Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Work in a Frat House

Believe it or not, binge drinking at the office was my first indication.

For a long time, my office was entirely white males aged 18-35. It grew to about 35 people or so over the years, during which time we picked up a 40 year-old white male, and a female. Both have since departed.

Being somewhat of a social outsider has had professional consequences. I get along with people at my office, and I have even liked on a personal level several employees that have come and gone. But when we'd do BBQs and people would drink ten to twelve beers and then drive home, I spoke up. And when people would grossly falsify their timecards and lie on expense reports, my boss didn't really have much interest, since he was doing it, too.

We have a more serious manager and things have calmed down now (mostly), but I know that one reason I'll never be promoted here is because I'm on the outside.

I don't think I want to fit in.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blogging is Hard, Let's Go Shopping!

Given a specific subject to write about, I rarely am at a loss for words. Strangely, things are trickier when I'm given free reign.

On Sunday afternoon, I leave for Paris, France (I clarify only because the kind man arranging a wire transfer for me at the bank somehow thought that the city of Paris was in the "country" of "London"). I am playing catch-up on getting prepared, but things are starting to come together. With one notable exception. Clothing.

I've never been a fashonista. I place a high value on utility. Even if it sounds simple or naive, I actually quite dislike the expression "Clothes make the man" because I think to judge someone based on what they wear is to do both yourself and your target a disservice. Some of the nicest people in the world have no idea what a pashmina is.

But I've always been able to get away with dressing casually. I finally caved in and bought some fancy shoes about two years ago, but I did not mind because they were comfortable and not outrageously expensive (despite being stamped with a Calvin Klein logo). I'd also somewhere along the line picked up a nice blue fitted shirt that I grew fond of wearing from time to time, because it was comfortable and flattering. Blue is definitely my color. A few other dapper knicknacks, but not enough to consitute a significant portion of my wardrobe. I am very, very slowly growing to appreciate dressing up. And I'd like to continue.

I am okay with being pegged as a tourist in France. But I would like to attempt to assimilate just a little bit. But shopping is hard by myself. I went to Urban Outfitters last night and couldn't tell if I was looking at men's clothing or women's. And then I noticed they wanted $44 for a shirt. And then I noticed everything was flannel, and that doesn't really fly in Paris in May. So how do I break through the "I can't find anything I like/I need a shove to get me into nice clothes" barrier? Suggestions? I only have a few days, and I refuse to appear on an Oprah makeover show... I'd like to do some shopping in Paris, but I also realize it's probably very, very expensive.

As for being more philosophical, here's one for you to ponder (and comment on!): if a man is overweight and a girl looks disdainfully upon him, his friends will sympathize, blame her for being superficial, and say that it's her loss. If a man dresses casually, his friends will sympathize with her, and try to get their friend to go shopping. What's the difference?