Insider Trading

If there is one thing that every young radical who has the misfortune of reaching their late-twenties and discovering that non-profit work fails to pay the electricity bill will discover, it’s that her cooler friends will accuse her of selling out.  And in all likelihood, the accusation will be just, and the “victim” of said insinuation or outright accusation will find herself with only a shaky stiletto on which to stand.

To many people, it doesn’t matter how much I recycle, that I walk to work, or how much money I donate to Planned Parenthood and the Red Cross.  The fact that I listen to NPR only consolidates my place in the affluent white liberal ranks.  I am a meat-eater who feels guilt because I am too lazy to make it to the organic farmer’s market every weekend.  I have a Banksy coffee-table book.  I am friends with my housekeeper.  I yearn to be a roller derby girl but don’t have time and was rejected by Teach for America.  My best friend bought me a Kindle for Christmas.  I am an embarrassing living embodiment of Stuff White People Like.

And yet, last week, when my best friend from high school jokingly emailed me something about my job as a “corporate shill,” I about spluttered my Merlot all over my Netbook.  I am far from moneyed, after all!  My apartment doesn’t even have a dishwasher (and I will tell you, I never thought I would be practically 30 and living without basic mod-cons like central air).  I do have a classic dryer from the 1970s, and a television that, as best I can tell, was the finest model on offer in 1995.  I have a mouse for a roommate and a potentially murderous mold problem in my bathroom.

If I were a proper corporate shill, I would have a condo and a standing appointment for a weekly bikini wax.  I would fucking know how to ski.  I would not have a deep-discount wine habit and holes in the toes of all my socks.  Just because he’s living in one of the Carolinas and getting his PhD in Hippie Pot-Smoking does not mean that I suddenly know how to iron. (more…)


I posted a week back about a certain resume that made its way to my inbox some time ago that remains a valued source of delight.  Favored commenter London_Calling was thus inspired to share this little tidbit from another jobseeker out there in the world, who introduced herself thusly:

What my resume does not reveal is my professional demeanor and appearance.  In a business environment, these qualities are of the utmost importance in dealing with clients as well as co-workers.   In me, you’ll discover a reliable, detail-oriented, and extremely hard-working associate; one who will serve as a model to encourage other staff members to demonstrate the same high standard of professionalism.

Alright, it’s a  tad arrogant, but I like her forthrightness.  She expects a high standard of professionalism from herself and those she works with, and believes in the importance of presentation – got it.  This is no bad thing and, personally speaking, if the rest of her CV fit the needs of the job for which I was hiring, I’d be intrigued.

I expect the potential employer who received this resume felt the same way.  Unfortunately, when her name was Google searched, one of the first things to pop up was this image from her Facebook profile: (more…)

Once you get out of school, it becomes harder for the bullies among us to persecute people online, which is obviously a real shame.  Sure, for the junior high set there’s been MySpace and the high schoolers have the Facebook, and college and grad students have the benefits of JuicyCampus or other social boards to slander and libel their peers (click on any of those links for a good time!), but what of us grown-ups, out in the real world?

I mean, LinkedIn and Viadeo have been great professional networking tools, but I’ve often found them lacking – where’s the free-for-all forum where I can launch personal attacks and deride my colleagues for their laziness, brown-nosing, or just being giant whores, with the comfort of anonymity?

Well, the internet isn’t about to fail us, hence the advent of the professional and anonymous peer review board, Unvarnished.  Unvarnished allows users to dish about their co-workers’ job performances from the safety of their home computers and is fresh out of beta testing.  The concept is similar to Amazon user reviews and, if it isn’t already obvious to you, can be abused just as handily.  From Time Online:

It’s a concept that has caused some controversy, particularly since Unvarnished allows employees to be reviewed anonymously and with no way of removing a negative review. But the co-founders, veterans of sites like LinkedIn and eBay, think there’s a market for honest, unfiltered feedback about how individuals perform in their jobs and say their site will ultimately be more useful than the carefully selected job references or curated blurbs on someone’s LinkedIn profile. “We’re trying to take how professional reputation works in the offline world and port that online,” says co-founder Peter Kazanjy.

Yeah, you bet your ass there will be a market for it.  A sweaty, grimy, desperate black market.  Because why launch a whisper campaign within your organization when it might be traced back to you, when you can simply put it online and remove the risk of accountability, not to mention ensuring that your grievances will be available, forever, to potential employers and contacts worldwide?  It’s the future, y’all. (more…)

I am an attractive young woman.  Evaluations of my level of attractiveness and the relativity of my youth will vary from person to person (not to mention day-to-day), but generically speaking, this is a fair statement.  I am also a professional in an industry populated mpstly by men.  As such, I am largely at a disadvantage, but retain one *unique* advantage based on my personal presentation, if I choose to cultivate it.

This is a song familiar to a lot of you.

My office wear is carefully calculated to appear appropriate in the service of my own physical and mental comfort.  Any aspect that could be challenged as “alluring” or “radical” is studiously balanced out.  If my pants or skirt are form-fitting, my sweater or blouse is loose or non-confrontational.  If my shirt is vee-necked and tight, my trousers are wide-legged and paired with a blazer.  My hair, which is highlighted red and blonde, is subject to much comment by male colleagues (usually that it is too red and they prefer me blonder).  I take it into consideration, but still wear silver-hooped earrings every day, because I like them, and their size and shape belies how much my ears stick out (I hate my ears).  Every day, I wear an extremely high-quality, fake silver Rolex and a tasteful silver ring I bought on the street in Barcelona.  I take pride in the fact that people who have worked with me for years are surprised to find out I have a tongue stud, because I chose a subtle one ten years ago.

