Weekend Open Thead

Velvet Rosie Luxe Challis TunicSomething on your mind? Chat about it here.

Why is it that, just as bootcuts are coming back into style, I am drawn to tunic after tunic, which look best with leggings?  I blame all the leather leggings — although I’ve never owned a pair I’ve always liked the look.  ANYWAY: This cute voile tunic comes in both red and white, and seems great for a casual weekend outing.  It was $95, but is now marked to $66.50. Happy Friday!  Velvet Rosie Luxe Challis Tunic



  1. Hey guys! I wanted to do a “poll the audience” type question today for lawyers – what kind of requirements does your firm have for doing activities that are not billable, whether it be pro-bono work, community volunteer work, sitting on boards, in-firm activities or committees, networking, continuing legal education, marketing, etc. Maybe just give some background as to what size firm you are at and general comments on the requirements? Is it hours based, or something else? Are you compensated for this in any way (other than your regular salary)? Really interested to see what everyone’s responses are!

    • No “requirement.” It’s encouraged that you do something in the “community service” realm that speaks to you, whether that be pro bono, board work, volunteer work, etc. It’s encouraged that you do something that benefits the firm administration-wise (committees, etc.). The type of marketing/networking isn’t mandated, but of course we are all expected to engage in such activities. All of this is non-billable and uncompensated (of course, successful marketing that results in fees is compensated through the compensation for fees).

      I’m in a regional BigLaw firm.

    • Alta_Lit_Girl :

      I’m at a boutique litigation firm and there is no requirement for non-billable/pro bono work, although like RR’s firm it is encouraged. I think it is a privilege to be able to work as a lawyer and to have been able to go to law school, so I take time to do pro bono work and to give back. Although I’m not being compensated for my time, I certainly keep track of my work on my own non-billable file at work.

      I was previously at a large national firm and there was no requirement for pro bono work, and no compensation for any pro bono work. Non-billable work like writing articles/textbooks was generally encouraged because it raised the firm’s profile in the legal community, but as far as I know there was no compensation for doing so apart from an “atta girl” and a pat on the back.

    • Yay! Open Thread’s! I love Open thread’s! Kat, I love Tunick’s, and also jegging’s, but not leather one’s! I agree with you there! FOOEY!

      As for the OP, the manageing partner has told us that we are NOT to undertake any work that is not billeable without his prior written PERMISSION. That is b/c we have strict billeable hour requirements that we must fulfill if we are to get our bonusses. Now that is not to say we do NOT do anything probono, we just find a way to bill the cleint for it. So for example, the CLE’s we do at the bar association we get CLE credit for doeng, but all of the prepwork that goes into the CLE we bill to our cleint’s as it is relevant to their cases that we be comppetent and abel to answer these same question’s to them rather then look it up each time. So all we are doieng is to shift the billeing by advancing it, but not billeing for it later. As a result, I am OFTEN abel to answer tough question’s off the kuff b/c of the legal research I did for a CLE or for something else where I did NOT bill twice. That is VERBOOTEN says the manageing partner. Also, b/c it is a legal requirement to take CLE, we just alloccate the total CLE cost’s to our cleint’s on a per stirpees basis. This way no one gets peenalized for getting a CLE bill that is not per stirpees applicable to them. YAY!

      The IRS guy has been over here all day. I cannot even see what Mason is doeing with Lynn, but I do know they are spending ALOT of time together after work. I hope that Mason does not break her heart, b/c she has dated alot of loosers, and she is not getting any younger. She needs to get MARRIED soon and have kid’s b/c she is NOT a profesional like me.

      Grandma Leyeh called to let me know she is goieng to L&T today, and she is probabley there now. She is to call when she come’s out and we are goeing to walk up to Bloomie’s and go to 40 Karrot’s for a Frozen Yogurt. I hope they have coffee or butter pecan today b/c those are my favorite’s! YAY!!!!!

      Have a great weekend, fellow HIVE member’s. I will Po’st on Monday after I go to the MOOMA with the IRS guy. DOUBEL YAY!

    • My current firm does not have any sort of requirement, and we’re busy enough that I think that I’d be afraid to ask about anything that would really eat into work time, at least until I’m a bit more senior. Approx 15 attorneys, mid-south, regulatory/transactional work in healthcare, most of which is for one major group.

    • Need to Improve :

      BigLaw. Not required, but recommended, and you are not going to make partner unless you do it. We get billable credit for pro bono but none of that other stuff.

    • I am not in law anymore, but my regional BigLaw experience was pretty much the same as RR’s.

    • Mary Ann Singleton :

      MidLaw, not officially required, but strongly recommended that we get out there and go to training sessions, speak at seminars, etc. Our firm is really not very good at pro bono / community type work.

      I have to control my grudgy feelings about it – since we get no billable credit for it, it just takes away from time I need to spend billing. I know that this is a common set-up for law firms, but I still wish we could get some credit for it to keep us incentivized. There are only so many hours in the day, and if I need to spend 8-9 of them on billables, plus 2 hours of commuting, then there is no time for extra, non-billable stuff (however important it may be for career development). I know that my bosses think the answer is that I should spend less time riding my horse, but I’m not willing to do that. Need a life outside work!

      • Mary Ann Singleton :

        Oh and I should my mention that my previous BigLaw firm allowed 100 hours of training/pro bono/business development to count towards billables, which I now realize was pretty generous. No time for riding horses when working at that firm though!

    • DC Biglaw – no strict requirements for any of that stuff (outside of state CLE requirements). Most people do some pro bono. My firm has a weird policy for crediting pro bono that’s sort of unique, and I don’t want to out myself, but suffice it to say that it counts towards our bonuses. It depends on your practice group whether things like writing articles and going to networking events are expected, but they are never billable. Committee memberships and community engagement are encouraged and often are good marketing opportunities, but they’re not required or compensated.

    • Anonymous :

      Big-for-the-small-city law (~100 lawyers, 1900 billable target for associates).
      All attorneys are assigned to an in-firm committee, which is not billable work. The time commitment depends on which committee you are assigned and which spot within the committee you are elected to (except for chair positions, usually associates end up with the time-intensive spots), and can range from 15 minutes to 5 hours a week.
      Pro bono work counts towards your billable hours if it’s approved in advance by the attorneys on the pro bono committee, but there is no requirement to do any. Time spent keeping up on CLE is not billable, but the firm pays for all the fees, travel, lodging, and meals for any CLE you want to do. Boards, networking, etc. encouraged but not billable.

      • Anon at 3:54 :

        Having gone back and read your question again, I should add – committee participation matters a lot in associate reviews, is considered in setting partner compensation (associates are paid lockstep), and can even be cause for termination. We are required to keep our licenses current, which by extension makes taking CLEs mandatory for job security. Networking/boards/giving CLEs is considered in setting partner compensation, but you can easily become partner without doing any. Doing pro bono work is not expected of anyone and is actually considered negatively in the partner compensation process, which I see as one of my firm’s biggest problems.

    • We don’t have any requirements. The firm doesn’t care so long as we service our clients and get all of our work done on time. Of course, they also cut us no slack for pro bono time, which means in most cases, that we don’t do any because of our billable quota.

      I have a Pre-Valentine’s TJ / query for the weekend:

      What is the most outrageous thing you did with your husband (significant other) for Valentine’s Day –including time before you got married?

      Mine was that we met at the B-School library to study the nite before Valentine’s Day, and then went up into the reserve stacks and before you know it, we overheated and some people had the reference librarian come up to find out what was going on. She did, and sent us out of the library. We proceeded to go home to continue, and before you know it, the next day, he proposed to me. So a night in the stacks wound up very well. It is now 8 years later, he has an MBA and me a BA, and we still think about going back there and finishing what we started!

    • So, our billable target is 1950 for mid-level and senior associates (the first 60 hours of pro bono counts). Plus, we are required to do another 250 hours of “contribution time”, which includes training, pitching business, writing articles, recruiting, pro bono over 60 hours, etc. (If you bill more than 1950, you have to do less “contribution time” on an hour-by-hour basis.) You will not be promoted, receive an annual raise, or receive a bonus unless you hit both the billable and contribution target each year.

    • BigLaw. No requirement, but the firm strongly encourages pro bono, especially for litigators. Any amount of pro bono counts towards your billables, although we have no official billable hour requirement. We have an unofficial “floor” of 1800, as in, someone may talk to you if you bill less than that and there are not extenuating circumstances/a slow year for your department. Most people bill around 2000-2200, some bill significantly more, some less. All of the other stuff that you mention is encouraged but not required and does not count towards billables. We receive no additional compensation aside from our annual salary/bonuses (which are lockstep).

    • OCAssociate :

      SoCal MidLaw here. 1900 billable requirement, plus an additional 40 hours per year of business development/marketing. One article/writing per year can apply to those 40 hours.

      No compensation for doing the 40 hours, but it’s supposedly taken into consideration at bonus time.

      No probono requirement. It’s “encouraged” but not billable.

    • DC BigLaw. 1950 billable and 200 ‘significant non-billable” hour requirement here. The latter includes CLE, existing and prospective client development, working on publications, presentations, attending practice group and firm meetings, mentoring/being mentored, and the like. Pro bono up to a certain number of hrs (below 100, I think) is counted towards the billable requirement. No bonuses unless you meet the reqs.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      No requirement, but 60 hours of pro bono counts towards billable target. On top of billable target (1500) you’re supposed to do 300 “quality” hours which is training, practice development, know how etc. Biglaw in London.

    • Anonymous :

      Biglaw. No pro bono requirement, but up to 100 hours of pro bono can be counted towards billable hours. Pro bono commitment is considered when determining bonuses and partnership.

  2. Do people give valentines in your office?

    I got one last year and thought it was incredibly odd.

    • Unless your office is an elementary school, and the giver a student, then I also think this is odd.

      • Senior Attorney :

        No kidding. That’s one of the things I was verra happy to leave behind in elementary school!

      • Anonymous :

        One of my colleagues is a former elementary school teacher, and she hand-makes Valentines and Christmas cards and all the things. I don’t reciprocate, although I do thank her nicely, because I am neither a child nor her sweetheart.

    • I did several years ago, but just to people I was actually friends with. I think it’s cute and harmless – the same way people give everyone in their practice area holiday cards. Of course, it also depends on the substance of the card.

