Category Archives: Relationships

Happy First Snow!

It’s officially Winter. I’ve got pearls on, I busted out the peacoat, oh and there’s a crap ton of snow outside!

I love the snow. I don’t like shoveling it and I sure as hell don’t like how it delays my train but it’s so beautiful. It’s just a white blanket that covers the city and makes it clean and pure for a little… until it all turns to yucky muck. But I think it’s best to focus on that short amount of time when thing’s are great.

And I apply that same concept to how I approach life. Why focus on the terrible things? Right now, I have about 80 pages to read before Monday and a memo due by 5 PM tomorrow. There are no trains running from the burbs to the city so I’m missing about 4 parties and Israeli guy and I just ended things due to being in “different places in our lives”. But it’s also my daddy’s birthday! And I just made a delicious apple cake (recipe to come later)! And I have the best family ever. So at the end of the day, I win.

Now go play in the snow New York!

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Do you need that spark?

L and I have had many conversations about passion and stability. Are they incompatible? Can you only have one or the other? And if so, which one is better? I think I’ve experienced both. I’ve had super passionate relationships, like Ex-Boyfriend, which were so unstable, like a volatile chemical ready to BLOW UP IN YOUR FACE. And then I’ve had relationships which started out passionate and by the time they stabilized, became extremely passionless and more or less, boring. Can it be that when you feel so passionately about something/someone, the overdose of dopamine and serotonin in your brain incapacitate you and prevent you from thinking logically enough to have a stable relationship? Honestly, I’m not totally sure, but I’m leaning towards yes. To all of the above questions. Someone correct me though.

Now, that is not to say that people who have stable relationships have boring relationships. Take my friend Lauren for example. Not only does she make a mean red velvet cake with the BEST cream cheese frosting, but she is also getting married in August. I would definitely say that her relationship is very stable. I mean, they are so great together and they are also very, VERY happy together. I would use the word content, not in a settling kind of way, but more like at peace, like everything is just right. So, we’ve established, they’re happy. They’re stable. But you know what, they’re not passionately crazy about each other. I mean, they’re busy people. If she has class and he’s working late, they’re not going to pull an all-nighter to spend time together. Which is good, that is where you want to be eventually in a relationship.

BUT, what if you skip the crazy passionate phase of your relationship? I’m sure Lauren and her fiancé experienced that spark but what if you never do? And it just goes right away into stable? I ask because a good friend of mine – let’s call her Successful Sister – is pondering the same question. She’s been running and working out with the same guy at her gym for months now. To quote her, “there is definitely chemistry but no spark”. She says they’re compatible and she can see them together but she’s worried about the spark. Or lack thereof. I mean, she’d essentially be skipping 3-6 months of the relationship (after which, the dopamine and serotonin levels drop back to normal and you realize that the way he eats drives you nuts and his friends are all total assholes and he thinks his band is more important than your relationship and… wait. my bad.) and jumping right into stability. However, here’s another thing to consider. She’s in her 30s. People in their 30s are supposed to be mature. Maybe they’re allowed to skip the crazy spark-passion? And another thing to consider, think of the older generations. I mean, when parents still helped you pick out your husband. I don’t know if they were happier but their divorce rates were definitely lower.

I’m not saying we should go back to 1870 when my dad would find me a suitor. I’m saying that it’s happened and it’s worked out before. Successful Sister doesn’t need to settle and honestly, I don’t think she would be. But I think she does need to take it for what it is and accept it. She shouldn’t drudgingly go into this because she feels like she has no other options. She should date this guy because she likes him enough to do so. Maybe there’s no spark, but like she said, there’s chemistry. And let me tell you, what I remember from 10th grade chemistry is that sometimes, reactions take time. Sometimes, you’re friends first and then there’s a spark. Other times, it’s like love (read: lust) at first sight. Maybe it’ll just take a little while longer for Successful Sister. I mean, after all, they’ve never hung out outside of the gym. I think, you give them both a glass of wine and sparks will fly. After all, alcohol is highly flammable.

