Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Case for Cell Phone Distraction

Cell phones, and perhaps more so technology in general, get a bad rep.  They cause people to become distracted, disengaged and even disgusting in cases where Tinder has gone bad.  Is this really such a bad thing though?

I'll be the first to admit that patience is not my best virtue.  Nowhere can this be better illustrated  than at the grocery store.  Especially when it comes time to go through the checkout line.  In times of distress (i.e. the guest in front of me arguing with the cashier over a .33 cent price discrepancy), I have taken to pulling out my phone, catching up on my text correspondence and then scrolling through my Instagram feed where usually I can find a good laugh or two.  Some 17 minutes later when the .33 cents and probably some change more, finally is resolved I've all but completely forgotten why I was seething through my teeth with anger at the cheapo from aisle nine (paper products).  In fact, when they offer their insincere "sorry," not for holding up the line but for having to reach over my head to grab their last second gum, batteries and water, I even am able to smile with ease and say "don't worry about it."  Two things I rarely am able to combine.

Which then begs the question: are cell phones making us nicer?

If the receptionist at my doctor's office notorious for 45 minute waits has anything to say about it, the answer is a resounding "yes."

{Image Credit: via Pinterest}

Monday, September 8, 2014

Take Off

Being a loyal Southwest flyer in St. Louis jades you in some ways.  With its own separate terminal, one becomes accustomed to many thing including the shorter security lines, accessible retail fronts and the distinct cattle call of a flight boarding.  For all of its amenities, the anxiety of getting to your designated boarding position is palpable throughout the building.  So it was somewhat of a relief that other airlines wound up offering more budget friendly options for my past few flights (thank you internet of things!).  While I dread having to figure out the logistics of a carry-on to avoid baggage fees, I figured it's nice to explore what else the airline industry has to offer.

As it turns out, I was missing nothing.  Well that's not entirely accurate.  I missed the $25 I had to cough up for every flight because the logistics could never figure themselves out to carry-on my bag.  Finances aside though, I found everything is the same.  Because no matter what carrier you choose to go with there will always be obsessive flyers.  The ones that, even when having a designated seat typed on their ticket, will insist to stalk their boarding gate for Group D to be announced.  The ones that will push and shove you to make sure in no way, whatsoever they will have to engage with you, or anyone else to ensure you have the wrong seat or vice versa.  These people do not discriminate by airport, flight times or exceptional service.  They are simply everywhere and they will not go away.  So it's high time the rest of us accept that piece of knowledge, move on and keep calm at the airport bar until the last boarding call is made.

{Image Credit: This Is Glamorous}

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stay Smart.

The most important thing you can do to improve your street cred amongst peers is staying informed.  These days it gets messy to do so with so many media channels always in your face.  Among a few sources I prefer though, TheSkimm is at the top.  It's concise, spans a variety of of interests and perhaps most importantly keeps things witty.  Start your day, but staying smart.  Sign up here, simply by entering your email here.  Seriously, that's it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Opining On Opines

It's true, I'm highly educated on my own opinions.  Meaning, I know a lot about what I think.  Often times I will sprinkle these opinions of mine into various conversations.  On the subject of white after Labor Day: if you can spare your outfit from a pumpkin latte spill during school rush hour traffic, by all means go forth.  On the subject of the French: they gave us Chanel and crepes, so they can be as arrogant as they want.  On the subject of "just being friends":  if you have to use the word "just," it will never be.  These are short snippets of much longer dialogue I could go into, should anyone bravely offer up the soapbox.  Most of these subjects are fairly harmless though.  Mindless topics that I can easily find myself becoming very spirited over.  

I have other opinions too.  On things such as politics, religion and relationships.  Not just broad, over-arching opines, but I can get into the nitty gritty subcategories of them.  Though you probably would not want me to because they get boring quickly, especially when referencing various articles read or programs heard where many facts were stated.  These are the type of opinions I vocalize only to audiences I know very well.  Let's face it too, of the people I may "know," I could count on one-maybe two-hands those that I know to a level where I can guage what will or will not offend them.  This rather limited group of people has the sheer pleasure of hearing my more controversial opnions, should such an invitation to converse about them ever come up.  Maybe I come off being of certain beliefs now and again.  In a way, I would hope so to ensure that I have some dimension to myself.  The thing is though, I don't know where we arrived at the point where people now think they intimately know upwards of 500 people, better known as their Facebook friends.  How did they find the time to get to know everyone so quickly?  Also, why do they want to when they aren't getting paid to do so and others are (i.e. professional journalists and elected officials)?

I find it curious, this level of comfort people have to freely vocalize their strict, unwavering opinions.  Mostly because the thing is, nothing is always left or always right.   A building might be on your left going one way down the street, and on the right for the person in the opposite lane.  The building didn't change, and neither of you would be wrong of its position when giving directions from your origin.  Most people are not wrong when giving their opinions.  I know I am not when I tell Chicago Cubs fans that their team will never win a championship so long as they are still in Wrigely Field.  Almost no one's opinion is perfectly right though either, regardless how amplified they may try to make it.  At least that is just my opinion.

