Archive for July 2008

31 July 2008

The purse evolution

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Fashion, shopping

Back in my tomboy years, I swore that I would never carry a purse. Why? Because I hated the idea of having to hold it all the time and I thought purses were pointless, especially when I could fit everything I needed in my cargo pants pockets. Yes, at that time I had no idea how much “weight” the puffy cargo pants pocket would add to my full legs.

But now, I not only can’t live without purses, but also I’ve noticed that I’ve “crossed over” from small, clutch purses to the oversize bags. 
My what a change. Today the RedEye declared clutches the “it” bag of summer, telling us to put our oversized ones away for winter. Yeah, hi, I can’t do that. Where would I put my camera and obnoxiously large cell phone? That won’t fit in a tiny clutch! I could only get a few bills, an ID, maybe a condom (if I’m feeling extra skanky that night) and my keys in that small of a purse. No cell phone or camera? They can’t stay at home!
As exhibited below, I used to only carry small handbags because I could get everything I needed at the time in them. This includes: wallet, cell phone, Chapstick, fingernail clipper and my keys.
But since I moved to Chicago, I’ve noticed a “bag evolution” from small, cutsey, clutch purses to mom-size, full-day bags, like the one below.
Suddenly I started needing to pack extra things, like gym shoes and clothes, cameras, business cards, pocket mirrors, make up and mini hair brushes, in a purse, all of which could not even remotely fit into the small cute bags I used to carry. And now because of going to the gym (to work on my pipes), I carry a large purse and a gym bag. WTF? Do bags multiply like bunnies?
Now when I’m on the prowl for a new bag to join the others on the shelf, I actually will not buy it if it cannot hold the new “essentials” that I carry, negating the optional shoes, magazines or even Lulu that might also be in that bag one day.
When we did our bloggy meet-up at Sheffields a few weeks ago, Rachel pulled the ultimate mom purse magic trick, a black bag that magically hid a HUGE camera, shoes and necessities. It was like a mini-clown car.
I’ve been told by my guy friends that this change is the equivalent of the evolution into “tucking in your shirt,” but that is a post for another day. Ryan recently asked me how many purses I have, and my first response was, “designer or not?” It’s a sickness. But I love them.
In fact, I’ve started laying out the big bags because the fam and I are headed to northern Wisconsin for a little break. And seriously, I need to take a few days to get my mojo back and work myself out of my current funk. So I will be hopefully posting while I’m gone as I dutifully support my dad on the golf course, so forgive me if I’m behind in my comments. I’ll catch up soon, promise!
Has anyone else gone through this “change” as well?
Reader note: Wow you guys are so spoiling me with all these amazing comments about Newsweek and the Rage Girl post. Seriously I don’t even know what to say! Rage Girl almost came out on the bus tonight in response to inattentive parenting and a screaming child but I kept her under wraps. And I will be sure to photograph my free Nordstroms Cafe lunch. I will be over-ordering and bringing Glad-ware so I can enjoy it well beyond the Cafe as well.

28 July 2008

I’m a petite little ball of rage

By: Jessica B.
I always wanted to be a superhero but unfortunately my alter ego isn’t as cool as Batman or Supergirl. My alter ego’s name is Rage Girl. It’s like the female Hulk, but minus the green skin, bulging muscles and no top thing.
My alter ego used to come out only when I was horribly anal retentive and OCD in high school and college, but since I graduated and moved out on my own, she only comes out on certain occasions now, like during customer service incidents or working with vendors.
It may be hard to believe but I’m overall not an “angry” person. Funny and sarcastic, yes and yes, but angry, no. I just have a tendency to overreact sometimes and “make a mountain out of a mole hill.” I get hormonal – deal with it.
Since my BlogHer-Girls Gone Touristy adventures last week, I’ve been a bit more tired than usual as I ease back into my routine. This has lead Rage Girl to come out more than normal in a given period of time.

Recent Rage Girl appearances –

Ask before taking

Last week on the plane back from San Francisco, I zonked out pretty much right away once we were in the air. Four days of little sleep and a two-hour time difference will do that to me. The woman next to me was flying from San Fran to Chicago to New York to Oslo, Norway (good lord what an awful flight) and was already obnoxious on the plane before we took off.

After a nice little nap, I suddenly woke up, in a panic (over nothing at the time) during the flight and noticed that the new Vanity Fair magazine I tucked away in my seat pouch was gone. Panicked, I started looking for it, unsure how it vanished, when the obnoxious woman turned to me and said…

“Oh was that magazine yours?”

“Yes, where is it?”

“I thought it was there for everyone so I took it” (she takes the magazine out of her backpack)

“Well yes it’s mine, how about before you steal things you f*cking ask the person first?” (Rage Girl is now talking)

“I’m sorry, you were asleep”

“Yeah well do you see me dig through your stuff and assume it’s for everyone? No I didn’t think so” (I take the other magazine out of my pouch while saying this and stuff it in my bag again)

Summary: She probably thinks Americans are totally crazy.

