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Posts from the ‘work’ Category

born ready

In certain situations, I get intense immigrant anxiety. For example, at national borders. I’ve been a U.S. citizen for three decades, but crossing the U.S. border is still a harrowing experience, and I can always hear choppers overhead and feel the heat of a spotlight on the back of my sweaty neck. It doesn’t matter that the border we’re talking about is the one that gets me into the U.S. from Canada, and that the only thing I’m likely to be smuggling into the country is a trunkload of Luon and maybe some cold ha gow.

Being at a border makes me remember how my family fought to get into this country. I’m scared that if I leave, they won’t let me back in.

Now I’m married to a white dude, and that helps. When they want my passport at the border, I have Tom sitting next to me, looking as Midwestern as it is possible to look without being a platter of fried walleye and squeaky cheese. Having a white person around makes me feel better at times like that. Also, when I’m camping. Also, when I’m at rodeos. Also, when I’m at a Cracker Barrel. I imagine that feeling of security, of belonging, is how Tom feels when he’s with me at a Panda Express.

For years I’ve felt immigrant anxiety that I’ve never been called up for jury duty. I have friends who have been called up five, six times. But never me. I laughed it off but secretly assumed that it had something to do with my immigrant status. So when I got called up a month ago, I had the opposite reaction of whatever you likely felt when you got your letter. I. Was. PSYCHED. Jury duty! YEe-HAW!!! I was bona fide.

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I’m a lawyer, but I’ve never been inside that jury box, and I want in. Yesterday, on my first day of service, I chose my outfit with care. A prim cardigan over my least wrinkly striped tank. After clawing my way through security, I pulled my hair off my face and chose a seat in the front row of the jury assembly room. I put down my bag and sat up straight. Show time.

I needn’t have bothered. It turns out jurors are picked for a panel at random by a computer. What a waste. And in any event, my cardigan was no match for the Courthouse Effect. I don’t care how normal you look or how nice your suit is. As soon as you get within 100 feet of a state courthouse, you will start to look crazy.

Now it’s my second day of waiting for my name to be called. They’ve already called five 30-name panels without saying my name, but I’m still hopeful that I’ll get my chance to serve. The irony is that I appear to be the only person in this entire room who is eager to be a juror. Everyone else looks like Sgt. Brody in Homeland—as if they expect to die here, laying against a wall, after long hours of torture. One guy, James H., was called for almost every panel. The last time he was called, the whole room laughed. But not James H. “It’s not funny!” he shouted, to no one in particular.

No shit it isn’t funny. Sitting in this room for two days, I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to be part of a jury. And I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that I’ll be sent home without setting foot in a courtroom. Pick me! Pick me! I have so much to give! I want to sit in voir dire and have someone ask me, in a grave voice, if I have any strong opinions about pleated pants. I want to debate legal terms with laymen around a big table. I want to be jury foreman. I want to read aloud the jury verdict. I want to fulfill my civic duty.

I want to be American.

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changes.

I quit my job two weeks ago and took another. I’ll be working less at my new job, in a new area of the law. The decision was made quickly, decisively, and with little forewarning. I was as surprised as everyone else, because I was happy at my old firm. People always say they love their coworkers. But I really did. Folk like Berman, above. Plus I enjoyed the work, and the clients.

It feels weird when you get older and start making decisions that aren’t in line with what you pictured for yourself. As a kid, I thought I’d grow up to be the woman in the Charlie ad. Partner in a law firm. A smart suit, and good hair. Kicking my heels up as I crossed the street in my stilettos.

But the heart wants what it wants. And right now, it wants more of this.

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My Finn is so tall. His feet are almost as big as mine. For months now, when I looked at him, I’d feel 50% lung-crushing love, and 50% sadness. How had I missed so much of it? When he slips into my bed for a cuddle and I wrap my arms around him and press my lips to the back of his damp head, he feels weighty, substantial. Like my regret.

More time for soccer practices, bike rides, afternoon cinnamon rolls. That’s the idea, anyway. As hard as it was to leave, the decision was a no-brainer. For me.

