How Do I Change My Career Path After Being an Executive Assistant For Years?

Dear E. Jean:First-world problem here: I hate my job! I don’t hate the company I work for, I don’t hate my coworkers, I don’t hate my boss. I hate what I do! I’m an executive assistant. I’m 34, and if I have to schedule one more meeting, pick up another lunch for my boss, or put together another PowerPoint presentation, I’ll lose my mind.

I’ve given notice and will be quitting my job at the end of the month. I have money saved up, and my question is: What can I do now? I have no idea what being an executive assistant for 12 years qualifies me to do, other than being an executive assistant. I’ve learned that I’m not a people person. I’m quite introverted, I like math, and the less I have to deal with people, the better. Am I just being a cranky bitch here? Am I unrealistic? I need your advice, E. Jean! I dread going to work every day. It’s not a stressful job, and yet I feel stressed. I’m always on edge and aggravated. —A Girl’s Gotta Find Her Passion

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Gotta, My Gladiolus: Go to Harvard. Learn to code for free—virtually. You have the time and the math savvy, not to mention the mesmerizing introverted personality, to code like a mofo. If you don’t like Harvard, go to MIT or UC Berkeley. They, too, offer free online computer science and coding courses through

Or, if you prefer, choose a coding academy. For a list of the best: research/best-coding-bootcamps. I’ve hired grads from Flatiron School (Lily) and App Academy (Eric), both of them excellent. Note: Forget the nine-week programs. Coding well requires, at the very least, nine months to attain even fledgling level, in my opinion as an employer who employs coders. Find yourself a mentor, and prepare to spend an additional four or five months interviewing for the best jobs.

If enough women enroll in enough coding programs, we’ll soon be writing the code that will create the algorithms that will rule the men who used to rule the world. Not to say there isn’t some bright, introverted 15-year-old in her bedroom writing the code that will end the world as we know it next Thursday. Read Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near,about how technology will soon “transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.” And revel in the next letter, from a Stanford MBA grad who’s dying to be—you guessed it—an executive assistant.

Eat the Whole Damn Doughnut

Intent on making 2017 your Best Year Ever? We can help with that, thanks to our 2017 Coach of the Month series. For July, we have Samantha Irby, author of We Are Never Meeting In Real Life. This week, she implores you to stop cutting the doughnuts in the break room into 1/8 sections because you’re cutting carbs or some shit and just eat the whole fucking thing because work is stressful and life is full of misery and pain masquerading as urgent emails from your supervisor.

I am a stress eater in its purest form: a mindless nibbler who reaches for the bag of Red Vines tucked inside my desk drawer after a particularly stressful phone call, a bored gorger of handfuls of pistachios because there’s nothing on TV and I don’t feel like going outside, a giant sad panda huddled in bed mindlessly shoving spoonful after spoonful of ice cream into her mouth in an attempt to dull the pain that is life on this planet. Rarely does it occur to me to “grab a healthy snack.” WHAT DO THOSE WORDS EVEN MEAN. Okay, fine. I, like most women who’ve read a magazine in the last decade, understand that the phrase “rice cakes with avocado” is supposed to be a solution to the problem of “I’m stressed out and need to shovel something in my face to distract myself from the emotional injury” but in the real world there are M&M’s.

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I never get all weird and mean when I get hungry, but also I really don’t think there has ever been a time when I have truly felt hungry. Sometimes I’ll look up at the clock as it crawls toward lunchtime and think, “It’s time to eat the rage from these last four human interactions in the form of whatever potato chip crumbs have been left behind in the break room,” but I can’t ever think of a time that hunger was a tangible thing. I have wanted food, and I have needed food, but I have never needed needed food. And when I do want it, I’m never just dying for a bite of apple. No lying awake longing for just a sliver of green bean or a spoonful of cottage cheese, no fantasizing about dark leafy greens liberally misted with lemon juice, no visions of sugar-free plums dancing gaily through my head, just tap dancing sweaty cubes of pepper jack cheese.