    • Middle Coast :

      Lots of candy is given freely in my office. Our office manager (whose dream job would be a party planner) sets up a chocolate fountain and we all indulge. We use any holiday as an excuse for excessive eating.

    • Wildkitten :

      I often get a few at work, usually the kind designed for children with some candy. I don’t give them myself – NGDGTCO – but I don’t turn away small candies just because the chocolate is wrapped in red foil and it’s the 14th of February.

    • I give my support staff candy, but no card or anything. Last year my support staff gave me a coffee giftcard, but they don’t usually/always give me anything on Valentine’s Day.

  3. Baconpancakes :

    Burgi Watches – does anyone know anything about this brand? I’m looking at a square silver-toned one with rhinestones on sale, but I don’t want to get a watch that’s going to fall apart or stop working in a year.

  4. Nyc psych/therapist recs :

    I just had my second (albeit early) miscarriage and am approaching 12 months of TTC. I feel totally drained and depressed. I have an appt with a RE but think it’s also time to see a psychiatrist or psychologist or other therapist. Do any of you wise ladies have recommendations in the nyc area or jersey burbs? Many thanks.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I’m on the other coast so I can’t help with a recommendation, so I’ll just send some internet hugs and a big ol’ “attagirl” for getting some mental health help. I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope things work out the way you want them to, sooner rather than later!

    • frustrated academic :

      Just realized that my post about due dates showed up right under yours–sorry about that. No recs, but sending my sympathies and good thoughts your way :-)

    • Having been there, you are doing the right thing. HUGS.

    • No recs but also wanted to say you’re doing the right thing. I was already in therapy when I had a miscarriage and it was hard enough to deal with. Good luck and I’m so sorry.

    • More hugs. Your RE can probably give you a referral for someone who specializes in infertility.

      • Second the advice to find someone who specializes in fertility and miscarriage – I sought treatment in nearly the same situation and made it through two sessions with a regular therapist I found through my insurance before I realized she was not going to be able to understand the kind of emotional trauma I was dealing with. I found a therapist and support group through the Resolve website, a national organization, and my experience has been much better. You are not alone!

    • No recs, but sending giant internet ((HUGSS)). I’m so sorry for your loss. I had 3 myself, so I know they are really tough to get through. I hope you can have a low key, low stress weekend and that someone has a referral for you.

    • Just wanted to send virtual hugs. I had two m/cs too and it was awful. Just, awful. No matter how early they are it is extremely painful. You might want to check the TTC after loss board on The Bump. I found it helpful when I was going through that process (and, extremely informative). Just beware, every once in a while there is major snark on that board (everyone’s emotions are, understandably, all out of whack).

    • If east midtown is convenient for you, Maryann Juska is a fantastic clinical psychologist. She helped me through a major depression years ago, and I found her style to be warm and compassionate.

      Sending hugs and wine your way.

    • No recs, just sympathy and hope things go your way whatever you do next.

  5. frustrated academic :

    Paging Jo March–hey due date buddy–how are you feeling?

    • Ohmahgah, I am SO uncomfortable. Baby Bhaer is dropping and my hips and pelvis and cervix are all aching. Plus I am still breathless and can’t sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time. I am so ready to be done with pregnancy! How about you??

      • frustrated academic :

        Same here, getting up every few hours to go to the bathroom, hip and back pain, and the general feeling that I am massive! The fact that my Midwestern city is having one of the snowiest and coldest winters in the last 20 years is not helping. Plus my supervisor is convinced that I am going to go into labor early and has been freaking out about files, etc. We did start putting the nursery together and arranging itty-bitty clothing items, so there is that. So ready to meet this little one!! Hang in there :-)

  6. Does anybody have experience with Swedish Hasbeens? Are they comfortable? wear well? Any advice for or against purchasing their boots?

    • Rural Juror :

      I have a pair of high heel clog type shoes… they are surprisingly comfortable (for how unforgiving they look) and they have held up really well over the 2 years I’ve had them. Can’t speak to the boots.

    • Belle et Rebelle :

      Obviously coming really late to the conversation but just in case you see this, I have a pair of the Swedish Hasbeens sandals (the “super high” heart ones) and agree that they are really pretty comfortable for heels. I’ve only had them one season so not how they wear. Only thing is that since the soles are wooden and not flexible, walking in them has a different “feel” that takes some getting used to. Don’t know about the boots but have checking them out lately.

  7. I’m a midlevel biglaw transactional attorney in a regional office. I have NO billable work to do right now, and haven’t had anything substantial in 2014. Everyone keeps saying don’t worry, the beginning of the year is always slow. I’ve talked to many partners who all have deals “coming.” I’ve been doing business development left and right – lunches with clients, writing, speaking, attending conferences, etc. I’ve reached out to tons of partners. I just don’t know what else to do and it is driving me crazy. The partners just keep saying don’t worry, just enjoy the slow time, etc. Thoughts? Commiseration?

    • Mine also started off really slow and I was feeling the same way (it didn’t help that my whole last year was sort of slow also, partially because I am just finishing up my first year at the firm). Things have slowly started to trickle in and I have been steady for the past two weeks. I had a partner advise me to essentially do what you have been doing – network, write, read up on your practice area, and keep hounding partners for work.

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      January can be quiet in transactional practice, unfortunately. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, so I wouldn’t worry just yet. Are other people busy? Did you have work on last year? ot ddoesn’t sounds like it is too worrying yet, maybe after a couple of months it might be, but so far it sounds like just a lull. I hope something comes along soon!

  8. I’m working as an independent contractor for a private company, and I keep being asked to store privileged client information either on my personal laptop or on the cloud. I know for certain that this is not ethical under the codes I must adhere to, and if anything was compromised I believe the company and/or I personally would be liable. So far I have offered alternative storage ideas and have said directly that I am not comfortable with departing from guidelines due to liability risk. Am I handling this correctly? Does anyone who’s dealt with this have advice?

    • CYA – do they have a VPN that you could use? Or an upload storage website?

      If you must store it on your personal laptop, you could password protect the document, which would make it unlikely that anyone could or would take the time to crack the password, unless you’re James/Jane Bond in disguise.

      • The answer to the first questions is no, though I’m hoping this concern will lead to an investment of that kind on their part.

        To the second idea: the names of the files are also privileged content, so even having them show up among my documents on my personal laptop is a problem.

        • I am super not tech-savvy, but is it possible to password protect and entire folder so that the file names would not even be visible until you accessed the folder?

          • You can password protect a zip folder. OP could store them in a folder and zip it to protect it.

    • This should definitely have been in your engagement contract – if it’s not, in the future it is absolutely something that needs to be addressed before you’re hired. You need to ask if the private company has a contract with a cloud provider, and if you can access that system to store documents/info. If you can, you are likely*** fine – the company’s contract with the cloud provider should cover you. If not, and the company keeps insisting that you use your personal laptop or the cloud, you need to have the company sign a waiver assuming liability in case of a breach.

      If this is consumer healthcare or financial info, however, absolutely stand your ground – you MUST use the client’s systems or you will be in serious, serious breach of the law.

      ***not my formal legal opinion at all, just anecdotal from experience working in this area

      • Yes, it is “consumer healthcare or financial info.” Thank you for the informal advice and vindication, roses. I feel like I keep being asked to fudge it or do stopgaps, and it just wouldn’t be ok.

        • Please do not store any healthcare info on your computer at all cost.
          While I’m not totally certain that it is against HIPAA to have that information on your computer (I work in Health IT), it will be a PR nightmare if that laptop is ever stolen, and an expensive one at that. You can take a look at the govt website under the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule 45 CFR 164.400-414.

        • Agree. For financial services, many jurisdictions (not sure about the US) require the loss of an unencrypted laptop through theft or carelessness to be included in formal reports to the entity’s board risk/ audit committees and regulators.

  9. Ask them if their insurance covers you in case of a breach where documents were stored the way they are asking you to store them.

    (Can’t post reply, so am posting new comment.)

    • Thanks, I hope it will not come to this uncomfortable conversation, but it might.

  10. Need to Improve :

    I just discovered expensive pantyhose. I hate pantyhose, but I am in court a lot right now and have to wear them when I have a skirt suit on. I usually wear the cheap kind from Walgreen’s because I find they hold up well and don’t snag or rip.
    I happened to have one pair of really expensive ones from Germany that my mom gave me because she accidentally bought the wrong size. And oh my god! I don’t have that horrible itchy feeling I get from the cheap ones. It feels like I am wearing silk! I can’t believe I went this long without them! This has changed my relationship to pantyhose.

    • Accidentally hit report!

      Is it a brand available in the US? I really need some comfortable hose; I HATE (Ellen caps necessary!) regular hose.

      • Need to Improve :

        They are called GERBE and looking at the box they actually are French, not German. They’re amazing. I really really hated hose but these are great.

  11. Book recommendations :

    Does anyone have any good e r o t i c a recommendations? I’m especially interested in well written books that are not B D S M focused or period/historical pieces.

    • Cara McKenna, maybe. Olivia Cunning.

      Also, check out Smart B!tches, Trashy Books – they mostly focus on romance in general, but er*tica gets rolled into it, and they will have some thoughts. Dear Author might be another website to check for recommendations.

      Carina Press and Ellora Cave are a couple of publishing imprints to consider for their author list as well.

    • I prefer shorter stories for those kinds of light reading. A great one is Water Ero t i c a, and its follow up, Wet. The books are waterproof, so no worries about spilling or splashing, and the stories are varied and well written.

    • Joanna Toews :

      Are “Ladies Home E r o t i c a” and “Look Homeward, E r o t i c a” still in print?

      Those were my introduction to written smut, and I simply adored them. Funny, charming short stories featuring ladies and gentlmen of a “certain age”.

    • Definitely Not Using My Name :

      I just got finished with the Eternal Guardian series (or what’s published at least) by Elisabeth Naughton and thought they were amazing.

    • Anne Rice wrote a lot of erotic works. Most of which I enjoy.

  12. I love the idea of tunics but find that loose clothing makes me look bigger than I am.

    • I agree! I’m getting back into some of my older clothing but I feel like things that are a little more fitted are more flattering.

    • Yup. I’m relatively small through the torso with small ribcage, [email protected]@bs, and waist, but with bigger hips and backside. Tunics make me look like a giant triangle. I need something fitted through the ribs and waist or else I look about 20 lbs heavier.