This post isn’t about justifying a choice. It’s about trying to explain the unexplainable. It gets me down when moms judge other moms for their choices–it’s brutal out there for everyone. There’s no judgment in my decision. And I hope there’s no judgment of me.

Don’t get me wrong. Extended periods of time with my kids still tend to give me a screaming headache and agita. And yet. The older they get, the more that’s changing. I like them. I want to hang out with them. I want to be there for this. For me, the rest can wait.

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not having it all

If you’re sick of talking about having it all, join the club. After a while, I started to think of the Anne-Marie Slaughter article from the Atlantic Monthly as an annoying land shark that follows me around and wants to hang out, totally uninvited. The article came up at dinners with friends, at the gym, at my kids’ school. It came up at work, when our forward-thinking managing partner sent around an email, inviting discussion on the subject. When I actually read Slaughter’s book-length article, the first thought I had was that I’d have a lot more time to have it all if I didn’t spend so much time reading about having it all. But by all means, please don’t let that thought stop you from reading this post.

Just when things started dying down, new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer threw fresh kindling on the fire by proclaiming that she intended to take an abbreviated maternity leave. I’m not in the stratosphere of “high-achieving” women who occupy cabinet posts and run Fortune 500 companies. But I have a job that is important to me. And I have kids and a husband. And anyone with a worklife combined with a homelife knows that having it all is hard no matter what your job is. It is a vast understatement to say that I include full-time stay-at-home parenting as a job, but I’m not going to demean my friends who do that work by trying to talk about it intelligently, because it is not my reality, and I can only talk about the pain I know about.

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when kids and work collide

The thing about the word “all” is that everyone’s definition of “all” is different. I know what my definition of “having it all” is, and it’s this: feeling 100% effective and satisfied in all aspects of my life. And I can’t have it all, at least not as I define it, without the aid of reality-altering drugs. The assumption that you can be 100% effective in all aspects of your life, and fully satisfied in all aspects of your life, has to be a uniquely American one. In 2009, the birth rate in my homeland, South Korea, was the lowest in the world, in large part because women are prioritizing their careers and opting out of having children altogether.

For me, the idea that you CAN have it all is the most damaging part of the discourse, because it sets a standard that no one, male or female, has a hope of attaining. I feel worse for many of the dads I know than I do for myself. Tom has me at home, expecting him to shoulder 50% of the parenting burden, or 65%, if he wants to earn his TV time. And Tom has partners at work, many of whom raised kids in a time when they were not subject to the same demands at home, and are therefore challenged to understand why Tom has to be home for dinner, even if he has to go back to work later.

I don’t blame Tom’s partners. It’s like asking someone without children to understand the reality of life with children. Or asking me to understand what it feels like to be a lion. I’m not a lion. I’m a human. On some level, understanding and empathy can only go so far. But we have to keep trying.

at work on a sunday, my birthday. thanks amara for bringing me cake and taking this pic

Right now, it’s enough when I’m hitting 100% in one aspect of my life at any given time. Like, when I write a brief that I’m proud of. Or when my kid eats a vegetable without throwing up. When I’m writing that brief, my kids are at home with their dad eating Chipotle for dinner, because I can’t be at home to cook. And when my kids are eating vegetables, it’s because I took mental time away from work to think hard about a viable vegetable option, and got home in time to cook that vegetable in the least threatening presentation possible, and to prepare myself emotionally for the inevitable rejection.

I can’t write the killer brief and get my kids to eat vegetables at the same time. Once I figure out how to do that, I guess I’ll really have it all. Until then, it’s enough that I have a lot of good stuff, most of the time.

feed me

My favorite platitude is this: everything in moderation, including moderation.  Right now, it’s a handy quote that helps me feel better about my binge eating.

I’ve been working a lot of late.  And without going into the banal details, let me say that my life right now is essentially long stretches of labor punctuated by moments of panic that I am missing really important stuff in my kids’ lives.  Weeks and weeks of that kind of anxiety can take their toll, and I’ve taken to self-medicating with food, which works great, because I also have no time to work out.

Once unleashed, my lack of self-control knows no bounds.

