Monday, December 13, 2010

This Monday in Manners, Installment #4: Snark - Don't Do It!

Emily Dickinson once wrote: "A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day." While computers, let alone the internet was not even close to a conceivable reality in the late nineteenth century, Ms. Dickinson hit the nail on the head with that one. Words, in their various shapes, sounds and formats, leave a major impression, and sadly in our digital world, I think this gets taken for granted.
The online world makes everything feel more open, less formal. Like you can really speak your mind, n'est-ce pas? The flip side of that is, of course, written language (without much context) becomes *very* open to interpretation. A statement on a message board or an instant message or a tweet devoid of punctuation or emoticons could mean many, many things to many, many people. Enter online sarcasm, and worse yet, S.N.A.R.K.

For some reason lately, I've noticed snark alllll over the internet, and it breaks my heart. Why do people feel the need to one-up someone, always have the last word or take unnecessary shots at other people? There is an unwritten trust we all have in the internet, but there is also the safety of anonymity. But the golden rule of speech should still prevail: If you don't have anything nice to say... shut it. Which isn't to say that you should withhold any expression of your opinions. But like having a face-to-face conversation, you should always think before you tweet. Agree to disagree. As much as someone's statement about something riles you up and leads you to believe said individual is a complete and utter moron who should be locked away from society until further notice, the minute that snarky bit has landed on the message board, you have admitted defeat. Having the last word does not mean you win. It means you fell into someone's trap, and you fought for something other people clearly were not that interersted in fighting for in the first place. The person at whom your snark was directed is probably completely unaffected, and your snark benefited no one.
So I implore all of you out there: have some self-respect! Snark is never the right response. Sarcasm tempered with humor is always acceptable. To take a stab at someone above and beyond what is dictated by the conversation is just plain wrong and a waste of your precious time and brain space. I don't know who David Denby is, but he sure got this anti-snark thing right. Take a lesson, and you might just have a more peaceful existence.


Until next week...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Don't Quit Your Day Job: How to make the best of your work situation

It's been a tough few years economically. Jobs are scarce, and in many workplaces, morale is low. A good friend of mine moved to another coast completely to work for a startup that rapidly proceeded to go bust. And though my company has managed to more or less bounce back from the downturn, I remember a terrifying round of layoffs that happened about a year and half ago. I survived unscathed, and so I am blissfully thankful to the gods of fortune that I:
1) still have a job
2) have have a job I looove
3) have a salary that is growing, not shrinking

I am very conscious, however, of many folks upon whom fortune has not smiled so kindly. Working just because you have to pay your bills, or because you just need to keep this job, is no fun. I've been there.

But I wanted to offer a few pieces of advice, for what it's worth, that may help you over the hump. There is a silver lining, no matter what, and you can use your position to your advantage.
- Stick it out. If it's a job you happen to like, stick around for as long as it makes sense for you financially and goal-wise. Try to negotiate other job "perks" as an interim trade-off: ask for a few extra vacation days, 1/2 day Fridays during the summer, an adjustment in hours (if you don't work a particular shift), or the ability to work from home from time to time. Chances are that if your employer recognizes you as an MVP, they'll be willing to offer you something even if it can't be monetary.
- If you feel like you're stuck at a job that you aren't crazy about but need to stick with it because you need to pay the bills: focus on doing whatever it is you do really well, or go the extra mile even when you don't want to. Even if you have big plans to peace out, leave a lasting impression behind. Being a hard worker never goes out of style and will likely pay off either with a raise/promotion when your workplace gets back on it's feet (I thought it would never happen for me in a previous job, and it did, 10x over!), or when it comes time for recommendations for your next position.
- Network! At first, I had no idea what this meant. But if what you want to do is kind of specific, start spreading the word among people you know in that industry that you're jonesing for a career move. Talk to all of your friends and relatives and neighbors. You just *never* know what's out there or who the people you are close to have connections with.
- Go solo, even if only temporarily. If you have a good amount of experience doing something, try freelancing for a bit. While not devoid of its own stresses, freelancing at least allows you to focus on doing the thing(s) you love, all the time! It's a huge personal growth opportunity as well as an opportunity to learn more about the industry that you're embarking on a deeper journey into. And also, Network! You'll need to market yourself somehow and word-of-mouth is one of THE best ways to do it, and doesn't cost a dime :)
- This may be obvious to some, but stay positive. I know, some days it seems like you can't even drag yourself out of bed. But trying to keep a positive attitude and smiling in the face of challenge is something employers really appreciate. Again - think of the long term: you want your reputation to precede you when possible, especially if your goal is to stay at your current workplace and advance up the ranks. Seeing a challenge as an opportunity is also the best way to keep to keep yourself engaged and motivated. If you can turn your situation around to work for YOU, you'll always be an indispensable employee.

