Either Way, I Refuse to Wear a Pashmina

I might be feeling good about my MLS (technically, MS) again. And H&M. Yes, I realize the two acronyms aren't in any way related. I've been getting good bites on the job front and I reluctantly went to the 59th and Lexington H&M during lunch (after being greatly disappointed by the Banana Republic across the street–I don't know why stores can't put the same sizes they sell on the web in their bricks and mortar businesses. Oh, but Banana Republic has just added a new size: 00. Yes, less than zero is now a reality. J. Crew has gone as far as creating an entire separate section on their website for Size 16. Seriously. I can understand why petites have their own category, as it is a range of sizes made for short people. Same with tall. But singling out one size? As if the 16s would sully the rest of the clothes if they were integrated.) and was surprised to finding a large proportion (oh, the puns…) of items in my size. I've always had a beef with H&M because they claim to go up to a size 16, but even after looking hard I frequently come up empty handed or find one thing like a plain white button up shirt. I'm trying to figure out if it was a fluke, or if there is some market research at work in the stocking of this location (I once had the bright idea that there would be larger sizes at the Harlem store–oh, I'm all for stereotyping–but it was completely untrue).

So, without naming names I have two possibilities in my future and I'm torn because these places would put me on very different paths. At least in my imagination. God has a plan for us all (I kid) but I am in a numbers game mode. We'll see what takes. I could end up empty handed. Auction house or business consulting? Tradition or entrepreneurship? Stodgy-arty or stodgy-conservative?

I don't really know the reality of anything, but it seems like one option would be filled with the sorts of people who end up as contestants on The Apprentice. Scary. But along with scary, comes good money (by my standards, at least–what was that New York Times article last year about $200,000 being the new $100,000? I don't know many, or any, librarians cracking the six-figures). As soon as you lose the word librarian in your title and add words like knowledge or analyst and/or work in a department not called the library, your salary can easily jump $20,000.

The other option likely involves drapey jewelry, caftans and gay men (palling around with the caftan-owners. No stereotyping whatsoever-straight men are nearly non-existent in the library world as it is, adding a museum/art library to the mix only emphasizes things), un-hard work and acceptable pay. Pashminas bridge the two worlds of librarianship. Pashminas are universal. Hmm, I just remembered that at my last interview from a few months ago for a job I obviously didn't get and that wasn't library-related in the least, the interviewer was wearing a pashmina over her entire torso like an afghan on a ratty sofa. So yes, even more universal than I originally thought.


I hate to admit it, but I'm at the stage of my life where I'd like nice things (you know, like…er, pashminas). I never got to make decent money in my twenties, like most of the people I know in NYC did/have. But the 9-5, low stress life is also genetically coded in me and I do have outside interests that don't like work infringing upon them. And it's kind of one or the other. I'll probably have a stronger opinion on the matter by this time next week.

Amusingly, I found a six-year-old New York Times article (via a listserv) about public librarians in NYC leaving their jobs because of the sad pay. The amusing part is that both of the companies I have in my sights are given as examples of where librarians have gone to increase their salary. Which might not be saying much, as you could practically go anywhere after public librarianship (in NYC-this is not lost on savvy employers. The Los Angeles Public Library just started recruiting recent library school grads here in the city with that exact tactic. In so many words: come to sunny California. We pay more and our cost of living is lower. I wish I could dig up the ad, but if I'm correct entry-level salaries are $40s west coast and $30s here) and make more.

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