Weekend Open Thread

Tribune Standard Pieced Top with Lace Something on your mind? Chat about it here.

Although I’m not a fan of lace for the office, I’ve always loved it for nights on the town, and lace is everywhere this season. A lace dress can be a little too much (at least for normal Saturday nights), but I love the look of this flowy, casual salt and pepper blouse from Tribune Standard.  I’d wear it with jeans or skinny cords, and pair it with a great clutch.  It’s $325 at ShopBop. Tribune Standard Pieced Top with Lace

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Update: Oh! I just realized the Kate Spade Friends & Family sale is starting right now. 30% off all your purchases, online and in the stores, for three days only, with code F12FFUS.


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  1. Has anyone ever had a wedding registry at JC Penney? Positive or negative experience?

    Or know how good or bad quality their kitchen items are? Anyone have Rachel Ray, Emeril, Paula Deen, Cooks, or other pots and pans from JC Penney?

    I am in full-on wedding planning mode. :)

    • Can’t comment on kitchen items but I just bought a whole new set of towels from JCP and they’re great! I’ve also had great luck with rugs and window treatments.

    • We have the Emerilware stainless cookware. It’s held up pretty well for the past 5 years and I think that the handles/handle angles are comfortable. We run it through the dishwasher, I don’t think it is as thick as regular AllClad, but for the price difference, I haven’t noticed my cooking suffering. Cooking with s/s has a learning curve (temperature/sticking) and I don’t know anyone who’s stainless stays sparkly clean.

      • Merabella :

        “Cooking with s/s has a learning curve (temperature/sticking) and I don’t know anyone who’s stainless stays sparkly clean.”

        This! I had to remind myself that it is different from cooking on other surfaces. We have All-Clad, but I had to give myself some slack for it not looking as pristine as when we bought it. It is being used correctly and we are cleaning it, but I was sad to see that “perfect new cookware” gleam wear off.

        • I’m so relieved to hear that I’m not the only one with less-than-perfect looking All Clad! My mom was just visiting and she gave me so much grief for “ruining” my expensive cookware – but apparently not! Can’t wait to tell her “I told you so!”

        • LadyEnginerd :

          Bar Keeper’s Friend. That is my secret to shiny pans.

          • Magic Erasers work as well. Also, boiling something acidic for a while helps bring back some shine too.

          • Kontraktor :

            Bon Ami is another brand. I use both.

            But I make sure to have a few non stick skillets to avoid cleaning my SS all the time because I find that gets kind of annoying.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        The answer to cleaning stainless steel pots is Barkeeper’s Friend. It’s like $3 a can (the can looks like Comet) and is at Target etc. I clean with soap to get any food residue off, then use barkeeper to get the shine back. It’s also fantastic for cleaning stainless steel sinks.


        • Merabella :

          Thank you for this!

        • karenpadi :

          Does it take off the white gunk on the SS pots and pans? My mom and I are so frustrated by those white spots!

          • SF Bay Associate :

            Ma. Gic.

          • Yep. SF Bay beat me to the recommendation but this stuff is amazing. Just let it sit for a while and then be prepared to give it some elbow grease. Doubles as an excellent work out.

          • Are the white spots mineral deposits (hard water)? I find a little white vinegar, followed by washing get those off. I tend to get those when I’m boiling water in my stainless steel saucepans.

          • SFBA, It took me WAY TOO LONG to understand “Ma. Gic.” I’m going home now. TGIF.

          • Godzilla, right? I thought, “oh that’s an SF thing.” ha.

        • Anon Analyst :

          Second this. Bar Keepers Friend is awesome! I use it on one my All Clad skillets and it does a great job.

        • emcsquared :

          Barkeepers Friend also did a workable job at taking the scrape marks off my regular everyday dishes (white stoneware, I think?). It wasn’t perfect, but it was markedly better.

        • Oh my goodness. It’s probably sad that I’m so excited by a cleaning product (but really, who am I kidding, I love cleaning).

    • I have quite a few Rachel Ray non-stick and stainless steel pots and pans. They’ve lasted 5-7 years thus far – no compliants. My stainless isn’t spotless any longer, but I feel that is evidence that the skillet has cooked many delicious meals.

    • Can’t speak for JCP but I’d go for the good stuff – All Clad. I registered at Sears, not for kitchen stuff but for non-kitchen stuff like a tent, some small appliances and other stuff.

    • Turtle Wexler :

      My favorite, favorite stainless-steel cookware is Sur La Table’s house line. It’s awesome. The thing I don’t like about All-Clad is that the handles are oddly shaped and hurt my hands;the SLT stuff is really comfortable. Also, it’s a little cheaper than All-Clad normally, and usually goes on sale around the holidays, too. Having used both, I would say they are pretty much equal in quality.

  2. momentsofabsurdity :

    So I am debating taking a plunge on a gold sequin miniskirt. For work obviously (ha!).

    But really, they seem very on trend and cute this season. My only question is – I have no idea what I would wear with a gold sequin miniskirt. I know there are places I could wear it (holiday parties, bars, etc) but I can’t think of anything I own that would not look strange with it. This is the one I’m looking at:


    But, not gonna lie, I do not at all like the way it’s styled. The chestnut booties/chambray shirt look like they’re going to a different event from the skirt.

    Suggestions? Or should I just let this trend pass me by?

    • I think a black turtleneck and tights would look really awesome with a gold sequined skirt. It would let the skirt shine while keeping the overall look classy/chic.

      Alternatively, a jewel toned blouse (raspberry, emerald, etc.) would look really pretty with the gold. You could also go with a simple t-shirt (black, white, bold color) and a black blazer.

      In a way, I’d treat it like leopard print. Since the gold sequins are loud, keep everything else simple, but don’t be afraid of adding color or another “quieter” print.

      • agree with the black turtleneck suggestion. I think it is gorgeous. You should buy it and wear it so we can live vicariously through you.

      • Ohhhhhhhhh! Please buy this so that I can wear it vicariously through you.

        • I’ve hit the limit for my budget this month, but maybe in November or December. Plus, The Limited has lots of sales…

      • I was looking longingly at the Eloquii version! I wish I had somewhere to wear something like that.

    • Merabella :

      I do not like the way it is styled, but I do think it would look cute with a chambray shirt, cozy knit sweater and knee high boots. Kind of like “I’m taking a fabulous break from skiing the slopes to hit the boutique stores” look.

      Also agree with KC to treat it like you would any other print. You can do a lot with it, but you just have to have the gumption to do it. I actually also think it would look cute with a jean jacket, or I dare say leather, but this could easily veer into Jem & the Holograms territory.

    • I like the skirt. I also like the way its styled (almost). I would go with a dark denim shirt, tights and booties. I think wearing it too seriously would ruin the look. If the odd pairing is really not your thing, I think a black turtleneck or simple white tee would also look nice.

    • Hate the styling, LOVE the skirt! What about with a black boyfriend or tuxedo style blazer? Over a scoop neck white tee (or another light, neutral color) would be hot as heck. Definitely keep the other items sedate.

    • TO Lawyer :

      I LOVE SEQUINS. So much that it requires all caps. So YES buy it please. I wish I wasn’t a lawyer sometimes so I could wear sequins more often.

      • Senior Attorney :

        A friend and I sometimes talk about starting a firm together. And if we ever do, the first rule will be Sequin Friday.

    • I bought a gray pailleted (like sequins, but less shiny) mini last year and wore it with- black tight fitting sweater and tights, white fisherman sweater, denim shirt, boots, booties, heels and flats. It’s actually pretty versatile. Get one and have fun.

    • How about with a nice t-shirt + tights + flats (in some favorite color)?

    • I would do black or grey drapey alexander wang style t-shirt, black tights and motor cycle boots

    • I clicked over to look at the styling, and had to bite back saying out loud, “Oh, *hell* no.” Yick.

      I was thinking of a sheer black top over black even before I saw the skirt in question, and I stick by that rec. I’m also intrigued by Mera’s “snow bunny” styling thoughts. Maybe some cozy-looking boots and a faux fur vest? Really kind of silly to write out, but I bet it could be really cute if you can pull it off!

    • Oh man, I like that. I’d wear it with a fitted heather grey sweatshirt (crewneck, beat-up), tights, and some boots with a leather jacket. If I felt like spicing it up, I’d turn the sweatshirt inside-out or wear colored tights that complement my jewelry. I like anon’s idea of an alexander wang style-tee, but I’d encourage wearing as much color as possible. Counterintuitively, I think that tones down the gold more than wearing a lot of black.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I’d consider a white button-front top. Either a crisp white shirt, or something softer like a white or ivory silk or stain shirt style or a tie-front blouse.

    • eastbaybanker :

      I’m loving all these suggestions. I bought a fast fashion gold sequin mini skirt at H&M last winter. I think I wore it to a party or something and that was it. I have trouble wrapping my head around sequins as daytime wear, but I’m going to be brave and try to style it with a gray sweater and some tights.

      For a big meeting, obviously.

  3. **Keep calm and carry on GANGNAM STYLE!**

    Have a good weekend everyone (especially you, Ellen).

    • A friend went to the dentist to get a cavity filled, and before the dentist injected the novocaine, he said, “let’s do this GUMB NUMB style.”

    • The first time I heard that song, I thought he was saying “Open c*ndom style”. I can’t un-hear it.

      • I did too!!! I had heard of this whole “Gangnam Style” thing..but had no idea what it was. Then I was going to my mom’s, driving around Long Island, it came on the radio and I was like….what…the…heck…?

        And no, you cannot unring that bell.

      • Me too – except I thought it was “open condom star” – like some bizarre pop-music-format PSA that you’re a star when you use protection.

        Still hear it that way every time.

    • I’ve now heard it twice in Zumba classes. I think the shark has been jumped, officially.

      • Oct 12 was kill gangnam style day. But I heard it today and I can’t unhear it either

    • my coworkers and i watched that video for potential halloween costume ideas and all they could come up with was “Disgusting!”

      I secretly think they are a bunch of racists.

      How I wish I did not have to participate in the halloween costume contest this year. Saying yes was a huge mistake.

    • Love it, eek!

    • RookieRette :

      I have a HUGE soft spot for that song. Total guilty pleasure. I couldn’t do the dance if my life depended on it though!

      • Alanna of Trebond :

        Watch PSY teach it to Britney Spears on The Ellen Show. You will learn it.

