Isn’t Life Colorful

It was on my 2013 Bucket List—and later “shuffled” to my 2014 list—to buy myself a graduation present. Which I would totally do if I made more than the less-than-minimum-wage I’m currently bringing in. The only things I really want right now are (1) a job—which I’m working on, (2) an apartment—which I can’t manage until the job thing is set and I find an emotionally and financially stable roommate, (3) a comfy reading chair and ottoman—which I can’t manage until the apartment thing is set, and (4) a puppy—which I can’t manage for a long, long while. Pouty face.

So… to tide myself over, I’ve come up with some quasi graduation gifts, a few fun who’s-its and what’s-its galore to brighten my day and my outlook. Some practical. Some wonderfully impractical. C’est la vie.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 9.12.42 PM{ Pants, Lands End | Glasses, Warby Parker | Book, Amazon | Necklace, J Crew | Countertop Mixer, KitchenAid | Sandals, Jack Rogers }

Ventfest: My last Northeastern shuffle

photo1Shortly after attending AB’s graduation last May, when he graduated magna cum laude—you go, babe—I was informed that my graduation year would have different cum laude requirements. Namely, the cum laude minimum would jump from 3.25 to 3.5. No public press release, no explanation, nada.

When I reached out to my J-school dean, to my academic advisor, to my career advisor… they all gave me the “Northeastern shuffle,” kindly shuffling me and my questions/requests along to the next open door (Side note: after starting a new magazine on campus, and successfully weaseling my way out of a study abroad program—complete with lawyer intervention—you’d think I’d have mastered the Northeastern shuffle…but alas).

I had little over a semester to get my GPA to jump to 3.5. Which, I later calculated, would have been impossible in the time allotted. I kept thinking “They can’t do that,” to which AB coolly responded, “They’re a private institution. They can do whatever they want.” To say I was pissed is to completely undermine the intensity of the powerless, David-vs.-Goliath, I-want-to-freaking-smack-my-school-upside-the-head hatred that I was not-so-successfully trying to quiet.

For starters, I would be graduating only 7 months after AB’s class, arguably competing with them for jobs, and someone with the same GPA as I would be able to list cum laude on the resume. Secondly, it’s about the damn principle of the thing; don’t go changing shit behind my back, not telling me in any sort of respectable manner, not providing any sort of explanation for why this move might be a strategic decision for the university (or whatever), and not granting me the respect of listening to my frustrations. And thirdly, I graduated with a 3.48 GPA which is, like, thisfreakingclose, right?

Once I realized my efforts and As were for not (sort of), I pulled a DGAF moment, finished a glass of champagne with my parents via Skype, and washed my hands of the Northeastern shuffle forever. Then, last week, my mom sent me an email with pictures of my degree. And then texted me to check my email. And then called me. Twice.

Apparently, the blurry picture of a form letter which she sent outlined how I Northeastern had decided to grandfather my class in. When I looked closer, I realized the degree with my name on it had a very subtle cum laude underneath. Bow. Chica. WowWow. Never mind that I was thisclose to magna cum laude (under the old qualifications) Whatever, I’ll take what I can get. I’m finished. And proud! Cheers, friends.

Online Resources for the Young Professional

Girl smiling using laptopI’m two months in. Thus far, dressing the part, and leaning in have paid off (I’ve started my formal appraisal process, so I should know more soon!). A partner at my firm sent me an email recently acknowledging my hard work—one of the top emails I’ve ever received, second only to my first college acceptance. “We do let our interns jump into the deep end of the pool if they want to, because they often can… and you’re certainly doing that.” Tears of joy. I may have failed the swim test my first summer at camp (true story; I’m an awful swimmer), but look at me now, treading water in the deep end with the big kids.

