Just Ask For It

The other day at brunch (because I live in the city now, and that’s how girls bond), we were discussing how to get what you want. The simple answer my friend put forward is to “just ask”. I’ve been testing that theory now, and am shocked at how far I can get by just having the nerve to ask for what I want. Here is my small list of things that work to ask for:

1. No bank fees. This one I’ve mentioned before as a suggestion from Ramit Sethi I got awhile back for my annual credit card fee. I just called, stated how long I’ve been a client, and that I didn’t want to be forced to go to a different bank. I’ve also saved tons of money in over-draft fees by just going into the bank, playing dumb and asking the fees to be taken off. I’m shocked at the amount of people who wont do this because they’re too shy to stand up for themselves.

2. Extras at restaurants. Most servers also think that having to pay $0.50 for ranch dressing is lame. I assure you there’s no person back there making sure all the condiments are being accounted for. Make sure you ask for this right away though, not after they may have already put it in the computer. Similarly, be weary of places that ask “or” questions. You usually can get both for free. A good example of this is at Chipotle where they like to convince you that you can only have black beans or pinto beans, or only one salsa. If you only get one, I will laugh at you.

3. Travel boosts. Because I have a silver medallion membership with Delta I often check a bag because it’s free. The problem being that I don’t like waiting for my bag after a long flight. Whenever I travel I ask the person who is checking my bag if they can put the priority tag on my bag, usually with some story about running late for something. This also works for other things while traveling. I find that because of my age, people will assume I’m OK with whatever I get, but will be more than willing to accommodate if I ask outright. I’ve been bumped to a cooler car at car rental places, given an ocean view at hotels where I was originally supposed to look out over parking lots, and allowed to “check out” Sky Club lounges while waiting for flights.

4. Free samples/coupons. Send an email to your favorite companies saying you love their stuff and if you can get coupons or their latest product for free. I started doing  this when I went gluten-free because everything was so expensive and I didn’t even know if I would like their stuff. Usually if you play on a company’s sense of pride in their product, they’ll want to prove to you why you should choose their product, or retain you if you’re already a client.

5. Medicine. The next time your doctor goes to write you a prescription, as if they have any trials so you can see how you react before buying a whole bunch of it. Also, ask your pharmacy if they’re giving your antibiotics out for free. They’ll often have extra samples of stuff. Of course, you have to actually have the prescription. This post is to encourage you to ask for things you need, not get you addicted to drugs.

6. Work stuff. Please, please, please also apply this mind set to your work. If you’ve been working at a company for awhile and doing well, put together a solid argument and ask for what you want. I used to be jealous of my friend who asked his work for things like, higher pay, mac (instead of windows), new office chair… even tracing paper – and got it! Then when I went to quit my job to move back to Minnesota, I asked for my most ideal situation – work the same job from wherever I wanted. Surprising result: my hard work stood up for itself and they obliged.

The most important thing to do is ask nicely but forcefully. Going into the proposal you should already have reasons why you should get what you want, and the mind-set that whatever you’re asking for is completely reasonable to get. If you don’t get what you want, no worries. At least you asked.

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Gifts for Millennials

Like most of America, I’ve been on the look out for Christmas holiday gifts. The problem I’ve run into is that I have no idea what would appeal to an 8 year old, a 15 year old or a 60 year old. When I try to look up ideas it’s usually ideas created by an equally clueless (but well meaning) person. I don’t want to hear what “Helen” thinks I should be buying a teenager, I want a teenager to tell me. In light  of that, I’ve compiled a handy list of things you could buy the millennial in your life:

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Picture Thursday: My Happy Place

Take a trip to my happy place.

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Loose Sweaters

I’ve been living in my loose sweaters and tight jeans, and as I look around, seems like I’m not the only one. Since I need to stop myself from spontaneously buying every fall colored, soft, oversized sweater in sight, I thought I would fulfill my need by encouraging my readers to pick up this bad habit too. Then you can be boss (and shopping-budget-less) like me!

My top choices:

Clockwise from top:

Daydreamer LA Long-Sleeved Tee ($34) – AKA the sweater that started my obsession.

Dazzle Sweater ($40) – Embellishments means you can wear it out places instead of just lounging.

Vince Cashmere Sweater ($320) – I could never afford this, but I would probably live in it’s cuddly wonderfulness.

Beach Cable Pullover ($98) – perfect with black skinny’s and knee high boots now; cold beach days later.