  4. I am not a big fan of lace b/c my ex alway’s wanted me to dress provocativelely for him, and he alway’s liked to stare at me.

    Fooey, I am at the airport here and my flight is delayed again. Doubel Fooey!

    Does anyone in the hive know about some ethices officer in NY State that I can ask question’s of? I had a billeing issue and now I was told there is a person that anser’s question’s anoonomounsly. If I can get an answer, I can tell the manageing partner if he is right or not. It just does NOT seem right to me that I can bill $20,000 plus expense’s when I have done virtueally nothing all week on the job.

    I am going to visit my dad this weekend, and will ask him to. Even tho he is NOT a lawyer, admitted to practise in the NY bar the way I am, he is very smart and intutitive, and should be abel to give me an answer that I can live with.

    Yay! Weekend time and once I get home I will have a great time.

    • I have heard that the bar operates a LINE for all these question’s. There is DEFINETLY an ethics officer that can help you and manageing partner.

    • YES there is an ethices officer hotline you can call – though it’s a strange set up. You’re essentially calling some volunteer bar member either on his cell phone or on his office line, and of course, if you end up calling on his office line, you have to give his secretary your name, etc. before you’re allowed to ask your top secret ethices question. Very un-anoonomouns.

  5. OK, I rarely do a straight-up comment on Kat’s picks here. But this, I love love love. It is an amazing specimen of gorgeosity and is totally my style.

  6. HOW IS IT ONLY 2:15?! It feels like it should be 7:00pm. This day is d r a g g i n g. (Hence the million posts from me today. I’m sorry.)

    • And now it is 2:19. How have only 4 minutes passed? Weekend…so close, yet so far.

    • Here’s it’s only 1:20 and I have nothing on my calendar this afternoon and wish I could just go home.

      • Meg Murry :

        2:34 here and I’m continuously refreshing in the hope of something to distract me until I can leave at a reasonable hour. Quick, anyone else got any juicy secrets? News stories to comment on? Brain teasers? I need to look busy for the rest of the day but my brain is already in weekend mode. Help!

        • Merabella :

          You can try to help me figure out what the heck to wear to my bar wedding – like a wedding at a bar. I’m thinking that sequin skirt above would be fabulous! <— too much?

          • No, it would be perfect!

          • eastbaybanker :

            My friend got married at a bar…actually it was more like a se*y dark lounge. Everyone was drinking fancy cocktails at in the afternoon before the ceremony started. It was in the fall and she wore a custom sheath dress in her absolute best color and sky high heels. She looked truly stunning and was such a memorable bride. I LOVED that wedding!

      • 2:05 and I had a really productive morning. I feel no need to be productive this afternoon too.

    • Gah, I was just about to leave (4pm) when the phone rings. My boss, asking if I will be around for the next 1/2 hour so she can send me a document. Knew I should have left earlier!!!

    • All I’ve managed to do today is answer emails as they come in. USELESS as a result of early wake-up. Apparently that last hour of sleep is totally the most important one…

      • Are you me? Same thing here. I woke up about 1 hour before my alarm, couldn’t get back to sleep, and have been mostly useless all day.

        Nice to know there is a reason for it.

  7. My mom is turning 50 next week and she doesn’t want to make it a big deal but I would like to get her something special. I am thinking about spending around $100. Any ideas? My parents are empty nesters living in an urban area, if that helps. She likes to shop but is picky about clothing so I would want to buy her something she cannot exchange.


    • Could you pick jewelry for her? Maybe a nice pendant on a chain or a bracelet? Does she have any hobbies or interests? Do you want to go with an experiential gift, like a spa trip, tickets to some event, a meal, etc.?

    • I went skydiving on my 50th, most fun thing I’ve ever done. It was about $100 for a tandem jump.

    • Anon Analyst :

      Maybe some kind of spa service so she can pamper herself? Or a gift card to a restaurant she would not normally try? That way her and your dad could celebrate together.

    • What about a play on 50 — 50 of her favorite flower, something like that?

      Or a bottle of champagne. Champagne is always good.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Gah! Your mom is younger than I am!!

      Do you live close enough to visit? Would she enjoy something like a mani/pedi outing with you?

      I also like both of Tuesday’s ideas — 50 of something or a bottle of champagne. A piece of jewelry would be great if you know her taste.

  8. Nail polish help, please! I asked earlier this week about accesorizing this dress in red for a wedding–
    (thanks for the ideas). I forgot to ask about nail polish. What do you recommend for an evening, formal event?

    • Hot dress! I’d let the red dress speak for itself and go with a nail polish shade close to your skin tone, maybe with sparkle.

      • Thanks! I think I already own a sparkly, skin tone polish, so bonus points that it doesn’t require a trip to the store.

  9. tryingagain :

    I’m a first year big law lawyer who just started dating a first year surgery resident. Has anyone successfully developed a relationship under these circumstances? We were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend and thus far things have been going great. But I want to manage expectations about what to actually expect. Advice?

    • Well. I am a former surgical intern, and ended up dating and marrying a cardiology fellow. I have never been in big law, nor have I dated anyone in big law, but I think if you guys are a good fit for each other, it could work. I’m assuming he’s a general surgery resident, and there may be a few changes based on whether he’s doing a subspecialty.

      What you can expect:
      1) Brutal fatigue on his part for the next 5 years. It was six months after I completed residency that I felt back to myself. My husband said at some point after residency “its like you are yourself, only more intensely so.” I used to get home from 30 hour shifts and collapse into bed all afternoon, be up for a few hours in the evening and then go back to sleep again by 9 pm.

      2) Unpredictability, even when you think you can predict. There’s the schedule, and then there’s the reality. He can tell you when he’s going to be on call, but he can’t tell you when a patient is going to start coding as he’s walking out the door. If he’s a good doctor, he physically and emotionally won’t be able to say, well, I got a date with my girlfriend. He’ll stand by that patient’s bed and care for him or her til things have quieted down. If that’s another three hours, that’s the way it is.

      2b) Related to this, residency is in many ways indentured servitude. Even when senior residents give you a schedule, they often have no qualms about changing it up on you. Thought you weren’t working this weekend? Sorry, plans change, see you at 6AM for rounds.

      3) Taking work home. It may be paperwork, it may be presentations, it may be studying for exams, but I regularly got up at 4AM to do work before going into work at 530 in the morning.

      4) Insecurity and doubt. I rarely felt “good enough” as a surgery resident. They do this to you on purpose so you never slack and always give your 100% for your patients. But it can be exhausting to always be insecure, for both you and your loved one.

      There’s probably more, and this list seems really really pessimistic. But I’ve also been married to the guy I met on the worst rotation of intern year. We are about to add a second kid to our family. I work 4 days a week, and ADORE my job 100%. If you asked my husband, I think he would say that residency was a tough road for both of us, but we’ve come out the other side strong and happy in our relationship. I seriously thought about quitting residency a million times because of the toll it placed on my family, but I am so so glad I didn’t.

      I would also say that just because there is a lot of external crap that makes having a relationship in residency hard, that doesn’t mean that you deserve to be treated poorly. We texted a lot. If I had a free moment, I would call. My priorities were so clearly focused on my husband. And it worked for us.

      • And for you, OP, your life will be a lot like what EC MD describes, too. Especially 2, 2b, and 4. Less so 1 (some all-nighters, probably, but not the same crazy schedule as a medical resident). I think we’ve talked on this site before about how it’s often hard for friends to understand why you now flake on them all. the. time. So maybe that’s a plus here. You might not be able to reliably see each other, and it might be frustrating if your schedules almost never line up, but if one of you has to cancel at the last minute, the other can shrug, knowing that s/he will probably do the same thing next time.

        • Senior Attorney :

          +1 to this. That is pretty much what you can expect as a BigLaw junior associate!

    • b23 hasn’t been around in a while. She is a lawyer married to doctor (I believe a MD).

    • I dated a surgery resident for a little over a year while I was in biglaw. It did not work for me.

      I always said that we would have been fine had we met earlier and had been living together when we were both working so much…. It was just hard for both of us to end up with free time at the same time.

      It is tough. But if it is meant to be, it is meant to be!

    • Lawyer married to a resident. Intern year was h*ll, especially the months when he had night shift and we basically didn’t see each other for a whole month at a time. Now that we’re past that, the actual residency is much better. Yes, he is tired all the time, but so am I. We work as a couple because we’re both busy, ambitious people who get what the other is going through. It would be hard for either of us to live up to the relationship expectations of someone who worked a 9-5-type job.

    • surgical resident :

      I’m a surgical resident, and I know dating me is tough, for a lot of the reasons mentioned above (I agree with everything EC MD said) . My live-in boyfriend also works insane hours and we manage to make it work by being understanding about unpredictable schedules and really treasuring the few evening we get together.

      My previous boyfriend (before I met my current SO) really needed to feel like he was my first priority, and the reality is that my SO is often going to feel like they come second to my patients. So that’s something you have to be comfortable with.

      It became a lot easier when SO and I moved in together. We still don’t see each other awake for 2 weeks at a time (I leave before he wakes up, and I’m either spending the night in hospital or asleep by the time he gets home) but at least we are sleeping in the same bed! It’s enough for me (right now) but it wouldn’t be enough for a lot of people.

      This conversation is making me very glad that my SO puts up with my fatigue-induced emotional lability, absenteeism from family/work/social events, and that omnipresent pager waking him up all night. I’m a lucky girl:)

    • Judge (now) married to doctor – 16 years of craziness and awesomeness. We are living proof it can work. See how it goes and if you are good together it will totally work out. Good luck and enjoy whatever is coming!

      • tryingagain :

        Phew… I just managed to take a break from work to check Corporette. You are all the best! Thank you for comments.

    • Another law person happily married to a surgeon. I was in big law during his last few years of residency and for about another 2 years when he was an attending. I’m now on another career path — still in law, though, and demanding in different ways.

      It was tough sometimes during residency, especially when I was working on a case that was a constant firedrill and our schedules were just very different with him starting his days early and me working nights and weekends. But if you love each other you’ll make it work. In a way it’s nice to date someone who understands what it’s like to work in a demanding job, but who doesn’t do the exact same thing. I should say that kids weren’t on the agenda for us (they may be now, and with our current work schedules and salaries we’d be able to work things out).

