In Notes on October 27, 2016 at 12:05 am

Work Stew is a collection of original essays and in-depth interviews. To learn more, please visit the FAQ.

New essays and interviews will be added regularly, so please check in often. Or you can sign up to receive email notifications of new contentlook for the button at the bottom right of the site.

Also, Work Stew now has its very own Facebook page; if you ‘like’ it, you’ll be able to see periodic updates in your news feed. You can also receive notices of new content via Twitter.


A brief history:

The site was launched in January 2011, when I published “Random Acts of Business,” an essay about extraordinarily long hot dogs, True Believers, and my lifelong quest for flow. Since then more than 70 other essays have been added to the mix.

You can view a complete list of contributors here. To date, the Top Ten Readers’ Favorites* are (in alphabetical order):

Molly Bishop Shadel A law professor writes about juggling her wide-ranging legal career with a personal life

Gerald Casale A founding member of the ground-breaking and enduring band Devo reflects on what constitutes “work.” 

Samantha Cole A prep school grad embraces her “inner laborer.” 

Ronald J. Granieri An historian pulls back the ivy to reveal what life in academia is really like.  

Tasha Huebner A self-employed Wharton grad takes a hammer to the old chestnut, “Do what you love, and the money will come.” 

Meg Heimovics Kumin A software developer reboots after three babies and two family crises and emerges as a photographer

Gopi Kallayil A Googler ponders the power of intention after an idea scribbled on a piece of paper almost immediately springs to life. 

Lindsay Moran Following the Abbottabad raid, an ex-spy reflects on her decision to leave the CIA

Rhino A soldier describes what it’s like to come home, including what goes through his mind when someone says to him, “Thank you for your service.” 

Terri Rowe A longtime factory worker reveals the secret identity that has sustained her since she was four years old. 

If you’re interested in submitting an essay of your own, please write to me at I’d love to hear your story.


Kate Gace Walton
Editor, Work Stew

*Note: ‘Readers’ Favorite’ is a pretty subjective designation based on page views, shares, comments, and the volume of love/hate mail each essay has so far inspired. So, read all the essays; as they say, your mileage may vary.

What’s Happening Here?

In Notes on August 18, 2016 at 5:28 am

A brief note from Work Stew editor Kate Gace Walton:

Earlier this month, I posted the following note on Work Stew’s Facebook page:

Some of you know that in early 2015 I put most of Work Stew on hold. I was overwhelmed all of a sudden by the demands of my job, my family, and the needs of several friends in crisis.

Things feel more stable now (::Kate furiously knocks on wood::) so I’m thinking, for the first time in 18 months, about where to take things:

Do I return to the task of soliciting essays? Do I conduct more writing contests? Should I use funds that I previously put towards contest prizes to instead pay writers who submit pieces chosen for publication?

Do I return to the podcast? If so, what should I change?

Do I call it a day and move on entirely?

What are your thoughts? Is there anything in particular you’d like to see happen on the site and/or with this forum?

I then posted another note, which I am also sharing here because not everyone uses Facebook:

Regarding plans for Work Stew:

Thanks for the comments and ideas–those that were posted here [on Facebook] and those sent via PM/email. They were very helpful.

I’ve decided I’m going to take the rest of 2016 to recover from some of the hard stuff that’s happened over the last 18 months–it’s been a doozy of time–and to keep thinking things through.

During this time, I’ll keep posting here [on Facebook] and on Twitter but the site itself will remain more or less on hold. By mid-December, I’ll publish a post outlining my plans for the next phase.

Thanks again for all the kind words and support. They mean a lot to me!

See you in a few months. If you need to reach me in the meantime, please feel free to email me: 

And the Winner Is…

In Contests on February 21, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Thank you to all who entered “Memorable Bosses,” the latest Work Stew writing contest. I was overwhelmed by the quality of the entries I received. Even though I’ve been running Work Stew for more than five years now, your stories gave me a new appreciation of the daily dramas—some quiet, some not—unfolding in workplaces all over the world.