– Mag

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Wake up call

Every once in a while, something happens that just makes you snap the hell out of it. Sometimes, it’s some kind of life-changing event. Or other times, it’s your friend who very bluntly tells you to wake up and move on. Or, it’s realizing that it’s 3 AM and you’re crying on the bathroom floor (again) and drunk dialing your best friend (again), except this time, there’s a 12 hr time difference because you’re in China and she’s in NY…

Gosh darn it.

It seems as if after all my soul-searching in Europe, all it really took to send me over the edge, into I-want-a-boyfriend-Land, was some nagging on the part of my family. I could put up with it back in NY. With my mom going on and on about how I wasn’t getting any younger and my dad rolling his eyes next her, the you-need-a-boyfriend converstaion in my parents’ dining room was actually pretty comical. But not anymore.

Here’s the lowdown: My buddy from high school, let’s just call him Eligible  and Compatible Bachelor (“ECB”), decided to visit me in China. We’ve been really close friends since high school, with the exception of senior year when we got into a huge fight over prom, but whatever, water under the bridge now. So of course, I was excited when ECB told me that yes, he will actually visit me in China – 10 days, it’ll be great. Did I think that it would be more than a platonic visit? Eh, a naggy little voice (which sounds very much like my aunt’s) said that it was a possibility. After all, we often joke about how we’re gonna get married etc etc.

ECB knows me pretty well but the poor thing had yet to see me in a bad mood. And boy was I in a bad mood the 3rd day he was here. My parents were calling me from the States, asking about him, whether or not he would make a good husband. HELLO? EXCUSE ME? We’re not even dating. Then the nagging became so overwhelming that I finally snapped. I began thinking, well what if they’re right. What if this is it? I’m not getting any younger, you’re right Mother. He’s eligible and compatible, I should probably lock it down now. So began the start of a 3 day funk, when I started lamenting the loss of Ex-Boyfriend and my loneliness blah blah blah cry me a river and hand me a razor. EMO.

Thank goodness for ECB because that boy did not spare me. ECB called me out on my depressing behavior and just let me have it and you know what, he was so right. 2 years ago, he was just like me, so sad and depressed over his last girlfriend. All he wanted to do was get over it, move on but he couldn’t because he kept on talking about it. And so he told me, you just gotta shut up and do it. Don’t talk about where you’ll be working in 5 years or when you’ll meet Mr. Right. Stop making all these plans. Planning doesn’t get you nearly as far as doing.

ECB had a great point. So apparently, does Nike. Just do it.

But honestly, it’s more easily said than done. Case in point, our trip to Shanghai last weekend. It’s a great city really – a combination of New York, Beijing, and Europe. Truly something special (pictures to come later). The nightlife is great too, lots of bars, clubs and oh blubs (bar clubs). Things were going quite well until yours truly had one too many drinks and the next thing you know, I’m sobbing and asking to talk to my best friend, L. ECB, being the great friend he is, calls up L, long-distance, on his iphone. I proceed to lock myself in the bathroom and cry to L about how I can’t believe I’m still crying over Ex-Boyfriend after ALL. THESE. MONTHS. UGH! I’m actually just sick of it.

So, the wake up call was more a drunk dial. It’s been almost a year since Ex-Boyfriend and I broke up and I’m still crying about it? ECB said, the only way to get over it is to get over it. Let go 100%. And I guess I’ve still been holding on just a tiny bit so it’s time to make the final move and just freakin’ do it.

I wanted to share this with you because these past 10 days with ECB made me realize how often we talk about doing something and how little time we spend actually doing it. Instead of telling everyone about your new healthy diet, just do it. Stop whining about needing a vacation. Just book that flight to Hawaii. Actions speak louder than words and results are even louder. We can’t spend our lives looking nostalgically at the past nor can we spend all day looking forward to the future.

So heed the call, live in the now and most of all,  just freaking do it.

– Mag

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Can you have it all?

These past few days, I’ve been sitting here at my first cubicle job (a short stint of Chinese corporate life), alternating between revising agreements, checking out the corporate culture in China (post to follow) and skimming whatever websites the Chinese firewall has not blocked. My online wandering has led me to this website. This kind of blog dedicated to the modern professional woman has been a growing phenomenon recently. While these women are younger than my mother’s generation, they are just a few years older than me – I’d say 5 to 10 years older so while I’m not quite their age or status, I can relate 100% to what they’re saying because I know that I’m going to be there in the near future. And it scares me.

