Category Archives: Girl Talk

friendships

Find New Friends at 30: Like Dating, Only More Awkward

She glanced at me with a (possibly fake, get-out-of-my-car) smile in the dim light as I got out of her car and said goodbye. “Maybe call me some time if you see something you want to do and want someone to do it with,” I said, realizing how sad and pathetic that made me sound as I slammed the door shut and she sped away. The next day I stared at my phone and thought about the conversations we had about our families and lives. Was she waiting for me to text? Does she think I don’t like her? … do I?

This is not notes from a first date. Well, that’s to say, not a romantic date. I met her on a new friend making app that is similar to Tinder except for women only. The app sucks because I’ve ended up “swiping right” on just about everyone in order to get any sort of response. She responded and lives in the same town, so we discussed meeting up. We finally did. Dinner was tasty and the conversation was enjoyable – though at this point in my life it gets a bit tiring to tell someone my life story from the start (and to decide which parts to leave in and which to leave out.) I’m sure she felt the same, detailing her relationship with her mother and father and siblings. Continue reading

How Much Did I Spend on Beauty in 2015?

Inspired by last week’s Wall Street Journal article “The High Price of Beauty: 4 Women Reveal Their Annual Costs,” I wanted to add up my 2015 so-called beauty costs to see if I’m as ridiculous as these women who spend around $20k average of their looks every year (and that isn’t even counting clothing!)

Even though that amount sounds crazy, beauty-related costs do add up. Some of them can be avoided (no one “needs” to visit an expensive salon to have their hair done every month), but some are just part of what it costs to be a woman with a successful career. As the resident hot mess who tries to play dress up as an executive, I feel at this stage of my life/career/et al, I should be investing more in looking the part. For better or worse I look rather young for my age, which means less respect from anyone who is older – or younger – but more hope that I’ll age gracefully. There’s that.

The women interviewed in the WSJ are certainly well enough to do that these expenses are just part of their lives. They’re all New York City women, and NY is an expensive place to fit in. Ranging from mid 30s to late 40s, these women shell out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for facial treatments, intravenous vitamin therapy, regular blow drys, yoga, hair styles, skin-friendly juices, serums, energy healing (not sure how this is beauty related, but it’s in their calculations) — and for each of them the total annual cost ranges from $10k – $20k. That’s a lot of ca-ching for something so superficial (sans the yoga and health club memberships, which I don’t think should count towards “beauty” but whatever, to be fair I’ll include my health stuff as well so the numbers match up.)

My 2015 Beauty Costs ($5,672)

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$6000 a year is too much to spend on beauty, but at least it’s not $20,000. My total amount is a little wonky as I’m including these diet bets I’m doing – where I’m betting on my weight loss, and theoretically a chunk of that can be earned back if I drop 20lbs in the next 4 months, so that isn’t real spending. It also includes the second payment for my braces, and about $212 spent on personal training towards the end of the year.

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Really, my worst spending comes in the form of food and shopping (I put makeup into the ‘personal care’ category. I’m going to whip up another post on my 2015 spending because I’m ashamed of it, and maybe that shame will make me not spend as much this year (spoiler: my annual spending was ~ $50k last year.)

What’s Making Successful American Women Feel Sick?

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Lean In. You can have it all. We’ve come so far in our society to tell ourselves this lie. Yet according to a new survey of super-successful women at Fortune 500 companies, women who are wealthy and highly educated reported to feel less healthy than those who were less successful. Despite the fact that these women were actually less likely to be overweight  and more likely to get six hours of sleep a night, they seem to judge themselves against an unattainable ideal, which makes them feel less healthy.

The Title of the Harvard Business Review Article “The More Women Earn, The Less Healthy They Feel.” It’s not that these women are actually unhealthy, just that they fail to find time to dedicate to their health, especially when it comes to finding time to see a doctor – 48% said they could not see a doctor due to workload. And women who are in high-powered roles find it challenging to find time to exercise – 25% had not participated in any kind of physical exercise in the last month.

As I’ve moved up in the work world to have more responsibility, I find it much more challenging to make time for health. I’ve never been a healthy person, so I’m not the ideal sample, but to perform my job well I should wake up at 6am or earlier and be on a 7:30 train to arrive at work, stay at work until 7 and – I should – attend after work networking events, to return home late in the evening. This is overwhelming to me and I don’t even have children or other responsibilities. I’m trying now to get exercise in by having a personal trainer come to my apartment at 6am three days a week, to make me work out for an hour. But that doesn’t work well when I’m falling asleep at midnight and I need eight hours of sleep a night to function. And my diet, albeit an improvement over what I ate in my 20s, is still hit or miss. Sometimes I’ll go to bed having not eaten enough calories for the day which leads to binge eating the next day. It’s a horrible cycle.

