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Dec 07, 2017

See you at 2!

A couple of years ago, you and the group here helped me feel better about moving abroad for the first time. Now I'm thinking of moving again, and I want to know people's thoughts on my current conundrum: assuming neither situation is intolerable, which would you prefer: working your dream job in a less than ideal location, or working a less than ideal job in an amazing place?

That depends on what you want out of life right now, right? Are you in a situation where you want to work to live, or live to work? Which sounds better to you: Having amazing weekends, but spending your days kind of bored and unsatisfied? Or spending your days fulfilled and mentally stimulated, but on the weekends being like, "Time to visit the largest ball of yarn again, aka the only attraction in my town." Also, it depends on degrees. Is Amazing City 20 percent better than non amazing city? Or 200 percent?


I'd like to hear from other people who have balanced great job vs. great location, and see what factors they weighed.

I have a first date for drinks this evening. Is it in bad taste to order kamikazes in honor of Dec. 7?

I mean, I'm not going to tell you what to do on a first date, but yelling out, "Cheers to Pearl Harbor" is...probably going to weed out a lot of second dates.

I enjoy fed-up notes at the office, the kind that are typed and printed to preserve anonymity. Today's installment is taped to a cabinet door in the small fridge-coffeemaker-sink-ice machine pass-through nook that's open on both sides to cubicles, not a separate break room with doors: "Please be considerate. People working close by are PRIVILEGED to hear your loud, personal conversations."

To achieve peak passive aggression, they should really be transcribing portions of the personal conversation into the notes. 

American Fire made the NYT notable books of the year list, and NPR's Best books of 2017 list! Well deserved and I'm sure more are to come. 

Hey, thanks. That's very sweet of you.

for the husband looking for something for his wife who likes Grisham books, I have completely enjoyed Steve Berry books, since the beginning, as well as the Sigma book series by James Rollins. this recommendation coming from a wife who has everything, and loves to read.

Putting that out there to finish off last week's chat (also, y'all will have to check back in at some point and share what you actually ended up buying).

It's probably not too soon, just don't do it around veterans... esp. older veterans.

When considering whether a joke is too soon, I think the partner calculation is whether the joke is funny enough. A very funny joke can reduce the timeline from "too soon" to "Oh fine, you pass." Ordering kamikazes for Pearl Harbor is just...not funny. It's kind of a bad dad joke.

Have you shared your hot take on Meghan Markle? As one of the devoted royal-watchers on the Post chat beat I am assuming you would have one.

There really is only one take: Hooray! They seem happy and in love, and the fact that the monarchy will be partly represented by a woman of color is really meaningful. Confession: I've never seen Suits. Can anyone else tell me what to think about Meghan Markle?

I'm amazed how many different ways one can say "Your mother isn't at work with you, so clean up after yourself."

Really, in 2017, we need to be saying "Your parents aren't at work with you..."

How less than ideal would the job or the location be? I could put up with certain less-than-ideal aspects of either a job or a location, but it would depend on which aspects, and how much less. Weather I hated? Not so much. A job that had one purgatorial aspect? Probably not. A location that isn't London or Paris? OK, fine. etc.

Right. Is it like, "I'd get to live in Fiji, but my job would be moderately boring office work" or, "I'd get to live in Fiji, but my job would be scrubbing the toilets of a bar singularly populated by drunken American college-age tourists." 

I once sent an e-mail to a colleague with an enviably loud and resonant voice, answering a question he had just asked another cubemate, by way of letting him know that he could be heard clear across a very large office. Some people just don't know their own vocal strength.

Everyone in my family is a loud talker. It's just what happens when there are a lot of you and you get used to bellowing in order to be heard. We apologize. We are trying.

Another factor for you to consider, since I infer you are currently living abroad: How easy is it for you to see interesting places on your weekends? If you live in, say, Bonn, Germany, which my German friends tell me is boring, it's going to be pretty easy to get to Paris or Rome or even Berlin on the weekends, nicht wahr? But if you live in a remote part of Kazakhstan, less so. (Even the most cosmopolitan parts of Kazakhstan can seem pretty remote, I guess...) For what it's worth, I was once offered a job in an undesirable location, and my spouse ultimately found the winning argument: Wherever we go, our family will be fine, but if we move there, we will spend all our spare time and money trying to escape. So let's not go there.

That's a good barometer. If, even before moving somewhere, you're thinking, "How long can I stand this place?" then maybe your solution should just be to not go at all.

What I think is the coolest thing about the whole situation is that they had a friend in common who knew them both well enough to realize they're perfect for each other, and wasn't too intimidated by their circumstances to set them up. I guess that means what I like best is how un-royal the whole thing is.

I think the wedding will feel plenty royal. But yes, there was no need to make an alliance with the fourth Duchess of Germany or something. In general, royals like Harry who aren't in direct line for the throne get a little more leeway in courtship, I think. William was never going to marry an American.

Exactly! And if Fiji and boring office work were accompanied by cheap airline tickets to anywhere, that would tip the balance even further.

