Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dominick the Italian Christmas Economics Whiz

Merry Christmas, everyone!

If you're anything like me, you've been playing Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving, and have probably listened to every version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" ever recorded. I really enjoy Christmas music, but after a few weeks of the same 20 songs by the same 30 artists, it gets a little mundane. When I discover a new Christmas song, it's usually cause for much rejoicing and repeated playing. When I was introduced to "Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey," however, I realized that this song probably isn't ever going to come up on Pandora's "Swingin' Christmas" station.

See, this overly-cheerful children's tune (complete with barnyard sound effects that probably sound more like the real Christmas than anything Elvis ever recorded) is a strange conglomeration of Italian Christmas traditions, Italian words, and Italian pride that is rare west of the Mississippi. It's about a little donkey, named Dominick, who helps Santa deliver gifts ("Because the reindeer cannot, // Climb the hills of Italy" [even though the whole point of flying reindeer is so they're not hindered by any hills]). It's a little bit Rocky-meets-Rudolph, but it works. What caught my ear especially (beyond "hee-haw, hee-haw") was the stanza that goes:
A pair of shoes for Louie
And a dress for Josephine.
The label on the inside says
They're made in Brooklyn.

When I heard that, I actually had to stop and think about why no other songs talked about Santa bringing Brooklyn-manufactured goods to children in Italy. I then realized that our whole American Santa tradition was an economic catastrophe, thanks to its use of elf labor!

When elves at the North Pole make toys for Santa, they theoretically supply the entire Christmas market with goods. In other words, they have a monopoly on toys. Now, monopolies are destructive in the sense that they eliminate competition, which reduces the incentive to create something better (without competition, Lincoln Logs never would have become Legos). So, there's a big initial problem with the whole world suffering from a toy monopoly.

What the song really points out though, when Louis and Josephine in Italy get shoes and a dress from Brooklyn, is the importance of specialization on a global level. Different countries (or regions) have different specialties — in the song, Brooklyn's specialty is children's clothes. Italy's specialty is tenacious donkeys (see chart below for production capabilities).

Brooklyn
Children's Clothes 0 100 300
Tenacious Donkeys 100 50 0

Italy
Children's Clothes 0 50 200
Tenacious Donkeys 200 100 0

If both Brooklyn and Italy try to create both children's clothes and raise tenacious donkeys, the world has 150 units of clothes, and 150 donkeys. The chart shows that Italy has the comparative advantage in donkeys (raising 2 for every 1 Brooklyn raises), and Brooklyn has the comparative advantage in children's clothes (producing 3 for every 2 units Italy produces). If both places specialize and only produce what they're best at (clothes for Brooklyn, donkeys for Italy), the world ends up with 300 units of children's clothes, and 200 donkeys — more of both!

Trade (or in this case, Santa, acting as a kind of jolly "invisible hand") allows nations to specialize, because they no longer have to produce all the goods they want to consume.* Specialization creates more goods overall, which helps reduce scarcity (the chief foe of economics). Trade tariffs (or naughty children) prevent this exchange, reducing everyone's standard of living. In the song, Brooklyn made its own children's clothes, it didn't have to rely on elves. This allowed for specialization that can't be found at one factory at the North Pole (unless individual elves specialize). With free markets and Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey on my side, I think I can safely advocate the abolition of Santa's elves. It's probably sweatshop labor anyway.

I listened to "Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey" in:
Turquoise skinny jeans, multicolored bell-shaped knit top, brown shrug, brown disk earrings, turquoise flower cuff bracelet, and brown, high-heeled leather boots (none of which were made in Brooklyn, unfortunately).

*Careful readers may have noted that at first glance the doctrines of competition and specialization may seem contradictory. A closer inspection, however, reveals that specialization comes about when one country produces what its resources are most conducive to, but it also relies on supply and demand. If everyone in the world had an easy time producing wheat, the world wouldn't produce only wheat because there would be a demand for other products. In a global economy, the potential supply and demand of goods is much more complex than the model. Thus, there may be 15 regions that all produce children's clothes according to specialization, but they can compete amongst each other, creating cheaper, more durable clothing. There's also the possibility of competition within one specialized market. If there are 10 donkey raisers in Italy, they all compete against each other to breed the most tenacious, cheerful donkeys, further increasing Italy's comparative advantage in donkeys.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Delve into 1912

Last week, I had a marvelous adventure in, shall we say, vintage casual.


See, every year around Christmastime, NYC reintroduces a few vintage subway cars back into the line, and lucky passengers get to ride on them, taking a trip down memory lane ... er, memory track, as it were. Levys' Unique New York planned ahead for a vintage subway car that would leave from the Lower East Side, head to Queens, and come back, and encouraged New Yorkers to "Party Like It's 1912," by dressing up in period attire, bringing tea and cookies, and listening to live ragtime ... all while riding a jostling, jerking vintage subway car.


My dear roommate agreed to dress up with me (with these sorts of things, it's usually best to bring a friend for two reasons: so you aren't the only person dressed up strangely, and so that if the event is full of crazy people you have some protection), and after church we and another friend grabbed lunch and headed downtown. After some navigational mishaps on my part (shocker), we made it to the party. Hastily hopping on a subway car, we moved through a couple cars looking for classmates and admiring the costumes of people who seemed rather normal, except for owning complete Victorian/pre-WWI-era outfits.


After we found one more friend (a smartly-dressed chap with impeccable core balance), the train finally got moving. The live ragtime band played, the lights flickered off and back on, and couples danced like the Titanic had never sunk. The train was extraordinarily bumpy, so while all this quaint, wonderful stuff was going on, I (and a few others) began stumbling on top of people, who were also stumbling on top of us. Unlike a normal commute, in which needless bumping of strangers gets a death glare at the very least, everyone just chuckled and held on tightly. Our tour guide, a man in a gleaming white suit with one of the most impressive moustaches I've ever seen in person, seemed to be the only one who could (or dared) move through the densely-packed subway car (though the smartly-dressed chap and a few others did manage to simply stand and not fall over).


After a few stops, a series of remarkable things happened. Our mustachioed tour guide and some charitable man began pouring tea (a delicious, spicy herbal blend) into dixie cups and asking us quite properly "one lump or two?" Then a woman came forward with a silver tray of goodies. Then a man passed forward a package of shortbread cookies. It was New York City, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and there were strangers sharing food with each other in the subway. Truly, it was a miraculous thing. Even as we (and by we, I mean I) fell on top of our newest and closest best friends, everyone smiled. This was partly because the music and jostling made conversation difficult, but partly because it was such a very nice experience. Not everyone dressed for the period, but most had (minus the modern cameras and videocameras and flip phones in use to document the event), and it was delightful.


We made it to the end of the line, hopped off, found more friends, and eventually got back on. It was more of the same, except that the band had moved to the other end of the train, and in order to get to the music, we had to pass through a series of moving vintage subway cars. I mention this only because it was a lifelong dream I didn't know I had — that is, until I was standing there, grabbing the handle of the next car, watching the tracks whoosh by underneath me, and I realized I had waited my whole life to do that. Huzzah!


Where were the economics you ask? Well, beyond the signs advertising $0.12 subway fare (a constant remind of inflation and bygone times), I was struck by how little had really changed in the economics of it all. The women wore ruffles and the men wore hats, but getting dressed up for a party was universal (and something I've been promoting for years). The ride was much bumpier (the MTA has done something right since 1912!), but the subway still got people to their destinations. The ads were quaint and promoted enviable prices, but good music and good food still brings people together, no matter what a gallon of milk costs by comparison. The band played much differently, but couples in love still danced.


At its heart, economics is about the choices people make. Choices like dressing up and riding the subway for a few hours. Choices like buying subway fare. Choices like not putting enough lifeboats onboard the "unsinkable" luxury liner that sank in 1912. Even though many of our choices (and the rational behind them) have changed dramatically, it's nice to know that parties, food, and music still bring people together, be it in 1912 or 2010.


I partied like it was 1912 in:

Gray menswear capris, black tights, black long-sleeved shirt, gray lace suspenders, black and gray newsboy cap, and gray ballet flats. (I was a newsboy!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Star(buck)s in Her Eyes

Yesterday, I was exhausted in class, having just come back from break and not yet adjusted to so few hours of sleep. We got out a little early, and I went to Starbucks.

Starbucks, in recent years, has come to represent almost as many things as WalMart or Barack Obama. It's everything from a daily ritual to a tragic story of a small coffeeshop that sold out to corporate dreams. It's everything from an example of foolish fiscal decisions to a source of weight gain. It's everything from a meeting place to a cultural revolution that made coffee an event in itself. For me yesterday, Starbucks was the setting of an adventure in business casual.

See, what I really wanted was Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee from Guy & Gallard. Knowing that I didn't have quite enough time to get there (and there being no guarantee they'd have that flavor), I went to the Starbucks in my building. Once there, I was tragically lured by the delicious call of their "holiday beverages." These are drinks that feature milk and flavored syrup in various shades of caloric detriment. Oh! And they have coffee in them somewhere, too. Living in NYC, all chain restaurants are required to post calorie information, so I could see exactly what an Egg Nog Latte or Peppermint Mocha would do to my waistline. Whee.

I wanted something really caffeinated, so my usual trick of getting a misto with added syrup — (it's half drip coffee, half steamed milk, instead of a latte, which is an espresso shot with a cup full of steamed milk) wasn't going to cut it. I wanted espresso. I also wanted sugar. I didn't want calories. I had a giftcard, so money wasn't a huge issue, but I still wanted to keep it within the stratosphere.

