Monday, January 31, 2011

Technology Update

Deliriously fevered anticipation can now be abated, a thunderous tumult of emotions calmed: picture posts of my funemployment fashions, foibles, and adventures will now ensue.

No, I have not taken my precious government mandated funds and gone on a digital camera shopping spree (though, truth be told, the choppy waves of the past few months at the firm are quieting, I have been placed on a new account, and finances are more stable, so I may soon leave the pity-party of the unemployed hand-out; more on this later). Honestly, despite my desires to share these experiences visually, I would be much more likely to take that money and bust into some new leather boots. While my professional life has been temporarily floundering, my romantic life has taken a pleasant and admittedly infrequent turn towards flourishing: I have my first, brand new, very non-thrifted handsome and dashing and sweeter than honey boyfriend, after years of trying on, discarding, and being taken to the cleaners by a plethora of jerks and idiots. His identity, for the time being, will remain a mystery until a proper pseudonym can be created; he is also a victim of this rather desperate and dire economic climate, and is in the midst of clever plans to fake his own death and expatriate in order to avoid mountainous school loans.

New boyfriend, the philosopher, poet, and filmmaker, has been so kind as to lend me, for an indeterminate period of time, a digital camera, temporarily and stealthily borrowed from a local library, where he had been teaching digital photography classes to young children. Generous and a mentor to small, impressionable children; this sort of swooning and bragging will become a pervasive theme. Anyway, enough important tangential asides, be prepared for some eye candy in the coming posts.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Christmas Party

The first Friday of my journey along funemployment towards inevitable and deplorable destitution, fully accessorized undoubtedly, I found myself traipsing in silver heels through light sprinkles of snow to attend a party of complete and total strangers.

Perhaps a bit of background: when I had, over a year ago, accepted a position at the firm that had just strongly encouraged me to hang tight, collect that government money from those productive tax-paying citizens, and hope they still found me valuable in a few months when finances and new accounts were secure, it had necessitated an uprooting to a vaguely reminiscing-metropolitan suburban sprawl small town where I knew absolutely no one. And that suburban small town was in none other than the reputable, the wild, and the beautiful Garden State. I am, and always have been, affable, gregarious, open to new experiences, and charmingly adept in a range of social situations, so I anticipated the professional and personal transplant would be an opportunity, as opposed to a hardship and move to definitive pariah status. Besides, my new apartment would be a mere ten minute strut from the closest train station to Manhattan, and my personal favorite borough, Brooklyn. Though this was a tad optimistic initially, I have yet to achieve the pariah social caste. And I have grown quite accustom to sticking out like a stylized sore thumb, though more on this to come.

Within recent months, my father's long time childhood buddy's daughter had moved to this sequestered suburban sprawl land and, naturally, our parents decided to friend set us up. After a number of failed attempts to meet up for coffee or a cocktail, she invited me to attend an intimate Christmas gathering. Within the emotional maelstrom of precarious employment, I thought for an instant that a stranger-filled party would be mediocre, possibly boring, maybe even uncomfortable; then, with the slightly desperate and crazed mindset of a girl on the rebound, again, I saw social and professional opportunity. Networking.

In every career search orientation and seminar I attended at university, the prevailing mantra was always that almost all new jobs are acquired through networking with contacts, and these contacts can be collected from all walks of life, so keep your eyes and ears open. Now, despite entering this soiree with a particular stratagem, I did not don my favorite tailored black power suit, my demurely stern librarian eyeglasses. This was a cocktail party, after all. So, as many young girls in a position of hope and tumult would, I decided to perform a twist, and wear a modern classic: the little white dress.

Wearing a little white dress to a Christmas party, an actual seasonal Christmas party, none of this Christmas in July retail lunacy, incorporates one of my favorite style dares: winter white. True, our mothers and grandmothers warned us against this, but they and their fashion testaments are ancient history as far as Karl Lagerfeld or Grace Coddington or Valentino are concerned (please note this magnificent irony; all three icons are, well, icons and geniuses, but also older than fossils). Many tend to shy from and want to deny winter white, fearing an epic hyperbolization of pale, dry skin, at least the many who live in the great northeast. And these fears are quite founded. However, to continue to enjoy white, we simply need to be more mindful of shade, fabric, draping, and pairing with accessories. A warmer cream or sleek ivory, a delicate light lace matched with a tailored jacket or fur, and a heavy wool coat or fitting slack are some of my favorite manifestations of the winter white look.

In retrospect, my choice was rather bold for a party of strangers, and one in which I had networking aspirations: I wore a favorite piece of mine, a stark, opalescent short white dress, of an almost light satin material, draped and gathered in such a complex way that I have always compared to a boxer's robe. I have rosy, olive-toned skin, which maintains some color in the colder gray months, and so the bright white did not leave me like a walking, poorly exposed photograph. I paired the dress with thick chrome gray opaque stockings, some silver gray heels, and an opulent lucite chandelier necklace and two strong lucite silver bangles, all from the late 1960's. Ironically, once again, the necklace had been purchased from a vintage street vendor on the Upper West, a few months before, celebrating my recent promotion. To combat the frigid winter air, I covered up with a belted camel coat, also vintage from the 1960s, purchased at a consignment shop near the beach in North Carolina, when sharp cold is a glimmering, translucent memory.

As I wandered through the labyrinth of hallways in the brand new building of luxury apartments, a building so new it clung comfortable to its paint and carpeting stench, seeking my hostess' humble abode, fear and anxiety began to set in. The invitation had been emailed, I would know not a soul, I honestly have no idea what these people are interested in; what if this is one of those famed ugly sweater holiday parties, and I arrive in a short white party dress, full jewelry, and shimmering eye make up? Furthermore, I was empty-handed, and began to feel foolish not even arriving with a bottle of wine, and not wanting to admit quite yet that funds for me would be tight in the coming months. When I knocked on the door, I was relieved to be greeted by her sweet sister-in-law, resplendent in layers of pearls and a traditional little black dress, and behind her a spread of snacks and drinks covering the entirety of the kitchen counter and table.

