Coffee Break: Elvan Leather Tote

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The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is chugging along, and there are still a lot of great things left, including this really lovely, sort of boxy tote from Vince Camuto. It comes in black and gray, and it has a padded laptop compartment. I love the detail of the pocket on the front and the zipper, and I also like the very wide gusset, which is 6″ deep. The tote is $198, and after the sale it’ll go up to $298. Elvan Leather Tote

Here’s a more affordable tote with some interesting details.

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  1. I’m having trouble keeping track of all my to-dos at work, and I’m worried things are going to start slipping through the cracks. I’ve tried the task/reminder system in outlook, it’s not great for me, and I use my whiteboard, but it’s also not really working. Does anyone have other suggestions? How do you keep track of all your work tasks?

    I was thinking of maybe a bullet journal, or something similar?

    • I have a hybrid system, which is probably going to crash and burn on me at some point.

      I use Outlook tasks for things that require an email response. I also use it to set up reminders for recurring things that happen monthly, quarterly, yearly.

      I use Trello for specific types of projects where I need to visualize the big picture at all times. It’s shared by our entire team and is most helpful for tasks that involve multiple people.

      Finally, I create a new Word doc every week with my own personal tasks that contribute to the big picture. I check it at the end of the date and update as needed. Anything that’s still hanging at the end of the week moves to the following week’s document. I use this for things like: “Call Fergus about document.” “Write TPS report.” “Follow up with Jan about XYZ.”

      It’s working for me, but I also wonder if it’s really inefficient. I’m not sure what to cut out, though. It all serves a purpose.

      I love a good to-do list, but I really don’t get bullet journaling. It seems overly complicated.

      • Baconpancakes :

        I do a hybrid “bullet planner” system. Using the system of x’s, carets, and strikethroughs is great, and I don’t worry about illustrating my days with cartoons of the food I eat that day. (I do sometimes play with drawing the dates in with different colors and fonts – not knocking people who do want to draw what they eat in their journals.) Using an undated planner works well for me, though, because I can still outline projects or make long non-to-do lists on the page.

        I use the Moment planner by Poketo.

    • The only thing that has ever worked for me is a good old fashioned paper to-do list. I keep an ongoing list in a small notebook that is always on my desk. I don’t have super strict rules for maintaining the list, but some general guidelines I follow:
      – I try to write things down on the list as soon as I get them, although admittedly some things never make it onto the list, for example, if I get an email and immediately respond
      – I usually review the list at either the end or beginning of the day to help with planning; sometimes I will highlight items of particular importance or urgency so I don’t forget
      – I try to keep the entire current list on 1-2 pages (like so I can leave the notebook open and see the entire list without flipping pages) so sometimes I have to cross off an item off an earlier page and move to the current page; when I do that I cross out rather than check off so I know it’s moved, not completed
      – Every few days, when I get a few minutes, I pro-actively check for more stuff that needs to be on the list – I flip back through my inbox and sent mail to see if there’s anything that should be on the list, look back at my calendar to see what is upcoming or to jog my memory on recent meetings, etc
      – I always have the list with me during 1:1s, either with people who report to me or my manager, and I always ask, “Is there anything you’re waiting on me for?” just to make doubly sure it’s on the list.

      Having written all this out, it seems really elaborate, but what it really boils down to for me is: keep a master to-do list running, and update it as frequently as possible, both as things come up and also by carving out time every few days to pro-actively review.

      • I should also add: this method evolved out of working at a company about 10 years ago that was really big on the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach. Obviously what I described is a far cry from that method, which I found overly elaborate, but one of the core tenets of GTD is that you don’t want to keep any tasks in your head because it will take up mental energy that you should be spending on other work. I took that idea a bit further – I don’t even want to think about maintaining multiple lists or tools for different types/categories of to-dos. My to-do list is just a running list, and it covers both home and work tasks. It is the lowest cognitive load I can create for managing all the stuff I do.

    • Paper lists and one of those flip a page desk calendars. Deadlines are in the desk calendar, with reminders along the way as needed. For the day to day I used post it notes. At the end of each day I leave myself a note of things I need to do the next day.

    • Yay bullet journals :

      I started using the bullet journal a little over a year ago and it’s been a life saver. I adopted it during an insanely busy time at work and it kept me and my whole team on track and organized for meeting deadlines and not letting anything slip through the cracks. Like AnonZ, things that I can’t respond to immediately, I try to write down immediately on a weekly list. I also take notes during conference calls and meetings in the same journal and then I can add any to dos that stem from the call/meeting directly to the to do list and refer back to my notes for more clarity on what is needed. Then I cross off things I’ve completed and things that I didn’t get to in a given week get “forwarded” (i.e. copied onto a new page and a little mark next to the original entry to indicate it wasn’t completed) to next week’s list.

      When I first started, I adhered much more to the actual recommended bullet journal style (which had monthly and daily lists, etc.) but I’ve since become a bit more flexible.

      • I use OneNote as my bullet journal. I can link Mocrosoft documents and it works well with Outlook. It’s the best way I’ve found to manage my to do list and keep notes for meetings.

