Friday, May 29, 2009

Crisis Mode!

Lately, it feels like everyone I speak to is going through a quarterlife crisis.  Although, I'm not sure they know it. They are sick of their jobs or deciding whether or not to go to graduate school or just feeling lost. 

I joke almost every other week that I'm going through one. After reading this article from Canada's Eye Weekly, it seems that I, along with all of my friends and our entire generation, am going through a quarterlife crisis. 

The article points out that when our parents were our age they were married, buying homes and having children. They did this because it was what they were supposed to do. They then brought up our generation to believe that we can be anything we want to be, that we can have careers that are lucrative, stimulating and keep us happy in and outside of the office.  
Now, we've grown up and the things we were told aren't exactly happening the way we want them to. Only, we don't really know how we want them to happen. Our generation was brought up to be anything we wanted to be; it's left us with too many options which makes it harder for us to make life decisions and ergo the quarterlife crisis.

Have I lost you yet?

I highly recommend heading over to Eye Weekly and getting some insight into the quarterlife for some coping mechanisms and some anecdotes from other twenty/thirty-somethings going through it. There's also a quiz (I love quizzes) which says I'm not having a quarterlife crisis. But that could all change in a week or two. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer Friday Envy

Summer Fridays. Have you all heard of this glorious invention? It's when a company lets their employees leave early on Friday afternoons during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day typically). Some companies even let their employees pick a number of Fridays that they can just take off. And these are in addition to the other days you get off throughout the year.

When I moved to Chicago this past year, I had no idea this was an East Coast idea. Yep, my company doesn't support the Summer Friday cause. Apparently I will be chained to my desk until 5PM every summer Friday evening.

Granted, even when I lived in NYC I didn't have Summer Fridays. But sometimes I could ditch my desk a little earlier (say 3:30 or 4PM) to catch a train out to the Shore. Sidenote: can I just say I already have Shore envy?! I miss my house like crazy.

And now that I live in the Midwest, I can kiss the idea of ever having the luxury of getting out at 2PM or 3PM the weekend before a holiday or just taking a Friday off for no other reason than that it's summer and I want to get to Manasquan before nightfall.

Not that I have anywhere to go. Some people go to Michigan or Wisconsin. But I will probably spend most of my summer at my dad's pool. I can't decide if I love that idea or loathe it. I also realized fairly quickly that people who live in Chicago stay in Chicago during the summer - because I mean when else do you get this nice weather? Never. That's when.

So as my friends pack up their desks early and retreat to the Shore, or the Hamptons, or the Cape - I'll be here.

I have a case of hardcore Summer Friday envy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Working Girl Wants

My most recent Working Girl want? If you're in the giving mood and you just so happen to want to buy me a present, I would love it if you could send me over the Working Girl series of everyday wines (special thanks to reader Jennifer who let us on this fab women owned and operated winery).

Let's start with their backstory - Olympic Cellars is one of the first original 15 wineres in Washington state and is the first woman-owned and woman-operated winery on the North Sound. Since 2001, the owners Kathy Charlton, Molly Rivard, and Libby Sweetser, have taken the winery to an all together different level than most wineries.

Not only do they make the Working Girl wine series, but they also use proceeds from the sale of Working Girl wines (and other branded products) to support the Gynocare Program at the Family Planning Clinic in Clallam County, which is a program that provides financial assistance to women in need for clinical services not covered by state funding.

So not only do I want to guzzle down this delicious looking wine on a daily basis, but I also admire these women whole-heartedly.

There are three wines in the series and each one represents a different owner - Working Girl White is Charlton (who loves a nice glass of white wine after work), Rivard is Go Girl Red (enviormentalist), and Sweetser is Rose the Riverter (a self-made woman with a can-do attitude). [Wines & Vines]

According to a Wines & Vines article on the Working Girl wines, the WG's didn't consciously make a decision to brand their wine to a niche market of just women, but instead, "they simply wanted to create a fun, distinctive and affordable blend with 'no industry speak'".

So in short I have a tiny girl crush on these women (and am also loving the fact that they're from Port Angeles, WA because that makes my obsessed with Twilight/Edward Cullen heart beat like a drum).

Click here to order wine from the Working Girls!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Can I Keep It?

