Monday, May 25, 2020

Link List: Stuck at Home

I haven't done one of these "link list" posts in nearly six months!

This photograph, like others I've shared recently, was taken in more normal times. It's the red snapper with sea mustard pot at ON, which specializes in Korean-style hot pot dishes. I desperately yearn for the day we're finally able to safely eat in at restaurants again.

1. // Refinery29 recently posted a biglaw attorney money diary from someone who appears to be a seventh-year associate and who, based on her stated age, likely went straight from college to law school. Biglaw attorney money diaries probably aren't that interesting to anyone but me, but I can't get enough of them. 

Out of all the biglaw-ish money diaries over the years, this recent one and this 2018 one are the only ones I've thought especially representative of typical law school student loan repayment experiences. Many of the other biglaw diaries are from younger diarists who either claimed to have unusually generous law school scholarships (sizable scholarships like my 1/3 cost of attendance one are not uncommon, but true full-rides are rare) or who apparently finished paying off their loans within two or three years after law school. (Paying off a typical post-law school student loan balance - $160,000 on the low end - in that quick a timeframe is difficult, even for the especially frugal biglaw associate. Four to five years is more common amongst my peers.) This diarist reports that, at 32, she has fully paid off her law school loans, though their household is still paying off her spouse's student loans. 

What isn't as typical here is that the diarist normally lives in NYC (in a one-bedroom for $4,250/month, which is a fair bit more than K and I pay, but isn't too unusual for a one-bedroom in a newer "luxury" building), but has rented a house in the Connecticut suburbs to socially distance in. Based on my experience, that's an outlier choice for a NYC biglaw associate, whether they have a child or not. The only associates I know who left NYC due to COVID-19 - like this diarist, they generally departed well before March 12, more than a week before New York officially shut down - all moved in with their parents. Biglaw attorneys are well-compensated, but not enough to comfortably pay rent for two separate homes simultaneously over several months! 

2. // Apartment Therapy's YouTube channel has a series of videos touring various apartments and other small homes, many of them in NYC. I particularly loved this tour of Ashley Ford's (iSmashFizzle on Twitter) apartment in Brooklyn. She's so cool! And they're such a sweet, absolutely adorable couple.

A lot of the older videos in the series don't quite show the entire living space, particularly for the slightly larger homes. Many kitchens and bathrooms are omitted, or only a small slice of them are shown. But it's still interesting to look at the wide range of decor styles.

3. // I enjoyed the recent NPR Planet Money podcast episode, "J.Screwed" (hah!), about the J.Crew bankruptcy. They focus on the Jenna Lyons period at J.Crew, noting that the brand's profile and "cool factor" rose significantly after Michelle Obama wore J.Crew on The Tonight Show in 2008. That pretty much lines up exactly with when I first became aware of the brand. I found that late 2000s and early 2010s J.Crew aesthetic completely irresistible and super aspirational when I was in college.

I confess, although much of my attorney work experience is focused on complex commercial transactions, I don't actually understand this story very well. I gather that the relevant business story begins with a leveraged buyout of J.Crew by a private equity firm back in 2011, something to that effect, but that's about it. (Attorneys are trained not to claim claim a full understanding of anything until they've analyzed the relevant contracts and other documents, which are typically voluminous and dense reading when it comes to complex commercial matters.)

4. // I also enjoyed Anne Helen Petersen's recent piece about the potential impact of COVID-19 economic disruptions on American consumer culture and about the role of consumer spending in the American economy at large.

Part of why I'm so attached to Marie Kondo's first book is that I credit it with being the primary factor that allowed me to reevaluate my personal relationship with consumerism. I had many other influences in that "journey," but in the end, the biggest single thing that made the change stick was using KonMari method to see that, no, I never again want to accumulate so much stuff I didn't even actually want, or even particularly like, in the first place. This paragraph from Petersen's recent article is a pretty accurate description of how I used to acquire things unthinkingly:
We’re trained to buy often, buy cheap, and buy a lot. And I’m not just talking about food, which everyone has to acquire in some capacity, or clothes. I mean all the other small purchases of daily life: a new face lotion, a houseplant holder, a wine glass name trinket, an office supply organizer, a vegetable spiralizer, a cute set of hand towels, a pair of nicer sunglasses, a pair of sports sunglasses, a pair of throwaway sunglasses. The stuff, in other words, that you don’t even know that you want until it somehow finds its way to your cart at Target or T.J. Maxx.
Up through 2015, I was definitely no stranger to the random T.J.Maxx knickknacks that somehow got added to the shopping basket, in addition to the towels or cutting board I was actually looking for.

And that's it for today's link list post. Have you been reading any particularly good online articles or watching any interesting YouTube videos recently? 

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