    • Running to do list in Evernote that is open all day, every day. Heavy use of Outlook calendar (schedule your tasks on your calendar and give yourself 2x the time you think it will take). Flag and color/category system in Outlook, plus reminder. I have one category called “1 Needs Action.” The 1 puts it at the top of my “For Follow Up” folder. If I get an email regarding something I need to do, I flag it and put it in that category and it is immediately in my “For Follow Up” folder, which shows anything I have flagged. I then have a calendar item scheduled in perpetuity for every other day at a time when I am usually working on my computer reminding me to check that folder and deal with things in there.

      A by the Month big blotter desk calendar helped. I typically use a monthly calendar so I can see what is coming up in the next few weeks, not just this immediate week.

      Make sure your Outlook/work calendar also goes to your phone so you get reminders there too.

    • Anonymous :

      If you attempt complicated methods like a bullet journal you’ll probably just fail. All my appointments, meetings and recurring tasks are in Outlook. Everything else, I use the Reminders app on my phone. It’s just a super simple running list and I can add reminders. You can have different lists within the Reminders app, and I colour code them (the list for work is green). I like that I can pull up the Reminders app on my work PC (on the cloud) and add to it as necessary.

      • A bullet journal, in its original form, is actually really simple, not complicated, for people who like pen and paper. I have tried dozens of systems, digital, paper, and hybrid, and the bullet journal method has been the most helpful for me. If Outlook and Reminders work for you, fantastic! But just because you think the bullet journal is complicated doesn’t mean someone else “will probably just fail.”

    • Anonymous :

      I use good old-fashioned pen and paper. I write down all my tasks on a notepad, break down into sub-tasks if necessary, and cross them off as I complete each task and note down billable time (if applicable).

      For me, typing things out onto a digital list-keeper/calendar just doesn’t stick in my mind versus writing things down by hand.

      • +1 I use a steno pad and rewrite my list at the end of every week to make sure it’s accurate.

    • Foolish Fox :

      I have a note book I use. On one side, I have a to-do list of everything I need to do broken down by category. On the other, I write the date and my meetings/appointments. Then I list the tasks I need to get done that day referring to my full list. Once the date side is full, I move to the next page and rewrite the list (about every 4 days) When rewriting, I check to make sure that all the tasks still need doing, and that I havent missed anything, and its all categorized correctly. Sometimes its color coded, sometimes its not depending on how much I need the structure.

    • I’ve tried high tech methods but what works best for me are small post-it notes on my monitor color coded by level of priority.

    • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

      I use an Excel sheet with tabs for each of my cases. I put in there both stuff I need to do and when I need to do it by, and also when I need to follow-up with someone one something if I don’t hear from them.

      From this, at the end of each day, I write a to-do list for the following day organized by case in a moleskin notebook.

  2. Ooh, I like this a lot. The black and graystone are both lovely options.

  3. This is such a random and personal and irrelevant question but this 12 year married person wants to know.

    In the movies and shows, women are always going down on men on like the first date and showering is not happening. Is this really happening in real life? Again, I know it is irrelevant and what do I care, I’m just wondering. I would neeeeeever do that without a shower.

    • Anonymous :

      I would never do it on a first date. But presumably the guy showered before the date?

    • Yes it happens but I don’t think necessarily on the first date. Although I don’t know what movies and shows you’re watching b/c this plot device has certainly not registered on my radar.

    • Anonymous :

      It would not occur to me to make the guy shower first. How could you do that without killing the mood? Do you tell him he’s dirty but in like a sexy way?

      • Your last sentence really made me laugh.

      • This is the OP. This is shocking to me! I just think it’s kind of a gross thing, I’m really doing it to be nice, so yes, I expect either a shower or a little sink wash. Wow. I also prefer that for myself if he’s doing it to me (he does me more than I do him) – I don’t want to be worried about any stench issues. This is just so interesting to me! We don’t shower or clean before anything else absent special circumstances (hard workout, etc.).

        • Most men are still clean for a while after showering. Once in a while people get funky; it happens. But it’s not inherently gross and 9/10 times someone who showers before a date or at the beginning of the day is gonna be just fine. Granted, I’m not doing it just to be nice- I’m doing it because I want my partner to be satisfied and I actually genuinely *like* to. It sounds like you don’t enjoy it (which is totally fine! Your call), and perhaps that’s why you feel like it’s a bit gross/off putting if there’s no shower.

          I probably wouldn’t go down on a guy on the first date (just my preference) but it wouldn’t be because I thought I needed to make him shower first. Nor would I make someone shower simply because it was the first date/time.

        • Diana Barry :

          I have never ever ever worried about either person showering right before.

        • Anonymous :

          I don’t ask my husband to shower before routinely. I don’t think his body is inherently dirty or his normal smells are nasty, and especially because I don’t want him to treat me that way.

        • Anonymous :

          “I just think it’s kind of a gross thing, I’m really doing it to be nice”

          So, see, this is your issue. Some of us actually like to do that, and don’t do it just to “be nice” or get reciprocation.