In the end, I needed to select one entry to receive the $200 prize, and I chose “Sticks and Stones” by Karen Good Marable. I imagine we could all draw a Venn diagram, with one circle labeled “Moments That Shook Me Rigid” and the other called “Times I Did the Brave Thing.” The incident that Karen describes sits squarely in the overlap, and I’m honored to share her well-written account of it here.

—Kate Gace Walton, Editor of Work Stew

Sticks and Stones

By Karen Good Marable

Having separated her mail, I walked into the cavernous, lamp-lit office of Josie Shapiro-Stone, a high-ranking editor at Seventeen magazine, and placed the pile on her desk. A mere 5’3” in three-inch heels with long blond hair and wearing a plaid kilt mini-skirt, Josie stood before her inspiration wall and stared through me absentmindedly, as she often did when one interrupted her reverie.

Then: “Karen! I love your hair!”

I beamed. “Thanks, Josie!”

Usually my dreadlocks were covered under a swath of African fabric, but on this day, as spring warmed into summer, I’d chosen to let my light shine. They stood thick and upright on my head like sunrays.

Josie moved closer to me, peering. “What do you call that?” she asked. But before I could answer, she added: “Is that, like, how Buckwheat wore his hair?”

My body reacted first: Hands went cold and clammy, heart raced, and a single bead of sweat trickled from underneath my armpit. I lifted one finger—“Um. Excuse me for a moment”—about-faced and walked the seven steps back to my desk. I just sat there at first, confused, wondering if what had just happened, happened. On the one hand, Josie was notoriously stupid. The type to stop the editor who’d just written an award-winning personal feature about anorexia and offer: “You are so skinny!” But this…this felt callous. Violent.

Did I mention I was the only Black girl on the editorial staff?

I needed to speak to someone, so I picked up the phone and called Beverly, my Howard University classmate-now-colleague who worked at Money magazine.

“This is Beverly.”

“Hi,” I whispered into the receiver. “Okay…so…my boss just asked me if the way I wear my hair is the way Buckwheat wore his hair.”

Incredulous silence.

“I’m calling you because I need someone to tell me not to slap this shit out of her.”

“Whoooo,” Beverly breathed. “Okay.” Pause. “Okay. I know you want to cuss her out, but don’t. Definitely do NOT hit her. Because then you’ll be the angry Black girl and you’ll get fired and you’ll get arrested.”

I bit my lip. “Mmmhmm.”

“This is what you do: Go back into her office and explain why what she said was wrong. And racist. And crazy! Let her know the deal.”


“Don’t hit her.”


I rose from my desk and walked back into Josie’s office. “May I speak with you for a minute?”

“Yah! What’s up?” Smiling. Not a care in the world.

“I have to tell you, the comment you just made, asking if the way I wear my hair is the way Buckwheat wore his hair…that was so…disrespectful.” I locked eyes with her and did not blink. She had the nerve to look shocked. Her face and neck flushed red.

“These,” I continued, motioning to my hair, “are called dreadlocks. Like how Bob Marley wore his hair.” Here, my voice trembled. I was suddenly very angry that I had to explain what dreadlocks were to a forty-something, six-figure-making editor of a then-fifty-year-old mainstream magazine for girls. I was angry that, even for the merest moment, I felt ugly and ashamed.

“Buckwheat,” I continued, “represents a sore spot in Black American history. This image of a poor, Black child with torn clothes, bugged eyes and unkempt hair. It’s stereotypical and racist.” I took a breath. “Be glad that you said this to me and not someone else,” I added, my eyes narrowing. “Because someone else might not be so nice.”

At this, Josie’s eyes grew wide. Much, much wider than Buckwheat’s.

Karen Good Marable is a writer, editor, wife and mom who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently an MFA candidate at The Writers Foundry of St. Joseph’s College.