Kind of along those lines, I thought I’d share some of my favorite resources for the young (primarily female) professional:

Perhaps I’m biased as a former journalista, but I think being informed about the world’s goings on is vital for anyone—young and old, professional or not. Global events catalyze localized effects, and knowing an important news bit can change conversations. I’m a firm believer that cultural literacy improves intelligence, interview performance, work efficiency, blind dates. Nothing’s more awkward than having a date bring up recent issues in Ukraine or Venezuela and… nada. Even as a newsmonger, I can’t consume it all, so I rely heavily on my morning Skimm. While you get your beauty rest, Skimm summarizes the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the world, and delivers it to your inbox every weekday morning. It’s Politico Pro for normal people: the top-line, need-to-know stuff, with hilariously awesome analysis built in; they summarize the good stuff and contextualize why you should care. It’s catered to Millenials and riddled with sarcasm. And it’s free, so no excuses.

The Muse is another great resource, especially before and during the dreaded job search. They’re similar to Levo League (below), except instead of networking events, they offer free online classes that increase your hire-ability and a more comprehensive database of jobs (at really cool companies, too)—I applied to a couple of positions last year that I found through their site. Think of the Muse as your personal college advisor—if your college advisor were super hip and knew about all the hot, new gigs.

If you didn’t join a sorority in college—or if your chosen organization doesn’t have a super stellar alumni program—then let me introduce you to your new crew: Levo League. The organization defines themselves as a “social good startup designed to elevate young women in the workforce by providing the career resources needed to achieve personal and professional success.” They publish articles (both original and pulled from other career sites, all with awesome pictures) that cater to young female professionals, organize “Local Levo” groups that get together for happy hours and networking events, and post job opportunities. I frequently read through their articles (that’s actually where I heard about Skimm), and am headed to a happy hour with NYC’s Local Levo tomorrow! I’m looking forward to networking and making new female friends.

I also want to throw Glitter Guide on here because sometimes a girl just has to have fun, too. I’m a huge advocate of work/life balance, and GG helps me find that. The lifestyle blog covers decor, crafting, and travel (my favorites), as well as beauty and fashion, and is so.darn.glittery. It’s a recent fave, but I’ve enjoyed lapping up all the glittery goodness the guide has to offer. The photos are inspirational and, at the very least, make for some stellar Pinterest material. That’s it—I’m a glitter junkie.

Lean in, ladies, and share your favorite professional (or not) resources!

Sparkling Up My 2014 Bucket List

to-do-listIt’s mid-February and I’ve crossed 8-9 items off my 2014 bucket list already–which puts me right on course to complete the list (though I never actually do) in a timely manner. There’s just one problem: It’s seven weeks in and I’m feeling lackluster about the remainder of the list. So. Inspired a little bit by some of the items on the 101 in 1001 lists, a little bit by some additions to my “Bucket List stuff” Pinterest board, a little bit by Glitter Guides regular “5 Things to Try This Weekend” posts, I’m going to try something I’ve never done before*. I’m revamping the list.

2013 had a whopping 80 items on its list. 2014 has 45. There’s more than enough room for a little extra sparkle. So, friends, I’m adding to my 2014 bucket list the following:

  1. Whittle my makeup routine down to only 4 or 5 items.

  2. Buy a lip/cheek stain.

  3. Invest in matching underwear sets.

  4. Eliminate TV as a remedy for being bored (keep it to regularly watched shows). Read or write instead.

  5. Find a quality tailor and have my suit jacket fitted.

  6. Have my favorite boots re-soled.

  7. Hand make holiday gifts/stocking stuffers this year.

  8. Buy brightly colored pants (like these?)

  9. Set myself up to live debt-free in 2015.

  10. Make a new female friend.

  11. Learn something that increases my professional value (e.g. coding, finance, social media).

  12. Purchase or make a new (artsy) camera strap.

  13. Maintain an apartment wish list so I can strategically and intelligently make purchases.

  14. Take before and after pictures of my new apartment.

  15. Identify and blog about a 2014 theme.

  16. Get a new pair of eyeglasses.

  17. Buy a living plant (herbs or topiary or desk plant?) and keep it alive.

  18. Find a pair of work-appropriate jeans.

  19. Re-pierce my ears (After my right hole tore, I’m trying to let them close up).

  20. Do something crazy.

Cheers to 2014 (again)!

* Of note: Though I’ve never “revamped” a bucket list, I have crafted “supplemental” lists for a shorter period of time—trips, summers, etc.

Letters to Me

letters1Many years ago, a 16-year-old girl sat down to write a letter. To me.