          I don’t mean this in a mean way, but you seem kind of sheltered. It’s easier than ever to get information about adult activities and why and how to do them, if you want to broaden your horizons.

          • I think the showering thing can still be an issue even if one isn’t just doing it to be nice. I feel kind of awkward receiving if I haven’t showered recently, and DH does too. Neither of us has ever asked the other person to shower before, though, and we don’t shower before every single time. I have kind of wondered whether other people feel this way about showering too.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        I feel like if you told him “you’re so dirty” in a throaty whisper, he would not necessarily read that as a clue to shower…

    • Anonymous :

      You make your husband shower right before? Do you guys just always shower immediately before sex? How does that even work?

      • By the time I offer it to him, he’s skipping over to the sink. :)

      • Anonymous :

        I mean, DH and I both shower at night. And morning s3x or spontaneous afternoon delight is not a thing that happens with small children, so yes, we have almost always showered <1 hour before.

      • We Shower :

        Married 14 years, and we shower AND brush our teeth before. It’s really not that weird.

        One thing I’ve learned from this community–instead of looking for “normal” just figure out what works for you. After this long, H and I aren’t passionately falling all over each other. (We had that stage. We’ve moved beyond.) Our gardening has moved into mutual, caring, loving territory. Part of that is that neither one of us wants to deal with dirt and smells, and since we’re Old Married People, we can take a few minutes to head to our bathroom before we start. It just evolved over the years. “Oh, we’re heading that way? I’ll be back!”

        • Thanks. I love being called weird over and over and being accused of being fake? I am not sure what makes someone think this is fake, but whatevs.

          • Well…… you did sort of come here and announce that what other people practice is gross or weird, and shocking, so.

          • Well, you brought it up. And you’re basically saying everybody else is gross and weird, so what do you expect?

          • Anonymous :

            Yeah exactly.

          • But to be fair to the OP, how do you know if you don’t ask?

        • Anonymous :

          I’ve been married longer than you and I would never think to put lady gardening on hold so we could go shower and brush our teeth. How unspontaneous. What a mood killer. We sometimes shower together but then that’s part of the whole repertoire of activities.

          • We Shower :

            My comment: Encourage everyone to find their own normal, share what I do.

            Your comment: Sneer at what I do, pronounce your own way as best.

            Super helpful. Thanks.

    • It’s really weird you would tell your husband to shower before…especially if its spontaneous. I would assume most encounters (in the real world and in movies and shows) happen without showering.

      Like, we just get back from a 5 day camping trip with no shower? Ok, yeah, we’re showering. But otherwise people are plenty clean at night from a morning shower….

    • …. have you never in all of 12 years gotten drunk and frisky and just… done some stuff unexpectedly? I say this as someone who’s been married 10 years. I prefer to do stuff like that post shower, but that doesn’t always happen, and it’s seriously not an issue. Are you just talking about when you’re doing it with someone new?

    • While I *might* go down on a guy on the first date (I’m something of a libertine, I suppose), it definitely wouldn’t be my standard practice.

      It would never occur to me that a guy should shower before unless we had decided that a grueling hike, tough mudder race, or spin class would be an ideal first date. I’d assume that he had showered quite recently, probably shortly before our date.

      • +1 me too.

        I usually go on dates after work so my most recent shower will have been that morning… I assume the same for most guys and wouldn’t make him shower, just as I would expect he wouldn’t make me shower before going down… and if he did, well that would be the end of that

    • Anonymous :

      Only married 10 years here. If we’re fooling around and I start to head south my husband will stop me before I get there if he thinks there’s some piece of information regarding his cleanliness that I need to know. Such as “oh, I [worked out at lunch/was working in the yard before you got home/whatever] and haven’t had time to shower yet so stay up here”.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve only had one partner, but I definitely prefer he showers right before anything. Fun times start in there. It’s just a thing that had to happen, like jumping out of bed right after for a wee. Not ideally romantic, but a whole lot better than a UTI.

      • +1. We often party post-shower because we shower together in the evenings after we workout. I’m much more likely to head south post-shower than I am when we LGP at other times. He doesn’t care at all whether I’ve just showered.

    • I think that sex is kind of inherently gross, to the extent that bodies just *are* gross, so I’m ok with whatever act I’m doing also being a little gross? I did the thing in question with my now-husband on our first date. He had not recently showered.

    • Anonymous :

      Gosh I must be a major hussy because I’ve definitely done that. In fact I’ve done it before the first date…oops. Do you really make your husband shower before EVERY TIME? That’s kind of a buzzkill.

    • Sassyfras :

      Married for 3 years. I have never ever requested that my husband shower before any sexual activity. If he has felt like things down there might be unpleasant, he’s stopped me before saying “Let me wash up really quick.” I have also never freshened up myself before receiving and stench shouldn’t be an issue unless you have some sort of infection. I think the natural smell of the area is something of a turn on for many.

    • Anonymous :

      For the people that think it’s weird to ask for a shower before getting down after a long day’s work, please spend one day in Texas, LA, Florida, or a similarly swampy, hot, and humid state, then come back to me. I have an enormous amount of sweat from an 8 am five minute dog walk, and walking to and from my car in a car park. Let’s not talk about how things get if you’re outside for longer than that. It’s okay to prefer a clean arena when your environment is like that.

