Thursday, June 23, 2022

The First Trimester

Our little bean at 12 weeks.

Some personal news: I'm pregnant, due in mid-December! When this post goes live, I'll be in my 15th week of pregnancy, just past the first trimester. K and I are so excited to become parents. I also feel incredibly fortunate that everything's been going smoothly so far, according to my OB/GYN it's all proceeding as expected and low-risk.

Today's post is about my first trimester. Be forewarned, I mention some detail about things like ovulation tests, irregular cycles when coming off the pill, side effects of pregnancy, and that sort of thing. Along with that, an important disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, but I always take seriously the advice of the team at my OB/GYN's office.   

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Post-COVID Era NYC Rental Market

via Unsplash

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in NYC the rental market has gone completely bananas! We got a sweet deal on our previous lease renewal last summer, thanks to the lingering effects of COVID on NYC rents, but those renter-friendly days are definitely long over

Within a few months after last year's lease term started, I was already noticing that rents in Manhattan were climbing back up, eventually increasing by early 2022 to the point where it was almost like COVID never happened. Around 2019, market rents in my not-particularly-hip neighborhood had suddenly skyrocketed over the original not-terrible-for-Manhattan norms that had prevailed since K and I first moved into our current building in late 2015. So when I say the local rental market looks as if "COVID never happened," I'm talking about fairly significant increases over the most recent high water mark of rents (from early 2020, before the COVID shutdowns). 

I was commiserating about the state of the rental market to a close law school friend who lives not too far from K and I. Both of us were bracing for some really painful lease renewal offers from our respective landlords. Somewhat... luckily, I guess we need to call it, even if the result is still a ~18% rent increase compared to last year for both of us... we both actually ended up being... pleasantly surprised by the offers we received. Despite that ~18% increase, both offers are also significantly under market compared to what new leases currently go for in our buildings. (Each landlord also made it extremely clear our offers left absolutely no room for negotiation. It's take it or leave it!) 

It's hard to get a perfect read on what market rates look like right this moment. Listed rents on StreetEasy for one-bedroom apartments in my neighborhood recently shot up by $300+ since the last time I looked in earnest, around four weeks ago when we were considering whether to accept our lease renewal offer. If current listing prices on StreetEasy are serious - I'm embarrassed to say I've never been great at negotiating personal business matters, so I don't know have any read on how much flexibility there might be on new leases - market rents on comparable units are possibly 35%+ more than my COVID-discount rent from last year, and ~17.5% more than I'm paying for my renewed lease, which K and I signed barely three weeks ago! 

If you're a renter, how's the rental market looking where you are? I hear things are pretty tough in a lot of big cities in the US, there may actually be some cities out there that have seen more dramatic recent rent increases than NYC at the moment. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Suiting Up for Job Interviews

Suit on the left is from Theory (blazer and skirt; affiliate links) and the one on the right is from Brooks Brothers. At present, it's difficult to find more conservative-looking wool or wool-blend women's suits at stores with more entry-level pricing!

Today's post is just a small life update: Part of the reason I've been so busy and unable to focus on blogging in recent months is that, in addition to things being so hectic at the office, I've also recently had more interviews for some of those government litigation jobs I started applying for over a year ago! At least two of the government offices I filed applications for in late April of 2021 only started interviewing candidates who applied in 2021 starting around March 2022. 

Many of those jobs can also be expected to have an extremely long hiring process; months can  go by between interviews. Should I be lucky enough to receive an offer, there's also a potentially lengthy background check process, one that can take several more months. 

I must say, I don't think I realized just just how long this process could take for me until I started with this year's interviews. But I'm extremely thankful to have the opportunity to interview in the first place. (With the nature of my current workplace, they don't mind that I'm looking at this type of government job, they're actually quite excited about it. It was also necessary for my current supervisor to write a letter of recommendation for my applications!) 

