Things I Hate

No matter how old I get, these three things will probably always be a mystery to me:

1. Why it is so difficult to roll over a 401k
2. People who are mean to dogs.
3. Stores that won’t sell you something off the mannequin.

I hate the skirt I’m wearing today. I hate it every time I wear it.

It looks even worse in person. (And yes, I'm in a bathroom. DON'T JUDGE ME.)

It looks even worse in person. (And yes, I’m in a bathroom. DON’T JUDGE ME.)

It’s not that it’s just ill-fitting — this skirt is the definition of frumpy. I originally purchased it from a thrift store for BEANS. It was at least two sizes too big, but it was from Banana Republic, and I figured even with tailoring (it’s an A-line skirt — HOW HARD COULD THAT BE?) it would still be significantly cheaper than buying it retail.

Spoiler alert: Even tailoring has done nothing to alleviate the frump-factor of this skirt. It has these pockets, which I would normally love, but that stick out like a pair of book-size bat ears, giving my hips the appearance of being as wide as the day is long. (Note the weird pocket bulge on the right side of the above photo. I do not make this up.) Not exactly flattering.

In general, I have no problem getting rid of clothing that does not actively improve my life. You guys know this.

So why would I keep (and regularly wear) a skirt I feel like I’m in my own personal blood feud with? I like the challenge.

I’ve had an ironically torrid love affair with modest skirts in the last couple of years. Midi skirts? Those are my jam. And all of my pencil skirts run at least a couple of inches below my knees.

What I love about these skirts is that they are undeniably ladylike AND they force me to be more thoughtful about the rest of my outfit. I’m a firm believer that successful fashion is all about the give-and-take: shorter hemlines are ALWAYS paired with full-length sleeves and a lower neckline looks gauche with too much leg showing. Modest skirts require more effort to also look chic.

Which brings me back to the skirt in question. I’m telling you guys, I’ve tried my DANGDEST to get that thing to look fashionable. Sometimes, I think I’m close. A cute pair of nude heels and a fitted sweater will almost get us there. It ALMOST works because the skirt is so huge it makes my waist look tinier I GUESS? But the fact is, I’m constantly reaffirming in my head that I don’t look like a bag lady when I’m wearing it.

That is not the desirable effect of any fashion choice.

Am I the only person who has a piece of clothing with which I have this relationship? What would YOU do to make this skirt work? Or should I just accept that it IS ill-fitting and throw in the (frumpy, lumpy) towel?

You ARE our only hope.

I’ll admit, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew.

Unfortunately, I’m not always so good at admitting it in the moment.

Case in point: I’m cutting back on caffeine. And I am not handling it…well.

My reasons are manyfold, but the gist is that I realized I am drinking way too much. But despite the large quantities I would ingest on the daily, I also realized that I had stopped feeling much of a reaction unless I literally drank a gallon of coffee. (I assume…I swear I have not attempted this.)

So, I decided to quit for a while in hopes that when I start drinking it again, it will only take a few sips to perk me up.

Sounds like a fool-proof plan, RIGHT?

Ahem. My brain would like to disagree.

Thursday was my first day going cold-turkey, and it started (and ended) with a splitting headache. Like, I went to bed at 9:30 because it was so bad. The rest of the weekend wasn’t as horrible (I actually got plenty of sleep almost every night, which helped), but yesterday I was a bit of a crankypants in the afternoon. I rallied after eating lunch, but I can see now that I was totally obnoxious to my husband.

Sorry, babe.

Day five of no caffeine is going better. I feel tired, but the headaches have subsided. I THINK I will get through this, you guys.

Has anyone else gone off caffeine cold-turkey? What helped? Does anyone else hate the phrase “cold-turkey”?

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Is there anything more awkward than trying to end a conference call?

The never-ending goodbyes always remind me of old-school AIM convos, where you spent roughly a calendar year telling your pals you loved them like a sister and would talk to them later and okbye4now. Or whatever we said back then.

The point is, conference call sign-offs can drag out through the rest of the millenium.

I think it has something to do with the lack of visual clues — no one can tell when Person A is looking to wrap things up because they can’t see them shutting their laptop and making eyes at the door. But I also blame corporate jargon.

Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows what I mean when I say that. God HELP you if you’ve worked in a tech or media office. Corporate jargon is like the social media of work-speak: It’s slowly depriving us of meaning and, let’s face it, humanity.

Here are a few examples of things you can say at almost ANY point of a meeting if you don’t know the answer to the question — without looking like an idiot. Don’t thank me; thank corporate jargon.

1. Let’s circle back on that offline.
2. I think that’s important to discuss, but I’d like to focus on the big picture.
3. We’ll regroup on that internally and get back to you.
4. Do the engagement metrics support that?
5. What can we do to replicate our past successes?
6. SYNERGY!!!

Just kidding about the last one. Mostly.