      • Me too. I have broad shoulders, small waist, big hips/thighs, and anything that doesn’t have a waist makes me look huge. Unless it’s super drapey and slightly clingy, but that’s not always a good look, either.

      • See, I have narrow shoulders and big chest, so somethings that sort of thing makes me look matronly.

        • I am the opposite, wide shoulders and small chest and these sort of things tend to look like maternity tops on me.

    • housecounsel :

      I love them. I get gorgeous ones at Anthropologie and Hot Mama. I find that wearing a cropped jacket or sweater over a tunic cuts down the bulk.

    • Same here. I like them now but not when I was a little heavier, when all that loose fabric just seemed to fool the eye into seeing more volume than what was actually there. Fitted worked better.

  13. layered bob :

    I’ve got an interview this afternoon for a 1L summer job. Was feeling good about my outfit – favorite grey skirt suit, white button front, small silver earrings, sapphire wedding ring, and my Skagen watch. One of my classmates just stopped by to wish me luck and said, “you’re going to take your watch off though right?”

    I wasn’t planning on it – it has a mustard yellow leather band, but it’s otherwise quite simple/restrained, and I like the bit of color in an otherwise plain outfit. My classmate seemed to think I absolutely could not go into an interview with a yellow watch. The alternative is no watch. Thoughts?

    • I’ve been a recruiter with a large law firm for years – your watch sounds perfectly fine to wear into the interview! I would not think twice about it.

    • Another firm recruiter here. Your classmate is ridiculous. Wear your watch. It’s fine.

    • I’ve been on the interviewing end, and I think your watch sounds lovely. I wouldn’t think twice about it. I say shake off your classmate’s advice, and go for it! Good luck!

    • layered bob :

      thanks! Now I can stress about the interview itself instead :-) feeling pretty good about it actually.

    • Your classmate is why law students suck. Don’t listen to the nonsense.

  14. My co-worker has given her 2 week notice so she can be a stay at home mom. She’s my closest work buddy on a team with members on the East and West coasts. Since we work together the most and we share office space, I’ve been tasked with finding her a gift. I need some ideas that are on the more personal side than a generic gift card. Originally I wanted to get her a Pottery Barn earphone case with her initial monogrammed but they are on back order until March! She’ll be gone by then and I can’t find anything as classic, classy, and personal that will be a nice reminder that we appreciated her. Under $50 would be the sweet spot.

    Thanks in advance!

    • kjoirishlastname :

      I think any other monogrammed gift would be nice. A leather key fob? Jewelry box/roll? Set of drinking glasses? Perhaps something related to her new role as SAHM? The PB site has a lot of neat gifty-ideas under $50…

    • Merabella :

      West Elm has some cute stuff to be monogrammed as well. If you are looking for alternatives.

    • Anything from Mark and Graham? I really like their key fobs and their personalized leather catch-alls

      • Sorry, I took so long to post my comment that I hadn’t seen yours! Ended up really piling on, ha.

    • Not to pile on, but PB’s other affiliated brand, Mark & Graham, has a ton of items to monogram–I think that’s all they do.

  15. I’m so excited I have to share with someone. I was looking for a good Valentine’s Day present for Mr. TBK and he is the hardest person in the world to buy for. If he likes something and it’s not expensive, he’ll just go buy it for himself. If it is expensive, it’s something extremely specific and he wants to go pick it out himself so it’s exactly right. It’s almost impossible to buy him a surprise gift he’ll like. A few weeks ago, he and some buddies tried home brewing and he has a little batch of his own beer that he’ll be bottling soon. They were joking about a brewery they’d like to set up and had come up with a name and theme and everything. I found a place that will make custom beer labels and they had a template that was exactly in line with the theme of their imaginary brewery. So he will have a set of custom labels to use on his first batch of beer!

  16. dry shampoo :

    Help! I won’t have time to wash my hair tonight before I go to an event, but will have time to stop at a pharmacy to pick up dry shampoo. Can anyone recommend a good one for brunettes? Thanks!

    • I like Klorane oat milk shampoo. It’s not cheap but the only one I tried that works for my hair. Available at the newer, “fancy” Duane Reades.

    • I’ve used both Pssssssst and the Suave one with success. I am an auburn redhead, so dark enough that you would notice “grey.” The tip is to flip your head and spray underneath or flip your part and spray underneath. :)

    • Lady Harriet :

      I have long reddish brown curly hair and just use baby powder. I work a small amout into any greasy spots with my fingers and usually there’s nothing visible. If there is, I might rub the spot a bit with a towel to remove any excess.

    • Okay I have tried just many different ones, including Psst, Suave, Tresemme, and one from Sephora in a white squeeze bottle. But the only one that actually works for me is the Big S3xy Hair Volumizing Dry Shampoo. The others either leave gross residue that can’t be combed out (I have dark brown hair), or just don’t work. Yes, it’s like $18, but it. is. worth. it. And, it can be found at most Rite Aid’s I believe.

  17. Anonattorney :

    Alert! Money/In-laws question

    I need either a kick in the head, or affirmation. Money is tight right now because I am on one income and supporting my husband while he’s in grad school (don’t want to take out more loans, so we’re paying tuition out of my income). I have student loans from law school, mortgage, and other typical monthly expenses. I only put 9% into 401K with a 3% employer match. We don’t live extremely frugally, but I don’t spend much on clothing (despite needing to wear suits at work), and we don’t go out to each much. No housekeeper, no car loans, nothing else drastic to cut out of our spending.

    My in-laws live far enough away that cheap plan tickets cost $1000 round-trip for two people. They expect us to see them at least once a year for an all-family vacation. I make significantly more than either of my husband’s siblings, and his parents. There has been pressure on us in the past to make the trip out there because the other siblings can’t afford to go anywhere.

    Here’s my question: I would like to suspend all $1K travel to see them until my husband is out of school and we’re back to two incomes (hopefully in 2 years). I am uncomfortable with the amount of student debt we have right now, and the fact that I’m not maxing out my 401K. Is it unreasonable to just say that we can’t spend a grand to go see them right now just because I want to put that money towards retirement and aggressively paying down loans? Or is that just totally awful? I would be willing to meet them halfway, and they’re always welcome to visit us. But $1000 per trip is just a lot to wrap my head around right now.

    • Anne Shirley :

      Does your husband want to see them? I think declaring a two year moratorium on travel is a bit harsh. It seems to me like you could afford this (maybe he takes out $5k a year loans to give you some more wiggle room?) you just kinda don’t want to. Which makes sense financially, but family-wise I’m not sure there’s a way to say this that isn’t going to sound like “you are low on our list of financial priorities”. I’m also getting a whiff of you considering your income “yours” instead of “ours”- which is fine, but is that really how you’ve set things up?

    • What does your husband say? Two years is a long time.

    • Money can’t buy time. I understand wantint to save more money but do think it is a bit unreasonable to insist on not seeing his family for 2 years. Especially as parents age, I think it is important to spend more time with them since we cannot know how much time we have left.

    • It’s very reasonable. Tell them that they are welcome to visit you anytime, but you can’t afford the airfare while you are also paying tuition.

      • Another option is for your husband to go without you. Then it is just one airfare.

    • I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say you can’t travel due to financial concerns. You don’t have to go into more depth about what those financial reasons are. Definitely extend the invitation for them to come visit you.

      Or alternatively, if your husband wants to visit, can he visit on his own? That would cut the cost in half.

      I don’t like to travel and I am not close with family, mine or otherwise, so this is no big deal to me, but YMMV.

      • SoCalAtty :

        Totally agree. I’ve made myself really cash strapped in the past trying to make family visits happen to make relatives happy. When I allowed myself to put our finances first, things got a lot better. It isn’t forever, and maybe husband goes by himself every other year, or something like that…

      • Yeah, but compared to most people, she really can afford it. Could you lower your savings for a couple of years while your husband is in grad school so that you can maintain closer relationships with his family? Your attitude seems a bit harsh. Your actually doing quite well.

    • I think it’s okay to say “Our budget isn’t going to allow for that kind of travel for a little while”. I think it’s probably a message that is best delivered by your H, since they are his parents. Your H is on board with this plan, right?

      It’s not like it’s a permanent situation. It’s just for the next few years.

    • My long comment gotten eaten before I got to hit post, but here goes again:

      I understand where you’re coming from but I think it is a bit unreasonable. You are contributing 12% to your 401K (which is a lot more than most people), you’re going to be in a better position in 2 years, you make significantly more than his family (so even on a pure perception level this will look extra bad), they seem close, you do not say anywhere that this is something that will break your budget or that you just can’t afford, meeting halfway is not likely to be cheaper b/c you’d just have to pay for hotels and other costs you wouldn’t have to pay if you’re able to stay with his family, you don’t say how your husband feels about all this, and even if your in-laws came to visit you, it doesn’t sound like siblings would be able to, and you only get one family and parents don’t hang around forever. I’m sure you’ll get a variety of responses to this, largely based on people’s own relationships with their parents, but if your husband is at all close with his family, I wouldn’t push this. If you want to really save money, why not have him visit alone so your expenses are cut in half? Since he’s in grad school, he probably has some extra free time you don’t so he can both take a short trip to visit his family and still have time to take off with you for vacation closer to home.

      • Anonattorney :

        All valid points. So, this is where I kind of get hung up. I know I’m overthinking the 401k thing, but sometimes I get really worried that I’m not saving enough. I know that 12% of a good salary is a lot compared to other people, but it’s not maxing out my tax benefits, and it is theoretically supposed to cover two people. Husband isn’t putting anything toward retirement. Everything I’ve read says I should be saving at least 15% and if I can get to the max, I should as soon as possible. I’m not saying family isn’t important also, but how much emphasis do I need to put on retirement savings?

        • Frugal doc.. :

          You are going to be fine.

          You are making a very good income, and I suspect in the not so distant future, your husband will be working and it will be even better.

          Sometimes posting on sites like this, with a very selected population of readers/contributors, you feel like you are behind… when you are actually ahead of the vast majority of the country…. of the world.

          My parents worked hard their entire life and saved every penny for “retirement”. Retirement never came for them. My Mom died of cancer soon after she stopped working and my father was hit by a car and became severely disabled at 65 and wishes more then anything he had taken those trips and spent time with family when he was young and healthy.

