Tuesday, February 25, 2020

February 2020 Shopping Reflections

I've been too busy at the office to buy anything, but I still occasionally think about shiny, pretty things that have briefly caught my eye...

It's official, I've now been working at 3,000 billed hours/year pace for nearly two months straight. (Well, at 2,800 billed hours/year pace, after factoring in the standard four weeks of vacation.) Two months down, one to go. After that, K and I are going on vacation for a bit, and I'm really going to appreciate the break. 

One thing about being this relentlessly busy at work, I really don't have any time or mental energy left to think about shopping, or at least, not enough to actually make the decision to buy anything. So this month was a no-shopping month, only my third since I first started documenting all of my monthly shopping in January 2015. And at this rate, I'm fairly confident I won't be buying anything between now and my upcoming lengthy business trip to Paris next month. Though if I actually go through with that particular maybe-while-in-Paris purchase, I'll basically have done a whole year's worth of shopping - and then some - just in the first three months of 2020!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in a commission, typically a few cents, for me if you click. Thank you for your support!

That's not to say there haven't been any other new and shiny objects out there that have caught my eye. I've been thinking about getting a backpack, something slimmer, sleeker, and a bit more formal-looking for travel and work than my trusty ol' North Face Recon backpack (current edition), which I've been using since law school. Back in January, I thought I was sure about which style I wanted - probably the Knomo Beauchamp - but I've since found myself unable to commit. 

And I've also been intrigued by the  look of the newly released Cuyana Oversized Hobo, even though I don't think I'd ever actually buy it, it's too redundant of handbags I already own. But Cuyana's new "deep ocean" green-blue shade of leather that the Oversized Hobo (and certain other bags) comes in is exactly my kind of color. So the temptation could get stronger.

One other thing about being this intensely busy, I've somehow still managed to find a fair bit of time to read for fun, mostly late at night, right before bed. I've read a lot of enjoyable books so far this year, though nothing that stands out as a new favorite. Most recently, I finished Ann Patchett's The Dutch House (which I liked, but I found the ending a bit abrupt) and Karin Slaughter's The Last Widow (a very reliable author for mystery thrillers). 

I hope that everyone has been having a good start to 2020! Although I haven't been shopping, the beginning of the year has still been on the expensive side, as I needed to pay my taxes. I owed $3,000 to the IRS this year.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Life Lately: When I'm Actually on Pace to Bill 3,000 Hours/Year*

(via Unsplash) When I'm working this much, I get myself lattes maybe four times a week. I'm pretty good about remembering to bring my Joco reusable cup (affiliate link). 

*For the sake of transparency, I should note that I'm only on pace to bill 3,000 hours in 2020 if we assume I take no vacation. After factoring in the four weeks worth of vacation days my colleagues and I typically take each year, I'm "only" on pace to bill 2,800 this year. That's still a mighty sum!

You know how - about a year ago - I wrote about what it was like to be on pace to bill 3,000 hours/year, but I meant it in a tongue-in-cheek way because I'd only actually worked that intensely for a little less than three weeks total? Well, I now officially know what it's like to work that much for a month straight, and with no real end in sight for the rest of the quarter!

And soon, I'll be working many of those hours during a string of business trips, both international and domestic. It's even looking like I'll be away from NYC for almost half of March. One of my many upcoming business trips may involve a lengthy stay in Paris. Unfortunately, we'll probably be stuck in various conference rooms throughout the daylight hours - including over a weekend - so it won't be a fun trip by any stretch of the imagination. However, because the large international law firms in Paris are mostly located near the Arc de Triomphe - and accordingly, we'll be staying in that area - we won't be far from the designer boutiques on the Champs-Elysees, which raises a certain... intriguing possibility... Albeit it's a possibility that may not be fully compatible with certain of my more recently made plans.

A Handbag Person

Longtime readers may recall that, quite a few years ago, I used to daydream about the time when I'd finally, finally feel ready to purchase my first premium designer handbag. Ever since I first became interested in fashion and shopping - mostly after watching the Devil Wears Prada movie back when it was in theaters - I've generally been a handbag person, becoming enamored with the idea of various designer "it" bags that mostly would not have aged well or become classic designs, including the Miu Miu coffer. Back then, I wasn't quite as into clothes, or shoes, or other accessories.

Much more recently, however, I've gradually realized that there aren't many designer handbags out there that would suit my lifestyle and my tastes. I favor simple bags that are easy to slip things in and out of, without fussy flaps, closures, or clasps. Anything that's too heavy, or has excessive hardware, is just going to sit unused. Even by 2016, I was hard-pressed to think of a specific designer bag I'd actually be willing to spend that amount of money on. Currently, the Celine Seau Sangle is the only one I like the look of enough to maybe, someday, consider buying. (It's been on my main Pinterest shopping wish list for a while.)

In recent months, I've joked a few times that, if my travels ever took me to Paris, I'd have a hard time resisting the opportunity to shop with a VAT refund and the cheaper prices there for Celine compared to the US. I made that joke knowing that K and I had absolutely no plans to travel to Europe anytime in the foreseeable future, and without any reason to suspect that my caseload could ever result in an eventual business trip to Paris.

Now that it looks like I might soon end up in Paris after all, I'm not sure how likely it is that I'd follow through on this idea for a Celine purchase that I first spoke of in jest. But given how much I've been working - and how particularly stressful the specific project that brings us to Paris will be - I suspect I'd have a hard time resisting.

Incompatible Impulses

Separately, longtime readers may also recall that I came out of law school with a bit of a complex about feeling out-of-place in the biglaw and biglaw-adjacent segments of the profession I hoped to enter, for reasons of socioeconomic class on top of gender and race.

It was never really about what I wore versus what other people wore - these past two years, my annual clothing and accessories spend has likely been significantly and visibly above average for a typical biglaw-ish attorney of my seniority - but the designer items and status symbols are what that insecure, "imposter syndrome"-prone portion of my subconscious zeroed in on. In law school, what I was really envious about wasn't that so many of my classmates seemed to be able to comfortably buy significantly more expensive clothes and accessories than I could. Instead, what I was truly insecure about was that so, so many of my peers seemed to come from families that - unlike mine - could subsidize a significant portion of the cost of law school attendance.

Nearly a half decade after law school, I'm in a very different place. My student loan balance is still substantial, currently a little more than a year's salary as a JSP-12 judicial clerk, but I've also saved a much larger nest egg, and the loans have also been refinanced to a much less scary 2.6% interest rate. My first years in the profession were not what I expected, but I was lucky to find a good, not-exactly-biglaw niche for myself after clerking. And now, I'm starting to seriously contemplate whether I'll be ready to leave the private sector quite a bit sooner than I originally planned.

This raises the obvious issue that my new career plans aren't exactly fully compatible with my Parisian shopping plans. Should that lengthy business trip to Paris happen, and should I have any time to myself there while the shops are open, I think it's somewhat likely that it's the shopping plans that will win out. In the end, my ideas about how my longer-term career plans might be changing are still in too nascent and preliminary a stage to feel anything but extremely abstract. Meanwhile, the opportunity to shop Celine at Paris prices, with a VAT refund, will feel quite immediate and concrete, and like a rare and fleeting chance.

Anyway, there's quite a few weeks yet before that scheduled business trip to Paris, and there's always a chance it doesn't end up happening. If it does come to pass - and if the specific color of the Celine Seau Sangle I want is in stock somewhere within walking distance from where we're staying - then I'll likely, in one fell swoop, prove myself a liar about how I was supposed to shop much less in 2020 than in 2019.