My mornings start out ok.  I drink green smoothies for breakfast.  Not fancy ones.  I just cram my blender full of whatever vegetable I have, add some fruit, dump in some chia, and try to think of the experience as the price I must pay as a 35-year old for regular BMs.  So breakfast, no problem.

Well, one problem.  The problem with breakfast is that I drink it at home.  Once I get to work, I feel that I should be rewarded for having made it there.  But I’ve already had my smoothie.  And this leads me to an observation: from the perspective of 9:00 AM, the distance between 9:00 AM and lunch might as well be seven weeks.  And no one can go seven weeks without food.  If it’s a good day, someone has ordered pastries for a breakfast meeting and there are leftovers to tide me over.  On bad days, I have ripped open packets of duck sauce with my teeth and squirted them into my mouth like Lance Armstrong sucking on energy gel to power himself over the Alps.  Even with a mid-morning snack, I rarely make it to noon for lunch.  As a rule, I set all lunch appointments at 11:30.  I tell my friends it’s because I want to beat the lunch rush.  But that’s a lie.  It’s because by 11:30, it’s been an hour since my mid-morning snack, and I am really, really hungry.  Like grizzly-bear-ripping-tops-off-of-cars hungry.

In my 20s, I worked at a PR agency that stocked its freezer full of communal waffles.  On my first day, someone showed me around the hip kitchen and beer tap, and casually mentioned the free communal waffles, and I was felt that I had arrived.  In any event, the freezer was also stocked with a lot of TV dinners, which I also assumed to be communal, and which I ate for a full month before the day that the receptionist sent out a company-wide email that said, merely this:

“Could WHOEVER is eating my Trader Joe’s chicken bentos PLEASE STOP EATING THEM!?!  Thank you.”

That story is basically my professional origin story, because it explains why I had to leave PR and go to law school.  I once tucked the back of my skirt into my underwear in the 8th grade and I don’t even think that experience was as mortifying.

Anyway, I digress.  My point is that my appetite has led me astray.  And it’s leading me astray now, as I give myself over to stress-induced cravings.  I justify everything I consume by saying that I deserve it.  I deserve to eat a pound of pad kee mao for dinner at my desk, and then to pick up a burger and fries on the drive home at 9:30 PM.  Because I miss my boys, I miss working out, I miss fitting into my pants.

The heart knows what it wants, and right now, it wants my husband and my kids, and a return to normalcy.  Until I can get that, I’ll settle for food, and lots of it.

a donut for gwyneth

I subscribe to Us Weekly; I have for years.  And it’s not, like, an ironic subscription.  Forget weekends–I look forward to Fridays mostly because that’s the day of the week that Us Weekly is delivered.  So I’m not above wallowing in a little celebrity worship.

But not for Gwyneth Paltrow.

When it comes down to it, I just find her offensive.  She makes a joke out of all us normal people who are just trying to get by.  I don’t begrudge her her wealth or her fame, although gee, it must be nice to be born to wealth and then be able to parlay your parents’ connections into an acting career.  I don’t even resent that her wealth and fame make it easy for her to do things like leisurely roast a free range chicken on a Tuesday.  What I do resent is that she is so committed to maintaining the fiction that it is easy to live a “mindful” life like hers, without ever acknowledging how much easier it is to be mindful when you have millions in the bank and an army of servants.  It’s called fronting, and given where my head is at, it’s offensive.

I get to the gym four days a week if I’m lucky, and every time I get there, it’s a miracle.  I have to run yellow lights and eat in the car and sometimes I get to the gym and I’ve forgotten my running shoes or worse, my gym pants.  And when that happens, I sit on a bench and I cry, because at moments like that, it can feel like life is just one never-ending episode of chasing a bus that’s pulling away with the bus driver smirking at you in the rearview mirror.  On the other hand, if I have the pants and I make it to Zumba, I’m feeling guilty most of the workout because I feel like I should be spending that time with my kids.  That’s the reality of my life, and maybe yours too.  So I resent it when Gwyneth says stuff like “I can eat whatever I want to” while tossing off the fact that she works out for two hours a day.  F you, Gwyneth.  First of all, who cares what you eat?  Second of all, I bet I could eat whatever I wanted too, if I had two hours a day to pump the jams with Tracy Anderson and stretch my pasty limbs on a reformer.