          Life can change in an instant. ….

          Family is about as important as it gets…. including your spouse’s family. Finding a balance between planning for the future, and living now can be challenging. But please find a way to go if you can. Reunions of an entire family are so special…. I am jealous of any family that can do this every year. Try to make it happen.

          You will be fine.

          • Anonattorney :

            This is very well said. Thank you.

          • Well said indeed, and I’m so sorry about your parents.

          • ExcelNinja :

            +1. My father died in a car accident when I was 13. Spend the time with family and pay it off later. You’ll acquire money later in life but never acquire time with your fam.

          • +another 1.

            My father in law and his wife saved for years and years to retire, and buy one of the really nice motor coaches and spend the rest of their lives traveling in it.

            His wife had a stroke on their first trip. She was hospitalized and died in the hospital. They’d already sold their property, and he lost a lot of money on the motorhome when he ultimately had to sell it. The pension they were living on was hers and wasn’t one that would pass to a survivor. So all that saving, all that waiting, and he lives in a mobile home park, alone, on social security.

            If it were literally a case of “we have to choose between food/healthcare and family trips” that’s one thing, but family is more important. You can’t EVER GET TIME BACK.

        • You’re only saving 12% for the next two years. You can amp that up once your husband is done with school and working. Keep in mind that the 15% suggestion is just a suggestion and it doesn’t necessarily take into account what you acknowledge is a high salary. I’ve had too many family members pass away (my dad well before his time and unexpectedly) and I can tell you this: money I can make up, time with my dad and other relatives, never.

        • Are you comparing yourself to some mythical perfect situation that doesn’t exist? You are actually saving much more than most people. To put it in perspective, I am also married to someone in grad school. We are taking out loans for his school and living on my income. I only my 45k (which is probably much lower than what you make). I have lowered my 401K contributions to 5% and have used some of my savings to help us cover day-to-day costs and to fund travel expenses to family weddings and holiday visits. It sounds like you are being a bit of a perfectionist here. You won’t be able to fulfill all the “shoulds” in every phase of life. There will be leans times and flush times and you do the best you can, but you don’t always have to check every little box. Sometimes family relationships are more important.

    • I hear you — it’s at least $1,000 round trip, per person, to visit my in-laws. We have 2 kids, so it’s an expensive trip. We try to visit them every other year, and I maximize all free travel options to save for that trip. So, we use a credit card that gives us points towards airline tickets, save up frequent flier miles, etc. I usually manage to get at least 2 tickets for free (we visit in the summer, which is the off season for them), although I have to reserve the tickets super early (like get tickets in December for August trip). We have also used my miles in the past to bring MIL here to visit us, though she’s now in her 80s and it’s a long, difficult trip for her. My MIL knows we save up miles to get there, and after many years, we’re all used to the every-other-year routine. I know my husband would like to go more frequently and I’ve encouraged him to make solo visits, but he has never done so. So, I think you’re being reasonable, and if your DH agrees, explain to them the expense of the trip and you are saving up for a trip around xx date next year. Also, you can sign up on Kayak or other sites to get alerts of fares on that route — it helps you stay aware of the going price and spot when it drops.

      • I also use frequent flyer miles and credit cards rewards point for travel. Like the OP, I’m paying off student loans, saving for retirement, and stashing away an emergency fund, but have no other debt other than a mortgage, and an excellent credit score. For the last 3 years I’ve pursued accumulating travel miles as a hobby… opening up credit cards for points, etc. I use a mileage rewards card for everything, and pay it off every month. Our last trip from CA to MI to visit family was paid for by points, including the rental car. Look into the Chase Ultimate Rewards card, 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 could get you two free airline tickets, if you find the right deal on flights. If your credit score is close to 800 to start with, opening and closing accounts won’t impact your credit score much, I refinanced my house last year to a 15 yr mortgage and a better interest rate without a problem. Good luck!

        • I am a mile pro. Cards can reallllllllllllly help with this & the one I love the most is Southwest’s card (search hacks to getting a companion pass).
          As background: my parents took us halfway across the world every other yr to visit my grandparents… were were ok financially, but definitely by no means rich, it was just a promise they made to my grandma when they got married so it was their #1 priority. My in-laws live across the country & I make it a point to visit them once a year. Thankfully we’ve been able to make it out a couple of times a yr, but I think when we have kids I’ll probably scale it back to once a yr.
          Anyway, I think you should go, it’s easy to get caught up and think that your financial situation now will be your financial situation forever, but it is only 2 years and time with family is important & fleeting (if you have a good relationship with them & even probably if you don’t).
          If you guys don’t go out, don’t make it about the money. Just say school & work is crazy busy and you plan to return to your regular visits when dh’s school is done.

    • I would feel the same way in your shoes. However, you don’t talk about what your husband wants, only what you want. How does he feel? If he wants to visit them, I would say its unreasonable to tell him he can’t go alone once a year even if you are the breadwinner at this point. $500 a year for him to go alone is still a lot better than $1000 a year. Also, if he’s in school he probably has a lot more vacation time than you, so maybe he could drive to see them to cut costs? If you & he are agreed that you don’t want to visit them while he’s in school then just keep saying no to your in-laws – you have to put your nuclear family first.

    • Anonattorney :

      Whoops! I didn’t mean to indicate that we weren’t going to see them. I guess the main issue is that his family expects us to make the trip out there because I make more money than they do. We have suggested meeting halfway so we can road trip instead of fly, and have invited them to come and stay with us. The road trip idea has been rebuffed because the other siblings can’t afford it. The parents have flown out, but they still put pressure on us to do the whole family affair thing.

      As to Anne Shirley’s point: I am working really hard on the “my money” vs. “your money” thing. It’s tough. I know that it’s not a valid justification for any action, but you’re astute in noting that my feelings tend to lean that way.

      • On the my money vs our money thing, do you feel he works as hard as you do? That might mean working hard at school, doing more of the household stuff if you work more hours, making contacts in his field so he’ll be able to land a job quickly once he’s done with his degree, being the one who’s more available for repairmen etc.? Also, was the decision for him to go to grad school a mutual one, or was it mostly his choice? Do you feel you’ll be better off as a family once he’s done with his degree? Money is easy to point to as the issue, but I think sometimes it’s more about overall contribution to the team. If you feel like your contributions are about the same, who’s bringing in more of the money should be immaterial. But if you feel like you’re the one working for the family and he’s working for himself, that’s likely to come out as “my money.”

        • Anonattorney :

          Well, you definitely cut to the core of things. I completely support his decision to go to grad school. I think in his field he will have a much more satisfying career with a master’s. But, the degree will not bring higher pay. His field is already low-paying, and generally over-educated. He’s working hard and picking up slack at home, but it’s not the same as my work schedule. I’m putting soft pressure on him to do more networking and to possibly find a part-time job. We’ll see what happens with that. I’m really really really trying to not feel this way, so any suggestions are helpful.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I think it’s an entirely valid justification. You are putting him through school and I think it’s quite reasonable not to include all-expense-paid trips in the deal. And I think it is absolutely beyond the pale for his parents to put pressure on the two of you to spend money when their precious son isn’t contributing any money to the household AND he is getting a free education courtesy of you.

        In fact, I would reconsider whether it’s the best idea in the world to structure things so that he ends up with a graduate degree free and clear, while you have large student loans in your name (which I am assuming predate the marriage, so they are separate property debt?). At the very least you should have some sort of agreement for repayment in the event of a divorce.

        I know nobody ever thinks it’s gonna happen to them, but… it does. And you are making yourself vulnerable.

        • I’m with SA on this. Is it possible for him to get grants/scholarships/TA stipend for his masters program? Maybe when he realizes what the burden of the loans are, he’ll feel more invested in the degree (even realizing that you’re married so he better be invested in where your salary goes). There is a certain level of subsidized loans available, I thought, which could provide a little cushion for your husband as well, to take these trips and otherwise not put as much pressure on you/allow you to make more payments towards your loans.

        • Anne Shirley :

          I think you just won me over.

        • Agree with SA. You are putting a lot on your shoulders. There should be a way to alleviate/equalize the financial responsibility and fewer trips may be one component. And I am all for family time but you have to look at the total picture.

        • I have a genuine question about this attitude. I feel like at core it is based on approaching your spouse with these basic principles:

          1) Your family is not my family
          2) I get to guard/keep what I earn
          3) Your education and happiness are not my responsibility

          I know that nobody is supposed to just play the fool and set themselves up in a marriage, but at what point is it like you’re so focused on how you’ll protect yourself out of it that you’re never actually in it? What is a lifelong relationship commitment if you hedge all of the above from day one? Again, this is not rhetorical, I am really interested in answers.

          • I have a big problem with this attitude too. I currently earn about quite a bit more than what my husband does, but at some point I might stay home with kids and earn zero while he is the breadwinner. I can’t imagine him essentially putting me on an allowance and telling me what I can and can’t buy at that point simply because he’s the sole income earner, as Senior Atty seems to suggest. I can not in a million years imagine him telling me I couldn’t go see my family because the plane tickets are expensive & I don’t earn anything (not saying this is what OP is doing but some of the commenters seem to think it would be OK.) Similarly, I don’t tell him what he can and can’t buy now, even though I’m the big income earner at the moment. Marriage is a partnership and going into it with the attitude “this is mine, that’s yours” seems like a recipe for divorce. If you are talking about a bf/gf, I agree, you need to be very cautious about paying for “their” things but when you get married, there is no his versus her, just us. When the decision is made mutually for one spouse to go back to school, I don’t think you can think of it as paying your husband’s way – you have to think of it as investing together in your joint future. It sounds like the OP isn’t thrilled about her husband’s decision to go back to school and it wasn’t made totally mutually, and that to me is a separate issue from the finances of it. Yes, I get that you might be more protected in the event of a divorce if you guard everything as “yours”, but in my opinion, you’re also about 100 times more likely to get divorced thinking that way.

          • Senior Attorney :

            I’ve been thinking about this all evening, and at the end of the day, I think I come down as follows: It’s nice to think it’s a lifelong commitment, but if I were to do it over again, or if I do it again in the future, I would absolutely, positively, without question negotiate an exit strategy to protect myself and my assets in the event of a divorce. I think it’s just plain smart to know what your liabilities are under your state’s laws, and if you don’t like that outcome, it’s smart to contract around them. And if you can’t reach an agreement before marriage, while you’re supposedly madly in love, then maybe that’s a sign in itself.