My roommate was getting a Green Tea Frappuchino, so my eyes wandered over to the previously-taboo Frappuchino board, which now featured things like choosing your own milk (instead of being stuck with whole), and — what was this? — EXTRA COFFEE. Not only that, but because Frappuchinos are blended with ice, they actually had fewer calories than their regular-froofroo-coffee counterparts! Glory hallelujah! One grande, non-fat, extra coffee, I'm-sorry-this-is-such-a-complicated-obnoxious-order peppermint mocha frappuchino later, I was out $5.08 on my giftcard, and much more awake. There were so many economic principles at work here, it boggles the mind.

First, there was the decision tree of tradeoffs. Initially, I had the convenience and giftcard vs. Guy & Gallard deliciousness tradeoff. Convenience and the giftcard won. Next, I had the caffeine and yumminess vs. calories tradeoff. Caffeine and yumminess won, but calories were still a mild concern. Then I had the guilt vs. getting the coffee I want tradeoff. The coffee won. As Lisa Lee, a reporter for the Dow Jones Newswires says, "You can't separate the psychology and the sociology from economics. At its root, economics is about the decisions of individual people." All my psychological tradeoffs eventually led me to my coffee choice.

Second, there was the outrageous price. $5.08 for 16 oz. of blended beverage works out to be $0.3175 per oz. That makes it $40.64 per gallon (128 fluid oz)! Granted, in NYC the cost of living is much higher, and granted, that includes tax. Still. Whatever else can be said about Starbucks, they absolutely know how to make a buck.

Third, even though it offends our sensibilities that what's basically a cup of coffee that's been stuck in a blender with a load of sugar is so ridiculously expensive, there's absolutely a market for it. In the world of supply and demand, if no one wants to pay $5.08 for 12 oz of really yummy stuff, they won't, and the supply will dwindle too. A Starbucks on every corner though, indicates that wrong though it may be, people are willing to pay a large sum of money to get their coffee just the way they want it.

Fourth, Starbucks has found its market niche. It's the people who value their coffee, just the way they want it, and appreciate the convenience of not having to make it themselves, having it available via drivethru window or office building, and will sometimes come and enjoy the atmosphere. Oh, and the girls who can't stay awake through philosophy and don't want to walk all the way to Guy & Gallard.

I decided to order really expensive coffee in:
Grayish pencil skirt, black ruffled top, olive green fitted jacket with eyelet detail, purple and gold beaded dangle earrings, faux antique charm bracelet, black patterned tights, and black and gray wingtip-inspired stilettos.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Time For Sweatpants

This past week I had a terrible stomach bug. My tummy had been acting a bit strange even the week before this past one, but this last week really became a problem.

Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling really nauseated, so I tried going back to bed. When I woke up a bit later and didn't feel any better, I figured I might as well head to school, since sleep wasn't going to fix me and I had a very full day.

During my second class (my first of the day, since I had slept through my first class), I just didn't feel very good, and went to the restroom. Very carefully, I squatted down (in my high heels), and threw up just a bit - you know, the awkward little half-throw-up that you don't really feel justified calling vomit, but is still unpleasant. I was quite careful to not let my dress-pants touch the ground, and went back to class, still not feeling great.

After a weird day of canceling meetings to take naps, and generally not feeling good at all, I went back to the school for the second part of an internet marketing seminar I had signed up (and paid) for. About 20 minutes in, I got that peculiar feeling that lets you know with no uncertainty that you're going to lose it — I made it to the restroom, sat down (in my dress pants) on the bathroom floor, and threw up.

Since I have reasonably long legs, when I sat down on the bathroom floor, girls walking through could see that someone in the stall was not feeling so good. I had about six pairs of feet walk by and ask me timidly if I was okay. I said I was fine, and thanks for the concern, that I had just thrown up, but would be okay. I was simultaneously a faceless invalid and a public story. I then went back to my internet marketing class, and after about 20 minutes decided to go home, even though the class wasn't over. I then slept for over 12 hours.

As I'm sure my readers know, I put a good deal of stock in the idea that dressing well makes you feel better. I'm the girl who thinks cute shoes help you do better on tests (and even if they don't, at least you make a smashing failure), and I never wear sweatpants in public unless I am going to or from the gym right then. When I was sitting in my school bathroom, throwing up in my business casual, I realized why we wear our comfiest, grubbiest clothes when we're sick.

Part of it is elastic waistbands are good for upset stomachs, but more than that, our yucky clothes say that we're just not up to par. In a sense, it is the most honest thing to do — when you're lying in bed, wondering if you have the flu, you are admitting you're sick. You're not trying to put on a brave front, you're wishing for some peach-apricot jello, lemon-lime gatorade, and your mom. You're admitting that life is not "business as usual," that you're in pain, that you need help.

To a large extent, our economy has had a stomach bug experience much like mine. It was sick for quite a long time, but went to school, dressed nicely, and hid the problem. Then the housing bubble popped, and instead of going home and raising the white flag, admitting illness and moving on, there were multiple bailouts, and it quickly became apparent that we were bowing to the porcelain god while trying to keep our slacks off the bathroom floor. The business casual, the face of professionalism, the soundbites were all hiding a nasty stomach bug that was making us lose our breakfasts — and our 401(k)s.

After a couple of days, I was fine. I did, however, have to sleep a lot, and cancel a number of meetings. I lost a lot of time and productivity, but I got better. At this point, I think our economy may need to do the metaphorical equivalent — take a hit now and heal, rather than continue throwing up in high heels.

I threw up in:
Blue dress pants, black sleeveless turtleneck sweater, silver hoop earrings, dark gray metallic owl necklace, black and silver watch, black and silver ring, and black and gray wingtip-inspired heels.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Even if the Shoe Fits, it Still Needs a Heel

Today, something tragic happened. I had to wear ballet flats for a whole day.

I know I know. To most people, this is a natural occurrence, bless their hearts. Unfortunately, my foot is naturally shaped for the world of pumps and stilettos, and my fashion sensibilities match. Being the responsible, thrifty, (dare I say) economic girl I am, I've taken to wearing ballet flats or flip-flops (or my Toms with the Republican elephant on them) to walk to school, and then switching into my high heels. This is not out of personal weakness or physical complaint, but rather from my dislike of having to pay to have my shoes reheeled.

This morning, I was flying out the door, and decided to wear a pair of my favorite shoes, with an outfit that seemed perfect for my long day. I tossed my heels in my bag, put on my walking flats, and went to school. Upon arriving, I dropped my stuff off at my desk, changed shoes, and went to grab something, only to hear the ting ting ting of metal hitting a tile floor. I'm all about hearing heels clack, but not when it's that dreadful nail — the noise that screams "I'm your shoe and I'm in pain!" When I heard the noise, I remembered. This pair of shoes I had pretty well shredded after working a visit weekend and tromping around quite a bit (they were close to needing reheeling anyway). I meant to take them to the reheeler (if I were much quainter and/or more British, I would probably refer to it as the cobbler. However, I am of the mindset that cobblers should be eaten a la mode, which is awkward if your cobbler fixes your shoes), but had forgotten. I trudged back to my desk and dejectedly put my flats back on.

I had to wear my flats the rest of the day, as if they were part of my original outfit design. Again, this is perfectly normal and wonderful for most people, but really quite sad for me. I felt like I was unequipped to face all the last-minute homework I needed to do, and generally unshod for the day. I even considered running up to the reheeler's and begging him to do my shoes quickly, but knew I didn't have time. Had someone offered to take my shoes up there and get them to me by lunch, I would have paid a good sum of money.

This illustrates the idea of time preference — the idea that having something now and having something later come with trade-offs. It's the general idea behind charging interest — if you really want $100 now, you're willing to pay interest later. If you'd rather have $110 in a year, you'll loan $100 now. The scholastics, for the most part, did not understand time preference, and thus thought that charging interest (usury) on loans was unethical. They didn't recognize that the risk of investment counted as an extra cost that was legitimate to charge for.

I really wanted my shoes now, and was willing to pay interest (or more money up front) to get them soon. Unfortunately, no one wanted to do that. Technically, my shoes weren't an "investment" and I wasn't going to pay "interest." But I wanted to wear them at that moment, and would have paid much more if it meant being able to wear my shoes at the time. As it was, I wore ballet flats, and I survived. I just spent the day being 2-4 inches shorter than usual. Oh, and I still have to get my shoes reheeled, because even when time preference doesn't work out your way, life's problems don't "heel" themselves.

I learned all this in:
Grayish pencil skirt, berry cami, navy and purple blazer, blue and purple beaded teardrop earrings, purple flower necklace, and the infamous gray felt ballet flats with a black patent leather faux strap near the toe.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat, Chipotle?

Tonight, you may have noticed, is Halloween. This haunted holiday includes cherished traditions like dressing up, getting candy, and (if you live in Colorado), slipping on ice and being glad the pillows in your baked potato costume helped cushion the fall (true story). One of the more cultish traditions is going to the mecca of efficient fresh-mex, Chipotle, for a free burrito. Dress like a burrito, eat one for free has been the time-honored tradition of starving college students for awhile now. Being the generous, wonderful place it is, usually you can wear minimal amounts of foil (a hat, bowtie, or bracelet tends to suffice), and still enjoy piping hot Chipotle for free. This year, unfortunately, Chipotle sold out.