      • Ummm…. I think it’s weird and I’ve lived in the SEUS my whole life. I do not ask my partners to, and they do not usually need to, shower before.

        We all spend most of the day in AC. I don’t think any of us expect that our partners are entitled to show up stanky and we just have to sit there and take it, and I’m sure that all of our partners would take it upon themselves to assess the situation and determine whether a wash was required because of being outside, working out, or whatever. The men I date are potty trained adults. They can figure out basic hygene themselves. I seriously feel like I’ve smelled something off maybe 3-4x in a lonnnnnnnnnnnng history of drinking from the garden hose.

    • This is so entertaining to me. I was quite promiscuous in my late teens and throughout my 20s. However, I never encountered a situation that made me think oh my goodness I wish this person had showered before we did this thing that we’re doing. This is so entertaining to me. I was quite promiscuous in my late teens and throughout my 20s. However, I never encountered a situation that made me think oh my goodness I wish this person had showered before we did this thing that we’re doing. It would be a turn off to me for a man to ask me to shower before going down on me, The implication being that I am dirty, and it would pretty much kill the entire deal at that point.

      It’s one thing to take a shower together as foreplay, or to take a shower afterwards together, but being in the middle of foreplay and stopping to ask my partner (or vice versa) to take a shower? No thank you. Good for you, not for me!

      • Sorry for the weird double posting. Talk to text on phone. Oh how I miss the edit button button.

      • I think s-x can be a beautiful act between 2 persons, and if we, as women, want to do something like freshen up, we should do it. If we want HIM to freshen up first, that is good, and if we want other boyfreind’s to do so, that is also fine. I know my ex was very SPONTANEUS, meaning out of the blue, I would all of a sudden find his torsoe 100% naked and very much up close, very very close, if you know what I mean. If I did NOT think he was fresh enough, I would tell him and beleive me, you never saw a guy move faster to the toilet to scrub up with a bar of Irish Spring.

    • Anonymous :

      It would have never occurred to me to even consider this issue, and I have never had a problem. But I wanted to say that my friend and her husband like to shower before doing it (or, she likes him to shower). They’re a great and happy couple. So, YMMV. I do want to mention that this may be something worth considering from the big-picture perspective – like, mentally/psychologically, why do you think you have the need for a shower before doing it? Letting loose might lead to other pleasures as well.

  4. Anonymous :

    I was just thinking today, if I were looking for a new job, I’d really have to think about my references. Specifically, I’d really be challenged to give the name of a recent supervisor (I’d have to go back about 5 years…)

    I would rather avoid my current supervisor knowing, so I wouldn’t give that name, and my prior supervisor also works at the same organization and thus, I wouldn’t want them to know.

    My previous organization doesn’t give out references for ANYONE (Fortune 500 company, will confirm employment but won’t even allow a reference for someone to go to grad school), and if we go back to the employer before that, we’re talking 9 years ago and a grad school internship.

    I mean, I guess I’d just give non-supervisory references and/or use a supervisor from 5 years ago… Is that what we do?

    • Anonymous :

      Maybe clients/customers or trusted colleagues, I guess.

    • Give the name of your current supervisor (not in the initial application but hopefully at or after the interview, when they ask for references), and tell them that you’d prefer that they hold off on contacting them for the moment. Any experienced recruiter/HR person will understand that this means that they shouldn’t contact unless you’re at the very least a finalist or if an offer is pending, and that hopefully they’ll check back in with you first. (It’s a good idea to make this all explicit, though).

    • Explain the situation, try to reach out to old supervisors even those from a long time ago. I took time away from my career to be with family and had to give one reference I hadn’t spoken to in 10 years and two I worked for 5 years ago! Apparently this happens all the time, just make sure you reach out to your references ahead of your interview to jog their memories a bit on your time there. Now I am trying to think of a helpful way to keep in touch with everyone in case this current job doesn’t work out, because it took quite a bit of anxiety/humble pie to reach out to them in the first time.

  5. Anonymous :

    When you go on a job interview, how much do you rely on your gut feelings, or weird vibes?

    I had one this morning. It was a panel of three people, and there seemed to be no rapport among them and no excitement about their organization and projects.

    As I type this I can see where I’d tell the poster to JSFAMO if someone else posted it. I am sitting here knowing I need to write thank-you emails and whether to include much of anything, or just thank them for their time.

    • Go with your gut :

      I would definitely trust your gut. I had an interview that had some weird vibes, but I kept going. Got to the offer stage, and thought I was having a “check the box” call with HR… turns out they were peppering me with questions about how I handle stress, unproductive direct reports, uncooperative team members, etc. Everything about that call was just SO negative. Their offer came back lower than what I was already holding, and the hiring manager just seemed so miffed that I wasn’t taking their offer. Not disappointed to lose a good hire, but like I had personally spit in her coffee or something. Just kind of rude and short and no attempt to get me to change my mind.