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Costume Idea: Edie Sedgwick

Ya’ll got your costumes picked out? I wanted to be either Edie Sedgwick or Uma Thurman’s character from Pulp Fiction, but alas, I decided to go with a group of girls as trolls. Not scary trolls, the ones with little jewels in their stomachs – pictures to follow.

I wanted to be Edie, not just because I love the movie Factory Girl, but also because Warhol is becoming re-popular. Take CNN’s article where they discuss Cambell’s new can design commemorating the 50th anniversary of Warhol’s famed art piece “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans”. Viva la pop art!

You can have your 15 minutes of fame too with this Edie costume. Best yet, you can wear the pieces well after Halloween!

1. Leggings: No Nonsense
2. Faux Fur Coat: Nasty Gal
3. Chandelier Earrings: Stella & Dot
4. Dress: Tobi
5. Liquid Eyeliner: Benefit

Need more Warhol? Check out these links – compliments of my friend Stephen:


“You have to put up with the risk of being misunderstood if you are going to try to communicate. You have to put up with people projecting their own ideas, attitudes, misunderstanding you. But it’s worth being a public fool if that’s all you can be in order to communicate yourself.” – Edie Sedgewick

Where In The World Is Erika?

I’ve been neglecting this blog as I get settled back in Minneapolis, catch a stride contracting, and cross things off my to-do list. Usually people take a break from blogging when they feel uninspired, which couldn’t be further from the truth of my situation. I love being back in a city with it’s flurry of activity, the design shown in everything from the architecture to the bold outfit choices. In the book The Hours by Micheal Cunningham the character Clarrisa internally declares her admiration for the city, while simultaneously scolding herself for this love as one for the “dupped and the simpleminded”. I keep being reminded of this passage as a I go about my business. “Must be indifferent,” I tell myself, “or they’ll never take you seriously”.

Here’s a glimpse into what I’ve been up to:

1. My brother helping my cat and me move our stuff from Florida back to Minnesota. I know I shouldn’t be Instagraming while driving, but they just looked so cute.
2. Having just spent 2 hours climbing the tallest cliff in the world.
3. Visiting Fimreite – my homeland
4. Ran my first 5K, and managed it in a tutu.


5. I went to Portland where I hiked, went to the largest book store in the world, and saw Brian Posehn.
6. Did another 5k, this time with obstacles and a buddy (my brother). Not pictured – My third 5k – Warrior Dash in September. I never thought running was for me, so this was a BIG accomplishment.
7. There were a few trips down to Iowa to reconnect with old college friends. This picture is of the sunset driving down there. Reminds me of Don Quixote fighting dragons.
8. I went to New York to visit my friend Stephen. Here he’s pictured at Baby Cakes which is my favorite bakery in the world.

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Tuesday Kind Of Love

I want a Tuesday kind of love. The sort of thing that involves little dreaming and scheming; the sort of thing that comes paired with too-strong coffee and too-loud songbirds and the drone of the news at 6 a.m. or any time before the sky finds its identity, really. A Tuesday kind of love that isn’t indulgent, one that doesn’t stop the earth from spinning but maybe keeps us grounded in spite of all that uncontrollable movement.

I want to split the bill and pay the bills and not get lost in some unsustainable delusion where the rest of our lives become inconsequential. I want us to be human, I want to argue, I want to take too long in the shower. I want to hear about the horrific lines at the DMV, about a boss who doesn’t get it, about plans to pick up the laundry after work. I want stories of strangers on the bus, of a child who looked lost but turned out not to be, of chance encounters with high school classmates because these seemingly colorless instances are meaningful when filtered through the eyes of someone I care about. A Tuesday kind of love, breathing relevance into otherwise monotonous moments.

A Tuesday kind of love is this: commuting to work knowing that someone cares about what you’re going to have for lunch; understanding that you do not have to be your dynamic, charming, weekend self this time; this time you can butcher sentences and make bad jokes and trip over thin air and it won’t change anything. A Tuesday kind of love is when weekends and weekdays are one and the same, expanses of time where unpredictable, irreplaceable closeness exists, swells, bursts. Tuesday is directionless conversation about things that happened five hours or five years ago; it’s knowing where he keeps his receipts and when he has a doctor appointment; it’s ordering Chinese food or taking his parents out for dinner because they’re in town or forgetting to eat because you’re full of each other’s words and there’s just no room for anything else.