Monday, December 27, 2021

December 2021 Shopping Reflections

Pardon me for disappearing completely for the past two weeks! With all the Omicron variant-related news in NYC - including record-breaking numbers of new COVID cases several days in a row - plus some unexpected issues coming up at work right before my holiday trip to see my mom in California, I was feeling too frazzled to write anything. 

For people in NYC, it really feels like things took a sudden and abrupt turn on the COVID front. On Monday, December 13, I got a PCR test as a precaution before my workplace's holiday party, and things still felt pretty normal. I got my test results - negative - barely 12 hours later. By Wednesday, December 15, my colleagues using the exact same provider and testing site were finding that their PCR tests were taking four or five days to get results, due to dramatically increased demand. I'm fully boosted, as are all my close friends and family here in the US, but it's all still a bit nerve-wracking. 

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!

It also seems clear now that the long-awaited international business trips my team was hoping to go on in the next two months or so will not be possible. That's disappointing because doing the same work remotely by videoconference, across several time zones, is ultimately going to be quite logistically painful. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $607.54) 

  • Madewell Plaid Flannel Track Trousers - $68.60 - (also here) - This was a Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchase partially inspired by Kathy's recommendation. On top of the sale price, I also got ~$8 back from Ebates/Rakuten. I've only tried these trousers on at home, but they're very comfortable with their elastic waist, and I quite like the gray plaid pattern, it's a good neutral. Although these are not petite sizing or "short" length, they're still just right as full-length pants on my "short for my 5'3'' height" legs. Size small is a just-right fit on me. At this point - in large part because I heavily favor pencil skirts for my business formal suits - it's hard to imagine ever going back to wearing dress pants with non-stretchy waists. 
  • Tibi Tropical Wool Pleated Wrap Skirt, dark stone - $538.94* - (also here in black) - I'd been interested in this skirt for more than a month, after getting previews of it from some of Amy Smilovic's Instagram stories and Tibi's weekly "Style Class" videos. I was originally pretty sure I'd get this in black because I thought it'd match better with my black tights and many pairs of black shoes and boots, but I changed my mind when the skirt finally arrived on Tibi's website. This gray color just felt like it'd be more interesting and pretty. I love this skirt, the pleats move beautifully and I feel awesome in it, it's definitely the kind of thing I had in mind when I was looking for a really great wrap-style midi skirt. Though I think this sort of item - a midi skirt in a tropical wool suiting fabric - is somewhat niche and wouldn't suit all personal styles or wardrobes out there. 
*Indicates that price includes sales tax. 

And that's officially it for this year's monthly shopping reflections posts. I don't have as much to say about December's items as I usually do about my shopping in other months because I barely had them in hand for a week before I was in a tizzy dealing with a few surprises at work and packing for my holiday travel to see my mom. I think I might also be a bit slow in getting a year-end shopping analysis post together for 2021, but it'll definitely come around eventually. 

How has your December been? NYC has, unfortunately, seen an extremely dramatic uptick of COVID cases since December 13, so I suspect I'm going to be feeling frazzled for quite some time. My workplace has even reinstated some work-from-home flexibility through the start of 2022, which they'd only do if things felt quite scary. Anyway, I hope that everyone has been having a good end of the year holiday season and that you and your loved ones have been healthy and safe!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Life Lately: Almost the Holidays

We only started putting up this little artificial Christmas tree in our apartment last year.

I personally can't quite believe we've almost reached the end of 2021. In some ways, this year has gone by so quickly, but in others, it feels like it's been an eternity. I can barely even remember the events of early 2021, particularly from the months before I was fully vaccinated. Now that I've been fully back in the office for nearly five months, I can also barely remember what it felt like to work from home full-time while COVID social distancing. 

My sister and I are planning to travel from the East Coast to visit our mom in California this year for the year-end holidays. Both of us have already had our COVID boosters, and my mom should have gotten hers as well by the time we arrive. When K and I know we will be trying to see our parents soon, we choose to avoid higher-risk indoor settings like restaurants or parties at friends' homes for two weeks beforehand. (But because I still need to go to the office every weekday, we also can't fully quarantine before our visits with our parents.) We continue to wear masks in all indoor public settings, and aren't currently dining out indoors. 

A few of my law school friends and I originally anticipated needing to do some international business travel in the near term, by January or February next year. Now, with news of the Omicron variant and additional international travel restrictions in various countries, those plans have become significantly less certain. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Personal Style Thoughts: Without Fails ("WOFs")

My Elizabeth Suzann Ella slip dress (mine is navy, not black) is one of my "Without Fails" or "WOFs".

For today's post, I thought I'd talk about some of the things I've learned from Amy Smilovic's Instagram stories about her approach to personal style, shopping, and wardrobe-building. Her style is definitely not the same as mine - it's a lot more fashion-forward, creative, and adventurous by any objective measure - but I believe her way of thinking about these topics can still be extremely inspirational to someone building towards a style that ends up looking quite different from hers. (Oh and keep in mind that my paraphrasing of her personal style concepts throughout this post - in the way I understand them - may not be completely precise and accurate to what she actually means to say.) 

This article does a pretty good job briefly summarizing most of the basics with Smilovic's approach. Smilovic describes her style - embodied in her brand Tibi - as "Creative Pragmatism", with the three elements or "style adjectives" of Chill, Modern, Classic each weighted equally. 

Her Instagram stories over time have given a lot more detail about what each of these style adjectives mean to her. "Chill" is seen in the silhouettes and overall look; it often also incorporates elements of functionality and comfort, including through the use of fabrics that feel good and move and flow well, sometimes in natural fibers or natural fiber blends. "Modern" is often where the fashion-forward design elements come in, and can also include mixing proportions and fabric textures in outfits, or using unexpected materials or details to add tension or irony to the item or look. "Classic" in Smilovic's framework is more difficult for me to pinpoint and articulate because I know she doesn't like things overly classic, it always needs to be balanced out by the other elements. 