{Image Credit: The reluctant father}

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Trick of It Is...Pick Up the Multi-Purpose Cleaner Everyday

I was not born into this world to be domesticated.  That much I am almost sure of.  At the youthful age of 23 though I found myself a homeowner.  Of course only to be a broke renter in the city of Chicago a year later, while also moonlighting as a remote landlord.  Point is I have had to look after residential space, sometimes multiple spaces, for awhile now.  Whether or not I was meant to be a homemaker has made little difference.  Things had to be figured out.  By "things" I of course mean, how to keep areas looking tidy and chic, often on a shoestring budget.  What I am trying to say is that thus far I have not had the luxury of bringing in the reinforcements.  While I refuse to be forced into "liking" something against my will, I can accept giving something its proper respect and attention.   This is what I have done for the act of "cleaning."

 It hasn't been easy by any means.  Every single day it is much easier to lose myself in reading the synopses of every show on my television guide to possibly DVR than it is to scrub down a couple rooms.  Always looking for ways to compartmentalize both emotionally and physically, I recently figured it out.  A little bit everyday goes a long way.  No, I am not talking about throwing pennies into a piggy bank.  I am talking about a couple spritzes from your multi-purpose cleaner.  Everyday, in a new spot.  Maybe you ran out of multi-purpose cleaner the other day thinking one of its many purposes is to clean windows and you kept glossing them over and over and over and over...to no avail.  No problem.  Then today put a couple of loose items away.  Then a couple more items can go away tomorrow if your favorite scent of cleaning solution was out of stock at your local store.  In the world of domestication I have learned this much: the chores never end.  Like ever.   Never ever.  Do something, anything everyday.  Because no one wants to look like that strungout housewife you not only see on infomercials, but in real life while walking your dog.  It's not a becoming look, but a fairly neat house is to the many who aren't looking close enough.

{Image Credit: Method All Purpose Cleaner}

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Small Talkin'

Recently I found myself in a conversation with close friends on the subject of "small" talk.  The majority of them were quite skilled in the art of random breezy conversation and are almost always willing to approach anyone, anywhere.  I...am not.  They found this initially surprising seeing as how I love to talk.  I do immensely enjoy it a lot, which is why I tend to be a great conversationalist.  When it comes to trying to land a topic to converse about with an acquaintance or mere stranger though, well that always seems a bit daunting to me.  Where do you start?  The evolution of Jay-Z's career from mere rapper to true visionary?  The sudden over-saturation of whiskey bars in the city?  Perhaps something more simple such as eReader or paper copy?  It's all so superficial, and yet very personal at the same time.  Not to mention the sheer vastness of topics available of which to converse on.  While my friends did not leave me to feel bad about this personal flaw of mine, and even offered up some helpful suggestions, I could not help but still think I must be one of just a few grown adults suffering from this affliciton.  As luck would have it though, a blog post by one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, entitled "Do You Struggle to Make Conversation? A Menu of Options for Small Talk" turned up in my inbox a couple days later as a recommended read for myself. [Don't worry, the irony is not lost on me.]  Such a post made me a feel a little more validated, and a lot less like an awkward-adult-for-my-age.  All the better still, the advice seemed very...advisable.  At no point on the list did I see anything suggesting to talk about something as pointless as what someone's favorite shot is.  [That's a pointless topic of conversation, because I don't even take shots, and the question then only leads into further provoking, which inevitably ends in me becoming comepletely and utterly annoyed.  So it's more of an argument between two people who don't know each other well at all, rather than it would ever be a conversation.  And you think you have problems...]  With that then I am excited to unveil my new grab bag of small tlk topics as inspired by Rubin's post.

1.  Comment on a topic common at the moment.  Seeing as Target is the place I most spend my time at while out in public, I now will be dropping the line "Have you ever really broken down the economics of these seven year light bulbs versus the two year ones?"
2.  Comment on a topic of general interest.  I think it's safe to say that everyone is a Housewives fan so this is an easy one..."Which housewife do you most identify with?"
3.  Ask a question people can answer as they please.  I mean again, "Which housewife do you most identify with?"
4.  Ask questions that can't be answered with a single word.  So "where did you go to high school" isn't going to fly on this one.  Instead though opting for something along the lines of "where else have you lived since high school?" should give a more elaborate response, and greater insight into what kind of weird this person really is without prying too much.
5.  Ask getting-to-know-you questions.  "Why do you identify as that houswife?" should suffice.
6.  Be slightly inappropriate.  "What the f**k were you doing beforehand?" spices up a quick meet and greet, when the voice pitch is correct.

So who's up to chat sometime soon?

{Image Credit: The Sartorialist}

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Have We Hit the Digital Vocab Bubble?

I suppose there comes a point in everyone's life where they are forced to examine their speech.  Taking time to really look at the words they are using everyday and see if it's not possible to improve upon any of them.