      I went into that interview super excited about the company and came out feeling “meh”. For the offer I ended up taking (and now LOVE my new job), I went in feeling a little “meh” about the company, and came out feeling like I clicked really well with the team.

    • I think it depends on how much you need/want the job. I can recall two terrible interviews where the job sounded really great on paper but both interviewers were soooooooooo awkward and gave me the worst handshakes that in retrospect I am very happy it didn’t work out. But this was at a time when I really needed to find a job and I probably would have accepted either if it was offered to me.
      FWIW, I ended up getting another job that worked out to be great and it followed an interview that just had fantastic rapport with everyone involved.

    • I noticed this when I interviewed for my last law firm job. I brushed it off and it turns out that the group was extraordinarily dysfunctional such that my career there eventually ended. The group dynamics were worse than bad. I also picked up on it on our first lunch out together- feeling my stomach sink but hoping it was just new job jitters. In contrast, the rapport between my interviewers at the firm where I am now very happy was excellent.

      Do not ignore.

    • If I had listened to my gut, I would not be working at my current job that I absolutely hate. I will never ignore gut feelings again!

    • Anonymous :

      Every time I’ve had that feeling and been like, eh, it’ll be fine, I got into a hellacious mess. Whether it was with jobs, or clients or whatever.

      Trust your gut. If your gut is telling you something’s wrong, something’s wrong. Don’t take the job.

    • The one weird interview I had where I actually got the job the weird vibe was because the two of the interviewers hated the third interviewer. Third interviewer was the one who was really gunning for me to get hired and was pushed out of the organization by the other two within a month of me being hired. Then the other two managers crapped all over my ideas until I finally found another job. I don’t really regret taking the job because it was a foot in the door and I was still able to use the one manager I did get along with as a reference, but I was only there for 6 months and it felt much longer.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m a big proponent of going with your gut when it comes to job interviews. You’re interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. I have found that every time I got a weird vibe, it was the tip of the iceberg. On one series of interviews, I got such a bad vibe but I was desperate for a new job. I received the offer and much to my shock, they offered me $20k less than what they told me at the beginning of the process was the starting salary. The hiring attorney chalked it up to an HR miscommunication. I ended up turning down the offer. Later I heard terrible stories about the legal dept and serious discrimination allegations. Trust your gut.

  6. Overthinking :

    My (white) sister is very involved in social justice, is a writer and advocate and has been pretty outspoken about Black Lives Matter and police shootings when they happen. She’s currently living overseas and will be in the States for a month this summer. She asked to visit with her boyfriend that I haven’t yet met, the same weekend my husband is having a party, so they will be attending our party.

    My husband’s very close friend will also be coming to town for this party. This friend is a police officer who was forced to shoot and kill someone in an unquestionably justified shooting. I’m being vague for his anonymity but there was someone prepared to carry out a mass shooting, who had started shooting at civilians and police, and our friend is the one who stopped it by shooting the shooter.

    Since there will also be alcohol flowing at this party, I would prefer that the topic of police shootings not come up. While his was very justified, he still had a lot of psychological torment over it and it is triggering for him – and those that almost lost him. (He was shot at but not hit).

    Normally, if someone asked me the same thing, I’d say “talk to your sister! Give her a heads up.” However, my sister is VERY sensitive to feeling like she is being censored. That’s because it is usually more of the variety of our mother saying “oh, if you talk about social justice with neighbor Frank there is going to be a fight. Please just let us have one nice dinner party without debating.”

    This is a different situation to me. I think rather than setting off my sister though, I’m not going to say anything up front. If the topic comes up somehow, I’ll change the subject and get her to step out with me and explain why I don’t want her to discuss it in this friend’s presence. Does that sound like a fair way to approach it? Should I just stay out of it and let our friend shut the topic down if he isn’t comfortable?

    What would you do?

    • Anonymous :

      I think you should talk to your sister in advance, from the perspective of wanting to avoid a triggering conversation for your husband’s friend rather than censoring your sister. So don’t frame it as “hey sis don’t bring your social justice stuff to my party” but more like “Hey we need to avoid XYZ topic because it’s going to be triggering for my husband’s friend.” Same way you might tell her she needs to avoid talk about eating disorders if you had a friend in recovery.
      And thanks to your husband’s friend for his heroic service.

    • Anonymous :

      I’d say it depends a lot on the relationship you have with your sister. Is she generally a kind person, someone who can exercise self-control when it’s a good thing to do for someone else? If so, I might have a talk with her and appeal to that side of her. But if she’s the kind of person (in general) who quivers with high sensitivity, but isn’t actually that sensitive toward others unless she’s advocating for them, I’m not sure what you can do.

      • You could have them over, but just lead the conversation to other topics. Your sister should have watched the new movie called “LOVING”. It is NOT about sex, but it is based on a Supreme Court case involving an interacial marrage.

