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.

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! 

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. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Life Lately: A Spendy Month (or Two)

The green chickpea hummus at ABCV, which is quite tasty and also a suitable dish for my current health and fitness goals!

As of last week, NYC now requires restaurants and many other businesses to check for proof of vaccination before allowing guests over the age of 12 to participate in various indoor activities. K and I have been indoors at a few restaurants since the new policy took effect, and we've seen... a range of different levels of verification. 

One restaurant checked our vaccine cards - using the New York state Excelsior app, because K and I both got our shots from state-run sites - and our photo identification. Another asked us to self-attest to our vaccination status, but waved away our attempt to pull out our phones to actually show our vaccine information in Excelsior. Yet another restaurant didn't ask us anything at all. We'll see whether restaurants become more uniform in checking vaccination status in the next few weeks. 

Since I officially finished paying off my student loans last month, I've sort of been spending money like it's going out of style. There was that substantial jewelry gift to myself, which was planned out ahead of time, and then a round of orthodontic treatment, which was a bit less planned out. (I'd had a vague notion since the accident in 2017 that I'd seek out an orthodontic consult for it eventually, but had no concrete idea of when that should actually happen.) Our recent trip to Crested Butte, CO was also on the pricier side. 

K and I have also decided to move forward with a small, immediate family-only courthouse wedding ceremony, leaving any bigger celebration and reception for an as yet unknown date down the line - only after the COVID situation has calmed down both domestically and internationally - so there are also quite a few expenses related to that. For instance, K bought my engagement ring so I'm buying our wedding bands. 

I think K and I may have left it far too late to successfully book a photographer now for a late September date - even if it's on a weekday and we'd only need the photographer for two hours max because it's going to be an extremely informal and quick wedding - but if it's possible, we'd like to arrange that. It was probably extremely foolish on my part to have waited until last week to start looking for a photographer. Everyone I've spoken to so far is already close to fully booked through the end of the year. (I may have been lulled into a false sense of security by my own line of work. Clients who are willing to pay can easily arrange to retain a team of biglaw or biglaw-ish lawyers for significant, urgent work with barely a week or two's notice... Obviously, the legal business is very, very different from most others, which I should have realized, duh.) 

Also, I now have my new braces on, for a round of treatment expected to take four to six months. It's been quite an adjustment! I had braces when I was a teen, but I'd completely forgotten they come with restrictions against eating certain types of food. I never experienced much pain, discomfort, or other problems with my braces as a teen, but I think my teeth are slightly more sensitive this time around. My speech is somewhat affected, I can't pronounce some words well because the braces are in the way. 

After barely a week of wearing my new braces, I swear I can already see some movement! So I'm currently feeling reasonably optimistic that my treatment timeline might be closer to four months than six. Either way, because I'll likely be wearing a mask in all indoor public settings for the next several months - except when actively eating or drinking - barely anyone outside of close friends and family will ever actually see my braces. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Pandemic-Era Travel: Crested Butte, CO

Last week, K and I took our first plane trip in the 17 months since the world first shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of K's closest friends was having their wedding in Crested Butte, Colorado, and it was very important to K that we attend. (K was also in the wedding party.) COVID conditions in some parts of the US deteriorated significantly between when we first started planning our travel in early July and when we departed last week, which caused us some concern. But ultimately, because K and I are fully vaccinated; have no significant COVID risk factors; and only have direct social contact with fully vaccinated adults - additionally, all the wedding events were also fully outdoors - we felt safe taking this trip. 

Crested Butte is a very small town in a rural area, where all the major activities are outdoors. We didn't even dine indoors anywhere once we were there, as it was very comfortable to sit outside and eat everywhere we went. (K and I haven't specifically decided to stop dining indoors at restaurants in NYC, but it's also been three weeks since either of us have sat down at a restaurant here. Also, NYC law will soon require guests over the age of 12 to present proof of vaccination in order to do various indoor activities, including eating at restaurants.) 

Plane travel to Crested Butte from NYC is a bit long and difficult, and one pretty much needs to take a long drive from whichever airport one chooses to fly into. (I'm not really able to drive, so K needed to do all the hard work for us on that front.) We took connecting flights through Dallas/Fort Worth airport, which was extremely crowded. We couldn't really avoid being unmasked briefly to eat and drink while at the airports, though we did our best to find quieter spots in the terminals with fewer other people when we needed to eat or drink. Throughout our trip, people were very good about masking at the airports and on the plane - as US federal law requires - except when actively eating or drinking. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

That Gift to Myself

If you caught my Instagram stories on July 22, then you've already seen a spoiler about what I ultimately decided to do for that substantial gift to myself to celebrate the end of my student loan repayment journey! By coincidence, one of the rings pictured in the Mociun Instagram post I selected as an illustration for my blog post ended up being the piece I chose for myself. (As it was an older Instagram post, I think all the other pictured rings were sold long before my visit to their store.)

