Thursday, September 16, 2021

Money Diary: Typical-ish Week Back in the Office, Part One

Hoka One One Bondi 7 running shoes (affiliate link)

Approximately once a year, I get inspired to write a money diary post in the format used by the now-defunct Man Repeller, with some added resemblance to Luxe's weekend money diaries. Unlike in the Refinery29 money diaries, I do not provide extra commentary about my overall finances to these posts, which focus instead on daily spending for a week. To date, I've done a 2018 "atypical week" money diary (part one, part two); a 2019 "slightly more typical week" money diary (part one, part two); and a 2020 "COVID-era staycation" money diary (part one, part two). And now, here's the 2021 edition, depicting a fairly typical week from after I was required to return to the office full-time starting in mid-July this year. 

During this week, I wasn't very busy at work, so there won't be a lot of commentary about my time in the office. I'd arrive at my workplace around 9:15 A.M each morning; would step out briefly for a quick walk around the neighborhood to try and get my daily step count up before picking up a takeout lunch - mostly Sweetgreen, just like in my 2018 and 2019 money diaries - sometime around noon or 1:00 P.M.; and then head home around 5:30 P.M. or so. 

I wear my mask while I'm at work, except when I'm alone in my office with the door closed. Like I mentioned in my 2020 money diary, I typically wear a Happy Mask - I ordered mine before demand dramatically increased recently due to the start of the school year - though sometimes I wear a disposable KN95 instead. I find both types of masks equally comfortable because they're both cone or beak-shaped, preventing the fabric from resting directly against my nose and mouth.

This year's money diary starts on a Friday. I set my alarm for an unusually early wakeup call - 7:00 A.M. - because I plan to go running before work, as part of my recent new health and fitness goals. Since I set those goals for myself, I've been reliably running/jogging outside once a week, slowly increasing the distance I'm able to run each time. This particular outing was only my third jog since I started pursuing my new health and fitness goals. 

Within a minute of starting to jog, however, I stop abruptly because my feet and ankles just don't feel right. I'm pretty familiar with this type of feeling, the old pair of running shoes I'm currently wearing have had it, they're completely worn out. I'm surprised by how suddenly this issue came on, however, as these shoes felt just fine during my previous run last week. Whenever past pairs of running shoes became too worn out and started causing pain or discomfort, it usually happened very quickly, but I don't think I've ever previously started feeling it in the very first minutes of a workout before! I usually only start feeling it that evening, or the next day. But it's also been years since I've run outside. (Since graduating law school, I only ever ran on a treadmill until this year.)

I decide I can still walk for a while before heading home to shower and change for work. While on my way to the office, I pick up a small iced latte with skim milk at a coffee shop that's part of a small local chain. It costs $5.75 including tip. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Things I Like Watching Lately

Today's post is about some of the things I've liked watching - mostly on YouTube - recently. As I mentioned in my last reading reflections post, because of all the things going on in the world right now, I seem to have very little mental energy for anything after work. After I get home from the office, I can't even muster up the brain power to read for fun, even though I'm currently working through some books that are quite well-written and not particularly heavy or sad in subject matter. 

My current favorite YouTube channel is Mejoo and Cats, see a post from their Instagram account above. Mejoo's family of cats: Monji, Bongji, Hyuji, and Yoji, all have big personalities, and the videos are very relaxing and soothing. That's Bongji and Monji in the Instagram photo above. Bongji, in particular, is quite a character. (Make sure closed captions are turned on if you need the English subtitles for their videos.) 

I've also been enjoying some YouTube day-in-the-life vlogs that have no or minimal talking, mostly just ambient noise and some added background music. Most of the the channels I watch in this genre are run by women based in Japan or Korea, most of whom live alone in fairly small studio or one-bedroom apartments. Many of them cook often, making meals that feel fancy and a bit complicated because they make several dishes, some of them carefully plated. I find these videos very calming and relaxing. 

My favorite creators in this vlog genre are Usako Style and Nami's Life. I also like Yuireu (she often uses more lively background music than the other day-in-the-life vloggers I've listed here) and deemd. Because many creators in this genre are internationally based and English is not the primary language they post in, I'm completely dependent on the YouTube algorithm to show me other similar channels. I have no sense of whether the people I follow are some of the more popular ones in this space, or if there are a whole world of other, more famous ones out there! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

August 2021 Reading Reflections

Pardon me for disappearing for a while. Work managed to get too busy quite suddenly for me to post last week!

I had a pretty good reading month in the first half of August, but since then I've been right back in another one of those weird moods where I'm just not motivated to read for fun, particularly before bed. There's been a lot of bad news in the world recently, and I just... don't have the energy to use my brain for anything after work, even to read books that are objectively quite well-written and also not too terribly heavy in subject matter. 

Our courthouse wedding in late September is going to be super informal and super casual, and K and I have already done basically all the minimal planning work that's required. Even so, I suspect my brain will probably still feel too preoccupied and distracted to read for fun for most of the rest of the month. So maybe I'll end up having no new books to report on for September.