The payoff will be on your resume. "I ran my own department" looks a lot better than "I was an office peon, but in Fiji." Build experience and character... it will help you be able to move to Fiji in the years to come.

Well, but that presumes that what the chatter wants most of all is an impressive resume. Which is what I was trying to get at with my first question: Is it more important to chatter to have a life that feels interesting and fulfilling during the workday? Or on the weekends?


(No idea if chatter is even here. The question was submitted early, and if chatter lives abroad, they could very well be sound asleep while we debate their future)

Friends who spent a three-year tour in southern Germany asked their seven-year-old son, as they were packing to move back to the U.S., what he would miss most about Germany. His answer: "France."


I listen to music at my desk, while working, but I feel stuck in a rut and unsure of what to listen to now. I don't know anything about your tastes in music, and you don't know anything about mine. But give me a suggestion, please -- a song, an album, an artist, whatever. Thanks.

Stevie Wonder is always appropriate for every occasion. There.


I think you are one of my siblings. We also interrupt. We try not to, but...

It gets downright confusing when you have a conversation with a polite person and they just let you finish your sentences so you just keep talking.

Would the chatter have ordered a gauche-ly named drink in honor of 9/11? I think not. Most likely the chatter is a troll.

Truly,  I don't think we have trolls on this chat. We're all old friends by now.

It's also nice that he met a nice interesting girl in college and they dated long enough for her to be sure she was up for what marrying him would entail. Hey, it just occurred to me, the heirs to the throne are now almost all English instead of being almost all German.

Kate Middleton did everything exactly right through their entire courtship to prove that she could handle the whole royal thing. She was a safe and responsible choice (and it looks like they really, really enjoy each other, too)

Interesting question. I chose to take an almost-dream job in less than ideal location, figuring I could do it for a few years, explore a new place, and then find my dream job in a more desirable-to-me location. (It's a hard job to find and to get.) It's been a few years and I still really hate where I live and miss other places I lived (that were closer to the dream) a lot, but have adjusted better. It helps as I've found more friends here and things to explore (everywhere has SOMETHING interesting), but it's really made me cognizant of the living environment that I'm happier in and that I need to include in my decision when I move away. I think the most important thing is to remember -- whichever you choose, it doesn't have to be forever. You can always move on!

Thanks for the personal perspective.

to get experience that will let you get another version of that ideal job in a better place. Go with the job. Unless you are on the verge of retirement or there is some other reason to prefer an ideal place you would be able to cling to later on.

I don't think so. I myself am extremely annoyed that there is a drink called an Irish Car Bomb. Not funny and never will be.

There you go.

I've been annoyed about the Harry/Meghan Markle relationship/engagement, for no good reason. They did look super cute at the announcement of the engagement, but I'm still irrationally annoyed. I finally realized that it's because I'm overinvested in William and Kate. I think they have a hard time--people criticize for them being boring, etc. They're in a different situation than Harry and Meghan! So I'm apparently just really defensive about them and thus see any praise of Meghan as an insult to Kate. Which it isn't. I don't know why I'm so invested in all of this.

Oh, the royal family exists in part for us commoners to invest far too much speculation and personal experience.

He's fifth in line. These days, that's pretty remote. (I make the odds 50-50 that the current heir apparent will live long enough to be king.) But as late as the seventeenth century, he would be close enough that his choice would get a LOT of scrutiny.

"as late as the 17th century" is still 300-400 years ago. Harry is never getting anywhere near the throne.

He/she shouldn't order the drink because it's not a funny joke. But comparing it to 9/11 is kind of rough. It's more than likely that this person's grandparents were too young to serve in that war. That's putting it in the realm of History. It's possible to make jokes about bad/dark moments in history and not be an awful person.

Didn't I say that a primary objection was that it was not funny and kind of pointless?

I just recently went through several Stevie Wonder albums at work, so I'm not itching to circle back to him. But you're absolutely right that he's appropriate everywhere, always. You get credit for a fine suggestion. Maybe I'll fire up Songs in the Key of Life again.

Parliament Funkadelic. 

Bonnie Raitt.

John Prine.

Those are my next suggestions.

None of the options are bad. It's more like, do exactly what I want to be doing in a place that has no public transport and less widespread English speaking, or do something close to what I want in a metropolis with all the daily things I want (to not own a car, speak a language I know, have easy access to movie theaters and coffee shops). Both options for travel. I have no bad choices here; thank you all for indulging my non-problem.

Oh, I would definitely choose option B, but that's just me. But movie theaters are really important to my happiness.

Saw this on line somewhere: "My girlfriend told me she wanted to be treated like a princess, so I forced her to marry someone she didn't love in order to strengthen our alliance with Prussia."

Clearly, your family is the kind where screaming "What are you THINKING?" is an expression of affection, rather than the kind where quietly requesting that the salt be passed to your end of the table constitutes an act of aggression. Has this ever been an issue for you at work? My boss is a very good boss, but sometimes if he gets angry and frustrated with third parties -- vendors, the IRS, God -- he will start expressing that anger and frustration in staff meetings. I have worked with him long enough to know that he isn't angry at us, but I worry that some colleagues who don't know him as well will get the wrong idea. Any suggestions either for him, or for me as to how I can approach him?

