Dating at Work

Dating at WorkLadies, what are your thoughts on dating at work? Have you ever dated a coworker? What do you think are the rules for dating officemates? With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought we’d have a nice open thread about the pros and cons of dating at the office. (For those of you already happily coupled, let’s hear how you met, whether at the office or beyond!)

For my $.02: I never dated a coworker, although I had crushes on a few of them over the years — at the time I was very worried about being viewed as someone who saw the office as a dating pool. Looking back, this was probably silly — in Big Law so many people churn through the lower ranks it’s almost like another grad school, and there are always more people to work with if a relationship ends poorly. Indeed, I know several happily married couples who met as coworkers at BigLaw — although all of them kept it a secret, even from good friends, until the relationship was pretty serious. (In fact, a number of readers noted in our last open thread about dating at the office that they had dated at work, and discretion was the name of the game, as well as paying attention to the “don’t date assholes” rule that, you know, is a pretty good one for dating in general. I also agree with the other little rule that readers noted in that thread, though: Summer associates or interns should not date at the office.)

As for how I met my husband — I went through a phase where, fighting my introverted ways, I said “yes” to pretty much any activity that would take me out of the house. For about a year and a half I went to political fundraisers, soccer games, and trivia nights — and I also joined museum groups like the Young Lions (at the New York Public Library) and the American Museum of Natural History’s Junior Council. And just when I was about to give up my little “dating project,” I met my husband. We met at a friend-of-a-friend’s birthday party in a bar on the Lower East Side; Mr. G also did not know the birthday girl well and in fact had to be dragged to the party (by our future best man!). Our circles really didn’t intersect at all, so it’s really lucky that fate took us both to that party.

All right, ladies, over to you — have you dated at the office? Share your stories (and your rules)! If you’re happily coupled, how did you meet your partner, whether at work or beyond? 

Psst: we’ve also talked about finding time to date when you’re busyhow to date a really busy guy, and how to date someone with more time or less money

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How to Turn a Bad Day Around

how to turn a bad day aroundLadies, how do you turn a bad day around?  What do you do to reinvigorate yourself, put the day in perspective, and ultimately move on? Do you have any tricks for “saving” a lousy day, or for letting go of the day once you’ve finished it? We’ve talked about ways to relax, laughter as medicine, and general after-work routines (as well as how to get your groove back in general), but not this.

For my $.02 — without sounding too much like the self-help section of the bookstore — I think gratitude is an amazing thing. (I am grateful for gratitude!) No matter what my mood is on the day itself, I find if I focus on three things I’m grateful for as I’m falling asleep, I get to sleep easier, sleep better, and wake up in a better mood. A few other ideas for shaking off a bad day:

  • Dance party! Shake it off, shake it off.
  • Have one drink with a friend and talk about other things, like how his or her life is going.  (I find that on a bad day, drinking more and obsessing over whatever went wrong just leaves me with a bigger black cloud over my head, so I don’t recommend drinking to excess or rehashing your bad day in detail — sleep on it one night, at least!)
  • Seek beauty.  Go for a walk and appreciate the skyline, the clouds, the trees — whatever is around you that you find beautiful.  If you can get out of work early enough to go to an art museum, you can do that. Along these lines, adult coloring books may also be helpful.
  • Focus on sensory input.  Go shopping, not to buy (necessarily) but to touch the different fabrics.  If stores are closed by the time you get out of work, try making cookies or bread or something you can knead with your hands.  (Or, steal a trick from the kiddos, and make your own playdough — odds are good you have everything you need in your pantry, and you avoid the temptation to eat the results.) Make some tea that smells amazing, and sit with the smell.
  • Laugh.  It’s one of my favorite ways to clear my head of a bad day.
  • Sleep.  Do whatever you have to to get a good night’s sleep.  If you have problems falling asleep, try the 4, 7, 8 technique, or challenge yourself to name five things that start with B in your bedroom.

Ladies, how do you turn around a bad day?