  10. For those in banking/finance/corpdev: I currently work in a midlevel product/product strategy role and have recently been engaged by the corporate development department to start working with them on a more regular basis. The idea would be to use my industry/product knowledge to help evaluate acquisition/partner targets. I’ve done this sort of work (at a very junior level) at prior firms, but this role would require that I am able to digest, criticize, and perhaps build (though I’m fighting that one) financial models to support the acquisition cases.

    My question is this: what’s the best way to learn enough about financial projections/modeling to work intelligently through the financial pieces of the diligence process? I didn’t get an MBA, but DH (who also used to work in banking) did, so he can certainly teach me anything that can be filled with that type of coursework. Part of it is simply learning the vocabulary (above and beyond the basics), part of it is dealing with the bankers , and part of it is really just learning enough to be able to object to the assumptions in the model. I’ve tried to make it clear that they aren’t getting a financial modeling whiz, but I certainly want to be able to hold my own.

    • I’m hoping someone here might have a little more experience than what I can suggest.. And this is all based on the assumption that when you say “modeling/projections” it’s similar enough to what I do. I work in corporate insurance, and alot of my work involves modeling for loss projections. I don’t have a finance background, and I don’t have an insurance background (I have a JD…see this morning’s thread for further discussion!)
      When I had to learn our modeling program, really, the best thing is just experience. There’s no way I could have learned how to use it without just doing it over and over again. One thing I’m struggling wtih is learning how the numbers in different exhibits related to the other exhibits–looking at it as one big picture, rather than separate sheets. Is there someone you can work with who can sit down with you and help you run a few?

      • Eh, it’s not using a modeling program, it’s building out financial models. More like one of two things:
        1. looking at a financial projection model for a company and being able to call “shenanigans!” on it. So if a company we are interested in buying is losing like $1M a year, but wants us to pay $500M for the business and backs up the price with a financial model, it will be my job not to say “The math is wrong! (That’s the bankers)” but to say “Oh, you built this financial projection on the assumption that there will be a decrease in smartphone users over the next 5 years. That is stupid. We believe there will be an increase in smartphone users in the next 5 years, please adjust your financial projections accordingly.” or

        2. Work with the finance guys/gals to come UP with the financial projections for a company we want to buy so that the board will give us money (ie “Board, we want to buy this company even though they are losing $1M a year. But wait! We think they’ll be able to increase our profit over the next 10 years and HERE IS WHY!”)

        • Ah. Well….I’ve got nothing. :)

        • From my long-ago days as an analyst at a boutique investment bank, here are a few ideas:
          First build a back-of-the-envelope model you like, and don’t be afraid to recreate their high level summary in your format until you’re comfortable looking at others’ models. Have them walk you through their assumptions in their words. In your models, first plug in dummy numbers, make sure the model mechanics work, keep all your assumptions in one area of the model so you can see changes, look at existing models to get a sense for the assumptions you’ll want to use. Then start adding and adding to it, always making sure the equations keep working. Never change more than one key thing at a time, so you can correct easily as you go along. Set up your standard formats – I used black font for equations, blue font for assumptions. Some analysts will build crazy complex models, but there are few industries/occasions where you can’t keep it simple (esp since it sounds like your job will be to summarize the business case).

    • Get a copy of “Investment Banking” by Rosenbaum & Perl. This book is a great introduction to the basiscs of financial modeling.

    • Francie Nolan :

      NYU Has a non-credit certificate in Financial Modeling…and on amazon listmainia there is a great list of modeling books, sorry I don’t have the link handy.

      • A course would be great, but I really need a crash-course. Like, a book to read this weekend and all of next week.

        Anon, thanks for the tips. I think it will be fine, and I”m being very clear in my background and experience– the guy I’m replacing had 6 years at an ibank before coming into our company, and he was their go-to model guy. I told them i’d consider the role if they gave me a person from finance for a while to keep me from causing too much trouble. In the meantime, I’m picking the brain of the guy that is moving on. We have very complimentary skills, so it’s too bad that we’re only now starting to work together!

        • Brant,

          While this is no substitute for solid skills in financial modeling, asking good questions can help you bridge some of the gap.

          These are questions you should ask yourself (at the very least):
          1. If you see that for a key number, like revenues, or operating income are projected to stay very flat, ask why.

          2. If you see other numbers, like cost of goods sold, staying flat, ask what they’re assuming. Why are the raw materials costs not going up? The person who made that model (or his boss) should be able to give you a good reason why. Use your knowledge of the outside world– like, look to see where crude oil and refined products prices are headed. If some company is really dependent on moving their stuff by a huge fleet of trucks and they’re expanding operations, and the cost to fill the trucks up (gasoline or diesel) is going up, then there should be some increase in this expense, and if not, you need to know why. Common sense and awareness about, well, what’s going on in the rest of the world, can make up for your relative inexperience with financial modeling.

          3. If growth is projected to be pretty steep– ask why. What are the assumptions? What are the scenarios? Usually, these models are complex partly because there are many scenarios being modeled that can be switched on or off. Ask yourself (and the person who prepared the model), whether these scenarios make sense? Are they softballing the “worst-case” scenario? (e.g. they predict that the sales and marketing push into Albania will fail, but that’s not the real worst-case scenario– it’s that the sales and marketing push will fail in Albania, Greece, Turkey, and Ukraine!), etc.

          Finally, you can learn a lot by just asking them to walk through all their assumptions.

          • This is good advice for anyone that has to work with numbers. Always question the data!

    • Best crash course may be to ask a friendly banker to send someone in to walk you through their last relevant model and you feel free to ask all the starter questions you want. Some companies are more sensitive about revealing too much to their bankers, so know your office, but I’ve encountered and obliged on many similar requests. If it helps, you can couch the request as ‘Brant needs to get up to speed on the history of deals you have helped us with, please send someone.’

  11. Anon for this :

    Not sure if I’m looking for advice or just commiseration. Have any of you ever felt jealous of your SO’s successes? I’m a fourth year biglaw lawyer and I’m absolutely miserable. I’ve been actively looking for a new job but haven’t had any success yet. My husband is not a lawyer, and his career has really taken off in the past few years. I usually always his biggest fan and cheerleader — I brag about him to friends etc. he works hard and deserves his success.

    But, I’ve had one of my worst weeks ever in my career. I’m dealing with a million deadlines and completely unreasonable clients. I’ve barely slept, I’m exhausted, etc. etc. I just got a call that we got a bad result for another client, and tying to steel myself up to give them the bad news, when my husband let me know that he just found out he is getting an amazing new promotion plus a raise. I am happy for him but I’m sitting in my office crying because I’m so frustrated. I can’t even get a call back from my dream jobs, o feel trapped and miserable here, and I guess it’s just frustrating to see him get this great position without even interviewing. Of course every time I think that, I feel awful for even having the thought cross my mind because of course I’m happy for him and want him to succeed. Any commiseration or tips to get out of my funk?

    • Anon Analyst :

      Sorry to hear about your rough week. That sucks. Do you feel jealous all the time or just now b/c of things being crazy at work? If it’s just a recent development, then I can understand that the stress of work can make you feel jealous. I can imagine it can be so frustrating to work your a$$ off and feel like you’re not getting results.

      Have you talked to him about your frustrations? I think he should be your biggest fan and cheerleader too, especially when you’re going through a rough time at work.

      Maybe once this week is over and you have some time to catch up on sleep, that will help you to look at things with a different perspective?

    • Can’t commiseration, but I am your DH. DH has been working his butt off and is far more talented than I am…but I have a couple really good connections that keep bringing me into awesome roles with a really nice work/life balance and are fairly high profile. I make about the same as he does, but work half as hard and definitely only 60-70% as long. I know he resents it, and I can’t blame him. I know how lucky I am, and I’m milking it for all it’s worth. I’ve been very sensitive about it, and I”ve tried to carve out more time for us to spend together (ie long weekends/weekend trips) so we can just get away from BOTH our jobs.

      • I am your husband in this scenario. My BF and I both work in the same industry (which is how we met) and are in relatively similar places in our careers. His parents are both totally fancypants (and incredibly wealthy) people in this same industry and in the same major city that we work in. I am new to this city have none of these types of connections.

        I really try hard not to let it get to me and my BF is in no way someone who skates by in life but I can get pretty jealous of how well connected he is to fancy people and what jobs he’s been up for because of his parents’ connections. (Not to say for a single minute that he isn’t amazing and doesn’t work hard every day.)

        Any advice on how to handle this?

        • That was my post above. Not sure how to advise you- the connections I mentioned are all professional and not through family. My boss from the first job I got out of grad school is now an industry bigwig and apparently my #1 fan, so she has connected me to some great professional opportunities. And one I got totally by chance.

          I don’t know how log you and SO have been together, but could you work his family’s connection, too?

    • Also Anon For This :

      I’m not sure if I have any tips, but I can commiserate. My long-term SO is in the same industry as I am and he’s kicking butt & taking names at his current job, and loving every minute of it. I’m in a new job that I’m struggling with, and I’m not that fulfilled or happy with it at the moment. Sometimes I do feel the tiniest twinges of envy/failure when he mentions another great day at the office or that he’s on the shortlist for another promotion. However, our situation is a little different (he’s 6 years older and has an advanced degree), so it’s not an apples to apples to comparison, but it still be rough to be the one still trying to find their footing while your partner is absolutely killing it professionally.

      However, I am also so incredibly proud of BF – he works harder than anyone else I know and is so deserving of his success. He’s the greatest guy, both in the office & out. I also know that he wouldn’t have chosen me as a partner if I wasn’t as smart, motivated, or successful as I am, and he’s a great cheerleader/motivator when I talk to him about my current unhappiness. I just try to remind myself that it’s not a race, that nobody is comparing him to me but me, and that his success has no bearing what I have or haven’t accomplished.

    • LadyEnginerd :

      Me, but it centers around money, not time. He makes double what I make, but I’m working at a university (making half of what I’m worth). He’s getting tons of exposure, works in a supportive environment, and is valued as human capital. I’m being chewed up and spit out in a contract role (postdoc) I took in the hopes of securing a permanent job near him. I am underpaid and disposable. When he’s “putting out fires” at work, it means he stays an hour or two late. When I’m putting out fires, it’s actually grabbing a fire extinguisher and praying (true story).

