Can't. Hardly. Wait.

I got back from New Orleans a few days ago and soon I'll be back on the road visiting London on business. London is one of the few places I've been where I can see myself living. The pace is similar to that of New York and there's a ton of culture every way you look at it: old buildings alongside new, diverse food options and a ton of museums and theaters. Of course, I will mostly be in an office building but that's merely a minor technicality!

Piccadilly Circus, London

Piccadilly Circus, London

After London, I've decided to book a mini solo trip to Paris since the proximity can't be beat (by comparison, it's like taking a train from New York to Philly). I've never been to Paris so I'm excited to take pictures of and explore the city. I'd also like to try to practice some of the broken French I've learned thanks to Duolingo. I know how to say the cat is black (le chat est noir) and other not too useful phrases. I bought a phrase book to carry with me so hopefully that can help jump start me a bit.

I do love to travel but I'm starting to feel somewhat ready to get back to my real life. Though I'd like to pretend that I'm some sort of jetsetter, I'm really not, especially when it's cold. I don't mind cuddling on the couch with my dear husband and some warm white rose tea (my new favorite tea from T2). I'm also trying to be good (cooking lunches and dinners at home, exercising) so that's going to be a little bit wrecked — but hello, per diems and happy hour!

In truth, when it comes to getting back to my life, I more than anything want to be back from my trip so we can officially start the search for a home. I've been stalking properties on Trulia and Streeteasy which is definitely not the same as meeting with a realtor. However, this is the year that we feel confident financially to buy a property within the city limits.

And every time I come home to find, ahem, surprise visitors of the creep-crawly variety, I can't wait to get started on that search!

New Year and New Camera

Happy New Year!

Champagne I enjoyed at midnight in New Orleans (photo taken by Fuji X100T camera I rented)

Champagne I enjoyed at midnight in New Orleans (photo taken by Fuji X100T camera I rented – click on any photo to see full size version on Flickr)

After many days off from work and some fun travels, I'm now back in New York City and ready to resume my normal routines again — well, somewhat. The new year is all about resolutions but I didn't make any specific ones. Instead, I'm striving to have a majority of happy and healthy days in 2017. In keeping with that, there are a lot of things I will continue to do, or simply do more often, but I'm not aiming for some sort of dramatic change.

I think, despite what we say every January 1st, we are all creatures of habit. I'm going to focus on all my good habits like investing in my body with exercise and eating well and hobbies like reading (now with my new kindle paperwhite – thanks, Santa!), writing and taking photos.

And, speaking of photos, I took a bunch over the past week or so. I've been meaning to try out a mirrorless camera for a WHILE and I just haven't gotten around to it. I think this also ties into my being a creature of habit; I love my old Canon SLR and it, in return, has been very good to me over many many years. I'm typically pretty good with my electronics so they last a while – this camera is no different. That said, it's a little big for traveling and doesn't have any of the bells and whistles that newer cameras have.

So when Adorama (one of my favorite places for camera equipment in the city) was having a Christmas rental deal, I decided to go all out and rent a Leica Q. But that was taken because I didn't act fast enough, so I ended up with the Fuji X100T instead. In truth, I'm glad I ended up with the Fuji because it is way less expensive and therefore something I could consider buying in the future. Though, honestly, I still think I need to do a little more digging before I settle on a mirrorless camera. While the X100T is a really nice camera, there are some things about it that quickly became deal breakers for me. Read the rest of this entry »

My 10-Year Test

I use the Pocket app which I love. It allows me to hold on to interesting articles to read (or re-read) later on the subway (where I still often have little signal).

One that I finally got around to reading is titled The 10-Year Test: The Best Way to See if You're on the Right Career Track.

The gist of the article is that, when you feel stuck and you don't think you are making progress, reflect on how far you've come in the last 10 years. I've been thinking a lot about my life trajectory, especially in the wake of this crazy election, but I never really thought of it this way.

The author makes a compelling argument against the constant anxiety around our forward-looking plans.

Read the rest of this entry »

#RealTalk Life Advice about Work

At least a few times a year, I'm prompted to think about work. We all go there most days a week but rarely give any thought to whether it still makes sense to be there or if change is needed.

I receive a lot of email newsletters that are focused on career ladies, like myself, and they typically follow the same tired career tropes:

  • Find what you love and you'll never "work" a day in your life!
  • Take a risk and do what you love!

The reason I call these tired is because we all know that doing what you want, in any given moment, is often more fulfilling than doing what you think you should be doing. For example, sleeping in on the weekend is way more fulfilling than spending those hours doing laundry or cleaning. This is common sense and not worth repeating.