            The benefit, I think, is that once the deal is discussed, negotiated, and put into place, then it’s just there in the background and you don’t have to think about it on a day-to-day basis. And I don’t think that having a prenup in place would cause any divorces that wouldn’t have happened anyway. (Or more to the point, wouldn’t cause any divorces that wouldn’t have happened anyway if one partner didn’t feel financially trapped in the marriage.)

          • OK, so it sounds like SA is endorsing a prenup. We don’t know whether the OP and her husband have one or not, but I am still not sure the present situation is being addressed anyway. Whether she does or doesn’t have a contract protecting her assets, in the here and now should she be considering trips to visit his family as a “generous” “gift” from her to him? Or his tuition, for that mattter?

            I have no crystal ball about what causes divorce or doesn’t, but otherwise I share a lot of LH’s thoughts. I also think that if you’re trying to avoid being vulnerable (financially but also emotionally, etc) marriage just doesn’t make sense.

          • Senior Attorney :

            Yes, I do think it’s incredibly generous for one spouse to support the other while the supported spouse gets a graduate degree that, in this case at least, will possibly increase job satisfaction but not increase household income. I think this is something that needs to be discussed and discussed and discussed and negotiated and negotiated and negotiated so that everybody knows what everybody’s goals and obligations are in such a situation. So in my perfect world, the “paying money to visit the parents while supporting you through grad school” issue would have been part of that discussion.

            It seems to me that maybe in this case there’s an issue about the whole arrangement, and the way it’s manifesting itself is around the travel issue.

          • I agree wholeheartedly with Senior Attorney. Maybe it’s unlikely that the OP and her husband will divorce after he gets his degree, but if they do, she would probably really regret her position.

            And I have to say, I also agree that getting a prenup would mean the OP wouldn’t have to think as closely about these costs in the day-to-day, because she would know she would be protected in the (perhaps unlikely) event of a divorce.

            She would not be saying his family isn’t hers, or that she gets to guard/keep what she earns (although I do think that his education and happiness aren’t really her responsibility, apart from her responsibility to support what he decides to do on his own). She would be protecting herself in the event of divorce, which happens even in relationships where neither party believes it would happen. And by agreeing, he would be saying that he values the sacrifice she is making in their joint future, and if he somehow jeopardizes that joint future, he won’t expect to benefit financially at her expense.

            Quite honestly, I think committing to a lifelong relationship is a promise you make to another person. And sometimes, promises are broken. It’s wise to make sure that both parties will be OK if that occurs.

            I don’t know, from the divorces I’ve seen up close (in my own family), I’d say none have been caused by people hedging their bets/protecting their own interests early on. Mostly, they are caused by people going into marriage with rose colored glasses, and expecting the best while not preparing for the worst.

            Sorry for the rant.

            P.S. Did I mention I’m engaged and not planning on getting a prenup?

          • Senior Attorney :

            Alice, yes!! You put it better than I did!

      • Joanna Toews :

        The points that stand out to me:
        – Your finances are combined; you are the main breadwinner.
        – The entire cost of your husband’s education is coming out of your combined income; your husband is currently not working.
        – Though your student loans are also coming out of your combined income, they are (we assume) under your name only.
        – Though he will eventually go back to work, your husband won’t earn more money as a result of his Masters than if you hadn’t bought him an education.
        – Both of you see his parents when they come to visit.

        Taking into account Senior Attorney’s words of wisdom, I think that sending the husband on a $500 yearly trip would be a very generous compromise on your part.

        • I am interested in your view on my question above.

        • “Very generous”? They are married. $500 to go see your family once a year seems pretty minimal to me. If you have such a tight grip on your money, I don’t see how a relationship can really flourish. How many little fights are you going to have along the way? Loosen up a little. Go see your in laws once a year. This is not out of the realm of normal and expected.Life costs money. Maintaining relationships across long distances costs money. It’s okay to spend money on these things. It would be another thing if they were actually not making ends meet, but it sounds like their finances are perfectly fine.

    • Anonymous :

      I definitely empathize with you and your situation. It’s impossible to find airfare under $600 per person to travel to see my family and at the holidays it is closer to $1,000 per person. Even though my boyfriend and I both make good salaries, with student loans and other financial priorities it can be hard to afford the cost without feeling like we’re jeopardizing our financial well-being. IMO, its also an unfair imposition for your husband’s family to expect you and your husband to always be the ones that have to travel the farthest and incur the largest costs(especially if the justification is primarily based on the fact that your salary is higher).

      Maybe try discussing this with his parents without imposing a blanket moratorium or making it seem like they are not a priority. Explain that the cost is too much for your current situation and ask that they consider/suggest alternatives that would be more affordable for you and that his family could also afford. Or maybe offer to subsidize the cost of their trip to visit you (if it would amount to less of a cost than the $1k plus you would incur going to visit them).

    • My husband and his middle sister often put this kind of guilt trip on his oldest sister and I think it’s crap of them to do so. She stays at home and they live in a giant house and send their kids to private school. My husband and I and his middle sister and her husband all work and our kids go to public school. Clearly her bills have inflated with her situation. Her house is worth 5X what ours is so I am sure her mortgage is at least 3x what we pay and I think she probably pays $40K/year for private school so in my mind, she’s probably got the same amount of money for vacations that we do. But they all grew up very poor and I grew up wealthy so I think that is why I sympathize with his oldest sister.

      That being said, I don’t have any suggestions for a good solution.

      • I think all this sibling income comparison is so unfair, and to the OP, what sort of details do the in-laws have on your income and expenses? Do they also know your saving goals and debt amounts? I’d advise against giving them any of this information. This can be such loaded information in families. And then wait until the parents die and siblings suggest unfair distribution methods because you earn more . . .

    • Miz Swizz :

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suspend travel while your husband is in school. He also may not have as much free time to travel if he’s in school, especially if he’s taking summer classes so you may be able to blame it some on his schedule.

      Has your husband looked into being a graduate assistant or other ways to make some money while in school? He may be able to find some non-loan ways to help contribute monetarily.

      I just want to throw out that my husband is helping me pay off my loans (accrued before we were married) and I feel a little guilty that he’s spending “his” money on my education. I know it’s easy to think of “your money” vs. “my money” but he may already feel guilty for not working and having you pay for school so I would tread lightly in any conversation that addresses him not working. And I put the possessives in quotes because we don’t keep separate accounts.

    • Not Here Forever :

      I am in similar shoes: sole breadwinner, making far more than my faraway in-laws. Yes, it hurts to shell out big bucks for family trips that may not be your first priority, but your husband’s family won’t be there forever. I say just pay the money and go. If there are issues about who does what / his earning power, sort those out separately, and don’t use seeing his family as a lever (even though they also shouldn’t be pressuring you about this – that’s their issue, not yours). If there were other issues about the travel, or about his family, or anything but what sounds like a modest/temporary money concern, my advice would be different, but it doesn’t sound like there are here. Hard not to sound grinchy if you nix the travel on those facts – at least that’s what I’ve had to accept for myself over the past ten years of in-law-centered travel.

    • Anonymous :

      just to play devil’s advocate: is a grand total of $2000 over two years really worth spending the rest of your lives hearing about it from his family (and/or him)? [depending on the average drama level of said family of course]

      • This, absolutely. Just suck it up. They’re your family now too.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I actually agree with this.

        I really think the travel thing isn’t the issue, it’s that you need to have some serious discussions about the bigger picture.

    • Anonattorney :

      Thanks for all the replies — it is actually very helpful to see the different viewpoints. After reading through everything and doing a bit of soul-searching, I think I’m much more in the camp of people saying that I just suck it up and make the trip out there. Here’s just a bit more background for those who are curious (sorry if it’s boring!):

      I actually don’t have a problem with my husband going back to school. We talked about it a lot before he started his program, and I would much rather us take a financial hit for a couple years and have him be fulfilled and happy, doing interesting, meaningful work, than to have him stuck in a rut. There is also no real reason for him to take out loans vs. us just paying for it out of my paycheck. If he’s paying off “his” loans, that’s less money he can contribute to our household, our retirement, etc. Also, a bit on his financial background, he did have significant loans from undergrad that he paid off entirely on his own before we got married. He did so by living very frugally, and he is still much more frugal than me. We only recently combined finances, so we’re still transitioning into thinking of income as “our” money vs. his or mine. It’s a work in progress, but I’m committed to thinking of everything in those terms.

      I’m sure part of me should be aware of a financial hit in the (hopefully very unlikely) possibility of divorce, but that’s kind of what I signed up for when I fell in love with–and married–a man who has a lower earning potential than me. I would rather be with him than with a man who was uncomfortable with me being the primary breadwinner in the family. He never pushed me into a higher paying job out of law school. When we got together we were both in the public interest world and believed that we would always be scraping by. I ended up with a higher-paying job opportunity out of law school, and took it, and actually have been extremely happy. I think for us it’s more about job satisfaction than the bottom line. I’m happy with where I am, and I know that we will be a much healthier couple in the long run if he has the same happiness through his work. In the public interest field that he is in, EVERYONE has a master’s or higher. It’s a tough job market.

      My main issue has been more with how we interact with his family. There’s tension there, and part of the motivation behind my post was mainly that I don’t ever really look forward to those trips. I think I’m trying to find excuses, and they aren’t really valid. They are actually very lovely people, but I do feel sometimes that I am considered a sell-out because I work for Corporate America instead of as a teacher, or some other low-paying but altruistic position. This Sell-out, however, is still expected to shell out for plane tickets because the saintly other siblings can’t make it out to our neck of the woods.

      Oh well. What are you going to do. Family is family, and his family needs to be just as much a priority as my family. The tickets aren’t that much money, and we can afford it, and I’ll just suck it up and deal.

      • ExcelNinjariffic :

        From another corporate “S(h)ell-Out”, I feel you!! Sounds like you spent some time thinking about it and have come to a good place for you & your family. Love that term :-)

  18. Can anyone recommend a place to buy jewelry that can be engraved with initials and a date? My brother was asking me for suggestions and I realized that I have no idea who would do that beyond a place like Kay Jewelers.