At present, one needs to make an appointment to shop at Mociun in person. Their online booking system doesn't seem to offer appointments sooner than two weeks out, so I actually made my appointment a little early, before I officially finished paying off my loans. I'm not sure if they'll be able to offer earlier appointments if you contact them by phone or email. 

When I made my appointment, I had a clear sense of what rings I wanted to look at: I knew I wanted a sapphire ring with at least one stone that was mostly blue or blue-green in color; I knew what my maximum budget was, up to ~$8,500 or so before tax, which excluded Mociun's larger sapphire rings; and I'd browsed their website so many times I was able to name the specific styles I wanted to look at. That meant my appointment was very straightforward and somewhat quick, they showed me the exact styles I was interested in and gave me ample time to try them on and think about which one I liked best. The sales associate was friendly, and there was definitely no pressure or pushiness. I had all the time and space I needed to figure out which of the sapphire rings in my price range I wanted, if any. 

At any rate, I'm not sure Mociun's line of mostly one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces generally allows for any realistic opportunities to upsell anyone. When I visited, they had a good number of sapphire rings available in my price range, and also a small number of rings designed around much larger stones that were, naturally, a dramatic step above my maximum price limit. This "Flying" Ring, for instance, with a ~4.5 carat kite-shaped sapphire... It looks amazing, but is very obviously not remotely in the realm of things I was considering! (Their current stock of sapphire rings in my general price range is not quite as broad, however.) 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Money Life Lately: Less Biglaw-ish Than Before

Kate Spade "Buzz" Small Slim Bifold Wallet (affiliate link)

Today's post is a bit of a grab bag about some of the smaller things going on in my financial life recently, outside of the really big thing - fully paying off my law school student loans! - that just happened. 

Less Biglaw-ish Than Before

Throughout the years since starting my current workplace in 2017, I've always described my job as "biglaw-ish." This made sense because our attorneys are similarly credentialed; typically have biglaw work experience; sometimes have similar work hours; and also because we were on the same salary scale, even if our year-end bonuses were typically ~25% of what our biglaw peers were earning and we also never got any part of the "special bonuses" that started appearing in recent years.  

After a bit of a market-wide slowdown in the first month or two of COVID-driven shutdowns in the US, business has apparently mostly been booming at many American biglaw firms. Early this year, a round of new special bonuses were announced. I understand that assurances were also given by certain firms that these special bonuses would not result in the reduction of year-end bonuses later on. Given typical practices at my workplace, I naturally expected the biglaw special bonuses would not have any effect on my total compensation. 

A few months later, I was rather shocked when biglaw firms also provided a new round of across-the-board raises for associates, on top of the special bonuses. So, uh, business is clearly still extremely good at some biglaw firms, to say the least. 

As for me, my workplace is officially no longer on the biglaw salary scale. This isn't too much of a surprise because we're a much smaller entity, and accordingly, our practice is far less diversified than that of any given biglaw firm. Instead, we got smaller raises across the board, and it's unclear what will happen the next time biglaw firms decide to increase associate salaries again. Anyway, I'm not worried about this change, though obviously, more total compensation is always nice. I had a lot of reasons for joining my current workplace rather than returning to my original biglaw firm, and I've never truly regretted that choice. 

Monday, August 2, 2021

July 2021 Reading Reflections

July was another odd reading month for me. I wasn't that busy or stressed out at the office, but I've still mostly been in one of those moods where I generally don't feel like reading during my free time or before I sleep, I just scroll through social media or watch YouTube instead. 

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 got through two books in the first half of July, and since then I haven't been reading much at all, even though the other books I'm currently working on are both quite good and would normally be highly engaging to me as a reader. Here are the books I read this month in the order in which I finished them:

  • Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi - Mary H.K. Choi is also the author of an essay once published at The Cut - now only available for purchase in Choi's book of essays, Oh, Never Mind -  about how trying to make it as a writer and creative in NYC once drove her to make the wildly extravagant decision to buy a Rick Owens jacket. I've referenced that essay at least twice in past entries here. I remember it being an excellent piece, incisively written with a vivid embodiment of emotions I could relate to, about trying to "fake it 'til you make it" in a setting where one feels out of place and rather "less than." This book is similarly well-written. While my background is very different from that of the Korean American sisters at the heart of this novel, the story contains a number of moments and sentiments I found incredibly true to my own lived Asian American experience. That's something I really value as a reader. When I browse for ebooks from the New York Public Library, the genres aren't clearly flagged, so I was halfway through Yolk when I first realized it was marketed as a young adult ("YA") book. This came as a great shock - as I recently commented over at Gabby's - because Yolk addresses many adult themes with an unflinching directness I don't associate with YA novels. It has a grittier writing style than I'm used to from YA. (Admittedly, the last several YA novels I've read were the Hunger Games trilogy and prequel, so I may not be fully patched in to current genre norms.) This book definitely feels to me like it was written for adults, not teens. The only thing that seemed remotely YA to me was that there's a romance subplot that ties up more quickly and neatly than it probably would in a similar novel marketed to older audiences. 
  • No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood - This book reminded me of Jenny Offil's Weather, in that they're both somewhat nontraditional, brief novels written in a more stream of consciousness style. I liked this one a lot more than Weather, but this general writing style is not my favorite. Both books could get confusing at times, though they were also very engaging reads. Roxane Gay's Goodreads review is very accurate to my experience of this book: it's well-written; it feels a lot like two separate books because of the traumatic event that very suddenly fully takes over in the second half of the story; and if you're not "very online," then maybe this book might confuse you too much to be enjoyable. To tell the truth, I'm probably a bit "too online" - 30-50 feral hogs, anyone? - even if I've only been actively using Twitter since November 2018, but the narrator of this book is definitely much more online than I am. Because of the unusual writing style, it's hard to really describe this book, and I think it may be polarizing, but I did enjoy reading it. No One is Talking About This has also been long-listed for the 2021 Booker Prize. 