My senior year of high school, my favorite teacher encouraged his AP Lit students to write themselves a letter, and stick it with one of those fancy forever stamps; he promised to hold the letters in safekeeping until four and a half years later.

When I finally opened my letter (riddled with teenage sass, two spaces after periods, my characteristic double-period, and typos), I was overwhelmed with a maternal affection for my former self. Among other things, I talked about my accomplishments during my last year of high school, the boy I wasted a whole year pining over, and my hesitation about leaving California. Apparently, I wasn’t as stir crazy as I remember.

Underneath it all, there was a potent mix of excitement and fear. That year, I’d accidentally coined the term “exscared.” I’d lived it. Much of the letter was too embarrassing or personal to publish, but below, the bulk of its contents:

Dear Marian,

I’m scared to be writing this, to be forced to think about where I may be in 5 years. What happens if I don’t end up doing journalism? Or if I haven’t really been in love again (doubt that)? As you know, I’ve been on such a set road for so long; the thought that I might stray from that road is intimidating. I don’t really know why I’m even doing this assignment.. I guess I just know how much I love snail mail and the thought of being reminded sounds like something my 21-year-old self would smile at. [My teacher] really is incredible for having an assignment like this. It’s like that one country song, ‘Letter to Me,’ only reversed…?”

[a bunch of stuff about boys]

“So much for that brain barf.. that isn’t what my whole senior year was about. Just the mistakes. I really feel like I developed a lot as an individual. AP [English Language] showed me how to write and appreciate satire, how to hone and focus my writing for a specific audience. AP Lit taught me how to think. I loved the logs [extensive papers we wrote every couple of weeks] regardless of how much of a pain in the ass they were. But they offered me the opportunity to develop philosophies and to expand my interests and whatnot by reading a greater variety. Of course, I also learned that there are some things I still don’t like.. like, for some reason, I can’t seem to swallow anything existential. Did that change? [Nope.] Do you still keep up with Liz Gilbert? [Yup.] I’m obsessed of course.”

[more stuff about boys, including this golden, narcissistic nugget] “Can I really handle someone more intelligent than I am? That sounds hard.”

“Gosh how’s Boston, though. It must be… winter of my senior year? [Close enough.] So I’m 21…finally :)”

“Really though, I’m so ‘exscared’ about going to school. 3,000 miles sounds like so far away. And like I tried to tell [my friend], choosing between California and the east coast is like choosing between two different parts of me. The person sitting here with the laptop, fake nails, and hair in a bun, with an oversized button-down over leggings [Did I think that was chic?] is the east coast girl, sophisticated (kind of) and hopefully successful. But what about the Marian that wears her too-long hair in messy braids and walks around in cutoffs and no shoes. With the weather and attitude of the east coast, I feel like choosing Northeastern over Santa Barbara means leaving that love child hippie freak behind.. and I’m not so sure I want to do that. I mean, it’s that flower child freak inside me that wants to travel the world and eat everything in sight and hear and feel and experience different cultures. If that Marian is gone, I’m just an uninspired nomad traveling from third world country to third world country.

For now though, I’m still plain old me…”

[more stuff about different boys—fast forward one month. Pass graduation, 17th birthday, chopping off hair. Pass Go, collect $200.]

“I went to orientation this past week, which was an interesting experience. I don’t know how much I’ll like the people at NEU. I mean, I can pretty much tell I’ll like the classes and lifestyle and whatnot, but I always am iffy about the people [I am? I was?]. Maybe I just didn’t get the best crosscut of an example, but my orientation buddies were a little loud and unclassy and kind of standoffish (though I credit that to the fact that we’re all strangers). Anyway, for the purpose of finishing this letter, I’ll say peace. And also, how the heck did you fit everything in? I don’t know how to do everything I want to at NEU and still breathe!! And also, did you end up joining the Peace Corps [Lol.]? Consider it because I want to now and I probably will want to later too [Meh.].

Good luck at your new life (I can’t wait!)

Marian the younger”

I anticipated my letter’s arrival (I’d thought it was coming 4 years after graduation—when most would graduate college, but the winter makes more sense…More time to get situated, find a job, and come home for Christmas break). So I was naturally excited when it finally made its way through my chain of USPS forwarding requests to my most recent address. Reading my letter was insightful, embarrassing, and fantastical.

