Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Long time, no blog! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Office parties, gift exchanges and too much food in the workplace!

I've been so busy working that I haven't had time to blog.

Good news = I'm still employed

Bad news = I've missed blogging!

Here we are right smack dab in the middle, nearing the end of the annual office party.  It's a little late for my "reminders" about what to do and what not to do at the company party, but just in case you haven't celebrated yet - some general rules are "If you don't want to regret it on Monday morning, know your drink limit."

Now for the holiday gift giving tips.  Firms may or may not give holiday bonuses this year.  But, hey, at least it's not 2008.  And if you're reading this, you're probably employed.  So, that's the "up" side of getting yet another box of chocolates.

And finally, 'tis the season but all things in moderation.  When your vendor sends you a can of cookies, it might be a good idea to share them with your office services people and other co-workers.  It's better to give than to receive and I, for one, have no room for the extra pounds!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tote-Ally Can't Go Anywhere without my Tote Bag!

Who needs a Louis Vuitton?  Oh, sure they're nice.  Very nice.  But my infatuation with totes is not influenced by price.  I look for durability and overall functionality. 

I carry a tote to work every day.  And often on Saturdays.  You could call my bags a "security blanket" of sorts.

Abusy secretary never knows what she might need in the course of a day.  Not to mention all the "stuff" I have to bring to work just to get through an 8-hour day.

There's newspapers, magazines, a kindle, postage stamps, snack bars, yogurt and an umbrella.  And that's just the stuff I can "disclose" here.

Totally digging my newest addition.  This big boy from Bayside is sturdy, big and roomy and has nice curves.

Law firm life is not easy.  That's why I make sure I'm "armed" and ready.  Pun intended.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: "A Window Opens" by Elisabeth Egan

The first thing that caught my eye was the cover.  The title alone was my clue to the storyline.  "A Window Opens."  

The saying goes, "When One Door Closes, Another Opens."  But I've also heard, "When A Door Closes, A Window Opens."

I knew this would be a book about change.  So similar to my own life in many ways that it was hard for me to read in the beginning.

And now that I've finished the book, I'm not sure if the book has what I would call "a slow start," or if it made me think so much about my own life challenges, including dealing with a sick parent, a change in income and relationship circumstances that it was personal for me.

Then there's Alice's husband, Nicholas, who like many husbands/men we know is facing change in his own work and life.  

The three kids.  Well, they're doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing, growing, learning and looking for guidance.

It's also quite relatable for those of us who find ourselves to be among, how can I say, the "more experienced" people in the workforce.

One thing is certain, the author has shaped a character in Alice that is hard not to like.  She's funny, she's loyal and she works really hard.  Plus she loves, loves, loves her family.  

Last, but not least, there's the family's nanny, Jessie, who is a "superwoman" in her own right.

Can women have it all?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Elisabeth Egan sheds the spotlight on what "having it all" really means.

*The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book for the purposes of preparing this review.  The opinions expressed are solely mine.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

"They Call It Stormy Monday"

I'm not sure who came up with the term "Stormy Monday," but they should have perhaps modified it to say, "Calm Sunday before the Stormy Monday."

Just about 4 p.m. on Sunday evening is when I start to get the "Monday Morning Blues."

Don't get me wrong.  I'd feel much worse on Sunday nights, if I had nowhere to go on Monday morning.  

But, who doesn't wish they had just one more day to sleep in late? Even though I can never sleep in late because my dog wakes me up at the same time on the weekend because he doesn't know his days of the week.

Any-how, I'm thinking that maybe I should start trying to figure out a way to turn around the Monday morning blues and make it the day of the week I look forward to instead of Friday.  Who am I kidding?  That will never happen.  But, I can change my attitude.

So, instead of sitting around waiting for "The Good Wife" to come on and signal that the work-week is upon us, I decided tonight to bake a cake.  That's right.  I'm "celebrating" the beginning of a new week, new challenges, new things to learn, new routes to work and being lucky enough to have a place where I can earn a decent living to support myself.

Maybe instead of calling it "Stormy Monday," I could call it "Magical Monday."

If we can believe it - we can achieve it, right?

At least, I'll have cake to go with my coffee.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Season of Salt and Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffee

From the author of the “sweet, airy novel” (Publishers WeeklyThe Color of Tea comes a resonant new book about a woman starting over following the tragic loss of her fiancĂ©.

Frankie is a runaway bride. Or rather, she is running away from her fiancĂ©’s funeral, the unthinkable event that has thrown her entire life into crisis. Frankie and Alex were high school sweethearts and each other’s first loves. They should have been together forever. But Alex died in a surfing accident, and now Frankie is walking away from her family, driving north and east, letting her body do the thinking, all the way into the Cascade Mountain range.