I would assume this is just as hard for men, so the study of women only is an interesting one. There are other reports which show that men often do less housework, especially which children, so women are often more busy due to managing both household responsibilities and work. That may be why this study about women’s health is worth an HBR article.

The other thing that isn’t mentioned, however, is that women generally have more medical concerns than men, and more medical visits required just to maintain their health. I don’t have any idea how a woman finds time to see a doctor over any fertility issues – though I guess I may have to figure that out over the next year or so. As a female executive, I think there is a larger fear that every moment out of the office, every doctor’s appointment, every hour not focused on the job, will be a huge ding against one’s record. Men don’t have to worry about that (typically.) And when the majority of senior leaders in a company are men, such topics don’t come up until you have to have awkward conversations — “I’m trying to get pregnant but I can’t get pregnant so I need to take some time to go to a doctor a few times every month.” Who wants to have that conversation with their boss?

But, beyond this, it’s sad that women in leadership roles feel so unhealthy. What is wealth and success if we don’t have our health?

 

 

They All Want to Be Steve Jobs

Last night, MR. HECC and I went out for a date night featuring deliciously overpriced bison burgers from The Counter and a movie. Well, he wanted to see James Bond but given we can’t stand other people in movie theaters sitting near us and it was opening night, we opted for the less popular and has-been-out-for-a-while Steve Jobs flick.

I haven’t seen the handful of other Steve Jobs movies that have come out since his passing, but this one focused on his life story from the first Mac to the launch of the iMac. The story followed his professional path and personal life in a series of too-long dialogue scenes which all took place in the hour leading up to a major launch conference or in flashbacks. This fit a lot of story into a short amount of time but wasn’t exactly the most compelling to watch. Despite that, it did provide a reminder of the live of one Steve Jobs, who, without his existence, I wouldn’t be writing on this MacBook Air, wouldn’t be texting friends and family on my iPhone or reading non-fiction on my iPad. Love him or hate him, the man changed the world of consumer computing, music, and phones.

Steve Jobs is known as being an asshole, but one people loved to follow – a fearless cult leader who cared only about being true to himself and his vision. I’ve worked for a lot of CEOs who I believe would be trying to “be like Jobs.” They get the asshole part down but their intuition in business isn’t quite so keen. This is definitely a certain style of leadership which only works should your intuition be right most of the time. Even Jobs was wrong for a long time. He got fired from Apple. He was hired back because in the long run instinct and understanding what customers want – not what they THINK they want – is the most coveted talent known to business, even beyond top engineering chops.

There are parts of Steve Jobs’ personality that I recognize in myself. I constantly get chided over my focus on details, on making things absolutely perfect. But, unlike Jobs, it’s my job to make the things perfect too. Jobs was an ideas man and people loved him for it. They saw that brilliance and the value he brought and eventually he got it right. Now Apple stock is up hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. Jobs brought Apple back from the dead and said fuck you to anyone who didn’t believe in what he knew was right.

Of course, I don’t say “fuck you” to anyone. Unfortunately I have that part of my psyche which tries to please everyone. It’s pretty standard for females and I have it really bad due to a father who constantly told me all my ideas were wrong, and who would aggressively debate me should I decide I disagreed with his judgement. My mother was not allowed her own opinion, so I was taught very clearly that women should not have a voice. Women should be obedient. I didn’t have a brother so I never experienced that family dynamic (would have been interesting to see how my father treated a boy child) — but ultimately that was my life. My father certainly didn’t believe in “thinking different.”

I’m not my father, you say. I’m a grown-ass woman. I’m going to be 32 years old this month (fucking A) and I need to just stop being influenced by my past and think about my future. Be a leader. Be strong. Be a – man?

Here I am, approaching two new business opportunities. The leadership team of one (if you’ve been following – this is the larger, 300 person company) has one woman on it. The 15-person startup has 2 women in it, which, actually, compared to the ratio I believe exists at the larger company, is probably, percentage-wise, more women then at the bigger firm. I’m not 100% sure about that. Maybe it’s around the same. In the smaller company, I’d be the first female on the non-official leadership team.