I vaguely remember sitting on my bed and thinking about the most relevant details to include. I see that version of myself and cheer her on, knowing that there’s so much life to live in her coming years. Following my first read-through, I immediately drafted a response to my teacher and friend, thanking him for the exercise. I’m grateful that I took the assignment seriously.

I put a lot of forethought into writing my letter, and as a result, reading through it felt like talking to a shadow of myself, a shadow because there are still remnants of that 16-year-old in me; I’ve just built and continue to build myself up around her. But she was—is—the foundation. When I wrote my letter, I was stressed about leaving home, starting school, and somehow fitting everything I wanted to do in college into what turned out to be 4.5 years (and here I was worrying that 5 was too short).

I wish I could go back and explain that goals and wishes change. Peru turns into Paris, and Marie Claire turns into…not Marie Claire. One strength of being naive is that one is never lacking for dreams. Recently, as an adult for “realsies”—Is one ever an adult if they use such terms?—I lamented my lack of freedom. Tied to a job and a relationship (both of which I’m eternally grateful for), I will likely never again have the same freedom to travel, and start fresh. I envy my former self in more ways than one.

It isn’t entirely a positive experience, though, reading this letter. I want so badly to be able to  write my 16-year-old self a reply, to coach her through the next couple of years. I want to tell her to give up on boys for a little while, to break away from the “set path” and seek opportunities she’s passionate about, not just those which beef up her resume. I want to tell her to taste duck, to invest in bitcoin, to think twice about the whole Mormon thing.

I want to tell her to hug her uncle.

It is a maternal protection I feel towards this encapsulated version of myself. But I suppose retrospect is always 20/20. All that aside, the last several years have been incredible, and I’ve been blessed with every opportunity to pursue whatever dream I dreamt that week. I’ve learned much, mostly from trial and error. Especially error. And I’m better for it.

To my teacher/mentor/friend, I wrote:

“Thank you for this exercise, for this unique and insightful look into just how far I’ve come. On my desk at work, I keep a Post-It that says “be better than you were yesterday.” It’s encouraging to see in retrospect that I’ve lived that mantra every day for the past 4.5 years. Thank you for playing your role–bigger, I think, than you’ll ever realize–in shaping the 16-year-old then and the 21-year-old now. I will forever count you among my dearest mentors and friends.”

Though I can’t pass my garnered wisdom onto my former self, I’m grateful others coached her in my (her?) stead. Cheers to the child in each of us.

Bucket lists, meet your big brother

101 things in 1001 daysSo if you like my annual bucket lists, I thought I’d send a little love over to McKenzie at Design Darling, who in 2011 crafted a super bucket list–somewhere between my annual to-do lists and the actual life-long lists of to-dos before one “kicks the bucket.” It’s called 101 in 1001, and is a list of accomplishments for the next three-odd years.

Then, this past New Years, she did it again.

Ever a lover of lists, I find this exciting. There are a lot more things I could put on a list that spans three years, instead of just one. Long-term things. Financial things. Travel things. Big picture things.

I’ll consider it and keep you posted if I make my own , but in the meantime, check out her lists; at the very least, it’s a great source for ideas for annual or triennial lists!

I’m Leaning In

worn ballet shoesA while ago, I read Sheryl Sandberg‘s Lean In. It inspired me during my job application process to put myself out there, ask for what I want, and negotiate. I learned about the delicate line women must dance between being feminine and being powerful, between being assertive and being nice. Put on your dancing shoes—It’s one heck of a ballet out there, ladies.

I’ve had many internships, both good and bad, and I’ve learned boatloads from both. Quality of work cannot save one if they don’t act the part of a professional. I work in a female-dominated office (I mean, welcome to the world of PR), but I still try to put into action all that I’ve learned. I want this internship to turn into something long-term, so I’m getting myself noticed (in a good way). I’m leaning in.