The summer before our senior year, WG1 and I were interns in NYC at magazines. Mine may have been a tad bit smaller than hers (and by that I mean we had about 6 employees including myself and we worked out of the owner's apartment).

That summer I wrote lots and lots of articles, did tons of research, and also did way too many personal tasks for the owner (not fun lemme tell ya). But because I did so much extra work for them (and because the magazine was teeny tiny), they often let me take home free stuff they had received from companies asking them to write about their products.

I once got my hair cut for free at the Butterfly Studio (which was super out of my price range). I took home a lot of this stuff. And got offered a lot of free dinners at places like this for writing about their restaurant.

And then I went back to school and took some journalism courses and realized that accepting these gifts might not have been such an honest and upstanding thing to do as a journalist.

At work recently I had to take a small online course about what is considered proper and improper acceptance of gifts. It's such a fine line!

In the video they made us watch, a guy received golf clubs (very expensive ones) from a client who wanted his business. And of course he sent them back because it wasn't ethical to accept them even though he was going to do business with him before he received the gift.

In my new position, I've received some gifts but mostly they are after we have done business and I view these as "thank you" gifts. And when I say gifts I don't mean golf clubs. I usually mean champagne, or candy, and one time someone sent me a cooler. And in those instances I don't think it is improper to accept the gift.

I have become a recent fan of the show Parks and Recreation and in one of the most recent episodes, Amy Poehler's character Leslie Knope accepts a wine basket and then feels super guilty about it and turns herself in to her boss. Clip is below and it's hilarious. Please watch.

What do you think is okay to accept and not accept? What does your company's ethics guidelines say about accepting gifts ?

Monday, May 18, 2009

An Ode to the Giant Golf Umbrella

Last week it rained cats and dogs in Chicago. (Btw, I've always wondered where that saying came from...imagine cats and dogs falling out the sky...weird.)

Anyway, since it was raining like a mofo, everyone had out their trusty rain shields. I myself had to purchase a $7 umbrella from CVS. I even passed over the $5 umbrellas thinking, "Splurge - I bet those $2 will make a difference and this umbrella will last you a lifetime." Apparently I was delusional. The thing is already broken and to make it work I have to hold it with two hands otherwise I get sprayed with gusts of wind and water.

But that is not the point of the story. The point of this post is my ode to the giant golf umbrella. Oh, how I loathe that giant umbrella that everyone and their mother seems to have. I see their appeal - they provide maximum coverage so you will never get wet (ever) and they also serve as a weapon for when commuting.

Here is what irks me. It's a GOLF umbrella fellow commuters. That thing is meant for golf so that when you're golfing you can golf without getting your clubs wet or your awesome golf outfit wet. It is not meant for commuting to and from the train station.

Last week, I'm pretty sure I almost got my eye poked out twice by those huge golf umbrellas because for some reason when a person wields one of these weapons on the street, they think they have a small, dinky umbrella from CVS when in fact they have an umbrella that could take out two large men just by being swung in their general direction.

If there is one thing I am passionate about, it is banning golf umbrellas from the city. The street is not big enough for all of us. I think we must all be forced to carry around a dinky umbrella from CVS. Or be imprisoned.

But hey that's just me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A New Job for Spring?

In New York, we’ve finally had a few steady days of nice-ish weather. Spring is here. In honor of the new season, MSN published “10 Great Jobs to have in the Springtime.” It’s all about being outside and enjoying the wonder feeling we all have after a cold, long winter. Now, I love the warm weather and not having wear tights just as much as the next Working Girl but some of these jobs, well, I don’t think they are that great. At least for me.

1. Sportswriter – I really dislike sports. To me, watching a football game is boring and I’ve been known to cry at Shea Stadium. The fact that my boyfriend actually is a sportswriter means I often have to watch sports, which makes me dislike them more. Sorry, babe!

2. Florist – Perfect job for spring. Not perfect for my seasonal allergies.

3. Meteorologist – I enjoy being right and I do not enjoy it when people are mad at me. Meteorologists are often wrong and there are always people mad at them for being wrong.

4. Landscaping worker – One of the greatest things about being on my own and not living with my parents is that I am not forced into the annual springtime landscaping. I did have a great tactic back then though: act like a “piss-ant” for long enough for my dad and siblings to get annoyed and then be told to go inside and help my mother.