I recognize that some of these tips won't be applicable to many of you out there. But I've had about 6 jobs in the last 8 years, few burnt bridges, and I'm where I want to be career-wise. The moral of the story is that you should just try, as the ever-fabulous Tim Gunn is of saying, to "Make it Work!"

Spotlight Wedding Blog/Website Extraordinaire: WeddingBee!

I just want to give a quick shout-out to WeddingBee today! I found the "hive" about 5 months before I was actually engaged, and it blew my mind. Seriously. Of any wedding website out there, I have found a pulse on the wedding world from the ground up, vendor connections, amazing ideas & inspiration, and a genuine community & support network all in one place! Certain other sites that shall remain nameless may offer the same things with a bit more industry presence, but the 'Bee is all real people. It's been a long journey to get where I am today, and I can honestly say that if I didn't have a sounding board and this amazing network of supportive strangers, I'd be lost. And without hair/makeup recs and a DOC :) For the marrying types out there, take a peek. You just might get hooked!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Manners Mondays, Installment #3: Ummm....

I got nuthin'. Manners Mondays is taking a brief hiatus this week. Way wayyy too much going on over the weekend for me to come up with something clever to write about today. Plus, my interwebs were broken at work today, which is normally when I think about my manners blog post. I'm sorry peeps - I promise to deliver mondo manners amazingness next week. That is all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gagnant à nouveau!

So I also speak French. On occasion. What little I can remember! So remember when I was talking about my strategy for paying for my wedding? Well, it's working - still! Since then I have won two small but very cool and helpful giveaways! Printable patterns I can use to jazz up our reception decor, and a gift certificate to the elegant and always classy Bonita J jewelry boutique! Yay! I also found a super great deal on a "Day of Coordinator" for the wedding.... The hits just keep 'on rolling! I'm so inspired that I think I'm going to start featuring a weekly round-up of the best discounts and giveaways out there! Might as well share the love - at some point I won't have anything left to win!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

To your health (and pocketbook)!

In an effort to begin the wedding weight loss, I've returned to the gym as of today. Wanna know a l'il secret though? The wedding alone and looking good in a white dress wasn't really motivation enough on it's own. Nope. Sad but true. The real reason I'm returning to a regular gym routine: dollah dollah bills y'all! I recently learned that my company's new health insurance will reimburse you up to between $200 & $300 every six months for a mere 50 visits. That works out to be roughly twice a week. Living in NYC, I have been victim to exorbitant gym membership fees; but this new incentive softens the blow. Assuming I get the lower end of the scale, my net effective monthly membership cost goes from $79 to about $46. Not too shabby! 49 visits to go!

From what I hear, this seems to an across-the-board policy being implemented my many many insurance companies. Makes sense. If you're going help people get healthy and stay healthy, understanding that access to exercise and regular activity is often cost prohibitive to many, why not help them out a little? So I encourage everyone out there to start looking into their health insurance company's extra benefits - you may find something very useful and something that will put a few more Benjamins back in your pocket! (On a side note, I've also noticed many insurance companies are now starting to cover acupuncturists and nutritionists like a specialist doctor - that means you only have to pay a copay! Such a great thing for anyone who benefits from alternative medicine and more holistic health care).