Here’s how:

I’m playing the part. I believe strongly in the adage “dress for the position you want, not the position you have.” As an intern, it’s easy to wear boots and leggings and comfy, quasi-professional clothing. But I’ve taken stock of what others wear, and adjusted my style accordingly. When I noticed that I was a solid 3 inches shorter than… everyone (when did 5’4″ become so short?), I committed to wearing heels. Every day. Every office is different, but it’s important to take note of what others are wearing and dress *up*. That is, up the corporate ladder.

There’s a lot more to it than dressing the part, though. Appearance is important, but so is perception. I recently listened to a TED talk about the subconscious psychological affect on oneself and others of power poses, of “being big,” taking up physical and metaphorical room. I’m subtly trying to note this during meetings, and be big. Check out the talk for more insight—I know saying “I’m being big” is vague.

“Women dressed professionally earn between 40 percent and 60 percent more over their lifetimes.”
Nashville Biz Journal

I’m participating.
This one should be self-explanatory, and applies to those that are in stable positions, as well. But when I show up to work, I’m there to work. I take notes, ask the right questions, get involved. Having completed so many internships before, I know how second-nature it is to be a wallflower, enthusiastic about doing tasks when asked, but not being proactive on one’s own. I can’t afford this wallflower luxury. I’m hungry for a job, and I’m making it known.

I’m introducing myself to people. I’m sharing my ideas and helping on the most remedial tasks. I’m putting together groups for collaboration between interns. I’m doing my own research and alerting my teams to any relevant information I find. I treat this internship differently than former co-ops. I am hungry. I want that determination and passion to show; they are my greatest strengths (Note: This does not mean speed of work over quality. In any industry, accuracy—even in emails to peers—is key).

“Don’t ever take a job for granted. Every day you must prove yourself.”
Tracy cioffi

I’m networking.
I’ve instituted a snowball networking system, whereby I ask a person out to drinks/lunch/coffee. Later, I follow up with an email or conversation asking them whom in the office they recommend I get in touch with. This system is beneficial in many ways: (1) it “forces” me to reach out to those I might not have initially thought of, (2) it gives me an excuse to talk to them besides brown-nosing, because emails can start off with, “I was talking to so-and-so, and they suggested I get in touch with you to talk about fill-in-the-blank. Are you free to get together this week?” and (3) the networking tree grows exponentially. Most people give more than one name, so I can reach out to multiple people at once.

Networking at my job is important because it’s an open-concept office where employees at every level work and converse with employees at every other level. It’s important to know first names. Further, even if I do rock my internship, there might not be availability at my company. By building relationships with others, I am opening more doors. Many come form other firms or know people “in the business.”

“If [networking] doesn’t work, come armed with sweets. Who can turn down home baked goodies?”
Dustee Jenkins

Any additional suggestions for me, or for those looking to turn a temporary situation into a full-time job?

Making My Pod Pretty

photo (4)I like glitter. And pretty things.

This is how I tried to explain to a coworker in my “pod” why I spent my free time sticking stickers to tacks to decorate my desk. There was some judgement. Well, judge away. I find that when things are pretty (and organized and clean), I am my most productive and creative. So I take the time to surround myself with pretty things.

I’ll be brief, but I thought I’d share my desk decor.

Clockwise, from top left: (1) This little quote is a new favorite and inspires me to not only be the best that I can, but to show improvement—and ultimately get hired for realsies; (2) the DIY shiny thumbtacks referenced earlier, materials from Target; (3) my favorite picture of my family, from a trip to Baja, Mexico in seventh grade; frame from Marshall’s; (4) a soon-to-be-purchased, bright mouse pad, $12 on Etsy; (5) a leather weekly planner from Barnes & Noble; and a tea cup pencil holder, $3 at Marshall’s.

Pretty, but not too over-the-top. Just enough to make my desk feel like home. That’s a good thing, right? Comment with ideas for additional ways to personalize and decorate!

Perfect 10 Workwear and Shopping Tips

photo (3)I start tomorrow. Thirty-three hours to be exact. I’m temporarily camping out at AB’s, until I move into my month-to-month furnished apartment in Stuytown. The whole moving out process was a little overwhelming—For a while there, I thought I was going to have to knock on neighbors’ doors to find someone to help me move my dresser downstairs. Note to self: Never try to move the week of Christmas; there are so few people around to help! But I managed okay and here I am, galavanting around the city, visiting secret speakeasies and brunch hotspots. Side note: The fried oyster, egg, and bacon sandwich at Penrose is amazing, decadent, delicious. Ask for gruyere cheese.

