About Me

Musings of a hopeful wanderer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dress for Success(ful Interviews)

If you've recently landed yourself a job interview, congratulations!  Even if you end up not being offered the position, interviews show that you are a well-qualified candidate.  Interview attire is nerve-wracking, especially when you are a young professional or entering a new field.  Advice from yesteryear states dark business suits are appropriate; 1) I hate business suits and will go to my grave (hopefully) never donning one, and 2) in today's age, you can be just as professional looking wearing something else.

I recently had a job interview for a reference position in an academic library.  Library settings are tricky because while they are professional, they are often more casual than other workplaces.  You are often on your feet and interacting with people, so you need to be comfortable and approachable.  In a interview, I will opt to dress nicer than I would expect to on the day-to-day, but still comfortable (which, for me, means no high-heels).  Comfort is key because you want to be focused on your interview, and not the pain in your feet or wondering if your top is cut too low.  This is what I wore:

This outfit reflects some of my guidelines when choosing an interview-appropriate outfit.  This dress is a silk blend, so its nicer than cotton.  The belt is a dark color, my shoes are neutral (and flat, always) and the cardigan covers my bare shoulders.  A couple more things to consider:

Tattoos and/or piercings.
Much to my parents chagrin, I have several tattoos and piercings.  Two sets of piercings in my earlobes, and a few "non-traditional" ear piercings in my tragus and helix; more obviously, my nose is pierced.  I also have a large-ish tattoo on my left tricep and a small tattoo on my right wrist.  You'll hear different opinions about displaying tattoos in piercings for an interview, but here's my advice: do what feels comfortable and be honest.  I've never taken out any piercings for an interview and never has it been a problem (that I know of).  I do cover the tattoo on my tricep because it's large and kind of weird; I don't purposefully cover my wrist tattoo, although it often happens inadvertently when covering the one on my arm.  If I'm offered the job, I will let my employer know about my tattoos and ask about any workplace policies regarding facial piercings or tattoos.  Like I've said, I've never had an issue with either of them (in fact, most of my employers have had one or the other themselves).  Again, be comfortable and honest.

Its all in the details.
If you've made it to the interview stage, you've already stood out as a qualified candidate.  I've sat on hiring committees where all the candidates were very well qualified and gave good answers, and the decision ultimately came to small details.  What you say is of course the most important aspect of an interview, but details of your appearance are important, too.
  • I'm a nail-biter which is often unsightly; I curb the habit by almost always having my nails polished, which means they are often chipped due to daily wear and tear.  To make my nails look presentable, before an interview I either polish them or take off all the polish.  Chipped, cracked nail polish looks unclean and unprofessional.
  • I am completely paranoid about things in my teeth, so I floss just before an interview (yes, I'm crazy).  Also, you might be sitting very close to your interviewer, so if you can, brush or use mouthwash just before.  Will you not get a job because you don't have awesome dental hygiene?  Probably not, but it'll never hurt.
  • Iron your clothes.  Period.
  • If you tend to sweat easily (guilty, even when it's not 100 degrees out) and will have to walk some distance between your bus stop or parking lot to the location of your interview, consider changing into your interview attire when you get there, if possible.  If that's not possible, allow yourself some time before the interview begins to cool down.  I did not wear my cardigan on my half-mile walk from my bus to the library because I would have been unacceptably sweaty. When I got to the library, I stopped in the bathroom, blotted myself off and sat in the air conditioned lobby for a few minutes.  Then I put on my cardigan.
What else do you recommend for interview-appropriate attire?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Changes afoot

There are some pretty exciting things happening around Casa Manpern.  First, Ed is graduating in only a few weeks, and while the job market is tough and entering the workforce is always scary, it's really, really exciting.  Even if it means we have to live separately for a while when he starts his first professional animation job, it will be so effing worth it.

Secondly, I started writing over at www.hacklibraryschool.wordpress.com.  It's a blog written by library school students about library school (and information professional) things.  If you're into that sort of thing, check us out!  I was really honored to be invited as a contributing writer, and my first post will be next Thursday.  You better believe I will link you to that shizz on the daily.

Lastly, I have a job interview on Wednesday.  No, I do not plan on leaving my position at Austin Public Library, but I don't want to give too many details other than it is another library position in a different kind of library altogether.  Keep your fingers crossed and I'll keep you posted.

All these changes have left me wanting to wear go-to staple peices--"workhorse" pieces if you will.  Always a lover of plaid, I'm surprised I hadn't paired my favorite plaid shirt with my favorite (if not over-worn) black skirt.  It's a match made in heaven.  Also: I'm still in love with these shoes. 

I want to hear all about your summer break so far!  What do you recommend in terms of yummy food, books, movies, and/or major life changes?