      No advice. I hate it. I hate resenting him because it just seems so unfair that sometimes I have to work until midnight (arriving at 8-9 am) but can’t afford the parking pass at the university that would let me drive home instead of bike at that hour. I envy meal allowances and company paid taxis home. And then I want to cry when on top of my job, he expects me to do the lion’s share of wedding planning because he’s busy in a part-time MBA at night – which would be fair, but is tough because I can barely keep on top of the chores I have to do because I can’t afford to outsource (or even an apartment with a dishwasher) I think he’s wonderful and he is my biggest cheerleader, but I can’t help but think that it is horribly unfair.

      • LadyEnginerd :

        Oh, just to add- we’re long distance, so we’re in a weird in between on merging our money. We both consider it “our” money, but it’s hard for me to not see the savings he’s putting away for the both of us adding up in the bank. That used to be a point of pride for me, but I’m locked into a high cost of living area and the high costs of the long-distance relationship and barely getting by on my salary. It used to be that the sacrifices I’d make financially would be worth it because I’d see my pile of money growing (clearly I’m a budding miser), but now it’s really hard to feel stressed out about money when I know I could be making much more if I went into the private sector, and when my fiance makes so much more too.

    • Anastasia :

      Not much advice, but commiseration. I have a good job in a very up-and-coming career field that I feel really “meh” about, and seems kind of like a black hole/dead end for me because I just don’t care that much. I slog away for X hours a day and it just feels so pointless, but I can’t seem to find a way to escape. Meanwhile, DH just has opportunities lining up in front of him as far as the eye can see. Recognition and mentoring from the top levels of his organization, massive promotion potential, business travel to places I’ve always wanted to visit, and on and on. Oh, and he gets twice as much time off as I do (although I make about 20% more… but I’d much rather have the time off!).

      The funny thing is, he thinks my job is awesome and would LOVE to break into my field (honestly, he would probably be better at my job than I am; his personality is much better-suited for it, and his knowledge of the subject matter in some ways is much deeper). So maybe try to keep in mind that even though you feel in a funk, your husband probably still thinks you’re great. And he probably cares that you are having a cr@ppy week and will want to make you feel better, so tell him! If nothing else, it always helps me to get that kind of stuff off my chest.

      • Anon for this - OP :

        Thanks everyone. This is exactly it — you’re not married to my husband too, are you? :) I feel like I’m slogging away for nothing, while he has amazing opportunities lining up, support from very high level mentors, amazing travel AND he gets to be home in time to walk the dog, be on sports teams, and get drinks with friends (although I make more, I’d rather have the time). He’s not jealous of my field, though. He spent a few years wishing he had gone to law school, but after seeing me and my friends, is very glad he didnt.

        I’m going back to working on how I can fix my own situation, and focusing on how great this is for him (and, by extension, both of us). I’m just glad to hear I’m not the only one who has these thoughts creep in from time to time.

        • Anastasia :

          Yes, I think we might be married to the same person. :) In addition to the work stuff, I am also jealous of my husbands sports teams and how much time he gets to spend with his friends… and really, the fact that he HAS a bunch of friends because of his sports teams. *hugs* to you, Anon, we are twins!

          I hope you find your light at the end of the tunnel. Mine is a career change. It is a few years away, but I am taking baby steps toward it, and it gives me something to daydream about when I’m having a bad day at work instead of letting jealousy get the best of me.

    • This sucks. When this happens I try to think of it as a “team” win. Sometimes you are the one leading the team forward and sometimes he is, what’s important is that your team keeps moving in a positive direction.

      Also, try to take some time to focus on doing something that you really enjoy that is just “yours.” I think its important to have things that you feel good about that are yours alone.

      • Anon for this - OP :

        Thanks for this too. I think I really needed to hear the part about taking some time to do something for myself as well. I haven’t prioritized that in a while, and I think that isn’t helping anything.

        And I’m completely with you on the “team” concept. I hadn’t thought about it in a long time, but we actually came up with a dorky “team name” years ago when we were both poor students trying to figure out things that affected both of us (where to live, how to plan the wedding etc.). Team dorky name is just celebrating another team success — it’s a really helpful way to look at things.

        • We have a dorky team name too! Also came about when we were poor students! 11 years and counting.

          • eastbaybanker :

            Aw. My SO and I have a dorky team name too. Thank you for reminding me of that. We’re going through a really really really rough period. I think this is the first time I’ve felt sentimental about the relationship or SO in weeks.

    • My heart just goes out to everyone on this thread. People often talk about the difficulties of juggling housework/child care with a two career couple, but I don’t think people talk as much about the jealousy. It is just so hard. Mr. TBK and I deal with this, too. We’re both lawyers and went to similarly ranked schools, but I got a full ride and he didn’t, and I had BigLaw job and he didn’t. He’s decided not to practice anymore and now has a job that I’d actually love to have but I’m the one making the money to support him getting into the field he’s getting into and I hate the job I have now. When he complains about work, I want to yell “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!” at him because I’d be thrilled to do what he does all day instead of what I do. So we’ve each been on both sides. I think what works for us is just being really honest about it. It’s hard to say “I’m jealous of your success” to someone you love, and whom you’re really proud of, but you can definitely be happy and jealous at the same time. It helps us to be up front about it and say “I’m really proud of you, but I also feel a little bit bad about myself because I’d like what you have.” It’s also helped us to take an active role in promoting each other’s careers because then if either one of us have a success, the other one can feel like s/he had a hand in it.

    • Coming very late to this, but I’m glad to hear this is fairly common in relationships. Sort of due to the accident of where our parents live, I went to a highly ranked state law school and the boyfriend went to a low ranked state law school. Everything about our careers has flowed from those two “accidents.” I went on to awesome clerkships, biglaw, and a great government job. He graduated with no job, did an LLM to try to increase his marketability, and got a job at a small, not-well-managed firm where he has been frustrated ever since. He can’t get a job anywhere else because of the crappy law school–it is a buyer’s market right now, and if all you want to buy is Harvard/Yale you can hold out for Harvard/Yale (i see this in the hiring at my gov’t job–I’m not sure I would have gotten my job if I was applying now, despite my “good” credentials).

      He works much, much harder than me and makes slightly less. He cares a lot more and yet I have the better job. It sucks and I feel guilty about often. But there’s nothing either of us can do about it.

  12. Anon Analyst :

    I’ve hit a dead end with family and friends with regarding finding a home for the stray kitten, so now I’m going to post to Craigslist. I’ve been putting that off b/c I feel like the screening process (if I even get responses) would be overwhelming. However, there are a lot of resources online with information about what to of a potential adopter.

    I will be charging an adoption fee, but is it overkill to request the person to fill out an application and/or adoption contract? If the person has pets, one site suggested contacting their vet as a reference. Or if they don’t have any pets, asking for another type of reference.

    If I do get responses from the Craigslist post, this is what I was thinking the process should be:

    1. Talk on the phone and ask basic questions. This would be the first part to get a feel for what the person is like.

    2. Meet with them in person so they can see the cat. This would either be at my place or theirs.

    3. Finally, if all goes well deliver the cat to their place.

    I really want to make sure this kitty goes to a good, safe home, but at the same time I don’t want to scare away potential adopters if my requirements seem to strict.

    I know if I was adopting a pet through a stranger I’d be happy to provide references, etc b/c I don’t have anything to hide and I’d want to show I’m a trustworthy pet owner. Just wondering what others thought about what is reasonable for the screening process. Thanks!

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      If you don’t need them money, I would allow them to make a donation to a local animal rescue society or use the money for vet care (in this case, you would meet them at the vet after shots, etc are done and they’d pay the bill). If you do need the money, I would still charge a reasonable amount (ie, not $400 for a cat, or whatever).

      I think you want to avoid “flippers,” people who buy/take animals from Craigslist and resell them for a profit. You also (obviously) want to avoid people who won’t take care of the animal. You can ask them some questions that might point to this like, “Have you ever had another pet? What happened to them?” that way you can cross off the bat people who are like, “Oh yeah, Sparky had 9 litters and then she died because we couldn’t afford vet care.”

      Another option is to contact a rescue or shelter in your area and ask if they will put up a courtesy listing for you on Petfinder. I feel like you might get some more legitimate applicants through that as well.

      • Anon Analyst :

        That is a great idea about asking them to donate to a shelter! He’s already got his shots and is neutered. We went to a low cost clinic, but I’m not going to ask for reimbursement for those costs. I was thinking of charging $25 to $30 for the adoption fee instead of saying “free to a good home”.

        He’s listed on Petfinder through one local rescue organization, but no responses yet.

      • Ugh, the idea that anyone would “flip” an animal as if it were a fixer-upper house is so sad.

    • I’ve heard that charging a small fee can weed out potentially bad adopters.

      I think it would be reasonable to ask:
      – Vet reference (either the vet that they use or have used in the past, or the vet that they plan to use if no prior pets)
      – What other pets do they have or have they had in the past, what happened to the ones they no longer have, and were all their pets spayed and UTD on shots
      – What is their plan for the cat when they travel
      – Does their housing situation allow cats (if you want to verify, ask to see their lease or call their landlord, if they rent)

      Do you want the person to agree to give the cat back to you if they cannot or will not care for it any more?

      • Anon Analyst :

        Yes, I would want the cat back if they are not able to care for it. That was one of the items covered in a sample adoption contract that I saw online.

        I plan on having a list of questions typed out so I can make sure I don’t miss anything while talking to them on the phone.

    • You’re right, there is definitely a balance to strike. If you were adopting a pet from a stranger, wouldn’t you be a little creeped out if they required a home visit (I would). I think one way to do this is to require that they have a vet reference. Then if you want to charge, you can just require that they pay for the cat’s care (whatever it may need) up front at the vet. It will rule out any potential 1st time cat adopters, which is sort of a shame, but I’d start there. If you don’t get any takers, cast the net a little wider.

      Or, perhaps you can work through a local shelter–meaning continue to house the cat but have the shelter do the screening process.

      You’ll probably get a deluge of emails from CL but you can screen them pretty quickly.

      • Anon Analyst :

        My sister-in-law said the same thing about being creeped out by the home visit. I would definitely want to deliver cat to the home instead of them picking it up – mainly just to make sure there are no red flags that make it seem like they would not be good owners. A lot of advice I’ve read online says to go with your instinct with screening people.

        I guess for me, I would want to meet with them in person at least once before handing over the cat. I wouldn’t want to just deliver the cat with just a phone call.

        So far I’ve only contacted rescue organizations, but I’ll check with shelters too see if they can “promote” him.