To the extent Smilovic's style adjectives apply to me, I'm more Chill, Modern, Classic

That's extra-large font for the "Chill" because I love for things to be comfortable and thus functional, and I sometimes prioritize function over form with that interest in mind; a medium-sized font for the "Classic" because I err on the side of classic and conservative in many of my fashion choices; and I wish I could make the font for "Modern" even smaller because, in the end, that's not really an important style adjective for me. I do appreciate the more "Modern" and unexpected details in the Tibi items I've purchased to date, but overall that's not something I really seek out or need all the time, or in every outfit. Maybe I'd swap out a word like whimsical or fun instead of modern for my personal list? But those terms aren't exactly right for me either.

I haven't really been able to think of my own personal list of core style adjectives yet. Chill or easygoing is definitely one of mine, but I'm honestly not that sure about anything else. 

That's an incredibly long introduction to the main focus of today's post, which isn't even supposed to be about these style adjectives! Instead, what I actually wanted to write about today was Smilovic's approach to shopping and building a wardrobe. That part of her approach focuses on three types of items: (1) "Without Fails" or "WOFs"; (2) "In and Outs" or "IOs"; and (3) "Had to Haves" or "HTHs"

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Blog Thoughts, Year Seven

Just like that, it's almost Invincible Summer's seven year blog anniversary! Much like 2020, this year has really been something, for reasons completely unrelated to keeping this blog. Back when I wrote last year's "blogiversary" post, I had no idea that, a month later, we'd see an attempted coup. Events since then have also been... complicated. 

But I'm thankful everyone aged 12+ in the US was eligible to get a COVID vaccination by June or so, and that vaccine eligibility has since opened up here to children aged 5 to 11 for their first shots and to everyone aged 18+ for their booster shots. I'm also grateful that by now most adults in Taiwan - including my extended family members - have also been able to get a full round of a COVID vaccine. 

As I say every year, I continue to be so grateful to everyone who reads here. Even if blogging is sort of an outdated activity that isn't as popular anymore compared to the use of other, more current social media platforms, I'm still having fun writing this blog and reading other blogs. I'm happy you're here and I also hope that you're also able to find something to enjoy in my writing here at Invincible Summer. Thank you so much for your time and your presence. 

Now that I've been on Shopstyle's Cost per Acquisition ("CPA") model for a little over a year, I feel like it's safe to say my approach to writing about items and shopping hasn't changed for the negative? Or at least, I hope so. I was originally quite nervous because it felt like a big change for my Shopstyle compensation to go from a flat rate Pay Per Click ("PPC") to getting varying percentage rate commissions on actual sales resulting from my links (at no extra cost to the shopper). 

In actual practice I've found that, for a blog as small as mine, there's so much randomness to how many sales occur each month - and at which retailers - that I honestly don't think I'd even know how to reliably drive more sales even if I wanted to. From the limited Shopstyle tracking data available, even on CPA, I still make an average of two sales a month, though there can be a lot of fluctuation both up and down on a month to month basis. For the most part, those sales are not just of the L.L. Bean boots or the J.Crew Sophie and Juliette sweater blazers anymore. Nordstrom now accounts for most sales made through my links, but because of their liberal return policy, the sometimes lofty initial commissions I'm credited with are often adjusted downwards by significant amounts within a few weeks. 

Because of how long CPA commissions take to become finalized after retailers' return windows close, it's actually hard to say for sure whether my average monthly CPA compensation currently reliably exceeds my old pre-pandemic average of ~$15/month in PPC earnings (more like ~$32/month if you just average out my highest earning years in 2018 and 2019). Though my 2021 CPA earnings are definitely beating the ~$5 to $7/month I was getting in 2020, when Ann Taylor and J.Crew PPC earnings were temporarily disabled for months at a time, most likely due to bankruptcy restructuring-related issues. Furthermore, I definitely get fewer page views now than I did in, say, 2018-2019, so it's not really possible to do a one-to-one comparison of CPA versus pre-pandemic PPC earnings. 

Before jumping in to specific 2020 numbers, a quick note about taxes. As far as I can tell when entering the relevant numbers into Turbotax each year, I pay my marginal tax rate of ~40%+ on my blog-related income, which I continue to report on a Schedule C-EZ. To date, I still have not made enough from this blog in one year from any single source to receive any 1099s for blog-related income. (This is not to be taken as legal advice about the tax implications of blog-related income.)

Please follow the link below for a detailed 2021 blog income report. Thank you again for your support of Invincible Summer all this time!

Monday, November 29, 2021

November 2021 Shopping Reflections

With both this month's purchases, I think you'll really see what I mean about having some new personal style preferences from my full return to office life. I'm in the market now for some attention-grabbing items - particularly shoes - to go into outfits I hope are interesting and stand out a bit in a good way. I feel like both November purchases are unlike anything I've ever bought before, in all my years of keeping this blog, so that's how you know I'm definitely interested in things that are quite new to me. 

And ah, I think you'll also see what I mean about my willingness to allow a fair bit of lifestyle inflation in my wardrobe spending, now that I'm completely done with paying off my student loans. This was probably already obvious as early as August, was also certainly confirmed by October, and there's definitely no denying it anymore. 

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!

November's shopping list also means my recent bout of being busier and more stressed at work has caused me to do more online window-shopping with the potential to turn into actual shopping, not less. I'm definitely not having one of those times where I'm too tired to browse online stores. Though I was also a bit too mentally tired this year to have kept track of any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales ahead of time. (I did end up doing a little bit of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale shopping, but mostly just for socks and some Stasher standup silicone storage bags.)

I'm also too frazzled to have started with any of my year-end holiday gift shopping yet, which is highly likely to bite me in the rear in a big way with shipping and supply chain issues these days. I have a few recipients I really need to buy gifts for, but no ideas at all for what to get them.