I'm currently reading Kate Atkinson's Case Histories - on the recommendation of a commenter here! -  and Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon. Both are great, and I normally would be eager to continue rushing through them most evenings before I go to bed, but because I'm currently in a weird mood where I don't really feel like reading for fun, that hasn't been happening. 

I'm roughly halfway through Case Histories. As someone who enjoys murder mysteries and police procedurals, I think this book is an interesting take on the genre. It's one of those more introspective police procedural novels - reminds me a bit of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, though the main character in Case Histories is a private investigator and not a police detective - that's a bit more focused on the emotional life of the detective than on the case at hand. I'd definitely be interested in picking up the other books in this series. 

With Noonday Demon, I love Andrew Solomon's writing - Far From the Tree is right up there among my favorite nonfiction books of all time - but lengthy nonfiction involving lots of secondary source research is generally not the easiest genre for me to read on Kindle. I think I'd have an easier time reading this book more quickly in hard copy. So this one will definitely be a slow read, I wouldn't be surprised if I wasn't able to finish it until September, or possibly even later! Which isn't a reflection on the quality of the book, it's just a product of my reading habits using the Kindle. 

I don't know if you've been following the Olympics, but there's been a lot of surprises in the women's artistic gymnastics events. There's no question Simone Biles did the right thing withdrawing from the rest of the team final and many of her other events, and I'm so glad she wasn't injured because that vault in the team final could have gone so much more wrong. The rest of the team did such an admirable job rising to the occasion in the face of unexpected circumstances, winning the silver medal in the team final. The Russian team that won the gold also did wonderfully! I'm also so impressed that all the US women will go home with at least one medal: Sunisa Lee's all-around gold medal victory was incredible, and I'm glad she was able to win the bronze on uneven bars in an event final that was really tough for all. Mykayla Skinner also did great on vault, and now Jade Carey is a gold medalist on floor exercise! 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

July 2021 Shopping Reflections

If you caught my Instagram stories last Thursday, then you may be able to guess that I also made an additional major purchase last week, which isn't listed in this post. After I fully paid off my law school student loans earlier this month, I made an appointment to stop by Mociun in Brooklyn. All their sapphire ring designs were absolutely gorgeous in person, and I ultimately chose one as a gift to myself, to celebrate the hard-won personal milestone of finally paying off my student loans. 

It didn't seem quite right to include that particular purchase in this month's shopping reflections post, as it's very much a one-time only, special occasion kind of thing. Price-wise, it's also an extreme outlier compared to any other single month - or heck, even any other single full year - of total spending since 2015, when I first started tracking my wardrobe purchases on this blog. I'll probably do a separate, dedicated post about it soon. And when it comes time to do my year-end shopping reflections post for 2021, I'll probably start counting jewelry separately from other categories in that analysis. 

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! 

As for the rest of this month's shopping for my closet, two out of three items were summer dresses I actually ordered back in June, but they were not made to order and delivered to me until this month. The third item is the secondhand Balenciaga City I first became interested in not long ago. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $1057.22) 