This is nothing new. Even my last company which was heavily female the leadership team was all dudes plus one token women. This is life in Silicon Valley. Men can get away with being Steve Jobs – or faking to be Steve Jobs until finally someone realizes they aren’t. Somehow these men are so confident that they manage to go on to other roles even after major failures. They wear their failures proudly and walk on to the next opportunity.

Women leaders are far and few between in my life. While I have a few male mentors, it’s not the same. Many men who have been my peers had much closer ties with the male leaders at companies. They’d go out to drink with them on the regular, not just once to have a serious “mentor” chat. It was easy for them to call up their now friend to explore life’s many professional possibilities. The one female VP I know fairly well gets mad at me when I try to talk about work. I’ve learned to stop asking those questions.

I wish I could be more like Steve Jobs. Not in terms of being an asshole and horrible parent, but in terms of not giving a shit what other people think. How beautiful would that be? When it comes to opinions, everyone has one, but no one is actually right – so I might as well stand behind mine.

When I’m up in front of a room inspiring people, sharing my passion for great user experiences and products, I’m at my best. When I’m trying to coordinate a marketing program, I’m at my worst. I’m a catalyst, not a finisher. I need to learn how to be a leader. I need to learn how to be my own version of Steve Jobs – only then will I be valued, because I know I have great instincts, and my life’s challenge is to figure out how to get people to listen to them. I think that starts with not caring if they do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Time When You Realize You’re Almost 32…

Shit. I’m less than 6 months to 32. That’s not quite old but it certainly not young. And while I’ve saved up a decently sizable portfolio of investments over the course of my 31 and a half years, every day I freak out more regarding how I’m quickly watching the opportunity to have children disappear before my eyes. Yes, women can have kids later and later these days, but with my PCOS-crapified ovaries I know getting and staying pregnant is going to be a total bitch and damn expensive if not impossible.

There is no way in hell that I could work in a job like the one I have now and deal with getting pregnant. At least when you have kids they’re these physical creatures you can talk about with others and offer as a reason to work from home on occasion in order to deal with the whole biological needs of being a mother with infants. When you’re trying to get pregnant and not having any organic luck, then you have to deal with tons of doctors appointments and the crazy of hormone injections and such that mess with your mind. Yes, people do this all the time but I’m sure working for a startup makes it a heck of a lot harder. And I don’t think I’d ever see an occasion where I’d feel comfortable explaining to my current boss that I need to take some time during the day to go to a series of doctors appointments in order to get knocked up. That’s personal, and I would want it to stay personal.

While I’m not looking to get pregnant today, the reality is that I DO want to be married by next June (12 months) and very shortly thereafter want to begin the process of trying to have kids. I’ll be 32-and-a-half (holy shit) and in order to have my first kid by 34, well, that doesn’t leave a heck of a lot of time. Mr. HECC needs to hurry up and propose to me (hoping that’s happening in next 30 days because now we’re at the 9 year mark and we’ve generally both agreed on the get-married-and-have-kids timeline) and we just need to move on with our lives. I’m perplexed at how I can be 31 with a job making over $150k a year and a networth approaching $350k and I still feel so terribly lost and behind. I have a job, not a career, no matter what it looks like from the outside – and a boyfriend who might as well be my husband but who isn’t – because I’ve been so preoccupied with not being like those girls who just get married in their 20s because that’s what they think they ought to do.

And on top of all this, I am seriously considering grad school now more than ever – because this whole situation of just taking jobs that I can get versus jobs that I’m actually capable of being good at is absolutely draining every ounce of my being. I’m learning a shit ton and there are many aspects of my role that I like too, but it’s just not for me over the long term. I’m so grateful that the few people I have on my team are rockstars and helping me stay somewhat sane, but nonetheless that isn’t a career I can maintain even for a few more years. I need to make changes and I need to make changes fast in order to at least make a significant attempt at having a family, which at the end of the day is way more important to me than becoming a millionaire in my 40s.

So now that I have that straight, it definitely changes my priorities and plans. What kind of career can I have where I can – instead of being at the office 10 hours a day not including commute – spend time at home and be able to be a part of my potential future children’s lives? What job can I do where I can live a somewhat standard middle class life and be able to afford a house with a porch and a backyard… one that I can watch my children run around in? If my 20s were the years where I just wandered blindly and tried my best to save and save some more, my 30s are a time to open my eyes and just accept that being in the upper middle class, like I was as a child, isn’t necessarily the only option or a real route to happiness. So what if I’m squarely in the middle class? Did endless trips to the suburban shopping malls actually make me a happier person? Did my parents putting me through a private college for four years set me up for more success then I would have had if I went to a state school on scholarship and loans? Yes, it made it possible for me to take more risks then I might have if I didn’t have the cushion, but maybe those risks were bad ones to begin with. Maybe those risks are the ones that got me to almost 32, unwed and looking at a likely barren future.