Foodie/Drinkie talk aside, the real world is here. As a graduation present, AB’s mom got me a generous gift card to Ann Taylor, and I went to work searching for Perfect 10 pieces that are appropriate for the workplace, but still reflect my style (I have a downright love for knit and leggings. Not exactly professional, but I try to integrate comfort and class). In the best twist of fashion fate ever, LOFT happened to be having a 50% off everything sale. So… I made off like a bandit.


1. Marisa Straight Leg Pants in LOFT Bi-Stretch — 2. Lurex Jacquard Long Sleeve Sweater — 3. Short Blue Stone and Enamel Necklace — 4. Shirred Button Down Blouse — 5. Diamond Jacquard Straight Skirt

Also, a special shout out to these amazingly comfortable flats from Payless, which I also picked up (because everyone needs black flats) and spent the last 24 hours falling in love with.

In the process of moving out, I was able to do even more filtering of my wardrobe and “stuff,” donating a total of five trash bags of goodies to various charities, and throwing away more than two trash bags’ worth. After so much cleansing, I’m a hesitant shopper. I believe in the one-in-one-out rule, so things must be perfect. Here are some helpful hints and shopping tips I learned in Perfect 10 shopping.

Use Retail Me Not. This seems obvious to me, but in case there’s anyone out there that doesn’t know what it is… learn. Similarly, ask store associates (not managers)  if there are any special discounts. When I worked in retail, I was happy to inform people about “secret” family and friends discounts. And student discounts are the best. Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

Know your style. I’ve alluded to this a little bit, but let me explain: Just because I work in an office doesn’t mean I’ll need to wear suits everyday. I would hate it. There are many components to one’s “style.”

Lifestyle. Don’t buy sweats if you work in an office. Don’t buy suits if you work at a gym. The proportion of your wardrobe should be roughly equal to how you spend your week. i.e. If you work 60% of the week, and lounge 10%, then have 60% of your wardrobe work-appropriate and 10% leggings and sweats. This isn’t rocket science, but it does mean that there is a little adjusting necessary during a lifestyle change (say, from student to employee).

Personal style. Even if you work in a conservative office, if you’re not the suit “type,” there are alternatives. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. I know I’m not likely to spend the time ironing my shirts, so I buy the silkier types that need less TLC. Similarly, don’t buy something for one occasion (like a party or holiday); chances are, you’ll never wear it again. And don’t buy something just because it’s “in.” I’ll never wear harem pants, because they aint me. And polo shirts? Lol, no, thanks.

Body style. This point has two parts: your body shape, and your coloring. Knowing both is of dire importance. For example, with my build (read: butt), I know I need to buy bottoms that fit at my natural waist, rather than my hips in order to avoid—ahem—crack. As for coloring, I have very fair skin, with “cool” tones, and dark brown hair—classic winter coloring. So I know that I look best in dark jewel tones, tans, greys, and blacks. If I were to wear, say… yellow, I’d look downright sickly. If you don’t know your coloring, this site has a pretty comprehensive overview (To be more specific, with my green eyes, I’m a clear winter. See the similarities with the colors above?).

Plan your shopping. Much of the Perfect 10 wardrobe relies on planning in order to avoid impulsive, un-researched purchases. In order to perfect the art of Perfect 10 buying, take your time. Write a list of the things you really need, and keep to it. Do some research by reading blogs or online customer reviews. Most importantly, try things on and be honest about whether or not they fit. And lastly, be patient. It can be difficult to walk out of a store without buying something, especially when you need it. But quality costs time, money, and patience.

Return, refund, exchange. I do a lot of my shopping online, which has it’s advantages (online customer reviews, convenience) and disadvantages (paying for shipping, things don’t fit). Many stores will accept online returns. When I accidentally got the wrong size and width in the Payless flats, I called ahead, walked into the closest store, and walked out with the perfect pair. Similarly, I recently saved $100 by “returning” and repurchasing a suit during a sale. Sneaky? Eh, I call it thrifty.