It’s always hilarious to me when stumbling across the box of bagels some thoughtful person left for everyone in the communal kitchen, bagels I expect to momentarily shine a ray of light into the bottomless pit of my day, only to lift the lid and be confronted by several of them with a bite-sized section excised from their doughy curves. BUT Y THO. Who are the people who do this? Is it you!? You deserve the entire bagel! I promise you, you do. Even if you’re already over the allotment of breakfast calories that app you downloaded two years ago and usually forget to use has set aside for your morning meal: Go ahead and dip into those lunch points, girl. Because here’s the thing, even if your phone is gonna overheat trying to calculate the handful of fries you snuck off your friend’s plate last night or the six bites of Cool Whip you ate directly from the tub last Tuesday, when you try to add ⅛ of a workplace lemon poppyseed muffin, your phone is going to mock you. And you know what else? The girl you hate two cubicles over most certainly does not deserve that unsightly ⅞. And sure, that’s almost an entire doughnut you left behind but you touched it. With your hand- sanitized fingers you grabbed an oatmeal cookie your boss’s wife probably dropped on the floor after it came out of the oven and took a dull knife to it then left its crumbling remains in the GladWare container he definitely has to return home with. And that’s a crime, because that cookie is easily the best part of your benefits package. So eat the whole thing. Jog tomorrow.

What to Bring on a Road Trip

Welcome to “The Perfect,”’s weekly roundup, where we lay out exactly what you’ll need for the perfect outfit, shopping list, Saturday night, or whatever it may be. In a shopping landscape where the options are endless, consider it a complete snapshot of must-haves.

Getting away from it all doesn’t require leaving on a jet plane. Some of the easiest trips to plan and execute have destinations within a drivable radius of home, plus plenty of intriguing stops along the way. Here, everything to take along if you’ve got a road trip on the horizon (and inspiration to plan one if not).

Why Is My Horrible Ex Having Better Luck Dating Than Me?

Dear E. Jean:I don’t want to sound mean, but actually, maybe I do: My ex-boyfriend and I run in the same social circles, and he’s an asshole! He’s always between jobs, couch surfing, borrowing money, etc., but somehow he still manages to have tons of smart women after him. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but I have a really great job and a lot of other good things going for me, yet no suitors in sight. I’m fine with that, but I’m bothered by the fact that when we run into each other, he always seems to have a romantic interest, while I’m painfully alone.

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Externally, I remain composed, even when I see him making out with girls right in front of me. But internally, I’m screaming. It’s not that I want him back (see above, re him being an asshole), but the situation is frustrating and sometimes embarrassing. I’m reaching my boiling point and afraid I might do something insane like grab a guy by the crotch and have sex on a restaurant table just so my ex (and our social group) sees that I, too, am desirable. Do you have any suggestions for coping with this situation in a more self-respecting way? It would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely… —Miss Swiftly Crumbling Composure

Swiftly, My Snapdragon: Yes, my luv, I have a suggestion. Run and get a pencil, and circle the correct answers to this little true/false quiz, which I call:


1. T or F: A woman alone is always in the best company.

2. T or F: The chick on the back of a rebel’s motorcycle is more fetching than the chick who is the rebel on the motorcycle.

3. T or F: The most attractive heroines in literature never appear on a page without a boyfriend.

4. T or F: Arriving in public without an escort makes you nervous, Miss Swiftly, because you believe the total crap the witch doctors, abbesses, elders, gurus, grannies, pastors, doctors, and dingbats have been laying on women to control them for the last 17,000 years, right up to 2017 (when a girl doesn’t go to the prom alone; she goes with her squad of girls!).

5. T or F: So maybe you should grab a guy, or at least plant one on his lips.

6. T or F: You’ll see Taylor from Billions wearing a push-up bra and little satin tap pants before anyone cares what your scurvy, money-scrounging chump of an ex thinks.

7. T or F: A woman without a man appears more mysterious than a woman with a man.

8. T or F: A woman alone is a threat to some, but yet also a symbol of strength and choice; you’re waiting till you find the right one.

9. T or F: You should join Bumble, meet some new friends, and enlarge your social circle.

Answers: 1. True; 2. False; 3. Frighteningly close to true, but false; 4. True; 5. You can grab a man whenever you like, Miss Swiftly, but this statement is false if you begin grabbing men to make yourself appear more enticing to your odious ex; 6. True; 7. True; 8. True; 9. Doubly true.