Typically when a sentence includes "company name" and "sold out," it is followed by a bleeding heart sob story of how another honest mom & pop was run over by Wal-Mart, or how children's programming sold its soul to the devil of sugary cereal commercials (egad! Elmo and Tony the Tiger together? The horror!). Here however, Chipotle sold out to the regulatory health freaks themselves (in happier news, Michael Moore hasn't made a documentary about them yet).

Trying to support Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Chipotle raised the price from $0 to $2 (for you mathletes out there, he multiplied the cost infinitely). They're donating this money to the Food Revolution (which will go to regulating food more heavily, increasing the amount of food-related propaganda, and limiting your choices to those deemed "healthful" by the nutrition nazis). Oh, and to top it off, you couldn't dress like a burrito, but had to dress like a "horrifying processed food product" instead of a burrito.

(If you weren't personally harmed by this, let me put it into perspective. I had to have snarky parenthetical commentary on four out of five of the sentences in that last paragraph.)

Shockingly enough, there were logistical problems with Chipotle's new plan:

1. No one informed employees what counted as a "horrifying processed food product." One cashier thought Chipotle burritos counted. I hope he stays away from marketing.

2. Instead of cheerily handing out free healthy food (to combat the evils of processed food), trying to get your costume to count was like going through the Clinton impeachment hearings (except there were no arguments about blue dresses). You had to defend your costume, sometimes forcibly, and even then the employees were grouchy.

3. It wasn't free. If all this were happening and were free, you could say "you get what you pay for" and move on. Unfortunately, it was very much not free. I don't like paying for the privilege of explaining that I'm a Blue Raspberry AirHead, and that the first three ingredients are various forms of mutilated sugar, and that the foil on my wrists are for shackles because I'm "a slave to sugar." That's too much explaining for a Sunday night.

Chipotle is known for doing nice free giveaways, and for generally being a pretty pleasant place. Your tortilla tore? Lemme grab you a new one. Student ID? Have a free drink. You want the lid off the guac for maximum avocadoness? Right on, man. They have witty advertising on their cups, their store architecture screams "cool," and they're healthy, generally affordable "fast" food.

Tonight, instead of leaving Chipotle with a big smile, I left pretty frustrated. I had had to explain my costume to three employees before they gave me the deal, I had to pay $2 that went to an organization I don't support, and they were stingy on everything because the man making my burrito wasn't watching it at all. I'm admittedly grateful for $2 burritos, but it's a little hard to swallow after the glory days.

I'd also like to point out that McDonald's (a bastion of "horrifying processed food products") used to own a majority share in Chipotle. Maybe it's more like the Clinton impeachment hearings than we thought — everyone has some dirty laundry, in more ways than one.

I still love you, Chipotle. But next year can you go back to being the treat, instead of the trick, in my Halloween?

I was a blue raspberry AirHead, a slave to sugar, in:

Teal skinny jeans, teal cowl neck short-sleeved babydoll sweater, two foil bracelets/shackles, and purple suede boots (I stepped in grape jellybeans, alright?).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Girl in the Blue Shirt

Earlier this week, every young budding economist's dream came true for me. I got to be in the studio audience for Stossel — John Stossel's economics show on Fox Business. Not only did I get to be in the audience (for the second time in my fortunate life!), but I got to ask multiple questions, and John Stossel talked to me, calling me "the girl in the blue shirt!"

That's right. John Stossel commented on what I was wearing. If this doesn't prove that fashion and economics go together, I don't know what does. This was thrilling, naturally, and I went through the rest of the day feeling pretty elated. Oh, and I enjoyed the rest of the show too.

Apart from getting my extremely thoughtful, silent-film-worthy facial expressions out there for the general public, I also got to listen to Stossel interview people about why America is wealthy — naturally, the right answer was "because up to this point we've been pretty economically free," but not everyone agreed with this. Stossel & friends also touched on things like the ethical and economic legitimacy of sweatshops in the developing world, how America has fallen in The Heritage Foundation's list of the most economically free countries, and whether the Obama administration is a friend of big business. The guests were interesting, the topic was timely, and it was a wonderful way to spend the middle of a Wednesday.

I know you're probably still reeling from the sheer wonder of it all, but I have something extra wonderful. They gave me free lunch. Yes, you read that right. I got free lunch at an economics show. Miracles do happen.

John Stossel noticed me in:
The aforementioned blue, short-sleeved button-up shirt, gray sailor-front wide-leg pants, blue floral disc earrings, silver circular watch, silver daisy ring, and black and gray menswear-inspired pumps.

(Also, after a longer post last week, I'm trying to incorporate the soul of wit into my posts more.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Nina, the Mayflower, and a Pirate Ship

This year, my school had an idea. The idea was named "fall break." This would occur for two days in mid-October, and would result in a four-day weekend right around Columbus Day.*
When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, he did so with a small fleet of three ships. Later, a group of Puritans would come over to that new world on the Mayflower. Much later, three vegetables would sing about not doing anything while on a pirate ship. These five ships describe perfectly my fall break.

Looking at the calendar in the summer, I had bemoaned fall break. Wouldn't it be nicer to have two more days of summer? How about a whole week at Thanksgiving? A little bit more Christmas? I'm all about delayed gratification when I'm in my house in Colorado, watching TLC and baking with my sisters. But around October 1st, I started to be really excited about fall break. Christopher Columbus needed to be recognized, by golly! What better way to celebrate than by me not going to class?

As it turns out, fall break has been one of the most delightful four days of my college experience. I hung out with my cousin in Brooklyn, walked to, across, and back from the Brooklyn Bridge with my roommate from last year, fittingly watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off, saw an incredible rain/hail/thunder/lightning storm, went to the gym, hung out with two girls from my house, and had a really lovely time.

Perhaps most notably, I went on a day trip with three friends, and we saw Boston in the fall! (For those of you unfamiliar with Big Idea Productions, Veggie Tales, and other cult favorites of evangelicals, the Pirates who Don't do Anything sang about how they had not painted daisies on a big red rubber ball, bathed in yogurt, or been to Boston in the fall. As a result, autumnal Cambridge has become a bit of a mecca for those of us who grew up with the lazy pirates.)

Yes, it would have been nice to get more Thanksgiving, Christmas, or summer. The idea of delayed gratification (going to school the previous two days, enjoying more break later) plays a huge part in capitalism. In fact, delayed gratification is one of the driving forces behind the accumulation of capital, which is essential for capitalism (see Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism for more on this idea). The ability to wait and sacrifice a bit now for a bigger payoff later is a good skill to have, and leads to a wise and fruitful life. Weber argues that the Puritans did this almost obsessively, leading to the accumulation of capital necessary to ignite capitalism. Way to go, Puritans, way to go!

If, however, you do not have the luxury of being the one to set the school calendar (or of being John Calvin), sometimes fall break happens. This immediate gratification feels a little frivolous, a little wasteful, a little silly. Wouldn't we all be better, stronger people if we could hold out through October without a break? Perhaps. But another crucial aspect to capitalism is the ability to take unexpected circumstances and make them work — also called adaptability. This lets you take less-than-ideal situations and use them to your advantage (see Jim Collins's Good to Great for more on this idea). In other words, you very rarely get to pick the situation — you just have to decide how to use it.

I'm not saying that fall break was "less than ideal," but I probably wouldn't have chosen it if I had set the calendar. Now, however, I see the benefits, joys, and wisdom of fall break. Delayed gratification is still good, but the future is uncertain. The Puritans, masters of delayed gratification, worked hard, lived sparse lives, and eventually profited, practicing Protestant virtues and enjoying Boston in the fall. Thanks to the calendar though, I had to choose between enjoying Boston in the fall and dutifully doing my homework in preparation for another week of toil. While the Puritans got both, I'm quite content that I got Boston. Thanks to Columbus's three ships and partially spurning the hearty Mayflower, I followed the footsteps of three vegetable buckaneers and took my pirate ship to Boston on fall break.

I contemplated the mid-break joys of our autumnal respite in:
Purple patterned empire-waisted dress with "one quarter length" sleeves, eggplant tights, silver hoop earrings, black and silver watch, and black leather boots.


*This parenthetical remark was too long for parentheses, hence the asterisk. Columbus Day is an anomaly in attitudes in the western and eastern United States. Typically, the east is much more pretentious, uptight, politically correct, and easily offended, while the west is more casual, relaxed, devil-may-care, and hearty. However, when Columbus Day rolls around, people in the west get their shorts in a bunch, and have lots of protests, because Christopher Columbus was a big meanie who came and killed the natives and opened up the continent to conquistadors, and didn't really do anything because he thought he found India, and why are we celebrating that kind of a jerk? In the east, they just have the day off from school.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In Line for Love ... Sort Of

Apologies for this being two days late. Still, it's better than being a week late.

So, my school is a funny little quirk of nature. For example, this past week was homecoming (even though we don't have a football team). Not only was it homecoming, but we had events and dress-up days every day that week. I was only able to attend the Tuesday night event, but oh boy, was it an adventure.

See, for my faithful readers, you've probably picked up that we spend a lot of time with our books and a lot less time with the opposite sex, that we can define justice and beauty and truth, but not what a date is, and that we most definitely do not eat at Pei Wei. While most people see and acknowledge this routine, our events coordinator decided to fix this mild problem unconventionally. We were holding a speed dating night.