  19. Anonymous :

    Do any of the non-Austinite Texans have experience switching electric providers?

    I’ve been with Reliant since I moved here a few years ago, and this colder-than-usual weather has driven my heating bill through the roof and magnified the higher rate I’m paying being a (relatively) longtime customer not on a promo plan. I think it’s time to switch to a promo rate somewhere else. I’ve looked at powertochoose and have an idea which company/plan I would go with, but am just looking for advice on the actual mechanics of switching. My current plan is month to month, so could I switch any time (say, tomorrow) or do I at least need to wait until the end of a billing cycle? My cycle just ended a day or two ago and I’d really rather not deal with another month of running the heat in my tiny apartment at a cost of $8/day.

    • baseballfan :

      I have switched a couple of times actually. Don’t worry about timing, just do it and Reliant will send you a small final bill for the power you actually got from them.

      The rate we were paying Reliant was truly ridiculous.

      • Anonymous :


      • +1 The power companies will send you a partial bill.

        I moved from TXU to Reliant because the rates were better. I’m sure you know this but Powertochoose.org is a great tool to monitor the rates.

    • I am from a cold place :

      “$8/day…. through the roof”

      • My parents live in a cold place and the heating bill for their 2000 sq ft, multi level house is substantially lower than mine for a small apartment where I am only home and awake for about 3 hours per day. Older Texas construction is horribly inefficient–my windows might as well be holes in the wall for all the cold they let in and heat out.

  20. Anoooooon :

    I work for a boutique litigation firm in DC. I’m just recently a lawyer (graduated this past year) but I’m interested in doing pro bono work. My firm doesn’t offer anything like that – we’re just too small. I know of some organizations I might be interested in working with, but I wonder – should I tell my firm that this is something I want do/am doing? Do I need their permission?

    • Do you carry personal malpractice liability insurance or is it through your firm? If the latter, it will save you a whole lot of money/reduce your personal liability risk if you get your firm on board and have them make sure their malpractice insurance covers your pro bono efforts. Your employment contract may also prevent you from taking on work outside of the firm without their permission, so it’s a good idea to check with them. The DC Bar Pro Bono Program is a fantastic resource to consult if you have questions or want to find out about opportunities.

      • Anoooooon :

        Malpractice insurance is through the firm. This was mainly what I was worried about – if the firm doesn’t cover that aspect, will the org that I volunteer with have insurance coverage? I thought for some reason that a lot of them did.

        I have no contract, so I don’t think that should be a problem, though there seem to be a lot of things that are informally frowned upon without being stated, if that makes sense.

      • It’s highly unlikely that the OP has a contract – I don’t know any lawyer practicing in the US that does.

        • I have a contract stating that I can’t take outside work without my firm’s permission. Boutique litigation firm in VA.

          That having been said, it’s more of a “these are the rules” agreement than a contract…

    • Wildkitten :

      Similar situation- I am considering doing PB through the DC Volunteer Lawyer Project.

      • I would also recommend checking out dcvlp. I believe they work to make it easy for govt lawyers to do pro bono, meaning insurance and other support. However, I would clear with your firm before you start taking cases because of conflicts, and depending on the pro bono cases, you may need to do things during normal business hours.

    • i know smaller firms are different than big firms in a lot of ways, but you’d get in big trouble at many, many firms if you did that without telling your firm. there are all kinds of thigns to consider that roses didnt even begin to touch on. i get if you want to find an agency/opportunity before going to your firm, but certainly ask/tell them if you decide to do something.

      • Anooooooon :

        Could you elaborate? What other things are there to consider? I’m very grateful for my law degree, it’s really disappointing to hear that there’s a possibility my firm would forbid me from using this gift to give help to people who need it.

        • Anonymous :

          My firm has a formal pro bono committee/program, and one issue that comes up frequently with certain types of pro bono is that the position you take on behalf of your pro bono client may offend the firm’s paying clients.

        • Conflicts, etc. You have to clear this with your firm.

          • Adding to this: the need for an inexperienced junior attorney to be supervised by a competent experienced attorney. My former firm prohibited taking on pro bono divorce representations, for example, because we didn’t handle private matters, so there was no one with adequate experience to supervise.

          • Maddie Ross :

            Depending on your state, you may be able to serve at a pro bono walk-in clinic (like one sponsored by Legal Aid) without forming an official attorney-client relationship and without conflicts being an issue. In my state, for instance, there is a provision in our Professional Rules allowing this kind of clinic consultation without the worry of a big firm-style conflicts check. Obviously, you still shouldn’t take a case where there is a known issue…

          • Senior Attorney :

            This. And also the supervision issue. If you screw up a pro bono assignment, it’s not inconceivable there could be repercussions for your firm.

      • Worth knowing: many organizations that place pro bono matters with volunteer lawyers actually carry malpractice insurance that covers their volunteers. It’s worth asking about if you’re unsure if your firm’s policy would cover you.

  21. We have water damage in our house from a leaky water heater. Our homeowner’s insurance deductible is $4500, the insurance adjuster (or whomever) entered it into the system as $1500 and they have decided to honor the $1500. Can I get an Amen!

  22. DC Darling :

    Ladies…I just had one of the worst work weeks of my life. Short story is, new hire has made it her personal mission to get me fired despite being on the job for less than 6 months….conveniently as soon as she found out her assigned mentor (me) was younger than she was. Since then I have been tense, anxiety ridden, and basically a mess. We finally sat down with our boss today and she made it evidently clear that she not only doesn’t want to work with me, but she downright HATES me. My boss, thankfully, is pretty fair but even she seemed totally lost as to how to proceed.

    I’m just thankful that we finally sat down with my boss and even she saw the situation was hopeless. I finally feel better because now I can move forward with the knowledge that I did everything I could to try to salvage the relationship and now my boss knows too. But I’ve wiped my hands clean and am moving on. Just needed to get that off my chest.

    • As someone who is in a position of supervising people, I would think so badly of someone who acted as she did. Seriously, you don’t all have to love each other, but you can’t even try to get along? She is being ridiculous. So sorry you have to deal with this BS.

      • DC Darling :

        My boss had to sit down with both of us and she printed out every interaction we’ve ever had via email, chat, etc and came with it…..

        Thank you for the support. It’s been hard but I just need to move on. I’ve done all I can.

    • WOW this sounds so stressful! Sorry to hear you have been going through such a hard time, but I commend you on being level headed about it. It’s shocking but it is totally true that ageism works both ways. People seem to hate when someone younger than them succeeds faster. It seems clear that New Girl needs a different mentor. I would want to get as far away from her as possible.

      • DC Darling :

        She requested a new mentor to my boss within the first two months. I stepped back quite a bit and now we’re still having problems. Surprise. One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is just to let things go. I tend to stew about this stuff haha.

    • Frugal doc.. :

      Wow… how awful! Sending you big hugs. This person sounds like a nightmare.

      Please keep being the reasonable person you are. I am relieved for you that it is now out in the open with your boss, and hope you can get this toxic person removed from your life.

      Keep holding your head high, doing good work, and your boss will remember this. Let the toxic one be remembered for being over the top and unreasonable.

      Do all your favorite things this weekend. You deserve it.

      • DC Darling :

        Thank you ladies :) This community has always been so positive and supportive about stressful work situations. It’s also nice to know that I’m not alone in dealing with awful coworkers!

        Going out to mexican food, shopping, and playing with puppies. Throw in a mani/pedi and it’s a pretty awesome weekend we’ve planned :)

  23. Anonymous :

    Does anybody have any great Valentine’s Day gift suggestions? I’m looking for something for a man (early 30s) that is thoughtful/creative and reasonably priced. Originally I was thinking of planning a horseback riding outing for the two of us (my boyfriend has been longing to go) but currently we have fairly opposite schedules (his days off are during the week and I work M-F) and the weather has not been great so it might be quite a while before we could actually go…

    • Senior Attorney :

      I just want to know where to find a man that is thoughtful/creative and reasonably priced, only in his 50s. ;)

    • Anonymous :

      I got my husband a membership to his favorite museum. He was pretty excited. (I gave it to him early because I will be on a business trip next week.)

    • MissDisplaced :

      Tickets to a sports event?
      It can be for both of you or for him and a buddy. Local “B” teams have great affordable packages including beer and snacks.

    • Anonymous :

      Check out mancrates!

      • Anonymous :

        I don’t get the whole mancrates thing. I just can’t picture my SO being excited about receiving a box of snacks or jerky as a gift. And the other ones, I mean, if you’re into grilling, you’ve probably got that stuff already. Same with whiskey. Zombie one just looks like it’s full of junk – what are you going to do with a machete?

  24. I just wanted to share that I’ve been working on my bad eating habits (with a nutritionist and a psychologist) since early January, and the “fat jeans” in the largest size I’ve ever been that I bought before Christmas — the only pants that fit comfortably — can now be pulled off my waist and past my hips if I try. Woohoo! (I haven’t stepped on a scale — just using the “how my clothes fit” form of measurement for now.) I just wanted to share because only my DH knows I’m doing this and he can only take so much of my giddiness.

    With any luck, I’ll be in standard sizes by summer-ish. Something I haven’t been since 2008.

    • Anonymous :

      Excellent! That is an awesome feeling!

    • DC Darling :

      Congratulations! Highly recommend the “how your clothes fit” method. Scale was trouble for me because I would lose a few lbs and “celebrate” with bad food ha.

      • I think it’s a great method in general in order to sustain weight. Just when your clothes are getting tight, don’t but anything larger and let go, but act asap instead (sports, diet). It’s easier to loose 2-5 lbs then let go and wake up after your a few sizes up and need to put substantially more effort.

      • DC Darling, that’s exactly what I used to do too! That and weigh myself every day and be like “how did I gain 3 ounces!?!” I’m very good at obsessing. Using my pants as measurement is much better ;)

    • High Fives!!!!

  25. On a none to peeved, how peeved should I be at this?

    I was invited to eat my lunch at a coworker’s desk while she worked, and she got what seemed to be a snarky IM from someone sitting nearby to the note of “why is (annoness) here? doesn’t she know you’re working?”

    I absolutely hate passive aggressive behavior but know there’s not much I can do … ugh.

