolerable. Herewith, a few examples:

In Praise of Non-coworkers

Coworkers are the protagonists of our workplace sitcoms and soap operas—they are the fully realized characters who make the long hours from punch-in to punch-out as tolerable or intolerable as they are. But have we ever stopped to consider that wonderful class of bit players who fill in the interstices, upon whom we can project whatever back story suits us? I’m referring, of course, to the employees of other workplaces that share some physical space with our own, the people we basically don’t know, but see enough to offer a nod and some small talk on This Weather We’ve Been Having—let’s call them Non-Coworkers. I love this class of people, and the non-relationship I have with them. Let me sing their praises.