Of all the things I freak out about, having kids and being able to have kids is something that I think I have a right to worry about. There is a such thing as a biological clock and time is FLYING by. I’m grateful to at least have the man who I see being the father to my children in my life, and for that to be an extremely stable relationship – but who cares if I’m going to be a 33-year-old newly wed and facing years of expensive, painful, and otherwise inconvenient infertility treatments? Being a woman IS different than being a guy – especially one in their late 20s / early 30s. Guys don’t have to rush into having kids – and guys don’t have to stab themselves with hormones in order to attempt to get pregnant, going to the doctor for many appointments in order to conceive and then engage in an entirely new series of doctors visits for ensuring the baby is born healthy and all… not to mention all that stuff that comes with being a mother once you give birth. And if you want more than one kid — well, so long to career progression in your 30s.

But do I really care? I don’t exactly have my heart set on becoming CMO – and what that entails. Is the American Dream working so hard until the day you retire that you don’t see your kids grow up, or have time to enjoy any hobbies or other moments in life that don’t involve soothing client worries or generating more business? I hate admitting that part of me wishes I were born at a time when these choices were made for me. What a terrible feminist. But it’s hard to be everything. Well, it’s not possible to be everything. And I am really, honestly, over dramatically and extremely terrified of believing time wouldn’t progress quite so rapidly if I chose to ignore it – and that my own ability to be a functioning woman wouldn’t be sidetracked by attempting to get ahead in a career where I’m yet another broken cog in an otherwise malfunctioning machine that will spin on and on and on whether or not I happen to be there to fill my little place in it.

 

 

The Beauty Industry and My 30 Something Face

Vain as I am, I’ve been the type to roll my eyes at my mother who spends gobs of money on beauty products, picking up the latest serum or cream from any sales person she comes in contact with. Yet turning 30 has me wanting to follow suit. What are those? Fine lines in my forehead etched from years of being a sarcastic worry wort? And, holy crap, I see the very start of crows feet coming on at the corners of my eyes – can’t I just stop them now? Isn’t there some cream out there that will make my skin look 20 when I’m 95?

Ok, so the beauty industry plays on these feelings which are a natural part of aging. We live in a society that considers you over the hill once you’ve passed 25 (thanks Hollywood) if you’re a woman, so of course we’ll do anything to fit the part. The other day, my boss told me that I looked “tired” after I had actually a fairly good night’s rest. That isn’t a good sign. Was it my under eye bags? My pale, thinning skin? Was I going to look more tired every single day because I’m getting older? Ugh!

Aging is so strange as a woman. As a man, you undoubtedly grow into your best self through the years. Women have these strange expectations to be both old and young at the same time, especially if you work in business. I haven’t figured out how to properly address this yet. On one hand, people tell me I still look so young – and that’s a good thing (I know other women my age who certainly look older) but then I also feel like in order to be taken seriously in the work world I need to look older. I don’t know, maybe paint a few more wrinkles on my face, dye my hair silver grey and cover it up with a bad blonde dye job to be obviously old enough to make a valid point.

Before you all scold me for how BATSHIT CRAZY this list is, please remember that I get my hair cut four times a year and with the exception of one whim a year ago where I went ombre, I do not dye my hair anymore, so that’s significant savings in terms of personal care. You won’t find me at a spa. I drive a used car I paid cash for. I’m not exactly living an expensive lifestyle. Yes, I could invest that savings, but would that make my face look better?

My Favorite Beauty Products and Spending Too Much on Them…

1. Clarisonic Mia 2 ($149 kit)

I bought this $149 face brush for myself for my 31st birthday. Yes, it’s an electronic face brush that supposedly cleans 6x better than if you were doing it yourself. I’m not sure I believe that, but I do know that I’m the type of person who sucks at keeping up a routine and tends to fall asleep with a full face of makeup on. That can’t be good. What I like most about the Mia is how fast it is to get a good thorough clean across your entire face in 60 seconds plus a few extra for putting the soap on your face with some water first. It has a timer that gives you 20 seconds for your forehead, 20 for your chin and nose, and 10 for each cheeks, and then you’re done. Efficiency to inspire routine as a person who doesn’t do routine is good.