5. Construction worker – I’m pretty great at putting things together. I put together several pieces of IKEA furniture while my boyfriend and WG2 watched TV in the living room (thanks guys!). However, I don’t have the stamina for real construction.

6. Fashion Buyer – Sounds cool, but I have a hard enough time buying clothes for myself. Although, if it were someone else’s money I might have an easier time.

7. College Admissions Counselor – I once considered this career path but after three years of being a college tour guide I got sick of bratty high-school students. Although, the average annual salary of over $98,000 doesn’t sound to shabby.

8. Pest Control Worker – About a month ago, there was a water bug in my apartment. It took me three hours to kill it, my dad was on the phone with me the whole time as I screamed and I made my boyfriend drive from New Jersey at 2 o’clock in the morning to make sure it was really dead under the two phone books and three cookbooks I smashed on top of it. I then walked about the apartment in my rainboots for several days. Yeah, so no on the pest control worker.

9. Housekeeper – I would insert a picture of my bedroom right now but I’m too lazy. Just like I’m too lazy to clean my room.

10. [Baseball Stadium] Vendor – see number 1.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Work Spouse

As I was going through my Google Reader early yesterday morning before the droves of co-workers flooded the office, I read a post on Behind These Hazel Eyes on the concept of a "work spouse". 

According to Hazel's blog post (and Wikipedia aka my Bible), a work spouse is "a co-worker (usually of the opposite sex) with whom one shares a close platonic relationship" and apparently this bond tends to mimic that of a real wife and husband. 

And I instantly thought of my old co-worker Ramon. 

At my first job out of college while I was still working in New York, I sat next to a pushing 45-year-old, jovial, Cuban man who shared my love of reality TV shows (oh, and he is gay so don't go getting any ideas that this story is gonna get all lovey dovey on you). 

And we were most definitely work spouses. We even called each other husband and wife at work, which to be honest I think creeped people out. We also fought frequently, went through some troubled times where we stopped talking, and just recently reunited while he was in Chicago for a meeting and took me out to dinner at Rosebud (can we say yum?). 

So while I was googling "work spouse", I came across an article from CNN Living which listed the top seven signs to tell if you have a work spouse. And it made me laugh because it just solidified that Ramon and I were a couple. 

1. You depend on a particular co-worker for office supplies, snacks or aspirin. about money?? Ramon and I would constantly go back and forth borrowing money. And he would constantly steal my aspirin. And together we were the snack king and queen of the office - we would go on snack runs together. Wow, I'm a tool. 

2. There are inside jokes you and a particular co-worker share. 
This is a no-brainer. Our favorite go-to's were anything about the shows Rock of Love and Kid Nation. He even called me Taylor for a nickname. Yea, figure that inside joke out. 

3. You can be bluntly honest about his or her appearance. 
I constantly made fun of Ramon for not dressing his age. And he would make fun of me whenever I didn't do my hair...which was almost everyday.

4. When something eventful at work happens, this is the person you go to for a de-briefing.
Ok, this one had me stumped. Because as much as I loved Ramon, he was a huge gossip so I did not go to him whenever I heard something juicy. But I know he always told me when he heard something delicious (because I usually already knew). 

5. At breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks, your co-worker could order for you and vice versa.
This is most definitely true. Ramon loved his Italian subs from Subway, his Cuban food from the place next to Subway, and pepperoni pizza from the pizza place next door. 

6. You and your co-worker can finish each other's sentences.
Creepy, but yes. 

7. Your co-worker knows just as much about your personal life as a real spouse or best friend would. 
Fact. Although I don't have a real spouse, Ramon knew a great deal about me. And I knew way too much about him and his boyfriends (multiple). 

Looking over this list, do any of you have a work husband or wife?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Early to Rise

Every morning, I set my alarm for 45-minutes before I actually have to get out of bed. There is nothing I love more than being woken up and then realizing that I still have time to sleep.

Two-weeks ago, instead of hitting snooze for 45-minutes, I got out of bed, got ready for the day and went to work…an hour early! The office was quiet and I could actually get work done without interruptions.

On any given day, it’s nearly impossible for me to focus on one task for more than 10 minutes. Emails are popping up on my computer every two minutes, the phone is ringing and people are walking up right up to my desk with questions. Having quiet time in the office before my co-workers arrive gave me a head start to the day and made me more productive throughout the day.

