post grad

I am a Clothes Hoarder…

A couple months ago when I was working in retail, I quickly realized why I’ve hated cleaning my room. This may seem irrelevant to my retail job but really, if you take a look at my room and all the clothes and useless junk I’ve accumulated over the years, it might begin to make sense. Folding clothes, cleaning after other people and putting things in their proper places at the store was an epiphany for me. I hate cleaning up after messy people, let alone straightening things up after people have tried on clothes they aren’t going to buy. So this might make some sense after I soon realized, I might be that same messy person I had to clean up after…

I guess I have fast fashion (cheap clothing stores) and college to blame for my messy room. It’s not that it’s extremely messy, I’m pretty organized, but I think I’m just scared to throw things out. College was tough because I didn’t bring everything I had at home to school and I allowed myself to buy cheap things I could wear on a whim at school or useless crap that could distract me from my studies. (Did I really need a new dress for every weekend party? But it was only $10!) But then I brought everything home…

The worst thing about moving back home from college (and I’m already a year in,) is the fact that when you have a job and your life changes, your stuff has got to change too.

At moments I feel like a person on the Hoarders t.v. show because I can’t seem to part with the crap I have. I wish I could dump my whole room out and start over again. Maybe this is what growing up really means.

I’ve tried to give things away but sometimes I feel as though these clothes are like threads in the memory that were my college years and I feel a need to keep them, just in case. Hoarder tip-off #1: Clothes fade, memories should not.

Image

So, while I’m still struggling to cleanse my closet from my fast fashion college days, here are ways I’m hoping to de-college-afy my closet:

1) Sorting through stupid promotional t-shirts and actually throwing out/donating them. The one thing I’m a sucker for is free t-shirts. Seems like it doesn’t matter the cause or the words on the shirt, I believe I have a boastful collection. Half of these t-shirts have never been worn and unless I decide on creating a repurposed t-shirt quilt for my bed (very hipster meets dirty bum-esque) then I won’t need my whole collection, even if I did decide to start going to the gym again.

2) Clothes that have holes (even teeny-tiny ones) or clothes that are made of thin-soon-to-get-holes-material, no matter how long I’ve held on to them, should be thrown away. If it can be replaced, I can buy a newer, similar one.

3) If the clothing item in question was only in style for less than one semester and immediately placed on the “banished trends” category, I should donate it. I don’t think knitted turquoise ponchos will really ever be hip again, at least not at my workplace.

4) If I haven’t even touched the clothing item (aka the only ones that are still neatly folded on my shelves) then I really need to ask myself, “Would I wear this to work? Would I wear this on the weekend? Would I wear this in a week? In a year?” and the answers (most likely) are “No” then it’s best to say, it won’t ever be trendy and useful to me.

5) Would you rather have the cheapy-it-cost-$5-to-make-and-looks-that-way version of that cardigan in the closet or the slightly more expensive but you-know-it’ll-last-longer-better-made version? I need to learn that fast fashion styles and low manufacturing quality only equals spending more money and having more junky clothes piling up in my closet. Investing in quality brands and styles that can last more than 1 season are keepers and worth investing in.

As in all resolutions, they are easier said than done but I really do hope I can get rid of some threads of the past and have space for better investments for the future. Especially for when my paychecks start getting thicker.

A Letter

      Letters

Dear Student Loan Bill,

Thank you for reminding me that I will not be moving out of my parents’ house any time soon. As if I had any previous hope of vacating these parental premises soon and get on with feeling like a normal adult, you have made it clear that it won’t happen.

You’ve ruined the archetypal, pre-economic crisis vision I had of jumping ship and wanderlust-ing around Asia or third world countries spreading my post-graduate charm all while blogging and taking pictures of me doing exotic things only to make my Facebook friends jealous and depressed in their cubicles.

I think you like the fact that I wake up extra extra early every morning, jump on a bus that takes as long as if I rode a horse-driven chariot to the best city in the world, work for exactly 8 hours (no more and no less or my anal boss will chop my head off), rush to catch a bus back home to the suburbs, eat dinner and get in bed by 10pm. It just tickles you that I can be in the city but not really BE in the city, doesn’t it?

With an estimated 12 years of monthly payments that double my current weekly hourly salary, you’ve truly brightened my day. (Note: sarcasm)

In 12 years, I hope I can laugh this off, or I guess I hope I can pay this off…

The fact is, let’s be honest: I’m going to grin and bare it. Because that’s really all one can do nowadays, isn’t it?

You’ve got to grin and bare the shit that’s thrown at you in order to rise to the top. A wise person once told me that, actually no, I said that. Because on college graduation they told us we’d success in anything we did now that we had a diploma and 4 years of loans to be paid. (Nice inspirational thought though.)

I’m the granddaughter of a fortune cookie fortune writer, did you know that?