Fashion - (TOTAL: $928.16)

  • Tibi Brancusi Jeans, regular length, indigo denim - $419.17* - (also here and here) - This item is probably a particular surprise. After all, didn't I just say I wasn't interested in more dramatic wide-leg or barrel-shaped jeans because they were too far out of my style comfort zone? These Tibi Brancusi jeans are, however, fairly different from most other barrel jeans I've seen: They have a more relaxed waist designed to sit at the hip and not the natural waist in your true denim size - though it isn't a low-rise jean per se, it can also be belted and worn more high-waisted - and the fit is relaxed throughout. It's initially difficult to get a good read on how these fit from store photos, as different retailers style them very differently and might sometimes size down on their models. When a fairly tall model wears the "regular" length designed for women 5'6'' and under - as opposed to the "long" length for 5'7'' and above - the jeans can also look super-cropped. These Instagram posts give a good approximation of how my "true" size indigo Brancusi (the 28 regular) looks on me. Most Tibi employees on Instagram seem to prefer wearing their true jean size in denim Brancusi, even if the waist may be relaxed enough to technically allow sizing down. (They size up in the faux patent leather version, though) The Tibi store team has some videos and Stories on Instagram about how the Brancusi fit.  Amy Smilovic suggests it might make sense to toss your true size denim Brancusi in the drier after washing to get a slightly sleeker fit, which I'm seriously contemplating. At 5'3'' with shorter-than-average legs for my height, the length and volume of these jeans currently suit me better when I wear them belted and higher-waisted. I've worn these jeans out maybe four times now and they've also relaxed noticeably since I pulled them out of the package. Because of how the hem is tucked in and sewn at the cuffs, these should be practical even when there are rain puddles or snow and slush on the ground. The wider parts near the hem won't drag on the floor and get wet or dirty easily, something I'd worry about with most wider-leg pants or jeans. 
  • Office of Angela Scott Mr. Logan Oxfords, black - $508.99* - (also herehere, and here) - The price reflects a sale, and I'll also get a 2% Rakuten rebate. These shoes are certainly unlike any other pair I've bought in the years since starting this blog, with the hardware for the laces and the lug sole. I've mentioned the Office of Angela Scott twice, but never featured any of their shoes, so it may surprise you to learn this is the third of their styles I've ordered and tried on. With the other two designs, the Miss Button Derby (also here) and a discontinued one, I tried them on while shopping for a birthday gift from my mom, so I never specifically mentioned them. After trying three Angela Scott designs, I don't think the brand is generally a great fit for me, as someone with fairly wide feet. These shoes tend to feel more substantial and thus more stiff than other brands I've tried, which takes some getting used to. That combined with the narrow toe boxes on some styles, including the Miss Buttons - but not these Mr. Logans, which have a more spacious round toe box - makes it hard to find the right fit and can require fairly dramatic sizing up. When sizing up in the discontinued style I previously tried - these Mr. Georgies are probably the most similar-looking in the brand's current lineup - I found my heel easily slipped out in the size that accommodated the rest of my wide foot. In short, finding the right size in a particular Angela Scott shoe may take more trial and error than usual. I took my recommended size 38 in the Mr. Logans from the company's website (for someone who always wears 7.5, has a wider foot, and never sizes down but rarely sizes up), and I think that's definitely the right one. It's a close just-right fit in the toe box, but I do have to lace them tightly or else my ankle could slip a bit. I've worn these out once for a full day at the office, and breathed a sigh of relief after because they didn't cause pain or blisters and the slipping at the ankle wasn't too bad in practice, even though I was only wearing thin Falke tights and not thick socks. 
*Indicates that price includes sales tax. 

And that's it for this month! I'm not too sure what December's shopping for my wardrobe is going to look like, outside of my Black Friday/Cyber Monday sock purchases. I'm definitely also still eagerly awaiting the release of another skirt from Tibi, and I'm probably sure enough about it that I'll likely jump on it immediately when it's released, whenever that ends up being. 

Outside of that, I know I'm interested in adding some more variety to my selection of tops and shoes, but I don't think I'm actually in a hurry to do that. I can almost certainly wait for the post-New Years' winter sales, but if I remember correctly, last year's winter sales weren't that great and were also quite slow to get started, so maybe I won't end up buying anything else in the very short term. How's the rest of your shopping year looking? Were you able to find anything good during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year, whether for your closet or otherwise? 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Federal Judiciary Financial Disclosures

via Unsplash

Now this is a terribly un-festive and rather unseasonable post to publish so close to Thanksgiving! I already had most of this one written before things got really hectic at work in early November, so I figured I should just go ahead and publish now that it's ready. Even if almost no one who reads here is as interested in the United States federal judiciary as I am, I still like to think and write about these things...

Because I've been so busy at the office recently, I haven't had any interest in Black Friday sales this year. I'm even a bit too frazzled to think about the year-end holiday gifts I'm somewhat obligated to buy, but have not yet started shopping for (which is probably going to cause headaches for me with all the ongoing supply chain and shipping issues). Long story short, I don't think I'll be making any posts fully dedicated to Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales or holiday gift shopping this year. 


The Wall Street Journal recently did some in-depth reporting about what's apparently a significant number of US federal judges who have - sometimes through the judge's spouse, financial advisor, or a family trust - either held or actively traded the stocks of companies with active litigation pending before them. I was shocked and appalled. It's critically important that our federal courts avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and this is an obvious and profound failure in that area. The law is also extremely clear, holding the stock of a particular company - however small the number of shares - means the judge must recuse themselves from all cases concerning said company. 

Based on the WSJ articles, it seems these were generally not knowing violations of the judicial ethics rules and laws. In the federal courts I'm familiar with, case assignment is random, done by a spin of the wheel, whether virtual or physical. The clerk of the courts' offices - not the judges' individual offices - automatically screen cases to ensure no judge is assigned to one they have personal conflicts with. Judges have the responsibility of providing their court clerk's office with an updated conflicts list or "recusal list." Any case including a company the judge owns stock in is obviously off limits, the judge is automatically recused from cases involving those companies. Or at least, that's what happens when things work as they should.

Certain judges probably didn't keep their recusal lists fully updated to reflect all stock transactions as the trades occurred. Some of the judges have stated the trades were done by a spouse or financial advisor, and the judge had no idea they happened.  

Monday, November 22, 2021

Reentry Thoughts: Wardrobe and Personal Style Changes

I'm interested in getting this Tibi skirt when it eventually becomes available. My outfits with it would look a little different, though.