What It’s Like to Be a Female Pilot

Malin wears her own uniform and Carrera sunglasses, $149,

When you listen to Rydqvist talk about flying, it’s obvious that “pilot” would have been her childhood dream job. But didn’t see it as an option for herself.

“My mum is in aviation and when I was a kid, she’d take me on her flights. I got to sit in the cockpit a lot, so my interest in flying started really young, but I never knew I could be a pilot because no one suggested that. Guys play with airplanes and girls have dolls,” she said. “After high school you have to think about what you want to do with your life. I was thinking, ‘What do I like to do?’ I love to travel, to work with my hands. I could never sit in the same office all the time—I like to be outside, meeting people.” A friend gifted her a flying lesson for her 21st birthday, and that was it. She enrolled in the same flight school as Pettersson. Rydqvist found a job first; the two stayed in touch, with Rydqvist offering advice about landing a job, and eventually they became roommates.

She already stands out in her profession, and she’s not afraid to do the same when it comes to personal style. “When I’m off, I really like to express my own style,” Rydqvist said, adding that she loves the classic pilot’s uniform’s crisp look. “I like to dress like a woman; I love to wear high heels. When I’m at work I have to wear the tie, so I like the contrast.”

Jason Kim

From left to right: Maria wears Reiss jacket, $375,; Day Birger et Mikkelsen t-shirt, Reiss pants, $425,; Carrera sunglasses, $149,; Malin wears Staud top, $90,, Staud pants, $100,, Carrera sunglasses, $179,; Maria wears Longchamp dress, Carrrera sunglasses, $159,

Standing out from the crowd attracts attention—good and bad.

Chatting with the trio and seeing how confident and self-assured they are, it’s somewhat of a shock to learn the types of comments they’ve overheard.

“Have you ever opened the cockpit door and heard, ‘Oh, thank god we landed safely—we had a woman flying’?” Fagerström asked the group. “If you go to the bathroom in the middle of the flight, a passenger sitting in the front will say, ‘How old are you? Are you able to fly?’ I don’t think they mean anything bad, but I don’t think males get the same kind of comments. It’s a bit exhausting always have to prove you can do a good job.”

“I felt the need to prove myself in school, but the longer you’re in it…I don’t feel that way anymore,” Rydqvist chimed in. “I do my job, I do it well, and I know that. We land the airplane safely, and then people can think whatever they want to think.”

If passengers sometimes have something to say, flight crews and captains have never been dismissive when they see the women coming aboard.

Jason Kim

“I don’t feel like I’ve been treated differently from my male colleagues, that’s important to point out,” Fagerström said. “It’s positive, like, ‘Oh, I’m flying with a girl today!’ Never anything negative, and there shouldn’t be—we’re all operating under the same standards.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you’re doing the same thing. We don’t have to pretend to be a man to do the job: We’re good as women,” Rydqvist added. Compared to other jobs where natural aptitude or physical abilities can make a major difference, piloting relies heavily on the fundamentals you can only get through hard work. “It’s one of the few jobs where you really have to study. You have to do the same job as everybody.”

“You can’t cheat your way into being a pilot,” Fagerström said. “You have to go through the same processes.”

Jason Kim

Styled by Isabel Dupre, Makeup by Euridice Martin, Hair by Mark Williamson.

Pussy Pastor Heidi Johnson Joins Sex and Christianity

“Jesus had a penis. And wet dreams.” This was the philosophy that inspired Heidi Johnson to found the Pussy Club, a sex-positive group at Duke Divinity School where Christian female students would discuss, among other things, masturbation as a spiritual practice, in 2014. They also gathered to buy sex toys to explore this newfound sexuality. And so, Johnson earned herself the nickname the “Pussy Pastor.”

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Johnson, who, after graduating from Duke with a Master in Divinity, is getting ordained with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, will start as an intern pastor at a church in Bend, Oregon this September. She describes the Pussy Club gatherings, which still take place at Duke and around the country, as “loud, drunken, emotional mess[es] with tons of laughs, stories shared, and tears shed for the ways the religious community abuses and suppresses women’s sexuality by labeling it as evil and sinful and temptation.” The concept behind them is that “in the Christian tradition, we are called to love God with all our heart, strength, mind, and soul—AKA with everything,” she told me over the phone. “Sex toys are presented as a medium to engage in body love, self care, and exploring your sexuality as one of the ways we love God with all of our holistic being.”