Eyebrows gone bad

My love of Nordstroms is not hidden in my little blog. If I could make out with Nordstroms, I would. It’s a beacon of joy and happiness in my life, where racks of purses and shoes make me smile and take all my cares away.

A few months ago I went to the Nordstroms Spa at a friend’s suggestion for eyebrow waxing. I can’t maintain my own eyebrows (I’m plucking deficient) so I met a woman named Amy at the Spa and now she’s my “girl.” Unfortunately, Nordstroms has an issue with my last name because they can never find me in the system as a client. Why? I have no idea. 

On Thursday, I called to make my post-San Fran appointment and spa attendant told me I was not in their computer system, which can’t be true because I’ve gone there multiple times. 

When I challenged her on this, giving her multiple ways to search for me, last name, phone number, etc. she became defensive and told me that I was “wrong,” which immediately brought out Rage Girl and I demanded to speak to a manager. When the attendant said no, she and I continued to argue and Rage Girl got very upset and started yelling (so embarrassing.)

The woman continued to tell me I’m wrong, which lead to me swearing and hanging up the phone in a huff. 

Summary: Now my happy place thinks I’m a raging, psychopathic b*tch.

Fortunately, I did speak with a manager, who was very apologetic about the situation and was able to resolve the situation. And now I get a free eyebrow wax and they threw in a coupon for a free meal at the Nordstroms Cafe and Coffee Bar for me too. I said thank you and apologized for Rage Girl’s actions. I usually end up having to clean up her messes. This was almost as bad as the whole “belt incident” at Nordstroms too that Liz had to step in to regulate on.

So that’s me, at time a petite little ball of rage. Maybe I’ll develop another super human power, like flying or X-ray vision. Fingers crossed.
Anyone else have superhero powers or an alter ego?
Reader note: Thank you to everyone who commented yesterday on the Newsweek article about accepting money from your parents. I really enjoyed all of your comments and totally agree with you all. And welcome to all the new visitors that commented as well!

27 July 2008

Suckling at the parental teet

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: family, Random
Question: Am I less of an “adult” because my parents still offer me financial support on occasion even though I have a full-time job?

According to the July 28th issue of Newsweek, the answer might be yes. The “My Turn” column in this issue, titled “Subsidized in the City“, is written by a young professional on the topic of adult men and women living in big cities like Boston, Chicago and New York, whose parents fund their lifestyles even though they have a salary job. As you can likely guess, the author is against this and comments frequently in the article on how parents providing these perks to their kids is causing them to avoid being a “full” adult.

There are multiple comments in the article that I agree/disagree with, such as:
  • “By continuing to provide for their twentysomething kids, parents hinder their children’s ability to be financially responsible. If you don’t learn to budget early on, what will inspire you to do so when your finances become your own prerogative?”
  • “…it is possible to live in any city regardless of your age or income, it just takes budgeting and prioritizing.”

The article focuses primarily on men/women whose parents go above and beyond paying for things, such as half of their kids New York rent, all of their utilities or let their kids charge on the parents credit cards so they don’t go into debt. I agree with her that this is excessive, much like the behavior from parents on shows like My Super Sweet 16, where the parents feed their kids materialism but then chide them for being materialistic. But I don’t think you’re less of an adult because your parents do help you on occasion with things like a cell phone bill or unexpected medical/dental expenses.

I live in Chicago, where I pay my own rent, utilities, food and shopping bills, even if I get a bit excessive in shopping one month. I don’t run to my parents to “make it go away,” but I have gone to them for help when I needed to put down a security deposit on an apartment or when I needed to have a root canal and crown done and my out-of-pocket costs were due right away. They were happy to help and put me on a “payment plan” to refund their money at no interest. I think it’s okay to use the “Bank of M-O-M and D-A-D” for certain items as long as the parents have set up the guidelines with the kids of when they will be repaid.

Her second point about being able to live in any city regardless of age or income I don’t 100 percent agree with. She comments about the “life” and “diversity” of a large city like New York, yet she feels you can survive and thrive in this environment by forking over 80 percent of your salary to rent and not being reliant on your parents. If you’re putting out that kind of money for rent, I’m not sure what else you sacrifice to stay afloat in the city, eating or transportation? My guess, eating.

When I moved to Chicago as an intern, I made around $9/hour, which barely helped me afford a small studio apartment, transportation around the city and food. I lived on noodles and casseroles for six months until I found full-time employment and during that time I didn’t do really any fun stuff around the city because I couldn’t afford it and I wouldn’t take money from my parents. I’m not saying my parents should have paid my rent, etc. but I don’t see the harm in taking $20 from them here or there if it lets me go have fun and build a social network in my city.