relax, coworkers. it’s not hemorrhoids 

The working out stuff is probably particularly annoying to me right now because I’m going to trial in two months and have been so sedentary that my doctor gave me a donut to sit on at work so my tailbone doesn’t break.  But I think GP has the potential, like head lice, to be pretty universally offensive.  What really gets me is how her comments often reflect a special mix of condescension and subtle classlessness that is unique to her.  Perhaps the best example of this is when she told a reporter that she would “rather smoke crack than eat cheese out of a tin.”  I mean, who talks like that?  I guess you might talk like that to your partner in the safety of your home after a couple beers, but who says that to a reporter??  In any event, I’m sure all the people who can’t afford any cheese but Cheez Whiz appreciate her thoughtful implication that they’re on a level below crack addicts.

I don’t get how she continues to have an audience.  When I told my friend Courtney that I was writing this post, she texted: “Plz mention how bad her veggie chili recipe is.  I got duped into giving her 4 hours of my life w that recipe.”  So I’m mentioning it.  Why does GP continue to invade my personal space at the airport by appearing on the cover of every women’s magazine?  Or in the cookbook aisle, or on Travel TV?  Mario Batali, who I already suspect to be sort of an asshole, isn’t doing himself any PR favors by associating himself with her.  WHY WON’T SHE GO AWAY??  We can make it happen, if we put our minds to it.  I remember a dark period about five years ago when it was hard to believe that there would ever come a time when Paris Hilton wouldn’t be plaguing us.  But now, she’s practically gone.

We can make it happen again.

There’s nothing admirable about superiority.  There’s nothing admirable about condescension.  Let’s sprinkle our celebrity love on someone who needs and deserves it.  Like Khloe Kardashian, who’s dealing with a lot in her life (infertility, Lamar’s iffy trade to Dallas, better looking older sisters, borderline taste) and not fronting about any of it.

Happy Us Weekly day.

letter to linds

I met my friend Lindsay on the first day of law school, and she’s been a big part of my life for the better part of a decade. I didn’t know her when I was a child, but that’s not to say that I haven’t grown up with her. In the last eight years, we’ve taken bar exams together, been through three pregnancies together, gotten married (her), started our careers, and settled into our 30s. I started this blog after she sent an email, detailing the reasons why I should do it.

She has seen me through difficult times, like when I was pregnant with Finn as a 3L and had to carry my books in a wheeled backpack around campus to keep weight off my back. She only made fun of me 50% of the time, which was 100% less than my other wretched friends. For those who haven’t been to grad school in recent years, the wheelie bag is a surer road to social ostracization than having B.O. or facial hair as a woman. If Linds had gotten a wheelie bag in law school, I’m sure I would have been as supportive, just not from any closer than ten feet behind her.

She took Finn when he was three months old so that Tom and I could get away, and didn’t call us screaming when he vomited milk all over her in the middle of the night. When she babysat, she would carefully chart Finn’s naps in pink or yellow highlighter on his nap chart as instructed, although she did roll her eyes a bit. She has sucked boogers from my kids’ noses with bulb syringes, whilst gagging. When I showed up on her doorstep at 6:00 AM during a power outage with two gallons of frozen breastmilk in my arms, she made me coffee and cleared out her freezer.

I may have had post-partum depression after my second, Tate, was born, and the situation was made worse by the fact that Tom took a demanding new case the day that Tate was delivered. The paternity leave I’d been promised never materialized, and I went through a rough patch during the time when I was supposed to be happiest. Linds was there with me, checking in every day and talking me through the darkest and loneliest hours. She has seen me at my most vulnerable. I trust her as I trust few others.