So cheers to you, Student Loan Bill, congrats on being another factor pushing me ever so forcefully to rise through the muck that is my future. And let’s hope that hard work does pay off, wherever that might lead.

And Lord have mercy on the generations of grads after me.

Love,

Me


in the rain, we all collide

New York City in the rain is one of my least favorite things. I’m not saying the city isn’t beautiful in the rain, because of course I think so.

I’m saying the whole business of walking around this metropolis, navigating with an umbrella-appendage is bothersome. On a day like today, stumbling around the streets of New York with a nausea of humidity and moisture among the billions of other workminded folk, it’s a bit awkward.

It feels like being in the sea, one insignificant fish flitting among the flow and eb of the avenues trying to find my way, the number of umbrellas floating endlessly like a crowd of colorful, water-repellent jellyfish.

There’s nowhere to turn without bumping into another person or raising your umbrella so as to not smack anyone on the head. As a shorter person, it’s not unusual to feel the drip of the rain runoff from someone else’s umbrella.

But somehow, the annoyance of it all, being forced into a obligatory reef of likeminded commuters and playing umbrella bumper tag before work while skipping around dirty ankle-high sewage water makes me realize that we are all in this same big world together and no matter where we’re going or who we may look like, we are all alike; colliding through life one puddle at a time.

A (belated) New Year’s Resolution…

                                        happy new year

Resolved: To succeed.  

2012 is starting off swimmingly….I’ve just gotten a great long-term temp job at a high end jewelry brand doing communications and training. I’m excited to begin something that is interesting and unique and a position from which I can improve and broaden my skills. This first week at work felt weird after not using my brain for so long (especially doing nonsense work like retail) but I was so ready for the immediate change. My body and mind must have also been awaiting the day I’d return to “real” work because the first day of my new job, I was up at 6am ready to conquer New York City without even feeling a hint of lethargy. I hope this energy of mine is long-lived.

While landing this new job is great and promising, it doesn’t mean I’m still not searching for more permanent positions. We will see what the new year holds. I’m starting 2012 off by being optimistic about the job market and the opportunity the future holds for me and I will not give up on doing my best. I know I have the power and the skills to succeed, I just need to continue to showcase them and put them to good use. 

Things I’ve learned from working at J.Crew:

*I don’t completely hate working in retail it just stinks sometimes but really, I have learned some helpful things. This is my own opinion and perspective (and should be viewed as somewhat humorous). 

Things I’ve learned from working at J.Crew:

1. How to fold clothes. 

Of course once you are thrust into the world of college, learning to do your own laundry is a given. But the menial task of folding clothes and simply, folding things the right way is something I never quite mastered (ask my mom). From my daily encounters folding a billion Perfect Fit Tees, Jackie Cardigans, Matchstick Denim Jeans, and Perfect Shirts per minute, I can now say that I have walked away with hands that automatically fold the “J.Crew Way” and can demonstrate the various ways button-up shirts can be folded, how to make a flower out of a sweater sleeve, and the 3 different ways pants can be folded or hung. Not only has this skill increased my productivity level while on the clock, it has allowed my own home closet to be more organized and space-efficient. Woo!

2. Always, ALWAYS wash the clothes you buy before you actually wear it.

Do you know how many people actually tried on that shirt you just bought? Do you really? Because I do. Approximately 25. But really, after working in the various areas of my J.Crew store, whether it be on the sales floor, in the fitting room, or at the cash register, I constantly witness the odious life cycle of popular J.Crew clothing articles. I don’t care if you are a size XS or XL or if it really looks like a fresh shirt on the top of the pile, you never know how many people (and smelly people at that) have tried on that exact shirt, smutted around in it in front of our mirrors, then discarded back onto our racks. Some have purchased it, wore it at home, then decided to return it to us. Many a smelly person has entered the depths of our fitting rooms and left their marks (literally) on our clothes with me, the unfortunate sales associate who can’t say a nasty word about those clothes to fold and “freshen” those piles.

3. Don’t be a total bitch to sales associates.

I know you think you’re all powerful and cool and happy to be shopping in our store and you’re the one with dough to burn in your wallet and that’s all fine and groovy but listen, there are actual human beings who work at this institution. Surprised? Yes, human beings who might not actually want to stand around all day folding clothes or telling you that you look nice on their own free will but because they NEED A JOB. Still surprised? Well consider this, these sales associates make less than $10 bucks an hour and for what, to deal with one too many extremely rude people who think we are paid as much as that cashmere cardigan costs to beckon your every need. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to throw things around the house or leave your toys all over the furniture? Why should it be any different? If you see things are hung or folded in one area, don’t take something from the front of the store and decide it’s okay if it goes all the way in the back of the store in the children’s area. Don’t blame me if we don’t have a pair of pants in stock or that the items you want to return were purchases over 30 days ago (this does not equal over 3 months) and we can’t give you your money back. Here’s some advice: remember when you buy the damn item and return it in time or not. It’s simple. Don’t act like I can change store policies or rules just because you want me too. I can’t even change the fact that I get only 2 dollars more than minimum wage for my salary. You want me to change the store’s return policy, store name, products, sizes, styles, and models for you? I’ll work on that. In the meantime, take the time to be patient, kind and respectful of the people who actually have a job trying to make ends meet and have to deal with the oh-so pleasant retail world. Thanks.