At Alex’s family cabin, Frankie can give in to her grief and think about nothing. There are no aunts trying feed her just a few polpette or just a taste of affogato, despite her lack of appetite; none of Alex’s family around to look questioningly at her left ring finger, no one there to perform for. Except for Jack, the cabin’s caretaker, who has been tasked with forcing Frankie out of the property that isn’t rightfully hers. And except for Bella, Frankie’s wild-child younger sister who deserted the family years ago only to reappear at Frankie’s lowest moment to dredge up painful memories from the past.

But Frankie learns she can’t hide—not from her family, not from the past, and not from truths about Alex she’d rather not face. The seasonal magic of the forest and its welcoming residents remind her that everything—flowers to bud, bread to rise, a heart to heal—takes its own time. This stunning novel, from the author of The Color of Tea, is a feast for the senses, with a message of forgiveness, hope, and the many ways to find and give love. 

See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Season-of-Salt-and-Honey/Hannah-Tunnicliffe/9781451682847#sthash.OaHMoDws.dpuf

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

1970 US Government Memo Says Women Can Wear Pant Suits to Work and Only 45 Years Later, and Hillary Clinton is Running for President!

When I read a blurb on Twitter this weekend about a 1970s memo from the Personnel Office of the US Government sanctioning the wearing of pantsuits to work by women, I thought, "Could it have been that recently?"

But, of course, it could.  And while I wasn't in the workforce in 1970, I was alive and I can remember just how many restrictions were placed on women at that time.  The old Virginia Slims ad comes to mind, "You've Come a Long Way Baby."  Liberating us while telling us to kill ourselves by smoking cigarettes.  Sort of an oxymoron, I'd say.

If there's one thing that "Mad Men" has brought back into the forefront (besides really cool chip and dip sets, I still have yet to find one that I like) it's the reminder that while we have "a long way to go," we have come a long way from the days when we weren't allowed to wear pants to work.

Or, have we?  Hillary Clinton sure gets chided enough about her power-suits.  So much so that she makes me want to vote for her based on the fact that she irritates so many men.

Seriously, though, some of us remember when men were paid more than women for the same job.

Wait a minute - that hasn't changed really, has it?

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Happy Labor Day" - Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves!

You may be off today, like me, taking advantage of a three-day weekend.  In my case, I'm nursing a cold. Nonetheless, I'm grateful to have the day to get better and not have to use sick leave or PTO.

Which brings us to Labor Day.  

The strides that have been made, the steps we still need to take to make working in America, fair and just for all.  We've come a long way since the late 1800s when the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in America, but there's much to be done.  

Women, by far, while still earning less than men on an average are doing jobs that back then we could only dream we would see being held by women.  Even the role of the secretary has evolved.  Yes, I said that. 

Wherever you labor, whether you're a 9 to 5'er, shift-worker, blue collar, pink collar, white collar or no collar, I hope you're having a fantastic day.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

It's Time for the Office Football Pool (AKA "Give Us the Money!")

While in the throes of being an "empty nester," I started watching football.  

It began with college football (a much more civilized version than the NFL) and progressed to the San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers (I can't pick a team).

A lot of this new enjoyment can be attributed to the "office football pool."   I might be inclined to be a bit of a "gambler."  

You see, around my firm, if you're a staff member, you either "play or get labeled."  Labeled as not one of the gang, labeled as a cheapskate, labeled as "un-American."  I tend to be a "pleaser," so I'll wager ten bucks here and there.  I'm sorry but I cannot give up my gourmet coffee fund for football.  I have not gone there yet and don't plan on it.

However, when someone told me today that I was guaranteed to win the first pool "7-1," I was ecstatic.  I have no idea how I'm guaranteed to win or even what I would win, if I was the winner.  Truth is, even though I've started watching football, I have no clear concept of the rules or how the game is played.  I do understand "touchdown."

And while we bask in 90 degree weather today, I must admit I'm looking just a little forward to football.  Between the office football pool and the Pumpkin Spice Latte, the Fall season has its perks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Rhythm of the August Rain by Gillian Royes

You still have time to catch up on your "Summer Reading."