In the one week of owning my Clarisonic I’ve noticed an improvement in my skin overall. However, initially I started out using the soap that came with my package from Sephora — Philosophy “Purity” — and it made my skin break out terribly. I thought it was the Clarisonic doing that since I read a bunch of reviews talking about this “purge” that happens for the first few weeks (and subsequent articles about how the purge concept is bullshit and your skin is just telling you STOP DESTROYING ME.) In any case, as soon as I switched to a less harsh face wash my skin calmed down, phew. But do I really need to spend $149 on a FACE BRUSH? Whatever, it was my birthday.

2. Origin’s Cheeks and Balances Soap ($12)

Actually, I had this lying around in a bag of random face soaps and such that I’ve picked up throughout the years (I think it came part of a discount set so I didn’t actually pay $12 for it yet.) Switching from Purity to Cheeks and Balances made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. After a few days of my Clarisonic paired with Cheeks and Balances my face feels much better. I also have noticed that anything I put on after washing with these two products do seep in better, meaning that I need to use less of the more expensive stuff that comes after cleaning to make my face look not as bad as it would look otherwise.

3. Ole Hendrickson Truth Serum Vitamin C Collegen Booster ($48)

So I didn’t actually pay $48 for this yet. It came as part of my Clarisonic kit in a mini form and I’ve been using it every morning. I’m not sure if it does anything but it has 4.5 stars on Sephora so it must be good, amirite? It smells good anyway. It is supposed to support natural collagen production to brighten and minimize fine wrinkles caused from free radical damage, yada yada. Man, if only I worked in marketing for the beauty industry… anyway… it uses orange extract, grapefruit extract, rose hip seed extract, sodium ascorbic phosphate and ester-c.  Hey, anything to make me look not that old yet. I probably will never pay the full $48 for this product, it is usually available on Sephora.com as part of a set and you don’t need to use that much everyday. I figure it should last 3 months with regular use.

4. Ole Hendrickson Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil ($48)

Not sold on this one yet, but I actually purchased it mid last year on a whim of feeling old an a sales person convincing me this was great for people who don’t have old skin yet but want to protect skin from getting old (oh god I’m turning into my mother.) This is pretty much straight up rose hips oil, which, according to the brand, is a good source of active vitamin A and vitamin C. I prefer using the Truth Serum more than this… directions from brand say BUY BOTH and use them after each other, but the oil is kind of, well, oily, and I prefer the serum which is stickier. I am going to try both layered to see if they make any sort of difference. I wonder if Rosehip Seed Oil, Tangerine Peel Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E) would cost $45 if I buy them from a farmer.

5. Origins GinZing Energy Booster Moisturizer ($26.50)

What’s that smell? Is it a delicious citrusy fruit basket? Why no sir, it’s just my moisturizer. I’m actually mildly in love with this product. I’ve tried a ton of moisturizers and usually stop using them because they smell like a mix of plastic and ass and texture-wise feel more like watered down chalk mixed with elmers glue, so when I say I like a moisturizer it means an awful lot. This moisturizer doesn’t have SPF anything though, which sucks but is probably why it doesn’t have the consistency or smell I hate, so it means I need to buy yet ANOTHER product with sunscreen in it to actually use the most important part of an aging lady’s beauty routine. Oh well. I like this stuff. I just splurged on a set (self hanukah gift, what?) that has the GinZing eye cream in it as well as two other products that look industry and MORE OF THIS FABULOUS MOISTURIZER for $51 (see: best of both world’s set)

6. Origins Night a Mins High Potency Skin Cream ($41)

I had a sample of this stuff and it seemed to help my face overnight, but I wasn’t about to pay $41 for it on its own. Luckily Origin’s marketers were kind to me and presented the “Best of Both World’s” set for $51 (which sold out about two hours after I purchased it at Macys.com, might still be available in store) – I’m looking forward to using this every night before my moisturizer to see if it provides “naturally radiant morning skin.” #nomoretiredface — eh, whatever, I never go to the spa, I can pamper myself a little at home, right?

7. PM Moisturizer: Cereve PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($12)

This is probably my only practical purchase of the bunch. Recommended to me from a dermatologist, the PM moisturizer isn’t fancy or smelltastical but it does its job. I wake up with a face that feels soft as butta. Love it. I should probably give up on the Origins splurges and just use Cereve’s daytime moisturizer (which has some SPF in it) but it does not make me smell like a fruit, and where’s the fun in that?