    • I don’t mean to be paranoid, but please be careful inviting people to your home or going to theirs. I don’t know if you have a significant other or roommate, or whatever, and I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but please just be safe and make sure someone is with you! You are doing such a great thing in making sure this kitty gets a good home.

      • Anon Analyst :

        Thanks! I’m married, so my husband would definitely be there. The kitty is currently with my sister-in-law (separated from their dog) but it’s possible I may meet with a potential adopter at her house, which means she and her husband would also be there.

        My husband has sold some music equipment on Craigslist and we’ve had people come to the house to check those out. I like to think people are mostly good, but it’s always good to err on the side of safety.

    • karenpadi :

      I adopted my girl-cat for free from Craigslist. I wanted a cat and with so many free cats, I wouldn’t have considered paying for any cat. Honestly, I wouldn’t have signed an adoption contract either.

      I wrote a nice long email about why I was looking for a cat. I did have a good talk on the phone with her owner that was more of a give and take. Then I went to where the cat was and picked her up. I email the former owner every so often with an update and pictures (but really, what changes with cats?).

      I was on Craigslist because I wanted to adopt from someone who wouldn’t demand to talk to my landlord. Around here, landlords allow pets but charge a $50/month “pet rent” on top of already outrageous rents. So shelters were out.

      • Anon Analyst :

        Would you like to adopt another cat? :-) Seriously though, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m not settled on the adoption contract, but I may still list the fee in the ad. If I don’t get responses, maybe I’ll remove it.

        I think it’s awesome that you email with pictures and updates. That is something I would appreciate as the person who has given up the cat.

        • karenpadi :

          Sorry, I’m still apologizing to my girl-cat for adopting a boy-cat last year. WW3 ended in my house about 6 months ago but we still have occasional skirmishes.

          My cats are both “seniors” and pretty “get off my lawn”. Throwing a kitten into the ring just might start the Apocalypse.

          • Anon Analyst :

            I hear ya! That’s why it’s hard for me to keep the kitten. I’ve got two cats that get stressed easily.

      • Totally agree karenpadi. My cats have been very pampered creatures. But most of them have walked in off the street, and I wouldn’t pay for one, especially as I’ll be taking it to the vet first thing. And being checked out by someone who acts like I’m trying to sell them insurance would be just too weird. No money, no contract, and especially no home visits.. That said, being able to have a good kitty-conversation on the phone would be a plus.

    • Does your community have any pet adoption agencies? In my area there are dozens of them, and they have lots of experience placing animals. I adopted my dog through one, and they took great pains to ensure my dog would be going to a good home: I had to fill out a survey, they did a home visit, and they followed up with us for months to ensure we were giving him proper vet care and doing training.

      When I was looking to adopt a dog, I was totally skeezed out by the pet postings on craigslist. I think offering your kitten up for adoption through a professional agency may be better for the kitten, and safer for you (interacting w/ people from craiglist can be scary!).

      • Anon Analyst :

        I’ll have to check into that. So far I’ve only contacted rescue organizations. Not sure if that is the same thing? Regardless, I’ll do some research. Thanks for the suggestion!

        • Hi Anon Analyst,

          I sent an email to your gmail address yesterday but didn’t hear back from you, so I’m posting here. I’m very touched by your concern for the kitten so I am happy to email the two friends I know in OH to see if either might want to adopt. Just a few questions: is it male or female? How would you describe its personality? Where in OH are you (both friends live in the Cleveland area)?

          I know it’s a long shot, but who knows? One of them might want to adopt (and they are both super nice people)!

  13. Apologize if I’m retreading past ground here, but I am seriously distracted.

    Pretty sure my boyfriend will be proposing soon — in the next half year (I’m guessing). Answer is obvious and I’m thrilled. The thing is that he wants to do the ring / proposal thing himself with no input and have everything be a surprise (I trust his taste and my only input would be that I tend toward modest/simple). In the meantime, he’s excitedly floating wedding ideas by me. It’s driving me a little nuts because we aren’t yet engaged and I’m not sure that I want to be planning our wedding quite yet! I just want him to shut up about it or ask already.

    Basically, after almost 6 years, I’m ready and excited. How do I not focus on this all the time (such as during work….)? I know this is a good “problem” but I could use some advice on how to let this all go for the time being!

    Thanks :)

    • Is there a reason, “Shut up or ask” isn’t a valid option?

      • Seriously. Tell him that you respect that he wants the ring and proposal to be a surprise, and you are excited about it, but you are not going to start planning until you are officially engaged. It’s sweet that he’s excited, though. My husband was very into wedding planning.

    • I was you three weeks ago — now I’m going thru the actual planning — (dating for years, knew it was coming. question was recently asked).

      Enjoy the fantasy planning now (in spurts, I eventually got bored), because when dates and real money and parents are involved, it’s not as fun! Although I’m relaxing somewhat.

      Also, keep in mind your SO may be shocked when you start planning out loud shortly after you’re formally engaged. Mine was…heh.

      A Practical Wedding also has several posts on being “pre-engaged” — it was helpful to know there are other sane women out there in the same limbo — even though I was 98% sure it was happening, a good part of me felt a little like I was as crazy as a woman who would be picking out wedding colors and baby names after the first date.

    • I echo Rani in recommending A Practical Wedding, which has posted a number of essays about dealing with the very situation you are in and is awesome for planning, marriage, and beyond questions to boot. But given your boyfriend’s talk of weddings you may want to remind him that planning is tough without an engagement, and he should take some action on the latter if he is excited about the former.

      • I understand the annoyance with the talk without the ring, it drove me NUTS for longer than I care to admit.

        BUT! A Practical Wedding also discusses the Ring Olympics and the pressure guys feel for getting the proposal perfect. The wedding — that’s traditionally up to the bride, but the proposal? He may feel that he has to do it in way that makes a better facebook story than your BFF’s fiance.

        I think DF feels like his proposal wasn’t ‘good enough’ — but it was perfect for us.

        Rather than be blunt and come out and say “either propose or shut up about it” — I’d first try to give him some hints (or say outright) that the way the question is being asked isn’t nearly as important as the question itself.

        Also, I didn’t talk about the hints about the impending proposal with most of my friends. I had maybe two people I discussed the ‘clues’ with — because I knew they weren’t going to be constantly inquiring on how it was going. I think this site is good for getting the “oooo, I have to share and over-analyze this comment” feeling out too.

  14. SF Bay Associate :

    Bay Area meetup – Sunday, November 4 at 1:30 pm at the Mission location of Rosamunde’s sausage, next to the 24th street Bart station. Beer, sausages (vegan sausages available and I vouch for their tastiness) and new friends.

    Apropos of K’s thread yesterday, I was really nervous the first time I came a C-lady meetup… so afraid of not measuring up to all these “perfect” C-ladies. Turns out we all felt the same way. And we realized we’re all flawed and yet awesome and thank goodness. At this point, it’s just hanging out with a bunch of great women who really understand each other, even if we just met, and even though we don’t agree on everything. So, COME!

    • karenpadi :

      Second this! I planned the first meet-up and I was nervous no one would show up that I dragged a friend along.

      It’s so hard to make friends out of school and, for lawyers and other busy professionals, I think we all go through a phase at the beginning our our careers where we lose a lot of local friends through re-location and just working too much to maintain any friendships.

      I had a talk yesterday with a first-year about how the hours are just the requirement of the job and, yes, she won’t be able to see her 5-year old as much as she wants to and, yes, her husband is going to have to accept that she isn’t always there. At least she has a family, I told her. I felt horrible doing this but, well, there’s a lot of buts. I am still grumpy about having to say those things to her.

      • AND, we are super cazh at our meetups, we mostly know each others’ handles. BUT we will not expect anyone to reveal their handle, so if you want to come but stay anonymous, you can totally do that!

        hope to see folks there, it will be fun!

    • Left Coaster :

      Yippee! I have been infrequently posting lately, but still can’t wait to come and meet all of you in person!

    • Next time I’m in SF, I totes want to meet up with you ladies.

    • e_pontellier :

      Similarly, NYC Meet up Thursday Oct 25 at 8PM! Haven’t picked a location yet so we might go back to Grey Dog’s – on W 16th St btwn 7th/8th Aves. Email me to get on the list: e.pontellier.r et te [at] gmail [dot] com.

  15. Anonymous :

    Many BigLaw refugees talk about going in-house when the burnout, but most of those jobs seem to be transactional or employement law. Where do the refugee litigators go, if they want to be involved in litigation, but without the institutional drama (of being subject to others’ mgmt issues, etc. I understand litigation = drama).

    • A lot of them work with me in government.

    • Left Coaster :

      I am an ex-big law litigation associate (I left about halfway into my fifth year, but was only in biglaw for 2.5 years because I clerked for two years). I am now in the government, and I love love love it. I think that the government is a pretty common landing place for former litigation associates, but a lot of litigation people I knew went in-house at bigger companies with their own litigation departments. There, they are still involved in litigation to an extent, but much more from a management perspective — e.g., overseeing outside counsel’s handling of cases, but never doing any actual legwork themselves.

  16. I need some Halloween inspiration! What are you all planning to dress up as, if at all? What are your favorite costumes?

    • A Rolls Royce hood ornament.

    • Brienne of Tarth

    • SDChicky619 :

      I am coordinating with two friends; we are dressing up as rock, paper, scissors. I’m the rock.

    • A super easy one this year: you and a few of your (lady) friends, a bit of cardboard, three rings and dinner on the table at 6:30pm. A binder of women!

    • I like traditional costumes, but with a modern or even s*xy twist–pirate, vampire, witch, mummy. I also like historical costumes–Freida and Diego, Bonnie and Clyde.

    • McKayla Maroney! Grey sweatsuit, silver medal, high pony tail, and a look that says I clearly don’t care.

    • Last year I was Reverse Cowgirl and I wore a cowgirl outfit backwards. It was a huge hit. But an adult party. I have no idea how I will ever “top” last years idea…

    • I’m doing a masquerade with makeup and face paint

    • RookieRette :

      My boyfriend’s favorite lazy costume – dark suit, devil horns, and a name tag that says “Hi my name is [politician of choice]”. Never fails to get a few laughs!

      My costume this year is just gonna be my Renaissance Fair costume, complete with corset. Yay for getting to use that thing more than once a year!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I’m going as Amy Pond in her kissogram costume and convinced my boyfriend to go as Rory the Roman.