I'm hopeless. In the newsroom we're all regularly rude and interrupt-y to each other and we know it comes from a place of love.

I actually watched the whole 20-minute TV interview with the two of them and, since I'd never watched "Suits," was amazed at how poised and thoughtful MM is. I don't think Harry could have done better.

Someone I know thought that she looked fake. I thought she looked poised. And poised and unflappable are the two most important characteristics for a member of the royal family. 

John Prine it is, because I've never heard of him. Thanks! This day just got more interesting.

You're welcome.

I have been horribly jetlagged for the past week and napping in one of the private rooms at work every day. There's a small padded chair and a small footrest and I contortionist my way into making it like a bed. It feels great, not to mention necessary so I don't thud my sleeping head on my keyboard at work. I don't have a question.

You need to make it today without a nap. It is going to be hard. It is going to require willpower and loud music. But you need to make it until 10 p.m. without a nap or caffeine. It is the only way to break the jetlag cycle.

I'm sad he's going, but conflicted. I thought the I-didn't-do-anything-wrong-but-I'll-resign-anyway was the wrong tone for his speech. And I hate that photo, he looks like a high school freshman. But I still think, still, that he could have done a lot for feminism.

Each of these incidents brings with it so many conflicting feelings, some of which don't even make sense to ourselves.

::coughs:: ::shuffles feet:: that's my husband. And his family. In the time my husband is drawing breath to say something, three other people have jumped in.

Bless the quiet people.

How then could she look "real" to such a person? Stutter, blush, drop a bra strap, interrupt Harry? Sheesh.

Get splashed by a car, and then hit in the face with a pie, I guess.

I had a boss like this, but he had a sense of humor. We could often derail his tirades by making a pointed joke about his behavior.

Thanks -- at the very least, it will cue a new onlooker to the fact that the boss isn't angry, just animated, that the rest of the office knows that, and that nobody is uncomfortable around him or afraid for their jobs.

I have just spent a profitable half hour on Wikipedia's Succession to the British Throne page and now I know that the names of the first 56 people in line include Savannah, Isla, Xan, Cosima, Tane, Leopold, Cassius, and Zenouska. If you thought your family had weird names...

Thank you for this service.

This has been the plan every day. Sadly it has not come to fruition. YET.

But this day we're all rooting for you.

I'd never seen Billy Bush on TV, only knew of him because of the Trump "Access Hollywood" tape; plus, politically, I'm not a fan of the Bush clan. So I tuned in Colbert Monday night for Bush's appearance -- and was pleasantly surprised at how articulate and thoughtful Bush was. Any word on whether his broadcasting career will soon rise Phoenix-like from the ashes?

I'd say the odds are in his favor? But we don't know quite yet how.

Of course Meghan Markle is poised! She's a professional actress! ...Sorry. Getting oddly defensive again for no real reason.

It's nice to know that the cinematic portrayal of newsrooms is accurate!

The thing they get mostly wrong in cinematic portrayal of newsrooms is female journalists' wardrobes. We cannot afford whatever they're depicting on screen. I know three women in the Post Style section who have the same weirdly-colored pair of corduroy pants from The Loft, and we all bought them because they were on a really deep clearance sale.

You can't always do what you love. Better to have a tolerable job and follow your bliss on your own time,.

Theaters are really important to my happiness, because I can watch movies on a big-screen TV if there's good web speed in my hypothetically less-than-ideal location...but I guess this doesn't really work because any place that has good theater companies and venues will also have movie theaters.

Original poster -- Tell us if these disparate opinions are leading you in one direction or another.

We also had to warn newbies that although boss would apologize if he was unjust, that didn't mean he wasn't going to lose his temper unjustly again.

Good call.

My 2 cents is that if you love the location you are at, stay there and try to find a better job in the area. But there's so many other aspects to this decision that are personal. Good luck!

I do hope they stop at three kids, though, because so far every single pregnancy has involved that poor woman being hospitalized for intractable nausea.

(Are you listening, Duchess?)

Oh come now. Think of all the professional actresses who are awkward, and all the professional actors who are boors.

But most of them are really good at giving poised answers to interview questions. (I say this as a person who has witnessed many actors and actresses give poised answers to interview questions)

Ooh, good one! He does have a sense of humor, so this should work. He'll probably try to figure out how to make his own joke about it. I need to get in there first.

Excellent. Let us know how this experiment goes.

Once, after a particular explosion, I bought toy bumblebees to keep in my desk. He had once nearly died from a yellowjacket sting, so when he'd blow up, I'd quietly take a bee out of my drawer and set it on my desk.

And this seems like an excellent point to end on. When it doubt, folks, subtly threaten to murder your boss via a venomous bee sting.

Thanks for stopping by, see you next week, GSTQ.

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Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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