8. Neutrogena Rapid Repair Night Moisturizer ($21.99)

#becausevanity — oh god, wrinkles. Here they come. Every dermatologist on the web says USE RETINOL to fix existing wrinkles if you don’t want to go all Botox on your face. I don’t use this every day because it BURNS but pain is beauty so I’m trying it out on a fairly regular basis. Nothing noticeable yet but I might as well use the product up until its gone or my skin has melted off. Either way.

Stuff I Am Trying Out Soon Because I’m Crazy

9. Black Tea Age-Delay Instant Infusion Treatment Toner ($48)

This stuff is supposed to help boost overall moisturizers and make your face look EVEN YOUNGER. I don’t know. Toner. Are you a marketers creation? Reviews say this stuff evens out dark spots and such. Everyone on Sephora.com loves it, I must have it. Actually, I bought this because the reviews convinced me… it’s worth it to tone with this product before moisturizer. My skin is still bumpy and red, so I’d like something that will make me appear smooth like a baby’s butt. Yes, I want my face to resemble a baby’s bottom, so sue me.

10. Origins GinZing Eye Cream ($26.50)

Bought this as part of that $51 gift set at Macys w/ the Night a Mins, more of my fav moisturizer and an overnight mask. It won’t be the full size but how much eye cream does one really need? Looking forward to trying it out. I’ll probably continue picking it up in gift sets that offer it vs ever paying $26 for normal eye cream – but who knows, a bit more crows feet and I’ll be investing in baby foreskin to keep my eye creases at bay (btw, I only know this is a thing because my mom either bought or almost bought a product which includes baby foreskin as its magic ingredient. And yes, it is a thing. And, Ew.)

11. Origins GinZing Facial Scrub Cleanser ($19.50)

Because some days you need a little extra scrub. The Clarisonic is theoretically not an exfoliator and my blackheads won’t quit. Maybe this stuff will help. Maybe I will just have more excuses to put fresh citrusy smells near my nose. Either way, I’m investing in this because Cheeks and Balances is a good daily cleanser but a few times a week my face, I think, needs a little deeper scrubbing.

Ok, so I haven’t actually paid full price for all of these items due to gift sets, but the total value/cost to continue this regime would be… drumroll please… 

$330 every 3 months (not counting the $149 clarisonic mia purchase, but counting a replacement brush needed for it also every 3 months.)

So that’s about $100 a month – which really isn’t that bad (she tells herself trying to rationalize spending $100 a month ON HER FACE THAT IS GOING TO GET OLD ANYWAY.)

I mean, I’m clearly not the only person who spends money on this stuff, so is it that bad? I don’t need all of it, but being an adult now I’m trying to get into routines and pampering myself for a few minutes a day in between working and sleeping seems like a reasonable thing to do. When I put $100 in the market one day and it goes down to nothing the next, I don’t get a smoother face, that’s for sure. #vanitywinsagain

I’m still investing over $4000 a month so I don’t feel that bad about these splurges. But being a girl is expensive, women should be paid more than men overall, not less!

 

Focus, Time, and the Brevity of Life

There isn’t a day that goes by when I lack a sense of overwhelm and impending doom. That’s just my style. A lot of this is knotted up in a series of paranoid internal monologues that repeat ad nausem echoing off the corners of my mind.  Yet there’s some reality to the panic. Time isn’t a fake out. It’s this real, visceral, constantly moving stream of invisible life force which makes our bodies wither as the clock of the world ticks on with or without us. Time is the most real of all – because you can’t make more of it, once it’s gone it’s gone.

Today I visited two of my good friends who are both now parents and either my age or younger. A few friends back on the east coast have had their second children already. And I’m turning 31 in a smidgen over a month. The reality is that given my PCOS issues it’s going to be challenging to have kids of my own. Yet today I want them more than ever. The longer I wait the harder it will likely be. But when is the right time? My career is finally starting to take off. If I were to have a child now I don’t have the foggiest how I could also work my job. Well, it would surely be impossible to commute four hours a day and fly at a moment’s notice as a new mother. But would I even want that as my toddler grows from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and enters his or her own childhood without a mother around?

Clearly I’ll have to work if/when I have kids. I never though I wouldn’t have to and it’s fine to be a working mother and all. I’m fortunate that my boyfriend is more than willing to be a stay-at-home dad. Still… I just worry about waiting too long. I know, I know, it’s not the end of the world if I can’t have kids, or if I only have one child… but I just want two or three children. Probably two though I feel like three is a good large enough family without being too large. And while that’s a nice thought the likelihood of it happening is shrinking by the day.