      An idea I had yesterday was to go as Carmen Sandiego. It could be a fun 2-person costume if the other person went as Waldo.

  17. Houston ‘rettes – I’ll be in Houston for five days next month. Any recommendations for restaurants near or between the convention center and the medical center?

    Apologies if this becomes a repeat post – my original post is stuck in moderation.

  18. Don't want to be your lawyer :

    New(ish) lawyer TJ:

    What do you do when random people ask you for legal advice?

    I’m 2011 law grad and I do compliance work for the company I worked for before I went to law school. I am the only lawyer who works here, and the first full-time lawyer my company ever hired. I really love this job, and it’s a crazy good opportunity. I am however, very specialized and I feel like the only law I know is stuff that regulates the industry my team works in.

    Lately I have been getting a lot of personal legal questions from other people in the company not on my team who don’t really understand what I do. Things like a guy trying to get out of his lease early, a woman wanting to know if a thing that happened to her at the doctor was a HIPAA violation, or a woman whose dad just died and doesn’t know how to deal with the estate. I have dealt with some of these questions by directing the people to our Employee Assistance Program, which provides some legal referrals.

    Today I got a call from my cousin about a bill she received from her old landlord when she moved out of her apartment. Again…I know NOTHING about landlord/tenant outside of what I had to learn in 1L and for the Bar. I told her I would look into it but that I probably wouldn’t be very much help.

    What you guys do when you get these questions…I don’t want to come off as a total jerkface!

    • Senior Attorney :

      Just be honest, “I’m sorry, but I practice in a teeny tiny speciality area of the law and I don’t know any more about landlord tenant/HIPAA/probate law than you do. Possibly less. I’m terribly sorry but I just can’t help you.”

    • Explain to them that just like they wouldn’t ask a heart surgeon about a skin rash, lawyers also specialize. Don’t pretend to know anything about your subject area and don’t offer yourself up to look into it. Be upbeat in your explanation and you won’t sound like a jerk. :)

    • I do the same as above, but I also try to have at least a few people in mind that I can refer them to (law school classmates are good) if I can, at least for common issues. Never hurts to do a friend a favor!

  19. JealousAnon :

    Relationship question – how do you deal with (your own) jealousy of your SO’s fun/smart/attractive coworkers? As a bit of background, my SO and I have been together for 3.5 years and living together for 1.5. For the first two years we were in school, though, so we generally didn’t spend all day around the same people.

    Recently I suspected that he had developed a crush on a coworker. This happened about the same time I had a crazy hormone bender, so I had a pretty strong emotional reaction once I started piecing together why exactly I felt that way. We talked it out and I am confident that nothing is happening, but the whole experience left me feeling pretty anxious.

    I know that in long-term relationships crushes are natural, but a) I haven’t developed one (yet), and b) this is the first time I’ve ever really had to deal with the possibility of one (my SO doesn’t have a lot of close female friends). My SO and his coworkers tend to socialize outside of work as well, and there are some attractive, funny, and smart women in the group. I feel like it is natural for some feelings to develop in such close proximity. Our relationship has always been so stable and drama-free, and it makes how threatened I currently feel sooo embarrassing.

    This whole episode has left me feeling really shaky emotionally (the hormone surge really, really didn’t help), and I am really looking for some advice so that the crazy doesn’t affect the relationship :/

    • You don’t need to feel so embarassed. I don’t think crushes are natural, and I would be extremely upset if my bf had one. I am assuming that a crush is more than “that woman is attractive.” if feelings are developing, it means they are spending enough time at work or outside of work to really develop connections. Does he have actually crush on her? Or when you talked did you feel reassured? I think that is an important part.

      Other people are probably fine with their so developing a crush, but since I know I will never have a crush on someone besides my husband, I would be very upset if he did.

      I don’t think you should feel upset that “your crazy will affect the relationship” Its not crazy. the first step in an affair is a crush. The important part is communication, and how he is responding to your concerns.

      • I would be p*ssed if my husband had a crush on someone else.

      • JealousAnon :

        I hadn’t been too concerned that it was a real, deep connection (yet), but the idea of him getting the new relationship butterflies talking to someone else did upset me. I am now pretty confident he doesn’t have a crush on her. She is the type of cute, bubbly girl that always has a string of guys after her, which is probably why I felt threatened (I could NEVER pull off cute and bubbly). Once I did, though, I saw every interaction through the lens of “he likes her.” When we talked he gave me a whole list of reasons why he doesn’t have a crush on her (including the fact that he finds her too bubbly), and he seemed so genuinely confused when I asked that I believe him.

        I don’t want to be the “You can’t be friends with her!” girlfriend, but I just…kind of wish she wasn’t around.

        • I love that he thought she was too bubbly! I’m also a NOT cute and bubbly girl and often feel threatened by girls who are. My husband loves the fact that I’m not bubbly (he finds the C&B girls annoying). Any chance you can tag along on some of these outings and become friends with the female co-workers yourself?

        • Though I do think crushes are natural – evidence that he’s alive and breathing – they can definitely develop into affairs if both parties allow it to.

          Sexual tension + emotional connection + secrecy about these feelings/communications/actions from the primary partner(s) = emotional affair.

          There’s nothing really to be done about sexual tension… either he feels it or he doesn’t. He can stop an emotional connection from formingby maintaining professional boundaries and not entering into too-personal conversations with his coworkers. And, obviously, if he’s keeping secrets from you… there’s something going on.

          If there are no signs of secrecy or more-than-professional relationships developing with his coworkers, you’re probably fine. Definitely worth it to chat with him about your feelings on this.

    • Is getting to know his female coworkers an option? Can your you and your SO invite the coworkers and their SO’s over to your place? It’s always easy to see the other coworkers as attractive/funny/smart women and forget that you are ALSO an attactive/funny/smart woman. Getting to know these coworkers might put things at ease.

    • I don’t think he should be hanging out with them outside of work without you. In general, I don’t really think that wives should have close men friends or that husbands should have close women friends. (the whole when harry met sally thing)

      • Really? I have a close male friend with whom I’ve been friends for years. We g-chat extensively though I can’t say we really hang out one on one much anymore. I have another close male friend who I discuss my religion/faith with, as my SO is an atheist. SO certainly doesn’t mind missing out on the faith discussions.

        • Like I said, I think that *in general*.

        • +1. I would have had to jettison at least half my friends if male friends weren’t allowed once I was married.

        • +2. I’m not going to tell my SO that he can’t hang out with his oldest friends anymore, just because they’re female and he’s in a relationship. And I’d be pretty p*ssed if he asked me to do the same with my longstanding male friends.

          • Clearly, lots of y’all don’t agree with what I said, so I am trying to figure out exactly why I think that. I guess it boils down to the fact that my husband is my best friend, and I am his. He has his guy friends that he hangs out with a bunch, and I have my girlfriends. Why would he need to have a close girl – friend when he has me? As I type that, I can see that it seems kind of naive or simplistic, but it is what I think. Neither of us has ever asked the other to drop friends, but I guess we just naturally grew apart from those opposite sex friends as we got closer to each other. However, if he met a new girl and became friends with her, I would certainly not hesitate to ask him to curb their time together if I thought he was getting too close to her.

          • I guess my point of view is – I do different things with different friends. My SO is my best friend too, but, for instance, I can’t really discuss operatic interpretations with him, because that isn’t his thing. But I do discuss operatic interpretations with a longtime friend of mine who’s known me since I was 18 (and who happens to be male). My SO would just be bored silly if I tried to do that with him. Similarly, my SO has a really good female friend whom he’s known since high school. We don’t really do things with her entire family since they live quite far away from us – but my SO and his friend work pretty near to one another. So they get together all the time. I don’t think it jeopardizes our relationship any to do these things with different people, and in fact it is probably healthy. Even in a really strong relationship, it is pretty difficult to be all things to one another. I recognize that my SO has all these friendships that predated my entry into his life, and he recognizes the same for me. I think that from this perspective, the gender of the friend is not really relevant.

      • Brooklyn, Esq. :

        It sounds like he’s going out with coworkers of both sexes, not just the women. In those situations I think it would be pretty weird for him to refuse to go if the OP isn’t there.

      • I would just like to provide a counterpoint to this statement. My SO is pretty introverted and doesn’t have many close friends, so I am happy for him to hang out with co-workers, including women. Sometimes I join them, but not usually, because I think it’s good for us to have friendships outside of each other, and I want him to have the opportunity to socialize without me and even talk about me or our relationship if he needs/wants to. He works with lots of attractive, successful ladies, so maybe he has had crushes on some of them at one point or another, I really don’t know. But I know he is faithful, and any crushes that may or may not exist have not adversely impacted our relationship. Certainly different people feel differently about this, so I’m not making a judgment, I just wanted to put an alternate view out there.

        • TO Lawyer :

          DC Jenny – I have to say, I love your approach to relationships. You seem really level-headed and rational and I wish I could be like this more!

          • Ha, well not always. You can ask my SO about the time I got mad and stormed out of the apartment because he made disparaging comments about a particular movie from the 90s. But, thanks!

          • Excuse me, that is COMPLETELY justified and rational! 90s MOVIES!?!? how dare he! i am also very protective of my 90s movies, Rawwrrr SNAP

      • I know someone who just called off a wedding/engagement because his fiance was so adamant about the fact that he drop all of his female friends (myself included) once they were married.

        • That’s very smart. That’d have been a doomed marriage, so may as well get it over with quickly :-).

      • Uh what, violet?

        If I couldn’t have male friends, I’d lose half my friends.


      • How are women supposed to develop informal networking relationships with male peers/mentors/sponsors if socializing with the opposite sex is verboten without spousal chaperonage?

        • I would consider those professional settings/relationships rather than being *close* friends.

      • JealousAnon :

        They certainly aren’t close friends – everyone hangs out together, and most people have other friends outside of work that they spend more time with. And since I am venting here…I do think she texts him a little too much (in the spirit of sharing secrets, I did peek at his phone to see what exactly the tone of the conversation was :/). Nothing inappropriate, but since I am already irrationally jealous of her specifically, and since they don’t hang out outside of the group setting, any time she texts him I think “Was that really necessary? Why do you need to ask how his weekend is going?”

        As my SO himself says, she likes the attention (and apparently is very chatty via text with everybody). But even though I know nothing is going on, my inner cavewoman is like BACK THE F OFF.

