New Years Resolution: 30 Days of Writing: Episode 2 – When to Cut Corners

Battlestar Galactica teaches us much about cutting corners.

Battlestar Galactica teaches us much about cutting corners.

This is day 2 of a New Years Resolution.

When we were young, our teachers and parents said “Always do your best.”

That seemed like a good idea, until many of the things asked of us were totally dumb.

  • 30 long division exercises. Do your best? No. Waste of time. Do them until you understand how to do it, then go play Pitfall.
  • Clean your room. Do your best? No. When you’re 13, a clean room is of dubious benefit. Push stuff under bed. Go play Pitfall. (For the record, as an adult, I believe a clean room is essential for well-being.)
  • Paper for US History class. Do your best? No. Make sure you learn the skills you need for life, write the paper, and play Pitfall 2. 

In style, there are certain things that are not worth obsessing over (and not worth dumping lots of money on) and certain things that demand attention and possibly a bit of money. Here is my guide – where to cut your corners.

Be sure your jeans are dark. Like your soul.

Be sure your jeans are dark. Like your soul.

CORNER CUT: Even though expensive gourmet denim can cost $200 and up, a pair of dark Levi’s is as good as it gets. I have a pair of indigo Levis and people frequently ask me where I got them. Hint: make sure they’re dark (indigo), and cuff them so there is no drape. Sharp. And not expensive.

CORNER CUT: Ties are a very important part of my style, and I love a splurge tie, but some of my best ties are not expensive. Find a knit tie or a denim tie (yes. Denim.) Bask in the compliments.

Which is the $20 tie? Which is the $125 tie?

Which is the $20 tie? Which is the $125 tie?


CORNER CUT: Sure, you can buy a pair of Pantherella socks for fifty bucks, but the dryer will eat them, just as it eats cheaper socks. Don’t wear junky polyester socks, but do drop by Old Navy or Gap or Banana Republic next time you’re at the mall, and find socks ON SALE. No need to pay full price. They’ll cost 3-5 dollars and will bag you compliments. Yes! On your socks! (May I offer my full blog post on socks, here?)

chrisCORNER CUT: You can find an endless parade of expensive sweaters at every department store, but the best place to bag a styley sweater is at a used-clothing store. I’m not talking about Salvation Army, necessarily, which will have a preponderance of Cosby-sweaters (both he and his sweaters are on my sh*it list right now). I’m talking about Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads Trading Co. or the like. (If you own any Cosby-sweaters, take ’em to Buffalo and exchange for one of these.

CORNER CUT: Leather jackets. Good ones are insanely expensive. And cheap ones look cheap. I don’t care what GQ says, you don’t need a leather jacket. Save your money for something else.

CORNER CUT: A black, grey, or navy pea-coat. Because there’s a million versions of them, you can get an awesome looking pea-coat for not a lot of money. Make sure you get the slimmest cut you can fit into. If it’s bulky, it doesn’t matter how much money you saved on it.

CORNER CUT: Glasses. Yes, get styley glasses. Don’t spend $400. Go to See Optical or try Warby Parker for affordable eye-styliness online.

Coming soon…where not to cut corners!

New Years Resolution: 30 Days of Writing – “Day 1. Things I’ve Learned From Austin, TX.”


Austin brings out my inner bad-boy-biker.

Every year, while people around the water-cooler talk about their New Year’s Resolutions, I plug my ears and go “la-la-la.”

I’m not a growth-Scrooge. I believe in stretching myself. I take the Jewish High Holidays very seriously, and while some steer away from facing their shortcoming on the Day of Repentence, I bring a day-bag with me because I never leave the synagogue.

So no, I’m not afraid of owning mistakes and striving to be better.

But Yom Kippur, for me, is usually interpersonal. Relationships with family and friends and colleagues need work, and I spend a month meditating on that.  I know I need to work on my inter-personal follies.

On the other hand, usually, New Year’s resolutions are about striving for the personal. People vow to give up vices and take on new, healthy habits.

But I like my vices and I already eat kale, like, 4 times a week. I call home every Sunday, and I try to tip generously. I don’t want to change, so when New Year’s resolutions come up, I plug my ears and say “la-la-la.”

Unfortunately for the “non-resulutionary” in me, I’m on vacation in Austin with someone who is also growth-oriented, but who is less saddled with High Holiday “I’ve Already Repented” baggage than I am. Over a Frito-Pie at the Yellow Jacket Social Club, she suggested we take on a New Year’s resolution, but she packaged it in just the right way.

“Let’s take on something for thirty days. Thirty days of writing.”

So here I am, resolving to write for 30 days. Once a day, I will post. And here is today’s…shamelessly ripping off a format made successful by the same writer who framed the resolution in the first place, a writer I trust and admire.

10 Things I’ve Learned From A Week In Austin

1. Some of the most comfortable places you’ll ever be, in life, are temporary. Enjoy them. Don’t get too used to them.

2. Great food is great. Good food is good. But food that’s made out of not-good ingredients will always be not-good, no matter what it is.

scottie and i3. Old friends hold parts of you in their memories. Find them. Reconnect with them. Reconnect with the old-you.

4. What goes even better with a movie than popcorn? Beer.

5. Don’t overpack your days. Except when it’s the last day.

6. When strangers are friendly, it makes everything better. Maybe I could be a little friendlier to strangers, a little more often.

7. Intuitions are sometimes right, but often, deeply, deeply wrong. Share your decision-making process with people you trust.

8. Live music is magical. It doesn’t need to be a fifty-dollar concert. Find a band at a local pub, and delight in the gift of their music. Whatever it is.

9. Return to places that catch your eye. Your eye was probably caught for a good reason.

10. Everyone has a story. Listen and learn.

BONUS: Listen to Anthony De Costa. Seriously.