Speed dating quickly became this big thing - were you going? Secretly, I think we all thought it was the funniest, most brilliant thing in the world. Outwardly though, it still sounded pretty desperate to be 19 and speed dating. So we talked about it, rounded up some buddies to come with us, made sure we were not early or on time for speed dating (because that would have really been desperate), and arrived at the student lounge and made our nametags and stood in a big glob of a line to get milkshakes.

Like most other colleges in the US, my school has more girls than boys. While this wasn't the whole school showing up, we were all wondering exactly what the male/female ratio would shake out to be. It could have been worse, but there were definitely a lot more girls than boys. The chairs were arranged in about five long double rows, with girls on one side of chairs and boys on the other, facing the middle. Girls would rotate seats, boys would sit. Once girls got to the end of the line, they'd wait in line to join a new group of guys. The hosts would ask a hypothetical question (from desired superhero powers to most attractive thing about the person sitting across from you), and you'd discuss. It was probably one of the most awkward possible combinations - all the guys I go to school with, the concept of speed dating, the lack of guys I go to school with, milkshakes, and empty seats where boys were supposed to be.

I was one of the lucky ones in that I got to start out sitting down, with a guy across from the girl next to me who included me in the conversation. For the second guy, the hosts asked "what would you do if the person across from you told them he/she loved you?" The other guy said he'd said he loved me back. Only later did I realize that was really a high stakes answer. After a third guy, I was out of the rotation.

I spent a long time standing in line, chatting with my girlfriends. Then I was back in the mix, learning about embarrassing childhood stories, what kitchen appliances people would be, favorite Disney characters, the whole thing. I then bailed, needing to work on a paper - and I felt bad for all the guys dutifully talking to all the girls so they wouldn't feel deserted.

Still though - I WAITED IN LINE TO SPEED DATE. I voluntarily stood in a line to talk to boys for a minute at a time. I don't know if you've ever done that, but it looks terrible on paper and feels weird in real life. It's like buying a personal ad - it's a very public and costly way to scream "I'm available." It was also a really good lesson in supply and demand - there was a shortage of guys, a surplus of girls, and equilibrium nowhere in sight. It was fun and silly, but I think I might have to paraphrase the facebook event page and say that after this, I'm "kissing speed dating goodbye."

(Along with events, we had dress up days. Speed dating fell on monochrome day. See below.)
I speed dated in:
Barbie pink a-line pleated skirt, barbie pink collared wrap top, barbie pink cotton trench coat, barbie pink satin ribbon headband, barbie pink hoop earrings, pink patterned ribbon watch, pink rose pinkie ring, and hot pink satin slingbacks with hemp wedges.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One Wife, Two Wife, Three Wife, Four Wife?

Today I did something I never do. I clicked one of the "trending now" topics on my Yahoo homepage. It said "TLC Sister Wives," and I was hooked.

See, TLC has some crazy shows. "Sister Wives" sounded like it would either be about polygamy, incest, or polygamous incest, so I figured finding out more would be worth it.
The article linked me to a mildly snarky article about the show, which features one man, his three wives, and their twelve children.

Apparently they have a nice little subculture going. Fondly referred to as "plig" culture, they operate fairly normal lives, excepting of course that their children go to plig school, they live in a plig community, and out of all the monosyllabic sounds in English, they picked "plig." The article painted the show in a fairly complimentary light, saying it was good TV but wasn't trying to set an agenda. It also mentioned that the man is smitten with a potential fourth wife, a divorcee with three kids.

While the article focused on how the wives and twelve kids felt about this potential new development, I was really alarmed. Putting all the cringe-inducing details above aside, I realized that polygamists don't understand (among other things) economics.

In economics, there's a principle called the law of diminishing marginal utility. If you put a box of donuts in front of someone with Homer-Simpson-esque qualities, they'll be thrilled to eat the first donut. Probable still pretty happy with the second, by the third they're slowing down. After awhile, not only does another donut not sound very good, it may even sound awful. This illustrates the law of diminishing marginal utility - the idea that for every unit you consume, the satisfaction from that unit alone (NOT the total satisfaction) is lower for every unit consumed. In the case of donuts, the second one isn't as good as the first, and the third isn't as good as the second. In the case of wives, each wife is less satisfying.

Not only is each woman less satisfying, but the cost is higher. With one wife, there's a birthday, an anniversary, some kids, a house, clothes, food, etc. With two wives, you're doubling the birthdays and anniversaries, clothes and food, and possibly the kids and square footage as well. By the time you're looking for wife #4, chances are you've just started bringing home flowers and cake every day so that in case a birthday/anniversary/holiday snuck up on you, you could play it cool. Not only is each wife a little less enjoyable, she costs exponentially more. See, ethics aside, polygamy simply doesn't make sense - wives two and three just aren't as wonderful as the first one. I'm not exactly sure how many wives are standard in plig culture, but I think it's far too many for one man's calendar.

I was shocked to learn about this in:
Grayish pencil skirt, black cami, white, gray, and brown leopard-print cardigan, black belt, abalone shell earrings, turquoise flower cuff bracelet, and brown tweed almost-ankle-booties-but-better stilettos.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Succeed in Bargains Without Really Trying

Today was a glorious day.

First, I went to church, where the always-enjoyable Tim Keller preached, and an extraordinarily attractive, former professional surfer (who had somehow found his way to Manhattan) shared his testimony. I'm just saying he looked GREAT in business casual.

After church I went to college group (Jesus and free lunch - what a win!), and then walked around Manhattan on a warm autumn day (the kind of day that people who don't live in Manhattan call "Indian Summer,") until I got to the theatre. I was about 45 minutes early, which was great, because I was doing "20 at 20" with a friend. This is a magical deal where you get to see an Off-Broadway show for $20 if you buy your ticket 20 minutes before showtime (due to lines, however, getting there more than 20 minutes early is advisable). My friend and I saw the highly stylized, slapstick-y, "The 39 Steps," and left feeling rather happy.

I convinced her to go to dinner in Hell's Kitchen with me, where we shared a spicy penne with chicken in a tomato-cream sauce with white beans and some other veggies, and the "quesadilla of the day" - chicken and portobello mushroom. Omnom. Liking this friend a lot, and feeling bad for keeping her away from her homework longer than she had planned, I offered to buy her dessert. Out of all the glorious places available to us, she picked an ice cream truck.

For those of you unfamiliar with the touristy sections of Manhattan, there are ice cream trucks that sell soft-serve ice cream concoctions on many street corners (often near the ubiquitous halal carts). At first, these seem novel. Then strange. Then you quit noticing them until your friend wants a "baby rattle" from one (an ice cream cone covered in half chocolate jimmies, half rainbow sprinkles).

So, we walked over to the nearest ice cream truck, and waited for the people ahead of us to finish. Allegedly the 30-something, probably-middle-eastern-but-I'm-not-really-sure guy working in the ice cream truck asked if my friend and I were sisters, and I said yes. I think I thought he asked us if we wanted ice cream. But maybe I've just started saying "yes" whenever people pause while talking to me (probably a bad policy).

Anyway, I ordered for my friend, and the guy looked at us a little strangely. "Is that all you want?" he asked. "Yep!" I said. I was full, I had ice cream in my freezer, I was a little underwhelmed by the variety of sprinkles-and-soft-serve combinations. For once in my life, I really wasn't planning on getting dessert.

Getting my friend's ice cream, he then asked me what I did ("I'm a student," I said), what I was studying ("Um, mostly politics,") and if I was going to work for "Mike" (at the time I gave a nervous laugh and said, "Well, maybe!" In retrospect I think he was talking about Michael Bloomberg, for whom I will most likely not work). By this time, he had given my friend her "baby rattle" and I was starting to pay, when he asked again, "Are you sure you don't want anything else?"

This is the point in the story when I realize that I have much more of a cunning, impish streak than most people. As I handed over my money, I replied "Well, not unless you want to throw in something on the house." For my regular readers, you should know that I wasn't treating this as a low-risk environment in which to practice flirting (see post 1). I wasn't winking, I wasn't twirling my hair, I wasn't puckering my lips. My voice hadn't gotten higher, my skirt hadn't gotten shorter, nothing. But the man in the ice cream truck said, "Sure! You're very convincing. What do you want? How could I say no?"

I was caught completely off-guard. I guess today was my day to be effortlessly persuasive. So, I quickly looked at the sign, and ordered a vanilla ice cream on a sugar cone, said thanks, and walked away with my friend. It was actually surprisingly good soft serve, and I always enjoy a sugar cone.

I guess the moral of this story is as many times as you have to argue with three people in a pizza place to get the special, sometimes you find the right ice cream truck. No flirting necessary.

I got free ice cream (and saw a show and ate dinner) in:
Grayish pencil skirt, brown ribbed tank top, periwinkle short-sleeved sweater with oversized safety pin, silver hoops with green crocheted detailing, multicolored flower ring, and giraffe wedges with turquoise piping.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

If Homer Lived in Midtown ...

As an avid bargain hunter, I follow several other blogs that list free/cheap things to do around NYC - notably Gothamize Yourself (http://gothamizeyourself.blogspot.com/) and NYC Daily Deals (http://www.nycdailydeals.com/).

Earlier this week, NYC Daily Deals ran an alert that a place in Midtown East was opening and would run a one-day deal with two slices of margherita pizza for $2 - a pretty great deal! I planned my day so that if I walked quickly (it was about 2.8 miles roundtrip) and the line was reasonable, I could make it there and back between classes.