        • I used to get like this with my SO’s female colleagues, and I’ve finally just had to tell myself enough is enough. If this is going to work, I have to trust him to make good decisions in his life when I’m not around. He knows the consequences of cheating, and I suspect can tell I won’t take to fondly to gray area not-actually-cheating-but-questionable either. I’ve always told myself that if I feel the need to snoop through texts/emails/phone calls, then that in and of itself tells me what I need to know about the relationship, regardless of the search results. Trust him or don’t, its exhausting for both parties otherwise. But don’t discount your inner cave woman–instincts are scarily accurate sometimes!

          Maybe instead of looking at her behavior (i.e., she texts him too much), maybe focus on your SO’s behavior and tell him what you’d like him to do (i.e., if its not work related and you guys are together, he doesn’t answer her. That may also stop the texting at inappropriate times, since it doesn’t get rewarded with an answer).

          • After reading the other comments below, I just want to clarify that this wasn’t meant as your feelings aren’t warranted or aren’t valuable. In my experience, it took me telling myself I wasn’t going to get worked up about women my SO is around because I trust him. I agree that communication is key; tell him it bothers you, why, and what you’d like him to do instead. He may have a different solution in mind, but the key is you’re finding something both of you can agree on so you both feel trusted, respected, and loved.

          • Apart from the damage your jealousy is doing to your relationship (it is, I see it), let me point out how utterly tedious it is to be the innocent 3rd party in such an avalanche of snarky jealous feelings. Just because I’m stuck at work doing unreasonable hours with your SO (who -I- did not choose) does not mean I want to be subjected to snippy comments from you. I deserve compassion too when I’m answering his phone because he’s stepped out and asked me to because he was afraid to miss your call. If I was straight, I’d probably be doing the jolly with these guys in the broom closet just to make sure I deserve the bad treatment I get.. As it is I content myself with merely covering for them when they do cheat on you, and cheer them on.

        • Gold Lion :

          I would just like to throw out there that I read tons of texts/emails/fb messages my SO gets whenever i am in a situation i have access to them.My friends, his friends, and both our coworkers always comment on what a low maintenance and non needy girlfriend I am. This is probably because I am not talk/energy intensive. But, I do like to know what’s going on, and he seems to put up with me being fairly nosy. I think nosy is fine!

        • I just want to second that you don’t have to internalize your jealousy feelings. Instead of thinking about how SHE texts too much, why aren’t you focusing on your bf? Do you feel he texts her back to much? Do you feel he has allowed himself to be one of the “sting of guys” following after her?

          I am totally fine with my bf having female friends. Many have become my friends. But I would not be ok with him allowing himself to be one of the “string” as in, provide attention to someone who is clearly seeking it. He should be friends because of the friendship merit, not just because she puts so much effort into it.

      • K...in transition :

        Harry and Sally were single and their relationship evolved over years, clearly not the case when one or both has a SO.

        Why do people need opposite s3x friends? Often it’s a gal’s male friend who talks her out of going nuts about something dumb before she freaks out on her bf about it. Often it’s the guy’s female friend who explains to him why his gf got upset when he forgot their anniversary, etc. It’s someone who speaks the same language (of sorts) who isn’t as invested in the relationship as the 2 members of the relationship.

        Obviously things differ when it’s a same s3x relationship, but even then, it helps to have friends overall!

        • I agree that opposite sex friends are fine, but your comment reads kind of like a bad sitcom. I think most men realize why its upsetting when they forget the anniversary, and most men remember. I actually think I’d have a problem if my bf’s friends were explaining that to him. I am perfectly capable of communicating with him. And I would never tell a guy friend why I was mad at my bf, I would not want a “translator” for our issues. I think when you have opposite sex friends because they are opposite sex, that can be a problem, because you are seeking out opposite sex friends to replace something missing in your relationship. I have friends that are funny, smart, insightful, that just happen to be one or the other. I don’t have them to guide me through the minefields of dating. But I agree with your overall point that friends in general is what is helpful.

    • Brooklyn, Esq. :

      I don’t have any great advice, but I wanted to chime in and say that I DO think crushes over the course of a long-term relationship, having had them myself and “managed” not to act on them. (Where managed = totally not ever an option.) I don’t think a crush is the first step of an affair–the willingness to have an affair is the first step.

      So, I think I can only counsel discussing this with your SO–not the incident, as you indicate you’ve already discussed that–but the general concept of, “sometimes I get jealous,” and sort of how you each approach the natural ebb and flow of relationships. (That’s super abstract but hopefully it rings a bell for you, I assume different people talk about these things differently.)

      I also think you have nothing to be ashamed of in feeling threatened. It’s pretty natural–the beauty and the curse of a romantic relationship is how vulnerable you are to the other person (because of your emotional connection to that person). Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and don’t try to force yourself out of it, because the strain of it (I think) is what affects the relationship, not the fact that you have feelings. The feelings will pass. In the meantime, can you try to observe your feelings and place them in context? I find that sometime intellectualizing these things helps me, sort of, “Ah yes, I remember Dec. 11, when I felt this way last, and yet by 2012 I was totally over that. Remember that, self?”

      Finally, can you ask your SO for extra special attention? My husband is very responsive when I tell him (in a cute, light-hearted way) that I felt jealous when X (that waitress flirted with him, whatever), but I’m the only girl for him, right? And then he hugs me and gives me tons of compliments and even though it’s ostensibly a lovey-dovey kind of thing, it really does help me feel better. Does that make sense?

      • TO Lawyer :

        I think this is great advice. I sometimes get a little nervous/uncomfortable/insecure when my SO is out with the boys for a night (even though he has never given me a reason to be suspicious). We’re long distance so obviously we both have to live our own lives but sometimes I hate it when he’s at the bar with all the guys.

        Here is what works for us:
        1) I’ve told him it makes me a little nervous but that I trust him completely. As a result, we operate on a “full disclosure” basis – so he will tell me all of the details (including other girls hitting on him). I feel a lot better knowing everything that happened but this may not be the case for everyone.
        2) we’ve discussed this rationally – he knows I’m not begrudging him a social life but at the same time, your feelings are your feelings and that’s ok, even if you feel like you’re being crazy.
        3) Agree with the suggestion to put your feelings in context – sometimes I’ll feel more upset by him going out or hanging with his female friends and sometimes it’ll be because I miss him, or feel like he’s been less affectionate lately or I’ve been having a bad day.
        4) My SO is also better about addressing my concerns and making sure he calls, and tells me he misses me and wishes I was with him.

        I know this isn’t quite the same as a crush, but I think the same principles can apply.

        And FWIW, I disagree with the idea that married people can’t have friends of the opposite sex. I have a fair few platonic male friends that I can’t imagine not hanging out with after I’m married. My SO is always going to be my number one but I think you can manage to have platonic friendships regardless.

        • Brooklyn, Esq. :

          Great methodology! #1 especially you should think about–what makes you more nervous, knowing everything or knowing nothing? (Or wherever you fall on that spectrum?) Decide what you want and then ask for it. I personally also prefer the full disclosure option, but I can imagine someone else feeling differently.

          Also, OP, can you ask him to tell you some annoying things about this coworker? It helps if the other person seems, well, real rather than some bubbly perky ideal (and oh, I totally get being jealous of that–total opposite of my personality too!).

          • JealousAnon :

            He actually did give me a list of reasons why he doesn’t like her once he realized that I was really worried about it. :) The funny thing is, what first planted the idea in my mind was, after meeting her, I told him “Ugh, she is nice, but kind of annoying. Way too chipper” and he just shrugged. It was like, do you NOT find her annoying?

      • I totally agree with you on the ‘crushes’ thing. I’ve been married 18 years, and yes, I’ve had 2 or 3 minor crushes on other men during that time. I never even considered acting upon any of them. I completely love my dh, but I think it’s normal to sometimes feel attracted to other people besides your SO. Like the saying goes ‘you’re married, not dead’.

        I’ve never told dh about m crushes because he doesn’t’ need to hear it, and I’m sure he’s had crushes too, and I don’t want to hear about those.

        I’m a big fan of communication in a relationship. I like the advice of letting your SO know that you sometimes feel jealous. Dh & I sometimes let each other know when we’re feeling insecure so the other can give a little more attention. Usually for us it’s insecurity about life in general, not about our relationship.

    • just a lurker :

      I don’t think you should blame your reaction on hormones. I agree with the others, a crush really isn’t acceptable, especially if he is still spending time with this woman.

      • JealousAnon :

        I am relieved to see that being upset at such a relatively small issue (a possible crush on a coworker, not exactly like he was cheating) is not crazy. I do think the hormones contributed to the depth of the emotional reaction though (holding back tears at work, an anxiety attack, and then hysterically crying at home). It was so wildly different from how I normally feel (even when upset), that I actually took a pregnancy test just to be sure.

    • karenpadi :

      So, at the beginning of my career, I was the “smart/young/single” co-worker. I’ll tell my story and my “rules” for working with married men.

      His wife was doing grad work and hanging out a lot with the guys in grad school (maybe with a crush on them–I never figured that out). My mentor (who I wasn’t attracted to) and I both drove to Subway everyday for lunch so we ended up carpooling. Somehow, I unknowingly became the “counterweight” in their marriage to her hanging out with grad school guys. Nothing happened and I had a great mentor.

      The wife made every effort to meet me and hang with me. She met us for lunch about once a week. When we were working late, she’d bring us pizza and she’d invite me over for a home-cooked dinner every Tuesday. I really appreciated that. I think it’s hard for single women to have male mentors and crazy rumors where quelled when people knew I was friends with his wife and frequently hung out with her.

      As a single woman in these situations, I think it’s very important to respect the marriage. Never ask about the marriage and don’t allow him to discuss his marriage problems with you. Whenever possible, make an effort to be friends with his wife. Accept invitations and blind dates from the wife. If he starts to pull away from the mentoring relationship, things probably got a little too hot in the marriage so let him back off. Never, ever joke about being the “work wife” or imply a special relationship. Never, ever give “wifely advice” (e.g., what to wear or how to handle a non-work situation). Never, ever criticize or agree to criticism about the wife.

      • Definitely respect the marriage. My male friends (which, as above, constitute about 50% of my friends) often want to tell me about some issue in their marriage. 90% of the time I’m like, OMG you a-hole, you need to apologize.

      • These rules are fantastic. I particularly agree with not acting “wifely” re. giving non-work-related advice or offering a sympathetic ear about domestic problems.