Happy shopping Ten-ers! And special thanks again to AB’s mom and her generosity. I can’t wait to style it up at work—eek!

Minimalism vs. Perfect 10

81v-vnEQ-oL._SL1500_I mentioned yesterday that I was whizzing through Francine Jay’s Miss Minimalist. Don’t stress—it’s really short, and if you can’t splurge on the 99 cent Kindle download, just head to her blog and get a taste for her minimalism taste and philosophy.

I’ll try to summarize: Minimalism (and “minsumerism,” being a minimalist and conscientious consumer) is a means of “sticking it to the man,” by acknowledging that not only does one not need much of their “stuff,” but they don’t even want it. As consumers, we’re bombarded with advertisements and ever-changing trends that tell us that we need something new. Minimalism says, “No I don’t, thank you very much,” and advocates that we only consume what we truly need.

A brief story of mine: Recently, I really, really wanted this cute elephant pillow from Francesca’s (because elephants are pretty darn cool). And so I bought it for myself. But only a few months later, I donated it. Turns out I guess I didn’t want it as much as I thought. And it wasn’t sophisticated enough to go with my decor. Wasteful?

Jay’s take on things: Minsumerism has many benefits—Less stuff means less stress, because you don’t have to worry about insuring, maintaining, and monitoring all of it. It also means more freedom, because you aren’t grounded to your “stuff.” There’s less pressure to keep up with the trends (because you don’t know or don’t care about them), and you subsequently save time and money that would otherwise be spent acquiring aforementioned “stuff.” On a grander scale, less stuff means a greener planet (none of those icky CO2 emissions from transporting stuff from China, and a more ethical one, because minimalists make conscientious purchases and by not harboring so much crap, the world’s wealth is distributed a little (teensy bit) more evenly. Oh, and it makes you happy. Not a bad argument.

A brief story of Jay’s: When Mr. and Mrs. Jay’s house was broken into, they had so little “stuff” that the burglar walked away with a portable CD player, an empty purse, a lipstick, and a ziplock bag of Canadian coins worth a couple of dollars. Nice job, dude. She writes that the only things really worth stealing—iPods, cell phones, cash, and wedding rings—were always on her and her husband. There was literally nothing to steal.

My take on all this: There’s a lot I agree with about Jay’s minimalist philosophy—weeding out the stuff I neither want nor need; keeping with classy, timeless pieces that don’t necessarily follow “trends;” and I think the idea of being a conscientious consumer is a very eloquent thing—I think that evaluating a potential purchase’s score 1-10 factors in a lot of different concerns, and I don’t see why ethics shouldn’t be up there with quality.

But there’s a lot about Jay’s philosophy that’s doesn’t necessarily jive with my Perfect 10 ideals. Perfect 10 is about quality and lasting style, about recognizing and reflecting one’s personal style, not whatever the media decides to endorse that week. Perfect 10 is about identity and quality, but perhaps it is not necessarily about minimalism, at least the pseudo-Buddhist kind of minimalism that Jay espouses. I don’t want to always feel like I’m living in a barren hotel room.

Jay advocates that we only acquire what we need, and I think that having some of the things we want is just as important, if they are in fact things that we want. And distinguishing between the want-it-nows and want-it-for-keeps takes time and clarity. Some creature comforts are okay, but within reason.

Perhaps it’s a taste thing, because while I appreciate a clutter-free space, the bare, white rooms that Jay posts pictures of are not comforting to me. Having moved so much, I want a place that I can return to that feels like it reflects my style, tastes, and interests. I want warmth and a big, fluffy comforter. I want real furniture, not IKEA. And that’s okay.

The takeaway: Even if our ideals don’t mix entirely, there’s still much to be gained from learning about the minimalist philosophy and lifestyle. It’s important to get rid of clutter, rather than just organize it. One of the most useful takeaways was a philosophy that my mom has always touted, as well: don’t purchase anything that does only one task (that means you, toaster).And I do agree that less stuff means more money in one’s pockets. But I also think that there is some sense of zen and comfort and happiness that comes from a true 10 purchase. Plus, I just can’t bring myself to adopt her style. Too hippie chic for someone working in PR.