Read the rest of this entry »

Married in Manhattan…on a Budget

After being together for thirteen years, my then boyfriend (now husband) proposed to me. As he nervously put the ring on my finger my first words to him, after saying yes, were, "Wait, does this mean I have to plan a wedding?"

Married in Manhattan

My Husband and I on our wedding day at Washington Square Park

At that point in time, the majority of our coupled friends had already gotten married. I happened to be in a couple of weddings so had seen firsthand what I did and did not want in my own nuptials. However, even with that knowledge, planning a wedding was not easy.

The additional challenge for us was that our families were unable to financially support us so the burden of paying for the wedding fell squarely on our shoulders. That said, this is not necessarily a bad thing! Saving for a major expenditure, together, is actually good practice for saving for other things like a house, college fund or a nice vacation.

When the dust settled, we were able to get married in Manhattan for just under $15K which is well under the national average for weddings in this country. This is also WAY under the average for Manhattan which is currently at a ridiculous $88,176.

Additionally, I should note that this amount is inclusive of our honeymoon flight and lodging which ended up being a wonderful reward for all our saving and planning. Some folks suggested maybe we should wait until later and have a longer honeymoon but it was actually really nice to get away on an adventure that included our passports, however modest.

So, without further ado, now that it's been a full year since the wedding and I've had a chance to reflect on that day—and all the planning that led up to it—here are some tips and tricks on how we did it: Read the rest of this entry »

642 Things: A Houseplant Is Dying

Writing Prompt:
A Houseplant is dying.
Tell it why it needs to live.

Dear Sonny the Plant,
Read the rest of this entry »

The Real Issue with Hillary's Email

I don't usually write about politics but The Washington Post recently published an article about how Hillary Clinton reached out to Colin Powell to understand what he did to have access to email remotely. There's a scanned print-out of exactly what they discussed over email which I found fascinating!

When I read the exchange between Powell and Clinton, I could instantly relate. It seems that working at the State Department is a lot like working in financial services. And, quite honestly, it wasn't until I worked at a bank that I realized just how oppressive IT policy could be. Email on your personal phone is a relatively new concept at my current employer in the financial industry and even then, it is significantly locked down via a special app that doesn't let you navigate to links or download files to your phone.

In my opinion, the real root of the problem here is the risk-averse IT policies in place that often impede folks from getting shit done. Read the rest of this entry »

642 Things: What can Happen in a Second

Writing Prompt:
What Happens in a Second

As I bring my hand towards my face, I can feel the cold black plastic against my skin. It's refreshing but warm and familiar. I close one eye and stare.

It's dim now as I stare, but that's part of the familiar appeal. Read the rest of this entry »

642 Things to Write About

If you hang out on this blog long enough, you'll see that I write about a bunch of different topics.

I really enjoy writing about technology from a woman's perspective as so much of technology coverage doesn't really speak to how products are (or in some cases are not!) designed with women in mind. To this end, I also enjoy writing about customer experiences in general. For me, user experiences are all around us waiting to be examined (i.e. functional design).

However, I've also enjoyed writing creatively. I say this in the past tense because it's been a while since I've finished writing something creative. And, while I enjoy writing about the real world and what's going on in it, I'd love to get back to creative writing.

And… I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

For my birthday, I received a book called "642 Things to Write About." It wasn't something I'd heard about and it wasn't like I had this in my Amazon wish list. But it came at just the right time. That's what I mean by "the universe" — this book came to me by no action of my own exactly when it should.

So, I'll be taking on the 642 writing prompts in the book, one blog post at a time. I'll still blog about the stuff I always do, but the creative writing will take precedence here. I'll tag each post as "642 things" and "creative writing" so you can find them by tag if you are so inclined.

Hope you enjoy!

My Summer Fling

This summer I decided to have a fling — with long fingernails. It all started innocently enough, but I'll take it from the top.

My nails were so hot (pun intended).

My nails were so hot (pun intended).

Earlier this year, my nails were particularly brittle and I personally was feeling a bit run down. A couple of health professionals I saw recommended taking vitamins, which I started doing (of course, only the gummy kind would suffice). Being that I am interested in becoming pregnant in the next 5 years, they said it would be good to get into the habit of taking them.

Many women who take vitamins regularly report shiny hair and strong nails. I didn't have either. After chopping off my hair (I was due but my hair stylist decided to take off a little bit more than normal!), I did some research about my nails and came across a woman who recommended jojoba oil but overall proposed the point that the true foe to happy, healthy nails is water. Purportedly, the jojoba oil penetrates the nail and keeps the water out. She also recommended putting base coat on the underside of the nail to protect against water in day to day life. Read the rest of this entry »