  • LinenFox Slip Dress, sea green - $104.07* - The price on this was originally $87.56 with standard shipping, but then I added expedited shipping. If I remember correctly from my past LinenFox orders, standard shipping can take two to three weeks. I was actually shocked by how much faster expedited shipping was, it barely took two or three business days for my package to get here from Lithuania! Anyway, if I'm interested in new summer clothes from LinenFox next year, I probably need to remember to order earlier than June because their expected production time can be as long as four to six weeks during the summer. I customized this dress by asking them to shorten it by four inches, which was definitely the right choice as I'm significantly shorter than their models. I quite like this dress and the color I picked, but I may need to sew up the straps so they're a bit shorter and the dress would look a little less low-cut on me. One other quibble I have with this design is that there's no slit at the bottom of the skirt, I think adding one would be helpful to allow the legs to move more freely. As always, the detailed product measurements LinenFox provides for each size of every item are extremely helpful for selecting the correct size. 
  • Heinui Noe Dress, green birds print - $310.79 - No product link because Heinui took orders for this through Instagram DM! I had this one customized by asking them to add three extra inches because I worried that - with the brisk wind one often encounters in NYC - the very flouncy, voluminous, and short-ish skirt could easily get blown upwards and cause a wardrobe malfunction. (There was no extra charge.) This print is really cute. The fabric is a medium-weight cotton-linen blend that's heavier than Elizabeth Suzann medium-weight linen, but because this dress is so flowy, I find I'm still been able to wear it comfortably on fairly hot and humid days (up to, say, ~85 degrees Fahrenheit). Heinui often works with lighter, floatier fabrics that are more summer-friendly, but because this dress is quite short and voluminous, the designer said they intentionally chose a heavier fabric to prevent the skirt from blowing upwards accidentally. This silhouette - with the skirt flowing generously out and down from a rather high point on the waist - can take on a bit of what I rather ungracefully refer to as the "boob tent" effect on my more busty frame. (I used to think these kinds of silhouette were solidly outside my style comfort zone - they emphasize the part of my body I'm most self-conscious about - but over the years, I've learned it doesn't actually bother me. If the dress is comfortable and pretty, I'll still enjoy wearing it.) I still really like this dress and find it very fun to wear, but I also worry that other people could think it looks... a little like a maternity dress on me. 
  • Balenciaga City, black lambskin, secondhand - $642.36* - (search for similar items linked) - As I mentioned two weeks ago, I'd already ordered and returned this bag with gold hardware, so by the time I ordered this one, I was already sure I'd like this design and that it'd be functional for me. I find this bag to be a perfect size, it can carry everything I typically bring to work - which currently includes an additional A5-sized notebook; a swap for a larger pen case; and my Kindle, on top of everything pictured in that post - and then some. Though like the Coach Rogue, the City also can't comfortably accommodate a letter-sized notepad or binder. The somewhat short-ish shoulder strap is just the right length to allow the bag to sit comfortably and securely on my shoulder without flopping around and getting in the way while I'm walking. Now that I've taken this bag on a few outings, I confess part of me sort of wishes I kept the gold hardware version instead, even if it would have been ~$100 more expensive. (I originally thought the higher contrast gold-tone hardware would be a bit too "loud" for my tastes, given that my handbags tend to have simple designs with minimal visible hardware.) I find this combination of more subtle aged brass "classic" hardware and black leather causes the bag to really blend in to the background for me when I'm using it - I don't think to admire the bag in my reflection in shop windows when I pass by - so maybe I'd have appreciated the brighter, more eye-catching gold hardware after all. Between my previous return and this order, I'm very satisfied with my Fashionphile shopping experience. Everything's been smooth, and in particular, they process returns quickly. 
*Indicates that this price includes tax and/or shipping. 

And that's it for this month! I'm maybe a bit surprised I haven't been interested in actually ordering anything I mentioned in my "miscellaneous shopping" post in early July. Those J.Crew hammered metal bangles have since gone on sale, but I haven't been inspired to get them. As for my sandals, I think it's looking like I can safely wait until next summer to replace them. (Thank you to Hadilly for recommending the Mephisto Helen sandal, as I think they definitely seem like they will have a sleeker and more attractive look on me than the Birkenstock Gizeh I was thinking about or the Fitflop Lulu style I currently wear!) 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Pandemic-Era Health and Fitness Changes

via Unsplash

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, there's definitely a content warning on this one, as I'll be talking about weight changes (as a broad concept, I'm not going to refer to my weight in specific numbers today but I also can't guarantee that any websites I link to, including one of my own older posts, won't include more explicit discussion of weight-related numbers), diet, exercise, and certain health conditions. Please do not continue with this post if you do not wish to read about any of these topics. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

The First $100,000...

Tory Burch Robinson Colorblock Card Case (affiliate link) 

As I mentioned in an Instagram story last week, I've officially fully repaid my student loans! It almost feels anticlimactic to be done so suddenly with something that's taken a little over six years from when I graduated law school. (But with the paycut I took while clerking, I was only able to make serious payments for five of those years. I couldn't even keep up with the ~6% interest that was accruing to the tune of roughly ~$990/month while I was clerking.) 

Is it funny, or maybe just strange, that I don't even actually know what my total student loan balance was at its peak? Because ~6% interest was steadily accruing on the vast majority of the balance at all times - including while I was in law school and in the months between graduation and when I actually started working - the total balance was constantly in flux. If you've ever noticed inconsistencies in how I've described the size of my initial student loan balance over the years, it's mostly because of this constantly accruing interest. My total amount actually borrowed was different from my balance upon graduation, which was also different from my balance when I started working, etc. etc. I know the all-time high was at least ~$195,000, but I can't recall if it ever actually got much closer to $200,000, or even slightly exceeded it. 

There's a pretty common trope in personal finance-focused online discussion spaces about how "the first $100,000 is the hardest" to accumulate in savings and investments, and that's certainly been the case for me. Heck, because I started with an extremely negative net worth thanks to my law school student loans - and because I took that aforementioned paycut to clerk very early on in my career - it even took a super-long time for me to get to "the first negative $100,000" in net worth!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Life Lately: Fully Back in the Office

Enjoying a meal at Hometown Hotpot & BBQ in Chinatown. It's K and I's favorite hotpot place.