Blouse: Urban Outfitters
Skirt: Old Navy, second hand via Elaine
Shoes: Steve Madden
Belt: thrifted
Aloof look: blazing hot Texas sun searing my retinas

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spelling Bee Chic

Confession: I am, and pretty much always have been, a geek.  For example, I went to band camp.  Twice (and loved it).  I hated watching movies in school because, hello, I could watch a movie on my own time thank you very much.  I did an optional senior thesis and when people ask me why, I respond "it was fun."

This past Thursday the Austin Chronicle held an adult spelling bee, the proceeds of which benefited the Austin Public Library.  As someone who was once an excellent speller (damn you, spell check!), I couldn't sign up fast enough.  Sadly, the I was eliminated in the first round, which was a written test which required identifying misspelled words--words, that, of course, I often misspell.  Thankfully I didn't make it to the third round, which was a more traditional on-the-stage spelling bee.  With words like bourgeoisie, embouchure, and decuple, I would certainly have embarrassed myself.

Anyway, I wanted to channel my inner bookworm with ruffles and a sweater vest.  And although I didn't take home the trophy, I looked cute, drank many margaritas, and learned new words.  What kind of nerd doesn't like that?

Vest: boutique in Ann Arbor, MI
Blouse: Target
Cut-offs: Gap, cut off by me
Shoes: TOMS
Face: pure competition

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Movie Review: Everything Must Go

Lately, I’ve been undertaking a near Herculean exercise regimen called Tabata intervals.  In these devilish intervals, you engage in 20 seconds of to-the-limit cardio, rest completely for 10 seconds, and repeat.  For four straight minutes.  Initially, it doesn’t seem so bad.  Twenty seconds isn’t so long, you think.  This will be no problem.  Around a minute in a half, your heart is beating out of your chest and the ten seconds that at first was a nice relief is now cruel.  At the end of those four minutes, the only thing left to do is collapse, catch your breath, and feel like a superhero.  (If you want to undertake these, by the way, they are not recommended to do more than once a week.)

Dan Rush’s debut film, Everything Must Go, was, in many ways, like these intervals.  Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) is an alcoholic, who, after relapsing on a business trip, is fired finds all his belongings on his front lawn and all the locks changed.  His wife (also a recovering alcoholic) gets wind of the relapse and decides enough is enough.  The rest of the movie takes place will Halsey on his lawn surrounded by the only things he owns, drunk, miserable, and fighting to take it one day at a time.

At times (many, in fact), it’s hard to watch.  We go see long stretches of self-deprecation; Halsey is a kind of put-together drunk, not out of control or obnoxious or violent, just the kind of guy who prioritizes his PBR above all else, the most heart-breaking kind of drunk.  Just when you think you’ve had enough, that your own heart can’t take the ache of watching this man fight and lose, fight and lose, stop fighting and keep losing, we have punctuated moments of relief (it might be a stretch to call them happiness).  The young female neighbor across the street who offers conversation, the young boy who wants to learn to play catch, these are the only things keeping the viewer in their seats.  These truncated moments of relief are just enough to bring you back from tears (if you are, in fact, the kind of person inclined to cry in movie theaters) but not enough to be comfortable.

In the end, those brief moments just weren’t enough.  As the credits were rolling, I felt exhausted.  I had been pushed to the edge and then pulled back just briefly—so briefly—I was ultimately left with one foot on and one foot off the proverbial ledge.  It’s hard to say I liked it (though I really, really did), but I would absolutely recommend it.  While the end was a little made-for-Hollywood and the supporting characters a bit flat, Ferrell was enchanting and proved his chops extend beyond the comfort zone of SNL-esque bits.   It isn’t punchy or particularly unique, but it’s solid and good.  Not unlike a taxing work out, this movie will leave you feeling  a bit sore, but satisfied.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Adults wearing unicorns


I am here and well.  I've actually been *gasp* enjoying my time away from school.  Mostly  by picking up extra library shifts and working a million hours a week.  But other than that, fun!

Ed and I went to TWO movies this weekend (a review forthcoming) and did other relaxing things, such as walking the dog and laying on the couch.  By the time Sunday rolled around, clothing myself felt like a chore, so I went the never-fail route: unicorns (go on, zoom in to my shirt detail).
It was very bright out, but breezy.  And the Texas indoor climate is known as hyper air conditioned, so a cardigan is appropriate.

Hope y'all had a good week!

Shirt: UO, several years old
Cardigan: F21
Jeans: Old Navy
Shoes: Target

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Looks like I have some catching up to do (as usual).

This week has been a mess of working, finishing up the semester, and trying to get our apartment back in order.  Because we've both been tied to our desks (for those who don't know: Ed is in his last semester of a prestigious online animation program, after which he will likely get a job, move away, and become a surfer and leave me for a girl who doesn't turn into a giant freckle after 10  minutes of sun.  Just kidding about that last part.)