That doesn’t make me less of an independent adult to ask for help and it doesn’t make my parents “enablers” by giving me money at times or offering to take me to Banana Republic to buy some new shirts for my job.

The author also comments, “Financial independence means social freedom and absolute control over my own life. Yet among my peers, I seem to be the only one who feels this way.”

No honey you’re not, so please don’t group all of us twenty somethings in there with you. Maybe you just have catty, spoiled friends whose parents are inattentive and show their love only by giving them money.

Am I totally missing the mark on this? The article gave me quite a “bee in my bonnet.”

23 July 2008

San Francisco part two: Girls Gone Touristy

By: Jessica B.
As the bookend to my BlogHer adventure, I’ve decided to show you the second part of my trip in pictures. BlogHer ended Sunday so my friend Sarah (who is also the first friend I made in Chicago) met me at the hotel and we were off!
Sadly we weren’t “Girls Gone Wild” but we did cover a lot of the tourist attractions in the city in the two days we had together. Below is my montage for you all. Oh I have plenty more than this but it’s just a sampling of our fun. I’m saving some for my “food love” post soon.
I also just wanted to clear up one thing, I did change my clothes while I was there, but because of the cold northern California weather, I only had one coat/scarf that could keep me “warm,” which is why you’ll see me in the same external outfit in every relevant picture.
San Fran’s Bart map – easier than Chicago?
Chinatown
San Francisco (from the top of a painful hill!)
Me and a cable car
Fisherman’s Wharf – Sea Lions!
Boudin Bakery – famous San Francisco sourdough
Local dungress crabs
Ghirardelli
Cupcake break from Kara’s!
(raspberry buttercream frosting)
Lombard Street 
Palace of Fine Arts (boo construction)
Sarah and me at the De Young museum garden
Haight Ashbury
Coffee with Angela!
Heading the airport
Phew I’m pooped. And I decided to spare you pictures of being hit on my a woman at a bar and a man vomiting between the Bart cars while heading to Oakland. No I wouldn’t actually take pictures of that but you know what I mean.
San Fran was an awesome time and a perfect break from Chicago, but like Dorothy said…”there’s no place like home.”
Fortunately, my friend Sarah is coming back to Chicago in two weeks so it’s time to get the band back together again. Woo hoo!

20 July 2008

San Francisco part one: BlogHer ’08

By: Jessica B.
After three crazy days, a run-in with hotel security, a cheeseburger party, damaging photos, many late nights and one early morning, BlogHer ’08 is officially closed for this year. And now it’s 1:15 a.m. San Fran time and I’m blogging because I can’t seem to fall asleep yet. That will be painful tomorrow. Anyhow, my time in San Fran for the conference has been amazing. Truly eye-opening and just an overall a great experience.


It’s true that I haven’t been “warm,” except for my time around a microwave and heat lamp, since I arrived on Thursday, but I would come to this conference again in a heartbeat. But next time, I’ll bring warmer clothes as opposed to the “cute cool” clothing, which I currently have. Yeah cotton jackets and layered T-shirts = not a good idea. I should have listened to my friend Sarah’s advice a bit closer.

I don’t want to bore you with all the details of the conference but I did want touch on some of the highlights from this part of my San Fran visit.
BlogHer ’08 Highlights:
  • Cab trip to the hotel
  • My interview with the New York Times
  • Bloggy meet ups
  • Parties
  • Presents
Cab Ride:
So on our way to the hotel from the San Fran airport, we got our first real indication that we weren’t in Chicago anymore. Cabs here proudly state that they take credit cards. That is awesome. In Chicago, I have to fight with a cab driver to take my credit card but here, they not only state that they’ll take it, but display the credit cards they accept. I love San Fran!


So during our bumpy ride into the city, our cab driver suddenly pulls over along the side of the road (not in front of our hotel) and a man, who was waiting on the sidewalk we pulled in front of, approaches the car, and slips something to the cab driver in exchange for money. My car-mates, Danielle and Teresa, and I didn’t quite know what to say and then suddenly we’re back in traffic heading to the hotel. It wasn’t until we were checked in and Teresa and I met up later that I said, “hey was our cab driver doing a ‘drug deal’ on the ride to the hotel today?” Now I can’t say for sure that’s what happened but it was O-D-D.

Me & the NYT:

Yep that’s right, I was interviewed by a Style-section reporter for the New York Times. On Friday, the first day of BlogHer, I was really excited to attend the Twenty-Something meet-up session. I met a ton of nice people in my first few days here but I was really looking forward to this meet up to find people in my age range. After the meet-up, the reporter approached me and introduced herself and said she wanted to ask me a few questions. The Times is doing a story on BlogHer and she interviewed me for part of the article. Now I’m not expecting to see my name in the paper (even though it would be awesome) but as a NYT Style-section fanatic, that would definitely be a treat. So fingers crossed and I’ll keep you guys posted when the article runs.