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How to Get on a Board

How to Get on a Board | CorporetteJoining a nonprofit board allows you to lend a hand for a good cause, build your professional network, develop your skills, and even advance your career. But what is the best way to get on a board — and how should you evaluate board membership opportunities to determine whether a particular organization is the right one for you?

We’ve previously talked about making friends and networkingstrategic volunteering, joining professional organizations, and charitable giving, but we haven’t talked about how to get on a board.

During conversations about board membership in our comment sections, two Corporette readers explained how rewarding they found their experiences:

The year-long process of putting myself out there [to join a board], figuring out what I care about, what my skills are, what organizations are doing good work… it was so valuable. It was great to push myself like that, and I think it will have huge benefits for me down the road, both in terms of career and personal growth. —Reader S

Lawyers (we’ve had a few since I’ve been on the board) are always welcome. It has been a great experience. … You might reach out to friends / contacts / coworkers whose volunteer work sounds interesting to you and explain you’re looking to become involved in X field, and ask if they know of any upcoming opportunities or have any suggestions for people to contact. —Reader A

If you’d like to get on a board, here are a few tips:

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Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Women

slow cooker recipes for working womenWhen we were doing our roundup of posts to help with your resolutions, I realized it’s been too long since we had an open thread with shared crock pot recipes.  So many recipes have easy prep, easy clean up, and such a long cook time that you can start your dinner before you even leave the house in the morning. I’ve always been a huge fan of slow cookers, even in my singleton days — if I wasn’t planning on working late enough to get a Seamless dinner and didn’t have dinner plans, odds are good I had something brewing in the slow cooker for an easy weeknight dinner.  I’m a big fan of using the slow cooker to “lock me in” to healthier choices than I might make otherwise.  Shall I stop in to the fast food place? Nah — I’ve got food waiting for me in the crockpot at home.  To that end I’ve made a ton of stuff in the slow cooker that you don’t need to make in a slow cooker — pierogies, fried rice (with brown rice and/or quinoa), and meat sauce all come to mind.  I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes before (like the 5-ingredient Moroccan Chicken Lentils Stew or my super-healthy pulled pork) but I’ve pasted another one we like, Mediterranean Beef Stew (in my slow cooker right now!) below.  (Pictured.) So, ladies, please share — are you the fan of slow cooked dinners? Which are your favorite slow cooker recipes?  

For what it’s worth I almost always use a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easier, and although I have some fancier slow cookers, my favorite one remains an old 4.5 quart one similar to this $30 one, pictured above.  (Pro tip: just make sure the stoneware is entirely removable — I had a cheap one when I first got out of college that had the stoneware attached to the electric base and it made cleaning a total pain.) If you haven’t used a slow cooker before, note that there are a ton of recipes for vegans and meat-eaters alike — and these days a lot of recipes go well beyond canned cream of mushroom soup.  (Though, FWIW, I really like cream of mushroom soup — but I avoid cream of chicken soup like the plague.  If you get the boxed soup or boxed tomatoes it’s a bit healthier because you avoid BPA.)

Another note: cooking for the freezer has become hugely popular — people will cook double amounts or cook several recipes in one weekend in order to fill their freezer with pre-cooked meals. Another popular technique is slow cooking from the freezer — pre-assembling slow cooker meals that can just be dumped in — and then freezing those.  (I have some links in our Further Reading, below.) I don’t have a lot of experience with either technique, and I’d love to hear your experiences.   (I’ll admit I often use frozen veggies, particularly for things like chopped onions (I haaaaate chopping onions for some reason) or at the end of a recipe to bulk it up (like adding a bag of frozen cauliflower to Buffalo Chicken Pasta), but I tend to raise my eyebrows at a recipe that just has you chopping fresh vegetables and adding them to a freezer bag along with raw meat and other ingredients, without blanching them first — but maybe it just doesn’t matter in a stew or whatnot.) Oh, a lot of people are also doing things like ricing cauliflower to use with stew dishes instead of using white rice, which is something I’ve yet to try, but fits with my “the more vegetables the better” philosophy.