Please pardon me for disappearing completely for nearly three weeks! Work really ended up taking me by surprise, it's been fire drill after fire drill in my professional life lately. That can be difficult, but overall I'm glad things are finally returning to a pre-pandemic level of busy at the office. My caseload in particular saw considerable COVID-driven disruptions for well over a year - that wasn't true across the industry for all litigators, I got it worse than most - so I'm ultimately happy to have more to do at work than in most of 2020 and the earlier part of 2021. 

As of late last week, I've now had my third shot of the COVID vaccine. Minimal side effects this time, not even a sore arm near the injection site. It's kind of wild to think that, as late as March 2021, I had no idea how quickly I'd be able to get my first shot. Fast forward to now, and it's easy for basically any person aged 18+ to get their Pfizer or Moderna booster in NYC, as long as it's been at least six months since they finished their first full round of the vaccine. Very recently, NYC authorities expanded eligibility to include the entire group, with no need for any qualifying health conditions. (I'm less familiar with the booster guidelines for Johnson and Johnson.) 

I've been fully back in the office since mid-July, and may even be back to doing some international business trips as early as next January or February. Many court appearances in NYC are back to being in-person and various other in-person meetings are also happening, at least on the litigation side. Suffice to say, I feel like my working life is almost entirely back to pre-pandemic "normal", except that we still wear masks in indoor public settings - which I'm perfectly happy to do - and we try to keep events with an indoor dining component to a minimum. 

Now that I've been fully back in the office for several months, I have some thoughts on how my wardrobe needs and preferences have changed, after most of my outdoor clothes and shoes went almost entirely unused during my more than 15 months of COVID social distancing. One big - and possibly temporary - factor causing these changes is that my workplace still allows a casual dress code for now, a pandemic-driven change from our previous business casual dress code. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Things I Like Lately

Today's post is about a few things, both fashion-related and not, that I've been enjoying lately as things get busier for me at the office. 

First, I've recently tried two new-to-me fast-casual Chinese restaurants that are both excellent and which I highly recommend. In the years since I first moved to NYC to attend law school in 2012, there's been a noticeable trend of really good Chinese restaurants opening all over Manhattan, including one of K and I's favorites, a Shanghainese spot called Little Alley, a few years ago

One of these new-to-me restaurants is Milu, which serves a few slightly nontraditional dishes, their duck confit-like dish is somewhat unusual, as is their interpretation of a pineapple bun stuffed with pastry cream and pineapple curd. My favorite dishes on their menu are the Yunnan-style brisket - so flavorful! - and the smashed cucumber salad that comes as a side with most of the rice bowls or entrees. 

The other new-to-me restaurant is Awesum Dim Sum, which is a fast-casual spot serving really great dum sum that's at least as good as any of the popular places in Manhattan's Chinatown. (I haven't gone out for dim sum in Flushing or Sunset Park before, so I can't compare to the restaurants there.) The menu here is more traditional, and all the dishes I like from bigger, sit-down dim sum restaurants are available here. Some of the dishes I tried are pictured above. The standout dish for me was the Phoenix Rolls served in broth towards the left, it's not normally one of my favorites, but Awesum Dim Sum's version was really good. And the har gao, shrimp cheung fun, baked bbq pork buns, and egg tarts were also great, as was everything else we tried. 

Second, I've been really enjoying the F1: Drive to Survive documentary series on Netflix. Outside of gymnastics and figure skating, I don't really follow any sports at all and definitely don't have any interest in motorsports or Formula 1. But this series does a good job of playing up the inherent drama of the sport and making things reasonably accessible to viewers like me who don't know anything about the sport. The personalities involved in the sport are, let's just say, incredibly dramatic, so the series is fun to watch.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

October 2021 Shopping Reflections

Work has suddenly gotten super-hectic again, so things will be more quiet on this blog for the next few weeks. Alas, I think October will also end up being another month without a reading reflections post, I'm probably not going to finish any books due to being too busy or mentally preoccupied with work. Oh well, I never had a goal for how many books I wanted to read this year or anything like that, though I'm a bit sad my brain isn't up to the task of enjoying reading for fun right now. 

Though actually, from my past experience billing fairly extreme hours from late 2019 through early 2020 - before the pandemic intervened and shut down my cases for a time - when my hours get past a certain point, I actually end up wanting to read for fun a lot more because it's one of the only ways my brain can briefly escape from thinking about work. I really hope my pace of billing doesn't get back to that point, and I don't even think it's likely given my current caseload, but who knows. 

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 guess it's also clear now that, unlike what I said in August, I actually do feel like shopping for fall/winter this year after all. That doesn't bother me too much, though if I get much busier at work I need to be careful I don't start shopping more impulsively due to work-related stress. There are definitely times when billing long hours makes me want to online window-shop more because of stress, and there are also times when it doesn't because I just don't have any extra time or mental energy left. It's hard to say which way I'll react until I'm in the thick of it. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Thinking About Tees

It's been a while now since I last purchased a new tee shirt, a gray linen v-neck from H&M (old, similar in other colors) back in June 2017 (unless we count my LinenFox "Mona" top from April 2019, which I don't really because it's dressier than a typical tee). I currently own three tees that I wear outside my home or the gym: (1) that H&M gray linen v-neck; (2) an Everlane white linen scoop-neck (old, discontinued); and (3) an Everlane black v-neck in cotton (old, similar) purchased around 2013 or 2014, before I started this blog. 

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!

In truth, tee shirts are not a mainstay of my wardrobe, even on weekends. Throughout spring and NYC's typically long summer - I've only just stopped wearing my summer outfits more often than not, in mid-October! - I generally don't reach for separates at all, I strongly prefer to wear dresses. Back when I started this blog, tees played a bigger role in my casual outfits for fall/winter when I wore more cardigans on the weekends. Since 2019 or so, however, I've preferred pullover sweaters rather than cardigans, so my tees only really get used for layering purposes, and thennthey're completely hidden. 