    • Oh this sounds like a really tough situation! If your sister cares about these issues but doesn’t bring them up all the time, and you think you can just steer the conversation away from them if they arise, I would just do that. If your sister is inclined to bring it up at every single social occasion and you think she will definitely bring it up, I would probably tell her that someone is in attendance who is likely to find that topic triggering, and in the interest of compassion if she could avoid talking about police shootings/mass shootings/etc it would be really helpful. I think by keeping it vague and focusing on compassion and avoiding giving other people psychic pain it’s hard for someone to refuse. Its definitely a tough one though!

    • Aunt Jamesina :

      Wow, this is a tough one. Would you be able to tell her not to speak about shootings because your friend witnessed a tragic shooting recently and has PTSD from it? You don’t have to give details (I would even say you don’t know the full details because your friend is too traumatized to speak or something along those lines).

    • Senior Attorney :

      Honestly, I wouldn’t have them at the same party. Sounds like an accident waiting for a place to happen.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Does your sister *always* talk about police shootings? Like if the topic were veganism, I would def. have to tell my dad not to bring it up, but if it was bass guitars, I could guess that my mom probably wouldn’t talk about it (not that these are equal in any way, just examples of things you *know* people will bring up).

      If she’s definitely going to talk about police shootings, I’d tell her, with as little detail as possible, that the friend has PTSD regarding that topic, that the mention of it is triggering, and leave it at that. If you think it’s only a maybe, I would suggest you keep an ear open, and if the convo veers there, pull her aside and say the same thing.

      Either way, I think if you phrase it as triggering because of a recent trauma, I think your sister should understand.

      • I’d like to say as the token vegan at the party I never mention my diet but someone always notices me eating something ‘different’ and then decides to grill me about their own insecurities. If you are at a party with me ask for one of my burgers, someone did that last weekend and I felt really included for the first time ever.

        • Rainbow Hair :

          Oh I’m sorry! I know ~1,000 wonderful vegans, and one incredibly obnoxious one, who is my dad.

          Sorry if that read like a broad insult — it’s on my mind lately because I am not looking forward to getting criticized over the cake I made my husband.

          But yeah, I didn’t mean to pile on with that stereotype!

    • Sister, I know your activism is really important to you, and I agree with you most of the time. But here’s the situation with husband’s friend, and I agree with him too.

      It’s important to me that you don’t get into a political argument at my party with my invited guest. If you don’t think you can manage that, please make other plans for just this one night.

    • Absolutely you shouldn’t censor a person of color on racial issues, but she is white and that’s not the same thing. White people need to understand that not every situation is for them to speak. I mean if your friend all the sudden went on a tirade of “those people are such and such” and everyone was just agreeing with him then maybe that is a time to take a stand. But given how involved he was in an actual shooting I doubt he would do that.

    • Overthinking :

      Thanks for all of your responses. I have a plan. That night is the only night she can see me which is why I want her to be at the party. The shooting was actually 10+ years ago now (crazy!). Pre-party, I’ll just conversationally mention who all she will see there – Jane my college roommate, Joe, you remember him right? Husband’s friend that stopped the ____ shooting? Yeah, we try not to talk about that still but he’s doing great. Sarah, my neighbor ….

      • I also talked to my husband about it and he was more worried about his friends offending my sister than vice versa. He thinks she’s more of the type to articulately discuss problems in policing, which his friend would agree with than just making a blanket offensive statement. I have to remember that her social media shares and retweets are not her real life voice.

  7. Baconpancakes :

    Anyone else keep fish? I’m just setting up my first tank (planted) and I’m so excited!

    • Country Biscuits :

      No, but I want to! I want a betta. What is ‘planted’? What fish are you getting?

      • Country Biscuits :

        Oh, literally plants? How do you know which ones are ok? Also, I’m hesitant about my ability to keep the right % of nitrogen, etc. Is it better to find an aquarium store versus the guys at Petco?

        • I just went to the big chain store and bought some whatever aquatic plants they had in stock for my tanks (including the one betta tank I have). I would set up your tank and let it cycle before adding a fish (google cycling a tank). Honestly, if it cycles properly and you don’t overfeed and change the water occasionally, it should be fine for the betta. I have a 2 gallon tank for my betta that I bought from a kit on Amazon that I love that came with a light and a filter and then I added a heater. They’re pretty hearty fish, but I have tried to make his environment as nice as possible. If I was starting over with him, I would have probably put him in a larger tank, but he seems pretty happy.

      • Anonymous :

        Definitely just get a betta if you want one. They are impossible to kill. As in, my 4 year old keeps one alive.

        • Somehow my daughter managed to kill her Berta, Wally, within a couple of months. The tank was clean. She fed him strictly according to the book.

          I suspect we just got a bad one but I’m nervous to try again because she was heartbroken.

    • I’m somehow on my third tank at work (I only bought the first one, they have a way of finding me) and a little obsessed with fish and all things related at the moment. They’re pretty small tanks (2-5 gallons), although I’m considering getting a 20 gallon tank after reading about how horrible it is to keep fish in such small tanks online, but people are already starting to comment on my fish…

      I do have plants in all of them though. Actually, only two of the tanks even have fish, they all have snails though which I am totally in love with!