Okay, perhaps this does not happen to everyone.  It happened to me though recently while casually ending an email with "Thanks!"  I tend to close many emails in this manner, whether I am intitiating a request or replying to one where something of value had been provided to me.  In this particular email though, of which I could not tell you what the subject matter was even about, something stopped me shortly after "-s!"  The word suddenly felt very impersonal.  Something you would say to a  clerk when they giving you change back, maybe.  As a digital signoff to someone you cowork with though?  It started to take on the same feel as a word you say over and over until it suddenly loses all meaning.  Maybe because it had.

The email was changed to a full "Thank you!" and I'm sure not a darn bit of notice was paid to it either way.  This is a good thing because it means people are possibly using their extra neuro energy on ways to make peace in the Middle East, rather than ponder the variation of vocabulary.  

Nevertheless, this small snapshot of time got me to thinking about the depreciation of value seen in other words due to this digital age.  The qualitative analysis was astounding.

"Ah": Formerly used as an intellectual placeholder, is now just confused for being an actual exclamation of enthusiasm or a bored response to your mundane text about the Polar Vortex.
"Ha" vs. "Haha" vs. "Hahaha" vs. "Hahaha!":  Is a rating system for how funny your comments are.
"Okay"-->"Ok"-->"K": The evolution of annoyance someone has with either you, the conversation, or the platform for which the conversation is taking place.
"Omg.": If said as its own sentence, is a good indication you should not have told that person whatever piece of information you leaked to them.  They are clearly not mature enough for the context of the situation on many levels.
"I Can't":  ...was there a subject to that predicate?
"Yikes": Is a tell-tale sign the dialogue is about silly drama.
"I'm confused...":  Often given as a response because no one knows what anyone else is talking about anymore.

{Image Credit: The Sartorialist}

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Trust Does Breed Magic

Recently I listened to Tina Roth Eisenberg's Do lecture on "Trust Breeds Magic."  It was an inspiring talk for any creative or entrepreneur and provoked me to do some thinking.  In typical fashion my busy and wandering mind took me beyond the obvious of career objectives.  It took me to my habits.  You see I trust most of what I do on a day-to-day basis: my beauty & hygiene routine, the food I pick out for my meals and most importantly what I wear.  I trust my sense of style.  That's not to say that I never step out to places like Target in my house leggings, because I do.  However, I trust that 77% of the other customers walking through there are in theirs too, or worse off actual pajama pants.  Moreover, I spend a very small fraction of my life out in said house leggings and other homewear.  In fact they are only to be utilized off-premise when doing "home" related things.  The remaining time I spend outside of my house I am in formalized yoga and athletic wear for the gym, business casual for the workplace, and classic eccentric wear for where ever my social calendar takes me.  Now those are broad terms, and I am not so arrogant to assume that certain brands must pertain to any one category.  I am only arrogrant enough in this realm to say that a diversified portfolio of trusted colors, patterns and tailoring more often than not yield...well, magic.  Anna Wintour astutely observed in the documentary The September Issue that most people fear fashion.   Imagine if this type of fear did not exist in the world?  A-lines would be honored, florals would blossom and people would feel and thus be pretty in pink.  It sounds lovely, does it not?  It's all so easy too if we just trust.  Love can happen at first sight, and it can happen when you least expect it, in the simplest of settings at Banana Republic upon spotting a hot pink peplum skirt on sale.  When it hits you, it will be magical.

{Image via This Is Glamorous}

Friday, January 3, 2014

Let's Kick It

New Year's is the type of holiday that Type-A folks live for.  New Year's Eve, not so much.  Too much fretting over the next morning hangover preventing productivity on a holiday.  Not to mention the number crunching of figuring out the true value of packaged bar deals  It's all just such a nightmare.  Back to New Year's Day though.  That's a holiday neurotics such as myself can get on board with.  Making new to-do lists, consolidating Excel spreadsheets, and taking inventory of life's small details then turning them into actionable items.  This is what the holidays and good cheer are made of.  I've been making resolutions for years now and while many have worked out, of course others have not.  You can't let a few habits that fade away though discourage you from making new lists.   That would be quitting.  So here's to 2014, a year sure to hold a shoebox full of bullet points.
  • Keep up on my correspondance.  The written kind that is.  Like snail mail.
  • Watch the entire existing Downton Abbey series.  Because I'm sick of people telling me they know me better than me.
  • Only use vocabulary I really really like in my everyday rhetoric.
  • Take more pictures, and get better angles.  Perhaps obtuse ones.
  • Get in a water drinking routine.  [One can make a routine out of anything.]
  • Have more dance parties.
  • Always make sure to say "hello."  Because it's hella obnoxious when others' don't.
  • Send the email today, not tomorrow afternoon.
  • Make just as many plans, if not more while being the most flexible of the bunch.  After all, life was meant to be at least somewhat ironic.
{Image Credit: Helmut Newton via This Is Glamorous}