New from Gillian Royes, creator of the Shad series, comes "The Rhythm of the August Rain"
Gillian Royes, Author
"The Rhythm of the August Rain" by Gillian Royes

"Shad Myers, the loveable bartender and town sleuth of Largo Bay, hunts down clues to a woman’s mysterious disappearance in this fourth riveting novel in the Shad detective series.Shannon, a photojournalist on assignment for a Canadian magazine, arrives in the impoverished but beautiful fishing village of Largo Bay, Jamaica. But she’s seeking more than a tropical paradise: She wants to know why a Canadian woman named Katlyn went missing there more than three decades ago.So she calls on Shad—“bartender by trade, investigator by vocation, and unofficial sheriff of Largo Bay” (Publishers Weekly)—for help. Together, they delve into Rastafarian life and history while preparations are being made for Shad’s wedding and the groundbreaking of his new hotel. But the deeper they get into the story, the deeper they get into trouble. And it’s clear that whoever wanted Katlyn buried all those years ago will do anything to keep the truth buried as well…As in her previous novels The Sea Grape Tree, The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks, and The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, Gillian Royes transports readers into a beautiful Caribbean setting where life is cheap but religion is strong, and one man is still trying to solve the island’s relentless questions."

See more at: SimonandSchuster

Available in bookstores everywhere and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Monday, August 17, 2015

They're Back. . .The Return of the Cubicle

Just when you thought the role of the secretary had evolved - they're back.

I don't know about you but I sort of like the direction firms have taken over the past decade or so with open space desks.  I mean, granted you don't have any privacy, but did you really think your "cube-mate" didn't hear you on the phone with your roommate telling him it was time to shape up or ship out?

Cubicles give a whole new meaning to "faux-walls."  They're nothing but "perception." In reality, they're actually more confining and less "feng-shui friendly" than the desk you're sitting at right outside your boss's office.

I mean wouldn't you rather see him coming than have him sneak up behind you just as you clicked on "TMZ?"

Alas, there's nothing we can do because we just work here.

So, you might as well get those push-pins ready for next year's calendars.

The cubicle has returned and with firms making use of every single inch of space, I'd say they're here to stay.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"Is This the Party to Whom I'm Speaking?" Headsets: Functional and Useful or Status Symbols?

I have nothing against telephone headsets.  I think they serve a very useful function.  Sometimes.

Especially, if you're only answering phones all day, say at a switchboard.  Actually, do they even make "switchboards" these days?  I'm dating myself.  Yikes.

Anyway, for me, headsets don't make my life easier.  They are cumbersome as I'm constantly switching gears, multi-tasking, running to the printer, running to the mailroom, making lunch runs - you name it.  

Besides, they pull off your earrings.

Lately I've started to notice more and more people with headsets on at work, which has led me to believe that some, not all, but some of these folks are trying to look important.  Sort of a "status symbol," if you will.

When you're providing "assistance" to anywhere from 4 to 8 attorneys, how can you sit in the same spot all day with a headset on?  Practically speaking, it doesn't work.

From what I can tell, the busiest secretaries and assistants don't use them.  They're juggling several balls at once and need to keep their "ear to the ground," so to speak.

Do you headset?  If so, how's that working for you?  I'd love to hear.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beware the Information Seekers - They're Listening, Even When You Think They're Not

Ever feel like people in your office are out to get information?  Nothing that's life-changing.  Just information about what your attorneys are doing, which cases they're working on, how many hours they're billing, who is staffing their teams?

If you're a secretary, like me, then you've probably met them.  The Information Seekers.  They disguise themselves as friendly co-workers who just stop by to chit-chat.  However, they often give themselves away, like when they come up to you with a pen and pad (much like a reporter's notebook).  

That happened to me today.  I almost fell for it too.  The old, "I haven't talked to you in forever, how's it going?"  Followed by, "Hey, what is the name of that new case?"

But, old Della Street knows the deal.  That's when I clam up and play "silly secretary who can't keep the cases straight."

When they become irritated at your perceived incompetence and lack of knowledge about matters which are of no concern to them, that's when you know - you almost got played!

And remember, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not following you.

Now, I'm telling you all this "confidentially" of course.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review: "A Good Killing" by Allison Leotta

Was it Edgar Allen Poe who said, "Believe half of what you see, none of what you hear?"

That quote would certainly apply to Allison Leotta's newest legal thriller, "A Good Killing."  It's the latest in the Anna Curtis series.  And it had me guessing until the very last page.

I'm not going to say that this is her "best work yet," because I think all of Ms. Leotta's novels are amazing.  I love a good mystery.  And she's good.  Very good.

I especially related to the bond between the two sisters.  It made me ask myself "how far would I go for my own sisters?"  

I'll take the fifth on that question because I don't want it to come back to haunt me.