So today, on the day that she is leaving her cherubic four-month old son behind and returning to work, I am writing her this post. To tell her that she will be ok, that her baby will not forget about her, and that he will be greatly entertained by all the new faces at daycare. That in sharing him with others, she is introducing Ford to all the love and care that will come to him in this world. That in the four months that she’s been a mom, it’s become obvious to everyone around her that she is a natural; that she makes motherhood look like a state of grace.

But mostly, I’m writing this post to tell her that my heart breaks for her, that I understand, and that it gets better.

photo, Grant Us the Luxury

ways to wear: cheap dresses

In Portland, March ushers in the auction season.  Auctions happen in the evening like lots of other parties, but they bring a set of challenges that don’t come along with other types of parties.  First, an auction is essentially a quasi-work event.  I usually end up chatting with work contacts and potential referral sources.  For me, this means that strapless, backless, micro-mini, and plunging v-neck are all out.  Second, I need something that I can sit in comfortably for a couple hours, that will also allow me the freedom of movement to wrestle my husband’s arm down to the ground when he has a couple scotches and tries to bid on something like a rafting trip for two.  Third, whatever I wear has to be cheap.  Cheap cheap cheap.  I don’t believe in spending wads of cash on an outfit I am likely to wear twice.

This year I need outfits for four auctions, and Tom has me on a budget that indicates that he expects me to make my own clothing from kitchen towels.  So I turned to ASOS.  I’ve written about ASOS before.  It’s a UK company that recently launched a US site.  The clothes are not super cheap, but the thing is, everything on the website goes on sale eventually.  The site sells clothes from other designers, but do what I do, and narrow your search to the house label.

For parties and weddings, you can do no better than ASOS.  Their clothes are well constructed and do not look cheap.  I mean it.  I wear a lot of Forever 21 but I don’t like people to stand too close to me when I do, because the stuff doesn’t exactly scream quality from close range.  Quality-wise, I’d say ASOS is on par with BCBG, and it’s a lot cheaper.  Let me digress for a moment to express how much I hate BCBG clothing.  No matter what the item is, there is always some extraneous design detail that makes absolutely no sense, and nothing ever fits right.  There is a reason they don’t let you return stuff at BCBG.  They don’t want that sh*t back.

Other important details about ASOS: free shipping, both ways.  No minimum purchase.  I have returned so much stuff to ASOS that I’m getting concerned they will cut me off.  Also, their selection is completely overwhelming.  To find the three dresses in this post, I had to click through more than 2000 ASOS dresses.  But if you know what you are looking for (e.g. “maxi dress”), their search engine actually works, so use it.  Lastly, you may be alarmed that some of the clothes look like party wear for strippers.  Do not be discouraged.  There are gems to be found, and strippers need party clothes too.

Check me out on Pinterest for more ideas for inexpensive party wear.

Sometimes you want to dress to flatter your figure, and sometimes you just want to wear a fun dress.  I wore this to an auction two nights ago and it was perfect for a winter night.  The bodice is 100% wool and the skirt is fake fur.  I bought the shoes three years ago, but felt weird about wearing shoes that cost the equivalent of two Chipotle burritos, and gave them to my best friend.  And then I decided that I really liked them, and that like Stella McCartney, I could think of them as vegan shoes, not plastic ones.  And that helped.  So I took them back from her.  I still feel bad about it.  But she will survive.

People.  This dress was $31.  The tights almost cost the same as the dress.  And it is a good dress.  I love the egg shape, love the metallic, love the seaming, love love love it.  But most of all I love the racerback.  And it has pockets.  Squeal!  This dress might be my score of the year.

The nice thing about not paying a lot for a dress is that you can try cracked-out things you might not otherwise try, because you’re not investing a huge sum.  I am petrified of high-neck clothing.  I am always nervous my neck will look fat or that my head will look even bigger than it is.  But I like the idea of a high neck classing up a maxi, so I took a gander at this dress, and it’s interesting.  I did feel a bit vulnerable with the slinky fabric, so I threw on a belt to give the waistline some structure.

Look at my christmas cactus behind me!  Still kickin‘.