  8. Asking for longer maternity leave? :

    I’m getting ready to disclose my pregnancy at work and will need to talk about leave with my boss at that time. I work for a large US state government organization that gives six weeks of paid maternity leave and then we can take another six weeks of FMLA, and can use our (generous) vacation and sick leave policies to pay ourselves during that time. I’ve never heard of a woman taking less than the full 12 weeks and most end up getting paid for pretty much all of it.

    My question is that I would really like to take another 4 weeks (for 16 weeks total) of unpaid leave. Despite the fact that our maternity leave policy is not very generous, my employer generally has very good benefits and work-life balance. Nobody works evenings or weekends and we get five weeks of vacation per year and almost everyone uses all of it. I wouldn’t say the people I work with are lazy, because they’re not, but none of us are paid very well and there’s sort of a universal understanding from upper management down to the assistants that the trade-off for that is that we don’t kill ourselves for our employer: we show up from 9-5 Monday through Friday and do good work, but we don’t let our jobs spill over into our personal lives and ruin our weekends or vacations. The culture is nothing like Big Law, in other words.

    If it matters, I’m definitely seen as a top performer (we just received merit raises and I got the maximum). I’ve been there a year now and will have been there 1.5 years when I go out on leave. This is the only child I plan to have, although that’s not something I plan to share with my employer because it seems TMI and of course I could end up with an accidental second pregnancy down the line.

    I think there are multiple people who would have to approve it and I think my direct boss, who knows me and likes my work, is more likely to sign off on it than HR. I’m not optimistic about it getting approved, because I feel like our organization is more bureaucratic than most and probably less likely to make exceptions for top performers than private corporations, but I think I will really regret it if I don’t ask. And I don’t think asking and being told no would have any negative consequences, assuming I accept the “no” and cheerfully return to work at 12 weeks (but maybe I’m naive about that).

    Any advice, about either the appropriateness of asking or how likely I am to get something like this?

    • Definitely ask. It’s unpaid leave, and you’re a top performer.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Given what you’ve described, I don’t see why you wouldn’t ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And when you do ask, ask as though you expect it to be approved. Maybe they’ll surprise you.

    • Anonymous :

      Definitely ask. Can’t hurt. I work in biglaw and took extra unpaid time, so not directly on point, but nobody raised an eyebrow.

    • State govt here too but no official leave. We have a state wide policy that your job or equivalent has to be kept open for a year. It’s not widely publicized. Check your state rules. I was able to take 12 weeks of FMLA and 4 weeks of accrued vacation time for 4 months total. I did have to get it approved but it was not an issue. I was allowed to use sick time for part of FMLA and vacation time for the rest. I think at some point I didn’t have quite enough vacation time so I did 2 or 3 weeks of half pay, which allowed me to keep my insurance current.
      As far as I can tell that’s your only potential issue with unpaid leave – sometimes it can make your health insurance lapse. Also – fun fact – but depending on when you’re due you can use FMLA twice. E.g., if you have a baby in December, your 12 weeks restart in January.

      • Anonymous :

        I think that last part depends on the state/employer and is not very common. I was due in November and I remember asking my employer, could I use 6ish weeks in Nov-Dec and then get a new 12 weeks on January 1 and the answer was no. The 12-month FMLA period can be “rolling” so it begins whenever you start taking the leave, and I’m pretty sure almost all employers do it that way. Which, to be fair, kind of makes sense because otherwise women who have babies from Oct-Dec are hugely advantaged.

    • Definitely ask! It’s the only way things change, and your not demanding it, just asking. This would also be a great issue to bring to your women’s committee if you have one.

  9. NYC personal shopper :

    I want one to help me with my work wardrobe now that I have a baby and have no time to casually shop. No Nordstrom in the city. Has anyone used anyone at Saks or Bergdorfs?

    My uniform tends to be dress + blazer + heels and my budget skews Elie Tahari full price, St. John on sale, and 3 pairs of Louboutins on heavy rotation. It’s important for me to look put together and professional without looking like a corporate drone. I’m young and client facing, so I feel like it’s important for me to get this piece right.

    Thank you!

    • I know someone who based out of Philly but she meets clients in NYC and also helps with online shopping. With your budget I’d go with someone who will actually work one on one on your personal style and not affiliated with a particular store.

      I’m afraid to just drop this woman’s name here in case she isn’t able to take on more clients at this moment, but I do think it is worth a bit more nitpicking to find the right stylist for you.

  10. Anonymous :

    Does anyone have suggestions for where to find shirts/blouses similar to The Limited’s Ashton shirt? I’m kicking myself for not buying a million of these when I had the chance :-(

  11. Secretly pregnant OP :

    Sorry for re-posting this, but I really appreciated the replies I received earlier, and am hoping to get more:

    Cross-posted from the main site:

    I just found out a few days ago that I am pregnant (4 weeks on Saturday). This is my third child and was not planned. I received an offer today for a job – I wasn’t pregnant when I interviewed, and I didn’t expect to become pregnant anytime soon. I want to accept and wait to disclose the pregnancy until I am past 12 weeks. Would it be better to disclose before I accept the offer, and try to negotiate maternity leave (since I won’t be covered by FMLA)? The new job is a remote staff attorney position at a very large law firm. If the pregnancy had been just a few months later, I would have been guaranteed a four-month paid maternity leave (groan).