        Maintaining professional boundaries are key to both parties a) maintaining own professional images and b) protecting their own domestic situations.

    • Here’s an old married person’s perspective.

      I don’t want to be with someone who had the equivalent of a lobotomy after we got together. I don’t expect that my husband is blind or emotionally shut down to everyone but me. I love the fact that despite the fact that he is surrounded by people who challenge him and he connects with, he comes home to me. I am not his consolation prize. He chooses me. He can notice other women. He can have meaningful relationships in other ways with other people (including women) yet I am the person he has chosen to marry. I am the person who he counts on being there when the going gets rough. The person who he can be weak with. The person who he sees himself with when his body and mind are no longer in their prime. The fact that he might have a crush on someone, is human and shows that he has not shut down.

      Sure, I can be jealous. And he wants that from me. He doesn’t want to be with someone who takes him for granted. Someone who doesn’t care whether or not he has crush on someone else. If I feel jealous, I tell him. He respects my feelings. We talk about it. Sometimes that is enough. Sometimes he takes actions that assures me he does prioritize me and our relationship over other things.

      The reverse is true as well. We both have close friends of the opposite sex. We have each felt jealous. We talk about our feelings and make sure that the other person is assured of where each of our priorities are. And on the flip side, we trust.

      • Gold Lion :

        Thank you for this, I thought it was beautiful and inspiring

      • this is literally exactly what my husband told me after i caught him having an affair. that i was the one he “chose” to marry.

        • I’m sorry that happened to you, anon. I hope you can see that he did not say anything like what I described, though. My husband and I choose fidelity not because we lock each other off from members of the opposite sex, but because we value the relationship we have with each other above all others. There is a huge difference between that and violating the trust within your marriage marriage and writing it off as “but I chose to sign papers with you.” IMHO, marriage is not a single act, but a moment by moment affirmation of the love and commitment you have with another person. He did not “choose” to marry you when he chose to have an affair. He chose quite the opposite.

      • Honey Pillows :

        That’s fair beautiful, DealCube.

        I might’ve teared up a little bit at the middle paragraph. “I am the person who he counts on being there when the going gets rough. The person who he can be weak with. The person who he sees himself with when his body and mind are no longer in their prime” is a fantastic summation of the harder, truer parts of a wonderful marriage, and I really hope I end up with that.

    • After seeing married friends deal with an affair that started as a “harmless” office crush, I (and they) cannot recommend this book enough:

      “Not Just Friends” by Shirley Glass (Ira Glass’ mom, FWIW).

      It’s aimed not only at people who have dealt with sexual affairs, but also emotional affairs and mutual crushes that went a little too far… and married people who want to avoid the possibility.

      Read the Amazon.com reviews and you’ll see what I mean.

  20. Gifts for Kids :

    I have all boys, and need advice for gifts for a one year old and 4 year old girl. Thanks!

    • I usually give books. But I have also given stuffies (I love the ugly dolls, but they’re not for everyone.) And, the 4YO might like a snowglobe. The 1YO won’t really know, but you could get her a cute outfit. If you’re in NYC, I can point you to a fab toy store where the staff is always ready with helpful advice.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        This is my rule too. Any gift to a child from me includes a book. Every single time. The four year old might love play kitchen/food things. A cute hooded terrycloth robe might also be a big hit – they have ones with animal ears on them, so it’s dress up too. Board book for the 1 year old.

        • Honey Pillows :

          YES! I’ve become that Doda (auntie in Hebrew). I last gave a Piglet stuffed animal and a Winnie-the-Pooh board book, and apparently the kid just dragged that Piglet all around the house, and demanded the story be read multiple times well before bedtime.

    • Anon Analyst :

      My niece is around 4 years old and loves dress up clothes. A while back I happened upon some cute princess stuff at Wal-Mart. There was a set with a tiara, long skirt and some plastic slippers. She loved it!

      Not sure about the one year old. I don’t have kids at all, so a lot of time I’ll use the age guidelines on toys to get an idea of what to buy. If there is a specific cartoon character she likes, that may help narrow down what to get.

    • I think 4 year old girls are super into Dora the Explorer and the girl with the long hair from Tangled right now. I personally prefer Dora. For the 4 year old, you could also do blocks or legos or something that’s more gender neutral.

      For the 1 year old…I mean, they’re one. Maybe a couple of soft books? Or one of those toys that is kind of like a musical instrument or something?

      • Dora gets no love at all from my nieces (6 and 4). All the love is reserved for Disney princesses and Cars. (If it weren’t for the Cars part, my head would be exploding — because REALLY?!?!?!? Non-stop Disney princesses?!?!?!?!?) I have tried to push them in other directions, but no go. They don’t really know who Dora is. So, they get books of my choosing and clothes with no logos or faces on them or (here’s another idea for OP) age-appropriate crafty things. They still love me.

        • Meg Murry :

          My 5 year old LOVES arts & crafts. A stack of construction paper, some pipe cleaners, stickers & googly eyes were great fun.
          If you want to get a “matching” gift, the stuffed dogs, cats & monkeys from blabla kids are wonderful, my kids sleep with theirs every night. Not cheap, but super soft & cuddly, very well made.
          You could also go for an experience gift like tickets to a local zoo or childrens museum

        • They’ll grow out of the princesses, I promise. My nieces are 9, 8 and 6 1/2. Art projects rock and books are always good. Check out the Fashion Runway sketchbooks. You can get them from Amazon. I got them for the girls and then I bought one for myself.

          My nephew/godson is turning 1 on Sunday. He’s going to like the box the gifts came in better than the gifts. I got him a jersey with the name of a player from our local NFL team (most of you know where I live), but his favorite toy is Walter from The Muppets. I got it for him last fall.

          So, don’t worry about a gift for the 1-year-old. She just wants frosting and to play with the boxes. Give art projects and books to the 4-year-old girl.

    • Research, Not Law :

      I have daughters those ages!

      For the older:
      eeBoo: Once Upon a Time / Fairytale 9 Piece Puzzles http://www.amazon.com/eeBoo-Once-Fairytale-Piece-Puzzles/dp/B002PDM440/
      Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Pets http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Lace-Trace-Pets/
      1001 Things to Spot in the Sea (book) http://www.amazon.com/1001-Things-Spot-Sea-Usborne/dp/0794526152/
      The Big Book of Berenstain Bears Beginner Books http://www.amazon.com/Book-Berenstain-Bears-Beginner-Books/dp/037587366X/
      Playdough and arts/craft supplies

      For the younger:
      Melissa & Doug Deluxe 10-Piece Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-10-Piece-Alphabet-Stacking/dp/B000GIL2DU/
      Swimways Baby Spring Float – Lily Pad http://www.amazon.com/Swimways-Baby-Spring-Float-Lily/dp/B000ELL5JK/
      In My Nest (board book) http://www.amazon.com/My-Nest-Sara-Gillingham/dp/081186555X/
      Clackers: Duck [Board book] http://www.amazon.com/Clackers-Duck-Luana-Rinaldo/dp/0375861432/
      WADDLES penguin (Ty plush toy) http://www.amazon.com/Ty-WADDLES-Penguin-32092-penguin/dp/B000N6OOD0/
      Bath toys

    • Research, Not Law :

      Reposting without links to avoid moderation.

      I have daughters those ages!

      For the older:
      eeBoo: Once Upon a Time / Fairytale 9 Piece Puzzles
      Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Pets
      1001 Things to Spot in the Sea (book)
      The Big Book of Berenstain Bears Beginner Books
      Playdough and arts/craft supplies

      For the younger:
      Melissa & Doug Deluxe 10-Piece Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks
      Swimways Baby Spring Float – Lily Pad
      In My Nest (board book)
      Clackers: Duck [Board book]
      WADDLES penguin (Ty plush toy)

    • Anonymous :

      Books! No stuffed animals, please. No dress up clothes, please. No Dora, no character dolls. Books are an excellent choice — all the Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems are great. Or any of the classics — look for Caldecott award winners. Also fun, rubber stamps and ink with paper (look for stamp sets by Aladine on Amaz-n). And for the 1 year old, best toy ever is the nest and stack buckets by iplay (regardless of gender, also on Amaz-n).

    • For the one year old….I really don’t think anything is gendered (or should be gendered) at that point. How about blocks?

    • I only have girls, these gifts are always big hits- 1year old a baby doll (I like Corolle for first dolls), a walker toy of any kind, books (Tickle Monster and Boogie Monster are fun for that age), stacking blocks or nesting blocks; and the Bilibo; 4 year old- art kits; Parents lock and create jewelry set; dress up (I like to give capes and crowns); Fancy Nancy or Knuffle Bunny are faves around that age; Melissa & Doug puzzles and cupcake sets; apron and kid cookbook; Mini Kick scooter. I’ve also lately been giving the new lego sets for girls. I hate the marketing, but little girls really do love the tiny princess lego sets.

      • Be careful with the art kits. I think bad thoughts quite loudly at anyone who introduces glitter to my house. :-)

        Musical instruments also can be good or bad. The kids typically love a percussion set with drum, tambourine, maracas, triangle, etc. Mom & Dad may blame you for their headaches for years, though.

    • I got my colleague’s one year old the Melissa & Doug picnic basket. She loved it!

      • In the Pink :

        HearthSong catalogue and Creative Playthings are good sources of ideas.

        Four year old: Dr Seuss books and PD Eastman books (early readers). Balance beam (like the Libra sign). Kaleidoscope. Magic wand filled with liquid and stars and glitter. Stencils and tons of cool paper. Dominoes (colorful ones). Folding screen or doorway insert to be a puppet theatre. Nothing needing batteries if possible. Card Games (love the 12 Minute Card Game ones by Game Wright). Colorforms if you can find them.

        One year old: metal Tonka Dump Truck (seriously). wood blocks. nesting cups or boxes. Soft sock puppets.

    • Honey Pillows :

      Threadjack -suggestions for a 2-year old nephew (and for the next few birthdays/holidays?).

    • microscience :

      This may be super late, but I recently went to a 4 year old girl’s birthday party (no kids, been way too long since I babysat, so I was also in the dark about a good present). I gave her a little “color your own backpack”, it had a design outlined in black, some kind of flowers and leaves type pattern, some of which were already filled in with sparkly silver, and came with markers for her to color herself. She really loved it. Purchased at walmart. She also got a set of wooden music toys (yeah, we wanted to torture the parents :) ) and she really liked those as well.