Learning to fold: everything I know about laundry I learned from working shitty retail jobs

By on Apr 22nd

step7Having just finished my first year of college, the summer of 1994 found me looking to take a step up in my career. I'd spent a few months toddler-wrastling for a daycare, but really wanted to ascend to the world of retail … the cash register and lack of juice breaks made it seemed more glamorous, and I could make $6.25 an hour instead of $5.75.

I found a job at The Disney Store in downtown Seattle's then-newish Westlake Mall. I thought the job would be so much fun…I was still a big Little Mermaid fan, and I figured that my experience with children at the daycare would translate perfectly into children's retail.

My disillusionment began quickly. I had to sit through "orientation" which included two sessions watching lengthy bullshit corporate videos about synergy and the Customer Service Cycle. I was introduced to the tenets of the retail industry, the fantastically swishy sounding theory of FAB — Features And Benefits. The t-shirt is COTTON [feature] which makes it SOFT and ABSORBENT! [benefit] This stuffed Sebastian lobster doll is SAFE FOR BABIES [benefit] because it's made from NON-TOXIC NON-ABSORBENT ACETATE! [feature]

If the orientation made me wary, I was soon overwhelmed by the level of control the company exacted over me. I learned never to ask a customer a question to which they could answer "No." The question was not, "Can I help you?" but rather, "What can I help you find today?" I suppose the theory was that "Nothing" has two syllables, and that puts you at a better syllable-to-statement ratio with the customer. I'm confident many years of research have been conducted on this issue, and that it's always better if you can get a duo-syllabic rejection.

I learned how to semantically assimilate with the Disney Corporation. I was a "Cast Member," not an employee. It was the "Stage," not the store floor. It was "Backstage," not the storage room. As they are in many places now, customers were "Guests." I learned how to wear my socks appropriately (folded down neatly over the ankles, bobby-sock style) and which color of nylons to wear under my uniform of grey shorts and faux letterman's sweater.

Once, my chipper manager sent me Backstage to Windex my sneakers. "Gal," she chirped "they're looking a little dingey. You need to go clean those up Backstage!"

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Should I volunteer or start a job?

By on Apr 22nd
I am on my last semester of college, majoring in Art History and Pre-Law. My hope is to work in the non-profit field, specifically with grant-writing and fundraising. The problem is that this is a recent realization and I have little experience with grant-writing and volunteering.

I know that volunteering would be an amazing way to gain the experience that I need, but with graduation quickly coming and all my debt looming in the distance, I worry if I can afford it and if it's worth the risk. Then again, I have had a few professors tell me that I should get a job instead of volunteering or interning, but I worry that no one will hire me due to lack of experience.

I want so much to make a real and lasting difference, I just worry that I don't have the skills and experience to actually do it.

So my question is: should I volunteer or should I begin my job search? -Sara

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Be your own cheerleader against the zombies of self-doubt and celebrate your accomplishments

By on Apr 21st

Zombies of self-doubt are no match for cheerleaders. By: mczonkCC BY 2.0

You did a thing! You accomplished a goal you had set out for yourself, and it took hard work to get there. It might have been a large goal that took months or years; it might have been a smaller goal. But you can dust your hands — you achieved something!

…But now you're having trouble internalizing your accomplishment. Maybe you struggle with impostor syndrome and have trouble acknowledging when kudos and accolades from your colleagues and support network are deserved. Your self-doubt is holding you back from really feeling good about what you achieved. Or maybe, your support network isn't very supportive. If you've ever excitedly told a friend or family member about something to have them say, "Well, I knew that would happen," you might have felt a little disheartened. While it's nice that they have faith in you, they haven't exactly made you feel like celebrating. Worse yet, you don't feel comfortable enough to tell anyone at all.

You might feel that the best thing to do at this point is to brush your accomplishment aside and refocus on the next task. You might even begin to doubt that your accomplishment is worth acknowledging at all. If you succumb to the zombies of self-doubt, you risk burnout, loss of motivation, and being generally bummed out. Besides that, the zombies are really not good for your self-esteem. I struggle against them myself. Here's what I've come up with to try to help remind myself to be my own cheerleader and celebrate my accomplishments.

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Bring the future to your kitchen with these colorful, space-age-y appliances

By on Apr 21st

colorful futuristic home appliances
Kalorik (one of Europe's first manufacturers of small electric appliances) began producing electric toasters in Belgium in the 1930s. Today, they're apparently producing appliances from the mother fucking future! I just stumbled upon these awesome-looking home goods on Amazon, and was all "zomg what are these kitchen space pods!?"