I set off, enjoying midtown during the lunch hour (while walking at a decent clip). In fact, I thought if I ever had a free noontime, I should head to the happy place between Midtown East and the Upper East Side where all the young would-be-knights in suits worked to earn their nobility and find myself some friends. True to genetics however, I figured that this would somehow be immoral/strategy/cheating, so I quickly ruled that idea out.

Having been to NYC Daily Deals lunches before, I was looking for whatever building had an outrageous line coming out of it - so I almost missed the inconspicuous little pizza place. I went in, found no line, and asked the man behind the counter if I could please get the two margherita slices for $2. He looked at me blankly for a minute, and I said, "You know, the NYC Daily Deals thing?"
He then said, "I think that's only for people who work for the blog."

WRONG THING TO TELL A GIRL WHO HAS AN ODD KNACK FOR REMEMBERING EXACT WORDING ... and carries a smartphone with the email from the blog around with her.

Fired up by the challenge, I asked him if he'd like to see the email. He said he would. I whipped out my phone, pulled up the email, and handed it to him behind the counter (a still, small voice inside me said, "Honey. Health code aside, do you think it's a good idea to hand your phone to strangers trying to tell you you can't get the deal you're after?" That voice didn't understand pizza was on the line).

The gatekeeper of the pizza read the email, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "Look, I don't care. I'll give it to you. But you'll have to talk to the manager behind you."

Perfectly willing to jump through whatever hoops needed to get my pizza, I presented my request to the manager, the lord of the land: could I please get two slices of margherita pizza for $2 for the NYC Daily Deals thing?

The manager then asked me for the password. Not believing the epic/medieval turn my day had taken, and holding in all the snarky things I wanted to say, I guessed "NYC Daily Deals," remembering something about that in the email. He told me that was wrong - it was supposed to be "NYC Daily News." I was really confused, thinking that the point of a secret password is NOT to reveal it when someone guesses wrong, but I didn't care. I just said, "Ok then - NYC Daily News!" He gave me the go-ahead, and sent me to the cashier.

When I told the cashier I was doing the two slices for $2 deal, she told me I had to ask the manager. I told her I had, he waved at her, and I handed her my floppy $2. A few minutes later I held a box with two steaming pieces of margherita pizza in my hand. I leisurely walked the 1.4 miles back, enjoying the fruits of my victory.

This is one of those economic adventures where the time required to get the deal probably negates the low dollar cost. However, there are more factors than mere time and money - I had tasted adventure in my odyssey through midtown. I walked back with a proud smile on my face, crowd-weaving with my laurels in a pizza box, feeling pretty happy with the world. I had seen a deal, journeyed, battled, and won my prize.

Not only did I get the glory of the chase, but I also got a great workout, and delicious cheap pizza. On returning to the school cafe, I just knew my classmates were thinking: Raise your Nalgenes; toast the triumphant warrior! All hail the victor of the bargain battle! Now, we feast!

I battled for my pizza in:
Black pencil skirt, blue and black mock-halter blouse, black and silver ring, black and silver watch, cubic zirconia studs, and black and blue concealed-platform stilettos (technically I was wearing flip-flops while I walked because otherwise I would have shredded my shoes - but I put the cute ones on as soon as I got back).


Monday, September 6, 2010

Love on the Woks

Coming from suburbia, I am pretty well-versed in the world of casual dining. These are reasonably-priced sit-down restaurants that are a step up from pizza but won't break the debit card—and Midtown Manhattan could use a few. Actually, we really just need Pei Wei—it has all the atmosphere of a place you'd actually take a date, but is priced about like Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Shakespeare once wrote: "if music be the food of love, play on." I say "If Pei Wei be the food of love, why aren't there any around here?" See, there is a direct correlation between the number of casual dining restaurants like Pei Wei and the amount of casual dating that goes on. Considering the one Chipotle is about the closest we get to a Pei Wei, it goes without saying that there are a lot of wasted Friday nights.

Sure, casual dating isn't the only thing that matters. But think about your parents' college experience. They went out with multiple people, sometimes in groups, sometimes not, but there was some residual "Brady Bunch" mentality of "going out" being different from "going steady." This is what most people call "casual dating." It's that lost art of being interested in someone without being committed, and of getting to know the person before you jump in like an eighth-grader and declare you're "going out" and then just awkwardly eat lunch together sometimes.

Seems like a nice thing, right? Wrong, say the higher-ups at Pei Wei. It might be a nice thing for suburbia—they have high schools, supermarkets, orthodontists, and other normal things. But here in midtown? We have the Empire State Building for crying out loud! 30 Rock! Rick's Cabaret! What would you want with casual dating in a place like this?

So they keep it away, those higher-ups at Pei Wei. They hoard their moderately-priced Asian-inspired dishes, they hide their thick, lush napkins, they squirrel their snappy red-and-black "East of Usual" decor, and leave us to eat our Subway sandwiches by ourselves.

I know you don't believe me, but it's true. A relationship is an investment—in time, money, and emotional energy. Before you sign the dotted line, you read through the fine print. Before the fine print though, you read through the big print—metaphorically speaking, that's casual dating. You see if it's worth it to get all the way to the fine print, or if you need to go "refine your search terms" and start over. However, relationships are a two-way street. The girl is reading your big print, and you don't want it to say "cheap"—and neither does she. Pei Wei is an elegant solution to this problem as it's not a huge down payment, but it gives off that hip, swanky expression we're all dying to exude. Pei Wei really is the answer to this generation's dating woes. Who knew it could be that simple?

So the next time you're taking a bite of that Spicy Korean (no really, I promise it's a dish at Pei Wei!), think of all the single souls that Spicy Korean helped pair together—and say a little prayer for those of us trying to read the large print at Empire Pizza.

I was craving Pei Wei in:
White sheath dress with large purple geometric print, purple hemp hoop earrings, large silver flower ring, and green leather stilettos with cork heels and platforms.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Say "Cheerio" to Life Peerages

Hello again! If there are any of you out there still lamenting the switch from daily adventures to weekly adventures, I have another happy note about weekly blog posts. Namely, instead of picking the best adventure from the day, I pick the best adventure (and/or the best outfit) from a whole week! You're really dealing with the very best here - it's like I sorted through a box of Honey Bunches of Oats and sorted it into yummy bunches and boring flakes (only to realize that they now sell "Just Bunches," of course) so you wouldn't have to.

On Friday, I was in my Constitutional Law class, where we spent nearly the whole time discussing how the British class system was different from the American class system, and what the ramifications would be if we decided to start awarding titles of nobility. (Our professor asked us what you'd call it if you were the very first person in your family to receive a knighting - I answered "living the British Dream," but he was looking for "life peerage.") This was all to illustrate that in many ways the Supreme Court Justices are like knights with a life peerage - they earn the honor (pun very much intended), and don't lose it.

To begin our discussion, we watched the short comedic video "Class" with John Cleese, Ronnie Barker, and Ronnie Corbett as upper class, middle class, and lower class men respectively. One of the striking things about this is that in the British system, many who are considered "upper class" don't have much money, and envy those in the middle class because they are financially better off. This is because as the economic system in England changed, land quit being the greatest source of income, and the nobility were left behind as the middle class charged ahead in business. While it is certainly a noteworthy commentary on the importance of keeping up with the economic times, what was more interesting was how my class responded to the whole discussion.

The lower class man, played by Ronnie Corbett, repeatedly says he "knows his place," and thus admires the upper- and middle-class men. However, he is "industrious, honest, and trustworthy," while the other two had "innate breeding" and wealth to their names. For a group of American undergraduates, it was nearly inconceivable that someone willing to work hard wouldn't dream of advancing his social standing - or at least that of his children. The superficial stratification, based on ancestry dating back centuries, seemed to be an incredibly foolish way to determine social clout. However, our professor and a few other students who had spent time in England confirmed that in fact, it is a perfectly normal institution in Britain.

We are incredibly fortunate that America offers the chance not only at fortune, but at creating a name for oneself. In the movie A Knight's Tale, William Thatcher's father tells him that "A man can change his stars" - yet this idea is decidedly out of place in medieval England. In fact, it is a restatement of the American Dream, and is a rather striking idea, even in the postmodern western world. It is Americans' frontier spirit, attitude of equality, constitutional forbiddance of titles of nobility, disgust with snobbery, and (mostly) free market economic system that allows the social mobility enjoyed in the US.

So three cheers for living without knights - it gives us the ability to change our stars ... and ensures we never end up with Sir Michael Bolton (like our friends ended up with Sir Elton John).

I learned all this while in:
Brown sleeveless business dress with gold stud details, taupe and brown menswear-print fedora, teal and gold flower cuff, and brown peep-toe "almost-a-bootie-but-so-much-cuter" heels. .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Barbies and Bargain Stores

Dear readers, an exciting update! Now that I'm back in school, the blog will be weekly, not daily. I think it's clear that the daily thing wasn't really working out.

Moving on from that, I've been having economic adventures as usual! Today, I went to "Jack's 99 Cent Store" (aka Jack's World, Jack's, and the-place-that-sells-moldy-Wonder-bread) to purchase some supplies for my house's* welcome dinner. Jack's appeals to a wide socioeconomic range, and sells everything from school supplies to Michelina's frozen dinners to limited bridal accoutrements.