But during my recent travels - to Crested Butte, CO in mid-August and upstate New York in late September - where the temperatures and settings didn't suit my light summer dresses, but also didn't require sweaters, I found myself feeling like I'd outgrown the styles in my current tee collection. Back when I was buying those tees in 2017 and earlier, I avoided crew necks because I found higher-cut crew necks unflattering for my bust. Over time, however, as my proportions have changed somewhat with age and a few periods of significant lifestyle changes due to long commutes or the COVID pandemic, I'm actually finding I may prefer the look of a higher-cut crew neck over some of the alternatives. 

For a while now, I've been feeling like more typical or classic, somewhat higher-cut v-necks like on the Everlane cotton tee (similar) are just not flattering to my current bust and shoulders, at least to my eyes and because I'm a bit self-conscious about those parts of my body. That type of higher v-neck just feels awkward on me right now. As for my linen tees, both the very wide v-neck from H&M (similar in other colors) and the rather open scoop-neck from Everlane are just a bit too wide or open for my tastes now. With those tees' intentionally relaxed fits combined with their low necklines, both could easily shift around as I go about my day and accidentally expose my bra at times. They just feel sloppy to me now as a result, and so I'm not fully comfortable wearing them out by themselves anymore. Also, I think I'd prefer cotton jersey to linen as a material, the linen can feel a little less smooth on the skin. 

Long story short, I'm currently in the market for a few new tee shirts, maybe two or three total (one white and one black, maybe also one in gray). Though I feel like tees may be difficult to shop for online, since so much depends on how exactly a specific tee will sit on one's body, something very difficult to discern from store photography on mostly very tall, slim models. In the past, I've found that seemingly near-identical basic tee shirts from different brands can all fit me very differently. I'm currently thinking of starting with an ATM Anthony Thomas Mellilo schoolboy slub cotton tee in black (also available here; as recommended by Michelle) and a James Perse vintage boy cotton jersey tee in white (also available here). 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Stay at Mohonk Mountain House

Thank you all for your kind congratulations and well wishes about K and I's recent wedding! I can't reply to every comment individually, so I wanted to make sure to thank everyone. 

As part of my mom and sister's recent visit - our first time seeing each other in person in nearly two years - I treated them to a few nights' stay at Mohonk Mountain House ("Mohonk"). It was an extremely fancy outing, one I would probably have considered solidly out of budget were it not for spending $0 on travel in 2020 and the earlier months of 2021, after already saving up a substantial "travel budget" for that trip to Taiwan and Japan K and I were supposed to take back in April 2020. Mohonk was even featured as a location for an exclusive business conference in an episode of Billions, so that's how you know it's really fancy! 

It was maybe impulsive of me to go ahead and spend a large percentage of the money I originally saved for two weeks in Taiwan and Japan on three nights at Mohonk. But it'd been so long since I saw my mom and sister that I wanted to treat us to something special. And we all really enjoyed our time at Mohonk, the grounds are absolutely beautiful; the hotel is charming and comfortable; and the food is delicious and served in generous portions as part of the all-inclusive price of a stay. (Alcoholic beverages are extra, of course.) My mom and I aren't quite as accustomed to moderately strenuous hikes as my sister, and we still had plenty to do. 

One thing to be aware of when researching a potential stay at Mohonk: They currently charge 15% in service fees on top of the entire base price of the stay. They refer to it as an "Administrative Fee" in the fine print when booking, and note that it covers rooms, dining, (non-alcoholic) beverage, and room service. While they don't refer to this fee as a gratuity, they do note in the fine print that there's no need to offer gratuities or voluntary tips on top of these 15% fees. The fee definitely wasn't a surprise, it's quite clearly disclosed when booking. But if I wasn't used to significant resort fees from some other trips I've taken in the past, I might've felt a little sticker shock. 

COVID safety-wise, because most activities at Mohonk are outdoors, it's possible to make it an extremely COVID-safe trip. Guests and employees are all required to wear masks while walking around the hallways in the hotel. It's only if you choose to partake in indoor dining in the dining room that you'll spend time unmasked, and around other unmasked individuals. I actually know someone who stayed at Mohonk last summer, long before COVID vaccines were available, and back then all dining was apparently room service-only. These days, you can still choose to have all your meals via room service, and there's no extra charge as long as you order during regular mealtimes. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Try-On: Madewell Balloon Jeans

Top: H&M Linen Tee (old, similar in other colors) 
Shoes: Kate Spade Croc-Embossed Loafers (old)

I've mentioned a few times now that I've recently become inspired by the way Amy Smilovic - the founder and head designer of Tibi - describes her personal style and the concept of personal style in general. (She discusses these topics on her Instagram stories and through "Tibi Style Class" live sessions on the brand's Instagram, also available on YouTube. Many fundamental parts of Smilovic's "Creative Pragmatist" personal style and her suggested approach to shopping and personal style are also summarized in this Coveteur article, which Kathy recently shared.) 

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 haven't yet had the chance to sit down and articulate what my personal style is using Smilovic's approach, which focuses on a list of core adjectives. Hers are "Chill, Modern, Classic." (I do like "Chill" and "Classic" for myself, but I think the way I interpret them is a little different than how she does, and I'm not sure either or both would make it onto my list of primary adjectives.) But I do know she has inspired me to think more creatively and expansively about what I might like to wear. I'm slowly becoming a bit more willing to think about designs or silhouettes outside my somewhat conservative and "safe" personal style comfort zone.

Separately, because people have been talking more vigorously for a while now about how skinny jeans may be on their way out for good - finally? I'm actually somewhat surprised skinny jeans remain so ubiquitous; I felt like I was already a late adopter of skinny jeans back when I first started wearing them in college in 2009, and obviously there have been many rounds of different jean silhouette trends in the decade since - I was already becoming interested in trying different, wider-leg denim styles, even before I first learned about Amy Smilovic. 

But because of the no-jeans, more "formal" business casual dress code at most of my workplaces, I simply don't need more than two or three pairs of jeans in my closet. (And the third pair is solid black and exists solely to sneak around the no-jeans rule on casual Fridays, hah!) Plus, because I'm quite short - 5'3'', but with shorter-than-average legs for my height - finding jeans that even fit properly off-the-rack is a major chore no matter what, before even starting to factor in more interesting, wider-leg silhouettes that definitely won't fit all body types the same. 