My workplace finally announced a formal office return date, so I'm officially back in the office full-time now. It would have been lovely if the powers that be had decided we could keep some limited amount of work from home flexibility, but alas, that was not in the cards. 

While I'm a tiny bit disappointed, I'm not too surprised by this development because our workplace culture had always been really old-fashioned about strongly disfavoring remote work. So I didn't really expect to be able to keep any discretion to continue working from home sometimes. Oh well, it was good while it lasted! At least we're still allowed to dress casually at the office until further notice, our typical business casual office dress code has yet to be reinstated...

I've now had the opportunity to have at least one in-person hangout with each of my close friends living in NYC, and that's been wonderful. We've all been fully vaccinated for quite some time - and none of us have very young children or other household members who cannot receive the COVID vaccine - so we're all fairly comfortable now with going to restaurants, shopping in stores, and the like. 

K and I continue to make the personal choice to wear masks indoors while out in public, except when seated at restaurants or bars, or while actively eating and drinking in other settings. By now, most public settings in NYC don't really require masks for vaccinated people anymore. Though, in my experience, a good 30-40% or more of people in stores and other non-restaurant settings mostly still wear masks inside. (I admittedly don't go out to that many places. I still don't have all my pre-pandemic energy back for running errands all over the city!) 

Now that I'm feeling more comfortable with going out into the world, I'm starting to make all my long-overdue appointments for routine checkups and the like. For the most part, I was already overdue for these appointments long before March 2020, which was a little irresponsible of me... Hopefully my dentist and general practitioner will find that everything is in order! Once I drop by the optometrist, I'm already pretty sure they'll tell me I need a stronger prescription now, unfortunately. 

One thing that happened during the pandemic was that I started watching a lot more YouTube. Very recently, I've gotten into Eileen at Colourful Noir's channel, I think she has a really soothing voice and a lovely accent (I think she lives in the UK). She mostly talks about certain ultra high-end designer items, which are obviously not something I'm personally in the market for. But she approaches it from a refreshing angle focused on prioritizing responsible personal finance management first and foremost. Only after that's taken care of would she advocate shopping for a limited number of designer items that will get a lot of use in one's wardrobe. 

How are things going on the COVID-management front where you are? Are people mostly back in the office or the classroom in your part of the world? Do you have any favorite YouTube channels to recommend? I hope that everything is well for you and your friends and family. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A Big and Somewhat Impulsive Idea

Somewhat random, but I really like Julianne Moore's street style. It's totally how I'd dress if I was an extremely wealthy woman living in NYC, with lots of practical-looking shoes plus nice handbags and comfortable-looking - but also luxe - coats and sweaters, all heavy on neutral colors. 

This is totally not the best thing to admit, and I'm not exactly proud of it, but now that I'm within spitting distance of finishing off my student loans for good - I'll most likely fully pay off the last ~$5,000 with the lion's share of my next paycheck in a few days - parts of my brain have been really clamoring for some extremely fancy shopping. And it's not just for the jewelry gift to myself I've been thinking about for a few months, the impulsive part of me wants even more than that! 

I think I'll end up doing a passable job controlling these impulses. I'll probably indulge a time or two, but primarily through the secondhand market. Given that I'm currently actively seeking to take a dramatic paycut to work for the government - if only they'll have me; it's a process that could take a year or more, and I only started applying recently - there's a definite budgetary limit to how much or how often I can act on these shopping ideas that have started popping up in my mind.

With this particular specific idea I'm about to name, I'd hoped a search through my blog archives would reveal that I'd been foreshadowing it for at least a few years now. In other words, I thought I'd previously mentioned this item at least a time or two, even if only in passing. It turns out that was not the case. 

I'm pretty sure I remember saying somewhere that I think this specific handbag is pretty cool, and that people roughly around my age who fell in love with it as far back as the mid 2000s, including Jessica, had excellent taste. (It's definitely a design that's withstood the test of time so much better than many other "it bags" that were also around back then, such as the Miu Miu Coffer I was totally in love with.) Maybe I only mentioned this in comments on other blogs? 

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! 

The item I'm talking about today is the Balenciaga City bag, specifically in black lambskin. I call it a "big and somewhat impulsive idea" for me because, up until a few weeks ago, I never seriously considered even a used one as a possible purchase for myself. At its retail price - which I think may have been around $2,050 most recently, though Balenciaga doesn't really sell this classic style much anymore? they also offer newer, more structured takes on the City design that I don't personally like - it was completely off the table for me, in part due to my highly nitpicky preferences that lead me to heavily favor extremely simple handbags (most of my collection is pictured here, I think you'll see what I mean by "extremely simple").

Thursday, July 8, 2021

June 2021 Reading Reflections

This was not the easiest reading month for me. Because I knew I had a stressful work project coming at me towards the end of June, I wasn't really able to focus well on reading throughout most of the month. I also get a lot more fickle about what types of books I feel like reading when I know I'm going to be busy and stressed at the office, I'm not really able to handle anything that's too emotionally heavy or too complex in writing style. 