As I was paying for my finds (plastic utensils, tea lights, etc.), I heard the man next to me ask, "Are you sure you're happy with it? We're spending a lot of money on you ...". I casually glanced over and saw a caucasian man of middle age, height and build, whose brown hair was barely visible from under his bright red baseball hat. He was wearing jeans and a faded red t-shirt with some kind of writing on it. He had a weathered face with an expression that looked kind one minute and harsh the next. He directed his comments to a small African-American girl of about four, with big brown eyes, and a bright pink t-shirt, sitting on the check-out counter rapturously holding onto something wrapped in a Jack's plastic bag. An adorable little boy, who looked like he was her slightly older brother was doing an impatient sort of jig - the kind brothers who have been dragged on shopping expeditions are known to perform from time to time.

The man continued, "Are you sure it's what you want? You know, it's made in China." This made the two cashier girls giggle. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not, and I was certainly hoping it was. After a moment, he added (half to his daughter, half to himself, and half to the cashiers [perhaps I was confused because his fractions didn't add up]), "It's made in China for about $.50, and then they sell it here for 20 bucks. You know, those people are just getting rich off this." Then, with a little twinkle in his eye (by now I knew he was mostly kidding and mostly talking to the cashiers), he added, "But if you want to support that kind of thing, I guess I understand."

Then he told the cashiers he wasn't sure the girl understood, which the cashiers found rather funny, he finished paying, and left - the girl clutching her new made-in-China mystery object to her chest as they left the store.

Though the cashiers thought he was rather clever, I was struck by how tragically mistaken his economic position was. Let's assume the girl had a Barbie doll. To put a Barbie doll on the shelf, you need: material for her hair, plastic for the rest of her, clothing material, paint, labor, a factory where you can assemble her (all the raw materials needed for her hair, plastic, the clothes), the box (cardboard, so all the way back to a paper factory, back to a truck, back to a forest - and the truck needed gas and brakes and all its raw materials and labor, plus a driver, etc.), the little twistie-ties that strap Barbie in, the printer to print the box, the thread and plastic to stitch Barbie's hair to the box, and the plastic for the front of the box that lets you see through it. All these are hidden costs of Barbie. Once she's finished being assembled and is nicely in her box, she is then shipped (via truck, plane, truck most likely) to Jack's, which has to rent their space, pay their employees, keep the lights and A/C on, and try to make a little money. In fact, no one is getting rich off this Barbie - they're all trying to cover expenses and make a living. Is there a mark-up every time she passes to a new middle-man? Of course. Still though - it's a far more efficient (and cheap) way to get a Barbie than making one yourself.

I understand that the man in the red hat probably isn't thinking about all the hidden costs when his wallet loses a $20 bill - it still hurts. But instead of guilt-tripping the girl, giving the cashiers something to giggle about, and complaining about over-priced toys in a dollar store, I wish he would have thought about exactly what had to go into that Barbie. Even things made in China have hidden costs.

Earlier this rainy Sunday, I got drenched in:
Black pencil skirt, white and black rain-jacket-like short-sleeved jacket (that is not actually waterproof), white hoop earrings, pink ribbon-band watch, long pink heart necklace, and black leather open-toe heels.



*Ohhh! Aren't you excited you found the asterisk comment? 10 bonus points for you. This is the part of my blog where I explain what the house of Susan B. Anthony is.
At my school, we have "houses" (they aren't real buildings, but rather entities) named after various influential people throughout history. Everyone is automatically and somewhat randomly placed into a house their freshman year and remains in the house for all four years. We have house competitions, events, and traditions. I've been told it's like the houses in Harry Potter, but I haven't read it, so it's all hearsay to me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

DPLD - Dystopian Public Library District

Today after work, I ran a bunch of errands. This included a trip to the "library" they just put in by my house. I gave library extra punctuation not as a "hey, you like English, I like English, here's a free set of quotation marks" gesture, but as a way to tell you all I don't actually consider it a library. I went in hoping to find Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and/or Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Instead, I found half the library devoted to children's books and movies (which is fine. I like children and think they are entitled to a section. Maybe not half the library, but you know. Something.), one quarter devoted to non-children's movies, and the remaining quarter hosting an odd sampling of books - none of which were "classics."

Granted, it's a tiny library. I don't expect the NYPL here. But still - it was weird that half the library wasn't even books, it was movies, and that nothing in there had a copyright date prior to 2001. Perhaps, though, this is the library of the 21st century - one where there's more psychobabble than an Oprah marathon, and it's more Blockbuster and daycare center than a home for tomes.

True, the world is changing. I too am guilty of spending more time on the computer, and less time with a book in my hands (even now, I'm blogging instead of finishing Crime and Punishment). At the same time though, I hate to turn the famous Princess Bride quotation "When I was your age, television was called books!" on its head. Dr. David Nobel, founder of "The Summit" ministries, says, "If you want to be a leader, you have to be a reader." If he's right, this new library is raising up a generation of followers. Americans today can have long discussions about their feelings, but can't analyze events. They can compute data and project numbers, but they can't process philosophy. They can create multimillion-dollar ad campaigns, but struggle to appreciate a work of art. I am certainly guilty of all these things.

However, for America to remain a world power, we must do both. Clearly, times have changed, and having your secretary type your memos will both cost you time, and get you slapped with some sort of anti-chauvinist lawsuit from the ACLU. As our technology moves down the road, though, we cannot lose the finer things in life - literature, art, music, creativity, humor. In fact, when we embrace our creative, cultured sides, our computations tend to come out better as a result. In other words, we could have more technological breakthroughs if we spent more time in other areas. We could create more wealth by changing the way we think. After all, the renaissance had da Vinci - not a touchscreen. Big ideas should be investigated not only to maintain our humanity, but also because they could have serious economic benefits. Don't believe me? Check out the going rate for a van Gogh these days.

Ironically, our libraries seems to be heading towards an automated, uncritical lifestyle. Aldous Huxley warned against a similar lifestyle in Brave New World. But then, you would have to read it to defend against it.

I went to the future in:
Black pencil skirt, beige top with open back, black & silver hanging hoops, and zebra stilettos with red buckles.

You're Fired!

Today when I walked into the office, I put my purse in the desk drawer as usual, turned on my computer, and headed to the kitchen to make green tea. Except, today I was met with the smell of something burning. I looked around the kitchen, but didn't see anything just sitting there flaming (after all - I don't work with Adam Lambert). I looked into the microwave oven, and sure enough, there were two small, very black lumps on the tray. I immediately opened it (just a crack), and determined that they had formerly been two chocolate chip cookies.

I knew it had to be our associate attorney - he burns stuff in the toaster oven on a weekly basis. Usually it's around lunch, so we know to buzz him when the entire office smells like burning pepperoni pizza, or newly chocolate english muffins. He then comes in, sighs, laughs ruefully, and says that he "really has been meaning to buy a little egg timer for that stupid toaster oven." He then eats his charcoal-icous delight, and burns something a week later.

Today though, it was 8:00 am, and there were already burning cookies in there. If your life requires two warm chocolate chip cookies on a Monday morning by 7:45 am, it's pretty sad. If you forget that you wanted those cookies by 8:03, I don't think it's that sad. I think you just wanted cookies. Still though, it's a little awkward to buzz your coworker and say "um, hey doofus. I know you were hoping for a sugar high this morning, but your pre-breakfast dessert is now toast. Or rather, it's burned like toast. Because you left it in the toaster oven too long." After all, there was a microscopic chance I was wrong about the owner of the cookies. So, I decided that if no one had claimed the burned baked goods by 8:10, I was calling our associate attorney.

Luckily, about 8:07, who comes strolling into the kitchen, but the master of the toaster oven, the associate attorney. He didn't say anything, I didn't say anything. I waited until he got back to his office, and then I laughed.

How does this relate to economics you ask? Well, if you need to buy a timer, you should buy a timer. The $5 it'll cost you to buy a timer will, in one month, save you two burned cookies, one burned english muffin, one burned piece of pepperoni pizza, and one burned turkey sandwich. It will also save you the humiliation of being known as the guy who can't work a toaster oven. It will save your coworkers (and any debtors/clients who come in) from having to smell the too-toasty version of your food. As Michael Scott would say, a timer is a win-win-WIN. Or, without the timer, you could continually burn things, and risk getting fired. Ba-da-chhhhh.

I lamented the fate of those two cookies in:
Grayish pencil skirt, olive green three-quarter-length sleeve eyelet jacket, black lace tank, peacock feather earrings, gold owl necklace, antique-inspired charm bracelet, and black and gray menswear-inspired pumps.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just Keep Swimming

Tonight, I went to my siblings' swim team banquet. Now, granted. End-of-the-season banquets are usually a mixed bag. With a reputation for being longer than "The Bear" (a nearly-silent film about ... a bear), typically sub-par food, and identical trophies for all, these banquets tend to get a bad rap. However, I would argue that these seemingly insignificant little ceremonies offer an accurate read on Americans' perception of rewards.

The first part of this is the participation trophies - like it or not, Americans have decided that not recognizing every single person is unfair and discouraging. In some way, it probably is. However, Dash from the Incredibles (did you ever think - when he grows up, he'll be married to "Mrs. Dash"), said it best when he replied to his mother's encouraging "Everyone's special, Dash," with "which is another way of saying no one is."

Kids aren't stupid - they know that if everyone's getting one, it's not really anything special. So no matter how many participation trophies you give out, you're not really fooling anyone. You're giving them something nice for their shelf, but if it wasn't earned, it's less important to display. In America, we promise everyone as equal a start as we can - that's what the Bill of Rights is for. After that though, you're on your own. We don't promise everyone an equal outcome - although awards banquets show that perhaps we'd like that better.