So my boyfriend and I should be getting married in spring 2016 when I’ll be 32 and a half. I mean… that’s getting old. Let’s just say I have trouble getting pregnant because I probably will. IVF clinics won’t even seriously consider you for treatment until you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year with no luck. So that gets me to 33-and-a-half. And who knows if I can get pregnant or how fast – even with the best treatment out there. And that treatment is expensive and can quickly burn through the savings that I’m working so hard to build up so I can afford what happens after I have kids.

With this scenario I’ll be lucky if I’m pregnant by 34 and have my first kid at 35. I really would like at least two kids if I’m going to have one. But then that leaves me at being a new mother at 35 going on 36 and knowing that I need to try immediately to have my second kid… all while being the breadwinner of the household and attempting to not only keep my job but grow in my career and move into a serious management position. I just can’t make sense of it. It all makes me think that if I actually do want kids – the logical thing to do would be to say screw “marriage” (which I’m not sure makes sense anyway due to the tax penalties) and just start trying to have my first kid now. I mean, that would suck in terms of work, but it’s not like I’d get pregnant tomorrow. But if I start trying at 31… that leaves me eligible for IVF at 32… and that timeframe just looks a whole lot better. If I have my first kid at 33 I can have my second at 35 or 36 and if I decide I do want a third then I have time for it, or at least I can just have two without feeling incredibly rushed.

I just think it’s so crazy how fast time goes by… and how judgmental I’ve been of all the girls who got married young and had kids in their 20s. That’s what the uneducated people do, I thought, brushing off their happiness with a reminder to myself that I’m getting my shit together first, saving up a good amount of money, preparing myself to be ready for kids. Well, it might not be too late yet but time is definitely running out. My 20s disappeared in the blink of an eye and my 30s will surely be equally as fast paced. With the amount I plan to work and focus on my career it will be easier to forget to focus on the things that matter in life and just running ahead blinded to the truth.

The whole marriage and wedding thing is just for show, what really matters is family… a family that I maybe already have waited too long to have, or at least one that is going to take a whole lot of headache and heartache to make possible. And I’m terrified of that journey that is to come.

Why Women Shouldn’t Ask for a Raise

Microsoft CEO Satya Nedella this week took heat for making a very un-PC statement at a women’s tech conference (of all places) that women should not ask for raises and instead trust “Karma” to get them the money they deserve.

Uhhhhhh….

Microsoft’s workforce is 71% male, a figure that rises to 83% for both technical and leadership roles. Those figures are roughly in line with the gender breakdown at Google,FacebookYahoo and Apple.

In my own company I’m happy to report the gender balance is much more 50/50, yet on the leadership team until I joined there was only one woman. Now there are two. While we’re not a big company like Microsoft or Apple or Facebook, I’m proud that I work in one of the more diverse (at least gender-wise) companies in tech.

That said, you can bet I played hardball coming into the job in terms of comp because I knew exactly what I was worth and what I was going to give to the organization. Well, basically I rationalized my comp and pushing for it as whoever is in the role actually delivering what the role needs right now deserved that comp, therefore if I did the role justice I deserved the comp and if I didn’t then I’d be gone anyway – I rather negotiate with confidence in myself and what I can bring to the company vs just accept that I deserve whatever is offered below what the role is worth.

Every time I go into a negotiation in my career I get a little bolder, a little braver, a little less worried that I’ll lose the opportunity if I push for what is deserved… and what is deserved is really what the market will bear, within reason. Once you get to a point in your career where you’re a specialist you can ask for a little more if that specialty is relevant to your new role.

However asking for raises has never been a favorite thing of mine to do – that’s one of the reasons I’m getting so ballsy in the first negotiation before I sign a contract. I did well this time around but know what I negotiated is equal to what I’m worth if I can deliver (which I plan to do.)

I can’t believe the CEO of Microsoft made those dumb ass comments. Of course he recanted likely with the help of the PR team kindly asking him “what were you thinking?” But the damage is done.  He basically was trying to say that women have long careers if they just don’t ask for raises so eventually they’ll get rewarded. Maybe. That’s bs. Women need to ask for raises and ensure they are paid what they’re worth. I felt like a total asshole during my recent negotiation but still I got what I wanted and now I can focus on the important stuff – my job – vs worrying about whether or not I’m fairly compensated.

Yes I did it for myself – but every time I negotiate now – I also picture myself as just one woman in technology who will hopefully be a VP one day soon, who will help balance out the gender imbalance just a smidgen, inspiring more women to go into technology companies, making the future of tech a little less – manly.