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! 

Plus, I also didn't do a great job of picking books for the month either, so that sapped my motivation to read even more.  Like I suspected in last month's reading reflections post, I just couldn't get into The Push by Audrey Audrain, and as you'll soon see, I also wasn't able to finish two other thrillers I also tried to pick up for June. 

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

  • Home Before Dark by Riley Sager - This is a very middle-of-the-road horror novel. The premise of the story is decent and the writing style is easy enough to get through, but the book just didn't stand out to me as being especially good. I've definitely read many better authors in this genre. For instance, Jennifer McMahon's writing style is significantly more suspenseful and engaging and Paul Tremblay also has a stronger writing style. Out of horror books I've read more recently, I'd also rank the C.J. Tudor novels I've read above Home Before Dark. So yes, this book wasn't anything to write home about, it's just a somewhat cliched haunted house story-slash-mystery. 
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes - I also thought this book was just okay, it felt very underdeveloped to me, especially given how popular a bestseller it apparently was. The two main characters are both supposedly working through some pretty big emotional issues and difficult times, and yet it really felt like the author didn't do a great job "showing, not just telling" the reader that. It also felt like there were pieces of the story missing, scenes that should have been added to really flesh out the character arcs for both leads. I do appreciate that both main characters are likable and mature, they communicate about things like adults. This isn't one of those romance-focused stories where the drama or conflict between the main couple is artificial and contrived, and could easily be solved in a minute by just talking things out. 

Hah, I guess this reading reflections post is very dull and dour because I was not that satisfied with either of the books I managed to finish. I really did try to read more, sticking mainly to thrillers that wouldn't require too much of my brain power. I also picked up The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse and The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher, but neither worked for me. The Sanatorium lost me in the first few pages, I just didn't find the writing style and first chapter that engaging.

I got a lot further in Tarryn Fisher's The Wrong Family, but the characters were exceedingly tedious and weird, and it was starting to look like the story was going in a direction that would get silly fast. I previously had a similar experience with Fisher's The Wives, except that I thought the characters were better. But again, that story also looked like it was moving in an extremely silly direction. It's a pity because I think Fisher has a good writing style for thrillers, she sets things up with the right amount of suspense and mystery that makes you wonder what will happen next, but the premises and likely endings of these books just don't work for me. (And yes, I suppose it's my own fault for not avoiding spoilers. When I confirm with spoilers that a story is moving in a foolish direction, it ruins my reading experience and I just can't finish the book.) 

Have you read anything good recently? Does anyone else find themselves unable to avoid looking at spoilers? I generally don't mind seeing spoilers for books, movies, or TV shows, though if I know the story won't end on a strong note, it can definitely harm the reading or watching experience to know what's coming. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Thinking About Miscellaneous Shopping

J.Crew Hammered Metal Bangles (affiliate link) in silver. I might consider getting these in gold.

Ooph, I ended up being extremely busy at work last week so I wasn't able to write or post any blog entries. But things have calmed down again at the office for now, just in time for the Fourth of July long weekend. My workload this year has been very feast or famine, with only a few intensely busy periods here and there and significant lulls in between. Accordingly, my billable hours for 2021 aren't looking that strong. 

Now that it's July and the Feedburner "subscribe by email" feature has officially been discontinued, this is also the first blog post for which I'm sending out a (non-automated) email notification using TinyLetter. Hopefully it worked alright for those of you who are subscribed.

One non-shopping, non-fashion thing that have been on my mind recently: The United States recently selected its women's gymnastics team for the Tokyo Olympics! I'm not a very serious fan of women's gymnastics, as I prove completely unable to tell any of their skills apart or even to accurately distinguish more difficult and complex skills from easier ones. But I've been following the American women's gymnastics team closely since 2018 or so. The athletes are so incredibly strong, especially those who had to endure the Karolyi era and its failures of reporting and abuses of power. (Some of these issues were covered in the Believed podcast series, which I recommended back in 2019.)

Because of the COVID pandemic and the delayed Olympics, this has been a difficult eighteen months for so many of the athletes. A number of the ones I was most fond of were, sadly, unable to seriously contend for the Olympics this year due to injuries. But I'm so happy for the athletes who were selected! Jordan Chiles has a particularly great comeback story. I'm also so glad that Sunisa Lee was able to perform so well and make it to her Olympic dream, through so many challenges. And obviously Simone Biles is undeniably the greatest of all time in the sport. I could also go on to praise all the other women who were named as well, but I feel like I'm starting to ramble already. 

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! 

Today's post is a fairly light one, about some of the miscellaneous possible shopping for my wardrobe I've considered in the past week or two. I'm not sure how serious I am about any of these ideas, however. 