In a religion that deems sexuality sinful at worst and ignores it altogether at best, integrating sex and spirituality sounds radical. But for Johnson, it’s what Christianity is all about.

Heidi Johnson

Heidi Johnson

Ever since she was in high school in 2009, Johnson knew she wanted to be a pastor — and that she was a sex-positive feminist. Her church shunned all discussion of sexuality, leading her to believe these aspirations were at odds. But they blended together in her bedroom. Her masturbation routine felt simultaneously like a rebellion against her patriarchal religion and her own spiritual self-care act, akin to doing yoga or hiking a mountain as the sun sets.

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Then, during her first year at Seattle Pacific University, she was sexually assaulted. “It was like the string that wove together my body, mind, and spirit was cut in the aftermath of that violence,” she says. Unable to even look at her body in the mirror, she stopped masturbating.

At a campus sex education event later that year, a speaker described how masturbating during prayer helped her heal from the sexual shame the church imposed on her. Johnson wondered if returning to her body—the one thing that now seemed like her enemy—could heal her trauma as well.

The first time she tried this ritual in her tub, she had to leave her bathing suit on. “I hated my body being able to hold and remember so much pain and violence,” she says. “It was like I was bathing in shame instead of water.” But a month later, she mustered the courage to try it again… and again. “It became this type of baptismal ritual, which had the power over time to resurrect my sexuality and my sexual body in new ways and into a new life,” she remembers.

By reconnecting to her sexuality, Johnson also started reconnecting to her soul and to God. This is one reason she now views the body as part of the soul—and as a creation of God. “The body has a consciousness,” she says. “We don’t need to bring the body back into spirituality. It’s always been there. It’s literally re-membering our spirituality and our bodies.”

“We don’t need to bring the body back into spirituality. It’s always been there. It’s literally re-membering our spirituality and our bodies.”

I Tried the Goop Jade Egg

Once it was in, it felt like close to nothing. I got up and walked around, figuring I’d have to use my pelvic floor muscles to keep the egg from falling out, but I couldn’t even feel its weight. I jumped up and down, which made me slightly aware that it was there, but even doing kegels didn’t feel at all different from when I did them any other time. There’s only one explanation for this: my vagina is swole as hell.

After ten minutes I pulled it out, washed it, and put it in a place with “good vibes” as instructed (AKA next to my other crystals). I didn’t feel filled with any more feminine energy than usual, but I was also extremely aware of my vagina. I’d feel a pang and worry that it was TSS instead of any of the regular weird pangs that bodies feel sometimes. Was I feeling that because my period just finished? Were my muscles sore like after a workout? Or was I dying?

There’s only one explanation for this: my vagina is swole as hell.

The thing about the jade egg is, I get it. Let’s talk about witches. In the Malleus Maleficarum, the 15th century German text that endorsed the extermination of witches, “witches” are overwhelmingly women. And the things that prove they are witches sound a lot like practicing medicine. These witches were midwives, they performed abortions, and they generally were knowledgeable about which herbs healed which ailments―knowledge that eventually transformed into modern medicine.

However, once rich men, backed by the church, got their hands on that knowledge, women couldn’t have it anymore. “Male, upper-class healing under the auspices of the medieval church was acceptable, female healing as part of a peasant subculture was not,” wrote Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English in Witches, Midwives & Nurses. Women were not allowed to have this knowledge of their own bodies. In fact, that knowledge became evil, a direct affront to God.

Modern medicine has been shown time and again to ignore women. Common medicines are often tested on men, so the effects on women aren’t known. Doctors take women’s pain less seriously because of sexist stereotypes that women are just being emotional. Women’s heart attack symptoms are different, and yet we’re taught that unless your left arm goes numb, it’s not your heart. And as Amy Larocca wrote in The Cut about “wellness” culture, the American health care system is designed so that “even those who do have access to pretty good (and sometimes quite excellent, if quite expensive) traditional health care are left feeling, nonetheless, incredibly unwell.”