    • You laugh at the person that sent the IM, since they have nothing better to do than monitor other people in the office.

    • Six. You should be peeved to the amount of six.

      • he he he he he….

        Let it go. Hold your head high, be polite to the rude co-worker, and enjoy your lunches.

        I would probably be annoyed at about a 7 though!

        he he he

  26. Boot question:

    I just bought new Frye boots (Melissa Button) and LOVE the look of them. They’re slightly tight in the toe with orthotics in and the heel slips a bit. I have read that they will stretch a bit and even if it’s just a slight bit, they should be fine in the toe. Can anyone back that up? Also, I’ve never tried to wear heel grips in boots, is that a weird idea? Will they fit strangely since it’s a bigger area than the back of flats? Finally, there is zero traction on these puppies–is it expensive/ a bad idea to get rubber soles tacked on by a cobbler?

    Thanks! These were a present to myself after a rough few months of health problems but I want to make sure they’re good before I commit!

    • After a year of city walking in winter I had the cobbler add the rubber sole to my boots. The salt was eating the leather. I do it to most of my good shoes and boots.

      Regarding the fit issue, there has to be slippage in the heel or your couldn’t get the boot off/on. My boots definitely stretched a bit and the inside molded to my foot.

      • Thanks, it’s just a bit more slippage than I’m used to. I have a wide toe box and narrow heels.

        Thanks for the advice!

    • Anonymous :

      Yeah, I felt the slippage in the heals too, and tried heal grips but they just kept coming off when I pulled them on. My solution is simply very thick socks. It’s worked out great. I absolutely had a cobbler put rubber on the bottoms after slipping and badly ripping up my knee in another pair of Fryes.

  27. Looks like my post didn’t post–trying again.

    I just bought Frye Melissa Button boots–love the look, but have a few questions for anyone who might know:

    1) they’re a bit tight in the toebox–if they stretch at all, they’ll be good. Do these boots tend to give a little? 100% leather so I figured most likely.

    2) they’re a bit big in the heel–is it weird to put heel inserts in a pair of boots? I’ve only ever done that for flats. Does it work with boots?

    3) there’s not a lot of traction on the soles. Is it expensive to get a cobbler to fix that? Tack on rubber soles?


  28. DC Therapy Recommendation :

    Hi ladies,

    Does anyone have a therapist in DC that you would recommend? I’ve been working with one for about a year but I just don’t really feel a connection with her. Thanks!

    • Silvercurls :

      In DC: Wake Kendall Associates. Group practice involving 18-24 professional therapists who are either MA/Counseling program graduates or psychology PhDs or PsyDs.

      You haven’t added any specifications, but I wanted to toss these out: Are you looking for someone who only does talk therapy, someone who also can prescribe meds (my limited direct & word-of-mouth experience is that some MDs/psychiatrists do more talk therapy than others), or someone part of a group practice that includes a prescribing physician? Do you want only one-on-one work with your therapist, or are you interested in something that combines individual meetings and group discussions of self-calming techniques (individual life challenges are not discussed in the group setting)? Finally, do you feel most comfortable with someone whose life experience mirrors your own (define this any way you want) or do you not care? People can learn and grow from a therapist who is just like their cousin, the person next door, or their best friend at work/church/college…and also from somebody from an entirely different background and/or set of experiences. Finding a good fit is a combination of research and luck and listening to your inner voice. I’ve had positive experiences both with personal, word-of-mouth referrals and self-referrals based on (carefully) combing the “Find a Therapist” database at the Psychology Today web site.

      I’m happy to discuss personal details (neither negative nor TMI, just going into more information about my personal observations re the professional personas of individual counselors) but would prefer to do that offline. You can reach me at silvercurls18 (at) gmail dot com.

      Finally, good for you for deciding to switch and good wishes on finding a productive connection!

    • Deborah Fox – she has an office in Dupont and one over by UDC (NW). www dot debfox dot com. She is great (IMO). I went to see her because she is experienced with the type of trauma I am dealing with, but I think she would be great otherwise.

  29. I think I just got unceremoniously dumped. By a guy who has been one of my best friends for over a year, who I started “officially” dating a week ago after a year of caring about each other but the timing never quite being right. After a sweet start to the week he’s been increasingly distant, and now I find out he planned out a busy weekend for himself which included time to go to a movie and hang out with mutual friends, but, no time in it to see me. WTF? I’m so incredibly confused. And really alarmed that this person I thought I really knew and liked and respected would treat me this way. I’m in my mid thirties, he’s 40, have both been badly hurt before and have put a lot of thought into what we want and how to form good relationships, and I really thought we would form a good, honest, healthy, chemistry-rich relationship. This seems like one too many betrayals of common decency than I can process and believe I’ll ever find a good guy for me. Any thoughts about what the heck could be going on? Or any sweet stories of meeting someone in your late thirties?

    • Senior Attorney :

      Gah! That’s horrible! I have nothing constructive to add, just some internet hugs!!

    • No flipping clue, unless he freaked himself out with V Day pressure?

      In my imaginary life, this would get a “Did you get replaced by aliens? I don’t understand the about face in your attitude. What’s the deal?”

      • Thanks for both of you. It’s amazing how internet hugs can really help. I’m pretty low key, so, don’t think he would put V-day pressure on himself, but, that’s a possibility. I am curious about the alien twitcharoo idea…I’m at complete loss for how to process this…

    • Silvercurls :

      Hugs, advice, and hopefully not too much offensive blather from me. I prescribe tea and carbohydrates, and/or a long walk in the sunshine, if there’s any in your area.

      Maybe he just needs some time to himself? Or he needs to process the change from being friends with you to being something more? Maybe under that warm exterior he has deep uneasiness about being in a durable, good relationship? Or he’s thrilled but also terrified, or in shock at having things go nicely? Or he’s thinking that after one or two good kisses (or etc.) he’s only two weeks away from marriage, babies, and a house with a picket fence? Or he’s not opposed to any of that, but he doesn’t know how to do it all and still be cool…? In other words, he’s not a louse, he’s just confused?

      I don’t have enough information to draw any solid conclusions. I’m also many years out of dating –not smug married, I hope!–but certainly not well-informed re current customs or hazards. My instincts tell me to tell you to chill for the weekend. Take good care of yourself and pursue activities that you find absorbing, rewarding, distracting; or that make you plain old happy; or any combination of the above. My hope is that you two reconnect with each other next week in a low-key way. Plenty of people within relationships much longer than a week find themselves uncomfortably far apart and have to reestablish contact. It only _seems_ as if everybody walking around with a partner or spouse is in two-by-two utterly blissful formation. Sometimes yes and sometimes NO.

      As for meeting someone in your mid or late thirties, why shouldn’t it happen? Everybody doesn’t live his or her life according to some universal template (marry by 25, have kids by 30, be settled near a good school district by 35, retire at 62…?). It’s annoying when people react with stupidity because one isn’t doing things “on schedule” but my attitude has been that there are plenty of interesting people and activities at the demographic margins. I understand (from my single days) the frustration of being unwillingly single. Unfortunately sometimes we just have to grit our teeth and make lemonade out of lemons. I never expected to have only one child or to still be living in a multi-family dwelling. No, it’s not the same as being unwillingly un-paired, but it’s still an unexpected development.

      Hugs and good wishes. I hope it gets better.

      • Thank you for this. Very very much. Thankfully there is lots of sunshine here, so a walk in the sun is doable=) And some cooking and an old friend and some kindle-time=) I think you may be right about this being a big change and needing time to process – intellectually wanting a partner and someday kids and having a girlfriend all of the sudden are two different things…and I do suspect that he at some level feels like he’s rearranged his schedule for me enough this week (we saw each other twice, one of which definitely required him to rearrange his plans. A third evening was spent at a already planned gathering of friends…where he leaks no clues to our mutual friends that we were now an item…=()

        I’ll go take good care of myself for the weekend….and figure I won’t get this solved today…

        • I’m 39 and I’ll just squeal that about a month ago I met the most amazing man I’ve ever been involved with. I didn’t feel this excited about my ex-husband. It’s never too late.

    • It sounds to me like he lost his nerve, whether consciously or unconsciously. Nerve would have enabled him to communicate clearly with you–either to affirm that the relationship is moving forward, or to acknowledge that he’s having second thoughts. I don’t think we ever have to judge anyone for acting this way, but I don’t advocate ignoring it either. I agree with Silvercurls that you should focus on taking care of yourself. Let him come back to you to explain.

  30. Have any ladies (or men!) on this site ever relocated from North America to Tokyo for 1-3 years? Is it difficult? Is it worth it, to be so far away from friends/family?

    I’ve only been encouraged to apply (to this internal opportunity, with a lot of support from the key players), so it’s not a sure thing. My DH really wants me to do it, but my gut is telling me not to (I’ve been to Tokyo once on business and didn’t love it, plus many other reasons).

    Hive thoughts? Am I just being a wimp?

    • I have, and I had a wonderful time. I didn’t have a significant other at the time, though. I don’t think there is a right answer in this situation. I loved Tokyo. I found it to be quite easy to adjust to living there, as a foreigner. But if you are not enamored with the idea of living in Tokyo specifically, or living abroad generally, or this particular opportunity, then I fail to see why you would do it. Is there anything about this opportunity that appeals to you?

    • Tokyo! I’ve been here for ten years and I love it. I moved here on my own though, not on an expat package, so my experience might be a bit different from what yours might be, but I hang out with a lot of expats and have a general sense of the deal.

      I can’t speak to how hard it is to be away from friends or family–it depends how close you are to your family, where they are, etc. But as for life in Tokyo, it’s pretty awesome. There is an expat bubble in Minato Ward, and if you live around there (Tokyo Midtown, Azabu Juban, etc) you’ll find it pretty easy to take care of shopping, eating out, etc, in English. If you work at a foreign company (gaishikei), you’ll have bilingual support staff and a network of colleagues who can give you recommendations on things to do, etc.

      The food is amazing in Tokyo. You could spend years (and a lot of yen) eating your way around the city. We are Michelin-starred up the wazoo for the fancy places, and there are loads of amazing sushi shops, noodle places, etc. It is a foodie dream city.