Happy hunting.  And I’d love to hear about your go-to purveyor of cheap party wear.

the candy bowl

The top three things about my job:

1. Intellectual stimulation

2. My coworkers

3. The Law

The real top three things about my job:

1. My kids aren’t there

2. Free monthly firm lunch

3. Angie’s candy bowl

I’ve met some serious candy bowls in my day, but Angie’s takes the cake.  Angie is our payroll administrator/assistant bookkeeper, who, unfortunately for me, sits next to my secretary.  She is an all-around lovely person, but for my purposes, the most important thing to know about Angie is that she stocks a primo candy bowl.  None of that filler BS like Laffy Taffy, or the red and white mints you get for free at Chinese restaurants, or Necco wafers.  In desperate times I will choke down a Laffy Taffy–despite the oily film that is guaranteed to coat the inside of my mouth for the next two hours–and I’ve eaten my share of free mints.  But I consider people who will eat Necco wafers to be seriously flawed.

No Necco wafers for our Angie.  Just this: mini Almond Joy, Snickers, Three Musketeers; Dove chocolates; Hershey’s Kisses; the occasional bag of Whoppers.  Whole peanut butter cups, little bags of M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces, and finally, the king of all snack-size candy bars: the Funsize Twix.  Is there anything better than the Funsize Twix?  No, there is not.  There’s the chocolate, the caramel, the cookie.  All wrapped up in a dense little nugget of candy satisfaction that delivers supreme mouthfeel.  For the record, if you lay four Funsize Twix bars end to end, they are still technically smaller than a full-size Twix, not that I’ve ever checked.

I love Angie’s candy bowl, but I also hate it, because as may be evident, I am powerless to avoid its siren song.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I usually do pretty well from 8:30 to 10:00 AM–the day is still new and the memory of my breakfast of green smoothie is usually fresh.  And I’m fine between noon and 1:00, because I’m usually eating lunch somewhere during that hour.  But between 10:30 and noon, I have no hope of avoiding the candy bowl unless I physically stay inside my office.  As for 3:00 to 5:00 PM, I might as well just sit in Angie’s lap, because that’s how often I’m at her station.  It’s embarrassing to admit that a candy bowl has that kind of power over you.

There are about four or five of us in the office who are habitual users.  We all know who the others are, and we keep silent tabs on who’s taking what, and how often.  The worst is when I casually drop by the candy bowl and find one of the other hyenas already at the watering hole.  Then I either have to make some lame joke about my addiction to the candy bowl, or pretend like I was just passing by.  Either option is a sure road to debasement.  I don’t mind the partner on my floor who clearly has a candy problem on par with mine–mostly because I don’t think he’s a Twix man–but I DO object to the others, who don’t even sit on my floor and regularly leave Angie’s station with fistfuls of Kit-Kats.  To those leeches, I say: get your own damn candy bowl.

outside in

Nothing about me other than my appearance gives away the fact that I was born in Seoul and lived there until I was four. My life is like that of many other Americans. I work, I’m a mom, I’m a wife. We have two cars and a mortgage and student loans. I eat Chipotle twice a week because my kids will eat it and it’s fast, and sometimes I only have time to put mascara on the eye that’s not covered by bangs. See? I’m basically you.

Except, maybe I’m not. Unless you, too, have accidentally cut someone off and then had that person pull alongside you to call you a “stupid Oriental bitch.” Or been heckled by the school bully in front of 30 merciless 8th graders for having a flat nose and “Chinese” eyes. Or had someone–who’s just “keeping it real”–tell you to your face that you probably got the job offer because you’re a minority.

I’m not complaining. Everyone feels like they are on the outside, some of the time. I’m only writing about it now because a recent incident reminded me how the scars last long after you think you’ve outgrown them. I belong to a private athletic club that I joined mostly because my husband badgered me into it. The reason I had to be harassed into joining is because, when I was growing up, that club represented everything I felt excluded from. But I’ve grown to love the club. I work out there, and my kids take swimming lessons there and shoot hoops with their dad. I’ve met great friends.

This last November, without advance warning, the club put a photo of me on the cover of their monthly member magazine. I’d been asked to take part in a photo shoot promoting the club’s upcoming fashion show. Good God that sentence pains me. Anyway, the point is that the photos, if they turned out, were supposed to appear inside the magazine. My husband can confirm that I spent all of October regretting my decision and dreading the November issue.