I've dabbled somewhat with looser-fit straight-leg jeans. In fact, my Uniqlo jeans (old, worn here) are technically straight-leg cigarette jeans. But in practice, I personally feel like most straight-leg jeans still look and feel quite skinny-fit or slim-fit on me. The Uniqlo straight-leg jeans may technically look different from my Gap skinny jeans (similarworn here) in photographs, but they still feel like the serve the exact same function in my wardrobe. When I look at them in the mirror and compare, they both feel like interchangeable slim-fit jeans to me. (It doesn't help that I bought both pairs in near-identical dark blue washes.) 

I think I'd need an intentionally very slouchy-fit or wide-leg design for me to notice they're a different-enough silhouette from my usual to be worth keeping. And I'd also like this new pair of jeans to be in a medium blue or light blue wash to add some variety to my current set of dark blue and black jeans. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Workplace Style Thoughts: Dresses and Skirts

My favorite work dresses before the pandemic. Currently, they don't suit me as well as they used to.

Now that I've been back in the office full-time for several months, I've been thinking a bit more about the continuing development of my workplace style. 

When the New York state government first allowed nonessential offices like ours to reopen last July, my office switched to a casual dress code for the time being. There's still no indication my supervisors have any interest in going back to our former business casual dress code, so in theory, I don't really need to think about my "work clothes" at all right now. But I actually do enjoy many elements of business casual clothing - though not business formal clothing, ick! - particularly in fall/winter, so it's genuinely fun for me to think about some categories of work clothes. 

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!

Before I really get underway with today's post, please note that I talk about certain body shape and weight changes I experienced while social distancing and working from home due to COVID. I won't go into specific weight-related numbers, but may otherwise be quite blunt about some of the other changes. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea. 

On Work Dresses 

Prior to the pandemic, I'd developed a very set work uniform. I wore the same sleeveless or cap-sleeve dresses year-round, mostly plain sheath dresses. (Though I was also extremely fond of my  past-season secondhand J.Crew "Presentation" shift dresses with bow details in different colors.) My favorite work dresses were two fitted sheath dresses with little rectangular faux cap-sleeve details, the J.Crew "Resume" dress and another from Ann Taylor, with the J.Crew Presentation dresses as close second favorites. 

In spring/summer, I wore these dresses with light linen or cotton-blend cardigans, mostly from Uniqlo. In fall/winter, I wore these dresses with heavier sweater blazers, in particular the J.Crew "Juliette" sweater blazers (sample outfit), but sometimes with the mostly-discontinued "Sophie" sweater blazer instead (sample outfit). (J.Crew has debuted various other designs to replace the Sophie,  including the "Eloise," "Camille," and cocoon and classic styles.) I also had other types of dresses, sweaters, and jackets in my work wardrobe to cycle in to my outfits throughout the year to create some variety. I almost never reached for separates on business casual days, instead I pretty much always preferred to wear dresses. 

By late 2018 and until the world shut down in March 2020, I'd definitely settled fully into a very defined work uniform. Almost every workday throughout the year, my outfit would be one of the same work-appropriate dresses with a seasonally-appropriate sweater or sweater-jacket, shoes, and other accessories. 

Since I started returning to the office more regularly around mid-June this year - and while we still have a casual dress code for the time being - I've been slow to return to my old business casual wardrobe staples. I've only dressed in one of my pre-pandemic business casual outfits maybe four or five times, when I had important videoconference meetings with a client. I've also worn business formal only twice, for videoconference depositions. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Our Courthouse Wedding

New-to-me things for the wedding, both past season items I bought secondhand, but in new condition. The pictured shoes are not the exact style I wore. My pair is the same color, but was originally from Nordstrom, so it has a slightly different horsebit detail.

As of late last month, K and I are officially married! We are absolutely thrilled. Though to be honest, married life also doesn't feel all that different from what came before. After all, we'd already been living together for quite a few years.

Like all couples getting married since March 2020, K and I made the best of things as much as we could, taking into account international COVID travel restrictions; local public health and safety; and our loved ones' preferences and comfort levels as to COVID caution and risk. Given all that, the best solution was obvious: an immediate family-only courthouse wedding now, with the big event and celebration - hopefully including close friends scattered across the US and some family members living abroad as guests - to occur... someday... when things are better from Delta, or from any other future COVID variant to come. Said big party would almost certainly not be happening any earlier than a year from now, and I think it might be even longer than that, maybe a lot longer. 

K and I put together our courthouse wedding in a very low-key and low-stress way, exactly as we preferred. My mom and sister were able to fly in, which was the most important thing. (His parents are local to the NYC area, so their attendance wasn't as much of a challenge.) The judge I clerked for was kind enough to perform our ceremony, for which I am deeply grateful. Thanks to Kristy's recommendation for Snappr, we were also able to line up a photographer, even though K and I - being utterly clueless about reasonable and appropriate timelines for anything to do with wedding planning - had waited far too late to start trying to book one, in the last three weeks before the ceremony (oops!).

In keeping with the low-key and highly informal event we had in mind, I wore a casual J.Crew dress and pale blue croc-embossed Sam Edelman loafers. Both were from past seasons, and I purchased them secondhand in new condition, from eBay and Mercari respectively. (These items did not go into a monthly shopping reflections posts because I bought them solely for the wedding.) I also wore my gold J.Hannah Duet earrings

I swear I looked at practically every single white dress with the right level of formality from Nordstrom (after filtering out super high-end designer ones that were out of budget), Rent the Runway, Shopbop, and J.Crew and I didn't see a single thing I liked that was currently available for purchase or rent. So off to the secondhand market it was! 

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!

For shoes, my feet still haven't fully adjusted to wearing anything but sneakers or my trusty Fitflops - even though my COVID work from home days ended months ago, and I've intermittently tried to get back to wearing "real" shoes in the time since - so I definitely couldn't push it by trying to wear heels. I was only able to find a size 8 pair of the Sam Edelman loafers in my desired color on the secondhand market, not my usual size 7.5. But the size 8s were comfortable, and I'm starting to think it may be that my feet are actually an 8 now, and that's why so many of my old shoes from before the pandemic aren't comfortable anymore?