Faced with doctors who don’t take you seriously and medicines that haven’t been tested on bodies like yours, why wouldn’t you want to reclaim some knowledge of yourself, for yourself? If you’ve been lied to about everything else, maybe you were lied to about the healing properties of a rock shaped like an egg.

If you’ve been lied to about everything else, maybe you were lied to about the healing properties of a rock shaped like an egg.

This is exactly what Goop alluded to in a recent email about Dr. Gunter’s critique of the jade egg. “The thing about science and medicine is that it evolves all the time. Studies and beliefs that we held sacred even in the last decade have since been proven to be unequivocally false, and sometimes even harmful,” they wrote. “Meanwhile, other advances in science and medicine continue to change and save lives. It is not a perfect system; it is a human system.” They suggest Dr. Gunter was being judgmental and vain to think she knew all there was to know about medicine.

The problem is it tends to be wealthy, white women “reclaiming” this knowledge in the form of appropriating traditions of marginalized cultures, or wholly inventing traditions that they attribute to other cultures in order to make them sound more “exotic.” White women are allowed to sage their jade eggs, while First Nations teenagers are threatened with suspension from school for participating in their ancestral ritual. The privileged can playfully emulate Chinese “concubines” while sex workers, especially WOC sex workers, are marginalized. And rich people can afford to blow $66 on a jade egg just to see if it works.

I wore the egg a few more times. I put it in as I had my morning coffee, and as I ate leftover pad thai while watching Shahs of Sunset after work, never for more than 15 minutes at a time. It seems in those doses you wouldn’t be at risk for anything, as long as you keep cleaning the egg properly. Physically, it didn’t do anything for me. Sex felt the same. I didn’t feel any more or less connected to my pelvic floor. It made me wonder what else I could carry around up there without noticing.

Spiritually, the jade egg is a $66 placebo effect. It makes you aware of your vagina, your femininity, or whatever else you want to be aware of precisely because you want to be aware of it. A crystal cannot hold otherworldly energy. But it can be a physical reminder of whatever you promised yourself when you held it in your hands the first time. The jade egg made me aware of my vagina and how I treat it, the same way my rose quartz reminds me to not push people away when they say they love me, and my orange calcite reminds me to quit distracting myself and get to work. And they do that because I said they would.

There’s no harm in the jade egg itself (as long as you wash it and don’t sleep with it in). But there’s harm in a lifestyle that promises salvation through purchase power and false medical claims. If you want to feel in touch with your body, you can feel in touch with your body. You don’t need an egg for that.

Interview with Ade Hassan, Founder and Creator of Nubian Skin

Modern life means facing decisions again and again. From what to wear to how to address a problem at work, the need to check yes or no is never-ending. Most choices are of the humdrum variety, but some forever change everything that comes after. In an ongoing series titled “All the Difference,” we ask women to think back on a pivotal moment that affected everything.

Hassan working with a model behind the scenes at a shoot.

Martha Ojo

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Everyone needs a bit of encouragement here and there. Sometimes it comes from a conventional channel (like a boss pulling you into the corner office for a closed-door check-in) and other times from seemingly inconsequential moments that reveal their importance only later. The latter was the case for Ade Hassan, the US-, UK-, and Nigerian-raised creator of Nubian Skin, a lingerie brand that set out to redefine what “nude” means, offering essentials in four different colors; current pieces include bras, underwear, hosiery, and shoes. Approaching its third anniversary this fall, its fair to say the label and its founder are killing the game: Nordstrom carries Nubian Skin in the U.S., and last month, Hassan was placed on the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to fashion.