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How to Learn a New Language

Learn a New LanguageMaybe one of your new year’s resolutions is to learn a new language, or to re-learn a language you took in school but can’t speak anymore. We’ve listed the three main options for language learning below, but we’d love to hear your specific suggestions in the comments! Have you learned a new language just for fun, or to further your career? What are your best tips, ladies?

  1. Traditional language programs (e.g., Rosetta Stone): You can choose from 25 languages to learn with Rosetta Stone, including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and more. Check out a free demo here (after picking a language). You can see the prices here; for example, right now a one-year online subscription is $199, while a two-year subscription is $209, and an instant download of Levels 1-5 is $209. (It looks like these are temporary discounts, by the way.) According to Rosetta Stone’s FAQ page, “It will take about 40-50 hours to complete the content in each level.” Here’s a review from The Economist from a few years ago and one from PC Mag.
    Others: Pimsleur, Fluenz, Speed Learning Languages, Babbel 
  2. Free language tools (e.g., Duolingo): With Duolingo you can choose from 15 languages, including French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and surprisingly, Esperanto. This video (autoplay YouTube) explains that the program — which is free, with no ads — teaches you to read, write, listen, and speak through “bite-size skills that look like games.” You can use Duolingo on your computer or get the app, which has versions for iPhone, Android, and Windows phones. The company also offers online language certification for $20. Here’s a PC Mag review and an Economist review.
    Others: Foreign Service Institute public domain language courses, Internet Polyglot
  3. Online tutors/language partners: Many, many options exist in this category, including Verbalplanet ($22 for 45 minutes), Livemocha (free), Verbling (varies; teachers set their own prices), Live Lingua ($9.99/hour and up), LingQ ($0-39/month), and Lang-8 (free). Here are some tips on finding and using an online tutor.

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Open Thread: Vacation Time

Vacation Time | CorporetteAs the close of 2015 is almost upon us, here’s a question: did you use your vacation time? If you did (congratulations), please regale us with stories — wheredja go, whadja do, how’d you find the time to plan/schedule it, which app/service would you recommend, etc. — but if you DIDN’T (which historically was me), why not? Did you just have too much work? Did you not feel comfortable scheduling something with your work calendar? Was it a budget/priority thing? For everyone — do you have any big plans for 2016?

For my $.02 — I almost never used all of my vacation time, and looking back it was largely because I worried it would reflect poorly on me at work. I also was worried that I would spend all this time/energy/money researching a vacation only to have it cancelled at the last minute due to work. I felt pretty comfortable in BigLaw scheduling trips to see my parents, both because we had religious reasons (Christmas, Easter) for the trips, as well as because I knew my parents had good Internet service and would understand if I had to turn it into a working vacation. And of course I would tack on a day or two here or there if I was traveling for a friend’s weekend wedding or whatnot.

But in terms of fun vacations, particularly in places without reliable Internet access? The stress usually stopped me from going. For example, my now husband took me to Paris a few months after we started dating, and I was terrified the trip would be cancelled, that there would somehow be a disaster ON the 5-day trip (I had nightmares of having to find an “Internet cafe” to work in for hours, paying in 15-minute increments with a dial-up modem). I worried that when I left I would be working without sleep to get all the work done — and I worried that when I returned there would be a mountain of work waiting for me. The trip turned out fine, of course. (Ok, I got food poisoning, which was less than awesome for a romantic vacation, and we totally failed to make it to Reims because I misunderstood the train schedule, but workwise it was fine.)

Another reason I didn’t travel much while working in BigLaw: I could never get the timing right to travel with friends, and I never dated anyone seriously enough to even ponder a vacation together (until I met my husband) — and I was hesitant to travel by myself as a single woman. In my non-profit job, I didn’t have nearly as much vacation time, I didn’t have seniority to choose when to take it, and we didn’t have the budget anyway to take vacation without some serious sacrifices. [Read more…]