So yes, that's one important thing going on in my life recently. If I'm ultimately successful with getting one of the jobs I've been interviewing for, that will also involve taking at least a 60% pay-cut - the actual number may be well over 60%, though should at least be a bit less than 70% - from what I currently earn in the private sector. I'm definitely mentally prepared for that, it's part of why I rushed to pay off my law school student loans as fast as I could in recent years, finally finishing them off last July. Though the question of whether I'm actually really financially prepared - can anyone ever be for such a drastic change? - is a much more complicated one, as I'm just not very good at doing long-term financial projections. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

May 2022 Shopping Reflections

Getting this month's shopping reflections post up a bit early because I'm pretty sure my shopping for May is already set. Of course I'll end up feeling a little silly if I turn out to be incorrect about that! (If so, additional items will be listed in next month's shopping reflections post.) 

I was supposed to be extremely busy all month, but several attorneys on one of my cases have gotten COVID - most likely from separate events and not from each other - since my recent business trip to Palo Alto, which has ended up delaying our discovery schedule by several weeks. I continue to be well, none of my colleagues at my office have turned out to be sick right around a time when I've interacted with them. Everyone from the case is also reasonably well, all attorneys were fully vaccinated and most likely boosted so nobody is sick enough to require hospitalization, though it sounds like symptoms can take a very long time to fully go away. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

This month's shopping was all quite impulsive. I was at Madewell returning something when I saw both items and became interested.  I bought the necklace in-store on the spot and then the tote bag online a few days later. Well, technically I can argue the necklace wasn't that impulsive, since I've been thinking about getting either a costume jewelry or fine jewelry version of a gold herringbone chain necklace for slightly over a year now. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $186.52 $239.00

  • Madewell Herringbone Chain Necklace, gold - $34.00 - (on sale online) - I was returning something when I saw that this necklace in stock, and I finally bought it on a bit of a whim. I've thought about buying a gold herringbone chain necklace for over a year, but I've always held off because I wasn't sure what length would suit me best, plus I'm also not sure if the fine jewelry version might be a bit fragile for frequent wear, particularly if layered with other necklaces. This particular necklace is adjustable to approximately 15.5'', 16.5'', and 17.5''. I've enjoyed wearing it, though I don't think any of the length options are especially suitable for layering with my current main necklaces: a 16'' Tiffany's Diamonds by the Yard pendant (similar here, here, and here) and that Mociun sapphire solitaire (which is supposed to also be 16'', but looks more like 18'' because of the heavier pendant). One thing that might be obvious in hindsight: Those other two necklaces tangle much less when I layer them both with the Madewell one, maybe because it's a heavier chain than the other two.
  • Madewell Medium Transport Tote, Woven Leather, brown - $153.52 $205.00* - (also here, get 25% off online at Madewell with code "LONGWEEKEND" until May 30) - This bag is definitely a bit more of an impulse purchase, though I do find my standard, non-woven leather Madewell Medium Transport Tote in brown (worn here, also available here and on sale here) to be extremely practical and functional. This is an almost-identical bag, except for the woven leather body. When I saw the bag in person, it seemed like the woven leather would be a fun texture for summer, something fairly different from the other handbags in my current collection. I've only used this two or three times so far, but the woven leather seems quite durable, reasonably in line with the non-woven leather Transport Totes. I ordered this for full price when there was a promotional 15% cash back rate from Madewell on Ebates/Rakuten - for a total of $28.20 cash back - though I'm actually going to inquire with Madewell about whether I can get a price adjustment for the current 25% off discount code, since it became available less than seven days after my order was shipped. We'll see what happens! (If they honor the price adjustment, then that should reduce my Rakuten cash back amount accordingly, and I'll also adjust the price I listed in this post. EDIT: They honored the price adjustment, so yay, I saved a bit more, and my cash back amount will be reduced once Madewell updates the refund amount.) 
*Indicates that price includes sales tax. 

I've also put in for some made-to-order purchases this month, but those are not expected to ship until mid-June at the absolute earliest. Specifically, I've ordered two new tops and a dress from LinenFox, and another Cora dress from Heinui, this time in a slightly more subdued blue gingham linen. I'm hoping that should round out most of my summer clothing purchases for this year, though I can't quite guarantee that. 

I hope that all of you are well! Hopefully you've also been able to mostly avoid any known COVID exposures.