My early arrivals at work only lasted one week; I just couldn’t get it together to get in early last week. But it’s definitely something I’m going to try to do at least once or twice a week moving forward, especially if I find I'm extremely busy every day, because as much as I love to sleep in, I’d rather get to work early than stay late.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why So Anxious?

Come Sunday, like clockwork, my stomach begins to turn into knots. I start to worry about my work week - what could I have done better last week, what did I leave to do this week that I should have done last week, what can I do to impress my boss this week. 

I've always been a pretty anxious person. Before interviews, I would turn into a ball of nerves. Before presentations at school, my stomach would become a butterfly exhibit. And before my first day at a new job, omigod it's like I can't breathe. 

And then the day is over and I feel better and life goes on. Eventually I become accustomed to the people, my workspace, my environment, my job, my duties and I calm down. 

Recently though I feel like it's been getting worse. Every Friday, I leave work relieved and happy with the work I've done for the week. I think I worked so hard, I deserve this weekend and these days off. And then all of a sudden it's Sunday and I become a pile of nerves. 

I've only been at my new job now for 6 months...which in some ways seems impossible because I only feel like I've been here two months. But on the other hand, I feel like I've been here forever. Someone at work the other day asked me if it was my year anniversary yet. I replied with a snort. Very ladylike. 

I know my nerves are just nerves. But after two people got let go last week, my nerves went into overdrive. Will they know I looked at Perez Hilton for an hour last week or that I procrastinated and didn't do a project assigned to me until the day before it was due? 

Sometimes on Sundays, I have trouble sleeping. I constantly get that "you look tired" greeting from my co-workers on Mondays (thanks guys! what a compliment!). I know that my worries are just that - worries. I don't think my job is in jeopardy. I know I'm needed. And my boss is always quick to tell me what a great job I have done on projects. 

Sometimes I attribute this worry and anxiousness to the fact that I still don't know the company that well. That even after six months, I'm still learning what our company does. And maybe it makes me anxious that my presentations aren't always perfect the first go around. 

Whatever it is, I hope it goes away soon. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

For My Fellow Chicago WG's

First of all, I just have to say I loathe, loathe, hate, hate RCN!!!!!!!!!!!! I still don't have cable. I still don't have Internet. And now they are sending me bills for $600+ because I haven't sent in my old cable box.

Hence no post yesterday. My apologies chicas.

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, but my friend Pam just turned me onto this website called Poor Little Rich Girls. And when I saw they posted the words "free" and "Berry Chill" together, they had me hooked.

Essentially, the site caters to the "young woman living in the city earning enough money to support herself, but not quite enough to go spending it on every Jimmy, Marc and Saint Laurent she sees." And as such, they offer discounts and coupons on a ton of different things. My personal favorites so far - one hour free with a personal assistant from Chicago Anytime Assistants, 20% off your bill at Hunt Club, and duh this Berry Chill thing is making me salivate.

And not only do they offer discounts for us hard-working women, but they also have profiles on Chicago working women, find us awesome/healthy deals for lunch around town, and keep us dressed like superstars (without hurting our wallets).

Unfortunately, it looks like they only have a Chicago edition, but I'm hoping they take this national, because it's an awesome tool for us working women on a budget.

To say I'm smitten would be an understatement.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we think you Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.

  • This past weekend, Bea Arthur, the actress made famous for her roles in Maude and Golden Girls passed away from cancer. Arthur is probably best known for being the first female character on prime time TV that had an abortion. We applaud her for pushing the envelope and know she will be truly missed. 
  • Let women rule the world. That is basically what this article from Reuters is saying. OK, I may have exaggerated a teensy bit. But it did say that women have a tendency to take less extreme risks, and creating a more balanced team of managers (aka one woman for every man) then there could be less risk in decision making. 
  • Still confused as to why women are getting paid as much as their male counterparts? Yea, me too (shakes raised fist at the sky). This fact sheet from the Center for American Progress is very interesting to read - it gives you a break down of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and talks about why women are earning less even though they went to better schools and received better grades. 
  • In a new survey compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, many women between the ages of 18-64 believe that cosmetic surgery gives them a competitive edge in the workforce. Of those surveyed, 73% believe looks play an integral role in getting a promotion or getting hired.