For a short while, before my last job really started to pick up, I would get weekly dinners with two of my girlfriends from high school – one working at a big publishing company and another at E&Y. Topics would range from the latest gossip to our latest dating distaster. Soon, our work schedules got so hectic, we could only manage dinner every few months or maybe drinks for a special occasion and the topics also began to change. They became more, well, we could say “adult”. One of us will be thinking of going back to school, another about switching jobs, one will lament the recent wave of layoffs or the measly bonus. Boys? Who has time to date right now? Not us. 3 margaritas later (Mexican food is our standard rendez-vous dinner), we always find ourselves pondering the same question: Can you have it all?

Between clawing climbing our way up the corporate ladder, attending all of our non-corporate friend’s weddings and get-togethers, and attempting to prevent becoming victim to the corporate 20 (that’s the 20 lbs you gain post-school sitting at your desk drinking red bull and coffee), how do we  entry-level, SFS wannabe’s view our idols – the women who are top dogs at their firm, glam, successful but most often than not single? Is there anyway we can get there without sacrificing well, our personal lives? We’re not even making six figures yet but we already don’t have time to date. Can someone please tell me why some of my 20-something friends are on online dating sites? I have nothing against these sites but aren’t we supposed to be young and active enough to be “out there” “meeting people”? Apparently not. Is it bad that I can relate to this post?

Truth is, I’m not really sure if we can have it all. I mean to say, not sure if we can have it all at the same time. This is why and I’ll lay it out for you through an example via the law profession:

Graduate college at 22 and go to law school (this is assuming you don’t take any years off in between, though many, Mag included, do). Spend your first summer interning as a clerk or summer associate after you’ve busted your ass as a 1L. Spend 2L busting your ass if you’ve managed to make law review. Second summer is spent slaving away at another firm, hoping to secure a job post-graduation in a crappy economy. 3L makes life much easier but as soon as you graduate, assuming you’ve found a job, you spend the summer studying for the bar. You are now 25. Start work, pulling multiple all-nighters and sleeping under your desk. You want a successful career so maybe you want to make partner. That means you must bill more hours than any one else. Life proceeds in this manner for the next 8-10 years until (if) you make partner. You are now at least 33.

So, where in that timeline do you see an opportunity to, oh I don’t know, meet a guy, go on more than 3 dates before he gives up on you because you’re too busy, get married, go on a honeymoon, get preggers and start a family? Yeah, I don’t see many openings either. But what if it went like this:

You do the entire law school thing, start work, but because you don’t WANT to make partner, you don’t put in as many hours, thus having time to date, meet Mr. Right, work for a few years, getting married at some point while you’re a lower-level associate, then quit when you get preggers, then have a family!

Is the latter option cheating? Will you be selling yourself short simply because you didn’t go all the way? Herein lies the problem, the conflict-of-interest (COI) if you will. No matter what any one else says, the corporate world is not a female-friendly environment simply due to biology. Guess what, when a man’s wife get’s pregnant, he can and probably will take paternity leave, but he’ll be back a lot faster than his wife who’ll be recovering for quite a while since she just pushed a baby through her who-ha. Not to mention, science has shown that women NATURALLY want to spend more time with their children. They say, the bird that returns early and bills the most hour gets the promotion, I mean, worm. Unless your company is very understanding or has different standards, evidence shows (and by evidence I mean all the single, divorced, or mother MIA female partners I know) that a stable family life and becoming top-dog at your company aren’t compatible. Perhaps at some point, you do have to choose. Maybe, you’ll be one of the lucky ones who has an understanding boss or is at a female-friendly company but for all the others, it’s very possible that there’s no other way around it but to prioritize one thing over another.

Or perhaps we need to be more proactive. Instead of waiting or wishing for a company that understands this COI, maybe, by working our way up, we can institute these policies, create the environment we need so that we can indeed have it all. Our biology may lead us to crave more of a domestic life at times but our intellect and drive do not have to suffer and be held back as a result. What’s that phrase? “Be the change you want to see”. Yes, instead of pondering the question, let’s just make it happen.

– Mag

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