This is the type of thing I've been wearing these last few days at work and I think it's very indicative of my current mood to "keep house."  Y'all, I've been on a cleaning frenzy.  And not just your ordinary cleaning, but the stuff you never want to do, like cleaning out the fridge and dusting the fans.

Dress: thrifted
Top: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange
Shoes: Steven Madden
I also have plans to do a bit more decorating.  We recently decided to stay in the apartment we're in even though we don't really like it because the rent is cheap and Ed's plans after graduating are up in the air.  The walls are dark and the lighting is terrible and because it's tiny, it gets cluttered easily.  I find that when the house is in disarray, we're both grumpier, more irritable, and, most importantly, can never find our stuff.

Full disclosure: I do the vast majority of the cooking, cleaning, and general "housekeeping."  I've been thinking a lot about what the means in terms of labor distribution and power relations.  I am a self-identified feminist and a lot of what I learned in school (I graduated with a B.A. in Women's and Gender Studies) asked us to challenge the so-called "second shift" and the nature of "women's work".  I used to get so angry with Ed that I did most of the housekeeping, even during the 5-month period last year when he was unemployed and I was working 40+ hours a week.  I immediately assumed it was because Ed thought it was my job or he didn't care about the maintenance of the apartment, or didn't value my time as much as his.  Knowing Ed and his own feminist tendencies, this was simply incredulous.

Lately I've been thinking about these dynamics more in-depth.  Frankly, I just like cleaning and cooking.  As soon as possible I plan to maintain a large garden and learn to sew and I know I'll be doing that mostly on my own because, really, Ed doesn't enjoy it.  And yes, that's probably largely in part to socialization and whatnot, but does that mean I should stop doing what I enjoy?  I also think that housework is only "women's work" when it's devalued, or when the woman doing the work feels compelled one way or another to do it, or if she knows that if she doesn't do it, it won't get done.  None of that applies in my household or in my relationship.  Feminism, generally speaking, is about informed consent.  No one, NO ONE, should feel compelled to do anything she or he doesn't want to do--housework included.  And no one should be in a relationship where both partners don't compromise and share responsibilities.  And ultimately, everyone should get to decide what makes them happy, what works to de-stress them, and for me, that is mostly "women's work."

What works for you?  How do you maintain an equitable (not necessarily equal) distribution of labor (and, I suppose if we're being Marxists about it, power) in your relationship?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Review: Paolo Bacigalupi's "Ship Breaker"

This was my second-ever Young Adult novel and, after having just come down from my "Hunger Games" high, was a little disappointing.

The story is about young Nailer, a pre-teen boy who lives in the Gulf Coast working as a ship breaker.  Presumably set sometime in the near-ish future, the combination of hurricanes and the rising tides of global warming have all but drowned the Gulf.  The United States no longer has a need for the huge oil tankers that currently line our coasts, which has resulted in near-crippling poverty for the people of the Gulf.  To make ends meet and to cultivate materials for the changing U.S. infrastructure, ship breakers tear down the tankers for parts.  It's backbreaking and dangerous work.

One day after a particularly bad hurricane, "city killers," Nailer and his best friend Pima stumble upon a clipper, a large, luxurious boat, probably a yacht.  In the boat, they find another young, extraordinarily rich girl, and are faced with the dilemma of killing her and selling her boat for scavenge or saving her life and risking their own.

The story itself was good and interesting.  I like Nailer and found that Bacigalupi gave him a lot of depth.  The last 2/3 of the book, though, felt very rushed and even out of place.  It seems like Bacigalupi didn't have a clear sense of what he wanted to happen, or he couldn't narrow it down, so he kind of just threw it all in there.

As the winner of the 2010 Printz award, this book was by no means poorly written, however if Bacigalupi could've edited himself a little more, I would have found the ending more cohesive and, ultimately, satisfying.

Monday, May 2, 2011

On good days

Today I'm having a really terrific day.  Here is a list of reasons why:

1. I was notified that I've been awarded a $1000 scholarship from the Texas Library Association.
2. At work, I helped a young man research requirements for a hardship driver's license.  When we finished, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "You've been very helpful."
3. It was cold and rainy and I got to wear my most favorite outfit in the whole world: dress, cardigan, boots.  If I lived in a climate that was consistently 65 degrees and drizzling, I would wear this every single day of my life.
And then, of course, I woke up this morning to hear the news about the thing that happened. I have some opinions about it, which I won't share here because it isn't the appropriate venue, but mostly I don't know what yet to say.  A victory against terrorism and domination and coercion worldwide?  Yes, absolutely.  Something to literally celebrate?  The jury's still out.

As far as days go, I'd call it a good one.

Dress: UO
Belt: thrifted
Cardigan: F21
Boots: via DSW
Smirk: public libraries, FTW!