J.Crew Hammered Metal Bangles: I've historically had pretty good luck with J.Crew costume jewelry. I think they come up with lots of pretty designs, and the pieces typically all feel quite solid and fairly good quality. Their items generally also prove to be reasonably durable when compared to a lot of other costume jewelry on the market. It's been a while since my last J.Crew jewelry purchase in 2018, but I continue to browse their jewelry selection every few months to see if they've put out anything that looks interesting. These hammered metal bangles, pictured in silver above, have really caught my eye. (I would get them in gold, though, as I strongly prefer gold jewelry.) Sadly, this item seems to have been excluded from most of the recent J.Crew sales and promotions. 

In practice, I don't really wear bracelets often, so I'm not sure I'll actually end up ordering these. I don't like that some bangles tend to bump up against things a lot, in particular my desk or computer keyboard, as I go about my day. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

June 2021 Shopping Reflections

I'm publishing this shopping reflections post a bit ahead of the actual end of the month because I'm pretty certain the list of purchases I will receive and make a final decision on in June is already set in stone. As you'll see, this was a month of shopping for jewelry for me. 

There's admittedly a huge asterisk on this month's shopping list because I technically have two customized - to make the dress a little longer or shorter to suit me - made-to-order summer dresses in the pipeline, both of which are final sale due to said customizations. I've never been that consistent about whether I list my made-to-order pieces in the month I order them or in the month I receive them. I can't figure out which approach makes the most sense!

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! 

Like I previewed in my recent post about summer dresses, I decided to get a Linenfox slip dress in sea green customized to a shorter length, given that I'm at least four inches shorter than most of their models. I also saw Heinui's Instagram account post about a voluminous knee-length summer dress in a delightful green on white print (sold out for now), and I decided to order that too, this time customized to a longer than default length so the hem has less risk of blowing upwards and causing a wardrobe malfunction, due to the regularly-encountered wind tunnel effect while walking around in NYC. 

You're probably going to think I'm a bit silly because one of this month's purchases - an extremely fancy one, no less - was very directly inspired by the relatively understated costume design choices on HBO's Succession. Specifically, in a scene or two around episode seven or eight of the second season, Siobhan "Shiv" Roy - the only daughter of the main family at the center of the show - briefly wears a set of small diamond hoops, and so here we are. Her character's jewelry choices are intentionally more conservative than the already quite understated average on the show and are definitely not meant to grab attention. So it's probably a bit weird to be inspired by something she wore!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Thinking About Handbags

Unlike with my recent post about summer dresses, I don't think I'm actually leaning towards making a purchase anytime soon, but one other wardrobe category that's also been on my mind recently is handbags. Out of all the types of items in my closet, I think bags may be the area in which I'm the most firmly stuck in my ways, I almost never stray from my rather conservative and arguably kind of boring tastes and preferences. 

My current handbag collection is pretty much fully represented by this Pinterest board. And, well, I think you can definitely tell what I like, it's mostly neutral colors and simple totes or shoulder bags. There are outliers - in particular that pink Longchamp "miaou" tote I found incredibly charming and cute, though I almost never have occasion to wear it - but not many. I clearly have a rather narrowly-defined "type" when it comes to my handbags. 

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! 

For all that one of my big shopping-related daydreams and aspirations from when I started this blog was that I might someday buy myself a really fancy designer handbag, I never actually had a real idea of what that bag should look like. 

Even after I graduated law school and started working in biglaw for a year - such that I had enough disposable income so that I could technically afford a really fancy designer handbag if I wanted to make it a priority right away by cutting expenses aggressively in other areas - I still didn't have any clear ideas about a specific handbag I would actually like. (I named some extremely disparate-looking designs as possibilities in that 2016 post, including the Givenchy Antigona, Mulberry Bayswater, and Saint Laurent Duffle.) These days, now that I know my own tastes better, the only designer bag I seem to be interested in from this general price point is the Celine Seau Sangle. But I probably don't like it enough to actually want to spend that amount of money.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Reentry Thoughts

Maya Lin's Ghost Forest at Madison Square Park. Some days, the lawn is open so people can sit on the grass under the trees.

Completely unexpectedly, my workplace still doesn't have an official return date after which attorneys need to work full-time - or even part-time - in the office. But because of some projects on my plate through the end of the month, I'll probably still be going to the office four or five days a week through the end of June. After that, we'll see what my work schedule looks like for the rest of the summer. It's very strange to me that we don't have an official return date yet, though in practice most of my colleagues are back in most days of the week regardless. 

For those of you in parts of the US or other parts of the world that are almost fully reopen, how are you feeling about it all? K and I are comfortable with indoor dining, with my return to the office, and with whatever social gatherings or visits our close friends or family - nearly all living in fully vaccinated households - want to do. Our first plane trip will probably be in August, to a friends' wedding in Colorado, though we have no objections to traveling now if we had anywhere to go. (It goes without saying that I'm happy to continue wearing a mask whenever and wherever it's requested or required, especially indoors. In NYC, I've seen that most people continue to wear masks indoors everywhere, except when seated at a restaurant or bar.)  

But even though I'm pretty much back to the office full-time now, I still don't feel fully "normal." It takes me so much longer to get ready to go to the office than in pre-pandemic times, and I'm always completely exhausted in the evenings if I went in, even though I have a fairly easy 15 to 20 minute walking commute. I'm also not fully back to wearing my "real" work shoes yet, I've mostly just been in sandals and sneakers.