"A Good Killing" by Allison Leotta

Online at amazon and other online sellers, hardback and digital.  Suggestion - get the hardback, you'll want to have it for your library.  I have a feeling this author hasn't even hit her writing prime.  And that's super exciting.

Allison Leotta

"Former federal prosecutor and critically acclaimed author Allison Leotta’s spellbinding thriller follows prosecutor Anna Curtis as she heads home to Michigan to defend her sister in a case that will bring her to her knees.

How far would you go to save your sister?

Anna Curtis is back in her hometown just outside of Detroit. Newly single after calling off her wedding, Anna isn’t home to lick her wounds. She’s returned to support her sister, Jody, who has been wrongfully accused of murder after their old high school coach, a local hero, dies in a suspicious car crash.

But maybe Jody isn’t so innocent after all. The police are convinced that Jody was having an affair with the married coach and killed him out of jealousy. As Anna investigates with the help of her childhood friend Cooper Bolden, an Afghan War veteran with a secret of his own, she slowly peels back the facade of her all-American town and discovers that no one is telling the truth about the coach, not even the people she thought she knew best. When the town rallies against them, threatening not just Jody’s liberty but both sisters’ lives, Anna resolves to do everything she can to save her sister and defend the only family she has left."  (From amazon.com)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thank You. Yay or Nay?

We've all officially survived another
"Staff Appreciation/Administrative Professionals Day/Week."

So, now here's the question for "Emily Post."  

If you happened to be fortunate enough to receive an individual gift from your attorney(s), beyond the hot dog lunches, ice cream bars, chair massages and "group company gifts,"  should you give her a formal handwritten "thank you," or is an email enough?

I'm not completely ill-mannered.  I know that bouquet of flowers or that box of candy or Starbucks gift card deserves a phone call (make it quick, it's their billable time) or an email.  But, should you take it even further and write out an old-fashioned "Thank you?"

And does the "one month after the gift, thank you card" rule apply to Secretary's Day?  

If not, I'll gladly take your answers to apply to next year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Famous Paralegals - Did You Know Ellen Degeneres was a Paralegal at One Time?

Thanks to the folks at Online Paralegal Programs for keeping me "in the know."

They  recently finished working on a research graphic “Famous Paralegals."

If you want to know more about what they offer, click here

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Performance Reviews And WhyThey Give Me Hives

Am I the only one who worries about what their annual performance review?

I mean no one is perfect, but don't you feel like when it comes time to put those reviews in the attorneys' hands, they get more excited about writing about the time you accidentally forgot to put their dry cleaning pick up date on the calendar than they do about arguing a big motion?

Seriously, I think I'm a pretty darn good secretary.  I'm not bragging but I've been doing this for a long time and I think I really try hard.

Yet, there's always one little thing that they remember (which you have completely tried to put out of your mind) that stops you from being the "superstar assistant" you could be. 

We just have to keep in mind that there's always next year's review (where they will once again, remember that tiny infraction).

I just like to know in advance when they're going to pass the envelopes so I make sure I'm wearing my big girl pants.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review: "The Partner Track" by Helen Wan

"The Partner Track" A Novel by Helen Wan
Not sure how this one almost slipped past me, but happy that a co-worker told me about this 'chick-lit' which very realistically characterizes life at a large law firm.

I can't say that I've ever worked at a firm where they've had an in-house restaurant but there are many similarities to daily life in this one.

The story focuses on the life of one Ingrid Yung, a first-generation, over-achiever, who is on "the partner track."  

What I enjoyed most about the book is that the author doesn't just tell the story from the perspective of the attorney but she also has clearly paid attention to support staff with her realistic portrayals of secretaries, paralegals and others.

A bit "slow" in some parts, perhaps due to the fact that I work in a law firm and it was "every day life" for me.  Somewhat of a surprise ending.

Overall, an easy and enjoyable read.

Ingrid Yung's life is full of firsts. A first-generation Chinese American, the first lawyer in her family, she's about to collect the holy grail of "firsts" and become the first minority woman to make partner at the venerable old law firm Parsons Valentine & Hunt. 

"Ingrid has perfected the art of "passing" and seamlessly blends into the old-boy corporate culture. She gamely banters in the corporate cafeteria, plays in the firm softball league, and earnestly racks up her billable hours. But when an offensive incident at the summer outing threatens the firm's reputation, Ingrid's outsider status is suddenly thrown into sharp relief. Scrambling to do damage control, Parsons Valentine announces a new Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, commanding Ingrid to spearhead the effort. Only she's about to close an enormous transaction that was to be her final step in securing partnership.