Let's see… we got see-through toasters, water kettles that light up, digital measuring cups, colorful waffle makers. Ooh, there's even a bbq grill with a built-in radio and iPod connection! Just look at this stuff…

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She-rexes and bunz and roses from Baby Blastoff's awesome gender-neutral baby clothing line

By on Apr 18th

While I don't know much about babies, I do know about the awesomeness that is gender-neutral clothing. I also know that our sponsor Baby Blastoff has mastered the art of gender-neutral baby clothes. Emily Bennett is the mom, artist, and entrepreneur behind Baby Blastoff, and all of her products are manufactured in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she lives.

Baby Blastoff's styles and colors are carefully chosen by Emily to work for any gender, while still being super-fun and hip. Emily's mission is to create an alternative to the "pink is for girls, blue is for boys" paradigm in children's clothing. As a life-long tomboy who was forced into girly pink-y princess clothing growing up, I raise my glass of whiskey to you, Emily. Fight the good fight!

With clothing items that have names like the "She Rex" and "Bunz and Roses," and with awesome style options like these striped shorts, or, OOH!, rocket rompers… I know where I'm going for baby-gifting from now on.

If you also have baby-related shopping to do — gender-neutral baby shower gifts, or that pesky need to clothe your own children — now YOU know where to go from now on too! Now head over to Baby Blastoff for more fun children's clothing names and designs.

Where to store your always-in-use items in the rare moments they're not in use

By on Apr 18th
Megan's matches her laptop and water glass to her home decor. That's normal, right?

Megan matches her laptop and water glass to her home decor. That's normal, right?

I am currently getting rid of a lot of stuff, deciding what stays using the philosophy of "a place for everything and everything in its place." If I can't find a sensible-to-me place for it then it gets donated. However I have a few things that always seem to be in use, like my laptop, mobile phone, and a jug I use all the time.

The sensible-to-me place for these things is wherever I am right now. Which is fine, except when people come over I don't have anywhere to put them. I tried clearing off a shelf for my laptop, but pretty quickly I get annoyed at nearly always having an empty shelf.

What solutions do my Homies use to store these things that are "always" in use, without giving up valuable space for the odd times these things need put away? -MelRuth

I, too, always have my laptop, phone, and a bottle of water out in the living room. Which means, I have three solutions for you:

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I like cleaning my house: WTF?! When did this happen?

By on Apr 17th

Adorable glovables!

Adorable glovables!

Somehow, I've gone from a person who found herself filled with resentment and rage while cleaning to someone who actually (get this) enjoys doing my chores. Somehow, I now understand the concept of "domestic bliss." I genuinely don't know when this happened. I still have a friend of a friend come and help with the dirt once or twice a month, but somehow I have become someone who gets a sick, undeniable sense of pleasure out of picking up the living room. Somehow, I'm that asshole who shouts "LAUNDRY ZERO!!" with a sense of genuine accomplishment once all hampers are empty and all clothes are folded.

I don't know how or why this happened, but in the interest of bottling it and sharing it, here are a few of my theories:

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How to write a grad school CV that shows off the goods

By on Apr 17th
How to write a CV for grad schoolI need a CV to complete my application for a graduate program in divinity — and I have no idea where to start! I did some Googling to try and find a good template, style guide, or even sample and immediately got stuck in a black hole of garbage career advice websites. Could anyone recommend a website or app I can use to generate a quality CV, or at least a style guide?

I'd also like some advice on the content — I am a professional community organizer with some certifications, some degrees, some awards, and some panel seats. The advice I got from the admissions office was to "put everything that could possibly be related" on the document.

Thanks for any help anyone can give. I've been at this for hours and I'm about to huck my nerdbox out the kitchen window. -elizadactyl

Time for a little work experience peacocking, eh? I have my Master's in American Studies and in September I'll be starting my PhD in English. I've known the importance of having a good, up-to-date CV since my last couple years of undergrad. And I also know the mire of terrible and click-baity career websites that spring up when you search for help on this topic.

The best and easiest way to write a good CV is to look at someone else's CV. Whose, you ask? Why, your favourite professor's. Go to their university website. They will most likely have a link directly on their contact page with their CV. This is the best way to look at what is necessary, what the format should be, and what to emphasize.

But just as an overview or guide to reading your professor's CV, let's run down what's important to know — in excruciating detail.

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