Monday, November 11, 2019

Life Lately


I did in fact end up taking that whirlwind international business trip I mentioned. The entire trip - flight time and waiting time at the airport included - took up a little less than 48 hours in total. What an adventure! The travel-related exhaustion didn't really catch up with me until the weekend. 

Here are some of the small things that have been on my mind recently:

Money-Related Podcasts

I've been listening to a few new-to-me personal finance-oriented podcasts lately. My preference in this genre is for podcasts that talk more about the personal stories behind how different people manage their money or how they got into a particular financial situation, rather than about more technical details or how-tos. Essentially, I enjoy content like the more money-centric episodes of Death, Sex & Money. In that vein, I've been enjoying the recently debuted She Makes Money Moves by Glamour and iHeartRadio and also the This is Uncomfortable series by Marketplace. There was also a brief season of the Refinery29 Money Diaries podcast, which is also pretty good, though it's from quite a while back and was over too soon.

Out of the episodes I've been listening to in the past week or two, the most unique and fascinating one was probably this recent Death, Sex & Money episode, about someone who got into the debt collection business, found she was quite good at it, and was eventually prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General. The ultimate conclusion of that prosecution was a settlement that included a lifetime ban from the industry and a multi-million fine that she can never hope to pay off. Very interesting, though the interview subject is not the most sympathetic figure, I don't think.

Ring Wearer

Prior to my recent engagement, I'd never spent much time wearing rings. I must say, it takes a little bit of getting used to. I find that it bumps against hard surfaces - mostly my desk - somewhat frequently, and then I worry about whether I might actually damage the stone. That makes me glad I never bought one of those opal rings I was thinking about a few years ago, as I probably wouldn't have taken good enough care of it. I sometimes look at used opal rings on TheRealReal, and I've seen stones that aren't looking too well. For instance, this one had a noticeable scratch!

I also found that I prefer not to wear my ring during long flights. On one of my many recent flights, my finger swelled so much that the ring got stuck! (I'd eaten a fair bit of salty food that day, and it was a red-eye flight, which makes it a bit easier to get dehydrated during.) The swelling went down after we landed, and I was able to take my ring off shortly after without resorting to any special tricks

Monday, November 4, 2019

Link List: On a Business Trip (or Not)

I recently got to hang out with my friend's adorable husky while I was on vacation. Those scratch mark-looking things on the floorboards aren't doggie claw marks, they're an intentional design choice made by a previous owner of the home! I was not the first person to ask about that...

As you read this, I might be on an international business trip, or I might not. I won't know if I'm actually taking this trip until the eleventh hour, less than 24 hours in advance of the flight (for which a refundable itinerary was booked).

It's a bit difficult to explain how this scenario came about. The work I would be doing is legitimately urgent and important, but it might also not ultimately be necessary, depending on how certain things turn out. One can understand why I've generally been a bit stressed, and also a bit too preoccupied to write much of great substance here! 

I've had so many ideas recently for more long-form posts, including about the legal industry - with a particular focus on the quirks of biglaw - and about personal finance. But, alas, I also have no time to write for fun. And sometimes, when I manage to put together a substantial draft for one of my bigger ideas, I lose steam when I get to the last few paragraphs. Maybe I'll be able to write more when things finally calm down again at the office, but there's no real chance of that until December at the earliest. 

1. // This may only be of interest if you're curious about fashion/lifestyle blogging as an industry - all signs point to it being a somewhat fading segment of social media-based business, when compared to ones based more on Instagram or other social media platforms - but I really enjoyed Carly the Prepster's recent interview on the Bad on Paper podcast. This also wasn't the first time that Carly has been refreshingly transparent about the business side of her work, she's done a few detailed posts about such topics, including a very recent and candid Q&A. Oh, and back in the earliest days of r/blogsnark, she did an informative Q&A there too, which included some details about her yearly revenue at the time. (I also linked that r/blogsnark Q&A back in late 2016.) 

I related to a lot of what she said in her podcast interview, maybe to the degree where it's a bit weird that I feel that way, since our backgrounds and professions are so, so different. Anyway, I highly recommend the podcast episode if you're interested in fashion/lifestyle blogging as an industry.  

2. // Speaking of other topics I have so many thoughts about that I could write an entire other blog post - or two - about them, if I only had the time: I recently got off the library waiting list for Jia Tolentino's book of essays, Trick Mirror (affiliate link), which I loved. She's a brilliant writer, and I adore just about everything she publishes. I hadn't realized that she and I are basically the exact same age, and so we had some of the same internet-based experiences growing up. (Did anyone else also make their own websites on Angelfire or Geocities back in the day?) Though of course, she's a lot more eloquent in describing those experiences than I am, and she was also consistently more savvy and hip about everything internet and pop culture-related than I was. 

One of the essays in her book was excerpted into that "Athleisure, Barre and Kale" article in The Guardian, which went a bit viral. Among other places, people discussed the essay at great length over at Corporette and r/blogsnark. Having read both versions of that essay, I think the book version is much better, and is more clear in addressing the deeper themes she's getting at. 

3. // I enjoyed this article over at The Fashion Law about consumer fatigue with regards to buying large quantities of clothing and other changes in the clothing retail landscape. Are these trends - particularly the apparently increasing popularity of clothing rental services - ones you've noticed amongst your friends and peers?

I do know that a lot of clothing companies, including Ann Taylor - of all the unlikely places - have dabbled in trying to start a rental service. I've also had friends who've briefly tried things like Rent the Runway Unlimited when they had quite a few different weddings to attend in quick succession, but I don't know anyone who would use a clothing rental service in the long term. 

Did any of you read Jia Tolentino's The Guardian essay when it was first posted? What did you think? I noticed that reader responses were a bit more divided than I expected, though I do understand why. I also didn't find that particular piece as brilliant and sharp as I usually find her other writing, in part because I couldn't relate to being a frequent consumer of barre classes (I took a few classes once, and loathed it) or athleisure (doesn't fit my lifestyle, or my tastes in clothing). Though I do eat an excessive and embarrassing quantity of Sweetgreen, so I can vouch for how her description of the spirit in which a NYC office-dweller might opt to go to Sweetgreen is... disturbingly accurate. And if you listened to Carly's podcast interview, please let me know what you thought!