Pantsuits and pearls are for client meetings, with discreet pearl-drop earrings and straightened hair.  I have one gray suit and one black pinstriped suit.  I wear them with shined, heeled black boots for external meetings, or burgundy Franco Sarto heels for meetings in the office.  I bought both suits half-priced in a sale for $300, and then spent $100 in alterations.  I don’t own a skirtsuit because I haven’t found one that fits me well enough to merit alterations, although I have a gorgeous turquoise shift that my mother bought me from M&S when she visited me last year, which is very professional without looking matronly.  I keep it in the coat closet at work with a spare set of pantyhose, in case of an emergency client meeting.

Having been compared to a librarian, a schoolgirl, and a flight attendant at the office, I am careful to ensure I don’t look too costumey.  I once wore a tight black sweater over a crisp white shirt, with a black skirt and buckled leather boots and realized, mirthfully, that I looked like a Pilgrim, but no one noticed. I wore that outfit again for Thanksgiving, for my own private tribute, because I am an American in the UK. (more…)

Catastrophic weather events and tax-payer hell are admittedly superior nuisances to one of my latest first-world problems, but I’m not going to let that prevent me from sharing a little recent frustration.  Actually, “recent” isn’t strictly accurate, as this is an annoyance that’s been plaguing me for the last year, and my irritation is down to my fellow citizens rather than the faceless powers that be (as far as I know…).

When I moved into this flat, one of the first things I did after sorting out the bills was to contact the council and ask for a recycling bag.   This was straightforward.  My liberal guilt is not assuaged by the fact that I use only public transport (my black soul yearns for my old Subaru, and if I were richer, I would have it), but it is somewhat appeased by my rabid recycling habit.  Glass, plastic, and aluminum are all lovingly washed out and dried next to the sink, to be placed with smug reverence in my Recycling Bag.  I rip the plastic windows out of my junkmail to recycle the envelopes, and take anything with my name on to work to shred and return to the holy green bag.  I take pride (yes, pride!) in the fact that my two-person household produces half a 13 gallon bag a week of trash.  If I had a garden, I would have a compost heap and grow my own herbs, and your eyes would water in the face of my fuckin’ halo.

Basically, recycling not only makes me feel righteous, it just feels right.  As a person who actually has apocalyptic nightmares about the world drowning in mountains of trash, this is my last and weakest defense against the coming garbage tsunami, and as a drinker, it is solace.  We may consume the contents of the beer and wine, but by god, the packaging is to be used again.  Ditto for the oven-ready meals.

As a liberal consumer with liberal culpability, I have to recycle.  Just as Hitler was a vegetarian, whatever else I am responsible for inflicting on the environment, I can comfort myself with the fact that at least I am a Dedicated Recycler.

So, I ordered my recycling bag and saved up my recycling for two weeks.  When the bag came, I was pleased to hoist up my contributions on the wrought-iron fence outside my flat, representing my own milk and canned-soup habit in the face of my thoughtful neighbors.  Despite the fact that I didn’t know any of them, I felt like a part of the conscientious community.  It barely registered that I appeared to be the only recycler in my corner-block of four apartments.  I was part of the whole solution, after all, and felt a soft glow of togetherness throughout the day, until I returned home that evening after work and my bag was gone. (more…)

Even though we get the Financial Times at work, I don’t generally pick it up for a browse, which is a shame because a supplement laying in reception caught my eye today, and seemed worth sharing.  Here’s what I decided to ostentatiously flick through on the bus on my way home, occasionally murmuring, “indeed, indeed” in earshot of other passengers:


With less than 4,000 yachts in the world, it seems like, I dunno, those actually involved in yacht-building, yacht-buying, yacht-racing, and yacht-cruising could, I don’t know, just get their yacht news in a special yacht magazine.  It sort of seems like the rest of us non-billionaire plebes don’t need to pick up an FT Wealth that boasts the headline: 

Damage control:  As the financial crisis sparks anger and envy, how can the wealthy protect their image and privacy?

The shipbuilding industry is a huge one and employs a lot of people globally (particularly in the UK, Caspian, Middle East, and Southeast Asia), but that’s a little subheader up there that’s hard to get behind (you can read the actual article here, if you’re interested in the trials of the super-rich). 

I actually found it more humorous than embittering, and a funny little portal into a world that bears little resemblance to my day-to-day existence.  For those of us on the outside looking in, it’s hard to work up a sad face about the prospect of people being forced to time-share their yachts.  But I guess everybody’s got problems.

Things that I am over:

– Celebrity Twitters. That Courtney Love one  broke my brain.

– Tax Season.

– Easter. Even with all that candy, I can’t suppress my ‘meh’.

– Michael Bay movies. No, I will not be seeing Transformers 2. I thought we exhausted the whole bigshow-improbable-actiony-summer-popcorn-bukkake genre in the early aughts. No? Just me? OK then, one final word: Sam Raimi. Spider-Man 3. I thought so.

– The Anna-Paquin’s-teef-sized gaps between new Gossip Girl eps. The fuck is with that? Which brings me to the thing that I am over the most:

– Urban Outfitters.

Jump, please. (more…)

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