Life Lessons

Extra Credit

Sometimes, when we learn things that we don't realize we've learned, we get a stealthy sense of knowledge and self-confidence that we might never have otherwise. Being open-minded and ready to work—be it with a calculator, computer, mop and broom, or any other thing that we find intimidating, or above us or beneath us — is definitely the path to greater knowledge.

Get Smarter

photo: Leslie Van Stelten

Recipes/ suggestions for serving large groups:
Institute of Culinary Education,

Life Lesson 4: It's Not the Hair

Publicist, Sterling Publishing

photo: Leslie Van Stelten
I was living in Athens, Georgia, and had found a job in California as an au pair— but that suddenly fell through when the couple broke up. So when a friend decided to move to New York, I hitched my skateboard to her pickup truck and here I am. I was pretty unprepared for the reality of a big-city job hunt. The jobs I'd had before I found through friends. I sent my resume to my parents, siblings, and extended family, asking them to reach out to anyone they knew in NYC who might help me get my foot in the door somewhere. I spent a lot of time reading articles on the Internet, and researching jobs on sites like Mediabistro and Craigslist, and in the papers. And I discovered that recruiting agencies are useless for a beginner like me—instead of being out there on interviews I was sitting at home, waiting for the phone to ring.

As the hunt wore on I grew less and less confident. I began to think I'd made a big mistake in coming here; that—more than anything else—really worked against me for a while. Eventually, I figured out how to present myself in a way that's accurate but also more accessible than perhaps I normally come across to people. I sent out dozens of resumes and went on 37 job interviews before I found the right job—and my hair, which was pink at the time, wasn't a problem.

Extra Credit

The knowledge that if I can make it here—as the song goes — I can make it anywhere.

Subhed: Get Smarter

Village Voice jobs listings, Craigslist jobs listings,

Life Lesson 5: Flesh Counts

Park Slope

photo: Leslie Van Stelten
About six years ago I picked up a pencil and taught myself to draw. I'd drawn a bit as a child, but never pursued it. Thing is, before I found someone who loved me enough and in the right way, I couldn't sit still long enough to devote myself to learning to draw—I was mostly preoccupied with pursuing romantic partners. So I can credit one thing and one person with making that possible for me: my wife, Sarah Schecnk. Weird, but true.

Much to my surprise, I discovered that I really love drawing, and I haven't stopped since. I started with Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and went on to take night classes at the Art Students League. I've had cartoons published in The New Yorker, Barron's and other publications, and have exhibited at New York galleries. I've worked in publishing most of my adult life, but now I have this second, growing career as a cartoonist. In fact, on September 24th, I'm teaching a one-day class in cartooning through Media Bistro.

Extra Credit

The side benefit I've discovered is a heightened sense of well-being. I feel so much better when I've been drawing. In fact, when I practice on the subway — I draw on my way to work and on the way home; the ride may be a bit bumpy, but there's never a shortage of models — at the end of my trip I'm often in a mood to socialize. That's quite a contrast to the usual feeling of being overcrowded, rushed, and annoyed.

Get Smarter

Art Students League, Queer Men’s Erotic Art Workshop at Leslie-Lohmen Gay Art Foundation, How to Draw and Sell Gag Cartoons’ with John Donohue,

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