Please note that this portion of the 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 dragging my feet on some of my many reentry-related errands. I still need to schedule appointments for long-delayed routine checkups with my dentist and primary care doctor, just to make sure everything's in order. I may also need to make an appointment with the optometrist, as my vision is noticeably slightly worse off now than after my previous visit in early 2019. (I spent a lot more time staring at screens than usual when working almost fully from home. Normally, at the office, I do a lot of my reading on hard copies.) 

It may also be high time to refresh my makeup collection, as my Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner has dried out in the jar and it's been way too long since I first opened my current bottle of Nars eyeshadow primer. I almost never wore makeup in pre-pandemic times - it was only for special occasions, court, and important work meetings - and obviously I wore it even less while social distancing throughout 2020 and early 2021. 

One other side effect of our 14 months of pandemic social distancing is that I have a number of extremely expired Metrocards with money left on them. Normally, if the Metrocard's been expired for less than a year, one can just use the machines at each subway station to switch them out for new ones. But because my cards are more than a year expired, I apparently need to snail-mail them in for replacement, which is quite inconvenient! (And apparently, if the cards are more than two years expired, one is completely out of luck. Happily, mine are not quite there yet...) 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

2020 Year-End Shopping Reflections Revisited

Now that NYC is almost fully reopen and I'm back in the office at least a few days each week, I'm slowly returning to being able to more accurately evaluate my 2020 purchases based on what I actually like to wear when I don't spend essentially all my time at home, in the interest of public health and COVID safety. In that light, I'm starting to find that, maybe... I wasn't making the best shopping decisions for my wardrobe last year. 

I was aware of this possibility when I wrote my original year-end shopping reflections post for 2020. I refrained from doing my usual analysis to classify my purchases as good, middling, or unwise choices using red, yellow, or green dots - like I've done for 2019 and the period from 2015 through most of 2018 - because I knew I wouldn't be able to do any real analysis before I was able to move freely out in the world again. I couldn't meaningfully "road test" any of my new clothes or accessories or think about their actual functionality for my life outside the home if I wasn't really going anywhere except for a once-monthly trip to the grocery store. 

But now things are getting back to normal here in NYC: I'm going back to the office most weekdays, and K and I are comfortable with dining indoors at restaurants again, including with friends from other households. We're also comfortable with traveling to visit friends or family without quarantining beforehand. (The vast majority of our friends and family and even my close work colleagues do not have young children under 12 in their households, or any other household members who cannot receive the vaccine, which probably makes it much easier for us to just jump straight back in to something resembling "normal" pre-pandemic life with remarkable speed.) 

With all that, I feel like I'm now able to start evaluating my purchases from my usual perspective, taking into account my personal style preferences and actual day-to-day lifestyle in "normal" times. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Life Lately

Our first trip to Shake Shack since getting fully vaccinated!

First up, a quick announcement: I'm not sure if any of you rely on the "Follow by Email" widget in the sidebar to get notifications about my new posts. That widget is powered by Feedburner, and they are disabling the email notifications feature starting next month. If you would still like to receive email notifications about my new posts, I'm thinking of using Tinyletter to send out emails when I've updated my blog, and you can subscribe at this link. (I first opened this Tinyletter account years ago when I thought I might have it in me to do an email newsletter, but I never managed to find any inspiration to actually write anything in that format.) If there's any interest, I'll commit to sending out a quick note every time I post here starting in July! 

Today's post is a grab bag of small, not shopping-related things that have been on my mind recently. 

Shockingly, my workplace has yet to announce a formal return date for attorneys to go back to working full-time - or even part-time - at the office. But due to a busy period in one of my cases, I've still been back in the office at least two or three days a week since May 24. Because my workplace hasn't announced new COVID-19 policies since last July when NYC-based offices were first allowed to reopen, everyone is continuing to wear masks in the communal spaces at the office. In other words, we have not yet implemented the new CDC guidance that vaccinated people don't need to wear masks in most indoor settings. 

I totally love Olivia Rodrigo's recently released album, Sour. "Good 4 U" is my favorite track, such an addictive song I can listen to on repeat even if I totally don't have the life experience to actually relate to the lyrics. (I don't think I have the right life experience to relate to any of the tracks except maybe "Jealousy, Jealousy" and "Brutal" for more general types of teenaged or social media-driven insecurity. I didn't really have any experiences of youthful romantic heartbreak or anything like that!) "Drivers License," "Hope Ur Okay," and "Brutal" are also pretty great tracks.  

Now that I'm back in the office at least part of each week for the foreseeable future, our grocery shopping routine will need to change to account for how I typically buy lunch when I go to the office. (I eat Sweetgreen for lunch on most of my office days.) K's still at home all week for the foreseeable future. But between the two of us, I'm by far the more experienced cook, so he relies more on sandwiches or frozen foods when I'm not home to help with lunch.