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As usual, here are the books I read last month in the order in which I finished them:

  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - This was recommended by a commenter here, I enjoyed it a lot and am now working on One Good Turn, the next book in the series. Based off these two volumes, Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series is a bit of a nontraditional murder mystery series, the focus is much more on the characters and their inner lives than it is on anyone actively taking many steps to solve the mystery. I don't mind that at all, though when reading Case Histories I sometimes found myself confused by the pacing because I was initially expecting the main character - who was working as a private investigator, after retiring as a policeman - to get fully to the bottom of each of the separate crimes involved in the story. But once I let go of that expectation, I was okay with the book's somewhat slow pace. I enjoy Atkinson's writing style and the way she gets in the head of all her characters, so I can see myself finishing the entire Jackson Brodie series in fairly short order, once I'm able to shake off my current non-reading mood. 
  • Imposter Syndrome by Kathy Wang - I really loved Kathy's debut novel, Family Trust, so I was excited to read this when the New York Public Library finally got it in as an ebook. This is a very different, more fast-paced story than Family Trust, and once I got to the end I really wanted there to be more! Like in Kathy's first novel, there are many sharp, darkly funny observations about life in the Bay Area and life in the tech industry interspersed throughout this story. I can't wait for her next book. 
  • Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner - This book had tons of buzz amongst the many writers I follow on Twitter, and all their rave reviews are extremely well-deserved. I loved this memoir, and it's going to be right up there amongst my favorite nonfiction books of the year.  It's an incredibly sad story, as the author lost her mother to cancer after two brutal rounds of chemotherapy. I've recommended so many memoirs on this blog over the years because it's a genre I greatly enjoy. Every author's life story is so different that it isn't exactly proper to compare them head-to-head and try to label any of them the "best" or anything like that. But I don't think I've read another memoir before that was truly this vividly "real" and unflinching about grief - including the ugly parts of it, the anger and resentment that can accompany it - and about sometimes-difficult family relationships, including when Zauner was a teenager and her mother hadn't yet accepted Zauner's creative ambitions. 

Like I mentioned in July, I'm also still working through Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon. It's not quite as densely filled with detailed descriptions of scientific research as I feared from the first chapter. Solomon focuses much more on personal stories, including his own, and I find those personal stories interesting. But either way, this type of nonfiction that's on the more dense and academic side of the spectrum is a tough genre for me to read on Kindle, I can only work through it slowly. 

I've also been reading Laura Lippman's Lady in the Lake, following Kathy's recommendation for Lippman's books as being consistently well-written "literary" thrillers that deserve more buzz and attention. This is only my first Lippman book, so it's maybe a little too early for me to declare Kathy's recommendation absolutely on point. But my feeling so far is that the writing,  development of the characters and setting, etc. are so good that I'd be shocked if it doesn't carry over to the author's other work. I try a lot of best-selling, highly-marketed "women's" thrillers and often the writing is... just not great and many of the books are close to unreadable. Lady in the Lake is nothing like those not-so-great representatives of the genre, and I'm eager to finish this and pick up Lippman's other books (at least once I get over my current mood about reading). 

Friday, August 27, 2021

August 2021 Shopping Reflections

With this month's huge purchase, I was originally going to rely on the secondhand market and wait for the right one to come along in hopefully decent condition and for the right price. There I heard some whisperings about an imminent 10-20% price increase on Celine handbags on August 25, which was corroborated by a sales associate I spoke to at one of the NYC Celine boutiques. So then I made the order, only to find that when August 25 finally rolled around, the price for this specific bag remained completely unchanged online, at least as of today. So that's a bit of a comedy of errors. 

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! 

I've been thinking about the large Celine Seau Sangle for quite some time. In fact, had the COVID pandemic not turned critical in the US and western Europe exactly when it did, I'd probably already own one, thanks to a lengthy Paris business trip that was scheduled for mid-March 2020 but ultimately never happened due to COVID shutdowns and travel restrictions.

Despite my longtime interest in this bag, I never seriously considered looking at the secondhand market for it - or for any similarly priced designer handbag, really - until very recently, when I was finally within spitting distance of completely paying off my student loans. After first dabbling with the secondhand designer handbag market through the purchase of the currently more modestly priced Balenciaga City, I felt more confident about potentially buying the Celine Seau Sangle that way. I've been tracking the secondhand market for the large Seau Sangles closely ever since, primarily on Fashionphile, but also on TheRealReal ("TRR") and Yoogi's Closet

Out of the three secondhand sellers I've been looking at for the past six weeks, only Fashionphile and TRR get new inventory in often enough and quickly enough to have had a few Seau Sangles pass through in that time. Fashionphile's pricing is generally quite competitive, they start many large Seau Sangles at ~$1,600 or less - sometimes a lot less - though more neutral colors like dark gray or black may start higher. I don't really trust TRR's authentication processes at all*, and they also tend to price large Seau Sangles much higher, often at least $2,100 for black, gray, or navy in decent condition. Seau Sangles in neutral colors tend to sell quickly - even the more pricey ones at TRR - they often don't stick around long enough for even one round of automatic markdowns by either Fashionphile or TRR.