    Any advice is appreciated!

  12. AnonyMove :

    I just quit my job to follow my husband to a different continent where I may or may not find a job..
    We have a kid so being a SAHM is an option but not a good one

    Suggestions on staving off panic?

    • This is a great time to write a novel or start a blog?

    • Why is SAHM not a good option? Is it money?

      Depends on the country, but it may be very difficult for you to be able to be employed there.

      I’d just go with the flow and enjoy the once in a lifetime experience.

      • AnonyMove :

        We factored in the cost of living difference +my salary, so money is not the reason but my sanity is.
        I enjoy my job but cannot work from a different continent (data privacy laws :()

    • Anonymous :

      What are you panicking over? (That’s not a snarky question — it just means there’s something you’re afraid of that isn’t obvious to those of us reading your post, and we might be able to help better with some more information about what’s troubling you.)

    • Anonymous :

      I wouldn’t put your kid in daycare (especially in a foreign country) just so you can start a hobby bl0g. I’d plan to stay home with the kid and look for things you can do while the kid naps or is in school (depending on his or her age). Writing, volunteering, taking adult education classes could all be good options. If your husband’s employer hires a lot of ex-pats there may be some kind of support group for spouses and that could be a good starting point for making friends and networking to find a job if you want one.

    • Can your husband check to see if his company offers some kind of trailing spouse benefit or program? It’s not uncommon for companies w ex-pats to hire on a spouse or help them find work/assist with necessary visas, etc.

  13. Spanish Ladies :

    Ok this is kind of a silly question. My teenaged daughter and her friends were in my car recently talking about how good Spanish ladies smell. By Spanish they mean ladies who speak Spanish. We are in the Bay Area. There aren’t a ton of people from Spain running around here.

    I asked what they meant. They seem to be taking about scented products. Their clothing smells good. Their houses smell flowery. Their soap smells good. When they walk by you, you can smell their scent.

    My daughter and her friends are Caucasian, Asian and African American and they all agreed, Spanish ladies smell the best.

    Any “Spanish ladies” on here? What are your scent secrets?

    • Anonymous :

      I find this whole question kind of racist.
      Also, they’re teenage girls. They like what they don’t have or know. If they’re Caucasian, Asian and African-American of course they will say Latina women smell good, because it’s different than what they are.

      • Yeah – I think that grouping people like this is inappropriate. Even positive attributes attributed to certain groups (e.g., “Asians are so smart”) is widely regarded as racist.

      • Agree, positive stereotypes are still stereotypes and treat an entire group of people the same based on an racial or ethnic category – these girls are old enough to understand the nuance of that and be told that this us inappropriate.

    • Wtf? I swear the trolls are getting weirder.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t know if this is what they are referring to, but my mom’s side is Mexican and the Mexican version of Tide (I forget the name) smells good and is very distinctive. Such that when I’m passing someone on the street who uses that laundry detergent, I recognize it instantly. It really is ubiquitous like Tide but I just can’t think of the name. I live in the Bay Area, if that matters, and smell it all the time.

    • Anonymous :

      Meh, I don’t think it’s racist.

      Different consumer segments have different sensory preferences. And most people retain the scent preferences they developed in their childhood environments. So people who grew up in scent environments in Latin America, for example, will retain most of those preferences even after immigrating to the US, and will want to keep using scented products from their home countries.

      There are products sold in the US market to cater to the scent preferences of Hispanic consumers (a growing market).

      Off the top of my head, Fabuloso detergent might be responsible for the flowery home smell. Suavitel laundry softener or Ariel detergent could be behind the clothing fragrance.

  14. How about correcting them to, “Spanish-speaking ladies. ‘Spanish’ implies origins from Spain. True “Spanish people” are a seriously small portion of the overall Spanish-speaking population of the world.

    Also. is this a real question???

    • Yes, I know that and I acknowledged it in my first paragraph.

      Also, is this a real response or are you just a mean person?

      • Calm down. It’s a weird, racist question.

      • You acknowledge that it’s not great that they call them “Spanish ladies” and then you go ahead and do it yourself. The quotation marks don’t make it okay, you know.

        • Yes, agreed with Anon here. As one of the “Spanish ladies” category of non-Spanish Spanish-speakers, this is offensive, including how you ended your question. Spanish-speaking people obviously come from all different countries and origins; there isn’t one source of culture for whatever good smell you’re talking about (and how could any of us even know what you are asking about? different latinas of even the same backgrounds might have different good smelling perfumes or air fresheners. what on earth?). Please take time to educate those young ladies about that.

      • Nope, not a mean person, just fairly intolerant of ignorance. Are you a racist person?? Putting it in quotes does not release you from the same racist undertones of their initial comments. Good lord. What are you even asking? Do all Spanish-speaking ladies have some secret scent that makes you all smell good? Because that’s what your words are literally asking.

  15. This bag is gorgeous!

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