 

 

Why Being a Bridesmaid is Costing me Over $2000

Well, over $2500 to be exact.

There were a few comments on my last post about my budget over the next three months about why – despite my otherwise frugal expectations of spending – my bridesmaid budget was quickly draining my networth. Someone said “you do realize you are spending $2500 on being a bridesmaid and that is ridiculous.” Well, I wanted to break out my costs to show you all that it’s not really that ridiculous at the moment. As I noted in my response to that comment – also – my friend has three bridesmaids vs a larger party so all of the items we’re buying we’re splitting 3 ways, which quickly gets expensive. And she already had drama with one of her bridesmaids (having to replace her) so unless I’m going into debt over this I don’t feel comfortable asking her to step out of the wedding or pay less than the other bridesmaids (neither of whom are rich either.)

Bridesmaid Budget

Flights to NY area for 3 events: $1200  ($400 per flight avg)
Bridal Shower Cards, Favors, Games: $100
Bridesmaid Dress: $200 (already purchased)
Bridesmaid Dress Alterations: TBD ($100?)
Bridesmaid Dress: Silver Peep Toe Shoes (required) $75
Bachelorette Party Hotel in NY: $150
Bachelorette Party Activities in NY: $200
Wedding Day Hair/Makeup: $150 (required by bride)
Hotel Nights (2) for Rehearsal Dinner & Wedding: $300
Gift for Bride & Groom: $200
——————————————————-

TOTAL $2625

There are a few items here I could minimize to reduce that budget a bit — I can use frequent flier miles for my flight (but they’re still worth something and tends not to be worth it to use them to fly cross country.) I can hope my dress fits well enough to not require any sort of severe alterations, but these dresses are designed to need alterations, at the very least a serious hem. I can make a stink about the $150 of hair and makeup required on the wedding day but she really wants us to get this done professionally for photos. If I was completely out of cash I’d say something to the bride about it, but it doesn’t feel right. I can skip the bridal shower which I’m sure she’d understand worst case scenerio, but now my plan is to piggyback an old friend’s baby shower the following weekend on that trip, and given I’ll be applying for jobs on the east coast too that week actually makes sense to set up some interviews while I’m there.

The actual bachelorette party in NY is super pricey. We were originally going to do it in Atlantic City which would have been cheaper but the bride really wanted NY so NY it is. I’m looking into ways to keep our budget in check so it’s no more than $300 per person total including the hotel room – as it’s very easy to spend much, much more than that in NYC for a night on the town.

In any chase when I agreed to being a bridesmaid I didn’t realize I’d be out of a job. I also wasn’t thinking necessarily about the costs but how honored I am to be chosen as a close friend of a girl who has indeed become a better friend of mine over the years despite our distance. It’s not like I have a ton of friends asking me to to be in their bridal parties (I was in one other wedding in my adult life — and that one had a ton of bridesmaids and all I had to pay for was my dress with alterations and opted for hair design at the wedding, plus I chipped in heavily for the bachlorette party because her maid of honor was refusing to throw a big party out like the bride wanted. Even that with a hotel in San Francisco did not come to over $600 or so total plus wedding gift.)

I’m not sure what to do now. Adding it all up on paper is a bit scary, especially given the no job situation. Also, if I do get a job and book flights for going back and forth that would be a pain in the first few months at the job. That may very well be what happens but it’s not going to be ideal. Anyway, now you all know why my bridesmaid budget is so high!

 

The Wedding Planner – How Much Should a Wedding Cost?

Weddings are a big business. I’ve been to weddings of all sizes and costs — some small and in local parks — others large in luxury city banquet halls. Looking back on the weddings, besides respective heat from being in a park outdoors with no shade, the actual cost of the event does not influence my own review of the event. What I personally remember most is the love the partners shared for each other, the kind words the family said, and how much fun was had by all.

So why is my own wedding budget suddenly increasing from $30,000 to $50,000? Even $30,000 sounds absolutely ridiculous. I have two very conflicting POVs in my mind at the moment and it’s a challenge to find a balance that makes sense.

My parents WANT to pay up to $50,000 for a wedding, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous in my mind. Regardless of how much they pay (and especially if they pay $50k) then it becomes THEIR wedding and not my wedding. At least they’re fairly flexible on some things, but my mother is starting to bring up all the horrific things her mother did at her wedding and, unfortunately, my mother is not the type to think “this means I should not do them to my own daughter” and instead sees this as an opportunity to do the same (*at least she claims she will not force herself onto our honeymoon, which her own mother did.) Continue reading