Ever the punctual one, I was the first guest to arrive, besides the hostess' brother and his new bride, and their family's rather forward black lab, whose wet nose was up the back of my dress skirt within seconds, and returned for further exploration throughout the evening. With the hostess' encouragement, I made myself a Cape Cod, and broke the ice with her older brother, who was utterly tickled to learn that a vodka and cranberry was actually called a Cape Cod. All were friendly, open, and lovely people, in non-atrocious holiday costume, and I was assured once more that the night would be fun and relaxing, not some ill-fated mistake.

As more guests piled in, mostly the college and high school friends of the hostess, I was immediately reminded that young people, such as myself, and indeed all of my friends, were not much interested in networking at a cocktail party. They, like my close friends and I, were interested in drinking and joking at a cocktail party. I believe the closest I reached to some type of swapping of contacts was playing the ever popular name-game with some baseball beau hunk who had attended Yale. One of the hostess' colleagues and I, sharing similar interests in aesthetics, discussed some of our favorite music venues and live shows, not our professional aspirations or our current status on the corporate hierarchic ladder. This was an evening of simple, unadulterated pleasantries and new acquaintances, which, as it turned out, was precisely what I needed. Like many girls on the rebound, I was not prepared for new professional potentials, for discovering and unearthing other prospects, and thankfully I instead relished in the spirit of the season and beamed in my clean white.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Originally, this project, born from conversations with close friends, some colleagues, and an innate desire to complete more writing beyond strategy matrices and my prose poetry musings, was intended to be a compilation of fashion forward and conscious office styles. Pieces of advice on leveraging pieces for both social, weekend garb and for a client pitch. Suggestions on young lady's wardrobe staples, for success in the business world. Shopping finds. Reviews of my favorite consignment and vintage shops, of fun and affordable boutiques.

In essence, being a young professional and recent college graduate, I, and many of my friends, lamented the transition from the campus to the career world, on social and emotional levels, but on a style level as well. For most of us, frankly, the thought of cookie-cutter business casual day in, day out was quite a bore. As an avid vintage, and contemporary, shopper and a lady with a plethora of funky (an adjective my mother particularly enjoys for some of my more suspect and daring adventures with clothing and accessories) and outgoing, alongside of the classic, pieces in my repertoire, I was not pleased with my prospects professionally. Raised by pragmatics, however, I knew standard business casual would be at least partially unavoidable. But not completely. Though never fully wild and unfettered, at my first office position, I slowly and surely allowed my
sartorialista to come out, a blossoming, with statement necklaces, silk scarves, and monochromatic ensembles featuring bold power heels.

So, after some discussions, a few over cocktails, I decided to get myself a fancy new camera to document my daily wares, purchase a new lap top, for this and other projects (online shopping, fiction writing and editing and ultimate deserting,
Netflix Watch Instantly), and just jump the gun. A perfectly, frivolously fulfilling creative outlet.

Then last December, the Thursday before my technology updating purchase extravaganza, my firm higher-ups herd us into the large conference room and pull all employees off of our salaries: the partners are splitting, the firm is undergoing a philosophic and business transition, and instead of bonuses this year, you all can file for unemployment benefit insurance. Merry Christmas. My fingers dug deep into the stiff arms of the black leather wheeling conference chair. My mouth was a clenched vice, and I can only imagine the disdain escaping from my eyes.

Needless to say, as an ingenue in the professional arena, and that girl with the pragmatic parents who played by all the proper rules (for the most part, clever cookies know which ones you can circumvent, and how), I was devastated. In the current economic climate, I had certainly been lucky to land a position so soon following graduation, and had been exposed to some new and sometimes exciting work, introduced to reputable clients, and afforded a life of decadent semi-poverty (grocery shopping often meant grapes, soft French or Dutch cheeses, and a Spanish wine). State unemployment was not what I had signed up for. Following that announcement, I had a good cry and telephone discussion with my happily-retired father (over thirty years in the trenches) and then a wine/whine and Thai dinner with my manager, a kind friend and mentor.

Though prone to pessimism and melancholia (I am a Capricorn after all, despite that recent catastrophic astrological shift), the next morning I awoke with determination and a goal to prevail. I was frightened and worried about many things, my ridiculously high monthly rent first and foremost, however, I was also relieved with my own independence, my competence in the work place, my palpable ambition and drive. I also remembered how lucky I was: an education from one of the best institutions in the country, no school loans, no car loans, no credit card debt. Miraculously, my shopping lush ways often manifested and thrived in finding deals; another shout out to those painfully practical parents.

A little over a month has passed since I stopped formally receiving my salary, and many events in that period have unfolded. Some of which have been pleasant surprises, and new adventures as far as my life goes. None of which involve major technology purchases, unfortunately. As I am working to sort through my emotions and thoughts, my next career moves and options, and my life as an emerging adult, I returned to this format, this type of project, now slightly evolved, again to serve as that outlet, that solace. There will still be fashion, shopping, some styles, especially once I get that decent camera, some romantic forays past and present, some dining, and probably more than a drink or two, sprinkled with experiences of career questions, job searching, networking, and unemployment, some fun (
funemployment) and some rather bittersweet, or just bitter. I cannot promise cogent pieces of advice, and perhaps not anything poignant and riveting, but my intent, I fear to admit, is more selfish and individualistic: a desire to archive and document these running thoughts and emotions in such a turbulent and fitful time.