For the first time, Ingrid must question her place in the firm. Pitted against her colleagues, including her golden-boy boyfriend, Ingrid begins to wonder whether the prestige of partnership is worth breaching her ethics. But can she risk throwing away the American dream that is finally
within her reach?"

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Secret Life of Wishful Thinking by Lindy Dekoven

Available on Kindle and in Paperback

I just spent a week with four amazing women.  Kenzie, Gemma, Brynne and Sarita.

There's nothing that makes me smile like a good book.  And "The Secret Life of Wishful Thinking" by Lindy Dekoven is a winner.

I happen to believe that nothing is by coincidence and this book gave me hope that women can truly be good friends and support each other. Even though it often doesn't feel that way.

I chose it for my book club's selection this month and it's a real "feel good."

Sometimes you just need to end up in a happy place and know that you're not alone.  

A humiliating incident four years ago cost Kenzie Armstrong her pride and her marketing career, but now she’s making her way back at a run-down racetrack where she’s charged with increasing attendance. After a chance encounter with a storefront psychic, Kenzie begins secretly wishing that the fortune teller’s far-fetched prediction will come true.
Her best friend, Gemma, an outspoken extrovert and dreamer, has her own secret wish—finding the true identify of her biological father. But is it worth the risk? And at what cost?
Brynne is a powerful and bossy horse owner at the racetrack, with a seemingly perfect family and Bel-Air mansion to match. But her world is full of dark secrets, many of which threaten everything she has.
Sarita, a track coordinator by day and Goth singer by night, bristles under the expectations of her traditional Indian family. Underneath it all, she secretly longs for their approval and acceptance of her chosen life.
The Secret Life of Wishful Thinking is a warm and humorous tale about four women who forge an unlikely and supportive bond—and have the audacity to dream. (from Amazon.com)

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's March Madness Time - How Are Those New Year Resolutions Working For You?

Wow - where did the time go?

I had such big plans.  I was going to revert back to more paper instead of less paper (in the form of planners, calendars and the like), I was going to have all my work files "color coded," update ALL of my bosses' contacts in Outlook, make my workspace more "fung-shui-ey" and bring my lunch at least three times a week in 2015.

I looked up and it's already time for the office "March Madness" pool.

Looks like the only thing going mad these days is me.  With the ever-changing role of the legal secretary, a higher attorney/secretary ratio and longer commutes due to transit systems that are off-schedule, broken and other "unforeseen" obstacles, my resolutions are about 1/10th of the way complete.

Thank Goodness for Daylight Savings Time which means that I will have a couple of extra hours of light to get in some chores at home after work.

Who am I kidding?  I will just have more light to see all the things that still need doing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I'll Take the Blame for That! The Proverbial Scapegoat

Is it just me who feels like the secretary is always the fall-guy/gal?

What about attorneys who wait until the last minute to meet deadlines?  When was the last time you heard one of them say, "Hey, Susie, that's my mistake.  I should have looked over that agreement before vacation?"

Don't hold your breath.

And there's something that many secretaries, yours truly, inevitably do and that is to take the blame even when it's not our fault. 

It might have something to do with the fact that we need to keep our jobs.  And the customer (i.e. attorney) is always right.

I'm really working on not internalizing it all.  Which is super hard for me to do.  Even though, I may know in my heart of hearts, it's not my fault, there's something about the way (women especially) are raised to shoulder the burden of whatever goes awry.

Thank God for all the wonderful vendors who have provided me with a nice collection of stress balls over the years.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nothing Helps Me Overcome "Writer's Block" Better Than A Good Mystery Read

Long time, no blog.  I feel terrible.  It's already February, and I haven't posted one thing this year.  

It's just that whenever I got ready to sit down and write something, nothing really inspired me.  

I mean, I could babble about the "New Year" and "Resolutions," and "Eating Better," and "Better Work Habits," etc. but it just didn't feel like a "blog post."

However, nothing gets my creative juices pumping like a good mystery.  I just finished reading "The Cinderella Murder" by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke.  Confession:  This was my very first Mary Higgins Clark novel.  I have, of course, read several of Alafair Burke's books and love her.

Now, I'll add Mary Higgins Clark to my list of "guilty pleasures."

I mean, face it, when you work in this business under such intense, fast-paced and stressful situations, who doesn't need an escape?

I promise I won't stay away this long again!

Happy Hump Day!

In a first-time collaboration, “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark partners with bestselling author Alafair Burke to deliver a brand new suspense series about a television program featuring cold case murders.

Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program—a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected—is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode.  *From Amazon.com