However, the second part of the banquet is individual awards. There are "most valuable player" awards, the "swimmer of the year" award, and silly individual awards - like "too cool for the pool." While the fun awards are just that, the MVP and swimmer of the year honors focus on individual swimmers who were at the top of their game. These are for the part of our culture that still wants hard work in to equal success out.

See, capitalism favors those who work hard, and it doesn't reward everyone. Capitalism doesn't guarantee equal outcomes, it simply guarantees not arbitrarily penalizing anyone. If sports banquets are a good barometer (which, given the dedication and competition present, I'd say they are), we're at the point where as long as everyone gets something, we're still okay giving out real awards. I just worry we're on track to eliminate the second part of that sentence - something that would have bigger consequences than swimmers' trophy shelves.

Before sitting poolside at the banquet, I was in:
Black & cream high-waisted dress, black and silver bamboo hoop earrings, silver flower cocktail ring, and strappy black open-toe stilettos.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

80s Hair on a Four-Year-Old's Head

I must confess, a guilty pleasure for me and my family is the TLC show "Toddlers and Tiaras." It's as addicting and evil as crack cocaine, but still completely legal. In the same revolting-and-can't-stop-looking vein as "My Super Sweet 16," "Toddlers and Tiaras" revolves around bratty girls and their psychotic mothers. The show follows girls (and sometimes boys) from about birth to 10 years as they fight their way through the pageant world.

Like nutrition and appliances on the porch, pageants are worse in the South. The hair is bigger, the makeup heavier, and the number of contestants living in double-wides larger. See, the crazy thing about pageants is the cost - whether it's "low glitz" or "high glitz," pageant dresses (some of which are no bigger than a large babydoll) run from $500-$2,500. The average pageant requires three outfits, but that's just upfront expenses. Pageants (even for little three-year-olds) typically require: entry fee (usually over $100), pani/medi, fake tan (it just makes them pop onstage!), eyebrow waxing, hair styling (curling irons, straighteners, curlers, HAIRSPRAY), hair pieces/full wigs, flippers (retainers containing a full set of teeth - the perfect gift for the little girl who only wants her two front teeth for Christmas ... or this Saturday), make-up (mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, fake eyelashes, blush, powder, etc), often a coach, to choreograph "routines" and demonstrate where a background in pageantry can take you, as well as cases to carry everything.

There are several shocking aspects to this. First, look at that list. Remember it's for a girl who probably doesn't know her times tables or how to write her name in cursive. Then throw in that all this work goes toward about 30 seconds on stage - if you have three events (beauty, swimwear, and outfit of choice, traditionally), you're up to a whopping minute-and-a-half. Assuming a smaller entry fee ($100), one big dress ($700), one smaller dress ($400), one fairly plain swimsuit ($100), a mani/pedi special ($35), a free fake tan (nice friend, someone who left their fridge on your porch, etc.), just tweezing, one cheap hair piece ($50), no flipper, mom's make-up, and no coach, you've cost yourself $1,385 for 90 seconds - in other words, your daughter's walk across the stage cost $15.39 per second. For each moment she spent onstage, you could have had a reasonable family dinner for four - and you were probably mocked for not going "full glitz" like you should have. Sure, you can re-wear the outfits, which are your biggest expense, but it's still a huge investment (and few girls only have three outfits).

What's shocking is that for the most part these girls don't come from lots of money - lots live in trailers, most in small houses with minimal decor. Your average middle-class (sometimes low-middle class) families are spending huge amounts of money to put their daughters in an environment that encourages reckless spending, outer beauty, extreme selfishness, and mood swings. In other words, most of these parents are paying to create holy terrors. Sure, some of the girls are sweet, but by and large they are terrifying, and that is why we watch.

From an economic point of view, it makes as much sense as copying Rihanna's hairstyles. From an entertainment point of view, it's pure gold.

I spent my money on:
Brown menswear capris, brown empire waist, belted shirt, purple and gold bead dangle earrings, gold owl necklace, and brown beaded ankle-laced espadrilles.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

War of the Greens

Tonight, my family went to Sweet Tomatoes, a salad bar restaurant, for dinner. Sweet Tomatoes is a precarious balancing act in a lot of areas. It's rather pricey, but is set up buffet-style with salad, soup, baked potatoes, bread, pasta, fruit, jello, baked dessert, and ice cream. In other words, Sweet Tomatoes lets you gain the "freshman fifteen" without ever writing a paper or living in a dorm!

Buffets are great ones for that, as they employ economies of scale against you. See, you pay the same price at a place like Sweet Tomatoes whether you eat a single piece of lettuce, or enough food to make a "food pyramid" that would make Giza jealous. So, in order to get your money's worth, it makes more sense to eat more (and of course, there's no sharing). However, for dieters and those who like fitting through the average doorway, eating your way to a bargain has a lot of negative ramifications.

True. It's a salad bar. But no one in that restaurant is stopping at one cup of spinach, with some grilled chicken and veggies. No, this is the land of deliciosity - pre-made salads, cheese, sunflower seeds, and dressing. Then there's soup, which can be fairly light (vegetable) or fairly dense (cream of cauliflower made with American cheese - pleck). Baked potatoes are really just serving pieces for butter, cheese, and sour cream. Bread - sourdough, indian grain, blueberry muffins, cornbread, specialty muffins, and focaccia are "bred" to be diet-ruiners (ba-da-chhhhh!). Their pasta tends to be somewhat bland, but there's always a cream-sauce option - sometimes two (out of three).

After-dinner, the fruit and cafeteria-style desserts aren't too bad, as long as you like unripe honeydew and sugar-free jello mousse. Really, the perfect cherry on top of a calorie load is some artificial sweetener. There's always a special baked dessert - from chocolate lava cake to cherry cobbler, as well as brownies, because nothing says "just like mom's" like the next dress size. They also offer soft-serve "non-fat frozen yogurt," but if you put it on top of the baked dessert, and add syrup, toffee, peanuts, and cookie crumbles, you capsize the fat-free lifeboat. On top of this, they have nice people walking around with baskets of chocolate-chip cookies that they deposit on your now-groaning table.

See, Sweet Tomatoes is a hard restaurant, because it pits money against calories in a battle that few of us really want to fight. Sweet Tomatoes rewards the uneconomical, those really in touch with their stomachs, and, let's face it, the people who really want to eat. It tricks you into feeling good about yourself, because obviously, twenty servings of something served along with salad isn't bad for you. Granted, though, most other restaurants gleefully pile on unwanted calories without a thought - there it's a pay-as-you-eat system, though, so it's less tempting for us economically-minded friends. I don't want to bash Sweet Tomatoes, as I really do find it tasty, but it requires a lot of self-control and weighing the calorie/dollar ratio.

We ran into my aunt, uncle, cousin, and cousin-in-the-womb that night, which was quite fun - and for my toddler cousin who eats like a teenager, Sweet Tomatoes presents absolutely no dilemma.

I planned my Sweet Tomatoes attack in:
Grayish-brown pencil skirt, deep teal cowell-necked baby-doll sweater, purple veined disk earrings, big green ring with white and red accents, and gold giraffe wedges with turquoise piping.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Equality 7-2521

Today, my sister came back from a two-and-a-half week music camp/missions trip in the Czech Republic. Though I didn't get to see any of it myself, the stories she told me reiterated that economic policy matters - a lot.

None of her campers lived in houses - they all lived in nearly identical flats left over from communist rule. If you want something a la Brave New World, Anthem, or 1984, try looking at a fairly large city where everyone lives in identical gray cement buildings. For a more homey feel, many own "weekend cottages" in the mountains that offer a change from the monochromatic abodes. Still. It sounds like something unworldly, something that could never happen. Yet it did. Happily, the Czech Republic came out of communism and is one of the more stable countries to have done so. But can a weekend cottage really make up for a week of living in a very real reminder of communism?

Is there any reason why an economic system that smacks of dystopian ideals and has failed multiple times should be tried again? Is there any reason why the US, a bastion of liberty and individuality, is moving steadily left, toward such a system? Whatever fine differences between communism and socialism you want to bring up, it certainly seems the United States is moving in that direction. Perhaps in 100 years, Czech teenagers will be coming here to see sights like the outdated Declaration of Independence, and our spin on identical gray cement dwellings.

I appreciated freedom in:
Grayish-brown pencil skirt, short-sleeved, striped gray jacket with ruched middle, gold leaves & glass flowers asymmetrical necklace, pearl studs, and pink satin slingbacks with bows on the top and hemp wedges.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sunny Days ... You Hope

Today, my Granny took me around downtown Denver to celebrate my birthday, as we've done for years now. We ride the Light Rail (Denver's form of non-bus transportation that looks tiny after riding the F line), eat lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (at an outdoor table next to the street, under umbrellas that touch for maximum shade), and then do any number of things - shop, visit art galleries and boutiques, go to the art museum, eat more food, take pictures with painted cow sculptures, go to the Tattered Cover bookstore - and then get on the Light Rail and head home.

Though we used to always get the same thing at Cheesecake Factory (Chinese Chicken salad, lunch size, with White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake), we've branched out the last couple of years. This time we had pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken, and the Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake. YUM. We went to a shop in the Tabor Center that we found last year, and I put a shirt and necklace on hold.