Bloggy meet ups!

Obviously there are a lot of bloggers at BlogHer, specifically women bloggers (shocker I know.) As I mentioned above though, everyone I’ve met here has been really cool. And my bloggy business cards (picture still coming) from Angie were a huge hit. People have commented how “cute” and “clever” they are, to which of course I say “thank you.” I’ve collected a ton of cards from mom and 20-something bloggers and overall, I found that people were really interested in finding out what people were blogging about, how long they’ve been blogging and what kind of topics they write about on their blogs. I will be working on adding some of the new blogs to my Reader next week and checking them out as soon as possible. And I met someone Saturday night who already reads my blog, which was a huge treat. I felt insanely flattered.

Part of my Chicago blosse and my new blosse addition: Vanessa

One of the most interesting things I overheard in a break-out session was, “I work in porn, but I don’t use my real name. I mean I want to be a teacher one day.” Awesome, just awesome.

Famous blogger “run-in:” At the BlogHer Community Keynote speech on Friday night, a co-worker I was sitting with casually leaned over and whispered at me:

“Do you know who is sitting at the table next to us?

“No.”

“Dooce, she’s sitting like in your seat at the table next to us.”

“Really? No way.” (Turns out my co-worker was right, so to share this news, I texted a few friends about my fortune, followed by me repeatedly staring at Dooce without trying to look like a crazy stalker.)

Party-time

The time change has been hard over the last few days, but that hasn’t stopped me from partying like a little rock star! Thursday night we went to the Newbie party at the hotel, where I got to see my Chicago blogger buddies and meet a Katelin and Vanessa in person! The bar at the Newbie Party was also very generous – Teresa’s cranberry and vodka was about 80/20 in mix, with the 80 being vodka. Meow!


The hotel was also hosting a People’s Party, which we got to a bit late and thus lost out on the goodie bags. They were really cute too, which made it all the more disappointing that I didn’t get one.

But Sprout was doing a drawing for a gift bag, full of yoga mats, SIGG bottles and kid-friendly toys. And let me say, I entered the drawing only because I know I wouldn’t win. I never win stuff like this but I always throw my card in anyhow. So you can imagine the SHOCK on my face when the woman doing the drawing pulls out a business card and says, “Everyday Adventures of Me in the City? You’re the winner!” I seriously burst out laughing and “woo-ing” very loudly (because of a glass or three of wine). So I grabbed my HUGE bag of stuff and filtered through it in the hallway answering “no I’m not a mom but my friend is!” to people’s questions about my prize. Now, I have plenty of gifts for my beloved Ada, Sarah and some for me too.

Then Saturday night, TNT hosted a BlogHer party and I was particularly excited because, as you all know, I just listed The Closer on my list of “things I love” right now. Gina Ravera (Det. Irene Daniels) from the show was there and I was literally trying not to geek out in front of her.

I had my picture taken with her too, but I need to track it down from the photographer so it’s coming! I’m not letting that slip by. And some of my 20-something peeps at the party and I closed that night club, Ruby Skye, down…at 9:30 p.m. It was a ton of fun, and proves again that Chardonnay for me is very effective in helping me to loosen up.

Below is a picture of the cocktail napkins at our Macy’s party last night. I thought this napkin was the most genius idea ever. By day 2 of the conference, a lot of bloggers had run out of business cards so this was a proper substitute to hand out to people. Our Chicago/LA/Texas bloggy group thought it was awesome. I hope someone grabbed a stack before we left the party.

Christmas morning-like joy

OMG I have so much stuff, I’m so glad I brought a big suitcase to take back to Chicago. Below is a picture to show you a sampling of the stuff I got here at the conference. I will definitely be keeping some of it and donating it to my friend Sarah, who is hosting me Sunday-Tuesday at her apartment, and giving some to Yoda Amanda’s daughter Ada. I’m getting Karma on my side by paying it forward here.


So in a nutshell that’s my time at BlogHer. I could go on and on about this for days, but rather than ramble about it, I’ll just say this on top of my highlights. Going to BlogHer was definitely an experience. It was overwhelming at times, but totally worth it. I got to go to some great sessions and meet some really cool people. It wasn’t all play (I was there for work) but the opportunity to go was amazing and I really hope I can go next year too. And I have more pictures to collect so there are more antics caputerd on film that are not represented here.

So what’s next? Well while co-workers and blog buddies are flying back to Chicago today, I’m opting to stay behind on the West Coast and get some “R&R” with my buddy Sarah, who lives in San Fran now but is in the process of moving back to Chicago in August.

I’ll be back in a day or two with the second part of my San Francisco adventure: the chronicles of Jess and Sarah. And our adventures are starting with the Dark Knight in IMAX and will likely end with someone being drunk dialed as we sing/scream Journey into the phone. Beware.