4. Employee discounts actually kind of suck.

Yes, we do get pretty sweet employee discounts (30-60%) but am I really able to afford that skirt even if it is 60% off when I make less than that in one day? I’m pretty sure the companies do this on purpose because what better way to make employees think they’re making money from the company when they’re actually just giving it right back by purchasing all the so called discounts. And everything changes monthly so it is extremely tempting to think you really DO need that sweater before anyone else. Brilliant.

5. Selling yourself and your soul is a good way to sell clothes and maybe if you’re lucky a J.Crew card.

Rewards and recognition get dangled in front of our faces if we’re good sales associates and sell at least 3 items per customer and even more if we sign up customers for J.Crew cards. It takes a lot of influencing and sucking up but I’ve learned how to be a good saleswoman. Play along with the customer, advise them of clothes that would look “so cute” on them and that are good deals “so you might as well buy 3 of them” anyway. Be a customer’s best friend or better yet, “girlfriend” who can’t get enough of how good you look in those J.Crew jeans….

6. A way to knot scarves that save you so much space.

I’ve learned an awesome method of folding scarves: fold the scarf in half, use both hands to twist ends so scarf is curled, fold in half again and voila! A neat, little scarf knot:

 

7. J.Crew is actually a really nice company to work for. I’m always pleasantly surprised at how nice the managers are and how corporate really cares about the store and the people in it and care to let us know what is going on with the company.

On Being a Penny-Pincher

Living on a part-time sales associate salary means that I’m having to skimp on lots of things like food, clothes, entertainment, etc to make my weekly paychecks really count. Being smart about purchases, services and acting thrifty whenever I can are good skills I’ve sharpened over the past few months. 

1. Free movie Tuesdays. My town’s leading cable and internet provider, Optimum Online provides a reward program for households that subscribe to all 3 of their services (phone, internet, cable tv). This program includes a rewards card that entitles subscribers to 2 free movie tickets to local cinemas every Tuesday. Thanks to this thrifty program, I’ve seen a new movie every week without spending a dime! (aka $14/ticket) 

2. Baking homemade bread. Our house has decided to swap spending extra dough for baking our own dough (harhar). All we did was dust off our old electronic bread machine, buy some yeast packets (quite inexpensive), whip up some dough, and let the magic of the bread machine produce a fresh, deliciously yummy loaf of bread. What’s even more delicious is the small savings we’ve made on purchasing bread from the supermarket and the varieties of bread we’ve made.

3. Free food (or close to it) using sites like ScoutMob.com or Groupon. I recently signed up to the free coupon site called, ScoutMob which finds local restaurants and food vendors with discounts and coupons in many US cities. The great thing about ScoutMob is that receiving the coupons/discounts are free (unlike Groupon where you need to pay) and they can be used instantly using the ScoutMob app on a mobile phone. When visiting my boyfriend in DC recently, we found a deal on ScoutMob for a free (yes, FREE) slice of pizza at a local pizza store. And so, we each showed our coupons at the restaurant and each received a delicious jumbo slice of pizza (it was bigger than the size of my head)! Can you say, free lunch? Yup.

4. Digging into the depths of my own closet. I never realized how much clothes I had that I have never worn before I slowly started cleaning and inventorying my closet. Sometimes saving/keeping clothes is worth it, there are so many articles of clothing that I already have that are back in style now or I can find ways to wear them appropriately for the upcoming season. A family friend also gave me a closet-full of her old work clothes and suits during the summer which I hardly looked through because I was trying not to think about fall clothes or getting a job. After looking through the goods recently, I’ve found so many great pieces I can start wearing as the weather turns chillier, most of them from top designers and already dry-cleaned or barely worn. Having generous friends is blessing to post-grads!

5. Eliminating splurging from my life. Not that I previously splurged incessantly before, but since I was only in school and not really thinking about money or my savings, I never really thought twice about shopping every single week or buying things I liked as soon as I saw them. Nowadays, I’ve learned to really think through my purchases and remember all the things I already have at home. Limiting the money I spend going out for lunch, coffee, dessert, and instead cooking my lunches for work, making my own tea/coffee, etc are helpful penny pinchers. Learning to repurpose, reuse, and re-style my possessions has been a key lesson here. Weighing out my spending priorities and the value of my purchases have helped curb my spending habits as well.

Think I’m going crazy? Me too. But I’m still hoping, still praying a good job will find my way soon. I know it will.

Photo source: James Maher Photography