Next we went to the art museum and saw the King Tut exhibit (my Granny is a member, and now that I go to school in NYC, I find museums to be normal ways to spend any day). Since the exhibit is new, it was very crowded, so during the second half, I gave her the "Reader's Digest" version of their information plaques above the various relics. After the museum, we visited the "cookie lady," which my uncle told us about - technically she was closed, but we still got three yummy cookies for $1 (and you know how I feel about bargains). We then went back to the store and got my shirt and necklace, got on the Light Rail, and headed home. A fun day!

Interspersed throughout our day, however, were tragic sights. Brightly painted pianos sat outside on street corners, waiting to be either played or rained upon. See, in a project that only people who work for the city government could have come up with, these pianos had been placed to help "promote community" and "revitalize the mall." Or, as my Granny said, "They're supposed to make us want to talk to each other. Apparently you see people on the bus and on the street every day, but you never talk to them. And if there was a piano, you'd talk to them."

So, all day long we passed pianos that were over one hundred years old, and were sitting in the sun, silently. Few had people sitting at them playing, and none were surrounded by former strangers chatting. In fact, the project seemed to be an expensive way to ruin pianos, rather than create the downtown version of "Kum Ba Yah." Some of them were cute, and similar projects have been tried in other cities around the world (including NYC), but it simply wasn't a good use of resources.

See, the pianos weren't free. Since they're only here for a limited time, after they're done rotting in the elements, the city will have to pay to have them re-painted and re-tuned. In return, they've had a few street-music wars between caucasian rastafarians playing harp-like instruments and whoever is on the piano, but there has been no instant community. I don't think people are baking each other cookies, or babysitting for free, or joining corporate softball leagues. I think people are going about life in downtown Denver as usual, with the occasional piano on the street.

The government can't see that this is a poor investment of our tax dollars - they're blinded by PBS-friendly words like "community," "neighborhood-feel," and "the letter A." The problem is, we don't live on Sesame Street, and we don't live in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. In fact, most people are commuters or tourists - they work in their offices, and venture out during the lunch hour, or are there to see the sights, whatever they may be. If neither of these is the correct group, they're likely homeless, spending their days as they please.

While these people are living in reality, our tax dollars are paying for a wasteful (albeit whimsical) pet project designed to foster spontaneous friendship. The problem is, life isn't a children's book - people don't leave work to play the piano and quit chasing success and decide to go home and paint a picture with their kids. Pianos can't sit outside for months and not experience physical damage. People who have never spoken to each other don't start speaking when the scenery changes.

So, while they were fun to see, I think the city can find an art exhibit for its streets that is both less expensive and less destructive. However, I doubt they'll be swayed by these arguments. If someone could say that "the public display of music is offensive to me and my religious convictions," or point out that the "freedom of choice" was taken away from the poor pianos who were never asked to be put outside, or even "you know, George Bush LOVES painted pianos," we just might get those poor instruments back inside.

I had a fun day with my Granny in:
Khaki shorts, purple tunic top with beaded top, peacock feather earrings, sea green big daisy ring, and black platform flip-flops. (Not business casual, my apologies. It was around 100 degrees, and we were walking everywhere.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Play the Game Theory

Today, I had a little bit of a "heart fart." This is like a brain fart, except it involves your emotions. In fact, this describes those awkward times where you think that you've just completely changed how you feel about something ... or someone. Usually, heart farts are short-lived and relatively minor, but I still prefer to avoid them. (Yes, I did coin the term "heart fart.")

Anyway, I had a heart fart where I thought I might like this guy I've liked on and off for awhile. (I know - it's impossible to say you "like" someone without sounding like you're a thirteen-year-old playing ZAP. It is significantly more difficult to invent cool terminology for pre-pubescent phenomena than to create a catchy, rhyming term like "heart fart." Sorry I can't do more.) Even in a heart fart, though, I'm notoriously logical and love charts. This led me to categorize all members of the opposite sex as fitting into one of four Categories. (I am going to use "like" in the giggling, pre-teen, crush-tastic sense.)

1. Men you don't like who don't like you.
This is a wonderful, uncomplicated group of the opposite sex. These are strangers, friends, eunuchs, waiters, grocery baggers, subway performers, and mildly attractive TV personalities. There's nothing between you but air, and you are both able to live your lives without having to sing melodramatic pop songs about the other one's existence. Next time you see someone in Category 1, give him a non-awkward high five.

2. Men you don't like who do like you.
This tends to be a small, odd group of guys for several reasons:
1. People who like you tend to gain a lot of brownie points in your book for having "such refined taste in women," perhaps creating a heart fart of your own.
2. Creeps and weirdos are irrepressible.
3. You probably actually do have refined taste in men.

This is an awkward group that's usually full of lab partners, exes, and overly friendly men on the street/in the grocery store/on the subway, etc. Despite the initial awkwardness, your only job is to let him down gently but firmly, and not lead him on. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but since you're not emotionally entangled, there's not a lot riding on Category 2 fellas for you.

3. Men you like who don't like you.
Oh, unrequited love! This category is the stuff of Taylor Swift songs, and for most of us, this category causes more problems than all the others put together. These are the more desirable lab partners, friends who don't see what they're missing, and really attractive strangers/tv personalities. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Category 3 is that they can become a Category 1 or 4 quite easily - or, in a painful twist of irony, even a Category 2! The problems come while you're waiting for them to switch affiliations ... but not like that.

4. Men you like who also like you.
Oh, glory! The joys of Category 4 men - those rare jewels of the earth who have the decency to time their feelings for you alongside your feelings for them. For some girls, every man is a category 4 man. We call these girls "women of the night." For most of us, Category 4 guys are more rare - and for some of us, they're extremely rare. However, something helpful to keep in mind when you think you've met a Category 4 guy is that you really only ever need one of them. If you find more than one, they have to become Category 1, 2, or 3 guys eventually (or you might have to change jobs). Category 4 guys are like shoes that are both adorable and comfortable. It's a rare combination, but oh, what a sweet one!

Now, we can actually make a diagram of Categories 1-4 that resembles the diagram used in game theory.

See, both 'You' and the 'Man' in question are on the chart. The numbers represent how much either of you wants the relationship to work out - your numbers are in the bottom right corner, his in the top left corner of each box. For example, if he likes you and you don't like him (Category 2), we'd look at the top right-hand box. He thinks the relationship would be an 8, you think it would be a 2. Clearly, you both benefit the most from the outcomes in the top left box, but you're more likely to get something "unmatched," like the results in the top right or bottom left box, where only one person thinks the relationship is a good idea. This is why relationships are difficult - even though there are only four categories, each one comes with its own set of problems.

In economics, this diagram is usually used to show why two companies will both charge a lower price, even though if they worked together they could charge a higher price. Neither one wants to end up in one of the "middle" boxes (top right, bottom left), so to avoid that risk, they both try to undercut the other, making less money than possible, but more than if they'd been caught in the middle.

In our example, though, this shows why so many people are afraid of relationships - they've been hurt in the past, and they'd rather end up in the lonely world full of Category 1 men than in the hurtful world of Category 2 or 3. Luckily, people can change categories, as well as attitudes. Heart farts can be good for that - but you have to act quickly, because you never know when sanity will reinstate itself.

I had a heart fart in:
Black pencil skirt, patterned bias-stitched sheer blouse, black cami, silver hoop earrings, yellow-green zipper cuff bracelet, and green leather platform stilettos with cork heels and platforms.

PS No, you don't know who I was heart farting over. Don't try to guess.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wardrobe Staples for Life

Last night, two of my high school girlfriends spent the night. Even though one of them had to come late and leave early, we had an amazing time. We've been friends since middle school - and actually, one of them I've been friends with practically my whole life. We all go to different colleges now, and because of travel and work schedules, haven't been able to get together as often as we would have liked this summer. That said, we hung out and talked and laughed and dreamed and analyzed and caught up like the good old friends we are. I have been incredibly blessed with some amazing friends in my life - they're the classic kind, that you don't have to replace.

See, normally I am a huge bargain shopper, and while I don't buy trash, I also don't tend to "invest" in pieces that are going to last forever. I shop the clearance rack at juniors chain stores frequently - I'm addicted to $3 camis, and have found adjusting to "real" stores' price tags can be a little overwhelming. However, there are some things that are worth paying more for because they will work for years - timeless pieces, that can take a beating and make it through because they're well-made. They don't go out of style, you don't outgrow them, the buttons don't pop off and the seams don't rip. These are the pieces worth spending a little more on - and these are the kinds of people my friends are.

Though the two who just spent the night are prime examples, they aren't the only ones. I've found some classic, timeless pals who I can hang out with after not seeing for almost a year and feel like I never left. Best of all, they didn't cost me anything more - in fact, they've saved me so much over the years. They've saved me from lots of heartache, loneliness, boredom, and needless solemnity. On top of that, they've given me outfit advice, laughs, code names for boys, notes in class, inside jokes, and great memories. So, I'd just like to say thanks. Thanks to my friends - you all are the pencil skirts, button-ups, black pumps, suit jackets, pinstripe pants, and little black dresses of my life. No matter what else is there, I'd like to keep you in my closet for a long time.

I went to church with some of my favorite people in:
Brown, brightly-patterned empire-waisted cotton sundress, lime green cami, bright yellow bead necklace, silver hoop earrings with spring green crochet detail, brown headband, and multicolored striped open-toe stilettos with white heels and tops.