And then, there I was, on the cover, in my mailbox and in the mailbox of almost every lawyer that I know and work with professionally, immortalized in the most unnatural pose imaginable.

yes, i stand like this all the time

My most pressing concern was that people would think that the ruffly dress I was wearing on the cover reflected my personal taste in clothing. My next most pressing concern was that people would think I was put on the cover because I’m Asian and the club wanted to advertise that they had some. And my fear was justified.  I got more than a few well-meaning comments that were variations on “They must have put you on the cover because you’re a minority!”  Gee, thanks.

The comments were technically made in 2011, but people: it’s 2012.  2012.

After the December and January issues came out, I thought I’d heard the last of it, but three days ago, an older woman in the locker room, after asking if it was indeed me on that cover, asked what I “did at the club.” I guess she assumed that I worked at the club, because a lot of the club employees are minorities. When I stammered that I didn’t work at the club, it was hard to judge who was more discomfited: the other woman, or me.

The concept of “passing” is one that has stayed with me since I first read my Ralph Ellison. But the older I get, the less I want to pass for something I’m not. Instead, I’m taking ownership of what I am. Which is why, with this post, I’m saying goodbye to all the rest and choosing to dwell only on my favorite comment about that cover, from an older Filipina, who told me that she was so proud to see a fellow Asian on the front of that magazine. There. Progress. For her, and for me.

ways to wear: color at work

Color was big in 2011.  And the fashion editors are saying color will continue to be big into the spring.  Since they’ll be around for a while, let’s figure out a way to put those brights to work at the office.

I own a lot of orange-red because I find the color very easy to match with other colors, and you get a lot of bang for the buck in terms of drama.  I focused on that color in this post, but any of these looks would work well with other brights that might be sitting in your closet.  If you’re shopping for some color, try cobalt, mustard, or fuschia–all versatile brights that pair well with neutrals.

Nice ‘n Easy

I’m a lawyer, but I’m a plaintiffs’ lawyer, and plaintiffs’ lawyers generally don’t like to look like we spend too much money on our clothing, or that we think about clothing at all.  So I can get away with more casual looks at the office.  The outfit below comes in handy when I’m bloated and/or can’t bear the thought of heels.

J. Crew sells a merino version of the boyfriend sweater above but it retails for almost $90.  I bought the sweater at Forever 21 in three colors for less than $50 total.  “But they’re polyester, Yoona.”  For $50, I don’t care if they’re made of plastic ketchup bottles.  And let me just say this: if anyone at work is standing close enough to you that they can tell that your sweater is made of polyester, that’s not right.  Just my legal opinion.

Colored Pencil

My husband generally doesn’t notice my clothing, unless it looks new or expensive.  But he notices every time I wear a pencil skirt, so I try to throw him a bone and wear one from time to time.  This one is my favorite.  J. Crew is making pencil skirts in all sorts of colors, in wool and “double serge” cotton, which is apparently fashion-speak for “hideously overpriced.”  If you want proof that J. Crew never changes their clothes, please note that the skirt below was purchased four years ago.  There’s something comforting in that, I guess.

Casual Friday

I imagine if you’re one of those lucky SOBs who have a creative job, or even better, if you’re your own boss, you could dress like this even when it’s not Friday.  For the rest of us, the colored jeans probably have to wait for casual days.  But boy, given my investment in colored jeans, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to dress them up and disguise them for work.

A note on the jeans.  First of all, they were on sale at Nordstrom for $99.90 but all I paid was $20 after cashing in a Nordstrom note and a gift card.  I imagine that’s not that interesting to you, but I feel like I should get a shopping medal.  Secondly, I’m a J Brand girl, but these AGs are something else.  They are made of a thicker denim that holds like a dream.  I’ve worn them for four consecutive days and the knees haven’t bagged out.  That’s like, unheard of.  And I love the color, which is a deep green-blue.  The perfect foil for orange-red!

How are you wearing brights at work?