As with so many things these past two years, our wedding didn't look like what we would originally have wanted, were it not for the pandemic. But that's alright. We got all the most important things out of our day: we're legally married; our immediate family living in the USA could attend; we minimized the COVID risk associated with the event as much as we could; and we also have photographs of all of us together to commemorate the occasion. It was a good day and we got all that we really needed. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Social Media Habits

The view from the Appalachian Boardwalk trail near Vernon, NJ.

It's been an extremely busy past few weeks, between K and I's courthouse wedding and my mom and sister flying to NYC to attend the wedding and then staying for a week afterwards to spend time with me (after we hadn't seen each other in person for 21 months due to the pandemic!). More on all that later. And now - after taking PTO to enjoy my wedding and the visit from my mom and sister - I'm back at the office and needed to hit the ground running when I returned to work. 

Did any of you also start questioning your social media habits in a surprisingly big way after that lengthy Facebook and Instagram outage on Monday? In NYC's time zone, the shutdown started early in the workday and lasted until after I left the office around 6:00 P.M., which was really something. I'm not familiar with any other example of a similarly big tech company or website(s) ever having been completely down for quite so many hours.

I was perturbed to realize I felt noticeably... out of sorts... throughout the Facebook/Instagram outage. Both platforms are admittedly a sizable part of my regular routine with taking brief little "brain breaks" when I transition between tasks throughout my workday or during lunch at my desk. But I still had access to plenty of other social media platforms that are also a big part of my little workday breaks, e.g. Twitter, Reddit, Corporette comments, other blogs, etc. etc. So I really shouldn't have felt as thrown off as I did to not have access to Facebook or Instagram for a few hours.  

Outside of limited times when I know I can't mentally handle big recent news stories - this has only really happened when Justice Ginsburg passed - and so I need to stay off social media for a while to avoid seeing discussions about those specific topics, I generally don't think my social media habits cause problems for me. Sure, there are probably other, better things I could spend my time on, but I generally think I get lots of interesting and useful bits of entertainment, knowledge, and food for thought from social media, even if I do also waste a fair bit of time scrolling to find the uncommonly good stuff. 

I do rely on social media more than usual when my brain is too tired for more intellectually demanding activities. For instance, there's no monthly book post for September coming because I simply could not focus on reading last month, instead I've just been looking at social media before bed. But I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that. 

In terms of my previous view that social media was, at worst, a benign or neutral influence on my life, it likely helps that the pool of people who actively view or follow my social media presence - whether here at this blog, on Instagram, or on Twitter - is so small that I've actually never had even a single unpleasant interaction with someone engaging with me in bad faith on any of these platforms. I feel like this may be highly unusual in our modern internet age. On very rare occasions, someone was rude to me in response to my comments elsewhere, mainly on Reddit (and in one instance years ago, on The Financial Diet).  

But now that I know a few hours of forced time off Facebook and Instagram can noticeably throw off my day, I guess I have to reassess my previous view that my social media use doesn't have any noteworthy negative effect on my life. Clearly, I have at least some subconscious compulsion to keep checking both platforms throughout the day, and I hadn't fully realized that before. I'll need to ponder this issue a lot more, I definitely don't have any real answers at present. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

September 2021 Shopping Reflections

I mentioned in August that I thought I didn't really feel like shopping for fall/winter this year. But as it turns out, I've managed to become interested in a few more items than the list I originally had in mind. I still want the light gray chunky crew sweater from The Curated and the patina eclipse stud earrings from Porcelain and Stone. But there will probably be a few additional things that will also be part of my shopping through the end of 2021, including this month's purchases. 

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!

If you think these Reiss Lara dresses look like they are outside of my style comfort zone, you're not wrong! I've mentioned before - in the context of my one stretchy tee shirt dress purchase - that I generally avoid "unstructured" dresses designed to closely fit the body. As someone who definitely has some curves and soft spots, fitted stretchy fabrics don't always look the way I want them to on me. Thus, I've almost never wanted to even try on any sweater dresses in the entire time I've kept this blog, and it's only rarely I've contemplated any tee shirt dress for wearing outside the home. 

The draped top and sort of dolman sleeve on the Lara are slightly less outside my personal style comfort zone - I definitely have one sweater with a similar look to the top of the Lara dress - but I didn't previously have anything else like this in my work wardrobe. With that, plus the neckline's tendency to sit off one shoulder, the Reiss Lara is a bit outside the norm of my typical work dresses. 

Both Vee and Sherry have posted detailed reviews of this dress that were extremely helpful to me in initially deciding to order and then picking the right size. I'm curvier than both of them, so I sized up to a M. Because the top portion of the dress is quite roomy in order to allow for the draped effect, it may have been possible for me to size down to S even with my fairly substantial bust measurement, but I think the elastic waist would have been uncomfortably snug if I tried. (At 5'3'', I'm also shorter than Sherry and Vee.) 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $480.34)