The really scary thing is that sometimes I hear these phrases in meetings, and I realize that I’m the one who said them. *shudder*

Do my fellow pencil-pushers hear me on this? Share YOUR favorite jargon-y phrase in a comment below.

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I don’t know about you guys, but there is nothing quite like going to the doctor to make me feel like I’ve committed a crime.

I think it has to do with how they welcome you. You walk innocently in the front door and BAM! Paperwork. And not just any paperwork. Invasive paperwork.

Do you smoke? Drink? How often? What kind? When was the last time you were here? WHERE WERE YOU ON THE AFTERNOON OF OCTOBER 26TH?!?

And the third degree doesn’t end after you hand in the clipboard.

Oh no, now it’s time to sit on a pedestal and be prodded. Oh sure, just lean back in this reclining dentist chair. Comfy? Good.

NOW I WILL POKE YOUR GUMS WITH A METAL HOOK NOT DISSIMILAR TO THE KIND SERIAL KILLERS HAVE INSTEAD OF HANDS.

During consultations of any kind, I always find myself trying to sit “casually.” Do I lean back? Or will that make the good doctor criticize my posture? Do I hold my hands in my lap? OR DOES THAT LOOK GUILTY?

I also find my voice comes out sounding weird. Like I’m hiding something.

ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT, I’M ALLERGIC TO SULFA AND I TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN, OKAY???

On the upside, there is nothing more satisfying than being able to give the doctor healthy answers. “Actually, I’ve never smoked before. Nope, no recreational drugs, not a problem.” (She preened as she smugly smoothed her hair behind one ear.)

But no matter how much of a healthy specimen I believe myself to be, I always breathe a sigh of relief when it’s finally time to leave the exam room. I’ll give a little wave, hop off the table, and try to ignore their ominous calls of “see you in six months!”

Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I just too tightly wound? ARE YOU FLOSSING REGULARLY?

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Don’t talk to me.

Living in New York has had a variety of effects on who I am as a person.

On the brighter side of things, I think I’m tougher, braver, and more likely to stick up for myself than I was before I lived here.

I’m (slightly) less directionally challenged. (Provided I’m operating on a grid system of streets.) I can navigate any subway system in the world. (Because there’s no way it’s more complicated than the one I tackle on the daily here.) I can speak somewhat intelligently about almost every culture of cuisine. I have been exposed to a wealth of the arts. I’ve gotten much better at operating within a specific budget.

Like I said, pros.

Unfortunately, lately I’ve noticed a host of bad habits this city seems to have instilled in me as well. And they are…unflattering, to say the least.

1. Interrupting.
For most of my life, my mother has struggled to craminspire in me a love of the mannerly. And while I am a stickler for “please,” “thank you,” and not texting whilst at dinner with others, I can’t help but notice that I tend to cut people off mid-sentence a lot more than I used to.

I promise I’m not passing the buck, but the fact is, if you don’t interrupt New Yorkers, you might never get a word in edgewise. I’ve actually noticed that, when I make a firm attempt to not interrupt, there are people I know who have forgotten how to end stories and even sentences. They sort of trail off like an actor whose stage partner has forgotten their cue.

“So that’s…pretty much…what happened…”

It’s even worse when you encounter someone who could literally just keep talking for days, weeks, months. Then you might as well slip out of your heels and grab a snack because you’re going to be there for a while. Hope you didn’t have anything important to mention.

2. Ignoring.
This is especially bad when I’m out and about. Look, it’s no secret that the streets of NYC are a harrowing place sometimes. While I have only a couple of times ever felt actually unsafe, there are near constant opportunities to be accosted as you make your 1-and-a-half-block commute from the subway to the office.

As a result, I find myself tuning out more often than I like to admit. And not just tuning out — it’s like I have literally placed blinders on my eyes. I will sort of shuffle into people because I didn’t even notice they were standing there. And I’m not the only one. Pretty much every New Yorker will tell you the ignoring happens out of a sense of self-preservation, but the fact is, it’s pretty rude to pretend like you are the only person on the sidewalk trying to get from point A to point B.

Basically, New York is making me really inconsiderate.

3. Impatience.
Okay, okay, I was never the most patient person even when I lived in the Midwest. But, you guys? My fuse feels infinitely shorter these days.

Remember Commuter Justine? Well, now she doesn’t only come out when there are issues on the train or when there’s an angry letter that needs writing. Maybe it’s a result of the aforementioned increased likeliness to stick up for myself, but I find myself having a harder and harder time tolerating people who make my life harder the longer I live here.

I mean, I’m obviously not hauling off and socking someone in the face. But I feel my brain reaching a rolling boil more often than it used to. And New Yorkers en general aren’t exactly known for their patience with humanity.

So there you have it: the not-so-subtle ways New York is turning me into a jerk. But you guys still like me…right?

Has your locale inspired a few bad habits in you? Dish in the comments.