      Customer service is unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the world. Like, if your water glass has a smudge, staff will run over with a replacement apologizing profusely. Subway station staff carry baby stollers up stairs for parents when there’s no elevator. If you ask the hotel concierge if he/she knows a good teppanyaki restaurant in the neighborhood, they will either produce five suggestions on the spot or immediately start calling around to find out for you. And no tipping! It is awesome.

      There are some amazing places to travel around Tokyo, and the transport system here makes it very easy to get away for the weekend. If you like hot springs, the mountains around the city are full of hot spring resorts where you can literally bathe and chillax all weekend. Kyoto is an easy bullet train ride away, as well as the ski hills in Niigata and Nagano. Southeast Asia is also pretty easy to get to for a three or four day getaway.

      I don’t know what field you’re in (I’m in marketing) but working in Tokyo is a challenge, in a good way (I think). Japan’s political economy and business systems are both distinct and changing rapidly, and it is a keep-you-on-your-toes challenge to keep ahead of everything. If you rise to that kind of challenge, it can be awesome.

      That said, the general level of English ability and comfort with foreigners outside of the ‘foreigner’ areas of Tokyo is…not so high. The government and media have been on about the need for Japan to globalize and people in Tokyo are mostly eager to make an effort to be welcoming, but if you go out on your own you will encounter communication problems. It can be either amusing or frustrating, depending on how badly you want to go somewhere or get something done. Solve that by making friends with a Japanese speaker :)

      Also, Japan is, err, not the world leader in gender equality. But as a foreign woman in a gaishkei company you escape a lot of it. ‘Foreigner’ status kind of trumps ‘woman’ status, if that makes sense. When people form their expectations of you it’s on the basis of you being foreign rather than you being a woman. And lucky you because my god, the expectations for Japanese women here are low low loooow. Spend time with Japanese woman and you’ll come to understand what “tyranny of low expectations” really means. It is maddening, but it is also changing. It is hard to observe without speaking Japanese, but the subtle ways gender roles are starting to shift here are also fascinating to observe.

      Anyway, end of novel. As far as Tokyo goes, it’s a place where a few expat years here can be really enjoyable and also really instructive. Good luck with the decision!

    • TT’s comments are spot-on. Tokyo is a terrific place to have an expat experience – one of the world’s great cities, first-world infrastructure and safety, and a refreshingly exotic culture, in all the right ways. It’s mind-bogglingly high costs are well-understood by many foreign employers, so fully-loaded expat compensation packages are the norm (increasingly less so in other Asian cities like HK and Singapore).

      Her comments in relation to the work culture are spot-on as well. I have a number of good friends who are super-accomplished Japanese ladies in financial services, who make it clear that they have opportunities only in very very selective pockets of the industry (foreign banks, ‘softer’ areas like asset management).

      But don’t let this general state of affairs be a deterrent, since your focus should be on your specific role – what are the deliverables and are you comfortable with them ? How does your employer see your career progression after this assignment ? What kind of experience will you acquire and will it be valued beyond your existing employer ? What have your predecessors in the same role gone on to do and does it look appealing to you ? (a good idea to reach out to them for more info as part of your basic homework in any case)

      Good luck !

    • WOW. Thanks so much for the long replies! I love you guys!! To address some questions…

      – The opportunity itself interests me and is something I want to do, and fits in with my long-term career plan.
      – I’m ehhh on the level of success I’d have. I suspect that due to other issues and the fact that the Japan office is so disconnected from HQ, that I’d probably only be able to maintain status quo there rather than really have a big win (I’m saying this not because I don’t think I can do it, but because the last 3 people in that role have had that experience, and I’m not arrogant enough to think that I’m that much better than them).
      – However, I also don’t think the company would hold it against me. I think the very act of going over there would be a huge plus in their eyes.
      – Obviously, the food and travel and cultural opportunities are a big plus!
      – I’ve moved houses every 1-2 years in the past (army brat as a kid, then moved around a lot after college). I also relocated to a new country for my current role just 2 years ago and was looking forward to not moving again for a while…I’m not super excited about moving again now and then moving again in 2 years once the assignment is over.
      – I’m really enjoying my current role, and I feel that the timing is not great to leave right now. I doubt I’d burn bridges (the company culture is really great) but still. I’d feel bad.
      – DH was laid off over a year ago and hasn’t found work yet. From a financial perspective we don’t need him to work but I think it would be hard for him to have no hope of working for the 2 years we were in Japan (I assume it would be extremely difficult for him to find work but hope I’m wrong?).
      – I’m not in love with what I’ve heard about the longer hours there…is it true they sleep in the office? I work long hours now and was actually hoping to tone it down in the next couple years, not ramp up to even more hours.

      • Anonymous :

        On the three points that I can address (Japan office being disconnected from global, husband’s chances of finding work, and working hours in Japan), here’s what I’ve seen.

        Most Japan offices seem to be disconnected from global. I think it’s a combination of culture and business structure. On culture, most non-exec regular workers in Japan don’t have much work experience outside nor any real aspirations to acquire any, so expats and Japanese exec level staff are often caught between the changes global wants to make happen and their domestic workforce who marches to their own tune. On business structure, if the company established its presence in Japan by acquiring a Japanese company, it probably kept most of the existing domestic staff who now find themselves working for a foreign company without really having intended to. In short, yes, frustrating, and hard to make rapid changes.

        On your husband’s chances of finding work, yeah, tough. It depends on his field, of course, but recruiters are reluctant to try to place people who have an end-date to their stay in Japan. That said, there is a fairly large community of trailing spouses (mostly wives) in Tokyo and some pretty awesome networking groups (American Chamber of Commerce, embassy events, professional associations), so making connections to find project-based work or consulting, if he does that, is possible.

        On work culture, well, the basic idea to accept is that most Japanese workers and managers believe (usually without being able to express it, but it’s still fun to ask!) that workers should be rewarded based more on effort than on achievement/results. Results matter, of course, but ultimately the common vision of a ‘good’ worker in Japan is someone who will put in long hours and go all out for the team, not someone who consistently produces great results in less time. It’s an input-centered work culture, not an output-centered one, which usually drives expats mad. Well, it drives me mad.

        That said, people don’t regularly sleep in the office. They just stay late (9pm or 10pm usually; until last train on a busy night; all-nighters once in awhile), and never ever leave the office before the boss does. If you’re the boss, go home at 8pm. Your team will be racing out the door by 8:05. If you’re not the boss, the trick to surviving is to understand the subtle point that it’s not actually about putting in long hours; it’s about looking like you are putting in a lot of effort. Figure out ways to do that and you will survive.

        Or if you are lucky enough work for a reasonable company (they exist; they’re mostly European) that has managed to convince its staff to focus on results rather than hours-at-the-desk, then none of the above applies.

        So Tokyo is not without its challenges–you will either leave here baffled and exhausted, or emerge as an intercultural management jedi ninja.

  31. Crossing my fingers this still gets seen…

    I need interview suit advice. I’ve read through the applicable sections of the archives, and that’s almost TOO much information, and I still kind of feel at sea, mostly because I’m not sure which price category is most applicable to my situation.

    Here’s the scoop: I’ve applied for a sales support position in the luxury end of the sports entertainment industry – I wouldn’t be a sales consultant, but will have some client interaction. My current job is business casual and I don’t own a suit, so I know I need to step up my game if I get an interview.

    So my questions are:

    1) How much should I expect to pay for a dress-to-impress interview outfit – suit, blouse/shell, shoes, tailoring? Mentally I’m budgeting about $500, but can it be done for $300?

    2) I’d love specific suggestions on where to shop. I’m 5’2, short waisted, very hourglass, plus size, and a smaller size on top (XL/1X/18/18W depending on cut) than on bottom (20W). I’ve thought about setting up a personal shopping appointment at either Macys or Nordstrom – is one a better bet for me than the other?

    Thanks much!

    • Anonymous :

      Will you be using the suit again after your interview? If you are, then I’d suggest you purchase a nice quality suit, have it tailored, etc. Even then, I don’t think you need a personal shopper – most stores only have a couple of interview appropriate suits at a time anyways. But you could do that if you think it would be fun I guess.

      But really consider whether you’ll be wearing a black/blue/gray suit that often. IMO interview wear is (usually) so different from day-to-day wear. I can’t remember the last time I wore my interview suit outside of an interview. I’d save my money and spend it elsewhere. I am not a similar size as you so can’t offer suggestions there, but I’ve had great luck finding suits in department stores and mall stores (Ann Taylor, Limited, etc.). It really doesn’t need to be dress to impress. Just look nice, simple, and professional. You can get a suit for $300, I’m sure. Especially if you shop around and look for sales. I don’t know about shoes and a shirt too, but again if I were you, I’d shop my closet first.

    • Macys may be better for this. I’d suggest getting a suit from the Anne Klein, Kasper or Calvin Klein separates lines. That way you can buy different sizes. I’d also suggest getting multiple pieces, e.g. jacket and skirt and pants or dress to maximize future use.

      • I often buy department store brand suit separates – Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Jones NY – because I can get the jacket in petite sizes and the skirt or pants in regular sizes. You sound like you may fit a petite jacket, which would likely fit your height and need little or no tailoring, and a women’s size skirt or pants, which would need hemming. These brands should run $250-400 for the suit, and you’ll have to factor in alterations.

        Macy’s is probably better, but it depends on your city – in NY, Macy’s has a huge suiting selection in many sizes, but when I visit family out west, Macy’s is all casual clothes.

  32. Olympics spoilers :

    weird question, but does anyone know of any national news sites that don’t have Olympics coverage on the front page? I usually read the NYT every day but they drive me nuts every 2 years with impossible-to-miss headlines of who won events that have yet to be shown on TV and I need an alternative.

    • Wildkitten :

      You can watch the olympics live, if that would help? http://www.mediaite.com/tv/how-to-watch-the-sochi-olympics-live-streaming/

    • The BBC front page is spoiler free. Make you click thru to see Olympics updates, which I think is brilliant.

      Also, you can go straight to the US/Canada page if you just want national news: http://www.bbc.com/news/world/us_and_canada/

  33. Can anyone recommend a personal trainer in NYC – Manhattan or Brooklyn? I recently lost some weight and am finally motivated to work out and coming to terms that I should get into resistance training not just cardio.

    • Wildkitten :

      No recommendation but – Congratulations!

    • Congrats! I just got into these workout videos from Fitnessblender.com – the strength training ones are great, and are free!

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