For Hassan, reaching this stage in her career was a journey paved by friends, family, and mentors. In celebration of her latest recognition, asked Hassan to reflect on one small moment that made a big difference. Here, the story of the world’s best birthday card:

I loved the idea of Nubian Skin, but I hadn’t quite figured out how to make it happen. I needed to save more money, and I was working in a demanding, client-focused job, full-time in finance at a boutique private equity placement agency. Essentially, I was distracted. I was making a nice amount of money and enjoying the benefits of that, while also working on average ten to eleven hours a day, so I wasn’t quite focused on turning my dream into a reality. It was my 29th birthday [when things changed]. A really good friend, and at that point, the only non-family member with whom I’d shared my dream of Nubian Skin, sent me a birthday card with a message saying she loved the idea and hoped to see me on the cover of Forbes one day. The next day, I registered the company and started the trademark process. It was as if a switch had flipped, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was pretty much non-stop from there, waking up very early and going to bed very late because I was still working full-time, but driven by adrenaline. I slept with a notebook beside my bed because I’d have ideas come to me in the middle of the night, and I had to write them down. It possessed me.

Hassan, left, with British musician Beverley Knight.

Reyhaan Day

Nubian Skin bras and underwear start at $55 and $16, respectively; shop here.

Samantha Irby’s Guide to Getting Over a Breakup

Intent on making 2017 your Best Year Ever? We can help with that, thanks to our 2017 Coach of the Month series. For July, we have Samantha Irby, author of We Are Never Meeting In Real Life. This week, Irby demonstrates how to put a positive spin on everything the ex you refuse to unfriend posts on social media. And by “positive,” she means “guffaw at that steakhouse he checked in at because you know he can’t afford it.”

I understand the very specific torture that is continuing to follow someone you’re no longer cool with on social media, because I, too, am a serious glutton for punishment who can’t help but to destroy my sanity while exacerbating my carpal tunnel and killing my eyeballs shooting hate daggers into my pocket computer. In my mind I’m always real cool after the breakup like “yeah whatever, no need to block you on Twitter it’s not like I care about your life” but that’s a lie man, I ABSOLUTELY CARE ABOUT THEIR LIVES. I don’t need to know that they got a promotion at work or a new car or whatever, but wow you changed your hair, fam? And started wearing suits and taking bathroom selfies in them? Why do you love yourself all of a sudden!?

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I’m not immune to the “yo I can’t believe he’s into museums now” disease, but I have found helpful ways of turning those emotional lemons into lemonade.

For instance, when they post: “Love my awesome life!”

LOL NO YOU DON’T. I think to myself: Does the ceiling in your apartment still leak toilet water from the place upstairs? Have you tried an artichoke yet? How many times has your mom called to remind you about that money you owe her? Your job still sucks, right? Have you bought a fitted sheet? How’s life without my Netflix log in? Are you still trying to figure out which of your friends stole your favorite comic book? Did you get your brakes fixed yet? How’s that herniated disc? Why do you keep texting me “what’s up” at 2 a.m.? Life is hard and miserable and we’re all just trying to slog through it until the next season of Game of Thrones comes out and I’m not gonna let Tinder Guy #6 make me feel bad because he’s lying to me on the Internet. Again.

“Can’t wait to go to this party!”

Well, this is obviously a personal attack. But who cares because you hate parties. And now that you are no longer having sex with a person who says things like “Mark wants to have a few people over for drinks in the yard!” while excitedly putting on a shirt to actually go you are no longer obligated to attend them. No more fending off his handsy drunk coworkers or listening to her best friend from high school make fun of your shoes. And you’d rather have a colonoscopy then spend a groggy, hungover Sunday morning grimacing at all of the shiny-faced, slightly unfocused pictures of you awkwardly trying not to spill on Alice’s white carpet you have to untag yourself from. No more small talk about movies you haven’t seen or world news you scrolled past, no more finding out Greg only has three chairs on a night you wore your highest heels. Leaving your house in pants with a zipper in them is overrated. Your horror movies and night cheese are the party.

*posts blurry picture of a soggy taco* “This food is amazing!”

Sometimes I get grossed out when people post pictures of their unappetizing meals on Instagram but if it happens to be posted by someone I’m hate-following I think “wow you really deserve those sad-looking potatoes.” Unless you were dating a professional photographer who can afford the nicest meals feel free to smugly turn your nose up at that wilted Subway footlong and chuckle wistfully into your diet cereal because you used to show your butt to a person who tried to find the most flattering angle of room-temperature roast beef.

“My new girlfriend is the best!”

Now he’s just showing off. It’s impossible that this is true. Because you are the actual the best.