  • Reiss Lara Dress, teal, M - $312.47* - (also available at Bloomingdales) - Because sweater dresses generally don't look good on me and I don't always like the way stretchy knit fabrics skim over my curves, I wasn't sure I'd like this dress, even if Vee and Sherry both look great in it. This was the first time I've tried on a sweater dress near this price point, and it was a pleasant surprise. The fabric has a good thickness and weight, so the fitted skirt sits on my curves well, without clinging oddly anywhere, and the top half of the dress also drapes well. Like Sherry and Vee observed, the fairly snug elastic waist and more fitted skirt will probably determine what the right size is for most. The neckline is very open, so while one can theoretically drape the top so it covers both shoulders fully, I've found while trying the dress on at home that it's unlikely to stay that way. In other words, it may be difficult to wear this dress without leaving at least one shoulder uncovered. The teal color is similar to a J.Crew dress I bought last year, so I knew this color would suit me. Because the Lara is so unlike any other dress in my wardrobe, I worry a little that I might not end up finding it practical. Will I be comfortable wearing such a different silhouette from my usual to work? The dress is also made of a heavy enough knit fabric that I could probably only wear it comfortably in winter and the extremely brief periods when spring and fall feel balmy in NYC. In winter, I'd also need tights on underneath, and I don't know if the dress would look as good with my typical black tights. Because the weather hasn't cooled down enough in NYC yet to wear the Lara out, I won't get to road test this dress until later this year. But because I felt beautiful in the dress when I tried it on, I'm hoping it'll work for me as well as it does for Vee and Sherry. 
  • Reiss Lara Dress, stone, M - $167.87* - (past season, sold out; similar in camelcheapest at Selfridges even with international duties and shipping) - This stone shade is a past season color, so it's generally no longer available from retail stores. After looking at Vee's photos of the dress in this color, I thought it would also look nice on me, and it was a pity the only similar shade from Reiss this year was camel. (While I like camel coats layered with a top, dress, or scarf in another color, I don't think camel tops or dresses would suit my skin tone.) A week or two after I bought the dress in teal, I was taking a random look at the Reiss webpage and saw the Lara dress in stone had somehow popped back in stock in their sale section in several sizes. I couldn't resist ordering because I thought I'd have trouble finding this dress on the secondhand market, and the price was only a bit higher than I'd expect to pay on eBay, Poshmark, etc. I've only tried this one on briefly, but I feel like the neckline may be slightly less open than on the teal version, so it can stay put on both shoulders a little more easily if you try to drape it that way. Not sure if I'm imagining this difference, though. If I want to wear this dress in winter, I'm not sure the stone color would look as good as the teal with black tights. 
*Indicates that price includes tax and international shipping. Reiss's standard international shipping charges are substantial - a whopping $15 - if you're not ordering enough items to get to their free shipping minimum. 

And that's it for this month! I've actually already pre-ordered the chunky crew sweater in light gray from The Curated, but won't record it in a monthly shopping post until after it arrives - likely in mid to late October - and I make a final decision about whether to keep it. I've looked at lots of customer photos with detailed commentary about sizing, however, so I don't expect I'll have chosen incorrectly about my size or the design. 

Also, thanks to a discussion in the comments over at Kathy's, I recently learned about Amy Smilovic - the founder and creative director of Tibi - and her Instagram account, where she frequently shares tons of thoughts about personal style and design. And I'm totally obsessed! While my personal style is  definitely very different from Smilovic's and from Tibi's, the way Smilovic articulates her own personal style and how she thinks about personal style in general is really compelling and clear to me, and it's inspiring me a lot. I don't think this inspiration will cause me to shop too much more in the next three months than I was originally planning to, but it's given me a lot of food for thought when considering my wardrobe. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

COVID-Era Life Lately

Kushikatsu at Izakaya Toribar. We were mainly there to eat yakitori, but those dishes were less photogenic. The restaurant was very popular, all the indoor and outdoor tables were full when we came in around 7:30 PM on a Saturday, but we were able to sit at the bar so we didn't need to wait.

Very brief post today, as I'm quite busy with both work and personal matters this month! K and I's courthouse wedding will happen very soon, and even if there really wasn't that much to plan at all - we're doing this wedding in just about the most informal and low-key way possible - it's still a bit stressful. 

I've now been back in the office full time on a mandatory basis for roughly two months. Much more recently, my workplace finally got around to formalizing a policy that if any employee develops cold or flu symptoms - in other words, possible COVID - they should, in fact, stay home from the office. In hindsight, it's pretty wild that even though my colleagues and I have been required to return to the office full time since July, this particular issue was not explicitly addressed by our workplace policies until barely two weeks ago. 

I guess because most people in NYC are still masking on public transit, in grocery stores, and in many other indoor settings, no one at work had actually gotten sick with a cold or the sniffles in the past few months. So we're lucky that the lack of quarantine policy never really became an issue. Well, at least we have such a policy now, I was getting a bit worried that we were never going to get clear instructions on what we should do if we got a cough or sore throat. 

We're also officially back to being required to wear masks while around colleagues indoors. Though as I've mentioned, I never actually stopped wearing a mask at work - and in other public indoor settings - whenever I'm around people from other households, except when I'm actively eating or drinking. 

Because I'm a pretty big fan of US women's gymnastics, I originally wanted to attend the Simone Biles Gold Over America Tour ("GOAT" tour), at Barclays Center on November 6. But because that's the type of event that would almost certainly attract a significant audience under age 12, I don't think I'll ultimately be able to go forward with it, even if I'm happy to stay masked throughout the show. 

Under NYC's current rules, I believe all attendees over 12 at large events would definitely need to show proof of vaccination to attend. Maybe that means the NYC Simone Biles GOAT tour stop would actually be a relatively safe event for all guests, and I shouldn't worry so much? Either way, I'm more than 95% sure I won't be attending. It just doesn't feel right to me at this time, and I'm not optimistic that I'll feel better about it by early November. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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

via Unsplash

And here's part two of my 2021 money diary from a fairly typical week since I was required to return to the office full-time!

On this Monday morning, I decide to grab an iced skim latte for $5.80 including tip from a coffee shop that's part of another small local chain, a different one from Friday. There are a ton of independent coffee shops in the vicinity of my office, and many of my colleagues and I each have our own personal favorites, with little overlap. I myself have three different shops I frequent in the neighborhood.  

For lunch, I get the same custom vegetarian - but not vegan - salad from Sweetgreen as I did last Friday, with kale, baby spinach, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, spicy cooked broccoli, boiled chickpeas, cooked portobello mushrooms, and burrata. The total is, once again, $14.64

Spoiler alert, I end up getting this exact same lunch two more times this week, which may make me sound very boring. While I'm definitely not a picky eater and I enjoy a wide variety of foods and cuisines when dining out or ordering delivery, my natural tendency when picking up weekday lunches or cooking meals is to repeat the same small number of dishes in rotation. So I'll cook things like the Dutch baby pancake or mapo tofu from part one of this money diary - and other favorite dishes - around once every two weeks.

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.